Casual Friday + A Power Outage

Um…that was weird! Yesterday at lunchtime the power just…went out. It always feels disconcerting to lose power, but it’s somewhat expected during a windstorm or in the middle of a blizzard. This was just a random, sunny afternoon in April with nary a cloud in the sky.

The power came back on late in the evening, but not before it changed the trajectory of my day.

For starters, I had a work meeting in the morning and came away with a list of action items…of which I accomplished zero. The soup I took from the freezer for supper – well, that doesn’t get warm without electricity! I did manage to seize the opportunity to tackle an external landscaping project I’d been putting off for two years, which provided a giant dose of satisfaction.

Despite that morale boost, I’m quite happy the power is back on, hope it stays on, and want to acknowledge how very much I take electricity and related conveniences for granted. Wifi and hot water and laundry are truly gifts of the modern age. Want to know the first thing I did when the power came back on? I marched right to the microwave and warmed up two Magic Bags!

This morning I’m going to wrap up some loose ends at work and then have lunch plans at my Soup and Sandwich Oasis (visit #2 of 2022).

The week that was…

ENERGY | I felt very tired this week. Overall, my energy levels have been significantly better lately, but every morning this week I woke up exhausted and felt like I was wading through a giant vat of molasses. I ended up taking a long nap Wednesday afternoon (my first in over a month!) and then again on Thursday (there was no power so what else could I do). I gave myself lots of margin and scaled back on exercise.

EXERCISE | One short run (I felt awful and stopped after 2.5 km) and daily walks, including several with the whole family and another with a friend and her toddler! I wanted to do more – especially when the weather was nice – but tried hard to listen to my body.

EASTER | Easter is, and always will be, focused on faith. The rest of the typical activities fall flat for me; I don’t have any established food or family traditions at Easter. There is no special meal or annual egg hunt. Other people always fill in this gap for the kids and Abby and Levi ended up with chocolate goodies (among other treats) from three sources. So they’re doing just fine. But still…

Look what happened overnight – our own little pint-sized Easter elves!

When I woke up Easter morning the kids had DECORATED (I have a tiny bin with a few small decorations for each holiday, which I often don’t even bother using) and set up a candy hunt. I opted not to view this as a failure in parenting, but rather as a sweet gesture from the kids – and it was surprisingly fun to go on an unexpected hunt as an adult. I felt slightly guilty as the day wore on, and ended up repurposing some chocolate eggs (given to them by a friend for Easter), giving the kids a little surprise in-house hunt (granted this was for candy they had already received).

FRIENDS | Before Easter, I spent a lovely afternoon with author/illustrator Jan Coates. We talked about writing and life and exchanged reading suggestions.

The first book I ever read by Jan remains my favourite – Rainbows in the Dark -which happens to include a character named Abby and a storyline that centers around second-hand clothing (see below).

Jan has also made 1000s of beautiful masks during the pandemic and gifted me 4!

We were able to host two families over the long weekend for supper meals. Friday night we had meatballs, rice, peas, and cornbread with pecan pie (boughten; I draw the line at making pie). Monday night I served Chicken Mango Curry, rice, cornbread, and homemade lemon bread. Do you sense a theme? One-pot meals with rice and cornbread are my go-to. Both families are new friends, so I expected the kids to be a bit on the shy side – not Levi who ended up convincing people to play chess with him both evenings!

WORK | This week work felt very…meh. I have a big surge of responsibility around the middle of May and as much as I want to be proactive, much of it can only happen last-minute. It was also a weird week because of Easter. Everyone was off on Friday, but then some colleagues I work with at various universities were working on Monday, but contacts within government/industry were not. And then the whole no-power/internet schemozzle yesterday. Everything was fine, albeit uninspiring.

WATCHING | Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King. This documentary about a bitcoin conspiracy had a geographic connection as some of the main people in the story were based in nearby Halifax.

We finished Race Against the Tide, a New Brunswick-based sand sculpture contest. We watched it as a family and everyone really enjoyed this show.

And John and I started the recent Masterpiece version of All Creatures Great & Small. James Herriot books – and the original All Creatures show – were family favourites in my household growing up, so I was happy to see a few episodes of the reboot.

READING | I ended up skimming/abandoning the books on my bedside table this week. I also started reading a poetry anthology from my bookshelf which is failing to wow me.

We did read a few fun picture books.

recent thrift finds

I’ve written before about how years ago my friend and I would thrift every Friday night while our kids attended an activity. Schedules have changed and we haven’t been able to do this together for almost a year, but squeezed in a few hours on Saturday. In addition to being a great way to source things inexpensively (and keep items out of landfills in the process), it’s also just a lot of fun for me. With this particular friend, we end up in hysterics over the crazy items we find and also love to act as theoretical personal stylists for our friends (as in: “Can’t you just see So-And-So loving this outfit?”).

I came away with a relatively small haul, but that’s okay! I prefer to keep things minimal and just fill in holes/upcycle as I’m able.

I got the Levi’s shirt for Abby ($4) and a sweater and flowing T-shirt for myself. And then two pairs of Spandex because…I only have one good pair at this point and that was not enough Spandex…along with an exercise skirt and a pair of Birkenstocks (they have some wear, but at $4 for GENUINE Birks…it was too good to pass up). The skirt is a wildcard (it has built-in spandex shorts) – I’ll either wear it constantly or will end up consigning it after a few months. Time will tell.

I also “shopped” my closet; I store seasonal items in the guest room and switched out some winter dresses/sweaters for T-shirts and summer clothes. (As a reminder, this post showed every item hanging in my closet for the fall/winter season – and I’ve since consigned two of those items.)

Then on Monday, John took the kids to source summer gear. Like me, they have a relatively minimal wardrobe, but they were in desperate need of some new warm weather gear.

They came away with great finds (not pictured: sneakers for Levi @ $2.99, new cleats for Levi in like-new condition@ $8.99, knock-off Birks for Abby @ $3.99 + 20% off those prices because of coupons we get for donating). Other highlights were a Levi’s sweater for Abby @$2.99, a Messi jersey for Levi, and a Star Wars shirt that matches one John owns.

I’ve chatted a few times about thrifting and several people have asked what/how we thrift.

In terms of where we buy things we use Kijiji (a Canadian equivalent to Craigslist) or shop at stores belonging to two chains: Frenchy’s and Valu Village. I go to Frenchy’s about 6-8 times a year, and we go to Valu Village about once a week for about half an hour while the kids are at an evening activity. Occasionally I also visit a local consignment store.

In terms of what we buy secondhand…just about everything. I would say at least 75% of everything we own comes from either IKEA or thrift stores/second-hand sources. At least half of the artwork in our home came from thrift stores, and virtually every single item of clothing has been thrifted! Our record player and records, various computers, various sets of LEGO, books…

I will say that it takes a certain willingness to wait for items, and I have to keep a running tally of what we need to shop effectively. By living with minimal stuff, it tends to be simple to keep tabs on what we need and I find it a relaxing “hobby” of sorts. It doesn’t feel like work and the money savings are especially rewarding. That said, I can appreciate it not being for everyone and/or it takes the right combination of proximity to thrift stores to work well.

And that’s all I got for this unusual week.

Your turn. Was I the only one who neglected to plan a chocolate egg hunt…and then felt slightly guilted into doing one after my children took it upon themselves to organize one for the adults?! Does anyone else like thrifting?

Header photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

22 thoughts on “Casual Friday + A Power Outage”

  1. I enjoyed the original All Creatures Great & Small TV series– and read the books way back when. I have the new series on my radar to watch. Thanks for the reminder. As for thrifting it’s not my thing for clothes, but I do like wandering around an antique mall looking at, and occasionally buying, stuff for the house.

    1. Antiques are definitely OFF MY RADAR, but my mother-in-law used to absolutely love thrifting antiques. I am mostly about clothes/art/small items, but watching the Antiques Roadshow is enough to say people love browsing for antiques and finding “diamonds in the rough.”
      I got the first All Creatures book for Christmas (my brother and father own sets, but I didn’t have one of my own), so it has been fun to read along again. I love the books. They are a bit like Anne to me – comfort reading. I am tempted to watch some of the old episodes of the original TV show, but so far have enjoyed the 2 episodes of newly released version as well.

  2. Ah, yes, it’s very disconcerting when the electricity goes out! You have a whole new awareness for how much you rely on it. Similar to the time our water got turned off (due to a mistake in our billing method.) For the couple of hours it was off, I must have gone to wash my hands 50 times and then realized I couldn’t do it. Yes, we really need running water!
    That’s funny about Easter. I don’t think your kids are too deprived- they probably had fun decorating and creating the hunt!
    I used to shop at our Goodwill store but haven’t been there in a while. It was great when the kids were little, since they outgrew clothes so quickly. But I also used to find things for myself- you’re inspiring me to go back.

    1. Yes to water. We’ve lost water a few times and it is crazy how much impact it has on day-to-day life. Thankfully because we’re on town sewer/water, we DON’T lose water when the power goes out, but my parents are on a well so have NO water access (except the lake in their front yard; haha) when the power goes out. Once during a hurricane they lost it for almost 2 weeks!
      Yeah, the kids seemed to have fun at Easter and they aren’t expecting baskets or decorations and seem quite adaptable, thankfully.

  3. Glad your power is back on! That would be so frustrating! We do it take for granted, don’t we.

    I am not much of a thrift shopper, mostly because I don’t really think we have great thrift shops where I am. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t know about them. I mean, we have a Goodwill and a St. Vinny’s, but everytime I’m there, most things don’t seem to be super great quality. Maybe it gets picked over fast? I mean, I know for a fact that I have personally donated a zillion like-new things TO Goodwill, so someone somewhere must be getting those items. But many times the stuff I find seems either faded or pilled or I don’t know, just kind of always feels like a fail. Maybe I’d need to go more often, to balance out the unlucky trips with some successful ones. I just really despise shopping in general. I need to replace several things in my wardrobe right now, but I just can’t bring myself to go shopping. I even struggle to pull up online shopping websites, because I find that process overwhelming, too!

    1. Thrift stores are DEFINITELY not created equal.
      It’s rather hilarious; one thrift store about 15 minutes from my house must get a lot of donated items from Boston/New England as there are always a LOT (and I mean A LOT) of Boston Red Sox items + NE Patriots gear. It makes me laugh every time.
      Outside of thrifting (and grocery shopping), I loathe shopping. I hate how much it costs, how long it takes. I hate everything about it. I never opt to go to a mall. And I never, never, never look for clothes online. Somehow it seems less pressured at thrift stores and I just have access to some really great ones I guess. It seems like a contradiction that I hate clothes shopping but love thrifting? Somehow there is just a lot less pressure. The prices are low if I get something I don’t like, it’s likely only a few dollars (and I can always consign it if I don’t use it)…but I also don’t feel like I HAVE to find anything. I go in expecting it to be a bit of a treasure hunt of sorts?

      1. I feel the same way about not enjoying clothes shopping, but liking thrifting. One thing I’ve noticed is I really like for my clothes to look relaxed/natural/casual and so when they’ve been washed and worn already it feels more “me”! Just my experience!

        1. Yes to all of this. I find it just feels like the clothes are more special when they’re living a second life in my closet. And sometimes I’ve found jeans that are at that perfect point of being broken in, without them ever feeling uncomfortable to me.
          I suspect some people could find that weird, but it really is the only way I enjoy shopping for clothes!

  4. We went to my in-laws for Easter and we have eleven nieces and nephews and the egg hunt is organized down to a science for us – each kid has color-coded eggs and we pick hiding places based on age. It’s really glorious. As someone who is areligious (as in, I forget that religion is a thing for people and it never occurs to me in general), I find that the candy and egg hunt are the only reason Easter is an acceptable holiday to me. Differences among people are what make the world go around!

    1. The colour-coding is a good idea. I did this with my kids too (Abby had pink, purple, and orange; Levi had blue and green).

      As Easter celebrates the foundation of my faith, the hope and message of Easter is where I want my focus to be, but they did enjoy the fun experiences together as a family, as small as they were!

  5. There were no Easter egg hunts here either, I have never organised one. I have also never bought my children an Easter egg, I know I am a terrible parent!

    I love shopping in thrift stores, I think they are the same thing as charity shops which is what we call them in the UK? We have many such shops in our local town. I am glad to hear that you have a list of things you would like to find, I have one of those too, waiting for the right thing to come along is all part of the fun for me as well as unexpectedly finding something you didn’t know you wanted that turns out to be the very thing that you can no longer live without and wonder how you existed so long without it in your life.

    It is good to hear that you have been taking the rests you have needed this week. Some weeks need to be like that don’t they. It is so important to listen to our bodies but so hard to allow ourselves to do that.

    1. Well, clearly I won’t throw any stones in my glass house as I do not do much celebration outside of birthdays and Christmas. The little holidays seem like too much work/feed into consumptive habits (like eating sugar, buying “junk”). I’d rather use that money on experiences. I also think a lot of it has to do with not celebrating these minor holidays growing up either. If I had brought traditions for Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day etc., I’m sure I’d still be carrying them on with my kids. It also feels like it would cause me a lot more stress; buying baskets and gifts and cards. Not my thing (but I think it’s lovely that so many other people get enjoyment out of this sort of experience).

      Yes – we tend to call charity shops thrift stores or used/secondhand clothing stores (very descriptive).

  6. we tend to take for granted modern technology like power, water, heat. when they go out, we suddenly realize how lucky we are. kids told me they had 1 hour power free on earth day which got them appreciate or even realized that power is a thing that needs to be produced.
    I love frugal/thrifting ideas… I haven’t done much in the Philippines simply because of the convenience. But that’s something I’d like my girls to adopt as part of habit, so please share more ideas.
    sorry to hear about low energy. it sucks and sometimes there’s little we can do about it other than taking more rest. I notice my energy level consistently declines in the second half of my cycle so I try to be more gentle with myself.

    1. Running water, power – it’s also incredible how much life falls apart without it. We don’t have wood heat, for example, so in the winter, we have very little heat in our house if the power goes out (we have a small propane fireplace, so that provides enough heat to stay warm in the main room). Our food requires refrigeration, our jobs require power. They have become necessities for life!
      I will admit reading something like Little House on the Prairie makes me feel slightly anxious because I can’t imagine living without modern amenities. It was a hard life, but there were also some things that were more simplistic (in a good way).

  7. Gosh, another power outage? I feel like you had one fairly recently, too? Those are the worst. We have had a couple in the last few years and I always stress that the power won’t come back on and the food in our fridge/freezer will spoil! Both of our outages were due something happening to the transformer in our neighborhood. One was brief, one was close to 24 hours I think!

    I do not thrift for the most part because the stores I’ve been to are not great and there are so many items that it is super overwhelming for me. But I would say that about 75% of our kids clothing is hand-me-downs! We’ve been very lucky to have generous friends pass clothes along to us and I have tried to pay them forward. Kids are often in a size for a very brief period of time so they don’t really ‘wear out’ clothes. That is not the case for our Paul – he is in sizes for soooo long. But I can see that Will is going to be a bit more typical and moves through sizes pretty quickly. I do go to a kids thrift store called “Once Upon a Child.” The prices are not nearly as low as what you pay, but they are still much lower than what I would pay for new clothes. I’ve had great luck getting shoes, boots, and winter clothing there. I’ve also bought and some some things on Facebook. I’m not on FB anymore, though, but still have an account for times when I would want to buy or sell something!

    We did an egg hunt but my MIL actually filled the eggs for us. She was hoping to join us but wasn’t feeling well enough so we facetimed with her while the boys looked for the eggs, which Phil had hid. He loved doing it but he loves doing egg hunts!

    1. We had one that lasted for DAYS when I was pregnant with Levi. It was terrible (and we did end up losing quite a bit of food – it was in late June/early July).

      I will say that kids consignment stores are a different (“easier”) shopping experience, since most of the thrift stores we frequent target adult audiences more. And it’s also nice to have an account at those places to offload things the kids have grown out of.

  8. I love thrifting but I haven’t been in ages. I hope to declutter a bit and drop off stuff at Goodwill and then go back to thrifting “new to me” stuff again… it’s always a bit of a treasure hunt.

  9. Goodness – losing power out of nowhere like that has to put such a damper on your productivity! It’s crazy how much we depend on electricity, haha. Or even the Internet. One of my friends had the Internet cut out at her house for a few days and I was like, “What do you even DO?!” You can’t watch TV. You can’t use the computer. It’s crazy to think about!

    I think it’s really cute that your kids decorated the house for Easter and sent you guys on a mini-egg hunt. What a sweet idea from them!

    1. I know, eh. When we were on PEI, I must have said at least 10 times – HOW DID PEOPLE TRAVEL BEFORE GOOGLE? Between the maps and looking up details of different stops on our trip, it would have been so different.

  10. Ack! Power (and internet) outages can be so difficult… and yet, humans lived for millennia without them. Huh. 😉 (Side note: I wonder if the monks who had to hand write books said the same thing about the printing press? “How did we EVER create books without this wonderful contraption?” I could see people who were living when new technologies reacting the way we do to these types of outages – e.g., people who made the transition from horse-and-wagon to steam train, or from horse-and-buggy to cars. It would be interesting – while they are still alive! – to interview people who went through those culture-shifting moments…)

    Well, THAT was a rabbit hole. Sorry to go off on a random tangent. I always seem to do that…

    Thrifting! Yes! I miss it so, so much. I usually donate to the thrift shop that supports our local hospice. They have lovely clothes (and other stuff, but I focus on the clothing) and the prices are nuts. $5 for women’s pants, never worn? $3 for some sweaters? I have a pile that needs to go of kitchen things and clothing and need to find the time (sigh) to take them. And then maybe spend 10 minutes seeing if anything catches my eye. 🙂 Treasure hunting, indeed!

    1. I grew up spending a month off-grid each summer at our cottage (where my parents live now; it has full electric and plumbing features these days). It was AMAZING. Planning to be without electricity is very different from when it goes out and it’s jarring to realize how much we need/expect it to always be available.

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