Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Memories 2015

Christmas came and went like a whirlwind in or household. We had a few days of school holidays to get organized before the big day and then traditions, food, family and merriment began !
I have to admit, I have been very poor at taking pictures this last few months.  Even though my camera has been on standby I have hardly grabbed it at all to capture family moments.  So, this past  week, I was determined to get several shots of Christmas 2015!
Christmas Eve:
Kevin makes homemade pizza every year on Christmas Eve.  Not very traditional, but absolutely delicious!!
I was in charge of making the table look "Christmassy" so I pulled out some cute napkins,  red and green paper straws and mixed up some apple/orange/cranberry drinks for everyone. 
After supper we went for a long walk with the doggie, hoping to get a good view of the full moon that was floating over the Christmas sky for the first time in 38 years.  We were not disappointed!

Once we returned home, I had a few last minute presents to wrap while the kids played around on the Google Santa Tracker.  Bryn, our oldest, still found it fascinating watching Santa travel across the world at such a rapid speed.   He had his travel Atlas out and was looking up capital cities and natural wonders in each country as Santa flew by!


Before bed we read our traditional Christmas Eve bedtime stories then took our yearly "new PJs in front of the tree" photo.
Wow.  My babies are getting so big!!

Christmas Day: 
The kids slept in until 8am on Christmas morning (another sign they are getting older!).  It took about 45 minutes to open our gifts and I think the kids were more than pleased with what Santa had brought them. Hubby did quite well for me too. I have several new baking tools and a new package of Tilda fabric.  I am quite excited to use all of these ASAP!
After breakfast, I set to work on a new recipe for Christmas Day dessert.  We were heading to Kevin's brother's for a family celebration and I was in charge of the sweets.  I found this recipe in the December edition of Country Living UK and I have to say, they tasted as good as they looked!
The kids had a wonderful time re-connecting with their 1 year old cousin and everyone enjoyed a huge turkey dinner with all of the fixin's. 
Boxing Day: 
On the 26th we loaded up the car and headed west to spend some time with my mother, sister and extended family. 
Casey, our beagle-shepherd mix, had so much fun playing with my sister's shepherd-lab mix, Bugsy. 

My mom enjoyed doing the "little things" with my kids including board games, snack-sharing and hair-drying. 

Gift-wise, we all were granted new hats off of my Mom's needles as well as gift cards, books, games and bottles of yummy tasting alcohol. 
Of course, we ate too much, had very little exercise and generally lied around on the couch for a few days. 
It was bliss. 
Now back to reality.  Home with laundry and jobs to do around the house.  However, I am doing my best to enjoy this week before I return back to school.  I'm reading, sewing, knitting and dog-walking as much as I can.  And really, I am feeling all the better for it.
No plans for New Year's Eve tonight, except dinner out with the family and a movie on Netflix with my dear, sweet hubby. 
Wishing you all the best in 2016.
I look forward to a healthy and happy 12 months ahead and I can't wait to share it all with you!



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wishing You and Yours.....

Well - tonight's the night!  It's Christmas Eve. The presents are wrapped, the new festive pajamas are laid out on the kids' beds, and my husband is about to start making our traditional Christmas Eve meal of homemade pizza
The next few days will be filled with several family parties made up of  food, drinks and merriment.  So luckily,  our  family is enjoying an afternoon at home - reading, playing the Wii, baking and sipping mulled wine  before the craziness begins tomorrow.

I am trying to enjoy every second of this festive season as well as the little things that make it special.
My daughter and made caramel corn this morning as we have every December 24th over the last few years. 


Kevin and I sipped Christmas tea while we watched "Love Actually" earlier this afternoon. And after our supper of pizza we plan on taking advantage of the very warm temperatures we are having her near Toronto (15 degrees Celcius!) and going on a long family walk before snuggling into our new pjs and watching "The Grinch."

We've kept present-buying to a minimum this year.  In fact the kids are each receiving 5 presents each over the next few days.
Truthfully, the kids don't want for anything.  They don't really need anything either.  So we picked up a few things that will excite them on Christmas morning, but nothing too expensive or earth-shattering.  A few of my girlfriends say they spend  thousands of dollars on their children  at Christmastime --- and it shocks me!

I guess we've never gone for the big "buy-it-all" style Christmas.  When we first married we didn't have the money to do it.  When we had our three  children in quick succession, we definitely didn't have any extra cash to splash-out on game consuls and American Girl Dolls.  So, since then, our children have never expected it. 

One of my friends said she would have  loved to have cut back this Christmas because her husband had gone back to school and there wasn't as much money coming into their home. 
However, she is too afraid to disappoint her children.
They NEED lots of gifts under the tree, she said. 
They'll be sad otherwise. 
Yikes.  So she has chosen to go into major debt over it. 
No thank-you.
That is definitely not what Christmas means to me!

And I hope our three children have learned this, too.
And I have a feeling they have.  In fact, one of them told me that they were glad that Aunt Stephanie had arrived yesterday  with a board game  as her gift for all three kids. 
"It's a gift we can all use together, Mommy!"

And isn't togetherness what Christmas is all about? 

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas Day!
Enjoy the food, friends and family.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Festive Girl's Day Out - Just Afton & I

The boys bought tickets to see Star Wars on its opening weekend months ago.  Afton, my 9 year old daughter, and I had absoutely no interest in seeing the film.  

But what would we do instead|?  
It took no time at all to decide to visit a new-ish cafe near our home and check out its delectable wares.  

Saving Thyme is a French style patisserie that serves breakfast, brunch and lunch.  We arrived at 11:30 and caught the tale end of the breakfast/brunch service.   
We began our meal with an almond latte for me and a hot chcolate for my daughter.  She has enjoyed many a hot chocolate in her lifetime and she decided immediately that this was was the best she had EVER had!  Creamy, frothy, chocolately and not too sweet - it was perfect in every way!

The cafe is decorate in subtle shades of grey and white, with a few flourishes of silver.  The chandeliers twinkled and just a few festive accents were needed to add some Christmas sparkle to the space.  

For brunch I ordered my all-time favourite breakfast food - Eggs Benedict.  This one was served on a slightly browned biscuit with maple-glazed ham and the most perfect poached egg.  And the Hollandaise sauce was to DIE FOR! I am pretty sure I could have drank mugs of the stuff .

Afton enjoyed a poached egg sandwich with crispy bacon, old cheddar and  mustardy sauce.  She gobbled up every bite.  

Of course, being a patisserie, we weren't leaving until we had tried some of the sweets in the glass case near the counter.
Afton has a real thing for French macaron and immediately chose a raspberry flavoured one and a "birthday cake" flavoured one. 
She says they tasted as good as they looked!

And for me?  A lemon tart.  The crust was flaky, the filling creamy and the meringue "marshmallowy."  PERFECT!

Afton and I agreed  that we'd be back to this cafe as soon as possible.  We might bring Grandma next time, or maybe even her brothers.  We'll see.  We've got two weeks of holidays ahead us.  Maybe we'll return twice more!!

The boys would be out at the movies for a few more hours so we weren't in any hurry to get home.  So we headed next to a huge greenhouse/furniture store nearby to check out the festive decor.

Only in Canada do we add toboggans, ice skates and hockey sticks to our decorative urns!!

You gotta love a big old traditional tree in a subtle festive colours!

I totally fell in love with this pillow.  I very nearly bought it until Afton convinced me I could make one on my own quite simply.  Maybe I'll add one to the list of things I make for Christmas 2016!

Here's another "Canadian -style" urn - this one with snowshoes sticking out of the middle!
See the little guy sticking out of this pot?  I've been eyeing him each time I have dropped by this shop.  Finally, this time, I bought one of my own and he is adorning the pot outside our front door.

 Wow! I can't believe Christmas will be here in 5 sleeps!  We have friends or family visiting each day until then so plenty of eating, drinking and general merriment will be happening around here.  

How are your final days before Christmas shaping up?
Still baking?
Still wrapping?
Still gift-buying?

Well, whatever you are doing, do it with love and joy.
Everything we do this time of year should be a source of enjoyment - not a source of stress, right??



Friday, December 18, 2015

Today I Am Guest-blogging Over at.....

Hey! Happy Friday everyone!
Just a quick note to let you know that I am guest-blogging over at Gem's Country Life Dream today.
I've known Gem over the internet for a few years now and had the pleasure of meeting her this past March while I was in the UK.
I am pleased to be sharing a delicious cookie recipe with all of her readers. 

Please pop over and have a look.
I know she would love it if you left a comment and became one of her followers, too!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
One week to go!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Few More Festive Flourishes I stopped.
Cold turkey.
Today the decorating ended.  Today I hung my last sprig of greenery and created my last festive vignette. 

I adore adorning our home for the festive season and I have a huge collection of items that I like to display each year.
However, I decided, with just under 2 weeks until the big day, that it was time to put the half-filled bins back in the basement and just enjoy the bits and bobs that I have already added to our home.

I circled the house with my camera in hand a captured a few shots of my favourite parts. 
I hope you'll enjoy a little gander at our little piece of Christmas Land. 

This little dude turned 7 today!  I cannot believe my baby is 7!!

I'm not usually a "glitter girl," but I seem to make allowances at Christmas!!

I made a set of these quilted ornaments (below) back when I was in high school.  I remember thinking, "I hope some day I get to watch my own children hang these on our family's Christmas tree." 
And, still, annually, I am blown away by the fact that I do have a family of my own and we enjoy trimming the tree each and every year. 

I have 2 more small hoops to add to this wall arrangement below, but they are not quite finished yet.  I hope to have them done this week, but if not, they'll wait to next year. 
I don't have the energy to stress about unnecessary things like that!!

Oh dear.  This was only half of the pictures of our home that I wanted to share.  There might be another post with Christmas decorating at the end of this coming week.
Are you okay with that
I hope so!
Have a wonderful week everyone! Get your shopping and baking done and remember to take some time to drink mulled wine and watch a few Christmas films, too!