If you missed Day 7, click here.
Day 8 – Family
Christmas is never quite right without your family around. Doing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies, eating tasty yum yums or just straight up enjoying each others company is what makes the holiday season so amazing. Growing up we sometimes spent the holidays with extended family, but for the most part we just had each other. Sometimes it was nice, but other times it seemed too quiet for me. I’m not exactly looking for the Home Alone family experience either. Somewhere in the middle there is a sweet spot and we might have found it this year.
We plan to finally have Christmas in our own house, with our own family, enjoying our own decorations and traditions, just the 3 of us. Previous years I was so preoccupied with being a perfect hostess, or settling into someone else home, that I was too distracted to fully indulge and enjoy the holidays myself. I also seemed to miss more of baby girls Christmas experience then I would like. I want to thoroughly enjoy watching her open her presents, make our traditional breakfast as a family and just simply take our time. I most certainly do not want to wait in line to access the Christmas tree, or be distracted by all the noise of a huge crowd. At least not this year anyway. After we enjoy our morning we plan to drive to my Mother in-laws house for dinner and spend time with a lot of family there. We’ll get the best of both worlds this year, and in all the right places.
I hear people complain about too many people cramming into one house during the holidays. No one has a proper bed or adequate bathroom time. Everyone seems to be stepping on each others toes, and that can be a real drag. I can see that side of the argument, but I think I would still take that over having no family at all. Like I said, when I was growing up I actually felt kind of lonely. We would open our gifts as a family, then once the turkey was in the oven, everyone went their separate ways until dinner. It just never quite sat right with me, so there definitely has to be a balance.
Getting on that flight to see your family, or picking up your family from the airport can add to the excitement of the holidays. Driving through the snow, planning to go sledding or skating together can be a lot of fun. There is just something amazing about everyone being dressed in the comfiest Christmas pj’s while sipping hot chocolate with Christmas music playing in the background. The best part of all of this though is the people. It just wouldn’t be the same if you were all alone in your themed pj’s on Christmas.
If you missed day 6, click here.
Day 7 – Drinks
No Christmas season would be complete without the booze! Non alcoholic beverages will also be there. I like to drink white wine with turkey dinner and of course beer can be drank any time. Sometimes a company will put out a holiday beer which I will likely try and also very likely hate, but I still try it nonetheless. Plus I always finish my beer. I don’t understand how someone can hate a beer so much that they don’t even finish it. To me beer, pizza, sex and massages are one in the same – no matter how bad it is, you always finish it! Because how bad can drinking beer, eating pizza, having sex and getting a massage REALLY be? Am I right?!
Eggnog is also a big favourite in our house. My father used to be a dairy engineer, so he takes his eggnogging VERY seriously. Has to have the correct fat spread on the tongue, good color and nutmeg is a MUST! I on the other hand prefer my eggnog to be lighter, via either milk or rum. Depends on what time of day and who I’m with.
One year we had a Christmas party and I devised a few different tasty cocktails to serve. By devise I mean I googled holiday drinks and picked one with ingredients that weren’t too freaky.
The Spicy Gingerman was fun, and most definitely was very spicy. I loved the cinnamon stick garnish. The Turtle Dove one was kind of a flop but the Eggnog martini was pretty tasty, at least my Dad really liked it – no surprises there. I also made a candy cane martini but I seem to have lost the recipe. However, if I remember correctly it went a little something like this:
Candy Cane Martini
- Rim glass with crushed candy cane
- a shot of vanilla vodka
- a shot of regular vodka
- a shot of peppermint schnapps
- candy cane garnish
This cocktail was WAY too easy to drink and got me very drunk!
We also cannot forget my own recipe, Nicole’s Spicy Apple Sangria. I’m thinking of getting creative with this one, maybe adding some orange for more dimension? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know if I do!
And of course you can always drink water. So… there’s that.
If you missed Day 5, click here.
Day 6 – Food
Obviously!! If you don’t think Turkey dinner with all the trimmings when you think of Christmas, then something is seriously wrong with you. Everyone always does this meal a bit different, but the basics will likely be there: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. I like to add a unique side dish for each holiday turkey dinner to try to make them different. For example, at Easter I make a green bean casserole. For Thanksgiving I like to do some kind of sweet potato side. I haven’t quite landed on the perfect Christmas side dish, maybe peas pudding? We’ll see. In the mean time, MORE STUFFING!
At Christmas time the food doesn’t just start and end at the Turkey Dinner, there are plenty of appetizers, baked goods and snacks all around. My Mom used to make a really good cheese ball with crackers and garlic sausage on the side. I adopted this recipe for my own family and friends. A few years ago I was shopping at Homesense and found this awesome candy cane shaped dish with a mini candy cane spreader to go with it. Hence the birth of cheese cane!!
I’m not the best baker in the world, but as life goes on I seem to have perfected at least a few different recipes over the years. First up are those spiral cookies that we’ve all seen on Pinterest. I have adopted this recipe, and my cookies always turn out. I call them Peppermint Swirlies! Plus they just look pretty so that’s awesome too.
My husband is a peanut butter and chocolate fanatic, so no holiday season is complete without peanut butter balls or buckeyes as the kids like to call them. This is the recipe that I’ve been using for the past several years. However, this year I decided to switch it up with this recipe instead. I love me some krispies!
The last staple I have are these little gems. I actually enjoy making this for all of the different holidays. They are tasty, super easy, versatile, easy to transport and you don’t have a bunch of dishes to clean up when they’re done. In our house we call these turtle ones the vagina pretzels.
Now there are also Gingerbread men, and sugar cookies, yadda yadda but those are over played by everyone else every year so I thought I’d spare you the details… even though I did make Gingerbread, and it was delicious!
In case you missed Day 4, click here.
Day 5 – Gift Wrapping
This favourite of mine is a bit more of eye candy, and less about me actually participating. I’ll admit, I like to make a pretty gift basket, and wrapping presents can be fun. I just lack the attention to detail and patience involved in beautiful gift wrapping. I can’t make myself fold and re fold, and make sure everything is perfectly even. Nor can I make myself scour the house looking for DIY potential items to make a name tag and/or bow, and then basket weave the ribbon into a perfect oblivion!! It sounds great and all, but I just can’t make myself do it. Seems like something I’d be totally down with, but no. I’m the type that may accidentally tear the paper and will then just tape it shut. Or if I run out of paper, or cut it too short, I’ll just use it anyway and attempt to patch work somehow. I might even use a stick on bow to hide my shame. In all honesty, I’m just too lazy, and feel like it’s too late to turn back at that point. I’ve put in so much effort already!
Now I’m not saying I wrap with a newspaper or just put gifts in a garbage bag, I’m still me and like to make things pretty… I just like to make things pretty with the least amount of effort needed is all. Gift wrapping can also allow for an additional outlet to theme the crap out of something from the inside out. Nothing pleases me more than a good theme, but looking under the tree and seeing all of the different color papers, bows, ribbons, name tags, gift bags and so on is a close second!
With creating something so pretty and fancy then leads to the savage destruction of said beautiful thing. Kind of like knocking over that lego tower you just spent 15 minutes building. It’s a weird satisfaction, and I can’t explain it, nor do I think I really want to know the true meaning of this. I do like to take my time unwrapping gifts, but I still enjoying tearing up the paper etc. I never got those people that go and gently unfasten the tape, and slowly unfold everything as if they were planning to reuse every morsel of that wrapping. I’m down with recycling gift bags and tissue paper, but I draw the line at wrapping paper and you should too. Tear.. that.. shit.. UP!
If you missed Day 3 click here.
Day 4 – Receiving
Yes, giving is amazing. I think I made that quite clear on Day 3, but receiving is just as great. A lot of people might not want to admit that but hey, I’m not a lot of people.
As an adult I get to enjoy different sides of receiving that kids aren’t old enough to understand yet. No, I don’t mean anything racey like those thoughts that first came to your mind (pervert). What I really mean is that moment you get to the post office to pick up your parcel of Christmas goodies. Knowing that someone thought about you enough to send you gifts is a great feeling. That whole drive home from the post office I am so excited to get through my door and cut open the tape. Damn! If only I hadn’t stepped out of the house for those 4 and a half minutes and missed the mail man, I could have this sweet sweet package opened up on my living room floor right now!
The other day I checked the mail box and found a few red envelopes. I took them home, and placed them carefully on the kitchen table with anticipation. I then cleared the area, got my chair all comfy, and even grabbed a nice piece of chocolate. I was going to enjoy opening those Christmas cards thoroughly. Had it been after 5 o’clock I probably would have poured myself a glass of wine too!
It takes a lot of restraint to stop myself from trampling my own child on the way to the tree on Christmas morning. That would just be inappropriate, because I’m an adult and am supposed to know better or whatever kinda crap we tell ourselves. I really do love seeing my daughters eyes light up with cheer and wonderment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself either. In fact, I will enjoy myself and I refuse to feel guilty about it… I might feel a bit embarrassed though. It can be our little secret.
If you missed Day 2 click here.
Day 3 – Giving
The sun is hot on my skin, but the light breeze cools it enough to maintain my comfort. I see the the condensation building and droplets of water dripping down the side of my beer bottle as I gaze over my surroundings. Green grass, leafy trees, multicolored flowers speckled with butterflies and bees. This describes my typical surroundings as I jot down the perfect Christmas shopping list.
Amongst all this crazy there truly is a thoughtful and considerate person underneath. I love listing, purchasing, wrapping and giving the perfect gifts. Sometimes they aren’t completely perfect, but I am still a regular person with a budget, so I really am giving the perfect gift with my abilities.
I’m that person who listens when you mention that you would love a new picture frame to match your decor, or that you would buy that lipstick if you had the extra money, or that you don’t have that kitchen tool required to make that amazing recipe for me to eat. Don’t worry friend, I’ve got your back! You will be making me delicious food in no time! You know why? Because I’m a good friend that was listening to you, and adding to my list, while you were rambling on about your life or some crap.
Not only do I love gift giving, but I also have a major weak spot for donating and other random acts of kindness. Seriously, I was almost in tears when participants in a parade were wishing me a Merry Christmas.. I thought, “Wow, that is so nice of these stranger to think of me, and hope I have a great Christmas!” I know that is way too sensitive, my husband has already told me, but I just can’t help it. Giving that neighbor a box of chocolates after they help push your car out of the snow, putting change in the Salvation Army donation ball at the grocery store, giving a relative a plate of freshly baked cookies or giving up your place in the line up to that person with just one or two items. It all makes my heart melt.
This truly is what Christmas is all about, for me anyway. I encourage you to donate as much as possible, not only during the holiday season but always. It’ll make you feel great, and will likely also make someone else feel great too!
It is now day 2 of my 12 Random Days of Christmas list. God I love a good list!
If you missed Day 1 click here.
Day 2 – Decorations
I was the first in my family and on the block with a Christmas tree up. I figured, hey, I love Christmas so why not make it last as long as I possibly can? Maybe no one else wants Christmas month but I DO! I wait all year for this awesomeness, so I plan to enjoy the crap out of it!!
I also love decorating and making things look pretty so this is basically two birds with one stone for me. When I can no longer hold it anymore, I head to the basement to drag up our Christmas boxes and tree. Opening those boxes filled with ornaments makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning.
-pun not intended… who am I kidding, I totally intended that!-
Hanging all the ornaments on the tree, putting out all of the candles and snow globes, replacing regular kitchen towels with red and green ones. It’s all good stuff. We moved into a new house this year so I had the added excitement of figuring out where I will put everything. Oh the decisions!
Special Christmas dishes that you can place cookies, crackers or a cheese ball aka Cheese Cane (Stay tuned for an explanation of that one.). Punch bowls, fancy cutlery, color coordinated platters, table cloths, printed napkins… Is anyone else getting worked up reading this? Just me?!
The decorating doesn’t stop on the inside of the house though. All of those sparkling lights, reindeer pulling sleighs, inflatable snowmen and waving Santas, and don’t forget the wreaths hanging on the doors. So many different wreaths! I love feeling inspired and seeing all of the cool decorating ideas people can come up with is pretty amazing. Eye candy for sure! If you love wreaths as much as I do check out these wreaths that I made with my own two beautiful lady hands.
To purchase these or more of my delightfuls, check out The Bellus Boutique on Etsy.
Unfortunately we don’t have any exterior decorations with the exception of a wreath on the door. For shame, I know! What kind of Christmas spirit lady am I anyway? Well I want lights, I really do, but with all of our renting, moving, saving money for the next thing; exterior decorations were unfortunately never a priority. That all changes this year, well, this Boxing Day anyway. For you Americans, that’s like our Black Friday but on December 26th. Until next Christmas, the outside of my house will remain nude!
Well, I’m just gonna come right out and say it… I love love love Christmas. I get so excited about it, perhaps even more excited than my daughter who actually believes in Santa. Is that possible you ask? Well the answer is yes!
With the spirit of Christmas in the air, I have decided to devise my own, personal, albeit random, 12 days of Christmas List. I love listing, I love Christmas, and, well I guess the number 12 is okay so I’ll just go with it.
So let’s start this amazing 12 days of Christmas shall we? Here is day 1 of what Christmas represents to me…
Day 1 – The General Holiday Cheer
Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas decor has made it’s way into the stores. Of course we all know that it was available to purchase in like August. I actually meant the stores themselves decorating. Now, I’m Canadian, so for me Thanksgiving is in October. Therefore, all of this decorating starts a bit earlier, which is fine by me!
I love that moment when you are in a store, or some kind of public building, and you hear that Christmas music start to play. It basically gives me goosebumps and I start to get butterflies in my stomach. To me this means that other people are starting to celebrate Christmas, and it will no longer be shameful to admit that I am celebrating Christmas too. Even if by now my lists have been made, purchased, wrapped and maybe even shipped. This year I forced myself to wait until the end of November to send out my parcels. I like to take advantage of the cheaper shipping, and ensure my parcel arrives by mailing it early, but I also don’t want to shame my recipients by pointing out how ahead of the game I am. Nothing Christmas spirity about that!
I love seeing the Christmas cheer on little ones faces, hearing everyone wish me a Merry Christmas during a parade, or watching as others set up their Christmas lights.
With love comes hate, and although many of us love the Christmas season, there are also plenty of people who hate it!
The Christmas music playing at the store does give them a funny feeling, but it’s not butterflies or goosebumps… It’s that weird murdery-stabby feeling that we all get from time to time. Select people just hate the holidays. They hate what Christmas represents now, they hate all of the stress involved with shopping and money and they hate the fact that they can’t avoid that family drama that they’ve been successfully avoiding all year.
Now, I’m a lister and do not procrastinate when it comes to shopping. I know I don’t like dealing with hectic traffic, struggling to find a parking space, moving with a crowd in the mall, or waiting in long line ups. I am normal sometimes. This just encourages me to get it all out of the way early. That way I can be that annoying happy one in line singing jingle bells, while everyone else steams about the lack of cashiers that are open.
Trust me people, my side is far more enjoyable than the scrooge side, you should try it if you don’t already know what I’m talking about.
Remember the horrifying before pictures?? Did I scare anyone off from the landlord business?
In all honesty, I think the city our house was located in, and the different city that we were living in at the time is what made this situation really crappy for us. Had we been right next door, perhaps our tenants wouldn’t have been so crummy.
Oh well, you live and you learn right?
Well we did work hard, and sometimes slacked, but eventually we completed the renos on our house and got it up to selling standards. The place even started to feel like a home again.
Now here are the long awaited after pictures.
Selling the house turned out to be another giant headache. Our realtor was a dud. Somehow we ended up with 3 offers in one night, and after accepting one they ended up backing out. The other two offers backed out as well. Ohhhkay?!
So back to square one. We did eventually get an offer and the people bought our house for less then we had paid for it. We bought this place right before the recession, so it was at it’s peak price. To this day, the price never did end up climbing back up to where it was. At that point, I might have just paid someone to take this house off of our hands. There was so much more drama involved in buying, renting and renovating this house then I have disclosed. However, to reserve my sanity, I’d rather not discuss it ever again! I’m pretty sure my husband and I shaved off a year of our lives just with the stress of dealing with everything – easily.
Where did we move next? What did we decide to do with all of our stuff? Stay tuned! You’ve only witnessed half of the adventure.
Ahh yes, the landlord business. To me it seemed like this great idea. So wait, I get to rent out my house and let other people pay the mortgage for me?!? That’s amazing!! And well yeah, my experience was exactly like I had always hoped that it would be, except the exact opposite!
Our first renters treated our home like a door mat/toilet bowl. When they moved out they left it smelling like a hot, dirty pet store. I could list all of the ways they screwed us over, but it’ll just piss me off. They did unfortunately set the pace for the rest of our tenants and basically left us with shambles of a home. I honestly don’t know how some people can be such slobs, or even live with themselves by screwing others over so badly but I suppose that is not my problem.
What is my problem however, is how I had to turn our “house” back into a home.
Just to paint a bit of a picture, my house was a bi-level. Living Room, Kitchen, Dining Room, 2 Bedrooms and a full Bath upstairs. Family Room, Laundry, Storage, another full Bath and another 2 Bedrooms downstairs.
Here are some before pictures…
So yes, I have definitely been busy. This took a few months to chip away at it all. Not only to get it up to our living standards, but then up to selling standards as well. I can paint, and do other minor things, and my husband can eventually figure out how to install a dishwasher or sink, but we are by no means considered “handymen” (handywomen?). I am very glad that all of this is now behind us, I am also SUPER content never being a landlord ever again!