countdown to christmas

I blogged for The Chronicle Herald on Wednesday about wanting to start a Christmas countdown tradition in our home. The idea that I liked best, of out all of the great ones I found on Pinterest, was a holiday activity for each day of December.

Here’s what we’re planning:
December 1: Sing Christmas songs.
December 2: Send letter to Santa here.
December 3: Bake Christmas cookies.
December 4: Watch Elf on CBC.
December 5: Colour Christmas pictures.
December 6: Make paper ornaments.
December 7: Take festive family photos.
December 8: Shop for stocking stuffers.
December 9: Send Christmas cards officially from our new address.
December 10: Deck the halls in our new home!
December 11: Watch Home Alone on CBC.
December 12: Make DIY Christmas gifts for friends.
December 13: Read Christmas stories.
December 14: Take an evening drive to look at Christmas lights.
December 15: Make paper snowflakes.
December 16: Go on a winter walk.
December 17: Do a good deed.
December 18: Build a snowman (weather permitting) or make an indoor version.
December 19: Make snow angels, inside or out.
December 20: Play outside.
December 21: Sip hot chocolate with candy cane stir sticks.
December 22: Read Christmas more stories.
December 23: Drive home for the holidays! Listen to lots of Christmas music along the way!
December 24-29: Celebrate Christmas with family.
December 30: Make a list of family plans and resolutions for 2012.
December 31: Stay up late, enjoy treats, and ring in the new year as a family.

house & home

As I leaked in my 30 by 30 post – we are now home owners! As of our December 9 closing, at least. 10 sleeps, if you’re counting. I already shared a bit of the story here.

We started the search a few months ago, initially browsing MLS and ViewPoint, and then we contacted our Realtor. Our intention was to start looking to get a sense of what we liked, and then but the plan into motion after the holidays. 18 boring houses later, and we unexpectedly found ourselves standing in the living room of the house that just felt like home. The layout is exactly what we wanted, spacious and open. Three bedrooms for our little family with the potential to add a fourth in the already-finished basement. It has curb appeal and a big yard, with lots of room to play and entertain. And it’s not perfect either. There’s some wallpaper to strip, and floors to swap and little updates here and there, but those things might be what we’re most excited for– to make our little home our own.
With moving day less than two weeks away, we’ve already packed a significant amount of our current home into boxes and bins. I spend all of my free time pinning, searching and jotting notes in a lengthy Google Doc, keeping track of our to-dos and must-buys.
On the list of priorities after Dec. 10:
  • Install new (just purchased!) dining room chandelier and fire place sconces.
  • Strip wallpaper downstairs. Repaint.
  • Work on updates to J’s big boy room.
  • Put a happy wreath on our new front door.
Looking forward to giving you the full tour once we’re in and settled!

link love

I’m heading out of town this weekend for shopping with some of my lady relatives, and my list is longgg. I’m imagining that I could potentially complete my Christmas shopping this weekend. In October. Whoa. That would be impressive, no? I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m not actually taking the dude shopping with me,
and just thought it was too over the top not to share.
Thennn, on my way home, I’m stopping to visit HH and her lovely family in their dream house, and I can barely wait!
And then, I suppose, I should work on some blogs … both here and there. As per usual, I’m sure the weekend is going to fly by. Do you have any fun plans?
This organization is inspiring. Based on how much J loves his Lego Duplo, I’ll need this solution for myself one day soon.
You know I heart coupons. Read all about it here.
Pinterest Challenge time! Will you participate?
Installing zippers never seemed so easy.
What a great gift idea … must try!
Thinking this would be a fun alternative for the Litwits. Read any great articles lately?

house hunters

Lovely friend H bought the house of her dreams last week. So, the fact that I’ve been surfing MLS non-stop for the past week or so can be squarely blamed on her.

We love where we live now, but ultimately there are restrictions to a renter’s life … no planning big renos, no building equity, no … well, ownership. We’ve done little projects here and there, but I have the decorating/organizing/diy itch often, and there’s only so much you can do in someone else’s casa.
We’re surveying our options and counting our pennies, just in preparation for the inevitability. This isn’t the first time we’ve started on this road, but who knows, maybe it’ll end differently this time.
So, I put these questions to you, dear readers, and am happily accepting any and all advice in these matters:
1) Detached vs. semi-detached? I admit that I am already very set on this matter, but I will open it to the floor anyway.
2) Fix-er-upper vs. new construction?
3) Oil heat vs. electric heat?
4) Subdivision (0.2 acre) vs. more rural (1+ acres)?
5) What are your top “red flags” when it comes to viewing houses?
Thanks, in advance.

nerd alert

Oh man, you guys, something has changed my life and I’m so excited to share.
I got a new household appliance on Friday. I hesitate to call it that though, because I’m pretty much ready to make it an honourary member of the family. It’s a Black and Decker Steam Mop.
I have been in the market for a steam mop for a while, but there are so many to choose from. Just about every cleaning brand has their own version, and they’re all quite similar. I knew for sure though that I wanted one that boasts the ability to kill 99% of germs on your floors. With a baby and a cat who like to lick get up close and personal with the hardwood, the idea of cleaning without chemicals was pretty appealing.
I decided on the Black and Decker mop after reading a great review by Mag Ruffman in my newspaper’s Homes section. I then read several blog posts recommending it, too. I was convinced, and I’m happy to say it’s everything I hoped it would be.
– It heats up in seconds. The light on the front changes from red to blue when it’s ready to go.
– It comes with three washable pads — no need to buy any expensive refills.
– It runs on water alone. No chemicals.
– The swivel head rotates so easily around edges and in corners.
– I could instantly see how much cleaner it makes the floor.
– I really can’t think of anything. If I had to say something, I guess it’s that I now have another appliance to store, but it’s still more convenient and cleaner than a traditional mop and bucket.
Plus, listen to this:
Me: Oooo it’s awesome! Husband, do you want to try it?
Husband: [thinks about having to do another chore] No … knock yourself out.
Me: [happily steaming the floor] Ahh this is so satisfying, and easy! Look how clean the floor is!
[Five minutes later]
Husband: OK, can I try now?
Any appliance that can make Husband ask to do an extra chore is worth its weight in gold, wouldn’t you agree?

a productive summer come and gone

I set a few goals for the summer months and, as far as I’m concerned, once school has started, we can pretty much consider summer officially ended. Here’s a round-up of my efforts. What’d you get up to this summer?

1) Grocery shop less. I feel like I did well with this. I wasn’t on a strict budget, but I tried to think about what we already had in our cupboards before going out to buy the things that I just wanted instead of needed. We got out to farmers’ markets several times for fresh, local produce, which was part of this goal. Now, we’re in the midst of revamping our family budget plan, so I’m trying to see how inexpensively the three of us can manage. There will be more to this as the month goes on. So far, a success!

2) Find more time to read. Enter The Litwits! Thanks to our new book club, I’m working on my second book in the past month and I also have a beach read going on the side.

3) Take Jacob to the beach and dip his toes in the ocean for the first time. Take millions of photos.

Here you go …Bold

4) Journey to visit family. This includes NB, CB and anywhere in between. Done and done! We had some wonderful time with family this summer and hope to visit even more this fall.

5) Go camping. This was a lofty goal with a less-than-one-year-old, and it didn’t happen this summer. We’re super excited to take him out as soon as it’s warm enough next year, though!

6) Keep my hanging basket alive. All. Summer. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence on this one. I’d lie, but I know my neighbour friend reads my blog and would rat me out. The basket is dead. Dry, crunchy, dead. Never to be revived. Maybe next year I’ll fill it with artificial flowers.

7) Sleep in. Please. Just once. Jacob was a peach this summer and many times Husband and I woke up before he did, which qualifies as a sleep-in for us. Waking up on your own, naturally, and refreshed feels so good.
8) BBQ. A lot. We did. Again and again. We filled the propane tank for a second time this year and we will BBQ well into the fall.

9) Wash both cars inside and out. We did clean both cars already, and just recently gave the Kia a second vacuum and wipe down. Being down to one-car family, for a while made it simpler, but we’re a two-car household once again and I’m making it my mission to keep “my” car spotless.

12) Purge. Success as shown here.

13) Fix the DIY curtains I made for the front door. I haven’t done this yet, mainly because I still don’t know what I want to do. Must hit Pinterest for ideas.

14) Do a few little home-improvement projects, like touch up some paint, etc. This was so easy. In less than an hour, we patched holes in the Gyp-rock and re-painted some spots. Plus, we exchanged our kitchen hardware, which made a huge difference.

15) Scrapbook (or come up with a reasonable alternative). Even though I still have lots of scrapbooking supplies, I’ve put them aside in favour of organized photo albums for now. Rather than doing a rushed job on our scrapbooks, our albums will serve to keep our memories until I have enough downtime to do it properly. I also cashed in Pampers Gift to Grow points for a free Shutterfly photo book of J’s first year, which may be my forever alternative to scrapbooking — it’s so easy!

What are your most important to-dos for fall?

what are you hoarding?

If you were a hoarder, based on your personality … what would you hoard? (better yet, ask someone who knows you well, what they think you would hoard).

I am probably the furthest thing from a hoarder. Yes, we have our storage struggles, and yes, we have tons o’ stuff, but I’m not afraid to purge anything that isn’t useful. If I had to choose though, based on my personality, my stockpile would probably include books, stationary and greeting cards, craft supplies, fun stuff for entertaining guests and home decor items. Hmm, why is this starting to sound like a good idea?
I also asked a few of the regulars for their opinions.
Mum’s thoughts: cookbooks (I now have 29), coupons (I do have a designated coupon wallet), and lists (or rather books for lists since there’s one in every. single. drawer. in our house).
Sister-in-law C suggested canned goods due to my slightly-weird love for grocery shopping. This might be true about kitchen staples in general. I’m certain we could go a month without buying groceries and still have plenty to eat. Her self-confessed hoards? Purses, shoes and magazines.
Grammie says books. Both my vice and hers. She makes great effort to pass along books once she’s read them, to her credit. Often that means those books end up at my house though! For some reason, I’m holding on to many that I’m sure I’ll never open again. Hmm … maybe a donation to the library is in order.
What kinds of things are you holding on to at home?
Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer’s prompt.

vacation from my vacation

Am I the only one who has a love-hate relationship with vacation?

I anticipate time off for weeks, sometimes months, in advance. Planning, organizing, packing. As the time approaches, I’m filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension … What do I need to remember? What have I already forgotten? Then, after hours in the car, I fall into that magical bubble of family, swimming, smores, and sunbathing. Then, when it’s time to drive home, I’m filled again with the same mix of stress, but in reverse. Decompressing, unpacking, cleaning and regaining some semblance of routine.

Having a baby adds a unique element to the situation. I anticipate time with family in a different way — I was thrilled to introduce Jacob to my fun relatives. I worked to make sure conditions are perfect — that Jacob had what he needs to be in the best mood possible for being passed around by people he still (somewhat) considers strangers. And he didn’t disappoint. Despite some obvious teething discomfort, Jacob was cheerful and fun the whole time we were away. Love.

But in the end, summer vacation is always wonderful. Each year, I’m sad to leave my family and return to real life. Thanks to all of you who helped make our whirlwind vacay pretty great. xo