Thursday, February 29, 2024

Monthly Musings: Surviving The Winter Months

A lovely, traditional winter scene, January 2024 

I love linking up with Holly at Pink Lady and Patty at Good, Better, Best for their "Monthly Musings." Today we're talking about Surviving the Winter Months and, given that we are in the midst of a winter storm right now, it's a good evening for me to reflect on this topic, even though, mostly, our winter has been pretty tame this year.


1) What do you do in the winter that brings you joy?

 You are all going to get sick of reading this but honestly, the thing I do in January and February (and beyond) which brings me so much joy is my tulips! I fill my house with them and they absolutely give me hope and make me smile. I have been enjoying January tulips (and blogging about it -- hahahaha!!!) since January 2011. That's a long time people. Just for interest's sake, you can read that very first post about January tulips here.

2) How do you stay warm and cozy?

I wrap up in blankets and fleeces and I put flannel sheets on my bed and I wear cozy slippers. Honestly, in winter, if I'm home, 90% of the time, I'm in my pajamas!


3) What are you looking forward to this winter?

Well, we likely don't have much of winter left. Thank goodness!!! Mostly, I look forward to winter being over! Hahahahaha! For the past few years, one thing I do look forward to every winter is Lights On Stratford. It brings so much light to a dark time of year.

4) Favourite wintertime activities?

We do enjoy skating as a family, even though we haven't been able to this winter due to the weather being too warm to maintain outdoor rinks. Boo.


I also enjoy a good winter walk in the woods with Dave!


5) Favourite months of winter?

My favourite month of winter (if I have to pick one) would be January. We celebrate Dave's birthday, I get my first tulips of the winter, and this is when we usually go to Lights On Stratford.

6) Favourite dishes to make in the winter?

I love making soup in the winter. Cream of carrot-cheddar is one of my favourites and you can see the recipe here. As you can see in the picture below, it doesn't look pretty but it is oh, so good!

7) Gas or wood burning fireplace?

While we don't have a fireplace, my parents do and it is a wood burning one. They have always had a wood burning one and I love them. We enjoy a fire every single morning when we celebrate Christmas with them.


8) Favourite winter hot beverage?

A hot beverage I make only in the winter is Cranberry Tea. We all love it.

9) Favourite winter movies?

I don't have any. We so rarely watch movies, except the Hallmark Fall and Christmas movies from about October through December.

10) How do you stay healthy in winter?

I walk to work and back almost every day. It is just over a mile one way and it keeps me so fit! The only times I don't walk to work are if it's too icy, raining too hard, I'm not feeling 100%, or (rarely) if I have to decide between walking and taking a shower! I also shovel a lot of snow in the winter, although this winter has been the rare exception to the rule -- I think I've only shovelled once. Or maybe twice.

So those are my tips for surviving the winter months. Like I said, it has been a pretty easy winter this year -- we haven't had many cold temperatures, not too much snow to shovel, and not too many winter storms. However, I'm looking forward to reading all your tips and tricks because I think next winter, we'll likely be back to our regular cold, snowy, icy winter.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

What's Up Wednesday: February 2024

I'm working on this post while watching the first Blue Jays spring training game of 2024 and I am giddy!!! I'm so excited that baseball is back!!! Now to buy some regular season tickets so we can go see some games at the Skydome...

I love answering the What's Up Wednesday questions every month. I really like 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... This month Sam and I ate a lot of grapefruit! They were delicious and Rachel and Dave don't like them so Sam and I were on our own. I eat a grapefruit like I would an orange -- peel it and eat it in whole slices. I also baked mocha chocolate chip muffins on Saturday. They weren't as "mocha-y" as I would have liked.
What I'm reminiscing about... I'm reminiscing about last March Break when we got to see Blue Jays Spring Training in person! I'd love to get back to Dunedin to watch more games. You can read about our day at TD Ballpark here.
What I'm loving... It's starting to get light earlier in the mornings!!! Whoooo hoooo!!! I LOVE when we get more light in our days!!!

What we've been up to... It felt like February was a weird month. We didn't have much winter weather and, sometimes, it felt like we were experiencing an early spring. As I write this post though, we're being hit with another blast of cold. Brrr.
We visited our favourite ice cream shop and supported a fundraiser by eating "ice cream for breakfast" one Saturday.
Rachel danced with the Chamber Orchestra.
Janice and I enjoyed a very special tea time. You can read more about it here
We enjoyed a three day weekend where we had time to visit with friends and I still had time to bake buns and do a puzzle. It was the best kind of weekend!

What I'm dreading... I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. Ugh. I always dread going to the dentist.
What I'm working on... I'm beyond excited that Dave and I get to take a trip just the two of us this summer!!!!!!!! Whoooo hoooo!!! So we've been working on getting that trip planned and figuring out some childcare for the kids. It will be SO GREAT!!! We haven't travelled just the two of us since July 2018 so it's been awhile!!!
Dave and I in Iceland, July 2018

And now I need to start working on our family summer trip. Hahaha!

A couple of weekends ago was a three day weekend here in Canada (Family Day weekend) and we worked on getting our house a little cleaner. That was fun. Okay, not "fun" per se, but definitely necessary.

What I'm excited about... It's almost March Break!!! Whooo hooo! I can't wait!!! We're headed somewhere warm this year so sunny days and sleeping in and relaxation (mostly!) are on the agenda.
What I'm watching/reading... We're still watching Marvel movies. And eating soup! (See the "Soup & Superheroes" I referred to in my January "What's Up Wednesday" post.) As a family we've watched Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, SpiderMan: Homecoming, and Black Panther this month. Dave and the kids have watched a few others.

And we're watching Blue Jays Spring Training!!! I get so excited this time of year because I absolutely love baseball!!!
What I'm listening to... I've been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift (between Rachel listening to her at home and the gym classes listening to her at work -- they're working on dances), there's been a lot of Taylor this month.

Also, sadly, various members of my family have been sick over the last month or so. Thus, I've been listening to a lot of coughing -- which I'm starting to find irritating. I don't like being grumpy about this but I'm ready to around some healthy people.

What I'm wearing... I bought a new, colourful, pair of Converse shoes a few weeks ago! They're a bright, spring, colour. Since we've had some warmer weather, I've already broken them out a few days! I was also inspired by my blog friend Holly's trip to Miami and bought a pair of palazzo-like pants. You can see Holly's post here. I'm taking them on our March Break trip.
Image number 7 showing, High-Waisted Playa Wide-Leg Pants for Women  Chuck Taylor All Star in Double Cyan

What I'm doing this weekend... I'll be packing for our March Break trip! I can't wait! I'm so ready for warmth and no schedule and sun!!!

What I'm looking forward to next month... Our March Break trip! Easter! Sam's birthday! Canstruction! March is usually such a fun month, and this March will be especially so!!!

What I bought on Amazon... I didn't buy anything on Amazon this past month.

That's what's up with us this Wednesday. We're excited about spring and getting away and baseball. To me, we're really heading into the best time of the year and I am so ready for it!!!

Monday, February 26, 2024

25 Questions (6 - 10)

This is the next set of questions, which I first discovered through Sarah of Toronto SAM. You can see her answers to these questions here. You can see my answers to questions 1 through 5 here.

6. Think of a person you truly admire. What qualities do you like about that person?

I admire people who are unflappable. I tend to freak out, and get stressed, and I appreciate people who don't. If you can remain calm, when the pressure is on, I want to be like you. I also admire people who can fend for themselves -- my mom grows and preserves most of the food that they eat and I really wish I could do that.

One of us can grow a garden and one of us can fold a fitted sheet and one of these skills is going to more important than the other if the apocalypse hits!!!

7. How do you like to relax?

To no one's surprise, my favourite way to relax is to crawl into bed with a good book! Or hang out in our back yard, preferably with a drink, and again, with a good book. I guess a simpler answer to this would be "reading"!!!

Me reading as a kid, just to include a throwback picture. I still read in this position! 

8. When was the last time you did something you were afraid of?

In January, I was the passenger in the car as Dave drove us home from a weekend away in a whiteout. I was fairly scared of that, but the only other option was to wait until the next day, meaning we would both have to take days off work, and the weather wasn't looking to improve.

The last time I remember doing something through gut wrenching fear was last June. During our neighbours' fire, I moved our car further onto our driveway so that another neighbour could park their car in our driveway to protect it. I was in my pajamas, my hands were shaking, my stomach was churning with fear and there were roaring flames and a lot of screaming behind me. This was in the three minutes between when I had called 9-1-1 but before the fire department had shown up so it was truly terrifying, not knowing how far the fire would spread. I was very glad I didn't have to drive very far!

9. What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that even though I really wanted to get married much earlier than I did, and while I definitely had my low moments, I still made the most of being single. I travelled, I worked, I found a church, I bought a house with eleven other people, I worked and lived overseas, and I continued to grow my circle of friends. I didn't let my dreams being derailed (getting married and having a family) keep me from living my life. Dave and I didn't start dating until I was 34, got engaged when I was 35, and we got married when I was 36, but I lived a lot of life before then. I'm really proud of the person I was in my mid-twenties to early 30s when many other of my peers were getting married and starting their families.

I used the profits from my portion of the house sale to take my dad on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Here's us on the Great Wall of China in July 2004. This was a very memorable trip with my dad.
Celebrating St Patrick's Day in Dublin, Ireland, March 2005

10. What are you most afraid of?

I am most afraid of climate change (and how it's negatively impacting our world) and someone close to me getting cancer (like my kids, Dave, my parents, or a close friend).

I found some of these questions hard to answer, but I think it's good to reflect on some of them. I'll answer questions 11 through 15 next time I don't have a lot to blog about :)

Friday, February 23, 2024

Friday Favourite Moments #8

I'm trying something new and, even though it's only Wednesday, I'm starting to write this post already. We'll see if it helps me to be more timely in posting this for Friday morning!

1) Three day weekend

My first favourite has to be our three day weekend where we had no plans whatsoever!!! I slept a ton, we had an entire day at home (where most of us stayed in our pjs all day), and we spent a few hours with good friends. It was a pretty excellent weekend!

2) Puzzles and buns

This is kind of related to our weekend but I thought it deserved its own point. I actually had time to do a puzzle and bake buns! It was very exciting :)

3) Library visits

Dave and I walked to the library earlier this week and it was lovely to have some extra time to browse for books. I have a lot of good reading ahead of me and I can't wait!!!

4) Extra light

I'm noticing every single day how much earlier it's getting light in the mornings and how much later it's staying light in the evenings. I am all about extra light!!!

taken at 7:18am yesterday morning

5) Exciting packages

Both kids received exciting packages this week and I loved their enthusiasm! Rachel got a pair of pants she'd forgotten in Saskatchewan (and was so excited to open the package, she ripped the letter my dad had enclosed to shreds -- hahahaha!) and Sam got a special toque, from his favourite football team, shipped from England.

She did eventually get it taped back together!

6) My current bouquet of tulips

I always love my winter tulips but this week's bouquet is particularly amazing!

7) Long walks

We've had some extra warm weather lately, and some free time, so we've gone on a couple of longer walks this week and I am loving all the exercise! On Tuesday, Dave and I walked to the library just the two of us and on Wednesday, Rachel, Dave, and I walked 7.6 kilometres (almost 5 miles) to Starbucks, the library, and Michael's.

Okay, that's a lot of favourite moments from the week! It's been a good one :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Halfway Through February And What I'd Read

It's time for an update on my February reading. Some weeks I need lighter reading than others and this post shows I was in a "lighter space" during the first half of February!

I do really enjoy a good Nora trilogy and even more so if it's set in Ireland! There's just something about her Irish books I really like. Also, I tend to race through the first two books of her trilogies and then dawdle through the third one, if I even finish it. At least on a re-read, this is my pattern.

I thought this book was just as interesting as the second book. I am still really enjoying this series and can't wait for the third book. They are definitely Young Adult but they still suck me in.

I'm doing a new reading challenge this year but it's Canadian based. So February's prompt was "a book banned in Canadian schools." This is a graphic novel and it's all about the author's experience of figuring out their gender. It was very interesting.


See above about how I just sometimes need a Nora fix and also, how I don't necessarily read the third book. All of this applies with these two books.

This was my book club book for February and one of the most unique books I've ever read. The premise is wild but held my attention. However, my view of this book was tainted because I found out some really sad news at work the day I read the bulk of this book and, the sadness of the news, combined with the sadness of the book, just about did me in. So I recommend this book but not if you're already feeling sad.

So that was what I read the first half of February. Thus far, in the second half, I'm finishing up some books from the Decades Reading Challenge and reading through some really interesting history!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Friday Favourite Moments #7 (On A Tuesday)

Well, we had a long weekend this past weekend, Family Day here in Canada. While I spent a lot of time with my family, and catching up on sleep, I did not spend a lot of time blogging. So here are last week's favourite moments as I never did get this post written for Friday.

1) Sam made egg salad.

 While this is not the most exciting picture, Sam made egg salad and I enjoyed a few sandwiches over the week. His egg salad was really good and I liked eating it for lunches.

2) Rachel went above and beyond
Dave was not feeling well last Saturday night so went to bed early. I asked Rachel to wash the dishes, and not only did she do that, but she also dried and put them all away. And then she made coffee for the morning, along with this note. I was so touched that she thought of the extra things Dave does to make our mornings easier.
3) Tea with Janice

I already blogged about this but, of course, my teatime with Janice was absolutely a favourite moment of the week. You can read the post here if you want to see more.
4) Valentine's Day supper
We didn't do anything big to celebrate Valentine's Day but I made a special supper, pasta with vodka sauce, and it was really good! I enjoyed the leftovers for a few days too.
5) Thursday's sunrise
The sunrise on Thursday was absolutely beautiful. I love a good sunrise!
So those were my favourite moments from last week. I'm already working on this week's post so hopefully it will be a little more timely :)