Best of November.

Happy December!

I used to have a cat named December. We found her in December so of course that was her name.

She was a total ass. She regularly terrorized my older cat even though he was 25 lbs of  ‘Wegie and she was just this slight, skinny black and white creature.

When you looked into her eyes it was like she had no soul. Seriously. I know that’s a weird thing to say but that’s how we all felt.

I once brought a stray kitten into the house before finding its owner and this kitten read December like a book. It was fine with Corny and Spider. They even trilled at each other a few times. As soon as it saw ‘Cem, it broke out hissing and spitting, fighting in my arms to be let down and out of the house.

She was something else…she could be sweet too. To humans. She was tiny but if she lay on you, she had this way of stretching herself out so that she was this long ribbon of cat. She liked to ride on shoulders too…

She died young of kidney failure and hers was the first “pure” animal death I was a part of. There was no guilt or questions. It was all so clear. She was suffering, I couldn’t see her suffer and so she didn’t. I grieved for her but it was a sweet sadness, a balm for my soul. I knew I’d done right by her, in life, illness and death. 

Ha! So now that you’ll all been educated about my cat: Are you excited for December?! I am. This is our last month of 2018. I’m excited about the holidays -Solstice and Jolabokaflod in particular- and a fresh new year. 

Let’s say goodbye to November 🙂 

Best… Holiday Cheer! I’m not a Christmas person but I’ve read so many news articles these days about how people who decorate for the holidays early are happier than those who don’t. I’m all about being happy so:

Witchy “Wreath”

Slightly Cockeyed Ikea Vinter Lamp
Bringing the outside in … and adding some sparkle!

Best Selfie:

Miss Sassafras is very adept with technology. When we had her over for a visit the first thing she did was grab my phone and start taking photos. She insisted on this one and I don’t know whether or not to be impressed or horrified about the whole thing.

Best dinner out:

My man and I have taken to going out for appetizers every few weeks. Most places have a “Happy Hour” during the week so it can even be economical if you time it right. Our best time this month? Appy at Brown’s Social House 

We had nachos, yam fries and Korean chicken.

The nachos were fairly standard, everything was fresh. There were a ton of toppings and nothing was soggy. That’s a huge win!

The yam fries were perfectly seasoned and came with the most delicious chipotle dipping sauce that was my favourite part of the whole meal!

The chicken was mildly spicy and tasty. Hubs said it was a bit dry and my complaint was that it didn’t hold its crunch the whole way through but to be fair it was drenched in sauce so that’s probably just the way it is. We liked it, at any rate.

They even made me a unique yet recognizable Dark and Stormy even though there was some confusion as to what that was at first. Everything was hot, fresh and tasty. Service was good and I got to enjoy a weeknight out with this guy:

Best Idea I Had This Month:

I love the feel of clean sheets. Is there anyone who doesn’t? I have a friend who changes her sheets every other day and I used to think she was nuts but; the other day I climbed into bed and was so grateful for the fresh bedding that I decided then and there to change the sheets every four days instead of every seven. I feel so self satisfied like I just invented something amazing or finally gave myself permission to really live, ha ha, Its the little things in life!

All in all, November treated me most kindly. I’m still alive and kicking 🙂

How was your month? What are you looking forward to in December?

Best of October.

Hello November!

October was a challenging month for me. It was the two-year anniversary of a trauma that re injured my brain AND it was the first whole month in which I was not in Tanzania. Waaa! I had some readjusting to do, under stressful circumstances. BUT it wasn’t horrible. I’m here, alive and kicking in November. I learned some things and made it through. My goal for next October is to thrive rather than survive. But you know that’s my goal every month!

ANYway, I got thinking about it all and the good things that happened and really wanted to showcase that. Do a roundup exercise of all the awesome. Because our brains are wired for the negative, no problem there, ha ha but the positive…that’s a thing that needs cultivating. And that’s a thing that’s really, truly worthy of my attention 🙂

The Best Savoury Thing I Ate In October:

Tanzanian Pepper Beef Stew. I invented it based on my memory of a meal I ate whilst in Tanzania. I’m fine tuning it for my recipe book and will share it eventually, but if you want to make something similar, it’s basically beef and peppers with lots of black pepper and onion. At first bite, I was proud. So proud!

The Best Sweet Thing I Ate In October:

A banana crepe with Nutella at Cora, with two dear friends on a sunny Autumn morning.

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I’m not usually a sweets person but there was something about this warm, chocolate fruity glop of deliciousness that really hit the spot. A rare but welcome thing.

The Best Hot Drink I Drank In October: My last attempt at recreating spiced tea. It was almost perfect. Perfect spice, perfect sweet… I just need to tweak the milk – I’m going to try shelf stable milk – and see if that does the trick – but drinking it whilst reading a book in the warm sunlight, knowing I was so close was dreamy. At this point if the milk doesn’t make it so, it’ll be alright because it’s a damn fine cup of tea anyway.

The Best Outing I Had In October: This is a toss-up between two. The first one was a walk in the river valley with two friends. The sun was shining, there was a chill in the air, the leaves were crunchy and we were surrounded by birds and squirrels doing important animal things. I found the BEST sticks to add to my collection and there were lost of laughs and insightful realizations and just good fun.

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The second one was a surprise motorcycle ride with my man. He came home early on a sunny afternoon and asked me out. We didn’t go anywhere special, just out and back through an area close to the city but it was fun to be zooming along in the sunny air. There was a slight chill as we sped through traffic, turning into curves with total acceptance of whatever was to be. You can’t resist the turns on a bike, even as a passenger so I really had to surrender to them. Would we crash or remain upright and keep going? Only one way to find out. That was fucking scary and liberating at the same time.

Best Social Interactions In October: My fun and chatty conversation with a lady at the transit station who gave me doughnuts. I’ll detail it fully in another post but here I can tell you that it was really nice to have an honest, kind conversation with another human being, especially as we seemed to just click in seconds. People think it’s all weirdos on transit but that’s not true. I’ve met a lot of lovely humans as well.

Going to a new book club at my local library. Everyone was open and friendly, welcoming and engaging. Their words and their actions matched and it was just a really nice night.

Smartest Thing I Did In October: Get our wills made up! The sense of relief I feel is … well, relieving. I feel just a titch more grown up 🙂 One less thing to feel anxious about.

Coolest Thing I Bought: A Namaste Skeleton!

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The dead and dying in me see the dead and dying in you. Its perfect! I buy a lot of my regular home décor during Halloween sales. Ha Ha.

Best Shows I Watched: So yes I’m totally late to this but OH EM GEE …

OUTLANDER. 

I’d tried to watch it once before with the Hubs but just couldn’t get into it. I think watching it was my man was the problem because I had no issues revisiting it on my laptop with my headphones in! I’d read the books years ago and really enjoyed them. I’m happy the series is holding my attention the same way.

Salt Fat Acid Heat 

Is another one I’m liking. It’s on Netflix and its a fancy little cooking show -kind of, sorta – about how if one masters these four elements, Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat, one can transform their meals. I really like the host Samin Nosrat and the whole thing is just really interesting. If you’re passionate about food and people and places, this is a show for you.

What were some of your highlights in October? I’d love to hear all about them!

Love and squishy hugs!

Belgium Waffle Breakfast Sandwich Review.

So, Tim Horton’s (Or Tim Hotton’s, if you’re in India) has a new menu item that I was intrigued by: The Belgium Waffle Breakfast Sandwich.

We were out and about early to pick up the granddaughter so that’s what I chose for my breakfast!

This is what it looks like on their website:

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This is what it looked like in my lap while driving (sorry, its blurry) :

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Pretty much the same, right? Not a total lie like Amarula. 

The first thing we noticed as we (Hubs and I) unwrapped them, was the smell. Solid maple. Oooooh. Then we took our first bites.

Solid sugar! Which I guess is to be expected but I was a little confused because there was no real maple flavour.

Weird, but OK.

The next thing I tasted was that pepper. I think it comes from the sausage which other than the peppery tastes was pretty much non-existent flavour wise. The egg was also there but not there and thank Goddess for the cheese because I really think its fake salty creaminess cut through some of the sugar taste. I appreciated the cheese! The waffles themselves were not entirely crisp all the way through, only so at the cross hatches. I liked that, the hubs did not. It wasn’t falling apart soft, just sort of mushy in spots and the whole thing held together well. There was an over all texture of sugary graininess. It was like eating a breakfast sandwich made between two doughnuts. It was like someone had dipped the waffles in a grainy simple syrup.

In the end, the Hubs said ,

“It’s not horrible.  I imagine its hard to keep the waffles crisp when you’re cooking for so many customers”

I liked it. I’d eat it again, if for no other reason than to see if Tim’s is consistent. I wish it was less sweet and less peppery with a more savoury profile but I thought it was good. I really liked the crisp bits at the crosshatching and the way the cheese cut through the whole thing.

I kinda wanna make my own version. Maybe watch for that here!

Winter Weather Survival Guide

I went from this:

 

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to this:

 

to this:

cleared road near trees and light post during nighttime

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

I’m having a hard time adjusting.

BUT in my 16 years of long, hard winter hating living, I’ve learned a few things a person can do make the cold seasons, a little less shitty. Sadly, I don’t have a magic wand to make it ALL go away – you could move South?- but if you do a few of these things a day, you too can survive until Spring. (Spring, Spring. Not the date on the calendar. We all know Spring doesn’t really come to Edmonton until June. Ugh)

ANYWAY. Here we go!

  1. Ignore it. Seriously. Don’t look outside. Don’t watch weather reports.  Don’t complain about it. Don’t engage in conversation about it. Don’t even acknowledge the outside world. Pretend like it doesn’t exist. The weather is like a bad ex you see on the street. Avert your eyes and walk on by. You’re better than that! They don’t deserve your attention!
  2. We may be ignoring the -20c but we’re not stupid. Buy yourself some warm gear. Spend the money, if you can, on a good jacket. Buy those cute (warm) boots, buy a colourful scarf with hats and mitts to match. Hell, buy several! The dollar store is your friend here. The trick is to put as many warm things as you can between your skin and the asshole weather. I hear layering is a good thing. Do that!
  3. Remember the transition period is the hardest part. Once you acclimatize from Summer to Fall, you’ll feel better. Let yourself be grumpy. Take extra care of you during this time. Trust me, 5c is going to start feeling warm soon and then you’ll know you’ve made it! I’m only miserable for ten minutes until I warm up! Time how long it takes you to warm out and celebrate your success as week by week you acclimatize too!
  4. Drink warm liquids. Make an event out of it. Soups, teas, coffee, whatever. Add these into your day as a time just for you. Embrace the warmth of the cup, the flavours, the coziness of the break in your day. This is how we get by, sip by sip.
  5. Movies! Movies are your friend. Preferably in your own house so you don’t have to go outside. Movies are a great way to kill a few hours of yucky weather AND if you choose a documentary you’ll learn something too! You’re going to be a genius by the time this is over!
  6. Exercise. Yeah. Lame. I know. BUT exercise improves your mental health and in order to survive something challenging, we need good mental health. There are lots of things we can do indoors. Hell, sometimes on really cold days I just walk in circles in my home, like the caged animal I am. You could go to a mall or find a gym,or go online, or lift weights or do yoga or get yourself a treadmill…move that body. Your Spring self will thank you.
  7. Take advantage of the sun. No, no. I’m not asking you to go outside. All I’m saying is that IF the sun is shining, go get yourself some rays. Sit in the window. Let your body get some Vit. D. You may very well find yourself inspired to go outside. And that’s ok too! Just don’t become one of those smug assholes who does nothing but talk about how much they loooove winter while the rest of us sit there miserable. Gah.
  8. Don’t force yourself to go outside. Don’t force yourself to love Winter. You feel what you feel and that’s OK. You might even find once you stop shoulding on yourself you WANT to go out and do things. It could happen. Yesterday I chose to walk to the mall after choosing to hole up inside the day before. Balance people! Oh. And choice. You have free will. You don’t like the cold. That’s just fine. It doesn’t make you bad or negative. It’s just a preference and its yours. ignore those smug Winter lovers, I betcha they’re lying anyway.
  9. Have you heard of Hygge? It’s a whole thing about coziness and comfort and WARMTH and LIGHT and fun with an emphasis on well-being. It’s perfectly suited for the cold season. Go find out for yourself. And then hygge it up!
  10. Stay connected with the humans. It’s very tempting to isolate oneself ( I’m looking at you Lael) Resist the urge. It just makes these dark days all the darker. Get out there and be social. However that comfortably looks to you. Doing stuff with friends, even just coffee, makes the time go by faster. My friends are sometimes the ONLY reason I make it in a day and I love them for it. And hey! YOU could be the reason someone else makes it. You never know…Just get out there, at least twice a week and be social. You can be a hermit the other 5 days. Trust me, Winter will go by faster.
  11. Hang in there. Dec 21 is the Solstice AND the start of Winter. This used to depress me until I realized that on the Solstice, THE LIGHT COMES BACK! Sure, it’s still freezing ass cold but its on its way out. The light comes back and with the light comes more hours of sun. And with more hours of sun comes the heating. And with the heating comes the Spring. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Winter? Did we even have a Winter?” Back in glorious denial but hopefully a little wiser than the year before and ready to face the cold weather once more. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Autumn To Do List

OK. NO fair!

I was all excited thinking Future Lael would be celebrating the Spring Equinox in Zanzibar today, as a Time Traveller! BUT dammit, according to my stupid and highly disappointing research, Spring in Zanzibar starts on September 23. What will Future Lael be doing on September 23?  Flying home to Autumn! I’ll be in the air 45 mins before the whole thing starts!

Boooooo!

Well, that’s if everything goes well. Life is uncertain, maybe Future Lael is trampled by an elephant or eaten by a lion. Who knows! I do know, I am very mad about not being able to brag about being in Spring one day and Autumn the next!

I do love Autumn. I think its my favourite season. There is just something about the warm days and cool nights, the way the sun sits in the sky and shines softer. The brilliant colours cannot be beat and the smells! Oh the smells of wood smoke and dying vegetation, warm tea and spicy everything. Big sweaters and boots. Cozy blankets and lazy days. Frost on the window and misty air…I am SO looking forward to honouring this new season upon us.

Remember when I was freaking out about Summer fading away? I really found that whole list making process so helpful in reminding me to savour every little thing. I don’t feel like I wasted my last days of Summer and was way more accepting of its end. (Like I had a choice!)

So I think I’ll do that again, this time for Autumn!

Autumn To-Do List

  1. Walk to 7-11 for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Seriously this is a thing. I hate PSLs anywhere else but 7-11 makes something so good, I break my own rules and have to enjoy at least one.
  2. Spend time outdoors, admiring the changing leaves, listening to them crunch underfoot and watching them swirl around in the wind.
  3. Spend a day under a blankey drinking tea and reading books.
  4. Make an apple pie.
  5. Decorate with rich warm tones. The dollar store is good for cheap finds you can set out year after year. Try to go no plastic.
  6. Pull out all the cold weather stuff and put away the warm.
  7. Buy a new sweater.
  8. Have a bonfire at a park that allows such things. Roast some weenies and drink mugs of apple cider too.
  9. Make a crumble out of any summer fruit you’ve frozen.
  10. Sunrises and Sunsets.
  11. Make and freeze batches of soup for those coming cold days.
  12. Make biscuits and eat them with butter and jam. Just because.
  13. Visit a pumpkin patch.
  14. Visit a Farmer’s Market.
  15. Try to maneuver out of a corn maze.
  16. Go for a drive in the country.
  17. Plant some bulbs.
  18. Set out bird feeders.
  19. Make candy apples.
  20. Make some chili.
  21. Celebrate Oktoberfest.
  22. Watch the birds fly south.
  23. Do a gratitude exercise.
  24. Knit a new hat,scarf and mitts.
  25. Honour your ancestors on Samhain
  26. Bring more light into your house by setting up fairy lights.
  27. Write letters to your friends…and send them!
  28. Get outside while the weather is still comfortable.
  29. Make homemade noodles.
  30. Read this bookThe Little Book of Hyggeand then Hygge it up!

What would you add to this? Please share!

 

Chickakoo Lake – September 2,2018

I know that the calendar says, Autumn is on her way but Nature says, she’s already here! The signs are everywhere. In some places you have to look carefully, and in others Fall shouts out at you. At Chickakoo Lake on Saturday, things were subtle. The tops 3/4 of the forest are lush and green but thinning. The leaves at the floor are starting to put on a pretty show. Soon the whole place will be ablaze in colour.

I adore Chickakoo Lake, there is a nice network of trails for every mood and level, fire pits and picnic tables, benches and little hidey holes. You can hike, huff and puff on your bike or even ride your horse. It’s the one place close to Edmonton I happily return to again and again. I never get bored with the place. Its different every time and always a joy.

 

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