I've been thinking about a new year, resolutions, and the idea of improving oneself. I remember other years when Adam would ask me around Christmas "So, what resolutions are you going to make?" I would temporarily shut down when unable to immediately come up with something. So this year, I've been trying to figure things out, and I think I've come to something significant. (Feel free to stop reading at any time; I realize that this is one of those self-indulgent sorts of posts that probably no one else is interested in.)

Perfectionism. I think that's the source of a lot of my stress and anxiety about many things. And not that I would generally categorize myself as stressed out or anxious - I think I'm pretty relaxed, even though I have trouble sitting still. I'll rephrase that more accurately - I'm relaxed about other people, and don't care if their houses are tidy or their life isn't 'perfect'. But I am not relaxed about myself - having a clean house and 'getting things done'. If I'm not working on something 'productive' (an assignment, doing the dishes, vacuuming, etc.) I feel as though I should be, and as though I'm wasting time and failing everyone by not 'getting things done'.

I initially would have thought of a very narrow definition of 'perfectionism', but after looking at this site on overcoming perfectionism, I think I have a better idea of what I'm dealing with. Not setting goals because they might be unattainable is a problem, as is shutting down and not planning anything because it might not work out anyway. (That has more to do with work than home.) Always feeling guilty about not attaining is something else that scarily describes me.

And so, in an effort to overcome perfectionism, I have come up with the following two resolutions (any more, and I may panic over getting them done):
a) I will not buy any magazines off of the stand. (Not that I buy many, but when I do I tend to buy decorating ones that show perfect houses and people and make me want more and more and more. I always hate the feeling I have after reading them, even though I enjoy them. My house does not have to, and will never be perfect.)
b) I do not have to have a clean house before I sit down to read a book or have a cup of tea. (I will never be the woman in the Starbucks ad in her perfectly scrunched socks curled up on her couch with her cup of coffee and newspaper and freshly shaven legs.)


Lovely visits

We have had a splendid and lovely time with all of our friends and family this week! And it's not over yet. Yesterday afternoon, the weather turned out to be beautiful, so we went walking on the beach where the Sara Gamp washed up. No new and interesting things had appeared as of then; the little whale that was there before has since disappeared. Roxanne took this pic of Adam and I; I think we're pretty cute! The rocks at this beach are amazing, after years of being washed over by the ocean. Mmmmm.


Dinner party

Our big Christmas dinner on Boxing Day, complete with Christmas crackers!


Flaming fondue

All day Saturday, as Adam was working away at the retail capital of Yarmouth, I was busily making preparations for a Christmas fondue to be held that evening. I started setting the table around noon, had cleaned and vacuumed all morning, and things were looking lovely. As darkness approached, I turned on the Christmas tree lights, started up the festive music, and began simmering the cider. Everyone arrived bearing gifts and smiles, and the evening began. We heated the appetizers, and settled in at the table for a leisurely fondue together. Christine started her electric fondue after we found an extension cord, and I also let her be responsible for filling the fuel in our fondue set-up, since she was experienced at it and I was not. We lit things up and started in, when suddenly there were flames jumping out from under the fondue pot. Not being the smartest hostess in the world, I had strategically placed a napkin under the pot which has read and green berries on it and was unfortunately made of paper. This quickly caught on fire, and acted as a wick to light the tablecloth on fire. Everyone had leapt up from their seats by now, as I was repeatedly asking "Can I put water on it?" Someone must have said "Yes" just to stop me from repeating myself, so I doused the fire with my glass of water. Good thing it wasn't wine, I guess.
After the flames were extinguished, we took stock of the damage. My Frenchy's tablecloth was done for - melted through. Nothing else seemed to be damaged, except for the tabletop, which now has a large whitish rough spot on it. We set the table back up and continued with our evening. We had a wonderful time.
So next time you're at our house, be sure to ask about the spot on the table. There's a good story behind it.


Laughing Maeve

Is this not the cutest baby ever? I bought this hat for our friends' baby Maeve before she was born. I thought it could go either way (boy or girl) since that's coral and not pink. Adam said he would never put this hat on a boy. Good things she turned out to be beautiful Maeve!


Painted pantry

Things weren't quite finished when I took this picture, but you can sort of see the new colour for the pantry and kitchen. It's more yellow and less 'straw' than I thought it would be, but it's definitely better. Because of the light in the kitchen, it looks kind of grossly yellow. It's not really that bad. And I'm certainly not going to paint it again any time soon. :)

Christmas is coming...

Merry Christmas! This was what our house looked like on Saturday evening, after the strangest snow storm on Friday night. There was tons of really heavy, wet snow along with thunder and lightning! Very strange. We went to see the Chronicles of Narnia with Christine, Annie, and Matthew in the midst of it. In the middle of the movie, the power went out. It came back on after a minute. A kid went to get a refill of his popcorn and went out the wrong door and out into the snow. Very funny.


A thick layer of dust

Well, Adam and I have been working away at repairing the kitchen walls this week, and the house now has a fine layer of dust over everything. And a thick layer over everything in the kitchen. Adam put a coat of primer on this morning, and it's covering things nicely. Hopefully I'll put on another coat of primer today after work, and if it dries super quickly (fingers crossed) I might even be able to slap on the first coat of paint. What a mess! Since the kitchen is out of commission, we have been eating out and and Matt & Annie's... they have been very hospitable and kind. But I can't wait to have things back in order to cook up a Christmas cookie storm! :)


Rice Krispie Squares

It seems as though I have eaten more Rice Krispie squares in the past week than the rest of my life combined. I was picking a few things up at the grocery store one evening last week, and saw this MASSIVE box of Christmas Rice Krispies, with red and green krispies along with the regular beige-ish ones. So I thought, "Mmmm, Rice Krispie squares!" (Pause for a side note: I'm starting to sound like my mother. Count the number of times I have written "Rice Krispie". Whenever she is telling me (or anyone else) about something, she repeats the key word or words many, many times to the point where that's all you hear. For example: "I have been making your father's sandwiches from whole wheat bread. Not white bread, but whole wheat bread. Sometimes I like to eat white bread for toast, even though whole wheat bread is better for me. But I usually make your father eat whole wheat bread. I'm kind of surprised that he eats whole wheat bread on his sandwiches..." You get the idea. Another thing that I find people in general do around here is to repeat the same thing they have just told you at the end of their story. Sometimes I have to stop myself from laughing out loud when I notice it. Especially when it's something serious they're talking about and you're just waiting for the repeat line at the end. For example: "Boy, it's some snowy out there today! I'm glad I got on those winter tires. Those roads are slick! I heard on the radio that it's supposed to keep snowing tonight. Like I say, it's some snowy out today." It's as though they think you didn't catch it the first time. And maybe I look as though I didn't catch it because I'm standing there and smiling stupidly, wondering when the "Like I say..." is coming.) So I bought 1kg of Smart Choice marshmallows (they are quite lovely for being a store brand) which made one small batch (8x9) and two double batches (9x13 pans). With about 10 left over. That's a lot of marshmallows.

Now that I've taken a ridiculous amount of words to explain a very straightforward feeling of having overdosed on Rice Krispie Squares, I should at least provide the recipe. Which wasn't on the box, by the way. I googled "Rice Krispie Squares" (I'll see how many more times I can fit it in) and the first recipe that came up said "Don't you hate it when the box of Rice Krispies you bought doesn't have the recipe on it?" Yes, I do.

Rice Krispie Squares
Grease an 8x8 pan.
Over low heat in a large-ish pot, melt 32 marshmallows and 1/4 cup of margarine. When melted, add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 4 cups of Rice Krispies. Stir to mix well and press into greased pan. Easiest if you grease your hands a bit. You can also add chocolate chips, or melt some to pour over the top. You can add whatever else you like, for that matter. Dried cranberries, nuts....

OK, I'm done rambling. Maybe it's the lead paint in our house. We're busily working on the kitchen, and should have it painted this week, save the ceiling collapsing or some other unforseen and unfortunate occurrence.


Collaborative art

I've been hearing a lot lately about this "Six String Nation" thing - a project where these two guys are working together to create a fully functional guitar made from quintessentially Canadian ingredients. Hearing them talk about it on CBC radio the other day made me really think about the project, and why I absolutely love the idea behind it. The man who is creafting the guitar (George Rizsanyi - he's made guitars for the Stones) is making it from a piece of Pierre Trudeau's canoe paddle, the blade of Paul Henderson's hockey stick from the famous 1972 series, a plank from the deck of the Bluenose (yay, Nova Scotia!) and other miscellany from every province in the country. The guitar isn't a decorative art piece to represent the country, but it will function as an instrument. It's bringing people together and fostering lots of discussion about Canadian identity and art. There is also a dummy guitar called The Echo being built, which from my understanding will look the same as the 'real' one, but which is outfitted with heat and humidity monitors, a GPS system, and a bunch of other things. The idea behind this one is that it will start out with a Nova Scotian musician, he'll play it for a few days, then pass it along to someone else. The travels of the guitar can be tracked online, through the GPS system. What a cool idea!

Another art project I saw and loved at Harvest Gallery in Wolfville, NS intrigues me in a similar way. It's a large piece that is probably 6 feet long by 4 feet high. A still life of some fall vegetables was divided into a grid, and various artists were asked to reproduce a particular square of the grid in their particular medium. So the final product has sections done in silk screening, oils, weaving, and one was even fresh pumpkin! It's just seems right for art to be collaborative and represent the interconnectedness of people.