Wednesday, January 31, 2024

What's Up Wednesday: January 2024

When the last Wednesday of January is on the last day of the month, it feels like January is fifty days long. It's not that anything horrible has happened in January, it's just been the longest month. Does anyone else feel this way?!?!?!

I love answering the What's Up Wednesday questions every month. I love how they help me reflect on the past month. The questions 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 a lot of warm, comfort foods this month. Soups, sheet tray meals, casseroles baked in the oven -- it's all about filling, warm food around here. I'll write more about this below under "What I'm watching" but we've eaten a lot of soup this month and I've turned all our old, frozen hamburger and hot dog buns into garlic bread to go with various soups. The kids have gobbled them up and I'm thankful not to have old buns in our freezer anymore!
Sheet pan dinner with beets, carrots, rutabaga, and sausage
As I've been writing this post, however, I've been eating a bowl of raspberries and drinking a cup of decaf black tea. We've had a lot of tea this month, especially in the evenings.
What I'm reminiscing about... I'm reminiscing about our winter getaway last January. We walked goats, we skated in a forest, we went downhill skiing, we went in a hot tub, we kicksledded, and we laughed a lot! It was such a good weekend away and I hope we can do it again some year.
What I'm loving... I am loving my January tulips! Our January has been unusually grey this year and my bouquets of tulips are a bright spot of colour. As we head towards February I'll get more pink and purple ones but so far I've been loving the yellows and oranges and whites. I need all the sunny colours I can get inside since we've barely had any sun this January.

What we've been up to... January has been a weird month. As I said above, it's felt very long but we haven't done a lot. We went to our church's Winter Retreat (you can read more that about here).
We also celebrated Dave's birthday although we didn't do anything big.
Other than that, Rachel's had a lot of dance, Sam's been finishing up his first semester of high school, and Dave and I have been working. Oh, and Dave has taken the kids to a lot of orthodontist and dentist appointments!  
Rachel and I also spent some time in the ER last week. She is fine but was diagnosed with a viral bronchial infection. Basically, if she is awake, she is coughing, and this could continue for the next four to six weeks. Thankfully, she isn't contagious. This picture was taken at 1:30 in the morning and we still had three hours to wait to see a doctor. Phew. (Also, Rachel gave me permission to both post this picture and talk about her health.)

What I'm dreading... Ice. This is the time of year when walking can be treacherous because of ice. I really dread falling and getting hurt. Thankfully, it's been warm enough the past few days that the sidewalks aren't icy, but I highly doubt we're done with ice for the winter. Rachel's friend slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke her finger earlier this week so my dread feels justified.

Also, I had my first mammogram a few weeks ago, just a baseline check (nothing concerning), but I'm dreading getting the results back just in case there is something wrong.
What I'm working on... Planning summer. We're in the midst of winter here and I'm trying to sort out our summer. We can sign the kids up for some of their camps today and tomorrow so we've needed to figure this out already. We're trying to decide on our family vacation, maybe plan a trip for just Dave and I (maybe), and then trying to figure out how to fit in all the things the kids want to do.

What I'm excited about... I'm excited every single time the sun shines because it's so rare these days! Other than that, I'm not all that excited about anything right now. Our forecast is showing four straight days of sun, starting on Friday so I'm very hopeful that will actually happen!
What I'm watching/reading... The kids wanted to start watching Marvel movies so we've dived into those. I asked my coworker for recommendations (because I don't want to watch all nine million of them) and so we're following her suggestions. Thus far we've watched Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. We started calling it "Soup & SuperHeroes" and I try to make soup on nights we're watching the movies. We need something to entertain us during these long, winter nights! Hahaha!
As for reading, January has been the month of half-finished books. I'm currently in the middle of three books, although I want to finish all of them by the end of today. We shall see if that happens... I rarely juggle as many books as I have been these past two weeks. I am loving my current lunchtime book, The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester. It's sooooo good and I want to finish it later today. I'm really hoping that the last fifty pages are as good as the rest of the book has been.
I seem to have read a lot of books which were at least partially set in Paris during World War II this month -- The Paris Seamstress, Mademoiselle Chanel, and All the Ways We Said Goodbye. That was not an intentional choice on my part! 
What I'm listening to... Rachel's coughing has defined this month. I really hope she feels better soon. Another thing I was listening to earlier this month is that our neighbours' house which had the fire last spring finally got torn down. Now it's just a small hole on an empty lot. I'm assuming the new owners will start building sometime in the spring or summer.

What I'm wearing... I haven't been wearing anything exciting at all, although I got two pairs of work pants which I love. They're from Old Navy. I got the exact same pair -- one in brown and one in grey. Other than that, if I'm at home, I'm probably wearing pajamas!
High-Waisted Pixie Flare Pants for Women

My new pants (not me modelling them! Hahahaha!)

What I'm doing this weekend... Rachel is dancing with the Chamber Orchestra on Sunday afternoon so we're going to that performance. Also, our favourite ice cream shop is having an "ice cream for breakfast" fundraiser on Saturday so we're going to go there too!

What I'm looking forward to next month... A three day weekend with no plans (whoo hoo!!!), a special tea time with Janice, and Spring Training starts for baseball!!!!!!! By next What's Up Wednesday, I'll have hopefully listened to a few Spring Training games and I cannot wait!!!!!!

What I bought on Amazon... I don't even know who we are because we bought something on Amazon again this month. My FitBit holder was wearing out and I was worried I was going to lose my FitBit. I had to go to Amazon to find a new one.

So that's our not very exciting January wrapped up. Here's hoping February brings a little more excitement (of the fun kind!) and a lot more sun! I know it will definitely bring more tulips! Have you had sun or grey where you live? What brightens your days when it's a grey month? I need some tips!

Monday, January 29, 2024

Friday Favourite Moments #4 (On A Monday)

This was supposed to be a post for this past Friday but unfortunately, I had to take Rachel to the ER on Thursday night. We spent six hours waiting for her to get seen and, by the time I got home, I'd been up for 24 hours and needed sleep. Rachel is okay but has a viral bronchial infection which is causing her to cough if she's awake. Sadly, it could take 4-6 weeks for her cough to completely clear up, but thankfully, she's not contagious. So with that explanation, on with my favourite moments from this past week...

I'm so glad I started documenting these moments as it helps me to look out for little things in my week to be thankful for.

1) Sunrise

While I sometimes wish I could just stay home and enjoy a slow morning, especially in winter, the sunrise on Monday was glorious!

2) Random Candyland display

We had to go for an appointment and the foyer of the building we were in had a Candyland display set up. We had some time to kill so enjoyed playing Candyland (through an app) and taking pictures of the installation. It was a fun little bit of randomness in our afternoon.


 3) Trying to enjoy winter

The snowfall we got earlier this week was beautiful. It was one of those perfect, fat flakes of snow falling, snow piling up in lovely ways, winter snowfall.

4) Snowman plate from Janice
Janice bought these and didn't need them so passed on a few of these snowman plates to us. I use them for my afternoon snack after work and they just make me so happy. It's fun to have something a little festive in January!

5) Ice Chipping

While we were at Winter Retreat, we ended up with a lot of ice on our back step. We've been dealing with it for about two weeks but I was thrilled this past week that it got warm enough one day that I could chip all the ice off of it. It's so much less treacherous going out our back door now! This is really just a little thing that makes a huge difference.

So those were my favourite moments from last week.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Monthly Musings: Winter Self-Care

I love linking up with Holly at Pink Lady and Patty at Good, Better, Best for their "Monthly Musings." Today we're talking about Winter Self-Care and, given that we are in the depths of snow and ice right now, I have just a few things to say about this topic!

1) How do you take care of yourself in winter?

I embrace the dark and the cold and I give myself permission to stay home and stay cozy. I try to make some plans so that I'll leave the house (besides work!), but I also embrace the evenings of drinking tea and reading a book. In winter, it's all about staying warm for me.


This has been my go to outfit at home this winter -- my Taylor Swift sweatshirt and my fuzzy owl pajama pants. If you stop by our house unexpectedly, ninety percent of the time I'll be wearing this outfit. The other ten percent of the time, it's in the laundry!!!

2) How do you fight the winter blues?

Well, if you've read around here for any length of time, you'll know it's all about the tulips for me!!! I buy myself a couple of bouquets every few weeks and I enjoy them so much! They are a definite bright spot in my January and February.

I also make sure I get a lot of exercise, which is built into my day, walking to work. Even when I have to bundle up, I know it's good for me!

3) Tips to make your living space cozy?

My two biggest tips are lots of blankets (there are currently three or four on our living room couch right now) and low lighting. Last year I started putting white twinkle lights on our living room window and I only turn those on in the mornings. It's just a nice way to ease into my day.

Left: me wrapped up in a blanket; right: my morning twinkle light view

4) Suggestions for fun wintertime activities?

Skating. Our neighbourhood rink is finally open and I can't wait to go visit it. We have also tried to go downhill skiing the past couple of years. We'll never be avid skiers but it's fun to try once in awhile.

5) What are your exercise routines in the winter?

I walk to work and back almost every day which is usually between 5 and 6 kilometres (3 plus miles). And then I shovel a lot of snow. This past Sunday it was nice(ish) out so I went and chipped some ice off the driveway. With all the shovelling, I do a lot more weightlifting in winter (hahaha!).

6) Best tips for restful sleep?

Make sure you are warm enough. In winter, I heat up my comfort bag and fall asleep with it on my feet. I also wear socks to bed. I hate being cold at night, and, as you might be able to tell, I especially hate having cold feet!

7) Favourite warm beverage?

In the morning, I drink coffee-hot chocolate but that is a year round drink. Sometimes at work I will drink an Earl Grey tea to warm up in the afternoon. And lately, we've been drinking a lot of decaf black tea (I like it with milk and sugar) in the evenings. There's nothing like a nice cup of tea to warm me up.

I love drinking out of this macaron mug Janice gave me. The colours feel like spring.

8) Best winter skincare tips?

I don't ever have a lot of great skincare tips. I do use a little more lotion on my hands in winter because all the cold makes them dry, especially if I do too many dishes.

9) Flannel sheets - yes or no?

Absolutely yes!!! We didn't put them on until January this year but they are the best!!! We also have flannel duvet covers so I am surrounded by coziness at night!

10) Favourite winter pajamas?

A few years ago, we started ordering the annual pajamas from Maplelea, a Canadian doll company. I have three pairs of their pajamas which I really love. We haven't loved the patterns the past couple of years so we haven't bought the most recent ones. And I've been loving our pajamas from Old Navy this year. Last year, my pants were too hot but this year they're just right!

Three years of Maplelea pajamas
This year's favourite pajamas -- flannel pants from Old Navy and a waffle shirt

So that's me in winter -- lots of shovelling, lots of warm socks, lots of blankets, lots of hot tea, and lots of tulips! Almost every single day in my winter life includes all of these things.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

25 Questions (Questions 1 - 5)

Last year Sarah at Toronto SAM answered 25 questions over the course of a few blog posts. Since January has been a slower blogging month, I thought I would get started on some of these. If you want to see Sarah's responses to these questions, you can go here.

1. What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day includes not having to set an alarm, spending a bunch of time outside in nice weather (not too hot, not too cold), being able to hang laundry on the line, enjoying time with my family, and experiencing something fun -- maybe a baseball game, maybe a good walk exploring a new city -- and then curling up in bed with a good book. If someone else cooks all my meals (and cleans them up) and I don't have to do any house chores (except hanging out laundry), I am happy. If it can include a drink of some sort and flowers in some way, that's even better!

2. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to be a teacher. I was the kid who made my younger siblings play "school." And if my siblings were unwilling, as they often were, I made my dolls and stuffed animals my students. My plan to be a teacher changed when I went out of province to attend university. In Saskatchewan, my home province, a teacher's degree was a four year Bachelors of Education degree. In Ontario, where I attended university, a teacher's degree was (and still is) an additional year or two of teacher's college after university and competition to get in at the time was really stiff. Despite the fact that I'm not a teacher, I still ended up working in schools! (Currently, I'm a middle school secretary.)

3. Who are you most inspired by? Why?

I don't know that I'm inspired by anyone. Is that sad?

4. Who would you love to meet? What would you ask?

I would really love to meet some Toronto Blue Jays players -- not any specific ones -- just the team in general. I would ask why they haven't been able to win a playoff game for quite a few years! Hahaha!!!

5. What habit would you most like to break? What habit would you most like to start?

I would like to break the habit of drinking so much Coke. I would like to start flossing daily. I am not motivated to give up Coke, nor am I motivated to start flossing! Hahaha! I guess I don't want to break/begin these habits as much as I wish I did :)

Stay tuned for questions 6 - 10, coming next time I don't have much to blog about!