This Christmas has been the best Christmas I have had in the last 3 or 4 years. Believe it or not, this Christmas, I was not so obsessed with baking and decorating, watching Christmas movies, or striving for Christmas perfection. I had something much more important on my mind. This year, my beautiful daughter came to visit with us for Christmas. It was my first Christmas with her in a few years. And, having her with me, outweighed all of the other necessities of the holidays. I let go of the hustle and the bustle, and settled for visiting with family, shopping in small, local shops with McKenna, and trying to squeeze in all of the previous Star Wars movies before the three of us went to see the latest installment.
The blog did not suffer at all this Christmas. I was able to publish numerous Christmas recipes, including two fruitcakes (well, my version of a fruitcake), which I had never attempted to bake before. The inspiration for these came from the new bundt pans John.e bought. You can see those cakes here: Christmas Cherry Butter Bundt Cake / Glace Mixed Fruit Bundt Cake. And, of course, there were lots of Christmas cookies and squares!
In light of McKenna’s visit, we decided to forego our annual Christmas Goodies drop in our building. We usually pack up packages of home baked goods and deliver them to our favourite neighbours in the building a few days before Christmas. Not wanted to be stuck baking while McKenna was here, we decided to invite a few of our neighbours in for an afternoon tea. I really enjoyed their visit, and I’m thinking it might be an annual thing. We’re lucky enough to live in a building where neighbours feel like friends – good friends – which is odd in a large city like Toronto.
In typical Byron fashion, throughout the year, I have been picking up an ornament or two in my travels. The jackpot, of course, was back in April, when John.e and I took McKenna to Universal Studios for her 12th birthday. We visited two parks and both of them had Christmas shops. I was in heaven!
Then, John.e and I were invited to Vera’s cottage for a barbeque. While we were there, we followed Vera to town to visit a country store. I was able to find a few ornaments there as well.
In September, we spent a weekend at our friend’s Gloria & Micheal’s cottage. And, of course, my eyes once more spotted some ornaments hidden in the back of a little gift shop in town, but I was able to limit myself to just this one!
If you read last year’s post, you’ll no doubt know that I have a huge Christmas love affair with Canvas brand ornaments at Canadian Tire. I purchased quite a few last year, but did find a few new pieces to add to our collection.
Lastly, my good friend Zdenka, brought me this ornament from her summer vacation in Spain. Love this one, because I have a thing for the fleur de lis!
I guess the big news this Christmas was our gift to ourselves. We decided not to exchange presents this year, in lieu of adding two furry (and extremely hyper!) little bundles of happiness to our family.
John’s niece was looking for a good home for a litter of kittens. She posted pics on Facebook and I fell in love with these two! So, after very little convincing, we welcomed Jake and Maggie into our home. Being the male version of Martha Stewart, I had some worries, but I could care less that they have scratched our leather headboard, hooked our new throw, or have come close to clawing my eyes out! We absolutely love them!
Last year, John.e and I spent Christmas morning alone. This year, we were excited to have McKenna with us, and my dad too! It sure made for a much more exciting Christmas morning with having a little kid and a big kid to open presents with. (Sorry, dad!) Here’s the four of us taking part in an annual Christmas tradition for John and myself – the Christmas Eve photo with matching pajamas. This year, we purchased t-shirts which were printed locally and designed by John.e.
And what’s Christmas without a few selfies!? 😉
If you’ve never heard the tale of hanging a dill pickle ornament on your tree, then it’s something you simply must do – especially if you have kids! Hanging a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree is said to be an old German tradition; the lucky person who first spots the green ornament hidden deep within the branches of the tree can open a present on Christmas Eve. However, plenty of doubters, many of them German, say there is no basis for this legend, and at least two additional Christmas pickle ornament stories are floating in the brine of myth and speculation. One tells the story of a Bavarian soldier whose dying wish is for a pickle, which saves his life. The other recounts a tale of two boys trapped in a pickle barrel. Either way, McKenna was so excited to find the pickle, but even more excited to open an early present which just happened to be a Harry Potter themed wallet. She loves everything Harry Potter!!!
Back to the decorations – this year, I made a few changes with our bedding. I left out the Nordic prints from last year and used these tartan pillows and throw. Tartan was all the rage this year; I can’t believe how many things I found in that same print. I was able to pick up candles and table dressings as well.
I was even able to find pajama pants to match the candles! Trust me, that wasn’t on purpose – I kid! 🙂
I was able to find tartan stockings too! Usually, there’s only two stockings for John and myself, and we hang them using our stocking mantle hangers, but this year, I needed to get creative since there were to be four of us on Christmas morning. Our hand-made wall décor worked well. We made this about a year ago using four wrought-iron hangers and an old wooden sill from a demolished church.
These tartan ice skates were meant to be a tree ornament, but I felt they were too large for the tree. The wreath in this picture is about 18 inches in diameter, so that will give you an indication of how big the skates are. I made this wreath using an old grape-vine wreath and burlap garland.
This was one of my favourite finds this year. It’s a felt garland that stands on its own. I got it from Simon’s in Montreal for $4 and it worked so well on top of our television.
For a coffee table center piece, I very much mimicked last years décor. It always surprises me how well it lights up a room and how long those pine branches live without water!
Our friend David joined us for an evening at the Toronto Christmas Market. It was McKenna’s first time there, and John’s as well. (I’ve still got Christmas training to do on him!) It was of course the busiest possible night to go. We waited until McKenna arrived to go, and in typical Toronto fashion, everyone waits until the last minute before doing anything. We went on the 17th and the market was closing for the season on the 20th.
Even though Christmas Eve is my favourite part of Christmas, this year, Christmas morning won me over. I had such fun watching my two favourite people in the world opening their presents.
And, I really enjoyed preparing Christmas Day dinner – and even though it was completely vegetarian, my toughest critic, my dad, complimented the meal a few times. I was quite surprised, because for him it’s all about the turkey. Tofurkey won his heart this year! I was unable to stop and take photos of the perfect plate, so here’s an action shot of my dad about to dig in.
And, just in case you think the life of a blogger is pretty and perfect, let me ensure you that this is not the case! This is what happens when you boil beets at 8am and leave the pot unattended to open presents!
Until next year, have a wonderful and safe 2016!!