Bread porn is back!

Isn’t it ironic that when my paying day job becomes social media ALL DAY ALL NIGHT ALL THE TIME, my personal social media profile completely tanks? This is what happens when you’re the sole person responsible for breathing life into the social profile of a corporate brand. Sigh.

Sourdough

Sourdough is back baby!

Well despite this, I am starting to find my way back to the aspects of my old life that I loved and that made me feel whole: baking bread (or baking anything, really). It’s one of those nurturing acts of experimentation and creation that bring me back to myself and make me feel like I have an identity beyond the one I represent behind a computer screen at the office.

It’s hard to say exactly when my hiatus on sourdough started but it may have been as long ago as February 2013, if I go by my “bread porn” photos. My poor neglected sourdough starter was one of the last things left in our fridge before we moved into our temporary home with Dave and Linda in July, and then it sat at the back of a bar fridge for those 6+ months we spent there. Even after we moved into our new house, it was not exactly #1 on my priority list to get it going again. But I fed it a few times in February to bring it back to life, and in late March I made my first loaf in eons.

Sourdough

First loaf in eons

It was a thing of beauty, to be sure, but when I opened it up it had a giant hole in the middle; clearly I had not treated it appropriately in the bulk ferment, or when I prepared it for proofing overnight.

But last weekend’s attempt was absolutely gorgeous, inside and out (pictured at the top of this post). I was more brutal with turning it and giving it a good poking with my fingers during the bulk ferment, although ironically doing it a little less often because I was mostly outdoors enjoying the fabulously warm spring day. Who knew that a combination of neglect and aggression could result in such fantastic, perfectly crumbed bread?

But Chris’s complaint continues to be that it’s not sour enough. So I have decided to bring in the rye. Chris consulted the interwebs, and the interwebs says that rye is the key to the most sour of sours. But rye flour has less gluten, so I’m a little uncertain if I should go full rye or a 50/50 mixture of rye and wheat flour. I’ve started the experiment by turning some of my starter over to a 100% rye flour starter, so we’ll see how that goes first. After a few days it looks lively and bubbly, so that’s a good sign.

My hubby wants to taste his Oma’s bread again… so the new bread journey begins.

Remembering

Dad at Otter Creek, NY

Dad at Otter Creek, NY

A year ago, without warning, I lost my hero: my Dad. I wasn’t ready for him to go. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.

Miss Vu & Grandpa

My niece and her grampa.

I have a gaping hole in my heart. I had so much more to ask him about, to share with him, to laugh together over.

First Dance

First Dance

Dad & Magoo

My nephew and his Grampa

Dad Diving

Scuba Diver

I miss late nights in the kitchen talking about the latest archeology story he read in National Geographic. I miss his quiet, always working, always tinkering presence around the farm. I miss trail rides where he always managed to squeeze in a nap on horseback. I miss hearing him practicing his banjo upstairs. I miss his scratchy moustache kisses and his big squeeze hugs. I miss being able to ask him to make something for my garden or the house.

That Smile

That Smile

Dad & Us

Dad, me and my brother

Dancing with Harvey

Always Dancing

I try to remember that he wouldn’t want me to dwell on loss, regrets, and what never will be. I try to remember and embody his endless curiosity, inventiveness and willingness to learn, his do-it-yourself attitude, and the boundless joy he found in life, his family and his friends.

Napping with Harley

Floor naps with the dog

Best Friends

Best Friends

Getting to know the locals

Always curious

Dad & Chiachi

Dad & Chiachi

Dad and I

Dad and I, at my brother’s wedding

I miss you Dad. So much.

Shiny new playground

My new kitchen

My new kitchen

It’s not lost on me for one second just how ridiculously lucky I am to have been able to, with my hubby, undertake this immense renovation project and be able to design something exactly the way we wanted it. I feel sort of self-conscious sometimes talking about what we’ve done here, knowing that others can only dream of being able to do something of this magnitude. But what can I say? I’m also very proud of it.

We didn’t use an interior designer, although we had a lot of help from the talented Ross Etherington (an OCAD University graduate!) of Etherington Designs in creating a vision for specific aspects of the renovation. He created 3D models of our Ikea kitchen, and designed and built our magnificent custom island. Our general contractor team of Argyris & Clinkard realized the project and continue to be here on a regular basis putting finishing touches on, and responding to small repairs or customizations. And as soon as winter releases its icy grip on us, they’ll be back here building us a new deck and coordinating our landscaping needs.

But back to the kitchen, which is almost entirely finished, except for the installation of Chris’s keg fridge into the island.

My new kitchen

Ceasarstone countertop in Vanilla Noir

We splurged a bit on a new Caesarstone colour way that came out this year, called Vanilla Noir. We had originally made a different selection but had not yet ordered it, and then I came across this in a magazine. We’re thrilled we opted to spend the few hundred dollars more to get the new colour way — it’s stunning, and looks a lot more like granite than other types of quartz countertops, without the headaches that come with granite (i.e. it’s non-porous, requires virtually no maintenance or sealing, and is more heat resistant).

My new kitchen

Shiny island

We opted to keep the nearly new 30″ stainless steel stove that came with the house to save money, but installed two stainless panels along the sides so that, if eventually I want to upgrade to a 36″ range, all we’ll need to do is trim the countertops. We chose an impressively quiet but powerful 36″ hood by Broan that sits under the cabinets and ventilates straight back, allowing full use of the kitchen cabinets above. Trust me — you do not need to spend the money on a Thermadore or Vent-A-Hood to get top notch performance. This thing is unbelievably quiet and incredibly powerful. I rarely need more than the lowest setting for regular cooking, but on occasion if I’ve burnt something (it happens) or I’m doing particularly steamy kitchen work such as canning, I can crank it up full blast.

Caesarstone Kitchen

Cabinets and countertop

While we frequently use a microwave, I didn’t want it to take up a dominate spot on the countertop. Because we have a window along the length, there actually isn’t a huge amount of space to rest appliances. But I also couldn’t justify spending $800 on a drawer-style microwave. I mean, seriously? $800?? When you can get a regular one for $100 or so, that just didn’t seem even remotely reasonable. So Ross helped us design a section of the cabinetry for the existing microwave that involved a couple custom cabinetry parts, and we had the electrician put an outlet in the back. This way the microwave sits under the counter but is completely accessible for use. There’s enough space on top of the appliance for the spatter guard to sit when we’re not using it, and plenty of room around the appliance for proper ventilation. I had to place a no-slip liner under the microwave so that when we open and close it, it stays put. Overall, this compromise is working marvellously well.

Speaking of the windows. The one along the countertop section wasn’t there before and was added to the structure of the house to maximize solar gain and to improve sight lines to the street. We also had to shorten the window on the front side of the house to accommodate the addition of a powder room to the main floor of the house. Both have lovely deep windowsills — perfect for a little indoor herb garden. The original kitchen had a wall of windows that faced the neighbour’s house, closer to the ravine side, closing in what was originally an old porch. That entire wall was bricked in and properly insulated, and allowed us to maximize that wall of the house for the cabinetry, stove and fridge.

Caesarstone Kitchen

View towards the street

I have an extraordinary amount of storage space, especially given that Ikea’s kitchen cabinetry is so well designed, and includes so many options for shelving, pull out baskets and drawers. I’ve got a wicked spice drawer (finally!) and a top notch pantry. The island also features some cabinetry in front of the seating. We’ve even managed to keep the garbage and recycling out of sight and in cabinets, so that we don’t have to clutter up floorspace with bins. I had to invest in a nice wood step stool (Bekväm by Ikea in dark brown) so that I can reach some of those awesome cabinets. I’m not really that short but we hung the cabinets 19″ above the counters so that we could accommodate under cabinet lighting, valances and our rather tall coffee maker. Chris wasn’t so keen at first on having this stool kicking around, but I keep it in front of one of the back windows where the cat can enjoy it, and it can serve as an impromptu chair when needed.

We’re still working on finishing touches around the built in cabinets around the fireplace, so when I can finally photograph them in their full glory I will share that here. In the meantime, I’ve got some cooking to do!

The best chicken soup EVER.

OMG. A food post? Yup. Finally. I’ve had some time to settle into my awesome new kitchen and then, well, then I got sick. I’ve contracted a scratchy sore throat that’s quite probably evolving its way into being a full blown nasty sinus cold.

So as I sit here taking it easy, letting my body do what it needs to do, I got hungry. And I wanted chicken soup.

My usual chicken soup consists of veggies, including a can of diced tomatoes, some chicken breast and some thin, well-seasoned broth. But this time I felt like giving my soup a bit of a kick in the butt.

This soup riffs off a chicken fricassée recipe that I have fallen completely in love with. As far as your basic chicken soup typically goes, it only requires a few extra steps and uses things most of us have in the larder, and the pay off is astounding. You could omit the parsnips if you wanted although I think it adds interest and complexity, as well as a hint of sweetness. One of the key ingredients you don’t want to skip out on however, is tarragon.

Tarragon is a bit of a mysterious herb to me. I’ve tried growing it a few times with little success, and I’ve always found it to have a surprisingly powerful flavour that I didn’t quite know what to do with. It has a pinch of anise flavour in there that can be challenging to pair. Of course it’s pretty standard in French cuisine. But I’ve recently discovered for myself the “when” for making tarragon shine — with creaminess. I had it served to me added to hollandaise sauce, offering a vibrant kick of flavour to brighten up Eggs Benedict. And it’s an essential finishing ingredient in a fricassée. I’ve cooked with it fresh or dried, and as with virtually all herbs, fresh is best, but if dried is all you have handy, it’ll do the trick.

I hope you’ll love this soup as much as I do.

Creamy Chicken Soup

Creamy Chicken Soup

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 to 6 chicken pieces, bone in and skin on
  • salt and pepper to season chicken
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 large parsnip or 2 small, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 sherry
  • 2 stalks of fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • a few fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 small stock of fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup cream (whipping or half & half if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a large (6 quart) Dutch oven or soup pot, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Generously season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Brown chicken, beginning skin side down, until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pot and set aside. If cooking 6 chicken pieces, do in two batches (do not crowd the pot). If you have a lot of fat accumulated in the pot, drain some off but leave about 2 tbsp behind.
  3. Lower heat slightly and add onion, celery, carrot and parsnip to the pot and sauté until softened, about 7 minutes. Add crushed garlic, and then flour. Cook mixture for about 2-3 minutes until vegetables are fully coated and flour absorbs the liquids from the pot.
  4. Add stock, water and sherry, stirring to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. As the soup begins to come together it will thicken slightly.
  5. Add thyme, sage, rosemary and bay leaves. Return chicken pieces to the pot. Lower heat to a gentle simmer, cooking for about an hour.
  6. Remove cooked chicken from the soup and place on a plate to cool until you can separate the meat from the bones, about 5-10 minutes. If you wish, remove the skin as well. As the chicken is cooling, add the cream, tarragon and lemon juice to the soup and stir to combine. Once cool enough to handle, tear or cut the chicken into bite size pieces, then return to the pot before serving.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6-8

Note: I did try freezing this soup, with mixed results. The texture changed a little as the broth separated somewhat, but it still tastes great.

Under the sea

Visiting the Aquarium

Jellies

Time for a little tropical colour.

We had a lovely visit with my brother and his family this past weekend. It was our first time having house guests here at the new place and the first time they got to see our new house.

Visiting the Aquarium

Staring contest

While it was not a PA day for our local school board, it was a PA day for all the GTA school boards. Which meant the brand new aquarium was rammed with screaming children and frantic parents. But it was still loads of fun.

Visiting the Aquarium

Slithery

I always feel a bit torn about zoos or other attractions that feature animals as I often feel the exhibits are much too small and that the animals don’t get adequate stimulation. But then again, these places give us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and diversity of our Earth’s creatures and to learn about how they are at risk and what we can do to protect them.

I didn’t really get the sense that the Ripley’s people have much of a conservation mandate, and that’s too bad. There wasn’t a lot of educational activity going on, but then again, it would have been hard to absorb given the hoards of people and the noise of the raucous kids.

Visiting the Aquarium

Children tank

Regardless, the kids really enjoyed it and we all had a super fun day.

Settling into 2014

Ice Storm

Ice storm bokeh

Well hello 2014. I’ve been a bit tardy on the blog lately as we had one hell of a December. We got moved in, although later than we’d hoped. We had been in for precisely one week when the ice storm hit and cut off our power for three and a half days.

This was an interesting test for the new house. One of our big goals in our renovations was to insulate the house and make it more efficient. And because we’re still struggling to get the heating system balanced, we’ve got thermometers on all floors to monitor. We were very pleased to see the temperature on the main floor stay around 15ºC for the first two days (upstairs, the floor we did not fully insulate, was significantly colder). We kept ourselves warm with lots of hot chocolate and tea since we could cook with our gas stove, also using it to heat up water for bucket baths (Chris still had to work during this stretch, of course).

By Day Three the outside temperature was starting to dive, and inside on the main floor dropped to about 12ºC, so we decided to seriously investigate trying out our gas fireplace. This led to discovering that our battery backed up electric ignition was, well, not backed up. No battery housing to be found. After some phone calls with our contractor and the fireplace installation people Chris managed to MacGyver the ignition using the battery housing from one of our LED camping lanterns. I’m so lucky to live with such a smartypants!

And then all of a sudden we had power again, about an hour before we needed to head out for the Christmas cross-country extravaganza, on Christmas Eve.

It was a difficult holiday for me this year, without my Dad, or my Grama. New Year’s was also a time of reflection on the-year-that-was-2013. It was a year of great loss, huge changes, upheaval and challenge, but also filled with plenty of great love. I find it hard to articulate my feelings about everything that’s happened — because there has been so much. I’m feeling rather “soft” lately (a wonderful word used by Chris’s Uncle Val that seemed to me like the exact right description). Perhaps because life had just so many moving parts since we left our old house, I feel like perhaps I put up some protective barriers. Like maybe I compartmentalized my grieving for a while, as we lived with others and I didn’t feel like I had the necessary privacy, just so that I could keep it together while we worked through the roller coaster that is a renovation project such as this one.

We’re still dealing with the reno roller coaster, and I’m often very frustrated with the seeming snail’s pace at which the final touches (and therefore my ability to unpack and organize my space) seem to be moving. But we’re in our own home. Our animals are all here with us now, and we’re working away at finding our work-life routine again, learning new transit routes to the office, figuring out how long it takes to get from here to there, and so on. I’m grateful. And hopeful. And trying to be patient.

2014, please be gentle with me.

We are in!

It’s been a bit of a bumpy start but we are home, sweet home!

I say bumpy because when we arrived, the upstairs bedrooms were freezing cold, and the basement was roaring hot; we discovered we didn’t have a working shower and had to live without for days, and well, the place was — and still is — very much a work site.

Back splash tile installed in the kitchen

Back splash tile installed in the kitchen

I was able to get permission to work from home this week, so I’ve been able to keep unpacking and sorting and organizing and cleaning while trades continue to come and go installing, fixing, cleaning and finishing. There are lots of little things yet to be done. Every day there have been at least one but often as many as three different people or crews here, doing something. Monday the plumber came and dealt with our unexpectedly gimpy faucet in the second floor bathroom (one that we had not renovated, but it turns out is going to need some TLC to be up to snuff, including a new vanity and possibly a new shower valve). So we have a functional shower now, but it leaves a lot to be desired, offering a piddle of water pressure so that it takes me two to three times as long to wash my hair. We suspect the shower head has a water saving filter in it that makes it so piss-poor (excuse the pun). This is something we will have to try to “neuter,” as Chris puts it. As much as I support conserving and being eco-friendly, I cannot abide how crappy those things are. I’m all for saving water — but I prefer to do it by being quick about my shower, not by standing under a dribble.

Another view of the kitchen

Another view of the kitchen

After the shower was fixed the plumber moved on and dealt with hooking up our dishwasher, our fancy new ice-making, water-dispensing fridge, and our powder room faucet. Someone else built a proper attic hatch that is doing a significantly better job keeping the cold out than when we arrived, and the radiant floor team came to figure out what was up with our cookin’ basement. Turns out the thermostat was faulty, and the default setting was to send the floor into maximum overdrive, running at its hottest, at 42ºC! This, in turn, was not allowing the furnace to fire and heat the rest of the house. The floor guys were impressed, in that “holy crap I’ve never seen this before” kind of way, suggesting the floor was hot enough to cook on! I feel bad for the poor painters who must have been sweating their butts off down there all weekend!

The temperature differential between floors is much more moderate now, but we’re still getting about 3-4 degrees colder upstairs. The furnace people have yet to come balance the system though, so hopefully they can get a bit more heat going up to the second floor. While we did a lot of spray foam in the attic and around the knee walls, we did not open up the walls to insulate that floor — this is stage two of our reno, destined to take place in about 10 years if we’re still up for the challenge! The radiant floor guys will be back at least a few more times to tweak the floor until they find the sweet spot, where the floor is comfortable, but acting as a main heat source for the house, preventing the other system from doing its work.

We’re also experiencing some ice-daming issues in the corners of our roof, especially near the master bedroom, so we have some concerns about that. We don’t want our brand new roof to be damaged by this. Our contractor is investigating — hopefully we don’t have to reopen any walls to rectify the problem. The cause is heat loss, happening somewhere, so this is a concern. We’re probably going to have to take a look with an infrared camera to figure it out.

Yet another view of the kitchen

Yet another view of the kitchen

Perhaps the most exciting development this week (for me anyway!) was the installation of the kitchen back splash. I’m so pleased with how it turned out — simple, inexpensive white subway tile, but elegant and luxurious looking in a herringbone pattern and “pewter” coloured grout. As you can see they still need to put kitchen hardware on, install the valances and the over-counter lighting. Oh, and I’m missing a few cabinet doors.

Our backyard!

Our backyard!

All in all, we’re thrilled to finally be in our own home again. It’s still a crazy mess, with wires sticking out all over the place. There’s “cable barf,” as I call it, flowing out of the built-in cabinetry in the living room, out of what will eventually become the network cabinet containing our amplifier, computer, modem, etc. We have nothing to sit on except sofas — no table, no chairs, no counter stools. All this needs to either be bought yet, or brought from the farm, or built! But at least we have our bed to sleep on, a kitchen to cook in, warmth and somewhere to wash up! I’ll post better pictures once things are a little more finished looking.

Rural life

So our move hasn’t gone quite according to plan. We did move one big load of our belongings to the new house on December 7, but the house wasn’t ready for us to live in it yet, so we piled our stuff in the rooms that were finished and turned right around and came back. Our week at the farm as turned into two weeks at the farm, but we’re planning to head to the new house this weekend, if a pending snow storm doesn’t keep us here.

Winter Farm

Snowy farm

Winter Farm

Rainman and Penny

I’ve been taking a bit of load off my Mom and taking care of the horses for her as she has been working — and she works retail and it’s Christmas time, so she’s extra busy at the store. I’ve enjoyed the chores — it’s nice to take care of the animals and gathering up the lone chicken egg that’s usually laid each day (have I mentioned I really want to have my own chickens?).

Winter Farm

Farmhouse with the new arched windows

We helped Mom do some small renos of her own as well —  like taking out the old carpet in the family room and insulating the floor underneath. She was tired of the carpet, and it was about 16-17 years old, capturing lots of dirt, dust, dog hair and other nastiness.

Winter Farm

Harvey loves the snow

Winter Farm

Bittersweet

It’s been rather blustery arctic weather around here though — typically in the -10ºC range (plus wind chill) and lots of snow. Not exactly great “hang out outside weather.”

We’re really excited about the house — it’s been a bit of a hurry-up-and-wait scenario, and I’ve lost a great deal of the time I had hoped to be spending settling in before having to work from home next week, but what do you do? These things happen and it’s better if we don’t rush it. Chris unfortunately has lost a week of holidays to mostly sitting around on his butt at the farm but he doesn’t seem to mind. We will have to leave most of our belongings meant for the basement here until another time, which is frustrating because I just want to put my life back together again and not have bits of it strewn all over the province but, again, I’ve been without it for the last 5 months so what difference does it make if it waits a little longer, right? The basement wasn’t yet finished with trim or paint as of last weekend so we returned the trailer we rented and decided to leave it until the new year, at the earliest.

I’ll still have the ability to unpack and sort things out while working from home. Plus there are a few days before Christmas celebrations begin when I can continue to focus on the house.

Winter Farm

Rosehips

I’ll be taking lots of photos of the hopefully finished results once we disseminate the giant piles of boxes that are filling up the main central room, but suffice it to say we’re really thrilled with the results. Hopefully those finishing touches (at least on the main and second floors) will be done by tomorrow!

One week left

This is it! Our last week before we move into the new house. I wasn’t sure a week ago if things would be ready but now it’s looking very close indeed. It’s amazing how much can happen in a short time. As of Friday night I started a much needed vacation — originally I booked this time off expecting to move this first week of December but alas, they needed more time, so instead I’m taking it easy and I’ll use the time to get my Christmas shopping done and to just generally unwind.

Kitchen Cabinets

New facings for the kitchen cabinets have been installed.

Our hosts, who have so generously put up with us and our creatures for the last 5 months, are gearing up to do some renovations of their own, so we are heading to the farm for the coming week, after Chris finishes at the office tomorrow. We’re spending our last weekend at their house getting our meagre belongings moved into the garage of the new place, and sorting out what needs to come with us to the farm. We shipped the pets off to the farm last weekend to simplify the move-out from here.

Living Room Built-in Cabinetry

Built-in cabinetry in the living room is in!

I have the month of December away from the office — some vacation plus some working from home time — and after Christmas we have a ski trip planned to Vermont, so in addition to all the work of moving in, there’ll be plenty of time for rejuvenation over the coming weeks.

Fireplace Mantel

Fireplace mantel is installed

So, we’re in the homestretch of what has been an incredibly long journey. There are still some pieces of the puzzle that are going to take a long time yet to sort out — the front porch and the back deck permit is still under review with the City and we’re now looking at these not being installed until spring. I’ll have to put up with temporary front steps until then. We have a lot of landscaping to do next year. And a few jobs inside the house will be ongoing after we move in, like the installation of our backsplash in the kitchen.

Corbel on the Fireplace Mantel

Corbel detail (learning all these new architectural terms)

Because of this I’m trying to decide if it makes more sense to leave at least the cat, Smokey, at the farm for the duration, until we’re back from Vermont. He’s had a bit of a rough fall health-wise so I don’t want to stress him out unnecessarily. But I have to talk to my mama about that because it means her continuing to give him his medication 2x a day. Luna is a bit easier because she’s been to the house many times and it’s not a strange place for her, although it could be easier to just leave her at the farm too. She likes to be underfoot and she could be a further annoyance for contractors coming and going, not to mention for unpacking and general messiness. We’ll figure this all out as we go.

Shower Tile

Basement shower tile is done

All in all we’re very excited, although still both operating under some pretty high stress, as we sort out the final bits of financing and logistics. Chris doesn’t have next week off work unfortunately — he’s going into the office Monday and then has to work from home for the remainder of the week (from the farm). And then he really just has that one week off to move. I plan to treat myself with a visit to the spa tomorrow; a little gift to myself after a long, long year, and an especially intense autumn at work. Here’s to new beginnings!

Island and cabinetry

The island has landed

The island has landed

Our kitchen island has been installed (no countertop yet), as well as the beginnings of the living room cabinetry. Everything is a little saw dusty but otherwise looking fabulous.

The island has landed

Wider view of the kitchen island

I’m not yet sure when the new Ikea cabinet facings will go in but likely soon. The beginning stages of our move start this weekend — we’re shipping the animals off to the farm, and bringing back some lighting and other materials we’ve been storing there for the final stages of the reno. Our wonderful hosts, Dave and Linda, are hoping to start on some renovations of their own, so we need to get ourselves and our critters packed up and out of our basement hovel so they can get started.

Our move has been pushed off by a week, but I’m not going to change my vacation/work plans, as I’ve booked off most of December plus some time over the new year to go skiing (that’s how much over time I have banked to use up, if that’s any indication of how hellish my work life has been this fall). Instead, Chris and I are going to move to the farm ourselves for a week, and during that time I can get some Christmas shopping and preparations done, and just generally catch my breath after a very hectic several months.

Chris imagining the biggest TV he can think of

Chris imagining the biggest TV he can think of

We’re both completely stressed out, and while we’re coping, it hasn’t been at all easy. I just need to hang on for another week and a half before I can put work behind me for a while, and we have just another two and a half weeks of homelessness left.