Sunday, January 13, 2013

Summer Revue - part 1... A Wedding Shower

I had the most amazing summer, this summer.  Truly.  It was a planned and busy summer with loads of family, loads of activities that involved family and our beautiful province too.  I was so busy this summer, I just couldn't make time to blog.. and I was sad about that.  So.. my plan is to blog a few events that need to be shared.  Someday, I plan on having my blog published (for my own use) to keep as a memento.  There are so many wonderful things in my life that I want to commemorate ... and the winter months are the months to catch up on those things that I didn't have time to blog about.  When I go to publish my blog, I will rearrange the blogs into the right order so eventually it will be the right order.

I have lived in this community going on 25 years.  Coming from a military family, and marrying into a military life... I never imagined I would ever have the luxury of becoming part of a community. You know,  really living in a community and feeling like its my home.  I have friends that I will grow old with and I know lots of people at the grocery store and I know tons of kids, and have watched them grow into adults and get married and have kids.  Not only does that mean I am getting old.. but it also means that I am  a part of this community.

So... that being said, in a long and obscure way, I was honoured to host a wedding shower this summer for sweet little Ashley Walker who I have known since she was 4.  She and her family have been in my life all that time, even though they moved twice in our friendship life.  Her mom, Debbie and I have been "stay home mom" friends, then "working mom" friends, then "Brownie Leader" friends, and "running the roads with our kids" friends (we earlier post about busy life as a mom).  Our lives have been entangled enough over the past 25 years... that I feel we are WAY MORE than friends.  And, in many ways, better than family!

Ashley's wedding was set for Sept.. so a July shower was perfect timing.  I was finished work in early July and expecting company in a few weeks... I was cleaning and baking for my company to arrive so having a Wedding Shower was perfect timing, since I was already in the entertaining mode!  I was also working on a wedding bouquet for my own daughter Stephanie who was getting married in mid August.. and that just made everything feel romantic!

Michelle and Jack arrived the day before Ashley's shower to help with the set up and my niece, Aubrey arrive from Ottawa the day before that.
I had lots of help to decorate and do the last minute food prep and Lauren arrived shortly after lunch to set up for the games and activities part of the shower.  I was very thankful she did that part, since I am not that experienced at those parts of the party.

I will gladly admit that Pinterest helped me with so many fun ideas for the food and decorations.  We had three kinds of punch..
Red Wine punch, Watermelon strawberry punch and Lemon Lime Punch.
Ashley's wedding colors were Orange and Silver, and therefore,
I made sure that most of my accents were in those colours.
  We had fresh fruit and fresh veggie cups.  Hidden in the
 bottom of the cups for the veggies was a yummy onion dip, 
and there was a fruit dip to pour on the top of the fruit cups.
Michelle is well stocked in fun cake servers and I borrowed a matching set from Paula.   
Tea biscuits served with 4 types of butter...  Lemon butter, cinnamon/walnut, raspberry and plain

Sweets included heart shaped jam filled sugar cookies, gluten free chocolate squares, Cupcakes with or gummy orange slices, wedding cake cookies.   Along with orange candies and orange cheese.. it was a pretty and yummy display of food.

Aubrey, my niece had a blast with her new camera and took lots of "art type" pictures of my veggie and fruit display.. and they were so pretty I had to share them.  She has quite the artists eye.. which she gets from her dad.. who is quite the photographer. She didn't take many pictures of the people who were there, the decorations on the walls and entrance way..  we played several games and they were all really fun...  identifying "white" powder in many forms.  we all felt and sniffed baggies of white powder... and then had to guess what they were..  Sugar.. baking powder... soda... powder.. and I can't remember the rest, but I was totally wrong on most of them.!
Our next game was designing a wedding dress out of 2 rolls of toilet paper.  I have very little imagination so I was sure this would be horrible!  I certainly wasn't going to be a model for the game, and I was scared to be a designer.. but the three brave souls and there design teams went off in all directions in the house...  and these were the final designs.  Ashley's grandmother-in-law "to be" was fashioned in a beautiful strapless off the waist Mermaid type gown, accented with a small flower bouquet and some sort of bow/veil.   To the left, Michelle was also in a Mermaid style dress, but hers was off one shoulder, some hip bling and a sexy headpiece.  Conveniently, her dress falls to the ground on command, which would come in very handy for the honeymoon!  Last but not least, is sexy Jackie, who was fashioned in a plunging neckline of a dress (which we had to accentuate the boob area to make the plunge work).  It was a sassy short number, for the sleazy bride and her dress came with flowers, head dress and waist bling. 

Ashley was our judge and she was quite impressed with all of the designs.. and frankly, so was I.  Its amazing what you can do with a couple of rolls of toilet paper and some very creative women!

Ashley, her two sister in laws.. sizing up and appreciating our dress designs!

Finally, Ashley was blessed with wonderful gifts from her family and friends.  Her kitchen cupboards will be adorned with new and shiny eating and cooking items.  She will have soft and lush towels to offer anyone who gets to spend the night... and lots of baking supplies to get her started on her adventures of baking!

Ashley is surrounded by newly married girls, and although they all seem so serious, they are all remembering when they were in the spotlight and had to open gifts in front of everyone.  I had forgotten how nerve wrecking this could be.  Ashley did an amazing job and was as cute as a button through the whole thing.

With Michelle and Lauren's help, we pulled off a beautiful and fun wedding shower for the cutest bride of 2012!

*** added as an afterthought.. well, actually thanks to Debbie's reminder**

Final added pictures.  We had great hopes of getting the carpet removed from the steps going both up and down stairs during the first weeks of the summer.  It was easy to remove the carpet and underlay but then with working full days... having to precision cut, sand and stain (several coats), battle potato bugs in our garden (by hand, no less) and wedding shower prep (on my part)...  the stairs just weren't coming together.
On the night before the shower... Michelle dragged out my markers and proceeded to decorate the stairs in honour of Ashley's shower!
The stairs didn't actually get finished until our exciting summer was over.. so we had the pleasure of enjoying these decorated stairs all summer..  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Menu Planning 101

 Gone are the days when I was mom to a family of 5 (this included my dad, and my hubby - 2 little girls).  Also, 4 cats (maybe 5), 2 dogs, 2 tank-full of fish and I think... one guinea Pig (who lived for 8 years, ugh).

Add to that houseful... violin lessons (I ran the program), swim team, basketball, Brownies (was a leader), Tae Kwon Do, Catechism, Junior Liturgy (Leader), Drama club, skating lessons, soccer and a full time job.  My kids didn't do all those things at the same time but several of them at least.  I know I am missing some...

I look back and my head spins at what I did with so little time and so many things to do... Plus I sewed, crafted, socialized and went to the gym (in fits and spurts).
One thing that got me through that busy time in my life was menu planning.  We began this practice when I first started to work full time in the early 1990's but by the time my dad moved in with us in 1995, we were menu planning experts.  Even the kids participated in the planning and executing of the menu.

A good friend of mine gave me a great Day Planner in the late 1990's and I started buying that planner for the next 10 years until I started moving out of super busy and into the computer calendar era.  This day planner is still out on the market and it has several spots to plan your week, including a menu column.  I just bought one for Michelle, this Xmas... since she is just starting her roller coaster life of a working & stay home mom!

Every Sunday, our family would brainstorm what would be good to eat for the week, at the same time as reviewing who has what on what night and trying to anticipate what problems we were going to up against for the week.  We managed to eat supper together every night of the week, even if we had an event starting at 6.. we were fed and on the road by 5:45.... and only because we had meals planned and half made before we even got home.

As the kids moved away and my dad was no longer around to anchor us and our meal times, and the evenings were less hectic.  Terry and I became lazy about meal planning and it got harder and harder to get meals done on time and not from a box in the freezer.   We would never have groceries in the house that we needed and we often ate out.  Although, it was fun at first.. we soon realized that this wasn't all it was cracked up to be and we started to plan at least Monday to Thursday each week.

Now that its January, and its a good time to start good habits... Terry and I are going to start a serious Meal Planning routine again.  I went through about 10 years of old day planners to see what it was we liked to eat.  It provided me with some long forgotten favourites but it also made me chuckle...  some weeks we ate exactly what we ate.. the week before.  I can actually remember sitting with the kids to try and think of things to eat.... and the kids would say.. "what did we eat last Tuesday"..  well, if it was spaghetti... we would plug that in on a Thursday the next week.. and we were all relieved to at least have one more menu night done!  Hee hee... a great reason to include the kids in this routine... so they can't really complain about whats' for supper.. since they agreed to it on Sunday!  My list does NOT even include all the recipes in my recipe books, and favorite websites for recipes...  Whew...certainly lots to choice from!

Well, that's it... how we menu plan, and we have been successful for many years.  The menu was done and the grocery list was prepared on Sundays.  Sunday supper was usually leftovers for Monday or Tuesday and groceries were purchased on Monday night.  Quietest night at the grocery store!  It always set us up for a great week in the kitchen at the very least!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Crystal Falls... 2013

I know if I dig deep enough I will find pictures of hikes to Crystal Falls from 1990 and every year since then.  But the trips to the falls stopped a few years ago... when the kids were grown and working most weekends; the ticks and blackflies were in full force (so we didn't take the dog or Terry).... and life was just too busy for family hikes.
Terry and I started doing some fun winter walking about a month ago.. and have really enjoyed the brisk cool walks.  No black flies and your never tooo hot!
Being a sunny Saturday, which I know is rare in Nova Scotia, we decided to give Crystal Falls a try.

 Well, hiking through snowy trails, broken only by skidoos is a hard walk and I forgot just how UPHILL the whole walk is!
 What a blast and we invited Debbie and Brian, who just got snowshoes for Christmas and are getting into some fun winter walking too.  They were happy to come along and Debbie trotted with her snow shoes the whole walk.  I have never owned the new kind and they look really way better than the old ones we used in our younger days... I am tempted to get some.
Funny how I look like a giant next to Debbie... she looks so tiny!  hee hee, the magic of cameras!

so, you can't tell, but this is VERY steep uphill walking

At the top of the falls.... windy and cool here.  No where to stop and snack.  Next time we will take the bridge route and climb down the big hill to the falls...

What do you mean, we have only gone 3 kms... 
What a great day, and makes for a perfect Saturday.  Napping after a 6 km walk is pretty sweet too!  Another great thing to do on a Saturday!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A typical Saturday Morning

I love Saturdays.  They are sometimes so busy and productive.. it makes your head spin.  Then other Saturdays are lazy and restful.

No matter what my Saturday will be like.. I can always bank on an early morning Skype call.. from my favorite little guy.. Jack.

We have been skyping since he was just 2 months old.. and he and I have a routine of wide mouthed funny face smiles at each other... some songs we enjoy together (If your Happy and you Know it Clap your hands, Itsy bitsy spider.. etc) and I even get to playpen babysit while Michelle is letting the dog out for a pee.  He shows me all the toys in his playpen.  I get tours of his books and proudly shown his fire truck, or a hammer... and I get to see the occasion temper tantrum and time out too.. 

When I am late for our date... I get a buzz or two from Michelle's phone... and that usually gets me up and off to my laptop (usually before 7 AM)

What is so fun, and so amazing is that from a very young age, Jack recognized the sound of Skype phoning me.. and makes a bee line to the computer to await my window to open.  Michelle taped him waiting for me to call... I love knowing he knows me!
This morning I got a tour of his new book with all kinds of textures and page by page he showed me all the cool things that you can feel in the book!
Typing to me... 
Having to reach farther to type to Grammie.. Mom keeps moving the laptop
My new book, A Snowman, with lots of cool textures.  Corrugated Cardboard arms... 
A great way to start my Saturday.. don't ya think!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

I love New Years.   I love the whole idea of a fresh start... a new beginning.  A reflection of what needs to be done....  a review of what went on the past year.

2012 was filled with excitement, family and happiness.  Along with good things, there were a couple of very sad, life "re-focusing" moments as well.   I did not have a bad feeling about 2012... at all... but I do have a good feeling about 2013.  I really do... and that is a rare thing for me... I never have premonitions... not good ones anyway.

This time last year.... our home was filled with a newborn baby and two young adults... learning about parenthood and loving a baby.  We had cats, dog,  guinea pigs....   Every nook and cranny of our moderate home was filled with stuff.  News Years... clean slate mentality... started me on a quest to empty out useless things from our home.. or things that others would value more than I did.

I started with all the baby items I had saved from my kids' childhoods, and things that had more memories attached to them than usefulness.  Stuffed animals, pretty newborn dresses and sleepers,  favourite toys of many of their stages.  ALL of these things meant way more to me  than to my kids.
So... off to a new family .. went... Kid Sister, Hostess Munchie bear, pink bunnies, pink stuffed animals, bath toys and random baby/toddler toys.

I found Calendars from 1977 to 1988... sort of a blog but in calendar form. I didn't throw those out, but they are tucked nicely in my closet with other "heritage building" materials.  Wedding dress... homemade wedding flowers and centrepieces... gone.

 A particularly special trophy I won in 1976, marking my expertise at being a secretary - right out of high school.  Geesh.... I had a lot of fun with that for about a week at work.. and when everyone was finished bowing to me because of my greatness... a picture was taken of my remarkable award and it was also dumped!
Soon, this giant trunk in the garage was emptied of these useless memories and re-filled with camping gear and other more appropriate trunk items.
We moved onto my freezer and I am embarrassed to say... we took 5 boxes of meat, berries,  veggies and fish to Oaklawn Farm for all the animals there to eat.  I had to throw out bread, fries, egg rolls.. etc. Not even the Bears, Tigers and Eagles would eat those frost bitten items.  But Gail Rogerson said she would take anything from your freezer because her creatures don't mind freezer burn.  And how fun to feed her big bears frozen strawberries in the middle of winter when they usually don't get such treats.  This is a note to everyone who is cleaning out your freezers... she will ALWAYS take your throw aways.

The whole year of 2012 has been a de clutter year.  Craft room, Christmas decorations, Linen closets, kitchen cupboards.  Not 100%, and not all the time.. but it has been on my mind all year.  And now.. in 2013... it will continue.

In 6 short weeks, our home will become home to Michelle and Scott, along with Jack and all the pets.  This is a strategic move on their part as they move from one stage in their family life to another.  They will be leaving behind Fredericton, in search of a new life in the Halifax area.  While the search is happening, they will be joining our house, sharing with us the joy and mayhem of raising a little boy.

In the weeks ahead,  we will be super purging closets, un-used "spare" rooms and re-vamping a dusty, lifeless "family room".  It will be wonderful to have life in every part of our big, mostly empty house, but before that can happen, those mostly forgotten hiding places need to be cleared of more "never used" items... Prom dresses, old clothes, boxes of dishes... old blankets, books, wool.. oh my.. the list goes on!
But, for now, today... New Years Day.... after a wonderful one hour walk through the snow..... we rest.