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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Hogmanay

   It was a day for "sweeping out the old year", a tradition I inherited from my parents and grandparents.  They would physically open the door and brush out all the dirt from throughout the house (couldn't do that here today as it was minus 19C this morning). The idea is to start the new year fresh and rid of all the accumulated debris of the previous year. I was only partly successful but will continue with the clean-up tomorrow morning.

   I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions but I did weigh myself this morning and resolve to, at least, not gain back the weight I have lost this year. I have done quite well and am about 4 lbs. below my normal weight, given all the overeating (especially chocolate) that occurred in December, but I did get down 10 lbs at one point. The secret, I found, is to severely cut back on carbs and I didn't find that too difficult to do although I do love bread!

   Last night's salmon was delicious! I made a lemon honey mustard glaze and just broiled it briefly. It was very tender and juicy. I have another piece in the freezer and will have it later in the week.

   To all my readers I wish a happy and healthy 2018.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

A Change is as Good as a Rest

    A busy morning - laundry, shovelling snow, grocery shopping - but that's it for today. I had a call from one of my tennis friends inviting me to lunch on New Year's Day which I gratefully accepted.

   It got up to minus 7C today and we even had some sun, quite pleasant out if you were well wrapped up. I will have a piece of salmon for dinner tonight - thoroughly sick of the Christmas bird and all the trimmings! I may just poach the salmon for a nice light meal.

Friday, 29 December 2017

More Snow

  Only got up to minus 9C today. It's snowing like crazy here - we were promised just a few flurries but it is substantially more than that. I put the car in the garage and will definitely need to do some shovelling tomorrow. Luckily there's not much else on the agenda. I will plug in the battery for the snowblower tonight just in case.

  Tennis this morning and it was three good sets with Swan, Angela and Carol. I was on the winning side twice and we stopped at 2-2 in the final set so it was a good day for me. We were very evenly balanced and had several deuce games. A good workout!

   Still eating leftovers but defrosted a different soup for lunch today. Almost everything perishable is either eaten or in the freezer and tomorrow's shop will just be for fresh fruit and vegetables. I will have money left over so won't have to got to the ATM until the new year. Yaay!

   

Thursday, 28 December 2017

A Misadventure

   A not so funny thing happened on Christmas Day. While I was dashing around getting lunch on the table for my guests I was stung by a wasp. I think it came out of some packaging we had just opened and was crawling on the floor - didn't realize what it was so bent to pick it up. Bad move! It didn't hurt for long and I had forgotten about it the next day, but on day three my finger was swollen, hot and throbbing so I guess it got infected. It's a lot better today, thank goodness. The wasp was a big sucker and met an untimely death at my hand after delivering the sting. 

   Still extremely cold - only got up to minus 13C today - and it will be the same all next week. Poor weather for all the New Years revellers. I will just stay indoors. Today I drove to the mall - too cold to walk and luckily my car started - and got a new library book and a haircut. My hairdresser will be away until the end of January so I thought I should see her before she goes. I have a jigsaw puzzle on the go, knitting to do and lots to read so no problem keeping busy!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Cold Spell Continues

   Finished off the last bottle of wine and now am not fit for anything. Please excuse any typos!

   Still very cold but with sunshine it is bearable. I saw people out without hats today and jackets unzipped even though it was -10C. That's Canadians for you! I'm getting worried about the extent of my heating bill next month as it gets very cold overnight and the furnace seems to be running non stop.

   I went to the mall today for some bird seed bells and while I was there looked at Fitbits. I have a notion to buy one but there were no sales people available so gave up. That is one sale they have missed out on although I may buy one elsewhere.

   Still eating leftovers but have put a bit in the freezer to eat later. 

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day

   Beastly cold day today - in the minus double digits and the wind chill clocked in at minus 20-something Brrr!

   First job this morning was to get the capon carcass boiling down all its meaty goodness, then a handful of barley thrown in. I had forgotten to buy a turnip for the soup so a quick run to the store was required. More veg added and it was ready for lunch, delicious and warming on such a cold day. Meanwhile, here are some photos from yesterday's festivities.

My pretty Christmas mantel.
Grandkids busy with their presents
   I have made a serious dent in the chocolate reserves (Judy brought me another box yesterday), there's still some opened bottles of wine in the fridge and lots of tasty leftovers so I am a happy camper! I'll even have some plum pudding later tonight!

Ready to tuck in to the starters.






Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Day

   Food is cleared away, dishes are done (mostly) and I am so stuffed I don't think I'll be eating again until tomorrow. Everything went well - nothing over- or undercooked and no catastrophes. Even the flaming plum pudding was well received.

    I have a ton of food left so will just be reheating meals for the rest of the week. The family (four adults, three kids and a dog) stayed until 5:30 and we had games and a movie after the meal. Everyone pitched in, even the kids, and the cleanup was done lickety split. Dave even finished shovelling my driveway as I had to stop half way down to get started in the kitchen. We had about 5cms. of snow overnight and I was out at the crack of dawn (literally, I saw the sun come up) with the shovel.

   Now I am whacked and ready for bed but it's only 6:30 so I will try to keep my eyes open for another hour or two.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Oh So Busy

   Barely put my nose out of doors today but the capon is cooked, dissected and ready for reheating tomorrow, the gravy and stuffing are made and in the fridge, and one side dish (sweet potato and carrot mash) is done too. So all I need to do tomorrow is prepare snacks (Steve and Alison will bring them), cook shrimp for our first course and make up a platter with them, smoked mackeral and smoked salmon, roast potatoes, and reheat everything I made today. Doesn't sound like too much, does it? But I will be in a tizzy nevertheless, especially as I will have a glass (or two) of sherry on the go! Judy and Alison are bringing another side dish each so, hopefully, there will be room in the oven to reheat them too.  All this effort to feed 8 of us. How do people manage who have big families to feed and entertain. I would go bananas!

   I had a surprise visitor yesterday - one of the kids from the house across the street with a gift for me. We don't usually exchange gifts on the street but this particular family have done so in the past. It was a big box of chocolate truffles and they are delicious! I will have to ration myself.

   I forgot a couple of other things on my "to-do" list for tomorrow - heat cranberry sauce (from a can), heat the plum pudding (the one I let boil dry last month, hope it tastes OK), heat custard and make a pot of coffee. And I definitely must remember to clean the downstairs bathroom before anyone arrives, as I'm sure it will be well used!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Two More Sleeps

    I was "up and at 'em" this morning as I wanted to beat the crowds on the roads and at the grocery store. I had a load of laundry in by 7:15, breakfast and dressed by 8:00 and out of the house by 10 after. It was still snowing and the roads were a bit slippery but I took my time.

   The parking lot and store were quite empty so I got around lickety split. Unfortunately, I had left my list at home but managed to remember most of it. Next stop was the butchers for the capon I had ordered. It was a bit bigger than I wanted and came in at $50! But we will eat most of it on Monday and leftovers for me for the rest of the week. Nothing will be wasted including the carcass!

   After a quick coffee at home I was out again for the few things I had forgotten and a quick stop at the Pharmacy (my blood pressure was only a bit elevated which is a wonder with all the rushing around). It was still snowing so I left the shovelling until after lunch and my nap. Keeping fingers crossed that we don't get any more snow until later in the week as I could do without any more shovelling for a few days!

Friday, 22 December 2017

Heavy Weather and Other Problems

   The problems weren't mine but the weather did affect me. I was up and out by 8:30 to clear the driveway of about 5 cms. of snow. It was quite light and fluffy so no big effort required. In again at 9:00 for coffee and breakfast, then off to my tennis game.

   The roads were only partially cleared as it was still snowing and blowing but I made it safely. I had allowed myself a little extra time just in case of problems. However, we had barely got started on the court when one of our number had to leave (sick family member). We played with three for a while but eventually picked up a fourth (thank goodness for cell phones!) and played until nearly noon. 

   A bit more shovelling when I got home and I will safely be able to get in and out of my driveway tomorrow, unless there is more of the white stuff. I had a long nap - all the fresh air and exercise, I guess - and pottered around doing a bit of housework. The house is now presentable enough and most of the cobwebs are gone but I will continue tomorrow and Sunday if the notion takes me. Hope I manage to sleep tonight!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Winter Solstice

   Supposedly the shortest day of the year but it will be a few days (or even into January) before we notice a difference. The sun (although we didn't see even a hint of it today) rose at 7:49 a.m. and set at 4:44 p.m. today. It wasn't too cold, hovering just below zero for most of the day. I walked up to the mall and back and didn't feel too cold - I was well bundled up!

    I had set aside today and tomorrow to get the house clean and tidy for the visitors on Monday and made a good start this morning. I sort of ran out of steam this afternoon but accomplished almost everything I wanted to do. However, I got a surprise invitation to play tennis tomorrow so will have to buckle down on the weekend. Not that anyone will notice but I did get rid of a huge number of cobwebs and at least I will know it's cleaner than before.

   I have a basa fillet defrosting for dinner - I'm trying to eat lighter for the next few days as I know I will be overeating come next week. Unfortunately I gave in and had a coffee and piece of cherry cake this afternoon when I got home from my walk - it's been ages since I succumbed to snacking between lunch and dinner. Naughty me! 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A New Gadget

   I treated myself to an early Christmas present today - an avocado slicer! I had seen it advertised on TV and, as luck would have it, Kitchen Stuff Plus carries them. I tried it out this evening and it worked a treat, so there may be one (or two) under the tree for certain someones!

The round end is for removing the pit and the other end acts like an egg slicer.
   I had a few things to pick up this morning and, apart from my grocery shop on Saturday, I think I am ready for Christmas. Of course, there are always some last minute essential items that I forget but I have left myself one day (Sunday) for emergency shopping!

   It was very quiet at the Senior's Centre today and only a few were needing coffee, pies etc. However, the Euchre group was having a little pot luck party and I was invited to join in. So, between pouring coffee and tea and heating pies, I picked at some delicious munchies. I really didn't need to have brought my own lunch but I ate it all anyway. Now just a light dinner, probably the spring rolls I brought home from my Festive Special meal last night. Another treat, I stopped in at Swiss Chalet after being at a late afternoon movie - "Ladybird" which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday, 18 December 2017

One Last Evening Outing

   It was off to Swiss Chalet for me last night to meet the family (8 in all) for the Festive Special. This has become a yearly treat for us all in the days leading up to Christmas. I was home just before 8:00 p.m. well fed and stuffed with Lindt truffles, their sweet offering at the end of the meal.

   Today I made an effort to shed some of the pounds from all the overeating by exercising in my basement for an hour - not all cardio, also stretching and strength training. Then off to Bridge and more indulgences! Marie brought mini meringues and fruit cake, Diane brought almond and jam tarts and I brought lavender shortbread. Never mind, tomorrow I will play tennis for two hours!

  We actually managed to get some milder weather today with a high of 4C but it snowed quite a bit first thing then turned to rain. I did a bit of shovelling before I went out and again when I got home - hope it doesn't freeze overnight!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Another Night Out

   Out again tonight (fourth night this week) and I really don't want to stick my nose outdoors, it's so cold. It was -6C this morning and hasn't budged from there all day although the sun was out for a while this afternoon.

   Just my usual Saturday chores - laundry, grocery shopping etc. - but tonight is the Christmas dance and I am selling the 50-50 Draw tickets as usual so I have to go. It's the Family Dance so the dances are pretty easy. I had a look at them this afternoon on YouTube and I think I have most of them down pat.

   No dinner tonight as there will be tea and sandwiches at the interval but I have had a snack (avocado and salsa dip with tostitos) and a glass of wine to keep me going!

Friday, 15 December 2017

My Hectic Life

   Still in the deep freeze here, minus temperatures all day but I must be getting used to it as I didn't feel quite so chilled when I left the senior's centre after fitness class. There were only 12 of us in the class as it was a make-up session. 

   After all the food on Wednesday I was out for lunch again on Thursday. It was the Probus Club lunch and I had selected salmon instead of turkey - a wise decision as it was delicious and a much lighter alternative. There was also salad, roasted veggies and ice cream dessert, all for $30 as it is subsidized by the club, and the piece of salmon was huge!.

   No dinner yesterday as I wasn't hungry and had a date to babysit at the Athertons. I got there by 6:45 (traffic was surprisingly light) and just nibbled a few things until I got home at 10:00 when I had a sandwich and some hot milk. 

   Today I finally have a night at home but I will be out again tomorrow night and Sunday. Stay tuned. Maybe next week will be quieter.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Too Much Food

    Just a quick post - off to my second party of the day and there's another one tomorrow. Weather decidedly chilly. -12C this morning and it only got up to -9C (wind chill -15C) and it is set to go down to -18C tonight! Brrr.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

First Winter Storm

Icicles hanging from the eavestroughs.
     Quite a bit of snow overnight so I stayed home today and managed to clear the driveway in small doses. We had about 10 cms. of snow. It was quite pleasant early on but then the sky cleared, the temperature dropped and the wind got up so now it is -10C (wind chill around -15C).

    Yesterday was our Christmas party at dance group but we had a very poor turnout due to the slippery roads. But those of us who braved the conditions had some fun dances then a lovely shared feast - everyone brought something. I made sausage rolls and they were a big hit - tasty too, I actually managed to snag one! Then some gifts for the teacher and the coordinators and lots of nice things said about them so it turned out well. We will start up again in January.



    

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Lazy Day at Home

   Don't know where the day went  - it was almost noon before I got down in the basement to do my step class video. All I had accomplished was to sort out the dishwasher and fill it with yesterday's dishes, and get yesterday's laundry ironed and put away!

    After lunch and a nap I walked up to the mall to pick up my new library book and some groceries. It was a cold walk but I was well wrapped up. Since then I have been reading "The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye" by David Lagerkrantz. It has started out very well so I think I will enjoy it. I have read the rest in the series and seen the movies.
   
    Still some Christmas cards to write and preparations for tomorrow's party at dance group but that can wait until the morning. Pork souvlaki for dinner with a home made tzatziki sauce. Must got search for a recipe on the internet.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Big Disappointment

   Judy phoned today and had to cancel tomorrow's family outing to Swiss Chalet for the Festive Special. There's a bug running through their family and James was sick today. Hopefully we will be able to reschedule but everyone is so busy at this time of year, it may be tricky. In consolation I opened a bottle of wine which turned out to be very tasty so I will have it tomorrow again with something from the freezer.

Smoking Loon 2015 - an Old Vine Zinfandel from California

    I made a pot of carrot and lentil soup for lunch  and as a different twist on an old favourite, blended it to give a smoother texture. It still had bits of vegetables but turned out really well. Lots more for later in the week.



Friday, 8 December 2017

Nothing Wasted

   Cold today with a strong wind and it's going to get progressively colder in the next few days. This is unusual for December but at least we have no accumulation of snow yet. I have lit the fire in the family room for the last few evenings so it is quite cozy indoors.

   Just my usual Friday fitness class but I did hang around over coffee at the Senior's Centre for most of the morning. When I got home I had a sudden burst of energy, wrote all my overseas Christmas cards, walked down to the post office and got them in the mail before lunch. I hope they arrive in time. Total cost of postage, $27! Luckily the cards were free as several charities sent them out last year as a promotion. I still have enough left for another year or two.

   The last of the cauliflower soup for lunch and leftover fish for dinner. I love to see an empty fridge by the end of the week, it means I haven't wasted anything. I do have a cucumber left and it's looking a bit soft - wonder if I can make cucumber soup? Other than that everything perishable will be gone before I shop again.

   

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Tennis and Book Club

   Tennis this morning - indoors of course - then we went to the Pickle Barrel for lunch. I was very good and only had a chicken and spinach salad - no bread. It was my chance to treat Carol and Hendrina for sharing their (free) tennis court with me for the last few winters. I'm hoping for a few more games before year end.

   I skipped Zumba class and went straight from lunch to Book Club and there were treats there too. I had another cup of coffee and two slices of very good pannetone. If you've never had it you should try it. Yummy!

    The book was "Quiet" a non-fiction about introverts and we had a very lively and interesting discussion. All being retired teachers we were mostly focussed on how being an introvert affects children's education and self-esteem.  

   After my tasty lunch I am just going to have a light dinner - fish and some cauliflower, and maybe a clementine for dessert.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Out And About

   I thought this was going to be a quiet day as Bridge class is over until the New Year. However, I decided to visit Bayview Village Mall for a few things. First I ordered the Christmas lunch bird at Pusateri's - I decided on a capon again, it's bigger than a chicken but not as humungous as a turkey, and also juicier. It has gone up a bit in price but still makes enough for the nine of us at a reasonable cost. I will pick it up on the 23rd.

   I found small gifts for the grandkids at Mastermind and Chapters to have under the tree on Christmas Day and finished off with a coffee and double chocolate brownie at Starbucks. Luckily I still had some money on my Starbucks card so it was a cheap treat.

   On the way home I stopped at the Bay for gift cards for the retiring coordinators at my dance group. We will be having a small Christmas and farewell party for them next Monday. They will still be dancing with us but someone else is taking on the organizational duties.

   I was home by 11:30, finished the newspaper, had lunch and a nap then went off to see a movie. "Roman J. Israel, Esq." with Denzel Washington - quite good.

   So it turned out to be a very busy day so I will have an early night.



Sunday, 3 December 2017

My Sudoku Compulsion

    First off, the Christmas tree that the grandkids decorated on Friday. They did a great job from dragging it up from the basement to unpacking and hanging all the ornaments. I only had to put the angel on top and start the string of lights on the upper branches.
Don't know why it's so out of focus.
  My main topic for today is my compulsion with Sudokus. I jump out of bed every morning and dash to see how challenging the Sudoku in the Star newspaper will be. Usually it is easiest on Monday and gets progressively more difficult each day of the week. On Sundays there are three ranging from easy to hardest and I got all three today without having to resort to "helping" numbers (that's the little numbers I put in when there are two possibilities). I always do the puzzle in ink so sometimes it can get very messy. Look how neat today's are!

  Saturday always has a very different one but it's not as tricky as it looks and yesterday's was quite easy. You can see, no "helping" numbers or errors. I was quite chuffed with myself! The answers come out next week.


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Overnight Guests

     Last night I had overnight guests, the grandkids! They were here because their parents were joining some friends in a progressive dinner. So it made sense for the kids to be out of the way and no need for a babysitter.

    I went to pick them up at 4:30, we were home by 5:00 and I had put a chicken in the oven before I left so it was soon time to eat. After dinner and an ice cream treat, they opened their first Christmas book. This is a custom Judy started when they were small -  a different Christmas story each night up until Christmas Eve. Yesterday's was appropriately called "24 Sleeps Until Christmas" and Elliot was in charge of reading it. It went down really well.

  
     They were really good guests, in other words they helped out and tidied up after themselves (with a bit of encouragement), and didn't even wake me up too early this morning. The boys helped with breakfast (pancakes and scrambled eggs) and Natalie mixed the orange juice so it wasn't too much work for me - except for cleaning up afterwards! Judy picked them up around 9:30 as James had a hockey game and, since then, I have had a restful day. 

  I walked over to the local high school this afternoon to register my vote for our new Federal M.P. Hope she is successful!

   I made a big pot of stew this afternoon but I will be eating leftover chicken and veggies from yesterday. The kids put away quite a bit of food last night (they have good appetites) but I saved some for myself for today. The stew will go in the fridge for the next few days. It's full of healthy vegetables.