Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa! – The Results

A week has passed. Here’s a breakdown of how the ‘no-spend, no-shop’ week went:

Monday

Spent entire $30 budget (plus $0.76 on yogurt, raspberries, milk, eggs, shortening and sugar). Hmmmm. This is not awesome. Will have to make it last and make it work. I know I can do it. Best I stay in the house as much as possible.

Ran all errands first thing in the morning. Returned an online shopping purchase that was not suitable (free, paid-for returns = zero cost to me), picked up above-noted bits and pieces and delivered something to one of the children’s schools. Then home again and stayed put.

While at home, I dug out the glue gun and repaired the kids’ bathroom hand mirror that had fallen apart months ago and as been sitting collecting dust, waiting for me to fix. Done! Made beef stew in the pressure cooker while the vegetarian chilli cooked in the slow cooker, both made with ingredients entirely on hand (no spending!).

Worked in my office, paying bills, updating various projects and compiling various items to sell and items to donate.

In the evening, I had to attend a parents’ meeting for one of the kids sports teams, so a trip to Sutton was necessary (darn!).

Overall, Monday was a win.

Tuesday

Did not drive anywhere = no gas used (yay!).

Hung the laundry to dry from the night before.

Made tacos for dinner, using tortillas from the freezer rather making fresh (preventing freezer burn = no waste = yay!).

Sold two items on Varagesale (budget booster!).

Purchased a few Christmas presents online, budgeted for and free shipping.

The weather cleared up in the afternoon, so I went for a walk. A half-hour out of the house and in the open air was good for my soul (no monetary savings, but great gains for my mental health!).

Hanging laundry and weeping willows. Same, but different.

Wednesday

Followed the menu plan, used the slow cooker and added rice for my non-potato eater. All lunches were made at home (x6).

Volunteered at one of the kids’ schools, so had to use the car. While out, also picked up much needed UV light bulb for the water treatment system. This was a budgeted for purchase.

Logged onto the library website to confirm due dates for our borrowed items to ensure no overdue fees will be incurred.

Thursday

This is always a high car-usage day. Tutoring, soccer, yoga (Miss M, not I), so my limited use of the vehicle was blown to bits today. I did however make everyone lunch and dinner, (well, I provided leftovers, since our fridge was over-flowing with them so it seemed less than thrifty to prepare yet another meal when we were so well situated for a ‘choose your own adventure’ meal night).

As always, I didn’t use the clothes dryer and hung the clothes to dry (or hanged? I don’t know, I didn’t kill them, I just dried them. Sigh. Whatever).

Overall, spending is at a all-time (ok, recent) low although I am BEYOND annoyed that the  printer ink that I ordered last week (before this spending freeze) has been held hostage by Canada Post for the entire week now. And before you ask, I did send (maybe a snarky) Tweet to CP requesting my inks release. This was my follow-up Tweet:

Annnnnnnd, no replies. Go figure. No answer to go with my no ink situation.

Friday

Jumped in the minivan to attend the Remembrance Day assembly at one of my smalls’ schools. So glad that I could be there, but it chokes me up every single time. I guess that’s a good thing, proves my heart has not yet turned completely to stone.

Did NOT follow the meal plan today (although I pulled everything out of the freezer in time to do so). Mr. KB came home WAY early from work (fire in one of the adjoining offices – all was fine, no worries) and suggested (or perhaps just said) “pizza?” And I jumped on that like it was the last train to Clarksville and said “I’ll order!” Frugal challenge FAIL. But oh so delicious in my belly, nom nom, so = WIN?

Saturday

Back on track(ish). Made dinner (used Friday night’s plan) WIN!

But…

Also headed out afterwards to pick up eggs, Diet Pepsi (stop judging me), and butter – damn you Shoppers Drug Mart and your “One Day Only” sales. Either I spent on Saturday, or spent almost $7.00 more buying the exact same items on Monday. So, I justified the heck out of it and spent the money. Still though, used two free product coupons, so the total was under $19.00. I have decided to call it a ‘winnish’ and just give myself permission to live my life.

Used the minivan twice today, once to Mass and once for my rogue shopping trip. Could have combined the trips into one (heading to SDM after church), but the children were acting particularly punchy and kicky, so decided it was probably best to feed them sooner rather than later (4:00pm Mass means we’re close to dinner time when we get home). Survival of the small people = WIN Cost of that survival = Extra trip out in vehicle.

Sunday

Mr. KB came up with the awesome idea of taking the kids up to Orillia to walk the boardwalk and explore. It was chilly but such a nice day to be out. Then he treated us to lunch (so I didn’t hurt the budget – yay!).

My smalls failing at being small but winning at being strong, smart and caring humans. 4/5 of my ❤️

After that, it was home to work around the house and bake some goodies for the week’s lunch prep. Also, made dinner using up the rest of our chicken and potato leftovers, along with some frozen veggies with a side of baking powder biscuits, we had a pseudo-chicken pot pie.

Conclusion

While I did manage to reduce our weekly shopping greatly, I did exceed my $30 goal. That said, between not needing to gas up the minivan and not spending $200 on groceries, I feel really good about how much I was able to help our budget. This week, I will need to replenish some of our fresh food options, since we are starting to run perilously low on apples (since the kids tend to go through approximately 24 pounds of them a week, including core weight, lol). I will also continue to use what we have on-hand, in the freezer and find creative ways to ensure that our food waste continues to be as low as possible.

While not using the clothes dryer is a bit of a pain, I know that I will see the savings on our next hydro bill from not running it six times a week (although always during off-peak times, it still really adds up).

Next, I think I may try to cut back on the dishwasher to every other night and wash the dishes by hand on the ‘off’ night. I know that it will save a ton of water and an hour of running the dishwasher and hot water heater (the ‘normal’ cycle takes an hour in this ancient machine). Bottom line, there is still work for me to do in order to tweak and boost and stretch the budget. 💁🏼‍♀️

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 

Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa!

Yes, I’m exaggerating. I don’t have actual money ‘woes’ (bills are paid, everyone is well-fed, clothed, entertained and the future is being saved for) but I did notice that some of my budget categories are climbing a lot faster than I can juggle the money around make them all happy again. So, in the grande scheme of woes, this is a small one, I’ll admit, but it causes me stress so I’m pumping the brakes and saying “whoa!” to the spending.

Of course, right before Christmas is a wonderful time to stop spending, that I realize, but with climbing food prices, gas prices and growing children, I think it’s time to revisit my days of yore when needs and wants were very clearly defined and gratification was delayed in the name of frugality.

This week is now a “no shopping/out of pocket spending” week. There are regular bills that need to be paid and I have allowed $30 for fresh produce and milk (if we run out), but nothing else. All meals will be prepared at home using what I have on-hand and I have already worked out the menu for the week (posted below). Between the gas savings and the grocery/household purchase savings, I think that we should (conservatively) save around $250 just by staying out of the grocery store, taking fewer trips in the minivan and using up some of the stockpile in the freezer.

I have also implemented a few other cost-savings strategies. I have set up our drying rack, so the clothes dryer has already been dormant all week (save for once, yesterday, when I did use it to dry a comforter cover that is too large for the rack). Our dryer is 21 years-old, so you know it’s a hydro hog. I also decided a while back, to stop spending the big bucks are ready-to-eat baby carrots and bought a few big bags of regular carrots (at a fraction of the price). Peeled and chopped, the kids will eat them in their school lunches just as happily as they ate the pricier ones. Taking advantage of all of the various berry sales, price matching (and coupling them with Driscoll’s coupons) has also helped to procure fresh produce for far less.

I admit to having hit the ‘Easy Button’ for dinner a little too often in the past couple of months, but I’ve tossed that button out the window now and have a solid plan in place (the plan mostly involves me not being a lazy numpty and making ALL of our meals, pretty sophisticated plan, yes?).

Dinner Menu Plan (including vegetarian options)

Sunday – Pasta with vodka sauce and garlic bread
Monday – Beef stew and vegetarian chili
Tuesday – Tacos and taco salad w/o meat
Wednesday – Chicken, potatoes,  peas and corn
Thursday – Tuna casserole
Friday – Burgers (choice of beef or black bean patties), fries and veggies
Saturday – Pizza and panzerotti night
Sunday – Spaghetti with garlic bread

Lunches are always homemade, various sandwiches, bagels, cereals, salads or last night’s leftovers. Yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables and applesauce (and whatever Halloween candy the kids have managed to hold on to – lol!) are included for snacks.

So, this week started yesterday (Sunday) and will end next Sunday. I’ll post the update on Monday (even if I fail miserably) and I will be sure to include the other cost-cutting measures that I remember or figure out to try throughout the week and whether or not any of these measures resulted in any savings (real or imagined).

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 

 

2018 Santa Claus Parades in the G.T.A. Annual List

Now that Halloween is out of the way, it is time for us to move on. The stores have been prepping us for months now (Black Friday in August – say what?) And so, without further ado, it’s parade season!

For the third year in a row, here is my good deed for the year (this appears to becoming a habit). I sure hope that Santa is paying attention because this actually took some WORK, plus I added even more parades to the list this year. Because I’m a giver. But, of course, you should always check and confirm dates and times for yourself (most of the information is linked to an official page of one type or another) before bundling up your family and heading out. Because I also sometimes tell lies.

Some of these parades include Christmas or Santa or Light Festivals. Make sure to check out the event page so that you don’t miss out on any of the fun. Listed (mostly) alphabetically, not by date.

Daytime/Earlier Start Parades:

Beach (Kingston Rd) – November 25 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Beeton – December 1 – 3:00 pm

Bobcaygeon – December 2

Bolton – December 1 – 11:00am – 12:30 pm

Burlington – December 2 – 2:00 pm

Cannington – November 24 – 11:00 am

Coboconk – December 2

Etobicoke (Lakeshore) – December 1 – 10:00 am

Fenelon Falls – November 24 (Santa Day)

Kinmount – Christmas in the Village – December 8 (full day of Santa events)

Keene – December 8

Keswick – November 17 – 1:30 pm

Kitchener – November 17 – 10:30 am

Lakefield – November 18 – 1:00 pm

Lindsay – November 18 – 2:00 pm

Maple (Vaughan)– November 25 – 2:00 pm

Markham – November 24 – 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Millbrook – December 8 – 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Milton – November 18 – 1:30 pm

Mount Albert – November 18 – 2:00 pm

Newmarket – November 17 – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Oakville – November 17 – 9:00 am

Orillia – November 25 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Pickering – November 24 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Port Hope – November 24 – 1:00 pm

Sharon (East Gwillimbury) – November 18

Streetsville – November 23-24 – No parade this year – festival instead on the 23rd and 24th. See link.

Toronto – November 18 – 12:30 pm

Tottenham – November 24 – 3:00 pm

Weston Village – November 25 – 2:00pm

Whitby – December 2 – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Night Time/Later Start Parades:

Ajax – November 24 – 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Alliston – November 24

Aurora – November 24 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Barrie – November 17 – 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Beaverton – November 17 – 7:00pm

Bradford – November 17 – 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Brampton – November 17 – 5:00pm

Cambridge – November 17 – 6:00pm

Collingwood – November 17th – 5:00 pm

Flamborough – November 24 – 6:30pm

Hamilton – November 17 – 4:30pm

Omemee – December 1

Orangeville – November 17 – 4:30pm

Oshawa – November 17 – 6:00pm

Peterborough – December 1 – 4:45pm

Port Perry – December 1 – 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Richmond Hill – November 18 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Schomberg (King City) – December 1- 4:00pm (Farmer’s Parade of Lights at 8:00pm)

Sunderland – December 8  – 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Sutton – December 1 – 5:00pm

Unionville – December 7 – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Wasaga Beach – November 24 – 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Woodville – December 2 – 6:30pm

So, there you have it. If you know of another parade that should be added to the list, send it to me, or leave a comment below and I’ll see that it’s added.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Prepare thee now, post-haste, to prance merrily along the path of least resistance to your desired parade, spike thou hot chocolate with some peppermint schnapps (non-drivers only!) and Christmas on, my friends!

~A. 🤶🏻🎅🏻

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all the awesomeness that I can pull off.

Mourning the end of my Fertility chapter and sharing my internal conversation, with hope.

I often have full blown conversations in my head (well, when we’re all lucky they stay in my head anyway). I provide the dialogue for both sides of the conversation, yours and mine. In this context, “you” aren’t you though, “you” are what I imagine anyone outside of myself would say, listening to me talk. This conversation is one that has been playing, over and over in my mind for months, perhaps even years (before the “baby” door was forever closed, maybe?) and today I think that if I share it here, then just maybe, my mind will resolve the conversation and move onto one that is more productive and positive, less pitiful, woeful and futile. Or maybe it won’t, maybe this melancholy broken record will just become part of my new normal internal dialogue. Sometimes, for the smaller things that gnaw at my soul, just getting it off my chest is enough to lay it to rest but for the bigger things, I can say from experience, it can take years of writing, talking, crying and sorting through the muck in order to find a peaceful resolution.

On the daily, it goes something like this:

“I mourn the loss of my fertility. I’ll never feel all of those pregnancy feelings or delivery another baby.” I cry to my myself during those moments when either my house or my mind is quiet.

“How can that be? How selfish can you be?” You ask. “You have a handful of kids and you are constantly running around, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, mending, tearing out your hair, complaining, not sleeping, and almost never really ever done with a task (there is always more laundry to do, food to prepare, carpets to vacuum, errands to run). You are forever thinking about the time when you’ll have the time to achieve a few of your other goals. Goals other than elementary school homework, edible packed lunches and motherhood. You have enough kids, they’re growing up, life is finally about more than wiping bottoms, noses and tears – they can now do most of that stuff themselves. It’s great! Your kids are becoming competent humans, just what you always wanted them to be!”

“True, true,” I say, nodding my head and then shaking it violently back and forth. “But that changes nothing. Their growth feeds my grief. My grief for what is no longer as much as it grows my pride in them. What I would not give to have that one last pregnancy. That one last bump. The discomfort of pregnancy-induced heartburn, swollen limbs and looser joints. One last time to feel that “that’s it! I’m done being pregnant – this baby needs to evacuate now!” feeling. That one last precious (and quick) delivery and that wrinkly, squinty and puckered newborn brow to kiss. Those fingers and toes to count, that tiny human to marvel at. Priceless. To have that one last infant to nurse and cuddle and carry – EVERYWHERE. I wouldn’t trade what I have or who I have, but I would be completely complete, given just one last turn.”

“So have one then, what’s one more? You want it so badly, just do it. Or is it menopause? It’s got to be, doesn’t it?” You ask.

“No, no, not at all. I am not menopausal or even peri-menopausal. My cycle is as predictable and regular as ever. My body still functions. My marriage still functions. My ova though, they are past their ‘sell-by’ date and  there is nothing left of them to create a viable, healthy human anymore. And it is cruel for my body to behave like that of a younger, fertile version of myself and deprive me of that one last chance. Better ‘the change’ happen and at least give me the reprieve of the monthly bleeding and bloating with no ‘prize’ for my troubles and inconvenience.”

You, now exasperated “Well, get on with things then. Sounds like unless you’re willing to take some extreme and expensive measures, your baby-making days are behind you. Suck it up, Buttercup. You’ve caught your quota, time to pack up and go home, as the saying goes.”

Me, now defensive and defeated, “yes, I know that. I understand all of that. And I fight against feeling sad and distraught and I feel a right fool for feeling this way at all. I KNOW how blessed I am to have my children, I know how blessed I am to have the family that I have and I understand just how stupid and selfish and ridiculous it is, that I AM, for feeling this way. But I feel it anyway. Grief and mourning are real feelings, whether anyone believes I have a reason to feel this way is neither here nor there, because, at the end of the day, I DO feel this way. The puzzle for me then is to figure out how to have these feelings without letting them own me or stop me from living out the rest of my life with light, love and hope, rather than regret, loss and sadness.”

You, really fed up now, “Focus on the positive, you idiot! You have FIVE frickin’ kids. Each of them are healthy. Each of them are intelligent. Each of them has a kind and generous heart. Each of them are lovely (not a Quasimodo among the bunch). And you get to actively participate in their growing up, you get to help shape them into healthy, productive and kind humans. YOU get to do that, YOU get that privilege. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and count your blessings. ALL OF THEM. Babies you do not have, who did not make it to term, or were never conceived to begin with were not meant to be with you, they were not part of the plan for you. Everything happens for a reason, even sad things. The sooner you accept that and work within the light and blessed space you have, the sooner you will realize that while six may have been your dream, five is your perfect space.”

You continue, tired at this point with my tears and endlessly sad face, “Stop being sad when you hear news of another woman your age (give or take) being pregnant or having a baby. Be happy for her, for she is creating her perfect place. Maybe it is her first baby, maybe it is her last, it matters not, because it is part of the plan for her life. Be happy for yourself because you have your perfect place among a family who loves and needs you, a family who looks to you to steer the ship. You were a mother when you had but one baby, one child. You felt complete and never ‘less than’ other mothers with more children. Think back to that young woman, and remember how proud, competent and sure of yourself you felt. That is still you, you just look a lot older, fatter and more tired now and you have somehow figured out that you don’t always need to drown your fries with ketchup before you eat them. Sometimes, french fries are perfect just as they are. Like you, like your family, perfect in your imperfection.” You say.

“Thank you,” I say. “I needed that,” and I get on with my day, until next time.

🖤

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

Live update: I’m eating this plate of marshmallows

Live update:

I’m eating this plate of marshmallows for lunch because:

a) I’ve made myself sad writing a different blog post and like an idiot did so without first checking to ensure that I had any scrap of chocolate in the house;

b) the bag was already open, so I’m being super frugal by eating them before they go hard, stale and nasty (housewifing win right there);

c) because the kids are at school so I don’t have the set a good example for ANYBODY; and

d) today, until 4pm, this is what passes for adulting in my world.

Live update, Part 2

Just sitting here in the ‘wick, living my best life ya’ll. #SorryNotSorry #NotEvenABit

The marshmallows have been eaten. And I’m not even sorry.

And don’t even bother hatin’ on my Diego plate. It’s vintage, circa 2007, no chips or cracks and believe me, we have thrown this sucker around plenty. Beat that.

❤️
~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

Subtly, slowly, my life is changing. Oh, and Pax turns 10

One of the alarming thoughts that wakes me from my deepest sleeps in the middle of the night has come to fruition. To some, this may sound stupid and I accept that but I am sharing this anyway.

The past few days I’ve been grappling with the fact that my smalls are considerably less small than they were when I started blogging and as of today, I have but ONE child left whose age is summed up by a single digit. The rest have all joined the double-digit club and I’m struggling with this reality.

My youngest son turned 10 this afternoon and his mother is, as usual, a virtual mess of emotions.

I am beyond happy that they are all growing, healthy, smart and strong. At the same time, I feel incredibly sad that they are no longer small and scrumptious. They are, obviously, still young, they are still children and will always be my babies, but even I must admit that there is not an actual baby among them anymore and that makes my heart hurt in ways that I feel stupid for admitting.

So today, I try really hard to keep my head in the birthday game. Baking and (poorly) decorating cakes, preparing the requested birthday dinner, hunting down the perfect birthday gift, attaching the specially chosen helium balloon to his chair and telling myself that tears are NOT appropriate today. Today is for happiness. Today marks one of the very best and happiest days of my life, the day I finally came face-to-face with his perfect little self.

So why then, does it feel like a very long chapter of my life is closing and moving me, not so gently, onto another stage of life? A stage of life for which I feel ill-prepared and completely not interested in entering.

I have to Scarlet O’Hara this issue and think about it tomorrow. Today, the only thing that I know for sure is that today is NOT my day. This is not my day to show sadness, sorrow or pain. This day is decidedly NOT about me. Today is my Paxton’s day to smile, giggle, eat hot dogs and cake (with luck, not at the same time) and open presents and burst with excitement when he sees what hides beneath the wrapping paper. Today is his day to feel the pride of being 10, to feel all the very big feelings of being bigger, older, faster, and smarter than he felt yesterday (that extra digit can do that to a kid), but also, because today he is all of those things.

And today, like every yesterday and every tomorrow, I hold dear to heart that whatever else is going for me, he just makes my life happy. ❤️

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

The day when enough was enough, my girl came through.

This sign is now posted on our front door.

The sign reads:
“We are happy at our church. We don’t want to chage [sic] at all our faith.”

 

As is happens, my eight-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands after being sequestered once again, with her brothers and mother, in the living room, hiding from the JW’s who were knocking determinedly on our front door last week. I thought that I had the JW visits handled, but I was WRONG.

Yes, I could have answered the door (again) and told them that we are not interested in discussing their religion with them (again) but I did not. I was in my jammies, I was a hot mess without the ‘hot’ bit and I just did not have it in me to slap a smile on my face and be pleasant in that moment. So I hurried my youngest four children into the living room and read to them from a David Walliams book we’ve been reading together until I was sure the JW’s had left.

And that’s when it happened.

That is when my eight-year-old decided that she was done being pushed around and set about writing up and posting this notice in our front door. It is completely her own phrasing and spelling and I just love it.

I love it for how well it shows her spirit. I love it for the conviction in her faith and beliefs that she is not afraid to own and I love it for the succinct manner in which she expressed her message. I love that she was smiling and happy while still being quietly fierce while creating her sign.

I’m telling you the truth now, every day, at least one of my children reminds me that he or she is absolutely #Goals for me. And then, of course, one of them will scream, cry or smack one of the others and the pandemonium that ensues wipes my memory clean of that fact. So, I’m putting this here to serve as a reminder to myself.

My other smalls want to post their own signs as well, but I think that for now, we’ll just let this one ride and see what happens. I have never hidden the fact that I have only the loosest of grips on normalcy and if I start posting all kinds of signs on our front door, it will only be a matter of time before I’m setting up billboards on the front lawn and really speaking my mind. And trust me, nobody is ready for that day.

As for this sign? Out of the mouth of babes, my friends.

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

Sometimes, while driving, the “JERK!” is you. This time it was me.

Dear Guy in the Pick up Truck Leaving the Parking Lot,

The time was approximately 6:43pm on Thursday evening. I was pulling into the parking lot off of Civic Centre Road, while you were waiting to pull out of the same  parking lot onto the road. I failed to signal my turn. It was 28C (after reaching a high of 35C earlier in the day) and both of my front windows were open. As I turned into the lot, you said, loudly enough to ensure that I heard you, “nice signal.” Kind of snide, maybe unnecessary, definitely infuriating, but you weren’t wrong. I was.

Without hesitation or a moment of self-reflection, and for that split second, without regret I answered, equally snidely and loudly enough to ensure that you heard me, “Oh, shut up!” Then, for a few seconds, we were driving parallel to one another, you on the road, me in the parking lot, separated by the tree-lined grassy swale. I saw you look over and with my arm out the window, hanging down the side of my door (out of sight of my children, but still, right?), I flipped you off.

A moment later, I parked my minivan, unpacked my brood, found a spot at a picnic table beside the pitch my son would be playing at and finally, after a very long, full day that started at 6:30 am with four kids, and peaked three hours before soccer with a drive to and from Thornhill during rush hour, while one kid puked in a  bag and the other three alternated between squabbling, singing too loudly and starting car games with ever-changing rules (sometimes all at once), I finally had a moment to breathe in deeply.

And then I was mortified. At the exchange that I had just participated in and escalated with you, a complete stranger. So I am writing this letter of apology, to you, the guy in the pick up truck, leaving the soccer fields by the ROC on Thursday evening. I was in the wrong, I didn’t signal my turn and caused you to delay your turn onto the roadway unnecessarily. What if you were just trying to get home after a long day of your own? In that moment, I didn’t care. I was fed up with being in a car, I was inconsiderate and thoughtless. Rather than throwing out a quick (yet sincere) apology to acknowledge how I inconvenienced you, I reacted defensively, even aggressively. In that nano-second, I justified it with righteous indignation  because how dare YOU have the NERVE to call me out on my mistake/shitty choice/inconsiderate action?

I behaved in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything that I believe in. In direct opposition to the lessons that I spend my days teaching and encouraging my children to learn about how to react to criticism, real or imagined, deserved or harsh. About how to deal with conflict and how to treat others.

So, I owe you an apology. I am sorry. The lady in the blue minivan was 100% in the wrong and you were right.

I will use this event as a learning moment for myself and endeavour to govern myself with the dignity, grace and kindness to which I aspire. Especially in situations when I’m (rightfully) called out for being the jerk.

I wish you a trouble-free day on the roads and the safest travels.

Yours truly,
The imperfect, over-tired, over-heated, and grumpy minivan driver.

P.S. If it makes you feel any better, I was faced with the most obnoxious and unnecessary high beams from an oncoming car on the way home later that evening. I pulled over to the side of the road to wait (driving blind is ill-advised) and didn’t flip the bird as they passed.

***************************

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

 

Deep Dish Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Despite my best efforts, I lose a majority of scraps of paper that I commit very important information on. This has led me to ditching random scraps and jotting everything down in notebooks. Since this recipe still only exists in scrap paper form, I’m adding it here so that I can’t possibly lose it. I’ve hung onto the printed off email for 11 years now but my lucky streak could end at any moment. I know my limitations.

This recipe was emailed to my husband by his mum, at his request, when we first got married. I’ve pretty much used it ever since. We have some amazing rhubarb plants that provide us with lots of organic rhubarb year after year with zero effort or cost to us. They are givers and we are grateful receivers. I use the rhubarb to make pie, bread, and an altered version to apple cripple top. It’s all good, all the time.

Farmer Miranda with the rhubarb harvest, August 2017

Deep Dish Rhubarb Single Crust Pie

Preheat oven to 400F

Prepare filling and then the pastry.

Filling
9-11 cups 1-inch sliced rhubarb
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 grated orange peel
8 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold shortening (can use part butter, part shortening, if preferred)
4-5 Tbsp very cold water

Washed stalks then chopped and ready for pie.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all pie filling ingredients well. Transfer into a deep dish (When I don’t draw a blank and screw it up, I use a 5-qt cast iron dutch oven, without the lid).

Roll out your pastry large enough to lay on top of the rhubarb flat to the sides of the pan and up slightly over the top edge of the pan. Crimp to hold the pastry to the lip of the pan as the rhubarb cooks down. Using a sharp knife, slice a few vents into the pastry.

Bake at 400F for 40-60 minutes (depending on how “done” you like your pastry.

Enjoy!

Notes: Combine all pastry ingredients (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer) until a dough forms. Having chunks of butter or shortening in the dough is perfectly fine and in some cases preferable, as it will help to create a bit of ‘flake’ in your crust. Roll out about 1-inch larger than the circumstance of the pan you are using so that it will sink with the filling as it bakes.

For a regular pie, reduce your filling ingredients to:
3 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
3 Tbsp flour
dash of salt

For a double crust pie, double your pastry ingredients and use a traditional pie plate.

 

I tried to buy something and failed. Of course.

Anyone who knows me (all three of you), knows that I am obsessive about wearing my sunglasses anytime I am outside. Sunny, cloudy, sun up, sun down, I have them on. I stop just shy of  pulling a Corey Hart and wearing them at night, but I am not far off some days. Aside from how badly the sunlight just plain hurts my eyes, I have been lead to believe that people with blue eyes are more prone to sun-related eye damage and disease (and oh, hey, lookit here, it just may be true!) and I aim to keep my eyesight intact for the duration of my breathing days.

Accepting the truth of my previous statements, one would think that I must invest quite a tidy sum in sunglasses, yes? Well, one would be wrong. For the past ten years, I have been wearing $5.00/pair Giant Tiger sunglasses, and I have purchased four pairs (two identical pairs at a time) over the course of those years. They are durable, claim UVA/UVB protection on the tag, and have nice, dark lenses. Perfect. Or, they were until recently when I realized that the coating on my last surviving pair is bubbling and peeling off. Ugh.

I’ve now officially turned the mundane details of my life into a real thing. Someone save me from myself.

For the past three or so years, I have been debating with myself, thinking that just maybe it is time to buy actual real, quality adult sunglasses. To that end, I regularly check Costco online and this week, when I did, I found these with a cash and carry price in-store of $79.99. Expensive enough to qualify as ‘real adult sunglasses’ but not so expensive as to send me into a full-blown anxiety attack over spending so much money on something I could buy for $5.

Made in Italy. Nice and dark, nothing too flashy (don’t want anything TOO fancy that will compete with my sparkling personality), and just 80’s enough that they make me crave leg warmers and mini skirts again.

As luck would have it, our children continue refusing to give up eating and our rapidly depleting fresh food supply dictated that I was due for a shopping trip to Newmarket, and Costco was on my list of places to hit (5 lbs of organic baby carrots, you say? Yes, please!). So off I went. I pulled into the parking lot, scored a sweet parking spot without having to fist fight a senior citizen for it and wheeled my cart straight over to the optical  counter. I found the sunglasses, tried them on, decided that while I liked the frames, I hated the solid grey arms, so I tried the same pair in a slightly different colour and decided it was a go. I anted up my credit card to the tune of $90+ (tax, dontchu know?), I finished the rest of my shopping (baby carrots, 2 lbs of spinach, parmesan cheese, Skinny Pop (on sale!) and headed back to the mama-van.

It was a super bright and sunny day so I decided rather than saving my new sunglasses for another day (which historically is my m.o. with new things), that I was going to wear them right away. I unzipped the clunky hard case they come in, removed them from the plastic bag and cardboard packaging, put them on and, hated them instantly. The arms were SO long, much longer than the ones that I tried on in the store. They sat funny (and no, it wasn’t just my face, I checked in the visor mirror, the glasses were wonkier than my face). They just didn’t feel right. I debated with myself for a few seconds (I think I may do this more often than is healthy), and then jumped out of the van, locked up and headed back inside to return my disappointing purchase.

The clerk who sold me the glasses was busy with another customer by this time, but another clerk listened to my story, then opened the glasses to look at them, while telling me “you know, we can adjust them” as they fell from  her hand and hit the cement floor, hard. Um, no thanks. I for sure do not want them now that you’ve dropped them on the floor. But I had to say that politely because a) my money had not yet been refunded and b) she was bigger than me. The clerk bent down to pick them up, without a word, all the while acting like she didn’t just drop them, blam! on the floor. She extended the arms and said “these are  stretched out. You know we can still adjust them.” She gave me another pointed look.

Proud to say that I was very adult in that moment and did not scoff, roll my eyes and start my response with “ah, yeah but duh, you just frickin’ dropped them on the floor” but rather, maintaining eye contact (but totally not a creepy, serial killer gaze) I said “actually, this is a rather big purchase for me, and I think that I would like to give it some more thought before making my final decision. Thank you anyway though!” She looked at me like I was a dirty criminal who had stretched out the glasses and was now trying to pull a fast one over on her, but Costco policy reigned supreme and my money was refunded.

And that, long and drawn out story is why I am still wearing my five-dolla Giant Tiger shades and also why it is a very good thing (for me) that society defines ‘adult’ by a person’s chronological rather than mental age, or I would be so totally kicked outta da club.

Crying with my sunglasses on is still better than not having any sunglasses at all. That’s what is called being positive, Janet.

~A.