Wednesday, 28 December 2011

We Will Have These Moments To Remember

Apparently it's ?Wednesday?  ?December 28?  Who can tell, other than a logical look at the fridge calendar.

It is December 28 and I am teetering on the edge of post-Christmas blues.  'Tis nothing serious, nothing more than the expected post-Christmas come-down.  We work so hard for Christmas to come and then it's over without much notice and we're faced with returning from extraordinary to ordinary.  Sigh and sigh again.

We had many so good moments this year.

We enjoyed every minute with Dean's family on Dec. 24 and 26th.  A fun memory of the 26th was going sledding with the kids and my brother-in-law (seems he and I, being the outlaws, have the outdoor gene), then playing a boisterous game of Telephone Pictionary after pizza supper.  The later the night got, the funnier the game got.  What a silly bunch of people.  Love each one of them.  On Christmas Eve, the oldest 4 grandchildren each gave a little Christmas concert on their instruments.  My, they are growing up.  I anticipate great music coming from each of them as they get older and start refining their interests even more.

My family was here for Christmas Day and it was also perfect.  As much as I love to cook and try new recipes, my Christmas dinner was pretty ordinary.  I brined the turkey again but by the time I sat down to eat it, my head was splitting with a weather-induced headache, and I really couldn't tell you if it was a good turkey or not.  The table was pretty, though....


...and I'm still glowing a wee bit from Dad's comment "you outdid yourself, baby." 

Seems kinda silly that he still calls me his baby when I'm 40some years old. 

But I love it.

I loved, loved, loved having both families in our house over the Christmas days.  The time with each of them went by too fast, but I know we were blessed to share time with them.  Too many families are separated by distance, illness, death, conflict.  We are blessed, blessed, blessed.   

Andrew played with his cousins this year.  Huh?  Seems he has taken on the role of the "older cousin" and happily entertained them over the past few days.  Where did that come from? 

Both Andrew and Ben challenged my parents to Scrabble games Boxing Day morning.  Good thing they didn't keep score and somehow the grandparents were pretty merciful towards the boys, accepting words never-before-seen-or-accepted on the Scrabble board.  They're getting soft in their old age....never let ME get away with that, haha!

I managed to make 15 crocheted scarves/head bands for gifts this year.  That was fun; yarn and colors and patterns are so fun to pick out with someone special in mind.  Just for fun, I looked at some crochet patterns today....yeah, NOT INTERESTED JUST NOW, THANKS.  I think I overdosed on crochet in December.  Give me a month or two, I'll be back.

I used some Christmas gift $$ and bought a new kettle yesterday.  And a new wallet.  I can tell that I'm kinda blue/sentimental today because I'm having a hard time throwing the old ones out, even though they're completely worn out.  The kettle was a wedding gift; I still remember opening it and can tell you exactly who it's from.  It seems that we are getting to the stage in life where our wedding gifts are starting to show their age!  The towels are faded out, the kettle stopped working, the mini food chopper's blades are too dull to be much good.  How did us two young people end up with aged gifts?  Guess we're not as young as we used to be. Hmm.

I suppose that we will all emerge back into regular life over the next few days.  There are still a few things on my "to-do" list that have not been done yet.  I'm ready for an evening full of board games.  I've watched one good movie ("The Help"), but am ready for a couple more.  Same with books. I've been enjoying the Starbucks Christmas Blend, but, yikes, the caffeine content seems to be hitting me pretty hard!  I guess I better ease up on that one.  Speaking of Starbucks, our coffee-loving friends will come to spend the day with us tomorrow and that will be really special.  As I work Jan. 1, New Year's Eve will be a quiet celebration.  And I'm more than ready for trips to the tobogganing hill, the skating rink and there may even be enough snow for snowshoeing.

And sometime between now and the new year, I will likely end up making a batch of Won Ton Soup.  It's just one of those things that I like to take time to make during Christmas holidays.  It's easier than you think and well worth the extra effort.  In case you want to try it out for yourself, here is the recipe:

Wontons

1 lb ground pork
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
2 Tbsp soy sauce
dash of salt and pepper

wonton wrappers, 454 g (usually found refrigerated in the grocery store)

In medium bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients.  If the mixture is too soft, add a few bread crumbs.

Place 1 tsp of the meat mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper.  Moisten edges.  Fold over, forming a triangle.  Press edges to seal.  Moisten bottom corners, pull gently together to overlap, and press together.  Freeze or refrigerate until ready to use.

War Wonton Soup

1/2 medium head bok choy, chopped into small pieces.  (I have also used cabbage and/or broccoli and/or a frozen asian blend of veggies).
2 green onions, sliced
4 medium mushrooms, sliced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup corned beef (thinly sliced from the deli, then slivered)
1 box shrimp (225 gram)
Wontons

Add all sliced vegetables into a soup pot and add the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until veggies are soft.  Add meat and simmer until heated through.

Bring back to a low boil and add wontons (about 32, don't overcrowd the pot, freeze the rest for another day).  When the wontons are cooked, they will rise to the top.  Serve immediately.

Hmm, if it wasn't for the fact that I promised Ben pork chops today, I'd be running to the store for wonton wrappers right now! 

I hope your Christmas had some moments to remember, too. 

And, by the way, I think that my Christmas was, indeed, peaceful.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Randoms

Lots of things zinging through my brain as Christmas rapidly approaches.

Randomly:

1.  Someone dear to me has told me many times this week to be at peace this Christmas.  To not rush and worry and work, but to slow down, be patient, and aim for a peaceful existence.  I cannot tell you how many times her words have barrelled through my brain.  She knows what it's like to be busy, she's a hard worker, has kids, works, etc.  But she is also going through a trial right now, the kind of trial that reminds you to not rush and worry and work, to slow down, be patient and aim for a peaceful existence.  Her words have been God's words to me this year and I am thankful for her.  Thanks JH-B!

2.  Next year, I beg you, if you even hear me hint at the words "I should make everyone a _____________ for Christmas" - STOP ME PLEASE!!!!!  If I say "we should just __________" remind me that no, we shouldn't just ___________".  And extra shifts the week before Christmas?  Bad idea.  Bad, bad idea.  I was asleep Friday night at 8:30.  Seems I am not as young and agile as I used to be.  Ahem.

3.  On the way to work one day, "Dominick The Donkey" was playing on the holiday channel.  In case you haven't heard the song, give it a quick listen here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok5rOO2v2dU

Good grief.  At 6:45 IN THE MORNING my car is blasting with a Christmas donkey hee-hawing, over and over and over again.  When I got to work, that song wouldn't leave my brain.  And my work place is a noisy place - "NURSE, NURSE"....."buzzzzzzz"  go the buzzers....."ring ring ring ring ring" goes the phone...."LA-DY, LAAAA-DDDDYYYY, LAAA-dy", "nurse can I have my pills NOW"?  HEE HAW, HEE HAW, HEE HAW goes Dominick the Donkey....."    Can you imagine?  It was wild!  Dominick the Donkey indeed.  Dominick the Donkey should be shot.   Silenced.

4.  On the other end of the spectrum, Silent Night is moving me this year.  I think perhaps that is because I have this "be at peace" thing on the brain in the midst of my craziness.  It's a cry from deep in my soul - for silence. 

5.  The sound of childrens' voices is also moving me.  My boys are growing up.  Children are innocent and sweet and, well, they try hard and live eagerly.  Good life lesson.

6.  I never get everything done at Christmas.  Each year, I get some things done, but I never get everything done.  Some years, I don't decorate much but get all my cards out.  Other years, I am so on target with my cards, but hardly decorate.  I ALWAYS bake, but I never get all of my baking list done.  At some point I have to stop myself or I will fall over in a heart attack.  Truly.  I am terribly ambitious at Christmas.  Nauseatingly so.

7.  No Christmas cards were mailed this year.  Not one.  However, if you want to see a Dynna slide show, click here:
https://picasaweb.google.com/104099245676850185736/ChristmasEmail2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCPPzpdq15pCPgAE#


8.  Sometimes I get Christmas cards from the most surprising people.  I particularly get a tear in my eye out of cards from little old ladies at church.  You think that they don't much notice or care much about me, but along comes a gracious card with lovely words and I am indeed touched and blessed to be on their Christmas card list.  Maybe next year I should make them something.


....stop me now......I asked, right?  ;)

9.  Christmas traditions - I've worked so hard in my house to create at least some traditions that the boys could look back on and say "it isn't Christmas until....."  Turns out they can't really answer that question with specific things/events very well other than opening gifts.  I've pulled a few things out of boxes this year, expecting them to say "hey, I remember that!" and they really haven't remembered those things at all!  That's partly because, well, some years I decorate more than others, etc., etc. and some of these treasures haven't seen the light of day for a couple of years. Time is fleeting.  The one tradition that I do insist on, however, is putting up BOTH Christmas trees, as labor intensive as that both sounds and is.  The upstairs is pretty and we all love it.  The downstairs tree is full of sentimental decorations.  We try to add something to it every year, something that represents something that we did or something that occurred during the past year.  It was fun adding decorations from the Maritimes to our tree this year.  Last year, we added a carpenter in honor of our renovation, the year before we added two birds in honor of Dean's bird-loving grandparents that had both passed away.  That tree means a lot to us and we all decorate it and chat a lot while we do it.  Must.  Not.  Stop.  That.  Tradition.  Ever.

10.  The one baking recipe that ALWAYS gets made every year is Whipped Shortbread Cookies.  I like to try new recipes, I like to make things for each member of the family according to their food tastes.  And I think the reason that I always make Whipped Shortbread Cookies is because it's MY favorite!

Well, no recipes to share with you today. 

I really want to thank you for reading my silly little thoughts here.  This blog has been both fun and challenging for me, something "new" to me in 2011!  As long as my brain is connected to this, I'll strive to continue to write.

Merriest of Christmases to each of you beautiful souls.  And, live in peace, live peacefully, stay cool, and be at peace this year.

Love ya!
Maureen

One more thing...

Very thankful that you asked for the RECIPE and not actual COOKIES....

Whipped Shortbread

1 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all your ingredients in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn it on.  Walk away.  Come back when it is the consistency of whipped cream, don't worry, it will get there with enough time if your butter is lovely and soft. 

If you don't have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, you should ask for one for Christmas  put everything in a bowl, combine with a spoon, then beat with a hand held mixer until it is the consistency of whipped cream.  Endurance pays off!  Don't walk away.  Stand there.  When it looks like small peas, keep standing there, mixing with your little mixer.  By the next day, it should be good enough and although your feet may be sore, your cookie dough should be just about perfect.

;)   (Get a stand mixer!)


Drop by tsps on a greased sheet and flatten slightly.  I like to put colored sugar or sprinkles on top just to make it look pretty.  Bake for 15 min. at 325 F.

There!  Happy?  ;)