Easter tidings


Happy Easter! It’s a pretty low-key day here at the MacKay/Norman residence – Easter-egg hunt this morning (yes, this happened; we are young at heart…?), French toast for breakfast, laundry (me), hockey (Darcy), reading (just finished This is Where I Leave You), and general indulgent laziness. We have also been debating supper on and off for the past three hours without a conclusion. Does inertia beget indecision? I don’t know. You decide.

Good tidings

I recently procured a few more pictures from my holidays, so I thought I would share them on the blog before I leave Christmas well and truly behind me for another year. Besides, only a short month ago, it was Christmas Eve! That seems a bit unbelievable, actually, but the calendar doesn’t lie; oh no, it does not lie.


Here I am at my parents’ house, making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve day. They turned out so well! Click here to read the recipe I used.


My family’s Christmas Eve tradition is to have a seafood supper, and this year didn’t disappoint. Here we are, waiting for the deliciousness to come our way.

Me and dad

This is a portrait that should be framed and hung in a museum; “Father and Daughter Cribbage Match.” Our expressions say things words cannot.


My mom got a new Canon Rebel camera for Christmas, and she was enjoying taking many close-ups like this one.


As I mentioned, my parents and brother came to North Bay for a weekend, and on the first night, this was our table setting. My mom wanted to steal my vintage tablecloth.


Does anyone else own Clue: The Great Museum Caper? My dad and I love this game, and here we are at my house, sleuthing away.

Gaming 2

On the second night of North Bay high jinx, we played this game, called Pandemic. It took a few tries to get everyone invested in their role of saving the world from deadly disease, but by the end, we were basically scientists.

Gaming 3

I forget what this game is called (it was a new one my mom had just bought), but we had fun!


I received a waffle iron for Christmas, and this was its first usage. Click here for the recipe I used.


I also received this T-fal ActiFry appliance, and as you can see, Darcy and I are over the moon about it.

It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.

Tonight we (Darcy) welcome Hockey Night in Canada back into our home. To Darcy, this means the excitement of live sports; to me, this means time to blog while I “watch” the game with him.

It was brought to my attention in class on Friday that I had not posted anything on here since December, and I also found out over the holidays that I have – marginally – more readers than I thought. These revelations mean, of course, that I need to maintain a better blogging schedule! Lucky for you, there is good news on that front – I finished my last day of class on Friday, and am packing up and heading down to Kitchener and Toronto for eight weeks of student placement in two different types of pharmacies; my first placement begins on Monday. What is special about this is that I will have normal hours and workdays, and my evenings and weekends will be spent doing the things I want to do and not the things my pharmacy tech course requires of me.

I had a taste of this freedom over the holidays because I had about a week off from school, and then an additional two weeks beyond that, as I was exempt from two courses. I felt like my life was completely transformed – I had an entirely new appreciation for spending my free time wisely. For me, this meant relaxing with Darcy, my parents, and my brother in Espanola, playing boardgames, reading books, sleeping in late, hosting my family for a weekend in North Bay, visiting Darcy’s family in Petrolia, going sliding with our niece and nephew, playing more boardgames, and just generally feeling good.

I don’t have many pictures from my December/January escapades, but here is small sampling of what I could gather up:

This one is from December 15, at my friend Caroline’s Christmas party. If you have read my blog for a while, you probably recognize, from left to right, Susie, Erin, me, Kristy, and Caroline. I learned a valuable lesson on this fateful night: do not drink white wine for the entire duration of a party.

Was this before or after I drifted into insobriety? I do not know. What I can tell you is that my earrings are from Aldo and my dress is from ModCloth, and that Darcy’s outfit comes from Aldo (tie), Sears (shirt), and The Gap (sweater).

The essential Christmas Eve picture of the two Darcys and me.

I think my mom’s head was going to explode if we didn’t get out on the deck and get this family picture taken. This was about Take 20.

The red-sequined dress makes its second appearance! This time, I wore it in Espanola on New Year’s Eve. My mom took this picture of my brother and me before I swept out of the family manor in my fur-collared coat. (Ha.)

And here is my final picture from the holidays, taken with another familiar face, my friend Melanie.

Mathematical madness

I blew back onto the blog a couple weeks ago…and then my dosage calculations class began at school. Eek. I have been dreading this course since I started school in May – flashbacks from my Grade 12 math exam, which I failed, have been causing night sweats. Wednesday, however, is the last day of this self-imposed trial of (many) errors, and I foresee wine at approximately 1800h.

As you wait with bated breath to find out if I passed my final exam (Mr. Houle, are you out there, laughing at me right now?), here is a bit of what I have been up to lately:

About two weeks ago, I hit the first milestone toward total school completion, and that was the end of my weekly Monday drug quizzes, which consistently ruined my Sundays for 24 consecutive weeks. This picture is a glimpse of many, many pages of study notes.

Last week was Customer Appreciation Day at the pharmacy, and these chocolate chip cookies were my contribution to the smorgasbord of food we cooked and baked for our customers.

Here is what I wore on Customer Appreciation Day – it was nice to see everyone dressed up and without their Pharmasave smocks on!

I wear these boots all the time on the blog, but they never show up very well in pictures, so this picture actually shows a bit more of their shape and length.

Last Friday, Darcy and I went to a Sudbury Wolves hockey game, and, as usual, I spent a lot of time people-watching.

Last weekend, Darcy and I also went to our first of five Christmas parties, and just how pale my skin is becomes glaringly apparent in shots like this.

On Saturday, I participated in the annual Santa Shuffle 5K run, but this year I did it in Sudbury with my co-workers. So far, I have taken part in this race in Toronto, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Sudbury, and I definitely consider the Santa Shuffle a holiday tradition! 

The ultimate in grab-bag blogging

Seriously?! May 5 was really the last time I posted on De Facto Redhead? As Kenan Thompson says on SNL, what up wit dat?

As I mentioned before the summer started, I was about to begin a new chapter in my life, and that included moving to North Bay from Burlington and beginning a Pharmacy Technician program that would have me walking out the door with my diploma in less than a year. Accelerated programs are no joke, and what is normally taught in two years is being crammed into my short 44-week stint back in college. I honestly do not know how it’s November 3! The days have flown by since I started school on May 15, but things are going to be winding down in the next couple of months because starting in mid-January, I go out on the first of my two four-week placements. And then…freedom! Yes, I have provincial exams and licensing to complete, but WHATEVER. Phase 1 of this new adventure will be complete! Even the fact that I have the time this weekend to pen something for the blog is miraculous, but it’s a sign of things to come. Friends 30 and over beware: a post-secondary education the second time around is not the same as when you were a young 20-something. There are real bills to pay, there are meaningful relationships to maintain, there are homes to clean, there’s grocery shopping to do, there’s a yard to fix up, there are long-distance friendships that require long-distance visits, and many other life events that just, well, happen.

On that note, here is what my life has consisted of over the past six months (click on the pictures for a larger view!):

It’s starting to get dog-eared, which is a sure sign of overuse!

I could hardly believe it – I only had to paint one room in the entire house because all the other main walls were painted when we moved in!

Darcy bought himself a fishing kayak this year, and when he went out on his maiden voyage, it was also one of the first times we did some exploring of the North Bay area.

Mid-July, Darcy and I went to our friend Caroline’s farm and this day has remained one of my favourites of the summer.

This was another great day – my long-time friend Sheri’s bachelorette party in Kitchener!

My mom came to North Bay for the night in August to take me out for dinner for my 30th birthday, and this what I wore.

For my birthday, my mom and dad bought me tickets to see The Bangles and B-52s at Casino Rama in Orillia. Before the concert, Darcy and I mingled with the locals in a pub…and by “mingled,” I mean “drank wine.”

My family and I had to endure bad news twice this summer. First, my Grammie passed away in August and second, my Nannie Minnie passed away in September. Deaths bring families together, though, and while I couldn’t go to PEI for both funerals, I did fly out for my Grammie’s in August and the picture above is of me, my parents, and my brother in my Grammie and Grampie’s backyard.

I stayed in PEI for a week with Darcy and my family, and we all had a wonderful time together. This picture is of me and my dad at the top of a lighthouse.

After I got back from PEI, it was straight into a golf tournament for work. I had never golfed in my life, save for a few misguided swings in the company of my dad, so completing an entire 18 holes was a major accomplishment!

September 1 was Sheri’s wedding, and I had the honour of being part of it – I read a short piece Sheri had selected and you can see it in this picture in my left hand. This day was HOT and to my benefit, my reading also acted as a fan.

This shot of Peter, Susie, Nate, me, and Darcy is frame-worthy, not only because we look so happy, but also because of the memories! There are too many hilarious things to remember from this night!

This is in early October, only about one month after Sheri’s wedding, and it was hard to believe how much the weather had changed. Fall was suddenly upon us! This picture is from a day trip Darcy and I took on the Thanksgiving weekend; we drove around the Temiskaming shores and ventured into Quebec.

My brother was with Darcy and I for Thanksgiving this year. It was just a cozy dinner for three because my parents were still in PEI after my Nannie Minnie’s funeral.

This is me with my niece and nephew Avery and Ethan. Darcy and I went to Petroila/Sarnia for a weekend in October to visit his family, and the visit included a cross-country meet. So. Many. Kids.

My friends came up to North Bay over the Halloween weekend and instead of pre-planned costumes, we went with numbers and costumes drawn out of a hat, which resulted in…this. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

I did, however, end up wearing a costume to work and to hand out the Halloween candy. Spooky!

We had 29 trick-or-treaters knock on our door this year, and those 29 kids equalled about three bags of leftover, unopened Halloween candy. I still had the receipt so I could have returned it…but that didn’t happen.

It was a happy Halloween around our house. Boo!


The Ornamentals

Last Christmas, my friend Joanne, of A Warm Cup of Joe, did a blog post about her special Christmas ornaments. I thought it was a great idea and wanted to write my own version, but I didn’t get around to it. This year, I made a pledge to myself (and to Joanne!) to DO THIS POST, and since I was always good little Girl Guide, I try to keep my blog-post pledges. I want a badge!

This is my newest ornament on the tree. Kristy gave it to me at the ornament exchange a week ago. She got it at the One of  a Kind Show, and there’s a personalized message on the back, along with a secret scroll that falls out of the bottom when the ornament’s string goes slack. It’s so special, and I love it!

This one was purchased at the gift shop at the top of the Banff Gondola ride, and it’s been my favourite for the past few years. I bought this with Kristy when she was in Alberta on a work trip.

Darcy and I bought this inukshuk in Jasper when my parents came to visit us in Edmonton. That seems like it was so long ago!

Let’s go back in time…to circa 1988 when I made ornaments in school and thought I had a talent in visual arts.

I also made this beauty, with each piece carefully and logically glued onto a shell. What genius! What promise!

Darcy and I also bought this one on a trip with my parents, but this time it was to the opposite end of the country – PEI! This was Darcy’s pick in the gift shop at the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.

This ornament is very special to me because it used to belong to my Grammie and Grampie, and the names on it refer to me and my brother, not me and Darcy the boyfriend. I remember taking this ornament home from PEI the first time I went back after my Grampie died. It was a sad moment in the basement when my mom and I were going through my grandparents’ old ornaments.

I also brought this one home with me on that same trip. My Grammie made it, and from Christmas to Christmas, it has alternated between being hung on the tree and hung from some sort of hook around the house.

Another PEI ornament! This one is handmade as well, and it’s an actual starfish. Santa be a starfish, son!

This ornament came from PEI as well, and it used to be part of a pair…until I broke the other one. My clumsiness is a fact of life around our home.

This one may have belonged to my maternal great-grandmother. I know my mom has an identical ornament on her tree. Mom?

This vintage ornament belonged to Darcy’s Baba. It looks perfect among the vintage vibe of our tree!

I bought this little guy for Darcy last year. He loves penguins!

This is one of the first ornaments Darcy and I bought together, during our first Christmas in Edmonton. We bought it at Hallmark, which means we spent too much, but how can you say no to Hermey…?

…And if you can’t say no to Hermey, how can you say no to Yukon Cornelius?!

Erin gave me this ornament for our annual exchange a few years ago, and it arrived in the mail with a cupcake ornament that’s also hanging on the tree. It references my then-obsession with Flirt Cupcakes in Edmonton. (Truthfully, the obsession still exists. I. Just. Can’t. Get. Them. Here.) I digress. Isn’t this dove pretty?!

I bought this one last year in Hamilton, at Citizen Kid. Erin and I went shopping after the Santa Shuffle, and now, in addition to me, my mom and Jen also have this decoration hanging on their trees. (Jen was Erin’s pick for the ornament exchange last year, and as for my mom, well, I’m just a good daughter like that!) Erin, did you buy one, too?

My mom gave me this vintage postcard last year. That’s a redheaded girl, of course! The clothespin technique is one I thought of this year, and I admit I was pretty satisfied with myself when I came up with the idea. Patent pending.

Last but not least, and in honour of the person who inspired this post, I give you the sparkly shoe! Joanne sent a set of ornaments to me for my birthday this year, and this was included, along with three other glittery, girly accessories. Thanks, Joanne – for both this idea and for the thoughtful present!



Shoes, Winners; tights, gift; skirt, H&M; top, Guess; belt, thrifted; purse, Aldo; earrings and brooches, vintage.

Last night was Bryony’s annual Christmas party, and while Darcy and I were waiting for our ride into Toronto, I actually had time to take pictures on a night I was going out. That never happens! And forget about taking outfit pics when I get home – that also never happens, and it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why. I did manage to get one other picture last night, though:

That is Darcy pushing Erin and Mikey J.’s car…at 1:30 am…yep, we ran out of gas. This had never happened to any of us, and it was surprising how suddenly the whole fiasco went down. The gauge said we had six kilometres left in gas. Nope. It was more like one or less, and, thankfully, we were pulling into a gas station when the chugging started – and ended – in about five seconds. Then, after Darcy got out and pushed and Mike steered the car into the station, we realized we had pulled up in front of the diesel pumps. Noooooo! Mike got out of the car to help Darcy push, and Erin took over the wheel. She successfully got us over to the right pumps, and then almost knocked out the teeth of both Darcy and Mike when she quickly threw the car into park to stop it from moving any further. Driving Miss. Edna! Everyone saw the hilarity in the situation, but that laughter could have quickly turned to tears and PO’ed boyfriends had we literally waited another two minutes to pull off the highway. Is that you, Santa? Thanks for saving us. We believe in the magic of Christmas in the face of fuel emergencies…

10 days until Christmas…

Boots, Spring; leggings, Dynamite; tube-dress, Spoof; shirt, Old Navy; jacket, closed-down boutique in Toronto; scarf, gift;  purse, thrifted; hat, Aldo.

Christmas is, indeed, 10 days away, but you wouldn’t know it by the weather today – it was 12 degrees in Burlington, and this is what I had on while running errands this afternoon. I made Irish soda bread this afternoon, and had to open the kitchen window because of the warmth of the oven. It was heat upon heat, this balmy afternoon of December 15. Unheard of, dear sir!

Over the past couple weeks, I have been counting down to Christmas by participating in all things festive. The month started out with the annual Santa Shuffle 5K:

Erin and I after this year’s Santa Shuffle. The random person we asked to take our picture told us were were “shiny” after she took the shot. Erin and I glanced at each other as if to say, “That’s rude!” but then we looked at the picture and realized she meant our reflective gear. OK, we forgive you.

Here I am at my staff party, which was was a couple weeks ago. We had a fantastic dinner at Red Canoe Bistro in downtown Burlington, and while this martini looks fabulous, it was not. Tequila and salt overload! I finished it, though, so I guess it wasn’t that bad… I am wearing a one-piece pantsuit from Anthropolgie, a fact that my co-workers thought was hilarious – a one-piece pantsuit!?!?

Last weekend, the girls and I got together at my place to celebrate our seventh annual Christmas gift exchange. We started out with actual presents and switched to cookies somewhere along the way, but we are now fully committed to ornaments. We are also fully committed to our annual Christmas exchange potluck. Oh, food. We crawled from the couches to this position, and then collapsed in unison after the picture was taken.

I also guest-blogged over at Dear Edna today, and if you want to look at some lovely pictures of holiday Pyrex, head over there, like OMG, now! And, finally, this Saturday is Bryony’s annual Christmas party, so I need to stop everything and focus on the big things in life, such as what to wear. Ha.

Grab-bag blog!

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post! I had an editing project due in the middle of the month, and then I spent a week planning, shopping, and decorating for my Halloween party. I also admit that I took that week to catch up on my TV shows and relax. Unfortunately, however, when I am either too busy or being too lazy, the blog is the first thing to fall by the wayside. It’s a sorry-but-true fact. So, to make up for my ignorance, I am going to give you a picture-heavy grab-bag blog post that plays a little game of Fall 2011 catch-up.

Here is my Halloween costume – 1980s exercise queen! Every piece is from my closet – no purchases necessary. Shoes, Giant Tiger; leg warmers, gift; tights, Secret; bathing suit, Old Navy; tank top and belt, H&M; bracelets, gifts and Liquidation World; button, free from Edmonton Transit System; earrings, gift; scarf, vintage.

I had the most unexpected party guests show up at my door: Wanda (of Where’s Waldo? fame), Slash, a gangsta (yo), and a classy couple from the 1930s (did they find a hot-tub time machine?).

Me, today in my backyard, wearing my new boots that I thrifted this weekend while antiquing around St. Jacobs and Cambridge with my parents. The close-up is below, but if you’re interested, I’m also wearing Costa Blanca jeans, a red Smart Set sweater, a black H&M tank top, an H&M leopard-print jacket, a vintage scarf, and Foxy Originals earrings (gift from Caroline).

This is how I have taken to wearing my hair now. It’s either this or a side-braid. It’s too long and wild to do anything with, but I have decided to push any hair appointments to the end of December, which is when I last got my hair cut two years ago. Twenty-four months; it’s time to donate.

My new boots! I found these for $10 in an antique mall in St. Jacobs. They were labelled as never-worn and were in the original box:

Who is the woman who owned these boots? Why didn’t she wear them? There was another pair for sale (also for $10), but they were all brown, with a small heel, and I didn’t think I needed them. I’m kind of regretting that decision now. Uh-oh – non-buyer’s remorse!  The worst!

My first Pyrex purchase of the weekend – a Town and Country 403! It was $5.95 at an antique mall in St. Jacobs.

I couldn’t go home without something for Darcy, so I picked up this little brass penguin ornament for $3.50. He loves penguins, and he loves, well, things like this.

I have one metre stick up on a wall here at home, but left room for two more to be placed above it. I found one of those two elusive sticks at a Cambridge antique mall. Well, actually, my dad found it, and at $1.50 it was a steal since I didn’t see one other metre stick for less than $4 all weekend.

I didn’t buy all of these this weekend – just the red one, which was $4.95 and completed my primary-bowls Pyrex set. Yay!

I also found this other 403 bowl for my collection – it’s Snowflake Blue, and cost me $9. I have 11 bowls now!

I have one other wooden hanger that I found last year at the Aberfoyle antique market, and I want to put a few of them on a wall in the bathroom, but I need to find more before I do that. Wooden hangers like this are actually a bit difficult to find – especially when I won’t pay more than $5. I found this one at the Freelton antique mall, and it was $4.50.

Darcy came around with us on Antiquing Day 2, and spotted a box of comics that he thought we could frame. I thought it was a great idea, and once I find the right frame, we already know where these will be hanging. Love them for $3 each!

I have wanted a vintage cocktail shaker for a long time, so I finally decided to take the plunge and buy one this weekend. I picked this lovely guy up for $14.95. I can’t wait to use it!

Darcy spotted this board game underneath a pile of who-knows-what, and it came home with us, of course! Hockey? Management? Trades? Vintage? Sold, for $15!

I bought a set of the glasses on the left last year, but since then have broken two (of six). Luckily, my mom found matching ones priced individually for $3 each. Darcy and I also have a set of the Bluenose glasses, and I found another one to add to the collection for $0.50.

Next up this month is the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, and then it’s a quick slide into December when I already have something going on every weekend! How does the calendar fill up so fast? Stay tuned!

Thanksgiving weekend

Hi Readers! How was your Thanksgiving? I had a great weekend! I left Burlington on Saturday morning, and just got back last night. I travelled, I purchased, I ate too much, I slept late, I laughed, I watched TV, I thrifted, I drank wine, I visited. Can I do this all the time, please? Here is a recap in pictures:

Forgot to remove the time stamp. Too lazy to redo the picture. In other news, here are the two Darcys and me, hangin’ loose in mom’s kitchen.

Darcy and I went on a little tour of Manitoulin Island, and this is the bridge to Little Current from the mainland. It swings open every hour in the summer, to let big boats through, but in the off-season it only opens based on need, so we didn’t get to see it in its glory on this trip.

A boat docked at Boyle Marine, in Little Current.

Darcy and I love photo ops based around wooden novelty signs, and I think this one turned out particularly good! Hallo, good mate!

Fall is happening in Sheguiandah! (Darcy also thrifted a retro green desk chair, two books, and a board game here! All for $20, thanks to my bartering skillzzz.)

Darcy is getting in touch with his spiritual side.

My first pair of moccasins, purchased on Manitoulin Island (but made in Quebec) for a very reasonable $29.95.

I have been collecting vintage cookbooks for the past year or so, and I found this fun little guy for $0.49 at Sudbury’s Salvation Army.

I found this lovely cake stand for $2 at Val Caron’s St. Vincent de Paul.

These bowls were also discovered at St. Vincent de Paul. I bought the set for $5, and figure they will be great for serving food at my Halloween party at the end of the month. They’re amber-coloured, and have a vine pattern on them, so beside black and other decor items, they will be nice and Halloweeny.

Two belts! The navy one was $1 at the Sudbury Jarrett Value Centre, and the red one was…FREE! It was supposed to be $1 at St. Vincent de Paul, but the cashier gave it to me for no charge. I still don’t know why, but who I am to question the higher powers of thrifting?

My only regret from the weekend was over a pair of pristine black Calvin Klein slacks at the Sudbury Value Village. They just didn’t quite fit. But oh! They were so nice, and for $12.99, I thought they were a steal. If the gluttonous life would have given me a few more days in Espanola, I might have eaten enough to fit into the pants…