Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In with the new

The first morning of 2013 could not have been more perfect. Although there was a little nip in the air (okay, a big nip in the air, as it was -22 with the windchill), there was not a cloud in the sky. So, with a fresh coffee in my hand and a broadcast of "This American Life" playing on my iPhone, Fergus and I set out for our first trip to the Arboretum of the new year. We spent two hours outside together, running through knee-deep-on-me and belly-deep-on-him snow, playing fetch, and greeting every dog that came our way. It was a perfect start to 2013. (Except for the part where I threw his fancy, brand new frisbee over the fence and into the parking lot of a Honda dealership.... Oops...)

Sitting nice, waiting for me to throw his frisbee 

Chewing on his frisbee

So much fresh snow!

Running through piles and piles of the stuff

We came home to a freshly cleaned house - including mopped floors - courtesy of Hubby. Which Fergus promptly messed up again by tracking snow and ice through the entire house. Nonetheless, it was nice to catch a glimpse of clean floors, if only for a millisecond.

The floors (and bathrooms and all other surfaces) were sparkling so because Hubby and I were getting ready to greet our nearest and dearest to our 8th annual New Year's Day Levee. What is a levee, you ask? Worry not. I did not know what a levee was either, until I married Hubby. A levee is a fancy word for an open house, and evidently, this is a very East coast thing to do on New Year's Day. Of course, it is normally the lieutenant governor of the province throwing such an event (for my American friends, that would be the Queen's representative). Hubby and I like to believe that we are equally important. And so while he finished cleaning, I rushed around my kitchen like a mad woman for 4 hours, putting the finishing touches on the way-too-much-food-again-this-year that I was preparing.

I will stop here and blow my own horn for a moment. I never, and I mean never ever ever, serve finger foods from a box. You know, the ones that come frozen and you throw them on a cookie sheet and bake them. No. Instead, I always make them from scratch. Which amounts to an awful lot of stress for a few hours days. This year's menu included:
- goat cheese crostini with blood orange and black pepper marmalade;
marinated chicken kebabs with lemon pepper yogurt sauce;
mini crab cakes;
- homemade hummus and pita chips;
- figs and mascarpone cheese wrapped in prosciutto;
- veggies and dip;
- homemade chocolate chip cookies;
- homemade rum balls; and
strawberry, lime and champagne cocktail.

Why do I make the holidays even more stressful by going through all this trouble? Because I like to cook. And because I like my friends. And this is my little way of showing them how much I like them.

(But mostly because I have an A-type, ultra-perfectionist personality, and I can't stand the thought of not being the best hostess in the whole world).

Delicious! (And yes, those are Winnipeg Blue Bombers oven mitts in the background...) 

Still delicious, but from another angle. With Fergus supervising form the background. 

There is always booze at a New Year's Day Levee. Including champagne punch. Hair of the dog and all... 

All those tears and that swearing that work is worth it once we open our doors to our friends, who trickle in and out in shifts throughout the day. And really, is there any better way to usher in the New Year? Well, if there is, we haven't found it yet. Which is why next year, we will surely host the 9th annual levee at the same time next year. Although perhaps next time, we will leave Fergus somewhere a little more quiet, as all of the in-and-out and doorbell-ringing is a little stressful on his overly excitable mind...

And so with that, my friends, I bid you the happiest of starts to your New Year. I hope that your 2013 started with a bang, as did mine, and that you make the most of your time with family and friends this year.