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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Sewing and Skiing

On Sunday I set up my new sewing/crafting room. Instead of my sewing stuff sharing a space with my gym, and office and TV I now have the tiny basement bedroom to spread out in. This means I’ve got space to expand my table into the full length so I have both a sewing table and a cutting workspace. There is also room for my fabrics and my sewing basket – I was feeling so proud of my new space that I even reorganized all my pins.

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I’ve already started to use my new space – my first project being a really simple set of straps to hold my crosscountry skis together. For as long as I can remember I’ve held my skis together with a pair of rubber ski holders that were always falling off. In fact, I thought I’d lost one over the years only to find it in my ski boot this afternoon. I noticed that my father’s skis (which I have borrowed for Jon to use) just had a simple Velcro strap now – any easy item to duplicate with a few pieces from my scrap fabric collection and a way better solution to holding a pair of skis.

To make the ski straps I traced the basic shape of my father’s (a MEC product) onto some red rubbery fabric. They are approximately 5.5″ x 1.5″ with one rounded end.

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To thicken up the strap I sewed the rubber pieces onto a scrap piece of fleece and then cut around them.

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The final step was to sew a 4.5″ strip of Velcro (the fuzzy side) along the middle of the fleece side of my straps, and then sew the matching piece of Velcro (hook side down) so that it reaches off the rounded end of the strap.

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They fit my combi classic/skate skis perfectly and the rubber has just enough grip so that they don’t slide around.

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It’s been almost 5 years to the day since our last crosscountry ski adventure, so my need for new ski straps was the result of me deciding that we’re taking up skiing, again, and dragging out my skis. I borrowed wax from my father and after dinner on Sunday I scraped and re-glide waxed my skis in preparation. It was a little warm in Calgary for the snow to be any good, but we went out for our first ski at the very nearby Confederation Park today and both the ski straps and my waxing proved to be successes.

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There doesn’t seem to be any snow in the forecast so I don’t think that ski conditions in the city are going to improve anytime soon but since we can walk to the nearby trails we have no reason not to go again. I usually find myself hoping that it doesn’t snow anymore but now that we’re all ready to ski, a little part if me is actually wishing for a mid-February snow dump!

Happy New Years!

Like previous years we spent the end and the start of the years at our friend’s cabin near Fernie. We had four days, which we spent doing almost the exact same things:

Drinking lattes while watching the lake.

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Taking the dogs for long walks in the woods.

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Running

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Reading on the couch.
Skating on the lake.

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We celebrated New Years with some grapes (for Spain), a piñata, sparklers and cheese fondu. There were fireworks on the lake at midnight and bagpipes. It was low key and perfect.

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The whole mini-vacation was a pretty nice way to start off 2014.

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What I Wear: Winter Running Gear

I don’t belong to a gym and I don’t have a treadmill so every single run happens outside (unless I’m on vacation somewhere with a gym). It’s winter right now and it’s Calgary so I’ve been out running in temperatures from about plus 10C to minus 25C so far this season. I will never love winter running because I hate being cold but I know that I can run without freezing in most weather once I put on the right gear. Here’s a little look at what I wear to run at above zero right down to those -30 days.

When It Is Warm (> 0C)

warmer than 0C

The best part about winter in Calgary is those warm days that happen and make it feel like it’s not winter. When I get to run on those days, I usually just put on my winter running tights (an older pair of Garneau winter tights), a mid-weight Icebreaker merino shirt and my spring running jacket (an on-sale MEC Tace jacket). I have lots of cheap pairs of polypropylene gloves and a (very old) MEC fleece headband to keep the hands and head warm.

Between Zero and About Minus 10

0 to minus 10

Despite my almost constant whining about the cold, my usual running temperatures seem to fall in this range. I trade my lightweight jacket for my beloved Lululemon Run Inspire winter running jacket and add a fleece toque and thicker gloves. My winter running jacket (which is now into its third winter) has a few features that make it perfect for all temperatures – sleeves that add an extra layer of hand warmth and a double zipper on the neck that allows me to fit a neck warmer underneath so I can wear it for anything.

Slightly Colder (About -15C or windy weather)10 tominus15

I will throw a light weight merino wool shirt underneath and then add a pair of windstopper pants ($10 on sale at MEC) to keep me warm if it is a little cooler, I’m feeling wimpy, or it is windy out. I also start out with my fleece neck warmer and a pair of windproof gloves (which may come off part way through the run).

Cold (Minus 15C to Minus 20C)
15 tominus25Another layer of merino wool (heavy weight) keeps me warm when it gets colder.

Not Wanting to Go Running Cold (about -25C to anything colder)

anything colder

Once it starts to get really cold I add a pair of fleece pants to the bottom and another jacket to my top. My down(ish) jacket was inspired by this Lululemon jacket but since I didn’t have almost $300 for more running gear I found a similar type item at the thrift store ($5) which works great on those few days a year I really need it. All this stuff weighs a bit more than I’d like but when it is that cold I’m not usually out for speed.

The Rest

My feet are always in my trail shoes and a pair of wool socks. Feet are the one body part I haven’t really figured out how to dress for cold weather, so when it gets really cold I just have to suffer with chilly toes. If it is icy I have a pair of grippy things for my shoes but I don’t wear them that often since I don’t like how they feel on cement when there is no ice. I keep my phone in my SPIbelt and I’ve also attached a front and back light to the belt for added visibility in the morning and at night. If it is really cold I put the phone inside my jacket.