Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas recap

Well, that was fun!

On Christmas morning, Matthew and I had nary a sleep-in before bundling in the car to Gramma's house for family brunch and giftgiving.
There were many delicious platters, including papaya and fresh dates, and home made mince tarts and gingerbread men. This brunch was also a once-in-12-years photo opportunity for all the Gray cousins:
L-R: Emily, Jessie, me, Eleanor, Sophie and Carolyn
After some serious unwrapping, Matthew and I retired home for a (new) cup of spiced chai tea in our beautiful (new) elephant teapot and more gift opening under our own tree. Thank you so much to our lovely Australian family for such gorgeous, thoughtful and fun presents! We thought of you with a big pang as we sat in the mid afternoon sun amongst all the paper and ribbons.

In the evening we drove to New Westminster for Christmas dinner with the Gray family in their newly-renovated kitchen. We were greeted with pomegranate martinis!

Turkey and all the trimmings were so perfect we had second helpings, and then, as if that weren't enough, Aunty Leslie brought out white chocolate and raspberry trifle! Matthew had three helpings and then vowed never to eat again.

 The cousins retired to the living room to play the piano and sing some carols:

Jessie and Matthew puzzled over their bonbon trinkets:

Also there was a dance party in the kitchen (yes, Hanson's 'Snowed In' featured) and Uncle Dan did his magic leg-disappearing trick. I laughed so hard I actually fell off my chair, much to everyone's consternation and amusement. I also have to include this adorable picture of Matthew, at the end of the evening, sneaking his third trifle helping and making friends with the neighbour's dog:

After a generous Boxing Day Sleep-In (finest tradition), Matthew and I headed out to Burnaby this morning for brunch at the Kings' house and played with their new kitten, Molly:

Since it was such a rare occasion to have all the family in one room, we took a stack of group shots:

Jessie gave Matthew and I the most excellent t-shirts for Christmas, which we are proudly modelling below:

And when we got home this evening, after a long weekend of festivities, I enjoyed a glass of Californian red in our stunning new crystal wine glasses, a generous gift from my mum and dad:

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

To our friends and family in Australia, we hope you are enjoying a fabulous day of excellent weather and delicious food. We miss you! Sending lots of love and festive wishes your way. Thank you for the lovely Christmas cards we have received, it has brightened our evenings to come home to little stacks of mail with Australian stamps!

It is still Chistrmas Eve in Vancouver, so Matthew is at work until 2pm, and I am doing some last minute baking. Last night we smashed out Gingerbread Men V.3 which were a lot less gaudy and over-decorated (and hence a lot less fun!) but they look superb. I am very pleased with Matthew's exquisite decorating, and I look forward to eating them in large quantities tomorrow!

On Tuesday evening we headed over to the Kings' house for 'Crackertown' which is like gingerbread house making, but with everything in the cupboard! Biscuits, pretzels, coke balls (don't ask), twizzlers, Lego-shaped-lollies, etc. The King cousins were old hands, and knew that the trick was to make lots of small houses. We did not cotton on to this, so our large 'house in the suburbs' was at risk of caving in on itself for a good part of the evening. We left it at the Kings' house (lucky them!) so that the icing could set... I'm not sure it will ever be edible though!

On Thursday evening we met up with the Gray Family Ladies (well, eight of them) and look a turn around VanDusen Gardens, which is the local botanical gardens. All the plants are dead for the winter, but at night the entire garden is decorated with lights! Very festive: Christmas carols piping from loudspeakers, and the pervasive aroma of doughnuts (very puzzling, until we discovered the doughnut stand). I took a couple of pictures, but it doesn't really do it justice. Also, there were lots of little 'Mistletoe Moments' in gazebos, grottos, and in one case, a whole 'Mistletoe Monster' (like a huge faun)... perfectly romantic!

Disappointingly, I did not manage to complete all my essay writing before Christmas (well, I'm going to have a bit of a crack at it after I upload this). So I will be one of those suckers working between Christmas and New Year. But I will not be alone, as Matthew is also working from 27th onwards.

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year's Eve, everyone. We are thinking of you! xoxo

Monday, 12 December 2011

Gingerbread men!

After an evening of baking Canadian Home Living gingerbread men (very dark! very crunchy!) I was about to cry with frustration when Matthew stepped up and offered to decorate my finely cut men.
...And what a meticulous job he did! I knew all that Warhammer painting would come in handy!

We were very tempted to eat them immediately, but we needed to let the icing set. It was so hard to just leave them there...

Any resemblance?

Bring on Christmas!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Season's Greetings!

This is our first real Christmas tree! Yesterday afternoon the cousins, Jessie, Aunt and Gramma all came over to visit. I popped into the kitchen to sort out drinks for everyone, and when I came back out again, there was a fully decked Christmas tree in the living room! Didn't even have to lift a finger!

Matthew and I had a real blitz on Christmas cards this past weekend, so if you haven't received one by the twenty-fourth, blame Canada post. Matthew had a perfect craft production line happening with potato-stamps and paint from here to infinity!

On Wednesday Mum and Dad are arriving, which will be good. They are spending a little time with their good friends, Corinne and Patrick, who happen to live just down the hill from us, so they will be very close for visiting.

I am getting all my tasks out of the way to clear headspace (and remove possible procrastination objects) for the 8000ish words I have to write, and 30 papers I have to mark, before 20 December. A bit daunting, but totally do-able. In grad school, they have this grown up approach to deadlines which goes 'There are no official due dates for these papers. Hey, if you want to ruin your Christmas writing and researching, that's totally your business'. And that's supposed to provoke us to 'prove them wrong' and get them done in good time. Well, we'll see. I don't want to spend the holidays fretting about papers but.... we'll see. Certainly blogging inane details of my personal life isn't helping my cause.