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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Wow! Where'd the Year Go?

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, it hit me that this is the last day of the year. December 31, 2009. Tomorrow is 2010 already. Where did the year go? What did I accomplish in the past year? Where am I going in the next 365 days?

It seems that the older I get, the faster time flies by. I just get the Christmas decorations put away and it is Valentines Day, then Easter, then.... and it just keeps going. All of a sudden it is December and I think "But I just put all the Christmas stuff away!"

So now it is time to look back over the past twelve months and think about what I have accomplished and what is still to be done. This is not an easy task, as I find that not only does time fly by fast, it is so fast it doesn't stick in the brain. It just sort of goes in one side and slides out the other. Too fast for anything to grab hold and stop it. But here is my list:

Accomplishments:

- Got over my fear of amusement park rides (well, some of them anyway. Still don't like loop-the-loop rollercoasters). When we went to Disneyland in 2000, there was no way on God's green earth you would get me on anything that went faster than a crawl, or that spun, dipped, climbed or flew. But when hubby and I spent our vacation once again at the Magic Kingdom in April, I went on them all and had a blast!! Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Gizzly River, Star Tours, Soaring over California ... I couldn't ride them enough! And I SOOOOOO want to go back and do it all again!

- Lost 10 pounds! Woohoo! Cut out the junk food, eat more fruit and veggies, drink lots of water. Talk about a boring diet, but you get lots of exercise with the frequent trips to the bathroom.

- Put on 20 pounds. Okay, so maybe this is not a real accomplishment, and it sucks, but it did happen. More junk food, less fruit and veggies, still lots of water though so still get the exercise.

Hmmm. This is harder than I thought. Or do I really lead such a boring life that losing and gaining weight is at the top of my accomplishments list? Okay. Try again...

- Helped my granddaughter complete her Gold level Duke of Edinburgh's Award and watched as she was presented her certificate by His Royal Highness Prince Edward at a ceremony in June.

- Was presented with an award at the cadet end of year ceremonies for volunteering at camps and working with the cadets on their D of E awards.

- Discovered blogging. I like to write and this is one way for me to get my thoughts out there. If anyone reads them, great! If not, oh well. Their loss!

So what have I not accomplished that will be on the Big To Do List for 2010?

- Lose at least 80 pounds and tone my muscles so I can wear clothes that don't make me look like Moby Dick's sister. Maybe start a walking program with Amanda, and possibly go to the gym a few times a week. But then again, isn't there some way I can lose weight and tone up without the sweat factor???

- Sell my house and move into a carriage home where everything is on one floor, but that still has a small yard to accomodate "the boys", aka Mick and Teddy. Something like what mom is in now. Three bedrooms (one for us, one for guests and one for my office/craft room), laundry area, pantry, and possibly a fireplace. But wait. That would mean going through everything in the house and figuring out what to keep, what to throw, and what could be sold in a garage sale. Now that REALLY sounds like work...

- Start eating healthier. More fruit and veggies, less junk. Cut out the sweets (for a dessert junkie, this may be asking just a bit too much!) and exercise more (already discussed this one).

Sound like a good start? It should keep me busy for a few months anyway. At least until Christmas sneaks up on me again and says "What? Not ready again???"

Safe and Happy New Year, everyone! May 2010 bring you all you wish for and then some!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

It is 6:48 AM Christmas morning and I am the only one awake yet. The Husband is still sawing logs along with the dogs so I have some quiet time for me.

I think this is the time I like the best - no one else is stirring, all is quiet inside and out, and I can sit here and watch the lights on the tree as they twinkle a good morning. Since we are going elsewhere for supper, my husband is not huffing and puffing over getting a turkey the size of a small child stuffed and into the oven, I am not worrying about getting the trifle done, and there is no need to spend all day cleaning the house and cooking only to be too exhaused to enjoy myself when the kids come to visit. This time, WE are going to THEM!! They have the "fun" of cleaning the house before everyone arrives and again after everyone leaves, of cooking a massive meal that will be scarfed down as though none of us had eaten in a week.

Ah, but this year, they are all doing it pot-luck style. For breakfast at Cheryl and John's house, we are bringing Champagne and orange juice, Cheryl has a Christmas Wife Saver, and Glenda is bringing pancakes and strawberries. For supper at Lisa and Clint's, Jenn is bringing turkey, Lisa has potatoes and veggies, and I am bringing salad and wine. Dessert consists of a frozen cheesecake and cookies. For once, mom gets to sit back and enjoy while we do it all! Easy, peesy. This is something I had tried to talk Dwayne into doing years ago, but he would have none of it! His guests were not going to bring their own food! Unheard of!! Well, as he has gotten older, he has also become a bit wiser and realizes this is the way to go. Pot-lucks are a great way to spread the work around so the hostess is not so pooped she falls asleep in the mashed potatoes half way through dinner!

Well, I hear rumblings from the bedroom, so it looks like someone is at least thinking about getting up. I want to open presents! One of them is an e-Book reader that I can hardly wait to get my hands on! There is time for another cup of coffee before having a shower and getting dressed. So a big Merry Christmas to all, and please Please PLEASE don't drink and drive!!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Where's the Concert?

Have you ever kept a secret from everyone and then had it blow up in your face? You wish you had told at least one person your plans? Well, such is the case at my house.

A week or so ago, my husband decided that he was going to drive to Edgerton (about 3 hours east of our home) to see our three grandsons' Christmas concert on December 15. The mercury had been spending its time well below the -15C mark, so there had been no school for a few days. Dwayne (the husband) still wanted to go out there, so rather than let him drive out there by himself, I went along. Dumb...

The drive was rather uneventful, other than the overturned rig on the highway, and the deer the guy in front of us almost hit. But all was good. Got to Wainwright and grabbed a burger to choke down for supper then continued on to Edgerton. We got there about 6:15 and were amazed at the display of Christmas lights! I have to give the residents of this tiny village a huge A+ in this department! The decorations were gorgeous!

So, we meandered around a bit and finally came across the school, which had a very empty parking lot. Ok. No big deal. Small place - maybe no one showed up until just before the concert. Let's drive around the village for a bit and take in the lights. Well, that took about 5 minutes so back to the school. Still no one there (well what do you expect? Everyone to show up in that 5 minutes?) so go for another drive around to see the lights from a different angle. This time we drove UP the main drag rather than DOWN. That was when I saw the sign in the middle of the road.

ATTENTION
Christmas Concert
moved to
Wednesday at
7:00 PM at
the school.

I haven't had such a good laugh in ages!!! Dwayne was speechless (yes, he can be once in a while) but he wouldn't believe it. So he tried to call his daughter, who we discovered was not home. He left a message and we drove to the school to see if anyone had decided to show up anyway. No, of course they hadn't. Then he noticed a sign on the school door, which, on closer inspection, said the concert had been postponed to the next night. Again, I had a good laugh! (Did I mention I have a nasty streak?)

We decided to tackle the long drive home when the cell phone rang. It was Tammy returning our call. Dwayne explained that we (meaning 'he') had wanted to surprise all of them by coming to the concert and now we were going home because it had been postponed. The husband decided that we should go visit them instead so off we went for another 1/2 hour drive east. We visited for about an hour and then finally headed home - a 3 1/2 hour drive now.

The moral of the story? Make sure you let at least ONE person know what you have planned in case things change. Unless you really want to let you significant other have a great laugh!!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Shortbread Once More...

Hi all,

I had a request for the shortbread recipe in my previous blog, so here it is for your cooking and eating pleasure!

Grandma's Shortbread
3/4 cup softened butter (PLEASE don't use margarine; it really does need to be butter)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
Cream the butter first for a minute or so - this makes a softer, more melt-in-your-mouth cookie. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add, a tablespoon at a time, into the butter. I use my stand mixer on low, but you can also mix it by hand with a wooden spoon if you want to get rid of holiday flab before it hits you! Don't over mix if you are using a mixer - the dough should still have a few crumbs that didn't incorporate. That's okay.
Dump the dough, crumbs and all, onto a lightly floured counter top or pastry cloth and knead very gently a few times to mix the remaining crumbs in. Form into a circle and roll out to about 1/4" thick. Cut out your favourite shapes and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment. If you don't have parchment, just put them on ungreased cookie sheets. Reroll the scraps and continue cutting out shapes until there is no dough left. Not to worry - it will not cause the cookies to be tough doing this. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until the edges are JUST barely golden. I have found they are not as buttery if they get too golden. They should be very white when taken out of the oven.
Place the cookies carefully onto cooling racks. They are very fragile while hot and fall apart at the drop of a hat! Let them cool and then decorate to your heart's content! Store them in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks, but I really doubt they will last that long! They can be frozen and then removed from the freezer a day or two before they are required to let the flavour develop before serving.
I hope you enjoy these wonderful cookies as much as my family does! (By the way, the dough is so delicious raw!! Probably explains why I barely get two dozen cookies from one batch!)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Shortbread... MMMMMMMM.....

Tonight is shortbread night. This will be the second batch. The first batch never makes it to Christmas - it is meant to be eaten before it has a chance to mature. That way, we are so tired of shortbread by the time I make the second batch that we don't eat it and there is plenty for company!

I use a recipe I found on the back of a box of cornstarch - Grandma's Shortbread - and tried it out. It has been a staple at Christmas ever since. It has four ingredients - 3/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup icing sugar, and 1 cup flour - and is so easy to make. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add them a spoonful at a time to the creamed butter in the mixing bowl with the mixer on low.

Now, it is very important to have the mixer on low. You've heard of the laws of nature? Well, one of them (can't remember which one) states that when a light slow moving object is whacked by a heavy fast moving one, the lighter one will go flying. Such is the case of a mixture of flour, cornstarch and icing sugar coming into contact with rapidly spinning beaters. You want instant grey hair? Then let 'er rip!

I cream the butter first to make it fluffier, then SLOWLY mix in the dry stuff a spoonful at a time on LOW until well combined. Don't beat too much or you end up with tough shortbread, and no one likes that! (Wait a minute. Maybe take half out now and make GOOD shortbread for me, and beat the crap out of the rest and put that out for everyone else. Hmmm...) Where was I? Oh yes. When the dry is mixed in, dump the whole thing onto a lightly floured counter top and roll to about 1/4" thick. Cut out shapes and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until just starting to get golden on the edges. Reroll the scraps and keep on going until you run out of dough. When the cookies are cool, decorate to your heart's desire!

I found these little tubes of icing called Scribblers that have just enough icing to trace around the edge of about 6 cookies. They come in a package of four primary colors and are perfect for kids to use. And the icing dries hard so the cookies can be stacked - that is, if they last long enough to actually make it into a cookie tin!

So enjoy my favourite recipe for Grandma's Shortbread! As the late, great Julia Child used to say, Bon Apetite!