o christmas tree

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The best thing about living in America (besides, you know, all those other best things) is that we get to have a winter christmas. And winter christmas to me means things like mulled wine, hot cocoa, ice rinks, big warm coats, christmas lights by 430pm, the potential of snow and CUTTING DOWN OUR OWN PINE TREE.

I had no idea how environmentally friendly such an activity was, but a quick google search of ‘how bad is it to cut down your own christmas tree’ promptly quelled my fears. Then i read this and realised that of course it can’t be all good to be chopping down trees every year and so maybe we won’t make a habit of it, but this is the first time i’ve ever done something like this, it’s ivan’s first EVER real christmas tree and obviously it’s a first for mika too. SO. it happened. we went to this pretty magical place called ‘trinity tree farms‘ and if you live in the seattle area and you ever wonder ‘where is the best place to cut down my own christmas tree?’ – this is it.

and santa even showed up! mika informed him that she would like ‘a bear’ for christmas as well as ‘a baby’. she was so, so excited to see santa. when i told her that he had come all the way from the north pole, she laughed and said ‘mama that’s so funny’. and she squeezed my hand extra tight as we walked towards him. so sweet.

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Christmas in Mexico

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A beautiful blend of super hot days, very cold nights, a mind-blowing delicious leg of pork and fresh healthy salads, beautiful wine and lots of water, family & friends and plenty of cuddles for Mika. Christmas in Mexico was just how we like it – low key and relaxing.

Ivan’s mum prepared the pork leg, Ivan’s brother prepared our appetizers and provided the wine and dessert. And Ivan and I spent 4 days hunting down all the ingredients to make 3 delicious salads. They’re not even that complicated to make – and we had to simplify them a bit because some things just can not be found in Mexico. But it was worth the effort…these salads are delicious. The recipes will be up soon, promise.

We stayed up til midnight to eat. And these lovely little kiddos were super stoked to be up so late. Mika didn’t last long – she was asleep by 9pm – just after we took these cute pictures with her cousins:

For breakfast on Christmas eve, Ivan’s brother took us to an amazing fish taco place. I am seriously deeply in love with tacos. Fish tacos though? Woah…Seriously next level. As in who-knew-food-could-make-me-feel-this-way sorta level. See that Styrofoam there though? Yeah, it’s everywhere here. I didn’t even know people still used the stuff for food serving. And as you’d suspect, you don’t only see it at every coffee shop and taco stand, but it’s what you notice on the streets too. We try to take our own plates/cups and if we’re getting takeaway we usually bring our own container.

And that was Christmas! It was weird – not beachy and summery like most NZ Christmasses, but not cold and white and commercial like most Canadian Christmasses. It was somewhere pleasantly in the middle and if it hadn’t been for the fact that we had family here, we probably would have let the day slip by like it was any other.

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A gift guide of sorts

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We already celebrated Christmas as I know it. I know Christmas as a huge summery meal on the eve of the 25th with our family of 4, close friends and any orphaned Christmas goers. Following the meal we usually play games late into the evening snacking on dark chocolate, strawberries, pineapple and mum’s homemade sugar-free Christmas cake. Christmas morning is slow and leisurely and usually always involves me going for a jog before people wake up followed by home-cooked eggs benedict, very relaxed but methodical gift giving and then a long family walk to settle the food.

Here’s the crew this year. Hats were compulsory awesome.

So now instead of missing my NZ family like crazy, I’m actually super excited for our Mexican family Christmas. Mika’s first Christmas. And even though it’s not snowing, and there’s much less CHRISTMAS CONSUME CONSUME in your face like there is in Canada and New Zealand, Ivan and his friend Rodrigo put heaps of effort into installing outside twinkling fairy-lights on our house. *MAGICAL*. And I play Christmas music because I love it. And so it really kinda is feeling a little Christmassy around here. A little.

We’re not really big into the gift giving. I’ve talked about practical gifts before. But here are some awesome gift ideas that would actually make my day, and so hence they would probably rock someone else’s world too. Here is a wee gift guide, just for fun:

These beautiful cards. (But nothing beats making your own)

Classy photo gifts.

A silk pillowcase. Awesome for your hair.

Beautiful elegant beach towels. Oh yeah.

Gorgeous pottery.

This granola and anything from her gift guide.

Bags of delicious coffee. Always a winner.

My favourite perfume which seems to be discontinued :(

Super cute big human clothes for tiny human people.

Cookies and brownies in one? Holy moly, yeah.

Some books. Like this one, this one, this one and this one. And I can recommend this one and this one as of late.

Moroccan Oil hair products. These nourished my hair during my pregnancy and I so so wish that I had some more. It’s like pouring gold on your hair. But them for someone you love.

The two boardgames we miss the most. This one and this one.

If someone you know doesn’t have one of these, then they need one. We’ve already got ours.

The gift of a longer life. Or some sweet apparel to wear whilst living longer.

And if you want hours of fun and laughter, go to right now and connect with your Facebook. Voila, now appears the ultimate gift guide personally tailored to every single one of your 800 or so friends. With surprising accuracy, Etsy suggested I get this for my Dad, this for my Mum, this for my brother, this for Ivan, this for Adele, this for Anita, this for Red and this for Tess. Safe to say I won’t be making such purchases this year, but still, go Etsy!

And of course the best gift you can give and receive is time with the wonderful people in your life. I have all I could really want right here.

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time to clean the car.

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Is it strange that I look forward to getting home from holiday so we can go to WashWorld and clean the car?

We are back from our travels and Ivan is back at work today with a slightly not-so-good start of misplacing his phone and then waking up late and then rushing to work without breakfast :(

Despite the poor start today though, we are somewhat well rested after 2 weeks of camping, fishing, scrabble, rain, sun, swimming, hiking, lakes, ocean, car rides, fish for dinner, family antics and relatively early nights and early mornings whilst covering pretty much the entire upper north island.

We are now literally counting down the weeks til baby arrives.    There are only NINE weeks until the baby is officially due and then we will play the waiting game.  Or, the eat curry and have lots of sex game.. (meant to induce labour no?)

Our antenatal classes start on Wednesday.  Ivan pointed out we will be surrounded by ‘old people’.  Kylie pointed out it’s not the age of the people, but the personality that counts.  So we’ll see.

And you just have to see this ridiculously awesome gift that my friend gave our baby the other day.  Way to make yourself our child’s worst enemy.  (or the GREATEST FRIEND EVER depending on our child I suppose)

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christmas gifts.

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What sort of Christmas presents do you buy for your loved ones?  Do you buy them practical, thoughtful things they might actually need (but haven’t/can’t/don’t buy for themselves)?  Or do you go in search of something that they would never expect?  Or do you make homemade gifts of no use?  Or practical homemade gifts that they could use?

From what I can see, Christmas has really become a time for buying people something. Not for the sake of them needing or wanting something, but for the sake of finding something worth buying and then giving it to them for the sake of Christmas.

In a time when there is so much talk about consumerism and debt in our society, I struggle to understand why anyone would buy anything for someone unless it was somehow practical or useful to them in some way.   Surely a perfect gift to receive is something that you would buy for yourself, but just can’t justify the spend.  Hence someone knowing you well enough to surprise you with such a desired luxury is the best gift ever?  I dunno.

But I have put together a small list of some very (in my opinion) practical gifts in no particular order that would be useful to almost anyone.

  1. Food.  Not basic items like flour and sugar, but perhaps more gourmet or organic or specialty foods that are really nice to have but that wouldn’t often make someone’s weekly shopping list.
  2. Bill Payments.  Kind of strange, but think about how nice it would be to know that your rent is covered for next week?  Or that your internet or phone bill has been paid for next month?  It oozes with practicality, but in all seriousness it would be pretty cool.
  3. Health spas.  Massages, beauty treatments, hair cuts, manicures.  So these definitely fall in the ‘nice-to-have’ section of practical but this is exactly the kind of practical gift that is so incredible to receive.  The sort of thing that you can’t list as a priority when money is tight, but makes you feel so incredible afterwards.
  4. Books.  One can never have enough books.  Again, the reason that books make my list is because books are something that I could continue to buy forever and ever until my money ran out.  So if you bought me a book, it would never be a ‘oh you shouldn’t have’ gift.  Last year one of my best friends gave me pretty much the best present ever:  12 wrapped-up books – one to open for every month of the year.  It was possibly the most satisfying, thoughtful and enjoyable gift I have ever received.  (And I got to enjoy it over again EVERY month of this year!)
  5. Towels/sheets.  How can you ever justify spending that extra money on Egyptian Cotton sheets or luxurious bath towels? You can’t really.  And you also can’t ever have too many.  Hence why they make an incredibly thoughtful gift.

A small list, I know.  Any other ideas or thoughts?