Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm stealing a quiet moment to pop on here and wish all of you a most happy Christmas. I hope it's filled with all sorts of special moments that will turn into treasured memories over the years. 

Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is baking, the stockings are being stuffed and the last few gifts are being wrapped and placed amid the mountain that is being created under the tree. We bustled about today baking and preparing food for tomorrow. We laughed at the two little cousins interactions. We took pictures. We even wiped a few tears away. Christmas is always a bittersweet time- treasuring what we have, re-living memories and knowing that life is full of changes. 

I am home with my family and drinking every moment up. It's been very special. Kilmeny is warming up to all her uncles and loves her little cousin Ian. We're just teaching her that she can't poke his eyes out or crawl all over him in an effort to get to a toy. 

Enjoy your Christmas wherever you are and whoever you are with this festive holiday! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

6 years ago, I was watching our house burn down and felt like my world as I knew it had completely crumbled. Christmas Day, two days later, was an unbelievable gift spent with my precious family and dear friends who opened their home and hearts to us. 
 5 years ago, I was celebrating our new house with my family and relishing in all our traditions. Life was so beautiful.
4 years ago, I spent most of December my fall in a fog feeling like dreams never came true the way you wanted them too and that there never would be the perfect guy for me. There was a moment of epiphany that year when I realized that I didn't *need* that perfect guy to complete me. God loved me as I was. And my parents loved me. So grateful for them.
3 years ago, I was checking my email and blog to see if that boy with the amazing blue eyes had written me again. I liked him. I knew that much and I wanted to continue being friends with him. 

2 years ago, I was listening to Josh Groban sing I'll be Home for Christmas  while working in a New Zealand orchard and knowing I wouldn't be home that year. I had married that boy with the amazing blue eyes and we were on our epic trip. We opened our stockings and then went to the beach with our Kiwi family. They loved on us and we made incredible memories.

1 year ago, I was anticipating the birth of our first child. Feeling very much like Mary who was great with child, Kilmeny was born 3 days after Christmas Day and has been an incredible gift every since. 

This year, I'm going home for Christmas. And I get to be with some of my favorite people in the whole world. And introduce Jared to all the wonderful Funston Christmas traditions. 

photo: Christmas in New Zealand

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We love doing things with flair around here. Adding those special touches, making things a little extra-ordinary. Our meals are no different. We love good food, trying new recipes and savoring each lovely bite.  

Our weekend breakfasts are when we take a little extra time and prepare something special. We were inspired by a visit to our favorite bakery here in Montreal to create a European style breakfast one Saturday. We purchased their apple raisin bread and then did a little research to find out just what we should serve with it. We found an interesting article and I realized that I really do love central European breakfasts. They have chocolate as part of the menu. What's not to love? 
We were out of eggs and milk and it's hard to make breakfast without those so off we walked to the store. 
Dark chocolate just happened to be on sale so we picked up a bar. 
We boiled eggs, fried sausages, sliced bread, poured juice and lit the candles. Actually, Jared did all of that. He often makes breakfast on either Saturday or Sunday. 
It was delicious and completely satisfying in every sense of the word. 

But Monday to Friday, we eat pretty simply and basic. A bowl of piping hot oatmeal, a toasted slice of homemade bread (or not), freshly ground coffee. 
Fast. Nutritious. Economical.  Warm.

Here's my recipe for 'Perfect' Oatmeal. 
 Serves 2
 Bring 2 1/4 cups of water and a dash of salt to a boil. Add 1 cup of quick oats, take off heat, stir until water is absorbed. 
Add brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, diced apple, nuts or dried fruit. Stir. Let set for 5 minutes. Serve with milk, if desired.  
What's your favorite weekday breakfast?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dear Mr. Landlord

We've really enjoyed living in your house. It was a perfect provision from our Father for us and we've spent almost four months making it our home in Montreal. 

 I feel though, that I should apologize for your plants. I watered them faithfully and tried to keep my little explorer daughter away from them. Really I didn't do anything different than what you said but they are both looking a little droopy. I hope they don't completely die before you come back. They're very nice and I did enjoy having lush green foliage in our front room. 

I loved your maple tree. The brilliant orange of its leaves against the blue, blue sky changing to stark branches against the moonlit night. If I could take it with me, I would. 

Your lamp in your living room delighted me from the first time I turned it on. The soft glow shining through the stained glass panels provided an excellent atmosphere for cozy evenings on the couch where we would read, or watch movies or just talk. 

And of course, your stairwell light. Oh my. It captivated both my small daughter and I. The panels of colored glass that threw out prisms of light on the ceiling and walls. The bronze chain holding the light in place  added to the charm and uniqueness of the piece and it never failed to delight me when I would go up the stairs. 

We were happy in that little house of yours. Happy, sad, mad, frustrated, anxious, excited - all kinds of emotions were experienced here. Many conversations. Many hugs. Many giggles and smiles. Many memories were made.    

me on behalf of us three   

Sunday, December 12, 2010

little girls

 When I was told that our baby was a girl, I was thrilled. Exhausted from the labor but thrilled that we had a little girl. I have two sisters, one older and one just two years younger and then I have six younger brothers. I always hoped for a little sister. I have several girls that I've claimed over the years as adopted little sisters and they are so precious to me. I'm glad that my little daughter can look up to them.  
  Kilmeny makes me smile, makes me treasure the moments, makes my heart sigh, makes me cry out for wisdom and patience. I love her dearly.

 I'm re-discovering pink and learning how to do pigtails in a baby's hair. 
"A  baby of the most beautiful miracles in life, one of the greatest joys we can ever know, and one of the reasons why there is a little extra sunshine, laughter and happiness in your world today"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fall Food Adventures

I love cooking. I love finding new recipes. I love perusing the cooking section of the library and finding new books to browse through or looking through a favorite cooking blog for inspiration. And I love learning new things in the kitchen. This fall it seems I've done a number of new things in the kitchen and that excites me to no end. Sometimes I am easily excited and thrilled. 

Okay, so the new kitchen experiences I've had the past few months:

 Making sauerkraut- the raw, fermented kind where you grate a cabbage up by hand if you don't have a food processor and then you pound it until it releases water, mix it with sea salt and caraway and store in the fridge. The process goes much better if done with a friend, I had my sister in law to help. And I'm not an expert on why fermentation is so much better for you but we're enjoying the sauerkraut. 

Roasting a turkey. Actually, make that, making an entire turkey dinner by myself. With the excellent help of my husband at the last minute when everything seemed to need attention at once, including my baby girl. It was all lovely and a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for the three of us. We ate from the leftovers in some form or another for quite awhile. Mmm, turkey noodle soup! 

 Making doughnuts. My mother-in-law has this fabulous recipe for doughnuts and she let me have it. I've made these several times now and feel like I'm getting the hang of them. They were eaten up with gusto at our book party this November and that always feels good! 

Shopping at the market. While this is not a new experience, it was one that I took great delight in this fall. The Jean-Talon Market is one of the 'must see' places in Montreal and we did. Several times. I loved browsing the stalls brimming with fresh produce and local products. 

Tourtiere. This is a French-Canadian dish and I knew I had to make while we lived in Quebec. It's a delicious meat pie, traditionally made with ground pork. Although it is also made with a variety of ground meats, depending on the region. It was definitely a success and was the perfect dish to warm up on a chilly November evening. 

What new food discoveries have you made recently?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

its traveling time

We're going on a trip.  A very long trip. We're driving from the East to the West. We're moving back to Alberta. And we're going home for Christmas. 

I'm very excited. This will be the first Christmas I've been home for since we've been married and I'm so excited about sharing all the Funston traditions with Jared. And of course, watching Kilmeny take in her first Christmas. 

We're getting all packed up and prepared for the trek. I've gathered a few essentials for the road- some of our favorite snacks like sea salt and vinegar Kettle Chips (my favorite), chocolate bars (mars bar and coffee crisp(oh yeah!) , baby carrots and apples (we're trying to be somewhat healthy), and for my husband- twizzlers. We scored some sweet deals on the munchies since we knew we would want them and we took full advantage of sales. We've got snacks for Kilmeny, and of course our travel mugs. By the way, if you're ever wanting a good one, the double-walled mugs from Starbucks keep your drink hot for a long time. And when you're traveling during the winter, that's a very good thing! Our ipod is loaded with music and sermons. We'll be talking and laughing and making all kinds of new memories. It's going to be a great trip. I hope. It'll be a little interesting traveling with an 11 1/2 month old who will be confined to her car seat for hours days on end.
I'll be addressing our Christmas letters (since I really don't have time for that with today's busy last minute packing and cleaning) and doing a little cross stitching on a project that I started a long time ago. I figure 40 hours should bring it close to completion.

We sat down several weeks ago and planned out our route home. My amazing husband printed out all the addresses and phone numbers we'll need so we can just type it in to the GPS as we're enroute. He also booked the few hotels that we're going to be staying at. We're staying with friends and family most of the way home which makes the trip extra-special. And it makes our travel time reasonable. Our longest is eight hours and that's across Manitoba and Saskatchewan so it'll seem like much longer. ;-)

I'm not a big fan of long days in the van. We've done it. But it's my preference not to travel that way. at. all.  I don't really sleep in the vehicle and while Kilmeny will sleep all night when we're driving, she'll be awake when we're totally bombed. Plus we end up stopping at gas stations in random small towns  late at night early in the morning to stock up on caffeine and munchies to keep us awake which only adds to the overall bagged feeling once we're at our destination. We prefer to stock up on the munchies that we only ever buy for road trips from the grocery store because we're cheap like that. We will be stopping for coffee, obviously, and we have a few favorite places to eat at in the States that aren't in Canada. (Chipotle, baby!) But we try to keep our stops and purchases on the low side.
So, that's how we travel.  And it works for us. 

What are your favorite travel snacks?

Monday, December 6, 2010

the most wonderful time of the year

Our street is covered with snow. The little red berries in the backyard are all wearing little caps of snow. The snow catches the light from our neighbors' Christmas lights and throws the glitter into the night. 
Our house is one of the few houses that has no decorations, outside or inside. We've got piles of stuff and boxes instead of evergreen garlands and twinkle lights. I haven't filled tins with buttery shortbread or decadent fudge. And we haven't had a sip of eggnog yet. But that's not our fault. It's not in the grocery stores and the staff had no idea what we were talking about. (this is a not so subtle hint to my family to stock up on eggnog!)
It's a different December for us. After living in the East for the past eight months as part of our pursuit of a musical dream, we're moving back to Alberta for the next step in the journey. I read about others' decorating, baking, celebrating Advent and picking out their Christmas tree and I enjoy it all. It's just not what we're doing this year and there is a strange freedom that comes with that. We're playing Christmas music, lighting candles (until they got packed), buying Christmas gifts. It's pretty simple around here.

Sunday evening found us wandering at one of Quebec's Christmas Markets. It's styled after European Christmas Markets and there are only a couple such markets outside of Europe. They are, surprise, surprise, located in Quebec. It was beautiful. The carols filled the air and the Christmas lights were everywhere. There was even a train that ran throughout the stalls. I took my daughter out of her carseat, all bundled in her white snowsuit and twirled with her in the moonlight because it was a beautiful night and we were making a Christmas memory.

Just like Mary and Joseph centuries ago, we're making a trek. Back to our homeland. We're not totally sure of what the future holds, we have dreams and hopes. And we have trust in our Father God Who is always faithful. Always trustworthy. Always our Provider.

102- 121
Hot tea with milk and honey 
Sleeping baby girl 
 A.A. Milne's stories of a boy and his bear
my baby girl loving her daddy 
God's faithfulness again and again 
quiet snow-covered street 
Christmas music and the truth contained in it 
emails from friends 'yes, let's get together' 
my man loving me and our little girl 
simplicity of life 
snow sparkles 
my violinist husband who never ceases to inspire and encourage me 
photo memories 
my Nana 

dark chocolate with almonds 

security of home 



Thursday, December 2, 2010

the tree outside my window

One of the aspects I've enjoyed the most about living in Quebec has been all the different trees and foliage. Autumn in Montreal was an experience for the soul. I relished each tree and it's colorful coat of leaves. 
The trees are all empty now. There's just some remnant leaves on the yards and roads, devoid of color except that musty brown that leaves always get after they fall. 

There's a maple tree in the front yard. It was on of the last trees on the street to turn brilliant orange and red and yellow. And then it was on of the last trees to lose all its leaves. I loved peeking out each morning and seeing the sun glint off its leaves. The blue, blue sky providing a contrasting background. And the sun streaming through it's leaves. I knew I would miss all of that when the season changed.

But then, one night I looked out at my tree. The branches were bare, coated with rain and sparkling with the moon's light. I remembered what I'd read once about the beauty of stark branches against a night sky and I remembered the ache of beauty. 

I'm feeling a little melancholy today.  A little torn. In one week, we're driving out. Heading home. Back to the West after living in the East for eight months. 
I'm packing and cleaning and making lists. Writing emails to arrange stops on the way home with friends. 
And cuddling my baby girl, drinking tea and playing Christmas music. 
I'm full of excitement and anticipation tempered with a little sadness at leaving this place we've made our home for the past while. 

Leaves fall and seasons change. 

photos captured by my Jared  


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