blog redux


First Sunday of Advent. First day of the liturgical year. I like that there are so many days to make fresh starts. Of course, one can make a fresh start any day, but there’s something in my soul that seems to like “official” first days.

It has been so long since I posted. Well over a year, although it seems even longer than that. The time before I went to Kelowna to take care of Mom seems a bit unreal. The time I spent in Kelowna taking care of Mom also seems a bit unreal. The fact that Mom is gone is never-endingly unreal.

I have spent the last five months trying to get back to “normal”, but of course normal is entirely subjective and continually subject to change. Whatever is happening right now is normal, I suppose.

Last night Warren and I watched Of Gods and Men, which was both profoundly beautiful and deeply sad. To watch these men, caught up in a terrible situation, struggle with what it means to be faithful … it was a very good thing to watch on the eve of Advent. We have very little control over our lives, regardless of what we may think. That is something that was driven home to me over and over in the last year and a half. We cannot even control our own emotions. Only our actions are up to us, in the end. We can choose to be faithful in the worst circumstances. We can keep doing the things we are called to do even though every part of us wants to run and run and run away from it all.

A few days ago, a woman who is part of my Facebook homeschool group lost her husband suddenly in a freak accident. He was 44 years old. They have five children. The eldest girl found her father after the accident. Tragedies like this occur every day. Not just in Syria. Not just in Paris. Everywhere. Every. Single. Day. Somebody’s heart is broken. Somebody’s life is shattered. Sometimes you can blame somebody. Sometimes you can’t. Regardless, somebody has to pick up the pieces and find a way to move forward.

I am so grateful. I am so profoundly grateful for all the blessings in my life. And right now, so aware that these things can be gone in an instant. My human weakness is to clutch and cling to everything that brings me happiness, and mourn even its potential loss. But everything of this earth will be lost, if not tomorrow, then eventually.

So. It is Advent. And for once, I am ready for it. Both in the superficial sense (Advent Wreath, Advent Calendar, Jesse Tree, Advent Reflection Book!) but also in the spiritual and mental sense. My heart is ready, Oh God, my heart is ready.

Christmas Anticipation Prayer

The Christmas Anticipation Prayer, also known as the St Andrew Novena, starts November 30. It is to be said 15 times each day until Christmas.

shopping for jeans

I wasn’t planning on buying anything as clothing funds are limited at the moment, but I thought a reconnaissance mission was in order. These are some of things I found:


I’m sorry, but WHAT? I thought high-waist jeans were MOM jeans. (Not that there’s anything wrong with mom jeans.) And now they are “super sexy”? Perhaps they are being ironic? Nah, marketing people don’t do irony.

I’m not a big fan of low-rise jeans because muffin-top. However, there is absolutely no call to go back to high-waist jeans. I speak with authority. I wore these things once upon a time (yeah, I’m old). They are not comfortable. Nor do I recall them being particularly sexy, although I generally do not look for “sexy” clothes anyway. Comfortable and flattering is sufficient. I have determined the correct rise for my particular squishy middle, and it is right below the navel. This is comfortable and avoids the dreaded muffin-top. What more can you really ask from a pair of jeans?

And then there was this:

49999Wait, WHAT? Seriously, Winners? I had to check these jeans out. What could possibly justify that price tag? Oh, I see.

pansybuttThere is a pansy embroidered on the butt. And it’s Gucci. But still, do you think this is accurate? Is that an actual discounted price? They didn’t have the usual MSRP thing above their price, so I don’t know. Would anyone actually pay $500 for a pair of jeans in a discount store? Or anywhere? I suppose there are some rich people out there who might pay that in Beverly Hills or something.

The funny part of the story is, I actually do like the embroidery because I love pansies. If they were going for my usual Winners pant price limit of $25 or less, I might even have tried them on. But alas, if I tried on a pair of $500 pants, something bad would happen in the change room (I’d tear them or something) and then be on the hook to buy them.

As an aside, can jeans manufacturers just stop with the pre-distressed, pre-creased, creatively-bleached denim thing? I want three options only: dark denim, stonewash denim, coloured denim. Thank you.

{7QT} scenes from the long weekend

7 quick takes 

~ 1 ~

Look Pa, I got us a bushel o’ maters!


Look at these beauties! I was all ready to go back and grab another box. And then I spent the next two days washing, coring, and freezing them and realized one box is good. My hands were so sore from the acid (note to self: wear gloves next time). But even after using up a dozen big fat ones to make some Salsa Roja, I ended up with 10 big freezer bags (each between 4.5 and 4.75 lbs), which should keep me in cooking tomatoes for at least six months. Aside from the fact I don’t want to spend this weekend freezing tomatoes, I don’t think there’s enough room in our freezer for another 10 bags. But … oh, they’re so nice and sooooo cheap. Maybe I could try canning some? And make some more salsa? Hmmm. Decisions, decisions.

~ 2 ~

Remember how I was raving about the lovely coolish August weather? Oh yeah, so of course the long weekend was stinking hot and humid. My bad. But actually, it was all right, aside from having to run the A/C day and night. Warren had bought the boys a little blow-up pool last summer which we never got around to inflating, but he got a screaming deal on a used compressor on kijiji on Friday night, so was looking for an opportunity to try it out.




The boys LOVED it, and spent much of the weekend getting all wet and pruny. (As an aside, their bathing suits are really hard to photograph. They seem to be glowing.)

~ 3 ~

Warren has been getting in touch with his inner tool man lately. And there is nothing that Gerald likes better than going downstairs with Daddy to play … er, WORK … in Daddy’s man cave. There are so many cool tools and noisy machines! Plus, Daddy makes him stuff:


Look, Mommy, Daddy and I made a plane!

Gerald and Gabriel have both loved this little toy a bit too much and it has already been downstairs a couple of times for repairs and improvements.

~ 4 ~

This is my Bear.


With a popsicle for each hand. Because last long weekend of summer.

~ 5 ~

I’m getting better at this.


Pita at rest. A very important step.


Puffing properly!


We have progressed from funny face pitas to … rorschach pitas? Tell me what you see …

OK, it is a bit more work and doesn’t really save that much money to make these, but it is fun and fresh pitas are sooooo much nicer than anything you can grab at the grocery store. And they are perfect alongside my other obsession:

Look at all that fresh, crunchy goodness! Opa!

I think I’ve made a Greek Salad at least once a week for the last three months. I used to always order Greek Salad in restaurants and mostly be disappointed, if not downright disgusted, at how they could mess such a simple thing up. So finally I found a good Greek dressing recipe via my friend Google, and now I am always happy.

~ 6 ~

Toy Story. Somebody had the bright idea to put some retired big toys at our neighbourhood park along with this sign:

toysignThe idea seems to have taken hold, and every time we go, there seem to be more toys. Big outside toys that we have observed on the curbside tend to end up here, along with various other odds and ends. Mostly, the toys are totally thrashed, but the kids don’t care. Any toy they don’t have at home is new and exciting to them.



I’m sure this is violation of several city bylaws and child safety regulations, but either nobody has complained or the city hasn’t had time to come haul it all away. Either way, we will enjoy it while it lasts!

~ 7 ~

It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.


It only looks like a guitar case, Mommy. It’s really an aircraft carrier.

There is really nothing that can’t be improved by adding two small people.

* * * * * *
More fun at Jen’s.

{7QT} kids and tomatoes and the new frugality

7 quick takes 

~ 1 ~

There’s a word for it? So Gerald is going to be four in a couple of months. Wait, what?! I KNOW. It’s so hard to believe. But I digress. The point of this quick take, which is getting less and less quick, is that the boy is a bit of a chatterbox. From sunup to after sundown, he is Word Boy. Mainly, Question Boy. What is that? How does it work? Does it turn on? How does it turn on? What kind of noise does it make? What are you doing? What are you making? And his favourite: WHY? I have striven very hard to be patient with the questions, because of course, curiousity is a great quality in a person. But sometimes, Introvert Me gets a little snappy. Also, not really the point of this take. The real point (which I have finally arrived at) is that I have found the perfect word to describe my inquisitive boy:


A person, often a child, who asks a lot of questions. The word was inspired by a well-known Russian children’s book titled Что я ви́дел (Što ja vídel; “What I saw”,) which tells the story of a highly inquisitive five- or six-year-old boy. The name, in turn, comes from the Russian почему́ (počemú, why).

So, I have a little Pochemuchka. Of course it is a Russian word, because English, in spite of stealing words from all over the world, doesn’t actually have a word with this meaning.

~ 2 ~

The B Word. I’m working on a Family Budget right now. We have managed to avoid doing this in a formal way for five years, and mostly been fine, but we have determined we need to actually start saving money in an intentional way. Emergencies and unexpected car payments, folks, they happen. I used to be the Budget Queen when I lived on my own. I had to be, because living on my own in Vancouver was an expensive proposition and I had to watch every penny. I had my little budget notebook out every day. I always knew exactly where I stood. I had savings. I never had to worry about making it to the next paycheque. It was awesome, actually. I do wish I’d kept that habit, because reacquiring it is a little more painful than I thought. Of course, budgeting for a family with a house and vehicles and multifarious expenses I never dreamed of back in the day is a leetle more complicated. I think I’m getting close to something workable. I want to give it a trial run in September. I need to make myself a spreadsheet or two …

~ 3 ~

Cheap is good but free is better and free produce is the BEST.

tomatoesNot my tomatoes (they are still very green). However, we had lunch last weekend with friends who have a killer garden. And we came home with bags of tomatoes and cukes. There really is nothing better than a FRESH, REAL tomato on toast for breakfast. I am watching my plants very anxiously now.

~ 4 ~

This is my Bear.

boots&diaperHe likes to hang out in his diaper and rain boots. Because he can.

~ 5 ~

It almost feels like autumn. It has actually felt that way most of August (except maybe for this past Tuesday – 40 on the humidex? Ugh). But the nights are downright cool. And the days are so sunny and … not hot. I am loving it and will enjoy it as long as it lasts, meanwhile hoping and praying it does not bode anything like last winter. (I mean, come on, that was ridiculous. The Great Lakes froze. I didn’t even know that could happen.)

~ 6 ~

No more Netflix. As part of turning over a financial leaf, we cancelled Netflix. We never watched it much, but Gerald did. He is a bit confused that he can’t watch Animal Mechanicals on demand anymore. Sorry, Mister. You’ll have to do like we did when we were kids, and watch whatever’s on. Well, or a DVD. They were watching too much TV anyway. Plus he kept seeing Barney and other undesirable shows amongst the possibilities, which I had to think of various excuses not to let him watch.

~ 7 ~

So, still not blogging much. There isn’t that much time first thing in the morning, especially when I’m still sleepy. I just get warmed up and it’s time to go for my walk. And the walk is non-negotiable. So I think for now I’ll just try doing one or two or three quick takes every morning and hopefully have seven done by Friday. Which I didn’t do this week. These are two-day takes, as you can probably tell.

* * * * * *
More fun at Jen’s.

you know you’re getting kind of crunchy when …

You can tell the season is changing by the relative liquidity or solidity of your homemade coconut oil deodorant.

You experience unease when running low on (and outright panic when you run out of) any of the following: vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil, borax.

You see an interesting product and immediately google to see if someone has come up with a homemade version of it.

You never seem to have enough spray bottles for all the homemade cleaners you’ve found recipes for.

You get ridiculously excited when you find a crunchy project that you already have all the ingredients for.

Your collection of essential oils is starting to need some sort of organizational system.



Not quite ready to distill my own essential oils yet, though.


people are funny

The internet is my best friend when it comes to recipes. I have learned, through trial and error, that it is best to find a highly-rated recipe with lots of reviews. The reviews often have good suggestions for modifications, as well. And then there are the slightly ridiculous comments/reviews. I recently found a recipe for honey-glazed carrots to make on the BBQ. It had mostly very good reviews (and we liked it, too). However, the “most helpful negative review” basically said “I didn’t find the honey added anything to the recipe. Will leave it out next time.” Um, then they wouldn’t be honey-glazed carrots anymore?

And then there was the awesome recipe for coconut-crusted baked tilapia I found on a blog. One of the comments was: “I don’t really like coconut. Is there something else you would suggest to subsitute?” The blogger responded much more politely than I would have, that the coconut was sort of the point of the whole recipe, and maybe the commenter should look for another recipe altogether?

However, nothing beats Amazon book reviews where people give a book one star because they never received the book from Amazon. Wow, so that’s a reflection on the quality of the author’s work, now? Perhaps he or she shouldn’t have decided to sell their work on an unreliable website like Amazon!

And then of course, there are the people who are intentionally funny.

The reviews on this one are hysterical. Who says satire is dead?



And on Amazon, the reviews for the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer are the BEST.




{7QT} can’t think of a remotely clever title this week

7 quick takes 

~ 1 ~

Frugal Rock. (Sorry, I never could resist a terrible pun.) In line with my current attempt to undisorganize the house, as well as generally trying to be more frugal, I have made a new vow.


I have this bad habit of buying stuff I don’t need. I impulsively buy new hand soap or moisturizer or shampoo or conditioner or whatever, when I still have lots left of the last one I bought. So under the sinks and in the cupboards I have these forests of bottles, some nearly empty, some nearly full, and many somewhere in between. No more! I must use up all the odds and ends of things before I buy new things!

~ 2 ~

When food smiles at you. One of the things I’m currently trying to master is the art of the homemade pita. It’s actually pretty easy as bread goes (I still have not managed to make an actual loaf that isn’t rather heavier than I’d like). But getting it to puff up properly is a little hit and miss. But it’s hard to lose heart when …


… the random bubbles make faces! This made me giggle whenever I looked over at them as I continued to try to make the perfect pita.

~ 3 ~

Gerald explains. One of my outside projects this last week was clearing the enormous brush pile behind the shed. By Wednesday all that was left to do was bundle up the bigger sticks, of which I had a respectable pile. Now Gerald had begged a few sticks throughout the process, and as I bundled the rest up, I asked him to go find the sticks I had let him play with. He did a very cursory look around the backyard and assured me there were none. I asked, “Are you sure about that, Gerald? I gave you quite a few.” He responded, “I think a giant rabbit stole them.” He then continued to describe the giant, invisible, stick-stealing rabbit with great detail. I let it go. Because seriously, how hilarious is that? I love my kid.

~ 4 ~

Not fancy, but no cake wreck. Less is definitely more. Instead of attempting to draw anything on the cake, I took the subtler approach and used pre-formed decorating items.



Gummy bears for my Little Bear, of course. All in all, it worked a bit better than the whole trying to draw a dinosaur thing.

~ 5 ~

Totally cheating to get another take out of the cake.


Ooh, this cake is on fire!

Mmm, not bad, Mommy.

Mmm, not bad, Mommy.

He ended up with icing in his hair, so that is the ultimate success, am I right?

~ 6 ~

I hate Autotune SO MUCH. To clarify, I don’t listen to commercial radio. I don’t watch shows like American Idol. This is just the stuff I hear when I’m trapped in a store, or a restaurant, or the kids are watching an otherwise OK kids movie that suddenly feels the need to play the Most Dreadful Autotune Pop Song in the History of the World™ over the credits. Ugh. Just ugh. The person who invented Autotune and everyone who uses it should be cast out forever into the outer darkness, to wail and gnash their teeth. When I was a teenager, way back in the eighties, we seriously didn’t care if the pop stars couldn’t actually carry a tune. (I’m looking at you, Simon LeBon.) OK, so what’s the female equivalent of an Old Codger? Because I think I just officially become one with that little rant.

~ 7 ~

Blogging is hard. I have actually been getting up at 6 every morning (weekdays, anyway), but obviously this has not resulted in daily posts. Mostly I just sit here, blearily staring at the screen, with NOTHING TO SAY. I think maybe my new habit should be to start writing down blog ideas as they occur to me during the day. My other good new habits are coming along nicely, so it just might work.

* * * * * *
More fun at Jen’s.