Friday, December 30, 2011

our new year's eve plans

Andy and I are hosting this year. I think my email message to our friends just about sums up our plans, and puts it all in perspective:

So tomorrow is New Year's Eve. We will be ready any time from 8pm on. My niece says that this is a sign that we are OLD. People in her generation, she tells me, would never think of showing up at a New Year's Eve party at 8pm. I tell her that gives us 5 or 6 hours to party because we'll all be up past midnight after all. I say this with special emphasis because we are up past midnight probably only 2 or 3 times per year these days. She just rolls her eyes when I say this.

When I tell my niece that we won't play beer pong this year, she is amused. "You played beer pong?" YUP! I say, but it's a year later and now we are OLD. So we are having a silly gift exchange instead. "Okay," she says, "I hope you get a nice gift." Then she kind of smirks.

So let's have a smirk-busting New Year's Eve. Andy and I will be ready for you as soon as the seniors' supper special is over at Denny's. We'll print up some songsheets for World War II song favourites, and we've hired an accordion player. We'll record New Year's in Australia and play it at about 9:30pm so we can all be home and in bed by 10. After all, we are OLD.

Seriously, 8pm onwards, bring a nibbly food to share, bring a wrapped gift or two - could be something good or something terrible or just something funny. Women, wear a nice dress or otherwise cocktail attire. You can keep your shoes on in our house if you like. Men, shirt YES, tie OPTIONAL, pants REQUIRED.

See you at the end of 2011.


question: how OLD are you? and what are you doing for New Year's Eve?

mompoet - OLD enough to laugh at myself

Thursday, December 29, 2011

honest mom, it's not there

I was just going to sleep about midnight Tuesday when my phone rang. It was Alex, with panic in his voice, "Mom! Where's the car?" Alex had just come out of work at the movie theatre to find that the car was not where we had fropped it off for him earlier in the evening. I verified the spot where we left it and he verified that it was not there. "How many cars are in the lot?" I asked him. "Not many, and none of them is your car, Mom!" he assured me. It dawned on me that it must have been stolen. I told him to go back inside and wait, while Andy and I drove to the theatre.

Alex was right, it was gone. Some time between 7pm and midnight, someone made off with our rusty but trusty 1995 Honda Civic. I phoned the police and reported it stolen, then we drove home. In the morning, I called ICBC, then I called our friend Chris, who is also our insurance agent. Both the ICBC Claims person and dear Chris helped me feel a lot better. Apparently 9 out of 10 stolen cars are recovered within a few days. Usually only the door lock and ignition are broken. I'm just hoping that my car is found in one piece and deemed worthy of repair. If it's written off, I won't get much for it, then I have to buy a car.

In the meantime, ICBC pays for a rental car. I'm wondering how long I'll be driving it, if I'll get my car back, where my car is...

I picture it on a side street somewhere in Surrey. Somebody took it because they needed a ride home, or to a drug deal, or both. I'm hoping someone will notice the little old blue car that does not move from its place, and upon closer inspection notices that the door lock is broken and ignition wires are hanging out. They'll call the police, who will call the wrecker. Then they'll call me, and we'll see what happens next.

Talking to people I know, many have experienced this same crime. My neighbour even asked, "Is this the first time your car has been stolen?" So it's something new for me, but sounds like it happens and life goes on. I'm grateful Alex did not come out of work while the thief was breaking into the car. Part of me thinks maybe he wasn't meant to drive himself home that night. Maybe the car was stolen to put him out of the way of something else that wasn't supposed to happen. We'll never know, and I'm glad.

So I'll keep you posted. In the meantime. Look for a rusty little blue Honda Civic with a rear window shelf littered with L and N magnets. It's a good little car. It wants to come home.

question: has your vehicle ever been stolen?

mompoet - dude! where's my car?

Monday, December 26, 2011

my early Christmas gift from Alex and Fiona

Alex and Fi went off to the mall the day after Fiona got home from NJ. Their tradition is to shop together for stocking stuffers for the family, and to give each other hints about presents for one another. They also help each other with wrapping the presents when they get them home. Fiona talked Alex into getting me one more photo for our bulging "Santa Shelf" in the living room, where I have all of the Santa photos from babyhood up, displayed in frames. When Andy and I got home from our errands Fiona suggested I check the Santa shelf for a new addition. I love it.

question: are they not cute?

mompoet - Alex asked Santa for world peace. Fiona said being home for Christmas was present enough for her.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grinfrick the Atrocious Elf-Child Almost Messes Up Christmas

A Christmas Eve story for you:
(Click on the first picture to make the text large enough to read. It's easy to click through after that.)

 I'm sorry that this one is a little out of focus. I let Grinfrick handle the camera, and he was trying to be good, but he is a wiggly elf!

question: have you seen any turtles or reindeer yet?

mompoet - a good little elf

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I spent the first part of the longest night of the year at my church, helping to host the Commuter Sanctuary. At this hectic time of year, we are holding a space in our community for peace and rest. Everyone is welcome to come in, sit, listen to some quiet music, meditate, pray, or simply be. There's no structured service - no talking really, just a quiet space with low lights, candles, and blessed peace. It's every night this week, 5-7pm at St. Andrew's United Church on St. Johns Street in Port Moody. Sometimes, to find grace, or yourself, or peace, or all of these, it's best to stop.

question: when is the last time you sat in peace for more than a moment?

mompoet - enjoying stillness on the darkest night

all is well

Fiona is back from university, with us for four weeks. We picked her up at Seattle airport Saturday night late, and got home with her Sunday morning early. I thought she was going to sleep for a few days, after her hectic last week at school, but she was up-and-at-'em, visiting friends, baking treats, Christmas shopping and going to work at the store where she worked all summer. Last night she made a delicious lettuce wrap supper for Andy and me. It feels like she is trying to get the most she can out of this time at home. I hope it is delicious for her.

I'm still working this week, wrapping up the things that need to be done at the office before the end of 2011. It's hectic but fun, with happy holiday spirits all around. Working at a senior's recreation centre at Christmas time is dangerous though: If I ate every cookie, candy and piece of cake that I have been offered these past 2 weeks, I would be wearing my Christmas pants for sure by now!

Starting Christmas Eve, I have 3 weeks' vacation. I have no plans whatsoever except to relax, be with the family, enjoy Christmas and begin the New Year refreshed and happy. I found out about a month ago that I will continue with my assignment at the seniors' centre - something that started out as a one year placement back in January 2008. This makes me very happy. I love working there, and know now that I am set to continue this through 2012.

So much is good in my life. My family is reunited and happy together. My home is warm and safe and comfortable. I love my job. I have great friends. I have enough energy and resources that I can share some with people in my community and causes that are important to me. I am well. All is well.

question: what's well in your world?

mompoet - wishing you well in your world

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

dear fiona

four more days!

Monday, December 12, 2011

how to make granola at home

I have been working on getting just the right combination of ingredients and technique to make a really yummy granola. Here's my latest concoction, which turned out very nicely.

Begin with a bigger bowl than you think, because you know how things are. I used several cups of large flake oats. You could add wheat or other rolled grains as well.
 I cut the almonds from whole, unblanched, for a rustic feel. All of the nuts and seeds here are raw, because they will roast during the baking. Did I mention to heat the oven to 350F?
 Here's where you dump in the nuts and seeds. Pictured: the almonds, pecans, flax seed, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. If you find you have only toasted seeds, leave them out for now and add them after the baking, along with the fruit. Stir this whole lot together.
 For about 10 cups of mixed grains, seeds and nuts, I used 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup canola oil. We had the creamed type of honey on hand, so I softened it for about 30 seconds in the microwave, then whisked in the oil. You want the mixture to be liquidy enough to distribute evenly through the dry ingredients.
Mix the honey/oil into the dry ingredients. You can stir it with a big spoon on combine with your hands to make sure every bit of grain, seed and nut gets honey-oiled. Spread it out on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment and put it in the oven.
 You want it to get toasty but not toasted, so every 10 minutes take it out and stir/flip it with a spatula. You might want to do this more frequently near the end. Move the more-roasted bits from the edges and corners of the pan into the centre. Move the less-roasted bits out to the edges.
 In about 30 minutes you know. It will be golden but not brown, and it will smell heavenly! Take it out of the oven, and add a generous handful or two of fruit. Shown here: raisins and dried cranberries.
Here's how I store it, in a plastic container with a snap lid. It will keep for a few weeks on the shelf this way. In our house it gets eaten pretty quickly. It's great for snacking, or eating with yogurt. It's even good sprinkled on top of a salad.

question: are you a granola-head?

mompoet - unblanched spell-checks to "blanched!"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

in case you notice me jumping up and down and grinning uncontrollablly

Fiona is coming home in one week. One week from now at 9:27pm I'll be waiting for her plane to come in at Seattle airport. I have been dreaming about her being here already. That's how much I want to hug her.

7 days. May face may break from smiling in the meantime. That would be okay.

question: who do you want to see right now?

mompoet - beaming like happiness to the googolplex power

easthill ladies shopping day on commercial drive

Kirsi, Karen, Cathy, Doris and I headed out Friday morning for a day of lunching, shopping and laughing on Commercial Drive. It was partly to toast my 50th, and partly just for fun.
 We waited for the bus together. It was a beautiful morning!
First stop: Lunch at Havana Restaurant. We sat out on the patio under a heater. It was warm enough even for some of us to take our coats off. We think this is a unique Vancouver experience for mid-December.
 What a great place to relax!
 We got a big pitcher of mojitos to go with our lunch.
 We let the waitress order our tapas. We enjoyed yam fries, calamari, meatballs, short ribs, prawns and chips with guacamole and fresh salsa. We even ordered a second plate of calamari it was so good!
 We gobbled it up in no time!
 We visited a bunch of great stores. Everyone bought gifts for family and friends, and we each bought something for ourselves too! Here's my haul. I was glad to find a vendor selling the Hope In the Shadows calendar.

 What better stocking stuffer for a 16 year old nephew than an inflatable beard? The cousins all joke on their birthdays that they have grown a birthday beard. Simon is the remaining one of the 5 cousins in on the joke to be waiting to actually be able to grow one. I think he will look like his Dad when he tries it on.
 I was happy to find Carl Jung finger puppets! We call this pose, "Two Jung for beer."
 With the day coming to an end, we stopped at Fet's restaurant for some Russel's Pale Ale. Karen got (and shared) this yummy warm apple crumble dessert. Mmmmm
Good bye Commercial Drive. See you again soon!

question: what's fun near your home?

mompoet - the luckiest, the happiest, and still two Jung for beer

Sunday, December 04, 2011

the muffin recipes

Here are the recipes for the muffins I served at my warm fuzzy birthday breakfast.

The instructions are pretty much the same for each ingredient list:

1. Heat oven to 400F and grease or paper-line a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Mix the sugar and the wet ingredients in a bowl.
3. Add fruit or nuts if included in the recipe.
4. Dump all of the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients.
5. Stir them all into the dry ingredients as briefly as possible - just to barely combine. (Over-stirring makes tough muffins).
6. Spoon into the muffin cups and bake about 20 minutes - They should be golden on top and just springy when you touch the top.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins (adapted from Canadian Living Magazine March 2004)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vanilla, fruit or plain yogurt
1 mashed banana
1/3 cup veg oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup vanilla or fruit or plain yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, each berry cut in half to prevent EXPLOSION!
1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
(I buy cranberries on sale at Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can throw the whole bag of fresh berries in the freezer and use it when you need it.)

Apple Walnut Muffins
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup veg oil
1 egg
1 Tbs milk or cream
1 1/2 cup fairly finely chopped apple
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Topping - Sprinkle over before baking: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 Tbs sugar

Pumpkin Orange Muffins
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup orange juice
1 egg
1/4 cup veg oil
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Topping - Press gently into tops of muffins before baking: un-toasted pumpkin seeds

So if you make all of these, you will have 48 muffins. I took 40 to work, and they all got eaten by about 9:30am. Andrew, Alex and Lukas go the 8 that stayed home.

If you are feeding a smaller crowd, you could try the recipes one at at time.

question: what kind of muffin do you like best?

mompoet - In the Night Kitchen

Saturday, December 03, 2011

post-birthday balloon carnage

My co-worker Brenda and I popped the balloons in my office with scissors on Thursday afternoon. It was fun having an office filled with balloons but enough was enough. By the time we set out on our popping rampage, I had given away quite a few balloons to children passing my office on their way to the library or their preschool class. It was fun to watch them select their favourite colours. Some of them even waded in to the far corner to get just the right balloon. Still, there were tons of balloons left. I am sure there were more than 50 balloons in there. I guess 50 wasn't enough to actually fill up my office, so the balloon blowers kept going. Probably more like 100 balloons. It made a mess of balloon carcasses!

question: when you hear pop pop pop, does it sound like the end of a birthday to you?

mompoet - completely, happily, well-birthdayed

Thursday, December 01, 2011

lotsa socks

Combined with a few items that people brought into my office the week previous, here are my birthday presents from co-workers: 128 pairs of socks, 11 mugs, 3 pairs of gloves, 2 winter hats, 1 blanket, 3 shirts and 5 towels. Thank you, my friends, it's just what I wanted! These will go to the clothing room at the Tri-Cities Cold Wet Weather Mat Program, and to First United Church.

question: whose cup runneth over?

mompoet - mine, of course


Mom made me a delicious birthday supper, featuring delicious scallops and a rizotto with tomatoes and green beans. Maia made a splendid salad.

Here's my favourite birthday cake from one of the Moosewood cookbooks. Mom makes it for me every year - mocha angel food. Alex took the photos. Andy made the editorial comment.

question: what's your favourite cake?

mompoet - full up with happiness and love

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

early morning birthday freebie, confusion at no extra cost

Remember how I took the afternoon off work on my birthday, to go out and hunt for birthday freebies? Well, while I was frittering away my day, the clock was ticking on a deadline at work. I figured I could get it done and still have a nice afternoon off, if I went to work really early the next day.

I don't usually procrastinate, except for things I don't feel like doing. Okay, I always procrastinate for things that I don't feel like doing. This task was due Wednesday morning. It involved compiling the budget projections of everyone at work into one overall figure for our facility, and sending up the budget pipe. I knew I could do it, but I was a bit afraid I'd run into an obstacle, like forgetting how to add, or losing my ability to ask my co-workers to give me their numbers, or something like that. Procrastination is like that, isn't it? It's almost worse than actually doing the thing. Nevertheless, I procrastinated until Wednesday morning to do a job that was due in on Wednesday morning.

I woke up at 5:15am, 15 minutes before my alarm, and jumped out of bed. I showered, dressed, fed the cat, packed lunch, petted the cat, ignored the dirty dishes in the sink from the night before, and ran out the door. I arrived at Starbucks just before 7am. My procrastinating mind thought, "If you get a free coffee at Starbucks you will feel like you have had a treat that includes a nice energizing jolt of caffeine, and you will be able to do this task about which you have been procrastinating.

I brought my Starbucks free birthday coffee drink coupon (which I received in the mail the day before my birthday). At the counter, I ordered a breakfast sandwich (Starbucks breakfast sandwiches are actually very good, not too much bread, lots of flavour), and a skinny peppermint mocha. At Starbucks, or any coffee place for that matter, I usually order a small no-room Americano because that's what I really want. But when something is free, for some reason you want the big expensive one, huh? Seeing as I have been eating goodies for the past 2 weeks I decided to get a "skinny" big free drink. Procrastinating brains can also be a bit absurd. Give me a blobber-glob extra hot, no whip!

The lady at the cash register took my card and said, "Was your birthday really that long ago?" Somehow in my early morning procrastination-hazed thinking, I interpreted this to mean, "You were born many, many years ago, weren't you?" I managed to say, "HUH?!?" She explained that she didn't say "Happy birthday" any more when people gave her the cards because sometimes they told her their birthday was 3 months ago. Oh. Okay. So you are not saying I must be really old. Good. I told her my birthday was just yesterday, so she and the barista wished me a hearty "Happy birthday!"

I walked around to the side counter to pick up my drink. The barista plunked a skinny caramel macchiato on the counter. I asked her if it was for someone else, then she realised she misread the code that the cashier lady had written on the side of the cup. She apologized, and began to make me a replacement drink. I stopped her and told her that the skinny caramel macchiato sounded even better than a skinny peppermint mocha. I told her I wanted the mistake drink, really! I said something stupid like, "This is the drink I was meant to have this morning." Well, she said "Really?" and "Are you sure?" and offered a couple more times to replace the drink. Then she gave me a coupon for another free drink, any kind, any size.

Moral of the story: confusion can be beneficial

question: about what do you procrastinate?

mompoet - I made the deadline with an hour to spare and accurate adding and full cooperation from contributing co-workers. The breakfast sandwich was yummy, especially with the mandarin orange I brought from home. "macchiato" spell checks to these choices: machination, machinate, Machiavelli, machinist 

Next time I go to Starbucks I will order a free, venti Skinny Machiavelli, and see what they give me.

pps venti spellchecks to many things, including Ventolin. Make that a Ventolin Skinny Machiavelli mmmmmmmm

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

free stuff on my birthday

I knocked off work at 12, drove home to unload all of the socks from my car and change my jeans (ahem), then took off in search of free stuff on my birthday. I have a Starbucks free drink card, but I'll use that another day, having bought Starbucks coffee to go for the gang at work already today.

My first stop was Booster Juice at Sutter Brook shopping village in Port Moody. Booster Juice was my only free birthday thing that had to be picked up on my birthday specifically. Most of the coupons have a few days' flexibility before and after the big day. The lady at the store was named Paula. She was really nice when I told her that I have never been to Booster Juice before. I chose a mango hurricane smoothie, then she asked what booster I wanted. You get your choice of something to put in the smoothie. I chose something with calcium in it, seeing I'm 50 YEARS OLD. The boosters have no flavour, but add some kind of goodness to the smoothie, depending on what you want. While Paula made the smoothie for me, we chatted. It turns out our daughters graduated in June from the same high school. The smoothie was huge and delicious!

I decided it was my lunch. After I enjoyed the free birthday smoothie, I went to the mall and claimed my free birthday bubble bath at Sephora. Here it is, photographed at home in front of the beautiful roses that Donna brought me.

I also bought myself a Smashbox lip gloss. A nice treat, not free, but hey, it's my birthday.

Before leaving the mall, I bought myself 2 pairs of running shoes at Sportchek. Eating all of these lovely free birthday treats, I'm going to need to go to the gym a lot! And there was a BoGo at Sportchek. To bad they don't give you free shoes on your birthday. Now that would be nice. I like to keep one pair of shoes in my locker in the gym, and one at home, so two pairs of identical shoes works great for me!

By that time I was ready to have a mid-afternoon treat, so I went to Marble Slab Creamery for my free ice cream cone. Get a load of this coupon. I think it expired a long time ago!

Holy smokes! It expired 49 years and 51 weeks ago! I asked the man at the store if he would still honour it. He laughed and said yes. I guess he gets that question all the time. At Marble Slab, you choose your ice cream flavour and 1 or more "mix ins," then the man at the store squishes the mix ins into your ice cream on a marble slab. I chose red velvet ice cream, mostly because I have never eaten red velvet ice cream before. My mix in was pecan bits. Mmmmm

While I at my gooey red ice cream with pecans in it, I read a People magazine. I don't usually buy People Magazine, but hey, it's my birthday, and don't you want to know what happened to Demi and Ashton in their FINAL DAYS? Besides, I like to take a People Magazine and put silly captions in it with little stickies, then leave it somewhere for someone to find and read. It's fun.

I think that's all of the freebies I can fit into one day. I'm quite sure I won't get to all of them, but it's fun to know what's available.

Hey, did anyone see me on Breakfast TV this morning? I sent my own picture in to "Celebrations," then Andy sent one in too. So if I got on, you should know I sent the one of me smiling angelically with the Moody inlet in the background. Andy sent the one of me oogly-googling at a pitcher of beer.

question: did you get anything for free today?

mompoet - free is a very good price