Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - Home

No matter how many places I travel to, visit and explore there will never be any place like home for the holidays. It might sound cheesy but 'tis the season to enjoy each of our crazy families, wonder about old friends and send well wishes to loved ones we tend to only catch up with at this time of year.
I look at Christmas as a season that begins about mid December and goes all the way to New Year's Eve. Of course there are highs, lows, busy points and relaxed ones all mixed in this period but that is exactly what seasons do... they bring change and transition from one thing to the next with some elements being extremely predictable (like the leaves changing colors each fall) and other elements being a surprise (like the Mr. starting a new job last spring). For the past 9 years I have celebrated Christmas in Belledune, New Brunswick and in Baddeck, Nova Scotia (alternating years, with the exception of one year we spent in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland) with my family and the Mr.'s family. It is even more important as you get older to put things in perspective and celebrate the entire season when spending Christmas Day with your family is not possible. After-all isn't it way more fun to have multiple Christmases??!!

And then there are the traditions... the things that just don't change no matter how many people in the family love them and how many people in the family hate them. They are the little things that making having Christmas at home really "home".

In Belledune,  my brother, sister and I have been taking pictures on our staircase leading us to the basement (where the tree is) for as long as we can remember. 
Christmas 1992 - Dad, me & baby brother (pre baby sister being born!)
We have always done things a certain way that make sense to us that I never questioned until spending a Christmas with the Mr.'s family in Baddeck. For example: we have always had breakfast (cereal at the very least) before going to open gifts... according to my Mom this was the appetizer before the all you could eat chocolate that would ensue. We would then gather on the stairs and pose for a group picture before being let loose into the basement where all the gifts and filled stockings were set up waiting for us.
Christmas 1999 - Yes, I know my hair is awesome!
We sit in the same place every year around the tree, open stockings first and only start opening gifts once Mom has the video camera set up and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers playing in the background. At her signal we open gifts! But, in an organized way... we take turns, pose with each gift so Mom can take pictures and pass all the gift wrap to Dad who puts it in a big box or bag as we open to make sure things stay tidy. Not the typical "go wild and jump in" you were expecting right?!
Christmas 2006 
The first time I spent Christmas in Baddeck their morning routine seemed straight out of a movie! The normally laid back family became "kids on Christmas morning"... they were up early and opening gifts without eating breakfast, without posing for a picture and without Dolly & Kenny playing in the background. It all seemed ludicrous to me, but now is normal to me and I have since realized they were the normal ones all along... we were the weird ones!

Last Christmas was pretty special for us since it was the Little Dude's first Christmas, my brother and V were engaged at the time (they are now married) and thankfully we all still fit on the stairs!
Christmas 2015 - Little Dude's First Christmas!
Ever since 2011 (the year the Mr. and I got married) we have been buying the annual swarovski snowflake ornament each year as a small tradition of our own. We wrap the star and open it together as the first gift we open (at our home) each year. The tree is starting to really shine with an additional piece of crystal being added each year! Last year, we added the large snowflake with the small one to match to mark Little Dude's birth year and first Christmas - these are the ornaments that we will cherish forever with their beauty and meaning.
Snowflakes 2011-2015
This year is shaping up to be even more exciting! We are spending the season with both families in both villages yet again and get to be with our niece (Sweet E) for her first Christmas! Little Dude and Sweet E are sure to be the stars of the show keeping us entertained and reminding us what family is all about. I am drooling already thinking about the sweets and the turkey meal we will eat in Baddeck and absolutely cannot wait for the seafood casserole and sugar cookies in Belledune! 

No matter where you hang your hat this Christmas season, from my family to yours, we wish you a very blessed Christmas and New Year ahead filled with health, happiness and love.


My shoes for that: Sorel tofino boots to keep you warm through the holidays

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - Hopewell Rocks, NB

It is the middle of December - there are 12 more sleeps until Christmas morning which means 12 only 12 more shopping days! I have to admit, Christmas is one of my absolute favourite times of the year. That being said, this year more than others, it feels like the days are passing by faster than ever. I have most of my shopping done (thank goodness for online shopping in the middle of the night!), some things wrapped, I haven't even thought of baking anything and feel a little overwhelmed by the season this year. I now have such an appreciation for other mom that have pinterest perfect pictures to share of their baked goods, perfectly wrapped gifts, and most of all for my mom and my mother-in-law who have done everything for us our entire lives without ever making it look like they could have used a helping hand.

Thankfully, the one thing I was able to get done early was put up the Christmas tree. These #TinselTuesday posts have been such a delight to write - they give me a break from the regular holiday hustle and let me reflect on the things that matter, the people that matter, the places we've been and the memories we've made. This week we are not going very far (well, not very far for me...but if you live outside of New Brunswick you can add this to your list of "Things to do when I visit New Brunswick"). 

Off we go to Hopewell Rocks!
Hopewell rocks
 I have lived in New Brunswick the majority of my life, but the summer of 2015 while 7 months pregnant was the first time I ever went to Hopewell Rocks. I was meeting up with three girlfriends from University in Moncton for the weekend and we were trying to find something to "do" together so we could "do" something but still chat, catch up and experience something new. My brilliant bestie who always takes care of everything (and everybody) came up with the idea of going to Hopewell Rocks - and it was the perfect idea!
hopewell rocks friends
We spent the afternoon walking through the trails at a leisurely pace so even the 7 month pregnant lady could speak (me...), we had the opportunity to explore the rocks up close since it was low tide and take in the beauty of the area. Side Note: The trails were really quite easy (and short), so I would recommend this attraction to people of all ages and physical ability.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you a little about Hopewell Rocks and what makes them so special - If you have ever seen a New Brunswick tourism guide they make the cover nearly every year, so they are something us NB'ers certainly promote. The rocks are also called "Flowerpot Rocks" and stand 40-70 feet tall. They are the result of tidal erosion in the Bay of Fundy where you will find the world's largest tidal range. Twice a day the base of the rocks are submerged in water at high tide (you can rent kayaks to get up close during those periods) and then at low tide you can walk right up to them. The rocks are part of nature's art that decorate Hopewell Cape.

And now, back to Christmas! Whether you have all your gifts purchased and wrapped, are partially there or haven't started yet it is the season to enjoy family and friends and all the little things Christmas reminds us of. Like I mentioned, I am feeling a little overwhelmed this year, but have come up with a few solutions. For those interested here they are:

1. Stop trying to be amazing - Most of my stress is coming from me... not a single person has asked if I baked cookies and spent hours decorating them...

2. Support local - there are tons of little unique things you can find no matter where you live! This weekend instead of travelling to get more shopping done I went to Aristide Toy Shop where they also sell hand crafted soaps, scrubs, candles, pottery, etc. and to Andrea's Confectionery where they sell the most amazing candy/chocolate/sweet arrangements! And lastly, I went to "Christmas in the Park" right here in the Belledune where there were baked goods, knitting, crafts, pottery ornaments and more for sale! I was amazed how much of my shopping (and baking) I was able to get done all while supporting local people.
And, finally

3. Be patient - The old Jenna (you know, the one who didn't have a child, was super organized and seemingly "put together") would have had Christmas cards sent out November 12 (or pretty close to it!). The new Jenna is stressing over which absolutely adorable picture of her son to include on a holiday card and has been impatiently waiting for photographers to get proofs back to her so there will be even more options to make the choice even more difficult. I am struggling with this last "tip" as it is not my style at all to wait until now to be going through pictures... but life happens and to all of you lucky enough to be on our Christmas card list - you will get a card...eventually!

Here is a sneak peak at one of my Little Dude's Christmas card choices (him running around the studio)... isn't he the cutest?!
Christmas card

12 days left people! Get out there and make Christmas happen!

My shoes for that: For those of you shopping for little ones these are the BEST sneakers! Champion Boys Infant Gusto Runner - they go on easily, stay on and work perfectly to wear around the house as slippers all year! Side Note: they will be perfect for when my Little Dude tours Hopewell Rocks next summer :)

Stop trying to be amazing. Support local. Be patient. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Travelling Christmas Tree - The Netherlands

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Cliché yes, but at the beginning of December all those who were waiting to put up real Christmas trees are finally joining those of us who have had our trees up for weeks, houses are decorated in colourful lights and Sinterklaas has already made his visit to the children in The Netherlands!

I am always reminded at this time of year just how small the world is and what a joy it is to work in such a global maritime shipping industry. Last week I was in Montreal for meetings where I was fortunate to see so many of my colleagues that I haven't seen for more than a year (since I was on maternity leave). At this time of year I always see friends from The Netherlands and am so thankful to have learned about their Christmas culture and traditions.


If you woke up in The Netherlands this morning Sinterklaas most likely paid you a visit and left some special presents, candies, etc. in your shoes that you would have left by the fireplace last night (December 5th). Tradition has it that today (December 6th) Sinterklaas will be leaving The Netherlands to return to Spain by steamboat through the Port of Rotterdam. This part of the tradition is my absolute favourite since my first visit to The Netherlands was to visit and tour the Port of Rotterdam, one of the largest ports in the world.

Although Christmas day will be celebrated in The Netherlands, December 5th is really the "big day"... especially for the children. My little dude is especially lucky to be spoiled by people in Canada and our friends from around the world. This year Sinterklaas (also known as one of my favourite people in the maritime industry and good friends from The Netherlands) brought an outfit from Rotterdam Feyenoord for my little dude!

The true meaning of Christmas is being around family and friends, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus and making most of the season. Thank you so much to all of you for joining me this #TinselTuesday - I hope you are enjoying our journey around the globe (and my Christmas tree) as much as I am enjoying sharing it with you.

My shoes for that: Wooden shoes from Holland