Gifts that keeps on giving

For my birthday, I received a number of fabitty fab birthday presents (from a number of fabitty fab individuals.)

In preparation for my first marathon, I was gifted a belt to store gel packs, and a beautiful, (but more important breathable) zip-up running shirt. Mr. M gave me a pair of lovely earrings that have little cameos of ravens on them (because this way I can pretend that I’m Odin, and that my little feathered friends are whispering the world’s secrets into my ears as I go about my daily business.)

I also received another Murakami book from my good friend A that I devoured on my way home from her house on skytrain.

An absolutely scrumptious lunch Ms. A treated me to, at Cafe Medina. GO THERE.

Such a strange sensation to be reading a book about a very early Tokyo morning, when you yourself feel as though you are operating out of a parallel, late-night dreamland. I was so tired that I could hardly keep my eyes open, and yet at the same time, too engrossed in Murkami’s prose to actually allow my body to let go, and crumple under the weight of my end-of-week exhaustion and post-hang out daze.

What a strange tug-of-war we mortals can play, between need and desire, consciousness and sleep.

Two other gifts that provide me with a huge amount of happiness (on a daily basis at that) are the gorgeous prints my sister in-law V made for me.

They are currently hanging in my office and I cannot even begin to describe what a difference they have made in my day-to-day work regime.

The power of art is strong, my friends – very strong.

Is your office green with ivy? I mean, envy?

Plus, the prints, combined with a few other touches of beauty and comfort (I also have nice black and white photo of SFU hanging on the opposite wall, and I finally managed to finagle someone to come in and mount my “to-do” cork board) ensure my office no longer looks like the place you go where you find out that you have a terminal illness.

Because that folks, is pretty darn bleak.

Just looking at this photo puts a smile on my face!


Today the sky is blue, and the trees are sun-drenched (and not rain-drenched) for the first time in what seems like ages.

Over my lunch break I hopped, skipped, and jumped my way out of the office, and around my downtown neighbourhood in an effort to procure everything that was populating my (ever-growing) “NEED TO GET” list.

It is always so pleasant doing these kinds of things in the glorious sunshine, rather than scurrying about like a drowned rat, trying to stay one step ahead of the looming fog and drizzle.

Is it springtime yet, Ms. Nature?

I picked up the usual suspect at Shoppers Drug Mart: make-up remover, cotton pads (to be used with said remover), body wash, and face cleanser.

I had a mild flashback to high school when I approached one of the clerks to ask if she knew where the Neutrogena products were, and she briskly responded:

You mean the acne products?

Umm, I wasn’t sure, actually. “It’s very orange and has a pump on the top?” I said, a little nervous all of a sudden.

Yes. You want the acne face washes, upstairs in the acne solutions section – aisle four.

I know this might seem a little silly, but I totally felt as though I was being shamed. Like I was in a one of those horrible sitcoms playing the nerdy high school kid who tries to purchase condoms, or tampons – or the young girl stuck buying Vagisil, or Imodium, or Exlax or whatever.

(Also, super hilarious that the spell check wants to change Vagisil to valise. That would require a majorly daft pharmacist to make that mix-up.)

Now, I’m sure the only reason I actually felt this way is because in high school I actually did have bad acne, and I spent so much time, energy and money trying not to have bad acne.  Now that I’m finally living a life of clear skin (as an easy, breezy, covergirl – or, you know, whatever) it’s hard for me not to get my back up in those kind of situations.

It’s like the horribly embarrassed fourteen year-old girl inside starts yelling: “I’m beautiful now! Why can’t you just leave me alone!”


Okay, so I’m over dramatizing this for the sake of humour and readability, but the sentiment is the same. Even though I was over the whole thing in about 2.7 seconds, I guess it’s true what they say:

Some (acne) scars just take longer to heal.


To speed up the process I bought (and thoroughly enjoyed) a large package of peanut butter M&M’s (seriously I’d fight to the death to prove, and/or, to defend my stance that they are in fact, the best M&M product – or at least to a missing handful of hair) and an ice cold diet Pepsi.

I also managed to get a hold of a pair of sweatpants that I can wear on my way home from the gym for only sixteen dollars!

You have no idea how happy this makes me. Seriously.

Money-wise aside, this is also fantastic news because I normally go to the gym straight after work, and I really don’t like walking home in my workout clothes with just my big winter coat as my only over layer.

It kind of makes me feel like a super-harlot, because my shorts are shorter than my (rather long) coat, and this may or may not contribute to the illusion that makes it look as though I’m not wearing anything underneath my jacket.

And that’s not a look I’m ever striving for.


My final purchase was a new pair of work shoes (nine dollars! Thank you bargain barrel pricing and size ten feet!) and two lipsticks (two for twelve bucks! I’m almost, almost afraid to know what they’re made out of, because they’re so cheap. Probably the other bargain barrel size tens that were never sold.)

It’s easy to forget about that though, because they’re so, so pretty.

Sparkly toes and red lips. Watch out world!

With all this talk of TREAT YOU SELF and the weather being as fabulous and fine, it was the perfect day to go out and do something nice for myself.

(It is also heart warming to know that I will once again be able to properly remove my mascara, and not wake up with crazy black muck that has sealed my eyelids shut whilst I slept. Side note: I was going to write “sleep-cum-makeup muck” but thought it might give some people the wrong idea.)

Okay, I definitely don’t need any more proof about how immature I can be, because just writing that out has given a case of the giggles I just may never get over.


Sunny days! Chasing the - clouds away! On my way...


Enough now.

I hope every single one of you had a beautiful day, were fortunate to feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and did something lovely in celebration of you, and just you.

Or at the very least, had a good giggle.

Lover of the Russian Queen

Holy Toledo.

I honestly cannot believe how crazy this week has been. I thought because I had taken Monday off, the days would magically fly by, and what a far flung fantasy that turned out to be!

Waking up today I was feeling more Forrest Gump, (post-multiple cross country runs) than Flash Gordon:

This morning, as has been the case for the past few days, as soon as our alarm went off, Nymeria announced her arrival in the bedroom by jumping up on the bed, and slathering us with her kitty kisses (and not to mention some very enthusiastic whisker rubs/headbutts.)

Also, our little gal purrs like the mother of all trains. Believe you me – the dream of a few extra minutes of glorious shut eye is resoundingly destroyed what with this fur monster-cum-locomotive, luxuriating next to your ear.

One day I will expire from cuteness overload.

It’s a good thing I’m madly in love with her.

When I dream tonight, I’ll dream of this:


The lobby of our “bed and breakfast” looks as though a bomb had gone off only minutes prior to our arrival.  Plaster crumbles off of the walls and coats the exposed concrete floor.  Someone has been painting, but it seems that they have left halfway through the job.  Perhaps to buy more cigarettes, judging from the healthy number of butts that litter the floor.  They have also left their paint splattered socks and a coffee mug half full of coagulated brew.  A stench of ammonia hangs in the air.

We climb the stairs of a building that was built over one hundred years ago, and is only now undergoing cosmetic upgrades.  Our guides from the university tell us that all the structural work was completed after the implosion of the Soviet Union.

Due to the state of the place, I can’t help suspect that Nikolai and Gleb are not really here to help us to rooms, but instead to kill us and make off with our identification and luggage.  The door we stop at looks like the entrance to a bank safe I have seen in every action movie I have ever watched.

Nikolai turns to us as says, “By the way, don’t really expect breakfast.  Bed you can rely on, but I’m pretty sure that sign is lost in translation.”

Right, I nod.

Also, he turns his face closer to mine.  “Did you bring bathroom paper?”

I did, I say.  One roll.

“Every restaurant you go to, get more,” he says.

One morning, during the second week of my trip, Aimee, a young teacher from California asks me if I would like to accompany her to the banya.

Vodka. Nuff said.

We don’t have a workshop to attend and because I have six new mosquito bites and can already smell the alcohol seeping out of my skin, I say yes.  I haven’t exercised once since arriving in St. Petersburg and I figure if I can’t go for a run, I might as well sit in a sweltering sauna and sweat the booze out.

On the walk to the spa, I buy an apple blini.

The building is old, but neat looking with a carved wood banister and great frosted windows.  At the front office we purchase our dried birch branches, cardboard sandals and scratchy luffa sponges.  A young woman with heavy shadowed eyes tells us that level four is the woman’s area.

As we ascend the staircase, we pass numerous elderly men, sprawled out on small benches, with miniscule towels clumsily strewn across their genitals.  Though most look as though they are asleep, we catch many of them eyeing us and we pass by.

Once we enter the woman’s only area, we are greeted by a petite lady, with bleached-blond hair, who sits behind a cluttered desk painting her nails.  She asks us if we are excited for the sauna and when we tell her yes, she expresses delight over the fact that we have chosen her place for our first time.  She hands us each a long, white sheet and a scratchy burlap hat.

Supposedly we are supposed to wear these once inside the sauna; it is a uniform that will protect us against the heat of the room.

(It doesn’t.)

Disregard whatever anyone has ever told you about Russian saunas.  Russian saunas are HOT.

Hotter than hot.

It is a hot that screams, and bites and slaps and stings.   It gets into your mouth, burns down your legs and punches you in the face.  And it is unrelenting.  It is so hot that you can’t just take off your clothes and walk right into one.

I often found myself going to my happy place (aka this picture)

You have to prepare.

This is done by travelling back and forth between the two smaller saunas, located in a different area of the spa.  There is a “dry” sauna (supposedly cooler than the “real” sauna) and a “wet” sauna where you immerse yourself in a warm, slick fog that vaguely smells of freshly-picked lavender.  The contrast between the arid and moist should raise your core temperature to certain degree – that way you won’t immediately expire upon making contact with the debilitating and searing broil that is the banya.

(It doesn’t.)

The sheet that I was given at the front (supposedly to wrap around my body) soaks completely within seconds of my entrance into the “dry” sauna.  I give up and take it off.

I also notice that no one else is wearing the burlap hat I was given. I was told that it works well to keep the body’s core temperature low, but I just feel the Western fool sitting around in a scratchy Gilligan-inspired cap.

We soak our birch branches is a bucket of hot water so they don’t cut us when we start to flagellate each other.  (Flagellate truly being the operative word.)

Finally, we feel as though we are ready to enter the real sauna.  As soon as I walk in, I realize that no one is truly ever ready.

No one.

Okay, so this isn't the woman who beat me up, but they look very similar.

I am then accosted by a seventy-eight year old babushka (I know this because it was the only thing I could actually understand coming out of her mouth was her age) who announces that as it is her birthday, (or at least that is what I think she was saying) and that it is her responsibility to exfoliate my skin with not only my branches, but hers as well.  She flings me down onto a wooden bench with the ease of a man fifty years her junior.

I cry out in pain because the wood is so hot it is literally burning my skin – my most sensitive parts feel as though they are about to pack it in and leave for a less harsh climate.  For the next five minutes (though it seems like five years) I am thwacked from head to toe on both of sides of my body.

Finally, she stops.  “Okay!” she barks.  “Get up and you do your front!”

At first I don’t understand, but she soon rectifies my misunderstanding with a good hard swat across my chest.

Do your front!  She admonishes me.  Do it!

So I do.  I do my front.  I stand there, in the sweltering heat, self-flagellating with a dried birch branch.

My entire body feels as though it is one big blister.

Okay, enough, my drill instructor barks.  Out, out!  She shoos me out of the sauna and into a shower stall.  This may be a little hot, another woman tells me, before they turn on the faucet.  Out pours water fit for a teapot.

One minute, they tell me.  I begin to picture how my death will be transcribed back in Canada.  “Canadian women steamed in Russian bath. Death ruled non-suspicious due to stupid hat.”

Two days later, out at Peterhof, still looking for my sanity.

Just as I reach the point of no return, the water is turned off and I’m shleped across to the room to a whirlpool filled with ice cold water.

“Jump” I’m told.

I do.

As my feverish body makes contact with the frigid expanse of the pool something becomes crystal clear. I suddenly realize why Russian women live so long.

They are made of steel.

Baptized in this fire, they are made of steel.

And miles to go before I sleep

Hi Friends,

Is it just me, or are any of you itching for an excellent and exciting escapade in a fantastical foreign landscape? It’s been two weeks since my return from the land of palm trees and face-lifts, and while I very much enjoy my employment here on the West coast, (I actually really do love my job) I am already daydreaming about the next big trip Monsieur M. and I will take together.

Or small trip.

There is just something undeniably awesome about international travel and intrigue…

I'm like a bird, I want to fly awaaaaaayyyyyy.

So pip pip, my passport is expiring at the end of March and I am putting together my application for a renewal.

Because everyone knows that a top spy-cum-adventurer needs two things at her disposal at all given times:

– valid passport

– excellent sense of humour and improvisation. (Okay, this might qualify as two things in some circles, so I beg of you to cut me some slack.)

A cute outfit, a quality camera and an ever present willingness to take on the unknown probably never hurt anyone either (in my experience at least.)

I’ve been surfing the internets quite a bit, researching all sorts of magnificent and mesmerizing locales – everything from Sweden to Salt Spring Island; Costa Rica to Colorado; Morocco to Montreal.

Seriously dudes, as much as I rail against the morally bankrupt ways of that ever elusive one percent (has anyone been able to find a contact number for them yet?), sometimes I can’t help imagining how lovely it would be to live with unlimited funds.

Sweet cash dollars would not only buy me many terrific trips, but countless beautiful shoes and a villa in the South of France.

(Lest you think me superficial, these are but other must-have accoutrements for said previously mentioned spy. Plus they’re pretty!!!)

This fantasy, however, always comes crashing to a (rather spectacular) halt once it veers into the territory of what I would actually have to do or condone in order to get that wealthy.

This knowledge alone would undoubtedly ruin all the splendor of that villa (and those shoes) and eventually turn me into some tragic pseudo-Lady MacBeth.

All in all, pretty darn grim.

And that is why I am happy sitting and planning out The Next Great Travel Thing! (Copyright Ethel the Dean, 2012).

In the meantime, let me share with you three snapshots of times past, spent in brilliant places, with beautiful people.

Someone once asked me: why do I love to travel? why do I need to travel? The following are just a part of the answer.

Hawaii 2007

M and I travel to Oahu’s North Shore where we stay in a beautiful one-floor, many bedroom-ed beach house with five hilarious, and very accommodating friends.

The view from our house. Heaven.

We end up sleeping on the sofa bed in the main room and I fall asleep every night to the sound of the breaking surf, just steps away from our lanai, while our friendly neighbourhood gecko makes quick work of the few flies that made it past my feverish guarding of the patio bug screen.

We go swimming with sea turtles and sting rays, eat chunks of fresh pineapple and laugh as the juice trickles down our cheeks, tan ourselves brown (such a contrast to the white of the sand) and learn that Vancouver’s Starbucks obsession doesn’t hold a flame to the ABC stores in Waikiki.

The shell my ring was hidden under.

On the third day of our visit, M asks me to accompany him on a sunset walk. There, on a beach, a few miles outside of the quaint seaside town of Haleiwa, with the sky the colour of one big Shirley temple, he asks me if I will spend the rest of my life with him.

I cry. And cry, and then I cry.

And then because he is just sitting there, looking at me, I tell him yes, of course yes.

I will.

I will until the end of the world.

Greece 2008

M and I have been married for exactly one week.

We set out on our honeymoon, travelling to a place the two of us have only read about in books (he especially, and we’re not exactly talking about contemporary literature either. I mean, say what you want about the relevancy of Ovid, et. al. but we’re not exactly getting any younger here.)

Greetings centurion!

The weather is excruciatingly hot, but we travel light, and from the moment we arrive it is as though we have been instilled with a boundless energy – so eager we are to explore and experience and indulge in the decadence of this dream-like world, that we walk until our legs our coated with a fine dust, our lips chapped dry.

We came early to get good seats.

An ancient city, a modern time.

During our time on Crete we visit King Minos’ home, pay homage to Theseus (and the Minotaur) and visit Matala, an ancient Roman graveyard.

Old spirits greeting newlyweds, teaching us the secrets to a long life, but longer lasting fame.

Switzerland 2009

Christmas in Geneva. The streets are frosted white and the mercury dips lower, and lower with each passing night. The air here in the city is so much crisper, so much cleaner than that of Birmingham, our home for the past four months.

People look healthier hear. (People sound healthier too.)

There must be something said for chocolate and cheese.

(And I’ll be the first to say it.)

We stay with M’s cousin. The way she speaks French is a bit difficult to describe. It sounds almost as though she is singing. The tone and cadence so gentle yet lively – a quality particular to the Genevois people and I love it.

On our third day in the country we travel to Bern.

The beauty packed into the city’s old town is as striking, as it is astounding. The history of this place is breathtaking to behold, but the so is the cold, as it sneaks into my boots and down my coat and around my ears.

Be still my heart.

I munch on roasted chestnuts as M and I walk to Einstein’s old apartment.

We watch out for bears. But on this day, it seems there are none to be seen.

Holding hands, we catch snowflakes on our tongues and I whisper sweet French nothings into his ear.

Just like a song.

Beam me up Scotty

This morning, I felt the cold in my bones.  We have been lucky for the most part this winter – while it has been colder than usual, it has been remarkably dry, a nice change from the expected (and therefore, albeit grudgingly accepted) monotonous rain and overcast skies.

Sun, Sun Mr. Golden Sun IS ON VACATION

Growing up in Vancouver you acclimatize pretty darn quickly to the damp. If you’re not careful enough, you may start to sprout mushrooms sometime around mid-March, due to the relentless onslaught of drizzle and murk.

Constant vigilance and a darn good umbrella are needed to combat this problem.

Well, that and a good pair of rain boots.

Remember folks, it’s the reason David Duchovny forced X-Files to move down to L.A. (And boy did that show ever go downhill after that.)

Anywho, this is the first Christmas in three years that M and I are sticking around town (at least for the big day) which is pretty darn exciting. The past two years we have been far and yonder – first in London and then in Halifax, respectively, where we not only enjoyed the fantastic seasonal flavour of these two brilliant cities (and the people who live there), but the always enjoyable stress overload of travelling on Christmas Eve.

Nothing makes giant masses of people, into giant masses of asses, er – I mean, as jolly as they can be, like overcrowded, delayed airlines can!

We are however doing our (small) share of travel this year, having been invited to go check out all the sights and sounds of balmy Palm Desert – my father and step-mom own a time share and live there for part of the year and this will mark the first time we have visited them in their fruit-treed, half-year-home.

I’ve never actually been to California, other than Disneyland when I was eleven years old, and I am not ashamed to say that the thought of twenty-seven degrees and sunny skies, tickles my little, frozen-solid heart silly, especially in the wake of today’s cold.

Now to find that pot of gold...

Yet on days like this, I also cannot help but be transported back to the streets of Edinburgh, where M and I walked and walked and walked and then walked some more in October of 2009.

The moment we exited Waverly Train Station, the skies opened up and just as the rains began to fall, a rainbow spread its way clear across the sky.

For the rest of the trip, the rain and wind whipped and lashed our bodies in earnest – every night as we fell asleep in our little hostel, tucked away off of the Royal Mile, I was so exhausted I could actually feel my heartbeat inside of my calf muscles.

We climbed to the very top of Arthur’s Seat, and then to other side of the Old Town, up to the national monument; we drunk ourselves silly doing our own version of a pub crawl, beginning at the famous Oxford Bar, the favourite haunt of the fictional Inspector Rebus, and his creator Ian Rankin. We day-travelled up to St. Andrews, where M ran across the sand à la Chariots of Fire, and took part in an underground tour of Mary King’s Close where we readily accepted “gardy loo!” into our everyday vocabulary.

Really excited! REALLY DRUNK.

(I am also still trying to figure out whether or not I could fashion a plague doctor Halloween costume if I put enough energy into it.)

Nova Scotia! The gift that keeps on giving.

I had never been to Scotland before, and yet I somehow felt as though the country was home. I knew for so long that I had some sort of innate connection to the land and the people, whether it was forged from spending time in Nova Scotia, or through my highland dancing, or my fascination with Celtic music and mythology – I’m not sure, but I always felt that I just needed to go.

I can still smell the salt air.

And just being there, I felt very grounded and safe.  Like it is a country where I could live a life with less anxiety and doubt – or at least feel as though I could lay down some serious roots.

We had such a brilliantly amazing visit and did in fact walk so much that I had to purchase new shoes – shoes that to this day remind me of the visit each time I put them on.  (My old ones had developed a serious case of the heel-mouths and the water trickling down the cobble streets had begun to seriously trickle down my stocking feet.)

Even in the face of a bloody gale, I kept turning to M and saying to him, “Isn’t this the most enchanting city you have ever been too?”

I truly felt as though there is magic there, running through the air like an invisible current, transported along those fierce, fierce winds because it feels as though its blowing right through you, right through to the depths of your being, penetrating deep inside your soul.

Be still my heart.

But instead of cold, it warms you.

So on days like today, where I feel the dampness in my bones, I doesn’t bother me.

I think about my ancestors, and my travels, and I take comfort.

I take comfort in it all.

Another little piece of my heart

Do you have a place that you like to visit, because no matter what may have happened in your life (or may be happening) – as soon as you get there, you suddenly feel better?

You feel healthier?  You feel whole?

I have such a place.

This past Friday night, M and I adventured up to the Sunshine Coast where his parent’s have a brilliant little getaway that they very generously let us make use of for the weekend.

I will never tire of this view for as long as I live.

This place is amazing for many reasons.

From the spectacular view of the waterfront, to the epic record collection, to the amazingly comfortable beds, to the new wood burning stove – it really is a piece of heaven.

I feel the earth move...SING IT CAROLE!

I’m not sure how many times M and I have visited this unique and beautiful spot, but I can without hesitation say that each stay has, and forever will, occupy a special place in my heart.

Before I regale you with some of the finer (re: hilarious) moments of our brief, just-passed sojourn, here are three snapshots of past-times spent at this haven of dreams.

1.Sepetember 2003.  M and I have been dating for approximately two months and I am completely head-over-heels in love with him.   I am in first year at UBC and he is in third, and one day while we’re eating breakfast at my dorm’s cafeteria, he asks me if I would like to go away with him at the end of the month.

Yes, I tell him. Unequivocally, without question, YES.

My heart practically implodes in my chest upon hearing that my father is willing to let me borrow his car for the weekend.  My excitement knows no bounds.

We arrive early the Saturday morning because M ends up having to work at the movie theatre that Friday night. I am too restless to fall back asleep once we arrive, so after the inaugural tour we make peanut butter and jam sandwiches with thick slices of French bread and head down to the dock to suntan and “study.”

After lunch, we take the canoe out for a long afternoon paddle.  I marvel at how quickly our boat is skimming along – that is, of course, until I take a brief rest and realize we haven’t slowed down at all.

M just laughs at me.  I laugh too.

The weather is so hot I want to take off my clothes and dive right into the water. Instead, I dip my fingers into blue-green depths one at a time, and let the droplets run down my forearms and drip off of my elbows.

That night, against our better judgement, we light a fire and roast ourselves silly as we eat our dinner and grow tipsy off of red wine and Cat Stevens.

I remember thinking how I never wanted our dance to end.

2. New Years, 2006. M and I invite eight of our closest friends up to the Coast for a New Years raclette feast.  We eat (what seems like) pounds of the delicious Swiss cheese, drink good wine, and laugh ourselves crazy playing charades, dancing to Boney M, and lighting sparklers and banging on all the pots and pans we can find when the hour strikes twelve.


The next day we set out for a brisk, first-day-of-the-new-year-hike, letting the gale-force winds blow right through us – it sends the last year packing, and makes sure we are fresh and clean for all that awaits us in the coming months.

As we round the corner at the end of the trail, the winds are so strong that my ear muffs are blown from my head, and the only thing that saves them from an ocean swim is the lone, bare-faced tree, clinging for dear life on the cliff edge, twenty meters on my right.

M gallantly saves them, but in the process, almost gives up his place on earth in exchange.

Next time, I tell him, just let them go.

When we arrive back at the house, the power goes out.  We spend the rest of the evening cooking chilli and garlic bread on the wood burning stove, and playing balderdash by candlelight.

I know I still have abdominal muscles from laughing so hard that night – believe me, they’re in there somewhere, I just need to find them.

3. August 2010. Having defended my master’s thesis in May of that year, for the first time in (what seems like) my entire life, I am not stressing over, or thinking about school.

Mother Nature’s summer-stat has been set on full blast, and every day looks like a photo-still from a Richard Attenborough documentary.  Everything looks as though it has been kissed by magic.

My swimming hole.

Each morning I wake up and run a 10km loop that winds from the house to the local provincial park and back. Each morning upon my return I race down to the dock where I strip down to my underwear before jumping into the drink for a refreshing post-run swim.

I am sure the neighbours think I’m bloody bonkers, but I don’t care.

I feel light.  I feel fabulous.

I feel love.

When we arrived at the house on Friday night, the place was pretty darn freezing.  No word of a lie, I am fairly sure that I lost the feeling in the bottoms of my feet within the first fifteen minutes of our arrival.

PJs + sweats + winter coat + tea + fire = defrosted me

Thank goodness I am married to a mountain man who managed to quickly get a roaring fire going – but for a little lass such as I, with very poor circulation, I was hard pressed to get out of my winter coat until the place reached sauna status.

After that though, I was fine.  After that I was on fire!

Over the weekend, in preparation for Christmas, M and I decided that we would whip ourselves up in a baking tizzy.  Initially it was pretty difficult deciding on what we wanted to accomplish, but eventually we managed to cull the original list of must-dos down to three choice items: cheese sticks, sugar cookies (reprised from my culinary adventure from the other night) and cinnamon stars.

Cheeeeeeeeezzzzeeee sticks! So good!

The cheese sticks and the sugar cookies were by far the more successful undertakings.  I not sure how many of those cheesy delights I’ve scarfed down since M removed them from the oven – but it’s safe to say that we will definitely be making a few more trays of those before the holiday season is over.

Also, I think I will just become a sugar cookie making machine, in so far as they are super easy to make and way fun to decorate.

At first M and I were all, “ERM..?” because he inadvertently purchased the neon food colouring, but we’ve come to understand that if psychedelic Santa doesn’t say HO HO HO, that we don’t know what does.

(Don’t tell us.)

All the colours that you had on your snowsuit in the 80s!

The cinnamon stars weren’t so much a failure as they were a reinterpretation of the definition of star. (I mean, cupcakes aren’t too far off, right?)

Yes. I am drinking prosecco out of a Swiss anniversary brandy snifter. There’s no shame here!

We topped off the night with a sunset down at the dock, stellar homemade pasta, and a crisp prosecco that danced on our tongues, although our feet did the actually jigging as we boogied down to Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond and the Rolling Stones.

Seriously, guys, if you start us up – if you start us up, we’ll never stop.