Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Christmas Traditions

Lucas and I each came into our marriage with a number of family traditions for Christmas - problem is - they didn't really jive together very well. For example, on Christmas morning in my family, we get up and open our stockings and presents from Santa, then read the Christmas story, eat breakfast and then start working on opening the Christmas presents from each other - one at a time! In Lucas' family, they get up incredibly early, have a giant free-for-all at all the presents and stockings and its over within an hour! See how those two traditions don't exactly work together?? So over the last few years we've tried to figure out which traditions are important to us and which ones we want to start for our own family.

Here's a few of the traditions that we have that are of note:
1) We always go out to get a real tree and we decorate it together. Here's our tree with some presents underneath - it's really looking like Christmas now!!

2) As we decorate the tree we talk about where the ornaments came from - especially the ones that we've gotten as gifts or ones that we bought while on vacation ... apparently we share this tradition with the NewlyWoodwards :)

3) Eat lots and lots of lemon bread - in fact, I'll be getting a loaf in the oven later this evening.

4) Enjoy a candlelit Christmas Eve service with one of our families - this year it will be Lucas' family, last year it was mine.

5) After the service, head back to our family's place and break out our new board game. See Lucas and I began this tradition where every Christmas we buy a new game and we play it Christmas eve. So far we've collected these... and we'd love to get some recommendations - hopefully we'll have quite a collection soon!

and we'd love to get some recommendations (we are considering Balderdash for this year but we aren't convinced we'd like it) - hopefully we'll have quite a collection soon!

We haven't quite figured out what our Christmas morning traditions are going to be since we are still spending each Christmas with one of our families - but once kiddos arrive we'll figure those out :)

To Check out some other bloggers traditions visit:
Dare to DIY

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry (Early) Christmas to Me...

I was at the mall yesterday picking up something for Lucas and while strolling the halls, decided to head into Banana Republic as they had a great 40% off sale. Want to guess what I came home with? Here's a little hint...

If you know me well, you know that bags are my weakness - I love them. So when I saw this beauty, the inner argument of "you shouldn't buy something for yourself so close to Christmas" ... "I really love it and will be disappointed if I can't bring it home" ... "what if Lucas was going to get you something similar for Christmas?" ... "but its on sale!!"

As it turned out, my inner spender won the argument and I now have a new, buttery leather bag to add to my collection!

I think the grey colour will be great for the winter but will also be totally appropriate for Spring/Fall. I love it!!

2009 Nestie Ornament Exchange

For the last three years I've participated in a Christmas Ornament Exchange with other "somewhat" newlyweds on a message board that I frequent on The Nest. Each year I've received beautiful ornaments and this year was certainly a good one!

This year I received a glass ball that is painted with white and silver Christmas trees - I love it and it matches our tree beautifully! Thanks Nikki!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deck The Halls!

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas around these parts. Even though we've had our tree up for almost 2 weeks now its just been in the last few days that we've started to get the rest of the house spruced up.

Lucas and I are super excited for Christmas this year. This will be the first Christmas of our married lives (almost 7 years now) that we don't need to do the 12 hour trek to one of the parents houses to celebrate. This year we are spending some time with Lucas' parents - only an hour away - and then my parents are flying in Christmas night to stay with us until New Years. We are so psyched to not have to battle the icy roads this year!

So, the point of the story is that since we are spending the holidays at home, we are taking a bit more pride in our Christmas decorating this year. We've got the tree trimmed...

The ornaments out...

Along with a super old picture of us with Jolly St. Nick...

And in honor of being at home this year, I've taken on some new projects... lets call them DIY...

Several weeks ago, I found this picture in BlogLand and I fell in love...

I especially like the ornament-clad garland and new that I had to make something like it mine. I looked into buying something similar but figured I could try to make it myself and save some money in the process... In total, my rendition of the ornament garland cost me about $10.

What do you think?

The other thing that I tried out this year is is the word-in-frames project that's also been floating around on The Nest and in BlogLand. While most people take this project on in a small-scale fashion (in 4x6 frames), I tried it out in a much larger-scale!

I started out with 3 Ikea, 16x20 frames and a roll of Christmas-y wrapping paper. I cut out rectangles of the wrapping paper that are slightly larger than the opening in the frame. On top of that I had my neighbour (who makes signs out of vinyl lettering) make me 3 letters - J-O-Y (I'm sure they could be cut out of scrapbooking paper for an equal stunning effect). I stuck those letters on the wrapping paper and then threw them in the frames - Voila - instant Joy!

So that's what our place is looking like for the Holidays... what are you doing to deck the halls this year?

See what some other bloggers are doing by visiting the NewlyWoodwards
Dare to DIY

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Have you been watching "The Good Wife" ??

I've been watching a new show on Global this season and I think I'm in love.

"The Good Wife" airs on Tuesday nights at 10pm (for all those Canadian readers) and features Juliana Margulies (from ER), Chris Noth (from Sex & The City) and Matt Czuchry (from Gilmore Girls). The premise is that Juliana's character, Alicia, gave up her career as a lawyer to be the faithful wife of Chris' character, Peter who was an Attorney General until he was found taking part in a lurid affair with a young stripper. When Peter gets sent to jail for his use of government money to pay for the stripper, Alicia needs to find her way back into practicing law and "The Good Wife" focuses on the cases that Alicia works on while working at a Junior Associate in a successful law firm.

Each week, the case is different, which means I don't get the chance to get bored with a bunch of supporting characters. The show has only been on for 6 episodes, but I'm already pulling for the main characters and hoping that they all get the chance to get their lives
back on track.

Altogether, I'm impressed by how smart this show is without being overtly sexy (like Grey's Anatomy) or too heartless. If you like a show that focuses on characters and encourages you to think... tune in to Global on Tuesday night (if you are Canadian... if not, apparantly CBS is airing the show) and check it out (here's to hoping one of my new favorites doesn't get cancelled...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Reactions: Chasing Harry Winston - 2/5 stars

"Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger was chick lit #2 of 2009.

I picked up this book at the library because I am a huge fan of "The Devil Wears Prada" as a movie, so I figured I'd love this book too... but no, not so much. This book follows the life of 3 best girlfriends as they make a one year commitment to each other, one makes the plan to have a year of" fun", hooking up with as many guys as possible, while another plans to stop sleeping around and instead settle down and potentially find herself a husband. I felt that the writing of this book was a bit crazed as the story jumped from girl to girl a lot. As a result, it felt like I never got to know either of the characters well. So, when the book was over, even though I didn't really like it, I still wanted more story about the characters. Basically, it wasn't a total waste of time, but it would have been much more enjoyable on a beach in Mexico with a lemonade instead on in my fleecy pjs while a blizzard raged outside (I read it in February...).

** Its Thanksgiving weekend around here so I'll be spending the rest of my day getting the house in shape for our 9 visitors that are coming tomorrow for turkey! Off to vacuum :)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Book Reactions: Confessions of a Shopoholic - 3/5 stars

About a week after finishing "Down Came the Rain" I was shopping at Costco and happened upon "Confessions of a Shopoholic" by Sophie Kinsella for a whopping $5!

Since the book was about to make its appearance in theatres, I figured it might be a fun read. And it certainly was a fun one to read! I never got into the Shopoholic series when it was popular for the first time, and since reading this book I can understand why it didn't appeal to me 4 - 5 years ago. See, at that point, I was in my first/second year of university and I was so busy trying to be an academic that I didn't think I had time for a 'fluffy' read. These days though, I'm so tired of academic reading that a chick lit book is right up my alley (and this will become painfully evident as I post more reviews). I read this book in a weekend and it was an enjoyable way to spend a couple cold January evenings.

As the title suggests, the main character, Becky Bloomwood, has a seriously spending problem. Her credit cards are maxed, she makes up lies to tell her family and friends about why bill collectors are following her but yet she still can't see to walk by a store window without walking inside and buying something. Long story short, she's a little shallow about the importance of image and it gets her in trouble - until it doesn't and instead it leads her to a pretty amazing and understanding guy.

While it wasn't the best book I've read this year, I've got to honestly admit, I've already read two more Sophie Kinsella books :) The sad part is, they are all the same - an attractive young girl is messed up for some reason, she has a crisis and in the process winds up with the perfect guy and the perfect life... The stuff that makes chick lit and beach reads fun!

** Ok, so I missed yesterday because my computer wouldn't open webpages for some reason. Stay tuned though, tomorrow I'm planning to write about "Chasing Harry Winston" the last chick lit book before I sent out my Reading Resolution email....

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dreaming of a White Kitchen...

This is what my kitchen looks like now (ok, not quite this dark but the picture is a pretty tidy version of what my kitchen looks like right this second...)

This is what I am dreaming that my kitchen looked like...

Lucas is all ready to sign up for a butcherblock countertop, in fact he is hoping to make it himself out of walnut, but he thinks it'll look fine against our golden oak cabinets... me, not so much. I think we should paint the cabinets a light grey-white, which would look sooo much better against a dark wood countertop. Who's with me?

Heather's Pick: Summer Sisters - 4/5 stars

Yesterday I wrote about the first book that I read this year. Today I'm writing about the most recent book that I finished, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume.

Honestly, this was one of the books that was recommended to me that I was most interested in reading. In my friend Heather's description of the book, she said that she had read it several times and that it was one of those books that every female should read at some point in her life. So, about 2 months into my reading adventure I put my name on a waiting list at the library for this book. Unfortunately though, for one reason or another, I never got my hands on a copy until I was shopping at Goodwill 2 weeks ago and found a hardcover copy for sale for only $2.99! Obviously I bought it right away and started it that night :)

"Summer Sisters" follows the story of 2 young girls as they make their way through the trials of growing up. They spend their summers with one of the girl's fathers on Martha's Vineyard and its their that they learn about what masquerades as love, what true love looks like and how horrible it feels for friendships to grow apart. So many characters in this book resonated with me. In fact, I think I identified with every female in the book at one point or another. "Summer Sisters" was enjoyable to read and while didn't evoke emotion in me like some of the other books I've read this year, its certainly one that I'd recommend to just about anyone!

See you tomorrow with a review of "Confessions of a Shopoholic" :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Reactions: Down Came the Rain - 3/5 stars

The first book of 2009 that I read was an autobiography by Brooke Shields called "Down Came the Rain"

I had this book on my 2008 Christmas list and was lucky enough that my husband gifted me with the book over the holidays. Given the graduate degree that I am working towards in Psychology - and my general interest in mental health, I was drawn to the book because its Brooke's account of her personal struggle with Post-Partum depression. Add to that, at the time I was making my Christmas list, I was loving Brooke's show "Lipstick Jungle" (which has since been cancelled) so I was only further drawn toward all things Brooke Shields.

I started reading "Down Came the Rain" very early in the new year and finished it within about 2 weeks. Considering that the book isn't very long, 2 weeks to read it is quite some time for me. My slowness was probably due to the fact that the book was a really heavy read! That being said, the book was enlightening about the realities of post-partum mental health issues. I'd definitely recommend the book for anyone wanting more insight into the real symptoms of post-partum depression or for anyone looking to just learn more about Brooke Shields. But, remember, the realities of what Brooke writes about in her book are hard to read, and hard to understand so try to read it with an open mind.

... WooHoo - First book post since my re-commitment... one down, about 15 to go :)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Long Time... No "See"...

Alrighty... Its been months since I last showed my face around these parts and I think I'm ready to recommit. We certainly didn't have much of a summer around Southern Ontario but nevertheless I didn't find myself cozying up to the computer very often so keeping up with posting about my reading adventure didn't exactly happen. But, its October now, and the cool winds and down-right cold temperatures have me turning back to the blog-o-sphere.

So, to mark my re-entrance into blog-land, I'm going to write a review daily of one of the books that I've read this year. Many of the reviews will be of books that friends have recommended but some will also be of books that I just happened to pick up at the library because they had a pretty cover... While I'd love to say that I'm going to get back into blogging because it makes me more fulfilled (or something like that), the truth is that I've read a bunch of books this year and I want to document it somehow. I've kept a list of books that I've read on my iPhone but I want to also include some of my thoughts on the books so that at the end of the year I can really reflect on how my reading resolution went.

So, stay tuned for Daily Post #1 coming up tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So Good...

Yup, still loving the soy milk, until it gets spilled on my laptop!

Everything on the computer is still working properly, but all of the keys on my keyboard are incredibly stiff and sticky... any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Soy Good...

Guess what April...?? I like chocolate soy milk too!

Milk has not been my friend for the past few years, so I'd pretty much given up hot beverages since I don't like tea or coffee. But, in San Francisco, while Lucas was enjoying what seemed like his 76th Starbucks latte, a barista convinced me to try a soy mocha. I was scared, I mean really scared to try it (those who know me know I don't really try new foods very often) - but, after the second sip, I loved it!
After my 4th soy mocha over the past couple months, I decided to get adventurous and brave and buy a carton of chocolate soy milk. Again, fear almost consumed me, but I tried it, and I love it too! Sort of tastes like chocolate milk made with Nestle Quik - but without the harsh consequences :)

Thanks for bringing to the soy side, April!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Add Another One to the List...

I just finished another book and this one was a winner - sort of. Diary of a Mad Bride by Laura Wolf was absolutely hilarious.

It is written entirely in journal entries so its a really easy read, especially if you only have a few minutes at a time to pick it up. If you've ever planned a wedding, or if you happen to be planning one now, this book will help you realize all your "bridezilla" moments and will have you laughing over them again and again. This first book by Laura Wolf isn't quite as good as her second book "Diary of a Mad Mom-to-be" which I read a few years ago, but it was funny and enjoyable to read.

Right now, I am also reading the non-fiction book "Pushed" and am getting ready to head to the library for another book from the list. I am going back and forth between "The Year of Living Biblically", "The Poisonwood Bible" or "Jitterbug Perfume". Which would you recommend reading first?

Stinky Skunk!

A couple evenings ago, Lucas, me and our dog Izzy were outside painting a utility trailer that we are fixing up for transporting our motorcycle. We were gearing up to do the final coat of Tremclad when Lucas heard a rustle in the neighbours' yard. We glanced quickly and were super surprised to see a skunk wandering around the neighbours' front lawn... at 5:30pm!!!

I quickly scooped up our little dog and ran inside (I'd prefer 100 loads of laundry over a skunky smelling dog!) but Lucas watched the skunk for a while and decided to take a couple pics...

Eventually the skunk made its way under our fence and into our backyard. It was at this point that Lucas started to get brave and he decided to try to get a bit closer to the skunk. If any of your significant others ever thinks to try this, remind them - not a good idea! The skunk must have been startled by Lucas and in less than a second he spun around, dug his nasty nails in the ground, popped up his tail and got ready to spray. Luckily, Lucas wasn't far from the door, so he dashed inside before any damage could be done but it certainly was a close call!

Needless to say, we stayed in the house until the skunk was long gone!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Airing My Dirty Laundry

For those that know me, it won't come as a surprise that I hate laundry! Even though there are only 2 of us in the house, I still end up doing between 2 and 3 loads of laundry a week and there is no other chore that I dread more. It scares me to think of what life will be like when there are more than 2 of us to keep in clean clothes :)

Last night while I was folding load 1 of the 4 that need to be done this week, I grumbled and whined and grumbled some more until my husband agreed to help with this dreaded job. We agreed that when our family grows, we won't need a nanny, we won't need a housekeeper, but that we definitely will need some help with the dirty clothes!!

Who else hates laundry day? Any tips for me? I'm thinking I'd rather cook dinner for 100 than do laundry for 2...

Sad Day...

Ok, maybe I'm being a tad dramatic, but still... Last night was the last episode of Sarah Richardson's "Sarah's Cottage" Virtually everyone in design blog-land has been introduced to Sarah - but I've watched her since I was in high school when she was the host of Room Service and have been a faithful follower ever since. Her show "Sarah's Cottage" was a look into what life with Sarah is like and I was addicted so its sad to see it go. You can bet that I'll be watching the episodes over and over online. If you haven't been lucky enough to see Sarah's Cottage, you can view full episodes here and you can view image galleries of all the rooms she renovated here.

To whet your appetite for all rooms Sarah, here are a couple pics from her cottage.

Nope, I can't believe that's a cottage either - and - its completely run off of solar power and propane!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesdays with Morrie

I just finished Tuesdays with Morrie two nights ago and can't say enough good things about it. Thanks Laurie for the great recommendation. Reading it made me miss my days as a first-year undergrad student at St. Thomas University where I was encouraged to think and reflect on a daily basis on everyday things - something that really isn't encouraged in the same way at the more science-based university where I am now.

This book is made up of several small chapters where each focuses on a weekly (every Tuesday) conversation between the author and Morrie Schwartz - a sociology professor suffering from ALS. They talk about forgiveness, family, love, culture and eventually dealing with death. The book isn't exactly deep in terms of philosophy but a number of things that Morrie says in the book really made me think. In fact, when I read this book again, I think I'll keep a journal with me to jot down some of the things that he says that really speak to me.

At one point, the topic of conversation is the impact of culture on our happiness and satisfaction in life. It seems that lately (especially with the current economic situation) there is such a focus on money and how it makes us happy or unhappy with our lives. In the book, Morrie really stresses that its our culture that can make us feel insufficient and that we can reject that culture if we want our lives to be different... This definitely resonated with me, and its stayed on my mind lately... specifically, that we need to focus more on the things that matter in life. I know, I know... kind of cliche right, but surprisingly, even through the lens of dying, Tuesdays with Morrie was able to portray this message in a refreshing way! I'd definitely recommend it!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Additions to the Backyard

I took a trip to HomeSense today. I rarely go there, but when I do I almost always come home with a couple fun finds. Today's visit was fabulous because I found a great garden stool... something I've been wanting to get for quite some time.

Here it is in place between our two Muskoka chairs at the back of our yard.

While walking around I also spotted a little ceramic turtle which has since found a perfect spot in one of our gardens.

And I also picked up this guy on clearance. It has a holder inside for a tealight and a chain to allow it to be hung. For now though, its spot is in the middle of our patio table.

Then, just to round out this post... a picture of the puppy Izzy. No, I didn't get her at HomeSense... but she's still pretty awesome!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My other life...

In my other life as an academic I work part time as a Teaching Assistant Developer with the Center for Teaching Excellence at the university. Our group has a blog and it was my turn this week to contribute. If you want to check out my recent post on dealing with classroom disruptions you can check it out here. Make sure to leave a comment if you have any helpful tips for dealing with these issues!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Right Back...

School is kicking my butt right now so, posting is slow. Will return soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feeling Like an Undergrad

Today I've been working on a paper that is due for my very last required course for my Ph.D. Such a huge part of me is giving myself a pat on the back that I've gotten this far, but this other part of me is feeling just a little ashamed... why? Because today as I was working on the paper, I considered (at least twice) emailing the prof and asking how long she wants the paper to be... how she wants me structure some of the parts etc... Thinking these things makes me realize that while I've come so far in some respects, in other ways, I've haven't changed at all since my first couple of years as an undergrad.

I can only imagine myself in 15 years, writing a grant proposal, emailing NSERC saying "How long is this supposed to be... can I double-space it?"

** Hanging my head in shame **

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter with Evelyn ... and Guitar Hero :)

After my last post about all the food we had for Easter, I came out of my sugar-induced coma and went through some of the pics that we took of the family. The best and funniest photos came from the Guitar Hero session that we all took part in. Yep, that's right... all! The husband and his brother started the whole thing by pulling out the Wii and the guitars.

But, once my sister-in-law found out there was a Bon Jovi song on the list - she and her husband were totally in!

The best part though? After sharing lots of laughs watch my sister-in-law's attempts at strumming on beat, we convinced my father-in-law and mother-in-law to try it out. They didn't fare quit as well as those of us with more experience, but it was a hoot watching them!

The highlight of the day though was getting a chance to spend some time with the newest addition to the family - Evelyn Ruth! Here she is with her grand-parents...

Isn't she adorable?

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