For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Saturday, December 31, 2011


A few quiet moments for a few quiet thoughts.

New Year's Eve is upon us, as we transition into 2012.  I hope that the upcoming year will be one full of blessings for you and your loved ones.

The girls have taken on a lot more of this year's preparations.  Well, quite nearly all of them, actually! *L*  It's been a quiet one.  Eldest and I headed out for a while to see what was happening downtown.  I had expected to see things going on, as in the past the city had started events in the early afternoon at various venues.  This year there's something completely different, and it looks like everything that used to be spread out is now in one area.  They were prepping and doing sound checks as we went through, but nothing had started.  Ah, well.  We found a liquor store that was still open, so we picked up a cheap bottle of sparkling wine to crack open at midnight.  :-D

Youngest is all excited to make the cheese sauce for a fondue we'll be doing later - we've already taste tested the two cheeses Eldest picked out.  One is a smoked cheddar we've tried before and love, but it rather expensive, so it's a rare purchase for us.  The other is a new cheese from Ireland with a bold taste that will be perfect for a fondue.  As we get closer to midnight, Eldest will taking on stuff for the BBQ.  It's been years since we've done a New Year's midnight BBQ.  Steaks are marinading, and there will be seafood skewers as well.  I'm looking forward to it.

Dh has been struggling with feeling completely useless lately.  Because it's painful for him to stand for any length of time, bend, or even sit without squirming, he hasn't been able to help with anything at all.  Frustrating.

It's been an odd sort of year overall.  Not a particularly good one.  I just got news yesterday that another fixture of my home town passed away.  She was only in her mid-60's, too.  I knew she had struggled with her health for a long time, but it's always a shock when someone who's been such a permanent part of one's past is gone.  She is the second such person we've lost this year.  I saw both of them last when Youngest and I went to my brother's memorial on the anniversary of his death.  The woman who just died catered the reception for us, along with just about every other event held in our town. 

I know that, as I get older, I will be losing the people I know.  I expect that.  What I didn't expect is for so many of them to be younger.  My parents are in their 80's now, and the people who have been passing are all about 20 years younger; sometimes much more.  Some are the same ages as myself and my siblings.

Looking back, it feels like this past year has been one of little progress on my own part.  It hasn't been for my children.  Eldest is doing quite well with her art, and I am quite proud of how things are going for her.  Youngest has been going through a slump, but she's enjoying her guitar lessons and just got her beginner's drivers license (I've promised to take her for a driving lesson tomorrow - it'll be the first time she's been behind the wheel since our trip in the summer). 

The last few months have probably been hardest on Dh.  He's struggled with his back issues off an on for years, but for it to crash on him so badly these last few weeks has been the worst of all.  I'm just so thankful that the company he works for is so supportive for him to be working from home.

Other family members have had their struggles as well.  Dh's sister's girlfriend was suddenly diagnosed with cancer and has been in and out of the hospital.  Who knows how long it was there before they found out about it.  Thankfully, she too has an understanding employer who has been really supportive of them (she and her girlfriend work for the same company).  I try to keep them in my prayers as much as I can, along with my FIL and another SIL, who have been struggling with health problems that are unusually similar, right down to long term problems from bug bites, of all things.  At almost the same time, too!

It all makes me extra grateful for my own parents.  Sure, my dad has had a lot of past problems that he's still dealing with.  He just got his pacemaker replaced with an upgrade, which is a pretty awesome thing to think about.  He continues trucking along, steadfast as ever, even with having to deal with my mother's oddball behaviour.  My mother, meanwhile, is barely slowing down.  She's staying active and travelling.  If I'm still going as strong as she is at 80, I'll consider that a huge accomplishment. 

As for myself, I don't know what to think.  I've become a crochet instructor, but I'm not sure how to work things out with the store I'm working with.  There's a specific type of manager I'm supposed to work through.  I'm responsible for promoting my own classes and making sure the registration forms are all up to date, etc.  I still have to go to the store itself to do that, but it seems like I'm an inconvenience every time I have to ask to get into the office to use their computer system and print things out.  There's a specific managerial position I am supposed to deal with, and 4 people have gone through that position since I started.  One was in and gone before I ever met her, and there's a new one now that I've yet to meet.  I think the most frustrating part is that I spoke to the previous person about a week before I found out she was gone, and she had never mentioned anything.  My family has been telling me to break off with the store completely and just teach independently.  I think I should at least finish my instructor's course, though.  The first part is waiting at my instructor's office in New York to be graded.  The second part is what will give me the official "professional" designation.  The curriculum I use at the store is by the same company that I signed up for the course through.  I can download and print off my curriculum from their site.  However, the registration process, and its accompanying paperwork, is only available through the store's computer system.  It's all a bit of a convoluted mess, partly because of their antiquated computers and software that borders on obsolete, partly because of problems actually getting use of those computers and being able to set up classes.  I have 6 new classes to start teaching, the registration paperwork is printed out and in the book, but because of the manager change, I haven't got any dates scheduled to teach them.  Heck, just picking up my paycheck is more trouble than it's worth.  They can mail them to me. :-/  Don't get me started on trying to set up automatic payroll deposits! 

I am encouraged by my NaNoWriMo success, though.  I did my 50,000 words, which of course is not enough to actually finish and entire novel.  I wanted to continue, but with December being the busiest month for us, I decided to take a complete break from writing it in December.  My biggest concern was that, if I stopped writing, I'd lose interest in the project and not want to get back to it, or just forget about it in the business of our days.  That didn't happen.  I've actually been itching to get back to it!  I'll start up again in January.  I will continue to set myself monthly word goals, though not 50,000, since I have other commitments I need to pick up again, but 25-30,000 isn't unreasonable, I think.  Who knows what will become of it.  Perhaps it'll even get published and give us the income that will allow Dh to quit his job?  *L*  Yeah.  Not likely.  From some of the topics I touch on in the book, I doubt I'll find a publisher willing to carry it.  Mind you, the publishing business has changed so dramatically these days, who's to say what will or won't get carried anymore.  Lord knows, some pretty horrible stuff is on the bestsellers lists these days.  The bar isn't exactly high.

We shall see what the New Year brings.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a joyous Christmas and happy New Year.  May this be a time of peace and good will for you and yours, and may 2012 be a year of good health and prosperity.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Menu

This is the menu we have decided on for this year's Wigilia feast on Christmas Eve.

Starter: Devilled eggs, with bacon and shredded cheese

Salad: Spinach Salad, with yogurt dressing and quail eggs

Main course: Leg of lamb with fresh rosemary
                        Broccoli cooked a la Julia Child
                        Pierogi filled with potato and cheese

Dessert: whatever looks good at the bakery

Drink: Cranberry punch with frozen berries
             Red wine

We are going to focus on a few things to make ourselves, then allow others to do the work for the rest! lol  For the sake of time and space, we will be buying our pierogi and the dessert. We have never done leg of lamb before, but it is a simple dish to make.  The eggs can be cooked in advance.  The spinach salad recipe calls for hard boiled eggs, which we will use whole quails eggs for, instead.  We have long wanted to try quails eggs that haven't come from a can. ;-) For dessert, I see no point for us to make our own when bakeries can do so much better then us! lol It's just not worth the extra time, energy and stress to do any of that ourselves this year.

Later on,I will share the recipes for the lamb and spinach salad.

Getting Ready

This has been a very unusual Christmas season for us. Dh's back seems to have given up on him entirely. He is in massive amounts of pain and barely able to move.  He has been almost completely housebound for about two weeks now, and the rare forays out has taxed him to the limit. Thankfully, he has been able to work from home.  I must say, we are really appreciating how supportive his employer has been, though I imagine they are getting pretty frustrated over the situation by now.

Dh is working right now, actually, so I am currently posting this from the tablet.  I apologize for any weird typos in advance. lol

Meanwhile, our Christmas preparations continue, if slower than usual.  We didn't get our tourtiere done until a few days ago.  The temperatures have been too mild to store our pies on the balcony as usual, so we could only do as many as would fit in our fridge freezer.  We ordered 12 pounds of ground meats this year, and made deep dish pies. That translated into only eight pies.  We have had one so far, and they turned out quite well. We won't be doing deep dish again,though.  The meat to crust ratio is better in a regular sized pie.

Our gift shopping is done. We gave the girls some cash from the gift budget, in addition to anything they had saved up themselves. Dh hasn't done any shopping at all, of course, so I have done all the gift buying at our end.  Youngest decorated the tree this year, and Eldest has decorated the house.  The tree is full of gifts under it, which has been entertaining for the stray cat and her kitten that we have taken in for a while.  

All that is left right now is to do the final food shopping, which should be done tomorrow, though I am thinking of doing it tonight, instead.  I will post the menu separately.  Hopefully, once that is done, we won't have to go shopping again for a good while! 

Friday, December 09, 2011

That'll be me...

The girls decide to take in a movie at the second run theatre. No problem. They will take the last bus from our area, though it will get them there an hour early, and I will drive them home.  They leave for the bus with plenty to catch it.

Half an hour later, we get a call. The bus never showed.  So I throw on some slippers and head out to give them a ride.  Along the way, I decide it's not worth making the drive twice, so I will hang out in the area until their movie is out.

Aside from a grocery store and a coffee shop, the only place open this late is the Walmart.  I just realized I am going to be spending almost 2 hours there, wearing a pomegranate stained sweater, my husband's sweats and grandpa slippers.

Half expecting to find myself in People of Walmart some day.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Let's try this again

I tried to post earlier, but blogger was having technical difficulties.  Here's hoping they're fixed, and my post actually keeps... :-/

It's been a month since I last posted, so there's a bit to catch up on, both good and back.

In the good news...

Eldest talked me into doing NaNoWriMo, which has a goal of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.  The first day was a very good start, which promptly fell apart after the second day.  That stalled me a bit, but I slowly started to catch up.  In the end, I completed the goal a couple of days early!  Doing her part to encourage me, Eldest agreed that if I completed NaNoWriMo, she would sing at an open mic night.  A nearby coffee shop had weekly open mic nights, but they closed for renovations and, since reopening, I haven't seen anything to show they're still doing it.  We'll have to figure it out.

In the more neutral news, Eldest has left her job.  She liked the work well enough, but there were a couple of issues.  One was the surprisingly bad public transportation to the location she worked at.  We knew it wasn't good - that's partly why she applied to a different location in the first place - but good grief, it sucked.  It's one thing to be driving her in for 3 or 5 am shifts.  It's another to be driving her home again because the buses in the area don't run on Sundays.  Or evenings.  Or that it take 3 times longer to take the bus compared to driving.  There were other issues, though, and she did tell one of her managers about it.  It turns out there's plenty of reason for this location to have such a high turnover rate.  She's going to take a bit of a break, then start handing out the resumes again.  The job market has really perked up, and not just for Christmas, so it should be interesting to see how that works out.

Then there's the bad news.  A few days ago, our younger cat suddenly started having difficulties walking and lost all bladder control.  We thought she might have had a spine injury or something.  It turned out to be massive kidney failure, and she had to be put down.  She was not a particularly nice cat, and was really rather dumb.  She could be pretty nasty, would sometimes go after the older cat for no reason, and generally didn't like people. Yet when she was in a friendly mood, she could be the sweetest thing.  Most of the time, though, she would just lay around like a fluffy black puddle on the floor.  I swear, that cat had cartilage for bones!  It was sad to have to put her down.  Especially so suddenly.  She was only 3 years old.  She was Youngest's cat, too. This is the second pet we got for her that ended up being put down.

Now, we're not sure what we're going to do.  You see, we still have a stray and her kitten around.  They had been on our balcony, but when the temperatures dropped, we brought them inside.  We're not allowed to have more than 2 pets, so we've been trying to adopt them out.  We had a couple of potential takers fall through.  I don't think there are too many people willing to take on both  mother and kitten. I was just about to contact my friend at the pound to find how to turn them in when we suddenly found ourselves down a cat.  Youngest has been wanting a dog for ages, but this kitten has been loving on her like her own cat never did.  The mama is pretty high strung, but friendly and playful.  We got tacit permission to hang on to them a bit longer.  If nothing else, we'll wait long enough for the kitten to be old enough to be separated from his mother.  In the end, it will be Youngest's choice.

Aside from that, we're slowly getting into the Christmas mood.  We've put the tree up, without decorations, to train the cats to stay out of it.  So far, it hasn't been an issue.  I really expected to have troubles with the kitten getting into it, but he seems content to leave it alone.  Of course, once it's decorated, it might be a different story.  So far, so good.  Decorating will start this weekend.

We haven't ordered our meats for our annual tourtierre this year.  Partly it's because we suddenly don't have the money.  Getting the cat to the vet, then put down, ended up costing us over $450.  That was money that was supposed to go for Christmas preparations.  Not that we could make our usual number of tourtierre, anyhow.  It's not cold enough!  After a brief deep freeze, the temperatures went right back up again and are now bouncing above and below the freezing level.  Our only freezer is the top of our fridge, so we relied on being able to keep the tourtierre frozen outside.  It's not cold enough!  So I'm thinking we'll place a meat order for perhaps a dozen pies.  There isn't room for that many in the freezer, but wee can fit a few in and still have a couple to give away or something.

I haven't done my annual Christmas decorations this year yet, either.  I had an idea in mind, but it required access to the kitchen sink, stove top and counter space.  Every time they all got cleared, they immediately got covered!  So I'm trying to come up with something else that will be quick and fairly easy.  I've got some papier mache ornament shapes as bases, as well as some paints and glue.  I have other supplies in the craft cupboard to use as well.  I'm thinking, for some of them at least, I'll be doing things with spices.  I've usually been doing items that reflected light in some way.  I think this time, I'll be more rustic.  We shall see how that works out.