I'll remember it as the year I took the road less travelled. For all its foolishness, for the moments of unexpected disappointment and even the moments that I saw it coming. It was a challenging year.
But I'll also remember it as the year I met this girl:
Eager as I am for the upcoming year, I won't be creating goals for myself. Of course there are things I hope to accomplish, but to list them all seems counterproductive. I don't want to set myself up for failure or disappointment, and I don't need any additional pressure. If I do the things I set out to do, then that's great. If not, I will continue to live.
So rather than vow to lose weight, learn French, swear less or volunteer more, I simply want to enter 2014 with the major lesson learned from this past year - to never say never.
It's been a whirlwind holiday season. I've come to the conclusion that moving while you're a) still in management training at a new job, and b) preparing for your first full winter in Canada, is nothing short of crazy.
Keeping with the insanity theme, we bought a Christmas tree two days before Christmas (and one day after a major ice storm). The branches were still frozen when we erected it in a corner of the living room. Once it was fully thawed on Christmas Eve, I took to making garland out of cardstock and twine, and we decorated the tree in record time.
Christmas Day was a true holiday for me. No packing/unpacking boxes, no unruly retail customers, no office politics. Just our little family gathered on the couch, watching the snow fall on our backyard.
It was a Christmas of practical gifts. Bobby got power tools and a proper winter jacket, and I got a foot massager and heated slippers (retail is hard on the paws).
After we opened presents, we had leftover tourtière for lunch and lazed around in our pajamas until 4:30.
After cooking traditional stuffed birds/mashed potatoes/green beans/etc for Canadian and American Thanksgiving, Bobby and I decided to go simple for Christmas dinner. We made spaghetti with a homemade bechamel sauce and watched a Sandra Bullock movie.
It was relaxed, quiet and exactly what our little family needed. Merry Christmas everyone!
Yesterday was Moving Day. It didn't go exactly as planned, which, ironically, was to be expected. Does moving ever go smoothly?
Maple had so much nervous energy that she vomited in the car and promptly passed out in the kitchen as soon as we arrived at the new house. She was surrounded by boxes five times her size and three loud moving men stomping around both upstairs and in the basement.
Yet she slept through it like a champion.
This photograph sums up Moving Day better than any words I can think to write.
Note: four boxes of pizza, wings and cheesy bread didn't make it into the shot. But rest assured, they were present.
I like to read farm blogs. That's right - blogs about farms. This may seem a bit out of the ordinary since I'm generally a city girl, but there's something about the quaintness and calmness of farm life that charms me.
I follow 4 or 5 blogs, none of which are about the typical things blogs are about - food, fashion or home decor. They're not glossy or editorialized; they're written by everyday people in places like Montana and North Dakota, about curious things like harvesting corn and how to cure a horse of seasonal hives.
It's nothing that I can relate to or that is relevant to my life, but after a difficult day at my stressful retail job, it's nice to know I can escape to a far corner of the American West, to a simpler lifestyle than I've ever know, just by opening my laptop.
I guess what it boils down to is that, although I've never wanted to live on a farm per se, sometimes it's nice to feel far away from where I am. I suppose that's what a fantasy is. And nothing could be farther from my own life then being out on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, shearing sheep or sandblasting the paint off an old barn.
Sometimes I wonder if a simple, rustic life is what I subconsciously want. After all, one doesn't move to Canada for glitz and glamour.
Perhaps there's a deep, dark, suppressed part of me that wants to live a more rural life, isolated from neighbors, traffic and the stresses of an overly commercial society.
I'm not sure if it's funny or shameful that the follow-up to my previous blog post (Ice Cream For Dinner)is this post (Cookie In the Car). Could this two-parter detailing my foray into emotional eating be a subconscious cry for help? Maybe so.
It's my day off, which is always far too short given the laundry list of tasks I have to tackle. So rather than let the myriad of errands I had to run, the long lines I had to stand on and the worst drivers ever super polite Canadians on the roads get the better of me, I decided to take a break.
Halfway through the afternoon I parked the car in a somewhat empty lot, turned on the XM Broadway channel and attacked a still-warm-from-the oven Panera cookie (leftover from lunch). Within the cocoon of my car, I felt safe from all the insanity that is the holiday season.
First up on my showtunes station was Ethel Merman. I can't get enough of her. Whether it's Gypsy or Annie Get Your Gun, she slays me.
Next was a song from the original cast recording of Les Miserables.
Then Goodbye Love, one of my favorite songs from Rent.
Then... well, then I felt calm enough to continue with my errands and made my way over to Canadian Tire to stand on yet another line.
The fridge is stocked full of yummy things to cook for dinner like pork roast and fresh broccoli, but I've just been too tired after my long days at work to do anything but eat caramel toffee crunch ice cream straight from the container.
(For the record, yes, that dark stuff pooled at the bottom of the container is hot fudge. Once I started pouring it on, I couldn't stop. It was like chocolate therapy.)
The silver lining around this particularly difficult week is that my handmade soy candles were featured on the front page of Etsyfour times. I do well with these candles at craft shows but they're a tough sell online since people want to smell them before purchasing.
Thanks to the many Etsy features, I made a handful of online sales for custom orders.
This is especially uplifting after a slow year for my vintage shop on Etsy. This surprise infusion of money will allow us to have a nice Christmas together in our new home. For this I am very grateful.
It's also heartwarming to know that many of these candles were purchased as holiday gifts, so there will be people across Canada and the U.S. who will smile when they unwrap and smell them on Christmas morning. That makes the late nights in front of the stove totally worth it.
And now, my good friends Ben and Jerry request my presence in the kitchen. Very important business meeting.
Working at the mall during the holiday season is something that can only be experienced, not explained. The past few weeks have been hectic so I've been trying to savor my days off as much as possible, which means doing as little as possible.
This afternoon Bobby and I shared a nice, quiet lunch on the couch. I dressed up a frozen pizza with some applewood smoked bacon, sauteed onions, and a side Caesar salad. Not the fanciest meal but it sure beats the mall food court.
We dressed Maple in her new Santa costume and tonight I'll be making candles for some custom orders.
A fairly uneventful day and I'm okay with that. I think Maple was too.