December 11, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Winter Wonderland Edition

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop with other folks on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you want to join us, we encourage you to visit a few other WUW blogs each week, get to know some other writers, and spread some writerly love! Don't forget to leave the link to your post in the widget at the end of this post.

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we're using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Welcome, and thank you for joining us!

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WHAT I'M READING
I was in the mood for something with a Christmas spin, so I'm re-reading The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig. I grew up watching a black-and-white film adaptation of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel (and have since read the book). Lauren Willig has a spin-off series with flower named spies in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, and this book is part of that series. It's totally fun and I'm enjoying it all over again. The little details of a Christmas in Regency England are especially fun to read.

WHAT I'M WRITING
Does this blog post count? Hmm, didn't think so. I'm not sure what the new year holds, but I seriously hope it's loads of writing.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
As you probably know, we moved recently to a smaller city. Well, basically a town all dressed up in Mom's clothes, really, given its population of only 12,000 people. So far in the month that we've lived here, I've encountered some truly kind and thoughtful people. I've had complete strangers snowblow the totally buried sidewalk in front of our place (I would have had to shovel it or else face the wrath of the bylaw officer), help me carry extremely heavy groceries home in the snow (I don't drive. Yet.), and just generally treat me with friendliness when I've been out and about. I was at the antique shop with my mom and it was kind of bizarre and yet kind of awesome how many people were just hanging out there with the shop owner. In one of my WIPs I'm kind of going for a Stars Hollow vibe, so it's kind of wonderful to find myself living somewhere that feels similar in some respects.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
My mom was here visiting this past week, and we spent the time baking up a storm, playing board games (Ticket to Ride, FTW!), watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, trekking "downtown" in -40C/F wind chill for lunch and some shopping, and overall having a grand old time together. I'm sure my Instagram friends are sick of seeing baking pics, but what the heck:



This really is my favourite time of year and I'm going to enjoy these last two weeks before Christmas to the fullest. The mounds upon mounds of snow, however, I could really kind of do without. Silver lining: We've gotten so much, so regularly this past month and a bit that it hasn't had a chance to get dirty-looking! It really does look like a Winter Wonderland out there...until I have to shovel and then my opinion on the matter changes somewhat. LOL. (<-- A bit maniacally, I might add.)

What else have I been up to? Well, I agreed to start babysitting a one-year-old cutie-pie a few days a week come January. This will definitely take some getting used to as I haven't spent that kind of time with a toddler in years. Still, I'm looking forward to it.

And I've been listening to this Pentatonix "Little Drummer Boy" rendition quite a bit. I'm sure you've seen it kicking around the interwebz. Despite being a snare drummer, I have to confess I've always kind of despised this song. (Seriously? Pa rum pum pum pum?) Surprisingly, I really like this version (minus the cheese faces). It amazes me what people can do with just their voices...


...and with instruments. I LOVE this absolutely  gorgeous and chills-inducing version of "O Come, Emmanuel" by The Piano Guys:


Okay, enough babble. SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU THIS FINE WEDNESDAY?



48 comments:

  1. The Christmas baking you and Mom did looks amazing! I haven't done any yet, and not only because I can't eat it at the moment (blah). You'll be pleased to know I did finally get the tree up though. Love the collage you made. It's so festive!

    I really need to get more of Lauren Willig's books, seeing as I only have two so far. I was looking at them online the other day, and I didn't realize she had so many out. Suppose I could've put some of those on the Christmas list.

    I think you guys have been sending all your cold, snowy weather east to us. Thanks a bunch for that btw. We'll have to have a Christmas chat sometime soon. :)

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    1. The Chai Gingersnaps are really good! I bought the sugar that goes on top at the Farmer's Market here. It's basically cane sugar with cardamom and some other chai spices. It gives the gingersnaps a different twist. You could probably eat shortbread since it turns to total mush in your mouth. ;-)

      Lauren Willig's books are kind of formulaic, but I sort of like that about them. I've enjoyed everything I've read by her, and I like how the cast of characters is much the same from book to book, just with a different focus. I'm currently 3 books behind on my Reading Challenge, so I might have to read up a storm this week.

      Ugh. I'm so sick of having to shovel. I'm not sick of the snow just yet because it looks so pretty and white and it's perfect for Christmas. But every single morning I wake up to more fresh snow and I want to scream. This happened last time Todd was away for work when we lived here. Bah!

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  2. MINUS FORTY!?! MIIIIIIIIIIIINUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUS FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORTY!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Sorry. Will be struggling to process that for a while.

    Ooooh, yummy baking! Enjoy the season :D

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    1. It honestly didn't feel all that cold at first, but then if even the slightest breeze kicked up, your face started to freeze. Thankfully, we were only ever outside for about 10 minutes at a time. We came home and made hot chocolate right away! The baking is definitely yummy, but there's a bit too much of it lol. I'm afraid I'm going to end up eating all of it and when January rolls around, you'll be able to roll me around. :P

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  3. I love those pictures, Jaime :) Don't hesitate to share more! Christmas is such a lovely time. I cannot wait to be on holidays..(and wow minus forty? I'll try not to complain next time we hit -10 here...lol)

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    1. Thanks, Elodie! I'm afraid I'm eating WAY too much of the contents of those pictures. O_o When do your holidays start? I would be looking forward to that too! It's so dry and -40C is so cold that you step out the door and immediately start coughing. It really does take your breath away. It's not so horrible, though, until the breeze picks up and then whoa! (It was only -33C without the wind chill. Only? Bahahahahaha!)

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  4. A city with one 12,000 people! Wow. :O And I thought Inverness was a small city!

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    1. Really, I have no idea why it's a city with such a small population. I guess they met all the requirements though. The city we moved from was only about 90,000. As for Inverness, I loved it so much! It's pretty much the perfect size for me. And perfectly situated as well. :-)

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  5. Glad to see you're getting into the Christmas spirit! Have a great week! :)

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  6. I'm with you on The Little Drummer Boy - the only version I could usually stand was the one with David Bowie/Bing Crosby and that was only because, well, it's DAVID BOWIE!

    Gotta love small towns and I'm not just saying this because I've always lived in them. Well, maybe I am :)

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    1. I actually have that David Bowie/Bing Crosby version on a mixed Christmas album. I don't know, between "Little Drummer Boy" and "Go Tell It On the Mountain" it's a toss-up which one I think is worse. I do like that version above though.

      We've lived in this small-town-that-calls-itself-a-city before and I really loved it. There's just something about living somewhere small that feels great. :-)

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  7. Our snowblower broke down so I had to shovel yesterday. It's been so long that I've forgotten just how CRAPPY shovelling is. Especially when your fingers and hair freeze.
    I love Ticket to Ride! One of my favorite games. I play it with my kids all the time. Also, The Little Drummer Boy is my least fave Christmas song and everyone seems to want to sing it. But I did enjoy that version when I watched it on YouTube.
    Love the Piano Guys! I just bought their Christmas album. :)

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    1. I've had to do SO much shovelling and from the looks of it, I'll have more to do today. O_o Yay. I think I'm good and ready for it to stop for the duration of the winter. We have more than enough to make it a White Christmas, so I'm good.

      I have three versions of Ticket to Ride (North America, Europe, and Scandinavian countries) and love playing it so much! Funny thing, we seem to only end up playing board games at Christmas. I really need to change that. "Little Drummer Boy" and "Go Tell It On the Mountain" are vying for the title of My Least Favourite Christmas Song. We were forced to sing the latter in every single Sunday School Christmas Pageant growing up. Bleh.

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  8. Sounds like you and your mom had a great time (in spite of the windchill, phew!!). Thanks so much for sharing these music clips... I loved both of them. Little Drummer Boy is not one of my favorites (I find it REALLY annoying), but I loved this version.

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    1. We really did have a great time. We do this every year because it's so much fun! It's funny, because almost everyone here seems to hate "Little Drummer Boy". Ha! I like when I find decent versions of songs I'm not a fan of. This would be one of those times. :-)

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  9. I love that Little Drummer Boy rendition, really gets me in the Christmas mood, and it's my favorite Christmas song! I think blogging counts as writing you're stretching your creative muscles! I need to read some Holiday themed books and watch more Christmas movies, it's one of my favorite things about this time of year.

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    1. I've never liked it, but I'm happy to find a version that I like. :-) I guess if I'm stretching my creative muscles with blogging then maybe I'll be all limbered up for some serious writing in the new year, right? Hope so! I've watched a ton of Christmas movies already, but there really aren't all that many Christmas-themed books that I feel like reading. I really wish there were more.

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  10. Those cookie photos are great! I'm glad you shared them. :) I love baking cookies this time of year. Sounds like a wonderful visit with your mom - yay! I'm glad you're enjoying small town life. Our town has about 5,000 people in it, and, although I never thought I'd love living in a small town, I totally do. Have a great week, Jaime!

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    1. Thanks, Bridgid! I don't really bake a whole lot any other time of year besides the occasional batch of chocolate cookies or muffins. Christmas is just such a fun time of year to bake. There are so many neat things you can do and lots of people to pawn them off on lol. It actually kind of bugs me that where I live has city status now. I will always think of it as a town despite the "City of ________" on the signs. It feels too small and cozy for that. You have a great week too, Bridgid! :-)

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  11. I'm so glad that you and your mom are having a fun visit. And those cookies are to DIE for. Yes, Die. Your snow sounds lovely, but I am a little bit worried about you freezing to death. (Don't do it)

    Also, that version of Oh Come, Emmanuel is exquisite. I had to immediately add it to my Christmas playlist.

    And I think writing on your blog counts. It's made up of words and you are expressing yourself. Totally counts. :)

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    1. Like I was saying to Bridgid, I don't actually bake much the rest of the year, but come Christmas... It's just too much fun! As for freezing to death, I don't think you have to worry. We Canadians are made of hearty stock lol. (Which is to say, we're used to this crap. Unfortunately.) We made sure to bundle up and weren't outside in the cold for more than 10 minutes at a time. And, of course, there was hot chocolate when we finally got home, so it was worth it.

      "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" has always been one of my favourite Christmas hymns, I think because of the minor key. It just sounds so haunting. This is an especially great version of it.

      Prerna above suggested that blogging is like stretching your creative muscles. If that's the case, then I should be good and limber for some serious writing come January! Hope so, anyway. ;-)

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  12. I love the baking collage! (You'll have to tell me what you use to make your collages--it's not Picasa is it?). I also did holiday baking, with a photographer no less, but she never ends up taking pictures. Ha. Her mom kept saying we should take pictures but also did not bring a camera, and finally wanted us to get one when we all had our coats on to leave. Sigh. I usually end up designated picture taker and I guess this is what happens when I let it go!

    Since you aren't driving, did you pick your house based on easily being able to walk places you need? It's definitely tough to get around in smaller towns unless you live right in town. Even then, our culture is so car focused--at least American culture is, outside of say the major large cities.

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    1. I use picmonkey.com. It's a free online picture editing/collage maker with the option of membership to access more features. You have access to pretty useful stuff without a membership, though. I had my cell with me the whole time, so I just kept snapping pictures, fiddling around with them in PicsArt, and then posting them on Instagram (pretty much driving my IG friends nuts with endless baking pics lol).

      You are so right about our culture being car focused. It's the same here. Access was definitely something we were looking for when we moved here. I plan on doing some substitute teaching again, and almost all of the schools here (about six) are within a couple blocks. There's a grocery store about 6-8 short blocks away too, and a rather large drugstore even closer. So it's not horribly inconvenient, especially considering it's such a small city. Part of the plan in moving here was for me to get my license in a smaller (safer) venue and get comfortable enough to drive elsewhere. That's the plan for the spring!

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  13. Not sick of baking pics! Those look delicious and are inspiring me to get in the kitchen this weekend. :) Enjoy this season, Jaime!

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    1. The best part about these cookies is that they were so darn easy to make and bake! My mom and I couldn't believe how fast they all whipped up. Which was good because it meant we had more time to play Ticket to Ride. ;-) Have fun baking this weekend and have a great week, Rebecca! :-)

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  14. Those baking photos look delicious!! Baking cookies, and eating them, is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas. I just love this time of year!!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I don't bake a whole lot any other time of year. When Christmas rolls around I do a pile of baking and then wonder who's going to eat it all lol. Christmas is my favourite time of year too. :-)

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  15. For a second you had me feeling all nostalgic and envious of your cute little small town. Then you through in the -40 degrees comment and I got over it. Damn that's cold! It's been in the teens here lately, which is about -5 to -10 celsius. It's making me very thankful this is an unusually cold winter. I like when it's raining in January, who needs snow and ice?

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    1. Thankfully it's not always this cold here. In fact, we get pretty normal weather most of the year. Every winter we get a couple cold snaps where the temps drop that low, but usually it's not that bad. What's also weird is the crazy amount of snow we've been getting! I don't remember when we've had this much in Alberta. We'll definitely be having a white Christmas this year, barring some kind of tropical heat wave showing up in the next few days or something lol.

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  16. Glad you're enjoying your new town! It sounds delightful, despite all the snowing and coldness, but this is coming from someone who thinks anything below 60F is cold. :) Love the cookie pictures. I just want to nomnom everything!

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    1. Thanks, Alice! The abundance of snow and extreme cold is really kind off odd even for us folks north of the border. I can't remember the last time we've had this much snow and so frequently. Yikes! At least it guarantees us a white Christmas, right? As for the cookies, there's far too much for one person to nom, so I would gladly share it with you if you were closer! Have a great week!

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  17. Oh now I want to go bake, or eat something someone else has baked at any rate! Those photos are gorgeous and I love how you've laid them out.
    Your new town sounds lovely, I'm glad you're settling in and the neighbours are nice.
    The book sounds brilliant. I love regency England as a setting, so I'll definitely check those out.
    Have a great week!

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    1. We baked so much that I really don't know how it's all going to get eaten. Plus, I really kind of hope it doesn't all get eaten because I'd like to fit into my clothes come January lol. I used picmonkey.com for the photo collage. It's a free online photo editor/collage maker. I have way too much fun with it! I really am enjoying living here again. I taught junior high for a year here and then circumstances took us away for about four years. It's nice to be back, though. Have a great week, Alexa!

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  18. Your town sounds so lovely! It's great to see people being so kind to others just because.
    I'm loving the holiday season too, though I haven't baked anything yet. Must get on that! All of your treats look delicious. I also love the Pentatonix holiday album. A cappella is my favorite!

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    1. I love living somewhere people are actually kind to their neighbours. I think you get that more in a smaller town. And I don't think it's just because of the season either, which is great. You should totally get on some Christmas baking! Though, I wish I didn't have nearly so much because I know I'm going to end up eating it all. O_o I love A cappella too. It's unreal what they can do with their voices! :-)

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  19. I love that your going for a Stars Hollow vibe :) So fun!
    I really want to do some baking now, or at least sample some of yours hehe. It all looks amazing!

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    1. I'm not sure if I'm succeeding in that endeavour, but I'm trying! :-) I love having holiday baking around, but I don't love how much of it I have. I know I'm going to end up eating it all. I'd gladly share with you!

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  20. Can you please come bake for me? *drooooool*

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    1. It was tons of fun doing all that baking and surprisingly easy. I think the recipes we picked out were easier than normal or something. But now I'm stuck with the fruits of our labour, which means I'm going to end up eating all of it. Good and bad. :-)

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  21. I've definitely enjoyed the baked goods pics! You're brave to go out in that weather. I'm struggling with the epic wind chill here and cursing winter just about daily. :)

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    1. I'm enjoying the baked goods themselves, perhaps a little too much! We were only ever out in the -40 wind for about 10 minutes at a time, so that wasn't so bad. There was hot chocolate when we got home, which was definitely a good thing. I don't mind all the snow, it's the nasty cold weather and the shovelling that I'm already over lol. :-)

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  22. Small towns certainly have their perks, even if they can feel limited in some ways. I think I'd probably feel best settling in a smaller city, or a big city that feels like a small town (such as Boston or Pittsburgh).

    There can never be too many pictures of baked goods or food. I didn't get to be the size I am without a major love of food!

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    1. I know what you mean about big cities that feel like smaller towns. That definitely has appeal since you have that feeling of home/safety but still have access to things. Even so, I'm liking this small city (which should really still be a town in my opinion). I am definitely loving the baked goods, but I'm worried about how much there is. I really should not be eating this much! I suppose I could freeze some of it, right? Or share. :-)

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  23. Your Christmas cookies look fantastic! It's so nice of your neighbors to help you out. My neighborhood is like that and it's always comforting to know that if I need help I have people who are willing to do what they can. :)

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    1. Thanks, Crystal! They were so much fun to make and really, really easy. It's funny, because I haven't actually met any of our neighbours yet, so I guess it's that much nicer that total strangers would offer a hand. I love when people are good and kind. :-) So glad you joined us this week!

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  24. Small towns FTW. They are where you find he nicest people. My town (village, technically) is about 2,000 people. It means you have to drive to do anything, but I, for the most part, love living here. Also, your cookies look friggin' delicious!

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    1. Aside from this small city (which should be a town), I've never lived in a small town before. We lived here for a year four years ago and I loved it so much then I wanted to move back. I'm so happy I did. There's just something so cozy about this place. :-) But it does mean that I NEED to get my license and soon. The cookies are really good, though I'm worried about the sheer volume of them!

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