Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June's Reading List

You'd think that being on vacation, I would have been able to read more this month. But no, just another 5. :( My total for the book challenge is now up to 28. I've got a long long way to go if I'm going to hit 100 by the end of the year. This month's selections are fairly random... a couple trashy romances, one that was a huge disappointment, and some fun re-reading.

Virgin's Secret - Victoria Alexander (2 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) This book really bogged me down. It falls into the trashy romance category, but it was a real slog! A young woman is out to clear her brother's reputation as an archeologist by finding the relic that he died for. In the process, she teams up with an honour-driven younger son of a noble family. Honestly, I wish I was the type of person who could just toss a book aside when I get bored. It would save me a lot of time.

Shanghai Girls - Lisa See (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) Loved this book! Like her other books, it did have it's slow moments, but Lisa See more than makes up for that with her rich descriptive talent... she paints pictures with words that shimmer and glow with life and realism. This story follows two sisters from Shanghai, who are forced into marraiges to pay off their father's gambling debts. From the beginning of the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 to the dropping of the 'bamboo curtain' in the 1950s, it follows the struggles of sisters, Pearl and May. Their escape to America, their life in the newly developing Chinatown in Los Angeles, living under the shadow of suspicion, and trying to find where they belong in an age of communist witch hunts and great prejudice. The only thing I have against this book was that it left me wanting more!

Beware A Scot's Revenge - Sabrina Jeffries (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) Another for the trashy romance novel category, but this one was great! It's part of Jeffries' School for Heiresses series. Fun, funny, sexy, and well-written, this was a great read! A regency romance full of all those things that make regency romances fun. The virtuous young woman, with too much curiousity for her own good... a misunderstood rogue who only wants justice... a kidnapping run amok... and a long-standng feud between noble families. Yummy! Jeffries is probably my favourite regency romance novelist, and I lurve this series!

Last Summer of You and Me - Anne Brashares (2 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) This was the major disappointment for the month. I love Brashares teen works, but this one was just blech! Targetted to the now grown up fans of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series, it is a peak in on the relationships between three young adults (two sisters, and the young man who lives next door) at their beach homes on Fire Island. The young man is best friends with the older sister, but in love with the younger. All through their teen years, he forces himself to deny his feelings in what he thinks is a great sacrifice for his friendship. But finally he gives in and he and the younger sister begin a covert relationship, albeit a short-lived one. When the older sister develops a terminal illness, and asks that it be kept secret, the younger sister breaks the young man's heart. OK, so it was so blah that I can't even remember the character's names. Brashare's writing style was so altered from her usual that it was distracting. I think she lived in her thesaurus for the first third of the book... the bigger, more complex a word could be the more she used it. I'm glad she went back to writing teen fiction after this one... it's obviously where she excells.

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit-toes) Of course, I am a fan of Harry Potter, and of course I had to re-read HBP in preparation for the release of the movie next month. I hadn't read this one for more than a year, so it was nice to slip back into the realms of muggles and wizards. While it's not my favourite in the series (that honour goes to Order of the Pheonix), HPB is great on so many levels. Things that have been hinted at for the past five books now become fully known, and the extent of Voldemort's evil is revealed. What exactly is Draco Malfoy up to? Where is Dumbledore going when he leaves the school for days at a time? Who is the Half-Blood Prince? Where do Snape's loyalties really lie? Heart-rending (I was bawling again this morning as I read the final chapters) and action-packed, I can't wait to see how it's interpretted for the big screen.

Of course, now I really really want to re-read Deathly Hallows, but I don't want to do that until after I see the movie because I don't want to get the storylines messed up in my head.

Monday, June 29, 2009

So Many Things To Ponder

The last couple of days have been eventful, to say the least... Some things are still percolating, so be prepared for some (what I hope are) interesting posts over the next few days. I don't want this to be a Potpurri post... but I think I need to get some of it out of my head so that there's room to process the rest. While alone, none of these things are really that are mind-blowing, but taken together they are distracting.

So, my weekend in a nutshell:
  • Friday afternoon: did my first Wii Ac.tive workout, almost died!

  • Saturday morning: went to the farmer's market, ran into a staff member who told me a fabulous customer story. I will tell more about it later, but it involves Mel's book!

  • Saturday morning: hung around downtown taking pictures, mostly to get some practice with the camera. Went for lunch at a Fijian restaurant.

  • Saturday afternoon: came home and died after walking all morning with super sore legs (from Friday workout). Made a lazy supper and went to the movie theater to see "Up".

  • Saturday evening: got to the theater, but the line was stupidly long so we bought tickets for the late showing. Decided to go look for a new computer monitor, but got distracted by the mini laptops. Got terrible service at two different (national chainselectronics stores, and ended up leaving both without purchasing. Went and saw the movie, cried my eyes out.

  • Sundsay morning: went to church, heard an excellent sermon that I am going to have to post about at some point soon. Pastor J had no clue that she was speaking straight to my heart. On our way out, I was approached to consider heading up Sunday School in the fall.

  • Sunday afternoon: went for lunch (just subs). Next door to the sub place was a laptop clearance place, so we popped in just to look and ended up leaving with this lovely new mini laptop and wireless router. Played with my new 'puter, did a workout (again almost died), made dinner and did some writing (a new story line has been haunting me).

Like I said, not very exciting at face value, but there are possibly changes coming for me as a result of this weekend. Who knows?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kitchen Adventures #4 - All Things Easy

Good Morning Humble Readers... I know I promised this post yesterday, but honestly I just didn't really feel like sitting in front of the computer. So, to make up for it, I'm throwing in an extra recipe. I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures... I must remember to start taking pics of the things I make...

So, first up... one of my Beloved's favourite Sunday dinners... great in the winter or on a rainy day.

Lemon Roasted Chicken
  • 1 medium whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 onion (cut into wedges)
  • 1 bulb of garlic (separated into cloves, but with skin on)
  • 2 lemons (one cut into wedges, the other cut in half)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • dried dill weed
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Stuff the cavities in the chicken with the garlic, lemon wedges, and onions. Place in a lightly greased roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the breast and legs, and rub into skin gently. Sprinkle lightly with dill. Cover and bake for 1-1.5 hour (use a good meat thermometer to be sure it's done!), basting at least once. When you baste the chicken, use the lemon you cut in half, just be sure to not let the seeds fall in when you squeeze the juice out. You may want to uncover the chicken for the last 10 minutes or so to let the skin crisp up. Remove from the roasting pan, and allow to rest covered for at least 15 minutes (VERY important). Transfer drippings to a small pot, add lemon zest and up to a cup of chicken stock (to add volume). Bring to a boil and thicken using cornstarch or flour to make an incredible gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies!

Next are a couple of great, quick pasta recipes. I can't take credit for the basic recipes on either of these (the Kr.aft website and Rac.hel Ra.y respectively), but I have tweaked them a bit. These recipes are both super fast and awesome for weeknight cooking.

Chicken Broccoli Pasta
  • 1 chicken breast per person, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli florets per person (fresh or frozn)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2-1 cup chicken stock
  • grill seasoning/season salt to taste (optional)
  • your favourite variety of pasta
  • shredded parmasean cheese
Fill a large pot with water, and place over high heat. In a large non-stick skillet, brown the chicken. You may want to sprinkle the chicken with the grill seasoning. When chicken is browned, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and reduce heat to low. Add chicken stock to pan. When water comes to a boil, add your pasta. Most pastas take 8 minutes to cook, so when the pasta has been in the water for 5 minutes, add the broccoli. When pasta is cooked, drain well and transfer to a serving bowl. Carefully, pour chicken, onion, and stock mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle with parmasean cheese and stir gently.

Pretend Pasta a la Norma (real Pasta a al Norma has eggplant, but neither of us like it)
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • your favourite type of pasta (I like beef or cheese stuffed tortellini for this)
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400. Carefully, cut the top third off the bulb of garlic. Place in the center of a sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap well, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour (this can be done a day ahead the garlic kept in a air-tight container in the fridge). Allow to cool. Spread your tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, or until tomato skins have burst. While tomatoes are roasting, squeeze the roasted garlic out of it's skins into a bowl, and mash with a fork. When the tomatoes are done, carefully transfer them to the bowl with the mashed garlic. VERY carefully, mash the tomatoes with your potato masher (go slow, they might spit at you!). Add the basil. Combine in a large serving bowl with your cooked pasta.

And last but not least... a side dish that is great summer or winter. It is especially good with grilled brats or pork chops. This recipe is a conglomeration of things I found on various different websites and taste profiles that I was looking for.

German Potato Salad
  • 1-1.5 lb new potatoes (yellow or red)
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp white sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp grainy mustard
  • balsamic vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley
Cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Place in a pot filled with cold water, and boil over medium high heat until fork tender. Drain. In a non-stick skillet, cook the bacon until very crispy. Remove from pan, allow to cool slightly, and crumble into bits. Reserve bacon fat. Add onion to pan and saute until softened. Add cider vinegar, sugar, water, mustard, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Allow to come to a slow simmer for 5-10 minutes, until reduced. In a bowl, gently combine the potatoes, bacon and dressing. Sprinkle with parsley for garnish and serve warm.

If you have any questions, let me know! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hobbit-ish Potpurri

Good Evening Humble Readers -

Just a few random thoughts and updates tonight...

Recovery from the hysteroscopy is almost complete. Bleeding/spotting stopped pretty much that evening. I'm still dealing with a bit of stiffness in my neck and shoulders, and that punching-bag thingy (the uvula) is still really stretched and swollen. I have some random bruises (from the blood pressure cuff and from a heart monitor lead I think), but other than those minor items, all is well. I am to call my OB in about two weeks for the results, but other than that, he said "call me when you achieve pregnancy". Hmmm... will he give me a gold star? 'Achieving' pregnancy has never really been the issue. For those of you who have had this procedure done... did you find that it messed with your bbt temps?
I took a car-less friend to Cost.co today, and I ended up spending way too much money! That place is the mecca of impulse shopping. I even went in with a list! Oh well... most of it was not totally unnecessary. I stocked up on things like applesauce and pudding, as they are easy on the throat. I also bought the Wii Ac.tive package. We'll see how I do on that.
For those who asked, confetti squares are made primarily of peanut butter and those colourful mini marshmallows. I just don't know the actual recipe. My Beloved would love it if I would start making them on a regular basis.
The weather on the flatland has been unpredictable at best. Sun, rain, wind, and lots of dust (courtesy of the road workers on the sidewalk in front of our condo) seem to cycle two or three times a day right now. The farmers say we need the rain, so I guess I shouldn't whine too much.
My mom is doing slightly better. The kicker is that she is the type of person who doesn't know how to sit still, and now she's been forced to stay put (in a wheelchair no less). She and Dad have just gotten Blac.kber.ry phones, so I've been getting texted several times a day with updates.
Can you believe that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett both died today? Wow!
News on the NYC vacation front: we purchased tickets to a Yankees vs Red Sox game! How cool is that? I'm a little nervous that it's an evening game, and that we will have a long subway ride to go to get back to our hotel afterward, but still... how cool!

Well, I think that's it for tonight. I'm planning on a Kitchen Adventures post tomorrow, so make sure to stop back in and check out the recipes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Show & Tell: Farmer's Market Happiness

Due to our schedule at the store, I very rarely get a Saturday off. And due to that fact, I rarely get to go to the Farmer's Market. This is something that I am greatly looking forward to when I eventually (some day, please God!) get to go on mat leave.

So, Saturday morning my Beloved and I made our way to the Curling Club parking lot and began our meanderings up and down the rows of stalls. The farmer's market here is wonderful. Not to be derogatory to my hometown, but their farmer's market is pitiful. Because there are so many Hutterite colonies around here, the market is full of great produce. There are also a lot of great butchers and bakers represented, along with crafters, antique dealers, and the usual lemonade/grilled sausage stands.

Above is the collection of my victorious purchases from the past week. There are some beautifully fragrant herb seedlings (which I am hoping to keep alive... it's impossible to find fresh basil in our grocery store), some homemade perogies (potatoe and cheddar), pretzel buns (yum!), tomatoes (absolutely beautiful), and some confetti squares (for my Beloved).

I got three different varieties of basil, all of them smell incredible. I also got a rosemary plant, which will hopefully grow like gangbusters. The confetti squares didn't make it through that evening... I guess I need to find a recipe for them. The tomatoes are now half gone, and the perogies are in the freezer awaiting some night next week when I'll fry them up with some butter and onions.

There were also some cool local artists. There was a glass artist who, if he had some of his work framed in darker frames, I would have bought from him on the spot. He's going to be back later in the summer... I hope that he finds some dark wood frames!

So, while not very exciting, it was a blast! It was great to spend the morning out in the sunshine with my Beloved and getting to check out all kinds of local products. Now, don't forget to head on over to Mel's and check out what the rest of the class is showing this week!

Heart of Glass

It's now almost twelve hours since my hysteroscopy and my sleep schedule is a bit wacked, so I thought I'd give you all the run down.

My procedure was being done in the hospital, in the day surgery ward. My Beloved and I left at 12:30 and by 12:45 I was gowned, braceleted, and anxiously trying to calm my nerves. This time I thought to bring a book (unlike my D&C in September) so I was able to distract myself a bit. Two different nurses came in and asked me the usual questions... when was my last AF, when did I eat/drink last, explain any allergies, etc. Then we were told that we might be waiting a while due to emergency c-sections. Oh, and one nurse took my blood pressure, which true to form, sky rocketed at the sight of a hospital bed.

They ended up taking me into the OR waiting area about 45 minutes later. Have I mentioned how much I hate being without my glasses? All I can see is colourful blobs without them and it drives me nuts. The anesthesiologist checked in with me, and told me that he would prefer to put me right out rather than locally sedate me. I was fine with that, as I wasn't looking forward to that half-awake thing. Oh, and he asked me the same questions that the two nurses in day surgery asked (as did the OR waiting area nurse and the anesthesiology intern). I'm glad that they are thorough, but man talk about overkill.

After a half hour in the waiting area they took me to the OR. The nurse was having problems with the gurney I was on, and it felt like it had the wheels on that cart at Safe.way that I always get. The intern opened the OR doors and I was blasted with Blondie singing "Heart of Glass". It was a little odd, and while I know it was mostly nerves, I had the most inappropriate urge to giggle.

We did the gurney shuffle (me trying to slide my ass from the gurney to the operating table gracefully and failing miserably), and then the fun began. Oxygen mask, heart monitor leads, blood pressure cuff, warm blankets, IV, and my arms being strapped down, the anesthesiologist saying to take slow deep breaths...

Next thing I remember I was in recovery. I had been dreaming about work and was honestly surprised when I opened my eyes and wasn't in my store. And guess what song was in my head? That's right... Heart of Glass. I was in recovery for about a half hour. I listened to the nurses talk about buying eggs from the Hutterites, and I was given a titch of morphine to help with the cramping.

When I was finally taken back to the day surgery ward, there was my Beloved, dozing away in the chair in my room. It actually wasn't until I was given some water that I realized that my throat didn't hurt like last time, although it did feel weird. It turns out that my uvula (you know, that punching-bag-thing in the back of your throat) is swollen to triple it's normal size.

After about an hour, when I passed the ginger ale test, the nurse took out my IV and told me I could get dressed. I had just stood up and was getting my stuff together to head to the bathroom (I had to PEE!) when I felt a gush of blood on my hand. I looked down and I had soaked through the bandage the nurse had put on when she took out the IV and I was dripping blood everywhere! For just a split second I thought it was coming from 'other' areas. My Beloved got the nurse and all was rectified quickly but not before I made a huge mess! Ugh!

So, we made it home and I ate a ridiculous amount of Chinese food (I was starving!). I've now dozed off and on enough to mess up my sleep schedule, but hopefully by morning I will feel more normal. I really have no pain to speak of, and my only discomfort is when I swallow (that uvula thing is still really swollen).

That's what I got myself all freaked out about... not as bad as I thought it would be. I'm glad it's over now. And hopefully, once we get back to trying in the fall, all will go smoothly and I might just have some happy news by the end of the year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Did It!

Hey there humble readers!

I have an announcement... I did it! I overcame my fear of the drill! If you recall from this post, I have been procrastinating on some home repairs because I was just a titch afraid of screwing things up. Well, yesterday I bit the bullet and started doing some basic stuff.

I bolted the bookcases to the wall. No more leaning towers of books! And I put up the curtains in the kitchen! Curtain rod, brackets, and tie-backs.

There's still a fair bit on my list, but I'm feeling good about what I've gotten done. And I only stripped one screw!

Small steps...

Monday, June 22, 2009


Ok, so I wasn't going to watch it, but I did. Jon & Kate tonight was probably the most disappointing thing I've ever seen.

My opinion probably isn't a popular one (and I might get some nasty comments), but I feel that they are being selfish and copping out. What is more important for a child than for his or her parents to be together? Marriage takes constant work, especially when they have as many stressors as they do.

They kept saying that they were doing this for the kids. Pardon me for saying so but, what a load of crap...

Outside My Window & Inherited Clumsiness

So, I'm on vacation, right? Looking forward to having some quiet time at home, puttering around the house, getting things ready before my hysteroscopy tomorrow (for some reason I can't go to the hospital with a messy house... go figure).

And what do I wake up to this morning? Our condo building shaking, diesel engines roaring, and dust on the wind filtering through my open windows. I should have guessed this was coming. I noticed the spray-painted marks on the sidewalk last week, but I was hoping that their work would end at the far end of our street.

It appears that they are replacing the curbs, and possibly the sidewalks, too. I hope that it doesn't take all week.

In other Hobbit-land news... I have always been known as a clumsy person. If you don't believe me, check out my Hobbit vs. Old Man Winter post. I have always known that I inherited this from both my biological and foster moms, and this was proven yet again this past weekend.

My mom, on her way through the Las Vegas airport, fell. Apparently she was just walking along, and her ankle rolled. She went down hard on her left side. As she says, at least it was at the end of her trip and not at the beginning.

Stubbornness is also an inherited feature of the women in my family. Knowing that, you will not be surprised that my mother, even though she was in incredible pain, had my dad help her to board the plane. By the time they landed in Vancouver, she was ready to pass out from the pain, and the airline had a medical team standing by to take her to the hospital.

Now, normally, when a fifty-something woman falls, it doesn't have the same connotation as when, say, an 80-something woman falls. But, my mom is a five-time cancer survivor, and all that chemo and radiation has done damage to her bones. It turns out that she has broken her foot and has a fracture in her pelvic bone.

I talked to her yesterday, and she texted me today... she seems to be doing ok. The doctors said that the nature of the fracture in her pelvis is such that they want her to stay mobile (to avoid blood clots) and the break in her foot is such that they can't cast it.

She's anxious to get home so that she can check in on my Grandma (in a nursing home). My sister is going to stay with her for a couple weeks so that she can keep her under control and not doing a whole lot.

*Just sitting here shaking my head*

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June ICLW: It's Really All About Me

Ok, so there are a ton of these meme things floating around out there. I chose to do this one for my ICLW intro this month because it's a little different than most. If you like it, please feel free to steal it. In any case... this is me...
  1. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book? The Dr. Seuss Sleep Book
  2. If you could live in any home on a television series, what would it be? Charlie's house on Numbers (love that front door)
  3. What's the longest you've gone without sleep? a couple days... in college
  4. What's your favorite Barry Manilow song? not a clue!
  5. Who's your favorite Muppet? Fozzie Bear
  6. What's the habit you're proudest of breaking? cracking my back
  7. What's your favorite Web site? allrecipes.com
  8. What's your favorite school supply? a blank notebook
  9. Who's your favorite TV attorney? Ed
  10. What was your most recent trip of more than 50 miles? Dids.bury, yesterday, to visit the inlaws
  11. What's the best bargain you've ever found at a garage sale or thrift store? my old khaki capris... I loved them... $3
  12. Where were you on September 11, 2001? Getting ready for work
  13. What's your favorite tree? weeping willow
  14. What's the most interesting biography you have read? The Duchess
  15. What do you order when you eat Chinese food? Chicken fried rice, Almond Soo Guy, Almond Guy Ding, Beef with Broccoli
  16. What's the best costume you've ever worn? my clown costume when I was 5
  17. What's your least favorite word? moist
  18. If you had to be named after one of the 50 states, which would it be? Georgia, I've always loved that name
  19. Who's your favorite Smurf? Baker Smurf
  20. Describe something that's happened to you for which you have no explanation. Infertility
  21. If you could travel anywhere in Africa, where would it be? Tanzania
  22. What did you have for lunch yesterday? pesto chicken panini & fruit smoothie
  23. Where do you go for advice? books
  24. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus? thesaurus
  25. Have you ever been snorkeling? nope
  26. Have you ever been stung by a bee? ouch, yes!
  27. What's the sickest you've ever been? recurrent bladder infections when I was four. I ended up in the children's hospital
  28. What's your favorite form of exercise? walking
  29. What's your favorite Cyndi Lauper song? her version of Iko Iko
  30. What did you do for your 13th birthday? I don't remember, nothing spectacular
  31. Are you afraid of heights? Heck ya!
  32. Have you ever taken dance lessons? I have two left feet
  33. What's your favorite newspaper? The free paper available at coffee shops in town... has some funny stories
  34. What's your favorite Broadway musical? WICKED!!!!
  35. What's the most memorable class you've ever taken? grade 11 biology
  36. What's your favorite knock-knock joke? I can never remember jokes...
  37. What's your favorite commercial? any of the PC and Mac commercials
  38. Do you prefer baths or showers? showers
  39. Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight? never tried, but I suspect it would
  40. What's your favorite breakfast food? real breakfast? my Christmas morning casserole! YUM!
  41. Who's your favorite game show host? Gene Rayburn
  42. If you could have a super power, what would it be? to be able to teleport myself
  43. Do you like guacamole? sometimes, I have to be craving it
  44. Have you ever been in a food fight? who hasn't?
  45. Name five songs to which you know all the lyrics. Dear Prudence, Last Saskatchewan Pirate, King of Spain, Gravity, It's All Been Done Before
  46. What's your favorite infomercial? sham wow
  47. What's the longest you've ever waited in line? overnight for NKOTB tickets (when I was 16)
  48. What's on the cover of your address book or day planner? ummm... mine's on my phone, so it's got a picture of a highway and a field...
  49. Have you ever taken a picture in one of those little booths? yes, quite a long time ago

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Hobbit vs. The World Volume 3: Sunburn

It's been a while since I did a Hobbit vs. the World post, but today I have a bit of a gripe. And really, I'm not cranky at the world. I'm more cranky at myself.

But I need to give you some background. I come from good northern European stock. German, Irish, English, Ukrainian... that's right, the pasty ones. I was born so blonde that no one could see my hair. I looked bald until I was almost three. As an aside, my biological parents were often asked how old I was when they adopted me, as they both have dark hair and darker colouring (how the heck did that happen?). The kicker is, when you look at me and my grandmother it's like a chunck of her fell off and started growing where it landed.

Anyway, sorry for the digression.

I'm pale. I always have been. Whenever someone complains about how they need some colour, I can one up them by showing them the inside of my forearm. We are talking white. Whiter than white.

And I don't tan.

I never have. I go from white, to lobster red, to white (with a few more new freckles thrown in for good measure). I won't go into how living in Florida was a challenge. Once when I was 16, I went fishing in an aluminum canoe. I forgot my sunblock on the beach and we were out on the lake for several hours. In July. In the Okanagan. I ended up getting so burnt that I peeled for more than two weeks. Gross! I still have scars from that burn on my shoulders.

So, what am I cranky about today? I'm cranky because my Beloved and I went out to the Farmer's Market (more about that on Show and Tell day) this morning, and I completely forgot to put on sunblock. The burn I got isn't terrible, just irritating. My neck and chest, and the end of my nose. (In fact, I look like I've just downed a bottle of wine on my own.)

I know better!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Girl Who Cried 'Pregnant'

Another cycle... another round of feeling foolish.

At 9dpo I got a very faint positive. It was on a name brand test and like I said, it was faint, but it was definitely positive. My Beloved and I both saw it and we were cautiously hopeful. After all, it was still very early.

I tested the next day, and it was negative, but I had missed my fmu, so I wasn't surprised.

I tested the day after that, and then again yesterday... both negative.

This morning my temperature tanked and I can feel AF getting ready to show up. So, now the hysteroscopy is a go... I have a pre-consult with the anesthesiologist tomorrow and then the procedure on Tuesday. I guess I should be glad that the procedure is getting done, so that I don't have the nagging thought of a polyp screwing things up in the future.

But knowing that 'its for the best' isn't a comfort right now. I'm sad, I'm angry and I'm sick of this whole stupid merry-go-round. I hate that my body plays tricks on me. I hate that I can't do what my husband's 16 year old cousin seems to be able to do without even trying.

The other thing that is weighing on me heavily today is knowing that we won't be trying again now until September. With our trip planned for the latter half of September and my history of early losses, I don't want to risk getting pregnant before we go to New York. I don't want to potentially ruin our trip by worrying about miscarrying again (not to mention needing medical care in a different country can get expensive).

I know that it's not that far off... and the time in between will go quickly. But the idea of 'wasting' cycles, actively preventing... it's about as appealing to me as liver and onions. Not to mention that big flashing neon 35 is fast approaching and while I know that pregnancy is still very possible, I don't need any lower odds.

Tomorrow I will be in a better frame of mind. Tomorrow I will be more positive, I'm sure. Today sucks, and I think I'm just going to wallow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crazy Eights

So, after reading many people's eights... I was finally tagged! Thanks Alana! :) Everyone else, make sure you swing by her place and check out her little Em's quotables! Totally hilarious!

The rules:

1. Mention the person who tagged me.
2. Complete the lists of 8.
3. Tag 8 more bloggers and tell them they've been tagged.

The lists:

Eight things I am looking forward to.
  1. Our New York trip in the fall!
  2. My vacation week... in little over a week!
  3. hooking up our bbq... we've only had it for a year, but just finally bought a propane tank
  4. getting our curtains put up
  5. being a mommy some day
  6. the next Harry Potter movie
  7. the new Philippa Gregory novel due out in August
  8. making chocolate strawberry trifle tomorrow for my beloved
Eight things I did yesterday.
  1. worked a lemonade stand outside my store to help raise money for our children's literacy fund (made a ton of money!)
  2. ordered a pizza
  3. watched 'Secret Life of Bees' (fabulous movie!)
  4. read on my lunch break
  5. missed my beloved (he was at his parents' place for the day... about an hour away)
  6. looked through one of my NYC travel books
  7. listened to the pounding noise of a jackhammer (very aggravating)
  8. fell asleep on the couch
Eight things I wish I could do.
  1. read as fast as I used to
  2. invent reliable teleportation so that I could go visit my parents on my days off
  3. bake
  4. carry a baby to term
  5. tan, even just a little bit (I burn, freckle, and turn white again)
  6. travel everywhere on our 'places to go list'
  7. afford a housekeeper (even just once every couple of weeks)
  8. cook without making a ginormous mess

Eight shows I watch.
  1. Rachel Ray
  2. Stargate (both of them)
  3. M*A*S*H
  4. Criminal Minds
  5. Bones
  6. Mythbusters
  7. Little Couple (just got hooked)
  8. CSI NY

Eight favorite fruits.
I agree with Alana, this is an odd category!
  1. watermelon (too bad my beloved hates it!)
  2. strawberries
  3. cherries
  4. grapes
  5. mandarin oranges
  6. tomatoes (they are a fruit, right?)
  7. lemons (I love cooking with them)
  8. pomegranate (juice)

Eight places I'd like to travel.
This is only a small taste of our 'places to go' list
  1. New York City
  2. Any Disney park!
  3. Atlantic Canada
  4. Great Britain
  5. Ireland
  6. Germany
  7. Tanzania
  8. Greece

Eight places I've lived.
I'm not going to list addresses or suburbs... I've moved 59 times in my life, so I'll just stick to main towns.
  1. Smith's Falls, Ontario (a good place to be from... if you catch my drift)
  2. Medicine Hat, Alberta
  3. Kelowna, British Columbia
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. San Francisco, California
  6. Lethbridge, Alberta
  7. Orlando, Florida
  8. Red Deer, Alberta
I think I'm the last person in the blogosphere to get tagged with this meme, but if you haven't, please consider yourself tagged!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Show & Tell: Home Ownership Is A Challenge

My beloved and I bought our condo almost a year ago. I love our little home. Two bedrooms, one bath, in suite laundry, new-ish kitchen, on a older residential street.

I honestly didn't think it would be as hard as it is to maintain a home. I know my dad did a lot of work around the house when I was a kid, but most of it always seemed to be in the yard. And I am not a yard person. Thus we decided on a condo.

But in the last year I have learned things that I never would have known if I continued to live in the vicinity of my parents or in a rental.

Don't get me wrong, I know how to do a few things that would fall into the 'handy' department. I can paint, and I am a master at faux finishes (except for that spot on the living room wall... gah). I can hammer a nail, and use a screwdriver with a certain level of confidence. I have installed towel racks and have built more than my fair share of I.kea furniture. My beloved of course is best with computers and pencils... not tools. And don't get me started on his painting skills (he painted our spare bedroom, and ended up with more paint on himself and on the floor than he did on the walls).

Our honey-do list feels like it's a mile long now, and there are things that I just have no clue how to do, or am a little leary of trying and ultimately messing up.
  • Linen closet door is off it's track and I can't get it to stay on.
  • Balcony screen door was stuck (I managed to unstick it last night) but now I can't get it back on it's tracks.
  • Toilet tank leaks at the flusher handle from time to time.
  • New smoke detector needs to be installed.
  • Curtain rods are not put up because I'm scared that I will mess something up when I go to use the drill. (yes, we do have blinds, but I really don't like them)
  • 2 out of 3 bookcases are not attached to the wall be cause of aforementioned fear of the drill.
  • Weather stripping on one of our bedroom windows needs to be replaced.
On the upside, I was able to get the screen door on our entry door to stop squeaking. That has to count for something, right?

Oh, and the reason for the toolbox graphic rather than a photo? I don't have a toolbox. My tool collection, such as it is, is stored in random shoeboxes and drawers around the house.

I know that in most of the above scenarios, I need to push the fear aside and just do it. But if anyone has any great suggestions, please let me know...

And to check out what the rest of the class is showing, head over to Mel's!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Restoring My Faith in the Human Race

Have I got a story for you all, humble readers!

Last night I was working the late shift, like I do most Mondays. It was quiet in the store as our Star.bucks is currently closed for renos (guess who's jones-ing for a green tea lemonade?!?). I was near the front of the store when a young man, apparently in his early twenties, came into the store.

He walked directly to me and asked if I was the manager. I answered yes, and asked how I could help him. He handed me an envelope and said, 'this is for you', then he turned and walked back out to his truck.

I opened the envelope and there was a small note along with $25 cash. The note read something to this effect:
Dear Owner, Some time ago,
when I was a teenager and had
no sense or wisdom,
I stole a book from your store.
Unfortunately I no longer have
the book, so please accept
this $25 as recompense.
Sincerely, Annonymous

I was stunned! Floored! Flabbergasted! Speechless!

I confess that I am a jaded retail employee and I honestly thought I had seen it all! Never, in almost 10 years of retail work have I had an adult own up to stealing (unless caught red-handed), let alone offer to pay for what was taken. I have had parents bring children in for that painful life lesson about not taking what isn't yours... Timmy, what do you say to the lady? Tell her what you did...

On the practical side, because our tills are not programmed to accept random amounts of money without having a corresponding item that is sold out of our system, I was unable to use the money as the young man intended. (Not to mention that there was no indication of what item he stole, or how long ago it was, and it was probably already written off as loss.) Instead, I made a $25 donation to our children's literacy fund.

I have no context in which to frame the events of last evening. Except to say, thank the good Lord that there are still people out there who have the strength to own up to their mistakes and be accountable for them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Infertility and a Crisis of Faith

Good morning, humble readers...

I will be the first to admit that my prayer life isn't what it 'should' be. My Beloved and I pray over meals, and we do go through times when we are very focused on praying... praying for our selves, for others, for our world leaders... but more often than not, my daily prayers are the last few semi-coherent thoughts that pass through my brain before sleep comes.

I should step back a bit and mention that I do believe in the power of prayer. I believe that God does miraculous things every day. The fact that my mom is alive today, after five encounters with cancer, is a testament to the healing power of God.

So, what does it mean then, when a woman who believes in the power of prayer prays for her unborn child... and that child never actually happens?

During the 10 weeks of my first pregnancy, my Beloved and I prayed for our little one. Prayed that God would keep her healthy and safe, that we would be good parents, that we would be able to provide the secure home that she would need. And when we lost her, in the midst of our grief, we were thankful that God had blessed us with her for even a short time.

When we got pregnant the second time, some connection in my mind went a bit wonky. No one said this to me, it was purely my own misdirection... but I started to think that 'last time' I hadn't prayed hard enough. Instead of focusing on the positive (actually being pregnant), I started to play this tape in my head... 'last time' I failed physically, 'last time' I failed spiritually.

For the first 8 weeks of my second pregnancy, I was berating myself constantly because 'last time' I hadn't prayed enough, and I wasn't praying enough 'this time'. My prayers 'this time' took on a desperate intensity... make me a better person, help me be more faithful, make me good enough. And our 8 week ultrasound confirmed my deficiencies... in my mind. I failed again 'this time'.

At the same time as all this was happening, there was the logical part of my mind (that was probably shouting it's lungs out) that knew blighted ova are not a punishment from God for not praying hard enough, for not being good enough. I knew that. I know it. But that doesn't mean I felt it. My grief the second time around was harder, I think, because of all the self-blame I was heaping on my head.

Somehow along the way I had forgotten the most basic truth about prayer. Prayer does not change God. Prayer changes me. It opens my heart and mind up to God's leading, and brings me into deeper relationship with him. Prayer is the communication that feeds my relationship with him.

This past winter and spring haven't been easy. My prayer life still isn't what I would like it to be, but that tape that was playing in my head seems to have been stopped. I have been blessed with a good pastor who has walked this road (she had two miscarriages before going on to have twins), and a husband who understands one's faith journey goes through ups and downs, and sometimes having a partner on the road is all that's needed to keep moving forward.

My prayer for 'next time' is that I will be at peace. When and if I get pregnant again, I pray that I will find the joy in the moment. And if the worst happens again, I pray that God will help me to lean on his strength.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Show & Tell : The New Camera

Ok, so it's not terribly new any more. We bought it as our anniversary gift to each other back in April, but it's still pretty darn cool.

Not to mention a bit intimidating.

It has so many added do-dads that I swear, if I could figure out how, it would do the vacuuming for me! I'm just super thankful that I can delete any of my terrible shots.

I am hoping to be able to get some time to practice with it before we go to NYC this fall. Part of my challenge is that I'm not really sure how the pictures turn out because the colour on our computer monitor is kinda crappy. (A new 'puter isn't in the budget until next year.)

I used to scrapbook a lot, but got out of the habit of taking pictures. I'm hoping to take lots of great pictures while we're away... we have too many bare walls in this place yet!

Don't forget to stop by Mel's and check out what the rest of the class is showing! Happy Saturday!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hobbit-ish Household Tips

Ok humble readers... here are my uber-important household tips.
  • Never leave the precariously mounted venetian blind even part way down with the window open. A breeze could kick up and the whole bloody thing could come crashing down, shattering a glass candle holder in the process. (Learned this one last week)
  • Never leave a particular type of fem-hy product in your pocket... and then let it go through the washer. When your husband finds it in the dryer he will freak out. (of course it was one that I had as a 'just in case')
  • Always assume that anything in tup.perware you don't recognize, found in the back of your fridge, is not meant to be opened, but instead just thrown away with as little contact to your skin as possible.
  • Never assume that one shade of cream paint is the same as another. You will end up with a funky looking hallway.
And the item that inspired this post:
  • Never put a pot of potatoes on to boil and then get wrapped up in an episode of M*A*S*H. If you do, this will be the one time that the stupid pot doesn't even think about boiling over, and you end up with a nasty-smelling-smoke-filled kitchen, a lot of blackened (and not the good Cajun kind) potatoes, and a pot that is likely ruined because the bloody thing boiled dry!
Ok... so now you have my tips. Use this knowledge carefully, young Jedi.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time Crunch

Good Morning humble readers...

Some of you may recall that at my last OB appointment, I was put on a waiting list for a hysteroscopy for the purposes of removing a polyp. Well, in the last two days I have gotten a ton of phone calls from the pre-admissions clinic.

First, they wanted to set me up on June 11th... not good for two reasons. That week we have our regional manager in the store, and I need to be there (as much as I'm not looking forward to it... she and I just don't mesh well). Also, my OB told me at my last appointment that it could take a couple months before they could get me in, and to just try like bunnies between now and then because we could always cancel the procedure if I do get pregnant. If I were to go ahead with the procedure on the 11th, then I would only be 4 or 5DPO, too early to determine if I was pregnant, and we have been trying.

So, they accepted that and told me they would get back to me with the next available date. I thought it would take another few weeks before I would hear from them again. Nope! Got the call yesterday... June 23rd. Ok, that works well for me. I'm on a vacation week, so I won't be missing any more work. And I will know definitively by then if I am pregnant. Great... it's booked.

Then I get another call from pre-admissions. They need to set up a pre-consult with anesthesia. Gah! I imagine that it's because of my size, but I did fine under general anesthesia last time. So I have to juggle my work schedule just to go for a half hour appointment the week before.

I'm just praying that I get my bfp... and maybe even get it a day or two early... then I won't have to go for either appointment.

If any of you have had a hysteroscopy, can you give me a heads up? I imagine it will be like HSG in terms of pain, but is there anything else that I need to know?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May's Reading List

Ok, so I'm a couple days late on this one... It was a busy weekend at work (Double Discount Days) and I have been doing a small battle with some allergies. I know, I know... that's what I get for whining about winter dragging on so long.

May was another eclectic mix of titles. Teen fiction, a classic, the fantabulous Miss Mel's book, and a great late victorian puzzler... As of the end of May, I am now at 23 titles out of 100 for the Book Challenge.

  • Distant Waves - Suzanne Weyn: (3 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) Set at the beginning of the spiritualism movement in the early 20th century, the story centers around the daughters of a fraudulent medium. The family, after an unexpected encounter with an under-appreciated scientist named Tesla, moves to a community of spiritualists in upstate New York. The girls are raised surrounded by mystics (or at least those who claim to be), and the older two long to break free from their strange life. Events unfold to bring them, on separate paths, to England in the spring of 1912. One sister is destined to participate in an experiment that will change the world, another destined to find true love. I found the book a little rushed, especially in the latter half of the story. One very interesting element to the book though, was that the author included historical notes in the end... so that readers could sift through what was historically based and what was created for the story.
  • Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen: (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) The epitome of regency romance... Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, falling in love despite the barbed wit of each. Who was prideful? Who was prejudiced? Will the nasty Mr. Collins ever shut up? I get goosebumps at the same point in the book every time I read it (when Lizzie receives Mr. Darcy's letter). *sigh*
  • Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray: (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) Hearkening back to the great gothic novels of the 1800s, the story of Gemma and her friends, who discover they can enter the magical realms, is dark and brooding. What begins as innocent exploration of their newly acquired powers soon becomes something sinister as they accidentally release a long trapped dark entity. Do the girls have the power to overcome that which now hunts them? I thought the story was great, albeit a little cliched at points. I also felt that the girls had a much more modern outlook on their lives than what would be expected for the chosen time period. Still, I can definitely see the appeal for teen girls.
  • Navigating the Land of IF - Melissa Ford: (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) First and foremost I want to thank Mel for writing this book. It is a tremendous step forward to read an IF book written by someone who has been there. The format of a travel guide is fabulous, and with her natural ease and humour, the book was by far the most interesting and easiest to read of any in this genre that I have encountered. I loved all the asides and extras included in each chapter. I think, especially for those new to the world of IF, this is a must read... and a great tool for all of us to help understand what others on this road are facing.
  • The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton: (4.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) What a fascinating book! In 1913, a small girl is found on a dock in Australia, having been abandoned on board before the ship ever left England. All she has with her is a small suitcase filled with some clothes and a beautifully illustrated book of fairy tales. She's taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her 21st birthday she learns that she isn't who she thinks she is. After several decades, she finally feels that it's time to search for her true identity. The story bounces back and forth between three continents, and spans an entire century. What is the secret hiding in the maze at Blackhurst Manor? Who is the Authoress? What is the bond that holds cousins, Rose and Eliza, together? Warning: Do not read this book if you like a linear story line, or if you easily lose track of characters. Morton switches up time periods and points-of-view with each chapter, but the over all effect definitely adds to the mystery. Also interspersed are some intriging fairy tales... One other interesting aspect to this story: one of the characters struggles with infertility. There are some passages documenting her grief over her 'failure' that could be taken from the pages of my heart. There were moments as I was reading where I actually caught my breath at the understanding the author has for 'our' plight.