Archive | December, 2016

One Word 365

31 Dec

Blog Post #252

I’m not into making New Year’s resolutions — I appreciate the concept — setting goals as a way of affecting a change is a time-honoured tradition that works for many people. But I have never had much luck keeping resolutions and I usually end up dropping the whole thing by the second or third week of January.

This year, I thought I would try the one word approach to resolution-making. This method involves considering and choosing one word that represents the changes you would like see happen in your life.  By focusing on one word and using it as a guide, you will have more success in affecting that change. At least, that’s the idea…

crayons photo

This challenge seems doable — I like the idea of using one word to guide and shape my days. I took some time to think about the kinds of things I wanted to do in 2017 — what did I want to change, what did I want to let go of, what did I want this new year to look like?

I tried on some words — patience, health, serenity, peace, energy, confidence — and the one word that seemed to fit the best was creativity. So that’s my word. Creativity.

I will face each new day with my chosen word in mind. How do I want to be creative today? What can I do differently today to be creative or to see creativity throughout each day?

Creativity — the word excites me, makes me happy, and I am looking forward to being more creative in many ways in 2017.

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More Turkey?

29 Dec

Blog Post #250

Are you tired of eating turkey leftovers? I am!

Tonight, I wanted a comfort food casserole that would use up the rest of our small bird but was free of pasta or rice. Something simple but delicious.

So, of course, I headed to the world wide web to find the perfect recipe and came across one for Chicken Divan. This dish called for chicken breasts, but I was sure leftover roast turkey would work just as well. With broccoli on hand, some white wine and most of the other ingredients, I got to work and adapted the online recipe, and voila! Christmas Turkey Divan was on the menu!

The dish was a bit labour intensive — requiring quite a bit of chopping (the turkey, the broccoli, the onion and garlic) but it was totally worth it! It was delicious and a big hit with the family.

dinner-plate

Christmas Turkey Divan

Ingredients:

Cooked turkey cut into bite-sized chunks — (I ended up with about 3 cups of meat, but you could probably use more or less depending on what you have on hand)

Broccoli chopped into bite-sized pieces — (I had approx. 3 cups but, again, you could throw in more or less — or if you don’t like broccoli, be adventurous and sub in your favourite veggie)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter or margarine

4 tbsp flour

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of milk — (I used skim milk because that was in my fridge, but you could use regular milk or omit it and increase the amount of chicken broth)

1 cup of chicken broth

A splash of white wine — (you could omit this but it did add a nice flavour to the sauce)

1 cup shredded cheese — (use your favourite, I used Italian 3-cheese blend)

½ cup grated parmesan — (if you don’t have any on hand, you could omit it or sub in some shredded cheese)

1.5 cup of dry breadcrumbs — (I used dry bread cubes that I didn’t use in my stuffing)

Salt and pepper

Italian seasoning — (or your favourite seasoning)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°

Using a bit of olive oil, prepare a casserole dish by oiling the bottom and sides.

Cut up the cooked turkey into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Chop the broccoli into pieces (bite-size or a bit larger). Steam the pieces until bright green and easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy. Remove from heat and run cold water over the broccoli to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

In a pot, heat up the olive oil and butter. Add in the onion and garlic, sauté until soft. Add seasoning, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir until a roux is formed.

Slowly add in the liquids, whisking continually and cook until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add in the shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Put the cooled broccoli pieces in a layer in the prepared casserole dish. Pour half of the sauce over the veggies. Add the turkey in a layer on top of the broccoli and pour the remaining sauce on top.

In a small bowl, add the bread crumbs and parmesan. Mix until combined and spread on top of the casserole. (I added a little bit of chicken broth to the dry bread cubes that I used, so they would be a little soft and the cheese would cling to them better.)

Bake in the oven until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve with a green salad. Bon Appetit!

A Daily List For Gratitude

28 Dec

Blog Post #249

Tonight, we are celebrating my eldest daughter’s 28th birthday.

When I look at her, l can still see the sweet little girl who brought so much joy to our lives. She has grown into a wonderful, kind and loving young woman — everything a parent could want in their child. I am grateful to have her in my life.

morning scene image

Thinking about feeling thankful, I was reminded of an inspiring quote that expresses a compelling list of daily gratitudes — which I feel, are key reasons to be happy in life. What makes you feel grateful?

“Each day I am thankful for
Nights that turned into mornings,
Friends that turned into family,
Dreams that turned into reality, and
Likes that turned into love.”
~ unknown

Joyous Haiku

27 Dec

Blog Post #248

Christmas 2016 has come and gone. I hope that your holiday was peaceful, joyous and filled with wonder. May your New Year be the same!

holly-berries photos

Hymns sung, silent night
Joyful tidings sent all round
Spreading peace and love

I Dream of Peace

26 Dec

Blog Post #247

Whew! That was a lot of cooking and a lot of flying paper and a lot of merriment!

Our Christmas celebration was a jam-packed day of togetherness: opening gifts, eating, cooking the big turkey dinner, eating, drinking, eating, playing board games, eating… Oh, and laughter — lots of laughter!

Today, Boxing Day, was much, much quieter. I can’t believe it’s all over and done.  All the preparation, decorating, wrapping — done! All that’s left is the makings of turkey casseroles, soup and sandwiches — enough to last through the week!

snowflake photo

But, I feel full. Full of not only good food, but full of love, joy and peace. I’m not sure why, but I also feel full of hope — hope — that my daughters will grow and continue to be healthy and happy, that my husband and I will, also, remain in good health and live each day to the fullest. Hope — that the world will move towards tolerance and love and strive to end poverty, hatred, and war. Hope — that we will all find our way to cherish and care for each other — all of us, everywhere.

I dream of Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas to All!

25 Dec

Blog Post 246

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

grinch quote

This image, from Pink Polka Dot Creations, can be downloaded as a free printable in two sizes & two styles

Christmas Tidings

24 Dec

Blog Post #245

It’s Christmas Eve!

We’re excited and ready for a relaxing evening before the big morning. This year we are staying in. Bruce is making a slow-simmered Christmas Eve chili and I’ll be adding a pan of freshly baked cornbread to this comforting meal. We have wine and snacks and a line-up of our favourite Christmas movies. One of our daughters will be joining us for dinner and our movie marathon.

Vintage Swedish Santa image

To me, it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without a reading of one of our favourite traditional Christmas poems —
A Visit From St. Nicholas  by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

Santa and reindeer image

It will be a quiet and reflective night, we might play a game and we will definitely reminisce about Christmases past. I, myself, will be contemplating the suffering of so many people in war-torn countries and feeling so grateful that I am lucky enough to be here in Canada, surrounded by abundance, with a roof over my head and living in peace, safe and sound in my own home.

I am sending you my most heartfelt wishes that you have love, joy and blessings in your life right now.

I pray for peace throughout the world tonight and for the days that come.

A Blessing For Christmastide

23 Dec

Blog Post #245

I found this lovely quote that is I think is a perfect benediction for the season:

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!

~ Author Unknown

Snowy scene image

TBT — Christmas Past

22 Dec

Blog Post #243

I found this photo the other day when I was sorting through a box of old pictures. Taken about 23 years ago at a local shopping centre, it shows my two adorable munchkins in the traditional Christmas photo with Santa.

photo-with-santa

Looking wistfully at this memento of those innocent days of their childhood — when Christmas was a magical time of wonder. Oh, my girls still get excited for the holiday and they both love this time of year — gift giving (and getting!), baking, holiday parties, wrapping presents, decorating and watching all the traditional Christmas movies — I love that about them. But I sometimes miss the days of childish delight as we trimmed our tree, sang carols and celebrated the season. I can still hear the squeals of joy on Christmas morning as they eagerly tore open the Christmas packages, Santa, once again, getting them exactly what they wanted and their shining faces as they gave us the gifts they had lovingly chosen (or handmade) just for us.

Yes, Christmas has changed, now that my girls have grown into adulthood. It’s different, but when I think about it — I realize that the sense of wonder is still within them. They may not believe in Santa anymore but they do believe in the magic and love of the Christmas Spirit.

And, so do I!

A Very Flashy Christmas

21 Dec

Blog Post #242

I LOVE flash mobs! You may remember saying this before (here and here), so it will come as no surprise that I was watching Christmas flash mobs on YouTube tonight.

Flash mobs can happen in any public area, but the favourite spots seem to be shopping malls, train stations and airports — anywhere large crowds gather.

I would love it if I came upon a huge group of singers and dancers performing for a crowd at my local shopping centre — wouldn’t you? And you can bet, if I could play and instrument, or sing, or dance, I would BE in flash mob — especially a Christmas one!!

santa

Below is a collection of videos of Christmas flash mobs from around the world — on city buses, grocery stores, public squares and more. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you are planning a flash mob for Christmas or anytime — call me, I’m in! I’ll even learn to play the tambourine — that seems easy.

Hallelujah!

This flash mob was part of “1,000 Random Acts of Culture” and organized by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Over 650 choristers participated in this event that enchanted throngs of shoppers with a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The music was played on the world’s largest pipe organ, the Wanamaker Organ, and took place at Macy’s department store in Center City, Philadelphia.

 

 West Jet Schedules a Flight to the North Pole

In 2012, West Jet decided to entertain the passengers of the sold-out red eye flight from Calgary to Toronto. With 9 hidden cameras and 105 West Jet volunteers, the 166 guests were delighted with the talents of the airline’s employees.

 

The Best Way to Bring Christmas Cheer…

The American Festival Chorus debuted this holiday flash mob on November 25, 2011. With over 150 singers, dancers and bell ringers, the choir brought Christmas joy to more than 1000 shoppers at Cache Valley Mall, in Logan, Utah.

 

 … Is Singing Loud So All Can Hear

150 students from St. Thomas Aquinas College staged a choral flash mob at Ventura’s Pacific View Shopping Mall. The students enjoyed the experience so much that is has since become a Christmas tradition.

 

 May the Force Be With You

The Television Broadcasting students at Algonquin College, with the help of the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir and Darth Vader, organized this flash mob to bring some Christmas cheer to Algonquin College students preparing for exams.

 

Festive Food Shop

Food shopping is one of those chores that no one really likes to do, especially during the busy holiday season. This flash mob was organized to wish shoppers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year by bringing a little joy to their shopping experience.

 

 En Français

In November 2011, 60 musicians participate in this flash mob in the grand hall of la Gare du Nord, in Paris. This performance was part of the fourth edition of Orchestres en fête — a nationwide event organized by the French Association of Orchestras since 2008 to promote classical music.

 

 Auf Deutsch

On December 3rd, 2011, shoppers at the Weinheim Galerie in Weinheim, Germany were entertained by 80 singers from five choirs, performing Handel’s Hallelujah in this surprise flash mob.

 

 Rudolph on the Subway?

Who wouldn’t want a little sing-along while commuting on a subway? Riders on this subway in December 2012, were delighted with this flash mob singing Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Wishing you all the joy of the season!

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