Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last year

I made up my mind to make no resolutions just plans that could be changed if the need arose. Oh boy did the need ever arise. I've happily let go of the negatives that seemed to dog our heels last year so I won't go into them. They are finished with, done. And I've taken what I could from them.

This year, I'm making a few other plans and keeping some of the plans from last year. I took advantage of the public Yule ritual to plant some of the ideas that had been floating in my head since Samhain. I've found this year that for Samhain it is best for me to look backwards to see what I've learned and where I need to grow and to look forwards with a little divination to help clarify where I'd like to go. The time between Samhain and this Yule was used to contemplate what I want to work on for the coming year. It makes sense to me and so I'm going with it. My intentions for the coming year are heavy on welcoming in the positive, heavy on creativity and heavy on getting myself organized.

That last one's going to be a toughie. I'm challenged in the area of organization, I start out meaning well and then things tend to slip and pile up and before I know it everything has gone out the window. This year I intend to keep at it and I have my orange spell sitting in my kitchen window to help remind me.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday let down

not the kind where you look at everything around you and feel like nothing measures up to what you had expected or the kind the kind where someone totally makes the holidays a downer but where it's all over and done with and the suggestion of lounging on the couch in a semi comatose state is so very inviting that you collapse there before the thought is finished.

This was our first Christmas with no immediate family since before the Peanut was born. That is itself was both a relief (no need to run from point A to point B back to point A and B then on to points C,D,E,F, and so on) and a disappointment (missing the looks on faces when they opened up the gifts we lovingly made/chose for family), Now that it's all over, gifts unwrapped and put away, new toys scattered across the carpet, left overs taking up refrigerator space all I really feel like doing is napping. Well napping and getting started on some new projects...

I hope all of your holidays were as pleasant as ours, that there was plenty nog in your eggs, the lights shone brightly and if you have children around that the giggles and gasps were contagious.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Like trying to catch water in a lace hanky

the days are rushing by.

Last week was a little slower for us as far as doing family things together.

We had good friends over for a play date /cookie making party
We went to the library and were fortunate enough to snag How the Grinch Stole Christmas
We made popcorn and cereal strings and hung them on the tree outside for the birds to eat (unfortunately we're in Monsoon season here in Vancouver so they quickly became soggy strings)
I went to the public Yule ritual

My brother made a surprise stop for a few days and we took him to Bright Nights in Stanley Park. It was the absolute wettest trip to the train we have ever experienced, Our luck with good weather for train rides is usually fantastic, this time not as much but it wasn't cold and we did get to see "our" Santa. We've been going to see this Santa since the Peanut was 5 months old, he's the same Santa every year and that helped with getting Peanut to feel comfortable enough to sit on his lap for the very first time. We took our second family photo with Santa and were pleased to donate to the Burn Victim fund.

The train itself was beautiful again this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

my first

public ritual that wasn't for Samhain was this past weekend. I tend to hold myself back in new situations so that I can get a feel for the people and test the waters so during the ritual I did what felt right for me (which is of course, exactly what should be done in any sacred space) and watched mostly and moved when I was comfortable (which was very little). Watching the joyful and energetic dancing of some of the other participants was enough for me.

The difference between the larger Samhain ritual and this smaller Yule ritual were first noticeable in the size of the gathering and the intimacy of the space and then there was the emphasis on spell work, which could not be easily done in a large gathering like Samhain. Planting our intentions for the coming year and releasing any outgrown or negative influences to make room for the new.

I was pleased to see my holly poppet consumed by the sacred flame in seconds, releasing all the energy that has made this passed year challenging felt good. I am now ready to face what this coming year has in store for me without the baggage of all that happened last year beyond what I've learned from them. I have my intention spell sitting in my kitchen window to remind me of where I want to put my energies this year, I think that I will keep it there until I have seen those intentions come to fruition and use it as an offering for next Yule's personal ritual.

Everyone brought something for the Stone Soup and at the end of the evening we shared a meal and exchanged gifts. All in all I found the experience to be an excellent reminder that this time of year is a time for slowing down. Our plan for the rebirth of the sun tomorrow morning is a simple welcoming ceremony that will include a mini dance party at sunrise featuring "Here Comes The Sun"

How do you welcome the sun's return?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The giving's the thing

This is why I have tried to stay away from the whole shopping thing if at all possible:

One of my fondest memories is of the year that we made candles for the holidays to give as gifts.

It was after my Dad's first heart attack. Money was tight. The fact that money was tight registered with my sister and I on some level (I can remember consciously making decisions not to ask for too much during that time) but really, all we were thinking about that year was how much fun it was as a family to make those candles and how proud we were to present them to our friends and family. I can remember feeling a little sad that we weren't doing the same thing again the next year.

Looking back on my childhood, I remember the avarice I felt as winter approached, the thought I would put into each gift request from Santa. Looking back, all my presents from over the years are a blur. With few exceptions, I can't put gifts to dates. I can't recall what I got for christmas the year we made the candles (I know that I loved whatever it was I got but I couldn't tell you what it was). When I think of christmas now I think of those candles, that's what I want to give to the peanut each year time as a family and the practice of giving of ourselves instead of giving loads and loads of things.

Despite what I've mentioned here before about avoiding malls and giant box stores at this time of year, I've had to spend some time there. We are still abiding by our decision to buy vintage and handmade wherever possible but there are those things that are better and more affordable if purchased new and mass produced, socks and underwear for instance.

So the Peanut and I spent one good day traipsing through our local mall and just thinking about it has my tummy in knots and my blood pressure rising and my brain figuring out the best way to avoid this next year, because I never want to have to deal with the crazy frantic shopping people again.

The longer I spent there the more stress I started to feel, the more the idea that I hadn't gotten enough for the husband crept in and I started to notice that I was looking, to buy more more more and feeling guilty each time I stopped mid-purchase and thought about if it was worth it.

The gifts I've picked out for him are small, but they are things that he will find useful and hopefully fun. Unfortunately his stocking may look a little deflated this year and each time I think about that flat stocking I have to squash the urge to go out and spend spend spend some more.

This year I've really been thinking about what I want this season to mean to me and to the husband and Peanut. She's already on the I Want Train, any reference to anything toy related brings on a flurry of statements that go something like:

Can we think about (insert item here for example: that whole bookstore) for christmas eve? How about we think of (insert item here for example: that robot truck) for christmas eve? Do you think that I could think about (insert item here for example: that huge giant dinosaur) for christmas eve? Can I? Can I? Can I?

Teaching her that is going to be our next big challenge over the next year. Are you feeling the push to go overboard with the gifts too?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A thousand Words

City sidewalks, busy side walks dressed in holiday style.... or at least the large crane is ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Wednesday Word

many changing lights
glow in early winter dusk
too long night coming

Monday, December 14, 2009


weeks and weeks of clinging symptoms I finally felt well enough to get out and see friends. How fortunate that this was the weekend of the holiday party for Peanut's set of friends and incidentally mine as well.

We trekked to the north shore and into our friends home while light and fluffy snowflakes drifted down and settled on our cheeks like fairy kisses. I know, I know it's a little cliched but I'm leaving it as it is. I like the idea of fairy kisses anyway.

Last week I listed all the things we had done to celebrate the holidays and here's an update:

We baked sugar cookies and butter tarts. (my grandma gave me the super tasty recipe she uses for hers which my great grandma called toffee tarts)

We decorated our gingerbread house, and made more paper snowflakes.

We went out to do some holiday shopping (we limit our time doing this though, shopping in the crowds is too much stress and takes away from enjoying each others company. We went to the local Ikea for a new sheving unit for the living room, a bedside table to pile my mountain of books on and a storage unit for the Peanut's art and craft supplies. These are our gifts to ourselves this year and we can't be more pleased with them.

And of course we attended the Christmas party I mentioned above.

On deck this week:
Stanley Park Bright Nights Train ( a favourite of the Peanut's) more baking (as I type this shortbread cookies are scenting my house), a gingerbread man decorating/ play date with our good friends and a little more shopping (this time at some local businesses) I'll also be attending the public Yule ritual on Saturday this will mark the first time I've attended a public ritual other than for Samhain, usually we're heading out to Alberta to visit family around this time so I'm very excited to add this onto my list of activities.

My posts lately have been a little on the word heavy side and super light on the pictures. I've been neglecting the camera in favour of being a part of the fun. I've taken one or two photos along the way and hope to post some here soon. Also I've been feeling the urge to go all lyrical on you but I'm trying to think of a pithy title to use, I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Tag

I found this over on the Pagan Mom Blog and again at Hello Better Than Ever!

~Copy and paste the questions to your blog

~Then Tag 5 or more of your favorite blogs and leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged. (this I will not do, I do invite you to cut and paste and post if you want to. Like Pagan Mom Blog, I find these are good filler and they do give a little of my personality too.)
~When you post your blog, please spread some Holiday Cheer, and leave a link back to Heather’s Blog as well as the one to the blog of the person who tagged you.
The Questions:

1.) Have you started your Christmas shopping? In process. I should be done this weekend but I always find little things to add on as the weeks go along especially for filling socks

2.) Tell me one of your special traditions. Xmas eve we open a special gift that contains a new set of PJ's and a new ornament for the tree.

3.) Are you a “Black Friday” shopper? ummm not if I can help it and I can help it:) , in Canada it hasn't been the same type of hoopla as in the US so other than mercenary shopaholics heading over the border to take part there isn't a huge rush to go shopping or to offer big sales to bring in the crowds.

4.) When do you put up your tree? We try to get it up a month before the big day and take it down in the first week of the new year. This year we were all a little sick so the tree went up a few days before the beginning of the month

5.) Do you travel for Christmas or just stay home? Up until last year we traveled to Alberta for the holidays, flying back and forth and renting cars and all the running around to make sure everyone gets a good visit is too expensive and too exhausting. This will be our second holiday season at our own home.

6.) What is your funniest Christmas memory? Up until last year it was the of one of my nephews about 4 years old opening present after present and getting more and more excited over each gift as he opened them. He's open a gift, gush excitedly and toss it to the nearest adult which happened to be grandpa, as he asked "can you open this?" and then turn to the next gift and do the same thing only with more excitement. Buy the end of the frenzy Grandpa was surrounded by a small mountain of toys and was still wrestling with the packaging of the first gift.

Last year it was the Peanut opening gifts at our friends house before dinner. She had brought with her a stuffy, one of her presents she'd opened in the morning and as she opened her first gift from her Caitlan, she held on pretty tightly to it. The first present was opened to reveal A treasure box decorated with a Chinese dragon that Caitlan had made for her, down went the stuffy and the box was examined minutely. This was the best present ever! Next came present number 2. Peanut was not interested in opening another gift, she had a treasure box what more could she want? So Auntie helped (while Peanut watched still holding her box)open the next present, a pair of Ladybug boots, the treasure box was thrown to the floor and the boots were in it's place being crushed to the Peanut's chest while she bounced up and down singing "ladybug,
ladybug, ladybug!" The bug boots were the best present ever! Peanut was not interested in opening another gift, she had a treasure box and bug boots, what more could she want? Present number 3 was brought out, again Auntie helped while peanut tried on her new boots and rescued her treasure box from the couch. Gift number three opened to reveal a giant barn with farm animals... can you guess what happened? The box again was tossed aside as the barn became the focus of the peanut's attention, this was the best present ever!

This year looks to be even more fun now that the Peanut is a little older and a even more excited about the holidays.

7.) What is my most favorite Christmas show of all time?
I have two favourite shows that are must sees each year. It's a Wonderful
Life and of course the Chuck Jones, Dr Seuss collaboration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

8.) Do you do your own baking? Absolutely with the help of the Peanut. If we are heading to Alberta the baking is still done by my Grandma, she used to do tons of baking, five kinds of cookies, tarts and squares. She's in her 90's now and has cut down on the baking, and now makes shortbread and tarts only.

9.) Fake or real tree? Because we used live in an apartment we have an artificial tree because real trees are a fire hazard.

10. What day (as a mom) does the actual panic set in to get it all done?
Anything that is really really important we get done first so I don't really panic. If some thing's not done by the big day why worry? I was the same with planning our handfasting, nothing will ever be as perfect as you imagine it will be, so it's best to be flexible and go with the flow.

11.) Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas eve? Sometimes yes sometimes no. See above.

12.) What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas? We try to get to the Stanley Park Bright Nights Train. It's put on by the fire department and they collect money for the burn fund. This year we plan on donating a little more than we usually do to offer our gratitude to the fire fighters who put out the fire in our building last February. We can't say thank you to these brave men enough.

13.) What is my favorite Christmas craft? All the crafts I do for the holidays are my favourite, we try to do something new each year. This year I made an Advent Calendar for the Peanut to open each day leading up to the 25th.

I make my own holiday cards, which I also sell online (although at this time there I have nothing in stock at the shop) and I've been collaborating with the husband to make tree ornaments.

This year for Yule the Peanut and I will be decorating the tree in the backyard with some edibles for the birds and squirrels in our neighborhood.

14.) Christmas music? Yes or No? If so, whats your favorite song? I could say NO NO NO but I have some favourites that I can listen to all year long:
The Raveonettes Christmas Song, and Aimee Mann's Your a Mean One Mr Grinch are at the top of the all year long list. Also on the Yes list is the Pouges Fairytale of New York and I've been listening to
Leon RedBone and Zooey Deschanel's Baby Its Cold Outside. I try not to go into the malls or shops too much during the holiday season so that I can enjoy the holiday music better and not be super annoyed by it.

15.) When do you hope to finish all your Christmas shopping? As in the first question, I hope to be done this weekend. Hope is the key word, but no pressure :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


We started our holiday baking this week. We took a special trip to the grocery store to stock up on all the necessities (we still haven't replaced all the stuff that was in the pantry before the fire and the move) and now we're doing a little here and a littler there to make it more an=bout spending time together instead of getting it all done.

The Peanut loves helping to bake and getting her into her little apron and watching her help to measure and stir is lots of fun. We've done sugar cookies so far and decorated a gingerbread house. Next on the list is shortbread or maybe some butter tarts...

Mrs B is holding a cookie book giveaway which couldn't be more timely. I'm entering to win a copy and you should too. Go here to see what's up for grabs.

in other news, WinterGarden on Etsy included one of my photographs in a stormy collection on byhand.me there are some stunning items posted with my humble photograph, go take a look


Over the last few weeks I've been getting spammy comments on one of my posts from back in October.

The comments are all in Japanese and (from clicking the link to the commenter) a p.orn site. I'm not able to read them myself, but when I got the first one I tried to translate it in Babelfish and what I got was a lot of almost zen like nonsense that wasn't explicit in the least so I've been ignoring these comments as I've got my hands full of sick husband, another barnacle in my throat and of course the Peanut and all the holiday activities we've been doing. This morning I checked my messages and saw that I had 12 comments all in Japanese on the post. I decided to check and see just who was posting and got an eyeful. It's the link form the commenter that sends you to the x.-r.ated site.

I though about cutting and pasting the comments in a post for you all to read until I clicked on the links They were kind of amusing but now I just feel a little ill. I don't want the Peanut to have to see what is on those sites, and I don't want to have to look at them myself. which brings me to this short announcement:

I'm going to be moderating my comments and adding the word verification on comments from now on, which is a sad state of affairs. I always find the word verification a little annoying and having to put my readers through the hoop jumping is irksome. I apologize to anyone who is inconvenienced by the extra steps, I'd rather not have them myself but I also don't want questionable material linked to this page either.

Has anyone else had this happen? what did you do about it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We've been

keeping busy busy with holiday plans and activities. We've simplified our holidays a little so that we can focus on more family friendly activities, taking advantage of some quality time as a family as opposed to running into a crowded mall and stressing about spending and buying and buying and spending.

So far:

We stayed up past the Peanut's bedtime to watch the original Grinch. This was a big hit. All three of us snuggled under the purple afghan my grandma made for us, munched on popcorn and enjoyed the genius of Ted Geisel (Dr Seuss) and Chuck Jones. The best part was trying to explain to the Peanut why Max the dog was helping to steal Christmas. How would you answer that question?

We sat at the table with some hot chocolate, strips of construction paper and glue in both stick form and the glitter variety, to make a paper chain to hang our holiday cards onto. The peanut enjoyed this but found manipulating the strips into loops too challenging after the first five so we decided that I would make the chain and she would add a touch of glitter to each link. The glitter adds a little something something.

We went for a walk to the garden center and spent one of our mornings looking at fresh poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Paper Whites and tiny decorated cedar trees as well as enjoying the decorated trees in the accessories department. there was a tree full of birds, nests and flower picks, one full of garden gnomes, frogs, snails and turtles and an ocean themed tree with shells and starfish.

We spent another afternoon with paper and scissors making snowflakes to hang in the window. This is something we're going to do again.

We set up the electric train and tiny village with the dancing bear music box.

And we braved the cold to watch most of the Santa Parade in downtown Vancouver. It was crowded and people forgot themselves and pushed in front of the Peanut's stroller making it impossible to stand comfortably and for any of us to see. We left fifteen minutes before the end and made our way into a nearby high end hotel to check out the giant gingerbread house and the castles, ski chalets and villages that were also on display.

on deck for this week:
Going out for lunch with Daddy at work, Decorating our own gingerbread house, baking gingerbread men and doing a snowman craft.

I've been making an effort to limit the time I spend on the computer and we've also made a commitment to make some of our gifts this year in addition to buying handmade and vintage for gifts. We're a little behind on the holiday gift getting for some on our list so we'll be focusing on that over the next week too. My posts will probably be a little fewer as the weeks go on.

How are your holiday celebrations shaping up? Are you planning a parties? Making your gifts or buying them? Is there a flurry of baking in your future? Are you making an effort to spend more quality time with those closest to you?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Thousand Words Thursday

just another foggy morning in Bird-ville

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

stage five Klingon:

That is what this cold is.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocked off my feet and curled up in an ever growing pile of tissues. That part of the cold ended two weeks ago. I'm a functioning member of the household, but I'm still coughing, still have stuffed sinus and still have an irritated throat. It's getting better, but not quite as fast as I'd like it to.

I've been going stir crazy and the Peanut is stirred up even more. She went to a play date with all her friends and Daddy on Sunday (I stayed home so I wouldn't cough all over everyone) and she cried all the way home because she wanted to go back to play with her friends. So more play dates are called for once I've got this sucker kicked, I'm aiming for sometime this week so that we can make it to the Santa Parade on Sunday.

With the weather sunny and rain free, we'll be heading out of the house more so that I can soak up some Vitamin D. Yesterday the playground, today the garden center to look at holiday decorations. We did the tree and set up the toy train and village on the weekend. Setting everything up and starting to decorate meant that we had to rearrange all the furniture in the living room and then put most of it right back where we started.

How is your holiday prep coming along? do you have special plans?
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