Category Archives: christmas

The Great Christmas Tree Debate (Help!)

Not the real vs. fake debate. We settled that a few years ago when we got rid of the old, basement-smelly thing we had before and started buying real trees from the SPCA (cheaper than adopting a cat, though more messy).

No, the debate before us today concerns decorating this tree.

You see, we had decorations. We had a big ol’ mish-mash of them, in fact. Paper ornaments, coloured lights, white lights, ornaments we’d picked up over the years. Wooden ornaments, rustic wool things, brightly modern plastic balls, classic gold balls from the first year after we got married, ornaments we received from friends or inherited from our parents…

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I think we were only half-done decorating in that picture… and don’t mind the mummy cat. That’s Mumford. It’s a long story. He’s cool, though.

And then the basement flooded last spring. Remember that? Well, my office wasn’t the only thing destroyed. The guys who did the clean-up (bless them) did a great job, but when the basement is full of plastic bins, it’s easy to miss a few that got water in them even though they looked like they were still sealed. And in this case, that was ALL of our Christmas decorations.

I didn’t know until a few months ago, when I went searching to find the reason why we were all getting itchy eyes from trips to the basement. I found the culprit in our bin of ornaments: thick, dark mould.

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Pictured: not the worst of it. I stopped taking pictures when I thought my camera was going to puke.

So I hauled that bin upstairs, cried a little, saved about five ornaments that I could wash and soak in bleach, and threw the rest (ornaments, four strings of lights, and a few other things) in the trash.

I thought that was the end of it, until last week, when I decided to re-construct my office walls. I found four more bins with mould in them. Three of them were the rest of the decorations we usually put up around the house.

Don't worry, Amy Snow is safe. The moose thing, not so much.

Don’t worry, Amy Snow is safe. The moose thing, not so much.

So.

All of this is to say that yes, I’m heartbroken. Physical things can be replaced, but there were a lot of memories wrapped up in those ornaments. But there’s no point whining and moaning about it, and there is one good thing coming out of this: It might take a few years to afford to do it all, but we get to start over.

Guys, I could have a tree with a THEME. I mean a theme like “Classic Christmas” or “Gold,” not “OIL AND OUR ECONOMY” or “MURDER ON THE F-TRAIN.”* I could aim for something that’s a bit more pulled-together than “whatever ha struck our fancy over the years” and “whatever we could grab on sale.”

Could be fun, right?

So this is my dilemma. What to do? When I stopped in at Canadian Tire yesterday (automotive and just so much more), I got a few ideas for options.

We could go fun and cute and child-centric, with trains and nutcrackers and bright colours and simple shapes.

I wouldn’t mind something grown-up and sophisticated, with gold and understated elegance. It’s not really me most of the year, but this would just make it that much more special. Like this, but less competently put together.

Red is always festive, and is nice with gold. And sparkles. I like sparkles…

Then there are really modern-looking trees, with blues and purples and spiraly shapes and shiny ornaments. Like this. Gotta love whimsy!

Or there’s the rustic look, which is also appealing: wood and burlap and woodland creatures**

Whatever we do, there has to be room for the Beatles, superhero, My Little Pony, and random “because I liked it” ornaments that we’re bound to pick up over the next few years.

So… I don’t know. Want to tell me about your tree, or your decorating philosophy, or other holidays you like to decorate for? If you had a fresh start for any kind of holiday decorating, what would you do?

*Also not “EMO VILLAGE” or “MY LITTLE OMBUDSMAN” or “WHY ISN’T UNCLE LEROY MOVING?” I’m good at coming up with themes, but this isn’t what I meant at all.

**Not real ones

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Holiday Wrap-Up

Helloooooo, lovely people! Did you all have a good week? We were away for a few days, so I have some catching up to do on blogs. I’ve also been distracted by a few Christmas gifts… *ahem*

I guess this is about it, isn’t it? End of the holidays, end of the year. It’s hard to believe 2013 is almost over. In some ways it was what I expected; in others, it’s been completely different, but I’ll be closing the books on what I consider to be a great year.

Looking ahead to next year… not yet. We’ll get there. It’s too scary.

So, what do we still need to wrap up here? Well, Amy Snow has gone back to the North Pole to relax after what was probably a stressful December with our family, so I’ll post the last few pictures. We came home from my in-laws’ house on the 28th and the kids were quite sad to see she’d left.

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Hanging out with the big man himself

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Playing a little Wii while we were sleeping, Amy?

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Snowflakes! Amy’s better at them than I am.

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of Amy on Christmas morning. She was wearing a lovely new dress that a friend of mine sent for her. To be fair, I didn’t get pictures of anyone else that morning, either.

We had a good Christmas. AJ was up at 4:30, but the kids slept until seven, and the dog slept even later. I got seven pairs of knee-high socks (pictures to come, they’re amazing). Even better…

I finally got a Kindle! So now I can read the 52 books I already had downloaded. Wheeee! I’ve already got through a few. VERY exciting. I don’t know if it’s the screen lighting or what, but I’m finding it more enjoyable to use than the Kobo. With the Kobo I can read the books, but I’m always conscious of the format. The Kindle seems invisible.

My family loved their presents, so that was good. I was nervous about one of AJ’s big gifts– I dared to go off-list.

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…because he IS the Brute Squad!

He loved it. Andre the Giant, The Princess Bride and cozy hoodie– what’s not to love?

We all got spoiled. And then off to the in-laws’ for ANOTHER Christmas and a few days of relaxing. Not too shabby!

Back to work now, though. I have a ton of work to get done in January to get this manuscript ready for editing. I still feel like chapters 2-4 (or maybe 5) aren’t right. It’s a small enough portion of the book that I know I can’t give up over it, but it’s driving me INSANE. It’s a pebble in my shoe. A cat-hair in my nose. An odour in my literary fridge that’s making me gag but I can’t figure out where it’s coming from.

UGH.

I will get through this. I will. The answer is out there, I just have to find it.

So… how was your week? What did I miss? Do you have big plans for New Year’s Eve, or will you be staying home like me, trying desperately to stay awake until midnight?


Happy Boxer… I mean, Boxing Day

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Golden Cobwebs: A Magical Poem from Childhood

We have a spider ornament on our tree because of this story, but I’d never seen it in poem form before. Lovely!


Progressive Deliciousness (and ROW80 Update)

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Ginger Crinkles

It’s baking day! In some homes this means hundreds of cookies and several recipes, laughter and songs and… I don’t know, Muppets? Elves? I’m not really clear on what other people’s traditions involve. In my house, I might make a few kinds of cookies, but only one at a time (and somewhat grudgingly). I made chocolate chip for the kids’ teachers last week (using the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, so I had Phoebe Buffay’s voice in my head the whole time).

 

Today, I’m making ginger crinkles.

They’re one of Santa’s favourites. I can’t guarantee that he’ll leave more or better presents if you leave these out for him, but it can’t hurt. And hey, even if they’re for your friends and not the big man himself, they’re fantastic. Gingery and yummy and soft, and they make your house smell FANTASTIC while they’re baking. Wins all around!

Simon (8) just tasted one for the first time this year. His initial reaction was “It’s nice… I guess I like it.” After another two bites, we reached, “MOM. My heart explodes when I eat these!”

Good review.

You want the recipe?  Here you go, with my own substitutions (original recipe calls for shortening, I used coconut oil):

Ginger Crinkles

Ingredients:

2.25 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp ground cloves
.25 tsp salt

1 cup brown sugar
.75 cup coconut oil (soft, but not liquid)
.25 cup molasses
1 large egg

white sugar for rolling

-Stir together first 6 ingredients
-In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except for white sugar) and beat well
– add dry ingredients to mixture, beating well (mine came out really crumbly today… don’t know what that was about, but it still worked)
-form 1″ balls of dough and roll in white sugar. Place 2″ apart on cookie sheet
-bake in 350 degree (F) oven for 15 minutes*

*Your oven may vary… mine has been CRAZY lately. Original recipe says 10 minutes. Bake until they’re getting brown on the bottom, anyway.

There you go. My gift to you. Enjoy!

Now, it’s Sunday, so that means…

ROW80 Update!

I guess this will be my last one for this round, unless I manage to post on Christmas Day. Wow. Well, I’d call this round a success. I won NaNoWriMo, but more importantly I finished a re-draft of the second novel in this series. I wrote most days, though not all. I’ve been slacking off a lot this month, but still edited and posted a story, something that wasn’t on my goals list, but I’m glad I did it. So far it’s getting some lovely comments.

Next round is going to be insane, but I’m trying not to think about that right now. Nope, as of right now it’s just deep breaths, get through Christmas, and hold off on worrying about all of that until the new year.

And then, presumably, freak out. That’s a sound business strategy, yes?

So, what have you been baking? Or buying? Or scraping off the soles of your shoes to serve to your guests? I won’t judge.


Amy’s Adventures- T’was the Week Before Christmas

Hard to believe it’s less than a week! Are you all ready? Bonus points if you’re laying low this time of year, come sit by me. I’ve been to exactly zero parties, and all the hustle and bustle is STILL too much for me.

Most of you know Amy Snow, our Elf on the Shelf substitute. She plays the same role, and though the boys appreciate the wonder of having a magical doll in the house, it doesn’t actually affect their behaviour (if anyone was wondering about that). I’ve been posting her adventures here once or twice a week instead of spamming you and Facebook every day. Here’s what Amy was up to this week…

She chilled with Shaun (from Shaun of the Dead), which my husband finds hilarious, given Amy’s past as a zombie. She actually spent two days up here this year, because the boys didn’t find her the first time.

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Merry Kiss-Moose!

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Me: Hey, Amy should do that. Like, fully clothed and adorable.
AJ: That’s not possible.
Me: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

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It was a fairly acrobatic week for Amy (especially since I forgot to move her post-Christmas Ball, and needed somewhere to throw her before the kids saw):

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She needed some time to reflect on Thursday. I know that feeling.

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Hanging out with the big guy himself. Man, I wish I could bend like that…

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I like that Santa. He has a book. Excellent.

So that’s it for now. Amy usually sticks around for Christmas morning (unlike most elves– I love not having to follow the rules!), so we’ll do another update then if there’s time, and then she’ll be gone for another year. Who knows what next year will bring? This one sure has been fun, though!

Now, I need to go figure out what to make for supper tonight. It’s our eleventh anniversary today, but AJ has to work until at least seven, so no going out for us.

I’ll see you all around next week. Don’t know how much I’ll be posting, but I’ll try to get around to visit my blog friends. Love you guys like candy cane ice cream.


Amy’s Adventures, December 14

“Saturdays. Saturdays are a SWELL day for some random adventures with a supposedly sentient ex-zombie doll!”
-Abraham Lincoln

“I should stop taking quotes off of Wikipedia.”
-Kate Sparkes

Amy Snow’s adventures continue below…

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My mother-in-law decorates her house so much more tastefully than I do mine.

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Zombie, meet corpse.

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Old friends and new clothes. Sweet!

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We put up the tree. Amy helped.

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AJ helped her find this hiding spot.

So… there you go. In the words of Marie Curie, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” (citation needed)


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