Archive for December, 2013

Monthly Archive

We turned our outdoor Christmas lights on two weeks early but put our Christmas tree up two weeks late. I’m sure that somewhere in the cosmos, everything evened out. And the fact that our tree leaned ever so slightly to the side just added to the charm of it … until a week later when Charles decided that it needed to be straightened – still charming, just more upright!

I started my Christmas baking on Dec 20th and finished it on Dec 24th. I had planned on finishing it on the 22nd, but an ice storm took out our power and kaiboshed our baking, and then I fell down the stairs that same night and so the 23rd was kaiboshed as well. But we needed cookies to leave for Santa, so we soldiered forward on the eve of his arrival! And in reality, that still left plenty of time to enjoy the treats. Although I’m going to admit that after realizing on the 20th that we were out of nutmeg and not being able to find our cinnamon, I substituted garam masala into the spiced nuts recipe, remembering that the internet told me the substitution the other way worked reasonably well. Reasonably well is about all I’ll give my substitution and I promptly replenished our nutmeg supply (and quadrupled my efforts to find our cinnamon, which I did find hiding in plain sight). Charles said they were still tasty. Every year I wonder if I really need to add coffee to the gingerpeople recipe, and every year I do because you just don’t mess with your Grandmother’s gingerpeople recipe! Although I didn’t do anything as drastic as attempt to substitute garam masala into that one, I did have to make one change this year when the cookie cutter passed down from my grandmother broke (for the second time) halfway through the batch. Thankfully ginger circles are just as tasty.


We got snow, and then rain (and then the aforementioned ice). We made snowbeings before Abby swiped and ate the carrot nose off one of them. Clearly we didn’t say Abby, no swiping! quickly enough! Evelyn’s mattress finally got a bed frame beneath it, so she’s now fully transitioned to a Big Girl bed. Although the bed rails stayed since she’s still quite the flopper when she sleeps and we don’t want her to transition back to the floor in the middle of the night. The crafts that I thought (hoped) would last for two weeks were used up in one, filling our door, our window, and our tree. Both girls took it upon themselves to rearrange some of the decorations on the tree, which lead to a few overloaded branches, but only one broken ornament. And no, that was not the original cause of the leaning tree. As part of our crafting extravaganza, I made a modelling clay gnome – surprise!

I didn’t quite hit my goal of finishing my Christmas shopping by December 1st, but I came really close. And I figure that the extra presents that I picked up in the two weeks that followed don’t really count towards that goal since they were extras, right? The wrapping still took until Dec 23rd, but we managed to avoid the fiasco of last year where we didn’t finish putting together the present from “Santa” until 2am on Christmas morning, and then couldn’t get it up the stairs from the basement. This year’s present was meant to stay in the basement since this year Santa brought the girls a drum kit. And yes, Santa is still on our Nice list. Two little guitars and a microphone were also found under the tree with the girls’ names on them so, with the little piano that they got lost year, we now pretty much have a complete band set. All we need is more kids to complete our band 😉 There was also another garden ornament under the tree with my name on it (not a gnome, but just as fun). I’ve decided to call her Petunia.



We took the girls skating for the first time, checked out the Wonders of Winter light display, and discovered the joy that is the Fireplace Channel. There was eggnog and rum, and my new personal addiction: warm apple cider. And, of course, there was the 12 Days of Starbucks, with an extra cup for Evelyn (even though we just put her rice milk in it). We may also be stretching the celebration by an extra day (or six).


I used to get really stressed out around Christmas time. I wanted to get everyone the perfect gifts, and not only did they have to be perfect, they had to be surprises. No lists of wants or likes to help me along, just me and my imagination. I felt that knowing what was under the tree took away from the joy of Christmas. After all, if everyone’s buying off of a list, then really you’re just trying to figure out who got you what. And what fun is that?

If I did find the perfect gift then I was thrilled, but far too often in my search for perfection I’d pass over gifts that would have made the recipient happy, certain that there must be something better out there, only to have to scramble at the last minute to get the gift I had spotted weeks before. I’m not a fan of crowded malls (it’s the fast walker in me, who resents having to dodge all the slowpokes) so that only added to the stress and general frustration. And the element of surprise went both ways – I didn’t give out a list either, so although some members of my family prefer to shop at the last minute anyway, they also had the added challenge of having to brainstorm ideas as they navigated the chaos of the malls.

A few years ago I realized that the stress I put on myself to try and live up to my own high expectations was sucking the fun out far more than lists ever could. And I’m sure my family was more than happy to also have the return of lists. Now we generally buy a mixture of items shortlisted by the recipient and items that we think the recipient would like. I still prefer to have a hint of mystery under the tree on Christmas morning, but I much prefer to have a month of joy than a morning of surprises.




I admit, I’ve always though the idea of Elf on the Shelf was kind of cute. And there are some hilarious ideas out there – some kid-friendly, some not so much – of what you can do with your Elf so that you aren’t wracking your brain every night. But the actual Elf  … well, he’s never quite been to my taste. Plus, our kids haven’t really been old enough to understand the idea of the Elf reporting back to Santa, so we’ve largely ignored/avoided the little guy. But now that Abigail has hit the Frustrating Fours, it seemed like a good time to reconsider our options for reminding her to be nice, not naughty/cranky/yell-y.

Except, of course, that the original Elf still isn’t quite to my taste, and we didn’t have a stand-in for him. But a few days ago I had the brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea of making a little Gnomey to watch over our house instead! Luckily I found a half-finished one in my stash, so all I had to do was make the arms and hat and he was ready to go! I skipped the beard for this guy (mostly because I couldn’t find the yarn I usually use for the beard) and also opted to give him some legs that could dangle over the shelf. Abby thought it was amusing to have a Gnomey with legs. Abby also thought our Gnomey should be a girl (maybe because of the lack of a beard?). And so Lovela (as named by Abby) was born and has taken up residence in our house to watch over the girls and report back to Santa.


Lovela Gnomey / Lovela burning off the Christmas calories on the jumpoline / Lovela Gnomey and her homeys


We’ll see how this plays out. So far Abby seems to be buying into the idea


Abby telling Lovela about the good and not-so-good things that she did during the day