I am thankful it’s February. The time is NOT flying by! January felt like it was 62 days long. There are never any signs of Spring in February (obviously, because it is not imminent) and usually none in March either. So we are truly hunkered down for the rest of the Winter.
I was on vacation December 24 to January 3. Groups of 10 close contacts were allowed for Christmas and our local family is 9, so we had a full Christmas celebration, just like a normal year. I did my gift-shopping locally except for Rom’s because he uses an Amazon wish list for things not available in our area. My parents were able to attend an in-person Christmas Eve Mass, but my church did a virtual Winter Solstice service.
For décor, we had a fresh, local Christmas tree (Balsam fir) delivered by my brother. Every couple of years I make a display of all the cute cow ornaments I received from my friend in the 80s and 90s, and it stays out for at least 2 months to cheer me up. I put up white mini-lights inside the windows of our house for the holiday season. This year I upped our game and installed two big new snowflake lights at the front door. They turned out to be 1000x brighter than our other lights and we joked we had airport runway lights. I didn’t return them because I found it amusing 🙂
Link wanted a record of where our Christmas ornaments came from (we have a large collection) so when I put them away, I sorted and labelled them. We have also talked through the stories a couple of times – maybe someday they will stick!
A lot of restaurants and recreation services voluntarily closed for two weeks or longer when Omicron reached our province. None of my extended family has had Covid, but now we all know at least one person who has – something most folks in Nova Scotia couldn’t say until January. I am still going in to work every day, but I have a private office (and vehicle). I resumed going to the gym and pool after we got our boosters.
My fitness level has taken a hit this month because icy weather has made walking outdoors dangerous. I am accustomed to walking on ice but it’s not good cardio when you have to slow down and watch where you place your feet! There is an icy crust on the snow in the woods so that is not much better. I averaged 7429 steps per day in January. In a month with better weather, like October, it was 13349! Gym visits, swimming and snow shovelling have helped, but not made up the difference. We are still waiting for our home elliptical machine to be repaired and we don’t want to buy another machine (of any type) in the meanwhile.
So what am I doing instead?
Wordle, of course!
I tried a kit from the dollar store to get started on diamond painting, and really enjoyed it! If you’re unfamiliar, you apply sparkly colour dots to a design outlined on an adhesive page. The colours are decided for you – like completing a Lite Brite design (1970s reference!) If you have the fine motor coordination, it is a good alternative to adult colouring books. Thank you to my blog friend Snoskred for introducing me to this!
Rom and I watched the Beatles documentary Get Back on Disney+. I am a “moderate” Beatles fan – they broke up when I was 6. It took me a while to get into it, but by the end of the first 2.5-hour episode, I decided to watch the remaining 5.5 hours. At first it was hard to watch their chaotic and somewhat despotic methods of working, but gradually they cooperated and respected each other more, and their trademark humour emerged. I have seen lots of documentaries about bands’ creative processes. I recommend I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: a Film about Wilco (2002).
I watched The Great Gatsby (2013) after reading the book for the first time. I liked the movie so much better. So rare for me to say that! I also watched The Wind Rises (2013), an anime film by Miyazaki for Studio Ghibli. It was a serious and adult movie, thought to be Miyazaki’s last, but he is working on another “final” production.
I keep up on new music, as always. This past year I have been listening to electro-pop, hyper-pop, art pop, indie pop and basically any alternative pop music. My favourite release of 2021 was Gioli and Assia’s Moon Faces EP. They do house music (some would say techno). Please watch the 14-minute performance on YouTube – it’s gorgeous!
I made you a playlist of pop music I like, and hope you’ll have a listen
I started something new – tracking how much time I read books each day.
I read 5 books in January:
- Juliet Takes a Breath – Gabby Rivera (coming of age, Black queer experience)
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (historical 1920s, white male experience)
- To Be a Man – Nicole Krauss (short stories, Jewish experience)
- Luster – Raven Leilani (contemporary, Black experience)
- Piranesi – Susanna Clarke (literary fantasy)
I loved them all except The Great Gatsby! You can find my reviews on Goodreads. I also finished reading a book on Eastern European history which took me many months.
I loved keeping a “bullet journal” last year and I had fun putting together this year’s version. I switched to a larger page size (from personal to A5/half-letter). The refills I bought last year aren’t available, so I bought a large quantity of the right size looseleaf & I’m decorating my own, using a simple, colourful scheme. I have continued recording only things I have actually done, rather than using it as a “to do” list.
In the planner world, if you add a spot to record things other than daily/weekly/monthly tasks, these sections are “collections.” Your collections might be habit trackers, books read, meal plans, an exercise log, or expenses. My “collections” last year were used for reference: a vacation days tracker, medical/dental appts, car appts, home maintenance, gardening time and monthly playlists. This year I added reading time.
I purchased a cover/binder in the new size ($10), looseleaf ($23) and washi tape ($21) for a total of $54. We’ll see if I can resist buying more washi tape and stickers. I will probably cave 🙂
Food and Cooking
This month we bought a freezer. Previously we only had a fridge/freezer combo. It had a decent amount of space; we didn’t want a larger freezer because we preferred to have fresh food bought weekly. Like the rest of the world, we are changing our buying habits due to grocery price increases. We are shopping for deals and stocking up within the space available. Freezers are sold out everywhere and the prices have skyrocketed. We did “OK” on our purchase. Last week we bought our first “freezer order” from Costco – bigger quantities of things we would normally buy. We also have more room to batch cook and freeze leftovers.
Rom and I take turns cooking. Link makes meat-based meals with a vegetarian option for us. This month my contributions to the veggie meal plan were nut loaf, carrot cashew burgers, veggie lasagna, quinoa and seitan sausage bowl, mung bean dal (with no sugar, Sarah!), and chili pie.
I created a new budget for 2022 based on projections of continued high inflation, no travel, and limited arts and cultural activities. Sigh. We have money set aside from 2020 for travel, concerts, plays and festivals! Every year I max out my TFSA and RRSP (non-taxable and deferred-tax savings). 12.2% of my salary goes to my government pension – a high amount, but a good payback. Now that Rom isn’t working, he has to use strategies to draw down various pots of money. We are cooperating on cost-sharing arrangements that allow us both to accumulate some capital and to split expenses. Because we met later in life, it is important to both of us to have individual accounts and to contribute to our shared expenses from them, rather than to pool everything. We know this is not typical. We have full transparency on all financial matters, but we manage our money separately in our own styles and then decide how to meet goals. It works for us.
That wraps up the last 6 weeks or so! I hope all of you are well, and if in a cold climate, staying cozy.
I would love to hear what you are watching, reading or listening to.
I set a reading goal for 2022 of 52 books – basically a book a week – and I have 4 finished so far (all mysteries). Most recently I read Death Comes To Pemberley, by P.D. James. It’s a departure from her typical style and was obviously a bit of a personal indulgence (a bucket list item perhaps; I believe it was published when she was 90), but had an interesting twist st the end, which I always enjoy.
I should read more mysteries! I hope all is well with you. Happy Reading!
It’s so lovely to hear from you, Dar.
We’ve continued to be lucky here and haven’t had Covid in our household, but it has definitely been moving closer. Two staff members at the library have had family in their households come down with it. My husband at the hospital has had a few staff isolating for exposures outside of work, but none sick, thankfully. My dad, his wife and my nephew visited after Christmas. A few weeks after they arrived home they each came down with Covid.
None of our family live near us and I think some branches are feeling the isolation at this point. My MIL would love to visit for my husband’s 40th next weekend, but really doesn’t leave the house, even for groceries, so I can’t see her getting here (it’s probably a ten hour drive). My mother visited us once right as Covid was hitting Australia (March 2020) and we haven’t managed to see each other since. I think it might be harder for her as I’m an only child. My MIL has seven kids, with one still living at home while at uni. But it is what it is.
I’ve kind of fallen into running some IT classes for seniors at our library. We received some funding last year, but then had a few shutdowns for Covid, and lost some staff members (including losing our Events Librarian late last year). We need to run 39 classes by the end of June and I’ve taken it on as the staff member with the most experience with the program, due to having volunteered as an assistant when classes were run Feb-June last year, while finishing my degree. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but hopefully they will be able to recruit a new Events Librarian soon and I can go back to focusing on homeschooling our teens with a few casual library assistant shifts thrown into the mix. I love this program, but there is a reason I didn’t apply for the Events Librarian job (they’ve just advertised it for the second time this year). It’s just not the right time in my life to take it all on.
It’s good to hear your news! Yes, we are all so stoic about seeing family. “But it is what it is.” If you get a chance, I’d like to hear more about your IT classes. Our library has a few options for IT instruction: 1. You can show up and ask for help with something you’re working on (updating a resume or setting up an iPhone or whatever) and hope a staff member has time to help – and they often do; 2. make an appointment for one-to-one instruction – the staff do Word, printing, Internet, social media, assist with govt forms, and whatever they have time to learn!; 3. The library subscribes to Niche Academy which has instructional videos for library subscription products like Ancestry and NoveList and LinkedIn Learning; and 4. We have a phone and email service called “Ask a Digital Media Specialist” where someone will walk you through setting up an Overdrive account, troubleshooting a product, etc. Our biggest issue working with seniors is that their adult children usually set up their devices and the log-in info for accounts is either not recorded anywhere, or left at home on a scrap of paper. So they often get bounced out or locked out of their accounts and don’t know how to get back in. And lots of cases of being blocked from too many password attempts.
I had a similar experience with Get Back. It took a while to get into it, but when I did, I enjoyed it. I couldn’t get Phillip to watch it with me. He’s not a Beatles fan. I am into the Beatles big time.
I’m watching The Book of Boba Fett. To my surprise, I’ve gotten Phillip hooked on it. I’m not a big Star Wars fan, but I watch it mostly for the imaginative ship designs. I’m not sure why Phillip’s watching it.
Ah, yes… Wordle.
Despite having watched Yellow Submarine and listening to their music (a bit), Link could only name two Beatles. I am not familiar with the Book of Boba Fett! I will have to look it up. Rom has watched most Star Wars content so I’m surprised he hasn’t mentioned it.
Oh that is way cool. So glad you enjoy diamond painting! It is heaps of fun and there is so much to learn about ways to do it. I’m making some new videos this month after taking a break.
Re the freezer, we did it quite a few years back as a way to save money and bulk buy things like chicken and steak but it also became a way to batch prepare fruits and vegetables and freeze them myself. I do tend to buy way more icecream than I should though!
The one I am most happy about is freezing mushrooms because I am the only person in the house who eats them and buying a large punnet half of it would go bad before I got the chance to eat it. Now I will buy 10 large punnets and spend an afternoon prepping them, I foodsave/vacuum seal them all, and I only have to do that once every 6 months or so. I wrote a blog post about it back in 2018.
Time does seem to be flying by over here. Not exactly sure why, maybe because I hunkered down a bit over Christmas due to Omicron, but in a couple of days it will be 2 months since my Dad passed which seems almost unbelievable to me.
I am binge watching ER on Amazon Prime. Seems like a lot of people are rewatching it at the moment. I’m going to look for some new book downloads this week but recently I enjoyed The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. The latter greatly helped me with Dad’s passing.
Much love to you and yours. 🙂
Hi Snoskred, I hope you are hanging in there. I remember that post about freezing mushrooms! In the summer I buy yellow wax beans or green string beans and blanch them & freeze them. I also buy 2 kg boxes of local wild blueberries which can go directly into the freezer with no prep!
I am looking forward to picking out my next diamond painting kit.
I was not familiar with Mike Rowe’s podcast or book but I will look them up. I would read the Caitlin Doughty book! One of my blog friends from Sydney worked in the funeral industry quite recently.
All the best!
Hi there glad all going well in your part of the world these days. I am currently reading Six Tudor Queens – Katherine of Aragon the True Queen by Alison Weir and it has been a long read but fascinating. Anne Boleyn next of course but will read something else for a break maybe one of the Elly Griffiths Dr Ruth Galloway series. I had read them all I thought but found 3 more published so purchased secondhand off Ebay. They are sat on the shelf calling to me! However I am also listening via BorrowBox at the Library to Tombland from the Shardlake series (more Tudors) – so absorbing.
Going to a play this month at last- Mapp and Lucia. Have read all the books years ago. And in March we are seeing The Book Of Mormon show ! Very excited.
Hope you get chance to travel and go to venues too very soon. Best wishes from UK
Hi Angie, BorrowBox sounds cool; we don’t have it! We currently have 3 different sites (Overdrive, Hoopla and Kanopy). Overdrive and Hoopla both keep expanding into different kinds of media content and buying up smaller companies. So maybe someday we’ll have an all-in-one service too. Mapp and Lucia sounds fun. Lucky you to see Book of Mormon!
I have been trying to figure out if you live anywhere near Bristol. We were there in 2018 and loved it. Maybe even more than Bath.
Hiya. Bristol is about 70 miles from us as is London – live on south coast between Southampton and Portsmouth. Very accessible to most places by train and road. Love Bath but would you believe I have not visited Bristol in years! Must go this year again as understand it is super to visit these days. Thanks for your reply.
Now I am very embarrassed. I seem to have got you mixed up with another reader – Anj. Apologies to you both! I would love to visit your area. The closest I’ve been is Brighton and Hove. I love it there!
So pleased you liked Piranesi. I’m thinking of reading it again as I have unanswered questions about the ending. Looks like you, like my sister, interpreted it differently to me. I’m reading Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, last year’s Booker winner. Pretty grim stuff but my bookclub choice of the month. Have also read a bit of Painter to the King by Amy Sackville which is a historical novel about Diego Velazquez at the court of Philip IV of Spain. I saw the writer speak at a literary event held at Gladstone’s library in North Wales yesterday. A lovely day our.
Sounds pretty cold where you are. We’ve not had much frost or snow this winter, just wind and rain and now the garden is beginning to wake up. X Doris
Hi Doris, Ah, a waking garden; I am jealous. It is a good thing I’m an admirer of ferns, mosses and lichens because other than bare trees, that’s all I’m seeing 🙂 I would like to read Shuggie Bains. In the last part of my review of Piranesi, I noted some strong feelings I had. I don’t think that’s what the book was “about,” but it’s what the book made me think of. I was so impressed with the book and I could see myself re-reading it.
Hi Dar, that is one impressive Christmas tree and the runway lights made me laugh – if we had those at our house we might even find an aircraft landing on our drive as we sometimes have planes go over that touch down in Manchester airport.
I have now switched from using my A5 filofax to a bullet style notebook – I say style as it is my own made up style that is a bit of a cross between an ordinary notebooks for my thoughts and plans and a few bullet style lists. I have not got into the tracking yet but might have a go with one or two topics.
So far we have missed the Covid but had two horrendous colds that lasted for about 3 weeks. We are part of the Office for National Statistics government survey so we have swabs taken and blood tests regularly which go to be lab tested so we know definitely the colds were not Covid related – I reckon it has been a lack of outside contact that has left us with less immunity at the moment.
Unlike you I hardly noticed January as it whizzed by in a instance filled with birthdays and when I wasn’t ‘creating’ I was organising and planning – just got the ‘doing’ bit now! Hope your weather improves and you enjoy February more than January. x
I hope you feel well soon. I haven’t had a cold in well over two years, maybe because I don’t know any kids these days! You’ve been so busy. The cold weather has “cracked” this week and we’re getting a few consecutive days above 0 degrees C!
I hadn’t had a cold in a long time either – not even through most of the pandemic when the grandchildren were in our bubble. It was such a bad virus more like flu as I didn’t have a runny nose or sneezing but a sore throat, high temperature and aching. DH had the runny nose and sneezing but no temperature or sore throat. Sweetie had the high temperature and runny nose and my brother had sneezing, sore throat and sinus trouble. The rest of the family came away without catching it. I am pretty sure we caught it off a supermarket trolley on Christmas Eve when we popped in for a last minute bunch of flowers for my mum and took an unsanitised trolley from outside to sit Sweetie in because we had put her in the car seat and then realised when we got to the shop she had no shoes on. Both DH, myself and Sweetie touched the trolley handle but not little L, then next day on Christmas day my brother who was keeping his distance from everyone sitting in the corner was playing with Sweetie and I sat next to him for a while to have a chat so may have passed something on to him then. Other than that I have no idea where we picked the virus up because we had not been anywhere or why only 4 of us came down with it.
It’s a good thing that viruses are not 100% effective in their strategies 🙂
Be safe on that ice. I would miss my walking as well. Keith
Thanks, Keith! First walk today in a couple of weeks – I really missed it.
Thanks for staying the course and publishing your blog. I have found January to be very long also. The extreme cold may be the reason. There have too many mornings waking up to -30 C. I sill get out on walks with our dogs every day. I never miss. We have taken up Wordle and enjoy the short challenge. Happy February.
Thanks, Deb! We had about 3 weeks of -10 to -20 but not like your weather. Makes me glad I have cats, haha! I hope you have a good month.
Ha! Today is… healthy restart day – so your comment about sugar was timely! (there’s a little sweetness, but not really like how I celebrated the last weeks!).
Diamond painting! That’s what it’s called. Violet (6) got this as a gift at some stage, likely her Sept birthday, and she did a few, but I finished them off. They were small icon, and then became stickers. I LOVED it, though it’s totally plastic tat!!
I love your reading tracker – I have recently devoured two fiction books in the past week – which shocked my boyfriend! My issue is that I read fiction fast, but my to read list is largely non-fiction.
I don’t regularly grocery shop – between our three meal delivery kit, and ad hoc lunches. I grocery shopped yesterday – wow, it was pricier than I expected. Frozen berries are a regular purchase – the store I went to had them from Serbia – which I’ve never seen! Usually they are from Chile or China.
Hi Sarah, I have seen berries from Serbia, too. About the sugar, I remember you tried that recipe and found it sweet like a porridge. Since then I have left the sugar out and it tastes more like an evening meal! I have a new scheme involving sugar which I will blog about (of course it does not involve actually giving up sugar). It would be fun to do a craft kit with a 6-year-old!
I used to read a LOT. Before kids, I would easily read 2-3 books a week, and even when the kids were really small, I would manage at least one and sometimes two in a week. Not sure what happened, working full time, bigger kids being more labour intensive, candy crush… but I seemed to be reading less and less. I started off aiming for 26 books in a year , then 30 and then I made it more simple (and less judgy, lol) My reading goal is “more than last year”. Last year, I read 56 books – mostly serial killers and police procedurals, but eh, makes me happy.
This year’s more than last year target is going swimmingly. I accidentally read 16 books in six week. Oops. Not actually sure what happened there, but hey. I have mixed it up a little from my normal crime and death and added in some historical romance (lookin’ at you, Bridgertons! I have finished them now, though so back to serial killers and space operas)
I’m still quasi bullet journalling in a week to a page diary. And no, you cannot have enough washi or stickers.
Hi! Any amount of books is a good amount. Most people don’t read books, so you are on the Good Side. 16 in 6 is impressive. I am already craving new washi tape so my page themes can be different every month!