Friday, December 26, 2008

Lessons Learned from Hosting The Big Dinner.

I hope everyone is having a great Holiday.

This year saw the most chaotic Christmas Mornings in our house to date. Once the kids got a taste for wrapping paper, they kind of went crazy. Like sharks go crazy when a bucket of chum is poured into the water. I tried to run into the fray to gather up paper and find pieces to teeny toys, but I almost lost my arm a couple of times.

Needless to say, we are very blessed and based on the stack of presents from family, very much loved.

I hosted The Big Dinner for Richard's Mom, Sister, Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. I learned that a cold turkey adds an hour to cooking time. I also learned that if you have a box of cheesy puff pastry appetizers in your freezer, no one cares if dinner is an hour late. Wine helps too.

I tried out a couple of new recipes that were hits. I even got the ultimate compliment: Richard's Aunt (a fabulous Christmas cook) asked for a recipe. Scalloped corn. Try it. You won't be disappointed! Don't even wait for Christmas. I can see this as a fantastic side to ham. Richard made a delicious apple pie from a recipe my friend Ashlee gave me. I also think that Richard will be asked to bring his Rum Cake with him to every family gathering now. That was the thing that people kept picking at over coffee, even though they were stuffed from everything else my table was groaning under.

I will share recipes soon. Right now I have a toy store to fit into Emmett and Charlotte's room.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Well, here we are on Christmas Eve. Emmett has been tracking Santa's progress via the NORAD website, (shhhh don't tell him he is learning world geography at the same time) Richard is in the kitchen making rum cake and apple pie, and I need to go dig out our stockings so they can be hung by the chimney with care.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful, safe, and happy Holiday that is full of peace and love!!!!

A scene from the movie that we will be watching tonight. My very favourite Christmas movie.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The last of the Christmas knitting.

I am in a happy place with my gifting right now. Things are wrapped and ready. My last project came home yesterday after it's bath and block at a friend's house. (I couldn't do that here because it would have been impossible to hide from the recipient)

Want to see?

Isn't the colour just smashing? The stitch definition is just incredible. So very soft too.
I love the colours here and how they gently shift from shade to shade. The yarn was a treat to work with.
Oh yes. This is a little gift for me. A project that has been languishing in my knitting basket. A woolly shawl just right for snuggling with while reading or watching a movie on a chilly evening.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It is the most wonderful time of the year....... only have three reliable TV channels in one out-of-the-way room of your house. (and one of them is in French)

There are times that I miss having cable. I like The Food Network and programs on BBC Canada.

This time of year I am very thankful that the kids have minimal exposure to advertising. If we had cable the kids might realize that they are being left out of toy trends that are sweeping the nation and have Mommies and Daddies rushing to eBay to pay extortion prices for them.

Case in point:

The D-Rex. My brother phoned me up and asked me to look around my city for one. His boy wants one for Christmas. There are none to be found in three provinces. A quick check of eBay shows many for sale (In original packaging, gift receipt included) . Bidding starts at $50 above retail price.

In other news...

I have been tagged in a meme by Mama Bear.

The rules: Go to your Pictures folder. Find the fifth picture in the fifth folder and post it.

Here you go:
I am not tagging anyone. If you want to play, just let me know in comments and I will add a link you here.

Happy Solstice, everyone!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crunch Time.

So, I glanced at my calendar this morning. It seems like I am going to be very very busy this week. The kids each have parties at their schools and they need to bring goodies. I have a preschool board meeting where I need to bring an appetizer. I have the playgroup cookie exchange where I must show up with five dozen cookies. We have the Big Family Pre-Christmas get-together this weekend and I like to bring something yummy for the hostess. (Oh I hope the Archie McPhee order gets here, or the gag gift exchange will be missing a couple of items)

So, here is my baking list:

Chocolate Crinkles for cookie exchange (Done!)
Sugar Plums (make enough for home and hostess gift) (Done!)
Cupcakes for Emm's party (DONE! well, I need to frost them, but that won't take long and I will do it the night before the party)
Spiced rum nut brittle for hostess gift

I am not sure what I am taking to the board meeting, but I am leaning towards a warm dip I can assemble in my crock pot and serve with melba toast or pita chips. (edited to say I am making this cracker spread)

I also have to finish making some Christmas gifts and wrap everything.


EDIT: I can do this. I will bake today. (once I get to the store and buy a vanload of butter, sugar and flour) I can assemble my meeting munchies during Respite time on Tuesday. I can use crafty night tomorrow to assemble a gift. Char's party just requires me to pick up a couple of things while I am at the store getting supplies for baking.
I can do this.

I will worry about Christmas dinner next week.......

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to mail a package in twelve simple steps.

1. Wake up on the morning of the Domestic Package deadline for your country and curse yourself for the line up that will be waiting for you at the Post Office.

2. Try to find the wrapping paper. Fail. Instead find the stack of hand made Christmas cards you meant to mail. Realize that you may as well address them and send them off since you have to go to the PO anyway.

3. Sign and address cards, stopping several times to remove Baby from various precarious postions. eg: Pantry ,where he is dumping dog food into the flour bin, bathroom --where he is scrubbing toilet with cleaning brush...(.let him finish first), table top -where he is trying to steal your coffee, and then help him down when he can't find his step stool.

4. Go to purse to find stamps.

5. Reach into purse and find that your wallet is suspiciously damp. Search through purse and find a half-empty baby bottle without a cap on it. Discover puddles of milk in the bottom of your purse. Dump out purse and thank The Universe that there were no electronic devices in your purse (this time)

6. Wash out purse and contents. Find lost gift card (yay!)

7. Get juice for preschooler.

8. Rescue baby. (again)

9. Dig out old purse. Don't forget to find wrapping paper while in the basement.

10. Fill old purse.

11. Wrap gift. Stamp cards.

12. Pack up kids to go to the Post Office. Thank The Universe (again) that you made it before the line up was horridly long and the Postal Workers were cranky.

The End

Friday, December 5, 2008

Just Like Grandma's

Grandma and I were chatting last week and she mentioned that my Aunt put in a request for Carrot Pudding at Christmas Dinner. Grandma and my Aunt are going Up North to spend Christmas with my Mom and Dad, and I am hosting Christmas Dinner for some In Laws at my house this year. I was momentarily sad that I would miss the famous Carrot Pudding that I have recently developed a taste for (after spending a child hood turning my nose up at it).

Then I had an epiphany. I could make the Carrot Pudding! I could carry on a family tradition!!! I have the power!!!!

Thankfully, I also have Allrecipes and a Grandma who patiently put up with an afternoon of phone calls while I made this for the first time.
Don't fear the potatoes in the pudding
I didn't realize how few ingredients it takes to make a tradition.
I can always use a little help stirring. You need muscles to mix this stuff!
Now it's time for a nice two hour steam bath.
All that is left is to wait until Christmas Day when we get to pour on some delcious sauce and dig in!

Here is the recipe I used. As per Grandma's instructions, I added 1/2 cup softened butter to the pudding mixture and stirred the baking soda into some of the grated potatoes before mixing them in--she says it activates the soda and makes the pudding lighter in texture. I also cut the amount of cloves in half. It just seemed like a lot considering how strong they are. I then packed the mixture into clean pint jars (two for this recipe) topped with seals and rings, and then steamed as per the instructions. Don't forget to put a rack in the bottom of your pot.
Oh, and only fill your jars about 3/4 full so there is room for the pudding to rise.

I filled one jar a little too full so it didn't seal properly. Richard and I tested it last night. The pudding is rich, moist and sweet with just the right amount of spice.

Carrot Pudding
Submitted by: Joyce Rehagen
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 7 members
Yields: 7 servings
"Moist, dense and spicy, this steamed pudding features grated carrots and potatoes, a handful of raisins and a fragrant mixture of ground cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Top with a rich and creamy butter sauce for a truly magical dessert."
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup peeled and shredded
1 cup white sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine carrots, potatoes, sugar, raisins, flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, all spice, and ground cloves. Transfer mixture to a clean 1 pound coffee can. Secure wax paper over the top and place the filled can in a large pot with 2 to 3 inches of water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a simmer.
2. Steam the cake for 2 hours. Serve warm.
3. Buttery sauce: In a medium-size pot, combine butter or margarine, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Heat until the mixture is liquid. Spoon mixture over the warm carrot pudding to serve.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Meme reblog.

Ami tagged me for this meme. I did it last year so here it is again, now with updates.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping paper--it's more fun for the kids. This year I am also going to experiment with reusable fabric wrappings for the family. The pile of garbage on my floor after Christmas is sickening to me and I want to try to make it smaller this year. I am going to use this tutorial on Furoshiki as a guide.
2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial. We used to get real trees until I was forever traumatized by a half-dead tree lot tree that had me finding needles in my baseboards for two years afterward. I have fond child hood memories of finding a real tree every winter with my Dad's friend, the forestry teacher from our high school. (Yes, our high school had a conservation program....didn't yours??)
3. When do you put up the tree?
Whenever the mood strikes us.
4. When do you take the tree down?
See number three. I am going to set it up on the front porch this year so Matthew won't climb it, so it will probably get left up longer than if it was in the house.
5. Do you like eggnog?
I like the eggnog lattes at Starbucks--it is too thick and sweet by itself.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Hmmm... that would have to be my Barbie RV. I have been trying to find pictures online because mine was much bigger and cooler than the ones you can get now. My Barbies had lots of fun camping in my back yard in it.
7. Do you have a creche?
Yes. I have a cheapo plastic resin one I will use until my kids get old enough to not destroy the one my mom made in ceramics class many years ago. (Hmmm.... I may never get it!!)
8. Hardest person to buy for?
Hubby. He likes things like RAM and hard drives and lap top hinges.
9. Easiest person to buy for?
The kids.
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
A battery charger from my then-boyfriend now-hubbie. He has been briefed on appropriate gifts since then.
11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I don't send them.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Muppet Christmas Carol

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
When the mood strikes.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Grandma's shortbread and lefse at hubby's aunt's annual Christmas dinner.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Coloured, but not flashing.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen as sung by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah MacLachlan
18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Stay home. How would Santa find us if we traveled?
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning. We open our stockings, have breakfast, and then we do presents.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The pressure I feel to make or buy The Perfect Thing for everyone on my list. The pressure to edit that list but not leave anyone's feelings hurt. I am also going through a Spiritual Re-alignment this year so I have a lot of conflicting feelings about Christmas and how to make it meaningful this year.
23. What theme or color are you using when you decorate?
Blue and Silver. I have a large collection of Snowmen so they dominate my decorating scheme.
24. Favourite for Christmas Dinner?
This year it will be the dessert Richard is making. (His famous Rum Cake and my friend's Apple pie)
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Anything on my Amazon wish list, a new cordless phone....pretty boring stuff.

I am not tagging anyone...if you feel moved to do this meme, let me know in the comments and I will stop by your blog to read your answers. I do like me some good gossip!!! You can just do it in my comments too, if you want. I will be helpful and post the questions without answers at the end of this post for easy cutting and pasting. (That was a good idea, Ami!)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

2. Real tree or Artificial?

3. When do you put up the tree?

4. When do you take the tree down?

5. Do you like eggnog?

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

7. Hardest person to buy for?

8. Easiest person to buy for?

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

16. What decorations are on your tree?

17. Favorite Christmas song?

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

20. Angel on top of tree or star?

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

23 What theme or color are you using when you decorate?

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Last winter I designed an Advent Wreath for my Sunday School Class. It is one of the many interesting posts you will find at the

Make It From Scratch Carnival

that my friend in blogging Mama Bear is hosting over at her place. Why don't you go check it out? You will find lots of delicious looking recipes and fun craft ideas just in time for the busy Holiday season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I fell off the wagon for a couple of weeks and you know what happened? Stress. Late dinners. Grumpy family. Random trips to the grocery store for random things. I also learned what was at the bottom of my freezer, which was a good thing!

So, here we go again.....

Meal 1: Lemon Chicken and Rice

Meal 2: Shepherd's Pie

Meal 3: Apple Pork Chops

Meal 4: Tuna Noodle Casserole

Meal 5: Grilled steak and Mediterranean-style potatoes

Meal 6: Sweet potato stew and Ham Sandwiches

If you want to see what other menu planners are up to check out

I also want to mention my two go-to cookbooks. They have never led me wrong and almost everything I have tried in them has been delicious. The food is healthy, ingredients easy to find. They are real gems to have in your kitchen.

Eat Shrink and Be Merry and Crazy Plates were both written by two sisters that care about healthy tasty food that will please your family. They sneak health into everything! I swear by their trick of adding broccoli slaw to tuna when making sandwiches now!