Merry Christmas to everyone, from our family to yours. We’re looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas morning with our darling daughter, eating latkes, and opening a few presents. No big showing from Santa here.
Our family stopped giving presents a few years ago, and I’m grateful for that. Only the kids get something small. The adults in my mother’s extended family do a homemade gift exchange – this year the theme was painting or drawing. Emily and I painted ornaments, and liked them so much we made a few extra for our own tree.
We had our Vancouver family over for a Ukrainian Christmas Eve feast – complete with kutya, borscht, perogies, vegan sour cream, cabbage rolls, beans, mushroom gravy, creamed kale, bread, pickles, and a fruitcake for dessert. Almost all of the food was home-made and vegan (except the perogies which we bought at the farmer’s market and the kutya which has honey), and it all tasted delicious. Ariella even braided a fabulous challah that was glazed with maple syrup and coconut oil. Astrid got to try her first spoonful of borscht and eat some of the sweet potato perogy filling, and I think she liked it.
It wasn’t a purely traditional Ukrainian meal, more of a fusion of cultures to match our family. We started eating at 3:30 instead of waiting for the first star, so the little ones could get to bed. And we lit a menorah to celebrate the start of Hanukkah.
It’s Astrid’s first Christmas and we’re spending it in Vancouver this year, so we thought it would be appropriate to get a tree. However, 1) our building doesn’t allow real Christmas trees; and 2) we really don’t have space to set up a full-sized artificial Christmas tree (or store it the rest of the year). So, we needed to get creative.
In 2013, we used a small potted spruce as our Christmas tree. Sadly he died last winter.
This year, after searching for creative Christmas tree ideas, we decided to make a wall-mounted Christmas tree from garland (inspired by this blog post).
- 9 feet of NOMA Aspen C9 LED Garland (with lights)
- Two 3M Clear Medium Command Hooks
- A bunch of zip ties and wire
Step 1: Arrange the garland on the ground and bend it into a tree shape
Step 2: Hold it up to the wall to make sure the spacing and size looks good
Step 3: Back on the floor, zip tie the elbows together so it holds its shape. The bottom piece was too far away for us to use a zip tie so we used wire.
Step 4: Fluff out the garland branches to fill any gaps.
Step 5: Attach a hook to the wall where you want the loop at the top of the garland to go. The garland we used was pretty heavy so we placed a second hook about a third of the way up from the bottom.
Step 6: Decorate and enjoy!
My parents new off-the-grid home is still under construction, but there was room to sleep all 11 of us.
More photos on Flickr.
We had about 20 kids come trick-or-treating through the apartment this year. Not bad. I noticed it was mostly younger children with their parents. I think the older kids prefer to hit the streets with their friends.
We did our best the make our hallway look spooky for them.
Boo was very confused by the plastic rat.
Last year Emily won the grand prize in the FarmFolk CityFolk Win our Windfall raffle.
The prize description:
Enjoy a one night stay at Nita Lake Lodge in their beautiful Rainforest Suite with private elevator access, overlooking exceptional views of Whistler Mountain. Later that night, revel in Chef’s delicious tasting dinner for two in Aura restaurant with magnificent lake views.
On your way there stop in Squamish and take a Whistler Backcountry Tour with Sea to Sky Air. Fly over massive glaciers, sprawling lush forests, and glacial waters of Garibaldi Lake.
So, last weekend we got to enjoy a luxurious weekend in Whistler, staying in the huge Rainforest Suite at Nita Lake Lodge and flying around the Squamish Valley with Sea to Sky Air. Both experiences were world class. It was too much awesomeness for the two of us to enjoy alone, so we invited the Holdings to share some of the experience with us.
We had mixed weather for our flight, with snow, rain, and low clouds obscuring some of the peaks. But it was still an amazing experience. We were in a little 4-seater plane with our pilot pointing out the mountains and lakes below us. It was neat seeing places we’ve hiked to before, like Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, and the Chief, from a new perspective. The highlight was the 360-degree loop we did around Table Mountain.
The Rainforest Suite at the Nita Lake Lodge is easily the fanciest and largest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in, with a huge master bedroom, dining room with seating for 8, and full kitchen. The couch folded out so the Holdings didn’t have to use their sleeping bags (we came prepared). We took advantage of the hotels hot tubs and canoes. Our dinner at Aura was an amazing 5-course tasting meal.
More pictures on Flickr.
Our homemade gifts for friends and family this Christmas.
Forked Herb Garden Labels – really easy to make and they look cool. The hardest part was finding enough corks and writing the labels (I hope they don’t smudge in the rain).
Organic Body Butter – There’s a store in Vancouver, The Soap Dispensary, that sells bulk oils and butters. I roughly followed the recipe here, using some different ingredients but keeping a 3-1 solid to liquid ratio.