Saturday, January 29, 2022

I Spy 2022: Week 4 (Week 56)

It's time for another edition of "I Spy" with Lysha, at A Camera and A Cookbook. This is, unintentionally, the "baby, it's cold outside" edition of I Spy :) We've been in a deep freeze here. Also, I'm very excited that I'm joining the link up on time this week -- that might be the first time in 2022 this has happened.

Let's Play iSpy 2022

{On Your Plate – Quarterly}

January brings soup weather and, a Friday night in January, brings soup with challah so we can celebrate Shabbat. I know technically this is "in my bowl" as opposed to "on my plate" but it was very appropriate.


At first, I took a picture of the giant icicle "hanging" off the back of our house but then decided to capture these mini icicles hanging off the front of our house instead. I thought they look really interesting among the dried ivy.

{Starts with "A"}


 I really struggled as to what I could take a picture of that "starts with 'a'" but then the sun shone on our aprons and I had what I thought was a great photo! Yes, we have too many aprons. Yes, I am working on a decluttering challenge :)



Winter means there is always a huge "pile" (or two) of snow in our front yard. How long until Spring? Also, this isn't the greatest picture because I was really cold when I took it.

{Choose Anything – (Monthly – same vantage point)}


I really struggled with this one too. I thought about a few different things but I wanted to show something which might actually change monthly. Thus, I decided to take a picture of our dining room every month. I know the lighting is not the best but, if you look closely, you will see three bouquets of tulips (one of which is partly dead!), six place mats on the table because my parents were here for supper the night I took this picture, and outside the window didn't photograph well because there's too much snow. We shall see how much the dining room changes from month to month. It may not be a good vantage point...

As I was writing this blog post, I realized I also could have taken a stack of my current library books every month but I already write a lot about books so I wasn't sure how interesting it would be.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Monthly Musings: Love & Valentine's Day

It's the first Monthly Musings of 2022!!! Holly, who blogs at Pink Lady, and Patty, who blogs at Good Better Best, host this most fun link up every month. You should really join them for 2022, if you aren't a regular already :)

1) Favourite Valentine's memory?

I shared this one last year and I really think it's still my favourite :) One year when I was in university, I commented how much Valentine's Day sucked as a single person. My friends went out of their way to make that day special for me. They gave me chocolates, made lovely cards, and I just remember feeling so loved. They honestly hosted the original Galentine's Day way back in 1993 just for me and I loved them for it.
2) Chocolate, flowers, both?
I am not the world's biggest chocolate fan unless it's some of the special chocolates we buy only around Christmas (Toffifee, Turtles) or Lindt balls. I LOVE Lindt Balls and could eat them year round. So if you're buying me chocolate, make it Lindt balls, and not the fancy flavours either. Make it milk or dark chocolate and I'm yours :)

In terms of flowers, well, I'm always up for a good bouquet of flowers. Although I really enjoy buying my own, I also love when friends give me flowers. You can read this post here for the birthday when my friends all spoiled me with flowers.

I guess, to answer the question, this makes me a "both" person :)

3) Favourite romantic date?

I'm realizing that dates aren't my love language. Hahaha! We just don't spend a lot of time going on dates. That is partly due to Covid and partly due to the fact that it's hard to think of places to go on dates. I guess just being with Dave is my favourite romantic date -- having a low-key evening for just the two of us, and if we get to experience something new, that's even better.

This picture is from last year when, after five weeks of lockdown, Dave and I had a Valentine's Day "date" to the grocery store. It was the first time we'd been together, just the two of us, in over a month. Very romantic :)

4) Any Valentine's traditions with kids?

We used to go to McDonald's, or order it in, but our kids don't really like McDonald's anymore so we'll have to find a new tradition. We always make their Valentine's cards for school with them but Sam hasn't given them out the past few years...
left: working on Valentine's cards * right: One year, Sam made cookies instead of cards to share with his class. 

I look forward to reading your posts to find out about some new traditions we can incorporate.
5) How do you show love?
I show love by showing up, usually with a bouquet of flowers :) I want my people to know I am there for them when they need me.
6) Do you decorate for Valentine's Day?
We have a special tablecloth, I usually have pink or red tulips, and we eat off the pink or red Fiestaware. And we have a Valentine's banner we made one year which I'll hang. So I do low-key decorating.

Left: our Valentine's supper table * Right: the banner the kids and I made, which we still hang
7) Do you wear red or pink on Valentine's Day?
 I don't own a lot of pink or red clothing but I usually try to wear what little I have.
8) Valentine's Day -- big deal or small remembrance?
Small remembrance. I feel like Valentine's Day is a commercial holiday and, if I'm only celebrating love on one day a year, that's pretty sad. (I realize that this is only my own opinion though.)
9) Favourite idea for school Valentine's parties?
Canada doesn't have school parties so I have no answer for this. I do sometimes envy all the school parties parents get to attend in the States though.
10) Have you ever had a secret admirer?
Not really. I mean, every once in awhile I've participated in "secret friends" sort of stuff where you do special things for each other for a week, or something like that, but I've always found out who they are at the end of the week, or month. I've never had one where they weren't "assigned" to me and where I had no idea who they were. Does that make sense?

After reading my answers, I think I might be a bit of a Valentine's Day party pooper. Clearly I need to read the rest of the blogs in this link up to get into the spirit a little more :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

What's Up Wednesday: January 2022

It's the first What's Up Wednesday of 2022. January has been a crazy month for us so I'm thankful for this way of documenting it. As always, I'm linking up with Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me To.

One thing that pervades this post, that you may not know if you're randomly dropping by today, is that I had a spontaneous pneumothorax (random, partial lung detachment) a few weeks ago. I am fine now (YAY!) but I was on bed rest for a week, and had numerous hospital visits for monitoring, so that definitely defined our month. If you want to read more, you can check out this post here where I go into a little more detail.

image from here

What we're eating this week... After two weeks of not doing much cooking (thank you to my church and our parents for feeding us for a few weeks), Dave and I started cooking again this week. Dave made veggie pulled pork this past Saturday and I made pumpkin penne a couple of nights ago. As you will see under "what I'm excited about," my parents are currently living a little closer right now, so they fed us some delicious meals for about a week, including a really good chicken-vegetable noodle soup.

What I'm reminiscing about... Well, if you read the post I linked to above, you will know that I experienced this same health issue back in 1999 and 2000. So I've been reminiscing about that time.
In 1999, I was working in the Middle East as a human rights observer. At one point, I thought my lung might have detached so I went to the hospital for x-rays. The translator who came with me is the one holding the x-ray, and unlike the Canadian system, they gave me my x-ray to take home. I have it in a box downstairs somewhere :) In February 2000, after my second pneumothorax I was told that if I wanted to fly again, I would need surgery to fix the issue. Obviously, not ever flying again wasn't an option so I had surgery.
Me, back in the Middle East after my lung surgery. I was so much younger and my hair was so much shorter!!!

What I'm loving... January tulips!!! It took me about a week to find them in grocery stores and I was starting to worry that they might not ever arrive due to the supply chain issues but they have since made an appearance. I especially love that my friends brought me the bouquet on the right (with hyacinths too) while I was on bed rest.

What we've been up to... Besides my health issues, we've had a lot going on.
We've been skating at our neighbourhood rink a few times.
Dave and I had a couple of "dates" in hospital waiting rooms -- hahahaha!!!
Dave turned 40 on a snow day so spent his birthday shoveling! We'll celebrate more appropriately when our province gets out of its current restrictions and we can gather in larger groups again.
Rachel had dental surgery to remove seven teeth and get some other ones fixed last week. As she was waking up from anesthesia, she kept opening her mouth to show us work had been done.
(She gave me permission to post this picture.)  

What I'm dreading... My lung healed without surgical intervention, but I do have a few restrictions, and a slightly higher possibility that I could have the same issue again in the future. If I do, I would likely need surgery to fix the issue so I'm dreading the thought that I might need to go through this all again in the near future. Blah.

What I'm working on... I've been doing a decluttering challenge and the January goal is to work on the kitchen. So I've been going through everything in our kitchen, trying to figure out what we should keep and what we can get rid of. We're not hoarders, but oh boy, do we have a lot of unnecessary items. Ugh.

What I'm excited about... Our neighbours who live three doors down went to another country for four months and mentioned that if we knew anyone who might want to house sit, they'd be open to that. So.... my parents are living on our street for the next few months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Normally, they live three provinces away so we're sooooo excited for this new development. The kids love stopping by for an after school snack and visit and I love stopping by just because!!! The closest we've ever lived to my parents is a five hour drive so we are all really loving having them in close proximity!!!

What I'm watching/reading... On Monday night I got sucked into our school board's trustee meeting, which was live streamed on YouTube. There was a bit of controversy at last week's meeting and the community was responding to it this past Monday night. So I watched the presentations and learned quite a bit about how our school board works. It was vvvveeerrryyy interesting. I may end up watching another one at some point but I found out that they basically have a two hour meeting every week and I just can't commit that much time so this won't be a regular occurrence.

In more interesting watching, the week that Bob Saget died was the week I was on bed rest so I spent a lot of time watching Full (and Fuller) House clips and crying.

As to reading, well, let's just say that being on bed rest contributed greatly to my January reading. Currently I'm reading the following two books:

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers

What I'm listening to... While the kids did start off 2022 with a week and a half of remote learning, thankfully they went back to school last week so I'm no longer listening to that! Also, since Dave's desk is set up at the end of our bed, I spent a lot of time listening to his work meetings, while I was on bed rest. I'm so happy I'm now back to listening to the routines of school as I'm back at work!!!
What I'm wearing... Well, this month was defined more than I would have preferred by hospital gowns, which are totally in fashion! Hahaha!!! Again, I'm so glad I'm back to wearing regular clothes!
What I'm doing this weekend... Our library is doing an Amazing Race so we're planning to participate in that and I found a really cool looking light show in a small town near us so we're hoping to go and check that out too. It could be a really great weekend!

What I'm looking forward to next month... Probably next month enough restrictions will be lifted that we can belatedly celebrate Dave's birthday.

What else is new... I think I've covered everything... See you back here next month when, hopefully, life will be a little more normal for us. Fingers crossed and prayers being said :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

I Spy 2022: Week 3 (Week 55)

So I'm back with another "I Spy" post. Tomorrow, I promise, I'll have something different :) However, for today, I'm once again linking up with Lysha, and the other I Spy bloggers, at A Camera and A Cookbook.

Let's Play iSpy 2022 

{Work Space – Quarterly}

I will never take a picture of my "work space" at my actual job due to privacy issues. However, here is my little space at home. You can tell it's seasonal because there are holiday cards to send (yes, still a few) and to put away, there are a bunch of Covid rapid tests taking over my top shelf, and my computer is gone because for most of the past two weeks, I've been working on my computer from bed, rather than from my desk. And if you look really closely you might be able to see some Christmas money which I haven't spent yet :)


This prompt really challenged me but I finally decided to take a picture of this tulip. It's always a surprise to me when I buy a bunch of closed tulips what the actual flowers will look like when they open. "Enclosed" within this tulip is a surprise I may never see, as some tulip bouquets don't actually open.


Rachel had dental surgery last week and had seven teeth removed as well as some other work done. Eating was a challenge for her for a few days and we were trying to figure out different ways to get her nutrition. My mom is really "clever" because she not only remembered how much Rachel loves egg nog, but also made a huge batch for her. This is the last of the batch which Rachel consumed in less than 24 hours as it was a HUGE hit.


A nice sunny day and freshly fallen snow made this prompt a lot of fun! It's not all that "shady" but you can clearly see the outline of Rachel's birdhouse hanging off our tree. (This photo might make more sense if I admit I actually thought the prompt was "shadow." Ooops!)

{Your Choice}

Yesterday was a bit of a day, both at home and at work, so this mug was my clear choice to drink out of last night!

Monday, January 24, 2022

I Spy 2022: Week 2 (Week 54)

It's been a messed up couple of weeks around here so blogging has not been a priority. Thus, I am posting my (very belated) I Spy Week 2 today (which I should have posted on Saturday, January 15th) and Week 3 (which I should have posted this past Saturday) tomorrow (I hope!). Besides my lung stuff, nothing bad has happened -- there's just been a lot going on -- Dave's 40th birthday, which was also a snow day, my parents arrived to be our neighbours for a couple of months (YAY!!!), Rachel had dental surgery and the same day Sam got sent home for half a day because the power went out at his school. Did I mention there's been a lot going on?!?!?!

Anyways, as always, I'm linking up with Lysha at A Camera and A Cookbook for the I Spy challenge.

Let's Play iSpy 2022 

 {Selfie (Quarterly shot)}

I have this idea that I will take each of my "selfies" in the same position. Thus, you will not only see how I change but also how the tree in our front yard changes. I don't love the angle of this shot but it was very cold out so I was trying to get the picture quickly.

{Outfit (Quarterly shot)}

Given the uniqueness of how Week 2 of 2022 went for me, the hospital gown on the left is the more common "outfit" I wore that week, along with pajamas. However, I also decided to include the outfit I wore on my first day back to work after I got off bed rest -- my favourite sweater and grey pants. I don't have a full length mirror with great lighting so I might have to get someone to take my outfit pictures from now on...

{Starts with 'Z'}

I was really stuck on what to take for this picture. I asked Dave and Rachel, "What can I take a picture for it "starts with 'z'"?" and Rachel immediately responded, "zeeee flowerrrrrs." Dave and I lost it laughing. I absolutely would have taken a picture of "zeeee flowerrrrs" but I don't know how many flower pictures I can post in one "I Spy" blog post :) Then Rachel suggested her zebra which we bought her in Kenya. I took a picture of him on my zigzag patterned chair and well, there's a lot which "starts with 'z'" in this photo!


My mom bought a bouquet of alstromeria and it made us laugh because not only was there an orange one in "between" all the pink ones but it also grew faster than the others so it stuck up higher too!

{Your Choice}


While being on bed rest definitely wasn't "my choice," the beautiful flowers my friends brought me, along with supper, made it so much better!

So this is what Week 2 looked like for me. Now I need to go take pictures for Week 3! See you back here tomorrow (hopefully!) for those.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Halfway Through January And What I've Read

Hello All! Welcome to a new year of reading! January has started off oddly for me in that school was online so I didn't have to work a lot of hours at the school and then my lung partially detached (see this post for more details) so I've had a ton of time to read. I wasn't expecting any of that.

Always, in December

I thought this book was okay but I didn't like how one of the main characters wasn't completely open with the other one. This wasn't a typical rom-com which I appreciated, but I would have liked a little more honesty between the two main characters.

Rock Paper Scissors

I thought this one was actually pretty good. I loved reading about the different anniversary gifts and trying to figure out what was going on. As with many thrillers of this genre, none of the characters are reliable. I liked this book better than many of the thrillers I've read lately, so that's saying something.

Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man

I read Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Boy back in July 2021. I liked how this book was more in-depth and "adult." I also really appreciated the chapter on the Black family. I've read quite a few anti-racism books and there's still so much for me to learn. I also think this would be a good book for someone who is just dipping their toes into anti-racism reading as Acho provides a lot of practical ways for white people to take action.

 Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

I read this book because my friend Emily read it. While it wasn't quite as in depth as I was hoping it would be (it more covers a year (and a bit)) in the author's life), this book was still really powerful. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I knew how short the time was that the book covered. I wanted to know more about what happened after. But I appreciate how vulnerable and real Conley was and how open he was about how he couldn't vilify his faith or his family.

The Matchmaker's List

There were some things I enjoyed about this book (the focus on the best friend relationship) there were some things which really rubbed me the wrong way. I think it is so harmful to pretend to be gay and the repercussions of that were somewhat glossed over. I also just didn't really like Raina as a main character -- she didn't appeal to me at all. I don't know -- something about this book just fell flat for me :(

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

This second book in the series was just as violent as the first one, maybe more so, but also just as engaging. Sometimes a second book falls flat but this book had me wanting to read the next book in the series right away. I raced through this book in two days (before I was on bed rest) so that tells you something about how engaging it is. If you haven't started this series yet, what are you waiting for???

Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

This is the story of the woman  behind the "Me too" movement. I was a little confused because at first I had in my head that this was one of the woman behind the "Black Lives Matter" movement because I also have an autobiography from one of those women on my TBR. What I appreciated about this book is how Burke worries about how her work might be co-opted by white women. I really wonder how many times we white people take over the work that BIPOC people have been doing for years. This is a powerful memoir that I think everyone should read.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue 

A book set in a library -- count me in!!! The most interesting thing about this book, and I think I'd read about this before, is that the superintendent of New York Public Libraries used to live in apartments inside the library. How cool a living space would that be?!?!?!? This book in written in two timelines (1913 and "the present" set in 1993) and I found the timeline set in 1913 much more interesting. I enjoyed learning a little more about how women were fighting for roles outside of the "traditional" ones. Without giving too much away, I didn't love how the story set in 1913 ended for Harry. I thought he deserved a better resolution. Maybe that didn't sit well with me because Sam is around Harry's age so I was picturing him as I read Harry's story.

When We Left Cuba

I read Next Year In Havana a few summers ago and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to picking up this book. Sadly, I felt like this one dragged a bit. I really thought it would be more about Cuba and less about Beatriz trying to make a place for herself. I think, if I'd had different expectations about what the book was about, I would have enjoyed it more. So rather than thinking of this as a book about Beatriz trying to get revenge on Castro, think about this as a book about Beatriz trying to find a place for herself, in this new world, without compromising her core beliefs. I would have enjoyed this novel a lot more if I'd thought about it that way.

A Holly Jolly Diwali

While there were aspects of this novel I really enjoyed -- the descriptions of India and the celebration of Diwali there, the friendship between Niki and Diya -- there were parts of it which really bugged me. I'm not a "love at first sight" kind of person so that bothered me, as did Niki's personality. However, having the flashbacks to her past helped me understand her a little better. This is the third Sonya Lalli novel I've read and I think it might be my last one. They're okay but they just don't grab me.

So those are the books I read up until mid-January. I suspect that my next few weeks of reading will be much less prolific as I (hopefully) won't be on bed rest and will actually need to put in full days of work. How has your 2022 year of reading been thus far?