Sunday, January 14, 2018

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT!

Half the Canadians I know (I know quite a few) really do love winter. They thrive in it, they embrace it. The other half...not so much. I would fall into the latter category. The "I'm so cold, I'm tired of scraping the windshield, I don't want to go outside" half.

So we sit around sources of heat, whether that be a dog a human, or a fire of some sort, like one of these:


and watch TV or stare indolently out the window at the frozen tundra. 

But this time round, I decided to try and enjoy the longest season on the Canadian calendar. I was gonna try the "Fake it till you Make it" tactic. 

Let's start in the kitchen. I took a go at making Samosas from scratch - something hot and spicy!


The filling of potatoes, garlic, carrots and peas was well spiced with cardamon, fennel, cumin, ginger and hot chili to make the kitchen smell downright sexy hot!

I was skeptical about the dough; it did not feel right to me but bottom line, they turned out all right! I probably should have deep fried them but I took the healthy route and baked them:


Definitely got that amateur look, but aren't they adorable?!

I'm all warmed up on the inside, now let's get out there and tackle the tundra, frozen or not!

Proof I can do this winter thing:


See that? That's me with my friend Vicki and yes, we are snow shoeing! Outside!!

Here's another with Jolie and look, by golly we are all smiling! So you see, with a little fortitude of warm spicy food, you can take that winter on, you can 
FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

or......maybe not....





Sunday, January 7, 2018

HURRAY FOR JANUARY, THE INTROVERT MONTH!!

Today is January 7, 2018 and it's been record breaking cold. I hopped into my MiniCooper yesterday morning and "MiCi"obligingly started up with very little complaint. But the temperature gage indicated this:


And that's on the inside. Outside, with the windchill, it was more like -30's! That means we are all hunkering down as much as possible in our warm abodes.

Hurray for January! The Introvert Month! Now you Extroverts had your turn last month. Nothing but parties and celebrations and main events every weekend. Us introverts put on brave faces and did our very best to keep up with you all. 

So, please, we need some refuelling time with peace and quiet. That's what January is all about. Far too cold for much else! It's not that we don't like people and celebrating and loud raucous events. We just need downtime and when I say need, I mean N.E.E.D.

Me, I'm staying close to the fireplace (my back is up against it right now) having a nice cuppa chai tea.


Other than Lulu's occasional outbursts (I swear she has Dog Tourette's), all is quiet. 

January is cold and can be isolating. But for Introverts, after what we all went through last month, it's a Godsend. 


Hurray...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

WHAT'S THE MATTER?

I often find Lulu sitting in this chair. She looks sad and dejected.


Occasionally, she lets out a big sigh and I think, Lulu, how bad can it be? You live in a cosy house and have your own chair beside a fireplace. There's food and water to be had, a backyard to chase squirrels in and you often get to sleep on the bed!

Lulu, what could possibly be the matter??

Which got me musing about what matters in general. The New Year is a good time to get down to the heart of the matter(s). Perhaps you have been giving your attention and time to things that really don't matter. Good time to find out!

Let's get one thing clear: You and I Matter; our struggles and successes, our goals and disappointments. Sometimes answers are elusive and we feel no one is listening. Not true! 

Proverbs 25:2 says" It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of Kings is to search it out." As part of the royal family, you get the glory of figuring out the puzzle and just think how much more you learned once the answer is discovered.

As I look ahead I know there will be good and bad times coming my way. I know there will be puzzles to figure out. But here is my secret weapon...

"You will make your prayer to Him and He will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you and light will shine on your ways." Job 22:26-28

When I'm feeling like Lulu, staring out the window dejectedly, with no answer in sight to the matter at hand, I know the answer can be found, the light will shine brighter and the matter will be established. 

Happy New Year !!











Sunday, December 24, 2017

A CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE

I sent a message to my kids last night...please ignore my messy attempt at privacy..





My favourite part of Christmas is the time leading up to it. I like the anticipation, the prep, the magic. I dig down deep, go way back and feel like I'm 9 years old again. 


So, what better time to have a pre-Christmas Adventure? The plan was to surprise my son and his wife who were flying into Toronto late Friday night. But since we were heading that way, why not make the most of it? 



Our first stop was in Port Hope. Now this is a pretty little town that I need to spend more time in!




Sheldon discovered Mercury Chocolates, a tiny shop that makes beautiful bites of chocolate goodness. 



You can check them out at "www.mercurychocolates.com". But I recommend the spicy chili one.

From there, we headed to the Toronto Distillery District to take in the Christmas Market. It was a busy, slushy Christmas mess.


Shoppers, music, food, atmosphere: this place has it all.



We stopped in a Bistro, surprisingly not overly busy, and shared a ham and cheese crepe with spinach. For dessert there were these chocolate rum croissants, warm and fresh out of the oven that I would almost sell my firstborn for (just kidding).




It was off to the Toronto Airport around 10:30 as the kids were to fly in at 11:20. But this was the Friday before Christmas, the weather was dicy and needless to say, it was more like 1:00 am before I saw them in the flesh. I would have taken a picture, but it was 1:00 am. And I was bawling, as usual. So I snapped a shot the next morning, all bleary eyed and jet lagged.


My Handsome Adrian, Carolyn's Mom and Sweet Carolyn
Snow, and lots of it, just kept on falling. Not to be deterred we made our way to the St. Lawrence Market in the centre of Toronto.
 

I could, and did, spend a lot of money here. All on food but if you are looking for a legitimate reason to spend an illegitimate amount of money on food, it's called Christmas baby.

I'm going to create a charcuterie plate so cheese and meats were on the menu. The cheese options here are beyond your imagination.


We settled on a smoked cheddar and a couple of raspberry and merlot infused softer cheeses. Thank you cheese guy for the free samples! Loaded down with cheeses, smoked sausages, fresh fruit, vegetables and crackers, we made one last stop at one of the many bakeries for strength and sustenance on the slow, snowy drive home down the 401.

And here I am, home safe, in front of the fire, typing this up on my favourite time of the season, Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for reading my musings this past year and here's to a holiday full of adventures and magic. 









Sunday, December 17, 2017

THIS JOY BUSINESS

If I were to ask you for a quick analysis on how you were feeling, what would you say: Hungry, Happy, Frustrated, Tired, Excited? In the midst of any or all of those responses, are you feeling joy?



It's Christmas time, the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (not including when the kids go back to school) and this is a celebration! We exchange gifts and good wishes, we attend parties and eat. And this joy business is a big deal. 


"Joy to the World, the Lord has come"
"Oh, Tidings of comfort and Joy"
"Joyful all ye Nations rise, join the triumph of the skies"
"Oh, come all Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant"

Joy feels like: delight, great pleasure, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicings, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elations, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture. It's like happy on steroids!



But it seems, like Christmas in Who-ville, It's a little bit more.



Joy is also an noun "you are my joy" and more importantly, a verb or an action, one you can choose. You can make a choice, in the midst of whatever you are in, to be joyful. It can be a solid rock, an anchor and a touchstone. 



Dog are very good at expressing Joy. Amelia sure was!




Lulu is downright exuberant when I come home from work. Her whole body wags and sometimes she curls her lip and smiles. Children find joy in all the new discoveries they are having: what ice cream tastes like, Christmas morning, snow. 


I have discovered that it's the hopeless who can not seem to find joy. Nothing to hope for and they see no future possibilities for change.


But let me encourage you. There is always Hope. Christmas is a time for miracles and for the impossible to be possible. Grief, hopelessness and shame are heavy burdens that can be carried by another. It's the foundation of our Christmas celebration, the Christ child who came to earth. "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28


I wish you all great Joy this Christmas time, that not only do you feel it, but you receive it. Love and Joy Come to You!









Sunday, December 10, 2017

"C' IS FOR CHRISTMAS..AND COOKIES, MOSTLY COOKIES

I finally gave in and started delving into Pinterest. I know, you don't have to tell me, this is a  dangerous and time sucking little APP. 

The cookie recipes!!! I'm outta control!  But who cares? It's Christmas and in my book, time in the kitchen creating for those we love is always time well spent.

I made these chocolate crinkle cookies last night:



They are like little brownies bites, moist and chewy.

In honour of my Italian roots, I made gingerbread latte biscotti.



If you have never had biscotti, these are for dunking into your coffee/tea/hot chocolate. They are super crunchy but that makes them perfect for holding up when you do the dunk.

I still made a few family favourite, including Swedish butter balls, but inspired by Pinterest I changed up the recipe and added cranberry and orange to half the batch.



Time tested family recipes, passed down and shared with sons and daughters (and friends, so Kelly, this is for you!) is just the right thing to do. So, here is a classic that is as old as dirt but tastes way better. Make them big and don't overcook!



I tried my hand at raspberry linzer cookies today. Fussy, but pretty.



And finally, all sugar cookie recipes should include in the instructions: make with friends, that way, everyone can enjoy the fun.

Yes Virginia, C is for Christmas but as Cookie Monster immortalized in that famous jingle: "C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me, Oohhhh...Cookie, Cookie, Cookie starts with C!"








Saturday, December 2, 2017

FINDING HARMONY IN CHRISTMAS CHAOS


Well....you ready? Here we go -It's December and the proverbial  pistol shot has rang out clearly in the crisp winter air. BANG!! 

The Christmas season is out of the gates!

There are presents to wrap, goodies to bake, tacky Christmas sweaters to create, parties and Children's Christmas concerts to attend and don't forget to head to the centre of the chaos, aka the Mall, and get a photo with the jolly old elf himself, Santa. 

This past week was the count down to my Christmas concert with the string ensemble. Dress rehearsal was Tuesday night and chaos is a good way to describe the scene:



Various people talking, instruments tuning up or running through a tricky part. What the heck is going on here?? 

With so much to do on top of your already hectic schedule, this may seem a lot like your life during the month of December. No harmony whatsoever!


On the night of our Christmas concert, we all arrive, dressed in black and ready to perform. Suddenly the cacophony called rehearsal has settled down to resemble a song:


Suddenly there is a harmony in there! 

In the midst of the craziness, I hope you can step back and enjoy the glorious memories that are being made right in front of you. Having a good laugh with the person in line at Starbucks with you, watching a classic Christmas movie with the family, finding the perfect present for someone special. 

I hope you find the Joy of the season.

I hope you find Peace.

I hope you find Harmony in Christmas.