Monday, November 29, 2021

I Spy: Week 47

Welcome to the "We're Kicking Off The Holidays, Inter-Faith Style" version of "I Spy." Pretty much all of my pictures this week are along this theme, with a little coronavirus thrown in just to remind us that yes, it's still  2020 2021. As always, I'm linking up with Lysha at at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Let's Play iSpy 2021


After not having our local Channukah In The Square menorah lighting last year, this year it was back. We celebrated the "festivities" a little extra with some fireworks too!!!


Dave made latkes for the first night of Channukah and I LOVE them!!! They are my favourite Channukah "food." They were sooooo delicious. Rachel and I prefer our latkes with sour cream, Sam prefers his with applesauce, and Dave eats them with both.


I'm so thankful we were "free" to walk the labyrinth at church again this year. I cried through a lot of it because it hit me that it's been almost two years since things have been normal. This is always a beautiful start to the Advent season for me, and this year, that was especially true.


Not only can kids ages 5 to 11 in Canada now be vaccinated, but we had the good "fortune" to get one of the earlier appointments for Rachel so we're that much closer to all four of us being fully vaccinated!!!

{your choice}

If it were up to me, it would always be "my choice" to have my mom here to make our Advent wreath. She did a way better job than I would have and I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

What's Up Wednesday: November 2021

I can't believe it's time for another What's Up Wednesday. How is it December next week?!?!

The biggest Covid news this month is that Canada finally approved vaccines for kids ages 5-11 so Rachel is excited to get hers soon!!! I'm so thankful for this as it means taking another giant step towards normalcy!!!

image from here

What we're eating this week... Well, I've already made a few batches of Applesauce Jumbles which is a recipe Holly introduced me to. I love these cookies. You can get the recipe here. We've also been eating a lot of cheese, so much in fact, that we ran out earlier this week which never happens. And this isn't so much what I'm eating, but we've also been drinking quite a bit of Allena's cranberry tea recipe.

I'm also very excited that I found the cheese Advent calendar again. Since we won't be home for a few days before Christmas, I've broken into it a bit early and it's just as good as I remember.

What I'm reminiscing about... In a few weekends, Rachel's dance studio will be performing The Nutcracker. I'm super excited that it will be in person, as opposed to prerecorded. I am remembering back to Rachel's first winter show two years ago. It was The Snowman & The Snowdog and Rachel was a polar bear. (This year she's a gingerbread kid, a lollipop sheep, and a purple skater.)

What I'm loving... Our family photos! We got them taken in a rush, on about an hour's notice, a few weeks ago. We caught the only non-rainy time that day. I wasn't stressed about what the kids were wearing and I'm so happy with how they turned out. We have our cards (they arrived yesterday) so Friday night is going to be "movie watching, tea drinking, cookie eating, card addressing night" and I'm so excited!!!

None of these pictures made the final cut for our card, although I was sorely tempted to put this one on! Hahahahahahaha!!!
What we've been up to... Last week I got to experience my first Professional Development day at work. It was actually very low key and I enjoyed having a slightly more casual work environment. Plus, a few staff members organized catering lunch and it was DELICIOUS!!!
I'm also excited because one of my co-workers has chickens and sells the extra eggs! She brought in a dozen for me last week and I'm thrilled to have local, farm fresh eggs again. If you've been reading around here for any length of time, you already know how excited I get about local eggs :)

Also, if you've read around here for any amount of time, you know how bad I am at make up. So I was very thankful that my mom was here to execute the highly complicated eye makeup for Rachel's dance filming this past weekend. (Rachel is in one prerecorded show with our local symphony as well as dancing live in The Nutcracker.)

So yes, besides all the regular things (work, Religious School, church events, and regular dance), we've been up to extra dance and procuring amazing food!
What I'm dreading... Ice. Winter is coming our way and I completely wiped out on ice heading into work on Friday. It was such a fast fall, I don't even remember falling. I'm fine but I was pretty sore on Friday night. I really hate the icy sidewalks and how treacherous walking will be from now until mid-March (if not longer).

What I'm working on... I need to keep working on sorting through our pictures and making our yearly calendars. This is always such a fun thing to have but so much work to make.

What I'm excited about... There are so many things to be excited about right now! Our church kicks off the Advent season by walking the labyrinth and it's back on in person this year!!! My parents came to visit us on very short notice so we've been enjoying spending time with them! Channukah starts this weekend!!! Rachel will be dancing in The Nutcracker in a couple of weekends!!! But mostly, I'm super excited that Canada approved Covid vaccines for ages 5 to 11 this past Friday and Rachel will finally be getting her first vaccination so soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So yes, I'm excited about a lot of things right now :)

What I'm watching/reading... Well up until last week, I was watching the news very carefully to see when vaccines would be approved for Rachel's age group. Now that we're past that, I've been watching the appointment times to get the best one I possibly can. (Isn't my life so exciting?!?! Hahaha!)

Besides that, we've watched a few Hallmark holiday movies and played Hallmark Movie Bingo which is so fun!!! We used the bingo cards found here and turned Hallmark movie watching into a competitive sport!!!

As for what I've been reading, I discovered a new series through my friend Allena. It's called A League Of Extraordinary Women and I need to go pick up the second and third books in the series because I enjoyed the first one so much.
Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)

What I'm listening to... Sam has gotten into throwing a ball against the wall in the basement these past few months and that is the main thing I've been hearing this past month. Other than that, I don't have any sounds which define this month.

What I'm wearing... We broke out the matching family pajamas for 2021. Sadly, Dave decided he no longer liked the style of the pajamas so he didn't want a pair, but the kids and I decided to match without him :)
What I'm doing this weekend... We'll be hanging out with my parents, we'll be lighting candles for the first night of Channukah, and we'll be getting Rachel to Nutcracker practices! It will be a very exciting weekend :)

What I'm looking forward to next month... Well, this is pretty much a repeat but seeing Rachel dance in person again will be a HUGE highlight! Also, I'm really looking forward to a two week break from work for the Winter Break. And of course, I'm most looking forward to spending Christmas with my parents!!! There's a lot to look forward to in December, especially this year!!!

What else is new... I'm really excited to participate in #AMonthOfFaves with Tanya and Kim at GirlXOXO starting on December 6th. You can find all the details here. I have so much thankfulness for this link up because, back in 2018, it's what got me back into blogging after an almost six month break and I haven't looked back since. You should check out the introduction post and think about blogging some of the prompts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

What I Read In The First Half Of November

My reading appears to have fallen off a cliff as our weekends have been extremely full of running around and doing all the things and I fall asleep around 9 or 10 almost every weeknight. I used to get a lot of reading done between the hours of 8:30 and midnight but sleep is important too, I guess.

Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2)

As often happens for me when I re-read Nora trilogies, I raced through the first and second books, and now I've had the third one sitting on my nightstand for about two weeks. I particularly like Nora's books when she tells them more from the male main character's point of view, which is what this one was. Anyways, I think I'll just put the third book in this series away for awhile.

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)

I think Allena first introduced me to this series. I loved this book -- it was a fun mix of regency romance and a main character with strong opinions who stuck to them. I am excited to get my hands on the second and third books in the series.

Our Woman in Moscow 

This book was so good. I didn't realize it would play into my love of spies and double agents but it did in the best way. It made me think about patriotism and how far I would go for my beliefs, even if I had to betray my country to do so. The book does end a little ambiguously, which is not my favourite, but I would still recommend it.

Sunrise by the Sea (Little Beach Street Bakery #4) 

Jenny Colgan is fast becoming a favourite author. Her novels are set in unique places and she has quirky characters. In this book she tackled mental illness as a theme and I thought it was so well done. Plus, I just want to move to each place where she sets a novel.

 Their Eyes Were Watching God

This book has come up a lot as I've read more non-fiction by BIPOC, especially when they talk about novels which inspired them. This was a beautiful novel to read and it's not one to be read quickly. This is a book to savour to catch all the nuances of the language and the story. It's not often that a book slows me down, in the best of ways, but this one did.

My reading is so funny -- I read five books in two weeks for the first half of November and now I've read three books in the past week alone. Why can I not be more consistent?!?!? Do you experience inconsistency as a reader too? Fill me in...

Monday, November 22, 2021

I Spy: Week 46

I will be the first person to admit that this edition of "I Spy" is very uninspired. However, I've posted every week since the beginning of January and I didn't want to miss one now. So here is my post and, as always, I'm linking up with Lysha (our hostess) and the other I Spy bloggers at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Let's Play iSpy 2021

{house – (fall) quarterly pic}

This is our house in the fall. Actually, a fall picture would have included the leaves on the tree in full colour but that happened about a month ago. Now everything is just waiting for the snow to fall and it looks very bare and boring.


I was so happy that my parents came to visit us this weekend. I was particularly thrilled because Rachel had Nutcracker filming and her eye makeup required five different shades of "brown." And you all know how I feel about make up -- I don't wear it and I don't know how to do it! Thankfully my mom did an amazing job and Rachel did not look like a bad version of a painted clown for her performance.


This is a lap afghan from Siberia which I bought when my dad and I took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow. One day a woman was selling these at one of our break stops. I don't know what these are made of but they are insanely warm. They are also very delicately "stitched." (My dad and I knew about these because my grandparents had brought one back from a visit to Russia.)


I don't know if having a window inside your house is an "architectural" feature or oddness, but it's definitely unique as I have never seen another house with one :)

 {your choice}

We haven't done a puzzle in a few months but this one was worked on by a few of us yesterday. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Monthly Musings: Holiday Preview 2021

I love linking up with with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings. Today it's all about the holidays and I am just starting to get into the holiday spirit so this is good timing. It helps that Channukah starts in a week and a half so I'd better be getting there soon :)

1) Share your favourite holiday traditions.

For Channukah, my favourite traditions are the lighting of the menorah in our public square (which is back this year!!!) and our church small group Channukah party. For those of you who are new around here, we are raising our kids in both faiths (Judaism and Christianity) and we're dragging everyone along for the ride. Our care group from church loves the Channukah party we host and it's so fun to share Channukah with them -- we eat latkes, light the menorahs, and play driedel. Our favourite thing is to read The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, which is a great story about how Channukah isn't Christmas.


the large menorah in our public square * the first Channukah Care Group party game of driedel in 2012 (look at little Sam) * the Care Group Channukah driedel game from 2018

For Christmas, our family has really enjoyed celebrating Jólabókaflóð the past three years! Jólabókaflóð is the Icelandic tradition where everyone gets a new book on Christmas Eve and you read and eat chocolate until late. But for me the Christmas season kicks off with the labyrinth at church. Last year it was on our own and it was very hard for me. This year it's back in person and I CAN'T WAIT!!!!



Jólabókaflóð 2018 * Jólabókaflóð 2019 

2) Do you see holiday lights? Driving tour on your own? Attend a park or festival?

We've done a range of things. We've done a couple of driving light tours but the kids didn't want to do that this year. However, they both said they wanted to see Wonders of Winter which is a light show in our local park. It's a walking tour rather than a driving one and it's pretty similar every year but the kids love it.

We've often done Wonders of Winter with our best friends, such as last year when we got a socially distanced selfie.

3) Favourite holiday recipe?

I always make these Jell-O cookies (recipe here) -- red and green for Christmas and blue and yellow for Channukah. And orange sometimes too, for fun!

Other than that, I really love making a cranberry potpourri that simmers on our stove for most of December. I got this idea from a blog friend and it has been a December staple at our house ever since. It's basically a couple of orange slices, a handful of cranberries, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and a sprinkling of whole cloves. Add water and simmer away, adding water as necessary. I mix up a new batch every couple of days.

4) Must have holiday fashion staple?

Matching family pjs!!! Even though Dave isn't joining in this year (because he hates the style of the pjs I've found), the rest of us have them!!! The company I've found makes Canadian/winter themed pjs rather than Christmas/Channukah ones, which I really appreciate.


2018 pajamas

2019 pajamas

2020 pajamas

2021 pajamas coming soon!!! 

5) Any special or extra festive plans this year?

We are so excited to spend Christmas with my parents in an extra special place this year!!! We can't wait!!! So yes, this year will definitely feel extra festive :) In terms of Channukah, it's at a slightly crazy time of year for us so we don't have any special plans.

6) Best holiday planning tip?

My best tip is to gift experiences rather than physical items. Our kids, especially, have so much stuff and this year it's all about spending time with the people we love.

7) Favourite holiday movie?

 I don't think I have one. We always used to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and we watched Home Alone for the first time with the kids last year. I don't really have a favourite as movies aren't my love language, but in the past year we've gotten into Hallmark movies. I'm looking forward to seeing this year's Channukah themed movie!!!

8) Die Hard... Christmas movie or not?

I've never actually seen it so I don't know. Maybe I should make it a goal to watch it this year?

9) Tree/decorations up before or after Thanksgiving?

Considering we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, I don't know anyone who decorates before Thanksgiving :) We usually decorate the last weekend in November but since Channukah is so early this year, I might wait until after it to decorate for Christmas -- except for the Advent wreath and outdoor stuff. I'll likely decorate for Channukah the day before it starts.

10) Do you celebrate other holidays in December? Hannukah? Kwanzaa? Others?

Yes, we celebrate Channukah. We're an interfaith family so we're always celebrating around here :) This year Channukah starts on November 28.

Thanks for reading about our holiday traditions. Now I wish I had the day off so I could bake some cookies and watch a few Hallmark movies and work on our holiday cards...