Happy Canada Day!

It was after 2am but the time we got in last night. The cat had me up at 6am. We spent most of the day scrambling around to:

  1. wake up and get our shit together
  2. tidy up around the house
  3. shop for random last minute necessities

Eventually, as always happens when you host a group of people in your home, we hit the jump off point. No additional work was going to get done and it was impossible to become more prepared than we already were.

Our company came and we got to hang out for a while. We did a few tarot readings, hung out on the deck, had drinks and snacks. Later, we barbecues burgers and are them with salads and potato chips. Dessert was fruit and cake.

Finally, the fireworks started. Living high up in a highrise has its advantages. The fireworks happen right in front of our balcony and at the exact same height. We just look straight out mostly, sometimes slightly down or up depending on what’s going on.

All in all, I was really glad we had people over after the fact, but the timing was so complicated. We were mentally and physically tired and having the added responsibilities didn’t help. That said, having guests in our house did. It felt nice to be able to relax at home and with loved ones. It was a really happiness boost to have our little party.

How did you celebrate Canada Day this year?

No photographic evidence

I’ve inherited a trait I consider really bad. I rarely remember to take photos of people. Meals, cats, totally out of focus and way too zoomed in moons, I have a thousand of all of them. But when it comes to spending time with other people, I almost never remember to capture the moment.

This isn’t really new. I mentioned it to my mom earlier this year – that we have never really documented our holidays and experiences – and she just kind of shrugged. My Grandad, her father, used to take great photos of all of us. We spent a ton of time at my grandparents’ house when we were little, but eventually as we aged, we got busier and got over there less and less frequently and, as such, our photo documentation decreased.

As we grew into adulthood that continues on. I didn’t take photos, but neither did anyone else. Every so often, someone in the family comes out with a handful of photos from a Christmas past or a summer barbecue, but they’re usually of just a couple of people and don’t tell much of a story.

In recent year, we’ve started going on family vacations pretty regularly and this is one of the only photos that we have from any of them.

I’m used to it, but that doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, I almost always make an internal resolution that today I’m going to take lots of photos. Today, like all the rest of them, I often don’t. In fact, I didn’t take a single one over our near four hour family Easter celebration.

We had a great time including:

  • A little gift and goodie exchange
  • Badminton in the back yard
  • A delicious meal
  • Watching an intense double OT hockey game and debriefing on the earlier one
  • Deciding on and booking the next family trip

But we also had a great time just hanging out together and catching up.

I came home feeling really warm and happy about the family time. Then I remembered that I’d utterly failed in my plan to record some of the festivities.

On one hand, it makes me happy because it means that I’m somewhat successful in my pledge to be the woman whose phone is virtually invisible. On the other, however, I would really like to be able to look through more photos, to share them, print them. I want to have photos of loved ones up in our home. I want to be reminded of good times whenever I look around and I think that would be a real happiness booster.

I just don’t know how to make taking photos when I’m in the company of others a habit, but I want to try.

Are you good at recording time spent with loved ones? If so, what’s your secret?

Mardi Gras

In an effort to get on track and celebrate minor holidays (#17 on my 19 for 2019) I’ve had this day on my radar for the last few weeks. Of the minor holidays, I’d consider it very minor, but it was still important to me. Pancake Day is a nice memory from my childhood (I just republished this post from six years ago) and I also enjoy the experience of Lent which begins tomorrow.

From Wikipedia:

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial

I know it sounds crazy, but I like the exercise in self-denial and abstention. As a last hurrah, I also like the… well, I like the last hurrah. So, yes, we dined on breakfast for dinner pancakes tonight and then tomorrow we’ll get started on our Lent-related endeavours.

Is actually really wanted to have a pancake party this year and I regret not following through with that. Now I’m going to stock up on Mardi Gras masks and start preparing my plans for next year. Save the date on February 25th, 2020!

My early 19 for 2019 fail

I made my list. I check it periodically. So far, I’ve ditched one goal and have started to contemplate…do I add another in its place? Probably, but I haven’t decided exactly what it will be yet.

In the meantime, I came to the crashing realization today that I am failing at another one.

#17. Celebrate minor holidays.

This one should have been a lock. It should have been easy. It’s one that I was already pretty established at, but that I wanted to really commit to this year. So far, well, I’m flailing.

Exhibit A: I started to make Year of the Pig magnets to celebrate Lunar New Year, but after the prototype was complete, the only progress I made was cutting out some of the shapes and then I bailed.

Exhibit B: I unpacked and utilized approximately 15% of my Valentines Day decorations TODAY. I have plates and mugs, pajamas, scarves, socks – none of it was used this year. I didn’t send ANY Valentines at all. That just isn’t me.

The Valentines thing is weird. I love Valentine’s Day. But for some reason, it just didn’t come up on my radar this year.

Thankfully, my friend Nikki confessed to being in the same predicament this year. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

Also thankfully, my favourite Valentines won’t hold my lack of preparation against me.

But I need to get it together for the rest of the year. With Pancake Day, St Patrick’s Day and Easter on the horizon, I’m going to get lots of practice!

Not all hope for me is lost. Rest assured, Kevin has a gift waiting for him when he gets home from work and we’re heading out to a movie tonight.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year?

Returns and exchanges

How do you feel about returning things? I’m on the fence.

When it comes to shopping for myself, I’ve learned to become more comfortable with it. Mostly, I don’t want to risk having to go to a store twice so I make sure that I have what I want exactly how I want it before I fork over my debit card. Lately, though, there have been a few instances when I’ve had a change of heart and decided to take something back. There was a book that I thought I’d love until I remembered that it was just a bunch of pretty pictures and that I have the internet for that. There have been a few items of clothing that I somehow thought looked a little more life-changing on the hanger than they did when I got them home. There were a handful of items from Costco that went back shortly after they came home. And that’s all within the last year! Before that, I would have just sucked it up and called it a tax for being impulsive or unreasonable or straight up dumb.

I think my change of heart can be related to the ease with which things can be returned now. Somebody told me that you can take almost anything back to Costco and you don’t even need a receipt. I returned a few things that I bought online this year and it was as easy as plastering a pre-printed sticker on top of a shipping envelope and handing it to the clerk at the post office downstairs. It’s so easy, it’s almost like they want you to take your stuff back!

I don’t know how my mom feels about returning things, but I would guess her comfort level is pretty high. I don’t know that sheΒ likes it, per se, but I don’t remember there being a hesitation with her. All my life, I’ve heard her say, “if you don’t like it, take it back.” It never really rubbed off until now.

Kevin would tell you that he is the returner in our house. He feels like he is the guy who is charged with lugging our loot back to the store to explain all the reasons why we don’t want it. And he’s probably right in saying that. But he’s the one who likes people! It’s such an obvious decision for it to be him!

We have a running joke (unintentional play on words, but I don’t hate it) about gifts he buys me from our local Running Room. For several birthdays now, he has picked something out that I have loved, but promptly returned. Most recently, it was a hydration vest (that didn’t have a pocket big enough for a phone on the front straps – what?!?!) and before that, a couple of pairs of shoes (too extravagant for me) and a vest (found an even better one somewhere else.) Kevin and I are close enough that I can tell him and I *think* he understands that I appreciate his efforts in the gift giving department and I can explain why something won’t work for me. He’ll get it.

This Christmas, we were faced with a bigger dilemma. We received a very fancy, very generous gift that was way out of our league. A sous-vide is something that I’d heard of and that seemed pretty intriguing, but then when we got one of our own, we really and truly had no idea what to do with it. We researched it and we still felt like we were in over our heads. We bothΒ can cook, but neither of us finds it particularly enjoyable. We cook to live, not the other way around and new gadgets aren’t a high priority for us. One we had a better understanding of what this thing was, we developed new concerns.Β Part of our hesitation was technical ability, another part was practicality and the third was spatial limitations – could we use it, would we use it, where would we keep it? We were flattered that the giver believed that we had our shit together enough to actually get a handle on the thing, but when we considered all angles, we just couldn’t make good use of it. It wasn’t it, it was us.

I don’t return gifts. This is mostly because the selection and the giving of whatever it is, that’s the real gift to me. I cherish the thoughts behind the things even if I don’t love the things themselves. For me, it truly is the thought that counts.

I’m sure some people have no qualms about telling someone that they want to return a gift and all the power to them. I am not one of those people. The person who gave us this elaborate gift puts a lot of heart into their gift giving and is very thoughtful about their choices. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by indicating that they had missed the mark, but the price tag on it was just too big to be wasteful about it. So I owned it and said all the things I said above. And they said, “okay.”

I think everyone’s feelings were spared – including the guilt I’d be battling when, three months from now we’d made Starbucks sous-vide eggs five times and nothing ever since. But now we have a hefty Best Buy gift card to spend and it might be just as baffling as any piece of kitchen equipment ever could.

Do you return things often? Are they things that you bought yourself? Or gifts that you’ve received? Both?

The anxious host

The days before I go back to work have dwindled to just three more and I’m starting to feel nostalgic about the holidays. I don’t even feel like it’s past Christmas and yet, it’s 355 days away again. That whole time speeding up as you age thing is no joke.

I had visions for my vacation from work this week and those visions were largely centred around my bed and some books. I’m on my second book of 2019 and I’m squeezing in as much reading time as possible, but my commitments are getting in the way.

Monday was, of course, New Year’s Eve so I did New Year’s Eve things – prepped food, tidied up, finally hung my HAPPY NEW YEAR banner. Yesterday, I went to the relatively early relegation game at the World Juniors and tomorrow I’ll do the same. Today, I met my Mom so that we could go and pay my aunt a visit for midday coffee. I am so glad I did/am doing all of those things, but I’m also a little disappointed that I never indulged in my fantasy of staying in bed with a book all morning.

One truly can’t have it all, I suppose.

It occurred to me today that there is another thing I’d like to work on this year – a late addition to the resolutions list – and it’s the act of entertaining. Perhaps some of it is related to being graciously welcomed into my aunt’s house this afternoon and it might also be attributed to my recent rediscovery of a post I’d written a few years ago while visiting Kevin’s hometown in Ontario. The post was celebrating how welcoming Kevin’s friends, family and neighbours are, inviting everyone in with a smile and a hug. That hasn’t been my upbringing, but I liked it very much when I experienced it. I know that I thought about nurturing that practice in my life after that trip, but if I’m honest, I haven’t truly followed through.

I have friends who have open doors. At the drop of a hat, they’ll say, “come over!” or “come in!” I love that and I harbour fantasies about doing the same, but I rarely act on them. As I pondered it today, I had to ask myself why not. It basically boiled down to me feeling some anxiety about it with it and I hate that.

The first time I ever hosted a dinner party, I was nervous. I had the meal planned – seafood cannelloni, salad and a chocolate cake. I had bought wine, a tablecloth, fancy napkins and favours for my guests (tiny notebooks with each one’s astrological sign on the front.) I spoke to my Mom on the phone that day and told her about how nervous I was feeling about the dinner. She shared some words of wisdom with me that I have never forgotten. She said,

They’re your friends, Carly. They’re not coming for the meal or for the dessert. They’re coming to spend time with you and as long as you’re there, that’s all that matters.

That was nearly twenty years ago now and, frankly, I’d envisioned myself as being much better versed in entertaining by now. Expectations aside, I still think of that advice every. single. time. I welcome people into my home.

Just about a year ago, we had my girlfriend Rebecca over for dinner and an impromptu paint night (props to Kevin for the arts and crafts idea.) As I served up steaming bowls of homemade tomato soup, she told me she wanted to have people over more, but said that she had never really developed her ability to coordinate food prep. As expected, I shared that story about what my mom had told me, but this time, in saying it again, or perhaps just saying it out loud, it made a deeper click for me. If I went to her house for dinner and a side finished cooking before the main or an appetizer didn’t turn out right or something else went sideways, I would laugh about it and assure her that it didn’t matter – and that would be true. If her house was messy, I wouldn’t even notice. If her furniture was outdated, so what?

These are the most common insecurities people reveal when they are having someone over for the first or fiftieth time and I feel variations of them all, too. In fact it surprised me that she spoke to me as though I wasn’t nervous.

I told her one of the beliefs that I hold from on is that most – not all, sure – people feel some degree of a self-conscious response to having people over. It may be a natural born talent for a select few, but the rest of us have to work at it. And I intend to work at it in 2019.

If you’re like me and feel like your hosting skills could use some polish, here is a must read to calm your nerves:

I’ve often wondered if hosting is another practice makes perfect activity. Does it get easier the more you do it? Does a host become more comfortable and confident with every visit?

Are you someone who invites others over often? Were you born with the ability to play host or is it a skill that you honed? What advice do you have for those of us who aren’t as comfortable with it?

12.31.18

There are a few things to cover today.

First up: thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who took some time out to send birthday wishes, stories, photos and just general good vibes yesterday. Y’all sure know how to make a girl feel loved. You’re amazing.

Kevin got it in his head that he was going to make me a birthday cake this year and that is the nicest thing a boyfriend has ever done for me. He let me in on the secret prototype on Saturday, the day before my birthday and I gave him some strategy tips, but otherwise it was all him and it turned out to be pretty damn good. Also, delicious.

Second: today continues in the birthday celebrations because I can never have my birthday without thinking of my cousin. It was on this day when my first love, my first partner in crime, my original Kevin joined me on earth 27 hours after my own arrival. He hit me with a super heartfelt and sweet birthday message – complete with photos – in the morning yesterday and gave me a good old cry. I’m pretty sure I still make this face. And his smile still lights up the world.

Finally, I’ve written a few year in review posts already – my year in reading, my year in running – but I always like to do a little overall year in review exercise as well. (This was 2017’s.) Since yesterday was my birthday, I attribute the start of my new year being so close to the start of the new year as the reason I love New Year’s celebrations so much. The fresh start, the new beginnings, the blank slate – I’m just a big fan all around.

I have some resolutions and new practices in my plans for 2019 and I’ll share some of those tomorrow, but today, on the last day of 2018, I’m going to take a look back at the things we did this year.

JANUARY

I started the year with The Bigger Yes, a course facilitated by Laura McKowen and focused on discovering, exploring and committing to your deepest callings. This gave the first months of the year a very inwardly focused dedication and feel. ❀️ I wrote my life story and that was an experience in itself. ❀️ We spent some time outdoors and moving our bodies in different ways. ❀️ I committed to writing and reading more and I followed through with that for most of the year.

FEBRUARY

We celebrated my Mom’s birthday at our place while we hosted a birthday/Super Bowl party and cheered as the Eagles hoisted the Lombardi trophy for the first time. 🧑 We headed down to Seattle for our first (and one of our favourites) race of the year, My Better Half at Seward Park. The weather was crisp and cool and the scenery was incredible. The post-race oatmeal bar was tops, second only to Kevin’s Significant Otter t-shirt. This was the trip on which we unwillingly bought a new set of tires – and a Costco membership! 🧑 Kevin and I celebrated our seven year anniversary.

MARCH

I took a trip to Kingfisher Resort on Vancouver Island to celebrate my aunt’s milestone birthday with her, my Mom and one of my aunt’s childhood friends. We enjoyed supreme beauty and luxury and I even met a new cat. πŸ’› Cara and I went to our first hockey game together. And then we went to another. πŸ’› We started working on our community garden plot and started nurturing the seedlings that produced our summer bounty. πŸ’› I reconnected with my high school friend, Jane.

APRIL

It was Easter! πŸ’š We headed across the border again for the Birch Bay Road Race in April. Unfortunately, we’d followed a bad lead on hotel for this trip and fled the “Birch Bay Stayaway” as someone on Trip Advisor dubbed it. Luckily, we found the Four Points Bellingham via Hotels.com and settled into a more more comfortable room quickly. Unanticipated costs of this misguided hotel booking: new swimsuits from Target. Unexpected discovery: The Pacific Caesar, from B-Town Kitchen & Raw Bar, the greatest salad either of us have ever eaten. πŸ’š Canucks season ended. πŸ’š I got a new boss.

MAY

We celebrated Mother’s Day. πŸ’™ We spent a lot of time in the gardens – our balcony, our community, my parents’. πŸ’™ I basically cooked my way through Deliciously Ella Everyday. πŸ’™ I talked books and podcasts and coffee. πŸ’™ I went through another melanoma diagnosis and two surgeries which I wrote about months later, in September.

JUNE

The Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon took place in the beginning of June and we headed down south for the weekend. We did the 5k on Saturday when we got to run through the Museum of Flight hangar and the half marathon Sunday. It was a beautiful course, but Kevin was injured (sadly, a recurring theme for the year) and I kept him company the whole way. No matter, we still finished and collected our medals. We also got to see Old 97s in the post-race concert. πŸ’œ Later in the month we did our last race before we took a break for summer, the Scotia Half 5k, my least favourite race ever. πŸ’œ I got my I Am A Moon Goddess mala from I Am Blessed Mala Beads.

JULY

We celebrated Canada Day and watched fireworks from our balcony. ❀️ I harvested FLOWERS from my garden for the first time! (I usually just grow vegetables.) ❀️ Cara and I made our first appearance as Canucks season ticket members at the Summer Showdown rookie game. ❀️ My month took a woo turn when I joined a Tarot challenge and explored everything I know about the cards with a daily draw. ❀️ I went along for the ride on a Lakers Island road trip to Nanaimo and I got to hang with my girl Lori and *finally* meet her daughter Emily. ❀️ We had a surprise visit from our Amy and had a delightful dinner and catch up session on Granville Island.

AUGUST

A relatively low-key month of getting flowers, growing veggies and closing up shop on the lacrosse season. 🧑 This was also when I embarked on a commitment to daily writing and the realization that not coming up with a unique title for every post set me free.

SEPTEMBER

We picked apples with Barb and John. I started working from home. πŸ’› We started talking about how this old cat can’t live forever. πŸ’› We watched The Good Place and Making It. πŸ’› It was my Dad’s birthday. πŸ’› Kevin went to Philadephia for the NLL Draft. πŸ’› I catsat.

OCTOBER

Here’s where things got fun, most notably because travel season arrived. πŸ’š I went to Chicago with Lesley so we could explore and she could run the Chicago Marathon. πŸ’š I got back and three days later, we turned the car towards Whistler for a weekend in the mountains and the BCLA AGM. πŸ’š The hockey season started up again and we went to our first game as members. πŸ’š Late in the month we went to Bothell and our favourite hotel for the weekend and the Captain Jack’s Treasure Run in Redmond where we got to dress like pirates. πŸ’š To finish the month, we celebrated Kevin’s birthday and then we went to the Canucks game on Halloween.

NOVEMBER

I enjoyed the Canucks Diwali event and then the next day we left for Vegas. πŸ’™ Ten whole days of it including the KronosWorks conference, the Rock ‘n; Roll Half Marathon and 5k. πŸ’™ Almost as soon as we got back, we started preparing for our final trip -and half marathon – of the year, San Antonio. πŸ’™ We started watching Christmas movies and went ice skating at Rogers Arena. πŸ’™ We fully immersed ourselves in celebrating the upcoming holidays, but with tempered it with more old cat contemplation. πŸ’™ We got the tree up and decorated and then we left town again.

DECEMBER

San Antonio was our last stop of the year and when I asked Kevin about his favourite travel, without hesitation, he proclaimed that this was it. We were there for just three nights, we packed a lot of good times during that short span and, you know, it sure feels like we were there longer than that. πŸ’œ I lost some faith in people when I started to contemplate those who seemingly do something kind solely for the attention it’ll get them from strangers, but my spirits were lifted when we toured a couple of holiday markets. πŸ’œ We visited the Anonymous Art Show at North Van Arts where my friend Jane had three pieces on display. πŸ’œ We checked out Fridays on Front Holiday Edition to get some much needed time with friends. πŸ’œ Just after hitting the 120 day mark, I shared what I’ve learned from writing everyday and I celebrated a few of the joys that Christmas cards brought me this season. πŸ’œ I praised the Christmas bakers out there and I spent three consecutive days at Rogers Arena including the home opener for the new Vancouver Warriors lacrosse team. πŸ’œ I also made a Christmas playlist.

If I may add another side effect of writing every day, I certainly keep track of the details and the things that go on in our lives better and the memories remain more vivid. That’s always a plus.

Looking back on the year there were a number of joys, adventures, opportunities for growth, love and generousity. I had wanted 2018

On this, the final day of 2018, I invite you to look back on your year and contemplate the good, the challenging, the beautiful, the lessons and all the experiences you had, the people you knew, the things that you learned. As they say, out with the old and in with the new.

12.12.18

In an effort to do more holiday things this year, we rounded up my mom and hit up two of the most prominent and ongoing winter festivals in Vancouver last night. We had a good time spending the evening together and I wanted to share in case you’re thinking of checking either/both of them out.

First, we went to Vancouver Christmas Market, a German market located at Jack Poole Plaza surrounding the Olympic Cauldron from 2011.

It wasn’t our first time at that market, but it was the first in that location. It used to be over in the plaza outside Queen Elizabeth Theatre and we went with another couple and their two kids. The woman was German and we all went to try to share the German Christmas experience with her. Even she, especially she, was disappointed with our first visit. As can be predicted, it wasn’t as authentic as what she had expected, but it is challenging to recreate any cultural event in the other side of the world from its origin.

On our trip last night our memories of the first trip were quickly and thoroughly refreshed.

I’ll start with the good parts:

  • Adult guests of the market can have the German experience of GlΓΌhwein, traditional mulled red wine (here’s a recipe if you want to make your own.) This was a big thing for our friend when we went the first time. I think it was something that she’d looked forward to most. My mom has some last night while Kevin and I stuck to the apple cider which was very good.
  • There is a beautiful carousel operating throughout the market hours – last night was a slow night so we never actually heard it operate, but it might have been nicer and more festive to hear the sounds of it throughout the property.
  • Guests can wander the area checking out “80 huts of German sweets, treats and treasures.” The highlight for me was a local jewellery maker, Stoneheart Jewellery. Her work was beautiful, her passion was evident and her displays were superb. My Mom bought some Christmas ornaments for her friends, but, besides beverages, that was about it for all three of us. To be fair, we were there for the experience, not for the shopping.
  • There is a lighted patio for photo ops. Thankfully it wasn’t busy because it wasn’t a very big space with one one narrow in/out. On a crowded night, I bet it’d really test your patience.

The layout, put simply, is a rectangle with a Santa light display, a tower featuring decorations and live musical performances, a number of food offerings and a nice, big tree all down the middle. The outer perimeter is where all the hits were. There were a number of beautifully made German products for sale, but nobody (with the exception of the woman at Stoneheart) was even vaguely interested in us being there. And while there was a lot of stuff to see, it wasn’t really cohesive in creating a good – or any – vibe. The staff working at the market were equally as indifferent, bordering on annoyed that we were there. Every person that we interacted with – from the person checking our bags and informing us we couldn’t bring our coffees inside to the guy who took our tickets to the security guard that barked at my mom that she couldn’t take her booze into the area selling booze – acted like they didn’t want us there. It honestly sucked the fun right out of the visit so we gave them what they wanted and we left.

Beyond our own experience, we’d been warned not to go back by friends who were there on the weekend, but my mom wanted to go and I wanted to give her the chance to form her own opinion so we took one for the team.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and $5 for youths 7-12, but you can save $2 per adult/senior if you buy them online. They’re open 11:30am-9:30pm every day until December 24th when they’ll close at 6pm. We drove down there and parked underneath the Convention Centre, but you could take the Skytrain and easily walk about ten minutes over from Waterfront Station.


Our second stop was at Aurora Winter Featival over at Concord Pacific Place, across the street from Rogers Arena. It had a decidedly different energy even from a distance. Full of bright lights and winter fun, it looks like a really fun place to be.

Before entering, you can see the Tube Park and the Ferris Wheel as well as some of the other attractions.

We walked in and were greeted warmly – so warmly, in fact, that nobody even bothered to check our tickets!

Our first stop was at the washrooms (something we hadn’t even been able to find at the market) – several rows of port-o-potties. From there, we took a stroll through some of the stalls where people were selling souvenirs and other things.

We lined up for a couple of minutes to take a tour through the Telus future home, a house featuring many conceptual pieces that Telus is seeing in our future. As you can imagine, it was pretty mind blowing!

From there, we wandered over to the food truck section of the park and decided to get something to eat. Both my mom and I went for Mac and cheese while I opted for the hot dish from Rolling Cashew, their Thai Cashew Cauliflower Wings. A++

We checked out the skating area mostly because I was in hot pursuit of a glimpse of the narwhal I could see in the distance. From there we wandered (backwards) through the Mystical Worlds: The Whimsical Forest, The Luminous Gardens, The Arctic Retreat and The Disco Den. For me, this was the real highlight because throughout all areas it was those things and more: whimsical, luminous, light, bright, fun. There was an Ice Queen, there were snow machines, there were lights and figures everywhere. It was like being transported into a whole different dimension. We were all smiling ear to ear the whole way through. ❀️

We didn’t buy much in the market area at Aurora either (again, we weren’t there for the shopping) but we did get to visit with my SweetLegs rep, Katerina, who is there through the duration of the market. (My mom is now hooked on SweetLegs, too!) We did have a great time, feel very welcome and spend nearly three times as long there.

Tickets to Aurora are $19.99 for adults and $14.99 for seniors and kids 4-12. You can buy them online ahead of time, but it requires a little planning. You need to book not only your date, but also the hour in which you will enter. (Once in, you can stay as long as you want.) They’re open 4pm-10pm, but they do close on some days. Check the ticket page for available dates and times. Again, we drove over from the Vancouver Christmas Market and parked at the lot across from Rogers Arena, but you could take the Skytrain and walk a couple of blocks over from Stadium-Chinatown Station.

Have you been to either or both of these holiday markets/events? What did you think?

11.28.18

Overheard while we decorated the tree tonight:

What’s with you and putting creepy dolls on our tree?

I have no idea what Kevin is talking about. I think it’s cool that this party elf’s eyes follow you wherever you go in the room.

And these two have been on my Christmas tree for as long as I can remember.

We have boxes and boxes of decorations just for the tree. I am so not into themed trees, preferring instead the mish mash jumble of things I’ve collected over the years and that Kevin has slowly started contributing to.

Like the origami cranes I made in my early years of having my very own tree, back when I’d choose a spindly little Douglas Fir and string big, round, colourful lights all around it.

Do you know what state this is? I do, thanks to my dear friend Rachel. ❀️

I have antique glass ornaments that joined the family via the very first tree that my parents had after they were married and I have some others that belonged to my grandparents for who knows how long.

I have ornaments I’ve collected in my travels.

And many, many cat representations.

I have ornaments that document the many phases I’ve been through.

Cupcakes.

Narwhals.

Fairies.

Sports.

Every year, we take them out and we talk about which ones we like, which ones are weird, which ones have stories. We repair ones that are broken and carefully choose which ones will make the cut and which will sit this year out. (Like the Falcons. The Falcons are sitting this year out.) It’s probably one of the most meaningful and fun exercises, decorating the tree, and each year it keeps getting better.

And in the end, it kind of always looks the same, but it still maintains its magic.

11.24.18

One month from today, the visions of sugarplums will be dancing and we’ll be setting our sights on our long winter’s naps. People may argue that it’s too early for Christmas things, but, as you can tell, I am not one of them.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I have a tendency for starting strong. I come out of the gates quickly, I like to get started early and then my short attention span gets the best of me and I scale it back before a panicked push at the end. This applies to Christmas and it also applies to pretty much everything else, too.

Tonight, we’re hauling out the tree and sorting through the decorations and I am thrilled about it!


This afternoon, we got to go to Kevin’s Canucks season ticket holder event – a skate at Rogers Arena!

A few years ago, after I’d posted somewhere on social media that we’d been ice skating, we visited my parents’ house shortly after. My folks both asked where I got my skates from. When I told them I didn’t have any, they went downstairs and returned with a pair that my mom swore she hadn’t used since the seventies. Sure, they looked like they’d been in a basement for thirty years, but I felt like Cinderella when I put them on my feet. They fit like gloves.

It’s been a couple of years since then and I’ve had great intentions for those skates. I’ve had them sharpened and I searched high and low for white shoe polish (which isn’t as easy to find as you’d think!) and skate length white laces.

Ta da!

We had a one hour window for skating and we arrived a few minutes late, but we were still able to make the most of it. The organization did a great job of welcoming us in and making it a really fun event. There was popcorn and coffee or hot chocolate. We got on the ice from the Olympia Tunnel (where the zamboni comes out) and could skate around for as long as we wanted.

The Canucks dressing room was open and we got to walk down the tunnel that you see them use to get on and off the bench. Fin was there skating around, taking pictures with everyone and up to his usual hijinks.

It was interesting to see all the places where the players go and to get to explore the arena a little more than usual. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, we did the arena tour back in 2017 and can’t recommend it enough, but it was even better actually getting out there on the ice! (Not that we haven’t done that before.)

Here are more photos from our little spin around the ice this afternoon.