Friday, December 29, 2023

What's Up Wednesday (On A Friday): December 2023

Even though the hosts never publish a December "What's Up Wednesday" anymore, I do love this way of recapping the month, as you can tell because I'm late in responding to these questions but still posting it. This will be very much a Christmas/Saskatchewan focused recap, as opposed to a December recap, because even though we've only been here for a week (thus far), I feel like the rest of what happened in December took place ages ago!!!

The questions for this post come from Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me Too.

image from here
What we're eating this week... We've been eating all the delicious food we associate with Saskatchewan -- sausage and warenky, carrot pickles, exciting cheeses, Greek salad, jamjams, and many other things.
And of course, I have a new favourite drink which my dad has made -- a Yule Mule -- a Moscow Mule with the addition of strawberry juice.

What I'm reminiscing about... My cousin and her family, including my aunt, came to spend a few days with us in Saskatchewan. These are cousins we spent a lot of time with when we lived in Alberta, so I've been reminiscing about previous times with them. I've also been reminiscing about family Christmases with cousins from when I was younger.
Sam and Rachel with their second cousins in Alberta in 2016
Recreating the above photo this past week!
What I'm loving... Well, much like the rest of Canada, we've been experiencing unprecedented warmth in Saskatchewan this week, so I've been hanging our laundry outside. The rest of my family (including my mom!!!) has been making fun of me for doing it, but it brings me much joy so I don't care! Hahaha!!!

What we've been up to... Before we flew to Saskatchewan, I was in search of all the light displays.
Jingle Bell Rock, near our house
The Old Post Office, Cambridge

Seeing Wonders of Winter with Tim, Janice, and family, as a part of our Christmas celebrations with them

Since we've gotten to Saskatchewan, it's been all about relaxing and celebrating!

Rachel and I enjoyed festive hot chocolate in front of the tree. 


We celebrated Jólabókaflóð on Christmas Eve and had prosecco as well!

Our annual Christmas morning family photo in front of the tree.

Thirteen people for turkey dinner on December 26th!  

What I'm dreading... Right now I'm not dreading anything and it's a great place to be!!!
What I'm working on... I'm working on getting out for a walk every day. Since it's been so beautiful, we've gone for a walk on the property of the tree farm which my dad used to own with his brothers. My uncle and cousin own it now, and my parents live really close to it so we've been going there every day to walk. I love walking along the rows of trees!
What I'm excited about... I'm excited about being with my parents! And honestly, I get pretty excited about Happy Hour every day! Hahaha!!! My mom makes an amazing sour cherry liqueur and once the alcohol is drained off, we've been pitting the cherries and making a sauce for waffles or milkshakes. It's soooo good! And as I said above, I'm loving my Yule Mules with strawberry juice!
What I'm watching/reading... I'd only seen it once before so I really wanted to watch "White Christmas" this season. We watched it on Christmas Day and I realized. it's the original Hallmark movie -- the couples fall in love quickly, it takes place (mostly) in a quaint inn in Vermont, and they're trying to save the inn. How does this not sound like a Hallmark plot?!?!?!?
My Jólabókaflóð book was Iron Flame and now I'm wondering when book 3 is coming out. Like, what happened at the end there?!?!??!!??
What I'm listening to... Well, since all the family left, I've been enjoying the silence! Of course, we have another family gathering tonight, so it will get loud again, but I'm enjoying the silence while it lasts. Of course, I also love listening to my extended family laughing, talking, playing games, and enjoying being together.

What I'm wearing... Bring on all the comfy clothes. Sweatshirts, fuzzy pajama pants -- this is my outfit of choice these days! What is very odd is what I'm not wearing -- it's been hovering above freezing so I'm not bundled up like I'm used to being in Saskatchewan at Christmas.

What I'm doing this weekend... Reading, doing puzzles, celebrating Happy Hour, and possibly going to an art gallery. And soaking up all the relaxing and holiday vibes.

What I'm looking forward to next month... January brings some exciting things -- tulips (of course!), our church's Winter Retreat, finding another light display, and Dave's birthday. I'm looking forward to all of it!

What I bought on Amazon... We bought something on Amazon two months in a row. Who even are we? This time it was Sam's annual ornament as we couldn't find what we were looking for in stores.


So that's it -- the last What's Up Wednesday post of the year. It's been a fun month of celebrating the holidays and enjoying lots of family togetherness.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Monthly Musings: Ringing In The New Year

Even though I'm late, I love linking up with with Holly at Pink Lady and Patty at Good, Better, Best for their "Monthly Musings." Now that we're through Christmas, it's time to start thinking about the New Year.

1) How do you ring in the New Year?

When we're in Saskatchewan, as we are this year, we are often reading in the evening and debating among ourselves if we're staying up until midnight or not. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don't!

2) Any special New Year's Eve or New Year's Day traditions?

I love having mimosas on New Year's Day! I don't remember when, or why, this tradition started, but it's a fun way to kick off the New Year. 

New Year's Day mimosas, 2023

3) Favourite New Year's Eve memories?

My favourite New Year's memories are of the huge parties we used to have when I was a kid. It was a group of family friends and sometimes the parties would last for a couple of days. I just remember running all over the house with my friends and having a GREAT time!

4) Show us some New Year's Eve outfits. We need inspiration.

I have nothing to offer. I'll likely be wearing pajamas by 6pm!

My new sweatshirt and my fuzzy owl pajama pants are the perfect New Year's outfit! 

5) What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

After waiting for almost two years, I may have some really great job news in February. Maybe. Other than that, I am just looking forward to good family time and wherever our adventures take us.

6) Asleep by 10pm or ring in the New Year?

If by "ring in the New Year" you mean "reading a book by the fire" then it will be that one. However, I may be asleep by 10pm this year. We shall see...

7) Do you have a word or goals for 2024?

Better dental hygiene. I need to start flossing and using my electric toothbrush regularly.

8) Best self care tips to share in the New Year?

Do what makes you happy. For me, it's reading, getting outside for a walk, hanging my laundry on the line, and filling my house with flowers. For you, it's going to look different, but I would say, do what makes you happy and don't apologize for it.

9) Paper planner? Electronic planner? None? Share your favourite brands or apps please.

Every year for the past few years, I've bought a paper planner, and then, I feel guilty because I don't use it. So this year, I'm not buying one. What works for me is keeping our family calendar updated monthly (we have a whiteboard calendar in our main hallway), and writing weekend "to do" lists on paper. Use the organization method which works for you. This is what works for me.

Our whiteboard family calendar. Each person has a different colour.

10) Black-eyed peas on New Year's Day - yea or nay?

We used to make South Georgia caviar around this time of year. I haven't done that for a few years now but maybe I'll mix up a batch of it when we get home.

So that is how we "ring in the New Year." It's pretty low key, which could be another phrase for "2024." I think it's going to be a "low key" year -- no big plans, no big changes, just chugging along, and making memories.
Happy New Year everyone!!!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Halfway Through December And What I've Read

Today is finally the last day of work/school before we get off for Winter Break. Our family is looking forward to lots of family time, lots of yummy food, lots of sleeping in, and lots of reading! And we're making the most of our time by heading to the airport right after we're done for today and *hopefully* flying out of here tonight!!! We're so excited for the next couple of weeks!!!

Until then though, we're just a little past "halfway through December" and I did want to share what I've read thus far this month. In early January, I'll wrap up my December reading, and my 2023 reading, in general. But here's what December has looked like so far...

I had higher expectations for this book then I maybe should have. I thought this book was okay, but it didn't grab me, and I'm not super excited to check out the rest of the series. I was hoping for more A Man Called Ove vibes which is unfair, but I'm still disappointed that it didn't meet my hopes.

This is the third book in the series but the one I've enjoyed the most, thus far. I am just a complete sucker for Regency romances (or what I've defined as "Regency romances"!). This was a fun one.

This is the first in the series from above but I didn't love it as much. So many of this couple's problems could have been sorted out by just talking to each other but I recognize that wouldn't have made for a good plot!

After reading a Cormoran Strike novel in November, I wanted to go back to the beginning of the series. This is a series which gets better with each book, in my opinion.

Again, since I'd read a later book in the series, I wanted to go back to the beginning again. This book held up well on a re-read, which is not always the case. And I still want to work at a Renaissance Fair!

This is a book which a friend loaned to me. I cannot remember if she loaned it to me in February 2020 or March 2021 but either way it had been sitting on my TBR for way too long. I read it as a lunchtime book and I didn't love it. I don't know if this would be a better book to read when I was able to devote more time to it but reading it in half hour chunks did not work well.

I'm reading a lot of Regency romance series right now! (Sidenote: I just Googled "Regency Romances" and I'm not using the proper definition. I describe them as any "proper British romance from the 1800s" whereas the proper definition defines them as "occurring in 1811-1820." Oh well, hopefully you all know what I mean. Any romance set among the upper class with lots of balls and particular etiquette is what I throw into this category!)

It was so odd to read this book, about polio, and the fears which people had for their children around polio, and the search for a vaccine, given everything we've just gone through with Covid. It was also sad to realize that while likely all of us know the name Jonas Salk, we've forgotten, or never known, other names, like Dorothy Horstmann's. This novel reminded me that cures aren't found in a vacuum and there's a whole host of people who work together to discover them. It also reminded me the importance of getting vaccinated as not that long ago, there were many more deadly diseases, especially for children.

This was the third book I'd read, but only book 2, of the series. I really think I may have started with the best book first. This one was okay, but I really enjoyed the third book in this series the best. Maybe I shouldn't have read them all in such quick succession!

So that was what I read in the first half of December. It was a lot of quick and easy reads among all the Channukah festivities and the early Christmas celebrations which were happening.

And now I'm off for a bit. Winter Break is about to begin and there are more books to be read so come back in January when I'll recap the rest of my 2023 year of reading!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

#tbt: Picton Dance Weekend, October 2023

As you are likely aware, Rachel's dance has been a major presence in our family life this fall. Thankfully for the rest of us, it mostly makes itself known by Dave driving Rachel to and from dance, with guest appearances from me, and a few hours of volunteering here and there. However, earlier this fall, Rachel was able to participate in a dance weekend about a three hour drive from us. We decided to bring Sam along too.

We drove up Friday night and Rachel got a boxed breakfast early on Saturday morning to eat before her big day of dance.
The place we stayed was gorgeous but had over the top Hallowe'en decorations, most of which were really creepy and would randomly make noise which completely freaked me out.
But it really did have beautiful grounds!
On Saturday morning while Rachel was at a rehearsal Sam watched Premier League soccer on TV...
...while Dave and I went for a walk on a trail behind the hotel.
We also took bad selfies! Hahaha!
But the scenery was gorgeous! It was a beautiful fall day.
Sam was thrilled to watch his sister dance, although we did enjoy watching them trying to figure out the lighting.
We called the lighting on the right "dancing in hell." There was also "dancing in the toilet" and "dancing in space." We had way too much fun with imagining lighting themes!!!
Sam, Dave, and I got to explore the downtown of Picton, which is the small town where the dance weekend was happening. Sam especially loved discovering the bookstore cat. Can you see it in the picture on the right?
We don't know why but in a small provincial park, just outside of Picton, is something called "Birdhouse City." There are about 100 different birdhouses. We walked around and looked at a bunch of them.
Three of my favourites: left: a Saskatchewan grain elevator; middle: a drive in showing the movie "The Birds"; right: a McDonald's!
We picked Rachel up after her afternoon of dance and drove out to a cheese making place. Our car hit a significant milestone...
...and the scenery was incredible! Are you sensing a theme here?!?!?!
We enjoyed the cheese tasting!
Rachel did some gymnastics at another spot we stopped at with a scenic view.

On Saturday night, we ate McDonald's takeout in our room, Rachel had a dance performance, and I went to bed at 7:30. I was tired!
The next morning I took Rachel to her morning workshop, while Dave and Sam packed up the hotel room.
We had an early lunch at this delicious crepe place near the theatre where the dancers spent most of their time. The tuna melt crepe on the left was so good while the Nutella crepe on the right was AMAZING!!!
We all shared the Nutella crepe.

After lunch, Rachel had another dance show, which we all watched, and then we made the three hour trek home. It was a very good, but tiring, weekend, especially for Rachel, but she is already looking forward to next year!