Wednesday, September 16, 2020

this week

 What I Saw:

California Typewriter - A completely charming documentary about a typewriter repair shop in California.... I know, right? How is a typewriter repair shop still even open? It also includes interviews with fans of the typewriter (Tom Hanks and John Mayer, to name two) and a serious typewriter collector. The highlight for me was John Mayer's interview on how he came to start using a typewriter and his thoughts on the process of writing lyrics on one. It was all very interesting and light of heart, kind of a nice palate cleanser these days. Watched it on Crave.

Parks and Rec - This is a re-watch. Personally, my third time around. My daughter and I have a standing date for an episode or two of something before bed to end the day with a laugh. Parks and Rec is a much quoted family favourite around here. It's still as delightful and funny as I found it the first time. Watching this on Amazon Prime Video.

What I Heard:

Ira Glass on the ArmChair Expert podcast. Highlight for me was Dax's theory on the types of movies that do and don't get made these days and why that may be. 

What I Read:

The Rule of Many by Ashley and Leslie Saunders. This is a young adult dystopian fiction series that my daughter enjoys. This is the second book in the trilogy. As any true reading fan knows, if you read a great book, you want to share it with people who also love good books. So she read the first one, begged me to read it as well and now here we are. Basically it's a story set in the future, twins are outlawed, but one family is hiding a set of them until their secret is discovered, setting the twins on the run and igniting a rebellion. I am about half way through and enjoying it.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

dill pickle pasta salad

Summer is here and that means salads of all sorts. Mike is a big fan of a traditional macaroni salad and he has his favourite suppliers, so I tend to steer clear of the traditional route. This recipe had been popping up on facebook and pinterest so much I decided it had to be tried and why not, it has all the things I love.... pickles and cheese. I settled on this recipe over at Spend With Pennies. The first time I made it I followed the recipe to a "T" and this time I fussed around to our own tastes.

3 cups of dry macaroni pasta
3/4 cup sliced dill pickles
2/3 cup shredded cheese
3 tbsp finely diced onion
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 cup pickle juice

2/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup sour cream
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp pickle juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil pasta according to the directions on the package and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
2. When the pasta is cool toss with 1/2 cup of pickle juice and allow to sit while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
3. Mix the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
4. Slice the pickles, dice onion, shred the cheese. Drain the pickle juice from the bowl of pasta. Add the remaining ingredients and toss with the dressing. Chill for at least an hour before serving, but the longer it chills the better.

Personal Notes: I used macaroni, but you could easily use shell pasta or anything else that strikes your fancy. The first time around I diced the cheese, which Mike thought was too much, so this time I grated cheese. I used no garlic baby dills (because that is what I had on hand) and sliced them on the thinner side. I didn't have fresh dill, so I used dried and I skipped the cayenne pepper for a few shakes of original Frank's. I also subbed out the salt for Lawry's garlic salt.

This is already a summer time hit with two of the four of us. One of the remaining two doesn't like mayo, pickles or cold pasta and the other is on the fence, but maybe seems willing to try it? We'll see, I guess. Enjoy, friends!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

learning at a distance

Somewhat naively, I thought this coronavirus distance learning was going to be a cake walk. One kid is dealing with a light semester and the other has always been a solid, nothing to worry about here, student. Yep, those were good times.

One kid is struggling with time management while questioning her ability to understand and complete the assigned work. Away from the physical classroom and the in person support of her teachers and classmates, she is quite simply struggling. Today after losing many daylight hours to the struggle of school work we took a break to watch the Meghan Markle narrated Elephant documentary, which we loved. Elephants are so fascinating. Later when heads were cool and our thought process no longer stressed, we discussed what we could change to help her be successful.

We both thrive on being organized, we like lists and planning out our time. Sundays always finds us together at our table laying out our week ahead in our agendas. It is a powerful tool that we are under utilizing at this time. I think we both feel into the feeling that with so little going on, it wasn't necessary, but that seems to be the wrong approach. So we re-group and try coming at it from a different angle. On top of the actual public school education that is happening, there is a big opportunity for the development of important life skills in problem solving, adapting, and overcoming adversity. Sometimes you just have to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. Wish us luck.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

facebook noise

I have always been a big fan of facebook and I find it an incredibly useful tool for the volunteer based projects I organize, but it can be a bit of a dumpster fire can't it? Personally, I love it for the ability to connect with people, like far flung friends and family or to share/learn abut community events or catch up on the latest cute/viral animal videos.

I also enjoy reading articles friends share, often it gives me a greater insight into the person who posted it as well as the topic presented, and typically I have opinion about what I have read. A lot of times it is easy for me to tell if typing out my personal opinion of the posted piece is worth the time...... spoiler alert, it often isn't.

A friend shared an article as well as her opinion of it and I instantly began typing out my opinion which basically was I understood the point being made, but questioned the approach. Now, I have zero ego about my own opinion, which has nothing to do with how strongly I may hold it. There are topics you would be hard pressed to change my stance on,  but I am always willing to take the time to try to understand an opposing position. Of course, I am only human, so there is at least one topic my husband and I have such opposing views on that we have agreed we should never discuss it. Well I agreed, he likes to bring it up every now and then for "fun". You might wonder what heavy hitting topic it might be, but it is likely less and more controversial then you'd probably guess and has become of thing of family lore with those in the know.  And this is called vague-booking on the facebook, but honestly it all boils down to a conspiracy theory... don't get me started.

To circle the wagons back, I was typing out my thoughts on this article I read and then I just stopped and deleted it. Not because I was concerned with how my friend would take it. Quite honestly, I think she would have seen some validity in what I was saying, but I just didn't want to get caught up in the potential dumpster fire that a comment section on the internet can become. That, to me, is disheartening and it makes facebook just a lot of noise, which is unfortunate.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

planning things

Our town has a huge community wide food drive every year around this time. I always have the best intentions, but I won't lie I am usually scrounging around in the pantry trying to cobble a donation together that won't deplete our resources and also looks like it was more than just the eventual after thought it ends up being. What is even more embarrassing is I don't even have to take the donation anywhere. A massive team of volunteers goes door to door, neighbourhood by neighbourhood and collects the donations right off your front porch. You just have to leave it out there. Yeah, it is really that simple.

Recently two things happened, first, I hopped on board the Happy Planner train after I fell in love with a friend's. It was exactly what I was trying to achieve via a bullet journal, but all the time consuming lay out stuff is done. I love a beautiful bullet journal layout, but I don't have the talent, the time or the inclination to figure one out week to week. Anyway, the Happy Planner offered multiple layout options, multiple sizes, easy customization and they have so many stickers. It's really all about the stickers, amirite?

Secondly, I was part of a conversation about food bank donations that included a very dear friend of mine who sits on the board of one of our local food banks and she said something that really stuck with me. "Okay, but make sure what you are donating can actually be utilized by the food bank." Well..... boom. I am 100% guilty of not doing that.

In the great words of Dr. Maya Angelou, when you know better, do better. So, I did the research, figured out what the big asks were of the food drive and then I scheduled weekly additions to my grocery shopping list in my Happy Planner. We order online and pick up at the store, so each week in my planner has a space for our grocery lists. When I sit down with my laptop to order, my grocery list and the week ahead are right there for me to glance at. This week, I added a dozen packages of noodle soup, last week was cans of tuna. You get the idea. As these items show up I have a box ready in the mudroom for it all to go right into. Then on the appropriate date, out the front door it goes for pick up.

This blogging shift is kind of weird, I spent years just writing about the kids, this change of focus feels self indulgent, but this really isn't a humble brag. I don't mean it as a pat on the back. It is just literally not a thing I really thought about before. I think the more prevailing thought was, oh well they can just take what I have, it's better than nothing, right? Here is the thing though, in the past couple of years I have been working very hard on being more intentional with my time and resources and one of those things made me realize I was missing the mark and the other helped me organize my way to hitting the mark.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

wedding things

We went to a wedding recently, which isn't something that happens often just because of the season of life that we happen to find ourselves in. Our friends are, by and large, already married and our friend's kids are just starting to get to that stage of life. So it happens, but infrequently. This wedding was for a sweet friend that I think the world of and having spent many many months listening to to how the plans were coming together, I was excited to see it all come together.

Guys, it was spectacular. Just a lovely day, that was so indicative of them.

Sidebar - it's an interesting experience to be writing this, after such a long hiatus from public blogging. The landscape has changed, a lot..... as have I. I am attempting to write things from my own perspective, but at the same time being mindful of how much of a shared story is mine to tell in this public space. Tricky, but I'm game to learn and adapt.

And back to the wedding. It was all around lovely. I wanted to move into the venue and just live there forever. The ceremony was sweet, the party was hopping and the company at our table was top drawer.

Specifically though, I wanted to share with you, the wedding favours because I thought they were the sweetest.

They were wine glasses, sourced at local thrift shops.  Each one different, all interesting shapes or colours. Each tag had a cute saying on the back about filling your glass with what tastes right. It was a perfect fit for the overall vibe of this wedding while also checking those eco friendly boxes that are so important these days.

Since the wedding we have used our glasses often and it always to make me smile. I never fail to think of my friend, their beautiful day and, often, how lucky I am to have crossed paths with her in this life.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

the scurge of the school lunch

It is true friends, I am a meal planner and a batch cooker. You can usually find me at some point on Sunday, happily listening to a podcast while I whip up lunches, treats and doing a little pre-cooking for the week. I always make a week's worth of my own lunch to take to work because I have zero interest in figuring that mess out every single day. Also I am very much a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast/lunch which makes it ridiculously easy to whip up. These days it's always a spring mix salad with a protein and a cheese with a lot of bang for the buck. So typically goat cheese or feta, dressing is a sweet hot mustard because, 1) I love it and 2) it is next to no calories for a lot of taste and that right there is my jam.

I will also whip up some cookies, muffins, or a quick bread for the kids and Mike to have through the week as a lunch extra or an after school snack. In the colder months I will simmer a pot of soup or chili. I may pre-cook something like taco filling and grate cheese if we have a busy night coming up through the week so dinner is half way done when I am pressed for time. Summer I may whip up a salad of some description that will stay stable in the fridge, but also carry us through a few meals with a barbecued main.

Now that September has arrived with it's glorious promise of cooler weather, hoodies, pumpkin spice everything and the return of the school lunch  I also make a week of lunches for my youngest child and this little chore has been a major bone of contention between my oldest and I because I do not make a week's worth of lunches for her. In fact it has been a few years since I have made her lunch at all. On our uglier days a lot of emotional statements get thrown around. Imagine things like, you love her more than me. You baby her. Why do I have to do everything, while she does nothing. Obviously it is apparent, if you look at it intellectually, that none of that is true, but some days get fueled by emotion, while intellect takes the back burner. Life with teenagers, am I right?

Recently though, we were able to have a conversation about this topic that didn't veer into emotion and provided an answer that she could completely understand and agree with. The basis, they are two very different people. One is still a tween, while one is in her middle teen years. One is very capable, very independent and able to plan ahead to meet her needs, which in this case is, I'm going to need lunch later. The other, thinks, well I'm not hungry now, so I will probably never be hungry again and would happily go off to school with next to nothing and be starving by the time she gets back home.We are a double income household, so that going to school with nothing but a granola bar was a real thing that was happening.

It has nothing to do with babying one kid. I do not want to make her lunch. Trust. I barely want to make my own lunch, but given she still falls in the child category and not damn near close to an adult category I am legally and morally obligated to make sure she is taken care of. So if that means her ability to plan ahead despite how she feels at the moment  isn't fully developed yet, I kinda got to step up and make sure she gets taken care of.  If the other kid is the valedictorian of planning ahead, well I am going to surely nurture, encourage and take advantage of that quality for my own selfish, non-lunch making game.

To clarify, I am not, not taking care of the older one. Obviously I am legally and morally obligated to take care of her as well, but she doesn't need me in that way. She is more than capable and I feel if she went to school empty handed at this age, well that's on her. This is the kid taking meetings and accepting work opportunities based on where she needs to be in the future, two full years from now. Me making her lunch is a want, not a need.  Additionally I think it is important for her to see that the world is not equal or sometimes not even fair, by her way of thinking, anyway. I think it's valuable for them to see that as a parent I sometimes need to have a different approach for each of them because they are different people and different does not mean less. That is a big one I think. Different means not the same and that's it. It certainly isn't a unit of measure.

So as we head into this new school year, her and I were side by side this morning both prepping lunches for the week. Both of us ready to get back to structure and routines. Both of us already over making school lunches. One week down, many, many more to go.