Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scrapbook Corner

I got a whole lotta layouts done over the holidays, and it only took me an hour during family downtime on Saturday and Sunday. I had a surplus of photos to choose from, and will be scrapping like crazy from now until the New Year when I put all my pictures from 2011 on discs to store in the safe. The best part: I get to start all over again in 2012. And I have a feeling it's going to be a great year. 
My "to do" list is extensive for the new year, but I think the top three spots go to:
1. Putzing around the house to get it ready for the market...(it's no secret that we'd like to get moved to the city where the work is)
2. Take a photography course or two...not to become a photographer, for the record, but for myself to better learn the ins and outs of my camera, what an 'f' stop really means, and because photography is my passion. 
3. Finally make over my bedroom into the sanctuary it deserves to be. I've put it off far too long...10 years to be exact. First off is a great set of furniture, as we have never ever bought our own and have mismatched, donated stuff that's been falling apart for a long time. After that it's all in the details, and boy do I have tons.

My laptop is going to the computer guys in the city, so I'll post when I get it back...I need a bunch more memory installed on it as mine is full...stupid iTunes. It is currently using 74 GB of  my 116 GB hard drive. That coupled with 20 GB of pictures and 20 GB of home videos pretty much takes care of the hard drive space. So, have a great week, and if I don't post before January 1st, Happy New Year!

'cupcakes' at 2 ps

'cupcakes' at 2 ps

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Two Turtle Doves AND A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Yes I missed last night's post as my mobile blogging capabilities are beyond me, but here's to a Merry Christmas to all of you!
We drove through the Enchanted Forest in Saskatoon last night before making our way down to Outlook to my in-laws for Christmas. It was beautiful and there was lots to see, and the kids loved it! I'll be sure to post some pictures soon when we get back home.
Until then have a great Christmas, and glad tidings to you all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 French Hens

White Chocolate Crunch
4 cups coarsely chopped white chocolate
1 cup salted peanuts
1 cup salted cashews
1 cup salted pecans
1 cup slivered almonds
3 cups golden grahams cereal
2 cups pretzel sticks
1. Place the dry ingredients in a huge bowl.

2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.

3. Pour chocolate into the bowl and stir well.

4. Turn out onto waxed paper, let cool and harden for an hour or so, break it up into pieces and enjoy.

Our friends and family like this recipe, and we make it to give away in Christmas goodie bags to neighbors during the holidays. It will make a huge batch, so you may have some left over for New Year's too. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 Calling Birds

Last night was Brandon's tenth birthday...we've officially hit the double digits, and I officially feel old. Probably because I remember being 10, and my mom was old to me even though she was a younger mother than I was by three years.

We got him a Nintendo 3DS and a few games, and as you can see it was a big hit. Mike picked up an ice cream cake for him and we all had a piece before heading out to Jacelyn's Christmas concert.

Today Mike made Brandon's party cake for him and even while he cursed the fondant (he hates working with fondant) it turned out cute, and Brandon will love it. And while he did that, I decorated the Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies the kids and I made so that Santa will have a prime choice of cookies on Christmas Eve.

With only four days left until Christmas I can now say we are finished preparations and are as ready as we will ever be. Tomorrow is Brandon's birthday party with his friends at the bowling alley, and it's his first night time party. He's excited to go Glow-Bowling, and we've made up 15 goodie bags...I have no idea how many I'll really need as only four have called to RSVP. It will be a mystery until tomorrow night!

Spiced Holiday Sugar Cookies
2 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 egg 2 tsp pure vanilla

1. Cream butter and sugar till fluffy and white. Add egg and vanilla. 
2. Mix rest of dry ingredients in bowl and slowly add to creamed mixture; mix till combined.
3. Chill dough 4 hours or overnight.
4. Roll out to 1/4 inch, cut out shapes and bake at 375 for 8 minutes. Ice when cooled.

These are a yummy take on sugar cookies...they almost taste a bit egg-noggy and the kids love them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5 Golden Rings!

We're on the countdown now...yay!

I looked in the archives for this one. I just had to...I love it. Christmas spirit at it's best.

Monday, December 19, 2011

6 Geese a Laying

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...dum, dum, dum, Just like the ones I used to know..."

Where is the snow? Wherever it is it's holding my Christmas spirit hostage I think. Some (most) people can do without the white stuff on the ground, but I need it. I love it. And so do the kids. Every day Charlie runs to the window to see if there is any snow, and then she turns to me to cry, "Mommy where is the snow? It's gone!"
The nice skiff we had in November left weeks ago, leaving the ground and roads bare. Usually one can get a face full of blizzard-y snowflakes when they open the front door, not a mouthful of grit and dust like the one I received yesterday.
I had taken a nice picture of Charlie in that lovely November snowfall, and added a background in Adobe Photoshop. I figured today would be a good day to scrap it and turn it into a holiday layout.

papers: Winter Wonderland @ 2 ps
elements: Winter Wonderland, Jingle Jangle, journaling brush, swirl embellishment, all from 2 peas in a bucket
winter words: DSP
stamp: 'Holiday Party' @ 2ps 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

7 Swans a Swimmin

Here's an oldie but a goodie...I don't let a holiday pass without making these little gems. They don't look like much but they are the biggest hit with the kids, and big kids like them too. Try rolling them in chopped pecans or peanuts too. I remember making these with my cousins with my grandma in her kitchen, with Boney M, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing us into a Christmas frenzy.

Rice Krispie Treats

4 bars of toffee
1 can of condensed milk
1 cup unsalted butter

Heat ingredients in a double boiler:

Keep the caramel mixture hot. Dip large marshmallows in the caramel, and let the excess drip off:

 Roll in Rice Krispies:

Let cool and eat right away, or freeze them as they freeze well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 Maids a Milkin

Here's a neat holiday story for you, one that I finally solved last night.

I have an old 'dresser' that belonged to my grandparents in Rosetown, and it came to live with us when they moved out to the acreage and we moved into their home when I was a little girl. It is so big and heavy that I'm surprised it stayed with us when we moved to St.Walburg, as we moved 5 times in the 4 years we lived there. But each time we moved, so did the dresser, and when Mike and I married my dad gave it to us. I decided to refinish the outside of it 12 years ago as it was gummy, and so I asked permission before I did it, as I knew it was old. I was almost done when I came across the date 1908 on the side of a drawer, and the name Gordon Fisher. I figured if the furniture was really that old then I just screwed it over big time. And left it at that.

Friday morning I was on the floor, cursing the sticky bottom drawer that holds my pants, and looked up. I had the topmost drawer out and could see inside the dresser a piece of paper stuck in the wood. I pulled carefully on it and it ripped right away at the corner. I noticed it was a stamp...that was priced at one cent. I got really excited and called for Mike to help me and he was able to pull it free. It was a postcard that was so old it was brittle, and a Christmas postcard at that. There was no date on the postage stamp but it did say Ridpath SK, and I'm sure the return stamp said Canwood. Some quick internet research dates the stamp between 1911 and 1928.

"Dear Evelen,
Just writing a few lines wishing you a Merry Xmas and a happy new year from your friend Marion Mc Bance (*not sure of the last name here)
Good By"

It was addressed to a Mrs Jacob Fisher, and when I saw that last name of course I remembered the name on the drawer, Gordon Fisher.
I did some calling and digging all day, and ended up on the phone with the 'historian' of the Fisher family Gail Milton in Eston, Sk. She told me that Evelen Fisher was 94, and in a home with severe dementia. That broke my heart as I was hoping to send it to her via a family member and bring a smile to her face this holiday season, and I also hoped she remembered the friend who dropped her the postcard as well!
I am sending the postcard to this cousin of the Fisher family, as she was tearful and grateful for the postcard to come into her possession. I suppose in some way I was still able to spread some Christmas joy after all.

So, bringing the story back around to this dresser of mine, this lady told me that the fellow my grandpa bought the dresser from, a Mr. Claire Thrasher, was the Fisher family's neighbor, which explains how he got the dresser. The year 1908 means something to her in that was the year her grandpa, who is Jacob Fisher's brother, began the homestead in Ridpath. Wow, I was amazed at what this postcard find had started.
And, being me, I had to go just one step further, and send some pictures of the dresser to an antique apraiser. Yes, I do indeed have a bit of a gem in my possession.
A "Bonnet Chest" is what he called it, dated in the early 1800's or earlier, most likely from eastern Canada. Gail told me when I offered this information that all of the Fisher family had escaped from Russia and settled in Ontario before moving to Saskatchewan.
The chest is missing the backboard, which I knew, and the nails are all square and hand made. The entire piece is made of walnut, with pine drawers constructed with hand cut dove tails, and tongue and groove on the back. And I refinished it in Cherry stain and put on new knobs. Oh, the heartbreak.

The history of it, and the puzzle as to where it came from, probably is more valuable the the chest itself, which is why I love it even more.
I will enjoy it for many more years to come. And I may even stop cursing the sticky bottom drawer...for a little while.

Friday, December 16, 2011

9 Ladies Dancing

The other day we went to Jacey's viewing night at Fame Dance Studios, and I was impressed with how much her dancing has improved after making the decision to drive her into the city for dance lessons. She enjoys it, although not the drive to and from the city each Monday. But she has made friends and for that I'm happy...in case we end up making the move into the city she will not feel as out of place if she has some friendships made.
She dances tap and hip hop, although I'm thinking we'll stick her back in Jazz next year...she's got more jazz and pizazz in her than popping and busting a move.

9 Ladies Dancing

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 Lords a Leaping

I guess I lost the last two posts for some reason or other, but to fill you in I wanted to blog a post from now until Christmas, titling each one for the "Twelve Days of Christmas".

So that being said, here's a new favorite square that tastes like a Snickers bar, but with a super-yummy homemade flavor that your taste testers will want more of.

Homemade Snickers
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 7 oz jar of marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 14 oz package caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter 
1 cup of sugar

1. Melt 1 cup of the milk chocolate chips, 1/4 cup of butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter. Spread on bottom of foil lined 9x13 pan. Put in freezer to set.
2. Boil butter, sugar, and evaporated milk for 5 minutes. Take off of heat and add marshmallow creme, 1/4 cup of peanut butter, vanilla, and peanuts. Pour over chilled chocolate layer and return to freezer.
3. Melt caramels and whipping creme over double boiler until smooth; pour over nougat layer and return that to the freezer.
4. Melt together the last cup of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter and spread on top of caramel layer. Chill in fridge. 
5. Lift out the foil and gently peel off of Snickers. Cut into tiny squares and keep in the fridge in air tight container. If you keep it in plain sight there won't be any left so hide it. Seriously.

10 Lords a Leaping

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christmas Story

I was reading the headlines on Yahoo this morning and saw this uplifting story of  good will towards men and what Christmas spirit is all about.

BROOKS, Alta. - A gold coin that was dropped into in a Salvation Army Christmas kettle in southern Alberta turns out to be worth a whole lot more than a loonie.
That's because the coin is solid gold.
The church says the coin was deposited into a kettle in Brooks, east of Calgary, last week.
It was wrapped in a $5 bill along with a note explaining it was worth $1,700.
There wasn't a name on the note.
The Salvation Army says they're shocked, and grateful, for the donation.

Now, that story is very different from what my husband's business partner experienced while taking his turn at ringing the Salvation Army bell this last week at Walmart in Lloydminster.

As he was ringing the bell a woman, who's cart was heaped with packages and bags, turned around with a disgusted look on her face and said, "You know, those bells are really annoying!"
To which he smoothly replied, "So is poverty."
The woman glared absolute daggers at him and continued on her way out of the store...probably to restock her overflowing pantry with more food for her family and wrap more presents to put under her tree. Great for her to be able to provide for her family. However, there are a lot of people who can't do the same for their families, and those like this lady would do well to remember that.
I was absolutely stunned at this tale of this woman's show of Christmas spirit. All I can say is Karma, Karma, Karma. And Merry Christmas to you also, lady.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Good Lovelies

Mike and I are excited to be going to one of my favorite Canadian Folk bands this weekend at Vic Juba Theater. "The Good Lovelies" caught my attention when I first heard them a few years ago on CBC radio. Back then I was getting into great Canadian music and learning a lot about our Canadian folk roots...we have some amazing talent in our country! Sarah Harmer was just exploding back into the folk scene, and one of the new groups hot on her heels was The Good Lovelies.
When I found out they were coming to Vic Juba I was ecstatic...they are reminiscent of The Andrews Sisters, who are from Bing Crosby's day, and they are witty and funny on stage, oftentimes switching instruments during a song without missing a beat.
On Saturday Mike and I will be almost up front and center, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Caroling We'll Go

Brandon has been in piano since September, but has only had about 8 or 9 lessons in total. We are really proud of how well he's picked it up. He has a natural ear for rhythm and tone, which we knew about, and since Mike and I both play piano it seemed like something Brandon would like as well.
Here he is playing "Oh Come all Ye Faithful", and we wanted to share it with you too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sugar Sugar

I came across this dance routine when I was viewing dance numbers that were choreographed by some local dance teachers. This dance is performed by two amazing little girls barely older than Jacelyn.
It just brings a smile to my face every time I see it, and the joy is noticeable on the girl's faces. However, my eyes are constantly drawn to the little blonde girl...she looks like she's having a blast!!

And speaking of sugar sugar...
This weekend we did a few sweet things: the kids and I made some Christmassy sugar cookies, we made up a gingerbread house,

and mom and I made up a batch of rice rolls. Well the last thing on that list isn't sweet per say, but in my family, it isn't Christmas without great-grandma's "Hallapse"...a traditional German dish much like a cabbage roll but made with pickled, or soured, cabbage leaves, long grain rice, and fresh side pork.
Now, rice rolls are an acquired taste, as much of German food is, and some love it and some hate it. I don't like the smell of the Hallapse cooking (or the after smell in my fridge), but the taste is sooo divine. They are truly amazing in my eyes, and there will never be a Christmas I don't make them. I'd make them anytime, but they wouldn't feel as special to me if I had them on hand. And the fact that I'm carrying on a valued family tradition and making a recipe that great-grandma brought with her from Germany, a recipe that needs no tweaking or adjustment, is comforting to me. What is your favorite traditional holiday recipe?

2 lbs fresh side pork
2 large onions
1 1/2 lbs raw long grain rice... I tried brown for a healthier kick and it was good
1 scant tbsp pepper
2 tbsp salt
2 large heads sour cabbage
*Note: tbsp used are the ones we use for soup*

Cut pork into 1/4 inch cubes and dice onions. Add water to rice to just dampen. Add all other ingredients except cabbage leaves. Roll mixture into cabbage leaves and layer in 1 1/2 gallon crock *(I layered mine in a 5 quart slow cooker and cooked on auto for 8 hours). Pour water over rolls to just cover. Put smallest leaves or any torn or leftover ones on top to cover the rolls and lay an inverted plate on top. Bake at 225 for 1 hour then lower heat to 200 for at least another 5 hours. After 5 hours check to see if rice is tender.
*Of course, if you are unlucky enough to not own a crock, and use a slow cooker like me, then omit the inverted plate part and the baking instructions.*

I swear to you, if you are a true German at heart like we are, or a wannabe who adores German food, you will love this recipe and will be as crazy about it as I am! Just be sure to stay on your own side of the bed with your tushie hanging out of the covers and facing away from your spouse at the end of the night.