Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Do You Like Coffee? Then You're Going To Love This!

Two weeks ago I burned the last piece of wood in our basement woodroom and it was far too cold to go dig out the barn for more wood.  How cold? It was freeze your snot and feel like you're on fire when really you're about two minutes away from hypothermia cold.  {I actually resorted to burning a rocking chair - I felt like a desperate war refugee.} I plugged in space heaters, piled on more blankets and wore double socks.

A short balmy break in the weather {-7°} a couple of days later had us hauling a few cords from barn to woodroom so we could heat our basement when the winds turned bitter again.  Which they did.  The next day.

Obviously, it was the perfect time for our furnace to quit working.

And no matter how big I built up the fire, I could not heat the main level of our house.

It was 11° at night. {That's 51.8° for you Fahrenheit folks.} That's a flipping cold house!

I wore a scarf and a tuque and shut myself in my writing room with a heater and a blanket while I waited for the repair man...

You know what did come?  A storm.  The repair man could not come because of the weather.  Even afternoon buses were cancelled which I can never remember happening.

And so it was myself and the three children I rescued from being storm-stayed at school, cuddling up by the fire, keeping each other warm.

I wanted/needed a warm drink.  I had already had about a gazillion cups of tea but the thought of making a whole pot of coffee seemed wasteful because I knew I would only drink one cup.

As I stood shivering in the kitchen, my tuque so low that my eyelashes hit it when I blinked, I saw my tea ball infuser sitting on the counter and I thought, why in the world couldn't you make a single cup of coffee with an infuser?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm so pleased to tell you that you can!  You can make a cup of coffee with a tea ball infuser!

How To Make Coffee With A Tea Ball Infuser

How to make coffee with a tea ball infuser! 1. Put water on to boil.

2. Add desired amount of coffee grinds to tea ball.  {This may be a process of trial and error.  I used about a teaspoon and it seemed pretty well perfect for me but everyone likes their coffee a different degree of strength.}

3. Place tea ball in mug and pour boiled water over it.

4. Allow it to steep? brew? for a minute or two - again, depending on how strong you like it.

5. Remove tea ball.

6. Add cream and sugar if you desire.

7. Yum.

I used a fine grind and it worked quite well though the bottom of the mug did have a little sludgy residue.  I would recommend a coarser grind if you're really keen on enjoying that cup to the last swallow.

All in all, I think I've made a fantastic discovery that, at the very least, will change camping coffee for me forever!

And in case you were worrying about me and my cold house - the repair man was able to come the next day and get things working for me.  Life is looking up again.  

And two weeks from now I'll be hundreds of miles south of here {where I trust it will be sunny and warm}, seeking out all kinds of fun stories to share with you!

Need a tea ball infuser of your own?  Amazon is full of options:

*this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on one them.  See my disclaimer for more details.

Linking up here

Monday, March 2, 2015

One Adorable Cookie Monster

I believe one of the marks of good parenting is raising children who know what it's like to lick the bowl - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I would like to let you think that I'm one of those mother's who lives in the kitchen with flour on her nose and the constant smell of fresh baking wafting through the house.  There's a big part of me that wants to be the traditional, apron wearing, perfectly quaffed housewife that every feminist hates.  

I dream of being home full-time, not only to pursue my writing more aggressively but to take better care of this house that I love; but sadly, that does not often include baking.

That delicious smell is the Apple Pie candle I'm burning in my writing room right now.

I can bake.  I do bake.  Sometimes.  And when I do it, it is usually only to create a space in which to do something with a child that does not involve a boring old television screen.

I believe one of the marks of good parenting is raising children who know what it's like to lick the bowl.

And though it's not a weekly occurrence in our lives, it does happen every so often.  Once a month or so and as far as I can tell, that's a victory {since I'm pouring myself into other passions that mean much more to me than sweet confections}. 

For Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me The Looneyspoons Collection: Good Food, Good Health, Good Fun! which is, without a doubt, the best cookbook I've ever had!  The Cookies for Rookies {peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip} recipe has become Noa's favorite thing to bake with me.

[It would be in poor taste {and a copyright infringement} to post the recipe here but you can find it if you google the title or come on over for a cup of tea and I'll let you flip through the book yourself - because you simply must try the Dilly Beloved Chicken or the Yammy Spice Potato Wedges!]

There are a lot of reasons not to bake with a child.  Baking is something much easier done without a helping hand.  But the happiness on that eager face when she gets to sift the flour all by herself...priceless!

One Adorable Cookie Monster - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

One Adorable Cookie Monster - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Do you have a little baker in your life? Check out this great gift idea - perhaps a new twist on the traditional Easter basket goodies...?

*this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links - see my disclaimer for more information

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Vow To Be a Sweetheart of an Old Woman

I vow to be a sweetheart of an old woman - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I came out of staff meeting today to find a present waiting on my desk - decked out in vintage flowered paper like Spring had begun to bloom right there in my office.

"Why is there a present on my desk?" I called out.  But no one knew.

The paper came off and I lifted the lid from a white box to find a note written on the most darling card and as I read it I thought 'well shoot! I'm going to cry right here, standing by my desk!'

I didn't.  Not because I'm strong but because my friend and coworker had come in to watch me open it -  to discover who the mystery giver was - and I wasn't about to blubber all over the thrill of an unexpected gift. "It's from Gloria," I said, handing the note to my friend and digging through white tissue paper to the treasure inside.

Gloria is the kind of ageless woman that makes retirement living seem graceful and kindness oozes off her in great wafts of generosity.  We are from wildly different generations and those differences speak volumes but I have never felt judged or looked down on by her.  A few weeks ago we shared a table at the church social tea party.  In conversation I had mentioned that I didn't own a single tea cup apart from Noa's miniature set.  I thought nothing of it; afterall, I don't need fancy china to enjoy a good cup of tea.

From the rustling of tissue paper I pulled a pretty cup and saucer.  "It just doesn't seem right that here I am with several cups & saucers - & you, without even one," she wrote in the note.  "Here's a pretty one that I want you to have..."

Heart.  Melt.

I vow to be a sweetheart of an old woman - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

There are two kinds of elderly people in the world.  There are Scrooges and there are Gloria's.  I have had my fair share of dealings with the Scrooges and I have had my fair share of blessings from the Gloria's. 

I choose the Gloria's every time - who choose to be Gloria's even to the Scrooges!  What a beautiful way to live life and a beautiful lesson for all of us younger, selfish generations!

When I tracked her down she laughed at my gushing thank you.  "Oh, it's just a silly thing," she said.  "I had more than would fit in the china cabinet."

Perhaps she thought she was only giving me a piece of china.  Perhaps she didn't know she giving me a goal - to be a woman as kind and encouraging and supportive as she is - to be a Gloria to those younger than me.

I've said it before and I'll say it again now: I vow to be a sweetheart of an old woman - I vow to be a Gloria - to brighten the lives of those around me with a gentle spirit, a true heart, and a smile that reminds everyone I used to be young once too.

For Those Who Love To Craft, I Salute You {with FREE tutorials!}

~ this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them ~

I have a deep affinity for crafting of any kind.  The act of creation is therapeutic and I love to lose myself in a project - whether it be painting or refinishing or even sewing {on very rare occasions}.
Craftsy Logo
My sweet friends at Craftsy have asked me to share with you an amazing promotion they have on right now.  They want to offer you COMPLETELY FREE, downloadable instruction manuals for all kinds of incredible, creative projects.  All you have to do is register on their website!



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I hope you can find some inspiration here and wish you all the best on your crafting adventures!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Divine Secrets of a Quiet Saturday {or I don't need to be anyone's Valentine}

Facebook is riddled with romantic photos of flowers and chocolates and 'Isn't my man the greatest?!'

That's all well and good.  I'm happy for you, Facebook braggarts.

Guess what I got this fine Valentine's Day?


And everything.

I don't need to be anyone's Valentine.  I'm quite happy being someone's forever - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
I slept in until 10:30 am.  Glorious!

I slipped into a bubble bath and watched Netflix until 11:45 am.  Divine!

I made banana pancakes and mini sizzler sausages and chopped raw strawberries and mixed up hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and sat around the table with my four most favourite people in the world.  Delightful!

We locked the bedroom door and...  Perfect!

I retreated to my writing room, turned up the heat and wrote for four hours {interrupted only to chop up a pile of vegetables and get some soup bubbling on the stove to be ready for dinner}.  Inspiring!

I fed those mouths again and we laughed at each others weirdness again and they all thanked me again.  Awesome!

Perhaps it's not the most romantic of days.

Or perhaps it is.
I don't need to be anyone's Valentine.  I'm quite happy being someone's forever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Incredible Power of Gratitude {and 5 easy ways to show it}

I made quiche for dinner tonight.  I rolled out the pie crust and beat the eggs and chopped the vegetables and baked it for fifty minutes until it was perfectly set and the house smelled of pastry and breakfast.

"Supper!" I call and they come pounding up the stairs from the basement family room to congregate around the dining room table.

"What is that?" Liam asks, eyeing his plate and me like he doesn't trust either of us.

"Egg pie," I say.

"Egg pie?"

"It's like a pie made out of eggs," Zander offers, "but all vegetabley and stuff," - always so helpful and wise.

We hold hands in a circle.  "You pray, Zander," I say.  "You're obviously the most thankful."

They have little to say as they eat, dousing their 'pie' in ketchup and taking swills of milk between bites.

They don't like it.  It's painfully obvious but not one of them complains.

Zander finishes first.

"You want another slice?" I ask him.

He smiles a little half-sided grin and shakes his head before taking his dishes to the sink.  "Thank you for supper," he says.

"More, Liam?" I ask as he forks in the final bite and mumbles his no while his mouth is still full and then takes his dishes to the sink before he's even swallowed.  

"Thank you for supper," he says.

Poor Noa still has half left and she's taking the tiniest bird-bites and scrunching up her eyes just a little with each taste.  I cheer her on while I take another half slice because I happen to find it positively delicious and she grins at me wide while I make a great show of enjoying it.

I set the kettle on to boil while she toils over her final bites, finally getting them down before adding her plate to her brother's by the sink.  "Thank you for supper, mommy," she says and I kiss her square on her eggy face.

"You're welcome," I say.

But really I should be thanking them.  I should be learning from them

If your attitude is gratitude then even small {unlikable} things are worth being thankful for. 

I sit back down at the table while my tea steeps and marvel at how I've actually arrived at this moment.  This place where I have produced children who - though eating a meal they do not like - do not complain, do not whine, and who, in fact, say thank you when it's over.

I'm not sure how I did that.

But boy am I thankful!

Gratitude is so powerful.  And to find yourself in an environment of reciprocal thankfulness is positively life-giving. 

My children weren't thanking me for making them a meal they didn't enjoy.  They were thanking me for making them a meal - for caring for them - for ignoring the burning desire to arrive home from work, put my feet up, watch Netflix and just tell them to go make themselves some toast with peanut butter.

They were thanking me for loving them.

And I am about bursting with it!

Six Ways to Show Your Gratitude

1. Say it.  

Out loud.  Right to their face.  Be specific.  Be genuine.  Just say THANK YOU!

2. Public appreciation.  

Find ways to acknowledge someones contribution to your project/day/life by praising them in a public forum - among co-workers, family, friends, on social media, your blog, newspaper, a soapbox in the town square... 

3. Handwritten notes.  

The thought and care expressed through a handwritten note is palpable and it's something the appreciated person can hold on to as a spirit-boost-reminder on a tough day.  {How heartbreaking that these are so quickly disappearing from our culture.}  

4. A small token.  

Surprise someone with kindness in the way of a small gift - be it a cup of coffee, a little box of chocolate, or flowers - it's the thought that counts.

5. Be infectious.  

Smile.  Spread your attitude of gratitude by being a positive light in the world.  Something as simple as a smile can be powerful enough to affirm someone and make them feel personally connected in a world that is so hugely lacking in human contact these days.

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*these photos contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them

I don't know what I've done to deserve children who say 'THANK YOU' but I do think it has a little something to do with the positive way I choose to live my life.  Children are {most often} a reflection of their parents.  I try to greet them each day with a smile and a kiss and an attitude that lets them know how much I appreciate them.  

I am eternally thankful for them and I will NEVER forget to make sure they know it!

"If the only prayer you say in your life is 'thank you,' that would suffice."  
- Meister Eckhart

Who are you thankful for?  Have you told them yet today? 

{linking up here}

Monday, February 9, 2015

Planning My Way Out Of A Winter Funk

Planning my way out of a winter funk - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Some creatures were made for winter.

I am not one of them.

Winter is bleak and expensive and dries my skin so excessively that I want to itch until I'm bleeding.  It makes me draggy and sad and tired - quick to snack and slow to move.  

But there is hope!  After all, didn't Leonard Cohen tell us there was a crack in everything?  Light gets through even the toughest, ugliest, snowiest wall!

My glimmer?  I still have a whole week of vacation days left to use!

And that sounds like hallelujah!

And I am having a riot plotting and planning and organizing a March Break Road Trip Get-Away for my family.

Road Trip Fund - squirreling away some spending money - Planning my way out of a winter funk - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

We have not been overly adventurous in the past - content with day trips and camping and hotels in the city.  Our children have never been outside of Ontario.  They've never been farther than Niagara Falls - which is little more than three hours and forty-two backseat fights away.  But, in just over a month, they are going to see the ocean for the very first time and they are practically vibrating with excitement!

I can remember road trips with my family when I was younger.  I remember driving to the east coast and I remember driving all the way to the west.  I remember seeing mountains and hot springs and the ocean.  I remember rest stops and visiting the college where my parents fell in love and tasting my very first Dr. Pepper from a gas station in Manitoba. 

A road trip may be the poor mans mode of travel but I'm feeling rather rich as I plot out our stops, trying to pack in as many experiences as I can along the way to South Carolina.

I'm compiling lists, researching hotels, finding strange little stops along the way, forgetting about the wicked winter that looms beyond my window...

Road Trip Fund - squirreling away some spending money - Planning my way out of a winter funk - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

The children are saving their money - squirreling it away in jars I've set out for them - doing extra chores so they'll be able to buy souvenirs and treats along the way and I'm brain-storming activities to avoid a million backseat fights.  {South Carolina is MUCH farther than Niagara Falls!}

It won't be warm when we all dip our toes in the ocean and search along the shore for shells but it will be something worth a whole lot more than sitting at home bemoaning the snow that will surely still cover the ground!

Do you have any road trip advice for me? I'd love to hear it!!! 


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