Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - A year in review

It seems that you can't open a newspaper, turn on a tv show, or check a website without being bombarded with '2011 lists'.  News, highlights, music, sports, etc etc. Since I couldn't live without lists (I would forget at least half of the groceries if I didn't have a list, I probably would not get a lot of work done, and it helps me to keep my mind organized!), I thought to look back at 2011, and mention some of the highlights (and lows).

The year started off pretty quiet. We had an average winter with some snow, but everything was slightly different being in the new house. In a good way!
The single running highlight came in February when I ran the Peterbrough  half marathon. It wasn't super fast, but it was a fun run, and nice to catch up with Candice. It also marked the last race in a very long time, and we were both ok with it. We took a break from running this year, and it was good. We did run, mainly some shorter distances and on the trails, but no races and it felt great not to have that pressure of having to run all the time.

March saw the biggest low of the year, with my dad being sick. It's those moments that make you realize you're further away, and you can't just go over for a weekend to help out. However, I was impressed with how quickly I was able to fly back, and felt blessed that I could be there for those few weeks. I stayed for a week and a half, and went back home for another week and a half, only to return. This time for a planned Easter visit, to enjoy our family Easter breakfast, where everyone was present, including my dad! It was also a nice visit to catch up with some of our Dutch friends, and to just relax.

The spring and early summer were fairly busy with work, but we also spent quite a bit of time putting our garden in. We definitely added some colour to the garden, and were able to grow some taste tomatoes and parsley to last us a lifetime!
A house in our neighbourhood burnt down in June, which was scary; it hit too close to home! Luckily nobody got injured. I also worked several weekends at the PRF, which was anything but typical. Road washouts became the norm! I don't think they'll ask me back!

Against all expectations, my parents were able to come and visit us this summer. They had bought tickets before my dad got sick, and my mom refused to cancel the trip until she knew for sure they couldn't go. Well, her foresight pay off, since they were able to spend a good two weeks here in Canada.
The summer in photos: click here.

A definitely highlight this year was our trip to Utah. Nolan was in Salt Lake City for a conference and we decided to make it our holiday destination. It was an absolutely amazing trip!
For updates, check here:
Utah part 1
Utah part 2
Utah - Part 3: The Arches!
Utah - Part 4 - Dead Horse Point State Park
Utah - Part 5: Road trip!
Utah - Part 6 - Capitol Reef National Park
Utah - Part 7 - Uinta National Forest
Utah - Part 8 (final) - Antelope Island

The fall was a bit more quiet at the home front, but work definitely made up for it! Nolan and I were both kept busy with our jobs. I also travelled quite a bit; a trip to the Acadia Research Forest in New Brunswick and several trips to the PRF, as well as a trip to Huntsville and North Bay.

A fun trip for both of us was Carrie's wedding in Toronto in October. It was a beautiful wedding, and we had some time to explore Toronto as well, which was fun. I felt like such a small town girl in a big city! In a way, Ottawa, is just a big town and not really a city. Just the way I like it!

And now it's winter! We finally got some snow, unusually late, but it lights everything up. While I write this, it's -14 and a windchill of -20. Toasty compared to the -20 and -28 windchill we had yesterday...

We picked up our running this fall, which we have been able to do outdoors for the most part due to the milder weather until this week. The year off has done us really well. So well, that we decided to sign up for the Ottawa Marathon this spring. The official training program starts in January, but we've been able to build up our basis significantly in the past few weeks, so we'll be ready to hit the road running!

In general it has been a pretty good year for us. We are so happy in this house (have I mentioned that before?), and the cats our happy with us. We're probably boring people, without crazy adventures, but this is the way we like it!

To all of you! Have a wonderful, healthy, happy and prosperous 2012, and that all your wishes may come true.

Warmest wishes from both of us.
Katalijn and Nolan

And big paw from Fertile and Murphy

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A wonderful Christmas

With very little snow on the ground, it was a bit tough to get into the Christmas spirit. We got a dusting later in the week, and it did miracles to our Christmas spirit!  And as promised last time, here is a picture of our own Christmas tree and some close ups.

A couple of weeks ago we were at Costco and Nolan pointed out characters from Rudolph. I felt a little out of the loop, since I am not familiar with the Rudolph movie. We picked the characters, and put them up on our door knobs (Rudolph, Clarice, and the snow monster below:)

Once all the classic movies starting coming on TV, Nolan looked up when all of them were on, and he made me watch Rudolph, How the Grinch stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.  So now I am all up to date on the Christmas movies! And to top it off, we watched Home Alone last week while wrapping Christmas presents. Talking nostalgics...

We started Christmas eve with a 15k run in the bitter cold. A good way to burn off some calories... We attended the Candle light service in the evening (last night), and slept in and took it easy this morning. After lunch, we started unwrapping gifts, and Nolan and I got spoiled. Royally!  I got some running clothes, including a bright pink jacket (great visibility at night) and tights that provide warmth while running, which might come in handy this winter! And a new bird feeder, which is always great (especially with my obsession of bird feeders!).
But it was also very nice to spend time with family. We were even able to connect with my parents and brother, who were home in Amerongen, thanks to current technology! Gijsbert took this picture while we were connected with them through Facetime. So I guess we were able to wish them a merry Christmas in person, which made them a little less far away for a bit. And we even witnessed them lighting the real candles in their real tree! Just like the old days.

We were planning on taking it easy this week, but in the meantime our agenda is of course pretty full... We are hoping to paint our bedroom, get a couple of runs in, connect with friends and try to relax as well.

And since I'm somewhat obsessed with our cats as well as our bird feeders, here are some more photos!

This is what happens when I work from home...

Merry Christmas everyone, with hopefully lots of time with family and friends!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


This past week was has been slightly busy at work, but I survived! Unfortunately not everything got done, just not enough hours in a day, but I will have a few more days this week to finish it all. Or at least most of it before I sign off Friday afternoon and take a break.

I spent Thursday at the PRF for a meeting discussing long term research sites, and we spent most of the day outside. The weather forecast called for rain all day, but what we got instead was a bit of a surprise. Sure, the odd shower, but it went up to 12 degrees!! Hello!!! It's mid-December, we should be freezing our feet off! It felt really weird, but admittedly made for a great day in the bush.
Friday it started to turn around a bit, and Saturday was officially chill, which continued Sunday morning with a low of -17. Of course, great weather for running!  We ran a 16.5 km in the sun. It was a tad chilly, but besides that perfect running weather. It's amazing how quickly you warm up! Not sure what the rest of the week will hold, but a dump of snow would be nice, especially if it stays for Christmas. It's been hard getting into the Christmas spirit without snow.
We did manage to put more lights on our tree, and it actually looks really nice now. I know, next time pictures :)

And some exciting news: We won our curling game on Friday evening! So we really ended this part of the season with a bang. We'll get back on the ice again in the New Year, so hopefully we can continue our winning 'streak'.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From Sinterklaas towards Christmas

According good Dutch tradition, Nolan and I celebrated Sinterklaas again this year. I had made several dips with crackers for dinner, as well as a salad and home-made speculaas, just as I remembered it! We both had bought a gift for each other, and we also received a box full of goodies from Amerongen. All in all a very nice evening.
Even though we paused to celebrate Sinterklaas, the Christmas bug has definitely arrived! You can't walk into a store without hearing Christmas music or being bombarded with 'ideas for Christmas gifts, most houses have their Christmas lights up and lit, and the number of flyers in our newspaper have increased significantly. Christmas, the season of spending...

We went out to buy a Christmas tree this weekend, a balsam fir! I have a long standing relationship with balsam fir trees. I have cut numerous down, as part of pre-harvesting treatments in pine stands; I've cursed them more than once, when we'd be out measuring trees, and they would dump another load of snow on our backs; and after a day in Balsam country, you'd always find needles in your clothes. Yes, the balsam and I go way back... Due to this dynamic relationship, I never expected that I would actually pay money for one of those suckers! But... this weekend we did. And a beautiful tree it is, by far the nicest balsam I have ever encountered!
We decided to put it in the living room, and started decorating. We bought some nice balls and lights. However, a string of 30 lights is apparently not enough to cover the tree! Nolan bought more lights tonight, but we still have to put them up.

It is somewhat hard to get into the real Christmas spirit since we have none, zero, no, snow!! Something is wrong here! I'm heading to Petawawa tomorrow, and the forecast calls for 11 degrees with lots of rain. Just weird!

Work has been nuts lately, with lots of deadlines and projects on the go. But I'm really enjoying it, and I'm still learning so much. For example, I'm working with our in-house economist looking at the economic impact of the work we do. Slightly different from my normal job, but very interesting. I'm also taking the lead on some strategic work for the research forests, which is always interesting (sorry, I'm slightly biased).

Since I have so much on my plate, I like to work from home now and then, since it allows me to really focus on my work without being interrupted too much. Of course, I like sitting in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on the bird feeder ;)
When I got up one time, this is what I saw:

Do your cats sit on the table as well?

Our running is also going well. We're slowly increasing our distances and are feeling stronger too. Bonus this time of year with all the tasty foods lying around :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December already??

Time just seems to fly, as usual. So before you know it, it's December! It just doesn't feel like December at all. Sure, the days are short and most people have their Christmas lights up by now, but there is no snow! We've had two minor snow falls, but that has all since disappeared. Everything is green, and today the temperature hit the double digits again! That, of course, won't help with getting the canal ready for skating...
Otherwise things are going well. Work is definitely picking up again. I have now four major projects on my plate, of which two could have quite the impact on our program. It's actually really cool working on things that really can make a difference, but it definitely adds to the pressure.
Last week I attended a two day session on biomass in North Bay, which was quite interesting. I was the moderator for the two morning sessions as well, so that added a different dimension to it as well.

Another highlight is that we won our first curling game this season! Funny part is that it wasn't even with our own team; we were sparing in JoAnn's team. But it doesn't matter, we won!

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but we bought another bird feeder, which seems to be quite popular with the local bird population. We have chickadees and house finches as regular visitors, and so far the squirrels are able to keep it alone! Next time I'll try to post some more pictures again.

And of course, tomorrow is Sinterklaas! I actually baked some real speculaas today, and the house smelled amazing!! We tried a couple of pieces and it tasted pretty good as well. We will save the rest for tomorrow, when we will have our own Sinterklaas celebration. Should be fun!

Running is also going well. The lack of snow does help with the ability to get out there, and we're really taking advantage of that. But I'm not complaining if we do get a bit of snow, and will be able to get our snowshoes out again!