Sunday, June 24, 2012

Continuing the Countdown

I went to work yesterday even though it was Saturday.  There's still a lot to be done, moving furniture together so that it (hopefully) can be sold, cleaning out all the nooks and crannies of the accumulation of years, pricing items, etc.  The biggest job, packing the library, has barely been started.  People were working again this afternoon but I felt like I needed a day off, so I didn't go help.  I'll be back at it tomorrow.

The staff has had first crack at any items to be sold.  We've been bidding on things by sealed bid.  One of the items I bid on (and got) was a cabinet unit, originally from Ikea.  I carefully measured the spot in my kitchen that formerly held my old fridge and was too small for my new fridge.  It looked to me like it would exactly fit the cabinet.  Well, it almost exactly fits - the space is 33" wide (more or less).  The cabinet is also 33" wide (more or less).  In actuality - the space varies from 32 1/2" at the top to about 33 3/4" at the bottom.  The cabinet varies from about 33 3/8" at the top to 32 3/4" at the bottom.  What it means is that the space is too small.  I'm determined the cabinet will fit there - it may mean that we have to shave off some of the broom closet beside the hole or the end wall one the other side.  For now the cabinet is sitting in my living room.

All of the last things that come with the school closing are bitter-sweet.  The last staff meeting was Thursday. We had the last worship service with the students this morning, followed by the last Sonshine performance.  Students are writing their last exams this week.  Thursday will be the last graduation service.  It is hard on us all.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Almost done?

Today is the final day for classes at Western.  Exams start tomorrow.  We have just started boxing up books in the library.  There is still a lot to be done - an awful lot to be done.  In fact, you're invited to come and help.  Staff and other helpers will be busy all weekend, getting things packed (for the library) and sorted and set out for a sale (for the rest of the school stuff).  The students in my classes aren't writing a final, just an end of unit test - the last one wrote it yesterday.  I just need to get it marked and the marks entered now.

As part of the winding down activities, I hosted the final get together for the Friendspeak group that met at school weekly.  It was difficult getting a day that worked, and as it was, only two of our readers came - but it was good to visit a bit for a last time.  It wasn't much work; I got up and tidied house yesterday morning before school, ran out at lunch and bought groceries, and when people came after school, offered them the opportunity to make nachos.  To me at least, "party" when teens are involved simply means an opportunity to eat.  It seems to work ok.

Wednesdays, I also host my extended family in town for supper.  So, seeing as we were having nachos for the party after school, we were also having nachos for supper.  I haven't been able to train them that I really need to know (preferably in advance) if people are coming though.  Last week I had 10 or so - this week I had Ruth and baby Jane, although Ryan and Rachel stopped by to pick up a plate of food before they left to take Emmet to the doctor.  (Rachel also phoned to let me know what was going on - thank you, Rachel).

Last night as Ruth, Bram and I were visiting, it started to hail!  It was pretty small hail, about the size of cranberries, but there was a lot of it.  I'll post a picture later, when I get them off Bram's computer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Final Party until Fall

Monday night was our final time for The Party.  We had a potluck feast, and invited parents to come as well as just kids.  And everyone came!  I think our highest turnout previously had been the week before, when we had 41 kids (and that week we didn't have the Grade 5 kids as we had sent them to see what happens with the older group, as they will get to join them come fall).  However, Monday night we had around 50 kids, plus parents.  I estimated that we had at least 10 parents come, and we had nearly 15 helpers - which meant that we likely had between 75 and 80 people there.  That's a lot.  However, like loaves and fishes, we   had enough food to go around (just barely).  We didn't have the 12 baskets left over though.

We're now done, until fall - except for the VBS in the park, the last week of July, as part of Mission 6:10.  Now, we've had an unusually rainy summer so far - and we don't rent tents or anything for the park, so if it rains on a particular day, we just cancel it.  We've only had the VBS in the park for the past two years, however, we've had fine weather both years so far, and we're really praying for fine weather for that week again this year.  As always, the Lord will provide.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Two variations on perogy casserole

To give credit where credit is due - both of these recipes originally come from the Western cookbook (Volume IV).  They are both very easy and very popular for potlucks, etc.  Unfortunately, because I'm allergic to potatoes (yes, I know, it's a strange allergy) - although I make these for when I have large groups over, or for potlucks - I can't eat more than a tablespoon or so, or I'm sick, and it's just not worth it.

Perogy Casserole #1
1 large bag (1 kg) frozen perogies (you can do it with any type, but I prefer the potato and cheddar cheese)
1/2 coil kielbasa (or garlic sausage) - about 500 g - diced into small cubes
500 mL sour cream (I usually use the light sour cream 5%)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 diced onion

Mix together everything except for the perogies and the milk in a large bowl.  Put half the milk in the slow cooker, add a small amount of the sour cream mixture and then layer perogies and sour cream until it's all used up.  Add milk to the final layer to prevent it from drying out.  Cook on low for three to four hours.  I can mix this up in the morning and it'll be ready for potluck after church services.  I never have leftovers.

Lazy Perogy Casserole #2
Here is the recipe for when you don't live where you can purchase frozen perogies from the grocery store.

About 2 cups (more or less) of mashed potatoes
1/2 box cooked lasagne noodles (about 10-12 noodles)
1cup grated cheddar cheese
500 mL cottage cheese
1 egg
1 diced onion
2/3 cup butter or margarine

Boil your lasagne noodles until al dente.  Line the bottom of a 9x13" pan with lasagne noodles.  (If you use parchment paper first, nothing will stick and clean up is much easier).  Mix together the cottage cheese and egg and spoon over the noodles.  Cover with another layer of noodles.  Mix the cheddar cheese with the mashed potatoes and salt and pepper to taste and spread over the noodles.  Add a third layer of noodles.  Saute the diced onion in the margarine until clear and spread over the noodles.  Bake at 350 For 30 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with sour cream.

Waiting is sometimes very hard

Most of my coworkers have new jobs now; or at least have had promising interviews.  I've applied for several positions, but have heard nothing.  I'm doing my best to trust in the Lord; knowing that He always provides - but the waiting is hard.  I am, however, joined in my waiting.  Rose is doing the same thing in Yellowknife - she's applied for a number of jobs, and really needs a job, and hasn't heard anything.  Bram's waiting to hear that he's been accepted at SIAST.  He phoned Friday, to find out that they haven't received his transcripts, so we're having them all resent.

Ruth was over bright and early this morning to make salads - she came in the door at 5:40 am, and we were finished making salads by 7:00 am.  She had a morning workshop to attend that started by 8.  By that time, I was back in bed, rejoicing that it was Saturday.  She had made Greek salad Friday at noon, and brought it to a function she had Friday night.  She had stopped by on her way home from that function, and we made cauliflower salad last night.  This morning we made marinated vegetables (it made 16 cups worth!), sweet potato and black bean salad, and bean salad.  We hadn't planned on making bean salad, but opened a can of what we thought was baby corn, to discover that if we had read the label we would have discovered it was yellow beans - and we had all the other ingredients, so we just made bean salad.

It's been a little trying this week, cooking.  My oven has decided not to work and so has my microwave.  I have purchased a new microwave but it's not installed yet, so I can't use it.  This means that I can use my stovetop, my slow cooker and rice cooker.  We did the sweet potatoes in the slow cooker - and they did very well.  I'll have to remember that.  We normally do them in the oven.

We had awards day at school on Thursday, followed by a barbecue.  Bram shared the math award for Grade 12 - which was kind of funny because he didn't take any math classes this year; but the math teacher wanted to acknowledge him and his work - and he had taken Calculus last year in Grade 11.  The weather was kind of chancy for the barbecue; it would just pour and then clear up and there'd be no rain, followed by a light sprinkle, followed by another downpour.  We cooked hotdogs under the eaves of the school by the entrance and people either stayed inside or in the gazebo when it rained - dashing outside for the condiments, which were set on a table on the pathway.  A couple of the boys from my class brought my barbecue over to cook on, and then I had a couple other boys from the same class bring it back to my house.  I now owe them Iced Cappuchinos from Tim's, but they were working on the road in front of my house yesterday and I couldn't drive out of my driveway to get them - so Monday I guess.

I've had a pretty quiet week this week.  I haven't been able to work out in the mornings with Ruth (and while I can't say I missed the workouts, I did enjoy staying in bed the extra time in the morning).  I hope to be feeling much better this coming week and back to my regular routine.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sometimes the main goal is just survival

Monday night we have The Party.  I run the group for the younger children - from Kindergarten through Grade 5.  There's also a separate group for Grade 6 and up - the teen group.  We follow the same general formal each week - kids love routine (and frankly, so do the adults).  Bram and I drive to the school at 5:45 and pick up any teens that are there waiting, to bring them to help.  We get to the Rainbow Centre at about 5:55.  Kevin V's already there, and he's set out the orange cones that mark the out of bounds areas and covered the computers with a tarp.

Bram stays at the door and greets kids as they arrive.  I go downstairs and immediately take the clipboard and start recording names as people arrive.  I have three columns - from left to right, the first column is for the kids grades K through 5.  The middle column is for the teen group and the final column is for the helpers.  This evening however, I couldn't find the box of Dixie cups that I keep in my van, so I drove home for them; couldn't find them, so drove to the grocery store for them.  The Dixie cups are for drinking; there's no water fountain but there is a water cooler.  I didn't get back until nearly 6:30.

The kids trickle in between 6 and 6:30 - a lot of them are picked up by our drivers who go on a set route.  There's a general play time (we have balls and skipping ropes) and the kids run and play and have fun.  At 6:30, the same drivers take the teen group (and a large group of helpers) over to Zieke's place.  The remaining helpers and the younger group stay and play for another 5-10 minutes, then we have circle time.  This is when we sing a few songs, talk about rules and expectations, and have a Bible story.  This week we weren't doing the Bible story; we were having a craft instead, so I showed the craft.  I also do a very small bit of math - I count the kids and say, "Ok, if we have this many kids; how many are going to be in each group if we have three groups?"  This week we had 37 kids - that's groups of 12!!!  Normally we have around 23-30 kids.  Also because Ruth (my sister, our story lady) wasn't here this week, and we were short on helpers, I was running the craft station.  Normally, I'm the floater - making sure the groups rotate on time and putting out fires and dealing with incidents.  We actually ended up with 41 kids, as four others came in late.  I think this is a new record for this year.

Marina, one of our helpers, was saying, "I can deal with just about anything that comes in to the Emergency Ward but I come home from The Party feeling shell shocked."  I kind of go with the flow; I'm a teacher and not much phases me - but I do appreciate the many, many volunteers we do have - we can't run the program without them.  This week we only had 10 helpers for over 40 kids; which is a really poor ratio.  That means, once you take out the three leaders for each of the stations, that you only have two helpers per group - or about one helper for every six kids.

After circle time, we rotate through three centres (story, games, and snack); spending roughly 15 minutes in each centre.  Then there's about 10 to 15 minutes left for play time before it's time to go home again. During the final play time, several of the helpers are doing the clean up; emptying garbage cans, doing dishes (if needed) and sweeping the floor.  When the drivers arrive, we shoo the kids out to the various vehicles and drive everyone home.  This week we ended up with an unclaimed pair of shoes and a kid missing his shoes.  (The kids all take off their shoes at the door, just like they do at school.)  This is the second time this has happened this year.  It's not a happy thing and we have to go and explain to the parents that we're sorry and we don't know where the shoes are.

It's always a fairly wild and crazy time.  Some weeks we wonder what, if anything, the kids get out of it.  I'm regularly telling individuals, "You have to start behaving now, or I'll send you home" or "We have a hands off rule." The amazing thing is that I rarely do have to send someone home. The Lord works through us, despite us.

Next week is our last session before we break for the summer.  We've invited everyone's families for a feast day.  If we had over 40 kids tonight; I wonder how many we'll have out for the feast?  It should be interesting.  We will then have nearly a full month off before we run a VBS in the park, as part of Mission 6:10 - and then we have the month of August off before we start again in September.  The teen group is planning to continue to meet through the summer. More power to them; I'm ready for a break.  (Mind you, as a teacher, I'm winding down to the end of the school year at work as well.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another Sunday evening

Sunday is supposed to be a day off - and it was, sort of.  I slept in until nearly 6 am, which was really nice, and didn't get up until past 7:30, which was also wonderful.  Instead of the how fast can I shower and get changed and head to work, I had a leisurely shower.  Then it was time to get to work.  Church service starts at 9:45 and it's about a 3 minute walk there, and I couldn't remember if I was responsible for filling communion trays this week or not, so I really should be there by 9:20 - which means leaving the house by 9:15. Also, I was planning to have people over for lunch, so really needed to tidy house again.  Time to start bustling (and to get Bram up to help).

I mixed up a batch of lazy perogy casserole in the slow cooker before getting Bram up, then I did the dishes while Bram tidied the dining room.  Then we both worked on the living room together.  It looked much better by the time we left for service, but the entry way could still do some work.  After service, I headed straight home and Ruth and I tidied up the front entry way.

We didn't really have that many people over for lunch - only about 25 or so, I think (it's hard to count moving targets).  Ruth and I had made cabbage rolls yesterday and Bram had put them in the oven before we left for church.  So it was just a matter of pulling all the salads we had made yesterday out of the fridge, putting spoons into everything, and finding counter space for all the food that everyone else made, and we were ready to go.  We also had that wheat berry dessert that I made yesterday.  Everyone liked it - but I think if I was making it again, I wouldn't bother putting the cream cheese in it.  It's already rich enough.  Normally I use my everyday dishes, but I only have 19 plates, so I cheated and used paper plates today.  I always use plastic cups (because I don't have enough cups to go around) - some day I'll find some glasses I really like (that stack together well so they don't take up too much cupboard space) and I'll splurge and buy them.  Until then, I'll be a little less ecofriendly and use plastic cups when I have a crowd over.

After lunch, Lisa V, Debbie P, and I sat around the dining table and talked through meal plans for Mission 6:10 the last week of July - for around 100 people. You can tell that I grew up in a large family because I feel that it's so much more fun to plan with a group.  Ryan and Rachel had a date and so left their two little ones here and Walter and Ruth babysat.
  Then it was time to go to the surprise wedding shower for Ashley R.  We took my van as I have the built-in car seat for Emmet.  (Jane comes with her own car seat). After the shower, there was a little down time before it was time to make supper (salmon, brown rice, green beans and coleslaw).  I read aloud another couple chapters of the book that Bram and I are enjoying together.  There's enough leftovers from supper for Bram and I for tomorrow for lunch.

I was hoping Walter would put in new microwave in place for me, but I although I have a new drill (thank you, Dad), I don't have the right drill bit, so he was unable to.  Hopefully it'll get installed soon, as right now it's still in the box just outside my kitchen.  I actually went out to purchase myself some drill bits, but both XS Cargo and Canadian Tire close at 6 on Sundays and it was already 7:30.  Oh well.  Some other time, I guess.

I'm very thankful that I now have a tidy house, that I was able to have people over for lunch, and that it's mostly all cleaned up again (I have a couple pots to wash - in the morning).  I'm also thankful for the quiet time by myself this evening.  I think I need to put a load in the wash so that I'll have clean clothes to wear tomorrow to work - but aside from that, I've got all of my "need to get done" things done.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hummus Recipe

Walter really likes to eat hummus, which we can purchase at the grocery store for $7 for four cups.  Or we can make it for probably less than a dollar's worth of ingredients.  We've discovered you can purchase split chick peas at the grocery store, and they cook up faster than the whole ones, and probably blend to a smoother paste as well.  Like it do with nearly everything, I cook the chickpeas in my rice cooker.

My rice cooker has also been giving me grief.  It tends to pop to warm before the water even boils, however I've discovered I can put the tip of a plastic spoon in to prevent it from popping, which is much cheaper than purchasing a new rice cooker.  It does mean that I have to keep an eye on it once I think it's boiled long enough though.  I'm cataloguing this under casseroles, because I'm not going to do a new category just for dips.


3 cups cooked chickpeas (drain but retain liquid)
½ cup liquid from chickpeas
¼ cup (or a little more) lemon juice
2 generous tablespoons minced garlic
2 TLB oil
1 tsp salt

Blend together in food processor until it’s a smooth paste.

Makes approximately 5 cups

Another salad recipe

We tried this recipe for the first time last week and really liked it.  It's kind of a variation on a Waldorf Salad - in that it has carrots in it.  We were looking for a carrot salad recipe that would use up a lot of the vegetables we had in the fridge so that we wouldn't have to purchase ingredients, and this is what we came up with.  While I liked it, Rachel didn't.  We love her anyway.

Carrot, Celery, Craisin Salad (The 3 C's Salad)

3 cups carrots, scrubbed and grated
4 stalks of celery, chopped fairly small
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup sesame seeds

3 TLB oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Wheat Berry Dessert

We made this with the low-fat or diabetic option on everything, so it's way less guilt than it needed to be.  It's also very easy and excellent!

1.5 cups uncooked wheat berries (cooked)
1 L container frozen dessert whip (the low fat variety)
1 cup light sour cream
2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding (or instant lemon pudding) (the diabetic variety)
1 -184 mL can pineapple chunks with the juice
1- 8 oz pkg light cream cheese

Cook the wheat berries I use my rice cooker for all of my grains and even to cook beans.  It works very well and I never have to worry about things scorching.  Dump everything into a bowl, adding the wheat berries last. Don't mix up the vanilla pudding, just add the dry powder.  I didn't bother adding all the cream cheese because it's a pain to cut it up small enough to add with everything else, and it tasted really good without it - so I've still got about 1/3 a package of cream cheese to do something else with.

Saturday - Salads and Casseroles

Ruth and I got started bright and early this morning; we had to wait for the grocery store to open at 7 am; but that gave us time to make up a list of what we were going to cook, and to make up a shopping list.  So far this morning we've made:
              Greek Salad
              Lentil Rice Salad
              Coleslaw Forever
              Hummus (from scratch)

We're still planning to get casseroles ready for next week and for tomorrow.  We're planning to make cabbage rolls, perogy casserole (for tomorrow), and chili, and two desserts (one made with wheat berries and we're trying a diabetic dessert as well.  (Which reminds me, I need to put the beans on to cook.)  Right now we're taking a quick break so I can read Ruth a short story, before we go back at it again.

OK, I didn't get it published, so I'll update.  We also made the cabbage rolls (I'll make the perogy casserole tomorrow morning in the slow cooker) and the wheat berry dessert.  It's excellent!  The beans are almost cooked for the chili and we ran out and bought me a new over the range microwave because mine died this past week.  I can't live very long without a microwave - I find it one of the essential kitchen tools.  I spent $20 extra to get it stainless steel, to match my fridge and freezer, but didn't purchase the extended warranty for it.  All in all, it's been a very productive day and it's only 2:30.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A new casserole recipe

Here`s the casserole I made tonight for supper.  Very quick, and pretty good, I think - and it served 10!

1 lb. lean hamburger
2 onions, chopped

Fry hamburger and onions until nearly brown.  Add

1 - 28 oz (540 mL) can of diced tomatoes with herbs and spices
2 cups brown rice (because Bram had started the rice earlier in the rice cooker, it was about half cooked; otherwise I would have needed to add some extra liquid)
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt

Cook, covered, until rice is tender.  Add

3 cups frozen mixed vegetables.

Continue to heat until vegetables are heated through.


It's been a very hectic day.  From when I got up at 5:30 am, to now, at nearly 10 pm, this is the first time all day I've had some down time.  This is not particularly good - and I'm glad that a day like today is pretty rare.

It was "Farewell" today at school.  However, before school started, I went with Ruth, as usual, to work out at Curves.  Stopped to fill the van with gas on the way to Curves.  Back home by 7:45 - stopped at Great Canadian on the way home to look for Sugar Snap Peas to take with us as part of the snack for Farewell.  Couldn`t find any though.  (I had tried three different grocery stores last night as well).

Made sure Bram was up, got my personal stuff packed to spend the day outside, put on sunscreen and left for school.  Made sure the drinks, etc. were loaded.  The entire school went for Farewell; we left shortly after 9 am.  I drove my van - it seats eight, counting the driver, so we had eight people in it.

We arrived back at school, after a wonderful (but extremely windy) day shortly after 5 pm.  (I`ll write about Farewell another time). Then I had to refill my van with gas, and head straight for home.  I got home at about 5:30 - to find that my house guests had already beat me here.  I had sent Bram home when we got back to school, and asked him to start some brown rice for supper.  However, when I got home, I needed to make the rest of supper.  Invented a new hamburger casserole.  Very nice too; I got several complements on it.  I was impressed that from the time I walked in the door, to when we sat down to supper was only 40 minutes!  I couldn`t have done it without Bram, who cleaned off the table and set it for me while I was making supper.  We had the entire Pradzynski family for supper; I think that was 10 adults plus two kids.

Immediately after supper, I barely had time to put the dishes in the dishwasher before I bid my guests goodbye (trusting that Bram would act as host for me), because I needed to pick up flooring for one of the suites in my four-plex and I wanted Walter to help me pick it out.  We went to the Home Depot across town by Vic Square because Walter also wanted to go to Costco.  However, while we picked out the flooring we wanted, they didn`t have enough at that Home Depot, so I had to drive to the other one on this side of town anyway.  Got the flooring, plus underlay, plus ceiling paint, plus special ceiling roller, plus talked lino with the flooring guy at Home Depot because I need some for the kitchen in a different suite.  Then I picked up a few groceries at Superstore, and came home - 9:50 pm.  Finished clearing off the table and loading the dishwasher, started it - and I feel like I`m ready to collapse.

I think that it must be time for bed .  Night Night.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Evening

It`s a quiet evening after a hectic day.  I woke up at 5, got up at 5:30, cleaned up the kitchen, started the dishwasher, made breakfast and ate it; then went and picked up Ruth so we could work out together at Curves.  On the way back home, stopped at the Great Canadian Warehouse for boxes (my morning task) and dropped them off at school.  I've calculated that for the approximately 650 shelves of books that need to be packed up, I'll need approximately 1000 boxes.  That's a lot of boxes!

At school I`ve been busy finishing up the inventory on the library and I`ve started packing up books.  Everyone asks me, ``So, what are the plans for the books?" and I reply, "I only know it's my job to inventory them and then to pack them up."  It was 25 out today; a beautiful sunny day - and it was about that warm in the library as well.  I've been fighting a throat infection and losing; so have been surviving off cough drops with benzocaine in them (which numbs my throat).  I'm now out of them, which is unfortunate.

After work, I lay down for an hour, as I'm definitely not feeling as well as I could be.  At 5 I got up and started making snack for The Party.  Ruth and I had picked up six bags of mini buns for sliders; and I grated a can of ham, added mayonnaise and pickles, for filling.  Looked at it - decided that there's no way that would be enough; phoned Ruth to pick up another can of ham; put Bram to work grating cheese.  We ended up with two smaller containers of grated cheese with mayonnaise filling; and two larger containers of grated ham with mayonnaise and pickle filling.  Half goes to The Party, while half goes to the teen group.  It went over really well.  By the time I had that ready, it was 5:30 - we have to be ready to leave by 5:45 and we still hadn't eaten supper!  Bram thinly sliced some sweet potato and we fried it in oil with seasoned salt.  Yum.  (But could have eaten more - so could Ruth and Bram).

Went to pick up helpers for The Party at 5:45 (only one came - thanks Matt); then straight to the Rainbow Youth Centre, getting there just before 6.  Had 24 kids for The Party; and I think a few less than that for the teen group.  Our play activity tonight was outside in the park across the street, flying kites.  The kite-shaped kites fly the worst (in case you were wondering).  The Bible story was Daniel in the Lion's Den.  (We've been doing the book of Daniel for the past 6 weeks or so).  We only have two more weeks for The Party and then we'll be done until fall.  The last week will be a feast; and then we'll have a 4-day VBS in the summer.  We're already talking about how to do things so that it'll run more smoothly in the fall.

Dropped off a van-load of kids (had to arrange a different ride for Bram as had six kids to drop off plus Ruth and myself).  Home shortly before 8:30.  I've been feeling like I should really go out and pick up the last rent that I didn't get on the weekend, but have no energy - and... she came to the door and dropped it off!  Thank you, Lord.

It's after 10 pm now so I can go gargle with salt water again and go to bed.  I can't go to bed before 10 pm or I'll wake up before 4 am, and I don't like to do that.  5 am is early enough.