Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Angelversary

I realized earlier today, it's been eleven years today since Mom left us.  No matter that we didn't always see eye-to-eye, I miss her.  I miss the Sunday afternoon telephone conversations, catching up on the news (or maybe it was gossip).  I miss visiting while we (or who I am kidding, while she) cooked a holiday meal.

I miss her acerbic wit (even when it was directed at me), her toughness in the face of the pain that her constant companion, and her spirit.  She may not have been perfect but she was pretty damn special.

There isn't a week that goes by that I don't think of something she said or did.  When I travel as I did yesterday, I imagine her in the passenger seat of my car, keeping me safe.

We may grow old, but I don't think we ever grow up to the point where we no longer miss our parents.

Love you mom!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Random Sunday

Christmas baking done, check.
Christmas cards addressed, check
Roast for Christmas dinner bought, check
Christmas gifts bought, check ???

To do:
Write the Christmas letter, insert in addressed envelopes and mail
Wrap gifts, realize I've haven't found a gift for my son

And I just realized what both these tasks mean - I'm going to have to venture out to the mall/post office.  Arrggh!!

I had to run to Walmart yesterday to pick up some dish detergent (I didn't count the loads of dishes from my baking but it was lot) and tissue paper for wrapping.  When I arrived home, I said to my son, "the next time I say I'm going to run to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon before Christmas, remind me not to be so f*ng crazy."  My first clue - there was a line-up into the parking lot!  Finding a spot wasn't difficult because I don't need to park within 10 meters of the store.  Especially when it's above freezing!  And I could use the exercise...though on that note I should have walked from home.

I digress.  The second clue was the lack of carts inside the store.  There were lots abandoned in the parking lot, and the rest were playing a game of seek and destroy in the store driven by the same idiots people who recently circled the parking lot.

The thought of heading out to the mall again makes me shudder!!!

****
Our warm weather is nearly at an end.  We've cooled down today, though I do see we're getting sleet or rain as I type this.  This close to freezing weather is a bit scary as the roads get dicey.

Thankfully the forecast for the next couple of wees is for normal temperatures and not bitter cold. We'll see temps around -10C for daytime highs and -17C for overnight lows.

Yesterday, I was able to let the cats out into the sun room briefly.   Unfortunately it wasn't sunny and my daughter borrowed my space heater a week or two ago and hasn't brought it back yet otherwise they could have been out there longer.

****
I'm off to Saskatoon this week as I'm going to take my staff out for lunch on Thursday.  My two staff and I joined another group, this past Thursday at a restaurant near the office.  We pre-ordered, which was a great idea as our food was out to us quickly and we were able to relax and visit for awhile before returning to work.

Friday was my earned day off.  So guess what I did?  Can't guess...don't want to guess...I went to the office.  Now why would I go to the office on my day off?

Because my boss decided we'd have our Christmas lunch on Friday.  He told me that the date worked for everyone else because they were all planning in the office so I reluctantly agreed to come in. Then on Thursday I discovered that he had told three of us the same fib.  I seriously thought about skipping the lunch but it wouldn't have been fair to the rest.

But I did cut it short by telling him I had to pack my computer, etc. for the trip to Saskatoon so we were all out of there in 90 minutes.

****
Speaking of packing, I'm starting to think about what I'll take with me to B.C. in January.  I am sooooo looking forward to wearing casual clothes most of the time. I'll take something dressy to wear just in case but t-shirts and jeans will be the norm.  But besides clothing I want to take a few things from home to make me feel at home.  I was thinking taking some photos but I'll have my laptop so will lots of pictures of the cats, and I can call or text my kids.

I am going to take some yarn to either crochet or knit though I don't want to take up too much space in the suitcase.  So I won't be taking the nearly complete afghan that just needs to be sewn together.  It's been in a bin in the craft room since...well a long time.  I have a project in mind that I'll share once I've actually started it.

Something else I'm taking is small packages of the spices I use most regularly.  I won't need or want to purchase full containers so the plan is to use the small travel bottles  (cleaned and labelled).

I'm also taking my camera with me.  I'm so looking forward to being near the water.  I'm imagining going for a walk every morning on the boardwalk.  Soon, very soon!

****
Enough dreaming, I still have more gifts to wrap, the floors need to be washed, and the curling finals of the Canadian Open have started.

Have a great week everyone and I hope you're able to avoid the Christmas crowds!!




Sunday, 7 December 2014

Making a list

I've been making lists but it doesn't seem to be helping any.  How can it be that I felt so prepared for Christmas a week ago, but today I'm having a conniption fit trying to figure out how I'm going to get everything done?
But I'm
I suppose if I didn't try to cram everything in on the weekend perhaps I'd feel less stressed.  But after a long day of work I feel like doing nothing more than curling up in my chair with a cat or two, watching television, and maybe catching up on blog reading.  So that's what I do even though I ultimately pay for my laziness.

As a result the weekend is busy!!  I did housework and errands on Friday, yesterday was shopping, a little baking, lots of curling to watch, and my daughter's birthday dinner (pizza/ribs/Caesar salad ordered in).  She and I ran to Costco and Michael's this morning, then it was home to watch more curling, and continue baking.  

Which reminds me - Trish mentioned last week that baking and not sharing my recipes isn't right.  At the bottom of the post you'll find the recipe for cinnamon sugar cookies that I made last weekend. These have been such a hit that they are on my do-over list.

Something that is not, is the fudge bar - basically fudge on a shortbread base.  Well, if you figure out a way to get fudge to adhere to the base you're way ahead of me.  So I have a pan of fudge with shortbread crumbs on the bottom.  Very disappointing!

This weekend I baked peppermint cream cheese brownies (yet to be iced and cut), Dundee cake (an almond cake with lots of fruit, shortbread, and mini chocolate cupcakes.  The latter will be iced and sprinkled with bits of candy cane.

The almonds on the top of the Dundee cake should be placed in a circle but I figure by the time it is cut no one will know the difference.
 There's my laziness rearing it's head again.

I'm taking a break for a little bit, then will try to get one more batch of shortbread done (no sugar on top - it's a gift for a friend) as well as a batch of white chocolate M&M cookies. 

AND that will be it for baking.



While I've been watching curling I've been knitting.  My daughter wanted dishcloths - I'm on the fourth one this weekend - she got to take three and I'll keep this one for myself.  

I picked up some more yarn at Michael's for a crochet project.  It's something, that if I don't finish over the next few weeks, can be taken with me to B.C. to finish there.



*****
We had some weird weather today over a period of about two hours.  It started with rain.








Then the snow started coming down in earnest and the wind started to blow.











Within 30 minutes the snow and wind stopped and it's simply been overcast ever since. Weird!

The weather is supposed to warm up significantly, we may even get above freezing.  












*****
Finally what you've been waiting for; the first is the recipe as it was published, and below that is my way...the lazy way.

"Cinnamon Roll" cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt

Cinnamon sugar:
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla.  Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture in 3 additions.

Divide dough in half; shape into discs.  Wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll out, about 15 minutes.

Between waxed paper or on a floured surface, roll out one disc of dough to 12 X 10 inch rectangle.

Cinnamon sugar
Combine sugar, butter and cinnamon, spread half evenly onto rectangle.  Starting at long side roll up dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Cut rolls into 1/4 inch thick slices, place 1 inch apart on parchment lined or greased baking sheets.  Bake 1 sheet at a time, in 375F oven until pale golden on bottoms and edges, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Cream cheese glaze:
Quarter package (250g package) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp milk, warmed

Combine cream cheese, icing sugar and milk, drizzle over cooled cookies.

Makes about 60 cookies.

The lazy way:
Although I followed the recipe as far as ingredients went, the rolling and drizzling was too much futzing for me.  So I simply rolled out the dough, used a scalloped cookie cutter, and sprinkled a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of each cookie.  As Jamie Oliver would say, "easy peasy".  

Enjoy!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Good to see you gone (November)

Is it just me or has the last eleven months zipped by?  Here we are on the cusp of December, just a short few weeks away from 2015.  Not to say I'm not looking to January this year but still...

Frankly, I'm glad to see the last of November especially the weather.  Like much of North America we've had January weather the last couple of weeks.  At 6 p.m., it's currently -23C (-9F) only a three degree warmer than our overnight temperature.  But there is a warm-up in the forecast though at least for tomorrow with the strong winds we'll still feel very cold.  From the Environment Canada forecast:
EC forecast: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. Wind southeast 30 km/h gusting to 50. High minus 13. Wind chill minus 39 in the morning and minus 27 in the afternoon. 
Is it any wonder why I want to get away from it all?

Speaking of the cold, my daughter showed up early this morning because the boiler had gone out overnight at her apartment.  She waited until 8 a.m. to call the caretaker and then came over to the house to get warm.  I probably would have come earlier myself and called from here but I guess she didn't want to get out of bed!  With a couple of cats to cuddle up to, she crawled into my bed and slept for nearly an hour.

I took advantage of her company and together we decorated the Christmas tree.  My son had brought it from the basement and set it up in the living room last night but he's never shown any interest in helping decorate.

It took me nearly two hours last night to get the lights on the tree. It would have been less but I was watching the European women's curling final (Switzerland won) and had to keep stopping to watch the last few rocks of each end.

With D's help the tree was decorated much more quickly. At least for now.  Does anyone else rearrange the ornaments?  I continually move things around depending on the view of the tree.  By the time it is up a week though I should have it "finished". In fact, I think I see a bare spot from here.

As you'll probably I'm not a coordinated decorator. I like lots of color and most of my ornaments have been gathered up throughout the years.

Here are a few of my favorites.




I have six of the birds, two mice and at least four cats on the tree along with the various baubles, icicles and snowflakes.  The cats were gifts, but I bought the birds and mice because they are also bells.  It's good to have a little forewarning when one of the cats (Saku) decides to visit the tree.  The whole thing would probably make a designer cringe but I love the memories.

Yesterday I started my Christmas baking.  I haven't baked a lot the last few years but a friend asked if I would make some for work.  I was just a little irritated...okay a lot irritated...when I discovered my daughter had taken my vanilla extract and my lemon juice sometime since she's moved out.    I had planned to get some groceries sometime this weekend, but the lack of those items had me scurrying out into the cold much sooner than I planned.

Thus far I've made two batches of cookies, mocha snaps and cinnamon sugar, and two bars, one with lemon, cranberry and coconut on a shortbread base, and a fudge bar also on a shortbread base .  The mocha snaps are the only recipe I'd made before but everything has turned out very well.  (I have to taste it to make sure, right?)  I have to say the cinnamon sugar cookies are probably my new favorite. Next up are the chocolate cookies with M&M candies, and another bar...probably something with cream cheese.

I'd be baking this evening as well but the Grey Cup game is on.  It's the last football game for our Canadian teams of the year, and while our Riders aren't in it, it's still fun to watch.  So the mess in the kitchen will need to wait until half-time because I'm not moving from this chair.

On that note, I'll end this post, wishing you all a good week!