Sunday, January 03, 2016

New Year's North by Northwest

Happy New Year Everyone!!

After a stressful start to the Christmas holidays, things have all calmed down now and I've had a very relaxing week off with my little family of four. We met my daughter in university town two days before Christmas and had a very enjoyable reunion with her at a boisterous restaurant full of other families and students doing the same thing. Delicious food in a wonderful old restaurant with exposed brick walls and creaky well-worn wooden floors. You know the type, right? The town is chuck full of these beautiful restaurants with just amazing food! Every time we pick her up for an extended time at home, she has searched out yet another restaurant to try ... such fun ;)

Pinecone decorations; December calendar art by Kananginak Pootoogook "Shedding the Velvet"; Santa & Snowman wooden garland

We all came home happy and full and the next day I ploughed ahead with cleaning up my house for Christmas. Some of you already know that I run a daycare in my home, and I had five kids (ages 2 - 11) in the house all day once school let out on the Friday before Christmas ... so you can imagine that things were not as organized as I like for my own family with ongoing crafts and activities! Poor Smudge bunny was a bit neglected and we kept rolling his cage all around the living room and kitchen in an effort to decorate. He let us know he wasn't happy and there was hay kicked out of his cage all over the carpet! My living room looked more like a barnyard than a home. I warned my daughter not to judge me when she saw the mess (it is her rabbit afterall!). After six hours of cleaning and organizing, I had everything in place and ready for Christmas ... including half of the Christmas meal ready to go. I was exhausted!

A few angel decorations with birchbark stars :)
Christmas Day was lots of fun of course, although we spent it just on our own. My kids and dog(!) still heap on our bed first thing in the morning ready to open stockings. I think that's the best part of the day for me. Everyone is so silly and excited, and the dog is ripping all our presents open for us and trying to grab our chocolates, it gets quite crazy! And it's freezing cold because no one wants to run and turn up the furnace, so we're all wrapped in woolly blankets cross-legged on the bed. Magic!

My siblings and I used to all gather together in my eldest sister's bed on Christmas morning and open our stockings together before my parents got up. Stocking gifts were always a kids' thing back then, not an adult thing. It was like a little secret present opening with my sisters and brother that our parents never shared. I loved it, but I also love the way my own family does it now too with all of us getting a stocking filled with little surprises.

Christmas morning; More pinecones in the decorating; Childhood crafts
Anyway! Christmas was lots of fun, nice gifts, great company and a great meal (even if I do say so myself!) of turkey and fixin's. We then headed out to see my dad on Boxing Day and one of my sisters and two of her girls were there as well. Dad didn't understand any of it of course, and would fell asleep in little cat naps throughout our visit. A few of the other residents drifted into our midst and would amuse us with their funny ways. This is the "Reminiscence Ward" (aka dementia) at the home, so everyone living on that floor is confused. One lady wrapping her doll up in the Christmas tissue paper from our gifts and questioning the doll "where's your mama?". She's a sweetheart, and none of us minded. The care workers were trying desperately to remove her from our gathering, but we kept insisting that she was welcome, so they finally let her be.

Dad & my sister; The Gang
We hosted my side of the family for a Christmas meal on Wednesday and had a very enjoyable time together with non-holiday food this time. My nephew's wife and my sister brought some amazing hors d'oeuvres, and we rounded out the meal with a few hot dishes and desserts. I had premade everything, and it was buffet style, so clean up was such a breeze! We were finished cleaning up an hour after everyone left!

The next day my husband and I were off to something we were both looking forward to, and also apprehensive about. We went to visit friends of ours that we have not seen in almost 20 years! My husband and his friend first met years ago when they both worked as salesmen at a Ford car dealership (almost 30 years ago). We spent years together travelling to their parents' cottage on Lake Huron (northwest of us). When we both started having kids, we both moved quite far apart, and that's when we stopped seeing each other. My husband has kept in contact with his friend over the internet and on the phone all these years, but we never met up again until this week for New Year's Eve. This couple have bought the same cottage we used to go to from their parents, and transformed it into a beautiful Cape Cod cottage inside and out. It's beautiful!! Darkened board and batten pine that made the cottage so dark inside has been painted over in about 6 coats of white paint. Worn out wall to wall carpets were ripped out and replaced with medium dark laminate flooring which looks like real hardwood. A completely new kitchen and new bathroom, and the place looks amazing! All the work was done on their own except for exterior siding.

We spent a couple of fun days together at the cottage and had a marvelous time. I've never talked so much in probably 20 years! It was weird that when we met up it was like no time had passed at all, but we both had entire lifetimes (all our kids are now young adults) to share.

Our old "renewed" friends (me on far right); Lake Huron

There were walks along the beach beside the crashing waves and bitter wind. And another much calmer walk through the woods behind their cottage. My husband made them a gift of a wine rack out of birds eye maple and zebra wood. His own design and I think he did a great job with it.

Friends (my husband on far right); wine rack
Yesterday we took our daughter back to university town and left her all alone in her rental home. Her roommates would be returning early this week. Seemed a little sad to hug her goodbye and close the door on her ... she looked so forlorn :( Ah well, maybe she'll enjoy some time to herself before her friends return.

And now we're at the last day of holidays. The tree is undecorated (started that yesterday afternoon), and the decorations are waiting to be shoved back in the crawlspace. There are more than a few leftovers in the fridge. I wouldn't say we indulged through the week, but the food has been richer! We did finally get some snow too ... not quite in time for Christmas Day, but that's okay. The white and the cold makes it feel like a proper winter, which I like ;) The temperatures dropped from 14C a couple of days before Christmas, to now about -5C and getting colder. It's snowing again as I write this, so I'm glad our long drives here there and everywhere are over for now!

Now into 2016! I think we started the year off right with renewing our friendship and spending lots of time with family. It's made my days much brighter than they were before the holidays. I hope everyone is doing well. I've read both happy stories and sad stories here in blogland through the past couple of weeks, so life does go on in its own way.

Happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by!


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Linking up with Lavender Cottage Mosaic Monday!


  1. Hello, your Christmas sounds like it was wonderful. It is great to have such a close family spending Christmas together. I like the cottage, wine rack and all your photos. Happy New Year to you and your family. Enjoy your new week ahead!

  2. Your Christmas sounds lovely and it looks like you are off to a great start in the New Year. I really enjoyed looking at all the great pictures. I too have friends that have a cottage on Lake Huron in Southhampton, it is a beautiful spot.

  3. Hi Wendy, A great post and wonderful photos to match. I love your Christmas decorations...A very happy new year to you !

  4. How fun! and your friends' home is delightful!! Happy New Year!

  5. Happy New Year, it sounds like you had a wonderful holiday. It's sad sending our kids off after the holidays--ours had to go back to Japan.
    I met up with a friend (a couple of years ago) that I had gone to college with. We'd lost contact and then she found me on Facebook. meeting and talking it was like the 20 year bread had never happened.

  6. HI Wendy....
    Love all your photos....and that cottage! So cute! Guess it is winterized....I did not know that you run a daycare....must keep you very busy!
    Happy New Year!
    Linda :o)

  7. I'm so happy to see your photos and what a nice holiday you had. Your friend's cottage looks like something from a movie! WOW! I always wanted to add more nautical decor to my house but it hasn't worked that way. lol Happy New year! Hugs, Diane

  8. Sounds like you have had a busy but wonderful time over Christmas. A Happy New Year to you!

  9. You have had a cosy family Christmas with all the decorations. Sounds lovely indeed. I like also a lot the blue and white (Finland's colors!) decoration of the cottage. Have a nice week!

  10. Dearest Wendy,
    You are a beautiful mixture of down home, eclectic, hard working, Motherhood, daughterhood and the best friend anyone could ask for.
    I always enjoy seeing your photos and reading about your adventures in and out of your home.
    Your Christmas morning sounds like a chapter right out of Little Women.
    I loved it all.
    Wishing you the best of 2016 and sending much love too.

  11. It sounds as if you have had a wonderful holiday Wendy. Happy New Year! xx

  12. What a fabulous Christmas!!! I am so glad for you that you met up with your friends from all those years ago and that it was so wonderful! That really is great isn't it!! Happy New Year my friend! xx

  13. Happy New Year! It looks like a wonderful Christmas was had by all even with the craziness of getting ready. And the scenes from the lake are peaceful. Wishing you some rest.

    and LivingFromHappiness

  14. What a pleasure that you could pick up with a couple you hadn't seen for years and carry on like it was yesterday. Looks like you had a good time with them at the lake.
    Hope you find some time to relax now.

  15. Happy New Year Wendy !!! I wish you the best for you and your loved ones for 2016 ... more peaceful and very very happy !!

  16. Hello Wendy, thank you for this beautiful, cosy, heart-warming post! It's lovely to spend time with family members and (old) friends.
    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  17. Hi Wendy, what a lovely and heart felt post. I enjoyed tagging along on your holiday. The family photos at the first part of your post are all so Norman Rockwell . . . I love them . . . you can feel the family love. Then that cottage . . . wow, what a special place. Keep warm and have a lovely new year.
    Connie :)

  18. I loved reading this Wendy -- your Holiday week sounds so warm and cozy; family, old friends. We have been through this stage (the college age kids coming and going) and now our kids are probably the same age as you or older -- and we have great-grandkids .. times do change and every stage has its ups and downs. Mostly ups for us too, as obviously for you too! I'm glad to have found your lovely blog and happy new year!!

  19. Happy New Year, Wendy! Glad that you enjoyed quality time with family and friends during the holidays. They say that true friends will pick off where they left matter how much time has passed!

  20. Happy New Year-beautiful post-really enjoyed-reminded me way back when-when was a kid

  21. Sounds like a fun time, Wendy. And such cosy, happy photos to go with it.


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