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Merry Christmas!

Well, we’ve come full circle! I know I still have to post about our 1st anniversary trip to Ottawa, and you’ll definitely get that one next week, but the rest of the year is now up to date! The only other thing I would like to capture is this gorgeous bouquet that J got me ‘just because’ after I came home on Thursday. Am I the most blessed woman? Yes.

 

We had also received tickets to another Cirque du Soleil show (“Quidam”) as a thank-you from Sabrina and Lexx for Thursday night, which was the best way to start our Christmas vacation and another spectacular and eerily beautiful show. If you have the time between wrapping presents and eating cookies,  this was by far the most incredible act, and is absolutely worth watching the full 10 minutes!

So for today, I leave you smelling the flowers, and want to wish you and yours a most merry and cozy Christmas!

November 2011:

-This was a busy month for me at work, so not too much happened throughout, except for a beautiful weekend spent at Niagara Falls with Laura and Zac!

 

 

I know it wasn’t the most popular destination at that time of year, but we had a surprisingly warm weekend, so it worked out really well. We left most of the planning up to Zac’s talents, so it was a completely no-stress itinerary that started with a leisurely maple liqueur tasting at Kittling Ridge (oh sooooo yummy!). We then had planned to visit The Organized Crime winery, which looked so cool and promising, but once we finally found it it was actually a bit too closely resembling its name for our comfort level (or probably just closed for business), that we instead just kept on driving. We made our way into Niagara-on-the-lake where we enjoyed a late lunch at an Irish Pub and followed that with a stroll through the town and a peek into the Christmas store. Our next stop was Jackson Triggs, which was pretty packed with American tour groups, but a beautiful destination. There, Laura and I sampled two different kinds of icewine (and ended up purchasing them with a 2/$50 deal). Once we made it to Niagara Falls, we found our hotel and then took a stroll toward the falls, but the weather was a bit crummy at that point (chilly drizzle), so instead we checked out the neat Christmas light displays they had going and then spent time at glow-in-the-dark mini golf (I putted so badly!!!). When we finally were hungry enough, we found ourselves at The Keg for dinner (it was surprisingly easy for a veggie eater to get full with a selection of sides – truffle mac & cheese, a goat cheese salad and some kind of mushroom thingy!) and finally hung out at Margaritaville for desert and drinks.

Sunday morning was spent finding delicious fudge as well as getting up close and personal to the Falls (I threw in my dollar with a good wish, of course!), and then munching on beaver tails for ‘brunch’ – yum yum!) and visiting the Hershley’s Chocolate store. I had never seen or experienced the ‘main strip’ at Niagara, but it turns out that there are many more attractions than just the former natural world wonder! This was exactly the right kind of weekend for us. It was filled with new experiences and yet totally relaxing, just what we wanted!

October 2011:

– The month of giving thanks and spending time with family and friends started with a get-together at J’s aunt’s house, where we ended up on both evenings of the Thanksgiving weekend to eat turkey and buryani respectively. Score for us! :)

– I was also most honoured to attend my dearest Ivana’s MSW convocation during my week off work! It was so nice to witness her taking the steps towards a whole new future – with a whole lot of letters after her name to boot! We celebrated the event with Matt, her mom and her brother at Montana’s with yummy veggie burgers. Congrats friend!

– I also had a lot of work transitions, with Meaghan finding a new job and deserting me just in time before our busiest season was starting (but that had been our deal from the beginning, so all was fair), and then Ivana actually stepping in for two weeks before she got her permanent job to help me out, and just slipping into the position as though she’d always been there! So yes, a total roller coaster for me!

 

 

 

 

– A few weeks later we also celebrated Thanksgiving with my side of the family at Marianne and Derk’s in London. Even though we spent a good deal eating the most delicious meal prepared by them, it was really all about Sunny and spending time just loving that adorable pup! We also took a long forest walk and actually sang songs (at least the women did). It was lovely!

 

– And lastly, October was also the month that Laura and I once again laced up our sneakers for a 5k race! This one was so very much harder for me, having not had enough training sessions and way to many excuses to prepare me (it was cold outside!), and I pretty much like passing out/throwing up for about the entire second half. But other than that, it was great! :) Laura was once again an awesome running partner, totally motivating me and sticking it out with me, even when I was slowing down to almost a walk (oh who am I kidding, we were walking a lot!). In the end, it was a good comparison to see just what a few runs a week can do to your endurance, and I am looking forward to our next one in May 2012!

 

 

Sorry for my absence; the last week of work was ridiculously busy! But I’m back with the rest of the year’s updates…

September 2011:

– For their combined birthday presents, we all got my parents (and us) tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Totem! It was so incredibly amazing and every aspect of it – from the stage to the music, talent to costumes – totally blew us away. I found this video on youtube with my favourite trapeze act called “love birds”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lviks1TGHlw

– More weddings! Meaghan’s wedding on September 10th continued our wedding tour of 2011, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in York Region. It was a really great day and especially nice to see all the details come to play together, after watching her plan for the last ten months. I loved her colour scheme of orange and grey, and the venue was actually one of the first ones J and I had considered for our wedding! It was my first time at a Catholic ceremony, and I really loved the very meaningful aspects of their vows, prayers and music. I was so honoured to have shared this day with Meaghan, and she not only looked stunning, but also did a beautiful job of making sure all her guests were taken care of and felt acknowledged. Other highlights included the delicious molten lava cake, her dad’s speech given as a handwritten poem in the northern Ontario/French dialect (is that right?), truffles as favours, and the music for the party. We also happily took home the cute centerpiece after dancing the night away. Sadly, I forgot my camera for most of it, so I’ll send you to The Twenties Roar for all the pretty pictures!

– You thought that was it for matrimonies this year? Ha! Not without a weekend getaway in Muskoka to celebrate Lexx and Sabrina on Sept. 17th! I was a bit nervous about an outdoor wedding on the docks at the end of September, but we ended up with the most beautiful sunshine and were thankful for heaters in the tent for the reception. J acted as usher to help people to their seats, and then we had the pleasure of sitting in the special ‘family’ section to witness their vows in front row seats.

 

 

 

 

It was nice to have J’s brother Jeremy home from Saskatoon as well, and fun to see all the cousins and relatives again. The ceremony and reception were held at the bride’s family home, and given that the couple had most recently owned a bar and restaurant, they knew how to throw a party! Sabrina even baked her own cake and gave tiny miniature muskoka chairs with their engagement pictures as guest favours. So sweet! There were a lot of people to dance with, and we left on one of the last buses back to the hotel! The next morning, we met with the other overnight guests and newlyweds for a delicious brunch and photo session with the bridal party in their sari finery (J was the photographer). All in all, a most wonderful weekend and great way to wrap up the wedding season for this year!

What a picture-less day yesterday was! Well, here is some new material!

 

August 2011:

– Busy, busy, busy!! It started off with an awesome night at the Rogers Cup at the tennis courts at York, with my parents and Ivana!

 

This has been an annual tradition with my parents and it was so much fun to share it with Ivana also, since we got amazing discounts as York U alumni. We were very fortunate to snag tickets to the match featuring Maria Sherapova, and had a blast listening to all the grunting and yelling (maybe too much fun, judging by the unimpressed faces of the couple beside me)…

 

– Fergus Highland Games! I already wrote about our awesome day with Diana Gabaldon and some mighty fine Scottish emersion (here and here), but it was such a beautiful day with my sister that I can’t not mention it, ya know?

 

– Wahooo!! I had hinted about it with this post, had put it on my 101 list of things to do (as well as my bliss list) and the day had finally come! Laura and I had signed up for our very first 5k race with the Toronto Women’s Run  for August 27th. Oh man, were we excited! I actually trained for this event (kinda, sorta) by running about 2 times a week, so not particularly intensely, but still more than I had ever run before! I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run the whole distance without taking walking breaks, but we felt super motivated and even with 3 breaks finished in 36 minutes. Even if you don’t feel like running, it would be so worth coming out to support someone else who participates just to soak up the fantastic atmosphere! Since it was a women’s-only run, there was no intimidation or feeling inadequate, and we all got finisher medals! This event was truly a milestone in my life, even if it was a relatively short distance. I generally don’t push myself very hard (except when knitting), and it was so phenomenal to have Laura’s support there to really see it through and come across the finish line with a huge grin on our faces and incredibly proud of our accomplishment. In fact, I caught the race bug. So yes, pretty much within a month we were signed up for our next 5k for October!

 

– Nothing like overachievers, we had signed up for the race on the same day that we were invited to share in Randi and Graham’s backyard wedding!

 

Randi was obviously still pregnant with baby Zeke and their families came together to help throw them a fun garden wedding at his parents’ house. J and were were honoured to stand as their witnesses and we got to feast on some seriously delicious homemade food! Thankfully for our poor legs, there were only some slow dances to round out the night, and they had the perfect weather for an outdoor bash!

 

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Yesterday was a wonderful and family-packed Sunday. We started by heading to church (and me volunteering in the nursery to cuddle some more babies), and then took the show on the road to Fortinos to buy some yummy Christmas treats (crab phyllo pockets here we come!). Then it was on to J’s parents’ house to indulge in a huge turkey lunch with some of their family friends, including three hilarious and sweet kids. J was a total kid magnet and we both had a blast eating at the ‘kids table’ and taking them to the playground after lunch. That’s where we learned that J “should definitely go to money class”, that when you’re seven years old, “you can buy a house for 1000 dollars”, and that the knife at lunch wasn’t pretty (it had flowers on it), but “handsome”. Duh! :)

In the afternoon, we headed my parents to have a 4. advent dinner (including cheesy meatballs, icewine and French butter cookies!)…we were both so stuffed that it was hard to keep our eyes open, so we didn’t stay too long before heading home to fall asleep while watching the first Pirates of the Carribean movie.

 

I looooooove Christmas time!

July 2011:

 

– You know what? I only remember one thing happening in July, and that was Meaghan’s bachelorette party (both awesome and relaxing! Yay!) on the very last day of the month. I’m sure more happened, and if you know what I was up to, can you please tell me??

 

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Yesterday was the perfect Saturday for such a hectic and crazy month. We finally didn’t have any plans at all and spent all day relaxing (after an organic bacon and pancake breakfast), lightly cleaning, and doing about 8 loads of laundry (our building’s laundry room had been renovated for the last two weeks…). We played some kinnect, ate the last bits of chili, and then J left to play some Settlers of Catan and I had a chance to finish the night with some very productive Christmas knitting! I can’t imagine a better day off!

June 2011:

 

 

 

– On June 3rd, Marianne, Mutti and I went to see Placido Domingo in concert at the Rexall Centre in Toronto. It was an outdoor event on one of the coldest nights of the summer (only 12 degrees that evening), but we wrapped ourselves in jackets and scarves and drank hot drinks. Okay, now, while I enjoy classical music, I was pretty skeptical about whether I would actually have a good time listening to hours of serenading by one of the Three Tenors. I mean, it’s not exactly something that the cool kids do, ya know? Well, it turns out that I would gladly buy his CD any day! His voice is incredible! He was super charming and the night ended with fireworks and goosebumps-inducing songs. So does that make me a freak? Probably. But a freak with sophisticated ears!

 

– June also brought more wedding-related events! Sabrina’s bridal shower was a fun time to get to know her friends and family and celebrate the bride-to-be. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera and therefore don’t have any pictures of the requisite shower games and yummy food, but it was definitely a fun afternoon in Burlington!

 

– I wanted to make a difference in the way I acknowledged my birthdays (yes, I know, a month later), and so I came up with my Bliss List. To be honest, I haven’t really crossed off very many items on there, but I have knit 6 preemie hats, so that’s something. Feel free to join in and create your own bliss lists, it’s truly joyful!

 

– A special shout out must go out to Ivana, who tied the knot to her beloved Matt on the June 21st in Jamaica, on the Summer Solstice. Even though we couldn’t be there to party with them, I know they had a blast on the island!

 

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You know what I’ve been staring at from my perch on the couch for the last few days (weeks)? My old violin. Starting to play again is on my 101 list of things to do, and I am quite intrigued by the chance that I might still remember how to play (or even read sheet music), but how do you do that in an apartment? Given the many things one can hear from the units around us, I can’t really justify subjecting someone else to my pitiful attempts. As anyone who’s played a string instrument knows, hitting the ‘wrong note’ on the violin is a lot more painful to listen to than, say on the piano. Any suggestions? Is this simply an idea I should put on hold until we get a house? It’s not like I actually have a lot of time to devote to this in order to get good enough for any kind of (inadvertent) public performance…