~ Two ~ Party On!!!!!!!

Times Square New Years Eve Ball

Times Square New Years Eve Ball (Photo credit: ★ SimonPix)

Let the party begin! It is New Year’s Eve–let’s party like it is 1999! (Or if I were being truly wild and crazy–1977,  but that is another story). Grab a hat from mybeautfulthings, some champagne from Chay, wish RoSy a Happy Birthday, devour some munchies that Eagle-Eyed Editor so kindly brought, and don’t bump Robin Coyle’s table–we don’t want her to fall off!!

Robin robincoyle (she is the one in the lampshade) and I are hosting this party with our rose coloured glasses perched prominently on our noses. We want to enter this new year on a positive note–so here is the invitation with instructions:

You Are Invited to a New Year’s Eve Virtual Party

Where: Here

Why: To bring in the New Year on a positive note

How: By leaving a positive comment or resolution

When:  New Year’s Eve —all day and all night and into New Year’s Day

Come one, come all, and bring your most festive smiles.

Entertainment: You, Vanessa Chapman, and Rodents & Rebels

So join us for the frivolities and add whatever you think may make the party hardy!

Vanessa Chapman is dropping by with a song she and a friend have put together for us so make sure you find her–I think she will be in the kitchen. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDHzns7FryU&w=560&h=315%5D.

I have some mystery guests dropping by so check back every once in awhile to see what goodies they provide for us in the form of wise words, music, and even cigars!

Here is wishing all of you a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a great start to 2013–a leapless year!

Sharing my card from Mary with you:  http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=3946887033868&source=jl999

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~ THREE ~ Party, party……

The New Year is fast approaching and what better way to say Goodbye to 2012 and Hello to 2013 than to have a party? Robin Coyle and I have decided to host a New Year’s Eve Party, but it will be a party with a difference.

English: Fireworks over Copenhagen the night b...

New Year’s Fireworks  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There will be no cover charge, no BYOB, and no outlandish costumes (unless you have one you want to break out). Nope. You are granted access to this party with a positive comment or resolution (songs and dances will be accepted also—but they must be happy songs and dances).

So here is the formal invitation:

You Are Invited to a New Year’s Eve Virtual Party

Where: Here

Why: To bring in the New Year on a positive note

How: By leaving a positive comment or resolution

When: Why New Year’s Eve of course—all day and all night and into New Year’s Day

Come one, come all, and bring your most festive smiles.

Entertainment: You, Vanessa Chapman, and Rodents & Rebels

So join us for the frivolities and add whatever you think may make the party hardy!

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm  Comments (78)  
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~ FOUR ~

New Beginning

New Beginning (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The countdown begins. This is the fourth day before a New Year, but like Emerson I do not believe that turning the calendar over to a  new year means everything will be fresh and new. We are given that chance every day.

We  like to have deadlines and celebrations and new beginnings. I understand that. But Tuesday, despite the fact that it will be January 1, 2013 will be just another day. But it will be just another day to make it “the best day of the year.”

I am ready for something new, something exciting, some new resolutions—but I am ready today. I do not have to wait for a few more days—I can make resolutions today if I want to; and break them tomorrow. I do not need a specific date to start a new exercise regimen, lose 5 pounds, or determine to cook healthier. I can do that today. On December 29th.

What do you think? Do we have to wait for the 1st and a New Year to begin anew? Or do you think Emerson is right—we should make today the “best day in the year”?

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm  Comments (56)  
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Memories

Cover of "Thinking About Memoir (AARP)"

Cover of Thinking About Memoir (AARP)

Memories: recollections, reminiscences, remembrances. So many of us have been talking about our memories of Christmas past,  but do we trust our memories? Are they faithful to what really happened, or coloured by our particular rose-coloured glasses or half empty attitudes?

Abigail Thomas says this about memories in her book, “Thinking About Memoir”: “Memory seems to be an independent creature inspired by event, not faithful to it. Maybe memory is what the mind does with its free time, decorating itself. Maybe it’s like cave paintings. The thing is, I’m old enough now to know that the past is every bit as unpredictable as the future, and that memory, mine anyway, is not a faithful record of anything, and truth is not an absolute.”

Ms. Thomas describes the way I remember things. I know this because when I talk to my siblings about events that took place in our collective childhoods, we all remember things differently. I remember details that they did not notice and they remember things I do not. Sometimes it seems we were not even  at the same event, but we were all there. Of course, I think I am right—but I am not. My memories are tinted by my personality and by what I want to remember.

Maybe Memories

Maybe Memories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being in the same place at the same time and having a totally different recollection of the event is not all that surprising. Perception affects memory, altering it from the truth to perhaps something more palatable.

What do you think?

Published in: on December 28, 2012 at 3:07 am  Comments (53)  
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Wishes Come True

Gift Card Holder Ornament

Gift Card Holder Ornament (Photo credit: ecokarenlee)

I told everyone in my family that if I did not get a gift card from Chapters for Christmas that there would be trouble. My husband took me seriously. Apparently he did not want trouble. On the Christmas tree was a pretty little card, and inside was the sacred gift card. I love going to Chapters (or any bookstore if truth be known). In fact I once owned a bookstore, but an unexpected but happy pregnancy, a second premature child (who is now a healthy 6’1″ college student), and a number of other factors led to its closure–but the point here is that I love books–buying them, borrowing them from the library, and most of all, reading them. I did not particularly care for selling them though.

Anyway, we got up early this Boxing Day morning and made our way into the city to the nearest Chapters, about 30 miles away. There was a winter storm brewing and threatening to blow its way here by noon, so I wanted to be back in my warm and cozy home before it got here. Target time to take off was 8:30; we made it out of the house by 9:00 a.m. Not bad in my books.

I used my card well and purchased “The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe and “The Mindful Writer” by Dinty W. Moore who promises that it is filled with “noble truths of the writing life.” Because they were hardcovers and 30% off, I shared the rest of my card with my family, buying a book about vintage guitars for my oldest son, and a motorcycle mag for my husband.

We got home just as the storm was starting–the wind is blowing right now and the snow is coming down a shade past gently and we are going to get four to eight inches. I know, I know this is Canada, so I guess we are getting between 8 and 10 centimetres–but I am still old school.

Hoping you all are having a relaxing day after all the excitement of Christmas, and are warm and cozy if it is cold out, and cool and happy if you live somewhere warm.

Merry Christmas

merry christmas

Merry Christmas! (Photo credit: blacklord)

Like all of you, I have been busy, busy, busy and have not been able to read all the blogs I want to lately, but know I will be visiting all of you as soon as things slow down a bit. I want to wish you all a heartfelt Merry Christmas.

I leave you with some lovely and wise words to ponder:

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 3:04 am  Comments (35)  
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Happy Christmas Eve!

Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church...

Nativity scene. The reason for the season!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Woke up at 3. Read the final chapters of a book I needed to finish. Got up at 4 and decided to finally bake my Christmas cookies and bars. My 21 year old son who has odd sleeping habits was awake, so he helped me, making the chore much more jolly. I put on a  little Christmas music and we measured and mixed and dotted the thumbprint cookies with seedless raspberry jam, added the chocolate chips to my never fail Toffee Bars, and put a frozen pizza in for my son’s breakfast.

By my very nature, I do not like to be in the kitchen for more than 30 minutes at a time–but at this time of year I make a little more of an effort. I still have some chocolate caramel fudge to make, and am having a ham for Christmas Eve and prime rib for Christmas Day, and…… a brunch for my other son and his girlfriend tomorrow morning (something I just found out about–but my husband has volunteered to make pancakes–so that with some bacon and fried ham {leftover from tonight} and a little fruit should cover it). I think I spend more time in the kitchen at Christmas then I do for the whole rest of the year. I am trying to look upon this as not a chore, but as making memories ~ it makes the tasks so much easier.

I still have all my presents to wrap, but I think most of them will get the wrapped in tissue and bag treatment, with a few officially wrapped just so people can tear a little wrapping paper off for good measure. I may even throw on a bow or two.

Yesterday, I cleaned up the office, which is also my dining room and found the top of the table. I cannot believe how nice it is in this room now. It was well worth the effort. Now we can have our Christmas feasts at a table rather than on our laps.

I am busy–but who isn’t? My food will be simple, my gifts will be wrapped (somehow in some way), the stockings will be stuffed, and I will relax with my favourite glass of rose (my newfound favourite drink–silky on the tongue with plummy overtones and like heaven with dark chocolate.)

Reprise album The Soupy Sales Show (1961).

Reprise album The Soupy Sales Show (1961). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A random Christmas Eve memory or two:

1.I remember when I was a kid there was a local program called the Soupy Sales Show and on Christmas Eve Soupy kept us updated on where Santa’s sleigh was in relation to where we lived, so we could get to bed and not catch the big Elf putting presents under our tree. I still remember watching the program with great concentration–I did not want to do anything that might deter the big guy from coming to my house.

2. Another Christmas Eve, when I was about eight, I heard footsteps on the roof over my bedroom and then jingle bells, and my sister and I were sure Santa was at our house. We squeezed our eyes shut and held our breath–we did not want Santa to know we were still awake. Why we did not venture out to find him in our living room I will never know–I think we were indoctrinated to believe that Santa would not leave us anything if we caught him. Found out later that our big brothers had climbed on the roof over our bedroom to keep the magic alive for us. And they did. I still believe in Santa Claus.

Do  you still believe in Santa?

Make A Plan

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! (Photo credit: Kelvin Servigon)

I have received a lot of advice in my life. Some I ignore. Some I am delighted to receive. And some I have to digest before I use it.

The following four short pieces of advice {which really meld into one} are from one of my favourite foodies, Rachael Ray, and they will stand me in good stead this holiday season if I take the time to heed them.

So (drum roll please), here are her pithy words of advice:

Rachael Ray Mag

Rachael Ray Mag (Photo credit: Bekit)

Less is more

Keep it simple

Invite People

Make a plan.

She was referring to entertaining, but I think these words can be used in so many facets of our lives. The only change I would make is to “Make a plan” then “invite people” but that is just the way I roll.

This holiday season I have to keep in mind what is important. As the days wind down towards the big day I have a plan–I know that making my thumbprint cookies with seedless raspberry jam is more important than making sure every room in my house is spick and span; I know that making some good and  simple food will make my family happy and that creating fancy unfamiliar dishes would only cause stress; I know that wrapping the presents in whatever fashion I can, is more important than making sure everything is perfectly bowed and all corners sharp; I know that  family and friends are more important than my to do lists.

So, as I pare down my expectations, I do not pare down what makes this season merry and bright–good food, good friends, and family as well as something to open, something to drink, something to eat, and something to laugh at. And, oh yeah, better not forget to make the fudge.

What is the one important thing you must do to make your holiday merry?

Christmas Quotes of Note

Food Network Magazine

Food Network Magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long before I had a thought about women’s liberation, I was introduced to Peg Bracken. She was more of my mother’s era than mine, but she influenced me in a profound way. She did not like to cook, back when it was unfashionable. Back when it was not supposed to be questioned. She and I have a lot in common–though it is not necessarily the cooking I don’t like, it is the cleaning up. I am so jealous of all my my heroines and heroes on the Food Network, not because they have kitchens to die for, and create wonderful culinary pleasures–it is because they can make as much mess as they want to, and not have to clean it up. That is one of my versions of heaven, not having to clean up after myself.

Anyway, Peg Bracken was famous for her “I Hate to Cook  Book” and “I Hate to Housekeep Book” and “The I Hate to Cook Almanack” which I am going to take a quote or two  from today. One sums up Christmas quite nicely; the other, well I will let you be the judge.

The first is attributed to Christopher Morley:

“Just for a few hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the stupid, harsh mechanism of the world runs down, and we permit ourselves to live according to untrammeled good sense, the unconquerable efficiency of good will. We grant ourselves the complete and selfish pleasure of loving others better than ourselves. How odd it seems, how unnaturally happy we are!”

The other quote I that I found sort of amusing, and sort of not, was this one by Albert Wooky:

“Since childhood, I have viewed with distinctly bridled enthusiasm the general custom of cooking and serving a large Christmas dinner. All I ever saw of my mother on that day was the bow on her apron.”

Do you have memories of your mom’s apron bow?

Christmas Dreams Meet Reality ~ A Collision Course?

Cover of "The Best Christmas Ever"

Cover of The Best Christmas Ever

As I sit down with my first coffee of the day (stirred not shaken) I am contemplating all that needs to be done before the big day.

I always have such grandiose plans in my head—everything will be wrapped to perfection preferably in the most environmentally pleasing way possible; the house will be clean and neat as a pin (really, how neat is a pin?); and I will pull out all the culinary stops and serve food of such delight I will be written up in Gourmet magazine (which I think may be defunct).

It is not too late to face the reality of the situation, but since I am somewhat pragmatic and know my limitations, here is what is probably going to happen:

1. The presents will get wrapped, but mostly bagged as that is easier and I will probably be doing it on Christmas Eve. No need to rush. I did buy an extra package of scotch tape just in case though. I am thinking I should bona fide wrap at least one gift for each recipient and bag the rest.

3. Did you notice I skipped number 2? I think it was the one where I polish the silverware for the Christmas table. Yes, I have real silverware. I inherited it. No, I will not be polishing it until I can afford a butler to do such things.

4. I will be neatening up the house and spraying some furniture polish around to give it that clean smell. I will get the vacuum out—and possibly use it. It is a beast though and after a while I just get tired of using it and close the doors to the rooms that I do not get to (usually the bedrooms upstairs).

5. I am on a quest. It is going to be quite an adventure. I need to locate the top of my dining room table which is now covered with all manner of things—some last minute Christmas shopping which has not been delivered to my bedroom which is covered in bags where I have hidden the presents in plain sight; book work, a purse, a calculator, mail, books, newspapers, Christmas cards, receipts—okay, you get my drift…

6. Food. Okay we are having ham on Christmas Eve and prime rib (because it is on sale) for Christmas Day. There is still much shopping to be done in this category—I always overbuy food for Christmas, but is there really such a thing? My mother always had lots of food in her house, and I try to maintain that tradition. She though actually cooked and prepared the food—I have to realize my limitations: I think like a gourmet, but cook so the masses will not starve.

7. I have all the stuff to make cookies and fudge—so Saturday is reserved for a baking spree. I do it for my family—I derive little pleasure from the making of it, but much from the eating of it—so I keep that firmly in mind.

I do love Christmas, and as the devil is in the details, I have to take care of my devilish duties in order to get to the good parts. Should I reach my financial potential, I dream of coming up with the ideal Christmas and dispensing my elves to do my bidding. Until then, I will do my best, and then enjoy—for is that not what this season is all about?

So what Christmas dreams do you have—and which ones will you realize?