Saturday Bonus <> Life Lately

I tackled lots of miscellaneous stuff yesterday in my Casual Friday post but here are a few more random tidbits about life lately because sometimes it’s fun to post spontaneously on a Saturday!

Abby told me to do a silly face…and this was the best I could muster. It’s rare for me to be in a picture, so her budding photography skills are a great excuse to actually have photographic evidence that I am present on all these adventures.

TODAY’S ACTIVITIES | Currently wrapping up a sleepover with one of Abby’s friends. We made mini pizzas on Naan bread for supper and then the kids retreated to the basement to watch a Christmas movie; low key…which is how I like it! Everyone slept well and the girls were inspired by episodes of Bake Squad this morning to whip up some festive treats of their own and are conspiring over a cookie cookbook in the kitchen right now. Later they’ll head to a small birthday party! Tonight is date night (takeout sushi is on the menu).

WATCHING | It’s a Wonderful Life. I got several comments about this being a staple in holiday movie lineups. So, when John asked me to pick a date-night movie last weekend, I didn’t have to ponder very long. I only remembered snippets, but it was great and so obviously destined to be a classic. The Grinch (2019 version) at the local theatre during their free holiday movie event last weekend. And as soon as I finished putting the lights on the tree (my least favourite part), I joined the kids in watching the traps segment of Home Alone 3. And we’ve almost finished the final episode of this season’s Great British Bake Off. Not sure who to cheer for this year? I always have a “favourite” by this point in the show but they have all been relatively consistent (though I was sad to see Jurgen go home).

READING | Christmas picture books. Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey + Managing Worry and Anxiety: Practical Tools to Help You Deal with Life’s Challenges by Jean Holthaus. Reading to the kiddos: The Boxcar Children (rereading for at least the 10th time). Next up will be A Christmas Carol. I really wanted to get through this before we went to see The Muppets Christmas Carol in the theatre (tomorrow), but should have it started at least.

LISTENING | Lots of Christmas music, mostly nostalgic stuff from my childhood like Julie Andrews and the Living Strings White Christmas album. Also, Sarah McLachlan just HITS IT OUT OF THE PARK with her two Christmas albums. Somehow I always forget how much I love her Christmas music, and every year I fall in love with it again.

EXERCISE | Continuing on with my 3x/week running challenge (finally managed to fit in an outside run in between rain/snow/ice storms). Other than that we’re walking to school as often as possible. Yesterday, after dropping the kids off, John and I walked home via snow-covered trails. It was beautiful and I wore my snow boots for the first time this year (see “Dreading” below).

CREATING | I’m completely up-to-date with our 2021 photobook. I have NEVER been ahead like this but really want to get it ordered through the New Year’s Eve sale at Blurb (just watch – this time they won’t have a year-end deal).

EATING | I made this Chicken and Wild Rice soup but I ended up having to sub jasmine rice since they were sold out of wild rice at the store. It tasted good, but think it would have been even better with the “bite” from wild rice. Meatballs (frozen leftovers from Levi’s birthday party) – always such a hit. I recreated one of the meals from our recent week of meal kits (a Tex-Mex casserole). So easy and the kids really enjoy it. Plus nothing says festive like a mug of kombucha in a Christmas mug, right?

BAKING | Last weekend we made a single batch of ginger cookies (no leftovers!) and distributed them to a few local neighbours and friends with Christmas cards. I’m cutting back even further on holiday baking this year, but did make a big batch of peanut butter balls (freezing almost all of them) yesterday! I dipped a few and then just gave up and poured a little drizzle of melted chocolate over each one. I think they still look fine…and it is significantly faster (and cleaner) than trying to dip them using forks or skewers. I made a note of this hack on my recipe for next year! Mom is bringing my favourite sweetened condensed milk squares, and I’ll make a cheesecake + cinnamon coffee cake for Christmas Day. I’ve got a few pecan pies in the freezer, but overall I’m hoping for less of a sugar high (and crash) this year. Plus, we inevitably get all sorts of treats passed our way and there’s no reason I can’t serve boxed chocolates or someone else’s special Linzer cookies around my table when company drops by spontaneously, right?

DREADING | Honestly? Winter. I’m feeling cold and tired of the grey weather already. It was such a beautiful fall, but the string of dark, dismal days in November just made it feel like winter came early? Also, January 2021 felt slightly optimistic in terms of the pandemic, but I’m trying not to think too far ahead now in terms of 2022 and the continued impacts from COVID.

LOOKING FORWARD TO | Christmas. It feels like a lot sometimes (mostly the food, logistics, and trying to keep the kids happy because that makes Christmas 1000x more pleasant and can be a delicate balance – i.e. not enough screens and I want to pull my hair out, but too much screentime and it backfires and they become miserable zombies). But really, I’m excited. It will be a relatively quiet Christmas, but we’re so blessed that three grandparents can join us and I’m really happy with the gifts I’m giving this year which I think strike a good balance of being practical, fun, and the right quantity (minimal but not stingy). We’ll see if the recipient agrees but the kids are generally pretty easy to please.

LOVING | The Christmas tree. It just makes the whole house feel like Christmas has arrived. It smells so good. It looks so cheery. It was also a painless process this year (smaller tree, better shape, we had them cut it to size/trim it at the tree stand, all the strings of lights worked first try, the kids were engaged and competent during the decorating process!).

LAUGHING | I woke up the other morning to see John had texted me this and I burst out laughing. Considering we have no real access to our front exterior right now, our front step is 2 feet away from the door and the front lights have yet to be connected…this sums up my thoughts on exterior decorating this year.

Over and out. Final treadmill run of the weeks is in the books (10 minutes of intervals felt sufficient for a Saturday), breakfast waffles have been made and consumed. The girls selected Chocolate Chip Cookies (classic) and are currently cleaning up the kitchen (we’ll see how that goes). I already mentioned date-night tonight (the last for a while because of Christmas festivities), prepping for Sunday events, and hopefully a full night sleep (my recent battle with early wakings continue; a plague since DST back in November – shouldn’t my body have adjusted by now?!).

12 thoughts on “Saturday Bonus <> Life Lately”

  1. love all the Christmas theme activities. while winter could be depressing, Christmas in tropical country doesn’t feel right. I miss the snow and coziness of winter. and good job on running outdoor in the winter. I remember those, it requires a lot of courage to endure the first mile.

    1. I think I’d like to TRY Christmas in a tropical destination once in a while – haha. But I agree, there is something cozy and festive about the snow…it just happens to hang around for many months after Christmas!

      But we’re almost to the shortest day, and it does feel nice to reach that point and know that we’re steadily getting closer to more daylight and the fresh start of spring. Plus, winter is an objectively fun time for the kids, so I really do enjoy the winter activities they like (but I’d gladly trade ice skating and sledding for snorkeling 🙂

  2. Busy weekend! I absolutely LOVE your Christmas tree 😉 That pic of the DITTO house is hilarious! Our neighborhood is pretty conservative in terms of outside lights, so I don’t feel any pressure to do much (other than the two 4-foot trees that flank the front door). That is a great hack to drizzle the icing over the goodies rather than dipping them. Years ago, I grew inpatient with making cut-outs, so I just rolled the dough into balls, and flattened to bake. Then frosted them and added all the sprinkles…and presto!

    1. Some people like the process, and others are more about the result. For a few things I love the process, but for baking it’s mostly about the result for me!

      I do LOVE to look at impressive light displays, but know that’s never going to be our “family.” Our neighbourhood is pretty minimal as well; there is one place about 10 minutes from our house that has an ENORMOUS display and there is always a lineup of cars waiting to go by it around Christmas. We laugh every year at what his poor neighbours do; they clearly can never compete, but they always make a decent effort. I think I’d find that very stressful – it I neighboured someone who went all out on the decorations.

      For now we have our Christmas tree in the front window, but next year (when we have a front step in place – haha) I’d like to do a big wreath, spotlight, and maybe some pots of greenery on the step?

  3. Haha, that photo of the decorated house and the “ditto” sign made me laugh… 🙂

    I absolutely love your Christmas tree and I am so glad you finally watched “It’s a beautiful life”!

    1. I really enjoyed It’s a Wonderful Life and can see watching it annually moving forward. I don’t think it will ever have the same sentimental attachment for me that White Christmas or the original Grinch cartoon do…but it is great movie and I’m so glad we watched it!

  4. Your tree is absolutely lovely – it would be such a pleasure to see it every day!

    Mostly I want to discuss Bake-Off with you. Jurgen was robbed! He was held to a much higher standard than the other bakers after his early performances. Also, I have so many issues with Noel and Matt as hosts. I’ve been watching older episodes with Mel and Sue and they were always such an uplifting part of the show – joking about “stealing” the bakes, getting out of the way when bakers were busy (I just watched an ep where a baker sideyes Mel and she just says “I get it, you’re busy” and sidles out of frame), and just being a good addition to the show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Noel eat a single bite and *sigh* going from two women as hosts to two men as hosts has made me so sad. End rant.

    1. It did feel like Jurgen was robbed and – I finally finished the last episode – I was 100% surprised that Giuseppe won! He was the only person I was convinced WOULDN’T win based on his performance.
      I also agree with you; Matt and Noel make a lot of outright mean comments to the bakers, never test the food, and don’t seem to be nearly as “light” and fun as Mel and Sue. I also feel like Mel and Sue were very comforting and provided a lot of mental support to the bakers and even sometimes would physically step up to help them prop up items etc…It definitely is NOT as good as it used to be, but I feel like this season especially in terms of the hosting. I miss Mary, as well. Especially since I read her biography and learned what an incredible woman she is with such an interesting back story. I do still love GBBO because I love what it represents in terms of people’s baking skills, but agree it really needs a change moving forward. End rant!

  5. I don’t mind snow/winter right now, but mid-January I will be DONE! We got 11″ of snow on Friday so it’s very wintery here but the forecast is calling for rain on Wednesday? Which would be horrible as it will inevitably freeze and turn the roads into ice rinks. So I hope we don’t get rain? I will take snow over rain right now! Outside of the pandemic, we have tried to go somewhere in Feb-Apr to get away from the snow/cold. We booked tickets to visit my sister in Tucson in mid-February but of course it feels very precarious since you never know if someone is going to test positive for covid. A good friend and her husband had to cancel their 40th bday trip to the Dominican Republic because my friend tested positive the day before the flight! And they are fully vaxxed!

    Your tree is so beautiful and I love your wood floors! That color is so pretty!

    1. It does feel SO hard to plan right now, though a winter getaway sounds wonderful. We’ve only managed to do this once (also to the DR), and it was amazing.

      Our neighbour (who works for an airline) asked today if our kids own a travel log. When I said “no” he mentioned he’s going to get them each one of their own. But I’m left wondering – when will they travel internationally? Levi has never been outside of Canada, and it feels like it could take a long time to get back to the point where it makes sense. Oh well. Too much to be thankful for in the midst of this pandemic to get upset about having to stay put on Canadian soil. But I just never imagined it not feeling like an option.

      Things are starting to spiral a bit in our local area with more and more cases; they’re lowering gathering limits and there are rumours at the local university that exams might switch over to being online again.

      Thanks for your compliments about the house and tree. I was JUST telling a friend the other day how many compliments I get on the floors (they were here when we bought the house and are actually just inexpensive laminate, but everyone thinks they’re wood)…but they drive me crazy. They show absolutely everything. Every drip or crumb. But the compliments do help sway me to feeling a bit less like ripping them out (I won’t – too cheap and there is nothing wrong with them so it would be a big waste of materials/not an environmentally conscious decision). But they really are impossible to keep clean!

  6. Your house was so festive for the holidays! I’m glad you were able to enjoy the decorations, too.
    I am not a kombucha drinker but open to trying it. Anything you would recommend for a neophyte??
    Also, I like your silly face. I’m similarly challenged at being overtly silly. 😉
    And, the “DITTO” house made me laugh. Hard. Thank you for that!
    Since I am writing this SO LATE (again…) I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

    1. On the recommendation of a friend I just bought Synergy (organic, unpasteurized) from Walmart! Apparently, it’s a great brand. My hubby actually bought me a few cans of shelf-stable kombucha (didn’t know this existed), so I’ll report back on that brand at some point if it’s a hit.
      We DID have a good Christmas, though I’ll admit to feeling more festive AFTER the official holiday this year, ironically enough.

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