Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - A Year in Review

It's always fun, and nostalgic, and interesting to reminisce about what you have done over the past year - the changes that have taken place in the family, our casa, and my life.  2011 was a particularly busy one for our family and me in particular, so there were fewer house projects and craft projects accomplished and more travel and family events that took place.  

So here's the run-down:

There are now six people in our family - and no I didn't have a baby - we now have a lovely daughter-in-law.  In May we celebrated our oldest son, Malcolm's marriage to Christie in a charming, simple, relaxed wedding (which you can read about here and here).

One of the things I enjoyed about the wedding was that Christie asked me to do the flowers.  It was a steep learning curve, but it was wonderful being able to contribute in such a creative way to the wedding.  The bouquets turned out just as I had envisioned them and best of all Christie loved them.  (You can read more about making the bouquets here and the centerpieces here)

The other big news in our family was that my husband's siblings contacted him for the first time in fifty years.  Being adopted, he had not seen four of his siblings since he was a toddler so it was wonderful and surprising to meet his siblings after all these years.

Framed copies of photos I gave my husband for Father's Day of him as a toddler with his parents

And finally this was the year that hubby and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  One of the things I did to celebrate was to make a photo album that highlighted the main events for every year we were married (you can read about it here).  It was a surprisingly difficult task to piece together what we did each year.

Front page from the anniversary album I made 

This was a big travel year - I think I traveled 13,000 kms in total.   There was gorgeous France (which you can read about here and here),

busy Bangladesh (you can read more about what I did there in these posts here, here, here, here, and here), 

and amazing India (which you can read about here and here).

Given all the other things that I did this year, I didn't really accomplish too many home decorating or crafts projects, but what I did do I loved.

I wanted to pretty up the back of the open kitchen shelves so I painted a piece of foam-core board using some of the leftover gray paint from the lower cupboards (you can read about it here and here).  I've enjoyed decorating the shelves with yellow accents in the fall, 

and red accents at Christmas time.

In November, I made several different containers to package baked goods and give them to family and friends over Christmas (you can read about them here)

For Christmas I used a red Sharpie to decorate some dollar store plates that we hung above our sideboard (which you can read about here).

I decorated the sideboard in different ways throughout the year  - there was the snowy winter sideboard, the global trends fall sideboard, and the red-and-white Christmas sideboard.

The mantel also got changed-up with each passing season or holiday - there was the Valentine's Day mantel, the beer bottle inspired mantel, the Steven and Chris inspired summer mantel, and the Christmas mantel.

In January, I not only got to be in the same room with Sarah Richardson and Tommy Smythe and tour the rooms they had designed for the Interior Design Show (you can see the photos here), 

but I got to stand outside of the house they were decorating for Sarah's House 4 (you can read about it here).  I know, I know - Sarah and I are practically best buddies!

2012 seems like a calmer year with no major events scheduled to happen.  It's fine in my books though, as sometimes years like that are just what one needs after such a busy year.

One of my great pleasures in life these days is all the support and encouragement I have received through this little ol' blog of mine.  It has far surpassed my wildest expectations I had when I first began it.  January 1st is my two year blogging anniversary and I'm thrilled with all the people I have met, the inspiration I have found, and the things I have learned.  Here's to another fine year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WISH Wednesday #11

We're not really big New Years Eve celebrators, but nevertheless when I saw this picture I just thought it was so darn cute I had to post it for my WISH Wednesday photo (Weekly Inspiration for a Seasonal Home).  

If I was to have a New Years party that involved doing some amazing party decorating then this would totally be it, but seeing as we will probably be hanging out with the kids, eating lots of food, and watching movies, then I doubt I'll be making them.

Since this is the last WISH Wednesday of the month I've made a collage of all the previous posts from this month.  December was a fun month to find inspirational photos for with all the Christmas pictures out there.  I do find it interesting how few of the photos I selected used traditional Christmas colours.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

Today is Boxing Day - the quiet day of the holidays.  My plans for the day include eating leftovers and Christmas goodies, reading magazines, and perhaps even watching a movie.  It's definitely a lounge day for me.  Christmas was a lot of fun, but is also a lot of hustle and bustle so it is nice to take time to relax afterward.

Here's a little Christmas recap.

Every year on Christmas Eve day we do something together as a family.  Usually we go to the museum or art gallery or science centre, but we felt like we had already been to all those places fairly recently so we had to think of something new and different to do.  So this year we went to Chinatown in Toronto for a visit.  

To make it a special outing I thought we should put a little Christmas spin on it by doing a gift exchange.  Everyone was given $20 and had to buy a present for everyone else in the family (including Malcolm and Christie who weren't with us this Christmas because it was their turn to be with Christie's family - boo hoo).   

We went in pairs and spent an hour poking around the little shops in Chinatown looking for just the right treasure for each person.  Then we met up and went for some lunch at a Chinese restaurant and exchanged presents.  

Gifts ranged from the funny to the frivolous.  You better believe that one of these little bouncy toys will be going to Halifax with Kate after Christmas.

And someone I know will be kept busy with this highly entertaining chicken feeding game.

And then there is the strange fruit that William got for me.  Not only is it heavy and painful to hold with all the spikes, but the waitress at the restaurant told us it stinks when you open it.  I forget what the fruit is called, but I'll let you know what we think when we taste it along with the other unusual fruit I was given.

We were home in time for me to take my time setting the table and snapping some photos.  I love that moment of quiet before the hubbub of dinner and church.

We used our new tablecloth that I bought when I was in Bangladesh this past summer.   It's more pink and orange than a true red, but the colours are so vibrant and so close to red that it all seems to mix together well.  

I even had time to get a shot with some Christmas bokeh before the daylight was gone.

We finally got to taste the tourtiere that I made with my friend Kim (you can find the recipe here).  It was delicious - just the right amount of seasoning.  I will definitely have to start a new tradition of making my own tourtiere every year.  

After dinner we lit the candles in the living room so we could cozy up and read our favourite Christmas stories aloud to each other and enjoy a slice of yule log.

This was probably the wonkiest yule log I have made.  I think I even rolled it the wrong way as it was almost too long for the platter. Fortunately by the time I dusted it with "snow" and put the plastic axe in it and dimmed the lights nobody noticed or cared that it had been a nuisance to ice and really was a botch job.

Christmas day starts much later now that the kids are older.  My parents and my sister joined us Christmas morning and we opened stockings and presents starting at about 9:30.  

Afterward we had a festive lunch.  The table was loaded with meats and cheeses and fancy breads and decorated with Christmas crackers and the two new salt-and-pepper shakers I was given by hubby.  

Christmas dinner was at my Aunt and Uncle's home in Toronto, but I didn't take a camera so there are no photos this year.  

I hope you had a lovely Christmas.  Are you putting your feet up today or do you have family parties still to attend?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to You and Your Family

The gift of love. 
The gift of peace. 
The gift of happiness. 
May all these be yours at Christmas

I think this video of Jackie Evancho singing Silent Night is just heavenly. Maybe everyone has already seen her sing it, but just in case I wasn't the last one to crawl out from under a rock and discover Jackie - here it is!  Take a moment to sit and savour the beauty of the Christmas message in Silent Night.

I'm wishing you all a lovely Christmas.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Tree is Trimmed

Finally!  We were waiting for Kate to get home from university to decorate our Christmas tree so this past weekend we did our thing.  

I want you all to know that procrastination pays.  I saw lots of trees being sold for $35 and we got ours for $20.   The other part of that is that we have a fairly wonky tree.   It was all bundled up when we bought it so I had no idea what it looked like until we got it home and unwrapped it.  We then were able to see that it has a flat side, a hole part way down one side, and had an uneven bottom - until I pruned it that is (you can see the difference from the first to the second tree photo on the bottom righthand side).

We always have hors d'oeuvres for dinner when we decorate the tree.  It seems to be just the motivation that is needed to get teenage boys to think decorating a tree is a fun activity.

We had many new decorations to add to our collection this year which is always exciting.

There were some jute bell ornaments that I bought in Bangladesh this summer.

Kim and Paul, my friends that I traveled through Bangladesh and India with, surprised me last week by giving me this ornament that they bought at the Khan Market in Delhi.  Isn't it the prettiest and the design looks so Indian.  I'm tickled pink to have an ornament from India as I didn't get myself one when I was there.

I even hung the little bag it came in on the tree - can you blame me?  How cute it that!

When we were at the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District a few weeks ago there was a booth selling food and ornaments from the Netherlands.  I bought myself this Delft blue-and-white ball and am excited to finally have an ornament from the Netherlands - only 35 years after I was an exchange student there.

We always get the kids an ornament every year representing something from their interests or what they have done during the past year.  William has worked hard all year learning both the acoustic and electric guitars.  He performs at church every Sunday and even did a solo last week.  Naturally, we got him a little guitar ornament - well actually two of them since he has two guitars.  

Kate is going to University at King's in Halifax and loves it.  King's is the oldest English-speaking university in Canada and Kate always says it is like going to school in Hogwarts.  They even wear academic gowns to dinner once a month.  So it seemed fitting to get an ornament that looks like Hedwig the owl from Harry Potter.  

This sweet little ship made of words fit with the maritime location of Halifax so it had to come home with us too.  Kate and I hit a 50% off sale at Anthropologie so that is where we bought her ornaments.  

I also Christmasified the shelves in our kitchen.  Since the kitchen is open to the dining room and I used red and white on the sideboard I wanted to carry the same colours onto the shelves.  I also wanted to add a few sentimental things from our travels.

The house tin is from our French friends and I taped a little wreath to it so the tin family could celebrate Christmas too.  The two little jute bells are from Bangladesh, but didn't get put on the tree because I liked how they tied in with the red on the sideboard and the orange on the house tin.

The two little glasses on the left come out every year as they were bought in England the year we celebrated Christmas there.  

Only a few more sleeps left until the big day.  We still have some wrapping to do, but will tackle that tomorrow night.  In the meantime I'm wiping my drippy nose and using lots of this so the rest of the family doesn't get my nasty cold.  

Are you almost ready for the big day?