Year in Review: My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015

It’s New Year’s Eve Eve and everyone seems to be reflecting on the year (almost) passed. I know you’ll probably already have read a bazillion year in review posts and articles but you haven’t read one from me yet, so hold on to your hats.  Actually, it’s not going to be that exciting, but I’m going to write it anyway.

People love reading year in review stuff.  We eat that shit up.  It’s partly because we’re nosy as a species and want to know what everyone else has been up to and partly because we get real reflective about this time of year and we like to look back at all the shit we did/read/talked about over the past 365 days.

This year, I started a blog.  Or, to be more precise, I started regularly writing in my already-created blog.  It’s been a wild ride.  I’ve had over 12,000 views and almost 10,000 visitors from all over the world.  I even had a post go viral-ish (by Maritime standards) with 3,500 views in a single day.  Even for well established blogs, that’s crazy stats.  I would like to thank everyone who read, liked, shared and commented on any of my posts in 2015.  Here’s to many more in 2016!

I’m recapping my blogging year with my top 5 posts of 2015.  Thanks for reading, see you in the new year!

My Top Posts of 2015:

5. Maritime Growing Season: The Wild Blueberry Harvest (August)

A tale of family love and the blueberry chain gang.

4.  Summer in Saint John (August)

What I Did Last Summer.  Literally.

3.  Stepping Up For My City (October)

My call-to-action in support of community improvement.

2.  Ode to the Rural Schoolhouse (April)

A love letter to a place of my rural Nova Scotian youth.

 1.  Why Your Opinion of Saint John Needs Updating (April)

A bad-ass listicle for a bad-ass town.


My ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Story: A Do-Over

I have a confession to make: Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year.  I like it better than Christmas Day.  To me, the true magic of the season lies in the anticipation and lead up to the big day rather than the big day itself.  I love the peaceful stillness that fills the house after everyone has gone to bed on Christmas Eve.  But there’s also an undercurrent of excitement, a quiet hum of anticipation for the coming morning.  It’s unlike any other night of the year.  And in my house growing up, my mother would often cook our turkey on Christmas Eve, so that when you went to bed, the house smelled oh, so wonderful.  To this day, the smell of a cooked turkey brings back memories of sleepless nights impatiently waiting to see what Santa brought for me.

When I was a kid, in that little two room schoolhouse I told you about, we had Christmas concerts, just like any other school.  One year I got this crazy idea to memorize the entire ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem and recite it at the school Christmas concert.  I don’t know what possessed my little 8 year old self to tackle such a challenge, but tackle it I did.  I spent weeks learning the poem, going over and over it in my mind.  The idea was to recite the poem for a couple younger school kids, as if I was telling them the story by the fireplace.  My teacher would prompt me if I forgot my line.

When the day of the concert came, I was a nervous wreck.  My stomach was in knots as the time ticked closer to my performance.  When my big moment arrived, I froze.  I couldn’t do it.  I had a major case of stage fright.  My teacher and the crowd tried to cajole me into performing, but I was having none of it.  No way, no how.  I was not going on that stage.

My parents were none too pleased with me and I was disappointed in myself.  I think I realized that my rather tenuous short-term memory was not going to survive all those faces staring expectantly at me.  But I also regretted not at least attempting it, which goes to show the old adage is true: you only regret the things you didn’t do in life.

We don’t often get do-overs in this life, so I’m going to take mine now.  So here I am, reciting (from memory) the now infamous poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, for my 8 year old self.  Better late than never!

I wish you all joy and happiness in the coming week!  Merry Christmas!


Smith Family Traditions: Christmas Mix

Holiday traditions.

We’ve all got them and the holidays just don’t seem like the holidays without them.  It might be the baking of a delicious treat, or the ritual of decorating the Christmas tree or a multitude of other sweet family customs.  They become so deeply embedded in our enjoyment of the season that even as we become adults, we often can’t let go of those traditions that we cherished as children.

For as long as I have known him, my husband has been making Christmas Mix as a holiday treat to give to family and friends (also known as bits and bites or nuts and bolts or a multitude of other names).  He’s been doing this for about 15 years and since we’ve been together, for the better part of a decade now, I’ve helped him.

Ours is a super-secret family recipe that can’t be revealed, but you can find a lot of very close recipes posted across the internet, such as those found here and here.

It started out as just about a dozen mason jars being given out but it’s ballooned over the years to this year’s all-time record of 40 jars of Christmas Mix!  It’s quite an operation.  If you don’t receive a jar from us, we’re very sorry, but we had to draw the line somewhere!

First, we collect all the supplies we need and the mason jars.

All the supplies are collected and ready to be baked!

Then comes the really time consuming part, baking the mix.  The mix cooks for 2 hours, stirred every 20 minutes.  You can’t just throw it in the oven and walk away.

The Mix is getting mixed
One batch almost ready for the oven
Adding the secret sauce…

We’re making 5 large batches this year, an all-time record.  That’s a lot of Christmas mix!  This year we decided to do all the baking in a single day, so we’re currently about halfway through a 10 hour Christmas Mix baking day.  It’s a marathon event that requires lots of Netflix, Winter Warmer (wine for me) and patience.

About half way through the baking process.  It smells amazing in here!
Of course, Joel has to sample the goods.

After the mix has cooled we put them into mason jars and pretty them up a bit.

The finished product ready to be delivered!

The really fun part is delivering the mix.  Joel and I put on Santa hats and hit the road (usually some snowy evening) to hand out our delicious treats. We even mail some out to friends who live outside Saint John.

It’s a lot of work but it’s totally worth it to spread a little Christmas cheer among our friends and family.  It’s a tradition.  And holiday traditions are comforting and warm, like a sweet memory.  For some, it’s just not Christmas until they see that mix.

I’ll leave you with some music to complete your own holiday traditions.  I was fortunate enough to see this New Brunswick native perform at Imperial Theatre this week and it was fabulous!  If you get the chance to see him live, I highly recommend it!  Here’s a couple of my favourites from his Christmas album:


What are some of your family holiday traditions?