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So how are you holding up under the holiday pressure? Is it getting to you yet? Can you tick off indoor and outdoor holiday decorating yet? How about that shopping? Maybe you’ve got a leg up on party prep?

Hmm, I suspect you need a glass of inspiration to get you going (from whattodrink.com)…

FROSTY NOGGIN 

Tis the season for Eggnog!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz Rum
  • 3/4 oz Creme de Cacao
  • 3 oz Eggnog
  • 3 cups Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Whipped Cream
  • Green Creme de Menthe

Directions:

Blend ingredients until smooth. Pour into parfait glass.  Top with whipped cream, decorated with a few drops of green crème de menthe. Garnish with a rolled cookie.

NOW,

Time to go down to work. Check back in the archives of this blog for some decorating ideas. I’ve got some here and here. That should get you started at least and maybe you will be able to convince someone to help you if you promise them their own glass of Frosty Noggin.

So how about that shopping? You are in luck as there is another Christmas craft sale that runs all weekend at the Western Fair Progress Building (900 King St E). The 34th Annual Christmas Craft Festival runs from December 5th – 8th. Admission is $6, but if you visit their website, they have a $1 off coupon for you to print off. Hours are as follows.

Thurs. Dec 5, – 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Fri. Dec 6, – 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 7, – 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 8, – 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

You will find plenty of Christmas decorations and gift giving ideas. It is London’s largest Craft Show and Sale with over 150 artisans participating over the four-days. No excuse not to grab a few gifts (or all of them) at this sale!

I can even help you out with some of your party prep. Will you be carving a gigantic turkey, ham or roast beast of some sort this Christmas? If so, you will need to have a carving knife on hand. In case you didn’t know, a sharp knife makes that job easier. No monster muscles required when your blade is sharp, as it will slide through whatever you have to slice like butter. If you are inept when it comes to that, head down to Covent Garden Market on Saturday, December 7th between 8 am and 1 pm. Sharp my Knife is there every 1st Saturday of the month to sharpen knives and scissors.

In case you’ve got too many to carry, they also offer a mobile service where they come to your home and sharpen everything from knives, lawn mowers, garden tools, axes (think about that for your Christmas tree hunt!), chainsaws, food processor blades, paper shredders and more.

All I can do is give you ideas. The rest is up to you. So get out there and make the season bright! And if you get enough done, maybe you can join in on the Salvation Army Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk at The Raceway at the Western Fair District on December 7th. It raises money for families in need during Christmas and throughout the year. Registration opens at 8:30 am, race begins at 10 am, and overall fun and good tidings will last until noon.

Have a great weekend!

There are 3 weeks til Christmas. Have you started to decorate your home for the holidays yet? Come on Ebenezer, it is time to get into the Christmas spirit! It’s time to get motivated and decorate.

Last week I offered 12 easy decor ideas for items to decorate your home with. They are relatively simple ideas that you could do with the kids or alone, and have accomplished in no time flat. Perhaps you are still looking for some inspiration though. Could you use a few more ideas? Why not try one of these holiday home decorations to dazzle your decor with;

12 Ways to Dazzle your Home for the Holidays

  1. Capture the spirit of the season in words

    Say it with words – Write on a mirror with erasable markers, add wooden letters to spell out a holiday greeting on the wall, add a frosty message to windows, etc.

  2. Colour your world – Bathe your space in a festive monotone. Add all silver decorations to your Christmas tree, paint the town red around your living room, go green in your kitchen, etc.
  3. Recycle greetings – If you keep old Christmas cards, why not use them to decorate your space this Christmas. Create a beautiful Christmas collage, add them to picture frames for a Christmas change-up, use them for wrapping paper, etc.
  4. Light up your life – Lights make everything cheery. Don’t stop at the tree. Add lights to the greenery on your mantlepiece, toss some into a glass vase with Christmas ornaments, decorate your table centrepiece with some glittery orbs, etc.
  5. Sweeten the decor, not your waistline

    Sweeten the pot – Christmas is synonymous with sweets. Add candy canes to candy dishes, colourful mints to a vase with a candle, craft a wreath out of bright bonbons, etc.

  6. Wrap it in ribbons – They’re not just for presents anymore. Add festive ribbons to urns with evergreens, dangle ornaments from the chandelier via ribbon, wrap ribbons around standing lamps to make them shine in a whole new light, etc.
  7. Name game – Get creative with table place names. Let your guests know where to sit at table via homemade ornaments like cheery personalized snowmen, glittery glass ornaments engraved with names, artful angels in the likeness of the recipient, etc.
  8. Stocking stuffers – Everyone gets a stocking, but what about adding some as part of your decor? Fill them with pine cones to hang by the fire to help spark a blaze, use them as a garland on your banister, hang an oversized stocking on your door in greeting, etc.
  9. Simple Christmas decor with stunning plants

    Plant some love – The Christmas tree isn’t the only greenery you can add to the house over the holidays. Blooming Christmas cacti add a bright addition to your decor, magnificent amaryllis is a show-stopper for any room, poinsettias come in a range of sizes and colours to add to your seasonal setting, etc.

  10. Don’t go nuts – Allergies aside, many holiday traditions find inshell nuts plentiful this time of year. Take them out of the nut bowl this year. Add them to platters with candles in the middle, glue them into homemade wreaths, mix them into vases with other festive pieces like holly, red dogwood, pinecones, etc.
  11. Scents of the season – The scents associated with Christmas can transport anyone. More than just the Christmas tree can add a festive aroma though. Add a few drops of pine essential oil to pine cone wreaths, stud oranges with cloves to release both the healing scent of clove and citrus, twist some cinnamon sticks into your garlands, etc.
  12. Put a bow on it – Every present needs a bow, but where else can you add them to your home? Why not add bows to picture frames, tie one on your mailbox, add them to the back of your dining room chairs, etc.

What other ideas can you add to the list? Don’t forget to share!

Hello weekend! You are always a welcome addition to any week. The perfect time to relax, reconnect with family and friends, tackle some chores, or get out and have fun in your neighbourhood! Do you have plans for this weekend? Are you going to tackle some Christmas chores? Perhaps I can suggest a few ways to cross some of those things off your list while still having fun this weekend.

Local Help For Your Christmas Chores In Your Neighbourhood

Learn how to make your own winter arrangements at Heeman’s

Let’s look at that list again shall we? I believe Step 1 was outdoor decor. No problem! Head out to Heeman’s for one of their Winter Workshops. For $50, you get to choose a container of your choice and learn how to turn it into a fabulous winter planter. The workshop runs 90 minutes in length. All the evergreen boughs, sparkly bits, and finishing touches are included. Classes are limited in size and require prior registration and payment. The best part is that you get to take home your masterpiece at the end of class to decorate your home with. And if you are particularly pleased with the result and want to create another one, you can buy all the necessary materials and make more at home. They have white and red pine, cedar, dogwood, willow, magnolia leaves, pine cones, birch poles, and more. They are open 8 am – 5 pm from Monday to Saturday. Workshops are as follows;

  • Friday November 22, 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday November 26, 1:00 p.m.
  • Monday December 2, 1:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday December 4, 7:00 p.m.

 

Create a felt stocking just in time for Christmas

Now, how about the inside of your home? Well, if you are looking for crafting help, you could head to Michael’s. Not only do they have tonnes of arts and craft supplies, but they also offer classes to give hands-on experience. On Saturday at the 1737 Richmond St and 3080 Wonderland Rd S stores, they are hosting a Festive Felt Stocking workshop for kids. Get your kids to make their own stockings and maybe one for everyone in the family this year! Workshops are 30 minutes in length and run from 10-11:30 am. Cost is $2 and includes supplies. Ages 3 and up.

 

Shopping is easy this time of year with all the Christmas Bazaars on. Here are a few places where you can start your holiday shopping.

  • Green Christmas: Fairtrade, local artist, earth friendly, alternative gift giving Christmas expo. Nov 23, 9 am – 4 pm at Talbot Street Church (513 Talbot St). One stop shopping for all your Christmas gift giving. Featuring art, fair-trade coffee, live musicians,  alternative gifts like “chickens for families in Haiti”, and plenty more. No cover charge.
  • Annual First Nations Art and Craft Show and Sale: Celebrate a handmade holiday. Nov 24, 10 am – 4 pm at Museum of Ontario Archaeology (1600 Attawandaron Rd). Over 25 craft vendors selling jewellery, moccasins, pottery, beading, soapstone, +++. Art and craft demonstrations. Door prizes,  and popular penny sale. Admission by donation.
  • Chocolate Sunday: Christmas arts/vendor bazaar. Nov 24, 12:30 – 4:40 pm, at the Hilton Hotel (300 King St). Includes Chocolate Fountain, Silent Auction, Door Prizes & a great selection of Christmas Vendors for seasonal shopping. Tickets are $15 for individuals and $35 for families. In support of Life Spin.
    • ALSO; For the past nineteen years LIFE*SPIN has facilitated a Christmas Sponsorship program that provides additional support to the poor families in our community.  This program relieves poverty for low-income families with children over the Christmas season. LIFE*SPIN matches low-income families with those wishing to help a disadvantaged family celebrate Christmas.

How much do you still have to do to get ready for Christmas? Got any tips for making it easier, faster or completed with local help?

Christmas is five weeks away. You have a mere 35 shopping days left to fill the stockings, deck the halls, and prepare for holiday celebrations. It might sound like plenty of time, but that is really only 5 weekends with which to do everything from decorate your house (inside and out), to ordering your turkey, and completing all the last-minute details, like ironing the linens for the Christmas table. That’s a lot of work (unless you’ve got a team of minions that tackle your chores, you lucky soul). Have you made your list yet? Do you need a little help organizing your time?

First Step – OUTDOOR DECORATING:

Time to decorate! How tangled are your Christmas lights?

Decorate the outside of your house. Before you find yourself frozen solid to a ladder, grab the lights from storage and get hanging. Whether you trim your trees, eaves or every inch of your property with a Christmasy glow, it is far easier to do when the weather is comparatively milder. Don’t forget to give your planters a festive feel too. Add evergreen boughs, snazzy red bows, or simple birch branches for a holiday look that won’t be bothered by snow. Don’t forget wreathes for your doors. Many area nurseries create beautiful displays that will make your house shine.

And if you have to climb on the roof to attach a wooden Santa to the chimney, or eight tiny reindeers to the roof, make sure you have a helper or some kind of spotter for safety’s sake. Of course, if you want the cheery glow, but don’t want the hassle, you could always contact Christmas Decor London to decorate your home for you. They specialize in lights, garlands, wreathes and more, plus I hear tell they do a nice job. All you have to do is pick your colours, then move onto the next task on your list.

Second Stage – INDOOR DECOR:

Once the outside of the house is shining bright, it is time to tackle the inside of your home. This is a great time to pick up a duster and clean your home. Before you even look for your boxes of decorations, take the time to pack away extra decor items while Christmas takes over your world. With them stored, scrub cobwebs from the corners, wipe the mantelpiece, and dust any shelves that will host your Christmas items for the next month. That includes everywhere from your living room, kitchen and any bathrooms that might be seen by guests visiting over the holidays.

Christmas Decor is a matter of personal expression

IDEAS:

  • Choose a simple one- or two-colour scheme decor palette to give a designer theme to your home.
  • Bring the outdoors in with design items like pine cones, dogwood twigs, birch bark, or cedar boughs. They add beauty as well as a delightful scent to any space.
  • Embrace Kitsch. Do you still have your Grandmother’s old glass ornaments? Have you collected an eclectic mix of Christmas baubles at garage sales over the years? Is the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” your favourite holiday centrepiece? Mix it up and make Christmas unique at your house this year.

Third Round – SHOPPING:

Shop Western Fair’s Farmer’s Market for all your holiday needs

Time is beginning to tick. If you haven’t started yet, it is time to hit the malls. I know there are plenty of folks that leave their shopping til the last-minute, but you have better selection the earlier you shop guys! Honestly (no, my wife didn’t force me to say that). Barring the malls, there are lots of Christmas markets around to browse through, like Christmas in the Market at Western Fair Farmer’s Market. If that still strikes fear into your hearts, you could also just hit the virtual mall and shop at home from the comfort of your easy chair with the help of your laptop. Just make sure to leave enough time for delivery!

Fourth Phase – PARTY PREP:

Make sure you have enough seating and tableware for all in attendance at any holiday parties you throw

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a few Christmas parties to attend. If you happen to be hosting one, whether it be a party or Christmas dinner itself, there is plenty to prepare for. You need to make sure you have anything from enough toilet paper for the number of guests who will be visiting, to sufficient glasses, plates and cutlery. If you are having a formal sit-down meal, place names for the table make life easier when it comes time to be seated. Plus, don’t forget to iron tablecloths, pick up extra chairs as necessary, polish the silver service, and make sure you have that giant turkey ordered in time for the gathering.

Fifth Stop – CHECKING IT TWICE & MAKING IT NICE:

You are almost there! Christmas is just about upon you. You might still have some last-minute shopping to finish, but the house should be decorated and ready to go. The last of your tasks are items like wrapping presents, finalizing your Christmas menu, baking cookies for Santa, and enjoying the joy that Christmas brings. There is just enough time left to have a glass of Christmas cheer with the neighbours and maybe gather some reindeer food to sprinkle for Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Don’t forget to clean up fireplace for Santa, so his suit doesn’t get too tarnished with ashes and soot.

As I take a look at my list, I wonder how much double-checking I have to make. What have I forgotten? Did you send out Christmas cards? Have you watered your Christmas tree? Did you open all the doors of your advent calendar? Have your children found the Elf on the Shelf every day? What other traditions do you have in your home over the holidays?

A chill is in the air. Many seasonal cottages and trailer parks either closed Thanksgiving weekend, or will be closed by the end of the month. Around your home, outdoor plants have gone dormant or died off for the season. In good news, that means that you don’t have to mow your lawn, but the weatherman has warned that you might want to dig out your snow shovels before too much longer. Time is ticking and Old Man Winter is on the way!

In the grand scheme of things, it might sound like you can nestle in for a long winter’s nap, but there are still a few loose ends that need to be tidied up before you hibernate til spring. I am talking about where to store all your summer fun bits. Think your boat, sea-do, motorcycle, quad, or trailer/RV. Unless you live on a large piece of property, you have to figure out where to put all your larger extra-curricular toys. I hate to tell you, but your sailboat will just take up too much room in the driveway (although you wouldn’t have to shovel underneath it!).

So until they perfect shrink-wrapping a vintage vehicle into a postage stamp, you need to look farther afield for storage solutions. In London, we are lucky to have a few options available. There are plenty of storage companies with units large and small both indoors and out.

  • There are plenty of Indoor and Outdoor Storage options in London

    City Centre Storage: 3 locations around London; Indoor and Outdoor storage, as well as Portable Storage units perfect for vehicles. Portable storage units have wooden floors that don’t suck moisture of rubber tires, and are air tight to protect your vehicle from critters who might want to bed down in your car’s electrical system, as well as our harsh winter climate.

  • Forest City Mini Storage: 471 Third St, London; Indoor and Outdoor storage. Reasonable rates. Outdoor storage for RVs, cars and boats. Indoor units suitable for cars and motorcycles.
  • Midtown Storage: 2 locations in London; Convenient Outdoor storage for cars, boats, motorcycles, trailers, and RVs at 151 Thompson Rd location. Indoor storage available for cars and motorcycles at both locations. Open 7 days a week.
  • Don’t forget to leave room to get out of your vehicle when you store it indoors

    Store-N-Save Self Storage: 2 locations in London; Indoor and Outdoor storage. Private lock and key for indoor units. 24-hour surveillance to protect your valuables.

  • London Self Storage: 3425 Roe St; Indoor and Outdoor storage. Keypad entry and 24-hour surveillance. Professional advice from storage experts.
  • Hully Gully: 1705 Wharncliffe Rd S; The Ultimate Toy Store not only sells toys, but can also winterize and store them for you too! They detail crafts, winterize engines, shrink-wrap boats, and have limited storage available. Plus you can do a little shopping before next year and upgrade your summer toys for the 2014 season.

Not everyone has speed boats that they worry about in the winter though. If you love your plants as much as your convertible, why not contact Heeman’s (20422 Nissouri Rd) for your winter plant storage. They can take tender loving care of your tropicals and cold-sensitive plants until the warm weather returns in the Spring. The Greenhouses are there for a reason, so why not take advantage today! They are open Monday to Friday 8 am – 6 pm and Saturdays 8 am – 5 pm. Plus you can pick up your Fall decor items while you are out there to add a seasonal touch to your home.

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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