Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everybody!!

We had a low key NYE since Penelope was getting over the flu and both Greg + Finley were not feeling well.  So we watched The Lego Movie and did a countdown on Netflix.  Actually we did them all since we all wanted different ones.  After the girls went to bed, Greg + I watched Master of None which is a Netflix original with Aziz Ansari.  Greg really liked it but I was not that into it.

2015 was really good to us and we hope it was just as good to you.  I am sure 2016 will be even better and I look forward to all it brings!

xo becky

2015 Best Nine

Everybody seemed to be posting these bestnine photos on social media and I had no idea how people were doing it so I googled it and found that it was a website you can find here.  I was excited to see what my nine would be because likes are so hit and miss and there is no real rhyme or reason as to why some photos get a lot of likes and not others.

I was amazed to see how much my #2015bestnine reflected so accurately the highlights of my year: running and my girls.  It was almost eery.

Have you found your #2015bestnine yet? Were you surprised at what they were? 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Christmas At Our Place

This year for the first time in the 11 years we lived in Calgary we actually stayed in Calgary for Christmas and had one christmas instead of the 6 or 8 we normally do.  That's right, for 10 straight years, we packed up and headed into the frozen tundra that is Saskatchewan for Christmas.  

How after 10 years did this finally come to be?  Well let me tell you.  Last year, the 4 of us were watching Christmas Vacation and it was the girls' first times.  Penelope wasn't much into but Finley loved it and she wanted to cut down our tree the following year.  Greg was very excited about this idea too because he has always wanted a real tree but because we go home every year we just never got one.  So I came up with a compromise.  We could get a real tree (what they wanted) if got to stay home for Christmas in 2015 (what I wanted).  All parties agreed and so we got a real tree, that we cut down ourselves, and we got to stay home too!  It was a win-win situation.  

I can't lie, it was awesome getting to sleep in my own bed and wake up and have the kids wait on the stairs until Greg was dressed and we all went downstairs together to see what Santa left us.  My mom and sister came to Calgary so we had some family there to help us open presents with.  Normally when we go back home, my Uncle Lloyd hands out all the presents and when there are 12 people there it takes forever and you don't really get to see what everybody got so we started a tradition that only one present gets open at a time and whoever got the present had to pick a present to give to someone next.  We picked Penelope to start but she wouldn't so Finley did.  Penelope did, however, pick her own presents 4x in a row and then got mad when there not many left for her to open haha.  

It was nice to lay on the couch during the day and hang out and play with our gifts that we got.  Usually when we have Christmas in Saskatoon, everything gets loaded into boxes and that is where everything stays until we get back to Calgary.  The girls were excited to be able to open all their toys and play all day.  The downside to this was all the wrapping paper, packaging and garbage that comes along with it.  Our recycling bin was emptied on Wednesday and by Friday at noon it was full again and we still have 3 large boxes full of wrapping paper and what not.  

Greg had a elaborate day of meals planned out for Christmas.  For brunch we had your basic bacon and eggs with homemade fried potatoes.  For lunch we had garlic and sausage, beet+goat cheese+mandarin oranges + candied walnut + spinach salad with this homemade dressing Greg made - so good and we had epicure's crab dip. 

For a mid afternoon snack, Greg's brother came over and made these amazing pizza appetizers out of naan bread, some fancy meat and goat cheese and blue cheese and cream cheese.  i had the one with goat cheese and it was amazing.  

For supper we had Greg's dad, brother and my two aunts, my uncle and my cousin join us for supper. If you know Greg, you know he did not cook the traditional christmas dinner.  We had a goose, braised red cabbage, mashed potatoes, honey roasted carrots + parsnips and bacon brussel sprouts (the best ever).  Greg's dad brought some Turkey Curry with rice too.  For dessert, Greg made chocolate souffles for everyone.  I was excited to have goose for supper and give it a try and I did give it a try but I did not like it.  The flavor was alright but I found it to be quite tough. 

In the process of making Christmas dinner and dessert.  Greg dirtied every cooking utensil, pot, pan and bowl we had.  More then once.  Our dishwasher literally ran all day.  And of course after I turned down several offers of help to do the dishes and everybody leaves, Greg opens the dishwasher to find that it was clogged and nothing came clean and so we had to spend the next 2 hours washing every dish by hand.  We had to change the dish washer 5x before we finished.  But I am glad we did it all that night and not the next morning.  Man that would have sucked.  

Greg and I at the end of the night with everything cleaned up and waiting to go to bed.  It was a nice relaxing Christmas day spent at home.  We all really enjoyed having Christmas here and we are excited to be doing it again in 2 years but we did miss all of our family who stayed back in Saskatoon.  We did travel to Red Deer on Saturday to visit with my family who lives there along with my Aunty Sandy and Uncle Lloyd who travelled there for the holidays.  

Thanks to everybody who came to our house and created a new tradition for us to follow - every other year.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Santa, The Sugar Plum Fairy, + The Nutcracker

Saturday was a big day for Finley + Penelope.  After I got home from my run and showered we headed to Chinook Mall to meet Santa Claus.  I was a little worried it be crazy with it being the last Saturday before Christmas but surprisingly it wasn’t and we got there around 11am.  We walked immediately to the opposite end of the mall where Santa was located.  They have a  registration system now so you don’t have to stand in line for hours waiting to see him.  You give them your name and phone number and they text you with updates about your length of wait and then a final text for you to comeback now.  It’s a great system to have because standing in line with kids to see Santa is one of the worst things ever. 
The Santa at Chinook was fantastic! He was cheery, friendly and nice looking.  Even the elves were awesome! When you register they ask for the girls’ names so that when Santa sees them he welcomes you with their names.  They loved that! We just get the basic 5×7 photo of him so this is a photo of a photo and the glare was terrible but it still looks great.  It’s probably the best Santa photo we have ever had.

Later on Saturday night, we went to our friends’ house for their Christmas Cheer party and the Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy showed up.  The girls (and all the other kids for that matter) were so excited to see them.  And I would be lying if a bunch of the adults were too.  It was a fun party for the kids!!!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

My Little Peg Family

Earlier this year my friend Sarah posted a peg family of her family that her mother in law purchased for her on etsy. I thought it was the most brilliant idea and told myself to research peg families on etsy for myself but never did. Earlier this month, she decided to make a few for some friends and I was lucky enough to have my little family made into pegs.  
I picked them up yesterday morning and marveled in happiness at how perfect they turned out. She captured us perfectly. They looked a little lost in my cube of the expedit so I went to  Michaels after lunch yesterday and bought the grey box (60% off) to use and I think it works perfectly. 
Here is an upclose photo of the pegs so you can see all of the detail in the outfits and accessories. Even Luci looks amazing.
I sent her the following two photos to base our pegs after. She nailed it.  
I am so grateful that I have so many creative, talented people in my life!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

O Christmas Tree

We have 4 Christmas trees in our house: 2 little ones in the girls’ rooms, one in the bonus room and one in the family room on the main floor.  This year though, the main floor tree was our real tree and so I have a possibility of having a 5th Chrismas tree but so far I have yet to act on that.
The first tree we put up was the one in the bonus room since it was a fake tree.  This is the “fun” tree and consists of ornaments given to us, the ones the kids make and the ones they pick out each year.  Finley chose another Monster High ornament and Penelope wanted a shopkins one so Greg made her one.  She loves it. Basically everything on this tree are things that I don’t allow on our main floor tree.
This one is Penelope’s tree.  We bought the trees and the ornaments from Target last winter.  Oh how I miss Target.  This year Penelope added some of her shopkins to her tree.  If you look at the photo below you can get a better look at her added decorations.  Penelope has been very good with her tree and it has stayed in this spot since she put it up.  I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by this.
This is Finley’s tree and she decorated it with the same ornaments as last year.  She is not responsible at all with her tree.  I actually had to pick it up to properly photograph it.  It’s been all over room in every position and ornaments have been found under her bed and in her closet.  Finley is terrible with keeping her room clean so it’s  not too surprising that this happens.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Tree Cutting Time

Greg has always wanted a real christmas tree but I would never commit to it because since we have moved to Calgary 11 years ago, we have gone back home for Christmas every single year.  I didn’t want to come home to see my house full of needles.  Last year, we were watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation like we do each holiday season.  It was Finley’s first time and she LOVED it and she wanted nothing more then to re-create her own Christmas Vacation experience minus a few details of course haha.  So I came up with a solution where we both got what we wanted: We would start alternating Christmas’ spent at home and in SK and the years we stayed home, we would get a real life Christmas tree cut down by our own very hands.
So, last weekend we headed out to cut down our christmas tree.  There are two options to do this legally in our area: you can buy a permit online for $5 and you can cut down up to 3 trees and designated crown land or you can go to some crown land that is leased to the Junior Forest Wardens and pay them $5 and cut down one tree.  This is a big fundraiser for the program and they replant trees here so it’s also sustainable.  It’s located just off highway 1 and take the Sibbald Creek Trail exit and head south until you get to the Powderface Trail and turn t here and take that to the area.  That’s what we chose to do. 
While we waited for Uncle Brad to come, we walked around the perimeter looking at trees.  We all loved the Charlie Brown-esque trees but knew we had to keep on looking.
Penelope was miserable the entire drive from home to the lot and complained as much as she could about not wanting to cut down any trees and why couldn’t we just stay home but she was so enthusiastic when we got there.  She couldn’t wait to get going and finding that perfect tree.
There was lots and lots of looking.  Coming across a perfect tree can be deceiving because it might look great surrounded by trees but I learned that they don’t look as perfect when you move the trees away from said perfect tree.  It was a lot harder then I thought it would be finding the perfect tree.
And then I found this tree.  Yes me! I was the one who found our christmas tree.  All 4 of us agreed that it was the perfect tree for our first tree cutting down experience.
Greg sawed it  a little first and then Finley had her turn.  I took a turn and both held a saw and tried cutting down a tree for the first time in my life.  I shared a photo of myself doing this on my Instagram page if you are interested in seeing it.
At first Penelope just wanted to eat her snow pies but eventually she decided that she wanted to try cutting down the tree too.
Eventually Greg had cut enough that it began to fall down.  This process took a lot longer then i had anticipated but you are certainly limited when you are carrying saws and stuff with you into the wilderness instead of having an arsenal of tools at home.
Once it fell to the ground, Greg and Finley cut it so that it was suitable for our house.  The rule is you must cut 12 inches from the ground to encourage re-growth.
And right beside our tree, we found the perfect tree for Andrea and her family so Brad cut that one down too for her.
Greg and the girls grabbed our tree and carried it down to Brad’s truck.
We didn’t want to put the tree on our vehicle since it is fairly new and we didn’t want to risk scratching it up.  It comes in handy having a brother in law with a truck.  He delivered it back to our house for us.
The junior wardens also have a bon fire and a little stand selling hot chocolate, hot dogs and chilli which was the perfect way to end our tree cutting experience.  They operate every weekend starting in November.  It’s a great way to support a local program and enjoy the experience of cutting down your own tree.  Our kids LOVED it.
When we got back to our house and go the Christmas tree into our house, we realized that it was still too tall despite all we left behind at the forest.
So Greg with some assistance from Brad managed to keep trimming it until it fit perfectly in our tree corner on our main floor.
Soon we were able to decorate it.  What we didn’t do was buy lights for the tree since both our fake trees are pre-lit so we (mainly me) picked from the lights that we had in the garage and I picked these.  And I hated them. But I had zero interest  in taking all the decorations off the tree to put new lights on so these will have to do for now. I also had to go buy garland from Michaels to fill in the gaps.  I hate garland but I found the nicest stuff I could find for a good price.  You can’t see the garland in this post but if you come back on Tuesday, you will find a post with all of the trees currently in our  house :)

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas at Banff Springs

 This year, Greg started at a new company and with that came a new location for a Christmas party.  His company holds it at the Banff Springs Hotel and has done so for many years. With the low oil prices, many company’s have scaled back or cancelled Christmas parties altogether but when they looked into moving the party into Calgary it wasn’t worth it after looking at cancellation fees at this hotel and costs of a party in Calgary. I was excited to be going to the Banff Springs Hotel as I had never been before. I have hiked trails near the hotel but nothing else. 
While Greg was checking in, I was exploring the area and came across a gingerbread house with an elf on the shelf hiding in it. What a nice gesture of Banff Springs to share in this modern Christmas tradition. 
After we checked in, we wandered around the 2nd mezzanine to find our room. For two people who have never been before, we are grateful that the hotel provides guests with a map to get to where you need to go but even that didn’t help us much at first. When we finally made it to our room, this was our view. It was perfect.
And our suite! It was unreal. I swear it was as big as the first apartment that Greg + I shared! We had the bedroom part and then we had stairs up to the sitting area which had a couch and a desk to the right.
I loved how Christmassy the hotel was. There was Christmas trees and decor everywhere! As someone who loves to do it up with holiday decor, I appreciated the commitment.  
After we got settled in our hotel room, we headed to what I thought was Grapes Wine Bar but we were actually in Rundle Lodge and I have no idea if they are one and the same or where one starts and the other ends. I do think they are in similar locations though. 
Regardless of the name, the view above was what we enjoyed while sipping on some delicious cocktails. Thank god they were good because they were pricy. Although it was the same price I paid for a cosmopolitan when we were on the sex and the city tour in New York which was almost 10 years ago now. I had bubbles and berries for my drink and the berries were cranberries which was perfect for the holiday season.
This was the view from our room just before we left to go downstairs to the Christmas party. The party was fantastic and really well put on. The CEO of Greg’s company had a pretty fantastic speech and even though he did speak about the low oil prices and how he didn’t expect that to happen he talked about how they survived, how they didn’t lay anybody off but that hired 6 employees and that yes it was a long road ahead of them but it was a long road and that is a good thing. It was nice to see some optimism when all you see is negativity in the news and on social media. I am really happy that Greg is working for such a great, small company.
The nextning, his company had a breakfast for the families and then we went and ran part of Goat Creek. I loved biking it this summer but I did not love running it. I am not a trail runner at all and the uneven ground really bothered my knee.  In fact, as I type this Wednesday morning, my knee is still hurting. Hopefully it recovers soon!
I am really grateful that I was able to finally stay at Banff Springs hotel. There are so many amenities and it’s just a short walk into town. Lots of shuttles and activities to be found. I have no idea if I will ever be back but thank you for #christmasinthecastle

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Advent Calendar

For the last several years I have made a diy advent calendar. The first year I bought a felt kit from chapters and I was pretty good at doing it and keeping up with it. The second year I found a magnetic tin one from Target that was cute + I liked it better so I sold the first one but I only did it 20% of the time. Thankfully the kids didn’t notice. Last year, I ordered a super cute one from etsy that I had to put together. It was to hang on a mantel. I made it, hung it and hated it. I perused Pinterest to see how I could re-use it and found one I could do. I don’t think we used it for more then one day. I blamed the fact that it sucked. I found another diy kit at Michaels on clearance right after Christmas. It looked simple enough that I could do it. As I was going through my Christmas boxes in November I came across the one from last year and the new one from this year. I was instantly reminded why I hate them. There was so much pressure trying to fill each day with a treat or activity especially when some activities were weather defendant which is almost never a good thing here. It was enough dealing with an elf!!!  So I sold them both and found this one on a buy n sell site for $9 
It’s a Melissa + Doug one and the ornaments magnetically attach to the Christmas tree. It is so great! Peppermint brought it for the girls yesterday and they were excited by it. Although Penelope was annoyed she didn’t move. I suggested to the girls that they take turns each day putting the ornaments on the tree. Hopefully we make it without them fighting over who’s turn it is. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Elf On The Shelf

On Sunday night, I started getting ready for our Elf on the Shelf to arrive.  This was the latest that he/she had ever arrived in our house but I wasn’t sure if Greg would remember to move the Elf while I was away so I waited until I was home.  I had seen on Pinterest several times over the years of people using the crepe paper stuff to cover the bedroom door so I decided I was going to that to welcome our Elf back to our house.

I got out the supplies and started cutting the paper the right length while Greg and I were watching the football game.
When I finished with the cutting and before I decorated the doors, I took the stuff back downstairs and got the Elf ready.  I was worried if I waited then I would forget to do it.
I went to check in on the girls and they were out cold….or so I thought.  As I was taping the red stuff to Finley’s door, I heard footsteps coming towards it.  I ran as fast as I could down the stairs and into the bonus room.  She was like what is going on with this and both Greg and I played dumb and told her to just go to bed. She said she heard meowing and thought it might be Luci using the tape.  She kept opening and closing the door.  She was just not happy about being taped in her room.  She crawled underneath when she went to the bathroom and back under again to get into her room.
Eventually she insisted that it had to come down so I told her she could take it down as long as she put the red stuff in her garbage can.  Meanwhile, I was going through my pinterest board trying to find another good idea for the morning.
She ended up taking her paper down to the recycling bin which I thought nothing of until she ran upstairs into the bonus room saying I would not believe what she just saw.  And then I remembered the Elf.  I was in full on panic mode thinking I had ruined everything for her.  Like sick to my stomach kind of feeling.  It was not good.  Turned out I had no reason to even worry about it because she was so excited it was ridiculous. She just could not believe that the Elf was responsible for this and was so happy it came back.  She said she could not tell if it was a girl or a boy and that she couldn’t wait for Penelope to wake up in the morning to tell her.  I was relieved that it worked out and that I didn’t need a new idea and most importantly, she still believed.  She was so excited about the Elf’s arrival that she woke up at 3:15 and saw that Penelope’s door was done too and proceeded to wake me up to tell me.  I did not fall back asleep sadly.  Perhaps I was excited too.
Finley was up again for good at around 630 (on a non school day too since it was a 4 day weekend i should add) and was desperately waiting for her sister to wake up.  I could here knocking and saying her name softly enough so she thought that I wouldn’t hear but loud enough that her sister would.
Penelope was surprised but took it much better then Finley.  Finley told her she had to come quick down stairs and so she crawled underneath the ribbon and down she went.  She was also thrilled to see that the Elf had come back.
We are a unique family in that we never ever have the same elf come to our house.  Well it is the exact same elf with maybe an outfit change or something but as far as the girls are concerned it is a new elf every year.  We tried to get them to get that it was the same elf but they just don’t buy it.  We have had a Mischief, Ella, Elsa + Gingerbread.  I really wanted Gingerbread to stay every year as I loved it.  Initially they wanted to call it Chippy after the original Elf on the Shelf book and cartoon but Greg said it was lame so they changed it to snowflake before settling on Peppermint.  However, they woke up this morning saying that the elf was going to have a different name every day but I squashed that quickly.  They weren’t happy with my decision but they didn’t fight it much either.
At the end of the day, I am just happy that Finley still believes.  She questioned the whole idea of Santa last year and this year she figured out that Harvey the Hound was just a person in a costume so I know it won’t take much to figure it all out and I really want her to believe for a few more years!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Invermere Retreat

On Friday, we loaded up the robot, as we like to call Michelle’s car, and headed out to her cottage in BC.  It was a nice drive out there and the trees were all pretty and snow covered.  When we arrived, we headed right to Sobeys so we could load up on snacks and food for the weekend.
Taken from the Sobey’s parking lot.  I knew it would be too dark to take a pretty mountain photo when we left the store or when we got to Michelle’s so it would have to do from this spot.
Friday night consisted of snacks and appetizers, wine and some games.  I bought Heads Up on my iPhone which is a game created by Ellen Degeneres.  It comes with a few free categories and then I bought a few more.  It was a lot of fun.  We then moved over to Apples to Apples which I had never played before and it was a lot of fun.
Saturday morning I was up early and it was way too cold and too dark and too snowy to go running outside there – especially since I am not that familiar with the area so I did a workout at the cottage.  I didn’t bring my yoga mat so I made her furry rug do the trick.  I did a great core workout 3x through and had sore abs for the most of the day so it was definitely an easy but effective workout.
We lounged around for most of Saturday morning before another friend joined us and we headed to Copperpoint Resort for lunch.  I had asian inspired chicken noodle soup which was good but basically it was a glorified ichiban haha; I also had the beat salad and it was AMAZING.  Probably the best meal I have had in a long time.  Everything about it was perfect.
After lunch, we headed downtown Invermere and had some ice cream and did some shopping.  I bought a christmas present for the girls and a bluetooth speaker for my workout area.
A picture taken from a side street off of what I assume is main street but I cannot be certain.  It’s much less quiet then Banff Ave that is for sure.
 On our way back from shopping, Michelle stopped at a booth some guy had in a parking lot selling these deer he made.  She wanted one and negotiated a price and he loaded it in the suv for us.  However, because the antlers were so long and delicate they were resting on the back seat and they had a good chance of being wrecked on the short ride back to the cottage so I had to crawl into the back, since I was the smallest, and hold the deer on my legs so that the antlers didn’t touch the back of the seat.  It was far heavier and colder then I could have ever imagined.  Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get back to Michelle’s house and stretch my legs and get warm.
Before we headed out for supper in the evening, we relaxed with chocolate, chips, popcorn and champagne.  We went to Strands for supper and were treated to a really good meal before we headed back to the cottage where we hit up the hot tub and went to bed.  It was a cold walk to and from the hot tub to the door but it was a great way to wrap up a great day.
Sunday morning, I was again the first person up so i plugged in the Christmas tree, made some tea and did some pinteresting while the other girls slept.  Soon they all got up and Kelly made us breakfast and then we packed up and we were on our way back home to reality.  I had a great weekend away but I was excited to see Greg and the girls.
One of my favourite things or photos I guess, is clouds lower then mountains.  It is always such a pretty thing to see.  This was taken at a gas station in Radium as we were leaving for home.
Thanks Michelle for having us all out for the weekend.  It was a much needed weekend away from the normal grind and a great way to recharge for the craziness of Christmas kicks in.