Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Day of the Year

As 2013 draws to a close, 2014 lies before me full of possibility. Although I don't particularly like the holiday of New Year's Eve, I do like the thought of a new year stretched out, waiting for me to fill the pages.

This year was full of ordinary events, nothing really notable. However, it is those everyday moments that make up the tapestry of your life. How you react to and savour those moments make them what they are.

A trivial thing like sharing a salmon sandwich and a cup of tea with my Aunt Peggy might have been common place 20 years ago. This year, it was worth me tucking that into my memory. I have learned to treasure those "ordinary" moments.

Life does not go according to plan, that is guaranteed. So you just need to follow the puck and enjoy the game. (that's me using a sports analogy - weird!)

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

It's Christmas Eve. My favourite day of the year. For me, the anticipation of something special is better than the event itself.

I've been realizing my affinity for Christmas this year. I truly love the decorations, the music, the movies, the traditions. I'm not a fan of "Christmas creep" and the commercialization of this holiday but I do love that the festivities last for several weeks leading up to the big event. You might say I'm a bit like Buddy The Elf. :)

This year I have had my tree up for weeks. I love the way  my livingroom looks, full of twinkling lights! I've enjoyed lots of Christmas music, baking, movies, gingerbread house decorating, gift creating, gift wrapping...I've squeezed in a full festive season.

And now the big day has arrived. It's time to pack up my sleigh I mean Beetle and head out to spend the holidays with family and friends. Have a wonderful Christmas and don't let the meaning of the season get lost in all that tinsel.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vinyl Cafe

It has become somewhat of a holiday tradition. No, actually it is a Christmas tradition for Laurie Lane and I to connect for dinner and attend Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas. Last week was our 4th annual.

Laurie picked me up and we headed to Prince Albert's diner downtown. She had watched an episode of "You've Got To Eat Here" that featured this little gem and wanted to check it out.

We stepped inside this tiny diner and unbundled ourselves. One of the pitfalls of winter is the layers of clothing required for heading outdoors! All of the booths were taken, so we settled for a double table by the wall. I commented to Laurie as we sat down that you need an extra chair for your coat, hat, gloves, purse, etc. when the weather calls for such items. A tiny table for two just wouldn't do.

As we started to check out the menu, our waiter approached the table and asked if we could please move so he could seat this larger party. Poop. We decided on sitting at the counter so as to still maintain a spot for our "stuff". As we settled in, I commented to Laurie that I felt like we were in a movie! Some great movie scenes take place at diner counters and how often do you ever get to sit at one?

It was a great burger (I had peanut butter and bacon on mine!) and funky atmosphere as we caught up on life's events. And soon enough it was time to trudge through Victoria Park and get to Centennial Hall for the show. We settled into our seats and agreed that this is one of our favourite Christmas-y things to do. It's always a fun night.

Stuart McLean took to the stage and assured us he had three Dave & Morley stories for us. The Good Lovelies were, indeed, lovely as they sang songs of the season. Over the 20 years of Vinyl Cafe, it has acquired quite a fan following and the audience was full of people that knew the characters of the stories just as well as their creator. As he was reminiscing of past-Christmas stories, amid shouts from the audience, I looked at Laurie and exclaimed "these are our peeps" with a fist to the chest. It's true. We are both long-time CBC fans and were with like-minded people that night :)

After the show, we were fortunate enough to meet Stuart and have him sign a book for us. We heaped appropriate praise on him for his work over the years and said good night. What a wonderful evening and Christmas tradition with my dear friend.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Auntie Janice's Christmas Extravaganza 2013

Last year I started a new Christmas tradition, and I believe it has become my favourite.

Auntie Janice's Christmas Extravaganza builds on the idea of my "special days" for birthdays and an effort to put some meaning back into Christmas. As the Grinch said "Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more."

After seeing the endless boxes, wrapping paper and the mayhem that ensued in my parents basement each year, I decided to change the way I do Christmas with my nieces and nephews.

This year's Extravaganza was even better than last. We took a horse-drawn wagon ride to Victoria Park, made gingerbread houses and watched Elf. I wonder what I'll do next year?

The horses/wagon ride was the clear favourite of the weekend. It was awesome! A team of Clydesdale horses pulled a wagon, fully decked out with lights and Christmas songs through the streets of London. As we headed downtown to see the lights in Victoria Park, curious people came out of their houses to snap pictures, wave and wish us a Merry Christmas! The kids loved it, bee-bopping and singing along as we went.

We got home and had some hot chocolate before snuggling into sleeping bags for the night. The next morning started a little early with some anxious boys ready to start the day!

After our pancake breakfast, we decorated gingerbread houses. I was amazed by the creativity that was on display during this activity! They all turned out fabulous. Unfortunately, Josh was sick and couldn't come to the party so, I created a candy house for him. It was fun. Inspired by the kids, I made a mailbox, fish pond and a little dog in the back yard. Cute! We also made festive cupcakes and watched Elf after lunch.

I have such awesome kids that call me Auntie Janice. Each one of them is unique and precious in their own way.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reid in the (coffee) house

Glen & Linda (EVC) Me, Reid, Carolyn, John, Toby
So, my #ReidInLdnOnt campaign really paid off. Well, perhaps the twitter campaign never took flight, but Reid did, indeed, come to London. As I explained previously, I had been working with Reid & Carolyn and fellow Londoner Toby on making this show happen. What a lot of fun to pull the details together and make it happen!

I knew East Village Coffeehouse (a local favourite) would be the perfect location for such a show but they have been renovating for a few months and I wasn't sure what their timeline was like. When I suggested this idea, they jumped at the chance. If the place wasn't ready, they would open for the show regardless. Their new location is a great open space with tons of character and repurposed/reclaimed furnishings. I love it!

On the night of the gig, I met up with Reid, Carolyn, drummer John and Toby and his daughter Nora for dinner. As the majority of that group are vegans, we picked The Root Cellar. (also a great spot for all you locals!) Although I feel like we already know each other from Facebook chats, etc. it was fab to meet Carolyn for the first time. They are such sweet folks and down to earth to boot.

When it was showtime, I stayed at the door taking tickets and welcoming everyone. It was a packed house and when Reid started to sing his first song, the place was silent. His voice really is enchanting. Beautiful! Carolyn and John joined him on stage and they had some adorable banter back and forth. Lots of stories to tell and original songs to share/sing.

As I stood watching the show, I marveled at the fact that this really happened because of little old me. Just someone that heard a song on the radio and liked it. Followed an artist on Twitter and shared some music. Connected some folks on the left coast with some people here in London. It was a pretty cool moment. And this wasn't lost on Reid & Carolyn either. They properly thanked Toby and myself with a couple of song dedications. My favourite Beatles tune In My Life and my favourite Reid tune Rail.