Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Days Off....


  Guess where we get to go on some days off this summer?

So excited!  Flights officially booked for a trip later this year! 
Send suggestions on sights to see in Seattle.  Soon.

It's my week off and I really have nothing profound to say.  I worked my fair share of shifts this month and held tightly to my upcoming week of days off.  Oh the things I'd do around the house. 
I joked on Facebook on Monday....
"Ah yes, my week off, the week where I clean the house, shop for groceries, go to the basketball game, bake the cookies, clean the house, have a couple of meetings, clean the bathroom, fold the clothes, cook supper, make lunches, clean the house, run errands, go watch archery, clean the house, sort the junk, supervise homework, make breakfast, sort clothes, pay the bills, put away piles of junk, drive kids to, drive kids from. Yup, sit down and relax on my week off."
So far, I have shopped for groceries, gone to the basketball game, baked the cookies, cooked supper, made lunches, watched archery, supervised homework, attended two meetings, made breakfast, paid bills, and driven the kids to and from.
I have NOT cleaned the house at all.
Epic fail on the house cleaning to-do list.  In fact, I looked at the floor and thought to myself "I wouldn't mind sweeping that floor IF I had a better broom.  You know, a dry dust mop with a 3 foot head that swivels....."  Methinks I'm just not that motivated to sweep the floor.  But now I'm rather embarrassed to actually have admitted to delaying the floor sweeping, so promise you that I will sweep first thing tomorrow.  Or thereabouts.
Yesterday, I managed to fly right past the urge to deep clean the house (even though it hit my to-do list no less than four times on Facebook) and headed right in to a crochet project that I'd been thinking about for  a long time  three days.  I spent 30 minutes in Michael's, trying to find the perfect yarn.  How fun is that?!!
Today I went to grab my case of crochet hooks .... and came up empty handed.
This result caused me to enter all 3 rooms that I think know need a deep cleaning.
And there is a good chance that tomorrow, instead of crocheting, I will finish  deep cleaning at least one or two of the rooms that need it because I moved heaven and earth and piles of 1999 junk in each of those rooms, trying to find my crochet case. 
And.  I.  Can.  Not.  Find.  My.  Case.  Of.  Crochet.  Hooks. 
I'm annoyed.
Because once I get through deep cleaning these 1-2-3 rooms that need to be cleaned, I probably won't feel like crocheting anymore.
I don't know about you, but I always want to do exactly what I can't possibly do at the moment.  When I'm at work, I want to be at home; when I'm home, I want to be out; when I'm out, I want to be reading a book.
Last week at work, I watched one of our residents as she lay propped up in her bed, coloring, and I thought to myself  I WANT TO LAY IN BED AND COLOR!!
Oh dear.
You know it's time for a few days off when you start thinking that lying in bed, coloring in a coloring book, watching people walking by sounds like fun.
There's a really good chance that I won't come close to completing my to do list and I think I'll be sort of okay with that.  I guess the luxury of having days off is being able to pick and choose how to spend the moments.  And so far, my moments have been  kinda laidback  dull   somewhat unproductive    fairly restful!
Here's a recipe that I found in the Krafts "What's Cooking" magazine, Festive '11.  I made it around Christmas time and it's definitely one that I will add to the family favorites list.  I always rebel a bit at buying special ingredients for new recipes because I really like to cook out of my pantry and I think it saves money, too.  But I have to say that the specialty item here (the flavored cream cheese) really wasn't very expensive and when it comes to cost savings, when I consider how much cheese I add to other pasta dishes that wasn't required here, I probably came out fairly comparable in the cost end of things.
Creamy Salmon Penne
3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 salmon fillet (450 g) cut into bite sized pieces
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Philadelphia Dill Cream Cheese Product
Cook pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet on medium high heat.  Add garlic; cook and stir 30 sec to 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add fish; cook 2-3 minutes or until lightened in color, stirring occasionally.  Stir in onions.  Transfer to bowl and cover to keep warm.
Add broth and milk to skillet; whisk in cream cheese until well blended.  Cook and stir on medium heat for 1 minute (don't let it boil).
Drain pasta.  Add to sauce along with the fish; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until fish flakes evenly and pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Fun and Games

For a few days over the holidays, we managed to sit down with some board games.
A little bit of 'Blokus' for the cousins

'Ticket To Ride' for the adults
Love this game, now that I know how to play!
The adult game table is in prime form when a few of these are present

Several rounds of 'Apples To Apples'
So fun, now that the nieces and nephews are all old enough to play
'Telephone Pictionary' guarantees laughs when the Dynna family all gathers to play

 Tell me, is there any reason why these two have to pose for pictures like this?  ;)
I guess there's part of me that will always equate quality family time with board games.  It's what I grew up on.  A wobbly TV antennae that 'guaranteed' one good channel only went so far - we had our usual shows - The Walton's, Little House On The Prairie, Happy Days, Hockey Night in Canada and Tommy Hunter were television highlights of our week.  We had to be given special permission to abandon the supper table to watch TV and how I remember begging my parents to allow me to take my plate into the other room to watch something really important like, um, what was it again? 
We had work, work and more work to do on the farm so days off were mostly reserved for Sundays and after my parents napped forever in the afternoon (Sunday really was their Sabbath, their day of rest), we often spent Sunday night gathered around the round wooden table in the small kitchen with board games that had become family favorites.  The wood cookstove sat beside the electric stove (we were half modern, half old fashioned....hey, it was the 70's) and it warmed the room with the warmth that only wood fire brings.  Sometimes we ate a Cuban Lunch chocolate bar, split 4 ways, and I realize how excessive we have all become in the 21st century.  We shared a single bag of chips out of the Old Dutch box (now that seems like a single serving) and on rare occasions divided a 750 ml bottle of Pepsi 4 ways.  And we were all satisfied.  Delighted, actually.
Some board games were just more fun than others.  We practically wore out Masterpiece board game - the thrill of not knowing who owned the FORGERY piece vs the MILLION DOLLAR PIECE - wow, high thrills back in our day.  Then there was Probe - the little snappy yellow/orange trays that hid letters of the most unguessable word that you could think of, each letter revealed one by one until someone successfully guessed.  We played Triominoes and still have the box where we recorded the time that Dad had to pick up 50-some tiles before he could play his next play.  How we giggled at his expense!  Yahtzee, Scrabble (which wasn't very fun then....) and then, for me, the dreaded Bible Trivia game.  It was only dreaded for me because I come from a family of Bible scholars and I don't retain facts well about anything so there was no way that I could ever wrap my lips around a reasonable guess, let alone have any chance at winning. 
When Dean and I were newly married, both he and my dad developed an obsession with Boggle and  the rest of the family quietly backed away from the game table whenever they got together. They'd rattle those noisy dice around in that noisy plastic box and it was game on when the dice settled and the timer started.  Good times. 
My parents still play Scrabble every night.  Sometimes they phone us to brag (or whine), depending on who scored the smartest play.  Not too long ago, one of them scored a word worth well over 100 points, landing a high counter on a triple word plus a double letter or some such combination.
So it's pretty deeply ingrained in me that time spent sitting around the table with a little snack, family and some silly game is time well spent.  I hope to do a lot more of that this year.  It's just good.
Anyone wanna come over?
I've been waiting to share a new recipe with you that I found on Pinterest just after Christmas.  It's SO easy, inexpensive and is a nice throw-in-the-oven option for those busy days when supper needs to be ready with not much fuss.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

6-7 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed, no need to pre-brown
4 1/2 cups of diced potatoes, uncooked
4 sliced of cooked and crumbled bacon
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp melted butter

Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9x9 baking pan

Layer half of the potatoes, half of the chicken, season with 1/4 tsp S and P, cover with half of the bacon crumbles, half of the green onions and 1/2 cup of cheese.

Top with the rest of the ingredients in same order, reserving the last half cup of cheese for later. 

Pour the whipping cream and melted butter over the entire dish and cover with tin foil.

Bake for one hour.  Uncover and bake for another 1/2 hour.  Just before finished, add last half cup of shredded cheese, bake to melt, then serve.




Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Be Still My Soul

2014 is roaring like a lion in Saskatchewan this morning.  The wind gusts are powerful, blowing open the back screen door, shaking the car, bending the trees and scattering debris.  The temperature is too warm for January (+5) and it poured rain when I drove Ben to school this morning.  I don't really welcome it, to be honest, but it is what the dawn has brought.

I've been very purposeful since my last post here.  There was the necessary clean up after Christmas.  The process of finding spots in the home for gifts received, dismantling the Christmas tree and decorations, re-decorating the living room with small new touches, sending the boys back to school and getting back into the work and volunteer groove for mama - very deliberate tasks that needed to be done.

I've also been purposeful about my soul choices for the new year.  I have taken a HUGE step and have backed away from a volunteer position that I've held for 17 1/2 years, asking for, and being granted a year's sabbatical.  I cannot express how much I need to rest from this and the year that awaits feels like a lavish bank account of grace. 

I've also pulled a book off my shelf that has sat there for 2, maybe 3 years, neglected.  Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" is challenging me every time I pick it up to read it. Check it out, if you want a nudge towards personal change this year.  I have taken up the challenge of journaling one thousand things that I am thankful for during the year 2014.  ONE THOUSAND!!!  I am on #47 as of right now.  ;)   The idea is to look around and recognise beauty in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary, making a heart of gratitude by increasing awareness of how blessings come in daily packages/gifts.  I am ridiculously determined to meet the challenge!

The last category of deliberateness has been me searching for and recognising words that are like a beacon to me for 2014.  Who knows, I may move on to other drastically different words by June, but for now, the words that are jumping out at me are words like "STILL" and "QUIET".

- My scripture inspiration for this year -
"I have stilled and quieted my soul."
Psalms 131:2
As I've established those words as mine, it is interesting at how many things - songs, verses, lyrics -  pop out at me that contain them.  I've started to record them in my 1000 Gifts Journal for repeated inspiration.  And I've also turned my mind towards other creative expressions highlighting them.
For instance, last weekend, coming in at under a budget of $10, I made this: 
Edited/updated photo courtesy Dean

Word art!  I'm loving it!  I think there's a distinct possibility that I could make a new one every month....the words are racing across my journal.
....and I want to live inspired.....
And then there are songs..........
Be still my soul be still
Be still my soul be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul be still
- Thank you, Kari Jobe -


Be still there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy is unfailing
His arms a fortress for the weak
Let faith arise
Let faith arise

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge
You are my strength
As I pour out my heart
These things I remember
You are faithful God forever


Be still there is a river
That flows from Calvary's tree
A fountain for the thirsty
Your grace that washes over me
Let faith arise
Let faith arise
- Courtesy Chris Tomlin -
So interesting to me that, in a world that wants us to live boldly and seek adventure and embrace life fully,
.....we are drawn to the concept....
It's like letting yourself whisper while the world around you roars.
I'm curious - do you have a theme word for this year?  I'd love to hear what it is and why it's meaningful to you!  Also, do you have a song or poem or scripture verse that uses the words "Be still" or "quiet"?  Please share!
And, by the way, #47 in my 1000 Gifts Journal - "the loving community of Make Again".


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Of Tattered Green Housecoats

He laid upon the bathroom floor at 4 a.m.  My own weak stomach mentally fought the need for me to be there, to be with this boy, at 4 a.m., in the bathroom.  But, contrary to my wishes, my boy lay upon the bathroom floor at 4 o'clock in the morning.  The heaves were starting to settle for this independent child who stumbled into the bathroom several minutes earlier.  I'm mentally thankful that he managed to arrive there on time. 

But he's writhing on the floor, physically wrestling with this agony that has seized his body.  The heaving lessens, but pain screeches across his abdomen.  He is restless and he moans and begs me to make it stop.  The pain seizes his tummy, racing through his body and he groans and sweats and wonders why he has to suffer.  Hasn't it been enough that he has been ill?

There's nothing that I can do to stop this process. 

It just has to pass.

And so he lays upon the floor.  Waiting.

I ask him if he needs a blanket and he replies "No, I have this," and he shows me that he has grabbed my tattered old terrycloth housecoat, lime green.  It has seen better days.  It is so old; I can't even remember when it was new. 

Before I even got into the room he wrapped his body in his mother's housecoat, begging it to bring him warmth, begging it to bring him comfort, begging it to deliver him from the ugly reality of the pain that he is bearing at this moment.

Eventually we both stumbled back into bed and sleep fell upon us and we woke again the next morning, the morning light and the new day bringing healing to our weariness, healing to our weaknesses, slowly redeeming all that we've 'lost'.

I set about cleaning the bathroom and my eyes fall upon the lime green terrycloth tattered housecoat that was laid aside after the night was over.

This is just like my year has been.

2013 has been one of the hardest years that we've had in a long time.  The highs have been high, but they've been few.

And the lows have been painfully and excruciatingly low.  More painful than I could bear some days, some months.  So excruciating that at times it seemed that I emotionally heaved everything inside of me, rejecting the realities that had been served to me. 

But as I lived many days of 2013 in the darkness of the night, in the it-feels-like-4 a.m.-and-I'm-all-alone moments - something, Someone covered me.

Like the lime green terrycloth tattered housecoat covered my boy in the dark of his night, the presence of God has covered me in 2013.  In my midnight hours, my excruciating pain, my emotional heaving - Someone has wrapped His arms around my feeble body, my aching soul, my raging mind that fought my reality.

"His banner over me is love."
(Song of Solomon 2:4)
His banner, His blanket has covered me, protected me, delivered me, wrapped around me, snuggled me, cradled me; the corners of the covering have risen to my face to dry my tears and wipe my nose.  The blanket of God's love has wrapped my arms tightly, holding them close to my body as I have flailed about, preventing me from striking out, stilling me as I fought.  "Shhhh.  Peace will come. The night will pass.  The pain will end."  Like my boy, I have been restless, I have moaned and begged for it to stop.  But it couldn't be stopped; it just had to pass.
It.  Just.  Had. To.  Pass.
I will look upon 2013 as a year where I had to go deep - mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  I had to dig deep to discover what my foundation is.  All of those things that I have easily spouted off to someone in need - they don't sound very good any more.  My Pollyanna glib wishes on happy occasions feel trite now - now what I really want to say, what I really want to wish you is not "happiness" but God's peace, God's companionship, God's presence. 
God's banner.
So that's what I 'wish' for you in 2014 - God's banner.  When you experience the good days and the bad days and the in between days and you look around for something
to get wrapped up in
may it be Jesus.
2014 is a new opportunity.  I face it boldly, bravely, joyfully and with fresh anticipation.
God's peace be yours, be mine.  Amen