Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  • Got milk? It’s official! John – husband-and-photography extraordinaire – is the Grand Prize winner of the 2021 Saltscapes Amateur Photography contest. Cue all the jazz hands. His acceptance speech goes out to cheeky cow #88 whose willingness to cooperate for the camera is responsible for our prize: a 2-night, all-inclusive stay in a seaside cottage at White Point Resort. Yes, please!
  • Father’s Day was nice. Some adventure, some relaxing. Church started up in-person, we went on a long family walk. There was lots of good food: chorizo sausage and eggs for breakfast, a charcuterie board for lunch (with pecan pie for dessert), and takeout sushi for supper. Hence the long walk. Our trek to George’s Island on Saturday was fun; a bit underwhelming, but I think we have pretty high adventuring expectations and we’re all glad to have crossed it off our Nova Scotia bucket list. The highlight was a guided tour of the island’s underground tunnel network, complete with 1940’s military munitions.
  • I finally settled on a pair of sneakers. Oh, the drama. I ended up buying 4 pairs and trying them all out on our treadmill. One day I was running with one brand of shoe on my left foot, and another brand on the right. When I went to the Running Room I told the sales associate: any brand but ASICS. My final pick? A pair of ASICS. They’re pink and I like them. Definitely not perfect, but they’re good enough and the decision is done. As a related aside, I learned that ASICS comes from the Latin Anima Sana In Corpore Sano – a sound mind in a sound body. A pretty lofty – but fitting – logo/mission statement for a sports apparel company.
Heading out on our daily walk to school; new sneakers + artwork by Abby
  • Saltscapes is now promoting their annual recipe contest. Spurred on by the success of her father, my favourite pint-sized baker desperately wanted in on the action. For weeks she’s been begging me to spend time helping her tweak our beloved waffle recipe to fit the contest brief. The result: a hearty (gluten-free) oatmeal waffle with blueberries and a whipped vanilla maple cream cheese topping. It was delicious! The grand prize is a brand-new dishwasher so I told her if she wins, I’ll give her a month off (one of her daily chores is unloading the dishwasher)!
  • Obligatory strawberry U-pick – check. Somehow, even if it winds up being cheaper to buy them in-store, I feel obligated to pick at least one basket of my own strawberries. A perk of maturing children: they are are a real help in the berry fields. It’s amazing how much faster, and more pleasant, berry picking is when there are no diapers to change in the field, no toddlers darting off and Godzilla-ing the berry plants.
  • And just like that the school year is practically over. We only have a handful of days left before summer vacation. It was an unusual year: masks, segregated playgrounds, and a month-long stint of at-home learning. Admission: I don’t feel prepared for summer. I had a temporary crisis last week when I realized just how unstructured our summer plans were; because of border closures and restrictions, it has been hard to plan ahead. Programs are just opening for registration, and certain activities are shuttered for the whole summer due to COVID. I feel like I’m slowly moving toward having a better grip on reaching that balance between having enough activities to keep the kids active and engaged (allowing the adults in our household to have enough time to handle work responsibilities) while leaving white space for spontaneity and real vacation.
Flashback: Day #1 of school 2020. We’ve walked the same route well over 100 times, driving to school less than a dozen mornings the WHOLE school year.

LOVE OF the week: my soup-and-sandwich oasis

I have a friend. She’s decades older than me, wiser in spades…and we’re kindred spirits. I admired her from afar for years. Then, providentially, a series of challenging life events put me directly in her path. I didn’t know her well at the time and yet she said some of the kindest words I’ve ever heard at just the right time. We’ve been dear friends ever since, and it’s downright uncanny to keep uncovering our similarities.

We don’t see each other as often as I’d like, but I carved out one last visit before summer break (when my flexibility will plummet for a while; or at least my flexibility to do things without someone under 4-foot tall in tow).

My visits to her place – we call them my “soup-and-sandwich oasis.” She makes gourmet (and healthy!) soups, always accompanied by delicious (equally gourmet) sandwiches, and the best cup of tea you’ll find anywhere. We eat and discuss and laugh. We talk about hard topics like aging and grief and mental health. We talk about God and faith and existential questions of purpose and meaning. We talk about Keto, cats, and a new lentil soup recipe she’s perfecting.

I hope everyone has their own version of this soup-and-sandwich oasis. If the opportunity presents itself, befriend someone beyond you in years. Friends come in all shapes, sizes…and ages.

Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  • I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week; aside from a sore arm, the only downside was utter exhaustion on Days #2 & 3. Bless his heart, John took the kidlets on an all-morning yardsale extravaganza. I told a friend what they were doing and she said: “I hope they find some good stuff.” Too which I retorted: “Define good.” The kids, one in particular, have a penchant for weaseling their father into purchasing items (or “treasures” as they prefer to label the assortment of trinkets that trickle home) on these excursions. They actually do have a great eye, I can’t deny that. I also can’t deny the over-flowing bookshelves and toy box. Pleasantly they did find “good” stuff – some ski poles for me, a great new outdoor chair set, and I spent the morning with my feet up (literally), sipping a delicious bulletproof coffee and revelling in the quiet.
  • I got a blog comment from SHU, blogger extraordinaire and co-host of one of my favourite podcasts, Best of Both Worlds. Epically cool.
  • Last Friday was a day off school and the kids and I were joined by friends at a local hidden gem: Pirate’s Cove. Discovered by my husband Father’s Day 2020 (a day which just so happened to coincide with a mental breakdown on my part where I couldn’t fathom helping with childcare…so he spent the entirety of Father’s Day being on solo-parenting duty, ironically enough), we’ve returned to Pirate’s Cove over and over. Being out of plain sight – I drove by the spot regularly, unawares, for years – gives it an edge of whimsy. The surrounding beach is also covered in tidal pools. Together the kids happily explored – and fell into – various tidal pools discovering mussels, crabs, and catching lots of little amphipods.
Tide pool explorers
The kids first visit to Pirate’s Cove back in June 2020.

Love of the Week: John. Wonderful husband, father, friend and an all-around great guy.

Life highlight: celebrating our 10th anniversary in Paris. Trip of a lifetime!

It’s Father’s Day this weekend, and I’m so thankful to be navigating this parenting labyrinth – and life in general – with this wonderful man by my side. Forget love of the week, this guy is the love of my life!

It will be a low-key weekend, but we’re anxiously anticipating a time (in the hopefully not-so-distant future) when we can steal away for a few days together sans kiddos.

We’ll be in the middle of a particularly tough day and one of us will just sigh and say: “Remember ____[insert trip without children in tow]?” At this point I’d take a shanty in Timbuktu…

Looking forward to celebrating his role as an awesome Papa with some delicious food – takeout sushi and pecan pie will most certainly be involved – and some local adventuring. We’ve also got tickets to visit George’s Island, recently opened up to the public. Lighthouses, a ferry, and picnicking on a sunny day – sounds hard to beat.

Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  • I didn’t even make it through my towering book stack. In a fit of desperation, I put my giant to-read pile into the library-return bag…unread. It feels like treason, but it needed to be done. In the last few years, I’ve gotten better about abandoning books after the first 50 pages or so, but these were mostly books I knew I would enjoy and had wanted to read. That’s one of the (many, many) great things about books – they’ll wait until I’m ready.
  • So, I was on a podcast. Kind of. I got a text from a friend this week saying: “I just heard you on Best of Both Worlds.” What?! In this week’s episode, Laura and Sarah answered my listener question. Aside from the trauma of hearing a recording of myself, it was a fun experience. My question shows up around the 30-minute mark.
  • Remember me mentioning the thought of picking out new running shoes is enough to drive me crazy; well, I ended buying FOUR pairs of sneakers (and counting) last Saturday. I’ve made a table and am evaluating each one on various categories, before assigning an overall comfort score. Each sporting store I visited encouraged me to take them for a test run, so I’ve been doing 20 minutes in each set of sneakers on our treadmill. For the amount of time I spend on my feet each day, it does make sense to maximize this purchase…or so I’m telling myself.
  • I went out for supper with one of my closest friends (the wise one I mentioned) this week. It was my first outdoor dining experience since the lockdown lifted and it was lovely. No kids, a great friend, wonderful conversation, and delicious food (I didn’t prepare). Per tradition, I treat this friend to supper each year around her birthday; somehow the predictability of it makes us both happier. No dithering about what gift to buy and, if we want to shake things up a bit, we can always vary the restaurant (though we rarely do). Supper was followed by some fun and productive thrifting. I get such a thrill reinventing – or at least rejuvenating – my wardrobe in an inexpensive, environmentally-friendly way.

Love(s) of the Week.

#1. Outdoor dining.

S’mores – outdoor dining at its finest.

I had my love of the week picked out (see below), but then just had to add another because eating outside really has been such a lovely addition to my life.

With the kids back in school, I’ve been eating my lunch under our apple tree. While the blooms have passed for the year, it provides great shade. I don’t use a device – no audiobooks or browsing the news. Just me in a comfy chair, enjoying my lunch break.

We picnic as a family regularly, but it’s a different (more relaxing) experience when I’m dining solo. No one is spilling their water or asking for seconds of fruit salad…and there is no bickering, complaining, food throwing or other unpleasant sibling interactions (not that my kids ever participate in these sorts of behaviours).

#2: Oat Milk

I’ve struggled with lactose intolerance since my daughter was born over a decade ago. After a lifetime of consuming milk (daily) and enjoying ice cream, cheesecake, and other delectable treats with immunity, overnight I had to rethink my diet.

It’s been a relatively seamless shift. I’m not much bothered by avoiding dairy, and when I do consume it – accidentally or on purpose – I’m lucky enough to not have any major issues.

In terms of milk substitutes, I’ve tried them all: soy, cashew, almond. For anything requiring cream I’ve made the shift to full-fat coconut milk but, for everything else, I’m a full-blown convert to oat milk. My favourite brand: Suzie’s from Costco, made with only two ingredients (oats and water, thankfully). Delicious on cereal, in baked goods, and when added to tea and coffee.

Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  • In-person schooling resumed this week in Nova Scotia. The announcement came on my birthday – best gift ever. Online learning was doable but not ideal for our family, so it was a huge relief to see the kids able to safely return to their teachers and friends to finish out the school year.
  • Last week I mentioned feeling like I needed to take a break from new books. It is a combination of information overwhelm plus the (admittedly first-world) stress of managing library due dates and prioritizing what book to read next – all while in the midst of a COVID lockdown. A few days ago I stumbled upon a set of digital Morning Pages I wrote in June 2019. I opened a day at random (I know Julia Cameron discourages re-reading, but I think I get a pass since it’s been 2 years; I also do them digitally so I’m basically a full-blown heretic anyway), and read the following: “I’ve tried to cut back on book-reading. Practically, it hasn’t meant much, but I’ve not ordered in any books for myself this week (even though lots have arrived), and I’m just going to let things come in as they do and not constantly be trying to read/learn. I feel like I can attack things full-tilt in the fall again if I want to. For now, as odd and sad as it sounds, I want to watch more mindless TV.” I’m sensing an annual pattern? Bleak Canadian midwinter = give me all the books. Short, glorious Canadian summer = give me all the Vitamin D. Once the current stack is complete (currently loving The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – how have I not read this before?), it will be back to old favourites from my bookshelf for the summer.
  • We are officially a Rubix cube family. While it warms a Mama’s heart to see her crew deep so deep in game-centric thought (see picture above; he sat on the couch for ages, mumbling moves to himself), it is making bedtimes and breakfast more of a gong show. I had two kids at the kitchen table tackling Rubix cubes this morning while their father worked on one nearby; I had to remind them to eat and we barely made it out the door in time, but I guess as obsessions go, it could be much worse. Funny aside: one day Levi was working on a cube with some friends and came racing inside to announce he had solved it in its entirety! Turns out our mischievous little scallywag had just pulled the blocks off and rearranged them manually. It was good for a laugh; he can, consistently, get 2-3 sides completed sans “cheating”.

Love of the week. Nate Bargatze specials. Comedy preferences vary so much and I guess his brand of humour could fall flat with some viewers?! But in my family, his routines are pure comedic gold. My husband and I quote some memorable line from one of his specials almost daily. Not only is he relatable, but his clean (you can watch these with the kids), deadpan standup persona is just…hilarious. I’d recommend watching the specials in order: his first (<30-minute) routine in The Standups series followed by his two specials: The Tennesee Kid and The Greatest Average American, the latter of which was released during COVID.

Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  1. It’s my birthday week. What a year this has been. Such an unusual time for our family, our country, our world. Some things have maintained a predictable rhythm, and then other things – like school, border and church closures – still feel so dystopian. Lots to reflect upon, so much to be thankful for and, yes, another year older, if not any the wiser for it…
  2. I’ve been working my way through a huge stack of library books and think I’ve reached the point where I need to back off from new reads and return to some of my favourites on the book shelf. Time to dust off The Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Something about the pressure of retaining new information and making sure I stay on top of due dates all just feels like stress I don’t need to be juggling right now.
  3. Monday was a holiday in Canada; not statutory, but the kids had the day off from online learning which felt like a reason to celebrate. We made the most of it, traveling to a local hiking trail where we proceeded to walk exactly 0.5 km before stumbling upon a stream (in the loosest sense of the word; it was more like a generous trickle). Thus ended the hike. The kids spent nearly two hours making bridges out of rocks, sticks, and moss. It was glorious. We also made a life-size version of Chutes and Ladders in the driveway. I have been sore all week from that bending, and rain unexpectedly came earlier than the original forecast had predicted, but it was worth it for the two days of fun it provided (sneaking in Math skills and exercise along the way).

Love of the Week: Randomly enough – Twizzlers. Strawberry Twizzlers.

My father has always loved candy. Gummy bears, peppermints, jelly beans. You name it, he loves it. In high school I used to walk to a local corner store and buy penny candy; in university, Saturday evening movie nights with friends were always preceded by piecing together a bag of candy at Muddy’s Convenience (Top 3: Fuzzy Peaches, Sour Patch Watermelon, Swedish Berries).

Then I had a baby and somehow candy just didn’t feel like something a healthy adult, let alone a new mother, would prioritize in her diet. I genuinely lost interest in sugar-coated sugar. But, somehow, my childhood love of licorice never wavered. My Dad always liked black licorice the best, which I tolerated as a kid. But now that I’m grown, I go only for Strawberry Twizzlers. No knock-offs, no Nibs, no strings (yech).

Not only do I still love Twizzlers, I also have very prescribed habits around consuming them. I get Twizzlers twice a year. My husband knows to buy me a package for my birthday and at Christmas.

And then I eat the entire package – by myself – in less than 24 hours. I savour most other treats, but Twizzlers I eat in bulk and allow myself to feel zero guilt. Since I have planned on receiving and eating them only twice a year, and because I genuinely love eating them in large-ish quantities, I just go for it. It is my birthday after all. . .

Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  1. I had a straightforward, but time-consuming, procedure to help deal with my anemia this week. The upside: several hours of uninterrupted reading time. Sadly, neither book I brought along quite lived up to my expectations, but such is life. On the bright side, I was at the hospital over lunchtime and it did feel luxurious to have food (that I didn’t have any hand in preparing) delivered to me while I was sitting in a “recliner” covered with a heated blanket.
  2. Monday we headed to the beach. While we prefer the white-sand beaches of the Southern Shore of Nova Scotia, this was a closer alternative. The kids enjoyed hiking along the shoreline and we spotted a small squid in the water. Though no one had bathing suits on, Levi opted to take off his shoes for a stroll through the water. This of course morphed into practically submerging himself for a swim.
  3. It’s official: we will complete the rest of the school year online. Ugh and sigh. Thankfully, the vaccine rollout is further expanding, so there is hope of reopening on the not-so-distant horizon.
  4. I finished reading The Trolley Car family to the kids…again. This is the book that sparked my lifelong obsession with reading. There were books before, and there have been thousands since, but this book will forever hold a special place in my heart. My tattered copy, gifted to my sister the year I was born, is a delight to me each time I return to it. All these decades later to be reading this book to Abby and Levi, who love it nearly as much as I did/do is pure joy.

Love of the week: Several years ago, after a week spent vacationing with my sister’s family – who all had their own Yeti’s – I decided I wanted to invest in one for myself.

Originally intended to keep my favourite hot beverages hot, I found it to be too effective. Hours after filling my Yeti with tea or coffee, I would still burn my mouth.

I pivoted and made the switch to it being my at-home water cup and have never looked back. Aside from the colour (which I love; hooray for small aesthetic decisions), my favourite feature is the magnetized lid*. It is so convenient to drink from, holds a large quantity of water (I have the 20oz tumbler and fill it at least 4 times a day), and looks as good as the day I bought it (no stains or dents).

*It is NOT leak-proof, sadly, but that is its only flaw in my eyes.

Casual Friday + Love of the Week

  1. We remain in the midst of a province-wide lockdown. As spring edges closer to summer, we’re plodding along through online learning and gathering restrictions. It’s going…okay. I think it’s safe to say we’re all weary, but it is encouraging to see the new caseload tick lower.
  2. I had the chance to talk with Laura Vanderkam about her upcoming book, Tranquility by Tuesday. I had participated in some research surveys related to content for her next book and she was interested in interviewing me further over the phone. Hearing her voice was – exhilarating. I can’t wait until 2022 when her book hits the shelves; maybe I’ll make a cameo?
  3. Last weekend we had a turkey dinner with all the fixings. To make things even more memorable, we went all out with a Christmas-in-May celebration. I dug out some random Christmas decorations, pumped Bing Crosby through the Google speakers, and the kids woke to the delicious scent profile that signals Christmas in the Frost household: cinnamon coffee cake, bacon, and eggs. Yum. A small gift for everyone helped add to the excitement. So often this type of thing falls flat. I’m happy to report this particular event was well received and the vibes of Christmas joy really did permeate the day.

Love of the week. Our local library. During the start of COVID lockdowns in March 2020, our library closed for all services. For months our winter-themed picture books (that I couldn’t return) served as a depressing reminder of lockdown. As someone who visits the library weekly, and usually has 100+ books on my holds list (really), this was a big deal.

Finding ourselves back in the midst of a full lockdown has been discouraging, but the library immediately made the switch to curbside pickup. Smiling librarians have already delivered two huge bags of reading material and it just makes me so happy.