Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas draws closer ...

Christmas preparations 

Spent Sunday afternoon and evening wrapping presents
and decorating the parcels.   Had some trouble getting
started however because Phoebe demanded was in need of 
attention and was not inclined to listen to reason and 
allow me to work unimpeded.

Since wrapping presents one handed, with a cat slung
over your shoulder snoozing is awkward ... to say the
least ... I had to be firm and put her down near by to
nap on a chair ... instead of me.

Wrapping paper around the boxes doesn't take too long
to do.   It's making the bows and decorating in general
that takes time ... and is the fun part.    Unfortunately my
glue gun died awhile ago and I forgot to get myself a new
one so all the bows and decorations had to be "stuck"
on the parcels with tape, white glue or tied on with fancy
string or ribbon.    Frustrating at times and I'm not sure
how durable these things are going to be so when they
are being given out I'll be warning the recipients to be
careful with how they carry or transport their gifts.

At least I did remember to buy a new glue gun the next
time I was out shopping.   Better late then never.

Don't think that I ever showed off the new addition to the
library which my DH made for me in August.   I've had this
design stuck in my head for ages now and somehow, for 
some reason, this summer he and I got to talking about it
and the next thing he knew he was going out to buy the 
materials and putting it together.

Four bookcases set edge to edge with a large sheet of 
plywood on top and with a raised edge of trim to finish 
off each side of the table top.   It gives me a whole lot
of space for my bigger books on the shelves of the four 
bookcases plus the top is perfect for working on my jigsaw 
puzzles,  crafting ... and for wrapping Christmas presents.   

I had to haul all my wrapping paper, trims, adhesives, 
decorations and ... um ... oh yes .... the presents ....
from the top floor of the house to the basement ... and 
then back up there again when I was done but it was 
fabulous to work on that table and not have to bend over.  
And that table top is a HUGE workspace.

On the 7th of December I took the train down
to Toronto to meet my friend Darlene and we
spent the day wandering around the city 
looking at the Christmas decorations.

The above trees are in the atrium of the building
where Darlene works (she was on vacation that
week).   Note the sheets of sparkly lights draped
across the balconies.   Very pretty, nicely done.

We went to Yorkdale mall for the morning and
checked out the stores and their displays there.   The
above arrangement was in Pottery Barn.  We were
disappointed in the lack of decorations at Yorkdale 
in the mall's common spaces.   All the shops there were
decorated but the mall itself only had Christmas 
decorations around the area where Santa was located.

Dull!  Boring!!!  Bah Humbug Yorkdale!!!

We went to Allen Gardens in the afternoon and were
much happier with the effort made there to join in the
spirit of the season.    Poinsettias everywhere, in a 
multitude of colours.    Mannequins dressed for winter
in dresses made of foliage and flowers were scattered
around the main greenhouse. 

Anyone for a sleigh ride?

Another greenhouse had fanciful birds perched in
trees and plants, some sitting on "nests" with 
Christmas decoration "eggs".

I guess it makes sense that a Blue Jay would lay a blue

It was lovely to spend an hour or more wandering
around enjoying the plants and the Christmas 

Once it got dark we walked to City Hall where the skating
rink was in full use, the Christmas tree was lit up and 
everything looked lovely.

The Eaton Centre mall had it's giant reindeer
set out along it's main hall.    They are amazing
to see in person.

The CN tower was lit up with Christmas colours
which looked great.

Didn't buy anything (except for brunch and
dinner) during our day out except when I found
this hardcover edition of the third book in 
Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy which
was on sale for just $10.00.   I did buy this when
it first came out in hardcover a year and a half
ago because I LOVE the series and this author!

But I had to grab this copy because of the sticker
on it which said "Signed Copy"!!!! 

Yup!   There you go!   Signed by the author!!!
Me want!    Me grab!!!    Me very happy!!!

This is baking week.   I've been at it for three days so
far and will keep at it until I run out of time.   Stay 
tuned for further reports.


Saturday, December 05, 2015

Lo, it's Christmas time!!!

I mentioned in my last post that we'd gotten our
tree up a few weekends ago.  But before we could put our 
tree up we had to go out and buy a new one this year 
because the lights on our not-quite-four year old tree 
were failing all over it.  I was very annoyed because these 
things ain't cheap to begin with and I loved my not-so-old 

So we drove to Canadian Tire and checked out their
tree selection and ended up bringing this one home.
I would have preferred a tree with coloured lights
but pre-lit trees seem to be decorated with white
lights more often then coloured.   I liked this tree
because it looks quite real and we were not interested
in driving all over the province looking at the
many different christmas trees that are for sale in 
other stores so this is the one we bought.

Hope it'll stay hale and hearty and lit for more then
three seasons.

This one is the typical three section tree with each
section inserted into the previous one and the bottom
section inserted into the stand.   Then, because it is
brand new and had been stuffed into a relatively
small box by some kind of sadistic mechanical device 
I had to "fluff" it before we could start decorating it.

Fluffing the tree took a long time.   Opening the new
tree like an umbrella, pressing branches down into place
and separating branches from one another and flatten-
ing branches etc.   Making sure that there are no empty spaces
through which you might be able to spy the tree trunk 
or (horrified gasp!!!) plugs and wires.  And you just cannot 
rush these things because a well fluffed tree is crucial to the
end result of a realistic appearance.   

Do I sound as demented to you as I sound to me?


So a few days after the tree had been put up I was 
sitting with a mug of tea in hand admiring our
handiwork.  DH was sitting across the room 
from me with his mug of tea.   I idly glanced towards
the top of the tree and then did a double take.

"Where did that come from" I asked the only
member of this household tall enough to place a
small plush cat on top of our seven and a half 
foot tall tree without a ladder.   Said member of
the household just grinned at me.

We've been without a star for the top of our tree for quite
a few years now.   Ever since our last star refused to 
light up during a previous decorating session we've been
trying to find another one that we both liked without 
any success.   Usually I just plop one of my hand made
gold bows on top of the tree and leave it at that but 
this year I hadn't gotten around to doing it yet.

So DH decided to take matters into his own hands and
you see the results above.

I like it.

We're cat lovers here, and we have an orange cat so
I guess it's rather fitting to have an orange cat on top of our

Meanwhile, the christmas cards have begun to 
trickle in and I'm happy about that because I
love christmas cards.   And so does a certain
previously alluded to orange cat.    His name was
in the hand written greeting inside the card so
of course he had to read it for himself.

The very first card to arrive this year was this hand
made beauty from Andrea at The Craft Room.  I love
it so much and have placed it on display on a shelf of the 
bookcase in the living room where it can be seen and
appreciated.   Thank you Andrea.   Your card making 
skills are as amazing as your stitching and finishing 

A landmark week at work for DH as he 
celebrated 40 years working for the same
company.   Yes, I said 40 years!   Hard to
believe isn't it?    

That kind of anniversary is certainly going to 
be a thing of the past as it seems that most
companies don't want to be bothered with
long term employees and most certainly not
with employees over say 50 years of age.

But DH has made it to 40 years and he's 
happy with that but has also had enough
of it.  He will be retiring at the end of 
March ... and is counting down the days.

My currant read is The Accidental Empress which 
is a historical fiction by Allison Pataki about the
life of Elisabeth of Austria known as Sisi who was
married to Emperor Franz Joseph at the age of 16.

It's funny but I ran into Sisi in two other books that
I'd read earlier this year .... The Fortune Hunter
and The Courtesan.   Both books are featured in
previous blog posts.   Sisi is a major character in The
Fortune Hunter but just appears briefly in The Courtesan
but she made an impression on me so when I came
across this book I had to get it and find out more about
this fascinating, tragic woman.

It's heavy on the romantic aspects of the Empress's life
and some of the criticism that I've read on Goodreads 
from other readers is that it doesn't delve deep enough
into Sisi's real life history, tragedies, trials and troubles.
But I am enjoying the book and I think I'd like to find
other books about her to add to my library which are
perhaps more inclined towards a truthful portrait of the
woman instead of a simplified, romance heroine style.

I'm obsessing over a TV program called Escape to
the Country which I am watching on Youtube.   It
is a sort of home search show that takes place all over
 The British Isles with breathtaking scenery,  a bit of
touristy information about the featured area, and 
a bit of the local history.   I'm telling you, if I ever
win the lottery I'm gonna get myself a house in the
countryside of The British Isles.   Deciding on where
exactly may not be easy but that would be a problem
I would enjoy solving very much.

Then I'm gonna want a house in the country in Belgium,
Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark ....

(voice trails off listing every country in Europe)