Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Grandson!

Meet my 1st grandson ...

Born December 23, 2013 at approx 9:10 am NL time -- 7 lb 14 oz.  Mama's doing fine. 

His name?  Dante Maximus.  Yep!  That quite a handle for a little guy.  But with a strong name like that, one can pray that he will fill the boots he's been placed in. I'm in love and I've only just seen him via FB photo.  

What a wonderful Christmas gift.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The All Canadian 12 Days of Christmas

In honor of getting the tree up this weekend (which involved wine spritzers, popcorn shrimp and goat cheese & pepper jelly) AND in honor of the first snow day for the kids this season, I present to you:

The All Canadian 12 Days of Christmas

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Sealed" with a Kiss!

I think that most people who put up Christmas trees have certain ornaments that are extra special to them.  I've highlighted some of mine in past Xmas posts, so at the risk of being boring, I won't repeat myself.   (At least not today:  I make no promises for when we decorate the tree this weekend!)

Marie from Oak Cottage moved houses in the past year and is missing some beloved ornaments that are, as is usually the case, irreplaceable.  She hopes they aren't lost forever. This got me thinking about people who lose their houses to fire and how it's always the little things that they grieve the most.

I'm not financially able to take vacations to far away places any longer.  But I do try to go somewhere special every few years; and while I'm gone, I buy a Xmas ornament so every year I can relive the happy memories.  My tree also has some unique "ornaments" to commemorate my darling international children -- key chains, cardboard drawings, etc. 

I visited a friend in Cape Breton in the summer of 2012, and we had a wonderful 5 days of hiking and beach walks and relaxation.  During one of our beach visits after a huge storm had blown through a month earlier, we found the beach littered with seal carcases, poor dears!  Not the most picturesque setting, but they didn't smell and it certainly was memorable.  Towards the end of the trip, I found the perfect Xmas ornament -- a glass seal (much like the one here but in brown tones and covered with glitter).   I remember looking at it again when I unpacked ....... and that's the last I saw of it!  It was in a plain brown paper bag, so I'm assuming I inadvertently threw it out with the trash.  Boo hoo!  I've searched everywhere for another pretty seal, but I've had no luck to date.  

I bought a few ornaments during our travels in NL this past summer.  And I'm looking forward to those memories joining the many others that will hang on this year's tree.  But even though I hardly had him for longer than a week, that little seal ornament is still missed! 

I feel for you, Marie!  

What about you guys:  anyone else missing special ornaments?  Tell me about them so we can grieve together.

Monday, December 9, 2013

During this season of Peace, let it be on earth and in us as well.

My local radio station asked this morning for comments on what you love and hate about Christmas.

What I love about Christmas was easy:

I love the family being together.
I love the tree -- the size, the smell, the twinkling lights, the special ornaments with memories attached.

I love my faith, my church family and my relationship with God.  The "reason for the season" is very real for me.

And of course there's the wonderful food, the carols, the thoughtful gifts to as well as from others, the blessing of being able to take a week off work and relax.  I am extremely fortunate.

I can't think of anything that I hate about Christmas ..... unless I include that my daughter can't make it home or that I can't be with my parents and family in NL.  (Haven't figured out how to be 2 places at once yet.)  

Some people commented and said they hate the commercialism of Christmas.  That bothers me, but I don't allow it to directly affect me.  I shop early; and even when I have to go to the mall, I talk to myself before hand and say "Now you know there'll be traffic jams; and there'll be crowds of people; and it will take you ages to check out."  So, I psyche myself up and find ways to make it easier.  (Great time to catch up on Hollywoods gossip at the checkout line or begin eating the bag of chips in your cart!)  

People said they hated the "expectations" of Christmas. I learned years ago about the disappointment connected with expectations.  Now, I try to keep my expectation level at enjoying my children with the time they give me and/or the happiness they show at being with friends; enjoying what baking I've managed to do; enjoying being alive as opposed to having all my body parts function as they once did.  (And yes, even enjoying that glass or 2 of wine with the necessary Malox chaser!!!) 

If something begins to bother me, I try to find a way to "release it to the universe" and let it go.  That's one thing that aging teaches you is that you need to enjoy life while you have it in whatever capacity you can.  I soak up all the positive, laugh at myself, remember how wonderfully blessed I am and eat try to let the hustle and bustle pass me by.  

But I know that not everyone is as fortunate as I am.  There are those who cringe when Christmas rolls around:  not the grinches who won't let themselves enjoy Christmas but those with legitimate reasons that rob their joy. 
People whose loved ones die unexpectedly as they're preparing for a Merry Christmas.
- People who have lost loved ones in previous years and relive the anniversary of that death year after year.  
- People who don't have loving families or a support system; who suffer from depression or mental illness; who live in terrible hardship and need and want.   
- People whose childhood memories of Christmas are so terrible  that it affects them for the rest of their lives. 

I ache for those people.  Because even if you strip away the tree and the gifts and the special food, this is still a season of joy with reason to  celebrate.  

The "Peace on Earth" that the stories and songs talk about should extend to the hearts and minds of all people. And I hate that it doesn't.

That's the only thing I don't like about Christmas.  

How about you?  Are there things you really hate about Christmas?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Put my "man" sweater on today ....

It's still green .... well okay, more brown ... outside.  Not a "blade" of snow, as they say in Newfoundland.  Certainly doesn't look like Christmas here in Nova Scotia.

I haven't a Christmas decoration up inside or outside other than the pine wreath I bought at last Saturday's craft market.  I've been so busy lately.

When I'm busy, I don't eat right. When I don't eat right, I don't sleep
well.  When I don't sleep well, my hands and wrists ache in the morning from arthritis and I shlump at work.  When I ache and shlump, I crave the wrong kind of food; and then my emergency supply of food at work (granola bars, chocolate covered almonds, peanuts, etc) gets depleted.  When I eat too much of that stuff, I bloat and feel fat.  As it's cold at work, I then resort to wearing my "man" sweater which is always hanging in the stock room.

Kinda looks like this one..... except with less shape and more nubbles!

It's not really attractive and doesn't go with my little black pencil skirts and kitten heels.  But when I wear it, I don't have to hold my stomach in ---- the stomach full of granola bars and microwave popcorn!

In honor of my faithful "man" sweater, and to give you a break from Christmas music, here's an oldie:

"The Sweater Song" by Meryn Cadell!  

Let's see if you can relate!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy American Thanksgiving

It's American Thanksgiving.  You all have the day off and are all sitting 'round your tables eating turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and watching football and getting ready for your Black Friday sales tomorrow .... and just generally being jolly and fat and happy!

What am I doing?  
I'm sitting here at my office job trying to work while contemplating the tuna sandwich I'll have for lunch (and my chocolate-covered granola bar!  Whoop!  Whoop!) feeling jealous and sighing.

When October comes round and I celebrate our Canadian thanksgiving .... with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and joy and jollity ..... I smile and gloat while smuggly saying to myself:

"I wonder what my American brothers and sisters to the south are eating today!"  

Then I laugh malignantly 
... muhahahahahaha ...
(like Dr Evil) .....

'cause I can be mean like that sometimes!

But yeah; karma comes back eventually and bites us all in the bum!

Enjoy your day!

I'm thankful today for blogging friends who know I'm just kidding.        Sort-of!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I hate it when my food has eyes!

This past Friday, we received the last ever care package from Korea that Elly will receive here in Nova Scotia.  (She's taking early graduation and leaving me at the end of January.  But let's not get me crying :(    Boohoo!  She'll come back to Canada for college AND back to her NS home for the holidays.)  

Care packages from Korea are always welcome in my house.   It means good food:  
.......  like these Korean snacks that will get devoured while playing Skipbo over Christmas (if they make it that long!) 
..... and a huge box containing a huge can of delicious kimchi, homemade by Elly's mother.  She made it with lots of love .... and lots of gochuchang 'cause Man! It is soooo spicy hot!

There were also some things I'd never tried before; and me?  I'm game to try just about anything!  

Dinner that evening was (working from the top and going counter-clockwise):
  • steamed brown Korean rice = yum;
  • topped with pieces of Korean kim (nori) = yum;
  • with a side of sweet 'n' crunchy lotus root = yum;
  • and some sweet 'n' spicy daikon radish kimchi = yum;
  • AND ..... Wait a minute!  What the heck are those on my plate?  Those little silver creatures with the wee eyes?
THOSE, my friends, are dried anchovies with peanuts in a sweet soy marinade.  Seriously, does anyone like anchovies, let alone dried and crunchy with their little beady eyes staring back at you?  
But being the scientifically-minded gal that I am, and seeing as I'd already put myself out there by stating that "I'll try anything", I went for it.  And surprisingly, they were delicious.  You taste peanut and salt and soy and crunch and thankfully not what you'd expect from a wee little fish head.  Really, really yummy!

The next day, I finally cooked a dish I'd been meaning to for a few months:  black sesame porridge or Heukimja-Juk.   You start by soaking short grain rice for 3 hours; then you toast black sesame seeds, grind them together in the blender and cook slowly and carefully until it has thickened.  Sprinkle with a few pine nuts ..... or create a happy face like Elly did.
Elly said it reminded her of being a little sick girl at home and her Mom would take care of her and serve her porridges like this (and one made with abalone??).  

It was really good; a little bland but nothing a dribble of honey didn't fix.  After some more research online, I found that I can make it with regular sesame seeds (much less expensive), brown rice, a little ground chia seeds and coconut sugar for a very tasty nutritious breakfast.  (I figure a sprinkle of heart-healthy dark chocolate chips wouldn't go amiss either!)

Eating can be such a fun and tasty adventure.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Missing Chapters in the Parenting Handbook

I've always thought I was a good mother.  I went into the job  eagerly and loved almost every moment of it.  (The many sleepless nights and being puked and pooped on weren't that much fun.)  And knowing that my 3 daughters know the goodness of their God, that they are kind, loving and are learning how to be responsible for themselves and their actions also speaks well of the way they were raised.  They are great kids, and I am extremely proud of them!

Mind you, I was far from perfect as a mother.  My lovely Ex got top marks on loving them and accepting them for who they were; I wasn't very good at that until experience knocked some sense into my head.  But then he was lacking in the discipline, consistency and expectation departments; and I was good at those things.  We balanced each other out, he and I.  

Then all too soon, he died; and I had to manage the job solo (with the love, support and prayers of family and friends)

Very hard work alone!

So, when the last one graduated, I smiled and said to myself:

"You did it, Sandy!  No one is pregnant or in jail.  Good job!" 
 (High fived myself too.)

So, I should feel satisfied, right?  I mean, my life is good; there are no real reasons for me to feel distressed.

But often lately, even in the middle of my lovely life, and often even in the midst of people and busy-ness, I am overcome with nostalgia and longing for my girls.  I stop suddenly and think "OMG!  I need them!"  I don't want them home with me (one doesn't want to go THAT far!); but I want them "near".

I long to hear their voices.
     I taught them to strike out on their own and learn through making mistakes.  I taught them how to make good friends and to be a good friend; to find a job, to fend for themselves; to remember to take care of themselves physically and emotionally.  I forgot that all this would take time and energy which meant less of the same to be spent on Mama. 

I long to touch them.  
     I taught them to have dreams and to pursue them.  "Travel!"  I said.  "See as much of your world -- big or small -- as you can!"  I told them time and time again "Get off your arse!  Don't feel sorry for yourself; get out there and do, not just for you but for others too!"    But I was so busy teaching them to 'go for it' that I forgot that I'd still be here at home; and that their wonderful, busy lives meant that I wouldn't see them as often as I might want to.  

Did I miss some chapters in the unwritten parenting book?

You know:  the one that explains how to cut the apron strings without having them whip back and tangle me up?  Where was the part that showed me how to teach them to stay really connected to Mama while being independent at the same time?  Where was the chapter that would warn me that even when we're all of us grown and happy, I'd still ache to cuddle with them. 

This aging process is difficult -- for me and for them as well, I suppose!  My babies are not babies any longer ....... which is good, because I can't do that again at this age!

But ohhhhh!  

To have them stop being adults for an hour or so and just let me rock them and nuzzle their sweet smelling necks!  

That might suffice! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


O tanjō-bi omedetōgozaimasu
or as we in the Western world say "Happy Birthday"
to my darling Japanese daughter, Ayaka.

One of the birthday traditions in my house has always been to eat whatever you want on your birthday:  you choose the meal and the cake, and I make it for you.  A labor of delicious love. And I've never changed that tradition for my international daughters.  It gives me an awesome opportunity to try some recipes that I've never done before.

Ayaka requested Tonkgatsu for her birthday meal -- Panko-breaded, fried pork cutlets.   I never fry food ..... but that doesn't mean I don't like it!

As it's a special occasion, we use the "good" dishes.
My new found love of Asian food, frequent trips to Value Village and gifts from my Asian children enabled me to set a pretty table.
I served the tonkgatsu as it's done in Japan:  with steamed rice, simple shredded Chinese cabbage and a homemade sauce.  I also prepared a miso soup.

The tonkgatsu was so delicious!  It was juicy and tender; and the sauce (consisting of ketchup, soy sauce, Mirin, Worchestershire and grated ginger) added just enough zing without being overpowering to the delicate Panko breading. Definitely a dish to do again.

After much discussion among the 3 of us, and despite Elly's best attempts to convince her to have a cheesecake (Elly's answer to EVERY dessert issue!), Ayaka chose this: 
 A light and airy orange chiffon cake, tunneled out and filled with fruit and whipped cream.  Another excellent selection!  

We then crawled to the living room, groaning with contentment, for the opening of gifts.

Here is a happy 17 year old!

And behind the camera, unseen by you all, are a happy, bulging Korean sister and Canadian mother.

Yeah ....... tomorrow ...... 
It's back to salads, walking and healthier choices.  
But today sure was fun.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Empty Pockets / Full Heart? I'm tryin!

I finished my Christmas shopping on Wednesday by purchasing the gift cards for my kids.  It was a big outlay of ready cash, for me; but I felt pretty good that evening about having it done.  (Well, other than the chocky for the socks.)

Now, I don't know if your car is like the cars I've had/have.  But since I became a single parent, every time I spend any large amounts of money (large for me meaning several purchases over $100) ...... my car hears about it!  
Ears like Dumbo, it has!

I don't make a lot of money nor do I have a lot of savings.  But does my car care?  Nooooooo!  All my cars have only ever been concerned that they get their fair share of the money I seem to be throwing around.  (Not unlike my kids when they were younger!)

That simple little trip to the garage to have the snow tires put on turned into a minor panic attack.  "Breathe, Sandy!  Breathe!"  And at those times, any amount of logic -- like "This is the 1st time you've ever had to lay out money for your good ole dependable 10 year old Focus" -- Well, logic doesn't cut it during those times.  At those times, what a body needs is:
  • a sugar daddy
  • a winning lotto ticket
  • a large vat of wine
  • someone to hold you and tell you everything will be alright
  • a friend who will whine and wine with you
  • 10-20 lb of good quality chocolate 
..... ya know what I mean, right.  You want something to make you feel better.

- I tried crying .......... it didn't work.
- I tried screaming at the heavens ........ it didn't work.
- I tried thinking self-pitying "O Woe is Me!" thoughts ........ it definitely didn't work.
- So, I prayed!  (Why wasn't this my 1st counter-action?)       Then I cried some more.

Then I said, "Okay Sandy.  So what if you don't have a lot of money.  You do have enough to pay for this ... almost!  And yoiu have credit for the rest.  You'll be okay.  Just trust!  And breathe!  Have a glass or 5 of wine this weekend and a nice cuppa in the meantime.  And remember to breathe!"

Did it work?  

Well, not completely.  I still periodically have times when I want to go into my "O Woe is Me" mode.  But overall, I feel calmer about it.  

And I am going through the practice of counting my blessings.   Whenever I think of how financially strapped I am, I remember .......

It could be so much worse.

I think about countries that have experienced devastating calamady in the past few weeks.  I think of those who are really in need.  And then I remember:

I really am a blessed woman!

There.  I'm breathing again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Glorious weather we're having, eh?

When I woke, it was -1 Celsius (30 Farenheit) and there was frost on the car.  Brrrrrr!  I made sure to turn the heat up in the bathroom then made tea and boiled eggs and before I stepped in that shower.

By the time I left for work, it was up to 2 C (35.6 F), and the need to scrape the car windows was gone.

By lunch time, it's supposed to go up to a balmy 12 C (53.6 F). 

Tonight, we're back down to -7 C (19.4 F).  And the next few days, the daytime temperatures will fluctuate between 7 and 12 C (44 to 53 F) and nights will be frosty and cold.  We've been spared the snow that northern Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have experienced.  But just to be safe, tomorrow I get my snow tires on. 

Wish I could say I creatively tied my
scarf; but on busy mornings,  it
simply gets slung around my neck!
Dressing becomes a combination of Fall and Winter clothing:  I can still get away with short-sleeved shirts and cardigans with my skirts; but boots, gloves and scarves are a necessity.  And happily, a lot of days, I can still wear wear my jean jacket if the scarf is wooly enough!  

It's wonderful yet so amazing that in mid-Nov ... in Nova Scotia ... we're still walking outside in shoes and jackets that don't make us look like we're the Michelin Man.  I love it!

My thoughts often wander to Christmas.  I love Christmas!  But these days, I'm always trying to come up with ideas on how to simplify and make it easier on myself but just as meaningful for the girls and I.  

For most families, I think that Christmas is full of family tradition and memory and so it's important to maintain that when you have children who will perhaps only get back home at this time of year. 

However, if you're like me, you're finding that your aging body and mind seeks simplicity and ease in life.  

I am open to all and any suggestions!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'll have a side order of stewed prunes please!

I went to my bathroom medicine cabinet the other night to get a bandaid, and as I was standing there looking for them, I became aware of something on the top shelf.  

The perfect solution when those boys "break bad"!
  • Preparation H.  
But gosh!  I was almost out of it!  So, I made a mental reminder to put it on my grocery list;  after all -- I wouldn't want to find myself in NEED and not have any.  

And then I thought:  What?  When did that become a staple in my household?

As I walked back to the bedroom and began to massage my night-time anti-wrinkle/anti-aging cream on my face and neck, I said to my jar:  "You aren't working, ya know.  You're letting me down".

Then sitting on the bed rubbing olive oil on my legs and feet to combat the cold weather dryness and itching that begins at this time of year, I internally grumbled at the "stuff" on my night table.

  • Reactin --  In case I come across someone who's wearing perfume or aftershave; if I can get it early enough, I won't develop a headache. 
  • Sinutab -- If the above doesn't work or the weather is damp.
  • Tylenol for migraines -- If I really get a doozie of a headache.
  •  Tums and Gavaston -- For the varying degrees of heartburn to acid reflux that I sometimes experience if I eat too much wheat or sugar.
 And there under the night table is the heating pad that I use for my back and shoulder pain.  

And if that doesn't work, I can go to the bin in my closet and find the Robaxasit.

Then I became afraid ................. very afraid.

"Holy Guac!"  I thought!  "How old am I?" 
"When did this all that STUFF happen?" 

This is what aging does to you.  The ailments happen little by little; and before you know it, the pharmacy aisle in your local grocery store doesn't get bypassed like it used to.  

And then .... one day ... before you know it ... you're discussing your ingrown toenails over coffee with your friends and younger people are becoming afraid to say "How are you?" after they say hello.  EEEK!

But no, I haven't gotten that bad yet.  Although we may discuss favorite brands of pain medication, we also discuss this season's hot clothing styles and our current favorite color lipstick.  I'm not ready for the glue factory yet.

Why, I'll have you know that most people think I'm 5 years younger than what my actual age is.  I've still got most of my teeth, I can manage a boogie for up to 5 minutes without putting my hip out 

I can still fit into the earrings I used to wear in high school!

I ain't dead yet, by's; and I ain't goin' down without a fight.


  Sorry! I thought I could return to a normal schedule. But my sense of 'normal' has changed. After the past 5 years of various ailm...