Sunday 30 December 2018

The Aftermath

The Boxing Day gathering of fifteen bodies went very well. Note to self: do NOT make as much food for appetizers if I do this again. It was simply too much. I baked too much, I set out too much, there was just too much. I have frozen a lot of my baking, and there is still half a plate of cream cheese / hot pepper jelly in the fridge, and I just dumped the rest of the cut up fruit in the chicken run for the birds. They were appreciative. We managed to fit everyone into the kitchen to eat with the help of one of those collapsible plastic tables that I got on sale before Christmas. My sister and sister-in-law were invaluable at that "crunch" time when everything is coming out of the oven and being sliced and put in serving bowls...

Then I got sick. I am hacking and coughing and trying to breath and feeling a bit like the truck of Christmas hit me, backed up, ran over me again... It was inevitable. I had three colleagues on antibiotics for strep throat before Christmas and others who were just plain sick. I had students away in the last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas holidays. Regardless of the amount of hand washing and hand sanitizing, it really was inevitable.

I'm trying this product now. I'm not sure it's doing a whole lot, but at least I feel like I'm trying. I've already set up an appointment with my doctor (the soonest I could get in was Jan. 8th!) to deal with the sinus infection which this has already turned into and will continue to be. Yes, poor me.

The house continues to be decorated to the hilts. I am in no way, shape, or form to be dismantling Christmas and hauling out the Twelve Boxes of Christmas and trying to pack and put away. It shall remain this way until I feel up to it.

One of the highlights of the holidays, however, was receiving a package through the mail.

These gorgeous tea towels were sent to me by a fellow blogger! Joanne from Cuponthebus wove these and sent them to me! I was so excited to receive them and haven't even had a chance to send her a thank you card yet. My husband suggested I use them at Christmas, but I'm glad I didn't because they wouldn't have been on display for long, as we went through several tea towels, sopping up messes, anchoring cutting boards, or just becoming drenched too quickly. No fear that they won't get used however! The one thing I love about them is how soft they are, not stiff and non-absorbant like so many of the new ones.

Husband has another round of follow up appointments for M-I-L's eye (cataract surgery) tomorrow, late in the day in a 'nearby' town. I call these Dementia Days. We've kindly been invited by old friends to join them at their cottage for New Year's Eve (just a gentle get together, not a big party) that same day. I'm hoping I can pull myself together / drug myself up enough that I can enjoy myself. We're not big New Year's Eve revellers these days, usually just staying home or maybe getting together with friends.

I hope you are all well and have survived the Christmas rush. Here's to a happy, healthy, prosperous 2019!

Monday 24 December 2018

Warm Wishes...

It is Christmas Eve, the last of the food is purchased for gatherings in the next two days, the fireplace channel is on tv, the presents are 'neath the tree, a one-dish casserole is in the oven, and my feet are up! To everyone that I have had the pleasure of "meeting" in blogland, I wish you all a very merry Christmas! 

Saturday 22 December 2018

How Many More Sleeps?

I am writing this at 6:57 a.m. and I can hear Bruce crowing like a crazy beast in the chicken coop. No, I am not going out to open up the coop. Why is one crow not enough?? When are the "neighbours" going to start complaining and come over with an axe? But I digress. I have decided to just stop dancing around what I do for a living, so that you may have a clearer picture of my world right now. Husband and I are both elementary school teachers. I've been in this game for twenty-eight years now. Yesterday was the last school day before Christmas holidays. I am tired to my bones. The enthusiasm and craziness of the lead up to holidays is more of a young person's forte. At fifty-two years old, I crash at the end of the day, especially after a week of Sprit Day (every day  e.g. Ugly Christmas sweater day, Christmas hat day, Christmas pajama day...), the Festive Lunch for the entire school, carol singing in the gym every day, Festive skate at the community centre, and desperately wishing our salt dough ornaments were dry enough to paint. Do I still love it? Yes, but it's more tiring now. Add a spouse who's doing the same things (different school), and that equals two people who sit on the couch at the end of the day.

Anyway, when I came home yesterday, toting wonderful, thoughtful gifts from students and spreading them out on the kitchen table (and husband adding his own collection - we are never without Tim Horton's cards!), I declared that I would not be making food for anybody and phoned a restaurant in a nearby small town (everything around here is a nearby small town). It's nothing fancy, but the food is always good and there are always leftovers to bring home, which makes son happy. (He, by the way, was working his part time job, then happy to be seeing his girlfriend who is now home from university, and then going to coach his basketball team). We set up a reservation, and then I had a much deserved glass of red wine.

When we got there, we saw that the little shop two doors down had a new window display. I had featured this display in a previous post. There are always moving features and lights. I have no idea who builds these displays, but this one was very well done with details and quotes from 'A Christmas Carol'.

This centre piece rotates around with the before and after Scrooges, the after one featuring lights, and other parts of the display also light up at the same time.

Do you see the big goose hanging in the butcher shop window?

Well done, to whoever the craftsperson is who creates these wonderful windows.

As we quickly approach Christmas (my big gathering on the Boxing Day, a smaller gathering here as well on Christmas Day), the weather changes constantly. We had a ton of snow just a couple of weeks ago, then it became ridiculously mild and it rained and we lost most of it, and now the temperature is dropping and it's calling for more snow. Although I am not a fan of winter, I would actually like some snow on the ground for the holiday. The pretty outdoor lights would look better, and it would just feel more Christmasy. A couple of nights ago, the sunset was just incredible. This picture does not really capture the colour well, but imagine the sky on fire.

Notice the grass? Crazy.

Another sight from a few nights ago...

Scooter, just casually lounging on our kitchen table (excuse the clutter - that's life). This is a big no-no. Not that I am foolish enough to believe that they never go where they aren't supposed to, but to be so bold as to just be lying on the table when I'm around... tsk tsk.

I am still rushing about, trying to get ready for the gatherings. I did some more "baking" (these cookies don't really qualify as they don't spend any time in the oven). They are chow mein noodle cookies, or as son calls them, 'spiders'. Do you make these?

I have lists upon lists of things to do. I have always been a list maker. I have lots to keep track of. Some of the items on my list read, "put away boxes / stuff from front hall", "bake Christmas crack / marshmallow things / choc. cookies", "quick Swiffer upstairs", "wrap presents", "flies in kitchen lights"...

For what it's worth, the rooster has now stopped crowing.

Friday 14 December 2018

Christmas Decor

I thought I had started early this year, and in fact I did, but there are still bits and pieces that need doing in order to make the house fully Christmasy. Those outdoor Christmas lights? Two more strands died!! They were brand new! We won't get our money back due to no receipt (that'll teach me), but they will give us a credit for the amount. No problem, we will easily buy more items at the same store.

Here is my home, in pieces.

The village went up pretty early. No new buildings, just a different configuration.

On the next shelf up (same piece of furniture - which husband built) are some of my crocks, and some snowmen and little birds. The "greenery" comes from... (shh don't tell anyone) Dollerama! I thought it looked pretty realistic, even if it is plastic.

One more shelf up, is this Santa. I love it!! It looks hand carved, but isn't. With his spectacles and straight, slightly pointy nose, I imagine this Santa looks like what my father might have looked like if he had lived to be very elderly with white hair and a beard.

Tradition holds that son gets a nutcracker every year. We have many displays throughout the house. This is one top of the computer desk.

A collection of cookie jars (and one more nutcracker) sit on my windowsill over the kitchen sink. (No actual cookies in them!)

Some of my (and daughter's) Santa collection on a shelf in the den.

A few little Victorian children surround a music box that my mother gave me so, so many years ago. The little mouse figures "skate" on top while the music plays. Ears have been broken off, but it must be on display every year. When our kids were little, they would wind it up and watch the little mice spin around.

In the living room, I have my "gold" display. I love the figure of Santa on the reindeer. It is quite large. I draped little lights throughout and it looks very nice in the evening.

We purchased our tree a couple of days ago (real) and although it wasn't quite as tall as we would have liked, it is nice and full and smells heavenly. We decorated last night, put Christmas music on, and put the fireplace "video" on Netflix on the tv!

And finally, to round out the post, here is something I set up tonight when I came home from work: a hot chocolate bar. I want to add some peppermint sticks, maybe some Bailey's Irish Cream, or even peppermint Schnapps, some whipped cream...

Here's a nifty trick. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and put in a mint tea bag. Let it steep, add some milk, remove the tea bag, and voila - mint hot chocolate! Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

Sunday 9 December 2018

Instantpot Questions

So, here's what you need to know about me. I'm not a good gift buyer. Nor am I a good gift suggester.  At this point in our twenty-seven year marriage, neither one of us "needs" anything, my husband is ridiculous to buy for, and the things I really love, he's either already done for me (fixing up my chicken coop for example), or I like to pick them out myself (plants, books, boots...). So, in desperation, I said, "I might like an Instantpot." I would love to quote what my husband suggested that I get for him, but HE HASN'T SUGGESTED ANYTHING YET! (December 9th, 16 days left until Christmas).

I thought I had better look up what size Instantpot is the best and after a little researching on the interwebs, I figured six quart would be correct.

Today, after we discovered that two of the recently, time-consumingly-put-up-wired-into-place strings of outdoor "warm white" lights decided to stop working and I almost cried because the little decorative tree that sits outside the door also stopped lighting up even though it was also working just fine literally hours ago and then I stomped off outside with a declaration along the lines of, "I'm going out to the chicken coop to see if all the chickens died...",   husband gathered up the lights, stuffed them into the remaining two boxes which had already been flattened and put into the recycling container and the receipt long since thrown away, drove into town to the Canadian Tire store where I originally purchased the lights just two weeks ago to try to get our money back. (How's THAT for a run-on sentence??) Whilst there, he checked out the Instantpots and came home later asking for a bit more specificity. Apparently there are a few versions of 6 quart ones.

I have NO idea what to get in terms of an Instantpot, but you, my bloggy friends, probably have the experience. Please let me know if you would recommend it, what model you would recommend, what you like best about it... just please don't tell me it's an awful gift idea because I'm o.k. with it. I am not offended by kitchen items. I am nothing, if not a practical kind of gal, and confident enough in my own world to not feel that a kitchen item is sexist in our world of over sensitivity. I do the cooking because, quite frankly, I'm better at it, and I like my own food better than what husband can make. I'm pretty sure he's o.k. with that, too.
Oh, and for interest sake, Canadian Tire told husband that he could just get two more boxes, which he did. Let's hope these last longer than two weeks.

Now then, let the Instantpot comments begin:

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Decorating gingerbread cookies with a sense of humour

A couple of days ago, I made my traditional gingerbread cookie dough. It's thick and stiff and doesn't really roll out. Instead you kind of press is down with a rolling pin, then use cookie cutters, squeezing the edges of the cookie cutter together to keep the dough in the cutter to transfer it over to the cookie sheet, and then releasing it, hoping it doesn't fall apart. I won't even share the recipe, because if you have ever made gingerbread, you probably have a better recipe than this! However, here is a picture of a tray of them after being baked. (LOVE parchment paper, by the way).

Regardless of the difficulty of the dough, they do taste good, and if you are careful not to leave them in the oven too long, they are still a bit soft, which is what I prefer.

Tonight, when son was actually home (a rare thing these days) and husband and I had both had rather shitty days at work, I decided it was time to decorate. (Sorry, dear daughter, away in the city, normally you are part of this, but I will text you later and tell you to read this post, and hopefully you will laugh at us).

It all started in a traditional, reserved way (by me, I might add).

Pretty, don't you think? Certainly not professional, but acceptable. A present with a bow shape, a gingerbread man shape, and a round ornament shape. Nice, predictable, Christmas colours...

Ummmm, then son produced this masterpiece. (He is about a month away from being 19 years old, just so you know - he is not six years old).

We also had a Santa shaped cookie cutter. You would end up decorating the cookie something along these lines. Both are mine, and I admit the one on the left is pathetic. I got a bit better with practice.

It was then discovered that if you turn that same cookie, it looks a bit like a whale. Whale was what husband was going for. He thought it ended up looking more like a shark (?) and then I accidentally broke off the little round bit on the end of its tail. Stunning.

Things pretty much started going down hill from there.

Then came the variations on the gingerbread men (or "gingerbread people" if we are going to be all politically correct).

Here we have the unibrow gingerbread man.

We follow with the Santa and the skeleton gingerbread men.

If you turn the cookie upside down, you can turn it into a reindeer (if you squint, and use your imagination).

This is the Lieutenant Dan gingerbread man. (A Forest Gump reference). Son made this one.

Here we have the Black Knight. Not familiar?


"It's just a flesh wound!"

And finally, nothing says Christmas like a grenade.

They will be put into the freezer to be taken out at Christmas when the rest of my twisted family will be here to enjoy them.