Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas in Kamloops

Christmas Family Photo Take #11
We had a lovely Christmas in Kamloops this year. My younger sister, Kelsey, was kind enough to host 8 of us for a few days.

Making Perogies Head Perogy Chef Vegan Gluten-Free Perogies Christmas Chef
We had a somewhat traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner, with gluten-free and vegan dishes.

Warming By Virtual Fire Christmas Morning Christmas Elf Christmas Wrapping and the Cat
On Christmas morning we opened our presents, which we limited to simple stocking stuffers.

Kenna Cartwright Park Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park Family Snowshoe X-Country Ski Fun
The weather in Kamloops was perfect (other than the freezing rain on Boxing Day). We took advantage of the snow and mild temperatures, with lots of time spent snowshoeing at Lac Le Jeune and x-country skiing at Harper Mountain.

Ticket to Ride Matt the Musician Family Time Cat Throw Rug
We also spent time inside relaxing and playing a lot of board games (Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo, Love Letter, and Upwords).

Christmas Family Photo
We also hosted some of Emily’s family for brunch a few days before Christmas.

More Christmas pictures on Flickr.

Homemade Christmas Gifts

My homemade gift exchange presents turned out well this year.

Finished Advent Calendar
I made a wooden advent calendar that doubles as a picture frame for my friend Christina. I found an image online for inspiration, and then figured out how to make it myself. I borrowed a mitre saw from the Vancouver Tool Library and it made quick work of the cutting, but I still hand to nail all the little pieces together by hand. There was probably an easier way. I also made all the boxes (with Emily’s help) by cutting and folding pieces of paper. More tedious work, but it looked sharp when done.

Battering Ram Bike Dining Room Work Bench Power Tools Assembling the Advent Calendar Advent Calendar Frame Advent Calendar with Boxes

For my cousin, I made a camping stool following the instructions on Design Sponge. It was relatively easy and quick to make. The first time I sat on it the wood and bolts creaked so loudly that I was sure it would snap, but it did hold my weight. Emily made a combination apron/tool belt for my Home Maker father with a matching bandana for Hanna – a creative and handy gift.
DIY Camping Stool Homemaker Apron/Tool Belt

Christmas in Manitoba

Hoarfrost Skyline
Brrrr…. A few weeks ago I thought Vancouver was cold when the temperature hovered around 0 C. I’ve become soft and forgotten what real cold feels like. A week in Manitoba with -30 C temperatures quickly reminded me.
Frozen Lake Panoramic

I had a great Christmas visiting with family but I’m grateful to be back in relatively balmy Vancouver. Emily and I spent a week staying with my parents in their somewhat winterized, off-the-grid retirement cabin in rural Manitoba. The new additions this year were a wood boiler for heat and a composting toilet. The composting toilet made the washroom smell of hamster cage, but it was way better than trekking to the outhouse.
Frosted Ponderosa Composting Toilet Chilly Outhouse Boiler Room

Christmas was pretty quiet this year. My cousin and their newborn baby ran into car problems in Yorkton and had to turn around on Christmas Eve. So the only noise and excitement was provided by the puppies. My dad spent most of Christmas Eve dinner yelling at Hanna to sit and my mom kept telling my dad to be quiet. It was amusing.
Ponderosa Family Kensi and Sheryl Lazy Dog Hanna Frisbee Queen

We had a traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner with kutya, perogies, borscht, cabbage roles, and the other meatless dishes. With all the dietary constraints in the family (vegans, celiacs, and nut allergies) there were lots of variants this year. We made vegan, gluten-free perogies and red rice kutya.
Perogy Making Bee Gluten-Free Vegan Perogies Baba Perogy Boiler Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner

When it was cold out, we spent the time inside relaxing, playing board games, doing puzzles, and cooking.
Puzzle Time Frosty Morning Meditation Salad Role Making Skinny Jeans

When the temperature went above -20 we bundled up and strapped on the snowshoes or grabbed the toboggans and went outside for some fresh air. There wasn’t a lot of snow, but the trees were all covered with hoar frost and looked beautifully eerie.
Frosty Walk Porters Winter Jump Frosty
Manitoba Snowshoeing Hoarfrost in Manitoba Snow Angel More Hoarfrost

We built a giant bonfire, but the wood was too icy and the flames never got very high.
Bonfire Acrobat Bonfire Builders Big Bonfire Burning Bonfire

More Pictures of Christmas 2012.

Home-made Christmas Gifts

Home-made gifts are becoming a common Christmas tradition for me – my family, my friends, and Emily’s family have all independently decided to replace ‘gift giving’ with ‘gift making’. I think it’s a positive change. I really don’t like giving and receiving more ‘stuff’, but unfortunately home-made gifts expose my limited craftiness and imagination.

This year I managed to find a few projects that even I could handle. I’m happy with how all of them turned out, but in every case there were lessons I learned and things I would change if I had to make them again.

Giant Jenga
You Take a Board from the Middle Giant Jenga
I’ve seen people playing Giant Jenga at Kits Beach, and thought it would be a fun game to make. I couldn’t find any instructions online, so I had to make it up myself. After I created a design, it was a pretty easy project to do. I just cut a lot of wood (I borrowed a circular saw) and then sanded down all the edges – time consuming, but easy.

The design I chose was using 2×3’s cut long enough so that 4-wide they formed a square (I cut each piece 265mm long). It looks good, but it’s too stable. With 4 pieces per level, you only ever remove one or two, so there are always at least 2 blocks keeping it steady – it would have been better with 3 per level. I would also cut down on the the total number of pieces. My Giant Jenga had 72 pieces over 18 levels, which means the starting tower was 3 feet tall. It looks impressive, but becomes almost dangerous as it grows (and with a stable 4-piece base it really grows). It is also really heavy and hard to transport.

If I had to do it again, I would use 2×4’s and put 3 blocks per level (with each piece 275mm long), and made it shorter. With six 8-foot 2×4’s you could cut 48 blocks, enough for a tower 16 rows high.

Bottle Lights
Bottle Lights Bottle Drilling
I stole this idea from Christina, and used the directions on this site. Following Christina’s advice, I made sure I bought LED lights that wouldn’t get hot. I chose a green Perrier bottle that had a nice shape to it, and then used a glass bit to drill a hole in the corner, then stuffed my lights in. The end result was an impressive looking Christmas ornament, with minimal craftiness required.

If I had to do it again, I would use multi-coloured lights. I chose white LEDs because I thought the dark green glass would obscure any colours, but the LEDs really shone through. I would also make the hole a little bit bigger. You need space to jam a light bulb, plus 6 wires (3 heading in each direction). I had a tough time jamming all the lights in.

Chocolate Covered Fruit
Chocolate Covered Dried Fruit Gift of Chocolate Covered Fruit
I stole this idea from Taryn. I dipped different dried fruits into chocolate, and then cooled them in the freezer. They were surprisingly tasty. Dried mango, apple, pineapple, apricots, bananas, and candied ginger really worked well.

The only mistake I made was to use unsweetened, 100% cacao baking chocolate. It was too bitter and I needed to add sugar. Next time I would use a bitter-sweet chocolate.

West-Coast Hippie Granola
West Coast Hippie Granola
When you’re scrambling for ideas, nothing is more effective then food. I’ve made this granola recipe (from Momentum magazine) before, and really liked it.

Infused Oils
Infused Oils
Emily had the idea of infusing oils for some of our friends. We found some nice jars and infused canola oil with chipotle peppers, ancho chillies, and rosemary. The pepper ones turned out well, but the rosemary started to mold after a few weeks. Luckily we hadn’t given it away as a gift yet.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner

Main Course
I didn’t go home to Manitoba for Christmas this year, which meant I missed the traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner and the time spent playing board games in Baba’s basement. In an attempt to reproduce that in Vancouver, Emily and I hosted her family for a Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner. Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner is traditionally a 12-course “vegetarian” meal (which includes fish), but we had the additional complication of making it vegan and gluten-free.

Our menu for the evening included:

  1. Borscht
  2. Perogies
  3. Holubtsi (cabbage rolls)
  4. Mushroom Gravy
  5. Sauerkraut
  6. Pickled Garlic Scapes
  7. Maple Glazed Salmon
  8. White Beans
  9. Salad
  10. Baked Apples

Continue reading Gluten-Free, Vegan Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas 2009

Christmas this year was a real celebration in non-materialistic home-made gift giving. I only bought two gifts – a board game (Balloon Cup) for Emily’s mom and a CD (Dan Mangan) for a work gift exchange. The rest of the gifts had to be home-made, which stretched my limited creative abilities. For a friend, I made bike helmet ear muffs and a board game themed cork board. For my mother, I made snow globes. For Emily’s family I made putty cat poppers (cat nip laced treats).

Instead of gift giving, Christmas focused on family and food. What a lovely combination. And loads of board games, snowboarding, and a big bonfire.

Secret Santa Gift Exchange   Pulse Ugly Sweaters   Farm Christmas  Asessippi Snowboarding  Watch it Burn  Ponderosa Bonfire  Board Game Bulletin Board