December 25th-31st

December 25th

Dog in a Christmas Day sunbeam.

Christmas dinner table and tree.

December 26th

On the road again, continuing the Christmas road trip with a southern leg.

Crossing over the St Lawrence River.

Winter wonderland in New York state.

December 27th

Arrived safely in West Virginia, and all the lights are lit.

Sparkle lantern, rather than a snow globe. :)

A winter village, lovingly assembled by my DH’s family.

December 28th

My morning yoga spot, where I’m trying to recover my back from the hotel we stayed in halfway through our trip down.

Some Canadian content in our lunchtime excursion into town.

Some local wildlife wandering through the back yard.

December 29th

Last stop in the Christmas road trip – a grandpuppy in Virginia.

December greenery.

Wine, knitting, a fire, and chatting after dinner.

December 30th

Our trip back north was fairly quick and easy. Some rural Virginia as we trekked cross country to rejoin the 81.

Leaving Maryland for Pennsylvania.

Bucolic New York State and finding the snow again.

December 31st

Nee Year’s Eve party at our friends’ place. Full of fluffy pets, hilarious kids, and lovely adults.

Mmm, fondue…

Fireside knitting and chatting again.

Mmm, midnight pie.

I finished my Hitchhiker scarf! Binding off did happen this morning (January 1st), but only because sleep had to occur last night. ;)

And I borrowed time on my friend’s swift and winder to prep several projects worth of wool – skeins I bought in PEI this summer.

December 17th-24th

December 17th

Broccoli cheese soup from “125 Best Soup Recipes” for dinner tonight (with vegetable broth rather than chicken broth).

December 18th

Moondog on my way home from work.

December 19th

Cleaned out inbox before the beginning of my Christmas break. #winningthebattle

December 20th

Beginning my holidays right with spiked eggnog and “Christmas oranges” (aka clementines).

December 21st

A small light in the big darkness – happy Winter Solstice!

December 22nd

Netflix, knitting, beer, chips, the couch and DH. Time to relax.

December 23rd

Making Christmas dinner – Tofurkey roast with shallots, and the recommended sage, tamari, and olive oil baste.

Making my mushroom gravy to go with the Tofurkey (with the requisite spiked eggnog to help with the cooking).

December 24th

Making salmon and potato pie for Christmas Eve dinner for me – everyone else is having tourtière.

Fish pie!

Golden brown!

Delish. :) (I shared, of course).

December 10th-16th

December 10th

Vegetarian Tuscan sausage, zucchini and thyme pasta – to keep the European feel going, once I was home.

December 11th

Back at it on the 11th, at the ArcticNet conference.

Also, witnessed someone’s lost clementine. So sad. ;)

December 12th

Fuel to keep conferencing, even with jet lag. The day before was rough.

December 13th

A really awesome session today at ArcticNet, my last day at the conference.

December 14th

Friday off means working on my Advent Scarf and enjoying the quiet.

As an added bonus, had Manxmas with my friends on Friday night at our usual pub.

December 15th

Day 2 of the Advent scarf – challenging yarn but lovely colours.

December 16th

Rumballs made for my Crafting Club winter social. They were delicious!

December 4

I’ll gradually catch up. I don’t want to overload the blog with posts tonight.

Here’s my post for December 4th, our outing to Lucca and Vinci.

An example of an interesting regional architectural style on the first church we encountered upon entering the medieval town walls of Lucca.

Someone’s gorgeous “window box” of plants and succulents.

Then we headed up to Vinci, and learned about Leonardo da Vinci’s (Leonardo from Vinci) life.

The beautiful countryside in Tuscany around his birthplace.

There were olives on the olive trees lining the path to the house.

Then we went to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum to look at his designs and machines. Such brilliance.

Rainbow angles on a piece of marble showing Leonardo’s hoist.

And as a bonus – The olive groves around Vinci.

December 3

My trip to Pisa, Italy in a few shots:

The Square of Miracles

The dome in the Baptistery, which has amazing acoustics.

The 24 karat gold ceiling of the Cattedrale Metropolitana Primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta.

The bones of Saint Rainerius, patron saint of Pisa.

The slightly-less-Leaning Tower of Pisa (viewed from the side it is leaning to).

Technical difficulties

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’m hoping this will go up. The wifi I’ve been using hasn’t been allowing me to do any uploads in the past day. And the day before, I was kind of a mess of no sleep from my trans-Atlantic flight, and my body was in emergency shutdown mode that had me trying to nod off every time I sat down.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post something later today. We’re off to Florence for our Da Vinci excursion!

So long, September

In a nutshell, I’d say that sugarless and sober was a success. It’s unfortunate that the rest of the month was so stressful. But I think I’ve proved to myself that the discipline isn’t what I lack.

Sober was easy. In my life, I don’t think I’ve ever really felt like I “needed” a drink (unless I’m forgetting something). When I’ve been stressed or grieving, alcohol hasn’t been my vice of choice.

Sugarless was a bit more challenging, but again, the discipline was there. Even if I was going for a coffee with a friend, I’d opt for the straight milk and coffee latte, rather than the fancy one with syrups and whatnot.

But during the power outage aftermath of the tornado, I did stop being strict about it. It was just so that I wouldn’t be avoiding perfectly edible food that otherwise would be fine, except for there being sugar as one of the ingredients.

Also, I was tired. This month was a lot. There was a lot going on, and a lot of exhaustion, stress, and then having to throw out everything in my fridge and freezer after 53 hours without power. That sort of just broke it for me. I decided that Sugarless September was done last week. And I enjoyed that Blossoming Rose tea latte.

But again, funnily enough, as I’ve come to realize at the end of most every month – the change had felt good. I will probably maintain a fairly sugar free diet, focused on fresh fruit and vegs, with good protein sources, and light on the breads and pastas.

What’s on tap for October? I had been toying with the idea of Educational October, where I’d sign up for those courses I had planned on doing (and finish the one that has been languishing for years). Except I’m still tired and there are still two weeks to go on a big deadline at work. So I think I’m going to go with Optional October.

Optional October will mean that every day, I will choose one thing to do – yoga, meditation, reading, art, journaling, gratitude exercise, heavy workout, staying off social media, sugarless, sober, and yes, even working on a course or two. This way, I’ll be able to work in some of the things I’ve learned this year about what makes me feel better, and I’ll still have a goal, it just won’t be as strict.

Norway first

I know, it’s the first week of July and I started a new theme, but I also just had a week-ish long trip to Norway that I’d like to write up. I’ll write about this month this weekend.

So, Norway! It’s a bit of a haul to get there, at least according to the flight plan that I ended up getting. About ten hours of flight time, with a couple of layovers, so another couple of all nighters to get there and back. But I happily had pretty good seats. The only leg that was a little awkward was the short hop from Copenhagen to Oslo where I was sitting next to a man with broad shoulders. I’m not exactly a shrinking violet myself, and often have trouble sitting next to people who also have shoulders… or hips… but he was very considerate and I think we collectively tried not to infringe on each other too much.

Once I bobble-headed my way to my hotel via a (very expensive) taxi, I dropped my things and headed to the Viking Ship Museum, following my usual routine of forcing myself to stay awake at my destination until a reasonable bedtime. And wouldn’t you know it that my “oh, that’s only like 4.5km from my hotel” turned into “oh dear, I may have bitten off more than I can chew…” as my body made me realize that, yes, I had just been sitting still for eight hours on a transAtlantic flight and been pressurized and why was I putting myself through this?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the warm, fresh air, finding the Royal farm on the outskirts of Oslo, and the adventure of following my map and making my way around an inlet of the Oslofjord to get to the museum. I made it to the museum with a whole 45 minutes before closing time! And it was entirely worth it.

Thank goodness that the Vikings buried these ships in such a way that they were preserved. They were awesome. It was really cool to see how big the ship was and some of the things that were buried with the people whose grave it was.

I was also hoping to get to the History Museum during this trip but alas my timing didn’t line up. I was there for a conference, after all, which also took place during working hours.

I stayed until the museum closed and stopped to have a waffle with jam at the little café outside. Then I walked (slowly and painfully) back to my hotel area, after stopping at a roadside fruit stand and getting myself some nectarines and green apples for my room, for snacks. I needed to have dinner though, and the restaurant in my hotel was sadly a chicken and ribs place, so I popped into a tapas restaurant around the corner called Delicatessen for dinner. I had a lovely little dinner of green beans, grilled shrimp and bread with aioli. Then I slept for 12 hours…

The next morning, I had breakfast at the somewhat typical (in my small experience) and delicious Scandinavian breakfast buffet. Basically any kind of breakfast you could want, they offered. Delicious amazing oatmeal, eggs three different ways (scrambled, sunny side up or soft boiled), various breakfast meats, pancakes, cheeses, cold cuts, pickled herring (yum), fresh veggies, fruit, yogurt, granola, muesli, cereal, breads, juices, coffee, tea or hot chocolate… it was great. I found I was able to eat heartily and not be starving by the time lunch rolled around. And to even question if I needed lunch.

Since I had a little bit of time before the conference started, I headed to Vigeland Park to do some journaling and see the sculptures. It was a lovely place bustling with people strolling and touristing, and children having outdoor education classes (I think?) I sat on a bench in a shady spot and journaled for a bit and then had to move when I was very nearly the unfortunate receiving surface of some sparrow poo. There were a lot of sparrows taking little dust baths in the fine gravel of the pathway along the benches, and other birds flying around. What I roughly identified as a European robin species (?) landed in the garden next to my bench and seemed to put on some sort of display, ruffling up the feathers on its back, fanning its wings cup-like towards the ground on either side of its body, flaring its tail and opening its beak. I wasn’t sure if it was alright or suffering from the heat, but it eventually left, so I guess it didn’t get the response it wanted.

Oh yeah, and I think Oslo was experiencing a bit of a heat wave when I was there.

But back to the sculptures. So apparently, Oslo gave Gustav Vigeland this area so he could create his legacy there, so the park and everything in it as exactly as he wanted to present his work. It was lovely.

I didn’t get to see all 200 of the sculptures here, but I did get a sunburn, because me.

After this little adventure, I had to go to the opening of my conference! The conference was small but really great. I’m really glad that I was able to attend it.

I tried to pay attention to my surroundings to see more of Oslo while I was there working. I noticed a lot of Teslas driving around, but I also noticed the gas prices on my last day being about 16kr per litre, which is about $2.52 Canadian (which is much better than the 164kr I thought it was which is $26 per litre…)

I was there quite close to the summer solstice so I was experiencing some of southern Norway’s longest days. This was a shot of 11:09 pm on June 26th from my hotel window. Unfortunately, my hotel didn’t have air conditioning so I had to try to balance having my window open all night to get cooler air into my room with also needing my blackout curtains pulled, and that my room overlooked the street with the tram line. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last week.

I was delighted by their downtown corvids. I kept an ear out for the rough calls of ravens, and I was not disappointed. I found one hanging around a little strip of park that was on my way to the metro every day, and one day, a raven was also taking a bath at a little sidewalk fountain. They were lovely. This one was calling from the tram lines, just before the park.

I was also there for Oslo Pride week, so on our conference dinner evening, which took place down at the Oslo Opera House, I walked past the big street party that was going on in the downtown core near one of the universities. It sounded pretty fun.

I did walk up the opera house, twice, that evening. The first time on my own when I arrived down there, just because one of the conference organizers suggested it as a fun thing to do (it was). Although there is a ton of construction going on down by the water so the skyline is kind of interrupted by cranes.

The clearest shot I could make, but very interesting building designs going up.

And the second time was after dinner with a few people I had sat with at dinner. It was much cooler the second time since the sun was going down.

There are even cranes in that one!

The rest of the conference went by quickly and then it was time to return home. I set my alarm for 3am on Friday (which was 9pm the day before back home) and took another (more expensive because it was “overnight”) taxi to the airport (complete with detour around the closed offramp for the airport). Luckily the fare for the taxis is agreed upon before your trip starts so that sort of thing doesn’t hugely increase your costs.

3:05am, June 29, Oslo.

The trip home was a bit long – 22 hours or so in transit. But the flights were again fairly smooth and easy. And I came back to Canada and another heat wave. Hello summer!

I definitely want to go back and do a tourist thing. Maybe head up along the coast, and get as far as Lofoten. My friend highly recommended it. Heck, maybe I could even get up to Tromsø. :)

Farewell, Norway! Until next time!