Great Gifts


I love Christmastime!  I want to share with you some of the great gifts we’ve shared. Around here, many gifts have been long-lasting and fun, and hopefully a learning opportunity. Many of these gifts are inexpensive and affordable for anyone. Here are a few of my favourites:

Board games have always been a favourite, notably Scrabble, where everyone has spelled the most creative word at one time or another and where ‘house rules’ apply.


Puzzles of all sizes have been hits around here for decades. We have large-size 48 piece childrens’ puzzles, 300 piece 2X3 ‘floor’ puzzles, as well as 500-1000 piece puzzles which take days to complete. I’m very glad that I saved these puzzles over the years because now my grandchildren enjoy making puzzles with me.


My children have always loved to receive sketch pads, doodle pads, construction paper, markers, sketching pencils, and the like. They’ve never been big fans of ‘colouring books’ because they seem too restrictive to stay in the lines……. and heaven knows my kids don’t enjoy ‘staying in the lines of life’.


At various times, most of my children have received binoculars. I usually have given them smaller, children’s binoculars – the first pair of binoculars I gave my babies were from Fisher-Price and I still have them around here somewhere. As they grew older, I gave them inexpensive ones from the Dollarama – they could always use the good binoculars which have sat on the kitchen counter by the back window, at the ready.


A magnifying glass has been a popular gift around here. It’s always fun to look at something up close. Eventually most of my kids graduated to using the microscope. One year, my son Marty received two microscopes for Christmas to add to our collection. At that time he had jars of dead things (shells, crabs, etc. – thanks Fred) in his ‘lab’ which was my desk in the corner of the basement.


We love to play cards around here. Whenever there’s a bunch of us together, we play Euchre or hearts or A-hole/President/or whatever name it happens to have at that time, or cribbage. For many years, every Friday night Chris and I played Euchre with our neighbours. When I was growing up, my mother wouldn’t allow us to play cards on Sunday…..


When my children grow up, I love to give them a copy of my recipe book, Mom’s Recipes, so they will be able to make all the foods that they grew up with. Maybe some day, they’ll pass down these recipes to their children.


Some years, when I’ve been more ambitious or had the time, I’ve painted pictures for my children. A dozen years ago, my son Taylor was living in Vancouver, far from home at Christmas. I wanted to give him something that would remind him every day of his home so I painted him a picture of our house in the wintertime. It was one of my first paintings of the new millenium. I think I’ve just reminded myself that I’d better start painting again.

Home - Taylor

My daughter Nellie is a crochet artist and has created many unique, hand-crafted toys as well as scarves, hats, mitts, etc. This year, I commissioned her to create some well-loved toys through her online shop, The Black Lory (here). I’m very pleased that I will be giving one-of-a-kind gifts to some of my favourite people.



And of course, there’s always my Christmastime baking – coconut macaroons, hello dollies, chocolate chow mien clusters, cherry cheesecake, etc

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake






I’m a lucky Grammom. This weekend my granddaughters came for a sleepover. My grandson had been here for a sleepover a few times this summer as well. School starts in just a few days and I wanted to have them over one more time before their hectic scholastic schedule begins. All summer they’ve been busy with many activities like playing with friends; a camping holiday with their parents (my son Darin and daughter-in-law Amanda) to Lake Placid, New York; pedicures; Ultimate Frisbee; reading; sewing (each of them used their great-grandmother’s sewing machine to make something); swimming; visiting; more camping for each of them individually with their Daddy – Thirty-one Mile Lake in Quebec for Livi and the Inrig Homestead (my daughter Kristina and son-in-law Mike’s 45 acre place) for Kalia, where the fishing is the best.
Kalia phoned me the morning that they were coming because I had asked her if there was anything special she wanted while at Gramma’s – she remembered, Chocolate Milk. So I went into town and bought Chocolate Milk.
When the girls arrived, they came inside lugging suitcases full of stuffed animals and a change of clothes. You’d think they were coming for a week! lol They HAD to have their best stuff animals with them at night as they got to sleep in Melvin’s room, now that he’s moved away to go to college. They were VERY excited to be in Melvin’s room because all his stuffed animals are still up on his shelf over his bed. They get to pull down their favourites like the 6′ dragon and the 5′ snakes and line them up in the middle of the double bed.

Watching Movies
As soon as they arrived in the afternoon, we began to plan our ‘moviefest’. We always love to watch old Disney movies and any new movies that have been released. Last time they came, Kalia discovered the older movie ‘Matilda’ and we watched it a couple of times – it became her new favourite movie at the time. The girls usually do some baking with Aunt Nellie – cookies or cupcakes or a cake. This weekend, the weather was hot, humid, and rainy so it was a good inside-day. We watched ‘Monsters University’, taking a break for a spaghetti supper and frozen yogurt for dessert. Then as it got dark, we watched ‘Road to El Dorado’ followed by ‘The Swan Princess’. The girls must have been pretty tired because Livi even sat through the movies, pausing only once to go downstairs for a new ‘dress-up’ outfit.


I don’t think I ever packed up the toys after my kids got older because my youngest child Melvin was only 8 years old when his niece Kalia was born. We have 4 boxes of ‘toys’ downstairs which I must ‘clean out’ some day soon. There’s a box of dress-up clothes that I will likely never get rid of – Livi has always loved to dress-up at Gramma’s house. In fact, I think it’s the first thing she does every time she comes! There are an assortment of costumes, some of which we’ve had for decades: a ‘Sailor Moon’ costume that Nellie used to love wearing when she was little; Esmeralda’s dress from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame; two Harry Potter Gryffindor Robes from the halloween that Nellie and Melvin dressed up as Harry Potter characters; a red velvet cape; a flowered silky, fringed shawl which transforms Livi into the ‘poor little match girl’ or a sophisticated lady; and, among other outfits, an old, hand-me-down shiny pink dress with a black sparkly bodice that my oldest daughter Kristi used to love wearing, then Nellie, and now Livi – she’s even slept in this dress on occasion!

We have a box of little steel vehicles and tiny characters that are great to set up and be a ‘Godzilla’ to walk over. Then we have a container full of action figures, Scooby-doo characters, etc. plus another with odds’n ends. I’ve already packed away the bags of wooden blocks, the vintage ‘Sesame Street’ house and all the ‘Little People’ and their furniture, and several containers of Star Wars toys. And I’ve sent the ‘ball tent’ to Kristi’s house for her younger children.

On some other occasions, we’ve gone to the park down the road to play on the play-structure, fed my pond fish, done puzzles, gone fishing or thrown stones in the water down at our beach, taken our old dog Yukon for a walk or gone for a hike on ‘Private Prop’. But today we’re just veggin because it’s wet outside.
This morning, the girls were up pretty early (7 a.m.) considering they were awake until almost 11 p.m. with various excuses like Livi’s leg ache, Kalia taking all the covers (but Livi didn’t want her own covers with exactly the same Star Wars pattern!), Kalia wouldn’t share the book that Livi wanted to read at that exact moment, well, you know…… Bedtime was a bit late at 9 p.m. but after all, this IS Gramma’s!
We’ve just finished ‘special ordered’ lunch: Kalia had peanut butter and jam on whole wheat bread with orange juice to drink (the Chocolate milk was all gone), Livi had her favourite ‘Gramma’s house’ food – whole wheat toast with peanut butter and sprinkled with freshly ground flax seed and orange juice to drink, and Nellie had a toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat of course. Oh ya, I forgot to make myself lunch…..
It’s always a joy to have my grandchildren stay for a sleepover.


Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

It’s Boxing Day today and Christmas Day 2012 is now behind us.  We had a wonderful time celebrating, eating, and spending time at home with family.  Amazingly, everyone slept in until after 8 a.m. then after coffee and tea were made, we commenced opening presents with Nellie, Melvin, Marty, Jeanette, and myself.   Nellie gave me an incredible Beatles calendar which had a Beatles album cover for every month of the year.   Gift giving is a little low-key around here, with the gathering of family most important.  Jeanette and I then made a delicious breakfast of bacon and french toast.  I prepared Melvin’s room for Robin and Nici’s visit then we began watching more Christmas movies like White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, Disney Christmas with Micky and Donald Duck, Charlie Brown Christmas (boy I never realized how bossy Lucy was!),  Garfield Christmas (you gotta love Garfield’s Christmas spirit lol), The Grinch (animated), Muppet Family Christmas (my favourite), and Jim Carey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.    I had videotaped these shows from the 1980s and ’90s, including commercials which we thought were hilarious.  I made the dressing and stuffed the turkey then put it in the oven.  I cut up the carrots and turnip to have ready for cooking abit later.  Thankfully, Jeanette had spent the morning of Christmas Eve, cutting up all the veggies and cheese for snacking on Christmas Day.  Then the rest of the family started to arrive:  Darin and Amanda and the girls and Kristi and Mike.  Of course, the children were ALL excited about the morning’s events at their homes and told us about their new toys.   Another load of gifts entered the house and another round of gift opening began!  Haha, I just had to chuckle that at the end of opening lots of presents, the grandchildren ended up playing with their very own package of bubble wrap that I got each of them from the Dollarama!  (I KNEW they would love it)  My children got me a new set of Lagostina pots and pans since they were tired of looking at my mismatched 40 year old pots as well as some new oven mitts (much needed) and spatulas. Melvin immediately laid claim to the old pots for his eventual move to the city for college next year.

Christmas Fun

Christmas Fun

Just as we were settling in for tea and Christmas goodies, it was time for Darin to leave for the airport to pick up Robin and Nici who were flying in from Vancouver.   I was missing Taylor’s presence but he telephoned after supper and talked to many of us before Livi said goodbye and hung up on him by accident!   It was mayhem when Robin and Nici arrived as everybody was excited to see them.   After the dust settled, supper was ready and everyone pitched in to get the table set for 14, dressing scooped out, turkey sliced, gravy made, potatoes mashed, carrots and turnip drained, and plates served.  I was SO full after eating the delicious turkey dinner that I almost didn’t have room for dessert!  …….. almost.

Opening gifts

Opening gifts

After supper, Melvin offered to wash ALL the pots and pans, serving bowls, etc which took him the better part of an hour!  He had a better sense of appreciation for what I do on a regular basis and even apologized for just leaving the table after daily supper and sitting down, leaving ME to clean up!    We set the table up with desserts for everyone to help themselves:  Cherry cheesecake, Coconut Macaroons, Hello Dollies, Rice Krispie Squares, Turtles Cookies, Chocolate chip cookies, and Chow Mein Clusters.  Then we watched Mike’s favourite movie, Muppets in Space.  Afterwards, the grandkids and their parents went home and the others went outside for a walk in the bright moonlight, looking for animal tracks and taking pictures of the stars.Darin came back after helping Amanda put the kids to bed and we played a card game, A**hole/Capitalism.  Around 11:30 p.m. they decided to watch a movie but I went to bed.

Kitten's favourite gift

Kitten’s favourite gift

I felt totally blessed to have my family close by at Christmastime.   Today some of them are in the city visiting relatives while those of us at home enjoy a quiet day.  I’ve made a pot of Chili for supper or whenever anyone wants to eat.  Tonight we’re supposed to get another snowstorm with 15-25 cms (6-10 inches) of snow, so tomorrow will be another quiet day.

I hope all of you reading my blog enjoyed a wonderful Christmas day.

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