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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Cross-country Skiing at Confederation Golf Course

I’m not usually excited about winter – a quick search for “winter” in my archives reveals that I mostly complain about the the cold and snow from November through May – but this year I’ve actually been looking forward to the snow. I impulse bought new cross country skis (my first new set since high school) and have eagerly been awaiting the start to ski season. We got snow awhile ago but then I had two weekends of first aid, and then a weekend of report card writing so this Saturday was the first chance for me to get out.

After a morning of Christmas shopping I was ready for some outside time (and some exercise ) so I put my new boots and old skis into the car and headed to nearby Confederation Golf Course. We’re really lucky that the course is only 5 minutes away and gets track set when there is enough snow. The snow isn’t amazing so I didn’t want to scratch up my new skis but I was desperate to try my new boots.

It was pretty warm (+3-+5) so I waxed with the stickiest wax I could find:

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Waxing is still something I can improve on (and I probably need to add a red wax to my collection for warmer weather) but this worked just fine.

I started on the trails in the southwest part of the park and did the “hilly” section. Then I did a loop in the middle before crossing over to the northeast side where there was a nice long loop set. For a ski course in the middle of the city, it ends up having a surprising amount of ski trails set. All in, I skied about 3 miles (5km) with only a tiny bit of overlap.

My Strava track

My Strava track

I’m feeling out of shape so 5 km was enough for the day. I love that Confederation is close enough that I can go over for just 45 minutes. I was happy that I’d brought my old skis – there was a little grass and a few bare patches but I thought the tracks were pretty good for the little amount of snow we have.

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It was pretty warm again today and is supposed to stay warm all week so I think conditions at the park will deteriorate but I’m hopeful we’ll get more snow soon. I’d like to be able to go for an evening ski to see the Christmas lights. And given how sore my legs are today, the exercise can’t hurt either!

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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

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!