Friday, May 20, 2022

I Spy 2022: Week 19 (Week 71)

Are you guys ready for my third "I Spy" post of the week? This is the post I should have published this past Saturday, May 14th. It's been surprising to me that I've managed to have as many pictures from the week as I've had. "Spot in town" was taken last night, but otherwise, these pictures are all from last week. As always, I'm linking up with Lysha, and the other more timely "I Spy" bloggers, at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Let's Play iSpy 2022

{Spot in Town – Quarterly}

 This is our public square last night. We walked uptown to get ice cream and then sat here and ate it. Someone was offering free salsa lessons so Sam watched, Rachel and I briefly participated, and Dave went to get beer. I love all the various things which happen at our public square. You can go here to see it in winter.

{Starts with 'M'}

I love that our neighbours have a magnolia tree so I can enjoy it in the spring. They're so beautiful.

{at last}

"At last" food trucks are back and we've been taking full advantage of them. I had a lobster sandwich from this one and it was delicious!

{in the moment}

I was so "in the moment" on Mother's Day that this is the only picture I took. We had our first BBQ meal outside of the season. I loved all the salads which Dave and the kids made.

{your choice}

I know I recently posted a picture of ice cream (you can see it here), but ice cream can always be "our choice" right?! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

10 On The 10th: May 2022

I know I have been posting a lot of picture heavy posts this week, so true to form, here's another one for you :) In April's "10 On The 10th" I was frustrated with our lack of spring. You can read that post here. Thus, this month I decided to share my joy in spring finally arriving!

I love this picture of dandelions mixed with forget-me-nots which I saw on the path on my walk home.

After school at our house looks like this in the spring -- school stuff dumped on the back table so the kids can go out to play, windows open, and a box of soccer things waiting to be sorted through.

After work, I love reading outside with a cold Coke, or something a little stronger :)

These are some of my favourite spring flowers. They're called "pulmonaria" or "lungwort" and they're so small. I was lying down to get this photo.

Rachel and a friend were having an after school play date on the trampoline.

I love how the daffodils bloom among the dead raspberry stalks in the spring. They provide a spot of colour in an otherwise brown and grey area.

Rachel made this birdhouse at VBS last year. We need to get some bird seed in it as we've seen a few birds check it out. It hangs in our maple tree.

I love this basket of pansies I bought through our neighbourhood fundraiser. It brightens up this corner bed so much.

Our tree and our neighbour's tree are so pretty in full bloom -- even when they significantly activate my allergies.

These are such weird tulips. They fully open throughout the day and then close up every night. They are definitely not what I was expecting when I bought them.

And that was my "Spring is finally here!!!" May 10th.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Halfway Through April And What I'd Read

I am only publishing this post now, but I wrote most of it at work one day in April. However, I couldn't load the book cover images from work so it's been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks. 

Last year I read 200 books and I thought, "Well, I can read more than that in 2022." I didn't count on working full-time, and how lack of lock downs, would interfere with my reading. Instead of staying up until all hours of the night, I'm asleep before 11 most nights. And you won't hear me complain about the fact that we don't have to stay home all the time anymore :) However, my reading is going to be a little light for the next few months...

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)
After seeing our friends' daughter play Anne in the play, I really wanted to reread the book. Now I just need to make time to reread the rest of the series :) Also, I don't remember when I first read these books but with all the descriptive writing, they really aren't geared to younger readers.
The People We Keep

It took me over a week to read this book but that was because I was tired, not because it wasn't engaging. I loved the quirky characters although April's parents made me sad. I just wanted to take care of her and give her a safe place to land. And I loved the ending :)
Crying in H Mart

I thought this book was good but it was one of those ones which was way overhyped for me so I felt a little let down by it. I was expecting it to be amazing and, for me, it just wasn't. However, I did enjoy reading this and the way the author wrote about her relationship with her mother, through food.
Apples Never Fall

Oh Liane Moriarty -- I'm giving up on you. I read your best book first (What Alice Forgot) and it's all gone downhill from there, in my opinion. I just don't love your books and I am officially breaking up with you. This book was... okay... but I just didn't love it.
Wish You Were Here

Jodi Picoult, on the other hand, always gets my vote. She has done it again with a book that took a twist in the middle I absolutely did not see coming. (Sorry if I've just spoiled it for you.) I seriously gasped out loud, and flipped back a few pages to figure out what had just happened. I highly recommend this book and want to talk about it with someone, so if you've read it, let me know.

And that's what I've read thus far in April. The end of my April (and beginning of May) reading will feature a lot of JD Robb's In Death books so I figured I'd let you know that now :)

Do you like Liane Moriarty? Do you think I'm breaking up with her unfairly? What author will you not read again? Let's discuss :)

Monday, May 16, 2022

I Spy 2022: Week 18 (Week 70)

I'm going to post another "I Spy" post. This is the post I should have posted on May 7.  I did actually take most of these pictures during the previous week except for "plant" and "inside out." As always, I'm linking up with Lysha at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Also, if you didn't get a chance to read the introduction to my post from yesterday, which explains why I haven't blogged lately, you can read it here.

Let's Play iSpy 2022

{Plant – quarterly}

This is my "quarterly" picture of my "plant." I didn't think it would change all that much but it's gotten a lot bigger since last time. You can see this plant in February here.

{Inside Out}

I learned to hang our favourite clothes "inside out" from my mom a few years ago. This way they don't fade as much from the sun when I'm hanging them outside. It's a pain to turn them all right side in before I fold them, but I'm happy to have the colours last longer.

{Split}

I don't know if this is the best picture but a nail "split" (or just plain "broke") our tire this week. Boooo. Dave had to change the tire twice, and we had to get the tire fixed twice. What a pain. Thankfully, this was a small annoyance in the grand scheme of things and Dave had the time to deal with it.

{Green}

 

This is my birthday dinner which I happened to eat off a "green" plate. Dave made Earl Grey Tea Salmon (using steelhead fish instead), Sam made delicious baked potato, cheddar, and chive balls, and Rachel made a "green" Caesar salad. This dinner was so good!!!

{Your Choice}

 

Are you guys at all shocked that these lovely flowers, which my parents sent me for my birthday, are what I chose for this prompt?!?!? Flowers are always "my choice."

Sunday, May 15, 2022

I Spy 2022: Week 17 (Week 69)

I'm pretty far behind on blogging due to a few reasons.

1) My allergies have hit pretty hard and I've been exhausted.

2) Work has been busier and that's taken a lot of emotional energy. I love what I'm doing but it's just... a lot. I'm really hoping I'll get used to it soon.

3) Our life is busier when we're not in quarantine :) Rachel's had a dance performance, neighbourhood soccer has started up again, and there's been a lot going on with synagogue and church and extra meetings related to those two things.

4) I've never loved my "new" computer and lately it's gotten worse. (And yes, this computer is almost a year and a half old.) It's so slow that there are days I don't sit down at it because I can't stand how long it takes to start up and load web pages. What should take me a minute, takes about ten. My parents and Dave are buying me a new computer for my birthday so hopefully, eventually, this problem, at least, will be solved.

I want to try and catch up on some of my "regular" blog posts, and others, I am just letting go of. One of the ones I am letting go of is "One Sentence A Day." I realized in April that my sentences were all sounding the same, especially during the week. "I worked, I folded laundry, I was exhausted." And really, that just isn't all that interesting :) Maybe over the summer, I'll try to do that post again but, for the next few months, I'm letting it go.

And before, I get too much further, I want to say a huge "THANK YOU!!!" for all the love and birthday wishes a few weeks ago :) You guys are the best blog readers and thank you for helping to make me feel special on my birthday. And thank you to Dave for writing such a special birthday post :) If you haven't read it yet, you can check it out here.

For my first post back in awhile, I am posting my (very belated) "I Spy" post. This post was supposed to publish on April 30, and while I did take all of these pictures that week, I just didn't get this post written in time. As always, for "I Spy" I'm linking up with Lysha at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Let's Play iSpy 2022

{On Your Plate – quarterly}

This was the week of Rachel's dance performance dress rehearsals. Therefore, "on my plate" this day was a takeout salad. While the rest of my family ate chicken nuggets, fries, sushi, and Asian noodles, I tried to be a little healthier with this salad. It was delicious with roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, corn, tomatoes, and avocados.

{Outside}

I was so happy to see so many daffodils (and other spring flowers) blooming "outside" this week. I smiled every single time I saw them :)

{Starts with 'T' }

Two new minted 50-year-olds "starts with 't'". And one of these people is our best friend, Tim! I was thrilled to be celebrating birthdays with Tim and Janice again!!!

 {Where You Are Now?}

Did I mention we spent a lot of time at dress rehearsals with Rachel this week?!?! I was thrilled to be able to watch her dance again and to see all the excitement surrounding the year end show. Unfortunately, we're not allowed to take pictures in the theatre so I had to take these in the main lobby to show "where are we now?".

{Choose Anything – monthly (same vantage point)}

 

In April our dining room was decked out to celebrate Passover (left) and Easter (right). It was a busy weekend :)

It feels so good to be back blogging again and I'll see you again soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Currently: May 2022

It's the first Wednesday in May so I'm joining in with Anne at in residence for "Currently." I found the prompts challenging to answer this month. Was I the only one? Maybe I overthought them :)

[consuming]

For some reason, lately I've been "consuming" green grapes every single day at work for lunch. I don't know why grapes are so appealing to me right now but they really are -- as long as they're green :)
 

[feeling]

I am "feeling" all the love from my friends and family as I celebrated a big birthday milestone a couple of days ago. While my actual birthday was fairly quiet, a bigger party is coming later this month (I hope!) but I got so many messages from friends near and far wishing me a "Happy Birthday" and I felt so loved.
These are the flowers my parents sent to me.

[finding]

While I love my new position, I'm "finding" that it takes a ton of my energy. Thus, I get home exhausted and I am not on top of things at home. I need to find a better balance between collapsing when I get home (and getting nothing done) and finding some energy to accomplish a few "at home" tasks every day

[following]

Mainly, I'm "following" Blue Jays baseball. They've been playing really well, thus far, this season so they've been fun to watch. I'm excited that we have plans to go to lots of in person games this season!

I've also been "following" the weather, looking for the rare, sunny and slightly warm days. Those are the best laundry hanging days and they've been few and far between this spring.

[spending]

Right now, I'm "spending" all the time I can under my new blanket. My best friend, Janice, crocheted this for me for my birthday and it's gorgeous. This is such a special gift, and actually makes me a little glad it's been a cold week so I can snuggle under it.

So that's what's up with me "currently." I'm looking forward to spending some time over the next few days reading about what's up with all of you!

Monday, May 02, 2022

Natasha's 50th Birthday Spectacular!

    Today is Natasha's 50th birthday, and to mark the occasion I am going a bit beyond my usual guest birthday post. Instead of a collection of pictures, I'm sharing 50 facts, stories, or bits of trivia all about Natasha. Leaning on the "mountain of trivia" theme, I've organized them according to the Trivial Pursuit categories, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy, and happy birthday Natasha!

    Geography
  1. Natasha has lived in a number of far-flung places – the Netherlands, Israel/Palestine, and Germany – as well as several Canadian provinces.
  2. Natasha has traveled to over 40 countries, on five of seven continents; she’s only missing Antarctica and South America, although she has been to Bonaire and Curacao, which are just off the coast of Venezuela
  3. Natasha has road tripped from Saskatoon to the Yukon (2,500 km or 1,550 miles) twice – once on a family trip as a teen, and again in 2019
  4. Some of Natasha’s more interesting travel destinations include the smallest desert in the world (Carcross Desert, Yukon); Hobbiton, in New Zealand; the biggest ball of twine in Darwin, MN; and Petra, in Jordan
  5. Natasha has had the chance to visit a country that no longer exists: East Germany, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall
  6. Through Natasha’s travels, she has learned several languages: Dutch, German, and Arabic. She also learned French in school (it's included in school curriculums across Canada).
  7. Recently (pre-COVID, that is), our travels have included a few Disney cruises. While our first cruise was pretty brief (a few Caribbean islands off the cost of Florida), our second cruise lasted a week and took us from San Juan to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.
  8. Natasha took a three week-long trip across China, Mongolia, and Russia, with a stop in Ukraine to visit the village her grandpa was from, with her dad on the Trans-Siberian railway, when she was in her early 30s. One life lesson from that trip is that fermented mare’s milk is just as appetizing as it sounds.

    Entertainment
  9. Natasha is not a great singer (by her own admission), but she loves musicals, and can really get into singing along with her favourite songs! This can be a dangerous combination when driving down the highway and listening to “Do You Hear the People Sing?”
  10. Natasha is a fan of Friends, and was able to visit Central Perk in NYC during a promotional event eight years ago.
  11. In a desperate attempt to keep everyone in the house “entertained” at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Natasha spearheaded the creation of the KC Post, a newsletter (aka series of blog posts) written by everyone in our house. While the journalistic quality may have wavered at times, she kept publication going for a couple of months during very adverse circumstances. Here are links to the first and ninth editions of the newsletter.
  12. Natasha takes charge of decorating in our house, and has festive decorations ready for just about any occasion – pink heart-covered tablecloth for Valentine’s Day, hanging tacos for Cinco de Mayo, and wreaths for all seasons.
  13. Natasha has played a wide variety of musical instruments over the years, including piano, flute, violin, ukulele, and hand bells.
  14. Natasha loves 80's music, especially the cheesy love ballads. She is gradually passing this along to the kids, who are learning to love Celine Dion and Queen.
  15. Natasha doesn’t really watch TV or movies, with the exception of Blue Jays baseball games (more on this later) or other major sports events, such as the Raptor's 2019 championship playoff run.

    History
  16. Natasha has been involved in at her church for a long time; how long, you ask? Well, some of the little 4-year-old kids she taught in Sunday School have gone on to get married; become a teacher; teach our kids how to swim; and even become a YouTube sensation.
  17. Natasha grew up in the prairie province of Saskatchewan (north of North Dakota and Montana) and has a deep and passionate love for it which she has passed along to our kids.
  18. Natasha took a while to get her driver’s license, due to some parental impatience (according to her) when she was a teenager. She didn't get her full license until she was 35, a few days before we drove across three provinces and moved to Edmonton.
  19. The history of Natasha’s travels and interests is reflected in her extensive mug collection; which one is your favourite?
  20. While living in the Netherlands, she learned Dutch by insisting that she didn’t speak English, whenever people tried to switch languages for her. Eventually, people assumed that she was a native German speaker who had learned Dutch!
  21. Natasha went to a Mennonite private school for her last year of high school, which was very much a family tradition – not only had her parents gone there, but so had her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, on both sides of the family.
  22. As part of her human rights observation work in Israel/Palestine, Natasha was interviewed on CBC (the Canadian equivalent to NPR), and wrote articles that were published around the world in different languages.

    Arts & Literature
  23. Natasha’s guilty pleasure reading is Nora Roberts, although sometimes she’ll switch to J.D. Robb when she wants a change of pace :)
  24. Most of you already know that Natasha is an avid reader, but you may not know just how much she reads. While some of us might aspire to read a book every week or so, she managed to read 200 books last year! Here is a summary of her past year of reading, as well as a blog post label to check out more reading-related posts
  25. Natasha has created many craft projects over the years (often with help from Sam and Rachel). Two of my favourite projects are our Blue Jays pillows (made out of free give-away rally towels) and the ice luminaries (lanterns) we made last winter.
  26. Natasha has been part of several book clubs over the years. Currently, she is meeting regularly (online, of course) with some far-flung blog friends; it started out as a way to visit and have a drink in the midst of COVID lockdowns, and then someone had the bright idea to talk about books while they were there! :)
  27. Natasha has been enthusiastic about checking out local events put on by artists in our area, including the K-W Artwalk, Lumen, and Lights on Stratford.
  28. Natasha may not run marathons, but she does participate in readathons. For those of you who aren't familiar with this challenge, there are two varieties: the "traditional" 24-hour readathon, where the goal is to read as much as possible over a full 24-hour day. Then, there's the "24 in 48" variety, where the goal is to read for 24 out of 48 hours. Over the years, Natasha has dragged the rest of the family into it, too, lured in no small part by the copious readathon snacks, which are an integral part of the experience!
  29. As part of a project for her Arts degree, Natasha interviewed Gordon Korman, a popular Canadian kid lit author. Since Gordon started his writing career as a teenager (you can read more here), his mother has apparently been his agent for many years. Thus, when Natasha called him to arrange the interview, it was his mother who called back and someone shouted down the hall of her residence, “Natasha, Gordon Korman’s mom is on the phone for you!”

    Science & Nature
  30. Natasha’s dad and uncles have owned a tree nursery/garden centre for many years, and Natasha spent several summers (and other school vacations) working there in various capacities.
  31. I was a total gardening newbie when I met Natasha 15 years ago, and one way we got to know each other better was that she taught me to recognize some basic flowers and other plants
  32. Natasha is officially the “fun science experiment” parent in our family, and has tackled all sorts of fun, messy, and occasionally educational projects with the kids. We've also checked out events like Engineering Science Quest at school and Women in Science at the local university (pictured below).

  33. While we were mostly stuck at home over the COVID winter of 2020-21, Natasha was the driving force behind a series of family hikes. We checked out a number of trails in our area, including one that took us on a trip through geologic history.
  34. Unsurprisingly, Natasha is the head gardener in our family (I am an “assistant undergardener”, at best), and lovingly tends to a range of beds and flowers from spring to fall.
  35. Natasha has had a few spontaneous lung detachments (pneumothorax, to use the technical term), the most recent of which occurred this past January. Fortunately, she's received excellent medical care when these have occurred, and the most serious long-term consequence is that she can't ever go scuba diving.
  36. Although she is not a pet person, Natasha has consented to having a succession of fish in our house, from Beta (Sam’s first fish, when he was 5) to Bluey (Rachel’s fish that lived for over three years). Despite much interest from certain others in our house, we won’t be getting any larger (or furrier) animals any time soon!

    Sports & Leisure
  37. Natasha played for a rec league Ultimate Frisbee team (the Pickle Bombs) in her 30s; the name came from a particularly strong batch of pickles made by one of her friends on the team.
  38. An occasional downhill skier, she has gone skiing in the Rockies, Europe, and Utah, but has never braved the slopes of our local ski hill.
  39. Natasha is hooked on virtual walking challenges. She has “traveled” across the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Camino Santiago (in Spain), and the north coast of Scotland – a total of 1,990 km (1,234 miles) and counting. Next up: Ring Road in Iceland!
  40. Natasha is a huge Blue Jays fan, and loves everything about going to games, from cheering herself hoarse, to singing at the seventh-inning stretch, and (perhaps especially?) the ballpark hot dogs

  41. Natasha was the official scorekeeper for her high school basketball team, which meant that she had a front-row seat for plenty of sports excitement, including working some of the biggest games at one of the largest tournaments in Western Canada.
  42. Natasha has taken on a variety of athletic challenges, including a few 5/10 km walks and runs for charities, a “sprint” duathlon, and a ballet class for adults.
  43. When Natasha lived in the Netherlands, she biked 10 km (6.2 miles) each way to work, every day for six months. In total, this added up to 2,200 km (1,360 miles), which is like biking from Toronto to Winnipeg (or from New York City to Miami).

    Wild Card
  44. Natasha is very, um, particular about how laundry is hung and folded; she gets this from her mother, who is even more particular. Watching Natasha get schooled on laundry hanging by her mom was a glorious moment in my life which I will treasure forever.
  45. After many years of happily consuming her mom’s fresh-baked buns, Natasha eventually asked for the recipe, and has been our household bun-baker for the past several years. The buns are great with soup, chili, or on their own with a slice of cheese!
  46. Natasha is double-jointed, and can bend her fingers (and toes) in ways that make me squirm.
  47. Natasha has bungee-jumped off a crane in Australia, gone bar-hopping in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, and taken flying lessons at our local airport… but when it comes to dealing with bugs that invade our room, apparently that is entirely up to me.
  48. Natasha is not a “hair and makeup” person, but she takes one for the team when it comes to getting Rachel ready for her dance performances.
  49. Natasha has been vegetarian for over 20 years, although she makes an exception for Saskatchewan farmer sausage. If you've ever tried it, you'll understand why!
  50. This last item is not trivia, but simply a final recognition that Natasha is a wonderful mother to our two kids, and thus this is an excuse to include a few more photos. Happy birthday once again!