One question that I hear whenever I run into someone that I haven’t seen in awhile is, “How is your new house coming along?” Out loud, I tell them that it’s coming along really well and in my mind I think that I need to post some more updates. I’ve posted photos of our kitchen (the lighting has been updated, thanks be), my office space, and our bedroom and ensuite.

It’s time to show you what we did with our fireplace in our main living area. We tackled it over Christmas break and it makes me happy.

This:

Living Room

Became this:

Fireplace After
We (Matthew) painted the paneling on either side of the fireplace the Pewter grey we used on the piano wall and in G’s bedroom (Photos to come). We (Matthew) painted the bricks white (obviously) and the grates black. We (Matthew) built and stained the mantle and the floating shelves on either side of the fireplace, and set up the new TV that we (I) bought on super sale. When we had the wood stove installed downstairs, the company installing it told us that it was totally legit to take out the gas fireplace upstairs and have an open fire, so we (Matthew) took out the fireplace and (I) bought a fireplace screen. It’s awfully cozy to hear it crackle.

I’m the interior decorator, so I did my thing with the shelves, and all that’s left to do is to stack firewood under the hearth. (We’re not replacing the hearth, because it may be from 1965 but it seems to fit.)

Giant's Head Mountain

:: Blows dust off of keyboard ::

That above phrase is figurative, for while I haven’t posted in a few weeks, the keyboard I’m typing on belongs to the shiny new Macbook Pro that Matthew bought me (with my full knowledge beforehand) for Christmas. As with all things tech-related, I needed/wanted something newer and faster, and he needed something to replace whatever he had that no longer worked. It’s a win/win situation. Or, more accurately, I win and he’s not losing.

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, as I tend to make changes during the year that need to be made. 2015 was a wonderful year, but it was also a very hard year. December was a month of closings, and I started January feeling like everything is wide open. I’m still not making any resolutions, but this year feels different.  It feels lighter. Hopeful. Promising. I’m excited, and part of that excitement comes from my commitment to myself (and (Written!) plans) for both this site and areas of my offline life. You’ll be hearing a lot for from me than you did last year. I’m sorry and you’re welcome, whichever you prefer.

Until then, here’s how we closed out 2015, for the few of you who aren’t Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram friends:

The kids got new jammies on Christmas Eve, as they do every year, just like their Dad and I did when we grew up.

Jammies!

Matthew put his photo bombing skills into play.

Graham turned thirteen. THIRTEEN.

G

I am the mother of a teenager. I don’t believe it either. The first thing he did after opening presents was to create a Facebook account. Hold me.

We had a lot of family come to town to see the newest addition to our family. My brother and his girlfriend had a baby girl on New Year’s Eve! It’s not my place to post a photo, but I can tell you that she is beautiful and sweet and we’re excited that they live here in town so that we can love on her often. Despite all of the family in our house, we took no photos of the event. We ate, we played board games, and we had a great visit.

We rent out our cabin over the majority of Christmas break, but there were two separate nights that weren’t booked and we made our way up to the hill to ski and enjoy the otherworldliness that is Apex Mountain.

On the chair

On Top Of The World

Snow Shoeing

Sunrise

New jacket!

It was a good way to close out 2015. Here’s to all that 2016 has in store.

Palm Tree

We arrived home from Mexico two weeks ago. In my normal life, I’d have written about it immediately. December is not normal life. The holiday fairy throws up all over my calendar and the best laid plans become failed dreams laced with disappointment and resignation. The one percent has Christmas shopping nailed down in September and have homes that everyone is pinning on Pinterest. I am part of the ninety-nine percent. I’m just hoping to make it out of the house fully clothed and in my right mind.

We can all commiserate about Christmas and all that it entails, and we will, but I’m excited to finally have a few minutes to talk about Mexico. Mexico! MEXICO.

The same travel agent that scored us a sweet deal to Disneyland five years ago scored us a screaming deal to Mexico. We had a direct flight from Kelowna (as opposed to driving to Vancouver), to a family-friendly resort a mere thirty-minute bus ride south of the Cancun airport.

The lobby and the buffet restaurants were at one end of the resort, and the ocean (and snack bars) were at the other end of the resort. In between the lobby and the ocean were many, many swimming pools. Our rooms (Two rooms, with a door between) were smack in the middle. The lobby was a five-minute walk to the left, the pool was a few steps away, and the ocean was a three-minute walk to the right.

My little fishes swam and dove and spent as much water as they could. I read many books while they swam (and dipped in to cool off) and also attended AquaFit classes in the pool (So Fun!) and attended Ricardo’s Boot Camp class in the gym (Fun, but it hurt to roll over in my sleep because my muscles were whimpering). Would we do it again? YES. A billion times yes. I had a few friends ask if it was a sponsored trip because I used the #iberostar hashtag for photos. It was not sponsored in any way, but I used the hashtag because we loved our experience and it makes it easy for others to find posts for our resort when they are looking for options. It was the first time we traveled to Mexico as a family and the Iberostar resort was perfect for us.

It’s been a busy year, and a week away to swim and walk and read and nap and not do anything we didn’t want to was exactly what we needed.

Sunset
Surfing!

Poolside

Scuba Diving

The Album Cover

Us

More photos on Instagram, in case you missed them.

 

 

We haven’t taken a family vacation in a few years. The last (and only) time the kids were on a plane is when we went to Disneyland five years ago. For a number of summers in a row, we would rent a home in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and spend our days hanging out at the ocean. Two summers ago, we made the choice to buy our cabin at Apex and use our vacation funds for our annual costs. We ski and snow shoe in the winter and hike during the other three seasons. It’s a great way to escape daily life for a few days (or a week) at a time.

When we sold our acreage and moved to the house we won in court (by ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS), that knocked down the bulk of our debt. That, coupled with some surprise (and financially helpful) extra work for both Matthew and I means that we’re taking the five of us to an all-inclusive resort on the Mayan Riviera.

Mexico

:: Kermit Arms ::

Long time readers know my love of Mexico, and will remember the trip Matthew and I took almost eight years ago. The kids have never been, and are beyond excited, especially since we’re getting unseasonally cold temperatures for here (-5 to – 10 degrees Celsius overnight, highs of -1 C). My brother and his lady are going to house/cat sit and the dogs are staying with the retired couple they stayed with this summer as we got the house ready to move into. In forty-eight hours from now, we’ll be hurtling through the sky towards the sun and sand.

(Emily, explaining an all-inclusive resort to her friends: “You can get ice cream WHENEVER YOU WANT.”)

There’s free wifi in the hotel lobby, so there will be many photos posted to Instagram, I’m sure. Have a great week, friends. I know we will.

Blue Skies

Almost six weeks ago, I boarded a plane to Toronto for the sixth October in a row to attend Blissdom Canada. I haven’t written about it yet, because life was beyond crazy, for many reasons that I haven’t shared (yet) and some that I have. I also had a packed work schedule on top of life and kids and renovating and I gave myself the grace to write about it when life slowed down a bit. A work contract ended last week, and I’ve been spending free moments unpacking the boxes we’ve brought here from the (now empty!) moving container, but unpacking is on hold until we finish the basement. So, 2020?

All of that to say that I finally feel like I have a few moments to give my time at Blissdom some justice.

I have been a part of Blissdom each and every year, beyond just being an attendee. I have spoken on panels with fellow writers I respect and adore, I have co-hosted round table discussions on photography and blogging, as well as hosting a solo table on taxes and deductions (Riveting!). This year, I was paired up with my friend Gillian who designs systems for businesses. Accounting is a part of a good system, so we worked really well together. We wondered if the topic would be too dry, but we had a great turnout and a lot of good discussion.

The thing about Blissdom is that it’s Canadian. I’ve been to a number of conferences over my past ten years of blogging and there’s just something different about us Canadians. We’re inclusive, I’ve yet to hear wind of any cliques, or even see them in action, because we all look out for each other. You can plop yourself down at a table with anyone and are greeted with a warm smile and included in the conversation.

I was a little bit nervous heading out this year, because my regular roommates were not attending. It’s always nice to have your roommate as a wing man when heading to an event, you know? What helped with my nervousness was knowing that many of the friends I made (or made deeper connections with) at ROAM (an offshoot of Blissdom) were in attendance. They were my home base, as were many other longtime friends I’ve connected with over the years at Blissdom and beyond. The added bonus: Gillian was in the room next to me, and became my honorary roommate.

My creative tank was filled up (and has been constipated ever since, due to my schedule) and I have some ideas about what I want to write about and what I want to focus on. Now that my anxiety is dialed down, I will be able to focus and use this space for what I want it to be. I’ve always loved the ability to have my space here, and am excited to take a break from the left side of my brain and give the right side of it time to shine.

Blissdom will not longer be a big conference, which makes some people sad, but after ROAM I have to say: DON’T BE SAD. The one complaint I heard at Blissdom was that people had a hard time choosing between sessions. At ROAM, there was one session per time slot and we all went to each session together. Nobody missed out on the great content, and we formed strong bonds with each other over those three days.

Thanks to Jennifer and her team for always building me up, empowering me, and inspiring me.

Thanks also to our major sponsor Chevrolet Canada for letting me drive this baby from Blue Mountain Resort (host of the conference) to Vaughan Mills where my driver took me the rest of the way to the airport.

My Equinox!

(I am used to driving my Suburban, but this equinox got me through the snow storm that rolled in as I was rolling out at 5 a.m.)

We were spoiled, per usual. Our sponsors made a memorable experience more amazing than it already was, even though Matthew is cursing the fact that Vaghan Mills gave us selfie sticks. I’ll be trying it out in the next few weeks and will report back. Wait for it.

If you have a chance to go to one of the smaller conferences spun off from Blissdom in the future, GO. You will not regret it.

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