12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 8

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.

homealone homealone1

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.

12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 7

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. 


I took cute Christmas cards from previous years and used them to write out my cocktail recipes so I didn't have to constantly check online.

I took cute Christmas cards from previous years and used them to write out my cocktail recipes so I didn’t have to constantly check online.


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.

12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 6

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!!


Unfortunately the only picture I currently have of the Cheese Cane is this poor quality shot of the entire spread I had one year (bottom left). I WILL take a new and improved picture this Christmas and post in the new year.

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!

Topped with crushed peanuts and Reese's Pieces candies

Topped with crushed peanuts and Reese’s Pieces candies

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!

12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 5

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!

12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 4

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!

chocolateIt 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.


12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 3

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.

listEarly?  Perhaps.  Neurotic?   A tad.  Thoughtful?  Most definitely!

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.

baconNot 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!

12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 2

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!

My tree in all it's glory

My tree in all it’s glory

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?!


Plate I painted at Clay Cafe with cookies baby girl and I made

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.

IMG_0087 IMG_0022To 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!

12 Random Days of Christmas – Day 1


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!

santas coming

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.


Old House Renos – Part Two Pics

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.


We patched all of the walls, and re hung some panels – properly. Show home ready!


We kept the idea of the accent color on the fireplace, but we re painted everything lighter neutral colors.


Our hallway into the kitchen/dining room area. We had replaced all of the track lighting and the dining room light too. It used to this be dingy white, and some fixtures looked like they belonged in a Pizza Hut or something. No thank you!


The kitchen. New stove top burner and all!


The Dining room. The baseboards in this room were in the worst condition ever. I had to replace some of the horrible ones, repaint them all, and even replace some of the woodwork around the bottom of the door.


Some of our yard from the deck. There weren’t really any before pictures of our yard because the grass had been covered in snow. After the snow melted however, it revealed mostly mud. Our lawn had been ravaged and neglected so hard that there was barely any lawn left. We re seeded, watered and mowed often to nurse this baby back to health.


Our deck could have used a good stain. In the end we decided that the large deck and lawn would speak for itself, and that we likely wouldn’t see the money back with the sale of our house so we left it. In the far corner there used to be a giant trampoline too aka there was absolutely no grass over there. I do not look back fondly on all of those dump runs we did to clear out all of the abandoned crap the tenants had left.


Aww yes, remember the motivational shitter? We brought it back to clean, crisp basics.


The white spotted family room that had the most wall damage. I was so pleased that we had chose a lighter neutral color for the house. It really brightened up the basement and made it a lot more bright and fresh. We turned this into baby girls play room.


The downstairs bathroom. We fixed all of the drawers, replaced the sink and painted in this room. I was also amazed to see that the medicine cabinet had survived all of the tenants that circulated through. Even those little glass shelves inside were all in perfect condition. You crack the sink, but manage to salvage the thin glass shelves? Strange.


The master. I would have loved to see a nice headboard or art piece on the wall behind the bed, but we just started to run out of money and effort. This would have to do.


Last but not least, my favorite room in the house, baby girls room. I had this theme in mind ever since she was born, but at that time we were renters ourselves, and understood that you can’t just repaint other peoples homes. Our tenants however did not get that memo. At one point we came to check up on the house and this room had been painted blood red without our permission. Evidence of this remains on one spot on the carpet. Did I mention that in between another set of renters there was a head sized hole in the wall in this room? Classy.


Baby girl’s accent wall. I had so much fun painting this, it just ended up taking a long time. The green required a lot of precise measuring and a couple of coats. I free handed the tree and that needed a few coats of black paint as well. All of this had to be scheduled around a toddler who couldn’t exactly be trusted with wet paint.


Daddy Owl, Mommy Owl and Baby Girl Owl <3

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.

Old House Renos – Before Pics

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…


The glorious front entrance! Our most current renters were contractors, and I am ashamed to admit that we actually paid them (in full) to re do our stairs and to paint our main floor. This is the “finished product” those SOB’s left us with. Never to return our calls again!


Coming up the stairs you’ll see our living room. Dings, dents and nail holes covered our walls. I apologize for the pictures. My old cell took poor quality shots.


Beautiful bay window! Clearly they had a hard time deciding where to hang the panels.


Oh and don’t mind the chewed blinds… and I don’t mean that metaphorically.


I guess the tenants decided that this TV nook could use a piece of plywood screwed right into the drywall (no studs), to support their TV. Unfortunately I took the shelf down before I could take a picture. I knew that resting a big screen TV on it would likely just tear it out of the wall, so it was one of the first things to go. Shouldn’t you ask permission before doing things like this to someone elses house?


More damage to the walls


Onto the kitchen. Our pantry, where apparently someone was really really hungry and needed to whip the door open and punch a hole in it with the door stop. Those things have rubber on them, how hard would you have to open that door? Also a major scuff on our fridge door.


I guess not only were they really really hungry, but they really really wanted to aggressively wash their dishes via dishwasher. I’m pretty sure that this new dishwasher had all the button faces on it when we installed it.


Half of the drawer face plates had been broken off. Don’t mind the mess in the dining room. We didn’t exactly feel quite like unpacking just yet.


Now this broken burner, our tenant told us that he was boiling water and the element just popped randomly. As winter turned into spring and the snow in the backyard began to melt we found a bunch of burned kraft dinner that had just be tossed over the deck. So… Boiling water hey? I guess we’re lucky they didn’t burn the house down!


More wall damage


A shot from underneath our deck. Before we left we carefully installed lattice around our deck to keep things looking neat and tidy. Looks like dogs chewed some of it, and someone just ripped off other portions. I’m guessing so that they could neatly store all of their random garbage.


Cigarette butts left over in cans. Too heavy to move to the garbage?


The main floor bathroom had all of these random quote stickers all over the walls. You know the ones that I’m talking about, Live Laugh Love! Well anyway, I thought it was weird that they didn’t take them off when they moved until I started to remove them myself. My patchwork job attempting to smooth out all of the removed paint and drywall.


How many motivational quotes do you really need in the shitter? Seriously.


Alright, heading down to the dungeon, err… basement


No, this is not your child covered in calamine lotion during the chicken pox. And no, this is not even an over exaggeration.




Rust stain on the carpet I think. I had to steam clean the crap out of that stain.


Broken light switch plate. I guess that COULD happen while moving your furniture out. But replacing the broken plate COULD be accomplished before you leave also. Bastards!


Soon to be my baby girls room. This carpet had black tar like stains all over it which I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of. The closet doors were all messed up also.


More broken drawer face plates.


The sink had a big crack in it too. How does one manage this?


This was old damage, but our first renters had left a giant iron burn print and it had to be replaced. Of course the store didn’t have the exact color anymore, so que the Frankenstein patched together flooring


And now doors. Random doors throughout the house


Someone tried to go all Hulk on this one.

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!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.