Dear Diary – Week 4, 2023

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Dear Diary – I just read that 1/4 of all toy sales are adults buying toys for themselves. Based on the adults I know, I honestly thought that number would be higher.

I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I just don’t think being an adult is gonna work for me.

Unknown

Dear Diary – Look! Quick! The sun is shi- Never mind!

Dear Diary – I forgot how therapeutic hand embroidery can be. It also keeps me from snacking in the evenings.

My mother and I lost a lot of weight the winter before my brother’s wedding because we were working on quilt pieces and if we snacked, we’d have to clean up before we continued, and we were too lazy busy to make that long walk to the sink to wash our hands.

When it came time to quilt it at my Grandmother’s house, however, she insisted on tea and cake when we finished our session for the day.

Five ladies worked on this quilt: Nana J, Nana R, Auntie M, Mom and me. And I gotta say, by the time the wedding rolled around, all of us…and the quilt…looked great!

You’ll have to take my word for it. I couldn’t find the photo! 😦

Dear Diary – Political correctness takes another shocking descent into ridiculous chaos.

How can primary coloured candies with limited physical features and varied shapes and sizes, be “polarizing”? If anything, don’t these iconic candies embrace the human race in an inclusive manner? Honestly, in the venture to be inclusive of all people regardless of race, gender, etc. we have become more intolerant.

If we spent less time bashing, ghosting, shaming, whining, and being offended (very vocally I might add) of stupid things of little importance, and instead focused our attention on instances of genuine injustice and intolerance, we might actually make the world a better place. Like the one we’re all talking about. Like the one we want for our kids and the generations to follow our short time on earth. Perhaps if we loved more and belittled less, we would start heading in the right direction!

Dear Diary – I found a sweet way to clean out a kitchen drawer…I baked and decorated cupcakes.

Dear Diary – This weekend we’re lined up for a family photo shoot. The last time we had professional family photos taken, Sears was still open AND Youngest Son was 2. He’s 17 now. He still hates having his photo taken but he’s going to suck it up for his Mama. This photo shoot is part of my Christmas present and I’m very excited.

My only regret is that I have no idea (or time, money or closet-space) to coordinate “outfits” for us that would rival all the other lovely families who posted family pics this Christmas on Facebook. I’m talking the perfectly coiffed, barn-don’t-need-painting, white toothed families, from head to toe “instagram-worthy”-type of families frolicking on a woodsy path. Complete with the family pet!

My family looks more like this:

Endearing for a home photo but not the high caliber of photo for which I’m praying envisioning.

Especially when I can’t wear my sexy boots. Or any boots!

On Sunday afternoon, Hubby and I drove over the park where we’re supposed to meet our photographer, just to get the lay of the land. The smooth path we were promised was thick and chunky with frozen footprints in what used to be mud. Everywhere else pretty much was mud. The trees were bare; there was no snow in sight. Or birds. Or squirrels. Or any sign of life. There was also no sun or clouds, or rather I should say there was one giant gray cloud which covered the entire province. Which made for a remarkable lackluster backdrop for our family photos.

We’ve been told it will snow this week…a lot, promising a dreamy backdrop of white to go with our forlorn landscape. But then they also predicted a nasty spot of freezing rain last week which cancelled school buses. We got rain, without the freezing. So I don’t entirely trust the forecast.

I know I’d be better off worrying less about the final product and just enjoy the experience. It costs enough. And in the end, while the photographer hasn’t got a lot to work with, it’s her reputation on the line. I doubt my family will show up on her website (everyone wants to see the darling tiny people anyway). But they will get hung in my living room and I will love them. Because they are of my family and I know their beauty is more than just skin deep.

Dear Diary – Well, this time they were right! It did snow…profusely, sideways, and for hours. It was a great day to hibernate in my sewing room and dream of summer. Until school was out and I knew Youngest Son was trudging home in it. He made it home okay; his navy hood no longer navy, but white. And he had news. His English exam, scheduled for the following day, has been postponed due to “inclement weather”.

I guess this means we can both sleep in!

If people were meant to pop out of bed, we’d all sleep in toasters.

Garfield

Dear Diary – As I settled to sleep last night I realized that 33 years ago, my Mom and I pulled an all-nighter as we awaited the imminent arrival of Eldest Son. So while I did sleep in this morning, I also crept down the stairs at 5 a.m. to get my cell phone and I called him at 6:55 a.m. to wish him a Happy Birthday! He was already in the truck yard waiting for his partner.

I could write pages and pages about my surprise baby and all the wonderful surprises he brought to my life. I could also write about the wonderful ways God walked with us, often in ways unseen until we looked back. He has been one of the greatest joys of my life and I can’t wait to journey together and cheer from the sidelines for the next thirty-some years!

J-

I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be!

How fast he went from 3 to 33!

Happy Birthday !

Mennotea

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I am really excited today to share a link to a recent tea post from writer, Marian Beaman.

I adore Marian.

Marian and I met through our blogs and she has been a huge encourager (and a kindred spirit). You can find her over at Plain and Fancy Girl, where she shares inciteful posts about life, literature and legacies. Marian recently published her book, Mennonite Daughter, which chronicles her early “plain” years growing up in the Mennonite community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Her book is filled with stories of farm life, as well as the tension of honouring her family and heritage, while desiring a little something more. Her gentle storytelling keeps you glued to the pages! I highly recommend it!

Marian is poised to release her second book, My Checkered Life: A Marriage Memoir, stitching together memories and wisdom from her early years with her “fancy” man.

Last week, she posted about MennoTea, a Christmas special gift from her sister, in her post entitled Brewing Tea, Recycling Specs, and Feeling Happy! So I invite you to fix your cup of tea and pop over and visit Marian, and if you’ve got time, hang out with her for awhile. (Or sign up to receive her weekly posts!) 😉

Did I mention I adore Marian?

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Dear Diary – Week 3, 2023

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Dear Diary – Once again, that awesome job of grocery shopping has come around again. It come around so often that I feel like I’m feeding an army, even though there are only 3 of us in the house!

Occasionally I pick up a few specials at a local store. But generally, even though “everyone” says “Covid is over”, I’m still ordering online and picking them up curbside. It has its downfalls at times. Selection is limited, and I have to trust the shopper choosing my fruit and veggies. Sometimes the expiry dates are a little too close for comfort. But it beats dealing with stupid people and that one shopping cart with the wonky wheel.

This week, I was running late and the store was moving slow. It took me 10 minutes to get a live person on the phone, just to tell them I had arrived. As if they were waiting with bated breath. I feel guilty, as if I’m some sort of entitled princess, too good to shop for her own groceries., so instead of have an underpaid, underappreciated serf roam the aisles and slog through the slush so I can fill my gob with yummies. But, to be honest, with my bum ankle, it’s been a real blessing. And I don’t miss the cold slush sloshing over the top of my sneaks.

I was supposed to meet Youngest Son at the strip mall across from the school. It would save him from walking home in the fog and drizzle, and it would ensure I had help getting all the bags inside the house. It made no sense. Somehow, I defied all known universal laws and I pulled into the lot as he was crossing the road.

I whipped into a parking space and beeped the horn.

He did not appreciate that!

Sometimes grocery items get missed, and I have to call and complain. Usually I just get a refund. This is the first time the store noticed I was missing some items and called me. I don’t know how I missed missing a giant slab of pork ribs and 2 cuts of pork tenderloin. Still, while my freezer is now less pork-less, and I have no idea if I’ll actually get my refund (and what to cook those nights the pork was planned), the store didn’t miss passing on some free samples !

What a creative product name!

I started this blog over 10 years ago to enjoy my mid-life crisis. How? By pushing myself to go new places and try new things. And I did…at least at the start. I got a tattoo with great meaning. I nearly died ran in Mud Hero with Eldest Son – also a BIG deal. I tried axe throwing and shooting firearms. I had no idea I had such good aim in real life; I can’t seem to hit the side of a barn in video games.

Soon the adventures slowed down to dabbling in photography, dusting it up with baking, and learning Italian (in the hopes of an Italian adventure). Covid ruined the Italian adventure. I spent my 25th wedding anniversary eating take-out Italian and sipping wine in front of the t.v. on my burlap sack couch!

And this…[Scroll to view]

There were no places to go. Even the parks were overrun with people desperate to escape the four walls of their homes and I couldn’t snap any shots without infringing on the 6 feet rule.

All this to say, I threw caution to the wind and I drank my Not Milk.

It was delicious – rich and very chocolaty. And free. It was free!

Dear Diary – It’s been almost 2 weeks since I had my hair cut and I still haven’t decided if I like it or not. But I thought if I attempted to style it and take a selfie, it might help.

I’m still undecided.

I used to be indecisive but now I’m not sure.

Unknown

Dear Diary – It’s Youngest Son’s final 6 days of Semester 1 in Grade 12, and this semester has been nothing short of an uphill battle. He’s smart. He’s articulate. He’s responsible. Or so I’ve mentioned to one of his teacher who has emailed several times. With every email, my PTSD kicks in. Getting Eldest Son through school felt like a full-time job. But we did it! One day. One class. One bloody assignment at a time.

I don’t know how, but despite loving school at home during Covid, Youngest Son has lost his love of school. Actually, “love” might be too strong a word. He loves sloppy joes. School, he tolerated. I don’t doubt that the looming deadline for college applications and just plain being sick of school has done a lot to dampen his motivation.

I can remember “hitting the wall” and having to push myself to get to the end. But I had the perfectionist, “good girl” type of personality on my side, as well as a deep desire to move out of my parents’ home. I had the added responsibility of a precious little guy and I wanted to give him a “good life”. I didn’t want to be stuck on government assistance, barely scraping by and wondering what might have been. So I worked. Hard.

I know we’ll get through this (Grad photos were taken yesterday). Grade 12 is just one of a series of challenges to come. In comparison, though he may not believe me, he’ll look back and Grade 12 will seem like a breeze. I’m not telling him that though. He may decide that if this is a breeze, he’d rather spend the rest of his life in bed. And since his bed is in my basement…my lips are sealed.

Being a parent means spending half your life convincing people to stay in bed and the other half convincing them to get out of it.

Unknown

Dear Diary – Have you ever noticed that when you’re waiting in a cold car, you suddenly and desperately need to pee? I had to see my Dr. last week for an ongoing toe issue, but she was running late and I was asked to wait in the car. She’d call when I could come up.

It was a long 30 minutes.

The more I thought about not peeing, the more I had to pee. Watching the snow melt and slide down the windows didn’t help.

She put me on antibiotics, which thankfully has not caused any dietary distress. My toe, however, seems no better.

I see her again tomorrow. I won’t drink tea beforehand just in case. I’m praying she’s on time!

It’s going to be cold enough to snow and snow…

It’s so cold outside, I just farted a snowflake.

Unknown

Heigh-Ho Silver!

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My house is slowly returning to its natural state after the Christmas holidays. The tree and most of the decorations are packed away, the surfaces are dusted, and most of the needles are swept up. There will always be a few that will make an unexpected appearance throughout the year.

I missed a “December job” in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays and it’s always nice to start the New Year fresh. I polished my silver. My silver tea set was a wedding gift from my grandmother and I need to polish it about once a year.

Let’s say you’ve had a tea party…but the party is over! You need to clean the pot, creamer and sugar bowl.

First, remove your jewelry (i.e., rings, bracelets) so you don’t scratch any surfaces. You may want to trim your fingernails too. Most silverware isn’t pure silver and the other materials used can be soft and scratch easily.

Dishwashers are out. The high temperature and rough action of a machine can discolour or damage it. Hand wash it gently in soapy water with a soft cloth (preferably cotton). Abrasive cloths can cause damage but so can forceful rubbing. Don’t use a detergent that has citrus in it because it can cause spotting. Always wash silver by itself; other dishes an cause damage and other metallic pieces can cause discoloration.

Rinse it well with warm water and dry it well with a soft towel before putting it away. Some experts suggest wearing soft gloves whenever handling silver, except for pouring at your party. This reduces oils and other substances from smudging the shiny exterior and accelerating tarnishing.

Silver tarnishes or changes into copper or black, when it comes into contact with moisture, sulfur, and other components in the air. It will tarnish faster in places with higher humidity or higher levels of air pollution. Silver kept in a box will tarnish slower and it may be several years in between the hard work, but why store it when you can use?

Anyone who has ever seen a period piece, like Downton Abbey, has most likely witnessed the “staff” polishing the silver. While regular maintenance decreases the time-consuming task of cleaning a blackened item, who really has the time (or the staff) to polish silver?

Removing tarnish is pretty much the same process as washing: No jewelry, soft cloths, and warm water.

I use a commercial silver polish. Mine is a cream, but they also come in liquid form. I moisten my cloth and rub it lightly on the silver. As the colour is transferred to the cloth, I switch sections on the cloth so that I’m not wiping “dirt” with “dirt”. I use warm water to rinse, and rinse it well. Sometimes, I have to repeat the whole rub and rinse process to ensure I get it all or so I can see where I missed! I dry the silver very with a soft cloth.

Some silver pros insist on back-and-forth motions, while others insisted in small circles. Do what works for you!

Alternatively, commercial grade “dips” are available but they use very strong chemicals and could damage the silver, so read the instructions carefully. They can often be used the same as polish if you want to reduce the risk.

I was given a homemade recipe for a “dip” process. I tried it once, but didn’t find it very effective. The first item was a silver bell and it was badly tarnished, so this recipe may not have been strong enough to tackle the years of neglect. I also found it less effective for larger items, like my tea pot, because I could only fit so much of the pot in at a time, and it had awkward angles. But here it is for the adventurous:

Cover the bottom of a glass or plastic pan with aluminum foil. Add 1 cup of boiling water, 2 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt to the pan. Drop the silver in the liquid, making sure each piece is touching. Rinse and buff dry. Repeat as necessary.

It can be labour intensive, but with proper care, your silver can always stay shiny for years to come. Don’t be afraid to use the good dishes!

Here, on this clean balcony, white and impersonal with centuries of sun, I think of half-past-four at Manderley, and the table drawn before the library fire. The door flung open, punctual to the minute, and the performance, never-varying, of the laying of the tea, the silver tray, the kettle, the snowy cloth.

Daphne Du Maurier

Dear Diary – Week 2 – 2023

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Dear Diary – I took the boys for our annual shearing, and what a mop of hair on the floor when our favourite stylist was done! Youngest Son is scheduled for Grad photos mid-January…and I just wanted a change.

Now that my bangs are shorter and thinner, I can actually see myself in the mirror. I haven’t decided if I like it or not. It’s probably a good sign that the people who saw me this week noticed nothing! So at least it’s not worse than where I started.

A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.

Coco Chanel

Dear Diary – I finished Mom’s Gnome post-Christmas. Unfortunately, Little Gnome got into the pile of candy Eldest Son brought, and put himself in a candy coma.

Dear Diary – It’s a shame people don’t know how to spell; we’ve come to rely on “Spellcheck” too much. I’ll never forget one of my law teachers talking about an administrator who sent out “trail date notices” instead of “trial date notices” because she relied on Spellcheck.

Eldest Son received a new game, or rather an old one. It was, apparently, popular in the 1980’s but I had never heard of it: Airport. But whoever produced the game ought to have proofread the cards more carefully. I’m pretty sure Deijing and Cario are not countries.

I hate spelling errors so much. You mix up two letters and suddenly your post is urined.

Unknown

Dear Diary – There was a thing on Facebook that said the most popular song on your 23rd birthday will predict to your 2023!

I don’t like my song.

It’s too close to home given what September may (or may not) bring – the sudden and painful first step of Youngest Son leaving the nest for college or Uni.

Unless he doesn’t pass English, in which case, the nest may be full a little longer.

Either way, while it’s true that Youngest Son will always hold a special place in my heart and I love him dearly, the song also held dark and disturbing imagery of a suffocating “Smother Mother“.

We were as one, babe
For a moment in time
And it seemed everlasting
That you would always be mine
Now you want to be free
So I’m lettin’ you fly
‘Cause I know in my heart babe
Our love will never die

No you’ll always be a part of me
I’m part of you indefinitely
Boy don’t you know you can’t escape me
Oh darlin’ ’cause you’ll always be my baby
And we’ll linger on
Time can’t erase a feelin’ this strong
No way you’re never gonna shake me
Oh darlin’ cause you’ll always be my baby

Mariah Carey, Always Be My Baby

Dear Diary – I helped Mom with her quest in life to rid the house of extra crap downsize by bringing home a new piece of furniture. Well, it’s an old piece of furniture but new for me!

I was convinced it would have to wait until another trip to come home because I had all the crap luggage I had brought for the post-Christmas vacation at my folks, as well as the bin of crap stuff Eldest Son picked up for me at the house, because I forgot crap stuff.

Eldest Son was undeterred.

It was a proud Mommy Moment – I have taught my boys how to pack, like a game of Tetris. They not only safely installed the wash stand and buckled it in, but packed all the other stuff in too.

I was tossing the final things in the backseat when I noticed a black blob amongst a collection of fluffy, white circles on the underside of the stand. I blew on the blob…and it moved.

“There’s a spider on that washstand,” I announced. With panic rising in my voice, I also announced, “it’s alive and there are egg sacs. Someone’s got to kill it or get it out! NOW! … Dad?”.

Dad may have considered it “just a little guy” but I disagreed strongly. I stared at the black blob through the open car door as Eldest Son wrestled with the seatbelt, willing the spider to hang tight. “If you lose that spider, I’m not going home,” I declared, still staring. I stared right up until the stand was outside my car. Dad brushed off the spider and the fluff, which turned out to be just fluff and not babies. In my defence, I wasn’t getting close to confirm it.

Disaster averted, the furniture reinstated, I said my good-byes and headed home.

Eldest Son was driving separately and while we left at the same time, we had different stops to make on the way out of town.

We were nearly an hour into our drive when Eldest Son called to see where we were. Did we want to meet for a bite halfway?

Ah….yes!!

I could see his little blue car pulling into the service center as we pulled off the highway. We grabbed a bite. It was a lovely way to round out the holiday…time with my boys.

I wish I had taken a photo.

I watched his little blue car pull away and head for the highway while I pumped gas and I whispered blessings over him.

Now I’m back at home, trying to eliminate tissue paper sparkles and cracker crumbs from the carpet, pack up the decorations, and restore a sense of “normality” at home.

I haven’t been very successful.

Or terribly motivated!

Last night, I found the missing piece for the Swedish Angel Chimes, something I took from my grandparents’ box of decorations. My parents had one too and I remember watching the candles dance and listening to the angels chiming when I was little.

I lit the candles and just sat watching for awhile.

I felt sad and I finally figured out why.

It wasn’t so much because the season was over and I was packing all the pretty things away. It was because I miss the people who made that season special and magical.

I guess there was another truth in my 2023 song by Mariah:

No, you’ll always be a part of me
I’m part of you, indefinitely.

What’s in my Cup?

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Well, here we are! The first Monday after the holiday break. That “new year” smell still in our nostrils, our toes itching to jump into new opportunities. It smells like “hope” and burns like toe fungus.

Who am I trying to kid?

The few pounds I lost before Christmas came back, with friends. If I’m lucky, I will be wearing jeans by Spring. Hello stretchy-pants! That will be about the time I finally eradicate the glitter and sequins from the dollar store sparkle tissue paper, in my house. I like sparkles, just not in my underwear. Of course there’s a story, but one of my resolutions is to be more lady-like. 😉

I’m not holding my breath!

So in an effort to stave off a Christmas hangover, I am settling in today to make plans.

I didn’t say what kind of plans!

I’m also eating the last stale doughnut and chugging black tea by the potful. Caffeine kicks in within an hour of consumption, creating an energetic and alert sensation. It also helps to hydrate…which leads to the need to tinkle. The only exercise I get can’t come from long walks to the fridge! Too much caffeine can have side effects too! Black teas have less caffeine than coffee but still pack a greater punch than green or white tea.

This girl needed a punch this morning. Getting out of bed for school and food shopping was really painful. I’d much rather roll out closer to noon and slowly melt into the day. A girl can dream.

Or plan…

I don’t like making plans because then the word “premeditated” gets thrown around the courtroom.

Unknown

Dear 2023 Diary – Week 1

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Dear Diary – I had a Snacksident. I snacksidentally ate the whole bag.

Dear Diary – I have decided that rather than tediously review all of 2022 with you at the beginning of this new year, I am going to review each month of 2022 at the beginning of each month of 2023. It will help me lower the bar to meet my comfortless expectations set the bar so I can aim for a better things!

We rang in the new year with our traditional pizza and games, but at Auntie M’s. She tried to luge down the front steps at my folks on Christmas night and was still pleasures of bruised internal organs and outer limbs. It was hard to part with Eldest Son but we did finish our Harry Potter marathon just in time.

It was about that time that I decided I was over winter. Covid restrictions were still in place. I had nowhere to go, or any desire to go!

People talk about Virtual School as a bad thing, but it made an extension to our Christmas holiday possible when Hubby was exposed to Covid. I took advantage of being out of the city but asking Dad to drive me to get my third Covid vaccination.

Soon after arriving home, 40-60 cm of snow dumped in a single day, closing some roads and schools. However, the kids didn’t get a “snow day” because there was virtual school! Hubby tried to blow it off the driveway but ended up with more on his face than on the yard.

Even the birds had some work to do.

My new K’nix body armour bra also arrived. After smothering and sweating, and nearly throwing out my back, I threw it in the corner of my room for a better another day.

Another day, I took Youngest Son, who despises having his photo taken, to have his photo taken for his new health card. Miraculously, we were in and out of the government office in less than 10 minutes. The line up at Tim Horton’s was much longer!

I learned a few new things: how to not get strangled by various wires and straps when leading worship, I should measure 5 times and cut once, and what it feels like to be scanned by aliens. I wonder if a bone scan device could be modified to 3D bodies. Of course, some of us would require more filament than others.

It took 3 tries but my bathroom scales gave me an answer I liked.

Finally, January 9 marked my 10 Year Blog-iversary! Who knew I had so little to say over so many years?

I tried to lean into the word “joy” last year, but circumstances in 2022 made that challenging. But I rarely back down from a challenge. Joy is more than laughter or a warm fuzzy feeling. It goes beyond happiness, excitement or satisfaction. Rather it is a gracious gift and a lasting state of the heart and mind that is fixed on God no matter the circumstances. His joy in me, then, became my source of strength…especially in those moments when I really wanted to cry, not laugh.

Dear Diary – This block of post-Christmas/post-New Year is one I look forward to all year long. Traditionally I get to just hang out with some of my favourite people: my folks and my kids. We eat too much, stay up too late, rib each other over games, and watch movies.

Youngest Son and I headed out Thursday evening to escape driving in heavy rain on Friday. But it drizzled all the way there. We didn’t let the gray sky dampen our spirits as we ushered in the New Year with dinner with Auntie M and a late night movie. Eldest Son decided to spend the evening with his girlfriend. Afterall, as much as he loves me, it’s nice to have a sweetheart to kiss at midnight. Like the darling he is, he called us shortly after midnight. We spent the next day awaiting his arrival and the party really began.

Eldest Son arrived Sunday evening, with a big bag of candy. One bag had giant gummy coke bottles. Eldest Son referred to them as “cow boogers”. I have to say – his description fit of the texture.

As part of our merriment, the boys and I lined up on the couch to watch my parents confer on the best way to reattach Mom’s hood to her coat. Eldest Son tried to record it but his phone didn’t cooperate. I caught the last 17 seconds, including Mom’s reaction when she found out we were recording her.

Someone on Facebook recently encouraged anyone who was reading, to record your loved ones laughing and joking in those impromptu moments that get forgotten over time. One of the things she misses most is her mother’s laugh, and her struggle to recall it only sharpens the pain in her heart.

Life as we know it, can change in an instant. And change will come. I want to capture and savour every moment I am blessed to share with my “peeps”. If not with my camera, then in the still frames of my mind.

Dear Diary – I was given a special piece of fabric for Christmas, one I specifically requested (and couldn’t justify buying myself). It’s blue with video game controllers all over it! While I have an idea what to make with it, I still posted a photo on Facebook to see if anyone had a better idea.

Someone innocently suggested a golf towel.

I never thought about needing to clean your balls before you play with them in public.

Dear Diary – Not every moment in this baby year has been filled with joviality. A special family member lost her husband suddenly and tragically on Christmas Eve. After the celebration of life service, my Aunt K and Mom’s friend came for tea. While I’ve read tea is a “drink which relieves thirst and dissipates grief”, I think it was the act of sitting and conversing together which felt like a soulful hug.

I wish we could do that more often.

Dear Diary – This year is a milestone birthday and I need to start thinking about how to celebrate. Eldest Son suggested a “smash room”. A smash room or rage room is a place where you can smash, hurl and destroy a variety of objects, like glassware or old electronics, to relieve stress or anger. Or just for fun!

That conversation led to another scintillating conversation:

Eldest Son mentioned a movie scene wherein a couple of friends started making out after a smash room session.

Which led to my comments about movie scenes where a couple starts making out after escaping death.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because stress makes you horny?” Eldest Son queried.

“No! It doesn’t!” I said. “It makes me want to go to Tim Horton’s”!

What or where would you do/go, Dear Diary?

That conversation meandered into another disturbing topic: Feet Pics.

Apparently there are folks who are excited by photos of feet. So I googled “what are feet pics” and my search yielded images of feet, as well as multiple websites sharing how to take good feet pics and how to sell feet pics. There are legitimate businesses looking for feet pics, not just people with feet fetishes.

I have wanted a job I can do at home.

It would certainly be a better career option than the one some stranger picked for me…when they used my cell phone on their website.

Dear Diary – New Year. New Haircut.

I’d like a viking haircut…I like this one from Game of Thrones.

But Mom says no.

People will stare. Make it worth their while.

Harry Winston

2022 – A Year In Tea

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The year was certainly a doozy. For a lot of people. Thank goodness there’s tea!

I’m not sure I would have survived without it.

First making an appearance on September 4, 2017, my regular Monday morning “What’s In My Cup” feature has been going for over 5 years. It’s hard to believe there could be so much to talk about, and I’ve hardly scratched the surface.

Let’s review last year.

In 2022, I sampled and reviewed 22 different flavours of tea from David’s Tea, Tetley, T’Kettle, Puck, Stash, Yorkshire Tea and President’s Choice. They included black, green, and white tea, rooibos, and herbal infusions. Of those, I’m most smitten with T’Kettle’s Citrus Burst, a refreshing grapefruit based fruit infusion. Youngest Son shared his London Fog Bubble Tea with me. I’m still not a fan of bubble teas, but teas with an alcoholic Twist weren’t too shabby. In May I tried 7 brands of chai in The Great Chai Challenge. Of those, my favourite belonged to Tetley, both for flavour and cost.

Tea is best shared with friends, so in 2022, I called upon my friends to participate by share their favourite tea and/or drinking vessel in a monthly Monday feature. Unfortunately, I don’t have any friends.

That’s not true.

But getting friends, family members, and acquaintances to agree to write was challenging. I’d like to extend my thanks to 5 fabulous folks who did:

Mom – Tetley Lemon Ginger

Sam – Jasmine

Nicole – Tazo Chai

Jacob – Puck Earl Grey

Elena – Celestial Sleepytime (who also wrote a beautiful poem)

Auntie M also introduced me to Yorkshire Tea, where I discovered “The Tea Song” as well as the introduction of the “Tea Emoji”!

I shared some repurposing projects, including my tea kettle succulents, and I wrote about the tissue transfer technique after watching The Great British Pottery Showdown.

It might have been time, laziness, business, laziness, lack of motivation, or laziness, but I featured more Tea photographs and quotes this year. “Setting the scene” for these photos may seem like a pretext to avoiding work, but each one required forethought and fussing so they don’t look as amateurish as I think they do.

Of course, Tea Time wouldn’t be complete without tea time treats, and this year, instead of focusing on scones, I tried Peanut Butter Bread, Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake, Date Almond & Yogurt Bread, and Chocolate Babka. The Babka was a 2-day challenge.

I have no idea what 2023 will hold. Honestly, I haven’t thought that far ahead. As always, I’m open to suggestions and I’m willing to share my space. So put the kettle on and pull up a chair. Let’s sip away our sorrows, share our secrets, and swap some stories. All with a good cup of tea!

Happy New Year!

Dear Quarantine Diary – Week 52

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Dear Diary – Thursday evening I received a text from the School Board: Schools were closed on Friday due to the storm. Schools never close in the city. Buses are cancelled but, like the postman, any student within “walking distance” is expected to attend in wind, sleet, snow or hail! For both kids, walking distance has always been 20 minutes or more. It always seemed terribly fair that while my kids were expected to slog through knee-deep snow while the north wind peels their face off, the bus kids get to sleep until noon in cozy beds. I walked to school; it was the same for me.

The last I had heard, snow and possibly some freezing rain were coming our way. Crappy for being out in, but we live in Canada, and “crappy” is always synonymous with winter. I decided just to be thankful for the blessing of no class, and keep motoring on. Christmas was just around the corner and I had a chocolate swiss roll to bake for Hubby’s birthday.

Thursday evening, Youngest Son and I had rehearsal for the Christmas Eve service. He was being trained on camera and lights and I was singing Christmas carols. It was raining when we left home…and still raining when we started home. We were both in good spirits and feeling nibbly so I swung into the closest Tim’s to home. The driveway was blocked by cones but the lights were on and someone was inside. We sloshed through the icy water and rain to the front door, but the door was locked. I could see one employee inside, dumping honey dip doughnuts in the bin. “Noooo” I whimpered, but it was too late. Dejectedly we drove to the Shopper’s next door for chocolate.

It was not the same.

Dear Diary – It wasn’t a lot of snow but the wind made it appear so as it tossed and twisted it in every direction for hours. Hubby tried to clear the driveway at one point, but for every shovelful removed, he received three more in the face. I was very thankful I didn’t have to go out in it. I wonder how Santa feels about snow?

Dear Diary – We made it to Christmas Eve! It was bitter cold and the wind was still blowing pretty good, but the sun was shining. I spent the morning washing dishes, cooking potatoes for champ, and getting ready for the Christmas Eve service. Mom called in the morning to wish Hubby a happy birthday and to let me know that their area was in a state of emergency. Roads were closed including over 1,000 km of the main provincial highway. They even closed…the Malls!

It was unlikely there were going to make it to my house on Sunday.

We went for an Irish lunch at my brother-in-law’s place, minus my father-in-law who had decided to stay home before the first flake fell. And after a short visit, we headed to the church to prepare for the Christmas Eve service. The service was beautiful, and I had a first rate seat. As we sang the final carol, Silent Night, I watched flames light up, row by row, in the sanctuary (attached to candles. No one was torching the sanctuary), and all the stress of the last few weeks melted away.

It was snowing lightly when we left, the roads still partially covered where it continued to drift. We passed a few cars in a ditch. Someone was not having a peaceful night.

We had spaghetti and chocolate swiss roll birthday cake with homemade strawberry-cranberry jam for dinner. But not at the same time.

I talked to Mom again. They definitely weren’t coming on Sunday. I was disappointed but I would rather Christmas be postponed than something happen and I would grieve forever.

I talked to Eldest Son too. He only made it part-way to his girlfriend’s and got stuck in a drift. A tow truck driver got him unstuck, and later witnessed Eldest Son spinning out in a glorious display, like a rumba dancer, as he headed home, alone.

I went to bed missing some of my favourite people. I no longer cared about home-baked treats and a pretty table. I just wanted to be together.

I wonder if Mary missed her Mom too.

Dear Diary – It started out not feeling like Christmas. I didn’t know if Eldest Son was going to make it. Or his girlfriend and her sister. Or even my folks and Auntie M.

It was no longer snowing here. We slept in. I put on my plaid dress and soldiered on with my dinner plans.

I talked to Mom and found out they were going to “rescue” Auntie M and have their own celebration and Eldest Son arrived around lunchtime.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the carol that you sing right within your heart

Meredith Willson

We opened gifts. We basted the turkey and started the stuffing. We dished out pickles and 2 kinds of cranberry sauce. And we waited for Eldest Son’s girlfriend to arrive for dinner. We feasted and curled up in the candlelight to watch a movie. And I went to bed with anticipation. The rest of my family was going to make a break for it and try to come in the morning.

Dear Diary – All is calm. All is bright. Mom, Dad and Auntie M arrived for brunch on Boxing Day, and what a brunch: bagels and cream cheese, crackers and cheese, veggies and dip, mini quiche, homemade doughnuts, cookies and cake! I won’t ever need to eat again.

Dear Diary – I ate again. We did a re-run of the big turkey dinner. And with everyone’s help, dishes were soon washed and put away. Especially those dishes that are used only every 10 years. We opened gifts and played games, and swapped stories of Christmases past. Eldest Son’s girlfriend headed home, and soon after we all kissed good-night.

Dear Diary – I’m so thankful I had accidentally thawed all that meat and was forced to make soup, because that’s what we had for lunch. It was our final hurrah before Mom, Dad and Auntie M headed home. I have plans to join them in a few days. Then we connected with my father-in-law, who managed to dig out and head this way.

No one starved. The toilet didn’t give out until after everyone was gone. And my biggest take-away? I’m not ready to be in charge of the Christmas celebrations.

After years of travelling with kids and guinea pigs, I sometimes wondered what Christmas would look like at home. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, and the kids are too, but Christmas has lost some of its magic. Seeing how much work goes into organizing the meals (I had 5 lists to keep me organized) and other assorted items (like t.p.), I much more understand and greatly appreciate all my Mom has undertaken year after year, to keep it magical. From the decorations to the pretty table, from the pickles to the turkey, it’s a stinking lot of work!!

The most magical part of all was being together. Once we were under the same roof, everything was alright.

How many of us, I wonder, can recall that childhood moment when we experienced happiness as a state of being. That single moment of untarnished joy. That moment when everything in our world, inside and out, was alright. Everything was alright. And then we became adults…

Professor Coreman, Hector and the Search for Happiness

Dear Diary – I just heard. There will be no Christmas next year. Santa got arrested on Christmas Eve.

Dear Diary – I’ll see you on the other side!

I’m heading to my folks for New Year’s Eve with Youngest Son. It’s possible Eldest Son will be coming too. Right now, he’s torn about where to spend New Year’s Eve. I told him we’ll take him whatever he decides, but it is one of the first big Eve’s he’s had a girl to kiss at midnight, instead of his ol’ ma! 😉

Welcome change, embrace adventure and make this new year one you’ll never forget!