Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Project Recap

One of the things I like about New Years is taking stock of the year that is past and seeing how it went and what improvements should be made and goals should be set for the new year.  Now that 2012 is drawing to a close I had a look back at my project list (which you can see here) to see how I had done and was pleasantly surprised.  I was more productive than I remembered.

Let's see how I did:

SMALL HOUSE PROJECTS (defined as anything I can accomplish myself in a day or two and that costs less than $100):
1. Tidy and paint the front hall closet. DONE (you can read about the closet makeover and organizing here)
2. Edit and tidy the china cabinet and add paper to the back of the cabinet so the dishes stand out more. DONE (I did get this done as you can see in the photo below, but I never posted about it because the wallpaper wrinkled and warped in a terrible way so I have to fix it and then I'll post about it.  I love how much brighter it is though)
3. Edit and sort the craft things in the basement and the trunk. DONE (you can read about the one thing that helped me once and for all get the craft materials under control here)
4. Organize the spices. DONE (you can read about the spice cupboard makeover here)

Yay me!!!  Fist pump for getting them all done.

BIG HOUSE PROJECTS (defined as anything that involves getting my husband to help out, costs more than $100, or takes more than a weekend to finish):
1. En suite bathroom - frame the mirror, install new faucet, add a new counter, and a new light. FAIL
2.  Master bedroom - finish painting the walls, lengthen the drapes, fix the eyebrow window cover-up, edit the furniture, purchase and install a new overhead light. DONE (see photo below)
3. Kid's bathroom - add a new light, new taps, and a new counter. FAIL
4. Half-down bathroom - add a new light, new taps, and a new counter. FAIL
5. Paint/stain dining room table. DONE (see photos below)
6. Make a picture collage on the family room wall. FAIL
7.  Add beadboard to ceiling in family room. FAIL

Master bedroom makeover

Dining room table makeover
Accomplishing two out of seven big projects is pretty good in my books.  Most of the other projects will be rolled over onto my 2013 list. I also completed one project that wasn't on my list - and it was a big one.  Go me!  It took the help of most of the family to complete it, but we finished putting in a new front walkway and garden beds in September.

Front walkway makeover

1. Finish the France photo book. DONE - it took until February, but I finished it (you can read about it here)
2. Finish our son's wedding photo book. FAIL - hanging my head in shame
3. Learn to use my new camera that I got for Christmas - finish listening to the DVD, and take the camera off the auto setting which is all I have used so far.  FAIL - nothing, nadda, not yet
4. Visit Ottawa/Hull to see some of the places that my husband's ancestors founded PARTIALLY DONE (I was in Ottawa for one day when I went with my son to visit the university there on the March Break.  You can see a photo of it here).

I made good headway on some of the goals I had set for myself back in January, but I also completed a few other craft and gift projects during this past year that weren't on any lists.  In fact I finished more crafts and special gift projects than I had remembered - ten in total!  These included the following:

1.  Bed slat mantel art board (you can read about the Christmas mantel here)

2.  Beaded snowflakes (you can read about how to make them here)

3.  Carrot garden carrot cake (which you can read about here)

4.  Mason Jar Matchbox (you can read about how to make it here)

5.  Sweet dreams pillowcases (you can read about them here)

6. Easter-in-a-box (you can read about it here)
7.  Recipe Book (you can read about it here)

8.  Map Wall Art (you can read about it here)

9. Snowman Lab (you can read about it here)

10.  Date Basket Gift (you can read more details here)

I feel like I accomplished a lot this year - for me anyway.  I'm not the fastest at getting things done and I do work full-time so I'm happy when I get anything checked off the lists.  I'm working on my project list for 2013 which should be out soon.  

How did you do in 2012?  Was it a productive year or one of those years that got derailed?
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Linked to Top DIY Projects at Southern Hospitality

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Traditions 6, 7, and 8

So where did I leave off? Christmas tradition #1 was when we decorated the tree (here) and #2, 3, 4, and 5 were from Christmas Eve day (here), which leaves us at Christmas traditions #6, 7, and 8 from Christmas day itself.  

Christmas tradition #6
We wake up to over-stuffed stockings lined up along the sofa because they are far too full of goodies to hang from the mantel.  They are crammed with chocolate, an orange in the toe, and this year with specialty beers for everyone - except me as I prefer magazines to beer.  It was the first year that everyone has taken to liking beer so it was pretty much of a party on the sofa.  Note the brown bottle in the middle of the sofa - that was a bottle of mead that I bought for my son and was a big hit.  

Christmas tradition #7
After the gifts are opened we have our Christmas lunch that we look forward to all year with special breads and cheeses and sandwich meats and pickles and relishes ... mmmm!  There are Christmas crackers with funny hats and the dishes I bought at Loblaws and the festive red and pink tablecloth I bought in Bangladesh.

Christmas tradition #8
Then in the evening we go to my aunt and uncle's house for dinner along with many of my extended family. There are often 25 or 30 of us there. We eat a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding for dessert which my aunt always lights on fire.  After dinner we have a ruthless gift exchange complete with stealing the best gifts followed by a magic show as my uncle is a lawyer-cum-magician.  We always marvel over the magic tricks and try to guess how he does them even though we have seen some of the tricks many times.

By the end of Christmas day we are all tired and spend Boxing Day relaxing, reading, watching TV, and eating.  We've pretty much been doing that since Christmas day and now our house is a mess and we need to stop with the cookies and start with the vegetables.  Do you take a break after Christmas and spend time relaxing and dare I say it, indulging?
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions #2, 3, 4, and 5

We are a family that loves traditions at Christmas.  You can read about Christmas Tradition #1 here which takes place when we decorate the tree.  Christmas Tradition #2, 3, 4, and 5 all take place on Christmas Eve day.

During the day on December 24th we go on a family outing together.  We have done everything from the Royal Ontario Museum (which you can read about here) to Chinatown (which you can read about here).  This year we decided to go to the McMichael Art Gallery.  

There was a special exhibit of Tom Thomson's art as well as many of the Group of Seven paintings that we wanted to see.  I was especially struck by the skies in two of Thomson's works.  I can't get enough of the squiggles in the Moonlight painting

Tom Thomson, Moonlight, 1915, McMichael Art Gallery
and the bricks of colour in The Jack Pine painting.  I'm totally inspired to do some crazy skies when my art classes start back up in January.

Tom Thomson, The Jack Pine, 1916-1917, McMichael Art Gallery
On the evening of December 24th we eat tourtière for dinner (Christmas tradition #3). I made ours a few days ago using my friend's mother's recipe (which you can find here).  

We eat by candlelight using our Christmas dishes (bought at Loblaw's last year) and the beautifully painted winter napkin rings that my parent's brought back from a trip to Russia.

After the Christmas Eve church service we eat our bûche de Noël, aka yule log cake (Christmas tradition #4).  This year we went for the birch log look, but we have done a more traditional type of log on other years (here and here).  

We end the evening in the living room with all the candles lit and taking turns reading from our favourite Christmas stories and poems (Christmas tradition #5).

Among our favourites are Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Child's Christmas in Wales, The Good Little Christmas Tree, and Sam's Christmas Pud. The last one is a poem (which I have printed below) that took on new meaning this year.  The poem was written about the Peninsular War which lasted from 1808-1814, the same time period that Kate was representing when she was a soldier at Fort York this past summer (although a different war).  She spent many an hour polishing her musket (unlike Sam) and firing a cannon.

Sam's Christmas Pudding
by Marriott Edgar
It was Christmas Day in the trenches
In Spain in Peninsular War,
And Sam Small were cleaning his musket
A thing as he'd ne're done before.

They'd had 'em inspected that morning
And Sam had got into disgrace,
For when sergeant had looked down the barrel
A sparrow flew out in his face.

The sergeant reported the matter
To Lieutenant Bird then and there.
Said Lieutenant 'How very disgusting'
The Duke must be told of this 'ere.'

The Duke were upset when he heard
He said, 'I'm astonished, I am.
I must make a most drastic example
There'll be no Christmas pudding for Sam.'

When Sam were informed of his sentence
Surprise, rooted him to the spot.
'Twas much worse than he had expected,
He though as he'd only be shot.

And so he sat cleaning his musket
And polishing barrel and butt.
While the pudding his mother had sent him,
Lay there in the mud at his foot.

Now the centre that Sam's lot were holding
Ran around a place called Badajoz.
Where the Spaniards had put up a bastion
And ooh...! what a bastion it was.

They pounded away all the morning
With canister, grape shot and ball.
But the face of the bastion defied them,
They made no impression at all.

They started again after dinner
Bombarding as hard as they could.
And the Duke brought his own private cannon
But that weren't a ha'pence o' good.

The Duke said, 'Sam, put down thy musket
And help me lay this gun true.'
Sam answered, 'You'd best ask your favours
From them as you give pudding to.'

The Duke looked at Sam so reproachful
'And don't take it that way,' said he.
'Us Generals have got to be ruthless
It hurts me more than it did thee.'

Sam sniffed at these words kind of sceptic,
Then looked down the Duke's private gun.
And said 'We'd best put in two charges,
We'll never bust bastion with one.'

He tipped cannon ball out of muzzle
He took out the wadding and all.
He filled barrel chock full of powder,
Then picked up and replaced the ball.

He took a good aim at the bastion
Then said 'Right-o, Duke, let her fly.'
The cannon nigh jumped off her trunnions,
And up went the bastion, sky high.

The Duke, he weren't 'alf elated
He danced around trench full of glee.
And said, 'Sam, for this gallant action.
You can hot up your pudding for tea.'

Sam looked 'round to pick up his pudding
But it wasn't there, nowhere about.
In the place where he thought he had left it,
Lay the cannon ball he'd just tipped out.

Sam saw in a flash what 'ad happened:
By an unprecedented mishap.
The pudding his mother had sent him,
Had blown Badajoz off map.

That's why fuisilliers wear to this moment
A badge which they think's a grenade.
But they're wrong... it's a brass reproduction,
Of the pudding Sam's mother once made.

How do you spend Christmas Eve?  My post about Christmas traditions 6, 7, and 8 (from Christmas Day) is coming soon.

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Date Basket Gift Idea

I was behind schedule this Christmas and ended up with a bit of a scramble at the end so I didn't get a chance to post this gift that I made for our son and daughter-in-law.  In fact I was still putting it together late on Christmas Eve and didn't take photos of it until after Christmas.  

Money is tight for Malcolm and Christie right now as they are students and looking for a job so I knew that something practical that would help with the entertainment budget would be appreciated.  I found this picnic basket at a thrift shop in perfect condition with the original Pier One tags on it.  It didn't have any dishes in it which was fine by me since I know that Malcolm and Christie had some good quality plastic camping dishes they could use for picnics.  I wanted the basket so I could fill it with things that would help them to have some fun dates.


Here are the things I put in the basket:

Malcolm and Christie loved it and told me they will put it to good use.  

I could see making a date basket for an anniversary present or for Valentine's Day.  There are endless options of things to include depending on money and interests. Have you ever made anything like this?  What kinds of things would you include?
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Linked to WOW Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas House Tour 2012

I know I'm late inviting you in for a house tour this year.  I don't know where the time went, but I figure better late than never.  

Our front porch is decorated with extra branches that we cut from the bottom of the Christmas tree. I put them in pots on the front porch and tied them with some leftover ribbon that a friend at work gave to me. 

The only other new thing I have on the front porch is the Christmas tree tin I bought at the thrift store and filled with reindeer moss and little berries.  

Come on in and have a visit.  Let me show you around the living room.  There are lots of little vignettes including the miniature village on the cabinet.  I added the vintage toy car with the tree on top ... along with the extra dollar store tree ... and the extra dollar store presents ... and an inexpensive snowman.  You might say this is the cheap end of town.

I try and use mostly copper and golds and aquas in the living room as those are the colours in the carpet (although as you can see I am not rigid about it).  Our coffee table is decorated with a collection of favourites, including the books we read from on Christmas Eve.

The kitchen has a few decorations on the open shelves.  The wooden Christmas trees on the middle shelf are a family craft project I enlisted everyone to do this year.  I had everyone decorate a piece of wood that was cut from a window frame from my grandmother's house in Toronto.  I painted them all white and then provided red and silver paint markers.  There was a lot of protesting over the fact that I hadn't bought green, but I wanted a red and silver palette so I ignored their moaning.  They were actually good sports about it and chocolate rewards were given out afterward for their effort.

The dining room's sideboard was decorated with the spindle Santa's that were on the mantel last year (you can read about their story here) along with the plates I decorated last year with a red Sharpie (you can read about them here).

I also put a favourite little German wooden scene that my friend gave me centred on the sideboard (you can see the tree scherenshnitte I made at art class in the background of the photo below).

In the middle of the dining room table I have a few votive candles in ruby red dishes I found at the thrift store surrounded by fake snow and a few shiny baubles.

The Christmas tree is really a memory tree as every ornament has a story from our travels or interests.  I added some ribbon this year, but I'm not sure I love the effect - maybe it needed more than I bought.

The mantel you have already seen (here), but just so our tour is complete - here it is again.

Before you go I want to offer you the most requested drink at the craft party I had last week - a decaf latte with a french vanilla candy cane to stir it.  YUM!

I also made you a little beaded snowflakes and have it all ready to wrap up in the adorable paper bags that I won from a giveaway on Echoes of Laughter - thanks Angie!  I gave the same thing to some of the teachers I work with and taped the bag closed with red tape from IKEA.  I love the look.

I still have grocery shopping to do, tourtière to make, and a few presents to wrap which I will do tomorrow.  Our eldest son and his wife are coming over tomorrow evening and then the fun begins.
I want to thank all of you that took the time to read my blog all through the year.  May you have a wonderful Christmas with lots of rest, lots of good food, and time with your family.  

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