Wednesday, August 31, 2022

What's Up Wednesday


Whew, the last week of summer! Cue sad face. Summer is my favourite. 

What we're eating this week...
Sunday to Thursday - Dave and I are on our own sans kids so there is no menu planned.  We will go out a couple of times and make something easy at home.
Friday to Saturday - Camping meals, and I haven't figured that out yet!

What I'm reminiscing about...
See below for what we've been watching. I've been remembering the summer of '99, the year I graduated from high school. I'll just put this here:

What I'm loving...
Gatorade G2s. I'm late to the Gatorade party I guess but a few times we have been with other people (camping or in Cape Breton) and they had Gatorade so then I was inspired to buy a case of it at Costco.  It's not an everyday drink but good for after a work out or when it's really hot.  I like the red or purple flavour and I like that G2s are half the sugar as regular Gatorade.

What we've been up to...
I put together a summer to-do list and we have done a good job at knocking some things off of it. We missed out on a few things, like we never made it over to the Toronto Islands and we didn't see any live music. Tomorrow I'll do a post to recap our summer fun.

What I'm dreading...
September and October are busy months for us but I'm not really dreading it. It's hectic with school starting, the boys' birthdays, Thanksgiving and Halloween, and trying to remember all of the things along with making the fun food to go with it, but I really do love it. 

What I'm working on...
Getting everything ready for back to school.  I did a post about that here. Since then a few of the things I ordered have arrived and E picked out a new backpack that is also here now.  Q's backpack is still fine for him to use again.  

What I'm excited about...
The routine of the kids being back in school. Summer day camp drop off is usually 9:00 with pick up at 4:00 (or even 1:30 for E's golf camp).  With school, we can take Q at 8:00 and get him after 5:00, and E walks so he can come and go without us. A few times I was struggling to make it to camp pick up on time and I didn't like it!

What I'm wearing...
My white Birks were the purchase of the summer I think.  I love how comfortable they are, and so easy to clean off.  Now, to add some socks to bring them into the fall (or is that a faux pas?).

What I'm watching/reading...
We just watched the Woodstock '99 documentary on Netflix and I want to see the Shania one next.

I wrote about the books I read in August on Monday. Now reading The Break Down by B.A. Paris.

What I'm listening to...
We finished up Stranger Things earlier this month and now I'm listening to The Ringer-Verse deep dive episodes on the show.  I love all of the details they discuss and makes me appreciate Stranger Things even more. Speaking of that, if you go to Spotify, and type in "Upside Down Playlist", it will make your own playlist of songs you like that could possibly bring you back from the upside down. Love it.

What I'm doing this weekend...
Our last camping trip of the summer. I find I'm usually a little camping weary by this time but we never regret going!

What I'm looking forward to next month...
First day of school, Q's birthday, the first day of fall, and plans with friends.

What else is new...
I'm going to see the dentist today to see about Invisalign.  It has been recommended to improve my bite so I don't keep cracking my own teeth, so I'll give it a shot.  When they were booking my appointment, she asked if I was excited to start my Invisalign journey.  I said no, not particularly.  I'm doing it because it will help, but I wouldn't say I'm excited.  Perhaps those people who don't like how their teeth look and are finally doing something about it feel more excited.  Excited? No.  Fine with it? Sure.

Linking up with Shay

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Weekend Recap

 I picked up Q from his camp on Friday afternoon at the Boulevard Club.  He said he had left his beads over at the park so we walked over, but couldn't find them. But it was a nice view!

After supper we had a bonfire in the backyard and invited a few friends over.

Marshmallow time!

On Saturday morning E played baseball. 

His team is the Green Beans and Q dressed in all green in support.

Right field.

E's cheering section, including Dave's parents.

Then Dave's parents took the kids for the week to their house and Dave and I went golfing.  It was a beautiful day.

After golf we watched the F1 qualifying and some of the Jays game and then went out for dinner at Salt  on Ossington. 

On Sunday morning Dave golfed and I went for a run. I decided to drive down to the lake so I could run along the boardwalk (if I started from home I wouldn't make it down to the lake).  It was nice to be out where I used to run when we first moved to the city.

On my way home I stopped in at Merseyside to get a coffee and scone.  Then I read for a bit. So nice to have some "free time" without the kids.

When Dave got home, we watched the F1 race and then got on the subway to Dufferin Station.  We had ordered some oysters from Island Oyster Co. and then took them over to Now and Later.  They have an arrangement that people can bring take out oysters over there. 

Then we picked up pizza and garlic fingers from Maker Pizza to take home.

So delicious!!!

We were home by 5:00, eating our pizza, drinking the wine we bought from Now and Later, me in my pjs, and watching the golf.  It was perfect!  Loved seeing Rory win too!

Then we watched Gray Man and the Woodstock documentary on Netflix.  We thought we would go to bed early but ended up watching all of the episodes of the documentary. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

August Books

I had an excellent book reading month for once! This is due to being on holiday and two round trip flights.  It was also due to some great books that I couldn't put down and read even when I was at 

First up was the last book on my 2022 Reading List - Fight Night by Miriam Toews.

Miriam Toews wrote one of my most favourite books (All My Puny Sorrows that was made into the most beautiful movie) but also wrote one I didn't care for (Women Talking that has been made into a movie and will be premiering at TIFF and I will probably watch it; it's directed by Sarah Polley).  This book, Fight Night, was described as the Ted Lasso of books, so I thought I would give her another chance.  And she has roped me back in, this was a great book.  Set in Toronto, it is about a young girl living with her pregnant mother and colourful grandmother.  The girl, Swiv, has been expelled from school for bad behaviour (although it sounds more like a misunderstanding) so she is with her grandmother all day.  The grandmother is like Ted Lasso in that she is loveable, makes friends wherever she goes, had some great sayings and stories, and is genuine. Some parts of the book are run-on narratives of the grandmother telling stories or Swiv remembering different things, but it works.  It has some lovely details and you feel like you know characters just like these ones in read life.  It also had my tearing up at times, which is classic Toews, she writes heartache well. 

Next up was The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth.

I don't think I had read Sally Hepworth before but I know she is popular and I can see why.  I loved this book and could not put it down! This story is about two adult sisters, their mother is in an assisted living facility with dementia, and their father is remarrying a younger woman.  A few things don't seem quite right as we get closer to the wedding and we hear the story from the point of view of the two sisters and the fiancĂ©e of their father.  I caught some early clues so I felt pleased with myself when I had a few things figured out.  I will be picking up more Sally Hepworth books. 

Then I read Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

This was also a page turner.  I read another of her books, All The Things We Cannot Say a few years ago and had enjoyed it too.  This story starts with a young mother with four small children in the 1950s who is clearly suffering from postpartum depression (although undiagnosed at that time) and her journal entries of her struggles. Then we skip to "present day" (the 1990s) when the children have grown and their father is dying.  We know their mother had died when they were children and apparently the journal entries are that of their mother, and they start to uncover the letters when they are cleaning out the father's house.  We go back and forth from past to present and gradually learn about the circumstances surrounding their mother's death, not as straightforward as they were led to believe. Certainly some hard parts to read but very well done.  
One nitpick I have is that the author is from Australia but the story is set in the United States and she used the phrase "fell pregnant" which is a British/Aussie way of saying "got pregnant" that we say in North America instead. I would have let one time slide but she said it every time and it bugged me.  

Then I picked up In Five Years by Rebecca Serle.

The Dinner List was this author's last book and I read that last year.  In that book the reader is asked to suspend disbelief and just accept that the main character is having dinner with five people, some of whom are dead.  We are asked to do the same thing in this book.  Here the book starts with an introduction to main character who has an interview for her dream job at a large New York law firm, and who has just gotten engaged to her boyfriend.  Then she wakes up in a completely different apartment with a completely different man. She spends about an hour there in that life (realizing it's five years from when she fell asleep on the night of her engagement) and then wakes up back in her regular life.  She is freaked out but wonders about it for the next five years when she actually meets the guy from her "dream".  I'll stop there on the plot but I will say that I had an easier time with this plot point than The Dinner List.  
The author has taken two common interview questions, "What five people would have dinner with, living or dead" and "Where do you see yourself in five years?", and plays out the scenarios.  It's an interesting concept even with the magical element required.  She also writes with a good amount of layered details and I loved all of the characters in this one and really enjoyed the various twists. 

Okay, last book, Smells Like Tween Spirit by Laurie Gelman 

This is the fourth book in this series  - Class Mom, You've Been Volunteered, and Yoga Pant Nation.  I love these books, they are so funny and easy to read.  I laughed out loud a few times.  This is also so relatable because she has released them almost in sync with my own children's school years.  In Class Mom, E was in Senior Kindergarten and I was on mat leave so I did spend more time at school than I used to.  In this one her son is in middle school, just like E is going to be in soon.  I would recommend reading all of the books in order so you know who everyone is and so you get used to Jen's brand of humour. 
One thing I think I commented on when I read Class Mom and it applies here too is that none of the moms in the book seem to work (other than teaching spin classes, or something else part time).  I don't know if this a Canada/US thing or a regional thing (like urban/rural) or just who my friends are, but I don't think I know any mom that stays at home with their kids, so it's just the norm that kids go to daycare and then before and after school care once they are in school, or have nannies.  I mean I know some people do stay home because on the occasions I have picked up the kids from school at dismissal time, I am always shocked by the amount of parents there to get their kids. *shrug* It doesn't matter to me what people do, but I just find it interesting.  There just seemed to be a lot more judgemental positions/comments from other parents in the book that I haven't experienced and it seemed like a shame if that is what people have to put up with.

(And I'm half done two other books, but will just add those to my tally for September.)

Friday, August 26, 2022

Friday Favourites

We had a bit of normal week and had lots of fun.

E came to Q's soccer game with me. He was reluctant to go but did have fun and cheered his brother on.

It also helped that I took them out for Blizzards afterwards.

In my post earlier this month about cleaning I mentioned that much of the time our house looked "lived in" so I took this photo to show you what I mean.  Shoes everywhere, pizza boxes waiting to go out to the recycling, Nerf guns, hats and water bottles from camp.  Now, I did tidy this up after taking the photo, but this is life!

There was an Alanis Morissette ride on Peloton this week and it was so fun!! I knew the words to every song and even though I was out of breath, I was still trying to sing.

Good haul at the farmer's market this week.  The corn was so sweet!

Q got his Chickadee magazine and found a muffin recipe and wanted to make it right away.  Since we had the four ripe bananas it called for, we made them.

Last day of t-ball for the summer also happened this week.  A medal and ice cream - the best!

It was the last week of camp for the kids this week, they are going to spend time with Dave's parents next week, then camping, and then school!! Summer is wrapping up.

Linking up with Andrea and Erika.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Monthly Musings


Linking up with Patty and Holly for Monthly Musings.  September starts next week and I find that the weather noticeably changes as the calendar flips, so I think it is time to think about fall meals.  That said, the Ontario produce is in full force right now so I'm still in summer mode for now.

1. Easiest dinner you make?  Will you share the recipe?
I don't feel like this counts, but chicken fingers is the easiest thing.  We usually have a bag or two in the freezer so when we are starving and home late from something, that's an easy thing to stick in the oven. And we always have frozen vegetables in the freezer to round out the meal.

2. Crockpot? Instapot? Both?
We have a slow cooker, that's it.  I don't use it a lot as I don't care for the texture of the chicken that comes out of it, but it comes in handy for other meals.

3.  Are you a member of a wholesale club? Which one and favourite items there?
Yes, we are members of Costco. I wrote about our Costco habits here. 

4. Do you meal prep or menu plan?  Do you follow any set themes? 
I menu plan each week, but no big meal prep session on a Sunday.  No formal themes, although we do tend to eat tacos on Tuesday only because it's a meal that the kids like to help with and I work in the office on Tuesdays so it can get started before I get home. We also do Pizza Night every other Friday in the fall and winter.

5. Best dinner tips for busy nights?
The aforementioned meal plan so there is no wondering what you'll be eating.  Cook extra chicken or whatever on a non-busy night so you can throw together a salad bowl or quesadilla.  Don't be afraid to call on Uber Eats.

6. Do you use certain ingredients more in the fall?
I only use butternut squash and pumpkin in the fall. Roast beef and roast chicken also show up again in the fall. Cranberries and apples come back around too.

7. Any back to school dinner traditions?
Yes, we have Crunchy Beefy Mac and Cheese on the first day of school.

8. Do you own an air fryer?
No, but we do have a convection bake option in our oven and will put wings, chicken fingers, and fries up on a rack on top of the baking sheet.  I think this replicates an air fryer.  I am not interested in purchasing yet another kitchen appliance.

9. Favourite grab and go item? Homemade or store bought?
A handful of pecans, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips.  All purchased from the Bulk Barn 

10. How many nights a week do you cook?
5-6 nights a week.  We do try for one night of takeout or a restaurant but in the summer it can slip to two nights.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Ready for Back to School (almost)

The start of school usually sneaks up on me and I end up scrambling to get stuff together.  This year I'm slightly ahead of the game and have got most things lined up.  

I ordered new lunch bags for the kids after reading Andrea's post on back to school.  She bought Fluf lunch bags for her kids.  I liked the design too - good size, nice sturdy zipper, and most importantly machine washable.  Q picked out his own (the camo), and I picked out an orangy-red one for E. 

See they fit the bento boxes we already have and a good sized water bottle with room for more snacks

Speaking of water bottles, I bought new ones for the kids, but they haven't arrived yet.  I know that spending good money on hydroflask water bottles is probably a mistake, but I did find ones on sale at The Last Hunt.
Cobalt for E (below), and Pineapple for Q

While I was ordering the water bottles I picked out fall coats for the boys and ordered those too (also good prices) but then I remembered that E already has a fall coat (I was only remembering he had a winter coat that needed replacing but forgot about the fall one I bought last year), so oops!! I do know Q's fall coat was getting two small as he had worn it for two years already. I got the Reima brand for both of them.

E and I picked out some t-shirts from Gap that he and Q can wear on the first day.  Everything was 50% off so we got a couple of options and they can choose on the first day.

Their backpacks are fine for now, but I think we want to get bigger ones, especially for E who has a laptop to take back and forth to school, and I presume he'll have some school work too.  I'm having a hard time choosing something so I may have to go to MEC or Sportchek and see the options in person. 

As for school itself, rather than just the accessories, we don't need to buy school supplies for the kids but I do want to make sure we have good work stations for them at home.   The last three years were not normal school years and last year I was so happy they were in school at all I sort of just let it all go and didn't pay much attention to what they were actually doing.  With E going into Grade 6, then I know we need to make sure he is on top of things, which means we need to be on top of him. I want to get a dry erase calendar for E and really make an effort to keep him on track for his assignments and projects. And if we make it a habit to check in everyday with him and update the calendar, and encourage him to use his agenda and Google classroom, that will help.  I'm not as concerned about Q, he is keen to be at school and excited for Grade 1.  We will work on his reading and writing but I know it will come together. 

We will walk to school on the first day as a family and with the other kids in our neighbourhood, and I will make our usual meal of Beefy Mac and Cheese for supper that night. 

Looking forward to a successful year with fewer interruptions and more regular activities. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Camping Recap - Arrowhead

Hi guys, I'm back.  I had Thursday and Friday off work last week and that meant I was busy before I left and didn't have time to write any blog posts.  I should be back to posting regularly now :)

I took those couple of days off so we could head out on our second camping trip of the summer to Arrowhead.  We went with three other families (and did this same trip last year).  Camping with friends is always so fun. 

We left our house around 11:00 and since we were going north, we had to stop at Webers.

Our friends had left exactly at the same time as us (and we are neighbours) so we arrived at Webers at the same time and ate together.

Set up, dinner, a bike ride to the beach, and campfire time.

We slept in until 8:00 which was nice.  Q was the first one up for breakfast.

I arranged my fruit and thought it was pretty enough to take a photo of.

Q said I should make a smiley face, so I did!

After breakfast we went on a bike ride around the lake.  The little kids did an awesome job of navigating the trails.

We had some lunch when we got back...

...and then headed to the beach.  It did rain for a bit so everything got a little damp. Dave took the kids back to the site and I stayed back to wait for things to dry out.

A round of Exploding Kittens.

Then the other families came and we played some washer toss, hung out in the hammock, and then had a campfire.

Saturday morning pancakes. Brother hugs.

We seemed to always find a few kids in our hammock.

We went on a group hike to the falls.

The kids loved climbing on the rocks.

Our six year olds! (Q is almost 6)

We had thought about renting canoes to paddle to the falls instead, but the river was so low they didn't recommend it.  The hike worked out better anyway.

Then it was beach time again.  Dave carried all of the things to the beach, the best is the bag of Ruffles bungeed to the pool noodle.  (I'll replace this texted one when I get the real version, but you get the idea for now)

As usual, it was hard to leave the beach, but we did drag ourselves away.  We decided to make a bunch of campfire nachos at our site, and that sort of ruined everyone's appetite, but they were yummy and it was worth it.  The kids kept themselves entertained.

We expected a bit of rain on Sunday so Dave got up early to start packing up.  It did rain briefly but everything stayed pretty dry on our site.  

We set up for a group photo but then needed to wait for someone to get back from the washroom so the kids played charades while they waited. 

Good kids!

A successful trip for sure.

Silly one!

Parents jumping (so graceful)

Kids running away!

Although we could have just hit the road, our family decided to get some ice cream and stop in Bracebridge to play mini-golf.  It meant we hit some traffic (although honestly could we really avoid all traffic?) but we did get home before 5:00 which was our ultimate goal.

E is the golf ball.