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Snow, Snow and more Snow

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That’s how I feel right now.  All right I’ll admit the snow storm was a week ago, but there are still some of it is still on the ground in places. But when the storm hit, Super Bowl Sunday of … Continue reading

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Lots of Things Afoot at Chez Chantal

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Jillian here!  It’s been a busy time here at Chez Chantal. One of my staff had a stroke on Christmas Eve and, even though she is on the road to recovery, it’s been pretty stressful at the office since things … Continue reading

Fifteenth Annual Cabin Weekend

It’s time for my annual family cabin blog. Since we started renting a cabin each winter back in 2002, this was our fifteenth annual weekend! This year was also extra special because we needed to heal as a family. After losing my mother last August, my Dad passed away in early January. He was 89 going on 16, and we called him the Energizer bunny because he had so many medical problems, but just kept going, and going, and going. 🙂 I will miss my pinochle partner, but I am so happy for the life he had that I got to be part of.

Anyhow, all the sadness in our lives made our time together at the cabin even more special. All five of our kids made it this year, as well as 3/4ths of our grandchildren. So we were eighteen strong. This particular cabin has a bunk house with a gym, which was kind of a life-saver this year as it was bone-chillingly cold. Our first night there, it got down to one degree Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius). And that was without the chill factor. Brrrr.

16105900_10210773601169826_5231261545443343314_nSo there was a lot of badminton, basketball, and volleyball playing. As well as dragging the youngest around the court on exercise mats.

p1120231Their laughter echoed through the gym and brought smiles to all.

We played games. Sorry, Farkle (aka Zilch or Ten Thousand), Hearts. Worked puzzles. Ate, ate, and ate some more.

16114462_10210773600489809_1145155353810621285_nSome even braved the cold to snowshoe and sled.

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I took this picture. That was about as much time as I wanted to spend outside this year. I love the snow, but picked up a bad cough right after Dad passed away, so needed to stay inside.

And we watched the deer and wild turkeys from our deck:

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Remember that crocheting project I was talking about? Here’s my granddaughter and I as I’m teaching her to crochet a headband in the colors of her favorite football team. Success!

16105515_10210773602849868_8282826178375859684_nWe didn’t take a group picture this year. We just relaxed and enjoyed each other. I did manage to corral the grandkids for a pic.

p1120244So another successful cabin adventure. I am more than grateful that we all still try to do this every year, and I hope we get at least fifteen more under our belts. 🙂 2017, for me personally, started getting better with that weekend.  I’m slowly moving my gaze forward and upward and am looking forward to many good things for the rest of this year. I hope you all are able to do that, also.

Spring On Its Way

Gosh, doesn’t time fly! I can’t believe January has melted into February already. Talking of melting, so far this winter here in South West England we’ve escaped snow, apart from one day when we awoke to an icing sugar dusting which disappeared by lunchtime. It’s been chilly but not cold, but certainly miserable, damp, wet and grey and occasionally windy.

Which all means in the garden spring is well on its way. The front lawn is exploding with snowdrops and the first of many clumps of crocus in full bud about to open with the next burst of sun. The back garden is still in permanent shade until March but that hasn’t stopped the hellebores, with the first of many flowers already open. (Sighs contentedly. I do so love spring!)

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Meanwhile, back indoors, we have hit this year running. It began with the excellent news my husband, diagnosed with diabetes last summer, has beaten it and is no longer diabetic, although he will now always be at risk. He managed this without drugs because he refused to: a) accept he had the condition (there were no outward symptoms or signs), and physically the last person in the world you’d think suffered with this as he’s slim, doesn’t smoke or drink, is fit and walks for a living at work despite being 69 years old and does gardening for recreation; and b) simply refused to take the medication prescribed.

So, how has he achieved this? Purely by diet. He’s a sweet tooth, likes chocolate, especially chocolate cookies, ice-cream, and my baking and dessert efforts thus all were banned from the house. He stopped putting sugar in his coffee, no puds or ice-cream have touched his lips, and I’ve only baked three cakes in nine months, two of which were made using the sugar substitute Xylitol. Thank you so much, Tricia, for putting me on to this sweetener. In fact, the two cakes I made with this were the best and definitely to be made again, according to Dave. One was our Christmas cake, the only “goodie” he ate over the Christmas season, the other being orange cake, the recipe for which Jane told us about here in December. So thank you too, Jane, it was simply delicious, moist, and by switching the sugar to Xylitol, can claim it’s sugar free, fat free, and great for me ­– flour free.

An aside to all this is, because of the change in our eating habits and because I had to help Dave as much as I could, I have managed to lose a little weight. As Dave is determined not to go back to his old ways the diet changes remain in place, hopefully more of my extra poundage should continue to shrink. A new me for 2017, starting with a change of hairstyle. For many years I’ve kept my hair short but never liked it, so I’ve been growing out the layers. At the moment it’s untidy and the style wanted not there yet but, like spring,  it’s well on its way.

2017-02-01-11-51-43I’ve also taken a big plunge and booked a table at a local arts & craft fair in June, to show and (hopefully) sell some of my paintings (and a few copies of my book, with luck!). This will be a difficult day for me as I’m shy and nervous among strangers when “on display”.  Plus, I’ve entered a few competitions, with the hope of winning a painting holiday abroad (something I would love to do), and I’ve entered one of my works into a national painting competition. My fingers  are crossed, but not too much else I shan’t be able to hold my paintbrush for the next one.

On top of all this, I’ve been busy editing a novel for a client and am busy proofing my own next bestseller (she says, laughing) whilst knuckling down to working on the other books waiting in the wings. So all in all, this gal’s been on a roll and doesn’t intend stopping. Not yet anyway.

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Détourné… Fouetté… Say what?

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Toward the end of last year, I kept hearing about a goal-setting system that women around the world seemed to be raving about. A great believer in metaphysical arrows, and having far too many signs urging me to take a … Continue reading

Motivation

Whilst out on my usual walk, which I’ve shown pictures of at times, I was musing the word motivation – as you do! I really had to force myself out on a cold, frosty morning but as there is more of me than when I fell ill I must exercise regularly and regain my fitness levels.  Thing is I have never been “an athlete”.  I set off reluctantly but pretty soon got into my stride and looked around at the winter landscape.  Frosted spiders’ webs, frozen plants and trees then the sun came out and transformed it all into a beautiful winter scene.  My spirits lifted, I was glad I had come out and enjoyed the walk which offered such a contrast to the other seasons I have enjoyed doing it.  Dog walkers and other people all speak so it becomes a sort of social event too.  Dogs always greet me (I’m not going to analyse that one!) and their owners always have a conversation.  This lengthens the time taken but adds so much too.  I arrived home feeling warmer, healthier and ready for a cuppa! Job done!

Motivation is an odd phenomenon.  Some people seem to have no problem, seem driven at times. The only time I really pushed myself hard was during my years of studying part-time for a degree whilst working full-time in a stressful job, two of my children were still living at home and my husband though very helpful had his own stresses.  Thinking back to those times I realised that if one has a goal that is important for whatever reasons one works hard to achieve it.  Finding ways to push on despite feeling despondent and exhausted. In the wider context I realised too how cushioned I am and have no real pressure to do it other my own desire.  It did change my life but every day people all over the world have to push themselves to their limit and beyond just to survive.  I am going to end this thought process now as it will become boring to read and too long for the blog.  I would love to hear how you motivate yourselves to achieve your goals.  No need to climb the highest mountain or come up with something to save mankind – I am veering  too close to politics now!  I hope this ramble of thoughts is understandable as you’ve all guessed I was struggling to motivate myself for this blog!

One result of my first degree was the opportunity to do another degree – a Masters Degree in History of Art Venice and Europe.  I had just turned 50, took early retirement from my job and flew off to Venice for 10 weeks (the first term).  I knew hardly anyone, most of the other students were 25 years younger than me and I was terrified.  The following two terms were in Warwick University, back in the UK, but my young friends supported me and I them.  The time in Venice was one of the best in my life, it changed my outlook on life and remains a continuing source of pleasure.  In February I am flying to Venice with my niece, Rhiannon, who has featured in some of my fun times I’ve shared with you previously.  This will be her first visit but not her last I am sure.  It may be my last but we will make it memorable.

To end I share a motivational post with you.Relax

Last 2016 Project

I seem to do the same thing with time and accomplishments as I do with money. That is, at the end of the year I think where did it go. At one point when I was down about not getting anything done, Laurie suggested I do a ‘did it list’ to go along with my always ‘to do list’. Does it sound like I’m a list maker? Big time, sometimes I think I have lists for lists. 🙂

Okay I’m regressing here.   I do make daily lists, but a few years ago I put the major things down for the year. Looking back on 2016 I didn’t do so bad. I even got in 3 really great trips. Now, just to make it clear I’m not talking about ‘making this world a better place’ type of accomplishments though I hope I leave it a little better than if I hadn’t been here. This is secular type things, (ie. Trips, new furniture, etc. ).   So this fall I got the itch to do one last project for the year. As many of you know I moved into this place in January 2013 and it was pre-owned. Even though it had some nice upgrades I wanted to changes some things.

One thing was to re do the master bath. Take out the white, poorly laid tile shower, and put in granite or quartz bathroom counters. Now this is a small room so I thought hey how big a job can it be.   “Silly me.”

#1. It was expensive. I wanted a solid material to replace the tile and a pony type wall so I don’t need to clean water spots off glass. I settled on a material called Piedrafina. It pretty much is to marble what quartz is to granite. The main thing is the ease of maintenance (cleaning).

#2. It isn’t a fast job. They scheduled two weeks. At the end of three everything was still a mess.

#3. It was messy. They should have put up plastic for shields. They didn’t and I had a layer of dust over everything. They cut material in the garage, what a mess.

#4. There was missed communication.   The model shower in their showroom had a pony wall with wrap around Piedrafina. It turned out they designed mine with a sheetrock wall on the one side. And, they didn’t allow for it to be finished. When the job was done I had an exposed sheetrock wall open at the bottom showing the studs. I hadn’t intended to paint until next year but that changed. Thankfully I hired a separate painter who is fantastic. He not only painted the bath and bedroom he cleaned and painted the garage.    🙂 🙂

The last project of the year, that started out to be a medium sized one, turned into a major headache.   It will take a few months before I’m ready to even think of the next one. Well that is except for our trip to Jamaica that’s different.   Maybe I should just plan a year of travel and let house projects sit for awhile.

The pictures don’t do it justice. But it gives an idea of what it looks like.

 

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