Casual Friday + Life Lately

  • Christmas officially feels over. I usually have a bit of a post-Christmas slump, but this year I feel like I actually had the slump over Christmas. I was so tired and even though all the food and gifts came together, I was just so worn down from COVID and renovations and the preparations for company/hosting. Slowly, this last week, I feel the tension dissipating and I’ve allowed myself to indulge in festive things (somehow I always feel guilty listening to Christmas music or watching holiday movies after Christmas is over, but I’m pushing through the guilt/weirdness and doing it anyway)!
  • I looked back over my Christmas cards and removed the fronts to use for Christmas tags next year (pictured above, I spy my SecretSanta card from Nicole). It was fun to reminice about all the greetings from friends and family…and also to repurpose the Christmas cheer for next year.
  • After weeks of company, last night we enjoyed our first in-home date-night in a long time. Take-out sushi for the win.
A Royal Queen’s Christmas, per my father’s request. Ice Sculpture Christmas (from 2015 I think?) is still my favourite.
  • I have definitely had my fill of Hallmark movies for the season. I was feeling a bit cheated not seeing many before Christmas, but I think I’ve met my quota by watching one each evening with my parents (and sometimes a bonus one in the afternoon with the kiddos). Even more delightful has been watching old Christmas/New Year’s Great British Baking Show episodes each night before bed. Seeing contestents make edible snowglobes and mulled wine cakes is just pure fun.
I’m not sure if this picture does justice to how much space there was for skating! Why did it take me 14 years to make the trek?
  • I took the kids skating this week. Levi has been begging to go but I just wasn’t feeling up to wrangling the kids – in masks – to an arena and jumping through all the COVID hoops. But our local reservoir – about 3 minutes from our house – was sufficiently frozen for some outdoor skating (someone monitors the ice thickness and conditions and posts the info to a blog). We ended up spending two hours there and it was great. I invited a friend; she and I got to skate and chat basically nonstop and the kids were contented to skate with their friends. It’s a huge pond and a group of people had shovelled an enormous oval for skating + a few little hockey “rinks” in the centre. To my shame, after almost 14 years of living in Wolfville, this was my first time skating on this pond. It’s a local rite of passage and I have no idea why I waited so long because we had a fantastic time. Although it may have been so fun because both kids are now old enough to skate independently? One family had ordered takeout pizza and was eating it on the retaining wall on the side of the pond. Again, I can’t say enough about our wonderful town and all it has to offer young families!! I wore my heated socks and my feet didn’t feel cold for even a moment. I also had new-to-me skates (someone gave away two free pairs last year where I work that were practically brand new) and they fit about 1000x better than my old skates which I’ve owned for a decade but always pinched me feet and were horrifically uncomfortable!
It’s all ordered and set to be delivered before January 10th.
  • I wrote before how my incredibly thoughtful husband bought me TWO sets of hoop earrings for Christmas so I could cross something off my 22 for 2022 list, and I just scratched out another to-do by ordering my 2021 photobook. I normally wait until the spring to do this (I refuse to order it without a discount code) and I typically don’t even start putting it together until the New Year. But this fall I got an urge to get going on it and knew from last year that Blurb often has a discount code just before the New Year (and then doesn’t have any other discounts for several months). I didn’t want to be sitting on a finished photobook just twiddling my thumbs until a discount came up…so I spent a few hours over the last few days organizing and arranging December photos. What a sense of accomplishment when I clicked “Order” and I now officially have only 20 items left on my list. The bad news? Some of the remaining items are big ones (like getting all the bedrooms painted and demoing our entryway and rebuilding the carport).
  • Speaking of gifts – I forgot to mention one of the best ones. When John and I visited Paris several years ago I bought some canvas bags. One came from Shakespeare and Company; I loved using it, especially to get library books (which felt very appropriate). Somehow I managed to lose the bag and have lamented this on numerous occasions. Somehow John managed to source a similar bag for me, and I was thrilled to try it out on a recent shopping trip.
There were this many lights again to the left and right and then off to the side of the house
  • A friend tipped me off to a new-to-us lights display; it was about 20 minutes away from our house in a little subdivision tucked away, so I would never have “happened” upon it. The whole display was connected to the beat of the music, so tuning the radio to a particular frequency gives you the songs to which the lights are keeping time. I’ve seen similar displays before, but never so close to home and it was the first time the kids had experienced anything like it. It was hilarious to listen to them rank their favourite light displays; they both agreed this had jumped to the top of their list.
  • When my parents pulled out of the driveway yesterday morning, we started tackling the house. About 3 hours later the beds were stripped, laundry was going, the downstairs tree was dismantled and put away, all the toilets and sinks were scrubbed, the garbage was emptied…and the house just generally felt back to normal. It’s hard to say goodbye to Christmas, and I’ve left up the big items on the main floor for a little while longer (tree, swag, and wreaths)…but it also does feel like a fresh start, in a good way.


This post is already mostly just about life lately but…

EATING | Leftovers (turkey filling, peanut butter balls) and take-out sushi

LISTENING | Still Christmas music. And John’s new Dark Side of the Moon record.

So good…

DRINKING | Holiday Chai. With hints of Jamaican rum. So, so delicious.

BUYING | Ornaments (on sale) for next Christmas Eve, and the last box of Holiday Chai at our local health food store!

READING | A book about Christmas long ago. It is cheery and light and cozy – and totally came from the kids picture-book section at the library. I also picked up some library holds: Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee followed, ironically, by How to Be Sad by Helen Russell, and How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price.

EXERCISING | A walk with Abby, a new-to-us woods hike with the family (we’re excited to go back and check out more trails in the summer), and 2 hours of skating.

DREADING | Potential school closures due to COVID, getting back into the work routine, more renovation decisions, and the cold/ice/snow/dark of the next few months.

LOOKING FORWARD TO | Getting back into fun routines (at-home date nights, regular walking), more decluttering/purging in 2022, drinking all that Holiday Chai.

22 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Life Lately”

  1. We just got the news that our winter break is extended until the tenth, and the diploma exams are cancelled. It is a huge blow. My oldest is in Grade Twelve and, well, I can hardly even talk about the despair I’m feeling.

    Anyway, I’m glad you could rest and enjoy a little during the holidays. The skating looked lovely, I haven’t skated in forever, I should find my old skates!

    1. Oh no. We’re currently delayed until the 10th, but I’m fully prepared (well, maybe not “prepared” but expecting?!) for this to be significantly extended.
      I feel especially sorry for students in Grade 11/12 and beyond. What a hard stage of life to be in this academic limbo.
      I work at a university and I feel so, so sorry for the students I interact with; academically, socially, emotionally – they’re all struggling.
      A friend told me about a former international student who has been taking university classes online since the start of the pandemic, finally moved over to Canada – went through weeks of quarantining and the like – only to find out that all classes at his university are going to be online at least until the end of January, but potentially for the whole term. Gutwrenching…

  2. The skating sounds very festive and fun! We don’t own skates but I know there are outdoor places around here that do rent them. I kind of wish I had had the week off of work this week, because I feel like we haven’t been able to really do much of that sort of thing at ALL. But with the big covid spikes, I’ve felt ok just hunkering down anyway and hoping it will blow over soon.

    I’m envious of you having your house back to normal!! Mine isn’t even CLOSE, like not even a little bit. With working from home during the day/ trying to carve out some time for the kids/ some personal stuff, the house has been bottom of the list. my husband has been at work all week, too, so he’s been no help either. Oh well. It will get there eventually. I’m not really in a big rush, anyway- I like all the decorations so much. But I do want to get the “clutter” finished up (still gifts lying around under the tree…) and other clean up tasks in the basement from all of our festivities. I’m hoping this weekend we can tackle some of that stuff.

    1. I’m so sorry you have to work this week. I definitely do not appreciate the fact that we both get most of 2 weeks off without having to take much vacation time because of our nature of work. I tend to forget that life goes “back to normal” very quickly after Christmas for most people and that I need to really pay attention to the enormous privilege it is to have this extended time off (where much of the time I still complain about the stress of going back to work after my very long break).

      We are all currently in the hunkering stage, too. COVID is spiking and school and lots of other things seem so tenuous. The kids are home until the 10th, that much I know…and I have to be content(ish) with living in flux.

      Hope you get to do some decluttering this weekend – or feel comfortable with taking a pass and just vegging and recuperating from the holidays if that’s what you need. It will all get done at some point. I had a friend in high school whose family left their tree up until well into February. I always thought they were trying to be festive (?), but maybe they just prioritized self-care instead of the hassle and emotional downer of removing Christmas decorations right after the holidays?

  3. This line really hit home: “I usually have a bit of a post-Christmas slump, but this year I feel like I actually had the slump over Christmas. I was so tired and even though all the food and gifts came together, I was just so worn down” YES. I feel that.

    It has been such a pleasure reading your posts. I love your gorgeous photos and your very calm, thoughtful way of approaching the challenges that life presents us. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy 2022, with many gifts and pleasures forthcoming!

    1. Calm and thoughtful aren’t necessarily adjectives I use to describe myself, so thanks for your very kind words!

  4. Wow! You’ve been busy! That holiday light display is unbelieveable! As you know, all of my decorations came down (much too soon) and I did a lot of cleaning at the same time. It was not an ideal Christmas evening (or weekend), but it did feel really good to get it all done. I’m jealous of the ice skating!

    1. I’m jealous of your warmer destination for the next month – maybe we can consider ourselves even with the envy?!
      Ugh – taking down decorations on Christmas did sound so, so tough. Hope your time away is a great adventure, though.

  5. I’m actually a bit jealous that you can go ice skating – it looks like so much fun! Our skating pond isn’t safe for skating yet and I walk the dog by it every day hoping to see someone out there, but alas, it hasn’t been cold enough for long enough to get that ice thick enough! I’m going to be taking down all the holiday decorations today, so you’ve given me inspiration that it can be done quickly!

    1. Uh oh. I might have led you astray. Almost all the upstairs decorations are still up and…I have no idea when to take them down.
      On a morning walk I spotted my first tree at the curb (our town will collect live trees for a certain period of time after Christmas and they mulch them all at our in-town composting location). It always makes me sad to see the trees outside like that, but I also get a hankering for a clean slate.
      Doing this New Years Day makes a lot of sense, but for now at least, everything is staying up. I guess I’ll rip the Band-aid soon…

      Good luck with your dismantling of the festive decor. If it’s any consolation our weather has gone very warm and rainy, so outdoor skating may not be in the cards again for a while. And because it’s not a flooded space, that could – theoretically – be the only good skating there all winter. There are several other outside skating venues around, but none so close and I get crabby when I have to drive very far for things!

  6. You seem so on top of things (at least to me, a random internet person)! I never get around to completing the yearly photobook until the Spring as well. I did get down all the Christmas decorations, which I actually love because it does, as you say, make the house feel so spacious and fresh. My daughter asked what we would put in the space left by the tree, and I said, “Nothing?”

    Skating looks so fun – I’ve always wanted to be able to skate outdoors, but here it doesn’t get cold enough so we’re confined to rinks, which are all far away!

    1. Ha. It’s the “warp” of the internet. I may be on top of planning for Christmas 2022, but feel woefully behind on lots of other things. Perception on the internet can be tricky…like I’ve been seeing everyone’s healthy eating and exercise commitments for 2022 and it all looks so overwhelming. I have completely opted out of anything related to either of those categories.

      The photobook is a big priority to me, but I have never finished it so quickly before. I just really wanted to get the discount and also wanted something off my plate. This winter feels like it could be tough – with COVID cases spiking and very definite chances of the kids doing extended time at home and honestly – when they were home for a solid month in the spring, it felt hard to get anything accomplished…and we spent hours outside each day. I’m trying not to be too pessimistic about what will happen, but the realist in me wants to tackle as many things as I can when it seems doable.

      The skating was fun. It was warm and rainy the last few days and then this morning is VERY cold, so maybe we’ll manage to get out again soon. That’s the thing about outdoor skating – it is very, very hit-and-miss! But that makes it feel extra special in a way. Like hitting the lottery when all the conditions work out.

  7. I took down all of our Christmas decorations (which isn’t much all in all!) on Thursday during a quiet break in my day. I wanted to take it all down on the 26th honestly because I was ready to have our house back in order (we put our tree in a corner where toys are usually stored so things look cluttered when the tree is up) but my husband said to wait a little bit longer. My husband and I were both ready for Christmas to be over, as grinchy as that sounds. We just really struggle w/ the clutter and influx of toys… it’s just too much. Our son didn’t even remember what he got for Christmas because he opened SO MANY GIFTS!

    I’m definitely ready for life to return to normal and to not have long weekends at home. It’s been terribly cold here, like highs of around 0F this past weekend. So we felt very cooped up with our kids since it was too dangerously cold to be outdoors with them. So I am very happy to be back at work and have them back at school today. 🙂 But really, our daycare isn’t closed all that much compared to what I’ve heard from others – just 3 days for Christmas and 1 for New Years. I look forward to a time when having them home with us will be more cozy and enjoyable? We are not at that stage yet…

    1. I’m sitting writing this listening to Christmas music and looking at the twinkle lights on the tree. I am usually keen to get things down earlier, but I just really didn’t feel like I was ready for Christmas this year (or at least that I didn’t get enough of the Christmas cheer), and so I’ve been determined to eek as much pleasure out of it as I can on the other side of the actual holiday. I feel slightly guilty (in a weird way) to still have things up, but it’s cozy and very out of the way (doesn’t impact anything at this point and the kids are old enough they don’t touch or bother the tree in any way).

      Also, I usually take the tree down when the kids go back to school…but because of COVID that has been delayed by a whole week. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it up that long, but for now it’s staying and I just don’t want to think about not having this cheery glow. I might actually leave my mantle swag up longer? It’s artificial and I don’t need access to the mantle for anything. More likely I’ll clean it all up in the span of an hour or so this weekend in a fit of decluttering!

  8. I love this glimpse into a life that’s so different than mine! We’re complaining that our temperatures are above normal for this time of year- 80s. I love the idea of the ice skating and winter hikes, but I don’t envy the dark days. And, in spite of a huge spike in Covid cases here, our kids are returning to school as scheduled (that’s Florida for you.). My son’s college may be virtual for the first two weeks though- we’re waiting to hear.
    Tomorrow is the big house de-Christmas-ing! I’m so torn- I hate to take it all down. Everything looks so drab and blah without Christmas! On the other hand, it’s going to be a lot of work and I feel like it’s just hanging over my head now. My daughter starts school again on Wednesday, and that’s my rule- it’s too depressing to have Christmas decorations up once school starts again.
    On a less depressing note, that tea sounds DELICIOUS! Enjoy it and your Christmas music as long as possible.

    1. I think that’s one of the reasons I haven’t taken down the main decorations yet – the kids are still home (in-person schooling is delayed until at least next Monday), and it just feels…cozy. It’s currently -9 Celcius (plus windchill), so I need all the cozy I can get. I had a steaming cup of the Holiday Chai latte and I came out to see the kids had turned on the Christmas tree already. I have NEVER stuck with holiday music/decor this late, but it just feels very fitting this year.

      Good luck with the undecorating. It’s a bit like unpacking after a fun vacation – it always feels like an injustice to have to do the unpleasant task + it also reminds us that the exciting event is over. Such is life, though!

  9. That ice skating rink is amazing! What a fun activity! I can’t even fathom a lake freezing enough to be safe to skate on, haha. All of our skating rinks are inside. (… says the Florida girl who’s been running her AC through December, sigh.)

    I looove light displays that blink to the beat of music. I’m just always so amazed by them!

    Happy 2022!

  10. I remember a couple of years ago, a house in the neighborhood (which is heavily decorated for the holidays) had the same display of lights that was connected to the beat of music. I thought that was the coolest thing!

    I am so glad you took the kids ice-skating. I’ve never skated on a frozen lake (what an adventure!), but I have fond memories of going to the ice-skating ring near my town every year when I was a kid/teenager.

    1. The kids were begging me to go back to this light display last night; I have a feeling it is likely finished for the year (and it’s far enough away I don’t really want to drive that far to find it all over), but it definitely gives us something very concrete and festive to look forward to next year! I made sure to write down the address.

      Skating is so fun! When I was growing up our neighbours had a little pond that they never used, but would let us clear off and skate. It was pretty small, but I spent hours and hours there. There was something extra magical about being able to walk to the pond from your house. When we moved (I was 13), we lived on a lake and so I would skate there some as well, but it is such a big lake, it tended to be quite windy so it was hard to get clear, smooth ice.

      We also used to drive 30 minutes most weekends when I was a child and skate at an indoor arena too! My parents really must have liked skating. It is definitely a very “traditional” Canadian winter sport.

  11. I am so glad you did what you wanted to do the week after Christmas – even if that means still watching holiday movies! There’s no time limit on those – I figure, if people start reading/watching/listening Christmas-themed things in November, you are more than okay continuing one week past “the date”! I was smiling just reading your list of little post-Christmas delights. The ice skating looks amazing! We have outdoor rinks here (closed yesterday because of a mid-January two-day thaw) but I have never tried them. (No skates and honestly worried about my balance! I have a hard enough time in sneakers, thanks…) The kids’ enthusiasm speaks volumes, too. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you this Christmas. <3

    1. As always, thanks for your kind words! It was a special Christmas which I definitely think I appreciated/enjoyed more in retrospect when some of the chaos and pressure had died down.

      We’ve had some warmer days here, but earlier this week it was -17 Celcius + windchill. Brrr. Lots of winter weather still ahead with snow in the forecast off and on for the next week, including a big storm tomorrow. I’m running the dishwasher now, stocked up on groceries and did a load of laundry today to help us prepare.

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