Friday, November 28, 2014


I love Christmas. I love the music, the twinkle and the magic that the holiday season brings. So, understandably, going to New York City at Christmastime has been on my "bucket list" for quite some time. I imagine it to be quite magical, indeed.

Earlier this year, I proposed the idea of a festive trip to the Big Apple to my mom and sisters. Unfortunately Connie won't be able to join us, but tomorrow I'm setting off with Jo-Anne & Mom to cross one more thing off my list :)

I'm so excited to see all the window displays, the rink at Rockefeller Centre and, of course, the huge tree! As luck would have it, one of my favourite performers, Tony Bennett will sing at the tree lighting ceremony. We have lots of fun stuff planned for the next few days. Can't wait! I'm one lucky girl.

Watershed Moment

Until now, my experience as a homeowner has been great. No major issues - other than picking a paint colour. I realize I have been lucky as other friends have dealt with roof, window or basement issues. Well, that changed this week.

On Monday night, I was getting ready for bed and realized there was no hot water. The power had been on and off during the day with those crazy-high winds so I wondered if something had flipped off on my tank. I grabbed my flashlight and headed to the basement.

Dad's first time playing Phase 10!
As I got about half way across my family room, I noticed a squish squish sound as my slippers made wet footprints on the carpet. Oh no. I opened the door to the utility room and saw water surrounding the hot water heater. I immediately turned it off and called Reliance. Well, no...actually I immediately called my Dad. Seriously, these are the situations Dads are made for.

The following 24 hours are a bit of a blur but it involved a parade of workers through my home. The carpet had to be ripped out and disposed of and I currently have industrial fans and dehumidifiers humming away downstairs. I finally got a new hot water tank at about 9pm.

Mom - killing time :)
My retired parents are nothing if they are not supportive. They arrived Tuesday morning with a shop vac in the trunk and ready to help. Apparently my optimistic outlook was not that realistic and when Dad saw my basement he quickly realized the little shop vac in his trunk was not going to be much use. They stayed with me for the rest of the day - for moral support. I can't thank them enough.

Although the saga is not finished (my basement is in complete chaos!) I'm thankful for small mercies. I'm especially thankful this did not happen while I'm away next week. And on the same day I was dealing with this, my sister-in-law called to tell me I had won $50 through a fundraiser at my niece's school. Now, it would've been really sweet if the cash prize had been enough to cover my insurance deductible, but I'm not complaining.

The current state of my family room

Monday, November 24, 2014

Shop 'Til You Drop

What better way to spend a Saturday than holiday shopping with a dear friend? Ya, that's what I thought.

Char and I had a great time wandering the stores at Great Lakes Crossing on Saturday. Such a great time that we were home hours later than we expected! But that's ok...we had a hoot.

A treasured tradition - dinner at Cracker Barrel - nearly did us in. Honestly... we had to take a detour and then missed our turn twice, but we finally made it!

Love getting out and experiencing the hustle and bustle!

Ran into Tony at the mall!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


This weekend I kicked off the festive season! Yes, it is a bit early to start the holidays, but I love Christmas! I say... go big or go home!

I had reserved Saturday a few weeks ago when my friend Laurie suggested we spend a day making Christmas cookies. It was such a fun way to step into Christmas (as Elton John would say) ...the holiday tunes were cranked, apron on, coffee in hand and we started measuring, stirring, beating, baking, icing...

There was a call to mom to check the recipe, a pretend studio audience, some botched melted chocolate turned into an impromptu "chocolate pizza" and a whole lot of laughs. What a fun day we had.

Time spent with Laurie is always the perfect blend of catching up on life events, heart to heart moments - combined with plenty of silliness and laughter.

After getting some holiday baking done, I decided it was time to put up my tree! So, on Sunday Jo-Anne & the boys came over for lunch and helped me decorate.

Decorating a Christmas tree with a 7 & 9 year old is a unique experience. We started with getting the lights on. Liam really wanted to help, so while Jesse & I untangled lights, Liam was stringing them on the tree. I knew something was amiss when he declared that he was done after about 30 seconds. I looked over to see a strand of 100 lights on one branch. LOL.

We finally figured out the lights and got down to business with the ornaments. The boys took care of the non-breakables while Jo-Anne and I hung the more precious ornaments. A few new ones this year include a Hershey Kiss from my trip to Pennsylvania and one from Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. I love the way the lights twinkle and create a beautiful glow in my front window.

So, I'm all set for the holidays now. Bring on Christmas!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Harmonies & Heroes

Fortunately, the week ended much better than it started. Despite the Jian Ghomeshi nightmare that has been unfolding this week, and the subject of my last post, I finished off this week with two of my favourite Canadians.

When I first heard Reid Jamieson singing on CBC's Vinyl Cafe, I was struck by how beautiful his voice was. Fast forward several years, a twitter exchange, a Vinyl Cafe appearance in the Forest City and his first concert here last year. This year, while on "tour-cation" with his lovely wife Carolyn, they made it a priority to come back to London and the East Village Cafe.

Seeing this duo on stage is nothing short of magical. Their voices blend together in perfect harmony - reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel. Their playful banter and stories about the roots of the songs they write, displays the love they have for each other and their craft.

They just finished their first record together - both song writing, both singing. Check it out here. I particularly like Drive.

On Friday night, I had the privilege of getting my book signed by Chris Hadfield. I was excited to learn he would make an appearance at the local Chapters and marked it on the calendar.

After following his adventure on the ISS via Twitter, I was quite taken by this incredible Canadian who, despite his accomplishments, took the time to explain space exploration and discoveries to the average Canadian. He had many Q&A sessions with students and produced short Youtube videos that explained simple things like brushing your teeth or getting a hair cut in space.

After reading his book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth this summer, I was even more impressed with this hometown hero. Yep, I'd consider Sarnia close enough to use that term! In fact, when I told my Grammie about the book signing, she casually mentioned that she saw him several years ago at Tim Horton's in Corunna having coffee with his mom. (their family has a cottage on Stag Island)

So, armed with my brand new book You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes, I lined up with hundreds of others at the local Chapters to have my 10 second conversation with the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. I told him what an inspiration he is to all Canadians and how he had made Sarnia proud. I then received a firm handshake, smile and "thank you very much" and was on my way!