Monday, January 28, 2013

When You're Feeling Really Cold...

We've got two days of extremely cold weather coming our way.  It may go as low as -41C with the wind chill.  I've just come in from outside and while it's not quite that cold yet it's still cold!  That got me thinking about warmer weather and how much I'm looking forward to spring, so this seemed like a good time to do a bit of catching up posting a layout that hasn't yet made it to my blog - something warm and summery!
 
Aaaah yes...Jen and I in beautiful Banff trekking our way up Sulphur Mountain on a lovely July day, enjoying the beauty of the spectacular scenery all around us.  This brings back such good memories.
 


I feel so much better now!

Until next time...
Susan :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10 Things I Hoped To Do in 2012

As always it seems hard to believe that another year has passed by so quickly and we are at the beginning of a new one again.  Last January as part of Shimelle's 10 Things on the 10th, I made a list of ten tiny things that I wanted to work on throughout 2012.  Exactly one year later, this seems like the perfect time to revisit that post and add a verdict on how I did...

1. Project 365.


No, I don't mean starting Project 365.  I mean finishing the one I took all those photos for during 2010, our big year of change.  With 13 weeks scrapped so far, I'm only one quarter the way through this project and since that was such an important year for us I really do want to finish it eventually.  Although I'd love to think I could get it all done this year, I'm going to be realistic and dedicate two days a month to working on it and if I can stick with this I'll have accomplished a big chunk of it by year's end.

The Verdict: Well, unfortunately I can't say that I was enormously successful with this goal.  I'm not sure what happened to those two days a month that I wanted to dedicate to this project, but they certainly weren't spent working on it!  I managed to complete 6 more weeks putting me at the 20 week mark right now.  My hat's off to anyone who can start one of these year-long projects and actually finish it by the end of the year in which they start it.


2. Bake.

I love to bake.  I used to bake a lot but have gotten away from it in the past few years, which actually might be a good thing or I'd probably weigh a lot more than I do!  But since it is something that I really enjoy doing, I'd like to spend a few hours each week baking.  Mondays will be Baking Day and that way I can share some of it with Jen on Tuesdays when we get together.

The Verdict: This was an easy goal to stick with!  I did lots of baking throughout the year and even tried some healthier recipes such as fat-free banana bread, homemade energy bars and vegan brownies.  Some may have mistaken my vegan brownies for mud pies but I still had fun making them.  ;-)  I started using my bread machine and now make most of the bread we eat.  I even tried my hand at sourdough bread but keeping the sourdough starter alive and thriving in the fridge was a bit like having another pet to take care of and when I missed one of its feedings things went a bit awry and that was the end of that.


3. Try New Recipes.


We're in a real rut when it comes to what we eat for supper.  The same old recipes week in and week out.  I'm tired of eating the same things but it always seems like an effort to find new recipes and actually try them.  However, the time has come to make that effort so my aim is to try a new recipe once a week and hopefully discover some new dishes that we'll want to eat again.  I've already made the Three Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake pictured above (minus the spinach) and it was delicious.  Here's to waking up our taste buds in 2012!

The Verdict: Success again!  I seem to do fine with food-related goals.  I have cooked many new dishes this past year which have become favourites for us and I have tried to focus on eating healthier as much as possible.  I especially enjoyed making homemade soups.  My favourite is Nine Bean Soup which I make on a regular basis.  Runner-up is a Potato Leek Carrot Soup.  Delicious!  I'm continuing with this trend in 2013 and made Salmon Cakes last night for supper which turned out quite nice.



4. Scrapbook More.


My box of photos to be scrapbooked gets fuller with each passing month.  There are so many little stories and moments I want to document and I need to seriously start dedicating some time to this every week in order to get pages done while the memories are still fresh in my mind.   I've reached the point where I have so much paper and so many supplies to be used that I don't even feel the desire or the need to buy anything new and it's been months since I've gone to the LSS.  I'm hoping that Miss Smith's Just One Sketch class, which begins on January 15th, will give me the push I need to get back into scrapbooking.  I'm ready to get started!

The Verdict: I think I did pretty well with this goal considering the type of scrapbooker that I am.  I will never be a person who scraps on a regular basis and produces hoards of layouts, but during 2012 I did finish of good number of pages.  That included the 10 that I needed to do to finish my vacation album from the trip I made out here in the summer of 2010 and that in itself was an accomplishment to be able to see that album completed.  I also faithfully kept up with Miss Smith's Just One Sketch class until my mother had her stroke toward the end of February and then life took a different turn for several months and I never did get back to working on that.  I bought minimal scrapbooking supplies during the year and am happy to just keep using what's in my stash.  Of course, even though I don't buy much I have Jen to thank for passing things my way when she has extras or wants to get rid of "scraps", so there are still new things being added to my supplies from time to time.



5. Give Blood. 
This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time and I'm not quite sure why I can't seem to make that final step to actually donating.  I'm not at all squeamish with needles.  I don't faint at the sight of blood.  I guess there's just something a bit creepy about the thought of draining such a quantity of my very lifeforce.  I signed up to receive Canadian Blood Services newsletters with the hope that reading the stories of donors and recipients will convince me to do this.  I want to do this!

The Verdict: Sadly, epic fail.  This is something I really want to do, if only once in my life.  I have no fear of needles.  And true, I don't faint at the sight of blood, but there's something about losing a quantity of my blood, even if it's a small amount, that doesn't sit well with me.  Here's my story.  I received and read all of the emails that Canadian Blood Services sent to me.  I knew there was a blood clinic being held in my neighbourhood at the end of June and I was psyching myself to get past that fear and go donate.  At about the same time, I had to have a mole on my leg biopsied.  The doctor removed a 2mm piece of flesh and covered the wound with a bandaid.  By the time I got home, blood had seeped through the bandaid so I did the only logical thing - I called Jen and said, "Blood soaked through the bandaid and I'm too afraid to take it off to look!  I'll have to wait until Richard gets home from work and he can do it for me."  I knew right then that there was no way I'd be accomplishing this goal any time soon.  Sigh. 


6. Walk & Cycle. 

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when both Richard and I walked - a lot - for exercise.  And we rode our bikes for miles and miles.  We were in better shape for sure.  With me nearing 50 years of age and Richard about to turn 55 next month, we know that we need to exercise more.  When we lived in Quebec we were lucky enough to live just down the street from an amazing bike path which went for miles in all sorts of interesting directions.  We used it a lot.  We haven't found anything quite like that where we live now, but after being here for a whole year we do finally have a couple of ideas of nice places to cycle which we'll be trying in the spring.  We did go for a walk this past weekend.  It felt good but we were both really tired at the end of the day because of it.  That's definitely a sign that it's time to get active!
 
The Verdict:  Hmmm...I find it really hard to get into a habit of exercising regularly.  It's awful, I know.  I make an effort to get out and walk and it goes okay for a short time and then I stop.  So I guess I definitely failed on the walking part of this goal.  However, I am happy to say that we did get back on our bikes this summer and went for rides or took our bikes when we went geocaching instead of going by car.  We plan on getting back into this once the good weather returns. 


7. Eat More Fruit.


I eat vegetables with supper.  Mostly.  I don't do so well with fruit.  Weeks at a time can go by where I never eat fruit.  When I want a snack I'm more apt to reach for a different type of sweet - like a cookie (or several!) rather than fruit.  I'd like to eat one fruit each day.  I can't say that I've accomplished this every day of 2012 so far, but I have improved and have certainly eaten more fruit than I normally do.  Bananas are my fruit of choice so far.  No tedious peeling.  No bitter-tasting peel.  I think I will eventually get into the habit of reaching for fruit.  Hopefully.  This would make Matthew happy for although he eats his fair share of sweets and junk, he also consumes large quantities of fruits and vegetables and wishes that everyone in his immediate and extended family would do the same to be healthier.

The Verdict: Fail, plain and simple. Fruit is just not my thing, except during summer when we can get good strawberries and raspberries.  I did eat more fruit than I had before, but nowhere near what I had hoped for except if dried dates count as fruit but I'm not sure they do.  I started eating those and they are great.


8. Journal Weekly.


Last year, thanks to Sian, I discovered these amazing fill-in-the-blank journal pages done by Christie at Grace is Overrated.  I don't want to be writing in a journal every day of my life, but I loved the idea of occasionally capturing a little snapshot of what is going on in my life.  I can accomplish this by filling in one of these pages from time to time.  I bought a lovely apple green binder.  I bought markers to colour in the borders in order to make them more personal.  I printed out all of the pages that were available at the time.  And to date I think I've completed a total of four pages.  As much as I want to use these journal sheets on a regular basis, most of the time I simply just don't think to do it.  So, I vow to write up one journal sheet each week.  I've picked  random days and written them down.  I won't forget to do this anymore and with time I'll have a fun collection of documented moments of my life.

The Verdict: Success, although I did deviate slightly from this plan.  I still have my binder of journal pages which I use from time to time but I also bought a 5-year journal in which you answer a simple question each day.  It's quick and easy and will be interesting to see how my answers to the questions change as the years go by. 

9. Phone My Mother More Often.


I don't like to talk on the phone.  I rarely ever just pick up the phone and call someone to talk.  I don't enjoy it.  It's not me.  I use the phone when there's a specific need to call someone; when there's a reason or purpose in making the call.  But I know that my mother would probably like to hear from me more often and a quick phone call to her "just because" might make a difference in her day.  I will do my best to call my mother more often.

The Verdict: As I've written about before, sadly my mother had a stroke in February and because she is now confined to a wheelchair, had to be placed into long term care.  Up until that time I had spoken with her every week.  Now, because we can't talk with her on the phone, Jen and I alternate weekends making the drive down to the home to visit with her. 

  

10. Organize My Time Better.

I'm a very organized person by nature and while I do accomplish a lot during my days,  I don't always accomplish all of the things (especially little things like filling in a journal page!) I'd wanted to do.  I'll get into bed and then remember.  Or I get to the end of the week and think about those things (like doing a scrapbook page) that I just didn't make time for.  Sometimes I get on a tangent (like knitting) and over-devote my time to it instead of managing my time and accomplishing more.  I function better when I make lists.  There's something satisfying about writing down all the things you need/want to do and then crossing them off as you finish them.  Chris passed along a small date planner to me which he was given at work but doesn't need.  I've started using this to plan out my weeks in a more balanced fashion and by doing this I think I'll be able to accomplish many of the items on this 10 Things list!

The Verdict: After the first couple of months, and especially once my mother fell ill, I realized I couldn't plan out every single day the way I'd thought I might.  At that point we were just taking each day as it came and once things settled down a few months later I never got back to using the date planner.  I was looking for a way to balance and structure my days better but I think I will always be a person who gets on a tangent and knits like a mad woman for a week and then switches to something totally different and spends hours and hours on that.  Maybe my days don't need to be any more organized and balanced than they already are because I do accomplish all the things I need to each day. ;-)

So, that was it.  Ten small things - all very do-able.  I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped to be but I like to think that I did make a little bit of progress.  In general I am eating better now than I was a year ago and that was important to me.  After reading several books during the year on consumerism and the effect it has on the environment and the world we live in, I made concrete changes in my life to become less of a consumer so that I'll make less of a negative impact on our planet.  I'm also proud that I recorded all of our expenses and purchases for the entire year so that we know down to the last penny how much money we spent last year.  It was a challenge doing this but we've learned valuable information about our spending which will help us plan better in the future.

And for 2013...no resolutions...no lists of things I'd like to do.  I'm just going to live each day, be who I am and be happy with that.

Until next time...
Susan :-)