170 – Toodles?

Bryan bought me a beautiful leather bound journal for Christmas, and it has been a game changer. Essentially (and obviously) blogging had been my journal for years. But having this physical book that I write in almost every single day (sometimes 5 pages at a time), has been such a welcome new way to express myself.

Over the past year or two especially, I’ve found it extremely difficult to be as open on this old blog as I used to. You have not idea the amount of drafts I have written and saved and never hit publish on. They are long winded and emotional and honest. But I couldn’t hit publish on them which made me feel bottled up and angry and censored. It’s hard to be 100% honest about life when you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, or offending, or being judged, especially when it comes to child-rearing. In addition, many of my friends who used to blog regularly don’t do so as often anymore which makes me feel less inspired (which is fine…it’s not like blogs are a requirement in life) to keep up with my own.

But my journal? It is MINE. For me only. And I can sit and I can write my deepest feelings (which I’m finding is easier said than done), and then close the book and feel better and relieved after, instead of stressed and worried. I can fill page after page after page with beautiful handwriting or chicken scratch. I can write nonsense. I can paint. I’ve been referring to this journal as Volume 1, and I’m so excited to fill it up (I’m a 3rd of the way already) and get started on Volume 2.

All of this is to say that my blog will be changing permanently (probably). I’m not sure if I’ll shut it down, or move it, or keep it, or whatever, but I don’t need it like I used to. Keeping a personal journal is where my life is at now, and I’m really happy with that.

So! I’ll update later on with my plans – if anyone is even interested, so that you can follow where I go (I’m thinking art blog) or not! Toodles for now!

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169 – Foods

I’m REALLY into cooking lately. Like…crazy about it. I’m not the best cook, but I am getting to be pretty good and I’m finding that my instincts are developing well. I like to make comforting, savoury food. Here are some pics from the past week or so!

Roast Chicken

This is one of my very favourite things to make! I can typically get pretty moist meat and a fairly crispy skin which I’m really proud of (though I don’t personally enjoy eating the skin). Usually I do a Chalet sauce packet with this meal, but occasionally I do up a nice rich gravy.

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Tomato and Rice

This is a classic that I’ve been preparing for Bryan’s lunches for a few years now. It’s just a can of tomato soup, 2/3 can of rice, 1 can of water, and then I season it until it’s super delicious – usually red pepper and garlic flavours. I actually worked for about a year to train myself to like this too, as it’s not something I would normally eat. Plain potato chips are the best for dipping into this soup.

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Eggs and Bacon and Hashbrowns

Bryan’s plate is on the left, with toast and cheese and fried eggs. I prefer my eggs scrambled, so that’s my plate there on the right. I added onions, serano pepper, and corn to the hashbrowns and it was AMAAAZING. I also have recently begun to exclusively cook my bacon in the oven, and it has made the bacon more consistently crispy as well easier to clean up after.

Hashbrown Casserole

This takes 1 can of cream of broccoli soup, chopped broc and cauliflower, corn, lots of cheese, hashbrowns, and milk or cream (I used both so as to use up the last of my cream). It’s a hearty, yummy meal that I really like to eat on a cold day.

Hash

A 3rd hashbrown dish. Normally we don’t eat those so often (and these pictures are posted in the order we ate things), but I’ve just been craving them lately. This hash consisted of hashbrowns (obvi), red pepper, onion, seranos, and corn. Just a teensy bit spicy. Yum.

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Chicken Fajitas

This is a crowd favourite over here. We all could just eat about 40 of these each. I love everything about this meal. I love the prep because I really enjoy chopping things, and I love the eating because OH MY GAWSH delicious.

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168 – Waking Up

I’m watching a surgery on TV right now (crime show – The Fall), and it has caused me to remember something very specific about my own two surgeries: waking up.

When it comes to doctors and nurses and anyone in a hospital, really, I find myself very trusting. As a result, I was not afraid to be put to sleep to have surgery performed. I knew that all precautions would be taken to keep me safe. And obviously, everything turned out well.

The thing that frightens me though, is the after. Here are 3 experiences over the course of 2 surgeries.

1. Before having my gallbladder removed, I had to be scoped so that they could assess just what was going on inside me. They gave me some drugs for this that they explained may or may not put me to sleep. Really just depends on the person. Being asleep was not necessary for the procedure. As it was, I fell asleep. Unfortunately for me, I woke up before they finished. The scope was still down my throat and I woke up choking and terrified. I dont recall if I panicked myself back to sleep, or if they finished right away, but the fear did end quickly. This has been the most traumatizing experience for me. When I see procedures like this on TV, I feel uneasy and can remember vividly the feeling of that scope choking me.

2. When I awoke from my gallbladder removal, things were just kind of odd. I was in pain, and couldn’t open my eyes for a while. A nurse kindly gave me some lovely drugs. I went back to sleep for a bit and then I was wheeled to my room, passing by Bryan who I tried to wave to, but it was more of a pathetic wiggle of the fingers.  If I’d been present enough of mind to speak, I would have just gushed about him embarrassingly, so maybe it’s good I was too tired to talk.

3. Waking up from my ankle surgery was scary.  I woke hearing two nurses having a casual conversation about Africa which comforted me, but my eyes were so heavy I could hardly open them. It took so long to finally see what was what and where I was, and even then I wasn’t wearing my glasses. The first thing I noticed though, once I stopped focusing on my eyes, was that I felt like there was a lead blanket covering my body.  I started to feel scared and panicked because I could not move at all. I tried to lift my good leg and couldn’t.  I wanted to cry and panic out loud. The nurse closest to me saw that I’d woken so I told her what was up, and that my leg hurt. I was given more drugs for the pain and that was when I uncharacteristically joined in with the nurses’ conversation, telling them about my mom who was born in Kenya. It took hours for me to feel that awful pressure finally leave my body. I never want to experience that feeling again. It was scary.

So those are my 3 waking up stories. Just thought I’d share as I find this sort of thing very interesting!

PS: You should watch The Fall. It really sucks you in!!! And is one of the most unsettling TV shows I’ve ever watched.

167 – Soup and Menu Stuff

One of my New Year goals for 2016 was to improve my meal planning, and I have to say it really worked out quite well. There were a few set backs of course – being stuck on a couch all summer doesn’t help – but all in all it was a success. This year, I am continuing the trend and though we’re only 2 weeks into the year, it’s going AMAZINGLY well. Like…better than ever.

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One of the biggest factors in making my menu easier to stick to and in getting us to eat healthier is scheduling junk food. Once a week – usually a Friday when Ginny sleeps at her grandparents’ – I pencil in a night to pick up or eat out for dinner. With it already on the menu, it’s something to look forward to! Also, if we have a really rough day and feel like we need to pick up RIGHT THIS MINUTE, then it’s super easy to just swap days. I also make sure to purchase some snacks (usually chips) while we’re grocery shopping, so that I don’t go nuts mid-week and hit up 7/11 and over indulge. Having junk already in the cupboard is a lot less tempting for me, but a great treat to have on those days when I just need to cram my face with chips. The past 2 weeks have been amazing for us. We’ve picked up fast food SO much less than we normally would at this time of year, and we’re all feeling really good about it. Next step is to start planning lunches as well as dinners, which I’m feeling super confident about for the first time ever.

Last night I upgraded a basic Costco potato soup mix. Observe.

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This is a great soup to add to, and I didn’t realize this until after I purchased it, but it’s gluten free which is a definite bonus as I know several people who are allergic. I really REALLY love being able to have options for feeding my friends, and this is a yummy one.

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Before starting the soup (which only needs water), I roughly chopped up some cauliflower and broccoli. I drizzled some olive oil and just a bit of seasoning on top, and then put the pan in the oven at 375 until they started to brown. They smelled soooo good.

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I then started the soup itself. After the mix was all…mixed…I tossed in two cubes of frozen chicken stock to add a bit more hearty flavour. Next time I will probably add one more cube. The stock is store bought, in case you were wondering. Also, I don’t normally use a giant freaking spatula to make soup. I just wanted to show you the stock cube and it was closest to use for that purpose.

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I tossed the veggies in, added a bit more of the same seasoning I used for the roasting, popped a lid on, and then turned the stove down to low so that everything could just simmer and get super scrumptious in time for Bryan to get home from work.

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When we were ready, we filled out bowls, topped things off with some cheese and pepper, and dug in. During this stupidly cold weather, it was a very comforting meal to partake of and was by far the best iteration of this that I’ve made so far. I love that this base is so easy to play around with.

What soups do you like? What do you recommend?

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166 – Zero Tolerance

There are not a lot of things in the world that I have ZERO tolerance for. Yeah, things can be really annoying (like…really), but I can move on or ignore or whatever. But there is definitely a small handful of things that really make me MAD and today I want to talk about one that is right near the top of the list.

I have ZERO TOLERANCE for people who BRING THEIR CARTS INTO THE MCDONALD’S IN A WALMART. ZERO.

ZERO.

It makes me so mad. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM!!! There are signs!!! The glares from the other patrons could also be a huge clue!!

I see people all the time with a huge shopping cart next to their table, blocking the aisle with LITERALLY JUST A JACKET INSIDE. A JACKET!!!

SERIOUSLY.

I don’t get this at all.

And so I will continue to glare. And complain on the internet. I was gonna complain on facebook but didn’t want a debate. There is no debate. There is only ENDLESS FRUSTRATION.

Ok. Ok. Breathe. Sorry. I was at a Walmart McD’s yesterday and saw a woman with a cart that had a jacket and ONE BAG in it and I lost my chill a bit and just…needed to rant a bit.

What kind of things do you have zero tolerance for?

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165 – New Year

As per usual, let’s review last year’s resolutions and how well I did with each!

  1. Lose 30lbs.
    This is going to remain on my list until I achieve it! Didn’t achieve this, but I’m not bummed. Losing weight is hard! So it remains.
  2. Expand my cooking repertoire and meal plan more efficiently. Done! The repertoire wasn’t expanded by a lot, but the meal planning went fantastically. I’ve already got January planned out!!
  3. Finish paying off our debt and GET RID OF THE DANG PT CRUISER!!! DONE! OH MY GOSH IT’S DONE! 
  4. Read more! I would say that I did this.
  5. Open Etsy shop again and create original works to sell. Did not do this, but I don’t consider it a failure.

And now, this year’s goals:

  1. Lose 30lbs.
  2. Eat out/pick up less.
  3. Stop buying pop to keep in the fridge.
  4. Finish up more of the mountains of tea in my cupboards.
  5. Read more.
  6. Dedicate more time to driving on my own.
  7. Keep up with the progress I’ve made socially.
  8. Be more active with Ginny’s school.
  9. Take care of that one thing that I don’t want to talk about. It’s red. That’s all you need to know.
  10. Take on my daily art challenges. Inktober and Drawcember were so much fun!!
  11. Journal as much as possible, if not daily.
  12. Learn to make a speed build video for youtube.

Nothing too crazy here. One thing I love about blogging is I can look back on this list so easily. Previously I would always lose it somewhere, hahaha.

So! On to 2017. 2016…you’ve been ridiculous. And that’s not even taking into account all the world stuff that went on – I’m just talking personal here.

See you next year, friends!

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164 – A Chore Chart

So about a week and a half ago, I decided it was time to implement a chore chart. I grabbed a big piece of paper, cut it to fit in this cabinet (we have so many other Ginny items hanging out in the open, I really needed this to be hidden for my sanity), and just quickly wrote out the four columns. Nothing fancy because it really didn’t need to be fancy. I only had a very loose plan for this, but thus far the project has been very successful!

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As you can see, Ginny does the check marks herself. Something I’ve noticed since she began school is that she likes to check and x things when they’re good or bad, so I figured that a check mark system would be good. Also, I couldn’t find any stickers.

So her chores are:
Clearing dishes. This includes hers always, and ours when we ask her to. This is something she has always been good at but now she is excited to get a check after and does it with more gumption.
Putting away toys. This is a big one. We actually keep very few toys out in our living room, but she is allowed to bring things out from her bedroom so long as she takes them back after. Unfortunately she doesn’t always remember to do this, and quite honestly I don’t like cleaning up her blocks and barbies so I end up leaving it as well. Now with our chart in place though, she’s been a lot better about obeying when it’s clean up time. We still have work ahead of us because she likes to bargain and compromise on certain items, but we’ll get there.
Clearing garbage. This includes snack wrappers, yogurt containers, and food bits. Eventually I’d like her to just be picking up any bits of garbage she sees anywhere in the apartment, like a stray toilet paper roll or a gum wrapper or something, not just her own mess. She is very good with this chore.
Random acts. This covers any acts of kindness that she thinks of on her own. Recent examples are passing Daddy the cord for the block heater without being asked, or offering to clear our dishes, or throwing out the empty margarine container that I left on the counter. These random acts can be simple and small, or bigger and more heartfelt. She is a very kindhearted child, and I’m pleased that I can reward her for this.

Which brings us to what she earns for filling in her chore chart: nothing, so far, other than praise. I have a container of unopened random McDonalds toys that will act as rewards should we feel the need, but so far just adding her checks and hearing how proud and happy we are with her seems to be enough. I’m very lucky to have such an amazing kid.

163 – No Pennies, Xmas, and Drawcember

So. In my last post I mentioned that a craft featuring pennies was forthcoming.

Nope.

Basically…pennies are A PAIN IN THE BUTTOCKS. I tried to clean my dang pennies so many flipping times and basically a small handful look shiny and beautiful and the rest are blue so. Yeah. Maybe I’ll try something again another time but for now UGH.

Instead of doing a penny craft though, I made a Nativity painting. I am ever on two quests: The first it to create a stylized Nativity that I can perhaps one day make into a print. The second is to actually purchase a Nativity, either a modern minimalist version, or a very classic old fashioned one. Anyways, I managed to paint something this year that I’m really pleased with!

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It’s simple, and (I think) pretty. I hope to expand upon this idea as time goes on. Perhaps in time for next Christmas I will have it refined enough to make prints.

And…like…it’s almost Christmas. Every year it creeps up SO FAST and every year I’m surprised by that for some reason. When I was a kid it seemed to drag, but that was probably due to school and my parents being insanely busy doing Christmas hampers and kettles and all that.

Our shopping is almost complete. I’m really excited because we did a lot of it online which meant avoiding those stinky crowds. I’ve hit the mall a few times over the past few weeks and it’s been ok, but when you’re still limping a bit in a space congested with people (who all seem to be oblivious to the fact that there are other people around them), it’s not so much fun.

Speaking of limping…my ankle is doing GREAT. I have my final physio tomorrow and so long as that goes well I AM DONE WITH THE DOCTORS. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Anyways. Christmas. We leave on the 23rd to see my parents and I’m very excited. This will be the first year that my sister’s fiance is there also, so it’s going to be a fun crowd all packed into their house. I’m not super thrilled to be crammed on a double bed with Bryan, but at least I love him so snuggling won’t be the worst thing. We’re going to be hauling a full car out there, and I’m really praying that the roads are clear. We’ll leave as early as we can stand to in the hopes of making it to town before dark, but I’m not holding my breath on anything. Fortunately my parents live really close to the edge of the city, so we won’t have to traverse downtown Winnipeg after a long day of wind and snow on the prairie highways.

Back in October I participated in Inktober. This month, I decided to tackle Drawcember. Here’s what I’ve done so far!

I’m really enjoying this exercise in developing a particular style. Also snowflakes are a pain to draw over and over. I don’t even bother trying to get creative with the design of them. Also I’m rapidly running out of paper. Also also! I have sold 2 of these already which is so encouraging.

ANYHOOOOOO. That’s it for today. See ya!

 

162 – A Christmas Wreath

So last night we stopped in at Canadian Tire so that Bryan could get some new shoelaces and so that we could buy some skates for Ginny. Sadly, they did not have the skates we needed. But! Bryan did find his shoelaces, and also snagged an AMAZING deal on a hockey helmet. And best of all, while he was trying on helmets, Ginny and I got to peruse the Christmas stock and oh boy. I was so excited. SO MANY THINGS ON CLEARANCE. GAH! I picked up a few goodies, including a cool geometric/gold tree, a festive table cloth, and some stocking stuffers, but the most significant item I found was a wreath.

The wreath was plain, just green branches and pinecones. Nothing special about it at all really, other than the fact that it was only $7. I found some adorable twine-ball lights (battery operated and $3) and wrapped them around the wreath. I LOVED the look of it immediately. This was how it looked set up and lit last night.

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You may think I was being creative, hanging it on the curtain but it was the only place available. I tried hanging it on the front door but that made it so the door wouldn’t shut and we’re not the type of folks who like to just leave our door open. In the end, however, I really really love how this looks. SO MUCH.

This morning I was so pleased to walk out into a tidy living room and see this hanging up. However, I felt like it needed just one more element. We’re not putting up a tree this year, as we won’t be home for Christmas and honestly I didn’t want the hassle of putting it up and feeling disappointed once again that it’s so small (but there’s no point in getting a bigger one until we get a bigger place – or find an amazing deal). Anyways, because there’s no tree, that meant I have a bin of ornaments just collecting dust, so I decided to utilize some.

Growing up, my mom would purchase each of us a new ornament each year, and when the season ended she would tuck them away in individual bins labelled with our names. She also supplemented each bin with some older, random decorations that had accumulated over the years, all so when we grew up and left home we would have a homey start to our Christmas decorating. I love my little bin (minus the year I FOUND A DEAD CENTIPEDE IN IT – we called it Santapede), but I especially love that my mom put in a bunch of vintage wooden ornaments because they were some of my favourites growing up and I think they are just the cutest.

Obviously, since I’m rambling about them, the vintage ornaments are what I stuck in my wreath.

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I love the look of it. It went from looking acceptably nice to, in my opinion, delightfully whimsical. It’s a perfect way to display these ornaments which are so special to me!

In other news, I did another DIY! I’ve been busy, apparently. So back in like…April, I bought a canvas (like painting canvas not just fabric) letter J to decorate as a wedding gift for some friends. I then promptly forgot about it forever. Yesterday I noticed it in the corner, watching me, and decided that it was time to do something. I had leftover spray paint from the wedding shower Quidditch hoops, so I sprayed the J.

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This is my spraying set up. It is 100% less than ideal, but whatever. Also, I forgot about these other things I sprayed and they spent the night out there. Oops. Fortunately they’re scrap anyways that I’m just trying to revamp. I used a Rustoleum spray, by the way, which I can’t recommend more.

Next, and I didn’t take any photos of the progress because I was in a hurry, I painstakingly hot glued sequins to the J, and then used a toothpick to individually apply little tiny stars. It was really fun!! Here’s the finished product.

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Coming up in a week or so, I’m hoping to do a Christmas craft featuring pennies, so stay tuned for that!

Also, here’s Ginny wearing a tree skirt. Just because.

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161 – List Writer

I’m sure this is no secret to anyone, but I’ma say it anyways: I LOVE WRITING LISTS. It’s a hobby of mine and has been for many years. Sometimes I make up my own lists but more often than not I am copying them down off the internet. This is an activity that I find to be very relaxing. Earlier in the year I purchased a pretty notebook which I have dedicated to filling with various lists, and today I’m going to share a peek inside.

 

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The infamous list book.

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Table of Contents. I simply add to it after I’ve completed each list. 

And above are some examples of what my lists look like. I try to use all capital letters, only varying from that if I’ve been writing for a really long time and need a break (which has happened only 8 times). I alternate different coloured pens just because I like how it looks. Most lists use only one colour, but that is not always the case. Just depends how creative I’m feeling.

There are a variety of topics represented but the majority would fall under Monarchies, Movies, and Characters. Basically, I write a list based on what I’m feeling in the moment. Yesterday I wrote 7 lists. They were: movies I like (which is a list I will add to), First Ladies of the USA, List of US States and when they joined, Gilmore Girls characters, countries of the world, spouses and legitimate children of English monarchs, and English monarchs. There is no rhyme or reason to any of this. It took me 3 evenings to complete my list of Popes, which took 10 pages. It was preceded by episodes of Star Trek Voyager, and followed by a list of Russian monarchs.

At this point, I am currently just filling in page 143 (I number each and every page by hand). This is list number 48. If you are weird and count the list names in my table of contents that number will be higher, but that’s because there are 6 or so pages that contain failed lists, or I was suddenly hit by artistic inspiration and had to sketch something quick.

I’m really looking forward to finishing filling this book out. Right now I’m about halfway through!

**In case you were curious, the lists I’ve previewed in the photos are:
Norwegian monarchs
Countries of the world
Harry Potter books/chapters
Voyager episodes
My Little Pony characters
AFI Villains
Popes
First Ladies
200 Movies
Spouses/legitimate children of English monarchs
Movie taglines
US states and when they joined
Russian monarchs
US presidents
Disney movies – next page is Best Picture winners
Disney movies
Best Actress winners

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