Saturday, December 31, 2011

Leaping into 2012

It's absolutely true when they say,
The years are flying by faster and faster as we age!
2011 is pretty much a blur
We had wonderful times and trying times.
Looking back, some of the more memorable times were
A touching Mission's Supper presentation by Ka Lee Paine when she shared with our
church family how her family and life changed when they arrived
in Canada as refugees when she was 2 years old in 1979!
In February the annual Curling Bonspiel where our team placed second!
In April a Baby Shower for sweet Sophia - a miracle baby

A Baby Shower for a great nephew Eric

A Bridal Shower for Racheal 

In May we enjoyed a wonderful week in beautiful Victoria for 
a work related conference  - so glad we decided to go!
A beautiful bouquet arrived in our Empress Hotel room for
Mother's Day - thanks again Bex!

June was so much fun starting off with our annual
Rhubarb and Rhummage Festival - another huge success in spite of the rain!

Followed by Alex and Racheal's wedding that very afternoon.
The sun shone in between showers on this blessed day.
The next day we hosted the Gerber Clan for
our annual family day - the weather was perfect and
we had a fabulous time.

On the 13th of June we left for an Irish adventure!  Becky joined us
from Alberta - we were soooo thrilled that she decided to come too.
We experience breathtaking views, some tense driving, wonderful food,
and people.
  It was in Ireland where I 
came to realize what is most important in my life and how I
need to set a new direction in my life.  I had many deep thoughts and
am thankful for this opportunity to see how my attitudes and 
decisions in this life will serve me in years to come.

July and August were spent close to home with more exciting events.
Our wee Becky became engaged to her beloved Patrick
Words cannot convey what joy I felt when I saw how perfectly happy
my daughter was and how excited we all were for this occasion!

My summer included events such as meeting Anneliese and Lovella 
from my favourite blog - Mennonite Girls Can Cook.
I managed to get some canning done and we took a few
afternoons for escaping to the lake and do a bit of water skiing.
August 2nd was the day we buried our dear little pal of 17 years.
Thistle, our beloved Cairn Terrier who gave us much pleasure 
and 2 litters of adorable puppies
She gave us the experience of showing and, in spite of us, earned her championship papers!
She lives on in her loveable daughter - Poppy
On August 27th, we enjoyed the beautiful wedding of Scott and Nikki - another
perfect day to celebrate with family and friends.

Wet September whizzed by as we tried to get the Fall work done,
saw a few plays at Stratford Festival,
spent a few relaxing days on my own while the guys went on a fishing trip.

October continued to be bleak and rainy and our hearts hurt as we said
our final goodbyes to our dear nephew Andrew!  We know that
he is in heaven - he was an innocent angel here on this earth!

Thanksgiving was a beautiful day and was spent with family in St. Mary's.
A quick fall colours tour on Thanksgiving Monday was also a highlight!

In November we decided to celebrate the date 11-11-11 so spent
a fun weekend in the capital city - this was a great little get-away!

It was on November 22nd, my daughter's birthday, that I decided 
to start my own blog.  So far I have enjoyed this type of "journaling".
Mid month we attended an uncle's funeral (my mom's last living brother).
On November 25th little Atlas was born.  What a joy for his 
Grand-parents - close friends of ours!

Christmas 2011 was full and fun (and our tummies are full as well).
Our dear friends spent Christmas day with us (as they have for at least 3 decades).
and it was a special blessing to have Becky and Patrick with us as well!

My husband's family gathered at Nithview Home where Grandma is 
being cared for.  We had a lovely afternoon with lots of delicious food
and games.
Solitare Frenzy
and Rook - of course!
My siblings and in-laws spent yesterday together and - yes - we ate some more!

Today is New Year's Eve - I am looking forward to see
what 2012 has in store for me - it's going to be an eventful
and fabulous leap year.  I pray for health and happiness
to all!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Appetizers for New Year's Eve Celebrations

Now that the turkey left-overs are getting tired - it's time to start thinking about New Year's Eve finger food!  Here's a delicious and healthy appetizer idea.  This recipe was first introduced to me at a friend's Christmas gathering and I have made it several times since then.  It's always festive looking and very easy to put together.  We are invited to a New Year's Eve Party and I'll be making this for sure.

Boccocini Kabobs
Make kabobs with mini boccocini cheese balls, fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatos on a toothpick or small wooden kabob stick.  Arrange mini kabobs on platter and drizzle with a Balsamic Vinegar Reduction.
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction:
2 Cups of a good quality Balsamic Vinegar ( i.e. Modena, Italy)
¼ Cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Over medium high heat bring to a rolling boil – stir until sugar is dissolved and continue to cook until reduced to 1/3 Cup or to desired consistency to drizzle.  Do not overcook as this thickens more as it cools and is very potent.  A little goes a long way.  This is delicious drizzled on fresh strawberries or watermelon as well!

Another favourite appetizer that I make often is this Sour Dough Bread dip recipe that I got many years ago from my SIL Angela.  Certainly a family favourite!

Sour Dough Bread Dip
2 Tins Flaked Ham
1 Small jar Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1 Container Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Dill Weed
1 tsp. *Beau Monde (get this at the bulk food store – it’s a mixture of spices)
1 Tbsp. grated onion
Mix the above ingredients and pour into a hallowed out round sour dough loaf.  Serve with the remaining bread -  cubed. Raw veggies as dippers are also delicious.

HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE!  I am looking forward to 2012 with much joy and anticipation! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Never forgotten - Always loved!

My Dad was a gentle and sweet man.  He stood by my mother with unfailing love for 63 years.  Four years ago, today, he went to his heavenly home!  I miss him so much.............he deeply loved all his children and especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  What an example he was to me on how a father should love his children!  A glimpse, perhaps, of how our heavenly father cares for us.  Till we meet again Dad - you are never forgotten and always loved.

Happy times!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The night before Christmas Eve

Tis the night before, the night before and all through the house......

The Nuts 'n Bolts are made (here is my mom's recipe):

1 Box Shreddies/Crispix                                         Dressing:
1 Box Cheerios                                                       1 C Mazola Oil (I like to use reg. Olive Oil)
1 Box Cheese Nibs                                                 ½ lb. butter         
1 pkg. pretzels                                                        1 Tbsp. each - garlic salt, onion salt, celery salt
1 pkg. Bugles (if you can find them)                      I like to add 1 Tbsp. each – lemon juice                         4 lbs. salted nuts                                                     Worcestershire sauce – Mom didn’t use this.

Method:  Heat dressing and pour over cereal mixture.  Stir and bake at 200 for 2 hours stirring every 15 minutes.  Mom always made a big batch of this for Christmas!  It makes the whole house smell wonderful while it was baking.
*I like to make this using “organic” cereals which makes it much crunchier.

Here is a sweet and salty version of Nuts 'n Bolts that is also delicious and a change from the savoury version!
6 Cups mixed nuts
6 Cups Cheerios
4 Cups Pretzel twists
4 Cups Chinese Noodles
4 Cups Cheese Bits
6 Cups Bran Squares
6 Cups Honey Comb
2 Cups Melted Butter
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. Celery Salt
1 Tbsp. Garlic Salt
1-2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
Bake at 250F for about 2 hours – stirring every 15 minutes.

The Hoosier Cabinet is decorated, the Turkey is defrosting, the tree is lit, and the mantel lights are glowing!  And best of all - my Alberta gal has landed and we will all be together on Christmas Day.  How are your preparations coming?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Timeless Christmas Treasures

You may know this about me - I love to hold on to my "old" things
 and this beautifully illustrated Christmas Story book by J. Pienkowski
 is the one we always read as a bed time story on Christmas Eve!
  It tells the Christmas story in King James Version style
 from the book of Luke and Matthew.
  At this time of year this book reappears on the coffee table.  

I also love these antique Christmas Cards and an old
Christmas Carol Book that were from
my Mom and Dad's things.
The images are so beautiful and timeless.

I treasure these beautiful pictures of a time past
and I rejoice that they are still relevant today!

Have a blessed Christmas my friends!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dressing for the Turkey

It seems that everyone has their own "family/favourite" dressing recipe.  My Mom's dressing recipe was probably handed down from her mom and so on.  In fact, there never was a "written down" recipe - she just knew how to make it and I was lucky enough to be with her one Christmas while she was making it.  I helped her cube the bread and she warned me "don't make the cubes too small" as I was cutting narrow strips.  I wrote down the ingredients and approx. measurements as we went along because I wanted to add this recipe to my collection.  Here is how I remember her making this tasty dressing that my family loves!  There is a secret ingredient that makes this dressing taste unique and wonderful - O.K. I'll tell you - it's the cinnamon!

Mom's Turkey Dressing

Turkey Dressing (for a 10-15 pound turkey)
2 Loaves stale bread – cubed (homemade style bread that comes from our local bakery is best - as in bread that actually goes stale)
½ Cup Lard (can be substituted with oil but mom always used lard)
½ Cup Butter – heat lard first and then add the butter
Add in:
1 Tbsp. Salt
some seasoned salt
½ tsp. Cinnamon (the secret ingredient that gives it that special Mom flavour)!
1 Cup Chopped onion
1 Cup Chopped celery
Sauté above ingredients till onion and celery are softened (not browned).
Add in:
Cubed bread – stir over low heat till bread is moistened
Add parsley (approx. 2 Tbsp. Fresh chopped parsley)
Blend together 2-3 Cups milk and 2 beaten eggs.  Add this to the dressing stirring constantly.  You may add a bit of water if more moisture is needed.  Heat through.
Mom warned that you should stuff the turkey for immediate roasting or bake the dressing in a greased casserole dish.  Dressing will go sour if not baked immediately.
I sometimes put this right into my crock pot or casserole dish and freeze it until turkey day.  I then bake it in the crock pot or oven, adding some of the turkey broth to remoisten.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Twist & Knot Cinnamon Rolls for Sharing

This recipe comes from the college kitchen where I work.  It is the most requested “special coffee break treat”.  These taste best when freshly baked.  The batch makes 6 pie plates or cake pans - the perfect amount for sharing!  I made a 1/2 batch at a time so that I could use my KitchenAid mixer - it was calling out to me to be used and it does such a great job of the kneading for me - how could I refuse on this Saturday afternoon with nothing else to do in preparation for Christmas Day - lol!

Don't be afraid to try these - it's so worth while.

Twist & Knot Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Glaze

4 pkgs. Yeast                                                       ½ lb. butter
2 Cups warm water                                             1 Tbsp. Salt
2 tsp. sugar                                                          4 Eggs - beaten
2 Cups Milk – scalded                                         1 tsp. nutmeg   
1 Cup Sugar - divided                                          9-11 Cups Flour
Place yeast in a bowl, add 2 Cups warm water.  Sprinkle 2 tsp. sugar on top.  Stir slightly.
Scald the milk with 1/3 of the sugar.  Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over it to melt.  Stir and cool slightly.  Add salt, eggs, 2/3 Cup sugar, nutmeg and yeast mixture.  Stir in the flour.   Knead – keeping dough quite sticky.  Let rise till double in bulk – approx. 1 hr.  Roll out dough into a large rectangular shape, spread with melted butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Fold the dough into thirds (take longest side and fold in 1/3 of the way and then fold the other long side over top making three layers of dough).  Cut into 1 inch strips starting at short end of folded dough.  Twist each strip and make a knot.  Place knots in 9” greased pie plates, knot side up.  Let rise again for ½ hour or so.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Top with caramel sauce while still warm.
Caramel Sauce (don't substituted this glaze - it's what makes these rolls so special):
½ lb. butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Milk or Cream
Boil until smooth.
Add 3 ½ Cups Icing Sugar while warm and beat well.  Spoon onto warm rolls.

Now we just need to decide if we want to deliver them tonight or wait till tomorrow a.m. at church...but we have a warm wood fire going and it's cold and dark outside...but they taste the best when fresh baked and could be a breakfast treat...what to do?

Another Saturday ending and the next one will be Christmas eve!  Take time this busy week for a cup of coffee and maybe a cinnamon bun too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

60 is a special number

Yeah - The 2012 season brochure arrived today.  60 - that's the special number this year!!!!!!  Even for the Stratford Festival Theatre!  I LOVE seeing as many plays as I can afford (oh, how I miss the days when I worked there and got free tickets).  Maybe someday I'll go back as a senior usher - that'll be here soon too - Yikes!  The 2012 season looks promising with "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" and "The Matchmaker" just to mention a few..... sorry these pictures are sideways....I don't know how to fix them.

Must see for me is Christopher Plummer's "A Word or Two"

Here's the other one that I would like to see "42nd Street" with Cynthia Dale.  The musicals are always a special treat!

If you've never been to the Stratford Festival - YOU MUST!  Larry, Debi, and Becky from Kentucky always do :) - we have such a wonderful time.  We'll see you in approx. 60 divided by 2 WEEKS or less.

I'm going to start saving right now - or wait a minute....that might have to wait till sometime in January.  My special financial advisor complains that he's not an advisor at all - he's just a suggester.  Thank goodness he's my husband and understands.

Reason for the Season!

This nativity snow globe
was given to us by my parents-in-law
about 35 years ago!
It is one of my most treasured
Christmas items
and reminds me
why we celebrate Christmas!
Our parents made sure 
that we went to church 
learned the reasons we celebrate Christmas.
The most amazing miracle of all time!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wintery Saturday

Winter's Garden

Time to feed the birdies!
 It's double digit December and Winter has definitely set in.  The pretty white covering of snow makes the garden look so lovely.  It's all good though!
Spinach Smoothie for Breakfast....
The bird feeders have been filled....
The nuts 'n bolts are roasting.....
The firewood is getting brought in....
The housecleaning WILL get done sometime today....if I would just quite clicking the keys!
Office curling party tonight.....

My little helper!  She's camera shy.
The Holly has never been so beautiful!

That's quite a pile of wood there farmer man!!  I know, put the camera down and come and help!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Baking

A bit more baking done!  I have come to the realization that my Christmas baking is pretty simple and easy and that's why I always make the same things each year.  Some year I should break out of my comfort zone and try some new and amazing recipes!  Oh well, the good old tried and true ones are O.K. too.  Here are three more recipes to share with you:
Shortbread Cookies:
This is a recipe from my SIL Gloria and they are melt in your mouth delicious!  Makes 5 doz. small cookies
1 lb. butter – softened
1 Cup icing sugar
3 Cups all-purpose flour
½ Cup cornstarch
Maraschino cherries - quartered
Whip the butter and icing sugar for 10 minutes until light and fluffy.  Slowly blend in the flour and cornstarch.  Drop by teaspoons full onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Put a cherry piece on each cookie and bake at 375F for approx. 15-20 minutes.

Neopolitan Bars:
My Mom always made these at Christmas time:
10 Graham wafers – crushed (or 1 ½ Cups graham wafer crumbs)
½ Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Flour
½ Cup Butter
Mix well and press into square pan.  Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes.
Mix together and carefully top with:
1 Can sweetened condensed milk mixed with
2 Cups fine coconut
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cool
Ice with pink butter icing (Mom always made the icing pink by using maraschino cherry juice with a tsp. of almond flavouring - delicious!).

Peanut Butter Balls (a.k.a. Chestnuts):
These are so easy and great fun to make with help from little hands!  I used melted milk chocolate that was give to us in the form of a HUGE 5 lb. chocolate bar (you know who you are) - these look a little nicer when using dark chocolate but you can use whatever you have on hand like I did :).
1 Cup icing sugar
2 Cups Rice Krispies
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp. butter
Melt the Peanut Butter and Butter and mix in the cereal and icing sugar.  Blend well causing the cereal to crush.  Roll into balls.  Dip into melted chocolate and drain on waxed paper.

Today was the day we said good-bye to a dear and loved uncle (my mom's last surviving brother).  From a family of 11 siblings - only 4 sisters remain along with only 2 in-laws.  My beloved late aunt Ruth (who was the youngest in the family) made sure that there was always a white rose for each passed family member at the subsequent funerals.  She herself has passed away but I thought of her when I saw the 7 beautiful white roses in amongst the funeral flowers today.  At the end of the fellowship time today, I was given one of those roses in memory of my own dear mother - so touching!  I put it in one of the cranberry vases that was given to me from my mom's dishes.  I think I'll take a few moments this weekend and place it on her grave.  Thanks be to God for the wonderful memories we hold dear to our hearts especially on days like these!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sour Cream Drops Recipe - Circa 1968

Thank goodness for my high school Home Economics classes!  I was taught many useful cooking skills there and continue to use some of the recipes learned (i.e. icing recipes, apple crisp, savoury meat pie, just to mention a few).  Do you remember the old spirit duplicator machines used in school to make copies of assignments and things?  This is how my old school recipes were printed - with the purple colour ink - way before photocopiers but hey, it worked just as well - or did it?

Here is one of those "old" recipes that I learned in high school.  It's one that I like to bake at Christmas time.
These cookies are moist and delicious and the recipe makes approx. 9 ½ doz. small cookies.
½ Cup butter – softened
1 Cup brown sugar
½ Cup white sugar
2 Eggs
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ Cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
1 Cup chopped dates
1 Cup chopped glasé cherries
2 Cups raisins
1 Cup chopped nuts
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind
Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  Mix well.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Add nuts and orange rind.  Drop by tsps. onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 375F for approx. 10 min.
Can be frozen or kept in cool place for 1-2 weeks.  Hint - best if not piled on top of each other because they tend to stick together and don't look quite as nice.  Put waxed paper between layers for storing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Tarts

Today I'm making my go to, super easy dessert that I always make for Christmas.
  This makes 2 1/2 dozen tarts and is great for taking to pot-lucks or adding to your Christmas cookie tray.
  The hardest part of this recipe is finding the Christmas muffin paper liners.  I sometimes find them at the bulk food store and always stock up when I see them.
  All you need is:

1 Cup Sugar
3 pkgs. cream cheese (250g or 8 oz.) 
My "old" recipes are not in metric measure - that's how old I am :) !
4 eggs
4 tsp. lemon juice (be sure to use a real lemon - it's the best)
"Nilla" wafers (a.k.a. vanilla cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Beat eggs, add sugar, softened cream cheese and lemon.  Mix till smooth.
Line muffin or tart tins with paper liners, place a vanilla wafer in bottom of each cup, spoon the batter into each cup - filling to 3/4 full.

  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  
Cool - tarts will slightly sink in the middle when cooling.  Chill or freeze at this point.
Just before serving - garnish with some cherry pie filling.  


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Knotty and Nice for Baby A

Making a cozy blanket for a new born is so much fun!  It's so easy and no sewing required!  I love to sew but am not all that great at it so this is something I can whip up in a few hours.  Just choose two pieces of fleece fabric (comparable in weight and width) in any length you wish.  Put the wrong sides together making sure that the "stretch" goes the same way, trim the salvages, and start cutting strips into the outer edges of the two pieces of fabric (cut through both layers at the same time).  You will notice that one side is stretchier then the other one.  Cut into the  stretchy sides approx. 2-3 inches deep and approx. 3-4 inches on the other two sides.  Make the strips approx. 1 inch or less wide.  Do this all around the four sides of the blanket.  Make a cup of tea, put on your favourite CD, and knot away.  You are knotting the top blanket to the bottom blanket strip by strip and double knotting each one.  I like to add a sweet thought or prayer to each knot as I go along.  It's that easy!  These blankets are very tough and wash well.  My sister made one for my father while he was in nursing care (he was always cold) and he loved to snuggle under his blanket.  It went through many nursing home commercial washes and stood up remarkably.

I hope Baby A stays warm and cozy this Winter........

May and June 2022

  What happened to May and now June??? So thankful that I took a few pictures here and there  to help me remember. It's been a bit of a ...