Thursday, 24 April 2014

Easter Moments

I'm finding myself at a bit of a loss about what to do today.
Easter has come and gone.  All of the preparation and planning, suddenly unnecessary.
I'm almost disappointed.  Company came for a bit of the weekend, and with that company, the motivation to cook good food and share our best.
The up side of having a lot of snow hit us on Good Friday was that the kids (all ages) spent all Easter Sunday afternoon outside, building forts.  We had a giggle yesterday when, the snow now having melted, the forts, once seemingly impenetrable, have become dishevelled junk piles.

Once the company returned home, we headed to Saskatoon for a long overdue visit with my family.  This father of mine - 86 and going strong.  He used to delight in playing with the boys and a John Deere tractor.  He made many miles around the condo with them on his back when they were little, giving them the best horsie rides possible, always a big grin on his face.  Now the game has changed to pool.  And he beats them.  All the time.

Line 'em up.

And another successful break.

He teaches good technique

Always a gentleman

And BIG news!!!
Papa got new wheels!!!
I'm not sure who's happier....
.....him, my mom, or me!
Or Ben!  He wants to drive that puppy!

Mom "hangs" around!
She's so cute!
79 years young!
Feet slung over the side of the chair.
Slippers have fallen to the floor.
Bare footed.
In the midst of telling me a story.
Or giving advice.
Good advice, too.

It's hard to leave their safe, warm (actually HOT) condo/home to come back home.  They love so deeply and laughter is always at hand.

But we came home to our own little home and I hope we can give these boys that love and warmth and good instruction and laughter memories, too.

For now, we're preparing....

Three of us have landed a couple of jazz gigs.
And our noses are deep in the middle of jazz charts.
Our living room has been taken over with drums, cymbals, amps and a keyboard.
Ben applauds occasionally from his room - how I wish there was room for a tuba in this jazz combo.
Maybe next time.  ;)
Andrew patiently rehearses, occasionally drumming with one hand and tweeting on his phone with the other hand.
Regrettably, he remains on beat, regardless.  'Regrettably' only because it makes me look bad.
My nose is in my book.  My piano hands struggle to find....
"Explain to me one more time how to play a diminished 7?"
Dean leads us all - this is old hat for him.
This is music that I used to put the boys to bed to when they were little when Dad was in a jazz duo.
Lucky me, they practiced in my basement.  Good memories.

And so our Easter Break of 2014 will pass by.  There won't be any more company as Gig #1 comes Monday already and we've got a lot more rehearsing to do so we will stick to ourselves for a few more days, preparing.

But, there were two 'Make Again' recipes served this Easter weekend.  Actually, three. And all thanks to the great girls at "Mennonite Girls Can Cook". 

First, if you're friends with me on Facebook, you'll remember that I baked a batch (or two) of Lovella's Paska.  No, it is not mis-spelled PASTA, it is indeed PASKAA sweet citrus infused bread, similar to what I grew up with every Easter from Mom's kitchen.  I made my batches, shared bits and pieces with friends and family and was so pleased with the results so I took the recipe to Mom to show her.  She started to copy it down and then paused and said "maybe I don't have to write this down - Maureen can take over this tradition!"  I'm pretty honored and delighted to be able to do that. And this is a great recipe.

Further inspired by the Mennonite Girls Can Cook crew, I made a couple of simple appetizers that will grace our table again in the future, I know!!  These were taken from their Celebrations cookbook that was released a year ago.

Recipe one - Stuffed Mini Peppers - I purchased a bag of mini peppers, cut the tops off and stuffed them with smoked salmon cream cheese and baked in the oven until the peppers had softened.  The original recipe called for cream cheese with smoked salmon OR diced dried apricots OR diced figs stirred in.  I wanted the savory flavor and substituted the smoked salmon cream cheese instead of purchasing them separately (hello, budget and convenience!).  You could prepare these on the BBQ.  I don't remember what oven temperature the recipe called for, but I had something else in the oven and stood the mini peppers up in a mini tart pan and shoved them next to the roaster until they were appropriately cooked.  Mmmm.  I should have made more.

Recipe two - Chili Cheese Dip - spread a softened brick of cream cheese (250 grams) on the bottom of a pie plate.  Next layer - a can of chili (or two cups homemade chili).  Top with 2 cups of shredded cheese (mozza and/or cheddar).  Bake in a 400 F oven until the cheese is melted and the chili bubbles.  Serve with nacho chips or baguette bread. 

Like I said, these recipes belong to the Mennonite Girls!  They were hits in our house and will be repeated, with fond memories.

While tempted to think that spring and summer will never come to our wet, cold province of SK, the robins grace our yard today and the tulip bulbs are pushing their way through the wet muddy flower beds.  Soon, we will see enough to believe that Spring is here.  Until then, it's taking a bit of faith. Never a bad lesson, right?!!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Truth About Pain

I've had a secret goal for a long time.

I want to be fit.

But I've been struggling to find a "fit" that fits me.

Mr. Dean-o loves his TRX and has been suggesting that I try it out. 

Oh, he is somethin' else.
Not to worry, TRX isn't usually done outside in northern Canada in the middle of winter.
We're not that silly.

And so I have tried it out.

Sort of.

In the fashion of "I just spent 2 minutes with this device and I don't like it so I give up"  manner of "try it out". 

I think 2 minutes was fair, don't you?

I am so uncoordinated and bodily challenged - "just put your foot here and stand like this and then lean forward....


Sorry dear.  I just can't.

And I just don't want to.

I foresee stitches.

I foresee YOU in stitches, giggling at my ill-fated attempts at being a graceful swan.

Don't misunderstand - if you need a teacher, Dean's the man.  He's patient and careful and encouraging, etc., etc.  And he never ever laughs at me.  He really wants me to succeed.  He really thinks I can succeed.  (Silly man.)

But it's not for me.

So then, I debated through the gym memberships and I think that's too expensive for a person that hates to leave the house on her days off.

Our Wii died so the Wii Fit thingy that I did once that nearly killed me  attempted is out of the question.  I also can't "Just Dance".  On soooooo many levels......

Ding ding ding - we found a good deal after Christmas and bought an exercise bike!  I was pretty sure that this was a good option for me.

Five minutes, I kid you not, on the lowest gear, and I was bagged.

To make matters even more embarrassing, I talked to my 85 year old dad about how pleased I was to have this bike.

He then told me that he rides his exercise bike every day for 30-35 minutes, in four different gears.  Without fail.  First thing in the morning.



One day, not long ago, I told my friend that I'm a wanna-be runner.  I told her that, from the couch, I picture myself running.

And we had a good laugh.

And I started to think.

That was a stupid thing to say. Out loud, especially.

I walked the halls while at work one day and thought about this whole fitness dilemma.  I  admitted to myself with a great deal of honesty that I had absolutely no motivation to become fit.

Except the fact that heart disease runs rampant on both sides of my family and I'm starting to feel sluggish and I'm aging and expanding and can't stay on a bike for five minutes without feeling bagged.

Now that you put it that way......

So, the next afternoon, I "just did it".

I found a running program and got it onto my phone and developed a playlist and announced to the family that I was going to get 'er done and I headed out the door.  I obeyed the nice lady's verbal instructions to 'change pace now' and I completed Day 1 of 'learn to run'.

I went out the next day and did it again, and now I have a few days under my belt.

And I feel good.

Well, today I feel good.

The other day.....not so much.

The other day, raising my leg to get into bed hurt.  Standing up hurt.  Sitting down hurt.  Walking hurt.  DON'T TOUCH ME.  Help me up.


We went out and ran again the next day.

And came home and did a few more strategic stretches and attempted to walk around the house as if I didn't hurt even though I did.

We went out and ran again the next day.

And, today, I came in from the run and did my strategic stretches and walked into the kitchen and realized that I.  Don't.  Feel.  Bad.  At.  ALL!!!!  In fact, I feel GOOD.  I feel refreshed!  Even though the last run/walk just about got me!  And I'm thinking back to a few days ago when I thought that I'd likely injured myself for life, that I wouldn't walk upright ever again and that it would be impossible for me to ever master this skill....I just hurt so bad. 

I'm convinced that there's a life lesson in here.

It's got something to do with continuing to put one foot in front of the other when in painful or difficult circumstances. Just keep going.

And it's got something else to do with being patient in the middle of pain and difficulty.  Grace.

And something to do with not giving up, even when it hurts.  Persevere

It's got something to do with making good decisions along the way that will help when times are challenging (hello, stretches).  Be wise

And something else to do with choosing a goal and committing your focus even when it's harder than you want it to be.  Be focused

And something else to do with deciding that it's never too late to just might take more work and pain to accomplish it.  Never stop trying

So there, now I've made a confession to you.  I've let you in on a little secret.  And now I am, at some point, feeling accountable to a bunch of people to keep working at this little secret; I haven't decided if I like that yet or not.  Just sayin'.

But if you see a somewhat middle aged lady walking/running through the quiet streets of Crescent Heights - don't wave, because I won't see you.  Don't say hi because the music is blaring and I won't hear you.  Don't talk to me because I don't have enough breath to chat.  Yet! 

But I might try and smile!

And, swinging the pendulum of topics really widely, I have to share this recipe with you because it's a hands-down-instant-family-favorite!  And I, at least, have to record it for myself for future use!  It was found during a stroll through Pinterest here. 

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs lean hamburger
8 slices bacon, diced and browned
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dry Stove Top Stuffing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 tsp salt

Combine the above ingredients, then top with BBQ sauce or combine 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup mustard and 1 Tbsp brown sugar and brush on top (that was too much sauce for our taste - I'd cut that in half, at least).

Bake at 350 F until it registers at 160 on a meat thermometer.  Mine was in the oven for about an hour and a half but I think I actually had closer to 2-2.5 lbs of hamburger -mine was huge!

Very moist and tasty!  Not sure if I can go back to my original boring meatloaf!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

April Fools, Wasn't Me?!?!

I've been a little short on words here.

I' bin BIZ-ey!

Perhaps I'll share my busyness another time!  It's been fun, but writeable?  Probably not very interesting to read about!

It was April Fools Day yesterday and I may or may not have done anything at work.


Cough.  Cough.

Somehow, I just DON'T know HOW, this memo showed up in our managers' mailboxes yesterday morning.

I don't know about you, but I side with the nurses and hope that they get everything they asked for.