Monday, December 29, 2008


Do you write them down? Think about them? Want to do them but procrastinate so long that you are mid-year before you get around to it?

I love em. I make resolutions not just at New Years, but monthly, weekly, daily. I resolve to be better, kinder, nicer, thinner, more organized, evangelical, brave, tough, less wasteful and healthier almost everyday.

Do I keep them? Um, yes. And often no.

What I love about resolve is it is a never ending fountain of motivation. Mess up? Say the wrong thing? Over-react? Eat too much? Here's my biggest and most powerful resolve:

Start over. Start anew. Resolve to do better next time.

Cheers to you in your new year. May you keep all your resolutions - over and over!

Friday, December 26, 2008

must get out!!

the view from our front door

There are certain little things I miss about my home country. Here is a small list:

- snowplows
- snow tires
- road salt
- windshield deicer
- snow shovels

Please let the rains come soon - must escape the house~!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Toner Family 2008 Christmas Letter

It's the week before Christmas and all through the house
Is laundry and chaos and as for my spouse
Eric's at work and the kids are done school
So they're both comfy watching TV with some food,
And Mom in her sweatpants is busy downstairs
Stealing a few minutes to take time to share . . .

Out of my window is actual snow! (a real Northwest freak-show)
That is gorgeous and joyous and leaves me a-glow
The locals are huddled in parkas and mitts
Canadians are walking around without jackets
So with rare snow and ice there is much Christmas cheer
Though folks scared to drive hope it soon disappears

So I sit at my computer and contemplate the year
What have we been up to? What news should I share?
Of things most exciting that's happened to us here . . .
And while I try to think of what will bring Christmas cheer
Of course I must tell you of Hannah and Thaniel
Our two lively kids, of their antics and banter

First Hannah, she's oldest, and thinks she knows best
And life in Fifth Grade is a drama without rest
She sings and takes gymnastics, writes novels and dreams
She talks quite non-stop, or at least, so it seems!
Now I know you're all chuckling and thinking who she's like?
But she is also most giving, and sweet and our delight!

And then there is Thaniel, who knows he is brave
He takes Tae Kwon Do and its all the rave
He's now in third grade and on most days he likes it
His newest ambition is to be an RCMP or maybe a playwright
He loves to create things on paper and lego
But mostly he is caring, and sweet and our hero

As for me and for Eric, we are both well and happy
We are grateful for our kids, our home and our families
Speaking of family, to New Brunswick this summer,
To see a sister get married and welcome a new brother
Colleen and Peter - the Kung Fu king and queen of marriage
A fun outdoor wedding with a golf cart their carriage

And at home we were favoured with a visit from afar
From Saskatchewan came Grandma and Grandpa and their camper
They drove in to see us and dote on the children
With presents, and camping and time to spend with them,
My parents, and summer, were gone all too quickly
Our time here with them and on the coast was a blessing.

And so here we are as another year ends
Thinking back fondly on family and friends
We look forward to all that God has in store
And hope we can share when he blesses us more
Some of you we'll see soon, some maybe never
But we pray for you all in each of your endeavours.

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Love from the Toners
Dorinda, Eric, Hannah, Nathaniel

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Weather Outside is Frightful . . .

well at least if you are native to the Northwest (and pity those California transplants)! Yes it is a blustery 25 'F, (-4c -for all you Canucks) here in greater Portland area. And the locals are freezing!

Well actually so am I . . .

yes I grew up in Canada where we have snow for Halloween and sometimes for Easter too. Yes, I remember the wind-chill and Frostbite warnings on the morning news 'parents take care to bundle your kids up for the walk to school this morning - its a cold one at -29c but with the wind-chill feels more like -46c. Frostbite warnings at 2minutes this morning' (And that meant exposed skin is susceptible to frost bite at 2mins!) Yes, I remember leaving the house with hair damp from the shower and arriving at school (three blocks away) with frozen hair.

And yet as I have moved to warmer, milder climates (first the Okanogan and now the Northwest) I've adjusted, acclimatized or maybe my blood is just thinner!

Though it is not just my own wimpy-ness that makes me cold - The houses here are not built to stand this cold - poor insulation, thin windows, un-insulated garages (where the unwrapped water heater and furnace reside) Pipes in outside walls, crawlspaces open to the elements (so the houses can 'breathe'?) its just not your typical cuddle up warm of a Canadian home! There are limited (if any) snow plows, the schools just go ahead and shut down if there is more than an inch of snow accumulation. The news and weather stations sensationalize the 'Arctic Blast' to the point where even I begin to worry that although I learnt to drive on hockey-rink like conditions I may suddenly loss all my senses and crash into a tree.

Brings to mind how much I miss my homeland. How beautiful the snow can be. How much fun cross country skiing and ice skating and sledding can be. And I worry how much of their heritage my children are missing . . . of that great Canadian pride in surviving the extreme cold.

And then I remember starting the car 20mins before having to leave for anywhere (which was usually just enough time to scrape it off). Frostbitten cheeks, static-ky hair, tingling-burning toes, frozen pipes, power outages, black ice, household pets with half-ears, slip and falls and sliding into the ditch.

And I can put a name to this feeling - nostalgia. I miss winter. But then I ask myself - do I want to re-live it? Um, no... despite how much I loved it - I love it here too. Despite the lack of winter I feel at home. And every few years Canada remembers me and sends down a little 'blast' from my past!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

OMGosh! This is the best

BREAD I have ever made! I adapted this from an herb bread recipe - I was looking for something with chickpea flour and couldn't find what I was looking for. Chickpea flour is also called Garbanzo Bean flour and also called Besan Flour it's easily found in the any natural or whole foods market. If you have never tried this it has a mild & sweet flavor - a bit 'greener' than 'nutty' - well worth trying! Also, it is naturally high in protein and fiber - what could be better??

I decided to play around a bit and this turned out much better than I anticipated!! I did this in the bread machine - but you could do this in your oven if you prefer - just take it out of the bread maker after the second rise and bake in the oven. Don't ask me how long though . . . I have no idea!

Rosemary Besan Bread

1 1/3cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teas white sugar
2 teas salt (I may use 1 1/2 next time because I like a milder salty taste in my bread)
1/4 teas Italian seasoning
1/4 teas coarse ground black pepper (I will use a touch more next time)
1 Tablespoon dried Rosemary
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup chickpea (Besan) flour
2 1/2 teas dry active yeast

put in bread-machine in order and use the Basic cycle. Amazing!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas carols & songs

Love em or hate em?

I LOVE them! Christmas music starts day after American Thanksgiving for me - if I can hold out that long! I buy myself one new Christmas album a year (thats a CD for you youngin), have the disc player pre-loaded, the all-Christmas music channel on the Radio in the Jeep and on the TV.

And before you ask - no I don't get tired of hearing the same songs over and over! In addition to all the classics - there are so many interesting re-makes of the old stuff and some really good new Christmas music every year.

It's fascinating to me to hear the true Christmas story sung by people of all faiths (and of no faith). It's also cheering to hear of bells, and choirs and reindeer, and white snow and "bending Santa's ear" - how fun!

It's the time of year when its totally acceptable to enjoy Elvis and Karen Carpenter and Dolly Parton; to groove along with Ella and Ertha Kit and Ray Charles and the Vince Guaraldi Trio (Charlie Brown Christmas); to croone right along with Bing and Rosemary Clooney and yes, even Harry Conick Jr; to tear up with Handel's Messiah, O Holy Night and Silent Night. Its all good. Really.

Now you - the cynic - run to your radio, CD player, I-pod, phonograph, or whatever floats your boat, and put on some Christmas music already!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

microwave butterscotch crunch fudge

This was so super easy and very, very tasty. It was a softer texture than I thought it was going to be - which was a good thing!

3 1/4cups butterscotch baking chips
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk (I used the low fat version)
2 teas vanilla

2 cups (lightly crushed) Fiber One Caramel Delight Cereal- make sure you use this one and not Fiber One bran flakes - that would be disgusting. (You could substitute Golden Grahams if you cannot find this kind - I just like it 'cause it's healthier - and yes I do realize I am putting it in fudge!)

Line a 9x13 pan with wax paper. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Dump chips and milk in microwavable bowl. Zap on high for 3mins - pausing to stir every minute. Remove from microwave and add the vanilla. Stir until it is just shinny. You can mix the cereal right in or line the bottom of your 9x13 pan with them as I did (this made a cool crunchy 'topping' later)

Put fudge in fridge for at least 2 hours to set. I used the wax paper to flip the whole thing out onto a cutting board so I could cut into 1 inch squares. Makes 60-70 pieces.

I believe

I believe in the sun
-even when it's not shinning

I believe in love
-even when I don't feel it

I believe
in God
-even when He is silent

Even on days like these
- I believe

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In the supermarket was a man pushing a cart which contained a screaming, bellowing baby. The gentleman kept repeating softly, "Don't get excited, Albert; don't scream, Albert; don't yell, Albert; keep calm, Albert."

A woman standing next to him said, "You certainly are to be commended for trying to soothe your son Albert."

The man looked at her and said, "Lady, I'm Albert."

Are you Albert today? I know I am.

Here is what got me so riled: there are two kinds of people in the world - those who assume everyone else will do the work and those who assume if they don't do the work no-one will.

I am of the second kind. Unfortunately for me I am proved right far too often. Fortunately for me I still have my work ethic and pride in a job well done.

Which one are you?

Monday, December 8, 2008

To Clean or not to Clean?

Its a busy time of year. It's an expensive time of year. It's a tight and tough year for most families. So the questions of the day is to clean or not to clean?

In the past when life has been crazy busy and I have had mega commitments outside of the home my DH has 'sponsored' me having a cleaning lady in to help out. Once or twice a month she comes in bringing her bucket brigade of cleaning supplies and whips my entire house into order in just 3-4hrs. Floors clean, toilets sparkling, clean laundry folded, beds made with clean sheets and furniture dusted - it's like buying a new house all over again!

I love it! Really. But I also feel conflicted. It's not always easy to have someone else touching your personal stuff, adjusting your piles of mess (that you really do know where everything is in) subtly adjusting the knick knack you already had just 'so'.

Also I always feel compelled to 'pre-clean' before the cleaning lady even gets here. Which usually involves taking out the garbage, the recycling, doing fast and furious loads of dirty laundry so the hallway is fit to walked through by a human (outside of our immediate family) and of course yelling at DH and the kiddos to "get their stuff picked up because the cleaning lady is coming!!!"

And then there is the financial part of this - cleaning ladies are not free. And even though I can often justify the expense because of my schedule it's hard to do that this time around because money is just so - well you know!

And so even though I hate scrubbing toilets and would rather so just about any other kind of work then fold laundry or do the dishes, I think for now - instead of donning gay apparel I will be donning rubber gloves!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recipe from my Mom

I haven't tried it yet but I will this week and then post what we thought. If you try it - let me know what you think! My mom is a Cancer surviver and Diabetic (recovered!) so I am including her substitutions for all you health conscious folks out there!

Apple Bean Bake - in the Crock-pot!
4 Tbsp. butter (Mom just sprayed with Pam)
2 large apples, cubed with peel on but without core
1/2 c. brown sugar (Mom used brown sugar splenda)
1/4 c. sugar (Mom used white splenda)
1/2 c. ketchup
1 tsp. cinnamon (don't skimp)
1 Tbsp. molasses
3 large cans of beans, 19 ounce, (mix them up) Mom used black, chickpeas and romano (pinto would be American equivalent).
Can also put in ham.

Melt butter in skillet. Add apples and cook till tender.
Stir in sugars, Cook till melted. Stir in ketchup, cinnamon, molasses
and salt.

Add beans and ham. Mix well. Pour into slow cooker and cook on high
2-4 hours. (Mom cooked hers on low for 6 hours.)

If you have the Fix-it and Forget-it book,
Feasting with your slow cooker, it is on page 219.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Have you Ever?

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink -N

02. Swam with dolphins -N

03. Climbed a mountain -Y

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive -N

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid -N

06. Held a tarantula -N

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone -Y

08. Said "I love you" and meant it -Y

09. Hugged a tree -Y

10. Bungee jumped -N

11. Visited Paris -N

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea -N

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise -Y

14. Seen the Northern Lights -Y

15. Gone to a huge sports game -Y

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa -N

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables -Y

18. Touched an iceberg -N

19. Slept under the stars -Y

20. Changed a baby's diaper -Y

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon -Y

22. Watched a meteor shower -N

23. Gotten drunk on champagne -Y

24. Given more than you can afford to charity -Y

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope -Y

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment -Y

27. Had a food fight -Y

28. Bet on a winning horse -Y

29. Asked out a stranger -Y

30. Had a snowball fight -Y

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can -Y

32. Held a lamb -N

33. Seen a total eclipse -Y

34. Ridden a roller coaster -Y

35. Hit a home run -Y

36. Danced like a fool and didn't care who was looking -Y

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day -N

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment -Y

39. Had two hard drives for your computer -N

40. Visited all 50 states -N

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk -Y

42. Had amazing friends -Y

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country -Y

44 . Watched whales -N

45. Stolen a sign -N

46. Backpacked in Europe -N

47. Taken a road-trip -Y

48. Gone rock climbing -Y

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach -N

50. Gone sky diving -N

51. Visited Ireland -N

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love -Y

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them -N

54. Visited Japan -N

55. Milked a cow -N

56. Alphabetized your CDS -Y

57. Pretended to be a superhero -Y

58. Sung karaoke -Y

59. Lounged around in bed all day -Y

60. Played touch football -Y

61. Gone scuba diving -N

62. Kissed in the rain -Y

63. Played in the mud -Y

64. Played in the rain -Y

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre -Y

66. Visited the Great Wall of China -N

67. Started a business -Y

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken -Y

69. Toured ancient sites -N

70. Taken a martial arts class -N

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours -N

72. Gotten married -Y

73. Been in a movie -N

74. Crashed a party -Y

75. Gotten divorced -N

76. Gone without food for 5 days -Y

77. Made cookies from scratch -Y

78. Won first prize in a costume contest -N

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice -N

80. Gotten a tattoo -Y

81. Rafted the Snake River -N

82. Been on a television news program as an "expert" -N

83. Gotten flowers for no reason -N

84. Performed on stage -Y

85. Been to Las Vegas -N

86. Recorded music -Y

87. Eaten shark -N

88. Kissed on the first date -Y

89. Gone to Thailand -N

90. Bought a house -Y

91. Been in a combat zone -N

92. Buried one/both of your parents -N

93. Been on a cruise ship -N

94. Spoken more than one language fluently -N

95. Performed in Rocky Horror -N

96. Raised children -Y

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour -N

98. Passed out cold -N

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country -N

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over -Y

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge -N

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking -Y

103. Had plastic surgery -N

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived -N

105. Wrote articles for a large publication -N

106. Lost over 100 pounds -N

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback -Y

108. Piloted an airplane -N

109. Touched a stingray -N

110. Broken someone's heart -Y

111. Helped an animal give birth -N

112. Won money on a TV game show -N

113. Broken a bone -Y

114. Gone on an African photo safari -N

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears -N

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol -N

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild -Y

118. Ridden a horse -Y

119. Had major surgery -N

120. Had a snake as a pet -N

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon -N

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period -N

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States -N

124. Visited all 7 continents -N

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days -Y

126. Eaten kangaroo meat -N

127. Eaten sushi -Y

128. Had your picture in the newspaper -Y

129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about -Y

130. Gone back to school -Y

131. Parasailed -N

132.Touched a cockroach -N

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes -Y

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey -Y

135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read -Y

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -N

137. Skipped all your school reunions -Y

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language -Y

139. Been elected to public office -N

140. Written your own computer language -N

141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream -Y

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care -N

143. Built your own PC from parts -N

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you -N

145. Had a booth at a street fair -Y

146. Dyed your hair -Y

147. Been a DJ -N

148. Shaved your head -N

149. Caused a car accident -N

150. Saved someone's life -N

I got this from another blog feel free to copy and use for yourself (with you own answers!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Yeah - its December!

Here are the things I love about December (in no particular order):

- the snow (well I remember it at any rate!!)
- baking goodies
- having parties
- scented candles
- Christmas trees
- pine cones
- walking the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights on the houses
- going to Christmas concerts and plays
- listening to Christmas music
- singing carols
- having the kids home for vacation
- eating too much
- staying up late watching movies
- playing board games
- candlelight service on Christmas eve
- Charlie Brown special
- White Christmas
- reading Dickens (Cricket on the Hearth-again!)
- eggnog
- roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
- hugs
- hearing thank you
- watching the kids open their presents
- decorating the house
- sleeping in
- working at Share for the Christmas drive
- bells
- hot chocolate
- buying stocking stuffers
- giving gifts
- the Christmas story
- spending time with Eric and the kids
- getting packages in the mail
- plugging in the Christmas tree
- taking pictures
- using the Christmas china