A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

The one with all the wedding dresses

A friend at work (Tina) got married this past December and in the weeks leading up to her wedding there was naturally a lot of discussion about her upcoming nuptials (in between all the work we were managing to achieve of course). On one of these occasions we were in the office with Tina chatting about ' the dress' when Alison and I began reminiscing about our our own wedding dresses.  You know the drill if you've been there... the colour and style, was it bought or hand-made, oh yes, and does it still fit. We also got to to talking about how it's kind of sad that the most gorgeous and important dress we will ever wear only gets to be worn once, twice if the bride has her wedding and reception on a different day.

Alison and I who have been married for quite some time now (Andy and I are in our 10th year of marriage) began discussing what we had done with our wedding dresses.  Like many other responsible brides, Alison had hers dry cleaned and boxed up; she was fairly certain, but a little doubtful that it would still fit.  Me?  Well I had left mine at my mother's in Nova Scotia but had plans to bring it back when Andy and I travelled home after New Year.  I knew mine still fit me because I've had it on more than once since 2004.  No, I haven't exactly worn it, its just almost every time sometimes when I've been home I've taken it from its protective bag and put it on.  Trying it on is not the same as wearing it though. It's not.  I won't apologise for loving my dress.  And I wasn't even a bridezilla; my sister had to coax me a little bit to get a proper wedding dress.  But I'm digressing as usual.

When I mentioned that I was bringing the dress back to the UK and would likely have it cleaned and boxed up, not to be tried on again for possibly years, Tina suggested we should have a wedding dress party.  Well to cut a long story short Alison and I loved the idea. Shake your head if you will.  I completely understand if I've now lost you forever because you think I'm certifiably nuts and I'm sorry to see you go.   What I'm not sorry for?  That my friends and I decided to have a party to wear the one dress that has made us feel more beautiful than any other dress we own, the dress that we chose for the most important day of our lives. The one dress that made it all about us.  A few other girls at work jumped on board with the idea (some quicker than others) however a few who wanted to partake couldn't (for a variety of reasons).  Either way, we have been asked to do this again.  Maybe we will, maybe we won't.  Either way we had a grand old time parading around like a bunch of deluded brides. But we looked good and we felt great (especially for the two of us who have been married for years and can still fit into the dress, and yes it matters, if only a little bit).

Were we sadder than a particular trio of single girls who sat around in rented wedding dresses?  I don't think so but you can be your own judge of that.

I personally think it was a brilliant idea for an entertaining evening with my girlfriends, from the moment we all got dressed together; even Em, whose wedding dress was long gone yet she still looked lovely in her black maxi-dress.

Because as a great friend of mine commented when she saw the photos: 'What girl doesn't want to wear that dress again?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

And we were even better after a bottle of Tall Ship

I'm going to tell you a little story about the day I went skiing.  Yes, you've read this correctly. Not the day that I went to the ski hills and managed to slam into my sister Sandra as I attempted to fall ski down a very scary, ice filled hill;  nor the day that my 17 year old self took off my skis and ran clumsily down the hill whilst attempting to keep two very long skis and two poles from slipping out of my grip; and especially not the day I mistakenly agreed to ride the chair lift to the top of the hill only to get left on it by my best friend  and sister who had promised to ensure I got off OK. (I thus had to endure the embarrassment of riding that chair lift back down the hill - I suppose it's a bonus that I'm quiet adept at dealing with humiliating moments.Yes, I can laugh at myself. However that experience has ensured that even though I've finally got the hang of skiing, I will be sticking to the T-Bars only.)

So let me tell you all about it, if you don't mind indulging me here.  I went skiing people and I didn't fall, or slam into anyone (well not on the ski slope anyway).I could surmise that the reason for this could quite possibly be that at the age of 40 I'm much fitter than any other time I've attempted to ski (including the school trip when I was 17).  Add to this that for the first time I had a patient and good skier with me (my cousin Jennifer) who took the time to teach us the basics and didn't rush off to ski herself almost straight away. Or maybe it because Andy and Stacy were both with me (also novices) and ended up being my good luck charms.  Although in the end I think it was because I had Stacy, who was as nervous as I was to try skiing again, with me every step of the way  (Sandra and our brother John are the skiers in our bunch.) Andy actually had only an inkling of what he was facing as he'd never tried it before.

On that bright Saturday morning there was some confusion as we all headed out to Martock.  Lines got crossed along the way and some of us thought we were going to go cross country, some hoped we would be snowboarding and myself?  Well I figured I would have been safest sitting in the lodge drinking beer.

In the end we all decided to give downhill a go.  Jen is a pretty good skier; Wayne not so much. Stacy and I had a wee argument over snowboard versus skis that I won. (I just couldn't get my head around both feet being strapped down on one board and I didn't think my knees and back could cope with the maneuvers required to snowboard.) Andy, well he was just keen to get on the bunny hill and give it a try.

All geared up to hit the hills: 

My man was looking pretty hot in his ski gear :) 

We had a basic lesson from Jen before we all grabbed hold of the rope that would pull us up the bunny hill.  So far so good right?  Yup; well for everybody else but me. I'm the fool that made the mistake of wearing fingerless gloves without the mitten bit covering my fingers.  That rope moves fast and quickly started burning blisters onto my fingers almost immediately.  I was only halfway up when I started losing grip and despite my sister yelling at me to 'don't you dare let go I'm right behind you!', I let go and ended up laying in the middle of both tow ropes... great. Another humiliating moment for me.  Somehow Stacy managed to hold on and get past me and I was left trying to figure out how I was going to scoot through the skiers and get back up (why the controller didn't just stop the ropes is beyond me).  I managed to succeed in crossing the ropes without knocking anyone down or having to take my skies off, (not the easiest feat when one can't just roll over) however getting back up was a problem because I let my fear from previous ski trips overwhelm me.  I sat there thinking what an idiot I must look in my bright green jacket when a gentleman came along and offered me a hand up.  I gratefully and bashfully took it and decided that for once, I was going to overcome my fear of falling, figure out how to just do it, and if not at least how to get my skis on and off myself.

Wayne and Jen mastering the tow rope:

Looking good while stationary: 

Realizing it's not as easy as it looks, but looking adorable all the same:

Both Stacy and I got a grip on the bunny hill and decided to try the big girl hill.  I waved goodbye to both Wayne and Andy as they had both decided to give their backsides a rest and nurse beers in the lodge and headed for the t-bar lift with Stacy. Andy figures if he had a few hours with a private instructor he might be able to get the hang of it.  This is something that we can definitely look at should we ever try skiing again.  Wayne's health just wasn't compatible to the sport that day.

Riding the t-bar (yes while taking photos.  My sister is that good)

We made it up the t-bar, despite Stacy's understandable unease about sharing a ride up the hill with her clumsy ass sister me.  And then we went for it.  We skied.  Not quickly, not gracefully but we skied.  Jen caught up with us a once or twice and joined in with our amusement and before long, we were actually enjoying ourselves. I knew Stacy was having fun and relaxing into it the moment I heard her humming her way down the hill behind me. Stacy does that you know, hums (or makes other strange noises) when she is happy.

In between the skiing we did pop into the lodge for a beer and something to eat before heading out for one or two more trips up the hill.  I know Andy might have been disappointed because he didn't manage to ski, but I also know he was pleased for me when he said the smile on my face at the end of the day made it worth it.  Besides, as we said, it was only his first attempt (my fourth) and he can now say he's at least tried it and can cross it off his list.  

The boys sitting comfortably in the bar

I do love this big guy: 

Two of my very favs looking great:  

Happy with my cousins: 

Either way I was proud of all of us that day.  We tried something that was way out of our comfort zone which is something a lot of people won't even consider and Jen was a better teacher than all the rest who've attempted to get me on a slope. (I'm not even sorry for saying that Catherine ;)  Also, the fact that I did it successfully with my baby sister made it all the more exhilarating.

How impressed with ourselves do we look?

The moment that I skied down the hill without falling or hitting someone has completely trumped all the disastrous moments that have gone before. Even getting stuck between the tow ropes and especially being stuck on the chair lift.  Bah, it's those moments that make for a story great anyway right? Yes, even if it is at my own expense.

I skied and that's enough to keep me smiling through the rest of winter.  Bring on the next winter trip to Nova Scotia.  

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Although it wasn't perfect it sure was picture perfect

I'm a bit late with this post, however better late than never.  Time at home was spent in real time, rather than virtual :)

To steal from the wise words of a fellow blogger (hi Lara) our Christmas this year was 'a real Christmas'.  Real as in not perfect because as Lara stated, not even Norman Rockwell could have had a Norman Rockwell Christmas every year.

(One of the most perfect photos of our Christmas at home) 

For few days at my mom's there were ten people, two big labs and a cat.  In short it was crazy hectic at times.  We had loads of food and drink and as with any house with that many people crammed into it, some tantrums. Which were ironically not thrown by the charismatic three year old in our midst.

My husband wasn't feeling very well the first week out there and despite feeling this way in a full house, I believe he handled himself with decorum and tact and I was proud to have him with me.  At one point I did take him to a hotel for some rest and privacy, which he desperately needed and I headed back to my parents house for an afternoon of cookie decorating and other activities which were a lot of fun and really put us in the Christmas spirit:

Almost as many cookies were being consumed as decorated, as it should be.

Can you blame him? 

I'm just feeling so blessed that I was able to go home to my mother's house for Christmas with my husband; we had a white Christmas surrounded by the people I spend a lot of the year missing.

Here are a few bunch of pictures that were captured over the holidays

Uncle Reg fetching in the perfect tree :)


Christmas Eve jigging


The Christmas Eve Feast 
(Christmas is about eating lots of food together in many homes, not just ours)

 Happy to see each other :) 

Mum and Uncle Reg trying out the pretty hair decorations 

Christmas morning walk in the snow

post Christmas dinner antics 

We enjoyed a couple of outdoor activities as well:

Stacy & Andy hitting the bunny hill at Ski Martock (this experience really necessitates it own post!)

(Me with my cousins Wayne and Jen)

And of course we had to try out the Oval, a free ice-skating rink in the centre of the city...
(Me, Stacy and Paula - baby it was cold outside that day!)

I'm going to again plagiarise someone else with a simplified version of a quote I recently read and choose to remember: 'Although life can be a series of disastrous and painful moments that can break your heart, in between those moments you savour, savour, savour.'  

Such as this moment, that I adored (I can't find the picture with my mother in it, but she was there):

And savour our time together is exactly what I did this Christmas past.  At times it was like something out of a Christmas film (both the good and not so good) and although it wasn't the perfect ending some had hoped for, me and my husband had a lot of fun at home with my family and I was so happy to be able to be with my mother and sister who have been waiting for a family Christmas for years. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Its certainly a colder New Year

Andy and I have decided to forgo an evening out tonight and just stay in with my folks (its -14c, we are too old to go out clubbing and no on is having any parties).  Besides it's been a hectic few weeks and we are up for a quiet night. (I have lots to post about when we return to the UK and time is on my side again - more or less). There have been a few highlights from this trip that I really want to share such as my managing to actually ski for the first time and sledding on a snowy Boxing Day night.
It's a quiet night here at casa McDonald.  My brother is somewhere in the house, dad is chilling out and mom's asleep on the couch (although I know she will be waking up soon.) Hey, it's got to get a little bit more exciting around here before my hubby nods off.  Seriously though, I honestly don't mind the quiet night in.  I'm being entertained by country music and the Caesar I'm drinking (with two spicy beans :) and my sister's cat seems to be amusing my man.  What more do we need (the question mark doesn`t seem to work on this keyboard)... Well maybe some chips and dip or chocolate.
 (This was taken on a beautiful Christmas Morning).
My only New Year Resolution at this point in time is to post more next year!
So... wherever you may be in the world, I wish you a wonderful and safe New Year.