Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Driven

I am on an absolute and complete mission this Christmas - to not become Captain GrumpyPants by Dec. 25.  Christmas is busy for everyone so there's no pity to be sought here, but, sheesh, some years there is just so much to do that by Christmas morning all I want for Christmas is a nap.

Thus, "Operation Christmas Organization" was put into place for myself this year.  Think ahead, plan ahead, achieve, accomplish, arrange.

And as of today, I'm officially sick of myself.

Grin

Yup. 

Note to self:  JUST STOP IT.  Stop thinking!

I think I know what therapy I need tonight.....Season One, Episode Two of The Partridge Family.  I watched Episode One last night and reacquainted myself with the whole family, dog and Reuben Kincaid included.  My but that Shirley Jones looks barely old enough to have borne five children and she sure picked up 'millions-of-record-sales' singin' awfully fast.  All that in 23 minutes.  From a bank teller to a music star, driving her own bus to Vegas.  23 minutes flat.  Wow.  And I've been doing music for years.  I have yet to own a multi colored school bus capable of touring me and my family, complete with music instruments and a dog, all over the country.  I must be doing something wrong.

I do acknowledge that some of you (KELLY?) will probably have a little giggle at my expense.  A grown woman of the 21st century, still entertained by The Partridge Family!  Yes, I am a geek. 

You might also be interested to know that my personality swings on a wee bit of a pendulum.  I can be a confident public speaker/leader and yet the social scenario of attending a garage sale intimidates me to the moon and back.  There is no social situation more awkward than pulling up in front of someone's driveway, their garage door open, stuff spread out on their makeshift tables inviting me to peruse and purchase and make them happy.  I hate the whole scene, and could happily drive right on by....except I DO like a good deal and I DO like to see your junk.  I'd just like to do all that without you watching me and, really, I probably won't actually buy your junk and if I do, I just might offer you more than you're asking, I'm kinda funny that way, too.

My personality quirks know no bounds - my house is often chaotic and cluttered.  However, when taking an egg from the egg carton in my fridge, there is an absolute order in which to do so.  The first egg should be removed from the front row of the back two eggs.  The second egg should be taken from the front row of the first two eggs, thus creating a perfectly balanced carton at all times.  None of this willy nilly egg selection for me in my house.  Everything (in my egg carton) has its' place.

Getting back to my Partridge Family watching quirk, I can get quite melancholic about things from the past that hold strong memories for me.  For the longest time, the theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore Show could easily induce a lump in my throat simply because it reminded me so much of watching TV in a little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by my parents and sister.

Perhaps the egg carton isn't the only thing in danger of being slightly off balance.

So much sorrow here lately, this year even.  Five of my Facebook friends have departed from this world in 2013.  I'd give a lot to have them back. My melancholy pops up over this fact a lot too.  Some days I struggle not to live in fear that I'm the next one - that my headache is the sign of something more serious, that my kids in someone else's car outside of my careful watch is a sure recipe for a major (and I mean MAJOR) disaster, that my drive to get my Christmas things done means that I'm banking my resources so that when calamity strikes Dec. 12 (or thereabouts?) I'll be 'ready for it'.

If only I could carefully control every event so that nothing goes all willy nilly, like the well arranged eggs in my carton.

Seems, though, that as Janet would say about many things in life - "it is what it is" and it's probably best if I just settle myself down and live in the moment.  And if a little Partridge Family helps me find my balance, then it shall be so.  ;)

When Janet died Feb. 1, I had this compulsion to create something in her honor.  I had to do it and I had to do it in the moments of my fresh grief.  Given that her death didn't follow her recent life pathway (she died in a car accident, having recently beaten cancer) - my mind went to lessons that I had learned from her during her fight against cancer.  The word COURAGE shouted through my mind and I put my heart and hands towards creating this little thing in her memory.  I knew right away that it would go on my Christmas tree this year and that it will be part of our annual sentimental Christmas tree tradition for as many years as God gives me to honor and remember her. 

As if I could forget.

I initially stitched the words in honor of how I saw her face her cancer battle - with great and deep courage.  Not to say that she didn't have fear - I know that she did.

But I've come to realize that this would probably be her word TO ME too.  If she could whisper one last thing into my ear, I'm quite sure that she would tell me to carry on; that in regards to my sorrow - "it is what it is"-you-can't-change-that-so-keep-moving-on.  So even in my moments where I just simply haven't wanted to move on, I've known that the best way to reflect Janet at her best would be to find some courage and keep walking.




So, as I look to finish up the year 2013 in one short month, I guess I've come to realize that life is seldom balanced.  Some upsets are easily righted by a little escape into retro TV or can be manipulated by establishing some crazy sense of 'eggs-in-the-carton' order......and some upsets are not easily righted at all and require a great deal of courage and time to face.

....and it was Janet who reminded me, only a couple of years ago, to aim to have PEACE at Christmas....

And so I shall, Janet.  So I shall.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

This 'n' That

 
Well, here I am again, enjoying every day of my week off!  I scrolled through my pictures file for some specific shots and thought that there were a couple of things that might be interesting for you.
 
 
I saw something like this on Pinterest and thought I would give it a try for supper one night!  Yum-o!  I used my mandolin to evenly slice equal sized potatoes and, once sliced, re-formed them into their general potato shape.  Oiled my cast iron frying pan well, placed the potatoes on top in spiral fashion, seasoned with salt and pepper and rosemary, then drizzled (too much) melted butter on top and a few bacon crumbles as well.  Baked it for around an hour or so and it made for an enjoyable potato dish that night.  I think this would be a nice presentation dish for company?



We carved our pumpkins last week.  This is a tradition that I just go ahead and plan for, I don't ask anyone if they want to do it because, hey, if I asked, they'd all mumble something about not being that 'into it' or something like that and I'd get all discouraged and not bother.  However, if I just do it, it makes for a fun family night.

Loves his Minecraft!

Music, music, music!

The school band puts on a quarter carnival every year on Oct. 31.  It is a hefty fundraiser for the school band so we put our shoulders to the wheel and help wherever we can.  This year, however, I had just finished a 'more-than-usual' number of shifts at work, ending with 3 days of immunizing, so when Dean and I arrived at school, I was not quite awake yet.  The carnival started promptly at 0900 with the older students of the school bursting through the doors and all of a sudden this carnival had begun!  Noise, candy, a hawker announcing "POP-corn, get your POP-corn", water started to hit the floor from the 'bobbing for apples' booth, screams came from backstage of the haunted house. 

I looked at Dean - "All day?"
He replied - "All day!"

And so we drained our coffee cups and were soon in the thick of things, mopping up water, sweeping up popcorn, getting apples ready to be bobbed for - and then onto rolling quarters.  We made over $1700.00 that day - that's a LOT of quarters, just sayin'.

We came home after 4 p.m., exhausted and yet happy to have been able to be part of it.

I got thinking - the things that weary me the most are probably the things I will soon miss the most.  And the things that deplete and drain me are equally the things that give me cause to jump out of bed to be part of.

There's some irony there, methinks.

I have tried, all through my motherhood career, to enjoy the stages and to not wish them away.  And so, we spend our days in the school gym, counting quarters, sweeping up popcorn, mopping up water - and are very happy to be part of something special.

Speaking of school, we attended our first Parent/Teacher interviews at the high school last night.  I have to say that we walked away shocked and surprised.
















I thought I'd leave you hanging with that sentence to see what kind of conclusions you came up with.
















The teacher from whom the child received the poorest marks (that were, unfortunately, deserved) thinks my boy is succeeding. 

Her idea of success? "He wants to be here, he is a happy boy, he is respectful, he is getting along with others, he always participates, he is succeeding!  .....    And his marks will improve; I'll help him."

Huh?  I mean, WOW!  I have to say that I didn't expect that from high school.  I so appreciate a teacher seeing the bigger picture of what it takes to succeed.

Darn near made me bawl.

Happy sigh.



 

We got bombed with a major snowfall this week and it seems to be here to stay.  On Saturday, we spend the afternoon cleaning up the yard.  It was warm(ish!), sunny, and was simply a gorgeous fall weekend.  Sunday we woke to inches of snow and it kept snowing all day and into the week.  I had this emotional moment on Sunday when I realized the back yard of Saturday had disappeared and wouldn't be seen again until spring.  So final.

It was a perfect day to go to the park outside the city.  We had some photos we wanted to try to get and the snow was falling from a blue sky and everything sparkled and I couldn't help but gasp a few times at the beauty. 

I had to think about my emotional reaction on Sunday - sometimes we get slammed with changes that we aren't ready for or don't want and sometimes you have to dig deep emotionally to find something beautiful, hey, even likeable, about it. 

This morning, there was beauty.














There was a method to our madness of traipsing through the snow this morning.  We want to enter a photo challenge from TRX (his fitness system) that depicts TRX-ers TRXing in extreme weather situations.  I'm not totally convinced that we got the photo that we wanted today (and I won't post the one that we're happy with so far...) but here's Dean doin' his thing, northern SK, Nov. 6/13, -11C.  (I know, for us die-hard northern SK folks, that's a balmy day....)















It was just a gorgeous morning.  Soon we will dig out our snowshoes and make some trails.




I came home and whipped up 2 batches of cookies and neither one looks particularly......good.  I've been having all sorts of bad luck with my cooking lately - meals are either too salty or too bland, my buns and cinnamon buns are flopping.  Kinda hard on the ego, ha ha!  And then Son #2 announced to his friend the other day that "my mom cooks more but my dad's a better cook."

Well, then.

Harumph.

How's that for honesty?

.....a little too honest for my liking......


Anyway, I did manage a decent meal the other night and thought you might like a new recipe to consider for your own meals!  It is a one-pot dish and we all enjoyed it.


One Pan Cheesy Smoked Sausage and Pasta Skillet

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb sausage, sliced (I used farmer's sausage)

1 cup diced onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic (about two fresh cloves)

2 cups Chicken Broth

1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup milk

8 oz dry pasta (any small pasta will do - I used small bowties)

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each (I found it too salty - maybe my sausage was salty too?)

1 cup shredded mozza cheese

1/3 cup chopped scallions, for garnish

Instructions

Add olive oil to a 4-5 quart pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with sliced scallions and serve.

Makes about 4 servings.
 
 
 
 
That's all from our house to yours for this time!  Stay warm!