christmas eve

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I’ve been off work all week and working hard to finish as many orders as possible before the holiday. I actually got everything I wanted done and shipped off the last batch yesterday; all the open orders I have now we placed this week and I don’t need to worry about them until after Christmas.

Of course focussing on orders totally screwed me up; I’d originally wanted to make a bunch of gifts this year but I just didn’t have the time. The biggest thing I was planning on making was a roadway playmat for Gwen, and I bought all the supplies for it but never even started it! Oopsssss, especially since I’d coordinated with Sym and she painted a set of wooden trees, mountains and cabins SPECIFICALLY to go with my gift.

Luckily the missing gift doesn’t matter since this year we went crazy bananas on gifts. For the past few years Taylor and I have followed a three-gift rule: something to wear, something to read and something to play with. But this year we couldn’t decide what toy to get for Gwen (Duplo? A Play-Doh Fun Factory? The aforementioned hand-painted playmat that I never actually made?) and in the end we just got everything we wanted for both girls.

Symphony is with us for Christmas this year, so last night she went to her dad’s to celebrate Mini Christmas with him. After she left Taylor and I took Gwen up Grouse Mountain for the Peak of Christmas (this sounds mean to not include Sym but she didn’t want to go. TEENS). We didn’t go last year because there was literally zero snow up on the mountain (you can see it from downtown and last December 23rd I looked at it and was like… NOPE, NOT PAYING TO GO STAND AROUND IN THE MUD). This year there has been a bunch of snow and it was actually bonkers snowing while we were up there!

Because we went so late it was quite dark, even with all the lights in the trees. Combined with the tons of snow blowing around we didn’t take many pictures, which is a little disappointing. Taylor was originally going to bring his big camera, then downgraded to bringing his smaller camera (the one I usually use) and in the end it never made it out of our bag and we just used our phones.

ANYWAY. We still had a good time and I really like being able to get out of the city and up into the mountains to the snow so quickly… and I LOVE being able to get back out of the snow just as fast! Tonight we’ll open our Christmas pajamas, decorate cookies and watch Elf, so now I have a busy day ahead of me of cleaning, last minute gift wrapping (because somehow I’m not done? how), grocery shopping and baking. Happy holidays everyone!

02 eve tree

geometric tree

Oops I did it again? I have a lot of work to do this week so OFC a good use of my time is making things to give away for free, right? Right. Today I have another holiday gift wrap/card set, with a bonus print.

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This set includes the card, the print and one sheet of wrapping paper in a green geometric tree print. They are all US Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and are meant to be printed borderless at 100%. Obviously this gift wrap is only suitable for small gifts BUT if you have access to a large-format printer (I don’t, wahh) you could print it larger.

The card is designed for use with 5.25″ x 7.25″-size envelopes, which you can find at office supply or craft stores (I get mine at Michael’s, with a 50% off coupon they are about $7 for 50), or you can find free templates to make envelopes that size online if you’re so inclined. You could also print the card at a smaller size to use with smaller envelopes. Once the card is printed simply trim the edges at the line and fold in half.

The print is 8×10″ so you just need to trim of the white borders and it is ready for framing.

Download the full set here. Free for personal use only.

grey & gold

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Every year I participate in Goody Goody Gift Swap, an online gift swap for ~creatives. I like to make as many of the things included in each year’s package as I can myself, right down to the gift wrap. This year I designed some grey & gold watercolour wrapping paper and matching greeting card and I liked how they turned out so much I decided to share them with you all as a free download.

This set includes the card as well as two sheets of wrapping paper in light and dark grey. They are all US Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and are meant to be printed borderless at 100%. Obviously this gift wrap is only suitable for small gifts BUT if you have access to a large-format printer (I don’t, wahh) you could print it larger.

The card is designed for use with 5.25″ x 7.25″-size envelopes, which you can find at office supply or craft stores (I get mine at Michael’s, with a 50% off coupon they are about $7 for 50), or you can find free templates to make envelopes that size online if you’re so inclined. You could also print the card at a smaller size to use with smaller envelopes. Once the card is printed simply trim the edges at the line and fold in half.

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Download the full set here. Free for personal use only.

o gwennenbaum

ornaments

bw tree

advent house

business baby

macaroni

lighted birds

Gwen has a new obsession with lip balm, only she pronounces it like “baum.” Last week I gave her a zerbert and she christened it a bart(fart)-kiss and now she gives us bart-kisses all the time. Only she doesn’t know how to do it so they are just loud smacky kisses.

We put all the decorations on our tree and so far it hasn’t been a disaster. Last year Gwen spent the month of December undecorating the tree & breaking ornaments; this year she has mostly ignored it. Except for the lights! Turning them on every day is her job exclusively. She has been kind of reckless with our holiday Legos, but they are new this year and also toys so what else did we expect?

Since I’ve been taking a semi-blogging hiatus I obviously haven’t been posting my meal plans, but I’ve been keeping up with them… sort of. Maybe I don’t plan the whole week at once but I have been making some good meals. The other week I made some ameezing sweet & sour pork with using fresh meat (instead of frozen pre-battered bits) (just never mind that I used sauce from a jar, haha).

I’ve instituted a new rule that on Wednesdays Symphony cooks dinner, which is kind of perilous and also tedious. The point is that her cooking means less work for me, but she makes such a fuss it’s kind of the same amount of work IF NOT MORE. Last night I taught/helped her to make macaroni & cheese from scratch and she nailed it, the sauce was literal perfection. She also got to experience some very real frustration when Gwen, who loves cheese and loves macaroni and loves macaroni & cheese just straight up REFUSED to eat it, for no reason. I would say Sym now has a deeper appreciation for some of what I do around here but like… teens.

I think I am mostly finished with my holiday gift shopping, although I am VERY behind on my gift-making, oops. I am pretty caught up on etsy orders but I thought it would be a good idea to do some last-minute gift & ornament exchanges which was not my brightest move ever. Today I am going to get started on painting some things, partly because painting is easier on my wrists and my carpal tunnel has been pretty terrible lately. I got new wrist braces and I am being more diligent about wearing them, especially during the day, but ughhhh it’s sooooooooo annoyinggggggggggggggggg. First though, I made a new set of stickers! As in, I’m making them right now: I designed & printed the first sheet but haven’t cut them out yet. You can get them here.

watercolour crystal stickers small watermark

more december

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I just shipped the very last order that was placed before my holiday cutoff so hopefully things will be a little less frantic around here. I still have open orders but I don’t feel as desperate to get them out like YESTERDAY OMG so I can focus a little bit more on Christmas presents for my family.

I put our Christmas tree up a few weeks ago, just bare with lights so Gwen could get a little used to it before we add the decorations (which we’re doing tonight). My old cat Claire used to love lying under the tree and so when I saw Mark Fluffalo doing it I felt all warm and fuzzy… until I noticed today that a whole section of lights were out! Taylor told me the cat had been under the tree last night (he was working from home) goofing around before running off, and when we took it apart we found a wire that had been chewed nearly clean through. Why oh why are cats such dodos? Hopefully it was not a pleasant experience and he doesn’t do it again, but Taylor (with small help from me) was able to splice the wire back together.

Last Saturday was Taylor’s office holiday party and also the ninth anniversary of our first date. NINE WHOLE YEARS. He surprised me by hiring a limo to drive us around the city before the party while we drank champagne #hearteyesemoji The Saturday before that we went to Ikea and I bought a credenza for the dining room and filled it with all our board- and card games.

This afternoon I got Gwen to take her nap in her bed for the first time since May, which meant I was able to clean the house while she slept. It was a short nap, but I feel triumphant.

holiday orders

Holiday Order Deadline Unicorn

The holiday season is upon us and that means the deadline for Christmas orders from the shop is fast approaching! The deadline this year is November 23rd, which is next Monday so if you are interested in any banners for gifts or decor this holiday season please place your order asap! All orders placed by the cutoff will be shipped no later than December 7th (and hopefully much earlier than that), but for any orders placed after November 23rd I cannot guarantee delivery before Christmas.

To ease some of your holiday shipping woes I’ve added a shipping upgrade for tracking for US customers only on certain items: full size banners, boots, blocks, and plushes. The cost is an additional $8 on top of the regular $8 shipping charge (so $16 total). Items purchased with upgraded shipping will not ship faster; the upgrade is to provide tracking only. Canadian orders for these items already have tracking at no additional cost but unfortunately I am not able to offer tracking on International orders as it is extremely cost prohibitive ($45 instead of $15 O___O). Tracking is not available on mini banners, medium banners, stickers or patches unless it is specifically requested.

Also please note that from November 23rd until December 23rd the Sara M Lyons + Unicorn Parade banners will not be available in Sara’s shop. They will still be available in mine BUT please remember that any orders placed after November 23rd will not ship in time for Christmas!

If you have any questions about the deadline or any of the changes to the shipping policy please do not hesitate to contact me! Thank you to everyone who has supported the shop this year and happy holidays!

autumn chill

01 leaves

02 sass face gwen
this face

03 mossy tree

04 mossy tree

05 mossy tree

07 super sass face gwen
no, this face

06 evergreen

08 squirrel dance
squirrel dance

09 woodgrain

11 coffee date
coffee date

10 foliage

It is well and truly fall now. We got up on November 1st and it was suddenly freezing out. My friend Mark made a joke on facebook this morning about all the people wearing scarves and North faces already but you know what? IT’S FRICKIN COLD. I almost got my own North Face out of storage last week and I think the only reason I didn’t have more to do with how much time I spent NOT going outside than any sort of “oh it’s not THAT cold” thoughts. I mean… your body becomes acclimatized to the weather/temperature of whatever place you live and when you live here, anything under 10°C is FRICKIN COLD, and really, why would you want to live somewhere where it regularly dips way below freezing. NO THANKS.

On Saturday we had a small family gathering to celebrate Symphony and Gwen’s birthdays. It was pretty low-key and OF COURSE I didn’t get pictures. I remember thinking to myself that morning “I have to remember to get pictures this year!” and I then I didn’t even take out my camera. I did instagram a pic of the cake, wowe these precious memories. Actually I was pretty happy with how it turned out; I made a tired chocolate layer cake with green icing and decorated it with green sprinkles, rosemary sprig “trees,” and little plastic deers, birds and mushrooms. I also managed to fit 17 candles (14 for Sym, 3 for Gwen) onto the tiny top tier which I thought was very impressive.

Now that Halloween and the girls’ birthdays are over I can dive right in to Christmas… except I have a bunch of stuff I NEED to do around the house and I made a deal with myself I wouldn’t put up any Christmas decorations until I finish them all. Although… I didn’t say I couldn’t BUY new Christmas decorations. Look, that little tree was EIGHTY percent off! And I don’t usually go to the store where I got the two baubles so it’s not like I can buy them later. And it wouldn’t really make sense to buy new things and put them in storage for like two weeks so I might as well just keep them in the house and so I haven’t REALLY put up any decorations… Nice loophole, huh?

SPEAKING OF THE HOLIDAYS if you want to get any banners or whatnot from the shop, today (November 9th) is the last day to place orders for Hanukkah decor/gifts and November 23rd (rapidly approaching) is the last day to place orders for Christmas decor/gifts. One thing that I think would make a great gift would be one of my “Red Lipstick is Black Magic” iron on patches! They are available for pre-order now and will be shipping as soon as they reach me, which will be soon as the manufacturer shipped them yesterday.
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halloweekended

spooky skeleton

I was talking to my upstairs neighbor on Saturday afternoon about how both of use were WOEFULLY behind on putting up our Halloween decorations. Usually I’m scrambling to put them up during nap time/after work, but because Halloween was on a weekend I was super whateverrrrrrr about it. This lead to me rushing around trying to find more spooky caution tape and spooky cobwebs and tragically being unable to find my spooky signs and having to make new ones. It was nearly a spooky disaster! Thankfully I pulled it out in the end and got the house looking pretty alright.

spooky house

Last year tons of kids skipped my hard-to-find apartment so this year I decided to set up on the front stoop instead. It’s a good thing I did too, because my old neighbor from the front of the house who used to go all out on Halloween moved away and the new tenant is some secret weirdo that no one ever sees, and my other neighbor who was giving out candy at the front ran out in less than an hour. It was bonkers busy this year!

Sym was at her dad’s but came up to hand out candy while Taylor and I took Gwen trick-or-treating, then I stayed with Sym while Taylor got Gwen ready for bed. In a burst of cleansing synchronicity we also ran out of candy at Gwen’s bedtime so I came inside to tuck her in. After Sym’s dad picked her up I went out to get Taylor and I some food and there were still a lot of kids out, so I think next year I will get EVEN MORE candy; we had about 750 candies & were giving out 2 per kid until we started to run really low and switched to 1 per kid, and it only took 2 1/2 hours, from 5-7:30 for us to run out. Next year I will get a THOUSAND candies I think.

spooky gwen

Last year Gwen was a total pro at trick-or-treating, which really surprised me because she was so shy. I guess this year she is EVEN SHYER because we had to go all the way around the block before she finally got up the nerve to go to anyone’s door. We took a second trip around and she did pretty well, although I had to go to every door with her. Only a couple of people got her costume; it had rained all afternoon and even though it had stopped by trick-or-treat time it was still very wet and muddy out so she wore her rainboots instead of the little white shoes I painted for her. Most people guessed she was an equestrian rider, a CEO/Wall Street person, or Doctor Who. In the end it doesn’t matter as long as she had fun, which she did. Eventually.