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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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!

An Easy Weekend

We had a very low key weekend here and it was exactly what we needed. It has been too long since we’ve allowed ourselves the luxury of not really doing a ton of stuff on a weekend and just relaxing for a few days felt great.

On Friday I got off work early (2 pm) so Jon met me at home and we took Patches for a walk. Then I squeezed in a quick run (4 miles) while Jon worked on his halloween costume. I carved our Halloween pumpkins and then we got dressed up to hand out candy. Around 8 pm we headed over to a friends for a little adult Halloween partying and got home around midnight.

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Jon is a gum ball machine and I'm a mermaid

Jon is a gum ball machine and I’m a mermaid

On Saturday we were dog sitting so we had a coffee, took the dogs out and then had pancakes. I haven’t had homemade pancakes in forever and it was nice to just have a lazy breakfast.

With real maple syrup - yum!

With real maple syrup – yum!

I rarely nap but after all those pancakes I was exhausted and took a two hour nap. It was snowing when I woke up so I headed down the basement and cleaned up sewing room.

 

I can actually use my sewing table again

I can actually use my sewing table again

And my fabric and supplies aren't everywhere

And my fabric and supplies aren’t everywhere

I found a users manual for my Elna so I spent some time getting her ready and learning how to thread the bobbin. I’m going to get her serviced but she seems to be in good working order.

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Saturday night we went to listen to a friend perform – he was great but the following band wasn’t our favourite type of music so we were home around 11 pm. With daylight savings we got an extra hour of sleep and it felt luxurious to wake up at 7:30 am (8:30 am) on Sunday.

We went for our usual swim, took the dog for a walk and then ran some errands including depositing all our loose change and returning our bottles. It was still snowy so we gave up on doing anything else and spent the afternoon puttering in the house. I completely ignored all my chores and marking and it felt like I finally got a real break.

My sister is in town so we finished our weekend with a family dinner and some shuffleboard. I really need to spend more time in the games room because even with home board advantage we lost 21 to 4.

We’re back to work tomorrow and for the first time in forever I’m facing a Monday feeling somewhat refreshed. Our week is semi-busy (family dinner, a few appointments, and some must do chores) but nothing crazy and I feel like I’ve finally got things under control!

It’s Time for a Reset

Life has been fun – lots of time out with friends, travel and other adventures – but my body is feeling the effects of too many take out meals, not enough exercise and way too little sleep. With my injury and other things in my life, I just haven’t been making time to exercise and I’ve been letting too many “quick meals” slip into our weekly schedule and staying up later and later.

This type of life style was great when I was in my early 20’s but 30+ Jenn can’t handle it – so, it’s time for a reset. I’m not giving up the time with friends, or the travel or the other adventures, but I am going to tweak things a little.

I need to get back to my usual – more exercise, better meal planning and a set bedtime. And it doesn’t take major changes, just a few things I haven’t been doing: I need to write my planned workouts for the month in my day planner; I need to stick to my grocery list (no more chips!); and I need to put the book down at 10 pm.

I’m going to start with those three things and see how it goes. For me it’s all about routine so I need to get back into a healthy one (and ASAP)!