Category Archives: entertaining

the ugly gift exchange part two


So, we found this little guy in our shower last night. Or, I should say that we found it when the small squeaky kid went upstairs to take her shower, squeaked louder than usual and yelled,

“Mom! Dad! There’s an elf in the shower!”

He’s supposed to be a wine butler, holding a bottle of wine in each arm. I like the new modifications. I think he would fit in as a bathroom caddy over at the farm.

This just ups the ante for next year’s plan of attack.

And here is our other prize of the year – Ole One Eye, as the card glued to his bottom has him named. He’s an ugly cheese tray and is missing the eye on the other side of his head. Lovely, isn’t he?


Tagged ,

slow living – November

nov 18

November is done, already. Life didn’t seem much quieter for us and I’m beginning to wonder if I was deluded in thinking that it might slow down for us. Maybe someday. Fingers crossed. Did I mention that we are moving in January?

I’m following the example at Slow Living Essentials again this month, and using her categories to summarize my month and list some things I’d like to accomplish.



We are well into winter eating habits now. Meat and potatoes make an appearance regularly at the table. Last night was our yearly dinner party with friends and we enjoyed a prime rib dinner with potatoes and peas from the garden. The girls have said that they prefer our garden grown potatoes and won’t like when we have to switch back to grocery store vegetables. I didn’t write about much food this month, but I did post about some roasted apple and pear sauce.



About all that I managed to do this month was some blackberry freezer jam and roast and puree some more pumpkins. Both are now residing in my freezer, waiting for me to do something with them.

I did manage to save a bushel of apples from the neighbourhood robber baron chipmunk by putting an ugly black plastic Halloween rat in the crate. It worked. Not so much as one sighting of Dean the chipmunk ever since. Ok, so he might be hibernating, but let me have this one victory.


We had a new high-efficiency furnace installed this month and dug a new foundation drain around the house to give some relief to the sump pump. We hope that both improve our hydro bills.

I am planning to reduce a lot of extraneous stuff around the house next month when we start packing for our move. The last time we moved we had 60 boxes of books. I am not moving that many books again. I have weeded out a lot of dishes, clothes and chotchkes over the last couple of years, but there is more to go through.


Nothing new to report here this month. I continue to do use my homemade products along with some store-bought stuff. There is a lot of room for improvement and I will get there eventually.


I didn’t kill my houseplant this month. Does that count?



I gave up and unravelled the tall kid’s sweater this month. It just wasn’t working for me. I did manage to knit two baby toques, two pair of socks, a dishcloth and I sewed two receiving blankets for an expectant mom. I also made some beaded stitch markers to solve the problem of losing those tiny little O’s that I normally use. It felt good to have accomplished a few more projects. I have some more that I would like to finish before Christmas and a few more patterns lined up to keep me busy during the winter.


Most of my reading has been surfing for new patterns and recipes on-line this month, plus keeping up with other blogs that I enjoy reading. I picked up a few recipe books and look forward to trying some of the recipes.

{Enhance – community}:

We donated to and attended a fundraising event for Ducks Unlimited this weekend. It’s an organization that the dad has been involved with as a both a volunteer and an employee for many years. It’s an annual event that brings out a lot of local personalities, which is always entertaining to watch.



The small squeaky kid won a fire safety contest this month and got an exciting ride to school on the fire truck with the lights and sirens going. She disembarked the bus at school waving just like the Queen. It’s something that she will never forget.

This weekend was the highlight of the month for me – my university roommate and her husband came to stay. We enjoyed the DU banquet together, a hockey game (the tall hormonal kid’s team cleaned the ice with the other team), and a dinner party on Saturday night. We successfully rid ourselves of some ugly duck-related merchandise during our ugly gift exchange. We tried to smuggle the bone shaped wine bottle holder into our neighbour’s car last night while they were inside enjoying a glass of wine, but they had locked the doors (suspicious brats). So, I did the only thing I could do. I picked his pockets, stole his keys and broke into the car, depositing their gift.

They have also saddled us with a one-eyed duck head cheese board. I already have thoughts on knitting him a sweater before next year’s gift exchange. I tried to take a picture of him for this post, but my camera said “battery exhausted” when I turned it on. I know how it feels.

Another busy, somewhat weird and always enjoyable month.

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday

Tagged ,

ugly gift exchange and secret santas

It’s approaching Christmas and I don’t have a list or a plan. I’m not too worried about it yet. This is the week that we start to get moving on that sort of thing at our house. We even had some snow on the weekend, just to make it feel a bit more like the holiday season.

Every year on the last weekend of November we have house guests for the weekend and a dinner party on Saturday night. It starts on Friday night with a local fundraising banquet that we attend with some local friends and some friends that come from away. Everyone comes back to our place on Saturday night for dinner.

This fundraiser – Ducks Unlimited – utilizes raffles and a silent auction. Most years someone ends up with a dubious duck related item from the raffle table (and occasionally we bid on some from the silent auction). We never knew what to do with the items, until one year we decided to re-gift them at our Saturday dinner. Now we have the ugly gift exchange every year. The only rule is that the item is supposed to be on display in your home for the year and then the next year you can find a new victim for it (think weird duck-shaped sugar bowl, creepy old man wine holder, ugly decoys, ugly mounted photographic prints). Even that rule is a little loose; I once hung the pictures on the inside of a closet for the entire year.

The way that you give the gift can be creative, too. Sometimes they are wrapped and exchanged at dinner, sometimes they have been mailed to the unsuspecting recipient, or items have been hidden during the party and not discovered until after guests have left (once shoved in a guest’s briefcase in his car, once hidden on our mantel), and last year one couple actually broke into our house and hid the items in plain sight (it took me a few days to discover the crime). I returned the favour during their Christmas party by leaving something behind in their display cabinet.

We’ve just recently started altering a few of the items as well, to make them more interesting. I altered an ugly mounted photo of a pond to include some rubber duckie stickers, and the pair of decoys that was hidden in our home last year came with little hand-knit toques and scarves. I quite like them now and will be sad to see them go. Maybe I could keep just one.

I look forward to this weekend every year – it’s pretty low-key entertaining. Lots of wine, finger foods, some kind of roast beast and a dessert. We laugh a lot – we all tell good stories, made even better by the stretch of time between visits and a few glasses of wine.

Also going on right now is our Secret Santa gift exchange at work. I work in a small office of 9 people, and this is an easy way to make things fun for the few weeks before Christmas. We draw names at the beginning, and for the next four weeks, we hide one gift every week for the person that we picked. The total cost of all four gifts is supposed to be under $20. It makes the weeks before Christmas a little more fun, and we all spend a few minutes each day searching for gifts. You can find someone else’s gift, but you let that person know that their gift has been found and can give clues if you want to help them find it. We hide everything from baking to gift cards – all wrapped, of course. On the fourth week, the gifts that we find remain unopened until they are all found and we have a tea break and try to guess all of the Santas. Sometimes it’s easy to guess. It’s hard to give baking away when your co-workers know your favourite things to bake.

Which reminds me, I’d better get something bought and wrapped and hidden for this week..


Linking to Frugally Sustainable, Simple Lives Thursday

Tagged , , , ,