Saturday, January 4, 2020

20 in 2020

I am really excited for 2020, as Christopher and I have so much to look forward to this year.  We'll celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary in February, and in June it will be 20 years since I graduated high school.  Our province is hosting two of the biggest events held in Canada - the Grey Cup, and the Juno Awards, neither of which we'll attend, but it's fun that they are happening in Saskatchewan, and we might partake in some of the festivities that will surround these.  We have a couple of big trips planned, including a relaxing beach vacation, and a longer, bucket-list trip!  Annnnnd we have a new niece or nephew arriving this year!  My sister is due in May, and we're pumped to meet the new addition to our family.

I've created a list of 20 things to do in 2020, and I'm going to post them somewhere in the house so they are visible and more likely to be accomplished.  Some of these are carried over from 2019, and I've tried to make them more measurable and specific than I have in past years.

20 Things-To-Do in 2020

1)  Try floating in a sensory deprivation tank.

2)  Go on a double date with another couple to a new restaurant in town that we want to try, at least four times in the year - weeknight, weekend, whenever it works! 

3)  Host a minimum of three low-key get-togethers with friends/family over the year (games night, order-in and visit, just come over for coffee and dessert, etc.). 

4)  Read a minimum of 25 books this year, and keep track of all of them, along with my ratings, etc., and do a recap post at the end of the year of my top reads.

5)  Go on a weekend road trip to a small town near us that we've never spent any time in before.

6)  Canoe on Wascana Lake.
 
7)  Do something to commemorate my 20-year high school reunion, even if it's as simple as getting together with friends that I graduated with at our old watering hole, or retaking a photo from grad, and doing a side-by-side 20 years later (I always find those types of photos fun to look at.)

8)  Learn a new skill. 

9)  Cook a minimum of 20 recipes from cookbooks that we currently own.

10)  Go to the Globe Theatre at least twice.

11)  Go to at least three concerts, big or small.

12)  Listen to all of the vinyl in the basement from start to finish.  This was initially a winter plan, but I think it needs to be a 2020 goal, as we have a lot of music!

13)  Visit some Little Free Libraries in town, borrowing a few, and leaving as many as will fit.

14)  Print and frame a few of our favourite photos.  This one for sure:


15)  Get two new plants for the living room.  We brought in our hot pepper plants from the front step as the weather turned cool this fall, and loved the look of them in our living room.  They are outdoor plants, so we want to find a couple to take their place, as they made our house feel cozier.

16)  Buy new pillows!  We hate our pillows, and sleep is so important.  We need to stop talking about this and actually go and do it.  I have my eye on a pillow that stays cold.

17)  Go to at least one movie in the theatre a month, or a total of 12 throughout the year. 

18)  Paint something.  A canvas.  A wall.  Anything.  This is just something I want to do at home; I have zero interest in those painting classes where everyone paints something similar, or an art class of any type.  I can't work like that.

19)  Find a really good spot to see the night sky, and do some stargazing.

20)  Go on an Internet "Diet".  I remember 20 years ago, when I was just starting out as a university student, and we still had dial-up Internet.  I'd be trying to research, as the pages loaded so slowly, only to be disconnected as soon as someone upstairs picked up the phone.  At that time the Internet was a source of a lot of frustration for me, but it ended up becoming a place where I could connect, become informed, and be creative.  After twenty years of watching the World Wide Web grow into what it is today, I've never really had a break from it, and I kind of want to see what it feels like to step away temporarily.  So much of what I am seeing online these days is just not resonating with me, and the start of 2020 seems like a good time to pick up the metaphorical phone, and give my brain a refresh.  I have some other writing I'd like to do, a bunch of books I want to read, and I want the mental space to do these things without distraction.

I have given some thought as to what this Internet Diet will look like.

What's Staying?
  • I'll still be using the Internet for quickly taking care of business such as banking, booking travel, checking the weather, making reservations, or making necessary purchases.
  • I will still check my email.
  • I will use the Internet when necessary for my job (only while at work).
  • I'll research excursions or information needed for the trips we have planned, but I'll set aside limited time on the weekend for this, and not search outside of this time.
  • I am not willing to give up videos of our nieces and nephews, so I will watch Instagram stories only, and have set a limit on my phone for 10 minutes per day max, and will only check these once per day, in the evening.  Same thing with Snapchat.  I have turned off all notifications, except if a family member posts a snap.  I will check those quickly and nothing else.
What's Going?
    • Blogging
    • Facebook
    • Reddit
    • All unnecessary internet searches that aren't for a specific, time-sensitive purpose, such as for an upcoming trip, or to check if a business is open, or something like that
    • Almost all Social media (I have moved all social media apps away from the home screen of my phone, and have turned off nearly all notifications; I will not be posting anything and will stay off these almost completely, other than to watch videos of our nieces and nephews for the time specified above, and only on the two apps mentioned.)  
    • Online news 
    • Basically, everything that is not mentioned under "What's Staying"
    How Long?
    • 10 weeks, starting today.  I'll see you back here on March 14th, and will share my thoughts at that time, and reflect on what life was like for 10 weeks with very limited Internet time.  I feel like 10 weeks is a good amount of time to really feel a difference, and to reflect on what is different.  I want to see how much more time I have, what books I can read in that time, and if I miss any app or website more than others, and what I miss about it.  Basically, I just want some insight. 
    When the 10 Weeks are Up
    • I'll catch up on what I missed on the blogs I love the most, and have a look at what some friends and family members have been up to online, so expect some late likes and comments come March 😄  I don't want to miss out on what my friends and family are up to, but I do want to disconnect for a while and just chill.
    • I'll still be writing and taking photos when I feel inspired over the next 10 weeks, and will likely share some of what we've been up to around here.
    See you back here on March 14th! 𝝅

    Do you have any goals, resolutions, to-do list items, etc. for 2020?

    Friday, January 3, 2020

    Cleaning Burnt Sugar etc. from a Pot: What Actually Works

    Back in early November, I was making a tangy mustard sauce for pork and completely forgot about it.  I went into another room while the sugar, mustard powder, egg, and vinegar boiled away for about half an hour, until all that was left was what looked like a ruined pot.  We tried everything to get the pot clean, turning to Google for all the answers.

    Boiled water, soapy water, baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, scrubbing with a metal scouring pad, and every combination of those, plus a few more tricks I am probably forgetting, and nothing worked.  We thought we'd have to throw the pot away for sure. 

    So, then it got to be December, and I was frustrated with the darn pot.  I put some water in it, put a lid on it, and let it sit, figuring I'd worry about it after Christmas, and if I couldn't find a solution, then we'd shop for a new pot in January. 

    Well, as luck would have it, the plain old water, sitting for weeks, was exactly the trick!  Nothing fancy - no boiling needed - no scrubbing - just good old water, and patience.

    After eventually taking the lid off of the pot, we saw this floating in there:


    It lifted right out, and the bottom of the pot was as good as new. 

    Water is magic!


    Have you ever had to replace a pot or pan because you burned something so badly?

    Moving into 2020

    On December 30th we ate a vegetarian dinner and enjoyed the Christmas decorations for the last night before they would come down.

    Spaghetti squash, spinach & cheese tomato sauce, baked with cheese.
    On New Year's Eve, while Christopher was at work, I took down all of the Christmas decorations and cleaned the house.  I wanted to start out the new year with a fresh, clean home.

    After cleaning, I got to work on Guinness brownies, and Korean rice pockets, that we'd be contributing to a potluck in the evening.


    Once Christopher was home we got ready to go out.  We didn't have to think too much about what to wear, because it was a pajama party!  It's a fun tradition with our friends (since everyone's kids have been born) to ring in the new year with a potluck pajama party for all the adults and kids.


    I wish I would have snapped some more pictures from the evening, as I was ringing in 2020 with so many of the same people that I rang in the new millennium with 20 years ago.

    I remember a bunch of us being at our friend Mark's house.  I was in grade 12, and the whole Y2K apocalypse thing was such a big deal back then, so it really made for an exciting new year celebration.  Of course, nothing special happened when the clock struck midnight, but memories with friends were made, and 20 years later we are all still friends and are still getting together to celebrate.

    This year we were at our friends' Chris and Cori's house, and it was a really nice time.

    We didn't stay out too long past midnight and were up pretty early the next morning.  Our first meal of 2020 was this delicious breakfast that Christopher made:

    Shredded hashbrowns, fried mushrooms, sprouts, egg.
    I think 2020 is going to be a very memorable year - more on that in one of the next posts.

    How did you ring in the new year?

    Wednesday, January 1, 2020

    A Look Back at 2019

    Happy New Year!

    I hope you had a wonderful time ringing in 2020.  I am so excited for 2020, but first, I'll reflect a bit on 2019, a year that had a major impact on my life.

    Twenty-nineteen was a year of adventure for me.  I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone and tried to read, watch, and listen to books, TV, and music that expanded my horizons and tastes. 

    The year started out bitterly cold, so escaping to Havana was sweet relief; however, it was a challenging place to travel to, and we definitely didn't have a luxurious vacation.  We stayed with locals in a Casa Particular and had an incredible learning experience.  My number one must-do in Havana would be Fabrica de Arte.  This is one of the coolest places I have ever been to in my life, and I'd go back to Havana just to spend more time exploring, dancing, and enjoying every aspect of Fabrica de Arte.  It is an absolute must if you ever travel there.


    I ventured overseas for the first time ever, when we went to Chiang Mai, Thailand in April.


    It was the trip of a lifetime, and we made some incredible memories.  Climbing up the face of the Bua tong waterfall, participating in the largest water fight in the world, and nurturing elephants at an elephant sanctuary were the highlights that we'll remember forever.  In addition to our favourite food, we also had some new delicious eats in Thailand, including mango sticky rice, and souffle pancakes.


    We spent May long weekend in Edmonton.


    We had an incredible VR experience, went to a concert, went water sliding with family, met up with Christopher's aunt, and also discovered a delicious restaurant, Biera.


    In the summer we had a great time camping, and spending as much time as possible in our backyard.  We focused on being present and in the moment and enjoying the quiet, simple pleasures in life.


    I celebrated 10 years of Everyday Foodie!


    On that note, some of our favourite foodie finds of 2019 include:

    Local and Fresh - an awesome new market in town for all things local and delicious.


    Teff - a really delicious and healthy grain.


    Smoking all the foods - we got a smoker from Christopher's parents this year, and LOVE it!


    Thirteen Pies - delicious sourdough pizza in Saskatoon.


    Mexican Street Corn - this will be a new summertime staple in our house.


    Low Country Boil - this will also be on regular rotation for all summers to come.


    Chili Verde - a new fall favourite.


    Linguine with Green Olive Sauce and Zesty Breadcrumbs - we're addicted, and this has been added to the regular rotation.


    I had some items on my To-Do List for 2019, but I didn't do too well with them.  I've graded myself below:

    1) Try floating in a sensory deprivation tank.   
    F - didn't do this.  It will be on the list for 2020.

    2) Have more casual/ low-key get-togethers with friends and family.   
    C - we definitely did this more than we had in previous years, but it's another one that will be on the list for 2020.  I loved our casual get-togethers with Matt and Alissa recently - exactly the type of thing I had in mind.

    3) Go on a day trip to a small town near us that we've never visited before.   
    F - didn't do this. Add it to the 2020 list!

    4) Read more.  (I also wanted to read some books outside of my typical choices, which are usually food/ nutrition science, or behavioral/ brain science, non-fiction books.)
    C+ - I read about 20 books this year, which is quite low for me, so this will be another one for the 2020 list.  My favourite reads of the year were: "The Molecule of More", "Everything is F'd", and "The Culture Code."  I did do some reading outside of my typical genre choices, but not as much as I'd like.  Christopher's favourite read of the year was, "Letters from an Astrophysicist".

    5) Learn a new skill.  
    D - I did learn some more Spanish at our Spanish classes and on Duo Lingo, and took a cooking class in Thailand, but I don't know if I learned a specific new skill.  I did learn a lot in general, so that counts for something though!

    I might not have done well with this to-do list for 2019, but I am totally okay with that, as it's often the things that you can't plan or prepare for that turn out to be the best.  I learned so much this year and had so many new experiences.  I grew personally, and my marriage, career, and health flourished. I came away from 2019 feeling on top of the world, and you really can't ask for more than that.


    Farwell to a year of adventure, learning, and growing. 

    Farewell to the most unpredictable, exhilarating, and wild decade, with the lowest lows to the highest highs, and everything in between. 

    2020, let's do this!

    Sunday, December 29, 2019

    Thankful Part 3

    This is the last of the 30 Thankful Prompts that were making their way around the blog world.

    Thankful Part 1
    Thankful Part 2

    21) The best thing I tasted yesterday was the breakfast that Christopher made (avocado toast with alfalfa sprouts, and fried mushrooms; it was even better today with a poached egg on top).

    22) I love going online to research.  I have an insatiable curiosity and love of learning, so I am constantly looking things up and read about things I wonder and question, and that just leads to more questions, and more learning.

    23) I'm grateful for the way these things feel: my marriage, my home, my body, my mind - healthy, happy, comfortable, fulfilled, and full of love and gratitude.

    24) Yesterday I felt supported when Christopher listened to me.  He is the best listener, and I always bounce ideas off of him.

    25) When I look around my home I am grateful for the simplicity of our lives.  We don't feel the need to replace or upgrade anything, unless absolutely necessary.  We replace items only when they break, so basically, everything in our house (and the house itself) is the first of that item that I've ever owned as an adult.  Even our TV is almost 13 years old, but it still does the job!

    26) When I look around the world I am grateful for acts of kindness big and small that show there is still good in the world, scientific progress, and the beautiful planet that we call home.

    27) I love that I have the ability to daydream about travel.  I know this is a luxury that not everyone has, and I appreciate that my life allows for this adventure, as it is so important to me.

    28) I love it when I see animals in their natural habitats.

    29) The nicest thing I have felt on my skin today was a back scratch.

    30) I am grateful that I am learning new things every day.  I get so bored if I don't feel like I am learning something.  Learning is a lifetime project, not something that stops when school ends.  That being said, I am quite sure that I am not done with school ... I don't know if I ever will be.

    Your turn!   
    Choose a couple (or all) of the prompts above and put your answers in the comments.

    Christmas 2019

    Christmas seemed to come so quickly this year.  I didn't ever feel fully ready for it, whatever ready means.  On Christmas Eve we got together with my family at my sister and Riley's home.


    We enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner with all the fixings.


    Mmm!


    After dinner, we made our way back to the living room where the kids opened some gifts, and we visited over dessert.


    Once home again, we watched The Grinch, ate some baking, and then nuzzled into bed.


    Christmas morning always starts out the same way.  We put on a pot of festive coffee and get the Christmas music and TV fire going.


    It's usually still a little dark outside when we move to the couch, and start opening our stockings.


    After stockings, I got some Pilsbury cinnamon rolls into the oven.  I usually make homemade cinnamon buns for Christmas morning, but we were heading out of town on Boxing Day, and I didn't want a bunch of food around the house that wasn't going to get eaten.  Last weekend we tried some Pilsbury cinnamon rolls that were terrible, but these ones were the Cinnabon ones, and they were much better (although still nowhere near as good as homemade).

    After handing out gifts and taking turns opening, it was time for breakfast.


    In the afternoon we went over to Christopher's parents' house. They had a huge spread of snacks downstairs, and so many more upstairs.  They cooked a turkey and had buns, croissants, etc. to make sandwiches.  There were also dips, shrimp, sushi, and so much more.


    Our nieces entertained the whole family with their Bluetooth microphones.  It was fun watching a four and five-year-old requesting Red Hot Chili Peppers songs to sing along with, lol!  They are definitely related to Christopher!  We had a really nice time with family and probably would have stayed much later if we wouldn't have been getting up early the next morning to hit the highway.

    On Boxing Day we drove to Saskatoon for more family time.  We visited with my mom, and that evening went to my Auntie Cathy, and Uncle Darrel's house for a really nice visit, and some hot turkey sandwiches.  It was so nice seeing them, and their beautiful home, which brought back some memories from Christmases as a child.  On the 27th we spent the day with my mom and then drove back home that evening.

    This weekend we have nothing at all to do, and we are enjoying just being still.  Yesterday Christopher made avocado toast with sprouts and fried mushrooms for breakfast.


    Miso soup and oranges on the side!

    After breakfast, we spent the rest of the day in our comfy clothes on the couch, while nibbling on snacks here and there.


    We went to bed early and caught up on the sleep we had been lacking over the past few days.  This morning we had the same breakfast as yesterday, but this time topped with a poached egg.


    It was so good!  I always forget how good alfalfa sprouts are with eggs.  I've been avoiding eggs a bit lately, but I ate every bite of this breakfast.

    Today we might straighten up a bit, and put away the mess from Christmas ... or we might just read, write, and watch more TV (we started a bunch of new shows yesterday, watching the first episode of each to see what hooked us), and I'll worry about the mess when Christopher is at work this week.

    Have you cleaned up from Christmas yet?  
    How long do you leave decorations up? (I usually take everything down by New Year's Eve, as I like to start the new year with a clean space.)