Category Archives: entertaining

December – a month and a year of slow living

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Another year is behind us. That’s almost a whole year that I have been writing about my life in this space. I’ve been surprised by the people outside of family members that stop by to read and leave a comment and have “met” many interesting people.

WordPress has made a summary for each blog that nicely sums up the most popular posts, stats and commenters (Click here to see the complete report.). Thanks to everyone who visited and commented in the past year.

I’m following the example at Slow Living Essentials again this month, and using her categories to summarize my month and list some things I’d like to accomplish. I started doing this partway through the year, and for my own end of year summary, here are the links to the other months:

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{Nourish}:

This month was all about eating with family and friends and coworkers. And turkey. We cooked two turkeys for Christmas Day this year to ensure lots of leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m over turkey now. Well, mostly. We’ve had curried turkey and rice casserole, turkey in our baked rigatoni, and turkey on our pizza last night.

I wrote about the 3 kinds of goodies that I make at Christmas to give away – 5 minute fudge, white chocolate party mix and dark chocolate/ginger bark. Unfortunately I think I ate nearly as much as I gave away. Unless I can blame my incredibly shrinking waistbands on the tall hormonal kid doing the laundry.

I also tried an easy and delicious thumbprint cookie recipe from LouAnn and learned a neat little trick for making the thumbprint holes from Carolyn (I’d like to try her cookie recipe too).

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{Prepare}:

The preparations were mostly just of the Christmas baking and present making variety this month. We do have a good stash of cooked cubed turkey in the freezer as well as a few casseroles made by my father-in-law (he is great that way) that will get us through some of the hectic moving days ahead of us in January.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

We (and by we, I mean ME) continue to organize and pack for our move to the farmhouse in a couple of weeks. As much as I hate to admit it, it is a good opportunity to weed out unused/unwanted items that I would have continued to ignore in hidden corners and closets. I have one bedroom full of bags of stuff to be donated to charity and I am afraid I am far from finished. How did we accumulate this much? Never again.

My plan to blow up the house by giving the small squeaky (evil) kid a chemistry set for Christmas doesn’t seem to be working out for me, so I will continue until it is all sorted and dealt with. Sigh.

In a similar vein and for the same reasons, our garbage creation for this month is way out of control. I am recycling as much as I can by donating useful items and handing down some pieces of furniture to my brother and giving other unwanted items to a neighbour who resells furniture and household items, but some things just end up being trash. Once the move is done things will improve significantly.

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{Green}:

I made a spiced chai sugar body scrub this month. Other than that, I continue to use some homemade cleaners, but have also found that I’ve been relying on store-bought stuff because of time constraints or laziness. It’s something to work on again in the new year.

{Grow}:

I killed my houseplant this month. Oops. One less thing to move.

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{Create}:

I made several quick and easy dish cloths for teacher’s gifts this month, finished a top knot toque for the mini-nephew and started but (again, oops) didn’t finish a seaman’s toque for my brother for Christmas. Maybe I’ll pick it up again tonight.

{Discover}:

There hasn’t been a lot of time or energy for reading this month, but we got a few new books for Christmas that I will be getting into soon. As a tongue-in-cheek gift for the dad, I bought a copy of the new Janet Evanovich bounty hunter book (we don’t usually admit in public to reading them, but they are quick and funny, and we both enjoy them), a bottle of the Bvlgari body wash used by the male character in the book (I had to have it shipped within the States and brought back by my co-worker’s snowbird mother on her way home for Christmas – my husband saw an email she sent me about “the package” coming across the border and briefly wondered if I had turned to a life of crime) and an all-black outfit that the same character would wear. My coworker’s mom says she is going to call him to see how it all worked out for him.

Anyway. So, I haven’t been doing much mind-expanding reading – though I continue to enjoy and learn from other blogs that I read. I’ve also just started watching the first season of Downton Abbey – another Christmas gift. I’m hooked.

{Enhance – community}:

I’m not sure if this counts, but my husband has bought another business in our community and is now even more firmly entrenched. Fingers crossed that this one works out as well as we hope.

We also had a hockey tournament, a few Christmas get-togethers and visitors to the house as out-of-towners come home to visit relatives.

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{Enjoy}:

Christmas was the big celebration in our home this month, but the end of year birthday of the oldest child can’t be overlooked either. There have been lots of opportunities to tickle the mini-cousins and visit with family.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet night at our house with homemade pizza, leftover birthday cake and a movie (Paul Blart, Mall Cop – hey, the kids liked it) and everyone tucked away in bed before midnight. We’re in various stages of recovery from the flu and needed the rest.

Another busy and enjoyable month. Happy New Year!

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and another christmas gift from the kitchen – dark chocolate candied ginger bark

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This is another Christmas treat recipe that I got from a co-worker. My husband tried to convince me that this batch should be a “test batch” but I managed to save most of it and hide it away from him. And then I ate a couple of pieces. And maybe another. I think I might have to buy some more dark chocolate tomorrow.

It’s an un-recipe, really. You can put anything in this that you like – the only constants are good quality dark chocolate and candied ginger. I like to make mine with a salted nut of some kind, though having forgotten to buy peanuts or cashews one year, I substituted trail mix and it turned out great. The proportions are up to you, but I will give you what I use.

Dark Chocolate Candied Ginger Bark

  • 1 lb dark chocolate (I use wafers)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of candied ginger, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 1/3 cup or more dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup or more nuts (macadamia, cashews, peanuts, almonds – all good)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, add in remaining ingredients and spread on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Put it someplace cool to harden, then gently break into pieces. Store somewhere cool until needed.

I usually just store my candies and fudge out in the garage until Christmas. I did learn the hard way to keep them up out of the reach of the dogs. They can demolish hours of work in seconds. And our vets are our friends, but even they get tired of telephone calls on weekends and holidays.

Linked to Wildcrafting Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugally Sustainable

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white chocolate party mix

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Today the small squeaky kid and I made a start on some Christmas goodies. The dad and the tall kid are away at a day long hockey tournament, so squeaky and I spent our morning at hockey, then out for breakfast at a local diner, and then picked up supplies to make various and assorted goodies to give away for Christmas. Holiday parties are starting, and I like to give something along with the bottle of wine we always take along for the host or hostess.

I don’t really do holiday baking. My idea of Christmas baking is to invite the German-Swiss neighbours for Christmas dinner every year because they bring along a big platter of home-baked German goodies. Hey, it works for me. We’ve been doing it for almost 15 years now. Instead of baking, I have a few treats that I make every Christmas; assorted fudge, irish cream liqueur, dark chocolate bark, and this white chocolate party mix. My co-worker calls it White Trash, but I’m going to go with Santa Mix.

This is easy to make and you really can’t go wrong with some substitutions here and there. You can use a combination of rice chex cereal, corn cereal squares, even chopped up rice crispy squares, as long as you keep the amounts about the same in the end. Some people add in mini-M&M’s, but if you do, I’d add them in after the mix has cooled. I tried it once and the candy coating ran all over the rest of the mix as soon as the melted white chocolate was poured on top of them. It wasn’t pretty.

Oh, and you need a really big bowl or pot to mix this in. You could make a smaller batch, but you’ll eat it right away and need to make a second batch anyway.

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White Chocolate Party Mix (Santa Mix)

  • 1 pound of white chocolate
  • 6 cups rice chex cereal (or combination of cereals of your choice)
  • 3 cups toasted O’s cereal (Cheerios)
  • 2 cups thin pretzel sticks
  • 2 cups peanuts
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Combine cereal, nuts, pretzels and cranberries in a large bowl and stir to mix well.

Slowly melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.

Pour melted chocolate over the dry mixture and stir until everything is well coated.

Spread the mixture onto wax paper and allow to cool. Gently break apart into small pieces. Store in air-tight containers or bags and refrigerate to keep fresh (or store it out in the cold garage or woodshed, like we do – just out of the reach of the dogs).

Linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Frugally Sustainable

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