My First ATESL Presentation

Today from 10.00-11.35, Tamara and I gave a presentation at the annual (and this year virtual) ATESL Conference. Our topic was how to make communication easier with staff and students using SharePoint and Google sites. I know what you’re thinking: 🤨😐😴 On the contrary, it seemed to be well received by all 87 attendees. There were a lot of questions and they enjoyed the brief demos we did.
This was my first time ever doing something like this and I have to admit it went really well. We didn’t have any technical issues (which was our biggest fear). Hooray! I’m afraid I don’t have any pictures to share, but you can look at the presentation PDF. At some point there will be a video available to watch (should you have nothing better to do or can’t fall asleep 😄) and I’ll post the link here.

Thanksgiving 2021

Today we had our Thanksgiving dinner as is our tradition. It gives us a chance to recover the next day without having to be at work or school.

I put the turkey in at 8 this morning because I wanted to make sure it was cooked in enough time for Miranda to eat with us and digest everything before going to work tonight. Stuffing was put together last night and the desserts were made yesterday afternoon (pumpkin pie, pumpkin tarts and pumpkin cheesecake bars). It’s pumpkin-tastic! We had some cubed sweet potatoes with sprouts, corn, and carrots. Of course we had gravy and cranberry sauce. We had some diet cranberry gingerale with our meal and darjeeling tea with dessert. Even Murph got some turkey and sprouts.

Before lunch, I managed to get in a 14km bike ride on the trainer while watching Perry Mason and Simon followed with short ride of his own. Everything turned out just great, except the weather. It went from hail to rain to snow all with a gale force wind within a couple of hours.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ian’s 14th Birthday

Today Ian turned 14! Wow! In a couple of years he will be learning how to drive. ❤️

He actually got up fairly early this morning – before 7.30. I guess the hubbub around the place got him out of bed (or maybe Murph kicked in the door and yelled at him again this morning).😼 Ian actually was worried about the timing of everything this morning. he wanted to make sure he got up in enough time (before our workouts and the start of work) to open presents.

Before his breakfast, he opened his cards and gifts (Miranda’s are by far the most impressive, I think) and then he and Miranda went to a local playground. At 10.30 Baba and Grandpa (Marson) called him and the 4 of them had a good chat over Skype. Grandpa (Biickert) and auntie Stephanie will be Face-Timing later this eve.

Supper was from the Pita Basket in Crowfoot. He had the chicken shawarma plate with a Mountain Dew. We got extra roasted potatoes for garlic sauce. Mmmm. After that we had his cake which was made and assembled over 2 days: a Black Forest Gateau with kirsch-soaked cherries. Miranda was a great assistant. Thank you. 💜

Happy Birthday Ian! I hope it was everything you had hoped for.

Coop Summer Sips

A week or so ago I got an email from Coop inviting me to join a virtual cocktail making class through zoom. I subscribe to coop for deals and special events. I decided why not. It’s a Thursday, but the clincher was the elderflower liqueur ingredient. So tonight was thew night. it started at 7 and went until around 8.30. the ere were 4 recipes on the list and i got the ingredients. simon joined m. the 3 that we made were the ;peach mint julep, the strawberry lemonade mojito,. and the elderflower one. I don’t like campari, so we didn’t make that one. I preepped a lot before then and did some shopping for it. it was a lot of fun. there was no sound at first, but then that was fixed. We started wayth the julep because it had to soak for 15 minutes. we moved onto the mojito which is not simon’s favourite because he doesn’t like the herbal mint flavour. After that we went back k to the julep and finished making it. Thwe last one we did was the elderflower one which was really excellent,lent. I knew it would be be aus ei love elderflower. The surprising one was the julep. I donor’ like them much. but this peach one was good. Simon also chopped some cheed and meat and crackers for us to try sn counter the booze. It was great!~ There was a bonus recipe of iced coffee with baileys and I think i might try that one. The elderflower was the best and the julep was second best. I like my mojitos sweeter and Iuse malibu instead of plain white rum. I hop[e they do more of these. I don’t get hosed often but right now i can’t feel my findgers or legs.


Surprisingly we didn’t have a hang over this morning. I guess the thunder storm at 1.30 this morning shook it out of us. I won’t say that I don’t feel tired and was a little stiff getting out of bed, but no headache.

I’m attaching the recipes for the cocktails here. We didn’t attempt the Tequila Fresca one, but we might in the future (without Campari).

Happy 48th Birthday Simon

Today is Simon’s 48th birthday, but he had to work instead of spending the day cycling. It was the annual Tech Trek just online this year, so he couldn’t skive off. To give him the luxury resort feel, he was given a basket of assorted mini-muffins and then a meat and cheese plate.
He started the day with a 48km ride on his rollers followed by a special breakfast. I made an all-dressed bagel topped with a savoury cream cheese concoction, basil, red onion, cucumber slices, prosciutto, a poached egg, and chives. The side was a selection of fresh fruit and a glass of OJ. (We won’t mention the coffee – it wasn’t a hit, so we’ll not get that brand again.)
I grilled some salmon for supper with a green salad and garlic toast. His chosen birthday meal was last night – pizza from Mitillini’s. The pièce de resistance was the mega-chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream. It truly channeled the Chocolate Passion cake that white Spot used to sell years ago.
He also opened his prezzies after supper. He got a new beard trimmer extraordinaire, some rainbow sparkly handle bar tape, a roll of Cricuit rainbow sparkly vinyl, a T-shirt (when it gets shipped), an app for his iPad, and Diablo III for xbox.
Despite it being a work day and everything having to wait until after work, it all went well.
Happy Birthday my darling. 💚

Happy Birthday #5 Murphy

Today is Mr. Murphy’s 5th birthday. To mark the occasion I baked an orange chocolate chip cheesecake made with quark. (I had to make the quark because it’s not easily found over here.) The cheesecake has an interesting texture – I hope it firms up in the fridge.

Miranda made him a nippy bag with ‘neko’ (cat) in Japanese characters sewn onto it. He also got more foam balls to play with!

Happy Birthday Murphy cats. 💜🧡

The End of Term

I have to say this was probably my hardest term online since our very first one a year ago and I’m glad I have a 2 week break now! I had CLB 5a group which meant a lot of people who had just moved up from level 4 and were still in the high beginner/lower intermediate language bracket. We also had a lot of technology issues – many of them had only used cell phones and the concept of mouses and trackpads were foreign. Our first month was a crash course in how to navigate around a laptop as well as around the Office suite. I had a handful of very high-functioning students and I appreciated their patience when it came to constant repeats of everything.
I haven’t received my assignment for next term yet. Since Columbia College became Provincial LINC provider, we have added more upper level classes (7 and 8) which needed staffing. Unfortunately, that process is taking more time than expected as they try to juggle around current teachers and try to hire new ones. I threw my hat into the upper level ring after the head of the department asked for volunteers. Who knows what level I’ll get next term – maybe 5 again or maybe higher. I hope we hear next week so I can start prepping.

Trying a new baking tool

I got a couple of rolls of plastic cake collars a few weeks back. I was going to get a pre-sized metal one, but this idea sounded better because I could custom size it to my cakes (and it’s reusable, too).

Today I made a lemon sponge cake with layers of cream and lemon curd topped with candied lemon slices (they were too bitter). It turned out beautifully. Unfortunately, once it was cut it had a massive cream-alanche. I need to use more stable insides (like a mousse) next time.

5 Star Rating

Today has been a surprising day of accolades from students.
It started with a message from our administrative assistant in full time linc. 2 students had sent messages of thanks for my class and all the help and feelings of belonging it has given them. That was a nice way to start the day. It feels good to know you’re making a difference for someone.
Then at lunch the manager of student services sent around this email to the school entitled Google 5 Star Review :


I was just notified of a 5-star review left on Google and thought you would like to see it:

Séraphin Sonna

17 hours ago

I am really proud of my second term of learning English at Columbia College. I had the chance to meet Ms. Tammy Biickert who transmits with an unprecedented methodology. It’s very encouraging and I just have to say thank you to all the people who have so far helped me improve my English level and I promise to work tirelessly to deserve your work. Thank you again.

Thanks! Great job Tammy!

Huh! Wow! I didn’t know students left reviews for teachers or schools on Google, etc. I thought that was for other businesses like hotels and restaurants. 😄 Again it’s nice to hear that you’re reaching someone. 💐 Thank you for the thank yous.

Lynx Family

We’ve had a lynx, or two, come through our yard over the year, but today was something special. It all started with Simon saying that the hot tub house woman was taking a picture of the Hawthorne tree (in our next door neighbour’s yard) and the another neighbour out back was hustling to and fro. I couldn’t see a thing from our bedroom, but it turned out a mom and two baby lynxes were snoozing under our spruce tree out back. One of the kittens decided to meand around our front garden. (Murph saw this one as he was enjoying the front door being open. It was a high of 16 degrees today!) The other kitten decided to come onto our deck and Murph screamed blue murder. You should’ve seen his poofy tail!

Once it got dark the mom skulked off in search of food and a little later the kittens followed her (but not before they chased each other through the leaves in our back yard).

Here are some pics.