Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve!!!

Here we are the last day of the year....2011.   Many things have happened this past year. Some were positive, some negative. Some we have done, others have been done to us but most, if not all, have affected our lives in one way or another.  Here is to new beginnings, new chances, new opportunities and the New Year. May 2012 be happy, healthy and prosperous and through hard work, commitment, patience and understanding may it bring you all you desire. 

 I have gathered up some quotes about the New Year, I hope you enjoy.


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"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves." ~ Bill Vaughn

"We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day/" ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right" ~ Oprah Winfrey 

 "New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time" ~ James Agate

"People are so worried about they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas"

"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other" 

 "Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold".

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." ~ Benjamin Franklin

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to". ~ Bill Vaughan

"What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year."
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
 


"Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word" ~ Goran Persson

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fabulous tips for around the house.


 
These aren't my tips, but they are fantastic.  These are from this blog  7th House on the Left.  Lots of great info and ideas here, so feel free to check it out.
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You’ve probably heard all about the amazing uses of distilled vinegar, using olive oil to condition leather and even that nifty trick of using a potato to loosen a broken light bulb. But today, we are going to talk about some of the not-so-known uses for everyday items like coffee filters, marshmallows and dryer sheets.
coffeefilters1 DID YOU KNOW...
COFFEE FILTERS – The little paper-like liners that make your morning cup of joe possible have many more uses than just getting your morning started. Because coffee filters are lint-free and absorb oil very well, there are many, many uses for these little guys. Did you know…
  • You can use coffee filters to clean glass, CD’s/DVD’s, computer monitors and even your iPad.
  • Pour some baking soda into a coffee filter, wrap it up with a rubber band and stick it into smelly athletic shoes to absorb the stench.
  • Use a coffee filter to pour oil into your car engine without messy spillage.
  • There are also many interesting crafts and DIY projects on the World Wide Web using coffee filters. One of my favorites being this Anthropology-inspired coffee filter garland by Pam Garrison.
  • In case you run out of dryer sheets and you’re in a pinch, just apply a few drops of fabric softener to a coffee filter, rub the sides together and stick it in the dryer.

dryer sheets DID YOU KNOW...
DRYER SHEETS – Speaking of dryer sheets, did you know…
  • If you plan on storing your luggage for a long period of time, stashing a dryer sheet inside each piece can help prevent musty odors.
  • Going camping this Spring? Hang a dryer sheet outdoors to repel mosquitoes. (It really works!)
  • The anti-static formula used in dryer sheets can help remove baked-on food from pots or pans. If time is on your side, simply place a sheet in the pot/pan, fill it with warm water and let sit overnight. The next morning, the baked-on food should be loose enough to clean as usual.
  • Rub a dryer sheet along the blades of dull scissors for a quick fix.
  • Some golfers have been known to put a dryer sheet in their back pocket to keep the bees away.
  • You can use a dryer sheet to dust wood furniture or even spruce up chrome fixtures.
  • For those of you who sew (I wish I had that talent), try running the needle through a dryer sheet before sewing to prevent the thread from tangling.
marshmallows DID YOU KNOW...
MARSHMALLOWS - Yes, it’s true. There are more uses for marshmallows than s’mores or Rice Krispie Treats. Though both are quite delicious, did you know…
  • Stash a few marshmallows in a box of brown sugar or the sugar bowl to prevent the sugar from hardening or clumping.
  • Make ice cream cones less messy by sticking a few marshmallows in the bottom of the cone to prevent the ice cream from leaking out.
  • Eat three or four marshmallows to sooth a sore throat. Greg has actually used this a few times but I’ve always thought it to be quite odd. Come to find out, there’s a scientific reason as to why it works. Apparently, the gelatin is very helpful when it comes to relieving irritation and soothing pain in your throat. And I’m sure it’s a lot more tasty than nasty throat lozenges.
clear nailpolish xl DID YOU KNOW...
CLEAR NAIL POLISH – Handy for more than runs in your hose. Did you know…
  • A tiny bit of clear nail polish can touch up small dents and scratches on hardwood floors and can help prevent further damage to the area.
  • To prevent rust rings in the shower, you can apply clear nail polish to the bottom of the shaving cream can.
  • Keep ribbons (or even shoelaces) from fraying by painting the ends with clear nail polish.
  • In lieu of licking envelopes, use a few swipes of some clear nail polish. It’s a lot better than tasting the nasty “mint” flavoring.
  • Scratch the paint on your car? Brush a coat of clear nail polish over the scratch to prevent it from rusting until you are able to get it repaired.
  • Reset loose stones in inexpensive costume jewelry with a coat or two of clear nail polish. This also gives the jewels a little extra sparkle.
toothpaste DID YOU KNOW...
TOOTHPASTE – Used for making your teeth squeaky clean and sparkling white. But did you know…
  • You can brighten up your white tennis shoes with a toothbrush (one used for cleaning of course) and some whitening toothpaste. Just scrub and rinse.
  • No caulk on hand? Use a bit of (white) toothpaste. This works really well on small pinholes and white woodwork.
  • Use a spot of toothpaste to remove stains from carpet. Just brush it in the carpet, rinse and the stain will come right out.
  • Remove hairspray residue from your hair straightener or curling iron with a tad of toothpaste and a soft cloth. Since toothpaste is abrasive, you may not want to use this on ceramic models.
  • Overnight blemish cream. It works. Enough said.
  • Toothpaste can soothe pain from minor burns (that don’t involve an open wound). It has been said to temporarily relive the pain and actually prevents the wound from opening.
  • Use toothpaste to remove scratches from leather. Just dab some toothpaste on the scratch, wipe it off with a soft cloth then wipe the area with a damp cloth. Be sure not to use whitening toothpaste, as it might bleach the leather.
  • Get rid of the nasty onion smell on your hands by “washing” them with toothpaste.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Give me a cape.....

I have recently become (horribly) addicted to Pinterest...so every once in a while I will share some gems that I find along the way! 


Monday, December 26, 2011

Planes

I hate planes! There, I have said it. Really, I don't hate planes but I hate flying, or rather I am petrified of flying. Why you may ask? Simple, I am not in control of said plane flying into a mountainside or plummeting to earth from 40,000'. 
 
This puts me in a quandary because I love to travel. I have often dreamed of travelling the world like so many others. To see places I have longed to go, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Argentina and most especially, Mt. Everest from Nepal! I inhale travel story books like there is no tomorrow; Michael Palin is my fave. However, to get to said destination, I have to fly.
 
Perhaps a little background into my fear of flying. When I was younger I flew a couple of times from Prince George to the big city of Vancouver. When I was 16, I went to see my relatives in Germany and I flew on a Ward Air (remember them?) Jumbo 747. It was beautiful and I was awestruck. This enormous jet was going to ferry me and 400+ people off to Europe. I loved it. I loved wandering all over that jet taking pictures and I was even allowed in the bar on the upper level (so cool). That flight was my longest at 8+ hours and then I had to take another plane to finally reach the town. It was great there and back. My setback happened when I flew to the Baja in 1992. The flight there was good, the flight home was anything but. The pilot had indicated, after the fact, that we had hit a bit of turbulence. Well, no shit Sherlock! I guess when the jet drops 5,000' in one minute there is cause for concern. I was almost in the fetal position on the floor, wedged under my seat. Some people screamed, I just prayed over and over and over. Now when something happens in dramatic fashion, one minute or 60 seconds can last an eternity. Even when we did stabilize, I was done. That flight sucked the living being out of me.
 
I never flew again until 1998 when my husband and I flew to Las Vegas for our short honeymoon. Do you realize how easy it is to get people in a panic on a plane flight? Really easy as I soon came to know. We were seated near the wings which some people say is the best place to sit. I personally believe the rear of the plane is the safest. Anyhoooo, as we were climbing, at least I thought we were climbing, I heard the engines wind down. Well, holy crap, I just about flew into my husband's lap and my fingers were deeply pressed into his arm (to this day he bears the scar). The stewardess saw what was happening and promptly came over and assured me, all was okay (she could have slapped me across the face like in the movie airplane!). Apparently, when jets reach cruising altitude, the engines wind down. Who knew. All the other passengers thought for sure something was happening when I panicked. I was going to apologize but it seemed like most people were ready to kill me anyhow for how I acted so I just kept quiet. My husband thought next time we flew (the next time??, WTF?), I should consult our Doctor on medicating myself (valium instantly came to mind). Alas, it was not valium but a pill that calms your nerves. I was suppose to take 1 as soon as I felt anxiety coming on......I took 3. Was I calm; not a chance but I didn't freak out that time.
 
Since then, I have flown to Toronto and New York City this past year, both times without medication. I still fear flying and my next big test comes in February when we fly to Florida to go on a cruise. I can't say that I won't visit my Doctor before the trip but I will try not to. I have found that putting on my ear phones and pumping the volume up so high that I can't hear the engines does help. Many people ignore the stewardess as they do their spiel at the beginning of the flight on safety. Not me, I am rapt with attention and I study the book. I don't ever want to be in a situation where I do not know what to do. 
 
If you ever find yourself booked on a flight with me, change planes or hold my hand!
 
Merry Christmas Peeps. Have a safe and magical holiday season!
 
With love, QT
 
 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 12 days of Christmas - Day 12.

If you've followed along, you will know that tonight is 'my' Christmas.  We will settle in for the traditional meal at my parent's house with the traditional foods and then proceed with the remaining events for the evening.  We have come a long way since Day 1 and you probably know that each day was not necessarily in the order of importance, until today.  Today we will cover the last and most important thing.


Day 12 is about the gifts.....the most important thing about Christmas is the gifts.



The gift of friendship and family.
The gift of getting together with friends and family and celebrating either in grand style or casual gathering; for hours, or days - as much as our schedules will allow.
The gift of children waiting patiently (or not) to open their presents.  Circling the tree daily to see if maybe there's an ornament, decoration (or present) they hadn't noticed before.
The gift of phone calls and cards/letters from those we love who are far away.
The gift of the smell that Christmas baking brings and leaves in a home.
The gift of the glittery lights and winter scenes that are outside.
The gift of a wintery wonderland, that even though we complain as we shovel it, wouldn't be Christmas without.
The gift of our trees. Large or small, real or not.  The gift in how we decorate them and treasure the process.
The gift of traditions and celebrations and what we each do, each year to make Christmas special.
The gift of the mess that wrapping paper brings as it is scattered all over the floor; and the gift that for at least a moment, it doesn't matter.
The gift of being more grateful from the act of GIVING,  than receiving.
The gift that IS Christmas.

Please have a safe, happy and healthy Christmas.  If you are going to indulge in the  beverages of the season, PLEASE do NOT drink and drive.

Cherish each moment and hold it dear in your heart.  Today is a gift, tomorrow is not a guarantee.

 "And So This Is Christmas;
And What Have We Done?
Another Year Over; A New One Just Begun;
And So Happy Christmas;
I Hope You Have Fun;
The Near And The Dear Ones;
The Old And The Young." ~ John Lennon


Until next time. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 11.




Here we are, nearly at the end of my holiday journey and so it's time to discuss another important part of the Holidays ....you.

Day 11 is about....YOU.

It's about your traditions, favourite movies and songs. The foods that grace your table and the smells that fill your house.  Do YOU begin decorating at the end of November or wait until the day before? It's about how you decorate your tree and wrap your presents and the way YOU choose to celebrate.

Wishing all of YOU a very merry ALMOST Christmas day!




"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness."  ~Bob Hope


Until next time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 10.

It's a Wonderful Life.
Miracle on 34th Street.
White Christmas.
A Christmas Carol.
Polar Express.
A Charlie Brown Christmas.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Christmas Vacation.
Home Alone.
Elf.
Scrooged.
The Santa Clause.
Bad Santa.
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
...and more.

Those titles above probably don't need an explanation.  Christmas classics.  Some actual classics, others cult classics and whether you like them or not, they are on TV a-plenty during the holiday season.

Each movie in one way or another, warms our hearts, makes us laugh (and then cry) and by the end, have attempted to restore our faith in humanity.


Day 10 is for the 'classics', whatever they may be.

"Christmas reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, bouncing and ricocheting amid aliens, but are a part of something, which holds and sustains us. As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way." ~ D.E. Westlake

Until next time. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 9.

Day 9, is about this...

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!" 

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.  Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."  "Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. 

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

 I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.  

 I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. 

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that."Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

 That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it.  Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.  

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. 

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby. 

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. 

That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.  

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

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I have said before that I don't believe in Santa....I don't have to, but it doesn't mean that I don't believe.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...And may you always believe in the magic, whatever that magic may be!

Day 9 is for believing.

Until next time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas....Day 8.





Day 8 is all about the tree.   Big or small, skinny or wide.  Real or fake.  Matchy or clashy.  Bending with decorations or minimalistic bare branches, it is the centre of the festivities.  Decorating the tree is probably one of the most important parts of the holidays for us.  Here is a much sought after glimpse into the Chiupkarone's Tree Day! (Need to apologize for pic quality, camera needed charging so I had to use the back up.)




Ahhh...the 3-piece-snap-together-prelit wonder that is our tree.  We used to trek into the forest and find the perfect real tree.  It was fun and the tree was always so imperfect that it was perfect, but this is WAY easier and I'm willing to cheat a little in that area. The time it took us to haul the box upstairs, snap it together and plug it in....we wouldn't even have put our boots on.

Our collection of ornaments is quite...eclectic.  They range from expensive (purchased on a whim) Disney ornaments to pipe cleaners and clothespins. Our collection grows each year as we are gifted with new decorations or we find another gem somewhere that we HAVE to add.  Most of our ornaments have special meaning in some form or other,  Mr. Frantastic has a Santa Claus ornament that's over 100 years old!

What's that?!?! There's already presents under there!!

 
Until next time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 7.


I often joke that Christmas would be more convenient if it was in the Summer months.  (The traveling would be easier for sure!)  Sadly, it wouldn't BE Christmas without the snow. I can't imagine living somewhere that didn't participate in a wintery wonderland during this holiday season, it wouldn't be the same. I'm sure it's 'doable'...you would still have the gifts, tree, baking, gatherings, smells and sounds....but no snow?!?!  There is nothing more perfect than going out for a walkabout on Christmas Eve and having a gentle snow fall greet you.

Having said that don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of winter, I'd be content with snow on Christmas Eve and green grass on Boxing Day!

Day 7 is for the snow that makes Christmas what Christmas should be.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know, where the tree-tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow." ~ Irving Berlin

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas....Day 6.

Ahhh....day 6.

I was speaking with some friends recently and we were discussing some of the traditions of Christmas....one of which, perhaps the MOST important in my family is the baking.  There are certain things that Mom makes during Christmas that she doesn't make at any other time during the year....fruitcake, tordilli(they're Italian so I'm unsure of spelling, but they are the twisted dough drops that are golden fried to perfection and then tossed around in hot honey and cinnamon), potato doughnuts, raisin tarts, meringues and so much more.  (I'll need a moment to wipe the drool from my chin....) Ok, so.....where was I....um...oh ya...ok, so the smells that emanate from the kitchen as she's baking are so completely totally a part of Christmas.  Not just the baking smells, but the other smells of Christmas, that is Day 6; the smells of Christmas. 

What other smells are there during the holidays? Well, there's the tree smells, pine trees, spruce trees, real trees, fake trees, they all 'smell'.  The poinsettias that pop up and around, they all have a 'green ' aroma as well.  The smell of gingerbread houses, either made from scratch or taken from a box and assembled with a bag of pre-made bonding agent (icing).  Then the candles that burn while we sit and visit with friends or family.  Turkey and stuffing roasting for what seem like an eternity have an unmistakeable aroma.  Let's not forget the sledding smell (ladies with sled-men, you know what I'm talking about) the smell of sled exhaust blended with sweat and crisp cold.....ugh. The smell of snow....white, fresh falling snow has an incredible aroma....it does! It smells clean and white and wintery. The smell of a hot, roaring fire in the fireplace that crackles into the evening.  Cedar boughs, candy canes, the smell of the box that has all the ornaments in it; slightly musty.   Hot chocolate, coffee, egg nog with a smattering of nutmeg. Cinnamon, clove, ham, rose-hips, vanilla, wine, champagne, mint........

All of these delights come together to create the fragrance of the holidays.  During this year's celebrations take a moment and think about what your most loved scents of the season are and why. Do they evoke a memory that is heartwarming?  I'd love to hear/read about your favourite festive fragrances. 

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." ~ Harlan Miller


Until next time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 5.

Thanks Nona for the intro!  I look forward to reading more of your words in the future.   I now return you to the 12 Days...Day 5.

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Here's a riddle; Some of us have 1, some have WAY more than that, and others don't have any, but each of us have been one.

Day 5 is about children, and Christmas through their eyes.  Christmas is never more magical than when it is through the eyes of a child.  Whether with or without the guise of Santa (read HERE for my take on Santa) a child sees Christmas differently than an adult. The tree, whether it was carefully selected out of what seem like millions of perfect trees in the forest after several nose numbing hours of searching or it was yanked out of the basement in a cardboard box and snapped together in under 60 seconds; a child's perspective of a tree is different, it is the hub of the holidays.  If given the opportunity, look at a child's face when the tree is lit for the first time, their eyes get bigger, their jaw drops a little and you can almost hear their heart beat faster.  It is magical.  The gifts that seem to appear out of nowhere, tucked neatly underneath the glowing tree and wondrous decorations that to you and I, are plastic and metal but to them....almost have a life of their own. 

As a child I would look forward to Christmas for the family gatherings, food, festivities and well, ya...the presents! I would count down the weeks, then days and savour the 2 weeks off of school to enjoy the holidays.  As an adult, it's an expensive holiday and there are many things to buy and do and darn it, I don't get Christmas Break!  It's not the same.

Today, day 5 is about enjoying Christmas as if through the eyes of a child. Appreciate the little things and try to see the magic in them even if, like me,  you know better.

 "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Until next time. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

I interrupt the 12 Days of Christmas for.......

...a NEW DIVA!!! Wootah! Ok, so I dropped this Diva a line a while back asking if she'd be willing to take part in the Writica Project, thankfully she said YES! She's just so darn smart and she included a recipe, (a truffle recipe!)  I am thrilled to have her on the team.  So...faithful blog readers I introduce to you Nona Mousy!
 ______________________________

A few weeks ago Frantastic™ asked me if I would be a contributor to her Writica blog. I was both honored and freaked out at the same time. Having read every blog since it's inception, I felt a little bit intimidated by all of the divas already involved. I like to think of myself as wise and funny, most of my friends and family call me smart...it just usually happens to be the prefix to ass! I will start off with an easy recipe for chocolate truffles, 'tis the season of overindulgence!!

EASY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES


Ingredients
4½ cups of blended Chips Ahoy Chocolate chip cookies (or Oreo cookies if preferred)
8oz. softened cream cheese
1pkg (8 blocks) Semi-sweet chocolate

Blend cookies until fine.
In a medium mixing bowl add cream cheese to cookie mixture and mix thoroughly
Melt chocolate on med-low heat on the stove
Roll cookie mixture into balls
Dip in chocolate. When removing from chocolate, I use two forks, the excess drips off nicely
Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper
Refrigerate, when set, Eat!

They are tasty little devils!


Moving on...There isn't a whole lot to say about myself. I'm sure if you look around hard enough, you will find others who disagree. For what I lack in social excursions, I make up when I do actually get out of my house! I am a mother of 3 and have been frantically trying to prepare my family for my return to work, after being their servant..erm...maid...uh...stay at home mom, for the last 14 months. This is most of the reason I have taken so long to write this entry. I would almost think preparing for the apocalypse would be easier. Call me anal, but I like to have things like laundry folded just the right way, and so far, nobody has stepped up to take that task over, properly anyways! I can live with the dishes not being put in just the right spot, so long as it isn't me that ends up spending ½ an hour looking for the measuring cup, that clearly should be in the cupboard with all the mixing bowls. My biggest pet peeve is when I find more dirty dishes than clean in the cupboards. I think my 13 year old, who I just got glasses for to try to correct this problem, does it on purpose with the hopes that I will take away the privilege of her doing dishes after dinner every night. What fun would that be? When she was first born, I promised myself I wasn't going to go down that "when I was your age" path, alas, it seems to be my favorite catch phrase. "When I was your age, I had to do dishes, laundry, keep my room clean, dust, cook and go to school and have a job. You should consider yourself lucky all you have to do is clear the table, dishes and fill the wood box" Teenagers hey??!! ha! It amuses me, because when I was her age (there it is again!) I did exactly everything she is doing now to get out of chores!! It is true, what goes around comes around. With all that being said, I should probably go and do some of my own chores, I am officially back to work tomorrow. I am not sure yet as to how active I will be on Writica, I will gauge that on how "Day after Tomorrow"ish my house looks after this weekends shifts. If I don't get to it before, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, have fun, and please, for the love of Pete, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.

~Nona Mousy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 3

Before I begin today, I just want to wish my Dad a Happy Birthday!!  Woootah!  

Should you choose to sing him the birthday song (in Italian), the words are right below.  Use the same tune as the English version. Having said that, he probably won't hear you, but at least you'll be able to say you know the words in Italian.

Tanti Auguri a te, tanti auguri a te, tanti auguri a te, tanti auguri a te! 

Now that we're all warmed up, off to Day 3....

Day 3 is for technology.  I know what you're thinking "Come on Frantastic, you just HAD to put technology in here somewhere didn't you?"  Well, yes I did, but probably not for the reason you think.  Technology brings us closer to the people we love at this time of year.  Skype for example, allows those across country or overseas to SEE those they love during this holiday season.  Computers, web cams, wifi, the internet, programmers, programs etc. play a big part in that.  Then, the slightly less modern,  telephone calls that allow you to simply hear the voices of those that you can not see.  The digital cameras that let you take pictures, then print them out and mail them to family and friends or even let you zip them to others via email.  The cellphones that let you take pictures and video that can be sent instantly as you enjoy Christmas dinner, even having 'Facetime' with Uncle Hector who lives on a different continent during the meal is a possibility. The video of the kids opening their presents which can be uploaded to YouTube so that the entire clan on the other side of the planet can watch is also technology.  Heck, you can even record the kids' Christmas concert in HD, then burn it onto a disk and mail it to Gramma Florencia, because even though she doesn't have a computer she has a DVD player and will be able to watch, as if she was in the front row.  Magic? nope.  Technology.

Unfortunately there are some countries that aren't so lucky.  No wifi, computers, cell phones etc. and probably a lot of other things that we use daily, repeatedly and take for granted, like electricity perhaps. So today as you reach for your cell phone, iPad, camera, TV remote or any other gadget, stop for a moment and think what it actually means to have it, not just at Christmas but all year round.  We are indeed a lucky techy bunch.

" I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."  ~Charles Dickens

Until next time. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 2

The first Christmas after my husband and I were married was a challenge.  Not in that it was 'difficult' but that I actually made it a challenge.  The FIRST Christmas in our home meant that we were on the Christmas Eve Tour!  My family celebrates Christmas Eve and every year we would bundle up and walk over to my grandmothers house, celebrate, watch her open gifts and move on.  We would head over to my first uncle's house.  Celebrate, watch him and his family open their gifts and move on.  We would then head over to my second uncle's house and so on, ending at my parent's house.  Then all would go home.  But this particular year, our house would be on the tour for the very first time.  I was giddy.  I would have to decorate and bake and be festive and......BAKE!  My mother was the Queen of Christmas (she has since slowed down a little), she would bake every day for a month, several times a day, she would have a miraculous assortment of goodies.  This Christmas I asked her how many different types of cookies she planned on making, just out of curiousity (so that I could make MORE.)  I asked her what kinds of things she was planning (so that mine could be BETTER.)

Christmas Eve came and after following the tradition of YEARS before we finally came to our house, the fourth stop on the tour.  Everyone oooohd and aaahhhhd and enjoyed the spread that we had prepared.  I believe I had 14 different kinds of cookies/cakes not to mention the meat and cheese trays and other special treats.  Everyone enjoyed and had their fill, as we opened our presents and shared the spirit.  Then we all packed up and went to my parent's house.  Everyone was so full from the stop at our place that they just couldn't eat a thing.  Oh the joy to watch as my mother tried to get everyone to eat a little of this or that, or to try this or that.  Nope.  Everyone was full!  VICTORY!!!

What do I remember most about this victory? It was one of the last times that we would celebrate this way.  A couple of years later my Aunt passed away and there was no joy in Christmas anymore.  My Uncle (her husband) and sons weren't up to celebrating Christmas the way we always had...for them, it wasn't the same.  A few years later my Grandmother passed away and there was even less Christmas Spirit. Shortly after that, about a month before Christmas my Mother-In-Law passed.  It truly felt that Christmas had completely changed, it wasn't fun, joyous or looked forward to.  Challenging myself to winning the festivities really didn't matter.  It didn't.  It wasn't what we celebrated with or the display that we each had, it was the people that were there with us and now that they were gone....it wasn't the same.

Day 2 is about gathering and sharing during the holidays.  Whether with friends or family, at your house or theirs.  A plethora of baking and fancy cocktails or just a tetra-pak of eggnog and a slice of fruitcake.....share the season.  Merry Christmas to us all.

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." ~Dr Seuss

Until next time.



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas...Day 1

As we are nearing ever closer to Christmas day, I thought that I would present to you the 12 days of Christmas  Frantastic™ style. Each day I will share a thought about the season and a quote that I hope will stick with you at least, if nothing else,  until the next day.  This will be like Forrest Gump of the Blog World....you never know what you're gonna get.



Day 1 is about the 4 legged creatures.  It's about the dogs who race to the door when they hear you coming home.  The ones who curl up on your lap even though (like mine) they are WAY too big to curl up on your lap.  Those who defend your property or livestock from intruders both human and predatory.  The cats who couldn't care less if you pet them right now, but in 20 minutes circle you looking for attention.  The same cats who find the one spot on the bed that has clothing neatly piled to sleep on, instead of the remaining 98% of the bed, that has nothing on it! Those who purr so contently just because you are now in the room.

It is not just for the standard pets, but also for the others.  Gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, horses, goats all the pets out there...heck, even the finned fishy or the lizardy ones. Any companion creature that brings you joy and comfort is a gift to your life and should be treated like one. 

Today is for all the pets that bring more joy to our day than we can even imagine.


"As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is."  ~Eric Sevareid

Until next time.



Monday, December 12, 2011

What Happens in Mexico... Stays in Mexico!

I made these for the first time last year, they were Frantastic™, enjoy!

Snowstorms

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup  cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or whatever chips you have on hand
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the melted butter and eggs until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls, then roll in the confectioners' sugar until well coated. Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are puffed and the tops are cracked, about 10 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

___________________________

Hi Folks... okay, I stole the title from a Toby Keith song but I thought it would get your attention!
As I’ve mentioned before I am on long term disability due to severe arthritis in my hands and hips.  I won’t bore you with the details we can save that for another post another day.  The upshot is that spending the winter in Calgary can be very trying to say the least.  Mind numbing cold, icy streets and sidewalks, snow to shovel... uck!   Sooooooooo I’m going to Mexico on Jan. 1 and I’m not coming back until Feb. 28.  I know that still leaves a few months of northern winter to endure but it does make it a lot easier to take.

I first went to Mexico about 40 years ago, we were visiting my grandparents in Arizona for Xmas and we went over the border to Nogales... very exotic.  I even have a picture of me on a donkey with a sombrero and a serape (on me, not the donkey).

I went back to Mexico as an adult and fell in love with it.  I’ve been to Manzanillo, Barre de Navidad, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo.  I loved them all but really enjoyed the smaller places like Barre, the name means Christmas Sandbar... whatever!  Sitting in a palapa roofed beach bar seeing whales in the bay and enjoying an adult beverage, what’s not to love.

In 2010 I went to San Jose del Cabo with a friend after my Dad passed away.  We had been through a ridiculous amount in the previous five months (mom died, dog put to sleep, dad diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, “released” from my contract due to spending too much time with said father, father goes into hospice, father passes away).  I just needed to run away to a beach somewhere and lay in the sun and drink, a lot.

I’d never been to the Baja before but we got an amazing deal so we booked it and I absolutely loved it. San Jose del Cabo is smallish but has everything you need, it’s absolutely beautiful and there are whales!  I decided that I was going to come back for a few months in the winter... I’m a contractor, I can take the time off if I want to!   I found a beachfront condo rental and booked it.  During discussions about the unit with the owner we found that we had a lot in common and he asked me if he could come down and take me out to dinner while I was there.  Not bad, two months in the sun and sand and a date!
I flew down Dec. 31, 2010 and stayed until Mar. 1... I missed my puppies but had a wonderful time.  The condo is in a small complex directly on the sand, I would sit on the balcony in the morning drinking my coffee and watching humpback whales breaching right in front of me.  I met lots of the owners and other folks and some of my friends came down to visit.

San Jose del Cabo is about 15 miles north of Cabo San Lucas.  I like to call CSL the Disneyland of Mexico, just the kind of place I hate.  SJD is the total opposite, there is a hotel strip and of course tourists but it still has the flavour of Mexico instead of a bunch of drunk students and Hooters establishments.  I usually only go to Cabo to go to the marina to go sailing, it’s a zoo.
There is a really cool “arts” district in San Jose and on Thursday nights they block off the streets and you can wander around the studios and meet the artists and all of the restaurants in the area have munchies and drinks set up for you to sample.  There is usually a stage set up with mariachi bands and dancers, quite a show.  On Saturday morning there is the organic market with produce, amazing food and local crafts .  Because of the problem with my hip I have a hard time getting around and the owner of the condo said to feel free to use his car while I was down there.  I was a little leery of driving in Mexico but I only went to the supermarket and the organic market or the town square so it wasn’t a big deal.  There was also a bus you could catch right outside the condo to take you to the supermarket or you could catch it going the other way and it would take you right to the marina in Cabo for about $3.
I’ve told Tim, the owner, that I plan on being down for the same time every year so he’s sending me my own set of keys so I don’t have to wait for the property manager when I fly south.

I can’t believe that it’s almost time to go down again, I can’t wait!!!!  I’ll be reporting to you during my time down south and will be sure to post lots of pictures.

Drop me an e-mail and tell me your favourite travel spots or stories, send pictures etc.  Love to hear from you at ladyjyyc@shaw.ca

No Dias Malo (No Bad Days!)
Lady J

Organic Market in San Jose del Cabo





View from the Condo Balcony... Sorry!