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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Yes I DID!

Told ya that I was going to.  Oh, and btw, that is apparently not a fig tree but a ficus (hence the lack of fruit prodcution, duh!).

Happy holidays :)

Marebare xoxo

Thursday, November 18, 2010

... and then it rolled away...

The ball I mean.  I dropped it and it is now rolling away.  I wonder if I can catch it?  Ok, enough with the metaphors.  What I am referring to is the fact that I had a brain fart.  Thankfully, one of my readers (thank you Cindy) was kind enough to awaken me from my holiday stupor, but alas, it was too late.  As such, I regret to inform you that I am sending out Christmas cards again this year.  (By too late, I mean that they have already been ordered - we send out the picture-card kind).  This is something that we have always done and I didn't even think of it as 'cheating'.  Never mind the fact that they are expensive and TERRIBLE for the environment.  I am such an avid lover of the snail-mail postal system (who doesn't like to get friendly mail, right Tess?) that I didn't even think about the effect that sending out cards in a mass mail-out would have. 

So, my bad.   This got me thinking though... what other 'traditions' was I about to just 'do' without thinking?  One of them is the Christmas Tree.  Now, I love a good Christmas tree: the lights, the smell, the sparkling decorations, I mean, they are a really powerful symbol of the season.  We have always made an effort to buy a local tree (sometimes even taking a half-dead one off our land that was crowding another healthy tree).   Let's just say that I am NOT above a Charlie Brown tree, in fact, I prefer them.

See?  This was Christmas 2006

Anyway, I am committed to making up for my card flub and as such, I have been researching the greenest option for a tree this year.  Here are the choices:
  1. Buy a fake tree (no, no never.  They are bad for the environment, they're made of PVC, and they are expensive)
  2. Take down another Charlie Brown tree on the farm.
  3. Source out a locally grown organic tree farm (there are tons of them out by where I live, and these are apparently a pretty green option b/c they provide housing for birds and clean the air while they are alive and then get replaced by 2-3 more seedlings when they are cut down and sold).  One more thing about this option, if you go this way, it is important to consider the disposal of it... landfills = NOT GREEN, composting, mulching, or sinking it into a local pond = GREEN.  And I am not making this stuff up.  Check it out at:
  4. Go treeless (GASP!)
After careful consideration (not really, it was more like, 'Trent, we're going treeless this year', followed by a 'sweet')... oops, I gave the answer away.  Yup, we picked option #4 and have decided to convert our beloved fig tree into a Christmas tree.  I'll post pics as soon as I get it 'decorated'. 

The tradition tides are turning... Do you think that this make up for the Christmas cards?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Scrooge or Not to Scrooge... that is the question!

My denial is officially over.  After spending the first part of the month soaking up the sun, followed directly by a long weekend with my husband home, things are back to 'normal' around here.  And by normal I mean that it is a blustery freezing cold day outside (probably somewhere around -20 or -25 with the windchill) and the roads are icy and dangerous all over again... YAY WINTER! 

Actually, it's not so bad.  I am sitting in front of a warm fire, editing pictures from our trip and drinking a nice warm cup of tea while Chephren naps.  So, I guess winter isn't the worst thing in the world.  If I am being honest, the real reason that I am feeling jaded today has to do with Christmas... the holiday that started it all (no pun intended). 

If you recall (you probably don't so I will remind you), last Christmas was a crisis-like experience for me... one that drove me to starting this project actually.  For years now I have struggled with the extreme excess that is often associated with this holiday and of course, all of the WASTE that it generates.  Plus, it is often back-breakingly expensive.  Anyway, I won't rant about it too much here (I don't want to seem too scroogy), but I will tell you that my family has come up with a solution that pretty much no one except my dad and I are happy with (I think that this means that we are taking some serious liberties by calling it a 'solution', but anyway, it's what we're doing!)
Not me by the way, but she is accurately depicting my previous Christmas emotions!

Our previous tradition involved opening stockings (often filled with a heck of a lot more than toothpaste and mandarin oranges), followed by a huge breakfast, followed by you guessed it, more presents.  The whole ordeal would take us all morning and often into the early afternoon.  The end result was bags and bags (and bags) of garbage and each of us leaving with a clothesbasket (or bigger) filled with new things.  Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful, but don't you think that this is a bit excessive?  My husband and I are independent adults (I was going to say mature, but who am I kidding?), who really don't NEED anything anymore.  In fact, everyone in my family is an adult now (except for Chephren, but he doesn't need that much stuff either), and I would venture to say that not one of us needs that much new stuff.
Not our presents really, but you get the idea

So, this year we are holding it to stockings alone, with a spending limit of $50 on each person.  My own personal rule is no new stuff, but handmade stuff is okay (but I guess you saw that one coming didn't you). 

So, while it is not the perfect solution for me, nor is everyone else particularly fond of the new rules, it is what we are going with for now.  I get that change is hard, but I am convinced that this one is a change for the better.  I just hope that my family can ride this one out with/for me and stick to the rules!  And people wonder why I like Halloween so much better...

This was this past Halloween: Momma and Baby Dragon/Dinosaurs

Here is to the start of a new (and reformed) holiday season!


(PS: If you have similar stories/suggestions/strategies to share, I'd love to hear them!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All good things must come to an end...

One of the biggest challenges of 'living with less' has been cutting back on travelling.  Last year, I took 11 holidays (yes 11... after all, my little guy could still travel for free, so I was practically making money, right?).  So, besides our summer in the bush (NOT a holiday, trust me), we hadn't taken a single trip this year, until now.  If you haven't been following me on Twitter (with the exception of two people, no one is, so I know you're not), you might not know that we (the man, the boy and I) spent the past week in Phoenix.  Why Phoenix you say?  Well, simply, we lucked out and had a free place to stay... plus, Cheph could still fly for free b/c he wasn't yet two... on one of the flights anyways.  So, again, I am going with the argument that we practically made money on this trip.  We have had an awesome time staying at my dad/stepmom's place (which is luxury at its finest) and took in the best sights that Phoenix had to offer for a family of three.  We took Cheph to the zoo for his 2nd birthday, went to visit Trent's mom who is down here too, had a friend in from Tucson, had my mom come for a visit, had some more Canadian friends in from Palm Springs, went to a kiddie amusement park and last but certainly not least we hit the Children's Museum in Phoenix (which, let it be said, is NOT to be missed... even if you aren't yet parents).

Here are some photo highlights of the trip...

Baby Gibbon

Parrots enjoying the sun

Cheph's favorite - the carousel

Who could say no to those eyes?

Lion fish!

Have you ever seen someone so ramped up about bubbles?

Gymnastics lesson in Phoenix!

Another carousel ride... really not hard to make this kid happy!

Children's museum, part of the huge climber structure

Upcycled decorations (ok, art)

More upcycling, these are drums
We have really had a great (and inexpensive) trip to the desert... but, all good things must come to an end and we head home tomorrow.  Back to the land of the deep freeze.  Goodbye shorts and tanktops, I will miss you.

Yours remotely,