Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Night Chit Chat: Spring Dreaming

Good Evening Humble Readers...

I hope that you all have had a great week.  It was sort of a sluggish week around the hobbit hole, with a serious lack of anything significant being accomplished. 

The weather this past week has been astounding.  We have been having a prolonged January thaw, punctuated by several chinooks.  It was so warm toward the end of the week that I was able to have the windows open in the afternoon to allow fresh air to fill the hobbit hole.  It felt so nice!  As of today, we are back into seasonal temperatures (well below freezing).  While there is still no shortage of snow (if only you could see the mountains of snow in all the parking lots around town), we have actually had a very dry month. 
You can actually see a bit of grass under the trees!
I'm in no way thinking that winter is waning, because I know for a fact that we will likely still get our heaviest snows of the season in February and March.  We still have a good three months of snow left to go.  Heck, we've had snow in May in the last several years. 

Even knowing that winter is far from over, I'm starting to itch to plant things in the pots on our balcony.  I want to expand our container garden this year to include a few vegetables, and I want to include the wee-lings in the planting and maintaining of our little garden.  Do any of you have any experience or tips for container gardens? 
My sad little flower pots right now.
I know I want to attempt to replicate the success I had last year with basil and thyme, and I'm hopeful that at least one of my lavender plants will come back after the winter.  I'm thinking of getting Ginny to plant some chives (for quick gratification... it grows so fast), and she's very excited to grow some carrots.  I'm going to attempt to grow tomatoes again, although I think I might stick to cherry tomatoes.  Any other suggestions? 

The main hurdle for container gardens is that they dry out much quicker than a traditional garden, but I have a plan to help combat this (going to try the pop-bottle trick).  My only concern is our planned week away in June.  Perhaps I'll see if I can get a friend to stop by to water the plants for us. 

***Ugh.  Just had to spend more than an hour cleaning in the wee-lings' room.  Pip has taken to removing his diaper again, and I forgot to tape the tabs down before naptime.  I walked in to get them up from their naps and found him naked from the waist down, and the entire crib, inside and out, covered in poop.  I know that Ginny was in on it, because it was in places that he couldn't reach and of course she had poop all over her hands.  I don't want to rush them growing up, but I'm sure looking forward to the end of this phase.***

On to this week's chit chat.  Here's what I'm...

Reading - Oh my, I have been reading up a storm this week.  I finished Plantation by Dorothea Benton Frank (meh, I didn't like the main character... she was very wishy washy, whining about her lack of attention from her mom one moment, and then treating her sister-in-law like total crap).  Then I read the newest Stuart McLean, The Vinyl CafĂ© Story Exchange.  Love, love, loved it!  It's a collection of stories submitted from people all across Canada.  They were funny, poignant, and sweet.  Wonderful read!  And now I'm reading Lawrence Hill's new book, from the CBC Massey Lecture Series, called Blood: The Stuff of Life.  I love this book so much that I'm planning an entire post about it.  It's all about the politics of blood... race, gender, religion, how blood figures in our language, in our culture.  It's awesome!  Next book on the list is The Kitchen House by Grissom.  Oh, and I discovered an awesome website this past week,  You put in titles you've read and it makes recommendations on what you might like to read next.  I love it.

Watching - It's Sunday, so that means Downton!  I recorded it earlier this evening, so I'm planning on pouring myself a glass of wine as soon as I'm done this post, and curl up on the couch with the Crawleys. 

Listening to - My first ever episode of Modern Family.  I understand why I don't watch this show.  I really don't like half the actors. 

Cooking/Baking - Tonight was garlic and herb pot roast, mashed taters, steamed vegetables, and yorkies.  I found a recipe for a copy cat version of the Starbucks chocolate cinnamon bread that I want to try.

Happy I Accomplished This Week - All that reading.  I'm so excited by it. 

Looking Forward To Next Week - Pip's hearing test on Tuesday.  I'm 97.6% certain that there's nothing wrong with his hearing, but I'm glad we're going ahead with the test. 

Thankful For - That AF finally showed up.  She was a full week late, and I was not only pms-ing beyond belief, but I was also starting to freak out a bit.  I know it's extremely unlikely that I could get pregnant, but the fear of facing it again was starting to creep in. 

***Bonus Question*** Do you have any phobias?  Other than getting pregnant again?  Well, birds.  Yes, I'm ornithophobic.  Any thing with feathers and anything that flies creeps me out beyond belief. 

This was posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat. Click over and check out what others are chatting about tonight. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Night Chit Chat: Best Laid Plans

Hey Humble Readers...

How is it Sunday again already??  Where did this week go?

It was a pretty busy one for all of the Gamgees.  My Beloved didn't have to work overtime this week, but likely will next week.  I ended up at the walk-in clinic, thinking I had an ear infection.  Thankfully that wasn't the case, but I had some pretty odd pressure in my ear, and a lot of headaches from that.  The doctor was sure it was just a bit of a blockage, and whatever it was it's cleared up now. 

I got to hang out with my friends, Sira and JJ, and we did our Christmas gift exchange.  My plan this year for the girls was to do homemade gourmet gift baskets.  I included some of the plum jam I made in the fall, some orange and grapefruit marmalade that I made this past week, a bottle of wine each, some crackers, and honey.  I also wanted to include some homemade goat cheese.  It looked so easy to make... whole goats milk, lemon juice, and a bit of salt.  I was so excited and so hopeful... I had visions of making goat cheese a couple of times a month, never having to buy those expensive little blocks again.  HA HA!  It TOTALLY DIDN'T WORK!  After doing some further reading, it turns out that the milk I used was too pasteurized.  Bah.  So I bought little blocks of goat cheese for their baskets.  LOL.  At least I tried.
I have never been this close at a hockey game before.  It was awesome!!!
Friday night was a date night that didn't go exactly as planned.  There's a new-ish irish pub in town, and my Beloved and I were going to go there before the hockey game (tickets were a gift from the wee-lings to my Beloved for Christmas).  The place was crazy busy, and we ended up eating at a pretty blah pub (too loud, bland food) down the street.  The hockey game was fun, even though our local team was thoroughly trounced.  Our seats were right at ice level, next to the penalty box.  I spent the entire first period twitching and flinching every time the puck came near us or someone was checked into the boards in front of us. 
A hot chocolate junkie!
Yesterday brought a busy morning, with a trip to the blood donor clinic (my iron was high enough to donate! Yay!) and the grocery store.  And then Ginny and I had a date.  I took her for a haircut, did some window shopping, and her first St.arbu.cks treat.  She had hot chocolate, which ended up dribbled down her front, and she was thrilled. 

Ok, onto tonight's chit chat.  Here's what I'm...

Reading - Finished 'Year of Wonders' last night.  I really enjoyed it, although the epilogue seemed a little out of place to me.  Didn't go anywhere close to what I was expecting.  But the book as a whole was great.  Now, I'm reading a book called 'Plantation' by Dorothea Benton Frank (or something like that).  Very different direction than my last read, this one being in the present day American South.  I'm only a couple of chapters in, so not really sure about it yet. 

Watching - Downton Abbey once the wee-lings are in bed.  And I'm recording the season premiere of Sherlock.  Don't think I'll watch it tonight though, as I'm pretty beat. 

Listening To - Pippin sucking back his milk.

Cooking/Baking - Tonight was an experiment in pork... a parmesan balsamic ranch pork roast.  Turned out really yummy.  Also, I have 100% perfected my Yorkshire puddings.  They come out huge, puffy, and hollow every time now.  Just the way I like them.  Yay!  We had mashed potatoes, gravy, and roasted acorn squash along side tonight. 

Happy I Accomplished This Week - Sent a ton of stuff to the thrift store.  Purged our cd collection, from nine boxes down to four (and they aren't full).  Got rid of all my size 20 and higher pants, jeans, and capris. 

Looking Forward To Next Week -  This is going to sound ridiculous, but I am looking forward to AF's arrival.  I have had particularly bad PMS this past week, and I'm feeling bad about how lousy my mood has been.  She's due any time. 

Thankful For - Pippin's most amazing hugs.  Seriously, he gives the best hugs ever. 

***Bonus Question*** What colours of clothing do you tend to gravitate towards?  Reds and purples.  I look better in deep reds, with a hint of purple in them, like burgundy.  For a long time there was a lot of grey in my wardrobe, but I've slowly been weeding that out, as it doesn't make me feel that great.  I definitely stay away from yellows and oranges.  They make me look ill. 

This was posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Click over and check out what the others are chatting about tonight. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Night Chit Chat: Best Intentions

Hey Humble Readers...

Several times this week I intended to sit down and talk to you folks, and repeatedly I got distracted.  It's been a long week. 
Tucking in all her babies.

All tuckered out
Both Ginny and Pip have been just generally fussy and uncooperative.  At least five days this week began with full on tantrums from both of them.  The smallest thing can bring on a meltdown from Ginny these days, and I think Pippin is starting to really feel the frustration of his inability to communicate.  Top the week off with our first ever bona fide tummy ache for Ginny last night, and a tantrum from Pip this morning because we gave him Chee.rios rather than toast for breakfast, and you can see it's been a doozy. 

My Beloved is totally swamped at work, and has had to work overtime five of the last seven weeknights (he goes back in to the office after the wee-lings are in bed for 2-3 hours, after he's already worked a full day), and is currently at the office putting in more hours.  I'm more than a bit irked with his boss, who implied on the phone yesterday that my Beloved isn't putting in enough time (you know, he did take the whole day off yesterday.  How lazy, right? Gah!).  And given his boss' attitude, my Beloved will likely be working overtime for the next few days at least.  We are hoping that boss-man will at least approve my Beloved's time-off request for mid February.  My Beloved hasn't had a real vacation in more than a year, and with his course work on top of everything else, he's approaching burnout. 

The hobbit-hole is a mess, I've been eating a bunch of crap that I totally shouldn't be, and I'm generally feeling gross.  I've gotten myself into that wretched cycle of feeling like crap because I'm not taking care of myself and not taking care of myself because I feel like crap.  What bothers me even more, is that I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO BE DOING, and yet I'm not doing it.  About the only success this week was that I got in four workouts.  I need to go see Dr. B in the next week or so to get a refill on my prescriptions, so I need to have my ducks in a row by then. 

I really don't want to whine, it's just been a particularly challenging week. 

A few good things... Pippin has recently begun to really show affection.  He gives the best hugs I've ever gotten.  He also has begun to mimic a few different gestures, like putting his hands together when we say grace at the table or bedtime prayers.  Ginny, who has always been a bit standoffish when it comes to cuddles, has been wanting to spend a lot of time with me, reading or cuddled under a cozy blanket.  It's also been much warmer for the past few days and is due to continue for the foreseeable future, with temps almost at the freezing mark.  Thank the good Lord above for a January thaw!

On to this week's chit chat.  Here's what I'm...

Reading - Finally finished The Emperor of Paris.  It was a good story, I loved how the author wove together the stories of Octavio (an illiterate baker who collects books), his father (the thinnest baker in Paris), and Isabeau (a young art restorer at the Louvre with a tragic history).  A lovely book.  Now I'm onto Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.  So far, I'm enjoying it very much. 

Watching - Right now, 101 Dalmatians with the wee-lings (it's the Disney movie this week).  Later on, DOWNTON! 

Listening to - The roar of the furnace, and Ginny saying 'peeka-peeka boo' over and over again. 

Cooking/Baking - Tonight is a roasted chicken with lemon and garlic.  Last night was baked beef, bean and cheese burritos with black bean salad. 

Happy I Accomplished This Week - The aforementioned four workouts.  That's four more than I've done in a good while.  Hoping to get that up to five this week. 

Looking Forward to Next Week - I have a couple of fun projects to do this week.  I hope they turn out for a multitude of reasons, but I do want to share them with you all if they turn out well.  I'm also getting together with the girls later this week to do our Christmas gift exchange (it's always too busy in December to get together), and a date with my Beloved on Friday (going out for dinner and to a WHL hockey game). 

Thankful For - For loving children, a husband who works hard, and a life that isn't always tidy. 

***Bonus Question*** If you could choose any time period to live in, what would you choose? I've always believed that I was born 100 years too late.  I don't have any illusions, if I had in fact been born in the 1870s rather than the 1970s, I wouldn't likely have been in the upper classes.  If anything I would have been someone like Daisy (Downton)... a lowly scullery maid or a washer woman.  But I do so love the clothes, and the etiquette. 

This was posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Please pop over and check out what others are chatting about tonight. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Night Chit Chat: The Saga of The Nursery and Other Frustrations

Hey Humble Readers...
Bestest Buds...
I hope you've all had a good weekend.  Sadly mine was hijacked by a migraine and then a rather major overhaul on the wee-ling's bedroom.  I wasn't able to get my grocery shopping done until this afternoon (and I despise grocery shopping during the day on the weekends).  But, I'm feeling better now, the shopping is done, and the nursery is in a much more functional, albeit sparsely furnished, layout.  Are you ready for a convoluted tale? 

The overhaul on the nursery was predicated by our need to lower Pippin's crib.  He climbed out a couple of weeks ago, and I'd been worried ever since that he would fall and hurt himself, which he actually did just yesterday morning (he's fine, but I freaked).  When we moved his crib (which was the one we originally bought for Ginny) the previously cracked/repaired leg gave out.  This led to a mad search for an inexpensive toddler bed, as their room is too small to allow for a crib and a twin bed.  We abandoned the search after a rather frustrating bout of kijiji shopping.  Ginny is currently sleeping on a crib mattress on the floor and we converted her toddler bed back into a crib for Pip. 

And because of the space constraints and where the heat vent is located, we had to remove the attached dresser from Pip's crib and dispose of it (it only worked if attached to the crib).  That meant that I ended up having to rework every storage system I had in their room. I had to dash off to Wal.mart for a set of shelves (for toys), an organizer that hangs from the closet rod (for Pip's clothes), new room-darkening curtains (because the wee-lings have managed to destroy the blind), and a hamper.  It's all in order now, but it was a pain while in the process. 

If we are still in this condo in a year's time, we'll look into getting a set of bunk beds for the wee-lings because Pip will be done with the crib by then.  I'm hoping that won't be necessary though.  I am very much looking forward to the day when they each have their own room... for so many reasons. 

Other than that, this week has been relatively mellow.  Ginny's been doing very well with potty training, at least on the pee-pee side of things, only having one accident in the past two weeks.  I often have to remind her to take potty breaks, but at least once a day she tells us that she has to go.  As a rule, she'll only do BM during naptime when she's in a diaper, but there have been a couple of instances when she's wanted to try to 'do it like a big girl'.  Her listening skills have gone out the window the last couple of weeks, but from what I understand that's fairly normal for this age. 

Pippin, other than his major tumble that made my heart stop, has been doing well.  We were contacted by the speech and language department of our local health unit, and he is now scheduled for his assessment on February 10th.  He seems to still be teething, but it's not every day.  I really think we're almost done with that.  Yay!

Ok, enough rambles.  On to this week's chit chat.  Here's what I'm...

Reading - Still reading the Emperor of Paris.  It's good, although the author jumps around in different time periods, and it sometimes takes me a bit to figure out when things are going on.  Next up is Year of Wonders (thanks Rain, for the recommendation!).

Watching - DOWNTON ABBEY!!  Can you tell I'm excited?  I've been looking forward to this for ages.  After the wee-lings go to bed, I plan on curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and falling back into the world of the Crawleys. 

Listening to - Pippin's most adorable giggle as he watches the Muppets. 

Cooking/Baking - Major frustration here... I was planning on making pizza tonight, using my new pizza stone.  I made my usual pizza dough recipe, and it totally didn't work.  The yeast is brand new, just bought it today.  The dough didn't really come together very well in the mixer, and was rather dry when I kneaded it.  It barely rose, and was really spongy.  I'm not an experienced baker when it comes to yeast breads, but I've never had a recipe flop quite this majorly.  I ended up sending my Beloved to the store and we had pepperoni pizza bagels.  Not exactly what I was looking forward to for tonight. 

Happy I Accomplished This Week - I wrote.  I mean I really wrote.  I've been using some prompts in a book I bought years and years ago, just to stretch my writing muscles, and it's only been for fifteen or thirty minutes a day, but it's felt good. 

Looking Forward To Next Week - Getting started on my spring cleaning, working out five times, and trying a new recipe (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup).

Thankful For - Warmer weather that is coming.  Today our daytime high was -21C, with a wind chill around -30.  Tomorrow, and all of next week is supposed to be much milder, hanging out right below freezing.  And no more snow for a while!  Yay!

***Bonus Question*** Do you enjoy any winter sports?  LOL!  Well, I certainly don't play any, although when I was a kid I loved ice skating, and in the little town where I lived the only thing to do in the evenings was go to public skating.  I do appreciate a lot of winter sports more so than non-winter sports.  Hockey (international and junior level... not into the NHL), curling, figure skating are all good.  I prefer the winter Olympics to the summer.  Maybe that's just because Canada tends to fare better in the winter games. 

This was posted as a part of Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat.  Click over and check out what others are chatting about tonight. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Hobbit-ish New Year!

Happy New Year, Humble Readers!

I hope that you all have had a wonderful holiday season, and that it was topped off with a great New Year celebration.  For my Beloved and I, it was a quiet night... a dinner of appies and baked brie, rum punch, playing cribbage, and watching stand-up comedy specials from the dvr.  Sadly, I didn't make it to midnight, having to head to bed at around 10:30.  I'm getting so old. 

As I write, it's fairly quiet in the hobbit-hole.  The wee-lings are both down for a nap (Ginny is likely just looking at books in bed, as she doesn't sleep often in the afternoon anymore), my Beloved is snoozing on the couch, and I'm half-watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.  A lovely pot roast is sending off the most delicious garlicky aroma, and sunshine is bouncing off the mounds of snow outside making things feel light and happy inside. 

It's terribly clichĂ©, but the new year is always such a good time to pause and take stock of where I've been, and to think and plan ahead for where I want to be going.  I recently went back and re-read my 2013 New Year post, and I'm fairly happy with how I've done in the last year.  I didn't accomplish everything I set out to, but I did make some good progress in a lot of areas, and I'm happy with where I am right now. 

I don't make resolutions, but I do set goals.  Some are silly or a bit frivolous.  Others are big, long term projects, that I couldn't possibly hope to accomplish in one year.  But I like to have them out there, in front of me so that I don't forget what I'm working toward.  Here's what's on tap for me in 2014...

Health - Continue in the direction I started in 2013 (*cough* need to get back on track).  This includes doing my daily workouts at home and the gym, tracking my blood sugars and food intake, and taking my vitamins regularly

Home - Have my spring cleaning done by Easter (list is written, planning on doing a few things each week), start prepping the hobbit-hole to be listed for sale in a year (replace a few light fixtures, fix a few things, push the condo board for new windows and doors), and expand my balcony garden this spring. 

Creative - Blog REGULARLY (three posts a week should be do-able), continue to strengthen my writing muscles (creative writing at least 15 minutes, 5 days a week), continue making my 'subway' art. 

Learning - More reading, less tv and pinterest (average 4 books per month, half should be new reads).  This category needs to be filled out, but I'm at a loss right now. 

Self-care - Same as last year, cut and colour my hair regularly, buy new summer clothes (build it into the budget, none of my old summer clothes fit). 

Other Projects - update the wee-lings' baby books (ASAP!), use Shutterfly to create family year books

I know it seems like a lot, but really a number of these are carry-over from last year and are just reminders for where I want to be heading.  My reading target is up only slightly over what I accomplished in 2013, and my self-care targets are to help me feel good about myself and to celebrate the work I'm doing to improve my health. 

2014 will bring a milestone birthday for me, and I have a few goals that I want to achieve before then, mostly health related (I WILL be off my blood pressure meds by then! I will!).  I know that this year will also have many other areas of focus, including discovering what comes next for Pippin's communication issues, and expanding Ginny's horizons with new program opportunities now that she's almost potty trained.  My Beloved will continue to plug away at his CGA course-work.

What's on your radar for the new year?