2014 Canadian Blogger Christmas Swap

I participated last year in the Canadian Blogger Christmas Swap so when Leah and Lindsay hosted it again this year, I immediately signed up! I was partnered with Nicole from Haute Runner. I have been reading Nicole’s blog forever and it was fun to be partnered up with someone else from Calgary. You can read about what I sent her here.

Nicole left my package on my front step last week and it was exciting to come home from work to a surprise package. It was my first christmasy thing and Nicole had wrapped it up to look like a Christmas present.

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Inside were two wrapped packages and a beautiful handmade card.

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In the first package I found this adorable bell ornament. Nicole had included a note about the ornament – it is supposed to hang on the bottom of my tree and act as a cat warning system. So thoughtful and I love quirky traditions that like.

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In the other package was a set of wooden Nutcracker ornaments. Of course, Donnelly was involved in opening the gifts and immediately tried to destroy the bell ornament. I think he knew it was something he needed to worry about.

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The ornaments look beautiful on my tree and I love that they fit in with all the other things I hang on our tree. The Nutcrackers add a little sparkle and I think the bell might be working as a magic charm since I haven’t spotted any cats trying to attack our tree.

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Thanks Nicole!

The MacDonald Family Christmas Tree Hunt – 2014

Read about previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2006

I feel with the way the weekends are this year that there just isn’t very much time to get Christmasy things done! This is the earliest we’ve ever gotten our tree but still feels late.

Like the past couple of years we headed out to the JFW tree lot in Jumpingpound on Sunday to get our tree. It was a warm, sunny day so it was busy out there and we were lucky to get a spot in the parking lot.

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I was hungry after swimming so we had our hot dog lunch before heading out in search of our tree. Patches loves the hot dog lunch part of Christmas tree hunting and soaked up the attention (and hot dog pieces) he got.

After lunch we walked uphill to the back of the cut block where there were less people and enjoyed just being outside on a sunny winter day. Patches sniffed everything and welooked at dozens of scrawny pine trees. We finally settled on one and quickly cut it down.

 

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We had to take off another foot when we got it home but it fits perfectly in our living room. This is our first tree in the new house and I’m glad we didn’t have to do too much rearranging of furniture to get it to work.

We decorated it after dinner on Sunday and I think it looks great! I haven’t actually been home much to enjoy it but I am looking forward to relaxing by it in the evenings soon.

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A Sewing Project to Make Things a Little Cozier – Wellie Liners

It really is winter here now -it’s been snowing and cold for the past week. It has been a rough transition because one day it was warm enough to rake leave in a t-shirt and then the next day I was wearing snow pants to walk the dog. Shoulder-season isn’t my favorite but I’ve been working on a few things to make the transition a little easier. It’s been a busy month so I haven’t had as much time to work on my projects as I would have liked but I did finish the first one last weekend and I’m excited to share it!

Fleecy Wellie Liners

In the spring I bought myself some Hunter Wellington boots (in a lovely grey color) and I have thoroughly enjoying them every time it rains. My biggest regret about Chicago is not bringing my wellies to keep my feet dry with all the rain we had.

I have been wanting to buy some liners for my boots so that I can wear them in winter (well, at least parts of winter here) but they have always been out of stock when I’ve been in the mood to buy them. They also cost about $50 so they aren’t exactly cheap. The other day I was admiring my leg warmers and had the idea that I could just make some liners for my boots. Originally I thought I would knit boot socks but that seemed to be a little more effort than I wanted. Clever Charlotte has a great pattern and post for fleece liners with knitted cuffs that seemed super easy to make so I set myself to making my own.

The Cuffs
I started with the knitted cuff since I could do that in bed while I listed to a podcast. I wanted to use the round loom so I didn’t end up using the knitting pattern from the liner instructions. Instead, I used the pattern for this Bumpy Headband from This Mama Knits on my 31 peg (purple) loom. I cast on using a chain cast on, then followed the pattern as best I could (it required a little fudging on the last stitch of each round because I was using an odd numbered loom). I did two sets of the pattern (rows 2 – 9) and then cast off with the super stretchy cast off method. With the chunky wool I used this gave me cuffs about 3″ long. I used wool from my wool stash so I don’t know exactly how much I used but it was certainly less than a skein.

The Sock
I bought about 1 m of baby blue fleece from the thrift store ($3) which was enough for the project with some left over (the pattern calls for 1/2 yard or about 1/2 m). I have size 10 feet so I printed out the biggest pattern and then transferred it to brown paper as suggested in the post.

The instructions in the post are very detailed and easy to follow so I won’t repeat the steps here. Once the socks were all sewn together I tried them in my boots to determine exactly how tall they should be and trimmed off a little excess. Then I pinned my knitted cuffs to the inside of the sock (I put the super stretchy bind off side as my stitched side) and used my machine to zig-zag stitch them together.

Then you just flip the knitted cuff to the right side of the sock and ta-da: boot liners!

One finished boot liner (the downside to my sewing room is the terrible lighting)

One finished boot liner (the downside to my sewing room is the terrible lighting)

The baby blue liner isn’t what I would have chosen if I was buying the fabric at the store but for a total price of $3 for the pair, I’m happy with it. The liner doesn’t show when you are wearing the boot anyways.

Testing out the liners at the dog park

Testing out the liners at the dog park

Fleece seems to be about $16/m which makes this project still significantly cheaper than buying liners even if you have to buy fabric and wool at full price. I just bought some beautiful teal wool on sale ($3/skein) and got an awesome deal on fleece ($5/m) so I have plans to make a second pair with a different patterned cuff.

Looking at a Busy Two Weeks

The next few weeks are going to be busy (and then probably those after too). I’ve got to fit in 40 hours of first aid training on top of my regular job, it’s report card time and there are some social events I’m excited to attend. Looking at my calendar, there isn’t a lot of free time. Still, I am responsible for my schedule so any busyness is partially my doing!

The advantage to planned busyness is that you can prepare for it (somewhat). I know that my weekends and evenings are almost all filled up until the end of the month, so carefully scheduling my meals and workouts is key if I want to be at all able to eat healthy and workout, as well as attend to my other commitments.

I sat down with my trusty paper day planner and wrote down all my workouts the other week, scheduling them around nights I knew I was going to be in class from 6 pm to 10 pm, and days when I had a fully day of training. I know that my working out will be a little lighter than normal but with my workouts written down I stand a much between chance of actually doing them.

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On Saturday I pulled out my recipe books and planned out two weeks of meals. I don’t usually plan that far in advance (too many things come up) but I wanted to be able to get the grocery shopping for the next while done all at once. In September and October I made an effort to fill my freezer with some easy meal ideas so I only need to cook dinner 3 times in the next two weeks. Last night we went to the grocery store and I stocked up on almost everything we’re going to need until the end of the month.

Today was a day off and with the terrible weather it was the perfect day to spend some time getting those remaining meals prepped. First I baked some egg and spinach muffins for breakfast – they will be easy to grab and heat up for a quick breakfast on the go.

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Then I made two batches of energy bars – these chewy ginger bars and some walnut energy balls. Those went into the fridge for quick snacks. And finally I made some fruit leather – I mixed about 2 tbsp of maple syrup and a heaping tsp of cinnamon with 2 cups apple sauce and spread the mixture onto dehydrator trays. Three jars of apple sauce made 4 sheets which are now safely tucked into the fridge for healthy snacking.

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After all that I gave the house a clean because I always feel more in control and calmer when my house is tidy.

I know it’s going to be busy but at least now I have food in my fridge, clean sheets on the bed and a plan!

Four Things from the Weekend

1. Snow, a lot of snow

It didn’t start snowing until sometime last night but now we’ve got a ton. I am trying really hard to be exciting about it but I do love summer so much more than winter. You can see in my before and after shots of our bee yard that snow levels are significant.

The bee yard, about 3 pm on Saturday

The bee yard, about 3 pm on Saturday

The bee yard, about 3 pm on Sunday

The bee yard, about 3 pm on Sunday

2. We wrapped up the bees for winter

We knew that we had to do it before the snow (see #1) so Saturday we finally took the feeders off the hives and wrapped them up. We did basically the same as last year so hopefully it works again. The ladies in Moose Factory were really angry and did not want to get off the top board so it took a little more work to get them wrapped up than Chapleau. Despite the fact that it is November, both hives were bringing in pollen from somewhere.

Bees are tricky to convince to move sometimes

Bees are tricky to convince to move sometimes

The bees are all wrapped up for winter

The bees are all wrapped up for winter

3. I got my hair cut

I’ve been getting it dry cut and learning to love my natural curl but it has been taking forever to dry in the morning. I chopped off several inches to bring the length up to about my chin on Thursday on sort of a whim. I’ve not sure the last time I had it cut this short but I’ve loving it!

Hair Cut November 2014

4. I bought myself 3 new pairs of “winter” footwear

Since my foot injury I’ve had to been a lot more careful about what I wear on my feet. I’ve just started to be able to wear things other than running shoes or my barefoot flats but my feet are still sore at the end of the day if I’ve been wearing anything with a heel. Both my brown boots and my black boots are really worn (like the sole is detaching) so I wanted to replace them anyways. All the stars must have been aligned today since I found boots without heels that fit my orthotics and were on sale for 40% off. So, as well as the required black boots, I bought a pair of low, lace-up boots for casual winter wear and a new pair of dress shoes.

Grey dress shoes, black boots and short brown boots. I probably have enough work/casual footwear for a while

Grey dress shoes, black boots and short brown boots. I probably have enough work/casual footwear for a while