Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The year of....Beer

2015 was many things but one of the fun things for us was our fall foray into the world of Craft Beer.

I am not sure exactly how it began (*cough* ev *cough*) but for sure by the summer we were fully in to cracking a craft beer or two on a summers night.

Often right after a carving lesson.

Or while making sausages.

Or for no reason at all.

Our local pub has a fabulous little liquor store attached and we have spent many a long few minutes in the cold room trying to pick a new brew to try.

Sometimes we pick it for the name (Salty Scot, Farmhand) or the label and sometimes for the actual kind of beer it is.

They come in a larger format so you can easily get 4 small glasses out of each which allows for multiple tasting in one evening.
Relax - this was not all tasted in ONE evening

I am most definitely averse to an abundance of hops  as is one of our beer buddies.  They taste like lavender to me - eeugh.  I like malty and a bit bitter and I have discovered Kolsch is often to my liking.  One of our crew loves a good sour and we have all grown fonder of sours over the year.  Two of us prefer lighter and two prefer darker but we have ALL tried lots of new beer this year and I think we have all grown our beer palates somewhat.

The craft beer movement is huge here, as it is in other places, and I am sure we have just started to inch our way into the huge variety out there.  We didn't pay much attention when we started but thanks to a recent gift we are now plotting flavour profiles and keeping track of what we like and what we do not like (right now).  I am not sure what happens to us once we have plotted 33 bottles of beer - which might happen sooner than you think!

We don't yet have our own personalised growlers yet but I am pretty darn sure we are brave craft beer explorers nonetheless.

We will be "Cheers"ing with our beer buddies on NYE and among the many things we will "Cheers" to is the Year of Beer.  Maybe with this charming bottle?

Monday, December 28, 2015

That Gift

I don't know about you but there is always that one gift that stands out as the one that is just perfect.  

At least to me as the giver.

As our children have grown the huge anticipation of the gifts has waned a bit and truthfully we are not a family in NEED of much. 

This year I persuaded my family to adopt the following when making their lists:
1.  Something I want
2. Something I need
3. Something to wear
4. Something to read
5. Something to light up the world.

And I was so impressed with how they thoughtfully answered.  Very grateful for David who sent a link with every item he requested #hightechkid.  

My Dad, however, was the one exception.  

His list was all about non-tangibles.  Time with family, help with his memoirs, suggestions for cooking for retirees etc.  

After my initial annoyance at the less than helpful list I saw it as a challenge.  

I was going to get that list completed.

My Dad has been slowly writing his memoirs for several years.  From his earliest memories in Northern Ontario to his days in the Northern and Southern Cape in South Africa.  His school days, university days, the start of his corporate career.  His courtship of my Mom, the early days of our family, his move to mission work and all the adventures of that.

His intention is to record this amazing story for his children and grandchildren and those who follow. 

He has no intention (yet) of publishing it.

But he did ask for help with the manuscript right?

I started to reach out to publishers, self-publishers, printers and received an education on the literary world, met some lovely, helpful people and with my trusty research assistant Lindsay we found the Espresso Book Printing Machine.  Specifically we found one at UVic.  Specifically all set up fees were waived for UVic students.

Specifically I was holding true to my Just In Time pattern and it was now two weeks before Christmas.

I hastily enlisted Agent Lesley to steal the manuscript from my Dad's laptop.  And then erase any sign she had been there.  She is a surprisingly excellent agent and was undetected.  She may have a new career option - Lesley SuperCyberSpy.

188 pages arrived.  My Dad has many, many skills.  Computer skills are rather low on the list.  So after a few hours of fixing manually inserted page numbers, font changes, margin changes, inadvertent header/footer issues we had something ready to go.   

Lindsay returned to campus to write her final exams and submitted the document with the cover we created for it on the Monday.  They said it was possible to get it done by the Friday which was sort of vital seeing as she was coming home on the Saturday. 

We waited.

And lo..... the book was printed.  It looks like a real book!  Cover page, author bio and even some comments from endorsers!!  

I knew the book wasn't completed, I knew there was lots of editing to do and I knew there was no way my Dad would expect to hold his writing, even incomplete, in his hands in printed form.

So I was excited for him to open it on Christmas morning.

At first he thought it was just a book.  We give a lot of books in this family at Christmas.  Then he started reading the cover (typo's and all) and then he flipped it over to look at the back and saw a photo of himself.......and it dawned on him what he was holding.  

Such a surprise!  He was tickled.  He held it for a long time. 

I also gave him all the emails of the people I had spoke with with suggestions of blogs to follow and writers groups to join.  

He protesteth much that he is not a writer, that this is not a book waiting to be published..... I beg to differ on both counts.  If you have ever been lucky enough to hear him tell a story you know a book full of them would be worth a read.  After a good editor has had a go at it and removed the true if potentially libelous naming of names!!!  

Whatever happens when he retires and has time to finish it , polish it..... it will be a gift to us, his family, and maybe, just maybe to the world! 

And so the gift being given was a gift that gave back to the giver.... you get what I mean right?  I read various snippets of my family history, of my own life...So often generosity of time and love, even money ,is returned to us tenfold or more.  

I like that!

PS: Lindsay answered his request for time with family by gifting him a photo and a starbucks card for each member of our family for a coffee date and I bought him a cookbook on cooking for 2 and few kitchen gadgets.  Ha!  We can beat any list!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Best kept secret

I know it will come as a shock to most of you that I did something, something quite big and exciting to me, and I did not document or comment on it on any social media AT ALL.

It was a secret mission.

We had family photos taken by the lovely Jody at Whimsy and Wonder Photography.

On a freeeeeezing cold and windy November 11 morning at Britannia Heritage Boat Yard.  We had to go no matter the weather as it was the last day of Lindsay's reading break and she was heading back to UVic.

It was even harder to keep the secret when we got the photos two weeks later!  And not to comment or like the sneak peek Jody posted on her Facebook lest my parents see.

I'll be honest what was even harder was to like, even love, myself in these photos but I have tried hard!  I recently did some photo books as gifts of trips taken and I see how very seldom I get in front of the camera. It was time!

And so on Christmas Day my parents opened a framed photo and PHEW the surprise was worth it!


So thanks Jody, Thanks Family, Thanks Friends who played along.

And here - the photos we are delighted to have of this moment in our family.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#TBT to when I was stupid.

I am one to celebrate the smallest - the minutest - thing....especially if that tiny, small thing is my personal growth. 

To know that I am learning, gaining wisdom, rocking adulthood....that is worthy of some hootin' and hollerin'.

So to celebrate the fact I have actually learned the following:
a) to use a calendar
b) to check my diary before scheduling appointments
c) to tolerate imperfection in my carpets
d) chill out
I am taking you back to a time before all these things were true.  

I am only slightly alarmed that this happened in 2012 - growth is slow people, adulting is hard...

Enjoy THIS #TBT while I enjoy sitting on my dry, if slightly dirty, carpet.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Tomorrow I am not leaving the house.  At all. 

I just got home from my final grocery run.  I went to Superstore aka Stupidstore.

In spite of being extremely organised this year - even by my standards, I shopped a little each paycheck for the last few months and I am done, wrapped and all stocking stuffers ready to go.  

But it feels like I have been doing groceries every day for two weeks now!  It's crazy but today I made the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus' and tonight my mom and I hit the store for the final final bits and pieces.

Including a turkey.

Which is maybe the one thing I should have bought a few paychecks ago.

Because tonight there were slim pickings.

If they weren't stuffed or basted in butter, they were too big or too small and the two organic birds left were huge in size and price.  

So we got the fresh young turkey.  Good size.  Good price.  

But as I was loading it in the cart I saw it was maybe missing a leg???  "Very odd" I said to my Mom.  Until we read the fine print that said "pieces may be missing"  Great.  How appealing.  So we dug through the pile until we found one with 2 legs, 2 wings (if one was a bit odd looking) and 2 breasts and if it's missing any other pieces I don't care.   We have a turkey to roast!

It's in my fridge now ,chilling, and I am trying not to contemplate it's previous existence and seemingly violent end.  

If you want to hear a hilarious, Canadian turkey story - Stuart Maclean tells his epic Turkey Tale HERE. (after a brief ad)

So for a brief 15 minutes tonight I am home with Spanner the miracle dog who ate half a box of Purdys chocolates this morning and has lived to tell the tale although his shame is palpable.  The naughtiest thing he has ever done!!

The tree lights are on, the rain is drumming gently on the roof and windows and soon my peeps will burst through the door  - light sabers swishing as they return from the much anticipated Star Wars movie.  Excellent it was. Sure I am. 

And soon I will make a cup of peppermint tea and enjoy being in a warm house,  with fridge and freezer full, the tree smelling lovely and the growing pile of gifts.  

And tomorrow..... will be slow and lovely.  

Carols playing, shortbread baking, family around.....Ahhh ..... Just what I need. 

Wishing you all peace and joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Birthday Blog

Today was my last work day of 2015.

I pushed through the front doors and I have to say I felt immensely relieved.  

For many reasons it has been a hard year at work.  Often a "good hard" and ending on a more positive note but for sure but I am very weary.  

There may be many clues to how crazy busy I have been this year but one of the surest is the quietness on my blog.  

I have written so many great blog posts in the middle of the night only to have no time to write in daylight hours. 

But no matter how much or how little I have written this year,  today is this blogs 5th Birthday.  

It has been a gift to me even in the quieter season, the times the writing stays in my head instead of on the screen.  I appreciate those who read and comment and care...over 151,000 views and over 900 posts it has been an important part of my journey over the last 5 years.

Happy Birthday Blog.

Happy Christmas Vacation.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Tomorrow morning I will make the almost familiar-6am-in-the-dark-maybe-rainy run to the ferry.

This will be the last goodbye ferry run of 2015 as Missy heads back to UVic to write 2 last exams in the next 5 days.  

I think we have done very well with this whole University thing.

She has been spectacular.  I think we knew she was ready for this change but boy...was she ever ready!  She has made new friends, loved her new learning, embraced campus life (even the less lovable bits like cafeteria food) and worked very hard and with one A already in the bag I think there may be a couple more to come.

For a kid who did veeery little observable homework in her school career I am impressed and a tiny bit surprised.  This is the child who loudly declared she could NOT do the math to which I said that no such determination could made as there was insufficient evidence to prove it!  

And today when the class average was 60% in Socio she scored a healthy A,  

She has played inter-res soccer, even in the pouring rain, done yoga and worked out almost every day, found a couple of other smart introverts and become close friends, spent many happy hours in the Res lounge making lots of new friends, learned how to do laundry 4 flights of stairs down from her room, negotiated the bus, ferry trip logistics, found some interesting cafeteria food hacks that kept her nutrition somewhat intact......and had lots of fun and laughs and I am sure there is a lot more that I don't know about!

And you know what..... I am totally ok too.  There is no doubt I miss her.  I miss her space in our family and our home but I don't overly worry or fret about her.  She has proved, in spades, she's got this.  I trust her.  And I have enjoyed being with my boys too.  Learning to be three and then four and then three again.  

I know it's only semester 1 but I am celebrating that we were brave and strong and everything has turned out well so far.  

I'm looking forward to a two week stretch of being 4 again and settling into a much needed break for us all after a Fall that had us running full tilt.

Masters Man has submitted his final term paper too so very soon school will be done and other, neglected, pursuits can be enjoyed.  Like sleep. 

Yay us.