Thursday, October 26, 2023

Monthly Musings: Thanksgiving Prep (Recap!)

It's already time for "Monthly Musings" with Holly at Pink Lady and Patty at Good, Better, Best. For the majority of my readers, it's a Thanksgiving Prep post, but for me (and anyone else who lives in Canada), it's a recap post as we celebrated Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. Well, at least, we were supposed to but more on that in a bit...

1) What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Well, since we already had Thanksgiving, I will share what we did. We always like to go for a walk but two things interfered with our "regular" Thanksgiving plans. The first thing was the weather. It rained through most of our Thanksgiving weekend. There were very few moments of non-rainy weather so we ended up staying inside and doing a lot of organizing and cleaning in our basement.

The second thing which really shaped our Thanksgiving weekend was the Hamas attack in Israel and the subsequent Israeli response in Gaza. As I mentioned in my post this past Tuesday, Dave is on the board of the synagogue, and we are without a rabbi right now, so Dave had about six hours of meetings throughout the weekend, many of which were unanticipated, as well as all the emotions which this all brought on.

So yes, our Thanksgiving looked very different this year.

We ended up having our "Thanksgiving dinner" with my parents just last week, on an evening when we were all home and had no plans and it was quite lovely.

2) Favourite Thanksgiving dish? Please share recipe.

We don't do a traditional meal so over the past number of years we've come up with our own menu. One of the things I really love is Hasselback potatoes. There are many recipes for these potatoes on the internet. We slice them thinly, slather a lot of butter on, bake them, and then cover them with cheddar or mozarella cheese. And they are delicious!

Another thing I really love around Thanksgiving time is potatoes mashed with celeriac. We often get celeriac in our CSA so I just cut it up, boil it with the potatoes, and mash them all together. So good!

3) Best food prep tips?

Well, this year I got my parents to make our Thanksgiving dinner so that was awesome! (Don't you love how all my food prep tips are "get someone else to cook"!?!?!?!)

4) Favourite Thanksgiving traditions?

Normally, I love going for a walk to enjoy the fall colours. They can be quite amazing around Thanksgiving weekend and I just love getting out to see them. This year, however, we had too much rain so we still haven't gone on a good fall colour walk.

Left: early fall colour on my favourite path; right: an incredible tree I saw while picking up our CSA the other day

5) Turkey? Ham? Other? Both?

For the past number of years we've done sauteed shrimp and I highly recommend that. We sautee them in butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and a little Tabasco and they are delicious!!!

6) Apple pie? Pumpkin pie?

If I have to choose, I'd go for apple pie. This year, we walked to our favourite ice cream shop after our dinner and I had a cranberry sorbet that was so good!!! I much prefer ice cream over pie.

7) Football or family movie?

I would choose a family movie, preferably a fall Hallmark one!

8) Stuffing or dressing?

We call it "stuffing" because my mom stuffs it inside the turkey but we don't eat it at Thanksgiving. We eat a big turkey dinner at Christmas when my parents are around and, even though I'm vegetarian, I will happily eat a ton of stuffing :)

9) Turkey trot or Thanksgiving parade?

 Since we live in the cities which hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, we have the Oktoberfest Parade on Thanksgiving Day. The route now runs two blocks from our house. Due to the rain, we skipped it this year.

When we lived in Edmonton, we participated in the Turkey Trot and it was super fun! I would love to do a Turkey Trot again but there isn't one near us that I know of.

The year Rachel was born, I nursed while I ran, just to prove that I could!

10) Have you ever done a Friendsgiving?

We've done Friendsgivings in the past but we've been invited to them, we've never hosted one.

I have to be honest, our Thanksgiving felt a little lacklustre and disappointing this year. I would definitely love a redo of Thanksgiving. However, I am thankful that we had a nice celebration with my parents, even if it wasn't on our actual Thanksgiving Day. I know that some holidays are just like that and I'm already hoping for a better Thanksgiving next year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

What's Up Wednesday: October 2023

Phew, October has been a month around here. Rachel has been going full tilt with dance classes and extra rehearsals, my parents came to visit for almost two weeks, and then there was the whole situation in Israel and Gaza which affected our family too. Let's just say, I'm looking forward to November.

As always on the last Wednesday of the month, I'm linking up with Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me Too for their What's Up Wednesday post.

image from here
What we're eating this week... When I think of October 2023, I will always think of applesauce! My principal has two apple trees and they produced a gazillion apples this year. I have brought home bags of them and made applesauce. I've frozen a bunch of it and I've been eating it every day in my lunch. It is so good and I can't get enough! Plus, I will have enough to make lots of Applesauce Jumbles, and you all know how much I love those! Hahaha!
What I'm reminiscing about... Last year in October, Sam became a Bar Mitzvah. I've been reminiscing all month about how joyful his celebration was.

What I'm loving... I was loving all the time we got to spend with my parents. My mom and I took lots of walks and my dad did house repairs! Ha! I even tried to help him, although I'm not sure how helpful I was...!
Our screen door fell off on the weekend and my dad (with a little assistance from Dave and I), replaced it!
What we've been up to... We've been visiting with my parents...


Pizza night (left) and belated Thanksgiving celebration (right)

...getting Rachel to dance, getting Sam to his activities (soccer, badminton, mid-week church program, etc)...

Sam playing goalie (left) and kicking the ball around with his friends who came to watch (right)

...trying to stay dry in all our rain this month, and making lots of applesauce. Hahaha!

We've also been enjoying some of the fall colour but I don't think they're as brilliant this year as they've been in past years. 

What I'm dreading... Last month I was dreading Rachel having to take public transit to dance on her own one evening and it worked out absolutely fine! This month I'm dreading having to drive through Toronto on a Friday around rush hour. Blah. I hate traffic :( I'm really hoping this will be as easy as Rachel taking transit to dance was but I'm not hopeful.
What I'm working on... I don't really know what I've been working on this month. Next month I need to start working on our yearly calendars.
Actually, we worked really hard on going through the basement and we took two carloads of things to the thrift store, threw some stuff away, and gave some things to a few friends. I'm so happy the basement is so much better organized and cleaned out. It was a big project and it feels so good to have that off my mind!

What I'm excited about... My dad got here, looked at my falling apart window boxes, and offered to build me new ones!!! I'm so thrilled about them and can't wait to use them!!! I was noticing our old ones starting to fall apart this past spring and I was dreading having to figure out how to replace them.
What I'm watching/reading... I've been watching Rachel at dance and Sam at soccer. Sadly, I haven't really been watching the leaves change to their brilliant fall colours because they just aren't as amazing this year as they have been some years.
As for reading, my current lunch time book is The Lost and Found Girl by Maisey Yates. I'm also reading through the 1990s for the Decades Reading Challenge and I enjoyed Always by Sarah Jio.
What I'm listening to... A lot of Taylor Swift. Rachel, my mom, and I went to The Eras Tour movie and well, it's a lot of Taylor Swift! We had way better views than we would have at the concert!
What I'm wearing... Well, I'm still not wearing socks! Hahaha! I bought a new pair of brown work pants which I'm excited to wear. Other than that it's jeans and t-shirts some days and work clothes with sweaters and long sleeve shirts on other days.
What I'm doing this weekend... Rachel has a dance weekend away and we are all going to join her. I'm looking forward to discovering a part of Ontario I've rarely been to and seeing more of Rachel's dancing. This is the first time we've ever had to travel for Rachel's dance and I'm kind of excited about it -- although dreading Toronto rush hour traffic :)
What I'm looking forward to next month... Remember how for years and years I dreaded November?!?! I never looked forward to it. Well, I've solved my "November dread" problem -- make October insanely busy! Now, I'm looking forward to cozy Hallmark movie watching, slower weekends, and some time to breathe before the craziness of December hits. For next year, I'd like to figure out how to enjoy November without having to live through October's insanity though :)

What I bought on Amazon... We became Prime members this month solely so we could stream Stack TV and watch Hallmark movies! Does that count?!?!?!

So that's what's been up with us in October. It's been a full month with a lot going on and I'm looking forward to some quieter times in November. We shall see if that actually happens though!

Happy Wednesday everyone!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2023


Two and a bit weeks ago, Hamas entered Israel and carried out a brutal attack on civilians, taking some of them hostage. And Israel responded with cutting off necessities (electricity, water, aid) to Gaza and, well, here we are.

As many of you know, Dave is Jewish, and what many of you may not know (or remember) is that I worked with a Christian based, human rights observation group in Israel-Palestine for about a year and a half in 1999-2000. We were based in the West Bank city of Hebron and worked with Palestinian families and Israeli human rights groups. So, as you can imagine, we've had quite the conversations going on around here for the past two and a half weeks.

Additionally, Dave is on the board of the synagogue and we don't have a rabbi right now, so the board is responsible for responding as the voice of the synagogue to everything which has been going on, so Dave has been involved in a lot of meetings to draft statements and respond to the congregation's concerns. Even the public school board (where I work) has had to make statements and announcements to our communities, because of this current conflict.

If the conversations which Dave and I have been having are any indication, if the conversations the board of the synagogue has been having are any indication, if the conversations going on in my Instagram feed are any indication, heck -- if the conversations happening within the EU are any indication, there is a lack of unity about how to respond to the whole situation in the Middle East.

If I support Israel, then to some, I'm a white supremacist and upholding apartheid. If I support Palestinians, then to some, I am antisemitic and support terrorist actions. You can't win, no matter who you support, and supposedly you also can't win, if you don't take a side.

I heard a quote when I worked in Israel-Palestine and it went something like this:

"You visit for a week, and you can write a book on the situation.
You visit for a month, and you can write an article.
You visit for a year and you can't write anything."

(I lived there for a year and a half.)

I worked for an organization a few years ago and they talked about the concept of "both/and." When there is a conflict -- between two people, two groups, two countries -- it is often seen as an "either/or" situation. In this case, you either support Israel and Jews or you support Palestinians. But, to get past conflict, you have to adopt a "both/and" mindset. I feel like most of the things I've seen (in my emails, from my various faith communities, in the news, on Instagram,etc) don't make space for the "both/and" concept. (Read President Obama's full statement from Instagram last night to see what I think is an excellent example of "both/and" thinking.)

 So I've chosen to just be silent.

I will be returning to "regular blogging" as of tomorrow, but I didn't want to jump back in without explaining my silence for the past two weeks, and sharing some of my thoughts.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Not Just A Mom: Money Saving Tips

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving! It's Thanksgiving Day here in Canada and I'm so thankful for all the good today. We're not doing anything special -- I'll bake buns, make some soup, and stay out of the rain. We don't ever do a big turkey dinner but on Saturday we had baked salmon and roasted fall vegetables (onions, peppers, carrots, potatoes, mushroom, and leeks) and this coming Saturday we'll hopefully have another special dinner with some special people -- my mom and dad -- who are coming to visit for a bit!

Until then, though, I'm going to link up with the "Not Just A Mom" bloggers (Sarah, Dara, Joanne, Adrienne, Lauren, and Jen) to talk about "money saving tips." (Click on each name to go their blogs.) Now, I am the first to admit that we, as a family, spend way too much money on eating out and I spend too much money on Coke and flowers! However, there are some ways in which we don't spend a lot of money. Some of these are deliberate choices and some of them are the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I recognize not everyone has access to these circumstances (generous friends, local work and school opportunities, etc) so I want to explicitly recognize that not all of these "tips" are possible for everyone.

1) Neither Dave nor I care about "the latest item." Our car is 14 1/2 years old (and we only have one), neither of us ever buy a lot of new clothes, I still wear my FitBit One which I bought in July 2015 (no Apple Watch for me) -- we just don't care about these things, so that helps us save a lot of money.

2) We have been very fortunate to live in a generous community, and I had kids later than a lot of my friends, so that means that we received a hand me down trampoline, play centre, outdoor table, a ton of clothes for the kids, bikes, etc. We pass that on to others whenever we can. And I am so thankful for friends who hand down clothes to our kids. We aren't picky about used clothing or toys or items -- we're just grateful for anyone who wants to share.

Our amazing care group from church helped us with our play centre and then passed on a trampoline on to us as well. The play centre has gone to our across the street neighbour but the trampoline is still going strong.
3) We don't really spend money on subscriptions/membership. We did subscribe to Disney+ during Covid (and haven't cancelled it yet). Again, our friends let us use their cable subscription to watch baseball and Hallmark movies, but they've recently cancelled it. We'll likely pay $20 a month to watch baseball games during baseball season, and we're trying to figure out how to watch Hallmark movies for a few months, but we don't generally watch things. This means I'm never up on the latest shows (which if you read my "What's Up Wednesday" posts, you already know) but again, we don't care about these things.

Sam and I share a phone plan and we don't have data. We tried to get Rachel onto our plan, but it wasn't possible. This means I'm limited as to what I can access when I'm away from free Wifi but again, I don't care. We are also fortunate because Dave has a work phone with unlimited data in the US & Canada so we aren't completely out of luck.

And we don't have gym memberships, Prime memberships, anything like that. We do have a Costco membership we pay for but I think that's the only one.

4) We read books from the library. Now that I have a Kobo, I do buy a few more books, but again, we rarely spend money on this habit. I'm so grateful that the library has so many books and it's all free. This is such a valuable service. I've often talked to friends about the fact that, if the library ever changed to a fee-based subscription service, it's one of the few I'd happily pay for.

If you remember the last 'Not Just A Mom' link up about hobbies, you will recall that many of my hobbies (like reading) are actually things I can do for free (except for baseball and finding fun things to do with my family). It is very helpful, in terms of saving money, that I just really enjoy the simpler things in life. (You can read my post here.)

5) We drink our morning coffee at home. We rarely buy coffee (or in my case, coffee-hot chocolate) at a coffee shop when we're starting our morning at home. I see coworkers coming into work every morning with Tim's or Starbucks and I recognize that this small habit adds up.

6) Again, we're fortunate in this regard, but we rarely drive our car, so we don't have to spend a lot on gas. Dave works from home and I walk to work (most of the time). Sam walks to school and Rachel is able to take the school bus, or walk, to school. We save a lot of money because we live so centrally in our city. We can walk to the library, our favourite ice cream spot, to our CSA to pick up vegetables, to the liquor store, and to many of the places we want to go. We probably put the most kilometres on our car driving Rachel to dance and getting groceries!

Many, many, many walks to do errands over the past year or so...

7) I like to bake so we rarely buy store bought treats, except for chips! And chocolate croissants :) I love baking cookies and muffins and so, when we want a sweet treat, I bake it. I love that Rachel also enjoys baking and is perfecting some recipes as well -- chocolate chip cookies and cake.

As I thought about this post, I have some other, quick ways in which we save money, which may not be things that you do: we eat mostly vegetarian so rarely buy meat (except in summer when we BBQ more); I hang my laundry out on the line (either indoors or outdoors) so we rarely use our dryer (except for towels and sheets in winter); we don't own any pets (except we've had fish in the past but they don't cost very much!); we don't go to a lot of movies in theatres; we don't buy a lot of music; and we buy a lot of store brand items at our grocery store (oj, canned and frozen vegetables, soups, hot chocolate, etc).

Many of the ways in which we save money are definitely a circumstance of where we live and work, and who we know, and I want to recognize again, that not everyone has those options.

And I want to end this post by saying that we do spend a lot of money on travel, baseball, and as I mentioned above, eating out! I think the easiest way we could save a lot more money is by not being lazy on nights when one of us is exhausted because that is the quickest way "small purchases" add up for us.

One thing I love about these link ups is that I read through the other posts and get so many great ideas. I'm excited to read through your posts and find other ways to save money -- ideas which might not have occurred to me before.

And I hope you've maybe found one or two ways that we do things, which will help inspire you.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Currently: October 2023

It's the first Wednesday in October so it's time to link up with Jennifer at Overflowing With Thankfulness for her "Currently" post. You can find Jennifer here. I am "currently" at a stage in my life where I feel like life is a hamster wheel and I'm running, running, running just to stay in place. And when the hamster wheel finally stops for a brief while, I collapse and have no energy for anything else. On the plus side, I mostly manage the hamster wheel by walking places so I've been getting a ton of exercise these past few weeks. Anyways, nothing bad is happening -- there's just a lot going on right now.


I am absolutely "loving" that Sam was so enthusiastic about doing the Central Art Walk. One weekend in October, local people in our neighbourhood display their art and open their studios and it's just so much fun! I was tempted to skip it this year because our weekend was already so full but Sam was insistent on doing it. So Sam and I walked 4.5 kilometres (almost 3 miles) in our neighbourhood and visited all seven locations.

Sam still has Bar Mitzvah money to spend so he actually bought quite a bit of art. I think the artists got quite the kick out of seeing this teenage boy spend up to $150 on art which caught his eye. I loved doing the Art Walk with Sam and I loved seeing what pieces he was drawn to.

[excited about]

I'm "excited about" October baseball!!! The Jays are in the playoffs and let's see how far they go!!! Of course, I'm a little less "excited about" this since they lost their game last night and could be eliminated as of tonight, if they lose, but think positive, right!?!?!


I'm also "excited about" making homemade applesauce. I made another batch last night and will be making a batch every few days since I have a whole bag of apples to deal with.


 Well, to be repetitive, I'm "watching" a lot of baseball. On Sunday, we even got to watch it live which was so much fun!!!


I'm "seeing" the leaves turning colours, and, as usual, I can't stop, won't stop, with taking pictures of them all! Be prepared for even more colourful leaf photos coming to the blog as October progresses.


I'm "observing" that Canadian politics are quite different than American politics. We, in Canada, also had an election for our Speaker of the House yesterday. A Member of Parliament was elected quite quickly by our government. Our new speaker is the first Black man to be elected Speaker of the House. Our previous speaker resigned after honouring a Ukrainian solider with Nazi ties when the Ukrainian Prime Minister visited Canada a few weeks ago. (The previous Speaker didn't know about the soldier's Nazi ties when he honoured him.)

And well, in the US, there is also an election for the Speaker of the House. But it has not gone quite as smoothly. We will likely be in limbo for awhile to see how the US election for Speaker shakes out.

I've also been "observing" the impending US government shutdown with the failure to pass the budget. I know that there is now a 45 day reprieve to solve this issue before another potential shutdown is imposed. In Canada, if our budget doesn't pass, there is a vote of "no confidence" for the Prime Minister, which triggers a national election. Our national elections can be held in as little as 36 days or as many as 50 days. That is very different than what the US experiences.

So yes, currently, I'm "observing" that Canadian and American politics are very different.

So that is what's up with me "currently." I'm writing this on Tuesday night and I just ate some fresh applesauce and now I'm going to bed because I'm "currently" very tired :)