Friday, December 30, 2011
The Christmas tree and decorations are packed away for another year. Rob has returned to work, I'm back to work on Monday and things are getting back to normal at our house.
I always go through a bit of "After Christmas Blues" at this time every year. I love the season so much, all the anticipation, the shopping, baking, and getting the cards and parcels mailed off, and then "Bam", it's over.
I'm trying some new things this year to help fend off the sadness that arrives every year. I've made a lot of plans for January with friends, and instead on focusing on what's over, I'm concentrating on what's coming up, and that does seem to be helping.
New years eve is tomorrow, and though Rob and I aren't 100% sure what we're doing yet, I know whatever we decide to go with, we're going to enjoy.
Christmas will be back again next year, and it's never to early for me to start thinking about that!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
For the past few years Boxing Day has meant "pajama day" around here, but not this year.
Rob and I decided to go birding. With all the Christmas preparations I haven't been able to get out birding much, and really missed it.
We went looking for a Snowy Owl and found a Snowy Owl and it was totally worth getting dressed for!!
I believe a new Boxing Day tradition for us was born yesterday, "Boxing Day Birding"!
If you are lucky enough to see an Owl in the wild, please keep a respectable distance, don't force him to fly and don't linger, they need their rest.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I wasn't going to do another blog until after Christmas, but here I sit Christmas Eve morning while it's still dark outside and Rob still snuggled in bed, with a whirl-wind of thoughts going on in my brain that I just need to write down.
Christmas is an emotional time of year in the best of years, there is always the family drama, the Christmas stress and the memories of Christmases' past that you long for.
This year is even a little more emotional then others for me, with my Mom being so ill with terminal cancer. And I can't help but think of how strange tomorrow morning is going to be for my Dad when he wakes up in the house alone Christmas morning for the first time in over 40 years.
I love Christmas, always have, my Mother made them truly special for the family. But as I age, amidst all the joy, there is always a little sadness too, and that's ok. Christmas changes as we age, that's just the way it is. People move away from home, have families of their own and lose loved ones. I think we will always be homesick for memories that we can't return too.
This year I am so grateful that my Mom is still with us and I had that time with her in October. I am so looking forward to having Christmas with Rob and being able to spend time together on the days he's off, it's what I'm looking forward to most. I spent time yesterday with my brother and his family on Skype and watched my nieces open the gifts I sent. I will also spend time talking to my parents and other loved ones over the next couple days as well.
Time with loved ones truly is the greatest gift, not just at Christmas time, but all year through, don't waste it.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Every December for the past few years, my friend Jen hosts an afternoon Tea at the lovely Victorian Garden Tea Room. I enjoy it every year as it's a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and enjoy some down-time with friends.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Below is a recipe I cut out of a Chatelaine magazine in February, 2006 called Cheddar, pepper and potato bake. Rob and I now call it "Christmas Casserole".
It's the perfect dish to make Christmas morning, as it's easy to prepare and it cooks for an hour and fifteen minutes. I put it in the oven to cook while we unwrap gifts. I only make this dish Christmas morning, hence the name we've given it. I revised the dish after the first time I made it, and put my changes in brackets.
1 Can undiluted cream of mushroom or potato soup (I use mushroom)
1 Cup sour cream
1/2 Cup butter melted. (I only use a couple tablespoons)
1 TBSP paprika (If I bother with this, I just sprinkle it on top before baking)
1Kg Bag of frozen hash browns
1 each red and green pepper finely chopped (I only use half of each or sometimes none at all)
1 Large onion chopped ( I use a container of pre-chopped onion with celery for convenience)
1 Seeded jalapeno, finely chopped (optional, and I've never used one)
1 Cup chopped ham (I now use chopped bacon instead of ham)
2 Cups grated cheddar cheese (I like to use marble or old cheddar)
Salt & Pepper to taste
I suggest sauteing the vegetables in the butter for 3 to 5 minutes, though the recipe doesn't say this.
In a very large bowl stir the soup with the sour cream,butter,paprika,salt and pepper. Mixture will be lumpy. Stir in frozen hash browns until evenly mixed. Prepare and stir in vegetables, ham and 1 and a half cups cheese. Spoon into a 9x13" baking dish, smooth top and sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Cover dish tightly with foil.
Bake in a 400F preheated oven for an hour, remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Good with scrambled eggs and sliced tomato.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Nearly every year since moving to Toronto over 20 years ago I've had a few friends over at Christmas time. When I moved in with Rob he was kinda of nervous about this annual tradition of mine, not being the social guy, and worried he wouldn't be a good host. Now I think he looks forward to it as much as I do, and he actually pushed me to hold it this year when I had I decided I wasn't going too.
It's been a rough year for me emotionally, with my Mother's illness. These people have been a great support system for me. I'm truly blessed to have such wonderful friends in my life and enjoyed sharing some time with them to celebrate the holiday season.
I have been perfecting the recipe for this drink for the last four years, and this year I think I nailed it!
Angie's Christmas Cheer:
3 Cups Cranberry Cocktail
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
1 Cup 7Up or Sprite
1 Cup Vodka
Pour all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and refrigerate. Serve over ice.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
December is one of my favorite months of the year, and I love turning the calendar page every December 1st. I can actually feel the energy in the air change when the energetic holiday season arrives.
I aim every year to have all my gifts bought, and parcels and cards mailed by this date, so I can relax and enjoy all the festivities of the season.
Oh, I know there are a lot of people who complain about the "commercialism" of Christmas, but my take on that is, you don't have to get caught up in that if you don't choose too, and I don't. I don't buy gifts because I feel I have too, I do so because I want too. The same goes for mailing cards, I want too.
For me Christmas isn't just a day, but it's the whole holiday season. I know about the birth of Jesus on Christmas day, but that isn't why I celebrate, and most of the traditions celebrated at this time of year have nothing to do with that famous birth, and date back to Pagan times, including Christmas trees, lights, etc. Not to mention all the other holidays celebrated by other cultures this time of year. But this post isn't about why you choose to celebrate or not, it's about why I love the season, so back to that.
I love all the socializing, pretty lights and Christmas traditions that I carry on from my childhood and the new ones Rob and I have started together.
Really, when it comes down to it, the season for me is about love.
It really is the one time of the year that people make the effort to spend time with friends, and family that they love, especially those that they may not see often enough.
Whether your sharing the season with your friends and family or donating time or money to the less fortunate. Love, tis the season, and I think Jesus would be just fine with that.