Monday, December 31, 2012

Canada beats Russia!!

Just added Blogger to my new iPhone and wanted to try it out 😀 now I can post from anywhere! I hope...

Hippy New Yurt

When you're feeling low.........DANCE!!
Hi y'all! I have a million things to do to get ready for winter camping BUT FIRST I have to watch my Canadian Junior Hockey team whup Russia's derriere! Right now we're winning 3-1 but it's only the second period and you can't sit on a small lead when you're playing the RUSSIANS!! They are way too good!

Once we win this game however, (gotta be confident!), then I must make a quick round of grocery store, Canadian Tire and liquor store for a few necessities (nudge nudge, wink wink) to help us through the next few days of winter camping. Yes, magically over the past year we have forgotten about our frozen toes and drippy noses, wet firewood and the aromatic results of Three Bean Chilli and we want to do it again!

Remember these.......?
Michael popping the cork on our bottle of champagne on New Year's Day, 2012!

Toasting each other and all of our family and friends.

You can't see it but I'm sitting in front of a roaring fire. With a bit of light snow pellets
falling it was a memorable night!

The next day we awoke to this! We spent the afternoon hiking and taking some

I hope I can still fit into my snow pants! I'll be doing the Hippy Hippy Shake. 
(I tried to paste the youtube video for this song but I seem to be having great difficulty
with links and embedding today?!)

Anyhoo the point is I'm not any thinner than I was last year at this time :( so guess who needs
to get back on her stationary bike? More to come on THAT topic!

For today I simply want to wish you all a Happy New Year! 
There has been a lot of sadness in 2012 and we all need to
keep the faith that events are unfolding as they should.
Let's be kind to one another throughout 2013
and remember that a simple act of kindness
can be life changing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Open House Celebration

 Season's Greetings my friends! Here are a bunch of photos from our Open House that we held on Friday night. I can't believe that Michael and I managed to super clean the house and prepare food etc on top of our already busy schedules but we did it! I will admit that there were a couple of dishes that I purchased the supplies for and didn't have the time to make, however, we had more than enough food so it all worked out. The dish above is a dip that contains a layer of goat cheese frosted with an olive and garlic tapenade with chopped green pepper garnish. So delicious and super easy to prepare!
These were a hit too! I saw this simple recipe on facebook, posted by a friend of mine. Melted chocolate chips and pomegranate arils - a great combination of sweet and tart!
 Here's everyone's favorite host - Michael - indulging just before our guests began to arrive :) He prepared our annual sorrel drink (a Jamaican original), also a big hit, along with saltfish fritters, kale dip and a hearty quinoa salad.
This is a picture of a basement corner that Michael recently turned into a little office space for himself. He's so HAPPY! to have a little spot of his own and yes, that's a painting of him above the shelf :)
 Our condo isn't very large so we used a desk in our tiny kitchen as our "drinks" centre complete with glasses, ice bucket and corkscrews - it worked just great!
 Our first guests: Stephen, recently back from teaching for TWELVE years in Taiwan!, Julie who I've known for half my life - we went to university together, and Troy who I met through Julie and who has become a close friend.
My gorgeous daughter and her boyfriend, Steve, dropped by early as they were headed out to his work's Christmas party. Steve's a good guy - he laughs at her "princessy" ways and keeps her feet firmly planted on the ground - he works for a landscaping company and hopes to have his own business someday.
 I love this picture of Tiffany! Several times she was about to leave but then would refill her glass from the punch bowl of sorrel. She probably would have left earlier if she'd been sitting somewhere else!!
 Our great friends Robin and Ken, recently married this past June. They are coming winter camping with us in January! Hmmmmm, the pictures are starting to get a bit blurry.....
 A good friend from school - Liz, and her husband Thom - we had so many good laughs that evening - they are both great story tellers!!
 A party isn't a party until Ravishing Ruth arrives (on the left!)
She had me in stitches all night long!
Not sure what story she was telling here but she certainly had our attention!
 Everyone had to have a picture taken with Santa :)
Yikes! I'm too close with my camera! Ruth's cousin, Caroline, beside her and was her DD!
Awwwww, while it looks like we're sitting on Robin she was actually behind the chair we were sitting on!
 I'm thinking Caroline didn't get what she wanted from Santa?!?
 But Santa got what he wanted!  hee hee hee!
 I love my friend Jules!! She's a fabulous artist!
 This picture was taken at the beginning of the evening, believe it or not - I was pretending to be a model doing a photo shoot, spinning and twirling for Michael :)
Jules, Steve and Troy having a deep conversation about the environment - Julie's favorite topic - yes, she's a tree hugger extraordinaire!
See what I mean about Tiffany being too close to the punch bowl?
Before we got TOO rowdy!
 OK, the sideways photos were taken with my OLD camera by Michael. It's been dropped so many times so that every picture comes out in a different direction and can't be corrected...hence I bought myself a new camera as an early Christmas present for MOI!
Caroline, Ruthie and ME!
 Getting mushy for the camera!
Awwww,aren't we cute?
 Oops, there we go again! a BIG smile from Caroline this time though!

Michael getting squished between me, Ruthie and Liz!

No sedate parties at our house!  BUT we did collect a fair bit of food for Michael's workplace. They have a closet where they keep emergency supplies for low-income families in their neighbourhood.

You know what the great thing is about doing all the prep prior to a party???
 You don't have to CLEAN UP!! When I got up Saturday morning this......
...and this...was all cleaned up!! Thanks Michael!
Now it's Sunday morning and I need some breakfast, after which I am going to do some major blog reading! I really need to catch up with you all! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holy Moly - What Can I Say?

So Michael said I should write a post. That's me, in case you forgot what I look like. It's hard to know what to write - the longer I don't write the harder it is to get started again. It's not that I don't want to write, I do, I do want to write, and thank you to those who have let me know you miss me :)

My mind is like that bench - empty! Right now all of my brain cells are directed towards my job. Every September I accept the fact that I'll have no life of my own for a few weeks as I get my program up and running again. I can live with that - it is what it is. This year, however, I still have no life of my own and here it is December 9th!

So...mark this day on your calendar is the official beginning of a new era!  Yes, today is
"Jane Takes Back Her Life" day!  I must mark this day with a goes...

"To my infinitely patient family - Kazi and Michael - I say a big THANK YOU for accepting the fact that even though I was here I was not present! Thank you for feeding me and letting me fall asleep on the couch at 8pm. Thank you for loving me even when I didn't have the energy to give you the attention you both deserve. I love you both very much! I couldn't have survived the last 3+ months without you!"

I don't really enjoy working 70-80 hour weeks - it has just seemed so necessary. Staffing issues continue, one after another. The season of Advent is upon us which means organizing fundraisers to help out needy families as well as assembling a number of special activities with my students and their Peer Buddies. On top of all of that Michael decided we should host an open house for our family and friends this coming Friday!

Normally I would say YIKES but you know what?? Having other fun stuff to focus on has brought me back to LIFE!! The more energy I expend the more I seem to have. Curious, no? (Don't I just wish the same happened with MONEY? We won't even GO THERE!)

So we've been busy cleaning and cooking and shopping and baking and rearranging and I think we're going to make it! The house is more organized than its been in months and is filled with the smells of Jamaican home cooking! Yesterday we went and chopped down our tree and it's perfect - I just need Kazi to come home and decorate it with me:)

I think the spirit of Christmas is starting to percolate deep down inside of me and will soon come bubbling forth in all of its usual MAGNIFICENCE!! 

I'll try and keep you posted....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

 Michael and I have been discovering new places to hike at - these photos are from last weekend when we hiked around Lake Whitaker. It was mild and sunny - just perfect. The colours have peaked and now there is a deep carpet of leaves everywhere.
 Usually I get melancholic during the fall season BUT this fall has been different. Can you believe I am looking forward to WINTER??  Yes, indeedy! We have had such brilliant weather this year - it all began during March  break when Michael and I went to visit the trailer I used to own and which now belongs to friends.  The weather just got better and better through the long spring and the never-ending summer. Just in the past two days has it been cool enough to put on a jacket. Remarkable, really. I find myself waiting for it to warm up again as I am so used to it being warm (or HOT) every day now.
 So that is why I am looking forward to winter. I am ready for a change of season and I can hardly believe I am saying that - ME - the lover of summer!

I am going to go out on a limb here (HAH! get it?) and predict that every leaf that is still attached to a tree branch around here will have fallen by next weekend and will be residing somewhere in Manitoba...or perhaps the Arctic! Hurricane Sandy is on her way and she is one of the most massive storms to ever trundle her way up the Eastern seaboard.  Her winds are not overly strong but her size is incredible - she is 1,000 miles in diameter and set to wage such destruction she will make her way into history books!  By Thursday we should be feeling the effects of all of her windy and rainy fury and by this time next week the trees should all be stripped clean. I just hope that they remain standing and that no one is injured or killed!
 Lake Whitaker is a little piece of heaven on earth. I used to come to the perimeter of this conservation area with my dad to pick elderberries years ago and had never hiked here before. Michael and I have circumnavigated the lake twice now - it takes about 3 hours, or more depending on how many side paths we take. The lake is quite small but the carolinian forest and the pine forests extend quite far to the north.
 My feet with my favorite Blundstone boots are peeking through a thick carpet of leaves.
 The geese love it here. And the blackbirds must stop here on their migratory path as the cacophony of sound was almost overwhelming at times.
 This week was pretty good - I am working hard at creating a structured learning environment at school and have made a lot of progress.  The powers that be have given teachers FOUR half-days of release time this year to work on a PLC (Personal Learning Community) project and so I chose to continue to work on structured learning of course. Last Friday was my first half-day. I got up at my usual time (5:15am) and was working away on my living room couch by 6am. It was a wonderfully productive time - being able to work for 4.5 hours WITHOUT interruption was fantastic! I am really making headway!

Shortly after I arrived back at school on Friday a friend arrived who is helping me to implement structured learning by helping to train my educational assistants. This friend helps at a number of schools and we used to work together for a few years. We see eye to eye so I know I  can count on her to pass on my strategies and methods in the same way that I would. By the end of the school day I was actually feeling JOYFUL!! Yes, joyful!

My regular readers know that last year was a tough work year for me and I ended up taking some time off due to the stressful work conditions.

I want to mark the day - Friday, Oct. 26th - as the day that I said to myself again -"I love my job!"
 You can see by my photos that I am always trailing behind Micael! It's because I stop and take so many photos!
 I love this photo - you can see little areas of light close up, in the middle ground and far off in the distance. What is Michael thinking, I wonder?
 Getting out for hikes every Sunday really saves my bacon. I get so caught up in the day to day grind during the week and it's so tempting to just lay on the couch with a book or watch something on Netflix. (By the way, I discovered the TV series "Jericho" the other day - wow, I love it!)  But, once I drag my butt outside I'm so glad I did!
 Just love the brilliance of these reddish-orange oak leaves against the blue sky!
 Do you think they're poisonous?? Even so, they are so CUTE!
 Walking though the pines on millions of dropped needles - so quiet...
One thing about walking on fallen leaves and needles is sometimes you're not sure if you're still on the PATH so I'm always happy when we come across a little bridge - yes! We're still on the path!
 This is where one side-path took us - how idyllic!

 Back into the woods - and I found a little green man dancing a jig!
And a little brown man! :) Well, not so little!
 This photo has a "holy" feeling to it I think...out of the darkness and into the light!
Some of the migrating birds - they moved from tree to tree overhead - filling the air with their constant chirping.
The light at the end of the tunnel - another side-path. At this point my camera battery died, aren't you sad??

No hiking this weekend - it's wet and cold...and wet. Blecch! And I've been on my own for most of the weekend so I DID INDULGE in some couch laying and some TV watching ;)  But I also rode my recumbent bike for miles and miles and miles just so I could break even with all the calories I consumed. I'm trying to get in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week which is the minimum we need according to "the experts".  I spent two days after classes in the cardio room at school - I alternately ran and walked on the treadmill, used the elliptical and did some resistance training. Far exceeded 150 minutes. Although it's great to get the exercise I do it mostly for managing stress. I really do feel better after working up a good sweat and I don't have to pay for a gym membership.

One of these days I'll do a financial update. I am sticking to a budget and while I spend, spend, spend it's mostly for school and I'll eventually be reimbursed. I hope. If I find the correct forms to fill in and haven't lost any receipts.

Well, I better move along. The dryer buzzed and there's more laundry calling my name. And so is lunch!! Have a great week everybody and thanks for reading my post.