Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope you had the Merriest of Christmases, boys and girls!

Because I sure did.

My Christmas this year was perfectly book-ended, and crammed, with all of my favourite traditions.  Just a few days before the day-of we had our Christmas tree decorating party with many of the old friends who have been in attendance for years and years.  This year also marked our first multigenerational festivus, as one of my sister's friends came complete with wife and tot in tow.  There was much cooing, much eating, much drinking, and a little bit of decorating to boot.

The tree pre-decorating
I made chocolate-orange-pecan (not pictured) and parmesan-black pepper (above) biscotti for friends and family this year
Hep-cats and Be-bops

Just a taste of some of our Christmas decor - the snow-globe with Santa we've had for as long as I can remember

Starting to get busy

The Tannenbaum in all it's glory! Note the first issue of my new favourite magazine!
The day after, we celebrated Christmas with my sister as she and her husband were leaving for his family do on the 24th.  I have to say it was pretty nice to split the festivities up over a few days.  Who doesn't want their absolute favourite holiday to last longer than is proscribed? I ask you.  My sister got me these hilarious flip-flop socks from her recent trip to Japan: they almost look like mittens what with the big toe in its own little compartment and the rest all smooshed together.  With those she and her husband also got me a subscription to Nylon (isn't Santa good at communicating my wishes?) and a copy of Kate Beaton's Hark A Vagrant!  I've been a reader of that most wonderful of all comics for years and years now, so I was not only delighted that I now have a hard copy of some of my favourite strips, but also that the fine girl gets supported!  What a good sister and broseph-in-law I have.

The next morning we saw them off after breakfast.  That afternoon took us to the yearly Christmas Eve open house that family friends have, where my brother and I usually just stake ourselves out next to the crab cakes, layer dip, salmon mousse, and bacon-wrapped-water-chestnut-stuffed prunes.  Can you blame us really?  As soon as we got home my brother got all suited up to play Santa for our neighbour's kids.  We've been doing it since their little girl was just an infant, and I think she must be about six or seven by now.  It was easier to pull off when they lived across the street from us but this year they moved a few blocks away, presenting Santa and his chauffeur with a new set of problems.  Along with the anxiety that this will be the year that they are discovered to be frauds, they also had to sort out how to hide the fact that Santa got into the Crompton's van and drove away after delivering the presents.  Not too sleigh-like our caravan.  Nor could my brother just walk home as he was wearing my boots and they're a mite too small for him.  So apparently my father was waiting a few doors down to pick him up with the headlights off, and they just threw the car into neutral and rolled down the hill, hoping the kids wouldn't notice.  They confirmed in the morning that the ruse was a good one when they exclaimed at the breakfast table that when they ran to the window to watch him leave, Santa had magically already disappeared!

Santa on his iPhone (my favourite picture of the season!)
As fore-mentioned, these same neighbours came over for Christmas breakfast first thing the day of.  We had already opened our stockings (a book, mascara, a chocolate orange, and a real orange for yours truly), but we postponed family gift-giving until after the feast of frittata, Canadian bacon, panettone, stewed cranberries and apples, and lots and lots of coffee.  The little ones really liked the presents my parents got them (these librarians really know what they kids these days like to read), and us old folks really liked a repetition of our lovely little holiday tradition.  After they left we opened gifts (a generous cheque to help pay for the DSLR that I've been saving up for plus a library of books), took naps, and talked to family near and far on skype.  Our close family friends came over for nibbles and drinks (again, of course, a long-lasting tradition), and almost as soon as they were gone, my aunt and uncle arrived for Christmas dinner. 

All my wrapping this year was green paper, twine, and handwritten green-on-beige cards 
Can you tell what I got my brother?
After gifts with them (can you tell we're blessed?), we watched Joyeux Noel.  This one was actually a new Christmas film for us.  Normally our staples are White Christmas and the Alastair Sim's Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol), but as this was playing on TVO we gave it a go.  And, boys and girls, I would be perfectly happy having it become part of the Crompton Christmas Canon.  It's a German/French/British film about the Christmas Truce of 1941, the first year of the First World War.  It follows a few key characters from German, French, and Scottish battalions, dramatizing real-life occurrences from along the trenches.  The men exchange drinks, gifts, and a few words of salutation, as well as sharing mass, a football game, and shelter in each others's trenches when the artillery starts to fire again on the day after Christmas.  Of course the censors get wind of this when the men write home about their Christmas comradery, and HQ cracks down on all sides to ensure such fraternization never happens again.  We were all in waterworks the entire time, as you can imagine, which is the stamp of a good Christmas movie in this household for sure.

This film was extra-special for me because The First World War is one of my favourite historical events to study

I wish I was trilingual and gentlemanly as well
On boxing day we drove down to Toronto to continue the festivities with all of the extended Cromptons.  Throughout our visit I was able to see my good friend Ariana (she had come home to the GTA from her stint in rural New Brunswick), and spend a whole day with my most excellent cousins and aunts and uncles.  We've now got four generations going strong, so our big family lunch and dinner is quite the party!  There's almost too many of us to be able to catch up with everyone.  Time really flew past and it's sad to think that we won't be all together again until next Thanksgiving.  But an awesome time was had by all, and even though it was too short, it also was too sweet!  After everyone parted for the evening the remaining Cromptons gathered round to watch Scrooge, my favourite Christmas movie if not just favourite movie in it's own right.  It was the perfect end to a perfect Christmas!

First night in T.O. - my cousin's lil'est guy pulling apart the Christmas tree

Crompton arms, and can we talk about the wallpaper!

Soup and Vessel: Marvelous

Some awesome signage downtown (speaking of el cheapo?)

I'm glad this exists

Four generations of twenty-four Cromptons
We drove back to Ottawa this morning, so I guess now Christmas is officially over.  But, as the Spirit of Christmas Present says, Christmas does not live in man's hearts but one day of the year, but three-hundred-and-sixty-five!

I'll be keeping my heart full for the upcoming year, boys and girls.  I hope you can too!

Love, and Happy Christmas,

Your friend Lina

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Silent Night

Which would be the Christmas version of radio silence, boys and girls.

I apologize for the absence, but I've found myself cameraless for the past week or so.  However, I have been working away like a good little elf on Christmas presents, Christmas baking, and Christmas cheer.

Yet I have no way to prove it to you.  Such is life in the blog lane.

Suffice to say, I am super excited for this week.  Tomorrow my sister comes to town, and we'll be having our annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party.  This year we've got about 15 people coming to eat and drink delicious things, get into the spirit with harp-based Christmas music, and deck our halls (and our massive and wonderful tree, I promise I'll get some photos!) with all of childhood's ornaments and memories.

Then we'll come upon parties with old friends, parties with my parent's old friends, and the final show!  I cannot wait to get cracking on all my favourite traditions!

And to all a good night,

Your friend Lina

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coureuse des Bois

You gotta love that fifteenth-century Canadian scarves are still in fashion, boys and girls.

My mother recently dug up some boxes from the basement filled with old scarves, mitts, and hats of mine.  In an attempt to sort what I would keep, I came across this beauty, which actually used to be one of my mom's. 

I used to wear it all the time in highschool, but of late I haven't been as addicted to scarves as I was.  I spent a wine-soaked eve the other week with a good friend of mine, which descended into looking through old high-school albums.  And the scarf problem was endemic, can I tell you.

However, I'm glad this baby made it through the plague and subsequent recovery 'cause it's just the right amount of historical and festive for my December tastes!  Paired with these green tights (I swear they err on the side of green and not teal in real life), anything red turns just an average outfit (all black in my world) into pure Christmas cheer!

Scarf - My Mom's
Coat - Urban Outfitters
Shirt - Forever 21
Skirt - Forever 21
Tights - Simons
Shoes - Forever 21

Well boys and girls, I just polished off my first box of clemintines!  Tomorrow I'll be spending the day buying supplies for the gifts I'll be making by hand and securing those that I won't.

I hope you're loving every single day of December as much as I am!


Your friend Lina

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All Wrapped Up in a Bow

It's no surprise that I ADORE Christmas, boys and girls.

Already being a sucker for tradition, what happens when you throw snow, scarves, eggnog, firesides, cookies, music, family, and friends into the mix?  Well then you get make the little Christmas Elf in me the absolute happiest in the whole world!  I have a few Scrooge-ish friends, and every year I make it my mission for them feel the miracle that is the Christmas season.

So consider yourself forewarned.  This whole month I will be a big festival of Christmassy gushing.  And holidays outfits.  And over-the-top matchy-matchy in red, white, green, gold, and blue.

So why not kick off my favourite time of the year in a saccharine-sweet little ensemble?  This outfit also counts as a haul post, cause I scored this red duffle coat (I had been wanting one for aaages and it was one sale!), this scarf, and these gloves over my weekend in Montreal.  I love the little bow detail on what would otherwise be just a regular pair of cheapy mitts.  I kept things Lina by wearing all black otherwise, but I couldn't resist throwing on my bow headband to match the gloves.  I've got the same headband in leopard print as well, which, come to think of it, would be pretty smashing in this ensemble too, no?

Coat - Urban Outfitters
Scarf - H&M
Headband - H&M
Gloves - H&M
Tights - Last Year's Christmas Gift
Boots - Last Year's Payless

Ok, let's get real, boys and girls.  I just threw on a few of my favourite tunes from the Sufjan Stevens Christmas Opus while my photos uploaded, and started to cry.  Because I love Christmas SO MUCH.

Now maybe you'll have some idea of what you'll be dealing with here ;)

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!


Your friend Lina

Monday, November 28, 2011

People Watching

I've been told about a thousand people walk through my cafe's doors every day, boys and girls.

And thus, I get to do a lot of people watching.  Which inevitably morphs into outfit watching.  And I don't know what it is, but stripes have been (re?)cropping up all over the place!

For the past ten days (ahem, excuse the hiatus please, ahem, ahem) I was in Montreal for a weekend visit (lovely!), and then house-and-dog-sitting for a friend's parents.  Their place is much closer to work and had netflix (I finally saw Community so everyone can calm down now) which was a bonus, but it did not have internet which was a serious minus.

And it did not have my whole wardrobe, which made this heart's longing for stripes ever fonder.  So this outfit here is the first thing I wanted to wear when I got home.  The shirt I bought in direct homage to Orchid Grey when I was in England (when I started reading style blogs, she was my first true love!), the scarf I made myself, and the hair is what you do when you've been sport side-swept bangs in a very hot workplace for too long!

Striped Shirt - H&M
Black Shirt (underneath) - Thrifted
Jeggings - H&M
Flats - Forever21
Scarf - Handmade
Rings - Adorit Boutique and H&M

So!  Tomorrow is my birthday boys and girls!  To celebrate (at least for today), I'mma try and land me a red striped shirt on my walk to work. . . . 

Never get paid, boys and girls.  It makes a monster out of you.

Happy people watching!


Your friend Lina

Friday, November 18, 2011

In the Quiet Solitude of Peaceful Studies

At least, I think that's what it says outside of the humanities library at McGill, boys and girls.

I have to admit I've been missing school these past few days.  Firstly, I had a friend ask me some questions about a seminar I took last year that he is now in.  Secondly, I'm starting to get my act together for grad school applications again.  Even though I like the free time and wages of a full-time job, I miss the structure that school gives.

And the subject matter!  I've been aching for history all over the place.  If nothing else this will be getting my butt in gear for applications!  I love my job, but I don't want to be doing it forever.  I wanna be doing history forever!

So, to trivialize all these complicated emotions and longings and dreams and goals, I've put together a library outfit ;)  Something comfy, something warm (my fingers would turn blue at the McGill library, we think they kept it cold so that people wouldn't fall asleep), and something a little bit collegial.

Sweater - Forever 21
Shirt - Forever 21
Jeggings - H&M
Boots - Chinese Laundry
Scarf - My Favourite and a Gift from my Brother
Rings - Adorit Boutique and H&M 

In the meanwhile, I'm devouring Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives by David Eagleman.  Each tale of the afterlife is about a page long of a quirky, endearing, and telling imagining of what might be waiting for us when we die.  Some of them have the traditional Christian God, Heaven, or Hell, but in others it turns out we return to our true form of cosmic giants who's job is to keep the universe from collapsing.  Or that we were complicated machines invented by a dim race in order to discover why we exist.  I would highly highly recommend it!

I first heard about it on CBC's Wiretap podcast, where every once in a while the narrator will read one of the tales.  It took a little bit of searching and waiting on a list for me to get my hands on this one, so the podcast can tide you over!

Oops, I'm going to be late for work if I don't finish up quick!  I'm off to Montreal for the weekend (what up, three days off?), so I'll catch y'all on the other side!


Your friend Lina

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


As promised, here's my day off/running around/still spending the evening at work outfit, boys and girls!

I realise this is pretty much the same outfit as this one.  But why mess with what's good right?  And at least you can't fault me for being honest.  I've found a formula, and it works.

Plus, a dish can become a totally a different thing with a few different spices added, so why not an outfit?  Speaking of which, the water is boiling. . .

Coat - Forever 21
Scarf - Homemade!
Tights - Stolen from my mom
Socks - old old old
Boots - Chinese Laundry
Dress - Forever 21
Belt - Forever 21
Neclace - Aldo
Cameo Ring - Adorit Boutique
Stick Ring - H&M

That's right, boys and girls, I made that cowl scarf myself.  From the first yarn, needles, and pattern book I ever got from my bestest friend in high school.  (I have made many other things, I just recently pulled one of them apart in order to re-use the yarn.)  Yesterday I also grabbed a bunch of new yarn and needles in order to tackle some Christmas gifts that have been requested of me.  So less blogging more knitting is I think called for!

Have a beautiful Wednesday!


Your friend Lina