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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

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This week, as I was frantically working, I happened to come across a video on my newsfeed. A friend had shared a short video of Beaker singing Ode to Joy. I’m always up for a laugh, particularly at work when I’m mired in my professional problems and a little frustrated. The video was a short, and funny, and I was hooked.

In the end, I think I watched this video 20 times. I was so caught up in it that at one point I took off my headphones, only to discover that every one of my coworkers had left me. They had abandoned me to my own devices, and frankly my devices had me in complete abandon as I listened to Beaker and then various other groups play this song.

I know it sounds trite, but I love the Ode to Joy. It definitely marks me as someone who doesn’t really understand classical music that I would count this song among my favourite classical pieces. But I just can’t resist it. There is something so infectious about this music. The way it builds, and becomes lighter. The way the notes soar upwards. I can’t help but go along for the ride.

Listening to this song makes me wish I hadn’t given up on music; it makes me wish that I had stuck it out, found a new teacher, one who could actually teach me to read music, and then learned how to express my joy by joining in. I move my feet, my hips and my arms. No other piece of music can make me want to interact with it the way this one does.

And I do, and I don’t think I’m alone. In my travels through YouTube I found another video, this one of a flash mob in Spain. The music builds in a familiar way, getting ever lighter, faster and always more joyful. As the musicians gather in a public square, and the music becomes more powerful, and harder to ignore, people out for drinks, walking their dogs, or doing their shopping stopped to take a moment to enjoy the music. I was struck by how joyful the crowd became, and how so many people felt the urge to be part of that music too. They danced, they sang, they climbed poles and retaining walls, while pretending to conduct, or at least keeping time. When it’s all over, you realize that nearly everyone has participated in this performance in some way, and everyone is happier for it.

I won’t lie, I spent most of the next day listening to and watching parts of this video. I then went home and downloaded 10 different versions of Ode to Joy. I’m completely addicted!

While this has been a great year for me, I know that it has been a difficult year for many, including some of the people I love the most. We’ve all lost people close to us, we’ve had to deal with change and loss of different kinds and at different levels of intensity, but I hope that you can watch these videos and take the time to enjoy and celebrate the peace of the season, and the feeling of joy that this music can give us, if we open ourself up to it.

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This may be the last year for Christmas funland

Hello everyone, we’re back. We decided to take the Christmas break off from blogging; there are a couple of reasons for this:

1) Both Penelope and I were off last week and we both had a never-ending list of household chores to tend to, so we decided that it would be best to live offline for a while and try to get our realities in order. So we spent the break focusing on things like cleaning and organizing, baking and cooking, and of course, travelling and celebrating. In fact, with everything we did last week, neither of us feels very rested, so there was just no time for blogging.

2) I needed to buy myself a little more time. I promised you that I would have some progress to show you by the time we get to our 100th post. I did some counting, and if we had posted through last week we would hit 100 at the end of the first week of February; not posting last week bought me another week. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I am very appreciative that I have the extra week to work with.

Battenberg Cake...I love marzipan

Either way, we’re back, and I’m looking forward to some quiet time, so that I can focus on my “makeover” for lack of a better word. I’m coming back tired, it’s true, but inspired. This is going to be my year, and I am going to try to focus on achieving many goals.

Mincemeat tarts and shortbread cookies

1) Stay the course. Obviously I am working on losing some weight.

My mother has the funniest salt and pepper shakers!

2) Find inner peace. I would like to learn to meditate. As I’ve told you, I’m having trouble sleeping. My mind is constantly running, and I feel that I need to try to rein it in.

3) Go out on a limb. I would like to try to (gulp) start dating again. This is perhaps the scariest thing on my list of goals, and the one that I am dragging my feet over the most. We’ll see how far I get.

4) Coureur de bois. I need some adventure, to try something new. Right now, I’m committed to learning to ski and snowboard, but that can be expensive, so we’ll see.

5) Get revamped. I need to defrumpify; this means that I have to learn how to shop strategically…hmm, I may need to call for reinforcements.

A year's worth of O, Shape, Chatelaine and Vogue...Not really reinforcements, but it's a start.

6) See the world…or at least see more of the province. Yup, I need to head out on at least 1 weekend trip to destinations yet undiscovered by me at least. Maybe Point Pelee — has anyone been there, is it worth the trip?

7) Skate my brains out. I LOVE skating, I once considered myself to be an ice princess. Unfortunately, I lack balance, talent and skill, so the most I can do is skate around in a circle. But we have some great outside rinks here, and I intend to take full advantage this winter.

8) Take a step in the right direction. I’d like to add a step class to my weekly workout routine.

9) Bite the bullet. January is going to be dedicated to balancing my books, and I think I just have to accept that I will need a dog walker at least twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday). It’s just too much to come out of an exercise class and have to walk Cadie.

10) Edit. I think I need to cut down on this list to something manageable.

How long do you think a year is anyhow?

For right now I am going to focus on goal number 1. I figure that if I try to stay on track with at least 1 goal, it improves my chances of knocking a couple more off that list as well. Though I will need to have my friends push me on goal number 3; talking to and dealing with men doesn’t come easily to me, even now I’m trying to find an excuse to back out of it…anyway, 28 posts to go and counting, progress here I come.

What are your goals for 2011?

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Wishing you all the best for 2011. May all of your Christmas dreams come true.

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I don’t know what happened to me this weekend, but I came home from work on Friday night ready to create. I had no idea what I was going to create, but I knew that my hands needed to be busy doing something, so I looked around and found something to create.

I can’t tell you what I was working on; I think I need another week or so to get them ready and distributed (wink, wink). So I don’t want to spoil the surprise, instead I’m going to focus on the drive that drove me to reach for my needle and thread.

I’ve always been a bit crafty, in a good way. When I was in university I found that I needed a change. I wanted something to do with my hands to take my mind off my school work. I needed it to be easy, so that it could also be a bit of a mental break. I tried cross stitch–too complicated. It requires a lot of counting, especially in the beginning, and without someone to show me what I was doing, I quickly became discouraged.

I thought about knitting, but…knitting can be expensive, and without anyone to show me how to do it, I was worried that I wouldn’t understand the instructions, and would waste a lot of money…so I never even tried.

Then, one day, while I was trolling Lewiscraft…yes, I was probably the one frosh in the province who trolled Lewiscraft and Mary Maxim instead of the bars; the only explanation I can offer is that my super geekiness knows no bounds. As I was saying, one day I came across something that seemed to fit the bill perfectly–rug hooking, and I have been hooked ever since (I’m so funny! :D)

This last fall I made myself some napkins and a table-cloth, so, as you can see, I have a number of irons in the fire. I am currently working on a couple of stuffed animals, and some more napkins. I worked on a number of things this weekend, alternating between sewing and writing and singing…I have yet to do any cleaning.

Oh well, I like crafts. I guess in some ways I ‘m hotwired to do crafts, to keep my hands busy, and my mind from wandering. I also like that in keeping my hands busy, my legs are too busy to be walking to the kitchen all evening, and my arms and hands are working toward a goal, so they aren’t interested in anything that might be found in the kitchen. Crafting is a good way to keep me on track, especially when I can’t get to the gym, and it’s kind of fun. Though I may need to sew under my desk and while I’m sleeping if I’m going to have everything ready by the weekend.

How do you avoid temptation and stay on track?

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Yesterday was a bad day. I mean it was a good day, I got a lot done, but it was a bad day in terms of nerves. It seems that I had completely forgotten that it’s Christmas, a time for celebration. Since today is Friday–also a time for celebration–I am going to take it down a notch, focus on festivities and try not to stress.

You may recall that my mother decorates the front of her house with a giant blow-up Homer Simpson. I live in an apartment, which doesn’t have a yard, so my homage to the Simpson’s (probably the most commercial family tradition I’ve ever heard of) is a small decoration on my tree. You might notice that I’m also so lazy that I haven’t even hung this ornament properly. That’s because perching him on the branches, I believe, allows him to stroll through the tree at his leisure.

I was so eager for Christmas this year that I broke all of my rules and started decorating the second last weekend in November. Sadly though my apartment is so warm that I haven’t really had the lights on. Still I’m going to focus on the things that make me happy before I plunge into my work.

 I can’t really tell you what was going through my mind when I decided that I should put up a tree dedicated to gingerbread. Sometimes–most times–I seem to forget that I should be watching what I eat. Funnily enough most of these ornaments have a story. There’s one there from my trip to Quebec City in 2004; that’s a nice memory, Quebec City is beautiful and it was a fun trip. There are also a couple of ornaments given to me by the kids I used to babysit when I was in high school. That’s also a nice memory, they were the best kids, and that was the easiest babysitting gig ever.

If you look hard you can also see gold and silver apples. They’re from the dollar store. It’s not much of a story, but I will tell you I was humming that “Silver and Gold” song from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer while I was buying them–that’s like half a story right? One quarter of a story?

I bought this tree my first year away from home;  it was the perfect size for a residence room, and it was the perfect size for my bachelor, but now I am beginning to feel that I’d like a much bigger tree. I mean I do have 2 trees and 2 boughs already, but it’s not the same as having a nice tall Christmas tree right?

Happy Friday

 

Alright–deep breaths–I think I’m ready. I think I’ve had a good dose of Christmas spirit and I’m ready to take on the day. If I need any other encouragement I can remember Friday’s traditions too.

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Christmas carol singing in Jèrriais

Image via Wikipedia

Would you like to come for dinner?

Yes!

Are you free to meet for coffee?

Yes!

We’re going to see a play would you like to join us?

Yes!

Yes. Yes. Yes. There’s something about December that pushes me out of my shell every year. I go shopping at the mall during peak hours, even though I hate being in crowds, and I enjoy it. I get in my car and drive all over the province to visit with people who I otherwise don’t get to see. I make plans to go out on weekday evenings, which is not my cup of tea…in short I accept every invitation that I can. I have to say that with a little more than 2 weeks to go until Christmas I am starting to double and triple book myself, and I am running out of fuel.

Take for example last Sunday. I won’t bore you with all the toings and froings of my plans, but I was supposed to go to Church, then head out of the city for an afternoon visit with a friend. After service I went to use the washroom, and when I came out, a woman I’ve never seen before came up to me and very excitedly invited me to stay for a cup of coffee and a cookie. Since I never turn down an invite in December I accepted. I met a ton of people, and before I knew it I was being invited to join the choir…and I never turn down an invitation in December, so I accepted (which ps, I’m very excited about, but also very nervous about as I haven’t sung in a choir since high school.) More importantly this has big implications for this Sunday, as this is now my schedule:

6:30 Walk dog
8:00 Prep for day
9:00 Brunch with the girls
10:30 Service
11:00 drop dog at the groomers
12:00 choir practice
4:00 pick dog up from groomers
5:00 return home from walk, make dinner 
6:00 I have no idea yet, but probably something

I think this is a little too much for a Sunday, so I think I will have to edit. I have no idea how yet, and it makes me sad to edit; I hate saying no to anything because sooner or later January will hit, and there will be no more invitations, just interminable hours of winter sloth. But since January is a month of no, I’m going to make the most of December by making it a month of yes!

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So I got my wish. After a gorgeous Monday, and a so-so Tuesday, we are now into November weather. Which is bad because it’s rainy and overcast and it’s going down to -5C tonight (23F), which is pretty cold. But I can’t complain since this was what I was looking for.

We had such a hot summer, followed by a long and mild fall. This is my idea of the best possible weather, so I feel strongly that I can’t complain, and I won’t. Instead I’m going to show you what I did with my last day of gorgeous fall weather.

First things first. I put Cadie in my mother’s front yard, and tied her up so that the blob would get her, and judging by that photo, the blob almost succeeded.

Then my mum came out and set to decorating the front of the house. When you live in a tempermental climate you learn to make hay when the sun shines. If an October is particularly cold people will put their lights up then, and no one laughs or points, as long as they don’t turn the lights on until mid November.

My mother takes Chritsmas very seriously. She has 8 giant rubbermaid tubs filled with indoor decorations, and every year she buys another 20 or 30 ornaments. It’s really insane. For the outside of the house my mother has one of those blow up creatures. It’s Homer Simpson, dressed in a Santa Claus costume, and holding a box of doughnuts. It’s pretty funny. She also has a couple of wire figures, shaped like ginger bread cookies. These look pretty creepy to me, but it’s her house to decorate as she likes.

I did not help my mum set out her front yard funpark; instead I helped with the greenery. These are much more traditional decorations. We did not add lights to the greenery, because…well frankly they can’t compete with the rest of the lights on the front lawn.

My mother saw this decoration in Canadian Living and fell in love, so she ran out to the store and bought an enormous amount of greenery. She has two bird baths, so we selected the one that we thought would be best and set it up.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look quite right. Personally I don’t like mixing the copper with the red and gold, but again, it’s not my front lawn. We ended up moving those big balls a couple of times, but still I wasn’t happy with it. Oh well, now it’s up to Mum to sort it out.

As you can see, we had enough greenery left over to decorate the windows. They were looking a little sparse though, so my mum decided to trim her Colorado Blue Spruce. Alright, so this window still looks funny. But I think we really hit our stride with the big front window.

Firstly, my mother just replaced the actual window, and I think it’s fabulous. I find it very cozy and classic, very over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. So we took the purchased greenery, bulked it up with some blue spruce, and then put the cherry on top, some red and gold fruit, which my mother shellacked for some reason, and pine cones, because we had like 50 of them.

I’m thrilled with the way it turned out, well, not all of it, but come on, my mum and I are a nurse and an editor, we’re not decorators, so when you take that into consideration I think we did pretty well.

It even looks classic and cozy from the inside, so I have to say mission accomplished. I was able to combine my need for something Christmassy with my love of being outside, and I think that, even though our house won’t be featured in Canadian Living, it all turned out pretty well.

"Why do I have to stay here, while that dog gets a walk?"

The best thing of all is that the blob didn’t get Cadie; she lived to be forced to come inside, and don’t worry, she also had a nice long walk, on a bright and beautiful afternoon.

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