Boxing Week Blow Out

001002006After our travels to a small isolated town with very little shopping, I was chomping at the bit to check out the Boxing Week deals in Victoria.

I even managed to convince my sailor to walk downtown with me. Of course, he wasn’t permitted to actually shop with me because he is a lurker in the mall–silently trailing after me, inspecting and judging everything I pick up(not with words, but body language and eye rolls.)

This time, I bribed him with brunch at Pagliacci’s. As we had walked, our permanent designated driver even permitted himself a glass of wine, which added a festive flair to the afternoon and was all the encouragement needed to order dessert. It came with two forks, which was lucky as this huge slab of custard-y vanilla whipped cream cake was bigger than my head! The best part–it was decorated with marzipan flowers, which I promptly devoured.

After lunch, I ditched my sailor for a little more shopping before we walked home together and collapsed in front of the TV.

Although the day was good, the shopping was just meh.

Maybe all the good stuff was scooped on Boxing Day, or maybe the pre-Christmas sales we get now have taken all the fun out of the post-Christmas sales I used to love so much.

What did I get? Some half price Christmas crackers (the last box I could find anywhere), a selection of half-price festive themed chocolates at Rogers (chocolate tastes just as good wreath-shaped!) and a photo of Ye Old London Pub that I’d admired in a shop window all of December. It was 50% off, too.

The realization that I could afford a trip to London to take my own photos of pretty pubs if I just stopped buying so much junk is not lost on me, but who can resist a deal?

Only 47 Shopping Days to Valentine’s Day!

Today was crazy.

We were up before dawn to catch the first ferry back to Vancouver Island. My sailor grumbled a bit about the early start, but I was determined to catch the tail end of the Boxing Week sales before everything was picked over. A quick trip to the mall on the way home indicated we needn’t have rushed as all the good stuff was long gone.

After unpacking and starting the first of about five loads of laundry (how do three people and one very small dog generate so much laundry?) we went grocery shopping.

I poked around the holiday section in the grocery store, looking for discount Christmas crackers for next year. It’s always a little sad to see the left-overs and this year was no exception. The shelves were bare except for some beat-up snowman decorations and a flat of Quality Street chocolates. Showing remarkable restraint, I wandered over the greeting card aisle without any candy.

Just around the corner from the marked down Christmas decorations, I found. . . a huge display of Valentine’s cards along with several lurid hot pink signs warning me to get my gift and card by February 14.

When did the world start moving so fast that we’re bombarded with stuff we need to buy for the next holiday before we’ve even finished celebrating the current one? Come to think of it, when did Valentine’s Day become a gift-giving occasion and not just an excuse to say extra mushy things to your partner?

I consider the week between Christmas and New Year’s to be part of the whole Christmas experience. Once all the Christmas stuff is sold/taken down, I think we all need a little down time before we’re exposed to the next holiday merchandise blitz.

Reunited and it Feels so Good?

Our Christmas plans continue to be derailed.

D and I always spend the first weekend of the holidays together. Usually I go to her in Vancouver for the enhanced shopping opportunities. (Last year we even managed a day of international shopping in Seattle!)

This year as my sailor had only just returned, I didn’t want to go away even for a weekend. (We’re still in the gushy honeymoon stage of reunification!) Since I couldn’t come to her, D decided to come to Victoria. Yes! In addition to quality time with my sailor, I was getting my girl time with D. I’d get to have my fruitcake and eat it, too.

I planned a low key weekend with shopping (of course!), afternoon tea at the Empress, which is stunningly decorated at this time of year, and a dinner out with my two boys.

It would have been great–if the weather had cooperated. Instead, we had snow and icy rain on the busiest travel weekend of the year and D had to postpone her visit. Barring another freak snow storm, she’ll come in the New Year and our fun fun fun weekend will consist of browsing Boxing Day sale left-overs and an afternoon tea that will still be delicious, but will the lack the charm provided by looping garlands of holly and thousands of fairy lights.

At least we made it to Powell River safely and the weather is lovely now–more May than December.

And we’re together again–a big plus when nothing else seems to be going according to plan.

The Weakest Link

I’m a few days into my antibiotics and feeling marginally better. I still cough whenever I try to say too much and I’m exhausted. This is so not how I imagined my sailor’s first week back!

As usual my sailor is relentlessly cheerful, certain I’ll be well enough for our upcoming road trip and still thrilled to be home. I’m getting grumpier by the day.

In an effort to be more positive (could this be a potential New Year’s resolution in the works?) I’m doing a countdown of the top five Christmass-y things I’m grateful for.

5. Five special Christmas treats: pfeffernusse, marzipan, golden shortbread (another of my sailor’s special recipes that he makes every year–mmm), chocolate and moose milk. No, it’s not literally milk from the female moose. It’s a dreamy concoction made with softened vanilla ice-cream, milk and the contents of the liquor cabinet, and it’s the best way I can think of to get my daily recommended calcium allotment.

4. Four pairs of boots to pack for a five-day trip! As I get stuff together, I realize that I NEED each of those four pairs. My old beat up riding boots are as warm and comfy as slippers and will be just the ticket if it rains (and it always rains in Powell River in December.) My shiny new boots aren’t quite as comfy, but so much prettier. I can’t go without them. What if it doesn’t rain after all? Then there are my suede kitten heels for Christmas dinner–unless I decide to wear the high stacked heeled pair, instead. Clearly, I need to bring them all.

3. Three doses of Amoxicillin everyday. Sure, it’s a pain to remember if I’ve taken my latest capsule or not, and I’ve had to dump them out on the counter a couple of times to count them because it’s really bad to miss a dose, but I’m truly grateful for access to modern medicine. Even the dog gets regular medical care. Hers isn’t free, like ours is, but nothing’s perfect. (Wow–that was a really positive statement! Well done, me!)

2. Two days until we leave for our family reunion/Christmas visit. I KNOW I’ll be feeling perkier and more energetic by then and it will be wonderful seeing everyone. A delicious turkey dinner, time spent with family and lots of good home baking–what’s not to love? As if that wasn’t enough, I have a date for natchos and wine at Moose and Eddie’s with my old friend, M. I am positive I’ll make it to that pub even if I have to arrive in an ambulance!

1. One super duper sailor who has come safely home to me. There’s not much that could top that!



My cold lingered, picking up steam with each passing day.

The pinnacle of my misery: gasping for air in the middle of night after a particularly violent coughing fit, frightening both my sailor and myself. Time to visit the doctor.

She diagnosed bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics. They should start to kick in after about forty-eight hours, at which time I should not only feel better but will no longer be contagious.

Until then I’m mooching around the house, feeling like something the Chihuahua rolled in.

I’m way too busy for this and besides, bronchitis was never part of the “Christmas with my sailor” plan.

Comfortable is Good!

After the ordeal:  "If I can't see you, you can't see me!"
The most amazing thing about having my sailor home again is that it feels like he was never away.

The previous six months of worry and angst seemed to go on forever while I was living them, but now it’s like it never happened. As soon as I saw my sailor again and we got to talk and touch, it was like he’d only been gone a couple of days.

It was immediately . . . comfortable.

I realize that comfortable isn’t the stuff of romance novels, (no one will ever make a movie about our relationship!) but it feels pretty good when you’re in it for the long haul.

This is not to say that our reunion weekend went perfectly. Far from it. I’d been battling a cold for a few days before my sailor arrived. Miserable cough or not, I planned to stick to my sailor like glue as he ran around taking care of boring “getting back home” stuff:

His bank card had been de-activated because it hadn’t been used in over six months–trip to the bank to get a new one. The battery in his truck died because I didn’t start it as regularly as I should have while he was away (oops) so he had to get a new one installed. I did say it was boring, but it had to be done and I wanted to do it with him.

Until I woke up with one of those grinding headaches that usually don’t get better until I’ve spent six or seven hours lying quietly in a dark room when I’m not running to the bathroom to throw up. No errands for me!

Since there’s no helping me when I’m in this state, I sent my sailor and our boy for brunch/male bonding. The dog curled up beside me to offer moral support.

The day wasn’t a complete loss. My headache didn’t last as long as they sometimes do. I was a bit fragile, but able to get out of bed by early afternoon–just in time to go grocery shopping with my sailor!

It was the best trip to the grocery store I can remember.

On the Road Again

We’ve had a string of exceptionally cold weather.

Instead of gloomy rain and tempteratures in the 8 to 10 degree range, we’ve had clear crisp days that are well below zero. (I think our lows have been almost -10!) Some people might not think this is so bad. By some people, I mean the majority of Candians, but this is freezing to us Islanders.

While my hair loves the drier conditions (unsightly frizz, be gone!), the rest of me’s not so sure. I have to plan to leave about ten minutes earlier every morning so I have time to scrape the ice off my car windows. And gloves??? Where the heck did all the winter accessories go?

Then there’s the jogging. In theory I’m still a lean, mean jogger who regularly hits the pavement so hard it’s screaming for mercy. In reality–not so much. I’ve forced myself to go for one short, loping-style jog per week just to keep my sorry self in some kind of shape to bounce back into activity after the spring thaw.

This week is was especially hard to motivate myself. As well as mittens, I had to find a scarf and a toque, an endeavour which took almost as long as the run itself! Then I had to convince myself that I could do this. I can jog in below zero temps. I really can. When we lived the Maritimes, I was a three times/week girl regardless of weather. I regularly ran on slick sidewalks packed with frozen snow in -20 or below. (What was I thinking???)

As no one likes to admit they’ve become softer and wimpier with age, remembering my past exploits was just the ticket to get me out and moving.

I may not have experienced a runner’s high, but I didn’t suffer from my usual plodder’s misery, either, which is worth celebrating.



Pfeffernusse are soft, molasses ginger cookies. The recipe comes from my mother-in-law’s family. They farmed in rural Ontario and my sailor has fond memories of childhood holidays at his grandma’s farm.

Pfeffernusse may be German, or it may be a long-standing typo from generations ago.

Whatever their origins, these little cookies are delicious.

My sailor grew up enjoying them at Christmas time. I’m pro family traditions so I thought I’d whip up a batch for my boy, who has come to expect homemade cookies. (I don’t want to think about the disappointed looks he gave me when I admitted we had to make do with cookies from a box last week because I didn’t have the energy for baking.)

The batter is pretty easy to throw together and I kind of enjoyed rolling the dough balls in my hands. The butter and spices made my palms soft and fragrant, an unexpected benefit of this tradition! As soon as they come out of the oven, the cookies are rolled in sugar, which is supposed to melt slightly to form a glaze-like coating. Mine just caked on top like dandruff, but they still tasted good if a little drier than they should be.

Alghough passable, they’re not the gold standard of pfeffernusse–ones my sailor makes every Christmas. (Yes, on top of all his other talents, he’s a competent baker!)

But guess what–it doesn’t matter if my pfeffernusse is dry and crusty because I’ll be enjoying some genuine sailor-quality baked goods before too long!