Thursday, December 30, 2021

Monthly Musings: 2021 Wrap Up/New Year's

One of my favourite linkups of the month is Holly and Patty's Monthly Musings. This month is all about wrapping up 2021 and looking at New Years' traditions. While I have done a bit of looking back on 2021 already, there were some new questions here I wanted to answer. Also, welcome to "Natasha is on vacation and can't get posts together in a timely manner, thus is posting at 1pm." Hahaha!!!

1) Favourite moments of 2021

I wrote about my favourite moments of 2021 for #AMonthofFaves here so I'm just going to direct you back to that post. Spoiler alert: Most of my favourite moments happened after June when we could do way more things in person.

2) Favourite vacations/trip of 2021

We only took two vacations in 2021 and they were both to visit my parents in Saskatchewan. We spent two weeks here in the summer and about a week and a half around Christmas. The summer trip was filled with family, a bit of Saskatchewan sightseeing, and lots of fun activities on the yard. The Christmas vacation was spent eating lots of amazing food, a lot of relaxing, and not much else. They were both amazing in their own ways.

3) Do you make New Year's Resolutions? Do you want to share yours?

I don't tend to make resolutions for the whole year. Each month I try to set "monthly goals" instead. Those goals got away from me in the busy-ness of our fall but I will likely be posting a monthly goals post again next week. Let's just say the start of a new year always inspires me to do better.

4) Did you have a word/phrase for 2021? Do you have one for 2022?

I haven't jumped on the "word/phrase of the year" train. However, I would say a word/phrase for me has been "survive/make it through/hang on."

5) Favourite fashion trend from 2021.

Well, you all know how fashionable I am (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!) but I would say my favourite item from 2021 was my denim shorts, followed closely by my pineapple shirt.

6) Favourite phase of 2021.

My favourite phase of 2021 was the fall when so many things got to happen in person again!!! We got to go to church, school, dance, and Blue Jays' games!!! It was such an exciting time of year!

7) Biggest surprise of 2021.

This was not a happy surprise, but the biggest surprise (shock) for me was that our kids never went back to in person school after our delayed March Break. I really thought they'd be able to finish out the school year in person and I was so sad that they couldn't.

In a happier surprise, I was also shocked at how quickly Sam, Dave, and I all got our second Covid vaccines in the spring. It took six weeks for our first shots to happen and then, within nine days in June, we all got our second shots.

8) Stay in or go out on New Year's Eve?

As a kid we always had a big party with family friends. So the only time we'd stay home was if we were hosting. Usually the party would last for a couple of days!

Now, we just celebrate with our family of four and we stay in. Sometimes, we don't even stay up until midnight.

9) Stay up until midnight or crash early?

It kind of depends on the year. This year, if all goes according to plan, I will definitely be crashing early :)

10) New Year's Day -- football, stay in bed, or binge 'n chill?

For a couple of years, I ran the Resolution Run 5K on New Year's Day. However, that's been cancelled for the past couple of years. I'd love to do something like that again. Usually we just chill at home. This year, we might make our snow people display again. We shall see...

Thanks to Holly and Patty for hosting such a great blog party! I look forward to joining in on Monthly Musings again in 2022.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

What's Up Wednesday: December 2021

It's the last What's Up Wednesday of 2021. I don't know if the hosts are publishing today (or at all this month) but I wanted to write anyways. December was mostly exciting as we looked forward to the holidays but, it was also stressful as we wondered how much the Omicron variant would interfere with our plans. It was a month of juggling and cancelling plans and trying to fit in as much fun as possible in amongst all of that.

I should also clarify that, thankfully, we were able to fly to Saskatchewan to spend Christmas with my parents so this is a very "we're on holidays and in Saskatchewan" What's Up Wednesday. (That would also explain why I'm publishing this post so late.)

image from here

What we're eating this week... Mom and Dad cooked and baked all of our favourites so we've been eating lots of jam jams and butter tarts and bacon (for the rest of the family) and Saskatoon berry pie and coffee-hot chocolate with Kahlua and basically all the treats we don't get at home!
My mom also makes a delicious fruit salad every morning.
What I'm reminiscing about... I'm reminiscing about the last time we spent Christmas in Saskatchewan, which was four years ago. It was super cold (like -40 (which is the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit)) and we stayed inside a lot.
That was also the year we surprised the kids with a Disney Cruise for Christmas!

It was soooo cold we basically went out to get this picture and then came straight back in.

We were really looking for fun things to do so we rented those ride on animals at the mall for the kids. We also spent a ton of time sitting by the fire.

What I'm loving... I am loving how relaxed this time has been. We stay up late, we sleep in, we don't care about bedtimes, we've eaten a ton of really good food, we've read lots of books, and it's just been such a treat to have nothing to do.

We've also had five bottles of prosecco this past week! There's been a lot to celebrate :)

What we've been up to... We've gone for walks and we've done a few puzzles. And I've read A LOT of books! It's been very relaxing :)
Completed puzzles

What I'm dreading... I'm dreading the news which might come with Covid numbers rising. Will the kids be doing online learning next week? We don't know yet...
Also, I'm dreading January ice. I really dislike icy season.

What I'm working on... I'm working on nothing. It's been lovely!
What I'm excited about... I'm still excited that we got to spend Christmas with my parents. It was such a great day!
  Sam and Rachel snapped the wishbone the next morning.

What I'm watching/reading...We've watched Home Alone and, other than that, I've been watching this website to see if we might get to see Northern Lights while we're here. We haven't had any luck yet but here's hoping...
Also, yesterday Rachel and I went out to the field at twilight to watch the deer. There are three in this picture at the edge of the bush across the field.

I've been reading all the books. I've read six books in the past week and am a third of a way into a new one. It's really good thus far.
Beasts of Prey
My current read

What I'm listening to... My parents listen to a lot of really beautiful choral Christmas music so I've really been enjoying that.
What I'm wearing... I got the best bunnyhug for Christmas! I LOVE it!!! And Janice crocheted matching toques for Rachel and I for Christmas. So we've been getting a lot of use out of them.
What I'm doing this weekend... Recovering from the holidays and getting ready to start work and school on Monday. This time has gone way too fast. We'll also probably go for some walks and I want to bake buns.

What I'm looking forward to next month... January tulips!!! And we're getting some awesome neighbours around mid-month. Stay tuned...!!!

What else is new... I think I've pretty much covered it. See you all in January!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

I Spy: Week 50

When you accidentally take a week and a half off from blogging, you fall a little behind on your posts :) There's no good reason I was absent and I didn't intend to not blog for so long. Blame the last few days of work before the holidays, traveling to Saskatchewan for Christmas, and celebrating for my lack of posts. Anyways, this is the I Spy post I should have posted on December 18th. As always, I'm linking up with Lysha at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Let's Play iSpy 2021

{color: pink}

Rachel and I are twinsies in our matching "pink" sherpas and our hats from Janice.


We had a lot of "packages" for our Christmas gift exchange with Tim and Janice and family. I was thrilled that Dave wrapped them all, and decorated the envelopes.

{starts with S}


"Snow" and "smoke" in "Saskatchewan" all "starts with 's.'" The smoke is on the middle left of the picture and it's too bad you can't see that snow is actually falling.

{the end}

Celebrating "the end" of 33 hours of travel with prosecco for everyone at Oma and Opa's house! Whoooo hoooo!!!

{your choice}

For the first time ever, Wonders of Winter (a light show in our local park) had a menorah as part of the decorations. We were excited to see it.

Monday, December 27, 2021

What I Read The First Half of December

Well, my reading the first half of December was a lot better than in November. For some reason, even though I was stressed about Covid, especially the Omicron variant and how it might mess with the holidays, and the last weeks of school before the break, I must have buried my stress in books :)

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)

This book took my breath away in more ways than one. It was brutal in terms of some of the descriptions of violence and punishment but, at the same time, so engaging I couldn't put it down. I would have to take a break because it was not nice bedtime reading but I had to know what happened next. This is the first book in a quartet and I immediately got the next three out of the library because I have to know how this story ends. There is a bit of teenage angst (and heartbreak) as well, but mostly I would say this book did not feel like it was written for teenagers.

The Bookstore on the Beach

This book had a very abrupt ending and you all know how I feel about that. Also, I don't feel like it was well named. Yes, there was a bookstore and a beach but they were not central to the book. This is a story which tries to do too many things at once -- teenage pregnancy? Check. Missing spouse? Check. Family secrets? Check. Same-sex relationships? Check. If you name it, it was probably in this book. So yes, it felt a little unfocused and a bit unwieldy.

A Rogue of One's Own (A League of Extraordinary Women, #2)

I really liked this book. These are what I would consider "elevated chick lit." I mean, there's romance and there's steaminess but there's also a lot about women's suffrage and women's rights and women who don't give up. Now, I don't know how many women in the 1880s lived like Lucie and her friends, but these are enjoyable reads. This was the second book in the series.

The Good, the Bad, and the Dumped

Normally, if I read a Jenny Colgan novel I am raving about it. However, this one left me a little "meh." I looked to see if it was one of her earlier books, written before she'd found her stride, and was shocked to read it was released in March 2021. What?!?!? This is not the Jenny Colgan I've come to know and love. I found her main character flighty and not very likeable. I found the plot hard to imagine. It just felt off.


This is a book we found while shopping for our kids' teacher gifts. This year we bought a bunch of books to donate to the Diverse Little Free Libraries in our city. We had so much fun shopping at our local bookstore. Sam is really into graphic novels so this story was right up his alley. He got it out of the library to read, after buying it for the libraries. Then he said, "Mommy, you should read this book." If you have access to it (it's Canadian and I don't know how widely available it is), you should absolutely read it. It's about how First Nations' people living in what we call "North America" are neither American or Canadian, and don't identify that way.

This Is All I Got

My friend Erika recommended this book. It follows a single mother through one year of living in poverty in New York City. This book absolutely broke my heart. I just want to donate all our money so that people don't have to live like this. Or how do we change the systems which don't allow people to break out of homelessness and find stability?

Serena Singh Flips the Script 

This book was... okay. I liked that the main focus was finding a good friendship, rather than finding love. I didn't love how Serena's relationship with her sister fell apart. Sadly, we returned this book on a snowy walk to the library and it got wet so we had to pay for it. Thus, I now own this book so I'll get to read it again :)

The Paper Palace

I read this book because someone said it was similar to Where The Crawdads Sing. I think my expectations were set too high because I don't agree with that assessment. The story was...okay... although the setting of the summer home was incredible and I want to live there. However, this isn't a book I'll recommend or rave about. Maybe I'm just too picky :)

So that's what I read the first half of December. We've been celebrating Christmas at my parents' in Saskatchewan for the past week so that's why I've been quiet on the blog. However, I've gotten LOTS of reading done already so tune in next Monday for my reading wrap up for 2021, including my reading stats and my favourite books for the last quarter of 2021.