Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year, Dear Reader! I trust by now you have opened all of your presents, eaten everything in sight, and have started to regret eating everything in sight! That’s what I’m feeling today, but that most certainly will not keep me from planning our New Year’s eve dinner menu as soon as I’ve finished writing this post! It’s time for Christmas at Byron & John’s – 2021!
I can’t believe this is the 8th year in a row sharing our little family Christmas with you here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen! I think it was just last Christmas I was questioning whether or not I should continue with these types of posts. They most certainly do not get much traffic, but that’s not really why I do it. I imagine that one day, when I’m old and grey(er!) and McKenna has me locked away in some run down retirement home, like Shady Pines, I’ll enjoy reading these old Christmas posts.
Can you just picture it? I’ll dig the old library card that John.e forced me to sign up for in my 60s out of my wallet and ask the librarian if I can use the internet. I’ll fetch my bifocals and key in the URL for my blog. Then, I’ll read through these old Christmas posts and recall all of the good times. At least, that’s what I hope will happen – not the Shady Pines part though!
HOUSE AND RENO UPDATE
So, without further delay, let me tell you a little about our 2021! To be completely honest, it wasn’t much different from previous years. We were still dealing with masks and covid breakouts, but at least there were no lockdowns this Christmas! House-wise in 2021, we did manage to build on a new front porch, John.e got his workshop in the backyard, and we got the driveway finished too.
The inside of the house didn’t get as many renovations completed as I had hoped. We did get the upstairs bathroom completely renovated, which I love! We had a walk in shower installed and got rid of the old bathtub. Oh, I also got a huge pantry built into my kitchen. I say huge, which it is, but I still managed to fill it up. Now, I’m thinking about a second one, but it would be more of a pantry/cabinet for me to store things like cookbooks and small appliances.
In addition to those things, we also reinsulated the attic and the basement. The insulation in the attic was old and not up to code, so that was a no-brainer. The insulation in the basement wasn’t a necessity, but we did it anyway, because why do one and not the other, right? Oh, we did replace our fridge and stove this year too. I was so excited to get a big, stainless steel fridge with double doors! And, I thought I would love our new glass-top stove too, but I hate it. The cooktop seems to be very temperamental, so I just might replace it again. We’ll see!
2021 CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
Let’s start this year with the outside of the house. Like I said, we did get a new front porch back in August. We didn’t stain it or paint it, but just let it be. We wanted to see how we felt about a more natural look rather than a stain or paint. Turns out, it will be painted this summer. The natural look did not grow on us like we thought it might. Here is how it looked when we finished decorating it.
The white bench used to be in our backyard, but I thought it would look great with some pillows and a blanket. Yes, they got wet when it snowed, but it was still pretty. The little green wagon and sleigh were a combination of some Christmas and fall decor, but I really like how it looked. The lanterns were from the Linen Chest. The rug and the green wagon were both from Amazon, and the little sleigh and Santa Stop Here sign were from Michaels.
Doesn’t it look pretty with a light dusting of snow?
On the back deck we placed our red wagon with three mini trees. Frosty and Santa were a good fit there too. All of these things were from Canadian Tire. By the way, that part of the back deck is an extension that leads to the drive way. We call it the dock. It’s quite confusing, actually, because being a Newfoundlander means that I call both the porch and the deck a bridge. It’s either “on the front bridge or the back bridge.” It drives John.e crazy. So, he assigned names so that we both were on the same page!
YARD AND SHED
We had full intentions of putting out more garden decorations, but it’s surprising how fast time can get away from you. John.e did all of the garden decorations. He did the cedar trees, and the lights around the front porch. He also set up the little reindeer family. To the left of the house, you can see the “dock” portion of the back deck that I’m talking about. And, to the right, you can see the decorated tree and the shed in the backyard.
Just before the first snowfall, John.e finally got his workshop. We purchased the workshop in July, but it wasn’t built until late November. As I’m writing this, it still sits there empty. A electrician has been hired to come by in the spring to run electricity from the house to the shed. I’m sure he will spend most of his time out there then. Now, it’s time for me to get my own shed! Honestly, Dear Reader, I need one just for Christmas storage!
LET’S GO INSIDE – THIS IS THE FOYER!
Here we go! Just like in previous years, we have placed our vintage-inspired tree here. Every year we add more and more ornaments to it. It’s getting to the point where I think in a year or two, I will have enough blown glass Santas to do an entire tree! This is probably both John.e and McKenna’s favourite tree. They both love the old-style look. I love it too, but I still lean more toward modern Christmas trees.
Here are all of the Santa ornaments I’ve collected since last Christmas:
We did get this little tree with the galvanized house base at Lowe’s this year. I thought it worked perfectly just inside the front door. I bought the wreath at Lowe’s too. I meant to put it on the front door, but it just looked right hanging from that black coat rack, so I added a few more black and white buffalo check items too. The beads were from Amazon; the believe sign and the small black sleigh were from Kilborn’s on the Rideau.
You might have noticed that the wall colour is different in the foyer. In fact, we just recently had it painted and it extends all the way up the stairwell and onto the landing. I’ll show you that later. It used to be ivory, but now it’s grey. Actually, the colour of the paint is called Vintage Silver and it’s from Home Hardware.
THE DINING ROOM
Right off the foyer is the dining room. I think we should rename it, because we only ever eat in there about five times a year at most! This room was also painted this year. It used to be blue, but I outgrew that really quick. We ended up painting it the same green as our living room. It’s called Pleasant Hill and it’s also from Home Hardware.
The biggest addition to our living room decor this year is my Rae Dunn collection. I’m completely obsessed with it! I started collecting in October, just in time for Halloween, but then I was in way too deep at Christmastime. I’ve asked the question before and I’ll ask it again now: When is too much ever too much? Ha!
The one other thing I’m very proud of was that we were finally able to get that old ceiling fan out of here! In fact, this year, we replaced the light fixture in the dining room, the foyer, the kitchen, the upstairs bathroom, the landing, and the living room. Let there be light, right!?
OUR LIVING ROOM
This my favourite room in the house. I work so hard to make this room as cozy as possible all year long. Yes, I’m one of these people that will change out the decor for every season. Since we spend so much time alone here in our little home outside the city, it’s important that it feels warm and inviting. You will note that nothing much has changed in this room. There might be a new item here and there, but pretty much everything is the same.
This is our main Christmas tree. For the past two years, I have wanted to decorate it green and gold, but for the life of me, I cannot find green ornaments that appeal to me. So, this year, I opted to do a white and gold tree. I already had lots of white ornaments, but needed gold. Most of the ornaments you see on this tree came from Canadian Tire this year. They are the absolute best when it comes to ornaments.
The next photo is proof that I decorated the main tree twice. First, I did it with red ornaments, but hated it. I stripped it all off and started again with the white and gold. The red ornaments you see here ended up on one of our bedroom trees.
OUR EXPANDED SANTA COLLECTION
You might recall the couple of Santas we bought last year. Well, this year, we bought more of them. Every single one of these Santas are from Michaels and they all stand on their own. Ranging in height from about ten inches to two feet, I was able to fill the bottom of our television cabinet. We had to keep them behind glass, because we have two cats that love to chew on things like plastic. I’m sure the synthetic hair would have been fair game too!
LET’S HEAD UPSTAIRS!
I’m so happy with this stairwell! As I previously mentioned, we recently had it all painted, and we were finally able to decorate that big wall. It had been empty for two years! This is how it looks for Christmas. We have other pictures and/or signs that replace the red signs when we take them down. You will see a bunch of these signs in this post. I got them all from an Etsy shop called Urban House Decor.
Please note that the bannister is not decorated all the way around this year. Also, we didn’t fill the garland with berries and other decorative things like in previous years. Honestly, it was a daily job to fix it up, because our cats would completely wreck it while we were sleeping!
The landing looks a little different too this year. I decided to take the front of the landing for my little office. We bought a desk and chair and set my workspace up so that I could look out the window whenever I get tired of editing or writing. Also, doesn’t it look very Carrie Bradshaw-ish!? I absolutely love it; it’s always quiet up here and it permits me to stay more focused.
The landing is also home to our cat’s water and food bowls. Even their litter box is kept up here in the little room next to the Lego cabinet. So, it just makes sense to have their Christmas tree here too. Most of the ornaments on their tree is from the Rae Dunn collection, but there are also some personalized ornaments.
Over here, which is where we keep one of the three cat towers, I placed the small blue tree that was in the dining room last year. I wasn’t about to let it sit in the box just because the colour of the dining room had changed. I also think it’s nice to have a tree at the top of the stairs, especially when you look up the stairs at night.
LEGO GETS A NEW HOME
Every year we get a new Lego piece for our Lego village. So, the cabinet that we used last year just wasn’t big enough. We made a few adjustments and now our Lego collection has a new home. By the way, that stays there all year long! Yes, I know it’s all Christmas stuff, but do you know how long it takes to take down and set up a Lego village? Too long! So, it stays!
Remember last year when McKenna insisted on having a black Christmas tree in her room? Well, this year, she is in Toronto full time because she’s attending university there. She took her black Christmas tree with her, so I had to replace it. I found this slim tree, which she insisted I decorate in red and white. Those red and white spiral ornaments remind her of the Saw movie franchise, so that’s what she wanted.
But, since she’s not here much, I was able to take full advantage of her absence and decorate the room my way! (Even though she refuses to let me remove that old wallpaper!) I purchased new bedding for her and tried to make the room look as cozy as possible. She is spending her break from school with us, and I knew she would want a place to just relax after a full workload at university. It looks super cozy and inviting, doesn’t it?
I wasn’t about to let McKenna be the only one with a warm and cozy bedroom this Christmas! I found our bedding and hers on Wayfair. They both look similar, but they’re different. At first, I ordered the one you see on her bed and also one for us. I loved hers, but hated the one I picked for us, so I ordered another set. Both of our rooms got a little bit of garland treatment on the headboard. I did assemble that wreath above our bed in about five minutes. We had an extra one left over, so why not?
Our room also has two Christmas trees. The first tree is John.e’s personal tree. He has his own tree every year and it is where he hangs the ornaments his mom used to own.
The bigger tree is the very first flocked tree I’ve ever owned. Guess what I’m buying next year for the main tree!? That’s right; I’m buying a flocked tree to replace the main tree. I absolutely love how simple it is to set up and how full it looks. Yes, they’re so messy, but isn’t everything at Christmastime a little bit messy?
TREE OF THE NORTH
We call this the Tree of the North. Every single ornament on this tree has northern roots or connections. Initially, the main tree in the living room was supposed to be the northern tree, but I didn’t like how it looked. Yes, I did decorate the main tree with the northern ornaments and then I took them all off and decorated it a second time with white and gold.
Our Tree of the North looks much better in our room and on a flocked tree. I’m going to show you all of the ornaments. Almost all of them were purchased at Canadian Tire, Simons, or Retro Festive. Of the nine trees in our home this year, this is my favourite!
ENOUGH DECOR, LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD!
I was on a roll this year with baking. This was the fourth consecutive year that I shared my Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas series. But, before that series started, I shared my 12 Truffles of Christmas series. I had so much fun with the truffles. They’re always so easy to make and everyone seems to love them. After the cookie series, I did another series called 12 No Bake Christmas Treats. And, in between all of that, I published 12 Festive Holiday Cocktails all in one single post. I was super busy, but had so much fun doing it!
As you know, we package up the cookies and give them away to our friends and neighbours. This year, we did 21 boxes and each of them had about 30 cookies in it. It’s one of my favourite Christmas traditions.
Every Christmas Eve we do the same thing. We watch movies and eat. But first, I always like to get a few pictures of us as a family. This year I asked that both John.e and McKenna dress in flannel and jeans so that I could get a lumberjack type photo. After 426 attempts, we were able to capture a decent picture or two.
Later on Christmas Eve, we all change into our matching Christmas pajamas and take more selfies. We forced dad into this picture with us. The shirt was designed by John.e. It’s the nativity scene with all animals. Him and McKenna loved it and thought it was hilarious. My sense of humour is not always a match to theirs. Ha!
I always put out a spread of cheeses, deli meats, crackers, bread, pickles, veggies, spreads, and dips. This year, I placed the platters on the dining room table and let everyone help themselves while we watched It’s a Wonderful Life and the Grinch.
That brings us to Christmas dinner. Dad was able to make it here this year. It’s a long five hour drive for him, but I’m glad he was able to join us. I prepared a turkey for us meat eaters and a tofurky for John.e. Of course, there had to be mashed potatoes, stuffing, lots of gravy, and a few sides too. And, thanks again to my Aunt Bertha in Newfoundland, who sent me several packages of savoury, the meal was delicious!
After Christmas dinner was over and the clean up done, we all took a nap. If you know me well, you will know that I absolutely hate taking naps! But, McKenna had us up super early and turkey always makes me very drowsy. After our nap, I put out a spread of various cookies and snacks. I made Newfoundland Slush for everyone and we ate while watching Scrooge – the 1951 version, which is the best one!
Today is Boxing Day here in Canada. The weather is nice, but we are supposed to get freezing rain tomorrow, so I think dad will be heading home today. If he does, John.e, McKenna and I will re-heat the leftovers and play board games. With my luck, McKenna will choose Clue! But, I hope it’s Monopoly, because I kick ass in that game!
Over the next few days, things will slowly go back to our normal. We will slowly put away our presents, lounge around the house with the cats, and grow tired of eating too much. And, just like everyone else, we will struggle to remember what day it is! (The days between Christmas Day and New Years are always so confusing, aren’t they!?) Finally, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas and that your New Year is filled with joy and happiness, prosperity and health. Lord Byron’s Kitchen will return to regularly scheduled recipe posts early in January. Stay tuned! XOXO