Monday, December 28, 2015


December is like a rollercoaster ride. It starts to build with holiday preparations and events and then all of a sudden we are at the end and swoosh! We take a corner and it's Christmas! Swoosh again down a hill and we are well into the loop on our way to New Year's Eve. And then - it's over. Just like that. As I write this it is Dec. 28. I've packed away the decorations, the tree is looking forlorn and naked on the front yard, waiting to be made into wood chips for the local dog park and I've had a weekend packed with family fun and food. 

Lots of food...lots and lots. 

You may not know it but I really do enjoy food. Good Food. So I'm just going to Eat It. If you have ever met me, you know I'm a scrap of a thing - no more than 5 feet tall and I hover around 100 lbs. People will often ask me how I stay thin and no, it is not because I have an incredible metabolism. In fact I don't know any woman over 50 with an incredible metabolism!

Well listen up - I'm about to reveal the Big Secret...

Watch your portion sizes
Get a good night's sleep

Mind blowing - I know!  

And when I eat, I enjoy it. So bring on the fine dining. I'm not going to waste my time on cheap chocolate or McDonald's French fries. 
 I want home made baby spinach and cheese quiches

or Gingerbread with a hot butter rum sauce!

How about a squash cauliflower soup topped with roasted sunflower seeds?

Or freshly made pasta with homemade mushroom meat sauce!!

So remember my advice: Watch your portion sizes, exercise, get a good night's sleep and by all means, Just Eat It!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


It's that time of year again. When the die-hard-has-to-be-a-real-tree types go out hunting down that perfect tree. You may be a Griswold and hanker for the biggest, fullest tree in the forest or maybe you are a Charlie Brown type that just wants to find a poor sap(ling) in need of a warm blankey and some love. We Crowders are somewhere in the middle. 

Now for the past number of years we have zipped right around the corner of our house to the closest parking lot where Switzers  graciously provided fresh, hot from the forest trees. After a quick assessment of what was left, cause we are last-minute types or, because it was frigidly cold, we settled on a satisfactory specimen, threw it on top of the car and took the 10 second drive back home. 

But THIS year a new Christmas Tree farm has opened about 15 minutes outside of town. And let me tell you, these people know how to do it right.

We landed at Denmar Farms to find free hot chocolate waiting for us and treats to be had.

We mowed down a couple of these while we warmed up beside the fireplace.

If you are in need of a few more ornaments or fresh greenery, they are on hand!

Then the little red wagon arrived to take us to the hunting grounds.

It does not seem to matter whether we are at the local parking lot or out on the top of a hill, tree hunting is dang cold business! 

Here is my daughter Randi and her husband Dan. I know they are smiling, but it was cold out there, dang cold with a bitter, bitter wind!

After a quick assessment of trees, we settled on one for us and a smaller one for Dan and Randi ( cute). Trees were tagged and hauled up on the little red wagon for a cold ride back.
The lovely people at Denmar Farms will then give your tree a shake-rattle-roll dance and throw it in this very awesome and festive looking machine!
It goes in one end and....
There you have it, a perfectly bagged tree!

After that more hot chocolate ensued to warm up again and then I heard a rumour there were marshmallows to roast. 

Hello....roasted marshmallows? Yes, yes, I know it's cold but I can't resist and I drag the family out to the roaring fireplace for a roasting time. You just can't get that at the local parking lot.

Here's wishing you all a Griswold/Charlie Brown/Crowder Christmas! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015


There are standard questions you will here in Canada. Things like:
Crazy weather eh?   Or
Did ya Watch the game, eh?   Or
Eh??? (that's it, just eh???)
And starting in mid November this one starts to come into play:
Eh, have you started decorating yet?

Because we all start to rummage around in our sordid storage places, push aside whatever skeletons may be in there and pull out the bins marked "Christmas Decorations."

We have two malls in our little city. One, the Quinte Mall, is the big Kahuna. It has numerous train sets we all look forward to seeing and watch what is going on in the little settings as the trains toot by. The kids especially love it and press their little perfect noses up to the glass leaving perfect little smudges.

One year someone stuck a tyrannosaurus in there with his head hanging out a window - I thought that was awesome. 

There is another mall at the other end of town, much smaller but it also has its own unique Christmas decor. In fact, when I was 15 (that was a long time ago), I would hang out at this mall before my piano lesson killing 40 minutes or so. And there they were...staring at me...
With those beady eyes

And maniacal smirks

They used to move slowly, their little hands picking up a present and putting it down, picking up and putting down. Or stabbing something (seemed like stabbing), at a pot on a stove. 

I work in this mall....they're back every year still staring at me with those beady eyes.....

But we all have Christmas decorations we love and or hate and each year we bring them out.  

This one I hang on my door. No, I don't really want it to snow, I'm just trying to be all Canadian like

These hang around the neighbourhood and are lit up at night. They make great snow gauges! Usually they are well covered in snow (but old man winter has been very kind to us this year) and I know once I see the tips of their tails we are on the home stretch.

My original stocking - older than most of you reading this. I don't use it any more but I still pull the old girl out and hang her up.

My artistic gifting (not) was really shining through in Kindergarten when I made this paper star and plastic straw garland. It still goes on the Christmas tree, in the back, where no one can see it. 

I hope you are enjoying the season, seeing the Christmas decor, good, bad and ugly that are back every year. Or maybe you are investing in something new and snazzy. Who knows... 20 or 30 years from now someone will be looking at that once new and snazzy decoration thinking "look at those beady eyes...."

Sunday, December 6, 2015


I'm smack in the thick of the Christmas shenanigans. I had a concert on Friday, a Christmas party Saturday and in the middle I had some down time in one of my favourite places, the kitchen. 

Even better, I got to spend some time baking with my baby (daughter). What a luxury for me to have her nearby after so many years of nothing but skyping! 

So there were a few recipes I wanted to do and a few she hunted up on Pinterest - a magical website I'm staying far, far away from. For I know it will suck me into it's spell and you may lose me forever. 

Every year, I like to make shortbread of some sort and this year was a pecan type. These are melt-in-your-mouth and nutty!

Then I made a long standing family  recipe of sugar cookies. I bought a couple of new cookie cutters. They are supposed to be snowflakes, but I think they look more like flowers!

Randi wanted to pack in all the baking in one night so we were busy little bees. We made these peppermint brownie cookies 

And she also picked out these adorable cube shortbread:

There is dough prepped and firming up in the refrigerator for some molasses cookies and she also wants to make some truffles. But we ran out of time (and energy). 

Maybe you are a shopper and you get a kick out of finding that perfect gift. Maybe it is the parties that pick you up or maybe, like me, it is family time and you are baking with your baby. Whatever floats your boat, I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!