Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ring It In

Looking forward to a brand New Year. 
Wishing you happiness, fun and good health in 2015.

Celebrate the possibilities of the days to come.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Joy and Love

May the hope that was born 
that silent, holy night,
remain in your heart 
throughout the year.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas


Image property of Glamour Begins At Home

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Clan at Christmas

Richard's immediate family is an ever growing clan, with new additions to the family each year. We gather the weekend before Christmas to have a holiday dinner together. It's the perfect get-together recipe with everyone going off in different directions on Christmas Eve and day.

We have been waiting for six years to have the event at our house again. The combination of a house sold, moving to temporary and far too small homes, plus two years of building a new home, brought us to this year. And so dinner for thirty-one at our house on Sunday it was.

T'was the night before the big dinner.

The hostess {me this time} is responsible for the mains, in this case turkey and ham. Thankfully son Justin is an excellent cook and took on the task of baking the ham while I cooked the bird and dressing. As a side note - do not tell a four year old it is a bird. No - it is a turkey. Thankfully she did eat it after my momentary slip up.
So we all gathered with dishes of prepared veggies, salads, meat trays, fruit, cakes, cookies and everything you could possibly imagine to create a grand feast.

Starting to set up one long table.

I decided a long time ago that renting the linen, dishes, cutlery and glassware is not cheating - it's smart. I like everything matching and looking clean lined, and the ease of putting it all in cases when we are finished is so civilized. I love to stay up late at night before an event and fuss with all the little details. It's a little treat I savour by myself.

Late at night or early morning, depending how you look at it - the kitchen was overflowing. It all went in to place and was a winter wonderland by morning.

Richard's step-Mother wanted me to host everyone at one big table rather than spread the tables out. It became a mission that I managed to pull off, and it was so nice having everyone at one long table together. The table extended through our dining room and into the family room. The food was set up buffet style at the end of the kitchen and into the family room.

white on white - linen and dishes

With a  buffet you still want the table to look dressed. The dinner plates are not in position on the table so the napkins and decor need to fill in the gaps. I decided to try my hand at Christmas tree folded napkins. After mastering the first couple the process zips along quickly.

Here is a good tutorial -

It's starting to come together.

Each place setting had a little candy gift.  This picture with the note was attached to a small bag of M & M candy.

As you hold these candies in your hand 
and turn them, you will see.
The M becomes a W, an E, and then a 3.
They tell the Christmas Story, it's one that I'm sure you know.
It took place in a stable a long, long time ago.
The E is for the East where the star shone so bright. 
The M is for the Manger where baby Jesus slept that night.
The 3 is for the Wisemen bearing gifts when they came.
W is for Worship. Hallelujah. Praise HIS name.
As you eat these candies or share them with your friends, 
remember the meaning of Christmas.
It's a love story that never ends. 

And so we gathered - everyone. Busy hands in the kitchen putting finishing touches on dishes and platters.

Niece Sarah put these wonderful meat and cheese trays together with my sister assisting.

Parties are not complete without cookies, cakes, tarts. This is a small showing of some of the goodies brought. And the over eating has begun.

Among some very generous hostess gifts we received was a well thought out present from Richard's step sister. This basket holds six pre-washed tea towels. A much needed item in the kitchen over the holidays. I might have to borrow her idea for an event we are going to this weekend.

The food was put out and grace was said, and then the madness began. I stopped at one point and envisioned that we might be like the Who's in the Grinch movie. Noisy, singing, drinking, laughing and happy ...... together.
It's so true when they sing :
Christmas day will always be! Just as long as we have we!

My sister managed to snap a few iphone pictures in between helping me {thanks for both Sis}.

And here he is, Richard making a toast to the first Christmas together in our new home. While we were building, it was a house. And now, as we gather with love and family, it has become the home we have always held in our hearts.

Richard toasting our family and new home.

Eleventh Hour Shopping

I don't like going out into the stores the last few days before Christmas. I always plan in my mind to stay home and finish the wrapping, baking more {because I've gotten so off track with that in recent years}, and arranging the treasures for the stockings.

If you are still shopping or looking for idea's of what to buy someone, here are a few Eleventh Hour Shopping idea's. And here is just the girl to get the last minute shopping done. This is our adorable Granddaughter a few years ago, out for her Santa visit and a bit of shopping. Yes, she melts hearts.

I discovered all of these gifts at Chapters Indigo. They did not compensate me for posting about their store. It just happens to be one of my favourite spots to shop and share with readers.

1. Baby, Baby : something different for the tiny elves on your list.

These are first Christmas size - so sweet.

Are these not adorable?

These are so tiny. I can imagine them on a sweet baby boy.

2. For HER : Sweet things for the sweet girls in your life.

Colourful luggage tags - perfect to identify your case easily.
These socks slouched down would make great slippers as well.

Hot water bottles with knit covers. Great for Hockey mom's to take to the arena.

3.  The Boys : Sometimes a bit tougher to buy for.

Double sided pillow so he can decide the mood.

Never met a guy who isn't a Scorsese fan.

A little something for the pup to give man's best friend.
And something manly too keep the books upright on the shelf.

Easy wrapping for the boys - Canadian Moose gift bags

4.  Hostess Gifts : Not your average store bought bon-bons.

For him or her. Flavoured easy to make pancake mix.

Purveyors of Splendid Goods - you just know it's going to be special.

I can't decide, so both of these need to come home with me.

White chocolate covered pretzels perfectly wrapped for the hostess.

You can never go wrong with books. Something a bit more light-hearted for the cook.

This is the gift you might want to keep for yourself. Timeless and classic.

5.  Santa : Something to help Santa feel welcomed when he comes to visit. These would make the perfect gift to start a Night Before Christmas tradition for children; or for  him, her or a hostess.

Cocoa or cider ?

This one is not from Chapters, but something I discovered while out shopping. We have the ultimate Frozen movie fanatic in our house. And while we know she's been good and Santa will shower her in Disney Frozen gifts, there is this wrapping option to compliment the Elsa and Anna holiday wrap.

I cannot imagine what we would do with Disney Frozen Duck tape {via Staples}, so I left it on the shelf. Just a bit of marketing gone crazy.

Enjoy the last minute shopping and preparing.


** I had this post in a draft from a few weeks ago. Although the snow is now gone and the lawn is showing her green again, I thought it really is too pretty not to show you. So for those who think Christmas isn't complete without a snowfall ... here it is.

For someone who is a real summer girl, I can't resist the first pretty snowfall of the season. We received a blanket of snow today that left the trees painted in white flakes. I love how quiet the snow is. I stopped several times while shoveling the driveway just to hear the whisper of the snow falling. It really is a picture of beauty.

Our church - Saint Andrews, is pretty at any time, but especially with a winter wonderland framing it.

I may need to look back at this post in February when I'm fed up with the snow. But today it is a pretty picture.

How about you - are you a lover of summer or snow?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Is the holiday decorating ever finished?

I have always fussed with the Christmas decorations taking days to put it all together. Garland on the banisters, twinkle lights, lots of ribbon and fresh greenery added into the artificial mix. Now here is a little secret {shhh, don't tell Richard} - this year the holiday decorating is just a test drive. I have had more than sugar plums dancing in my head when it comes to how I want Cardinal House to look for the holidays. This year I have played with the decorations we have, added a few new key pieces {like the nativity sets and angel}; but there are some classic things that I am looking for that will last for many years.

I like the Christmas decor to look somewhat vintage with a bit of sparkle. I stray away from the traditional red and green mix or anything trendy, instead looking for pieces that may pass as something my Grandmother might have owned. Cream, soft gold, patina finished - all with a bit of shimmer.
Having said that, we have a four-and-a-half-year-old Granddaughter who wants some whimsy. I managed to stray away from the Disney a'la Frozen ornaments {seriously I'm feeling a bit burned-out by the amount of Frozen gear}. Knit and felt squirrels, mice and deer {Target} and vintage cars with Christmas tree's were added to the usual mix on the tree in the media room.

This glossy VW ornament from Canadian Tire is perfect to hot glue a bottle brush tree to the top.

Felt mice and squirrels are from Target, adding a vintage charm to the tree. The stamped cotton garland is from Home Sense, but could easily be a DIY project to do with small children.

The tall skinny tree was our replacement tree while we lived in an apartment during renovations. The BIG tree is upstairs in our family room after being packed away for the past few years - it was overwhelming for our apartment space. I'd like the tree to be a bit fuller for the media room, but it's not an everyday used space so it works. A

Kya was more than happy to put the whimsical ornaments on the tree adding  candy canes - a few candy cane may have been consumed during the process. She made a long construction paper link garland for under the tree and set it all up with white bird houses and the tree carrying Beetle car.

Tree decorating may have involved me putting on most of the ornaments while Kya played. Can you blame her..........

This is the not-yet-completed play area. A perfect spot under the stairs to snuggle down on big cushions {that I need to find/make} with a book. I painted the chalkboard wall that changes with the creative mood, picture rails from IKEA hold Kya's books. The mirror ball and wall reading lamp are also from IKEA. On my list of additions are black 'stage' curtains to create a tent like feel when tucked inside or the option of performing from the space. Perfect for a little girl who loves to sing.
Grandpa scored the professional kid size drum set from a garage sale, it was a great deal in more ways than one. We discovered the very first time Kya sat down to play that she has a lot of rhythm.

The little mini table top tree is perfect for Kya's dresser. Simple wooden clip reindeer added to the branches are all it needs. All from Target - tree $3 - clips $4 = cute table topper. 

I don't even remember where or when I bought these little ladies, but they have enhanced the holiday greenery for many years. It always makes me happy to open the decoration boxes and pull back the tissue paper to see them. This year the vintage winter ladies adorn the glass bistro shelves in the kitchen.

What is your holiday decorating preference. Do you stay with the tried and true each year, or do you change it ?