Deck the Halls!

Before Thanksgiving I’m a scrooge.  A bah humbug.  I don’t believe Christmas should be dragged out for 3 months.  I love Christmas but it fits nicely into December.  After Thanksgiving?  Bring it!  I love the carols, the food, the tree, and the joy on my kids’ faces.  I am a huge fan of the traditions that we pass along.  The Christmas crackers, mince pies, chinese food on the eve.  What’s not to like?  And the great tradition?  Getting the tree.

When I was a kid, when trees were cheap, my dad started the game of what’s the least amount we can spend on a great looking tree?  For years we would get trees for less than $10.  It was a point of pride.  Our chances were increased because we waited until after my sister’s birthday so we wouldn’t get a tree until a week or two before Christmas so vendors were looking to get rid of inventory.  And because we followed the 12 days of Christmas and kept the tree up until the 7th of January we never missed out on tree time.

This past weekend it was time to get our tree.  We go to a tree farm just north of us.  They have free donuts and hot chocolate.  It was an easy choice to keep going to this farm.  Plus they really make it an adventure for the families.  Once you are able to find a parking space, which isn’t always easy as this is a very popular spot, you get in line for the horse drawn carriages which take you down to the trees then bring you back again with your trees.

Christmas 1 2013

They even play Christmas carols for the ride.  As it is usually bitter cold we all huddle together for warmth.  We did quite well this year as we found our tree as soon as we got off the carriage.  Usually it takes awhile as we compare and search.  We have high ceilings so it needs to be tall, full but not overly wide.  Not always easy to find.  But this year it was waiting for us.  🙂

Christmas 2 2013

Then it was the ride back for the donuts and hot chocolate while we waited for our tree to catch up with us.  It was very busy so they couldn’t get all the trees up at the same time.  The next day we decorated it, good thing for ladders!  I love our decorations.  We have blue and white lights which are the colours we used to honour Grammy at Christmas time but as they are so pretty I continued it, we have glass ornaments I got from Harrods when I was a student and they were on sale, and we have several ornaments the kids made.  Those are my favourites.  There is one that has our son’s tiny hand print on it.  How they grow.  We hang round the house various paper santas and snowmen they have made over the years.  I’m amazed they survived!

Christmas 4 2013

It was quite the task getting the angel to stay up.  It took a complete nose dive to the floor.  Most of it survived.  We had to trim the top a bit so it was stable but we got it to behave.  I love having the regular lights off and just have the tree lights on.  So pretty.  I even like taking my glasses off and have it all a soft blur.

Christmas 3 2013

The next step is to organise the presents and start putting them under the tree.  Fortunately our pets leave it all alone!  Though Murphy is always interested in our decorating.  He gets right in the thick of things.  🙂


Ah, the joy of home projects….

We live in an 1895 Queen Anne Victorian.  A large, lovely home with a list of projects as far as the eye can see.  It was a funeral home for about 30 years and the last owners had a devil may care attitude to it’s upkeep.  Fortunately it is a solid house so the bones are good but we are slowly making our way through the list.  My husband had to create a kitchen when he moved in.  Used to be the casket show room.  Originally it was a three room kitchen with a back room attached.  He also had to redo the roof, rebuild the chimneys, and when I moved in we had to redo the carriage house foundation.  Do not let trees grow near foundations!  If you do, you too can have a hole large enough to drive a VW bug through.

Because there are so many rooms and projects we try to as much of the work ourselves.  We haven’t won the lottery after all and given our luck with that we can’t count on it.  🙂

Our kids were down in Florida for a couple of weeks this summer so we thought it was time to redo our daughter’s wood floor.  If you want to know how much stuff your child has accumulated over the years, go empty their room.  I dare you.  And we don’t buy her a ton of stuff!

I don’t believe this floor has been redone since it was put in so we were in for a lot of sanding as the stuff they used back then was pretty tough.

New wood floor 1 2013

So we set off to rent a floor sander, get the masks, sandpaper for the floor sander, then hand sanders, and the stain we wanted.  As it was a pine floor and there isn’t a chance in hell to match the original stain colour we decided to have contrast and went with a light colour.

I was very happy to say goodbye to this:

New wood floor 2 2013

Of course we had to deal with this little monster:

New wood floor 3 2013

It’s very hard for me to be on my knees for any length of time because of my back, especially hand-sanding so I ended up using the floor sander.  I managed to keep it from dancing about.  And oh the dust!  Even with the windows wide open it was a mess.  We had her doors shut but it still got everywhere.  And of course you have to do a few layers with finer and finer paper.

New wood floor 4 2013

The edges gave us a run for their money and it took awhile to get it all smooth and clean.  Then there is the cleaning.  Everything had to be vacuumed, including the walls.  The we bought the Swifter stuff and used that.  And vacuumed some more.  Then a coat of staining and 3 coats of poly.  But we got it done!

New wood floor 5 2013

It’s nice to walk on a floor and not worry about splinters!  🙂  Our daughter was very surprised and loved it.  Good thing to as we weren’t changing it again!

First big winter storm of the year….

My family and I moved stateside July of ’77 when I was 4.  Funnily enough so did my husband.  Out of all of us only my mum knew what New England winters could really bring.  It wouldn’t be long before we found out.  35 years ago this past week a major blizzard blindsided NE.  It was a dangerous storm that took many lives especially those stranded in cars on the 128.  It was also one to stick in my memory as I couldn’t believe the amount of snow right outside our door.  My dad was lucky that day as he listened to his instinct and headed home before most that day.  His commute included the 128.  I remember him digging a hole for my sister and me to play in while he tackled the driveway with a shovel.  While it wasn’t a long driveway, it was a hell of a job with just a shovel.  For images of that storm check out for more information.

Fortunately we now own a snowblower and have better notice to when these storms come.  New Englanders are a bit jaded as many times we are warned that the storm of the century is coming!  That’s a bit rare but this was a big storm we just had.  It took us 2 hours to clear our driveway, porches, pathways, the greenhouse, and the cars.  If we didn’t have the snowblower I think we’d still be out there!  So here are some pictures of our snow.  The sun finally came out and it’s a pretty day but these photos are from earlier when it was still snowing.

The calm before the storm:

storm 1 2013

It took awhile for the storm to start.  It was about 12 hours late!  But finally it began…

storm 2 2013

This morning we awoke to nearly two feet of snow and it was still snowing.

storm 3 2013

storm 4 2013

Our dogs didn’t know what to do.  Guinness wanted to go right back in the house.  🙂  They ended up kind of hopping over the snow.  It was really hard to take them for a walk.  I fell twice.  Fortunately the snow was soft!  And of course I had several layers on.

storm 7 2013 storm 8 2013

Murphy tries to eat all the snow in sight but even he couldn’t keep up with it all.  But he gave it his all!

Here is a shot from down the road at the cemetery.  This cemetery dates back to the 1700’s.

storm 9 2013

The wind wouldn’t quit at all when we were doing the clearing.  It was a bit much.

storm 5 2013

I had to clear a path to the oil pipe so we can still get deliveries.  The snow on the edges was chest height by the time I finished.

storm 6 2013

Just wish it was our week to have the kids.  We would be building some epic forts!  🙂