Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Food by Myself

First of all let me thank so many of you for your wonderfully kind comments on my posts. And let me add that although these posts have "by Myself" in the title, I am not at all sad about spending most of my Xmas alone. The ideas that I've come up with as a sort of coping mechanism have done just what I hoped they would do! I'm really enjoying my preparations and feel pretty certain that my season will be merry and bright.

To continue with my 'Xmas Alone' ideas, let's talk food -- another one of my favorite things about Christmas! Yum yum! 

I'm fortunate to be sharing a turkey dinner with my dad and brother on the 25th. (We're the solos in the family.) And a few days later, I'll enjoy another Xmas dinner with my daughter and her little family. I love Xmas baking, so I'll do some of that both before Xmas day and over the holidays themselves. But I also decided on another new tradition for myself:  at noon on Xmas Eve, after I've vacuumed and primped, I'm going technology and people free, and I'm going to prepare a special meal just for me.

For the first time ever, I'm going to try my hand at Beef Wellington (for one) with a side of green salad and grilled asparagus. Dessert will probably be a small trifle made with lots of fruit and a wee bit of sponge and cream. 

I'll open a bottle of wine; and for the rest Xmas Eve, I'll sip my wine and munch while I watch my 2 all-time favorite Xmas movies -- It's a Wonderful Life and the 1954 version of A Christmas Carol
* Yep! "Fadoobadas"

I'm choosing to shut myself off from the world on Xmas Eve not because of sadness or anger, but because I want to take at least one day during the season to acknowledge my self worth and to practice self-care. We all need to do this sometimes as even the jolliest of us may encounter difficulty or trying times (or people!) over the holidays. And  while necessary, decompressing all by oneself can also be very enjoyable: I mean, how many other opportunities does one have for walking around the house naked with a glass of wine and no regard for food drips or your "fadoobadas"*? 

Over the holidays, I wanna take some cold crisp walks in the snow (and hopefully, sunshine) as well as lots of epsom salts baths where I emerge oily as a greased pig and relaxed as a well fed baby! 

I also want to spend some time with my God in praise for His always being near and in gratitude for His gift to me of creativity and stick-to-it-tive-ness in my determination to enjoy my new life and have a merry christmas.

Please remind yourselves of your OWN self-worth, your uniqueness and your beauty. If any of my ideas would work for you, take them! But please remember that you have value and please do whatever it takes to maintain your health and peace.

I may not get an opportunity to blog again until the new year. 
So, from me to you, thank you for being my blog friends.
And I wish you a peaceful, joyous Christmas season.
See you in 2019!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas Decor by Myself

One of my favorite Christmas traditions has always been the tree: the scent; the sparkle; the memories that each ornament brings to mind; and that little bit of nature right in my living room! But although Newfoundland is a province with more wilderness and forest than towns and villages, real trees have become hard to find and expensive to buy. So, I did like everyone else does here and I purchased a pre-lit artificial tree. 

Decorating my first Xmas tree here was bittersweet with the thought that I may never again have Xmas with my wonderful NS friends. But last year's tree was just sad: I was very ill and no one came to visit.  And I remember how deflated I felt when I had to dismantle the tree after the new year. 

So this year, I opted for something totally different. I opted against putting up a tree and thought I'd add just a soupçon of a tree.

I added some real branches of fir in a vase with some sparkle and fairy lights and I've hung it with photos of the people I'd like to be spending Xmas with. (You can't see all of them.) Topmost, of course, are my other 2 daughters and some of my most wonderful international daughters. 

The scent is amazing. And over the holidays, I shall be able to gaze upon those lovely faces and raise a glass to each of them.

The rest of the apartment is festooned with swags and nativity scenes and kissing Santas and lots of fairy lights! 

It looks and feels very festive! 
As do I most days! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Xmas Gifts by Myself

I mentioned how sad I felt that first Xmas after my husband and I separated with nothing under the tree for me (save a card and money order from my Mom and Dad). Well, here's how I 'solved' that problem.

With children, I'd learned to become a huge thrifter; and I was fortunate to be surrounded by great thrift stores. So, determined to have Santa bring me gifts, I would pick up things throughout the year at thrift stores -- things that I would normally buy for myself. A great jigsaw puzzle; a couple of good novels; an 'expensive" (under $20) piece of silver or gold jewellery; a set of gold rimmed cocktail glasses. Or if I was at a mall and saw a particularly good deal/low price on a new item, I'd buy that for myself. I'd never spend a lot at one time and I didn't buy a lot for myself. 

I'd take these items home, box them, wrap with Xmas paper and tuck them under the spare bed in the Xmas box I stored all my Xmas gifts in. Most of the time, by the time Xmas came, I wouldn't remember what I'd purchased. I might remember that I had a puzzle but I wouldn't remember what the picture would be, or the names of the novels I'd bought, or the color of new socks, etc. etc. And 20+ years later, I still do that for myself. 

This year on Christmas morning, I'll sit with my coffee and whatever delectable brekkie I decide to make for myself and open my Santa gifts. And they'll add to the joy and contentment of my own personal Xmas because I'm eager to begin that new puzzle (part of my old Xmas tradition) or read a new book while I savor my quiet, alone time in my new home (one of my new Xmas traditions).

Thursday, December 13, 2018

My Christmas Plan

Christmas can be difficult for a lot of folks especially if you're on your own. I'm surrounded by family here in NL. But they don't have the same views and/or needs about this season as I do; so my ideal 'Norman Rockwell' Xmas is not going to happen. It took me two years here, but I'm finally realizing that I'm the only one responsible for my own happiness -- even at Christmas. So this year, I made a plan in the hopes of having a happier, healthier Christmas.

  • I let go of my expectations:  expectations I'd placed on others and expectations I'd placed on myself. Without realizing I was doing it, I expected my family and friends to visit; I expected them to help with meal prep; I expected them to sit and chat and bond; I expected to receive from them as much as I'd given. But one of the biggest gifts that I've been learning to give myself for the last few years is to accept people as they are and give without expecting anything in return. Harder to do with family, I think, but so rewarding for all those involved.

  • The next thing I did was to make a list of what was most important to me about the Christmas season. 
    • Spending time with family: It's up to me to make the trip, the phone call or the Skype conversation. Even if it doesn't happen, I want to let them know that they're important to me.
    • Christmas decor: What do I really want? And how much can I really do - both decorating and the dismantling of the decorations? I had to really think about my energy levels and remember my limitations.
    • Delicious food: I made a list of what foods I love to eat at Xmas -- both the store bought and the homemade. That list got culled a lot to reflect my finances and my energy level for cooking/baking. AND I had to remember that the food that I don't give as gifts may be mine alone to eat! So I choose my foods with that in mind as well.
    • Health: In spite of my 22 lb weight loss since last April, I KNOW I'm going to be eating and drinking things I wouldn't usually eat and drink. So, I'm expecting to gain a couple of pounds. And eating like that will affect how I feel physically. So, to counteract that dilemma, I'm going to make sure I get outside and walk or snowshoe. My stodge-filled body will NOT want to go outdoors; but if I want to eat, I have to get out there.
    • Something under the Tree: The first Xmas after the breakup of my marriage, there was nothing under the tree for me as my kids were still very young. I realized I was sad about that. So I became my own Santa! (I'll share more on how to economically do this.)
    • Peace: If I can follow what's on my list, then I shall have a peaceful Xmas season. But I'm also planning to make time just for myself with no phone or TV and trying to create zen moments and time with my God. This is probably the most important thing for me.
I'll expound further on these over the next week.

These ideas will not solve all the problems and sadness that can occur at Christmas. Nor will they help everyone have a joyous time. But perhaps they can spark some hope and enthusiasm in someone out there. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Searching for a Merry Christmas

This meme came across my Facebook feed this weekend, and I thought "Yeah! This is exactly what I came to realize this Fall!"

I moved home 2 years ago and have experienced 2 miserable, sad Xmas seasons for me. I told myself that last year would be my last here in NL; but not having the finances to go elsewhere caused me to rethink things this Fall. And that's when the shoe dropped.

I now realize that my enjoyment of Xmas is up to me. Of course Xmas  here in NL is not going to be like NS -- different location with different people, different traditions, etc etc. My failure to recreate Xmas MY way does not mean that I can't enjoy Xmas in NL. It just means being open to what the season has for me here in my new life AND my creating new traditions for myself. 
So, I've been busy letting go of what was while I search for what's important to me and what I can create here. My stress level is way down, my spirits have been lifted and I'm actually really looking forward to Christmas again.

I know that for a lot of people, Christmas is extremely hard and no amount of trying to create a happy Xmas will make it happen. My heart goes out to those folks.

But for those of us who are alone and seeking for ways to participate in this season and find even a modicum of joy, I hope my ideas help. I'll share them over the next couple of weeks. And please feel free to share your thoughts on the same.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Snowy Update

I'm back after recovering from a fairly minor yet terribly-inconveniencing viral infection; and I'm ready to rumble!

Rumble with the season, that is!

Yes, Christmas is fast approaching. I've most of the shopping done; next I'll be planning my cooking and baking lists; then the decorating will happen. After 2 years back home, I think I can finally remember that there's only one person in my house, and I'll be sharing sweets with my siblings. So hopefully, I will not go overboard with the baking as I have in previous years. Let's see -- Some kind of shortbread (traditional or with a twist?); some kind of fruity/nutty sweet (dark fruitcake or mincemeat?) and one more treat (cheesecake squares? lemon squares? Decisions, decisions!). I'm still missing my darling international children with their treats, especially my German girls; so I have an idea that I may try chocolate-covered Lebkuchen myself! Hmmmm! We'll see.

The weather here has certainly been Xmas-like. From Nov 11th until this past Sunday, we experienced 4 snowstorms and I had 3 extra days off work! Even for snowy Newfoundland, this is unusual! This is end-of-January weather. Thankfully, the gods blessed us this week with sunshine and a little rain to wash away some of that snow. Still, this is what it looks like here today.
Corner Brook, Newfoundland CANADA - November 27, 2018

Those mountains in the background will retain their snow until sometime next July! (Then I'll climb to the top again.)

TTFN. I'm gonna get back to making my lists (and checking them twice). 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Come Wander Down Yon Golden Bower...

All last week it rained; then on Friday, gentle snow flakes fell -- just enough to cover everything -- and the temperatures were low enough to sustain the snow that had fallen. But Saturday morning when I drove home from the local market, the sun came out from behind a cloud and THIS is the scene that met me. 
The vibrant orange of the deciduous trees against the snow-covered fir trees was brilliant and beautiful!

So, even before I ate lunch, I dressed and took myself out for a walk on the old rail line walking trail behind my house. 

It was so lovely! Crisp and cold enough for a head covering and gloves but oh, so toasty warm while walking. The walk up that hill to get to the trail is a difficult one as the incline is so steep. But just a few steps onto the trail, and this is what greets you. As I stood there panting, inside my head I heard the beckoning cry of "Come wander down yon golden bower". So off I went. 

As I walked, I listened to my IPod. I've been using my walking time to listen softly to whole albums rather than just favorite songs, and I've been finding some lovely tunes that I've overlooked in the past.

The whole walk takes me about 45 minutes most of which time I'm surrounded by trees and nature. The white snow and white/grey sky were the perfect backdrops for the remaining leaves and bushes. I passed no one on the trail but heard a dog bark, someone chopping wood and then smelled wood smoke from an outdoor fire ... someone burning brush. It was a magnificent day for a walk!

It rained Saturday evening. Then I woke to freezing rain early Sunday, and it rained for the remainder of all day. So, not only is any snow gone, but most of the leaves have fallen. (Winter comes early to Newfoundland.) 

The world was harsher than usual this weekend. Or perhaps I feel it was harsher because I already feel raw and this latest cut is so close to home. But my heart aches for those of you in the U.S. and with the Jewish community. My heart aches. 

I'll leave you with the Ahn Trio and this beautiful, plaintive music.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Fly Your Autumn Freak Flag!

 When I think of the perfect autumn day, it involves crisp cold air, lots of color, and warm, soothing, comfort food. My weekend involved all of these and more.

It was Pride week here in CB. So, in anticipation of the Parade on Saturday, I painted my hair several colors. (It washes out after half a dozen shampoos.) This was met by lots of positive comments by co-workers and other like-minded people. Unfortunately, most of Saturday was pretty heavy rain, so I didn't venture out to walk; instead I cleaned house and cooked. I made granola bars and my favorite energy balls; and I used the leftover melted chocolate to coat some pretzels. Then I made a delicious pot of beef stew with a thick, aromatic broth. 
The secret to my delicious broth is that I add a single cube of Japanese curry/ flavor stock. These cubes make an amazing, dark, rich, sweet curry. But .... if you just want to add a touch of rich flavor and color, tossing in just a single cube (or even  half) does just that. Perfect for fall and winter meals.

 Sunday morning I woke early, and at about 10 am, the sun came out. So, before Mother Nature had a chance to change her mind, I took myself on a long rambling walk on the trail behind my house. The brooks were overflowing after all the heavy rain; I stopped twice to take in the mini waterfalls. 
The trees were so thick that at times it was like walking through a golden bower interspersed with shades of green, orange, rust and the occasional red. Near the park bench where I usually stop, I found these little treasures atop a boulder. 
And in spite of Mother Nature preparing for her long, barren hibernation period, she still presented me with a wealth of beauty; so at this time of year, whenever I walk I pick myself a bouquet to brighten my own home. People in rural Newfoundland tend to be pretty conservative and certainly set in their ways. Most walkers will greet each other as they pass; and although we exchange hellos, I've gotten quite a few 'interesting' looks from others. 

After it happened twice yesterday (dressed in my bright teal hiking sneakers, black and white polka dot leggings, burgundy jacket, red headband, tri-color hair and carrying a mixture of dying leaves and flowers), I laughed to myself and thought "I guess I'm going to be 'that weird old lady' that lives down the road!" Doesn't every small community have one of those?  

But ya know what? 
I really don't mind if that's what people are thinking! 
This is me! Sometimes I'm weird! 
And fortunately, at this age, I have enough self-confidence to be comfortable in being who I am and to embrace my own wonderful weirdness.  

Friday, October 19, 2018

Autumnal and Canna- Bliss!

Well, unless you're living on another planet, you know that as of this past Wednesday, October 17th, cannabis is legal in Canada. I personally think that this is welcome news. I know it's wonderful for pain management, and I have many friends who have been using it for a number of years for everything from arthritis and fibromyalgia to skin cancer with fantastic results. I have no problem with people using it recreationally as well, but I'm super, super excited to see what medical research will uncover in the coming years. 

I've been quite busy with my 88 yr old father for the past month. He's in really good health, but like all of us going through the aging process, he has great ideas but little stamina to follow through all the way. So, we've made pickled beets together, racked his wine, flipped his mattress and re-arranged the bedroom, and hung out and laughed. He's such a character with a wild past and lots of great stories to tell.

I had another 2 week long bout of 'hiraeth' for Nova Scotia; I viserally ache for my other home, for the familiarity of daily life there, and for the people and the things we'd do together. July past marked 2 years back here, and I'm pretty sure that I'll stay put here in Newfoundland: I'm getting better at seeing and acknowledging the blessings of being home as well as acceptance for 'la différence'. But the nostalgia and longing still hit me ..... and so I mourn.

The leaves are almost all yellow now; the temperatures are colder, and I saw a sprinkling of snow on cars this morning that drove into town from the mountain. Brrr! The flannels are on the bed, throws on the couch and I'm wearing socks and enclosed shoes. (Drat!!)

But ahhhhh! There's such freshness and crispness in the air that I don't mind the change at all. Ciao bellas! Happy Weekend!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Autumn in CB

Autumn comes swiftly to Newfoundland; there is no gentle easing from summer to fall -- it's more like wading in the water and suddenly coming to a ledge where you fall into the depths. It's cold out there! All those dressy capris I'd been saving to wear for work only got about a week's use as then it was just too cold to go bare legged!

Last weekend, I exchanged most of my summer clothes for fall, welcoming my 'old friends' back into action (and those surprise, forgotten thrift store and garage sale purchases made over the summer). I've lost 16+ pounds since I last saw most of them, so they either fit perfectly once again or need to be replaced. But that's okay: I'm sure I'll find what I need at tomorrow's big yard sale and the Sally Ann shops when they re-open with their winter stock. 

What I miss most about wearing a summer wardrobe is sandals: my feet rebel dramatically about wearing shoes. Poor tootsies! But now I get to wear my red Converse, my silver, sparkly Ugg sneakers and my lovely fall boots. And it is ever so nice to put on my warm fleece hoodies and soft leggings and walk in the cold, crisp air. I'm ready for this change of seasons.

The leaves have only begun to change color here. And I'm hoping to get in at least one more big hike before the snow flies. 

In the meantime, I'm enjoying this season where life slows, food is richer and TV viewing picks up again. 

Ciao! It's time for a chai latte!


  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...