On December 19th, 2015, I met the one and only Rachel McAdams. For those of you who are think “who?” Allow me to refresh your memory.
Canadian actress best known for Mean Girls, The Notebook, The Time Travelers Wife, Wedding Crashers, About Time, Sherlock Holmes, ect. She is beautiful and talented and did I mention that she is Canadian?!
She is without a doubt one of my favourite actresses and last Saturday, I met her! How?! She was at my choir concert! Right in the front row! Do you know what that means?! RACHEL MCADAMS SAW ME SING!!! I SANG FOR RACHEL MCADAMS!!!
This is the story…
After the concert ended someone whispered “did you hear that Rachel McAdams is here?” Me and a few other singers were determined just to catch a glimpse and luckily the exit for the first row was right by the singers door. So when she came out (looking flawless) another girl asked if we could get a picture and she was so sweet and said yes! So we all jumped into the picture with her.
Then we thanked her for coming to see us sing and she very sweetly said that she loved it and that our show really put her in the Christmas spirit! I PUT RACHEL MCADAMS IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT!!!
The best part of this story is my best friend’s older sister. Right there next to Rachel McAdams, is Catherine. Catherine has downs syndrome and she is one of the kindest, sweetest and sassiest people I know. Catherine joined the photo at the very last second. Afterwards we said “Catherine, do you realize who you just took a picture with?” and she responded with “all of my best friends, of course”. She had no idea that she was standing next to Rachel McAdams. So we told her and she was SO happy. She gave Rachel the BIGGEST hug and said “you are incredible”. Rachel very graciously agreed to one more photo with Catherine and I am honestly not sure who looks happier. It is really important to me that she was so kind to us but especially to Catherine. That makes her a great person in my books. It truly was such a lovely experience to meet her. Hopefully we’ll see her again at next years Winter Concert!
Well it sure has been a while since I sat down to write something. Christmas break was wildly busy and when it wasn’t… I was sleeping. Because there is nothing better than a well deserved break.
Let me start by sharing a basic fact of life: Health and fitness is nearly impossible to upkeep during the holiday trifecta. (Definition: the holiday trifecta is the three days of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). That is a proven fact. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a liar or they don’t know how to enjoy life. Either way, don’t trust em.
I had pretty much accepted and embraced the fact that I wasn’t going to be visiting the gym during the holiday trifecta. But for some deluded reason I thought that I was going to stick to a relatively healthy diet. Oh how wrong I was!
Firstly, my 30 day green smoothie challenge didn’t happen. I just couldn’t find the time to chop and blend and clean. I was too busy wrapping and unwrapping and cleaning. Since I skipped a day in week one, and 3 days in week two and I’ll be away in Cuba for all of week three… I’m going to be starting the challenge fresh from day 1 when I come home from my trip. In the meantime, I’ll still be drinking daily green smoothies but they wont count towards my 30 day challenge.
Secondly, between multiple turkey dinners and countless shrimp ring trays health conscious eating didn’t stand a chance. No joke, on Christmas Eve my breakfast was a garlic and cheese flavored pretzel, my lunch was movie theater popcorn and my dinner was mashed potatoes. Haters gonna hate…
Now, the quick witted among you should be wondering why one of my poor meal choices was movie theater popcorn. I have one word for you, TRADITION! My family, like many others, has a very strict series of holiday traditions. Some of them are tried and true, some of them we invented ourselves. Here is the all inclusive list of Folkes Family Holiday Traditions:
Christmas Eve Afternoon Movie
What: Exactly what it sounds like, all 6 of us see an afternoon movie together. Usually the movie is animated and it is always made for kids and families.
How it started: When my mother had a 10 year old, an 8 year old, a 3 year old and a 1 year old she decided taking us to a movie was the best way to keep us all quiet for over an hour… at the same time.
How long as it been a tradition: This was year number 13. An inclusive list of the movies we’ve seen might find it’s way up here in a few days (stay tuned).
This year: We saw Night at the Museum 3. I give it two thumbs up!
Christmas Eve Family & Friends Potluck Dinner
What: Once again, it is exactly like it sounds. A potluck dinner with family friends. Most of the people who come to this thing have been in my life for literally my entire life. We go way, way back.
How it started: My mum invited the neighbours over for dinner one Christmas Eve and they have been coming over ever since. As the years went by more and more people were invited. There is now a solid group of 4 families who make an appearance every year.
How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
This year: Since most of the “kids” are now legal adults we decided to spice things up and play some drinking games! It was a blast. My siblings and I formed a flip cup team and we cleaned house. To be fair my brother wasn’t drinking because he is still a tween, but we still kicked ass.
Christmas Eve Pajamas
What: Every year we get new PJs on Christmas Eve. It is mandatory for all kids who attend the potluck to get Pajamas. After we open them we put them on and take pictures.
How it started: The idea was that we would be nice and clean for Santa.
How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
This year: I got a onesie and it is the most comfortable article of clothing known to man. Also, it has polka dots. Check out how great we look in our nice, new PJs.
Christmas Morning Stockings
What: In my house Santa leaves the stocking at the foot of your bed. In the morning (around 8 am or so) we all get up and pile into my parents bed to open them together.
How it started: As children, my sister and I liked to show our parents what Santa brought us, and we are still doing that.
How long has it been a tradition: Since I was about 5, probably.
This year: We discovered that we are too big to all fit in the bed, so we moved the party downstairs to our tv room. With the yuletide fire place station on the tv it was one of the most festive stocking opening sessions we’ve ever had.
Christmas Morning Pictures
What: After stockings we set up the self-timer and take a group shot in front of the tree.
How it started: Someone said “lets take a picture” and we did.
How long has it been a tradition: Four years at least.
This year: Grandma took the picture because she has figured out how to touch a touch screen. It was a technological miracle.
After the pictures we eat breakfast and open presents when my grandparents arrive. Then its a leisurely day of fiddling with our new things and playing games. This year we really enjoyed the Ellen App, Heads Up. The day ends with a delicious Turkey dinner prepared by my mum. And the 26th is dedicated to sleeping and eating leftovers.
Share in the comments: What Holiday traditions does your family have?
I learned some very valuable lessons this weekend; the most important being that I am not a party animal. I wanted to be, I tried to be, I made a valiant effort but I just couldn’t hack it. The party life is not the life for me. I know this because this past weekend pushed me to my party limits. It was 4 days, 4 parties, 1 choral concert, and almost no sleep. And as each party came and went the supporting evidence grew, I am not a party animal.
Thursday – Staff Party 2.0
You may remember that I had a staff party on Monday. Well, on Thursday I attended a smaller more intimate staff party for my department only. There were about 15 of us in total, we played some board games, we ate deep-fried pub food, and we had free drink tickets. Oh, did I mention that it started at 12:30 in the afternoon… By 5 pm I had consumed 3 glasses of wine and a shot of whiskey. Thank goodness I ordered a coffee before I got on the train or else I would have gotten home at 6:30 pm with a hangover.
Life Lesson: Always order a coffee after day drinking. Always.
Friday – The Holiday Rager
Lucas & I were super excited to host our first party in our shared living space on Friday night. We had food, we had beer pong, we had tequila, but at the end of the day it isn’t any of those things that make a good party, it is the people! And we also happen to have amazing friends, so it was a pretty epic party (not to brag or anything…). To be perfectly honest the end of the night is kind of a blur but rumor has it that things wound down around 4 am. As I said, epic.
Life Lesson: The party will always be epic if your best friends are there.
Saturday – The Choir Concert
I wish I could tell you that I slept in until noon but reality is I woke up at 6:30 in the morning (just two hours and 30 minutes after I went to bed) so that I could catch a ride into the downtown core. On Saturday afternoon my choir was performing, so I had to be there bright and early for rehearsal. Yes, it was just as painful as it sounds. It is times such as these that I thank my lucky stars for the invention of Gatorade and Advil.
Life Lesson: Singing while developing a hangover is the worst kind of torture.
Saturday Part 2 – The Boyfriend’s Sister’s Classy Christmas Party
After 5 hours of rehearsal and 2 hours of concert I found myself with Lucas at his sister’s house. Her Christmas party was much calmer than ours, she had prepared a table of appetizers (the homemade spinach dip was to die for), a meal of Italian lasagna, salad and chicken, as well as a table full of deserts. In addition, her husband made sure that everyone always had a drink in hand. Almost everyone brought a Secret Santa gift and we had fun opening and stealing the gifts. I ended up with a box of sweets from Rocky Mountain Chocolate and Lucas stole a small desk fountain from his brother in-law, which he plans on wrapping and giving back to him on Christmas day. I had a lot of fun but by 11:30 pm my lack of sleep was really getting to me. I left yawning and I was asleep within seconds of putting my head on my pillow.
Life Lesson: A bottle of wine or an LCBO gift card will always be the favourite secret Santa gift.
Sunday – Your mom’s best friend’s Christmas Party
This is the day that was designed for staying in bed. Which I did, until about noon (it was glorious). However, on this particular day not moving from morning till night was out of the question as it was Lucas’s mom’s best friend’s annual holiday party. This means socializing with adults who you have never met and will likely never meet again. It means fantastic food and good quality liquor. And it means gravely embarrassing yourself at group pictionary. I really wanted to be polite and social but after one glass of wine I was ready to fall asleep standing up. I ended up standing next to Lucas the entire time, letting him do all the talking and smiling at the appropriate moments.
Life Lesson: Get some caffeine into your system before this party, now I know for next year.
Share in the comments! Are you a party animal? How many Christmas/holiday parties have you attended this year?
It is December, people! I am not entirely sure how or when it happened but I am overjoyed because the holiday season has arrived! That being said, sometimes between work, finals, grey skies and over crowded shopping malls, it can be easier to say “bah hum bug” at this time of year. Fear not, friends! I have come up with 10 sure fire ways to get you into the holiday spirit this year and every year to come.
1. Go Ice Skating
Most outdoor ice rinks offer free or very cheap skating and some rinks even offer skate rentals. Skating is the type of activity that is great for dates or group hang outs. It is also a great way to get in some exercise during the season of cookies Christmas…
If you are in Toronto check out Nathan Phillips Square.
2. Build a Ginger Bread House
This does not have to be complicated. Grab some friends and head over to your local grocery store. Ginger bread house kits basically come with four walls, a roof and icing. The rest is up to you! Let your creativity thrive!
The best part? When you’re done decorating, you have a delicious snack!
3. Play in the Snow
This is only possible if you live in a colder climate, which I definitely do, because Canada. But seriously, brave the cold! Get outside! Embrace your inner child! Enjoy nature! There are so many snow related activities, it could be a list of it’s own. Build a snow man, go tobogganing, go skiing, make a snow angel… The possibilities are endless.
4. Take a Walk & Look at the Lights
Is there anything more beautiful than a display of Christmas lights? Personally, I love the twinkle and sparkle of bright lights on a cold, dark night.
My favourite? Lights on trees. Sure, it’s a little eerie but it is also so stunning!
5. Cut Down Your Own Tree
About 25 minutes north west of my house there is a tree farm where people can go to cut down their own Christmas trees. My family has only ever done this once but it sure was a blast. My brother got to wield a hack saw and we got to pick out the most perfectly shaped tree for our living room.
6. Decorate Everything
Literally everything. Cover your tree with ornaments, put a tinsel garland on your railings, hang stockings from your mantle, put a hat on the dog, put fake snow in the windows, hang snow flakes from the ceiling. I’m not even kidding, decorate it all then your heart can be filled with joy in every room of the house.
7. Attend a Christmas Concert
This past Sunday I went to Roy Thomson Hall to see the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Annual Family Christmas Concert. It was excellent! The whole program was fun and constantly entertaining as it was geared towards children. The TSO started by playing a few familiar Christmas carols, then they accompanied a short film with the help of a narrator. The second act was more carols sung by the Cawthra Park Chamber Choir. As you can see in the picture, Santa even came for a visit at the end of the show. A professional orchestra and Christmas music and Santa?! Does it get any better than that?!
8. Dress in your Holiday Best
Bust out that ugly Christmas sweater, bedazzle your nails to your hearts delight. Are your favourite colours red and green? Wear them together without fear of judgement. Personally, I opt for a lot of silver and gold during the holiday season.
9. Listen to some Christmas Music
I am a bit of a music nerd so good Christmas music always gives me the feels. With artists releasing new Christmas albums every year there is so much to choose from! Sure, the songs are the same but the arrangements are different.
This season I have been playing the newly released album by Pentatonix. A-capella Christmas music? Yes please.
10. Take a picture with the Man in Red
No one embodies the spirit of Christmas more the jolly Ol’ St. Nick. So head to the mall & have your picture taken with father Christmas himself. A photo with Santa is guaranteed to make a great Christmas card in the future.
Well, there you have it, folks. I’m already feeling more Christmas-y just from writing that post. Did I miss your favourite method of spreading Christmas cheer? Is it singing loud for all to hear? (Elf reference, anyone?) Now it’s your turn, share in the comments!
Today as I opened up my new post page my office mate, Bree, asked me what I was going to post about today and I responded with “thedoordecoratingcontest” and she squealed with excitement. Quite literally, she squealed. It was adorable, as is our office door!
Apparently in years of Christmas past the office had a yearly door decorating contest. Last year it was voted out and the office was bland and glum through the holiday season. My boss hated it so this year she reinstated the contest. Our department has approximately 15 people in it, Bree and I share an office and the two of us are known as the PC office. It’s related to our job titles… long story. I wont get into it but Bree and I decided that there was to be no half-assed decorations. If we were in it, we were going to be in it to win it. Bree came up with the brilliant idea of creating an advent calendar and it grew from there.
For those of you who don’t know, an advent calendar is basically a calendar that counts down to Christmas and each day you get a chocolate. The idea is that each day someone will rip apart the number sealed envelope and then everyone can dig in. This year December first was a Monday so we decided we had to have this up when everyone arrived on Monday morning. So we came in on a Sunday, and spent a good 4 hours gluing and cutting and decorating. But this isn’t even the finished product! Each day we are adding decorations to the white background so by Christmas day it will be a master piece!
Want to make your own Office Door Advent Calender? Here is how we did it.
Supplies: white bristol board, glitter, construction paper, envelopes, glue, scissors, duct tape, chocolate and creativity!
Step 1: Put glitter all over the white bristol board. Make it sparkle!
Step 2: Tape your bristol board to your door or window. We made the mistake of using cheap tape and it fell down over night. So the second time around we used good quality duct tape and we taped length wise along the top of each board and then we added tape loops for extra support. This is what is looks like from the back.
Step 3: Cut out your letters. We used Microsoft word to create outlines and then we printed those on to the construction paper and then we cut them out. In the picture below you can see the outline from the printer. Then use tape and glue to stick them to your bristol board backdrop.
Step 4: Fold your envelopes to the desired size, we wanted squares, and fill with candy and chocolate! Tape those to the bristol board backdrop.
Step 5:Add your extra decorations. We decided to only use green and red decorations on Decemeber 25th. The rest of the decorations are blue. We are making snow flakes, trees, snowmen, Santa hats, gifts, stockings, ect. For step by step instructions on how to make paper snowflakes click here. We have also been using glitter glue to make everything even more sparkly!
So far we are only 5 days into the count down and our office is loving it! People take turns opening each day and everyone is always so excited to see what is in each envelope. The look of joy in everyone’s eyes, that is why I love this. Also it is awesome. I image that this would be successful in classrooms as well as offices. Check back at the end of the month to see the fully decorated finished product!