Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

When speaking about the genesis of his song “Here Comes the Sun”, George Harrison said, “It seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it.” The same can be said for Ottawa, especially this year. We had our first snowfall in November, and it just kept coming in record numbers. We’d clean up from one storm and another would come along. Add in frigid temperatures, and it was no wonder so many Ottawans wanted to hibernate. We cheered when Wiarton Willie, the famous Ontario prognosticator, predicted an early spring, but it seemed like a distant dream.

Even in the past few weeks, as the Sun has gotten warmer, and stronger, the cold temperatures have continued. It’s the time of year when you bundle up, and then overheat when you get indoors because the heat’s still cranked up. Or, you’re fooled by the warm sunlight and take your gloves off, and then the cold breeze comes along and forces you to put them back on.

Although I haven’t been posting much this winter, I haven’t been a sluggard with my writing. I finished my first novella in January, and while it didn’t get picked up in the call for submissions, I’m still proud of myself that I actually saw it through to the end. I’m currently working on a more sscience-fiction-type book that I’d started a number of years ago. It’s all very rough, but I’m having fun working my way through the story.

Since the start of Lent earlier this month, I’ve been journaling my day. Someone had mentioned the “roses and thorns” method, so I’ve adapted that a bit. I make a note of the weather and the big news story of the day. Then I outline my “roses” (good things that happened), “thorns” (bad or at least not-so-great things), and “buds” (things in progress). I haven’t missed a day yet, and I hope it’ll help me keep track of things. I just hope I haven’t jinxed myself!

I’ve also been participating in POPSUGAR’s 2019 Reading Challenge as a way to expand my bedtime reading. Every time I finish a book, I post a photo of the book and a description to both my Instagram account and my Facebook page, so check them out. You may find something you’ll want to read for yourself!

And at last, today is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, which means that (astronomical) spring is finally here. 12 hours of day, 12 hours of night. The Sun is back, baby.

Ol’ Helios has his work cut out for him. It will take a lot of work to melt the snow and ice covering our lawns and fields. And then everything will be as bedraggled as a dog straight out of the bathtub. Lord knows when we’ll start to see the first flowers or leaves.

But the cardinals are singing in the morning, marking their territory. The starlings and the herring gulls are back. You know it’s been a long cold lonely winter when you’re glad to see the pests back! People seem to be a bit more light-hearted, almost as if we’ve has ice in our hearts that is now slowly melting too.

It may snow tomorrow. It may snow the next day. (I’m not being a Cassandra, it’s in the forecast) But it’s all right.

The Great Christmas Bake-Off Part 2

In following to my previous post about holiday baking, I figured I’d post an update on the Swedish cakes recipe. It’s one I inherited from my late mother-in-law, one she collected from an old friend. The recipe card notes that it’s GOOD. And she was right. The recipe turned out very well, though it’s low yield: I had enough to make 2 dozen, which is a smaller quantity than I’m used to for a cookie recipe. The recipe is called thimble cookies or thumbprint cookies because you make a dent in the cookie dough to hold jam or jelly. I used seedless raspberry jam. And you can roll them in sugar or walnuts. I tried each kind, but didn’t do as many in walnuts because not everyone in the family is a fan.

The result does look like eyeballs from Aardman Animation if you put them in pairs. So they’d be good for Hallowe’en parties. A note, though, they also don’t travel exceptionally well, particularly if they get turned on their side….you may end up with jam all over.

But in the end, it was a relaxing project, and not too much work  which was exactly what I wanted. Mission accomplished!


The Great Christmas Bake-off

There’s a new article in the Atlantic about whether baking can reduce stress and anxiety. Now, I’ve been baking since I was a child, and I can vouch that it entirely depends on the complexity and your comfort with the recipe. A batch of cookies and a cheesecake do not compare. Guess which I’ve made more often?

I’m a huge fan of baking shows like the Great British Bake-off (and its Canadian spinoff). I find them very soothing. One, because the contestants and hosts are all genuinely nice to each other. Two, because it’s amazing to see the contestants attempt to make the most complicated recipes I’ve ever seen. And three, it shows how long things actually take to bake. None of this souffl√© in 20 minutes nonsense.

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A Canada Day compromise

Ottawa is broiling today. According to the Weather Network, it’s 33 degrees Celcius, with a Humidex reading of 45. We’ve been under an Extreme Heat Warning since Friday. While there’s a breeze, there isn’t much relief from the blazing sun. They said on the news last night that today is projected to be the hottest Canada Day since 1963.

Thankfully, we don’t have to go anywhere today. My husband’s on duty this weekend, which means that he has to keep his eye on his work email and be prepared to go to work on his laptop if needed. It’s been quiet so far, but one never knows. Still, it puts the kibosh on making any big plans for the weekend. But the heat and humidity have clinched it.

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Copyright Jessica Allyson 2018