Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Toffee and Coffee

From this Side of the Pond

1. Of kings and queens...

I'll pass on this round.

2. What are you the uncrowned queen of?

Finding weird things at rummage sales. And then finding ways to use them.

3. In a box of chocolates which one do you usually go for? 

Anything except the hard toffees.

4. Something learned at your mother's knee?

Paste food colouring works better than liquid.

You have to be extra careful cutting out the tabs on paper doll clothes.

Don't play on the railroad tracks. (I did not learn that by experience, just by a song she taught us. But it was a good idea since we lived near some railroad tracks.)

5. 'Like mother, like daughter' what way is this saying true for you? 

The same saying that Giant Tiger puts on its funny coffee packaging: add hot water to make instant human.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Wednesday Hodgepodge: When birds nest in the treehouse

From this Side of the Pond
1.  April 26th is National Audubon Day, honoring John James Audubon, the French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter known for his detailed study and illustration of birds in their natural habitats. Do you have a bird feeder? Any birds in your home decor? Have you ever owned a pet bird? What's your favorite bird?   

We live in a condo townhouse, and the rules discourage birdfeeders because the seed attracts other critters. Most springs we host a robin family under the back deck; I don't think there's any building going on there yet, but probably soon.

Our powder room is bird-themed! We have a French birds poster on the back of the door, a stained glass piece on the wall, and occasionally a ceramic bird or bird-shaped candleholder on the back of know.

2. What's something you took to 'like a duck to water'? 

The best answer would be swimming, wouldn't it?--but in this case no, I was ten before I could even get my feet off the bottom. And we won't even talk about driving.

When I was seven, I took a camping trip through northern Ontario with my grandparents, parents, and sister. Most of the way we drove, but we also travelled to Moosonee on the Polar Bear Express. I did not think the view of "hydroelectric dams and isolated homes" out the train window was that interesting (and there were no polar bears), so my mother pulled a puzzle book out of her bag and introduced me to hidden words. By the end of the trip I was a pro.

3. Empty nest, nest egg, proud as a peacock, free as a bird, birds of a feather flock together, or the early bird catches the worm...choose one and tell us how it currently applies to your life. 

My mind is somewhat of an empty nest today, so I'm going to skip that one.

4. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds...your favorite seed and a favorite food or dish made with that seed or topped with that seed? Have you tried all the seeds on the list? Any you don't care for? 

I've probably had them all either accidentally or on purpose. I can take or leave the chia and flax seeds, but I like all the others. Sometimes we buy a poppy seed-filled loaf from the bakery at Eurofoods, and that is a pretty intense hit of poppy.

5. Something in the past week that made you 'happy as a lark'?

Larking around with some summer clothes plans. And then finding a dark blue purse at the thrift store that should fill in the gap I mentioned there. It was in very good shape, but had a problem with one of its metal bits, so my husband is working on that.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I really think the winter coats are going away this week. Loud cheers.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Monday, April 24, 2023

A Just-Enough Warm Weather Wardrobe

I'm posting this on the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse. Since that tragedy, April 24th has become known as Fashion Revolution Day.

Most of the clothes that most of us wear, most of the time, are products of the global garment industry. Unless you raise sheep or weave your own cotton, there aren't too many ways around that. Even buying mostly-thrifted clothes doesn't exempt us from needing to care about worker abuse, or chemical processes that damage rivers and soil. The fact that technology has now advanced to spray-on dresses is also beside the point. It's only when we stop thinking of the fashion industry as a big anonymous entity, and ask "Who made my clothes?" that we can begin to care about things like the well-being of employees. And that leads us to ask further questions, like "What plants or animals were used to make the fabrics for these clothes, and how were they processed and handled?" "How can we use the clothes we have well?" And finally, "Where will they go afterwards?"

Giving donated clothes a reprieve from that final destination seems to be something I'm good at, and I'm happy to pass on anything that I've learned. But there are a lot of clothes out there (literally tons of them) that the earth and our closets would have been better off without. And (sermon's almost over, I promise), we need to remember that we're humans living our lives in clothes, not mannequins, not subjects to be photographed. That doesn't mean "wear ugly clothes"; we still have choices about colours and styles. But when we've got enough things to wear--let's let that be enough.

Enough, she said

Our summer travels are mostly day trips, maybe to the beach, walking in the woods, or visiting flea markets and small towns. Although I'm not packing for summer at a cottage, or even an extended trip, I'm planning a small-sized wardrobe anyway. That makes it easy if I do need to pull a few things together for a night or two away. 

Filling in a gap (something new)

I wear a lot of grey in the fall and winter, and by spring I'm ready to switch over to navy blue. Navy is easy to find in thrift stores, almost too easy; it can also end up looking like a uniform if you overdo it. One thing I thought would help pull my navy things together was a pair of everyday sandals. I chose a pair of Keens in the same style I bought a couple of years ago.

Old ones, new ones

You can read the rest of the post here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

An Eclectic Wednesday Hodgepodge (Eclectic has 8 letters)

From this Side of the Pond

1. April 13th is National Scrabble Day...are you a fan? Do you enjoy word games in general? What's an eight letter word that tells us something about your life currently?

Scrabble, Bananagrams, word puzzles: all yes. Did you know there was a Scrabble for Juniors board game as far back as 1958? I won a Juniors set in a television show birthday draw (the Uncle Bobby Show, for you Ontarians) when I was three or four...never too young.

Eight-letter words? I went looking online, and found this page with a fascinating array of double-Z words. Which is puzzling (see what I did there), because there's only one Z in a Scrabble game. I suppose the other would have to be a blank.

Out of 80,000 playable eight-letter words, you would think one would jump right out at me. I think CONTINUE would be a good one for this month. 

2.  Do you have a junk drawer? Is it full? Do you know what's in it? What's in it? 

My mind is my junk drawer. That's why I like to play Scrabble.

3. When does time pass quickly for you? When does it pass slowly? 

Quickly: driving places.

Slowly: driving home.

4. These eight vegetables are in season during spring-asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, collard greens, garlic, herbs. What's your favorite? Any on the list you refuse to eat? Last one on the list you ate? 

Favourite: carrots. I made some carrot spice cupcakes for Easter.

Broccoli (and cauliflower) unfriended me awhile back.

5. What's the oldest thing you own? Tell us about it. 

A couple of books that are older than Canada. 

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Happy Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1.What would you say is the most difficult task when it comes to spring cleaning? Have you completed that task this year? Any plans to get it done?

We just keep cleaning things, more than "spring cleaning." I did put away the winter coats today, because even if it does snow past this point (which it could and has), I would prefer to shiver.

2. Your favorite pastel color? Favorite thing you own in a pastel shade? 

As in, the colours of candy Easter eggs? Probably pink, maybe green or blue. Favourite about the rabbit collection, they're all in pastel shades. Especially the baby, who seems to be sleeping through the noisy bongos and tambourines.

3. Do you like ham? Do you fix ham year round or is it mostly just a 'holiday food'? Baked ham-ham and eggs-ham and cheese sandwich-scalloped potatoes and ham-Hawaiian pizza....what's your pleasure? 

I like it, but it's not something we eat all the time unless it's on sale. Mostly we just bake one of those mini-hams with a little water in a roasting pan. But I like using up the leftovers in quiche. Or on pizza.

4. Do you celebrate Easter? What did Easter look like when you were a kid? What are your plans for Easter this year? 

Yes, absolutely. And my first Easter looked like this.

5. Something that makes you feel hopeful amidst all the chaos and confusion this world brings? 

Spring waking up the earth. (Is that enough anthropomorphism?)

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Back in the Hodgepodge, y'all

From this Side of the Pond

1.Why do you blog? Have your reasons changed over time? 

This blog is (as it says at the top) eighteen years old. It started when friends blogged together, and we thought we had a lot to say about everything, and had to say everything about a lot. It continues infrequently, mainly with Hodgepodge posts and occasionally with something about clothes or other adventures that are too big for a quick IG post. I feel like it's much less likely, these days, that anything I post here will get noticed unless I mention it somewhere else.

I've thought about taking on one of those blogging challenges like going through the alphabet, but right now I'm not sure I have the stamina for it, particularly Q X Y Z.

2. What's a typical Friday night look like at your house?

About the same as any other night! My husband and I are self-employed slash semi-retired, so we don't say WEEKEND the way we might once have done. Actually, my husband worked a lot of Saturdays during the first years we were married, so even then.

3. Do you like donuts? Your favorite kind? How often do you treat yourself to a donut? Have you ever made homemade donuts? 

Homemade doughnuts? Not the fried kind, I'm squeamish about deep fat frying, but we have made baked pumpkin doughnuts many times.

As for the rest...I live in Canada, I go to Tim Horton's, what can I say. I prefer the solid kind, not jelly-filled.

4. How do you feel about shopping? Are you an online shopper? Catalog shopper? Brick and mortar shopper? Do you order groceries online or prefer to select items with your own two hands? 

Shopping? We usually hit the thrift store right after we go to Tim Horton's.

I used to love mail-order catalogues, back in the pre-Internet era when every small vendor (including homeschool book vendors) was sending them out and you had to send cheques or money orders (remember those?). In those days, I think, the shipping for things wasn't quite so crazy. I will buy something new online if I'm pretty sure it's what I want and/or it will fit: most recently, this backpack.

Groceries? In person.

5. Next week's Hodgepodge finds us somehow in the month of April, which just so happens to be National Poetry Month. Sum up (or tell us something about) your month of March in the form of a limerick. You can do it!! 

There once was a lone Mama Squirrel

Who said, "I'll give flying a whirl."

So she travelled to Dallas

And stayed in a palace

With three of her favourite cowgirls.

Linked from the Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Back in the Saddle (Travelling Light)

The opportunity came up recently, after a very long time on the ground, to do a little air travel. I decided to pack as minimally as possible, using only a personal-item bag that would fit under the airplane seat. Now I'm back, everything's unpacked and washed and I can't show you precisely how it all looked; but the teddy bears are going to help me reconstruct the story.

Now, I hear you asking if you haven't done this recently, what's wrong with regular carry-on? Because an increasing number of travellers don't want to pay for checked bags, or worry that they'll get lost, carry-on is way more popular than it used to be. If you're travelling on small planes (say for shortish flights), there isn't enough overhead space  for every single passenger to stow a bag. What will probably happen when you're waiting to board the plane is that, first, they'll ask for volunteers to check their wheeled carry-ons (for free). If they don't get enough volunteers, the last passengers to board will have to check their bags even if they don't want to. Which defeats half the purpose of going carry-on, which is avoiding the search for your luggage at the airport, or (worst of all) hearing that it went somewhere else without you.

So I did a crash course in how to pack extra-light, courtesy of Youtube's "Travel Tips by Laurie" and a free webinar by I do have a backpack that would have fit within the underseat size limits, but it's smaller, like a school backpack, and only zips open partway. Going by online reviews (and a friend who had just bought one), I bought a Cabin Max Mini Metz 30 L pack, which is sized exactly to meet American Airlines' underseat limits. Setting my old and new packs side by side, you might not notice a lot of difference, but I do think the full-zip style and the bigger capacity made getting the new bag worthwhile. 

The next thing I had to do, after all this time at home, was to round up any travel equipment I had, especially small containers, pouches, and bags. Several years ago I managed a less-is-more trip by stuffing clothes very tightly into large Ziploc bags, which did work, but this time I wanted to try some alternatives. A daughter had given me a pile of her Shein bags (they're a travel thing right now). I had a few smaller dollar-store mesh bags, similar to the Shein bags; two cloth bags that had held sheet sets; a thrifted child's lunch pack that seemed like it would make a good packing cube; and quite a few zippered cases. Most of the liquids bottles I had used in trips past had been discarded, but I still had some of the small round containers, and a few tiny ones from cosmetic samples. 

And that brings us to one key point. What's wrong with just putting your clothes and everything else straight into the backpack? Nothing. Of course you can do that. But there's one reason you might not want to if you're flying: TSA security checks. Although I was (thankfully) not stopped, beeped, or patted down during this trip, it has happened to me before, and sometimes then they want to look in your bags or they ask you to show them a specific item. And if you have things organized in smaller bags, you can not only access them faster, but get them all repacked very speedily as well. Which is much better than having clothes spewing out every which way.

Obviously, part of the very-small strategy is to minimize what you're taking, and to take the smallest and lightest versions possible; but how you fit things in can make a difference too. I ended up using two of the zip-top Shein bags for clothes (one became a dirty-clothes bag during the trip), plus a really great expandable pencil case of my daughter's for non-liquids makeup and things like bandaids; a clear bag for liquids; a large Ziploc bag for in-flight needs; and a small crocheted pouch for jewelry.

 A pair of shoes, an umbrella, and a small purse went in by themselves. I kept minimizing the size and weight of things wherever I could. I packed the lightest-weight pajamas I had, mini-pens, a tiny emery board. I even used one of the tiny cosmetic boxes for just a bit of my favourite lipstick colour. I knew that there were going to be some basic soaps and shampoos at the place where we'd be staying, and in any case, we would be near stores, so I didn't need to pack every possible toiletry.

This is where the story turns a little bit funny, packing-wise. I had originally thought it might be quite warm, and had planned out some clothes accordingly, had even thought of sandals, which is pushing it for March, but it could have happened. What is the one other tip that all the travel videos give? Check the weather online for the place you'll be going. So I did, and every time, the destination sounded wetter and colder than before. Some of our planned activities were going to be outdoors, which is another good thing to consider when you're packing. Also, the weather here in Ontario stayed very cold, which meant that even if I wasn't wearing a winter coat, I would need to be well-layered for the going and coming.  So, off the list went the sandals, and, eventually, even the springy dress and jersey blazer, in favour of a zip-up fleece jacket and an extra shirt. 

And now are you waiting for me to say that the weather was perfect, the temperature went up to 80 degrees and everyone was walking around in shorts? Um, no. It was more like walking by the lake in October: not cold and snowy, but definitely chilly and windy. I ended up wearing almost every layer I'd packed, every time we went out. I was grateful for that fleece jacket which I'd originally crossed off the list, thinking it would be extra weight I didn't need. (As it turned out, wearing it under my coat was also helpful because I could put small valuables in its zippered pockets.) So: check the weather reports as carefully as you check your departure gate, because they can both change without warning. And don't be too committed to what you thought might be nice to wear, because warm enough/ cool enough/ dry enough is more important.

Fantasy vs. reality

One small disappointment was that the crossbody purse I found (at a thrift store) turned out not to work very well for the things I wanted to put into it (it looked like my ID cards were going to fall out). I had brought a lightweight tote bag and ended up using that as a day-bag. As they say: test things out ahead of time. I should also have tested the travel toothbrush that came free with some travel-size shampoo and lotion. If you really need to go mini on the toothbrush, get a decent folding one. Just saying.

The filled backpack (with wardrobe modifications as above) ended up weighing between eleven and twelve pounds, which was quite manageable and fit perfectly under the airplane seat. I didn't make full use of all the little pockets in the front compartment, because I thought it might be awkward to keep pulling the bag out and fiddling with the pockets during the flight. It was easier to rummage in the Ziploc bag for my magazine or  an anti-ear-popping stick of gum. I fit my tablet into one of the front-compartment pockets. (I didn't have to show it for the flight out as they were only interested in laptops, but on the way back they asked us to show tablets as well.)

I made sure the clear liquids bag was near the top so that I could grab it quickly, and when I was going through the TSA line, I attached it through the Velcro on the top handle, just to keep things together.

When I got where we were going, I took my rolled-up clothes out of the Shein bags, and hung them up. We did have laundry available, but I preferred to wear everything a couple of times and wash it all when I got home.

And that's my story. Would I go underseat-only again? Yes, and again not so much because hoisting a carry-on into the bin is a problem, as that these days you might not get a carry-on space at all. It's nice to know for sure that nobody's going to try to wrangle your bag away. Plus it's good to prove, sometimes, that you are up to the challenge.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Chop cherries and dollars, but not the truth

From this Side of the Pond

1. What do you find is the most boring part of your life at the moment? 

Breakfast, probably.

Sometimes lunch.

Occasionally dinner.

2. February 22nd is George Washington's birthday. You'll find his face on the US $1 bill. What's the last thing you bought for roughly $1.00? (.94 €/ .83 £)

The top I'm wearing today, from the dollar (last-chance) rack of a local thrift store. I bought it because I liked the pretty sky-blue colour, but it also appears to be a higher-end brand, so that was a bonus. Actually the jeans I'm wearing were also from the dollar rack, so I guess that makes a two-dollar outfit.

3. Is it ever okay to tell a 'little white lie'? Explain.

There's too much playing with the truth already. I think we need to be cautious about how much we can afford to add to the fire.

4. What's the last thing you 'chopped'? Cherry pie, chocolate covered cherries, a bowl of cherries, cherry vanilla ice cream, maraschino cherries, a cherry lifesaver...your favorite cherry flavored something? 

Chopping and cherries are getting me mixed up here. I chopped up dried cherries to put in Christmas bread, if that counts.

5. Describe yourself with three words using your first, middle, and last initials. 



Woeful, right now. See #6.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Oh, there's a lot of that right now, but it doesn't feel right to call it just "random."

Our blog, such as it is currently (that is to say, infrequently), just touched the eighteen-year mark.

I didn't feel much like doing a woo-hoo post about it, though, as that was the same day I lost a close friend and colleague, the second to pass away in the past year. Queen Shenaynay, as she christened herself years ago on her own blog, has been remembered with love by many people already, and I don't need to say more about that here except that we will miss her and miss her and miss her some more.

And then there is the large disregard for truth that whams into one on even a quick viewing of the past week's news. I try not to get political here so I'll leave it at that.

"I have a woeful feeling, as if the double O of doom were sticking in my throat." (James Thurber)

On a brighter note (because we badly need one here), this is not only Washington's birthday, but Ash Wednesday, and while you might not think that the beginning of Lent is a particularly bright spot on the calendar, it is, at least, the promise that the rest of these things only "come to pass," as Queen Shenaynay used to say, and that truth and life will remain beyond them. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Pre-Spring: Clothes and Inspirations

Spring here can be more like a second winter, which is not as enjoyable as a second breakfast. But in February we do start to see longer days, more sunshine, and the occasional green thing trying to come out. And in March, I'm planning to spend a couple of days in a spot that gets springier weather.

Arthur Lismer, "A September Gale on Georgian Bay"
Thrifted sweatshirt and scarf
OPI Nail Lacquer in "Tickle My France-y"
Vintage earrings

Travel Things

So I'm going to work backwards, both in climate and in number of clothing items, and start with a very small carry-on wardrobe for warmish weather.

The Wendi's Day Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond

1. Tell us anything you want about your January. 

OK, since you asked: I have a new book out. Getting there was pretty much my January. Also a good chunk of my December.

2. Lake Superior State University posts a list each year of words they think should be banished from the Queen's English for misuse, overuse, and/or general uselessness. The 2023 list includes GOAT, inflection point, quiet quitting, gaslighting, moving forward, amazing, Does that make sense?, irregardless, absolutely, and it is what it is.

Which of these words/phrases do you use regularly? Which of these words would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word/phrase not on the list you'd like to add? 

GOAT? I had to look that one up. Greatest of all time? I guess that goes along with "amazing," unless it's amazing grace.

Irregardless...yeah, that one's been argued about for years, irregardless of its non-meaning. (And as I'm typing this, my spellcheck is red-lining the word, it doesn't like it either.)

Moving forward, I'm going to quietly quit my stoicism, because it is what it is.

3. February 2nd is Groundhog Day. What's something that feels repeated in your life right now? 

I have about three CDs sitting near the small player near my computer, and I keep forgetting to take them downstairs and switch them out with something else, so I just keep listening to the same three over and over again. At least they're not Sonny and Cher.

4. What's a food you love that's named after a place?

Nanaimo Bars.

5. What's the best season of the year to visit your city or your part of the country? Tell us why. 

Living in an Oktoberfest-happy region with lots of beautiful maple trees, you might think I'd say fall. But if you were coming to visit, I might say summer, because there are music festivals and flea markets and buskers and all kinds of free things to do.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

This is a difficult day, because it's a year since the passing of my blogging/reading/homeschooling/believing friend Wendi, usually referred to here as the DHM, who was also a great fan of Nanaimo bars. This is what I wrote about her then. She gave us a great deal to remember her by. Wendi, if there were any flowers out there today, I'd go enjoy them for you, but it's freezing cold and snowy, just like it was this time last year. I'll just have to appreciate the icicle hanging by the wall instead.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Christmas Cookies as Improv

A long time ago here, we made Christmas cookies from one of those magazine articles that use one dough and many variations. This particular one was based on the book One Dough, Fifty Cookies, by Leslie Glover Pendleton; but you can find other kinds of dough-with-variations in cookbooks and online.

This year, having a small number of people to make cookies for, I decided we would revive the Master Dough, though without the very fancy variations given in the magazine. Crissy and Elizabeth got their fancy aprons on to help us.

Mr. Fixit, who likes gadgets, got out the hand mixer and mixed the dough. Actually the stand mixer would have been a better idea, as it wasn't really strong enough and he had to finish mixing it by hand.  What goes into this particular recipe? One pound unsalted butter; 1 1/3 cup sugar; 1 tsp. salt; 3 egg yolks; 2 tsp, vanilla; 4 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour.

We happened to have a box of red and green holiday Rice Krispies (gift from daughter), so I worked two cupfuls of those into a quarter of the dough, and pressed it into an 8 inch pan to make bar cookies. I stuck them in the oven to bake at 350 degrees, but I don't think I gave them quite long enough, because the middle ones ended up underdone. If I were doing this again, I'd leave the bar cookies until the end and then they could have all the time they needed. Later I drizzled the survivors with a bit of powdered sugar glaze.

To one-quarter of the dough, we added half a cup of hot chocolate mix and a cupful of mini chocolate chips, plus a bit of extra water to moisten it. We rolled those into balls, but did not flatten them; they flattened a bit in the oven (375 degrees). They also got a bit of glaze, but that was probably unnecessary as I decided afterwards to dress them up a little more with a squirt of white icing and a few sprinkles.

The rest of the dough was rolled into balls, and we made thumbprints (actually end-of-a-cake-server prints) in each one (and baked them at 375 degrees). Some of them were filled with jam before baking, which you have to be careful with as it can leak over, but this time around we had no problems. We filled the hole in a few of them with sprinkles, which turned out not to look too great, so when they came out of the oven I pressed a green chocolate-covered candy (you know which ones) in the middle, and they went on the plate for the glaze drizzle as well. (I did all the glazing at once.)

And some of them got a peppermint Hershey's Kiss, which turned out WEIRD and NOT GOOD, like something from Cake Wrecks. I'd made Kiss cookies before, but I couldn't remember whether we'd put them on the cookies before or after baking. Suggestion: don't do what Elizabeth did here. Let them bake plain, squirt some icing on top, and add the Kisses after baking (we replaced the burned Kisses with unbaked ones). We also happened to have snowflake dragees from Bulk Barn, so I pressed a few of those into the icing. Yay for last-minute rescues.

And that's it! Just enough cookies and variety to keep us going over the holidays.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Wednesday Chocolatepodge

 From this Side of the Pond

1. The Hodgepodge lands on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Have you visited the memorial? Any desire to do so? Have you visited other WW2 sites and memorials? Do you think we do a good job of teaching current and younger generations about the events of WW2? Do you think it matters? 

I live in Canada, so no to the first two questions.

I don't know how well younger people are being taught about that war, especially as there are few people left who were old enough to serve; there are more still around who were children and can tell things from that perspective. When I was in high school, that war was forty years ago and it already seemed a long time back; but high school for me was also forty years ago, so there's that.

And yes, I think it matters.

2. Many books, both fiction and non-fiction have been written with WW2 as the setting. Is this a 'genre' you gravitate towards? Share with us a book (or two) you've enjoyed that is set in some way around WW2. If you're not a reader, how about a movie? 

Not as a "genre," but yes, I have read various books involving WWII. Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear are probably the most recent novels I've read. Also Herman Wouk's The Winds of War.

3. According to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine there are seven popular color trends for the holidays this year. They are- red and white, Victorian blue, pops of pink, rich shades of green, rainbow hues, black and white, and nostalgic retro colors. Are you 'trendy' when it comes to holiday decorating in 2022? How so? Does your tree have a 'theme'? 

I wouldn't have a clue! I just figure Christmas decorating should be about Christmas. We only have a half-size tree this year anyway, so we just used what fit on it.

4. What's a current trend you buck? 

See #3, I guess.

5. What's your favorite chocolate something? 

The foil-wrapped chocolate ornaments we bought at Dollarama to help decorate the half-size tree. Which I guess we'll get to eat in January.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I just posted my reading ambitions for 2023. It keeps me sort of accountable. Do you prefer planning reading ahead or taking it as it comes?

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Mama Squirrel's Reading List for 2023

Alphabetically by author, this time. Some of these have migrated from previous years' lists, but that doesn't mean I'm not still going to try.

The Lazy Genius Kitchen: Have What You Need, Use What You Have, and Enjoy It Like Never Before

Adachi, Kendra 

Wordsworth: A Life In Letters

Barker, Juliet 

The Medieval Mind of C.S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind

Baxter, Jason M.


The Story of Arthur Truluv

Berg, Elizabeth

How It Went: Thirteen Late Stories of the Port William Membership

Berry, Wendell


The Longing for Home: Reflections at Midlife

Buechner, Frederick


The Principles of Art

Collingwood, R.G.


Clear Light of Day

Desai, Anita


Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds

Ehrlich, Paul R.


How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Ellenberg, Jordan


Walk in the Woods: Portrait of the Ojibway Prairie Complex

Gervais, Marty


A Thinking Love: Studies from Charlotte Mason's Home Education

Glass, Karen


The Aptitude Myth: How an Ancient Belief Came to Undermine Children's Learning Today

Grove, Cornelius N.


Parable and Paradox

Guite, Malcolm


Rallying The Really Human Things: Moral Imagination In Politics Literature & Everyday Life

Guroian, Vigen


The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution

Harkness, Deborah


Dove Descending: A Journey into T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets

Howard, Thomas


The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

Jacobs, Alan


The Truth and Beauty: How the Lives and Works of England's Greatest Poets Point the Way to a Deeper Understanding of the Words of Jesus

Klavan, Andrew


The Lovely Treachery of Words: Essays Selected and New

Kroetsch, Robert


Invitation to the Waltz

Lehmann, Rosamond


The Art of Repair

Martin, Molly


The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between

Matar, Hisham


Peas, Pigs and Poetry

Mead, Fiona


Trees of North America

Mitchell, Alan


52 Prepper Projects: A Project a Week to Help You Prepare for the Unpredictable

Nash, David


The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels

Nicolson, Adam


A History of Ancient Britain

Oliver, Neil


Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn't: The Beauty of Christian Theism

Ortlund, Gavin 


Signposts in a Strange Land

Percy, Walker


A Plato Reader: Eight Essential Dialogues



The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World

Postrel, Virginia


Rembrandt Is in the Wind: Learning to Love Art through the Eyes of Faith

Ramsey, Russ


Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self

Robinson, Marilynne


Unto This Last and Other Writings

Ruskin, John


Democracy in Canada: The Disintegration of Our Institutions

Savoie, Donald J.


The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups

Sax, Leonard



Scruton, Roger 


A Whole Life

Seethaler, Robert


The Wild Idea Club: A Collaborative System to Solve Workplace Problems, Improve Efficiency, and Boost Your Bottom Line

Silber, Lee


The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading

Spufford, Francis


And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind: A Natural History of Moving Air

Streever, Bill


Birding with Yeats: A Mother's Memoir

Thomson, Lynn



Wangerin Jr., Walter


What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World

Young, Jon

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Grey Days of November (Wednesday Hodgepodge)

From this Side of the Pond
1. Sum up your November in ten words or less. 

My orchid retired, but we bought a holiday bucket tree.

2. Are you hosting any holiday parties this year? Attending any? Party pooper, party animal, or life of the party...where do you land when it comes to parties? 

Our small group at church is going to have a (small) dinner potluck, which will be the first time in however long that we've potlucked with anyone. Perhaps the world is slowly coming back to normal.

3. Do you purchase holiday clothing of any sort (sparkly tops, Christmas jammies, Santa suit, etc). 

I was looking at a sparkly silver turtleneck yesterday at Value Village, but Mr. Fixit thought it might not be something I'd be happy actually wearing, and I figured he was right. But, right nearby, there was a grey J. Crew merino sweatshirt with kangaroo pockets, which does not sound that festive, but I'd rather have a  J. Crew merino sweatshirt than a pair of Santa Claus jammies. Besides, you can always add a scarf.

4. What's your go-to recipe when you're asked to bring an hors d'oeuvre to a party? 

I don't know, I've never been asked to bring an hors d'oeuvre anywhere that I can think of!

But I have taken a bowl of sweet potato hummus to a couple of evening events, so I guess that qualifies. All the links I had to it here on the blog seem to have disappeared, so I hope I have it written down somewhere. Basically, you blend cooked sweet potato with a can of chickpeas, and add a few things like lemon juice, cinnamon/other pumpkin spices, and some sweetener.

5. December 3rd is National Play Outside Day...what might you do to celebrate? 

Take a walk?

I just hope the weather's better than it is today (totally gross).

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

What we're reading to each other during Advent:

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.