Holiday Truths & Traditions

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.

My Christmas tree on Christmas Morning!

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. giphy

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. 10891667_10152689839603558_7674013841727582393_n

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. 10408145_10152682773483558_1365065641968790037_n

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?

The Party Animal

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.

2011 Christmas Concert - Roy Thomson Hall - December 17, 2011

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? 

The Magic of a Good Deed

Today, I woke up to find that winter had a bit of a hissy fit last night. In fact, it is still having a temper tantrum all over the place. That metaphor kind of got away from me… 10665186_343358862502211_4665858284104106075_nbasically what I am saying is that it snowed a lot over night and it hasn’t showed any signs of stopping. My thoughts when I woke up this morning were something along the lines of:

Lucas’s mum thought it looked beautiful and I thought well yeah it is… when you don’t have to go outside. But I commute to work, so I did have to go outside. On a normal day I take a 30 minute bus and then I take a 30 minute train and then I walk for about 20 minutes. When you tack on waiting time (about 5 minutes for the bus and 10 for the train) it takes me about an hour and a half to get to work each morning.

IMG_4994On a not so normal day, like today when winter throws up everywhere, I waited 15 minutes for the bus, the bus then took over an hour to get to the train station, I then waited 20 minutes for the train and then the train took about 40 minutes. The only part of my commute that remained constant was my walk, which was 20 minutes of cold, wet snow blowing in my face. Seriously, I ask myself every year why I choose to live in this climate and then I remember that Canada is awesome.

So this morning when I got on the bus I promptly realized that I forgot my wallet… Yup. As if this day wasn’t already shitty. The bus driver was kind enough to let me ride for free but the train is not so nice. If you are caught without a ticket you are given a $200 dollar fine. A woman who rides the bus with me asked what I was going to do and I said “I guess I’ll have to take my chances”. As I waited for the train I felt a tap on my shoulder, the woman had purchased a round trip train ticket for me. I was so shocked and happy I could have cried. I profusely thanked her and offered to pay her back tomorrow and she smiled and said “don’t worry, it’s Christmas, pay it forward.” Seriously, the kindness that this woman showed me is above and beyond. Sure, it was a small gesture but it absolutely transformed my dreary, snowy day into a great one.

I decided that I am definitely going to pay it forward, so some time next week I am going to go to Tim Hortons (best coffee in the world) and buy some gift cards. Then I am going to give them out to homeless people in the city. Sure $5 dollars isn’t much to you and me but to someone starving, a meal could be a Christmas miracle.  So today I am urging you to also pay it forward.

Share in the comments! How are you going to pay it forward this holiday season?

10 Ways To Get Into The Christmas Spirit

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

Celebration Square Out Door Ice Rink in Mississauga

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

gbh 1
Myself, Katie & Taylor – Dec 2013

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

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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

Tree branches and trunks wrapped in festive 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 Tree162788_474587778557_5876635_n

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

tree IMG_4975

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

Our 2014 Family Christmas Card. The inside reads “Naughty or Nice”
This is my bestfriend’s dad. A.K.A. The Best Santa ever!

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!

How do you get into the holiday spirit? 

The Door Decorating Contest

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 “the door decorating contest” 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 whenIMG_4964 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. IMG_4967
  • 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!