The 2015 Christmas Card Guide

It is the most wonderful time of the year and these are the
most wonderful Christmas and Holiday Cards. 

The 2015 Christmas Card Guide

Drake Sleigh Bells Ring // USD $4.60 – BEYGOODco // Etsy

Drake If You’re Reading This Merry Christmas // USD $4.21 – WacaFlockaLuke // Etsy

Oh What Fun

Oh What Fun! // Set of 12 for $10.46 // Chapters

Let It Snow

Let It Snow // USD $4.00 – TurtlesSoup // Etsy

Droids in Sweaters

Droids In Sweaters // USD $4.13 – MeetMeInShermer // Etsy

Cat Tree

Cat Christmas Tree // USD $3.74 – BeccyKittyDesigns // Etsy

Winter Wonderland

Watercolour Fawn Winter Wonderland // Set of 15 for $10.46 // Etsy

Winter Brownstone

Snowy Brownstone // CAD $6.50 // Room 2046

Hockey

After School Hockey // Set of 20 for $11.19 // Chapters

Jingle All The Way

Jingle All The Way // Set of 12 for $9.06 // Chapters

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Ballet Review: The Nutcracker

The National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker is a festive and fun way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Going to see The Nutcracker at the Four Seasons Centre has become one of my favourite Christmas traditions, next to watching Little Women on Christmas Eve (sacred in our house). There is something so magical about Tchaikovsky’s suite, and this grand holiday spectacle. I look forward to it every year, and I still get chills each time.

Waltz of the Snowflakes | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

The opening scene, a Christmas party, with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins spilling in for a visit is such a familiar scene. In my head, this is how we all arrive on Christmas Eve, dressed up and synchronized, but we end up looking more like a pack of Griswolds in Christmas Vacation.

This year, the show only runs from December 13th to January 3rd – only three weeks! I wish they would start on December 1st or so, three weeks isn’t long enough. I know that these shows do a short run time to ensure a packed house each night, limiting the supply to a high-demand market like Toronto. But, would it really hurt to extend by two weeks? If there were empty seats, there would be more room for Dance Break and Rush seats, and they would be able to reach a wider audience who may not have had the opportunity to see the show otherwise. I read that 40 per cent of a ballet company’s revenues are generated during the Nutcracker season. Wouldn’t it be better to extend the run to increase the revenues? And, I think it would be beneficial to extend the run for another two weeks so they can increase the number of future patrons who may never have had the chance to see the show during the regular short run.

Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

The National Ballet of Canada does a Russian-style show. The opening scene takes place in a snowy barn and everyone is bundled up. It has been in this style for some time now. My friend, Kate, who bravely faced the box office line in the morning, told me that she has seen a Canadian-style production with dancing Mounties and Canada Geese! How fantastic would that be? While I do love this beautiful, red and gold, Fabergé egg style, I would really love to see something new. Surely, it must be about time for a change. But, it’s not as if they can just re-design and re-choreograph the whole thing. Or, can they?

The Egg | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

There are so many lovely, familiar numbers in the Nutcracker. That feeling of awe when the tree grows in front of your eyes, the Waltz of the Snowflakes, the Arabian Dance, the Shepherdess and the Fox, and the Bumblebee. I especially love the Dancing Bears. The NBC released this cute video with some rehearsal footage. I always loved how they look so graceful despite their large size and clumsy footwork. The company does a great job of including all ages and skill levels in each number.

The little lambs are so cute! They brought them down into the hall during intermission for photos.

Sheep | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I’ll never forget my first show, I was so impressed that they brought a real horse on stage! You can imagine my shock when I saw how well the horse was trained, especially when it started dancing around to the music! I didn’t realize until the very end that it was simply two male dancers in a very realistic horse costume.

Horse | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

Dancing Horse | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I have said before, the Waltz of the Snowflakes is my favourite number of the whole show. I just love the corps de ballet. They are strong but graceful, beautiful, and synchronized. I’ve learned so much about the different levels in a ballet company thanks to the city.ballet. series on AOL. It’s a very entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the New York City Ballet. Definitely check it out!

Snowflakes | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I think the Nutcracker is such a hit, with me anyway, because it shows me exactly what I want to see during the holidays: heartwarming scenes of family, charming Christmas spirit, beautiful costumes and scenery, and a fantastically talented orchestra accompaniment. I’ve had seats in the past overlooking the orchestra and it is so fascinating to see the musicians live. They are tremendously talented.

If you have not yet seen The Nutcracker, it is well worth the trip. If you’re in Toronto, ticket prices range from $60 to $160, but definitely see if you can take advantage of some of their discount programs: Dance Break or Rush tickets (you can usually snag a seat for around $40). Or, you can watch the Mariinsky performance of The Nutcracker on YouTube here.

The Nutcracker | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

The Nutcracker will really take your Christmas spirit to the next level. With just one more day to go (!!!!), and my Christmas shopping still not finished – I’m halfway between bliss and stress! I should be very thankful, however, because at this time last year, our whole city was covered in ice, and our power was out for THREE DAYS.

Cheers to you, wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year!!

Canadian Christmas Cards 2014

Combining my two great loves: Christmas and Canadiana.

Canadian Christmas Cards | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

December is here! Time to crack open the Advent Calendars and tuck into all the Christmas movies. Our tree is up, the Christmas village is sprawling, and the carols are on repeat. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Spoiler alert, friends and family: I picked up these adorable Hockey Christmas Cards when they were on sale back in January. I can’t wait to send these little guys out. I also picked up some traditional holly+ivy style cards as well. Now if I could only find some time to sit still for an hour to write and post them all!

I’ve been wandering around midtown Toronto trying to find some more adorable Canadian-themed Christmas and Holiday cards and, great news, I’ve found quite a few!

My favourites, far and away, are from Wendy Tancock. She designed that cute little hockey card above. Wendy is a Toronto-based designer and man, do her cards speak to me!!

Wendy Tancock Christmas Cards

Witty and keyed into our popular culture, you can’t get much better than these cards!

Wendy Tancock StreetcarWendy Tancock RaccoonWendy Tancock QueenWendy Tancock Muskoka ChairWendy Tancock Hockey

Will and Kate! The Raccoons! The fighting Leafs and Habs! I can’t get enough of these. I’m really hoping to see Wendy and her adorable cards at the One of a Kind Show, or maybe Santa in the Junction Winter Market.

If you’re looking to buy a Christmas card for charity, there are several options as well.

Canadian Cancer Society Holiday CardsCanadian Cancer Society Holiday Cards

The Canadian Cancer Society is selling some really cute Holiday Cards for $1 each. Proceeds raised from the sale of the cards will help to fund cancer research, vital information programs, and compassionate services for people with cancer and their families. Canadian Cancer Society Christmas Cards can be purchased by mail, fax, or online.

Unicef Canada Holiday cardsUnicef Canada Holiday Cards

And, I especially love Unicef Canada‘s Holiday Cards. They really do a great job of capturing just what a Canadian winter looks like. Unicef Holiday Cards come in packs of 116 for $50, and can be purchased at IKEA, Pier 1 Imports, Hallmark stores, Loblaws, and Walmart.

Unicef Canada Holiday Card

So go forth and send some Christmas Cheer to your loved ones! I’m sure it will brighten their day!

Canadian Christmas Cards 201Canadian Christmas Cards 2014 first appeared on Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra.

2013: A Year in Review

There are no walls but those we build ourselves.

2013 was a year of great personal growth and change. I feel that I have become a better person along the way, and I recognize that I have a long way to go.

Re: last year’s resolutions: I pushed my long run to 13 miles, just about the distance of a half marathon…; I did not get my driver’s licence…; I managed to make two trips to visit friends in other cities; I took many photos, read a decent number of books, and saw all the movies I wanted to see. I like to think of the resolutions as suggestions, and not rules.

Music

Freelance Whales, The Knocks, Passion Pit, Tame Impala, Alt-J,Whitebrow’s CD release party+ Church show, He’s my Brother, She’s my Sister, Vampire Weekend, the Arkells, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Phoenix, Beyonce, and Kanye West.

I didn’t see as many concerts as some past years, but, I consider myself lucky that I have seen just about every band that I could possibly imagine. I already have Jay-Z and Arcade Fire lined up for next year. Arcade Fire is really the last big band that I want to see, but have not yet had the chance to do so.

Passion Pit

I saw Passion Pit at Lollapalooza in 2012. Their show was in the early evening. It was their first show back since their brief hiatus. It was a lovely summer show. In February, I was lucky enough to see Passion Pit again in all their glory at the Kool Haus during the middle of a spectacular snow storm. Their show is made to be experienced indoors, with all of the lights and trappings.

Beyonce

All my dreams came true when I finally saw Beyonce live. We were the first show since the surprise release of her new album. Her voice was powerful, her dancing was sharp and energetic, and the girl power in the room was off the charts. I paid homage to her earlier in the year when I dressed as Beyonce in her single ladies video for Halloween. The costume did not go to waste, as I wore it again for the concert. We were the only people in the 300s to dress up. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Kanye WestKanye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me preface this next part by saying that I am Kanye West’s biggest fan. After postponing our show just over a month due to unforeseen technical difficulties, my sister and I were able to catch the last show of the Yeezus tour on December 23rd. We had amazing seats in the 100s, and it will be hard to enjoy a concert from any other seat going forward. His latest album was experimental, and while there were a few good songs, I felt it was mostly wanting.

Kanye punctuated his energetic, oldie but goodie songs with show stopping new songs. I mean literally show stopping, as he would cut all the music and talk for minutes at either end. His performance seemed lackluster to me, but I probably just didn’t get what he was going for. He seemed in disbelief at our response at times, as if we weren’t giving him enough energy, or singing along to the level he wanted. I feel like you should expect to receive the energy you give out, and seeing how he sang 3+ songs lying on the floor and talked for longer than he sang (including a 20+ minute rant about the Grammy’s), I left the ACC feeling really let down. He did bring out Drake for a few songs, which was awesome, and I think the crowd loved that more than the rest of the show.

I was hoping for an energetic performance like Eminem at Lolla in 2011, or the last two times I’ve seen Macklemore. Maybe Kanye thinks that he is already at the top of his game, so he doesn’t have to work for it anymore. Macklemore on the other hand is hungry, and as I was sitting in the ACC, I was wishing I was back at Echo Beach with Macklemore and crew as they shocked all of our senses with their magnificent show. Things to consider for the future…

Theatre

I was able to take in one musical and three plays this year. Cats at the Panasonic Theatre, and three shows in Stratford: Romeo and Juliet, the 3 Musketeers, and Othello.

Romeo and Juliet was exactly what you’d expect. The 3 Musketeers was swashbuckling and funny. My favourite has got to be Othello. The set design was innovative and all the actors were on point. The tension during the last scene was so powerful it gave me chills. I am really looking forward to next year’s season.

Sports

4 Jays games, 2 Leafs games, and 1 Rock game.

Halifax

I spent four days in Halifax in March. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the Split Crow and I cooked my first Lobster.

Halifax

Ottawa

I celebrated the May24 weekend in Ottawa with a kayak and a hike.

Dow's Lake

Parliament

Tobermory

In June, we visited Georgian Bay and went cliff jumping in the Grotto. The water was freezing, but it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

Grotto

The O Course

My coworkers and I were crazy to sign up for the O Course. After a little training, we tackled a 45 minute boot camp work out, a ~7k run, and a ~2hr obstacle course. It was the most physically exhausting feats I’ve accomplished to date. In the first half of the course, during the run, I was in 5th place out of the women. By the time I reached the second half of the course with the major obstacles, I fell to 77th place! This race is no joke. I thought I was in decent shape but I was put in my place. I’d like everyone to experience this just once so that they can take themselves to their limit, and break through it.

Miscellaneous Adventures

Friday Night Live @ the Rom – The Mesopotamia Exhibit @ the ROM – The AGO – Parkinsons Super Walk – Canada Day at Turtle Castle and Burrits Rapids

Toronto Fashion Week

Fashion Week

Boat Cruisin (count the cranes!) + Winning a Limbo contest

Toronto

Birthday

Birthday Card

I am 25 years old. I am officially older than all of my favourite literary characters.

Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm

On December 22, we woke up with no power and no heat. The whole city was covered in ice. I sent a tweet to Toronto Hydro late on the 23rd, and on the morning of Christmas Eve, we were shocked and surprised to hear the buzz of the power turning back on. I’ve never been so happy for a hot cup of tea before in my life.

That being said, it was nice to spend some unplugged time with my family. We played board games by candlelight for eight hours straight. We learned that our candlesticks burn for five hours.

Blackout

New Year’s Resolutions:

To continue in my transcendentalist spirit of self-reflection and self-improvement:

Read one book per month, plus whatever is on the docket for my book clubs.

See more movies and more live shows. I think I’d like to head to Osheaga this summer.

Visit one Toronto attraction/museum/exhibit per month.

Go to a Toronto FC game.

Run a Half Marathon!!! So ambitious, but it would be nice to say I’ve done it at least once.

G1? Maybe…

Delete Facebook. I have been trying to wean myself off Facebook for some time now. I think it is a waste of time and energy. I think now is the opportune time, before any more engagement rings or babies start showing up in my news feed.

And with that, I will give a fond farewell to 2013, and a hearty hello to 2014.

2012: A Year in Review

Raptures in the rear view mirror. Twentythirteen on the horizon. 

When I think of all that has happened over the past twelve months, I see a film in fast-forward with clips of my beautiful family, my brilliant friends, endless concerts, good books, delicious food, new experiences, hearty laughs, real chats, and some much needed self-reflection.

Re: Last year’s resolutions: I can walk in high heels now; I saw as many, if not more, concerts as I did last year; I did go to Lollapalooza again; I read some good books; I took a lot of photos; I spent some quality time with the people who matter the most; I did get straight A’s; I did not win any trivia nights; but I still think I am a good person.

Milestones:

Shows

My goal for 2012 was to see as many or more shows as possible. Here is my list [lolla in brackets]:

Whitebrow, Yukon Blonde, the Lumineers, Carly Rae Jepsen’s sound check at Much (does that even count?), [Animal Kingdom, The White Panda, Dr. Dog, Zedd, SBTRKT, Passion Pit, M83, The Black Keys, FIDLAR, Jeff the Brotherhood, Givers, Neon Indian, FUN., The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avicii, Hey Rosetta!, Nadastrom, The Walkmen, Sigur Ros, Doctor P, Florence and the Machine, Zeds Dead, Kaskade, Jack White, and Justice!] Ellie Goulding, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Wolfgang, The Royal Concept, Grouplove, Plants and Animals, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Band of Horses, and Joel Plaskett.

Lolla

Not too shabby I’d say.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays!

Just one! But I would say it was the best one of the summer. The best summer day for sure because it featured lots of friends, and two magnificent concerts, and a sunny day with no sunburns, so that is a bonus.

Jays!

Graduation

Graduation

I graduated from the Paralegal program at Seneca College in June of 2012!

Canada Day

Canada Day

I spent the Canada Day weekend in Burritts Rapids, Ontario, a beautiful little island on the Rideau River outside of Ottawa. What followed was a spectacular weekend filled with lazy river tube floats, some fishing, a bunch of board games, and the most beautiful trail walk on the Tip-to-Tip trail.

BR island

We also got to spend some quality time with J. Douglas Struthers, the Mayor of Merrickville, where we congratulated him on his very entertaining Canada Day celebrations, and the beauty of his little town.

Mayor

Europe

This summer I spent two weeks with my family in Paris and Dublin. There is so much beauty, history, culture, and style everywhere you look. Everything at home seems entirely plain in comparison. It was a wonderful trip.

Paris

trio

there are a lot of people at versailles today

My sister, Caroline, and I went up to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. It made me feel superhuman to be up so high, and also so cowardly at the same time because I had no idea how very scared of heights it turns out I am!

eiffel tower

view from the top

My little sister, Kathleen, and I spent a wonderful time quoting every line from Marie Antoinette while we spent the day at Versailles. The best part of that day was when decided to rent bicycles to travel to the Petit Trianon! Biking through the grounds of Versailles is really the only way to do it! As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a little wary of biking, but this time was entirely wonderful, and safe.

Versailles

bikes!

I spent one lovely afternoon wandering around Montmartre, near the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur, and discovered, as many have before me, a packed artist’s market on top of a hill. There were rows upon rows of portrait artists and happy patrons with their likeness taken down in pencil, or chalk, or charcoal. Seeing as I had all the time in the world and a desire to indulge my vanity, I decided that now was as good a time as ever to have my portrait drawn.

portrait

I don’t actually look like that. It’s a beautiful, stylized version of myself. But one day I will hang it up when I’m old and be able to say to my grandchildren, “Look here, this is what Grandma looked like when she was 23 in Paris. How lucky I was and I didn’t even realize it at the time.”

dublin

Ireland was very green and very jolly. I will say that I expected to feel some kind of overwhelming feeling of patriotism, seeing as my family is so closely intertwined with our Irish heritage. But I did not feel that.

guinness

We went on the Guinness Brewery tour. It was very well done and highly recommended. I can now say that not only do I enjoy the taste of Guinness, which I never used to, I actually understand the craftsmanship it takes to produce and appreciate the history behind it.

Lollapalooza 2012

Lollapalooza 2012

I did it! I wanted to go again and sure enough I did! We saw a million great shows, [see above] and it was another fabulous weekend in Chicago.

Canada!

Carleton Legacy Lives On

 I happily got to move my little sister into residence at Carleton, and I got to see my other sister working away as a Frosh Head Facilitator on the same day. I haven’t felt so proud of them, possibly ever. They are a wonderful addition to the fabric of Carleton, and I am so happy to say they are my sisters. I am still waiting on my recruitment fee…

sisters

Birthdays

I am 24 now! What in the world…

Halloween

I paid homage to my two pets and masqueraded as a cat for six hours. Worth it.

Other Terribly Scary Things

I set my hair on fire in the bathroom. No permanent damage, just wonky bangs. And I got electrocuted! Sadly, no super powers.

New Year’s Eve

We rang in the new year in Huntsville, Ontario in a cottage surrounded by friends. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to 2012, and welcome 2013 with open arms and open hearts.

nye

We decided to write little notes to commemorate the day. I wrote “There are no walls but those we build ourselves. Cheers to 2013!” This statement is meant to inspire and challenge me over the next year. I really believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough, and the message stands to break down the barriers in my life because I am the only thing standing in my own way!

New Years Resolutions:

Push my run to 13 miles; Get my driver’s licence; Visit friends out West and down East; Take more photos, read more books, see more movies; See as many concerts as possible; Devote myself to being a better friend; Just keep trying to be a better person in every way!

Anything could happen! Girl Power! Cheers to 2013!

Christmas Carols

This is what I’ll be listening to until December 26th.

Last Christmas, This Christmas, Blue Christmas, White Christmas, Home for Christmas, Christmas Bells are Ringing, Oh Christmas Tree, Chrismas Canon in D!!!