A solitary Christmas…

me at Christmas 1971I was a tiny toddler, which makes sense considering I weighed less than 5lbs at birth. My second Christmas, while the adults all chattered, I would perch on a present and stare in awe at the tree.

“Mustn’t touch,” I’d murmur to myself, one finger mere millimetres away from an ornament. “Mustn’t touch.” And there I’d sit, awed by the shining lights and shimmering decorations.

Not much later my Mom would ask me what I wanted for Christmas and my answer was always the same; a tree with lots of sparkling lights and decorations. My Mom would assure me we would get that, it came with the whole Christmas package, but I was insistent it was all I wanted. So she’d guess and I was happy. The tree was still my first Christmas love though.

The years went on. My sisters and I discovered the Sears Wishbook and spent hours pouring through it, circling items we (along with the rest of North America) never got. I started paying attention to ads and things in stores as we were passing through. Plus I had genuine needs. But I still spent a good chunk of time just sitting beside the tree and admiring it. There was still that tree shaped space in my heart.

Finally I became an adult and then a mother. My tree wasn’t just for myself but for a couple of little ones. I began buying ornaments and decorations every year to remind me of the time we spent together. And the years went from the ornaments being placed.all.together.on.a.single.branch to “I’ve brought all the totes up from storage Mom. I’m going to play Fallout 3 now.”

And February 2020 I moved into an apartment on my own.

I’ve downsized a bit. I no longer have my grouping of three small trees (with real bark trunks) and my tree has shrunk from 5.5ft to 4.5ft. But I still have four Rubbermaid totes and several bags down in storage. I need two trips, and that’s with my big canvas wagon. It’s definitely pretty when everything’s up though.

I was out with two of my friends one evening and we were under my living room window.

“You can see my wreath,” I said excitedly. “And my tree!”

Both friends admitted they didn’t put up any decorations because, “It’s too much work just for me”.

STOP right there! It is not too much work. If you want the decorations and the glitz then you deserve them. Society acts like being single is some sort of holding pattern that you wait in until you’re back into a relationship. It’s not. You are equally valid no matter how many or few partners you have or how many people you expect to stop by over the holidays. You matter. Just that. You!

Also, make it your holiday. After all it’s your place. Got a thing for pink? Get a pink tree! Don’t want the hassle of putting up and decorating a 6ft giant? Buy a three footer and stick it on the side table. Want everything Doctor Who? Great! Just, umm, face the weeping angel topper toward a mirror. You can never be too safe, right?

But please don’t think you’re not worth it. Christmas is for anyone who wants to celebrate and that includes you. You know you’ve got some inner tinsel in you (just keep it away from the kitties). Now, here’s some vegan chocolate chip cookies and a Christmas music playlist on YouTube. If you’ve got decorations you’ve still got time left. If you don’t then you can browse for next year’s decorations to your heart’s content.

overview of apartment

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Falling into fall…

April was the longest year I’ve ever had. Then May and June gently entered and July and August whizzed by in the blink of an eye. Last month I found a lovely fall pillow at Shoppers Drug Mart (which I didn’t buy at the time then they ran out of stock and finally my Mom picked one up for me in a store three towns over). I also found a gorgeous glass pumpkin dappled with glittery bronze splatters at Winners and this time I bought it right away.

Between those two items I got right into a fall mood and, as soon as September arrived, I dug out my  Rubbermaid tote bin from the storage room in the basement and began swapping my regular decor for my fall decor. The twins were absolutely enthralled. As soon as the bin hit the table they were right up there with it. It became a cycle of them jumping up and me shooing them off only to have them jump right back up again.

My Mom bought me a set of copper butterfly lights which I taped onto the fireplace mantle. They ended up looking amazing with the fall decorations. I’m so happy with how everything turned out. I joined a Dollarama group on Facebook and I’ve seen a couple more items I’d love to have (like those stacked pumpkins and the knit pumpkins) but really I’m happy with what I have.

In some ways I love fall. It’s not too cold and it’s beautiful out, especially once the leaves start turning. Plus Thanksgiving is stuck right in the middle so there’s a good dose of family time. Then Hallowe’en tags along at the end and soon afterwards it’s time to start decorating for Christmas. What I don’t like is how it heralds in winter.

I am not a winter person. I don’t like the cold and I’m not overly fond of the sun setting at 4:30pm. And sidewalks become hard to navigate, especially with a bundle buggy or wagon. I took a wagonful of groceries home last March and it was a nightmare from start to finish. Especially when I got to the second last road to cross and realized the snow plow had gone by and plowed a knee high drift across the curb. I had three 32 tin boxes of cat food, three bags of kitty litter, and an 8kg bag of dry cat food in the wagon along with my food. It was by no means an easy wagon to lift.

But that is months away from now. The sky’s still sunny and the air is fresh and warm. Tomorrow I’m having a picnic with my parents and Colin and tonight I’m going to turn on my butterfly lights and sip a mug of hot apple cider. The best is yet to come.

fall decor

Pretty much all my decorations

fireplace mantle

Decorating while (really) broke…

I’ve had a few people ask me how I manage to decorate on a limited budget. They want a nice looking home but just can’t afford the prices they see pretty much everywhere. They can’t be the only ones who are curious so I figured I’d post my tips here. And, if you have any tips, please feel free to comment below.

My first tip is to check the dollar stores. Seriously, you can find some amazing stuff there. You just have to go often and be selective. Don’t pick up a picture or other decoration just because it’s there and in your price range. My favourite shop is Dollarama. Sorry everyone else in the world, Dollarama’s only in Canada. I’ve found some fantastic finds. They get items in regularly that were from everyday stores. Maybe they were overstock, maybe they’re out of season, maybe the store went under. Either way Dollarama’s got it for $4 or less. You can buy pictures, wall art, pillows, lap throws, table cloths, dish towels, artificial plants… the list goes on and on. But you can’t just go once in a blue moon. Often the good stuff comes only in the amount of two or three and they go fast. If you see something good, get it then, it might not even be there tomorrow. Plus check different stores. They mostly have the same items but sometimes you’ll find something special that wasn’t in your usual store.

Dollar Tree is okay. I find where they stand out is with wall art. They get some amazing wall stickers there and those can really tie a room together. I found a cute glittery unicorn sloth on a rainbow once but otherwise I’m not impressed with their decor.

Second hand stores are great too. They’re obviously hit or miss but they can have some gorgeous things. I’ve found ficus trees there before (I only have one now) and a lovely ceramic hot chocolate container. Colin found a ceiling lamp that looked like it belonged in an old bar. I think they’re called tiffany lamps. Google says I’m right and, oh my goodness, they’ve got some pretty ones out there.

Don’t forget to check out the clearance section. I have found so many things at Icing, Marshalls, and Homesense. Icing has a buy three – get three free deal which includes their clearance rack too.

I also order online. I use Aliexpress but I know other people have used Wish. It is buyer beware but I’ve had good luck with their wall art stickers and small items. Just remember it’ll take up to two months to arrive.

And, of course, what you need are pictures of what you can find for inspiration. Remember, when you go to the dollar store or thrift shop, you might find nothing at all or you might find something you adore. It’s all part of the adventure.

Just breathe

This Just Breathe sign was bought at Dollarama. It wasn’t there for long. The vase in the back was also a Dollarama find as is the flowers (which I sadly cut off in the picture). The table’s a freebie I found in the laundry room. I’ll get around to refinishing it… someday.

fit happens with blurry m

Both “Fit Happens” and “every day – is a – fresh START” are from Dollarama. They certainly don’t look like they are though.

desk wall

The word art starting with “each day” is from Dollar Tree and is very sturdy while the gold glittery picture is from Dollarama. They still have glittery pictures but not this particular one.

bedroom wall

The two pictures on the left are from Dollarama, the circle is a glow in the dark moon from Aliexpress and it glows really well, while the last picture was on clearance at Icing. I love that store!

kitchen

The folding dish rack and mat are from Dollarama as are the miniature topiary, spice racks (under the spices), wire utensil containers, potted plants, and the lemon “live your life with zest” hanging. The lemon wall stickers, the towel saying “Love, laugh, & gather together”, and the word art on the cupboard reading “The secret ingredient is always love” are from Dollar Tree. And the tree “window” is from Aliexpress

Just breathe and sloth

This “Just Breathe” sign is also from Dollarama as is the metal bucket. The flowers are from Clair de Lune and were on clearance. And, as said above, the rainbow unicorn sloth is from Dollar Tree.

living room wall

The “home is where your story begins” sign is from Dollarama and was one of two. “This is my paradise” is also from Dollarama. It’s fabric and held to the frame with twine.

Dream big

This is one of my Icing finds. I absolutely adore it. I’m a sucker for glitter!

word art2

This is another Dollar Tree find. I love having family photos on the wall and this just ties them together.

kitchen finds

This is an old picture from 2016. It shows my hot chocolate jar and a plate (with apples on it) that I found at Value Village. The “Today’s Menu” chalkboard is from Dollarama. Oh, and the rice container/cookie jar is from Goodwill going back years ago.

Obviously if I went out and spent all that money today it would be a fortune, dollar store and thrift shop or not. But spread out over the course of a year or two(ish) it’s definitely manageable… anywhere from $4 to $12 a month and the results are very much worth it. Happy shopping!!!

 

Making spirits bright…

20181212_180507-01My absolute favourite holiday is Christmas. I love the lights, the decorations, the time spent with family and friends, the music, the food, buying just the right present for someone, and wondering what’s been wrapped up for me. It is all glorious.

We are just under two weeks away from Christmas and this is the first year I’ve been behind. I usually have our tree set up in mid-November and the presents wrapped soon after that. Cards get mailed right at the end of November. But this year it’s changed. I just don’t have the oomph to do everything all at once. The tree got put up yesterday, the presents are unwrapped and I’ve only sent out half the cards. But I will get there and I’m sure the cards will be just as appreciated the week after Christmas as they would the week before. The important thing is things are getting done and it’s not draining me to exhaustion.

20181212_180552-01-1I am looking so forward to this Christmas, my grandson’s very first. He loves lights and I can’t wait to see his expression when he’s faced with the tree. And Kait loves cinnamon rolls, something I’m determined to bake for breakfast. I have a simple, vegan recipe and, if I give myself an hour, I should get them all done and ready for breakfast and stocking opening.

Every time Kait is asked for a present suggestion for her, she replies with a gift for the baby, which makes it really hard to shop for her. Luckily I’ve found something she should enjoy. The same with Colin who has so much stuff, it’s hard to figure out where he’d put any more.

20181211_161618One of my oldest friends got me a present for the tree this year, a little silver spoon with the words “Grandbaby’s First Christmas 2018”. It was totally unexpected and totally perfect. She gave Kait some absolutely adorable clothes too, all in larger sizes, which is good because the grandbaby is a big baby.

I am looking forward to a holiday filled with family, from Kait and her family in the morning, to everyone at my parents’ house in the evening. It gets crowded and a bit overwhelming but it’s still fun.

My wish for all of you is that you have an amazing holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate, and a fantastic new year!

20181211_161654

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Christmas is my most favourite time of the year. The decorations, the lights, the chocolate, the music, the family and friends, the baking, the presents, the cards, the chocolate. I have to include chocolate twice because it’s so yummy.

We’re still sorting out what we’re going to do on Christmas. Is Kait coming here on Christmas morning? Will we have dinner at my parents’ house or my sister’s? But I’m sure that will all get sorted over the next couple of weeks.

I’ve already decided to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. Bonus is that’s a big incentive for Kait to come over here. And both my Mom and I picked up a Gardein vegan turkey for dinner so I’m all set there. Colin’s stopped being vegan so he’ll be eating turkey with everyone else.

When I was a little girl, my Mom would ask me what I wanted for Christmas and I’d reply “a tree with sparkling lights”. That hasn’t changed. And now we have even more. I hope you enjoy my pictures and wish you could share yours as well.

tree and mantle

My electric fireplace mantle and our little tree, which is actually standing straight, no idea why it’s leaning in the photo.

sparkle ornament

My favourite ornament. It reads “Leave a little sparkle wherever you go”

dining room

Our dining room. I love this little penguin. Oh and you can tell which decorations on the hutch are mine and which are Colin’s.

Christmas village

This was Colin’s favourite decoration as a child. He’d spend hours walking the little figures around and making stories for them.

If you do want to send me a picture of your ornaments, feel free to message me on Facebook and I’ll add them to this post.