Holiday Happenings 2014

First of all, go and get a coffee and maybe one of those cookies you’ve been avoiding – you will need it to get through this post – it’s very long…to make up for  month or two of living it and not blogging or posting to Facebook… we have enjoyed this month long celebration to the fullest, hopefully you’ll enjoy reliving it a bit with me. Good luck!

Advent
Back in early December, we began our Advent celebrations. I love advent and taking the time to quietly reflect on the reason Christ came, and the reason we do all the work to prepare for the celebrations, it makes the work part of the celebration, for me anyways.
This year I refurbished our Advent Tree with new envelopes. I really liked the look of this,  Each envelope contained small activities to do together like caroling, calling a relative, writing a poem, etc. A fun way to do some “learning” stuff, since we finished school around the 12th. I am ready to get back at it, but not for the arguing that accompanies it.

Our advent activities basket, Miscellaneous games,
colouring books and such that I’ve collected through the years.
Each Sunday in advent we share a time around the advent wreath singing songs,
reading scriptures and talking about God’s Story. 

Tree Lighting with Caroling
Having a high schooler in the house brings us many new opportunities to get out and enjoy the community. Isabelle is a busy girl involved in many groups, but my favourite is her school choir. It’s very active and great fun to listen to. They had a tree lighting ceremony outside her school complete with hot chocolate and candle light. Loved it.

Elaina screamed out “IGABELLE!” which made Isabelle laugh
in the middle of a song, such great memories.

Stir Up Sunday – Plum Pudding
I tried my hand at making homemade plum pudding since it was $10 for a tiny one in the store. It does not cost close to that much to make, and was tasty. But next year I’ll make it MUCH smaller. My mom helped me by making the run sauce, and I have lot’s left over. I think maybe I’ll have a get-together for my Plum pudding loving friends.

Cookie Baking/ Decorating
In years past we’ve participated in baking exchanges, but this year, I decided to just have a baking day and make just our favs including sugar cookies to decorate. This worked perfectly as they all get eaten as they are favourites. We should be out of cookies by Jan 1st 🙂

Isabelle hard at “work”

The Boy’s Christmas Concert
The boys are in a choir this year, so their concert and potluck dinner was a must. It was enjoyable to see them participating in this this year.

Homeschool Christmas Party
Our local group of HS families had a Christmas party complete with games, craft, caroling, skits and of course cookies and hot chocolate~!

Decorate a mom for Christmas!

Relay races.

Isabelle’s Roadshow
Isabelle’s choir performed as part of the entire Music department – ensembles, rock band, jazz band, vocal groups, drum line, etc. A great festive (and loud) night!

Santa Claus Parade
We go to the Niagara on the Lake Santa Parade each year, Partly because it’s smaller, it’s a quaint little town, we go early enough to tail gate and partly because it’s one of the last ones in the region, so it’s in December and not November, smack in the middle of the holiday season.

2 year olds do not like being told they can’t run into traffic.

Our cozy set up! Next year we need another family to join us, it’s a fun activity to share with others.

Our hot chocolate and snack center.

My personal favourites are the marching bands.

It’s such a relief to know we can get ready to leave when we see Santa’s sleigh.
It’s fun, but after a few hours outside, it’s COLD.

  

Living Nativity
Each year I try to find some kind of activity to enjoy together. This year, the church around the corner hosted a living nativity/ visit Bethlehem event with live animals and activities, drama, etc. It was a well done event and a lot of fun.

We met up with some homeschooling friends who had the same idea as us to attend that day.
Here we are all squished into the hay ride.
Elaina loved the animals!

Getting water from a well.

Isabelle really enjoyed all the Christmas experiences.

Olive Oil Press. Smelly!

Christmas in the Village with Melissa Shriner
One of my personal highlights each year is Melissa’s concert. It never disappoints and always gets me ready for Christmas week. She sings a combo of jazz, classical and opera and more. I love hearing my friend sing and love seeing her succeed. This year was a sold out show jam packed with guests and holiday specials!

The church was all decked out this year and my friend Andrew Braun did the sound and lights.
His work really made her shine. Great job Andrew. 

Melissa and her sister Vanessa (who hosted the reception – cupcake goddess of Vanessa’s Cupcakery and Confections)
It always makes me happy to see friends who’ve known me since I was barely an adult 🙂

Annual Family Christmas Eve Day – Ice Skating
For the past I don’t know how many years, my sister and brother in law have rented an arena and hosted a family skate. It’s lot’s of fun to get out and enjoy some activity and fun before the week of feasting causes us to lie on the couch for endless hours and watch the kids play Just Dance…at least someone ends up burning those calories.

I have the cutest bunch of nephews around!

See what I mean.

Her early Christmas gift was a pair of skates.

I love seeing the aunts and uncles and cousins all having fun together!

Every Canadian boy probably has one of these photos, even if he doesn’t play hockey!

Mom stays in the picture.

Sisters! Elaina had fun sliding around, being carried around and snagging the rice crispy treats.

Christmas Eve Service
Our church had a lovely concert that we did manage to stay in throughout, despite having a wriggly 2 year old in our midst. The best part of the night – singing Silent Night of course.

The platform was just so lovely and cozy but elegant.

Christmas Eve Dinner
The first of the guests to arrive joined us for our traditional dinner of homemade soups, fresh bread and cheese.

In our dresses for church.

The menu…French Onion Soup & Seafood Chowder with fresh crusty bread,
various cheeses and veggies.

The kids did a gift exchange for the annual opening of one gift on Christmas Eve.

I did up a Christmas Eve box for everyone. It had our movie (A Christmas Carol); Slippers for all,
PJ’s, Popcorn, Candy, and a new bedtime book for Elaina.  

Before the movie, we completed our Advent Wreath lighting the Christ Candle and singing together.

Christmas socks.
  

After the movie, the kidlets went to bed, the socks got stuffed and we created the scavenger hunt for the boys’ gift.

Christmas Morning
It goes like this, we tell the boys they cannot leave their bed til 7:00 – since their stockings are on their bed, this usually isn’t a problem and we listen to their exclamations of joy from our bed. Then they all come in and open them all again, showing us what they got. Then we get the girls, and repeat it. The we go upstairs, get coffee (I throw in the baked french toast) and the put Christmas Pumpkin, Cranberry and carrot bread out, and repeat the socks with the grown ups who slept at the house. After that, more grandparents arrive in the midst of the chaos and we continue opening gifts and break out the Christmas Mimosas – yum! Then after all the gifts are opened, their was one last little unlabeled gift, which led the boys on hunt through the house for clues which led them to their gift (a laptop computer = wanted and needed). Then we have brunch, the baked french toast and overnight crock pot casserole…. then the various people retire to get dressed, play with gifts, play cards, ensure plenty of snacks and sweets are available throughout the house, prep for the dinner later, etc, etc…. and I basically don’t sit again until dinner.

 

Christmas Dinner
It sounds like a lot of work, but to me it’s really not. At the end of the day, I’m tired, but not exhausted. These kinds of things energize me. I’ve also got a pretty awesome family full of people who dig in and help each other so we all have fun. I start weeks before with planning what will be best for every guest – food wise, activity wise, etc… and then start pulling together all the details. Thankfully I can set the table days in advance and I cook as much food as I can ahead too, I also assign the side dishes and desserts to my guests who are able to bring something. 

Our place settings (it’s only practical to use plastic when 25 are sitting down to dinner)

Our “itinerary” I find when I write it down, it happens.
When I don’t, it doesn’t. So I do, write it down for everyone to see that is.
That way, it’s not just sitting down to eat, but we get to enjoy being together
 and having meaningful and fun elements too. 

The kids table.

Our giganticus table!

Naughty and Nice punch – was a hit. Thank you pinterest!

Group shot, next year, we’ll avoid the tacky chandelier.
Side note, Lucas , my 10 year old found me those red chairs on the side of the road. Score!

Cheers!

The toddler corner!

Jokes and poems and prayers…
It makes my heart happy to see people enjoying my hard work.
The newest nephew in good hands.

HOLIDAY FAMILY FEUD!

Yaya Rudolph!

Final answer ladies?

Survey says…

Take your places!

Three strikes for the steal…

The best Christmas gift…JUST DANCE!

After the games, we have dessert and more cards, visiting, gift opening, etc. until the wee hours, when we gratefully collapse to begin again in the morning. I actually have one personal tradition of sitting by myself by the light of the tree with a mug of cider and reflect on the day with gratitude. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Boxing Day
Every year I tell myself to pack the bags for boxing day in advance, and every year I forget, so we wake up in a stupor and then the flurry of packing and chaos to get out the door to drive to my hubby’s hometown for his step dad’s family Christmases. I actually love this day, because I have very little work to do – we always stop for coffee, we always bring a book or two, we always chit chat while the kids read or watch a video… I love the drive and I love the visiting, and the awesome food at the open house first, then more food and cards at the family dinner later. 

 
The boys love the cousin time. 7 boys under 10 = CAHRAZY!
This year, they actually got to play cards too. My babies are growing up!

The dinner is hosted by an aunt and uncle who live in this jaw dropping century home. I love her decorating style, and every year walk around snapping pics for inspiration for the next year.

Is this fairy door not the sweetest thing? Elaina kept knocking on it saying “hello?”
 

Love the details, mini white vintage tree…holiday tea set? LOVE!

Love this kitchen!

Formal sitting room, flocked tree (to die for)  the winding staircase (gasp, lovely!) and every year it’s a different decor…just like me – we are kindred decorators – I swear.

Afterward, we return to Grandpa and Nana’s house which is so cosy, the kids go to bed and we reflect on the days over a glass of wine. Then I read a book until late listening to their grandfather clock pass the time.

Max’s Birthday
The next day is middle boys bday, so we always go out to lunch and celebrate him. After the drive home, we try to muddle through the mess of the house in prep for the “leftover dinner” with friends the next day, we also have been known to ignore the mess and go to the movies (the final Hobbit movie is awesome by the way)

 


Best Christmas Present Ever…

Annual “leftover dinner”
Our good friends join us to demolish what’s left from Christmas and have a relaxing visit. This year, was a Just Dance marathon between the girls and boys!


The end is not here, not even close. After the left over dinner, the Christmas decor comes down. It takes two days… interrupted by an annual get together with my sisters and mom for our Old and New Night – reflecting on the past year and the one to come – over greek donuts, port and coffee. One of my favourite traditions in the days leading up to the final hurrah! Now off to put away the rest of  Christmas and prep the house for New Years, apparently we have company coming!

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, have a Happy New Year!~
xoxo
Tammara

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Holiday Home Tour 2014

Well, it’s better late than never to post about our holiday home, especially since it starts to come down tomorrow… loved celebrating the Lord’s birth this year, loved all the special moments and loved being in my home, and enjoying the coziness and togetherness. My style is definitely my own, part woodsy cabin, part country, part eclectic/classical. It’s not perfect and certainly can look cluttered, but it’s very much LIVED in and LOVED. Hope you enjoy a tour of our holiday home and tomorrow I’ll post about all the Holiday happenings that took place. Happy Holidays everyone.
Outside
I added real greenery to faux garlands, and it looked great! Plus later some red mesh ribbon. I was happy with the outside decor. Will post pics of finished product if I remember to take some.

Same with the wreath and  a giant red matching bow.
Main Floor Entrance
Right by the front door is this little display and underneath is a basket full of slippers for guests.

Entry way

Entryway with view of living room – flash

Close up, no flash

Past the tree is my angel collection on the sideboard.

I eventually removed the lower feathers, Here’s a closeup.

View from hallway.

In this pic you can really see the dried hydrangeas I painted gold.
Hallway to bedrooms. I forgot to take pics of the kids rooms
 – they each have mini trees we use as night lights through the holidays.

 Master Bedroom

I carried the feather theme through this room I apologize for the messy bed.

 Bathroom

This thrift store find is a great lamp to use through Jan.6th.
Another view of the tree.

Another thrift store find (mother and child)

Poinsettia’s really add some drama.

Grouping of cone trees in window.

A little DIY sign.

Loved this countdown snowman.
The Basement – AKA Party Room
Nativity set on stairway shelf.

At the bottom of the stairs.
Another thrift store find. It tells the Christmas story with songs.
View of sitting area.

The 6 foot tree sat on a dining room table with the village underneath.
I loved the look of the hydrangeas painted red on this tree.

Full room view

Before adding lights.
I actually really enjoyed the multi-coloured lights.
Stuffy tree

Revamped chandelier.

Friends on top of the fridge

From pinterest.

The Loft – Main Living Area
Hangs in the hall going upstairs.
Loved the look of my pinecone garland.
Did not love the look of this wall hanging over the stairs.
Will try again next year.

I didn’t mind these mini versions,…
But preferred them without the greenery.
Vignette at top of stairs. The blue sign got plopped there, and then never moved. Woops

Another DIY candle arrangement.
My Nativity Set.

Top of Woodland Tree.

`
My nutcracker collection moved a few times, til it found a home in the curio cabinet.

Family Room

 

Loved the querky look of the antler on the wall.

Kitchen

Kitchy Christmas Photos…

One of our first nativity sets.

Mantel…
Christmas cards on the message board.
Mistletoe over the table.
Wine cart.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Kitchen Window

Guest Room
Tin garland.

So cute, the boys kept asking if they could sleep in here.

Bathroom

Holiday Home 2013

Hi there! I wasn’t sure if I would participate in a Holiday Home Tour this year, but then at the last minute decided I would, just in case I never get around to including this in a scrapbook, at least it’s recorded here. I’ve done my best to repeat some of the traditional decor I’ve used in the past, but also incorporated new ideas this year, hopefully you like them. We kinda do 🙂 
I also would like to apologize for the picture quality, the only camera I have right now is on my phone, and it’s pretty old, but it’ll do until I can afford a new one 🙂
Come on in! Did you notice the urns I pulled together from greenery I cut down on our property? I was pleased with how they turned out. I also put together the simple wreath on the door too from our own bushy cedar 🙂
 
I repeated the “heavenly peace” theme from last year using the feather boa’s as the garland throughout the entry and main floor. Lot’s of gold, sparkle and white lights.
  
DAYTIME
 NIGHTTIME

I added some pretty ornments to my plain old light fixtures. Voila! 

I grouped some old wreathes and traded out golds, white and sparkle on tabletops, etc.

Sidebar, daytime – angel collection.
  
Nighttime too.
 
 Formal living room tree.
Feather garlands everywhere, hung the feather wreath and kissing ball in the hall to the bedrooms. 

 
 Master bedroom, added the silver stockings, some greenery onto shelf tops, and the purple tree/ candles on the dresser.

 

Mini Trees in the boys room, the baby’s sparkly pink tree (not shown is the guest room – blue tree)

The baby’s holiday wardrobe is ready!
Bannister to family room (I’ve added to this since the pic was snapped)
Christmas village on hutch at top of stairs.
 

FAMILY ROOM – Red, Gold and Green
KITCHEN
Advent wreath
  
The Heart of our Home
Nativity Mantel

 
Practice for Christmas Brunch.

Kitchen Window 

 
Tried my hand at creating my own pine garland.
Our Jesse Tree

  

 NIGHTTIME KITCHEN
 

Bathroom, highlighted the GREENS and GOLDS.
Most of these pics were taken a couple weeks ago, so there’s been some tweaking since, they may or may not make it to the blog. Until the next post, I’m going to go and enjoy some of the baking from our baking exchange earlier this month, if I can manage to keep the kids out of the baking first!  
 Thanks for taking the time to tour our home and Happy Holidays!

Linking up to the Holiday Home Tour at the Nesting Place here.

Glimpses of Christmas

a Christmas concert in a little country church that moved me and help to heal my music starved soul…

an inspiring church service that my sister helped write the script for…


family time eating way too much…
excitement of boys who still believe in Santa…

shining eyes sharing at the Advent circle just before bed on Christmas Eve…


mistletoe moments…


smiling chocolate covered faces waiting for the digital clock to turn 7:30 after ripping through their stockings at 4:00 am



Christmas morning at home and making French Toast with eggnog…yum

all the brothers in law toasting my dad over ouzo shots in the kitchen (its our 4th year without him)…



Not having anything planned for centerpieces and pulling this off without spending money from stuff around the house…


squishing 12 adults and 5 kids into my kitchen/dining room and sadly realizing it’s probably time we looked for another place to celebrate Christmas dinner 🙂
our “Bolovinos” family candle sharing time and seeing how remarkably God is working through each of our families in similar but completely different ways…
the squealing joy of my little nephews when we finally let the dog into the busy family room…


playing cards and laughing well into the night…


sitting quietly by the lit tree with a full and happy heart…
Merry Christmas to all and to all it was a Good Night!
with love,
Tammara

A Home for the Holidays

Thanks to my dear “frister” (friend who is more like a sister) Jodi, I have photos for today’s post that do the decor justice, yay! She is an amazing photographer and an even more amazing friend. After a busy last couple of months (which I will blog about next week, I knew I’d get the decorating done, but doubted a blog on it would get done on time. Enter Jodi, having missed our regular coffee date and having a random Friday night open up for both of us (unheard of) I bribed her with Christmas cake and coffee to bring her camera with her for a visit. I love her and I love how our home turned out this year.

Before we get started, I asked my boys what their favourite parts of the decor were, which is so rewarding because they all picked something different, which makes the effort in decorating throughout the house so worthwhile…
Family Favs
Hubster Chris – The tree in the Family Room
Lucas – Garlands over the doors and Windows
Max – their bedroom tree
Carter – the outside lights

Tammara – The Nativity Vignette/ Family Room
Welcome, here’s the front porch, because life got so crazy for a bit there, I have not really had a chance to “tweak this” – I meant to have more on the wire shelf and to add some ornaments to the trees, but I love the lanterns. At one time the windows on the doors where decorated with snow designs, but they mysteriously were “cleaned off” by some “helpers” from Carters 4th birthday and I haven’t had a chance to redo them. it’s funny too, the angle of this pic really highlights the fact that my urns are two different sizes, they don’t look so different in reality – but here they do – hmmm. Will reassess after posting today….


Here’s my first attempt at making a wreath. I love how it turned out. Much thanks to Rose Bartel for the fun workshop at Bartel’s farm where we buy our organics.
Here’s our entrance. I decided to stick with one colour scheme for the whole house (except our bedroom) – Red, Green and White with Gold & Silver. I love it. I do wish I had painted the front door red as planned, but I guess it’ll happen in the spring now and be red for next year!
Anyways, I threw this super sparkly vignette together with things I already had. I love the effect of the white lights under the feather boa, and the way it shimmers all day and night.
Jodi really is amazing. Love this one.

Next we come our our “formal” living room. It’s not really formal, we just don’t use it as much because it’s not close to the kitchen, school room or TV. But you do see it as soon as you walk into the house and walk through it to get to the bedrooms/ second bathroom.
She really is an amazing photographer – the dirt, dust bunnies and general messiness of the house disappeared with the click of her camera!
This is the 3rd year now. that I’ve used these feather boa’s on the tree, I can’t help myself. Plus this is an old and very spindly tree, so the feathers really fill it out and you can’t tell. I do love how the red pops…but it was almost painful to not use the lovely brown things I had bought last year – but it was way too neutral for this year.
I love how the garland turned out with the red socks, the wood stars and fancy bulbs.

More red butterflies, I just love them too.

On the TV cabinet/ mantel I clustered various conical trees, bunch white lights in them, added the “gift light” and threw a boa on top. Glorious!

Now on to the rest of this floor…
Our guest room (mostly gold accents added to the existing decor)
(update on mess in wall – treated the walls to prevent spread and safely contain. Keep the room semi-useable until we can overhaul in the spring).

Here’s the boys room. Yes, the photo was taken while they were sleeping, no they didn’t wake up (I am truly blessed they sleep through anything). Thank you for ignoring the broken drawer that I should have fixed last summer. Thank you for ignoring the obvious need to redo this space in our home. The boys would have been disappointed if there tree was not in this tour.
The Family Bathroom. Once again, magically clean and shiny with a click! There is no red in here because I tied in a bit of the bedroom colour scheme with the purple wreath.
The Master Bedroom. I am not ready to part with the purple in this room, so we pretty much left it be.

but added sparkle.
A little here and there.
A photo op of Jodi’s favourite chair could not be passed up.
Then we move on the main living space upstairs (yes our house is a bit backward but we’re ok with that) Here’s the garland along the stairs.
My fav. area – our nativity which has the last of the boa’s used to create “snow”. I still smile, because I rescued this nativity set from a garbage bin! So awesome.
Do you like my DIY wreath made with fun fur? Me too 🙂
The sofa table creates the “hallway” through this space.
Close up of the arrangement. We have more “birds” added to this decor, as well as the butterflies, et al.

Garland over doors – love the giant butterfly.
“Mantel” on TV cabinet.

The tree in our family room. So warm and cozy!
Random Ornaments (every year I try to find photo ornaments, and have pics of the boys on the tree from over the years)



Full Room Shots

On the way into the kitchen you pass our advent tree – I found this at goodwill for $5 and made the labels for the mini socks – put treats and activities in each of them and the boys are having a riot with it!

The balcony doors garland in the kitchen. I just wish my curtain rod had proper finials.


My “mantel” shelf in the kitchen has our family socks – the ones we actually use with some antique bells, family portrait, real holly from our garden, and candles.

Our advent wreath has since been moved to the island as I made the Christmas center piece for the table at another class at the organic farm yesterday.
and one of the boys “advent tree” treasures.
The window over my sink. (these were the snow designs are what were on my front door windows at one time)
My little cart has the cookie jars (from goodwill), my sleigh ornament that I got when I was 8 or 9, and some favourite Christmas cookbooks. I love the magnet nativity set on the fridge which was also an advent tree surprise.
After all the pics were taken (we missed the upstairs bathroom – more red, green and white with gold) we sat down to our dessert and watched DVR segments of The Sing Off Christmas Special.
Please note – if you happen to stop in for a visit in the next couple weeks (and you are more than welcome) I have lots of sweest like this because I just finished up our baking and participated in my sisters baking exchange. So awesome!

So there you have it our holiday home this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we do and I promise, the craziness of my life has a dealine, Dec. 20th, after that, more posts will be coming – lots to share. See you again soon!
PS – I don’t have pics of the outdoor lights this year, but they look better than they have in years (because we didn’t have them for the past few years)
PSS – I’m linking up to this holiday home tour at The Inspired Room if you want to see some amazing homes. I’m always inspired when I take a tour here.