Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014: The Songs I Loved

Well, kids, it’s that time of year… The time of year when everyone’s coming up with their yearly reviews and “Best Of” lists.  I thought I’d join in the fun with Helene in Between’s link-up today with a list of my favourite songs of the year.

When I think back on 2014, my favourites start coming to mind, and it becomes a rather eclectic mix, if I do say so myself – many are mainstream, but some were little hidden gems, and quite a few were introduced to me by my boyfriend Jimmy Fallon. 

Here we go!

“Best Day of My Life” by American Authors

I’m not sure if it’s considered a 2013 or 2014 hit, but I declared it my 2014 Anthem back last January, so I’m counting it.  Infectious, upbeat, great lyrics… it was one of those songs that when it came on the radio, it made me smile every single time.  Never got old.

“Scare Away The Dark” by Passenger

I don’t think this one got the airplay that “Let Her Go” did, but when I saw him perform it acoustically on Fallon, it was instant love for me.  In some ways, it’s been a dark, dark year – it feels like it’s been bad news upon bad news – but this song really makes me feel like if we all teamed up, we could, as he says, “scare away the dark”.

“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

This song was special to me, because I “discovered” it.  OK, so maybe I didn’t actually, but it felt like I did.  I saw Iggy perform it on Late Night With Seth Meyers what seemed like eons before it started getting play on the radio.  It felt like I had it downloaded and worn right out by the time everyone else caught on to it!

“Boom Clap” by Charli XCX

Every time I hear this song, I will forever think of my then-5-year-old niece Danica belting this at the top of her little lungs in the back seat of my car when it come on the radio one day this summer.  Cutest thing ever.

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

I know there are a lot of T.Swift haters out there, but c’mon, dudes.  How could you not dance around and sing loud to this one?

“Me & You” by Jake Bugg

Introduced to me by my brother-in-law Chris, I fell hard for this tune by up-and-comer Jake Bugg, and then when he turned up on the Tonight Show a few weeks later singing it, I once again felt like I had beat the masses to great new talent.

“Animals” by Maroon 5

Love me some Adam Levine, in any make, shape or form.  “Maps” didn’t really do it for me, though.  So I was thrilled when this, the 2nd single released from their new album V, was released.  Much more up my alley.  I love the howl.

“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

I know that for a lot of people it was over-played and got annoying, but I love the message this one sends about body image and self-confidence to girls.  I still bop around to it when it comes on the radio.  Favourite line: “Yeah, it’s pretty clear – I ain’t no size two!”  Doesn’t matter how much weight I lose, y’all – I ain’t never gonna be no size two!!!

“River Bank” by Brad Paisley

I admit, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the country scene this year.  Normally, I’m a fan of country music, but nothing was wowing me in 2014.  I do love this fun one from Brad Paisley, though – in a lot of ways, he could very well be singing about my little home town nestled on the banks of the Ottawa River…

“Turtles All the Way Down” by Sturgill Simpson

Another lad I never heard of until I saw him on Jimmy’s show, and I absolutely adored this young guy’s voice and how it throws back to the likes of Merle Haggard and George Jones.

“Steal My Girl” by One Direction

I’m a sucker for the boy bands, guys.  And I love this one from 1D.  Just a feel-good, catchy tune with a bunch of cute boys be-bopping around.  Will that ever get old for me?  Probably not.

“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

It’s the year of the Swift, y’all.  Hit #2 from Taylor this year has just landed in recent weeks.  I didn’t think it could live up to “Shake It Off”, but it has.  I might even love it more.

“Trumpets” by Jason Derulo

OK, here’s the truth: When I first this song, it didn’t do anything for me.  But every time they played it, it grew on my a little more each time.  I have to put it on my list.  It took time, but it eventually did become one of my faves.

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

It’s also pretty recent, but I love, love, LOVE it!!!  Even when Bruno has gold curlers in his hair!

“Bang Bang” by Jessie J., Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj

It was one of the biggest hits of the summer, and it sucked me right in.  I know I already said it was the Year of Taylor Swift, but she might have to share that title with Ariana Grande.  That little rig was all over the place this year.  (plus, I had a love-hate relationship her bro Frankie on Big Brother all summer) This collaboration with Jessie J. & Nicki was a big one for me!

“Don’t” by Ed Sheeran

I’m closing out my list with my dear love, Ed Sheeran.  I absolutely adore this guy, and he rarely lets me down.  I’m currently all caught up in his new single “Thinking Out Loud”, but overall for 2014, “Don’t” was one of my favourites for sure.

 

I feel like I’m missing some big, important ones, but I’m shutting ‘er down right there, folks.  I could probably go on all day.  I need to shut ‘er down at some point.

So tell me… what songs make your list of favourites for 2014?  If you share, be sure to link up with Helene In Between!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What I’m Loving Wednesday: Holiday Edition

One week from today, friends… One week from today is my FAVOURITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!

So, what am I loving this Wednesday?  Dude, what am I NOT loving?!?  It’s CHRISTMASTIME!!!!  I LOVE EVERYTHING!!!!

  • I LOVE Toffifee.  I think I’ve already mentioned this, but they are my treat of choice thus far this holiday season.  Every evening I allow myself to have one or two of them.  I may have to buy a new box to see me through the holidays.

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  • Totally loving drinking Timothy’s Dulce de Leche K-cups in my Christmas mug while watching Christmas movies.  (or, in last night’s case, The Voice finale).  It felt extra-special last night as big, fluffy snowflakes fell outside, and I was cozied up with my quilt and my Dulce de Leche.  Mmmmmm.

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  • I’m loving the thoughts of this upcoming weekend – originally, I was kind of depressed that I had ZERO plans for the weekend before Christmas, but now I’m looking at it as a fun, hunkering-down weekend.  I have lots of gift-wrapping still to do, and a hundred movies & specials still to watch, so this weekend is going to be ALL about that!  And I can’t wait!!
  • I love that I’ve started re-connecting with my guitar.  It’s become my annual pattern.  I barely look at it all year, then in December, I start thinking about how I haven’t picked it up in forever, and how I need to toughen up my fingers before Christmas Eve.  I don’t know if it’s going to be “that” kind of Christmas Eve this year, but just in case, I’ve been getting practiced up.
  • I absolutely adore this:

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  • I love going around in the evening and plugging in all the lights, and lighting the candles, and shutting off all the other lights, putting on a Christmas DVD, and then just sitting there in the semi-dark and enjoying it.
  • I love Elf.  A lot.
  • I love that the song stuck in my head today is “Up On the Housetop”.  It’s a severely under-rated Christmas song.

  • As I have for the past couple of years, I’m loving watching this old Max Fleischer Christmas cartoon that I remember watching when I was a kid.  It gives me the warm and fuzzies.  Thank God for Youtube.

  • And I’m loving the thoughts of cracking open the carton of Egg Nog I bought a week ago but still haven’t tried out!  Tonight’s the night!!

What are YOU loving on this fabulous pre-Christmas Wednesday?!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday Danica!!

This is my niece Danica at 6 months of age…

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And today, she is turning 6 years old!!!

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Yesterday was spent celebrating our little “Princess”, as she had a group of her friends over in the morning for a Princess Party, with the surprise guest Princess Belle joining them for some magic tricks, games, balloon animals, face painting, singing and dancing. 

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The kids seemed to have a wonderful time, and were so attentive.  Belle had them wrapped around her finger!

After Belle left, the rest of the family gathered and we spent the afternoon visiting, snacking, watching Dan open her presents, and just enjoying a laid back pre-Christmas afternoon.  It was wonderful!

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Happy 6th Birthday to one of my very favourite little Princesses.  I hope all your birthday wishes come true!! XOXO

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Currently… in December 2014

I’ve been wanting to do one of these “Currently” posts for a while now, as it’s been a long time since I did one.  I thought it would be fun to capture me as I’m right now in the hub-bub of the Christmas season.

Reading: The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls.  I’m loving this book, but it’s taking me way too long to read it.  It’s one that I should be flying through, and if I had TIME, I would be.  But lately the only time I have to read is right before bed, and usually I’m head-bobbing after a chapter or two.  And they are short chapters.

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Watching: Christmas movies & specials (Little Women, Four Christmases, The Santa Clause, The Family Stone so far…), The Voice, and Survivor.  Oh, and Jimmy Fallon, of course! 

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Writing: Not much, other than this blog – which has been sporadic lately, to say the least – and my social notes for the Equity each week.  The day of the Christmas House Tour, I sat down to write a little Christmassy story to leave on screen on my laptop, and it made me long for the days when I’d brew a plot in my head, sit down, and just start writing.  I haven’t done that in so long…

Listening: Christmas music, of course.  Majic 100 mostly in the car, because they’re the wall-to-wall Christmas station here.  Elvis’s Christmas Duet’s CD and Justin Bieber’s Christmas album mostly at home.  Oh, and I’m loving the new T.Swift anytime I catch any of her songs when I’m radio-channel-surfing.  Say what you want, but the girl’s got some catchy new tunes!!

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Eating: Oh, Healthy November is long over, my friends.  I’m trying to behave, but Christmas potlucks and December birthday parties and a freezer full of Christmas baking are really dragging me down.  I just can’t resist.  I’m TRYING.  But I’m likely gonna have my work cut out for me in January at this rate.  PS – My favourite holiday treat this year so far is Toffifee.  I bought myself a box.  They are so yum.

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Drinking: Water, coffee, and tea are my drinks of choice these days.  But mostly water.  It’s always me and the water.  And the peeing.

Wearing: my MVT uniform – black pants, green or black MVT golf shirt, green or black MVT fleece zip-up.  Oh, and long johns.  God love my long johns.

Working on: crossing things off the December to-do list.  The baking is done, the shopping is done, the Christmas cards are done.  Now I have to start working on the wrapping and watching more movies & specials!

Waiting for: CHRISTMAS!!!!  Duh.  It’s my favourite time of the year, hands down.  And in my “old age”, I’ve learned that this waiting part is the best part of all.  I’m trying to soak it all up and make it last as long as possible.  If December could just slow down a touch, that would be fab.

Loving: the SNOW!!!  It snowed last night. :)  Well, it kinda snowed all day yesterday, but the accumulation didn’t happen until evening and overnight.  I love waking up to a Winter Wonderland.  Makes my heart so happy.

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Needing: More money. ha!  Who doesn’t, right?  But I somehow let my Christmas expenditures get away on me a little bit this year.  The credit card has gone under lockdown until further notice.

Thinking: a lot.  My mind is pinging around like crazy these days.  One minute, I can be reminiscing about past Christmases, the next I’m frantically trying to draft a grocery list in my brain.  This Christmas season is going to be the start of new traditions for our family, so I’ve been thinking a lot about that – about how I want it still to be fun and memorable, even though it’s not going to be the same.

Feeling: Everything.  The feels are hitting me big-time these days.  Tis the season.  I’m a walking bundle of happy-nostalgic-anxious-excitement-contentedness.  The good thing is that I had a big bawl-fest Saturday evening watching The Family Stone, and I feel like I got all the Christmas blues out with that.  Because, let’s face it, sometimes even the biggest lovers of Christmas (aka ME) get the blues.  I felt like the big cry was needed.

Hoping: That everything is… OK.  Y’know?  I mentioned new traditions, and while I know everything will turn out just fine in the coming weeks, there’s that bit of me that’s in a constant state of worry.  I’m hoping for a good Christmas with my family and friends.  I’m hoping everything turns out just right.  And I’m hoping everyone stays healthy.  (I always worry about me or one of my loved ones getting sick at Christmas.)

Dreaming: of food.  I love food.  And this time of year is the best time of year for a food addict like me.  Well, the worst time, really, but… the best time.  I spend ridiculous amounts of time envisioning pot luck spreads and thinking about snacks to make on Christmas Eve (cheese ball?  bacon wrapped waterchestnuts?  spinach dip?) and wondering if we’re going to have my favourite Wife Beater casserole along with the famous sticky buns on Christmas morning and hoping I get some Lindor chocolates and thinking about buying more Toffifees and honey roasted peanuts in case I run out and the plate of Mom’s cookies and squares and ohmygosh the TURKEY!!!!!!  There’s going to be a stuffing and mashed potatoes and meat pies and gravy and cranberries and YUMMMMMMM!!!!

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Welcome to a sad moment inside my brain.  I barely grazed the surface.

Being Inspired By: other bloggers.  I love reading other’s blog posts all the time, but this time of year, I’m drawing inspiration for new goodies to try out, and different gifts ideas to buy or make.  I’m finding inspiration for these new traditions that we are going to be starting.  I’m inspired by their festive posts and they are stirring even more the magical holiday feelings inside me.  This time of year… it’s inspiring in general, and it’s ever-present in the blogging community. :)

What are you up to currently?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I’m Loving Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday, friends!  Here’s what I’m loving this Wednesday…

  • I’m loving these magical days right here.  These weeks leading up to Christmas?  They are 100% absolutely my FAVOURITE time of the year.  Christmas specials on TV, festive gatherings with family and friends, delicious holiday treats every which way I turn… the anticipation, the build-up, the excitement.  I thrive on these magical days right here.

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  • The weather forecast for today and tomorrow!  Let it SNOW!!!

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  • My freezer full of Christmas goodies.  Oh, I know I”m not supposed to be treating myself too often, but it’s so hard to resist when the goodies are down there, just calling my name!  This year, I haven’t even had a dud as I’ve tried out several new goodies.  Well, except for the Easy Red Velvet Crinkles that I thought were a major flop, until my niece and nephew told me on Sunday they were “the best chocolate cookies in the world”.  I’ll take it.

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  • I’m loving this video of the kids singing at the Christmas concert at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday.  They did an awesome job!  I love seeing them all proudly singing out, and it was so fun to see little Molly in the front row tapping her foot.  Too cute!  So proud of all of them :)

  • Loving the movie The Family Stone.  I hadn’t watched it for a few years, because I was afraid it would make me too sad.  I decided to dig it back out and add it back into my holiday movie rotation this past week.  And yes, I did ugly-cry through the ending.  But it kind of felt good to let it all out.

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  • I’m soooooooooo loving that my Christmas shopping is done!  Every last little bit of it!  When that gets checked off the holiday to-do list, it’s like a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders.  There’s still plenty to do – most importantly, wrapping everything – but somehow, the Christmas stress eases up big-time once I know that everything on my list has been purchased.  (We just won’t talk about the credit card bills, though, k?)
  • I love just sitting in my house and looking around and enjoying it.  After weeks of decorating, re-arranging, scrutinizing, and re-arranging some more, it’s fun to sit back now and just soak it all up.
  • I’m loving my new TV!  My sister and bro-in-law picked it up for me a few weeks ago in a Black Friday deal, but I decided to wait until after the House Tour to set it up.  It’s nice to take one more step out of the Stone Age, and into this modern era I live in. ;)
  • I’m loving the performances this week from The Voice.  My favourite to win is Team Adam’s Matt McAndrew, but I’m also a big fan of Team Blake’s Craig Wayne Boyd, and his song choice & performance of The Old Rugged Cross on Monday night gave me goosebumps.  I thought I’d share the youtube video today, fittingly as it’s my dad’s birthday and this was one of his favourites.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The “Virtual” Christmas House Tour

It’s over a week later, yet I’m still so pleased to be receiving reactions and comments on our church’s annual Christmas House Tour!  I’ve had a few requests to do a “virtual” tour of my home, but it’s taken me a while to put that tour together, especially since I didn’t actually take any photos that night!  However, as dusk fell Saturday evening, I decided to “re-stage” the whole house as it looked the previous Monday evening.  I lit everything back up and went around taking photos. 

And now, it’s time for me to invite all of you into my home.  I hope you enjoy the tour! (And I apologize in advance for my amateur, crappy-quality pics!)

We’ll begin outside…

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Outdoor lights aren’t my thing. Trust me.  Thankfully, I had a few helpers who made my outdoor lights a little more than they would have been if I’d been left to it myself!  Big thanks to my brother-in-law Chris, sister Kara, and of course my good ol’ Rolly for all their help!

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This is the Nativity scene that is normally on display on the church steps next door.  Rolly set up closer to my house this year instead.

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This is the Christmas greenery pot that my mom made for me which sat on my front step.  Of course, the day of the tour, the wind blew it over and I had to re-assemble it. lol  I hope I did a decent job! ;)

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The wreath on my front door was a gift several years ago from my talented Aunt Brenda.  We took it back to her to “rejuvenate it” after it got rim-racked pretty badly the past few years in wind and winter weather.  The updated version was gorgeous!

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This is the front entrance into my house.  The church office is behind that door.  I loved the addition of my sister Kara’s big friendly snowman, and my Aunt Marion’s reindeer.  They greeted everyone in such a festive way.

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I had to include a snap of this frame!  I’m so appreciative to my friend Jaime for letting me borrow the Christmas tile that goes in this frame!

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Into the living room, the room where I spend most of my time!  It was a cross between an Ottawa Senators and Winter Wonderland theme.

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I trimmed the tree in red, gold and Ottawa Senators ornaments,, topped with an Ottawa Senators Santa hat, and with the beautiful light-up glass block “gifts” that my mom and aunt make.

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“Sens Corner”!! – Sens stockings, all of my Senators decorations & bobbleheads, pictures of me with Wade Redden and Chris Neil,  a Wade Redden autographed puck, etc.  Oh, and of course, the Wish Book! ;)

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The night of the tour, I actually had that card holder full of Christmas cards from last year, as I didn’t have any from this year yet!  Since then, the old ones have been removed and the new ones are starting to accumulate.  That Santa down there dances and sings “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.” lol  I gave him to my Grandma one Christmas, and after she passed away, he came back to me.  Grandma always took a kick out of silly stuff like that!

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I had one of my favourite Christmas movies, “Miracle on 34th Street”, playing on the TV in the living room.

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I had hung red & white sparkly snowflakes from the ceiling in the living room.  It’s hard to capture how pretty they are on camera, though.  I love the look in real life.

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Looking down the hallway into the dining room.

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I have been cutting up snowflakes to put on this door every Christmas I’ve lived there.  This year I actually used patterns to make sure they were extra-pretty instead of my usual hack-jobs! lol!

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I went with an old-fashioned Christmas theme in my dining room, as that is the room where my grandmother’s dining room table and chairs reside, as well as a display of her teacups, her collection of dogs, and so much more.  In fact, I always call it “Grandma’s Room”.  For that reason, this homemade Santa Claus that used to hang on her front door always hangs on the wall in there.

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This was the first year I put a tree up in my dining room!  I borrowed my friend Sara’s idea to make it an “edible” tree.  Popcorn garland, dried orange slices, cookie ornaments, and candy canes are the only decorations on this tree - aside from the clear mini-lights, and my grandma’s angel tree topper.

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Because I call it “Grandma’s Room”, my Aunt Marion suggested I offer samples of my Granny Young’s fruit cake, which Aunt M makes every year.  I was only two when Granny passed away so I don’t remember her, but I’ve always heard about her famous fruit cake.  Truthfully, I don’t like fruit cake – not even Granny Young’s, unfortunately – but I have to say it was a great idea to offer samples.  The plate was licked clean (much to my surprise! lol!  I kept saying, “Nobody’s going to eat it, nobody likes fruit cake.”)

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The Gingerbread House disaster… I am NOT good at decorating, especially not when the kit I bought was faulty! hahaha!!

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My dad made this wooden Nativity scene, and it is usually used at our church during the Advent season.  I stole it this year, though, to display under the tree in this room filled with nostalgia.

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Ever since I “inherited” my grandmother’s collection of dogs, I thought it would be fun to deck them out for Christmas – this year, I finally did. ;)

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My Aunt Marion shared an idea she saw somewhere of painted burlap panels.  I’m not much of an artist, but my super-talented mom tackled the project head-on, and I was so thrilled with how the “Let it Snow” turned out!

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Toll painted sleigh was created by yet another super-talented family member, my Aunt Nora.

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My teacup collection – mostly given to me by my Aunt Mona and inherited from Grandma – was on display here, along with other Christmassy trinkets from my Grandma’s house.  I decided to put the pictures of my loved ones that we miss dearly here – Grandma, Dad, cousins Jeff and Troy.  There was also a little Elvis ornament that sang “Blue Christmas”.  Seemed only appropriate…

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And now, into the kitchen!  I love my wine shoe… even if I don’t really love wine! LOL!

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This snowman fridge magnet set drew a LOT of attention.  Everyone is asking me where I got it!  The truth?  Stole it from my mom… and I have no clue where she got it!

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This was my goodie table.  I didn’t bother taking more out of the freezer for the “re-staging”…just envision those trays filled with cookies and fudge and bark! ;)  (And to those who were complimenting my mom on the fabulous baking she had done for me – I made it all myself, you turkeys! LOL – except for the fruit cake, of course!)  And that toll painted snowman is one of my favourites – his tag says “Fat Snowmen Last Longer” – seemed only fitting he hang out at the food table, right?

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Up the stairs we go!

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This is “Frizzled Santa”.  OK, he’s on loan from my Aunt Marion and I don’t think he’s actually called “Frizzled Santa”, but that’s what I call him.  He has grown on me.  At first, I thought he was weird.  But now I kinda like him in all his stringy, frizzly glory.

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Step into my bedroom!  Freshly painted, new bed spread and blinds… I LOVE my “new” room!

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Why, yes, I DO still have to have a chocolate Advent calendar!!!

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Strange thing in my room is this counter space over built-in cupboards – but it was the perfect place to display my sister’s Christmas Village!  Big thanks to her and my mom for making it look so beautiful.  I added my grandma’s ceramic tree to the middle of the setting.

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My other favourite Christmas movie, “Elf”, was showing in my room.  Ironically, by the end of the night, I actually had an elf in my bed.  But that’s a story for later …

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This room used to be my roomie Susie’s before she moved out.  It became the Quilt Room.  My old daybed was set up in here, with the quilt my grandma made for my sister as a wedding present on the bed (along with some fun additions from Aunt Marion – I love those “Naughty & Nice” pillows!)

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My sister’s quilt rack with the quilt that I inherited from Grandma, as well as a baby quilt that my mom made, on display.

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My mom also quilted this Christmas wall hanging

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Back out in the upstairs hall – Meet Lynn-donne the Elf!  People kept telling me he was creepy, but he really isn’t at all.  My Aunt Marion bought him in a silent auction at a fashion show that was held in memory of our cousin’s wife, Lynn.  Lynn was a very active member of her community, volunteering and working hard for many, many years.  She passed away two years ago just before Christmas.  Aunt Marion named the elf in her honour: Lynn, and then “donne” was added on, the French word for “give” (the Elf is French, apparently) – translated, his name means “Lynn Gives”.

Lynn-donne was guarding the upstairs bathroom door, the only room in the house that I didn’t have open for viewing (hence the “Do Not Open Until Dec. 25th!” tag on the door.)  Unfortunately, he had a little accident and fell from his perch, breaking some of his fingers.  My friends who were upstairs at the time took him to safety… Naturally, they left him in my bed. ;)

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I loved how this little spare room turned out!  Normally empty, it was filled with borrowed furniture from friends and family, and became a cozy little reading and writing nook.

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Friends Lindsay and Ryan let me borrow this fireplace, which I LOVE!  I had many people ask about the beautiful toll painted candlesticks – another beautiful creation by my Aunt Nora, on loan to me from Aunt Marion.

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On the night of tour, I had my laptop set up on this desk with a little Christmas story on the screen for people to read if they wished.  Also, my iTunes Christmas playlist was in rotation!

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I made this sign for the door of the “Craft Room” (used to be former roomie Sarah’s room) – I sort of tried to make it like my own little Elfie workshop. ;)

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Another Aunt Marion idea – she gave me the sparkly tree and told me I should make it into my “family tree” – so I did!  I cut out pictures of Mom, Dad, my siblings and I, and my nieces and nephews, and hung them on the tree.  I heard a few comments from people who thought it was a great idea.

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This is the gift wrapping station!  My friend Stacy was upstairs watching to make sure the candles stayed under control the night of the tour, and she told me she heard a few people comment on my cool “retro” table! haha!  That’s my parents’ kitchen table, and it eventually got handed down to me. 

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This was the scrapbooking table.  I had pictures from past Christmases scattered around, as well as pages in my old scrapbooks on display.  The Disney wall hanging was a gift from the Hamilton family.

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The O Holy Night tile is one of my favourite decorations, made by my friend Lindsay.

Well, there we have it!  That’s the “virtual” Christmas House Tour at my place!  I hope you all enjoyed it. ;)

I’d just like to take one moment to send out a big THANK YOU to the other homes that were on the tour: Vikki, John & Mary-Sheila, and Josh & Amanda.  Also a big thanks to all who helped out with the tour in any way.  I wasn’t able to be as involved the night of as I normally would be because of my own house being on the tour, but so many helping hands pitched in and I was ever so grateful!  A special big shout-out to my cousin Donna for all her help, especially that night looking after everything in the church basement.

Last but not least, an EXTRA big thanks to EVERYONE who helped me get ready for the tour.  There were many jobs that were completed in the short span of a month, many decorations that I was able to borrow, and I couldn’t have done it without all of my little “elves” helping out:  Aunt Marion, the Hamilton family (that includes Ryan the blind hanger!), Rolly (who was there to ease my morning-of meltdown when I blew a breaker), my brother-in-law Chris, sister Kara, Aunt Brenda, Uncle Garry, Dale, Jaime, Shannon, Lindsay, Stacy, and of course, my MOM – couldn’t have done ANY of this without her!!!  If I forgot to mention anyone, I do apologize…but the list of helpers was long!! ;)