Pushing forward

Starting a conversation can be so hard sometimes. Finding the right ice breaker, the right way to start, can seem impossible. I find myself sitting quietly a lot these days rather than trying to find a way to talk about what’s been going on lately.

After my sister’s visit, I found myself slipping quietly into a funk. I’m not sure if it just started out as that down after a great time that happens to everyone, or if it was the time of year. Either way, I tried to manage it myself. I was diligently taking my meds. I got lots of sleep and ate well. Nothing seem to break the funk though, and eventually it grew into something more. My anxiety and depression reared their ugly heads. Thankfully, I have some amazing friends and family who encouraged me to talk to my doctor about it. My meds have been changed and I am being very careful around my triggers and am managing as best I can.

Unfortunately, the world keeps on spinning and doesn’t care what is already on one’s plate. Shortly after this, I received some news. I don’t want to get into too many details, because it wouldn’t be appropriate, but I am no longer doing any of the social media for Belly Laughs. I mention it only because I feel it is only right that you, my readers, know where to find me and I know that I have directed you there previously. There is a chance that I may do some blogging for them in the future, but that isn’t a sure thing. As of right now, I still work my regular monday night shift, but that’s it.

As you can imagine, the timing isn’t great with the holidays coming up. Thankfully, I did most of my shopping quite early and everything that is left on my Shopping list can be replaced with homemade items. Honestly, I prefer doing it that way anyway. It also so happens that one of my favourite self-care tasks is crafting, so it’s a win win.

The fun didn’t stop there, unfortunately. On my way to work on Monday, our one and only vehicle started making very unhappy sounds. I took it in yesterday (which ended up being a fun adventure for Liam and I, despite the early hour. He ended up having his first bus ride. A wrong bus choice on my part resulted in an unexpected trip to Starbucks and a windy but nice walk home).

liamadventureLooks like our poor wheels are pretty much done. We are putting about $500 in and then will trade it in. This of course means a bad financial situation when things are tough already, and added strain because we will need to finance the next car. Which also means that we will not be able to continue house hunting for a while, at least until things vastly improve.

So, here we are, I am trying my best to be positive about it all, but it’s hard. I probably need to find more work to supplement the hours that I have lost. On the plus side, a close family friend has presented me with an opportunity which may fill that void. We were talking about replacing the car soon anyway (ideally after getting our new home), because it is killer on gas. This situation sort of expedited the whole process. I was feeling torn about the whole house situation anyway, and this forces us to wait until we are in a more stable situation. Which, if I am being honest, is fine with me. Things are tough. Really really tough. I’m not doing great, however I do see that maybe this is the Universe forcing us to do things we have put off and giving us opportunities we may not have taken otherwise. For instance, I am now thinking about focusing more on what I can do in the future to potentially start my own business.

Oh, and I am knitting and crocheting like crazy again. Check it out! I will do a post soon with more deets on these.

liamgrampscommissionhatsHopefully I will have some good news to share soon. In the mean time, I will keep hoping and pushing along. Hopefully these bumps in the road are just new opportunities that we haven’t fully appreciated yet.

Another Monday

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Mine was a strange blend of absolutely crazy busy and mind-numbingly relaxing. Friday, Pat was home sick and I went downtown for my regular waxing appointment (PS, I totally noticed a difference in not taking some Tylenol before the appointment. Ow). Afterwards, I hung out at bridgehead and had my 2nd favourite iced chai in the world (only topped by the one I had in New Orleans).

This? This is heaven.

I then met up with Pat’s Work Wife, Ali, and one of their co-workers, Young Pat. We had a quick lunch together and then I left them to finish off their work day. In the evening, Pat and I had to do some running around for the estate. Saturday we did major weeding of our backyard and a quick mowing. In the evening, I tried out a new recipe that I’ve been eyeing for a while (yet another find on pinterest). I am a big fan of cauliflower and would eat it in everything. Absolutely everything. My husband? Not so much. He was really unsure about this dish.

Roasted Cauliflower (in a tomato sauce)

I’m not up for stealing a recipe from one blog to another, so I’ll just tell you about basics of the recipe:

While you roast your cauliflower in the oven (BTW, I totally felt that one head of cauli wasn’t enough. Get a giant head, or double the recipe. Seriously. Or, you know, keep this thing as a sidedish rather than your whole meal), fry up an onion in some olive oil. I used 6 shallots or so instead of the onion, as that’s what I had on hand.

Once the onions/shallots start to change colour and get soft, add about half a big can of diced or chopped tomatoes, juice and all (or one small can, as per the recipe). Add your tsps of sugar, a dash of salt and your fancy vinegars. I used balsamic vinegar, regular white vinegar and some white wine that was on its way out (about a week since uncorking). Don’t judge, it’s better than wasting, right? Reduce all of this stuff down and then purée.

Cook some garlic in some olive oil, add your tomato deliciousness and let it reduce down to a thick goopy sauce. Add some chili powder for spice. Once it’s nice and sticky, add the roasted cauliflower. Coat well, serve, NOM.

So, Pat wasn’t sure about this. I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t sure about love. Verdict? I LOVED it. Aside from cauliflower soup and au gratin, this is my new favourite cauli meal. I would eat this ALL THE TIME. Pat’s opinion? For cauliflower, it was ok. The sauce would be awesome on pasta. Or, you know, something else that didn’t suck.

After dinner, a bunch of Estate stuff came up which kept me busy long into the night. Sunday morning we SLEPT IN. It was glorious. I felt awesome. Afterwards, I mowed the front lawn while Pat started work on my car. You remember my car, right? We bought it last year.   About a month or two after we bought it, we started to notice it had some issues. Last November, it almost completely died.  It stranded us at a pet store far from home. Basically, that model and year of car is known for transmission issues (which we didn’t learn until the issues started for us, about a week after our one month warranty ended). A friend of ours, a Subaru fanatic, thinks that we might be able to fix the issue with a transmission fluid additive, which will help all of the seals. I’m not convinced this will fix the issue, but it’s worth a shot. I haven’t been able to drive in about 7 months, and have been reliant on Pat and his car to get around (it’s standard, which I don’t drive. Have no desire to learn. Long story, but it’s too stressful for me to take on right now).

Pat under the car

My reaction to this whole thing

Pat, out from under.

Will it work? Who knows. We’ll have to wait and see. This week doesn’t hold any set plans, so we’ll see what we end up doing. Happy Monday everyone!

Constant change

I feel like I’ve fallen off the internet wagon the last few weeks. Life has been incredibly busy lately and I’ve had a hard time keeping up.

This past week, in a whirlwind, I started a new job. When we got back from the honeymoon, there was a message waiting for me about getting the interview. When I called them back it turned out that it was the last day for interviews, and they only had one spot open…in two hours. So, I prepped as best I could and ran out the door.

I got a call later that day and was told that I was the best interview they had ever had and that they wanted me to start immediately. So, I bargained with them a bit and now I’m an assistant to the student employment services at the local college.

Lucky for me, I was able to negotiate for a couple of days off when my sister arrives from Calgary, so it’s not too bad. It’s a part time contract job, with full time hours until the end of May.

For some reason, the slight change in hours and the need to use public transportation to get to and from work has completely messed  me up. I’m tired all the time and feel like I don’t have any time at home in the evenings to do anything. Add on top of that the approaching holidays and holiday parties, my husband’s birthday and associated birthday party, and my sister’s visit…I’m feeling completely run down and stressed. On top of that, this weekend my car died. Yes, the car we just bought a couple of months ago. I’m really upset about it, and it only adds more stress to the pile.

How have I been coping? Tea. Lots of tea. And television. There’s a new Canadian show that just ended it’s first season called “Lost Girl”. It’s about a fae girl who realized she wasn’t human when she accidentally kills her boyfriend. She then slowly becomes introduced to the fae world, and the power struggle between light and dark. It’s really really good and I have been looking forward to it every week.

I also spent a bunch of time writing up my Yule/Christmas cards and sending them out this year. Chapters has a great line cards that are super cute and modern.

This week I received my gift from the swap I’m participating in on Rav for some of us pagan crafters. I received a gorgeous hand knit lace shawl, in what seems to be a hand made pouch/purse, with some great teas and a hand tape measure.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. I was having a hard day, and it was so generous, and beautiful that I was very touched. It’s funny how sometimes we get exactly what we need when we need it.

Meanwhile, Pat and I, after a couple of days of celebration in honour of his birthday, finally got started on the guest room again and installed the shelves! I used to have a big bulky black bookshelf in the room, but when we decided to make it a guestroom I knew it had to go. So, the plan was to install some floating shelves from IKEA on the opposite wall to make up for the lack of the bookshelf. It brings everything up and off the ground, allowing for enough space for the bed.

I’m soooo happy with it! Now we just need to find a way to get the bed from my Mum’s place across town. We were going to use my car, but now that that’s died, we may need to rent a truck. Sigh. Nothing ever comes easy. Oh well, at least we’re finally starting to make baby steps.

Speaking of babies, this room will eventually become a nursery, moving the guest bedroom to the basement (once that’s done). That’s a ways off yet, but it’s good to have a plan just in case.

Anyway, I should get back to work, but I’m hoping to post more once my schedule evens out.

Cheers!

Wheels and Wedding Crafting, Part 1

Good afternoon everyone!

We in Canada were lucky this week to have Canada Day on Thursday. For me, it coincided with my summer hours week, so I got Friday off as well (at my job, we work 45 minutes more each day during the summer, which earns us every second friday off!). Faced with this long weekend, I wanted to get a lot done.

One result of weddings, that I hadn’t prepared for, is the mess. Firstly, you’re bringing home a bunch of stuff you didn’t have before (yay gifts! Oh wait, that includes ALL of the decor too!) and no where to put it. It also means all of those jars I used for centerpieces came home with flowers in them. I’ve been slowly working towards reclaiming our home. I feel that today, finally, I’ve made head way. All the flowers have been composted, water dumped, jars washed and sorted. I’ll be selling some of them, and keeping the few that I really love. Unfortunately, with these flowers, came some of the BIGGEST EARWIGS I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Yes, they warrant caps lock. Seriously. Thank god I have a fearless husband manned with huge shoes to destroy them.

I know that that’s not a very Yay Nature! thing, but I have this understanding with creepy critters. In your environment, I’ll leave you alone. My house, however, does not welcome anything between 5-7 legged critters. Spiders I can handle, because they eat things I hate. And they are master weavers. Bugs though? No way. You know, I thought about posting a picture of an earwig just now, for those of you who don’t have them, and I just couldn’t do it. No way I’m letting one on to my blog! UGH.

They are truly my most hated critter. Unfortunately, I live in an area where they prosper. HATE. Ugh.

So, back to happy things: This weekend has been productive. I did some cleaning at The Big House (the family home), did some banking, cleaning and, completely unexpected: Bought my first vehicle.

My last car had been a gift. When my father died, my Mum gave me his ’96 Volvo so that I could get back and forth to work, and to her place to get her to her many doctor’s appointments. Unfortunately, as you might remember me talking about, I crashed it about 7 months ago:

The car that saved my life.

I’ve only owned one other car before that, and it was extremely brief. And wasn’t really mine. My Dad bought a Volvo and was going to sell it to me. I took it on a few road trips  and then decided that I didn’t want to keep it. In fact, even before we left I decided I didn’t want to drive it, so my best friend, Isaac, drove it on our road trip out East.

Isaac, Me and The Car

My favourite picture of the trip

My first car

It was a great car, but I was having major stress issues dealing with it being a standard. You see, I never really learned to drive a manual car properly, and it was just too much for me to drive for 22 hours straight. So, I gave it back to my Dad when we got back from our Summer travels.

I’ve never actually purchased a car, had it put into my name and owned it, all on my own. Every since the crash, I’ve been needing a vehicle to get around. My Mum’s van has been useful the last few weeks, but we’re sending it back to the dealer soon and I don’t want a minivan. So, Pat and I started our searching and very randomly came across a 2000 Subaru Outback with a bunch of scratches and almost no rust. It’s in great condition and the scratches make me less worried about keeping it pristine. So, allow me to introduce my new baby, Betty Joan:

Meet the lovely lady Betty Joan

Her name is both a nod to Mad Men, as well as a reference to her license plate. I obviously can’t tell you much about it, but it does include the letters B and J. She’s a great car that will definitely serve our family as it grows. We aren’t planning on having kids right away, but certainly within the next five years. We wanted a vehicle that could handle all of our stuff (including our 85lbs dog) and any potential babies. I think she’s just great :)

In other news, I wanted to share some of my wedding crafts. Now that the wedding is over, I feel that I can finally share some of the things I made for it.

Heriloom Wedding Garter

My Garter

Pattern: Knitted Lace Wedding Garter

Yarn: Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter

Ravelry Project Page

This garter was actually a really fun quick knit. Because of the yarn I chose, I had to change the pattern quite a bit. It still ended up HUGE, but absolutely gorgeous. The yarn was just the most beautiful stuff I’ve ever knit with, though not the easiest to work with. The glitter separated from the yarn, and didn’t have the same stretch. Winding it was NOT fun. In the end, I only wore the garter for a little while, because it was just too big and too warm for me to wear at the end of June. It’s definitely going into my cedar chest for my kids though.

All knitted

Jam Wedding Favours

Jam Favours

I decided quite early on that I wanted to make jam for our favours. It suited our rustic and DIY theme. This was especially true once we decided on mason jars as the centerpieces. For the recipe, I used the one on the quick set packages. I found it too sweet for my taste, but it was also my first time using Quick Set (with sugar already included) as opposed to pectin. The jam was straight up strawberry. We made 85 small jars (I think they were 1/2 cup?).

How to make your own easy peasy jam:

1. Boil your jars and lids for a good 10 minutes at a rolling boil. This makes sure you get all the nasty bacteria out. Remember, when removing them from the water to use sterilized tools, and NEVER touch the inside, the mouth or the bottom of the lids with your bare hands.

Sterilized Jars

If you have a pressure cooker, I’d definitely recommend using that to sterilize instead. But, boiling works fine so long as you’re careful and quick.

2. Cut up your fruit. In our case, a BUNCH of strawberries. We cut them pretty chunky, because I find it easier to mash bigger pieces. Depends on the consistency you like.

LOTS of strawberries

3. In our case, we just threw all the strawberry bits into a pot with some lemon juice and boiled them. Once they started to boil, we added the quickset. The key here is stirring. Keep on stirring and mashing up the big pieces.

Me, stirring away

4. Once the jam has boiled for some time (I think it was about 10 minutes, but I’d have to check), you remove it from the heat and start skimming the cloudy stuff off the top. Personally, I put the skimmed bits in to a bowl to eat with fresh bread or shortbread cookies.

5. Once all skimmed, ladle the jam into your prepared jars. Get the lids on quick, as it’s the heat of the jam which will pull the lid down into a seal.

For storage: If you plan on using the jam right away, keep it in your fridge once cooled (Hot glass + cold fridge = bad news!). Otherwise, you can store it in a cool dark place for about 3 months. Longer if you freeze it instead (which is what we do. We’ve used jam YEARS later, if its been frozen). When labeling, make sure to include the date made.

Some great labelling pages: Eat Drink Chic

What I did:

-Printed one set of labels on Staples Brand labels (Ours read Strawberry Jam. Handmade with Love. Heather and Pat, 26-06-19).  Those went right on the jars.

-Printed another set that read “Spread the Love! Heather and Pat, 26-06-10”. These went on plain white tags, also bought at Staples. We then used some of my scrap yarn to attach those to the lid. We were lucky that our jar lids were so pretty, so I didn’t feel the need to add fabric, though you can. Just be aware that this has to happen as you’re closing the lids as it goes between the middle lid and the outer ring. Be careful that you’re spooning the jam in cleanly, otherwise you’ll get jam all over your fabric.

Hope you enjoyed!! I’ll be posting more of my crafts over the coming weeks.

Settling in

It’s funny how now that I’m working, I find I have more time to post regularly.  It’s been so strange lately, working a full time job again, while getting the last bit of wedding stuff done, while working on estate stuff and getting the house clean. 

 Most of the wedding stuff is going well. Just a few things here and there that need to be done. Namely, meeting with vendors and getting forgotten supplies. Pat and I managed to win a huge discount on getting our wedding filmed. WOO! The company is First Kiss Films, and they are amazing! Go team!  So, we should get a really pretty mini-film of the wedding. Exciting, right?

 

Bridget from FKF

We’ve booked Mum’s burial. I’m a bit nervous about it. I know I’m in this weird place where I want to find this feeling of closure, but at the same time I’m terrified of accepting Mum’s death and moving on. I’m especially concerned about the sale of the house. Even with her gone, we’re still there a lot and it’s still a home to me. T’s going to be such a loss for that to be gone.  It deserves a new family full of love. It was such a great house for us. It deserves better than what we can offer it.

Me, in front of the Orleans house on my 17th birthday

Work is strange, but still great. I think everyone else seems to think that someone else is giving me work, and so I spend most of the day begging for things to do or familiarizing myself with the filing system. For the first time in a long time, or perhaps even ever, I feel happy with where I’m working. There’s no great fight with myself in the morning to come in. Sure, I still get nervous, but it’s not that deep dread I’m used to with work. It’s a really great relief. Today I spent three hours with my supervisor and had a great time of it. We chatted and really seemed to get along. Funny how when you need something, the universe provides.  :)

 I’ve been wondering recently what I’m going to do with myself after the wedding to pass my time and to fill my mind with. I’ve been thinking about getting back into yoga and maybe taking a few online paganism courses. Ellen Dugan has a few, and I’ve heard about some others too. Unfortunately, money is still going to be tight, even with the new job, as we just discovered we have a leak of some sort in the basement. We have to have someone come in and look at it soon and then, after all of that work, we’ll have to repaint. Again. UGH.  On top of that, I need to get myself a car by July, because that’s when we turn in Mum’s van. It’s an hour and a half to bus to work, versus the 20 minutes to drive. A no brainer for sure. I may have found one that could be the winner. It’s a fully loaded 2000 Jetta sedan that has had a lot of work put into it, and only two previous drivers. I’m really excited about owning my own vehicle. This will be the first time I’ve ever purchased a car. Milestone time!

The car I'm lusting after

Meanwhile, it’s my birthday on Saturday and people keep asking me what I want. It’s strange, but for the first year ever, I honestly don’t know. There’s no book series I’m dying for, no movies I need to own. The only thing I’m dying to get is a new phone. I’ve been catching up on the iPhone 4G news all day. It looks amazing. WANT.

iPhone <3

Unfortunately, living in Canada, they aren’t going to be available until July sometime L I hope pre-orders start soon, because I want one as soon as they become available. It’s incredible to believe that I’ll be 27 by this time next week. Where does the time go? I remember my 17th birthday like it was only a couple of years ago, rather than a decade.

 So, with that I should get back to work. I encourage you to go check out this post at Walking the Hedge. It’s a great post and definitely gets you thinking about fate, luck and personal responsibility.