Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new year...a new everything!

Happy New Year everyone!  What a year it has been!  This time last year, I was starting this blogging challenge...

BLOG365.  365 posts.  365 days.  Post one photo (or more) a day every day for a year.  I didn't know if I'd finish it, or enjoy it everyday, but I wanted to see how far I could get.  While I realized this week, that I still have a week of honeymoon blogging that I never finished, I completed this challenge!  371 blog posts in total.  That will make for 378 blog posts, when I catch back up. 

I toyed around over the last few weeks, with what I would do with this blog.  I had conversations with Graham about continuing to blog, but maybe posting once per week...or stopping blogging all together...or doing something different.

I have enjoyed the comments that I have received, the encouragement to blog when I felt uninspired, the feedback on other bloggers posts and just the outlet to write what I want to, when I want to, how I want to.  While this blog started out as more of a "photo a day" blog, it's turned into a photo journal of sorts.

It's been one heck of a year!  We moved from downtown Toronto to Pickering, we got married, we went on an amazing honeymoon, we found out we were expecting our first baby, I got a new job and so many other things in between!  Some of our favourite memories were the places that we've travelled to D.C, Hawaii, Thailand, Hong Kong, England and some smaller trips in between!  We have seen a lot of the world last year, knowing that if God blessed us with starting a family, this year, would be a year of little travel. 

We can't wait to see what this year has in store for us, for our family, for our friends and for everyone around us!

My final decision was that I would miss writing too much to just stop.  I'm not a fan of journalling on paper, as my hands always get sore and I just get bored of I decided that I would start a new blog, with a new "outlet".  While I enjoyed a challenge, I don't want to have to blog with a mission that "ties me down" to specific times/schedules.

I'd like to thank everyone who has read, contributed to, been a part of, allowed me to blog about, or commented on any entries during this time!  I hope that you have enjoyed reading and being apart of this year long challenge!

If you'd like to follow OUR next blog, feel free to click on the link below, sign up for email notifications or "follow" the blog in the sidebar.  I will not be linking it to facebook all the time, so those are your best ways to read what's up in the Clarke household from now on!

Dear Baby...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve!

This year, we got to spend New Year's Eve with the Peever's!  We miss them so much, ever since we moved, and Kathryn and I have a hard time adjusting still to being so far away from each other!  It is always so nice when we can spend ANYTIME together, but even better, if it can be an overnight or a weekend!

We had a great homemade ravioli, salad and garlic bread for dinner, followed by a drive around the neighbourhood to look at the houses with tons of Christmas lights, before they are all shut off for the year.  We came home and spent some time playing with Brayden, eating more food and lots of was hopefully a great night had by all!

Thank you so much for being such incredible friends!  Your support, your love and your friendship has and means more to us than we could EVER put in words.  You are truly such a special family and we can only hope that we can be as supportive to you, as you are to us!  We love you!

What a gorgeous and happy family!  We love every minute that we get together with you guys!  Can't wait for all new memories this year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Time flies by!

It had been two months since we'd seen Brad, Sarah, Cole and Luke.  We couldn't believe how much time had gone by and how much the boys have changed, since we last saw them!  Luke was just a TINY little baby (6 days old when we last saw him) and Cole definetely had a lot of words/sayings, but has so many more now!  He's gone from baby, to toddler to little man, all in such a short time!

We met for breakfast in High Park and had a good few hours of time to catch up, open gifts and just have a great time with great friends.  The boys are getting so big, Luke, now 4 months old and so interactive and Cole 2 and a half years old!  Where has the time gone???

While Cole played shy for the first time ever (I don't know if it was because we were holding Luke at times and playing with him, or maybe just because his schedule was off), but he seemed to enjoy himself anyway!  He got some new toys from us and enjoyed playing with his Police car/station!

Luke is such a cutie and has the most fun little "coo" and giggle/smile.  He is such an easy going baby and Cole really seems to love Lukey very much!  It is so great to see them all together as a family, Sarah and Brad so content!

What a good way to start our end to the New Year.  Great time, with great friends!

Graham holding Luke, while he opens his presents!

Cole playing with his Police Car, while Daddy opens the station.

Cole's "are you seriously interrupting my video watching face"?

Me and Lukey!  He's SO cute!

The best picture Cole would let me have with him today :(

This is the hilarity of what happens when you take a video away from a very tired boy!

There's the Cole I remember!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cold meets cold...

It was a lovely -15 with the windchill today.  Luckily I avoided most of it by being at work...

However, I came home and I could think about was how nice it would be to go to Dairy Queen tonight and get some icecream.

Anyone else have blizzard/DQ cravings, even when it's winter???

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Honey Do" List/ My To Do list...

Graham is lucky to have 9 days off over Christmas.  I have to work here and there, this week, so he has a few days by himself as well.  We both had a "to do" list of what we'd "like" to have done, as well as some ideas of what needed to get done, over this time...

I made a list this week (does anyone else love crossing things off as much as I do???) and so far, in 3 days, we have crossed off 1/3 of the list!  Success so far!

Some things on this list:
Buy a chair for the nursery
Paint nursery room door and rehang it
Re-organize the kitchen and store in rubbermaids anything we don't regularly use
Same for the basement AKA the "man cave"
Wash all bedding and spare bedding
Re-organize linen closet, bathroom/toiletry supply closet and throw out anything we won't ever use/is too old/half used
Do regular household chores
Pack away Christmas decorations
Take Christmas tree to curb and put away ornaments
Choose fabric for nursery furniture
Rehang towel bar that broke off the main bathroom wall
Store away all non-maternity clothes (I can't fit in ANYTHING non maternity anymore, so why waste the space on it for now!)

There are some other things, but that's all I can think of for now :)

Here's to hoping Graham can help me with the bigger stuff while he's off and I can "nest" and do the rest on the days I don't work, once he's back to work...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First snow!

It came a few days late (which I guess was a good thing, seeing as we didn't have a back window until yesterday morning!), but it came HARD! 

We were driving into Toronto/Markham to go shopping and it was grey, raining and gross out.  I mentioned to Graham that I would love to start seeing some snow, as with snow here, usually comes sun.  He did not agree, stating that he loved the winter feeling like England (who wants cold, wet and miserable looking?!?!?!?)...but instantly, the rain turned into wet snow.  By the time we got out of the first store we stopped at, it was the biggest flakes that I had seen in a long time!

By the time we got home and sat down to dinner, it really looked like Christmas outside.  The trees were covered, everyone's lights were on and it was so quiet and pretty.

I guess winter is now here!

Once the snow slowed down, Graham went outside to shovel.  I was SHOCKED when he came back inside, saying he had he had NEVER SHOVELLED SNOW BEFORE!  I mean, I know we'd always lived in apartments before this house, but SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?  WOW.  Let's see how much fun he's having come March/April, if snow is still sticking around!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mosselman family Christmas...

This year's traditions were changed and we had Christmas at Scott and Stephanie's, instead of Mom and Dad's.  We hope that it was a nice break for Mom and Dad, not having to do so much prep work, cleaning and hosting/dishes.  I know that we REALLY appreciated Scott and Stephanie hosting it, as well as all of the food, drinks and fun that was had.  Thanks guys!  Can't wait for next year at our house!

Christmas for the last two years, has involved the too much, serve too much, laugh some, make memories, open gifts and just relax.  We usually play a family game, but this year, we couldn't find one that we really wanted to buy to keep the tradition running.  There was however, the return of...


Stephanie made us balls of wool last year and sewed our initials into them.  These balls were to be handed out amongst us and would be hidden by someone else.  Once all the balls were hidden (in no more than 3 rooms in the house), we all make a run for it and try to find our ball.  The last one to find it, has to wear the UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER.

Last year, Mom lost and REALLY did not want to lose again.  Fair enough.  This year, we all searched high and low (with some of them being in REALLY obvious places), finding them one by one.  There were two co-conspirators this year (*ahem* Jenn and Allan), but they learned their lesson...Allan lost!  What a trooper he was, wearing that sweater.  It's a tough find, when SCOTT is the one hiding your ball!

He wears it SO well :)

Their GORGEOUS tree, with our boatload of loot underneath!!!

Dad, looking quite relaxed!

Mom, laughing at...I don't know what, but she looks like she's having fun!

We know Mom would be happy about their KEURIG...she wouldn't stop talking about buying one since November!  I had to think of every creative solution in the book to NOT get her to buy one!

Great Christmas!  Thanks everyone so much for spoiling everyone!  It was a great day and we can't wait for next year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

Today was a good, but strange day for us.  Christmas Day is usually either spent with my immediate family, or with the two of us and Mom and Dad.  It's tradition.  If it's not one, it's the other and we have never spent Christmas alone...not even in England.

As it's our last Christmas just the two of us, we actually surprisingly enjoyed the peace and quiet and relaxed pace of the day.  While we weren't with my family, we felt surrounded by family and loved ones, even without them being physically present.

I made a delicious breakfast (according to both of us) and it was so nice to sit down, have a full breakfast together and relax.  We were in our PJ's and felt no need to be presentable for anyone.  JOY!

We got up and opened some gifts that Mum had sent from England.  She is AWESOME at picking out the most fun things and spoiling us.  Baby Clarke got a few stocking stuffers too, some really cute toys and our first "soft" baby book!  Graham is getting MORE and MORE excited everyday now, so it is really fun to see baby stuff slowly coming in and him finding it's place in the nursery!

We spent a few hours on SKYPE (most amazing invention EVER), talking with Dad and Lil in Crete, then Mum and Tom in England.  We haven't talked with them in a month, so a lot has changed (my body shape especially, which made them so excited to see!) and it was great to catch up and feel like we could at least catch up by video call.

We then spent time opening stockings with each other and prepping for Christmas dinner.  We had some snacks throughout the day and the smells in our house were TO DIE FOR.  Graham spent some time relaxing and reading his new photography magazines and I had a perfect short nap!  BLISS.

By the time dinner was ready, we were both so excited!  We wished that the smells in the house could be all bottled up, but we'd have to do with eating and enjoying every bite instead.  I have to say...that Graham HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK this year, on almost every aspect (the roasties being a bit too spicy).  I seriously, could have eaten an entire pot of the cabbage dish, which for me, is not common.

Here is the amazing meal, that Graham rocked this year!

Jamie Oliver's Jerk Ham...the smell was out of this world!

Graham so proud (as he should be), as it turned out PERFECT!

Our table all set up for dinner!  Me with sparkling pear juice and Graham with his wine...

Graham's full plate!

My plate, minus the cabbage on the side!

Ridiculously delicious cabbage and apples!

You can't have roast dinner without the gravy!

Last, but NOT least, the amazing, Caramel Apple Cheesecake!

It was an INCREDIBLE meal.  He did us proud!  We made some tips for next year, as well as have leftovers for sandwiches, soups, stock and just to snack on!  While it was quiet, it was a great meal, full of good conversation and memories between the two of us, we will treasure forever!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Prep!

Tonight, while we were dealing with the fact that our back window on the car blew out (while Graham was driving home from the store!!!!!), Christmas dinner prep was being done.  I have no desire to ruin our Christmas by blogging about, or remembering how much it will cost us to fix this, so I will just sigh and move on...

One of the things that Graham and I have in common, is that we both love to cook.  While Graham's gotten out of the routine of cooking, as I usually do the meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking, everytime he gets back in the kitchen, it looks like a disaster, but turns out a masterpiece.  I most definetely have a different "cooking style" then he does, with me cleaning as I go (I just can't get motivated to continue to cook in a dirty kitchen) and him cleaning after he's done eating (usually resulting in the kitchen looking like a BOMB hit it).

Living in England, we used to do A LOT of cooking together when I was off on a weekend (shift worker).  It usually involved a Gordon Ramsay cookbook, Graham's favourite or a Jamie Oliver cookbook, my favourite.  One fancy and expensive and one cheap and cheerful.  If you knew either of our tastes, you would say the choices are dead on!  I'd be happy to eat whatever's available and cheap and delicious (as would Graham really) and he prefers to go "all out" when cooking or eating, ensuring that it is "nice" food.  Our differences are "nice" food, can be quite opposite when it comes to cost.

Needless to say, my husband, with his apron on, was working hard prepping for our Christmas dinner.  We love to make things "team work", so away we went.  My favourite thing about this evening, was that Graham told me I could choose any dessert that I wanted for Christmas dinner.  I thought it would be a hard choice, but I went to one of my favourite new websites: Mels Kitchen Cafe and knew that I would find something descriptively yummy and hopefully easy.

I saw a preview button for one of her desserts on her sidebar and it just looked YUMMY.  I clicked on it, realized that we had everything but 2 ingredients for the recipe, perfect!  One quick trip to the store for two cheap ingredients and a dessert would soon be made (of course that cheap trip, turned out to be a $500 one, resulting in a new car window...lesson learned?).

My amazing husband, one who loves sweets, but not usually of this kind, made us this for tomorrow night...I think we'll be in a food coma by dessert, but I'm excited none-the-less.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping: all photo credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Friday, December 23, 2011

St. Lawrence Market

Yesterday afternoon, Graham called me a half hour before he was *supposed* to be done work, to tell me that he could leave early!  We had plans to go to the Market to get groceries on Saturday, but since he was done early, we could head into the city, get groceries for Christmas dinner today and spend the day relaxing tomorrow instead.  Sounds good to me!

The plan is for me to take care of breakfast and Graham will take care of lunch/dinner.  Sounds good to me again!  He had some ideas floating around, with one REQUIREMENT from me...English style roast potatoes.  If you've never had these, please come round for dinner...they are TO DIE FOR.  You basically boil the potatoes for 8 mins, drain them, let them steam and then shake them like crazy in the pot.  They get all rough and fluffy on the outside.  Then put them in a roasting pan, with oil/garlic/rosemary in the oven (don't know what temp off hand) and let them get DELCIOUSLY crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  Really, I love these SO much, I could just eat these for dinner, with gravy of course!

We drove in, him making a menu plan.  He decided on Jamie Oliver's Jerk Ham, his Get-Ahead-Gravy, Gordon Ramsay's Chili and Tumeric Roast Potatoes, Jamie's Red Cabbage Braised with Apple, Honey Roast Parsnips (Graham's own creation) and whatever we could come up with for dessert, as we can't find jelly roll for a Christmas Bombe anywhere here!

We got some amazing meat and produce at the Market, including a 10lb leg of pork for the Jerk Ham!  We know that it will be WAY too much food for the two of us, but we hope for leftovers for sandwiches for next week.  The butcher was even so nice to give us chicken bones for our gravy FOR FREE!  YAY!

We also got some RIDICULOUSLY good items for when Mom and Dad are here for New Year's.  We always plan on snacks, healthy skewers and either breads, salads, cheeses etc.  We got two DELICIOUS cheeses, some yummy aged salami, rosemary crackers, hummus, olives, pickles and veggies!  Can't WAIT!

Needless to say, my mouth is already watering for Christmas dinner and New Year's.  We are trying to plan what to have New Year's Eve as well, for when Kathryn, Gary and Brayden come over, but for now, at least those two are done!  Let's hope it tastes as good as the pictures look!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You've got MAIL!

Both Graham and I LOVE to get mail!  Not the kind that's bills or bank statements, but good old fashioned snail mail.  I USED to be REALLY good at sending letters, cards or small parcels in the mail, but have gotten out of the habit of it.  I think it's time to start it up in the New Year again, as I really miss it.

This Christmas, we have felt so loved and blessed.  We have received so many cards and photo cards in the mail, our fridge displaying them all VERY proudly!  Our friends have some VERY cute children and families and we truly love getting their updates in the mail!

Today however, we got the first parcels that we have gotten in a LONG time.  Every year, Mum (G's Mum, my Mother-In-Law), puts so much effort into finding "stocking" stuffers for us, wrapping them in colour specific wrapping for each of us and putting them in boxes with the Royal Mail.  We know she thinks of each gift carefully and we are so extremely appreciate of this.  Graham's favourite things by far, is always the MARZIPAN FRUIT.  So cute! He gets excited every year, hoping that they arrive in the box(es). 

This year, they all arrived ON TIME!  We were not only surprised to see them (we made a rule, no more gifts!), but that they all got here before Christmas!  Two years ago, we got one on December 23rd, one on New Year's Eve and another sometime in January!  They were all mailed the same day!

We are thrilled and feel spoiled that this Christmas, we will have something extra special to open, as we are alone on Christmas Day.  While Christmas is not about presents to us, the excitement, is just like when we were kids!

Can't wait to post about what's inside!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It just doesn't feel like Christmas...

This occasionally mild, to cold, to windy, to rainy, to sunny weather is confusing.  It makes it feel like March or April, not December.  It makes me forget that Christmas is just around the corner (apart from the constant reminder of grumpies at work).  It makes me wish for a little bit of snow this weekend, even if it melts a few hours or days later. 

Christmas to me, is not only associated with Jesus's birth, but family, food and usually snow...or at least cold/frost.  I constantly feel like I'm back in England at Christmas time when we have weather like we're having.

Please, please bring us a day like this soon?  I am starting to feel like Christmas might never come!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Enough said.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I think SOMEONE'S stocking is going to overflow...

Due to going to England this fall, Graham and I decided that we wouldn't do Christmas gifts, but would do stockings only.  We both LOVE stockings and as this is our only stocking opening this year, I *might* have bought a little too many!  I thought his stocking was a little bigger than it is, but it never hurts to have a gift or two under the tree :)

Graham LOVES his stocking!  It is a reindeer and when you press on it's hoof, it plays Christmas music.  It is SO cheesy, but he gets so excited when he pulls it out every year!

Let's hope my picky (particular, he says) husband likes his mini gifts this year!  He did get one gift early, which was a 5.5 foot stuffed animal for the baby's room...there was NO way that would fit in his stocking :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Graham's taken to DIY...

While I am BEYOND reluctant to have him try any BIG projects (thank goodness we can't reno this house!!!), he has been doing a lot of DIY projects for the baby room, which I love.  It has been nice for him, for me to go to work on weekends, as it leaves him to take his time doing projects in the "baby's room".  While I'd LOVE if he would start one project and finish it before starting another, I am just thankful that he is enjoying himself while doing it!

So far, he has taken our old dresser from the spare room, sanded it down, stained it, re stained it, varathaned it and is working on coat #2. (I have been taking photos of this along the way, but will post upon completion)

He has taken off the bedroom door, tried to sand it (cheap door, wouldn't even allow sanding), try to plane the cheap paint off, and then gave up, going to Home Depot (my LEAST favourite store), to buy paint that he could use to paint over it.  He plans to paint it, resand it evenly and then put a good coat of paint on afterwards.  (again, my hard working husband deserves another post all of it's own of this, as it's been the bain of his existence lately).

Lastly, today, I came home from work and he put a fresh coat of white paint on all of the trim, window and built in shelving.  It looks so fresh and clean, making the blue that's already been in the room, a much more mute, almost gender neutral colour.  Almost, because while blue is generally a "boy's" colour, we are using it as a "sky" colour with our theme for the nursery.  We will add gender specific items once baby is born!

So thanks babe for all of your hard work!  It looks amazing and I can't wait to post pictures of the completely finished nursery once it's all done!