Monthly Archives: November 2011

Holiday Hosts & Holy Crap!

Being the Holiday Host takes time & practice.  I’ve had my share of distractions & disasters on the day of — power outages, waylaid guests, defective ovens and birds that refused to defrost.  Over the years, the holiday meal and the preparation thereof, has evolved. How? I’ve added new traditions, stripped away some old, but held onto just enough for good measure.

Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away and my goal this year, and every year, is to have more fun and less stress!

If you've got something pretty .. use it. What are you waiting for?

Here are my 5 Survival Steps to keep sanity in check as a Holiday Host:

1. Make it your own.  Just because Mom served turkey & turnips doesn’t mean you have to.  If your family prefers pizza or meatballs, by all means have them!  I choose to serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal – you know roast turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, dressing, etc.  But it’s the “etc” that I’ve changed up over the years. I steam sweet peas and fresh carrots because that’s what Grandpa and I like. Hubbs and son#1 get their beloved asparagus and we round it off with a tossed salad for our daughter in law and son #2. I’ve stopped serving rolls, yams and jellied salads. Why? No one ate them.  D’uh!   There’s no law written that mandates what we should load up on … just have what you like and enjoy being together.

Don't be a turkey; let others help!

2. Let others help.  This was a hard one for me to learn. For years, I insisted on doing it all and ended up exhausted.  I’ve learned that letting others help lets them feel like they’re part of it all and isn’t that the feeling we’re aiming for anyways?

3. Make ahead/do ahead.  In the days leading up to any big Holiday get-together, I do as much ahead of time as I can.   I tidy up the house, clear the counters, and wash & dry my favorite “pretty” platters (a few heirlooms but most are from yard sales).  I empty the dishwasher and assemble place mats and decorations. I cut up all fresh vegetables and make my world famous cheese balls *see recipe below. Lastly, I write out the menu in a timeline format – pick your meal time and count backwards.   I.E. If you’re planning to serve the meal at 4:00 pm and the turkey (size) you picked takes 4 hours to cook, put it in the oven at 11:30 am (allowing ~30 min for the bird to sit before carving).  Potatoes should be peeled and boiling by 2:30 and so on.

.. so funny, so good. Image from Holycrap.ca

4.  Be kind to yourself.  Get your rest, drink water, take a stroll through the neighborhood and for goodness sakes, eat something – No one wants a faintly, cranky cook snarling at them from the kitchen.  My favorite go-to snack?  1 cup of Greek Yoghurt with 2 tbsp of Holy Crap stirred in – this is a high protein, high fiber and energy inducing treat!  (for more about the world’s most amazing breakfast cereal please visit http://holycrap.ca/)

5.  Have fun.Hubbs insists on taking me out the night before a major holiday and I never protest.  We visit with friends, have a few drinks, and enjoy getting waited on.  It makes for a relaxed and happy cook (me!) and he’s just a darn hero for coming up with the idea … every year. Hee hee.

Duh duh duh!! It's SuperHubby!! Underdog image from wikipedia.org

It’s my privilege to have loved ones to host and I don’t often find cooking to be a chore.  It’s a gift I give, with my whole heart, to those I adore most.  It’s creative, meaningful and the effort feeds my soul. And that, to me, is what hosting a Holiday meal is all about anyways.

MJ’s Marvelous Cheese Ball

  • 2 blocks of cream cheese
  • 2 packets of Carl Buddig Smoked Ham, chopped (sold in the deli meats section)
  • 1 envelope of dry ranch dressing seasoning
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped with some green, too
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of curry (I don’t measure, I just give it a liberal shake)
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash regular or onion (I don’t measure, I just give it a liberal shake)
  • About 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • If you want to “fancy  it up” you can roll the cheese ball in chopped pecans or walnuts before wrapping.

Directions:

Bring cream cheese to room temperature OR microwave until soft. Stir in seasonings: ranch dressing, curry, and Mrs. Dash.

Stir in chopped onion & ham. Lastly, stir in shredded cheddar.

Divide into 3 cheese balls and wrap in Plastic Wrap; wrap in 2 layers. Refrigerate immediately.

Best if made ahead of time and these can be frozen although they will be crumbly vs. creamy when defrosted.

Serve with your favorite crackers & stand back (I prefer to take it the cheese ball out of the fridge about 15 min before serving so it has time to soften).

How about you? Are you a Holiday Host or a Holiday Guest? Any tips to share?

Categories: Family, Food, Holidays, Life, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

Lessons in the snapshots of life

Forget what hurt you in the past. But never forget what it taught you. -Anonymous

When I read this quote, I immediately knew what I wanted to write about.

Like my post they’re in our way for a reason,  it’s true that those who hurt us often have the most to teach us.

When someone dismisses what I can contribute, I learn to be more discerning with whom I share my talents.  Think of opening a bottle of wine .. it’s best to just let it breathe.  Not everyone deserves some of what I’ve got.

When someone reaches for me only to tell me what I can do for them, I learn they do this because I’ve probably allowed it before now.

When someone speaks with little regard to my feelings, I learn that my shock, awe and silence could have been misinterpreted as permission.

A friend asked me recently why I don’t actively promote my blog among colleagues and my answer surprised both of us, “Because when people I’ve never met tell me that my words resonated with them, I know I’ve crossed the divide that separates us  … and we’ve connected because of it.”

Connections. That’s all I need. And that’s the lesson in the snapshots.

.:: image from holliedonnelly.com ::.

Categories: Blogging, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | 26 Comments

Corn Casserole

Turns out a post I wrote last year has had visitors recently. Namely me!

That’s right, peeps, with the holiday season approaching, I do believe it is time to revisit the relationship filing system.

What’s that you ask?

It’s an effective way of “coping” with the idiosyncrasies of interpersonal relationships. You know .. ones that cause you to stop and say … hmm.

File # 1:    The “Now you know” (NYK) file. If someone disappoints you, hurts you, slights you, double-crosses you, steals from you, cheats on you, or lies to you… file them in the NYK file.  It’s up to you to decide if and when to let them out.

NOTE: The NYK can be filled with positives, too.   My NYK is also filled up with friends who’ve been there when we’ve suffered a loss, lent a hand, or simply stayed close by when we were struggling.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

File 2:  The “Jimmy Cracked Corn” (JCC) file. (from the childhood song, “Jimmy Cracked Corn and I don’t care…”) This is the “I don’t care, I’m done worrying about it/feeling responsible for it/can’t fix it anyways” file.  The JCC file is perfect for situations involving a lot of drama, detrimental for you to be in (lose: lose situation) and are often operated by “energy vampires.” What’s powerful about using this system is that it always ABSOLVES you of someone else’s bad behavior.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

Example 1:   Someone you work with steals your cost-savings idea, becomes the company hero and gets all the credit. Your credit.  File: NYK.  Resolve to never give them the same opportunity again; unless it’s not a big deal to you and, if that’s the case, move them to the JCC file.

Example 2:  The snarpy relative who only calls when she wants something and then, in the process, makes derogatory comments .. about you .. to you.  File?  JCC.

I have had my share of Jimmy Cracked Corn contenders – enough make me a corn casserole. On that note … here’s a simple but yummy recipe for a (cold) Corn Casserole containing several unexpected ingredients:

  • 2 cans of kernel corn, drained

    image from google.images.com

  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 3 green onions, chopped including greens
  • about 1/4 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of of mayonnaise (enough to hold the above  ingredients together).

Fold ingredients together, top with crushed BBQ flavored Corn Chips (Hey! I didn’t say this was healthy, I said it was yum-my) and serve.

You’ll have yourself a crunchy, creamy side-dish to enjoy and when you serve it, be sure to smile covertly and repeat after me, “Now you know!”

Categories: Food, Holidays, Life, Quotes, Relationships | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

My love affair with the sky

image from canada-maps.org

Growing up with the Northern Lights dancing over us, I assumed everyone carried on a love affair with the sky.

I soon learned that not every place I’d live would afford an easy view of the horizon.

I soon learned that not everyone’s sky was painted like mine.

When my father died, and I was on a plane headed home, I remember the pilot announcing how we’d just crossed into Canadian airspace.  I leaned into my window and spotted something in the distance.  A smile touched my lips when I realized what was with me: the Northern lights … twinkling and a-winkin’, as if to say, “Welcome home, girl.”

It was that very moment – when my emotions were the most raw – that I was given another example of how we are never really …  all alone.

image from apod.nasa.gov

Categories: Beauty, Faith, Family, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

On dream shoppes

If such a store existed near me, I’d never get anything accomplished!

What does your dream shoppe have to offer you?

Categories: Beauty, Fun, Joy | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

Can’t you take a joke?

Traveling with colleagues, I excused myself after lunch to freshen up.  Imagine my confusion when I returned to an empty table.  Neither my colleagues nor the others we’d met with were to be found.   I assumed they must have been paying the bill and readying to leave the restaurant.   Bear in mind, this was my first time in that city, we’d parked some distance away and had walked a few blocks to get there.  Fear and disbelief bubbled up when I realized they’d actually left without me.   Gathering my things I headed out in the direction I’d hoped was the parking garage.  About two blocks away, with my head down into the biting wind, I heard “surprise!” as they jumped out at me from an alley.  There, in the heart of it all was the ring leader, laughing hysterically.  The others laughed too, but not as loudly. It was obvious who’d led the pack and when my reaction was less than charmed, his words stuck the final blow, “Geez, can’t you take a joke?”

I’ve been witness to others’ pranks and the intended of many more.   Some were harmless – a plastic spider placed perfectly for a Halloween scare – but most were mixed with just enough cruelty to leave only a furrow of resentment behind.

I’ve spoken up, I’ve protested, I’ve defended and, shamefully, sometimes I’ve kept quiet.  Indignation has consistently been met by “Geez, can’t you take a joke?”

Being the youngest of 5 kids, yes, I can take a joke.   I really can.

This is what being the butt of jokes feels like; image courtesy Rachel Leamon.pinmarklet.com

But … I’d prefer to laugh with you vs. being laughed at.

I am happy to be part of the fun, but I’d rather not be … the source of yours.

Being the “butt” of jokes hurts our feelings, destroys trust and the only thing that thrives is … ego.  And it’s not ours.

# # #

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.”  -Matthew 7.12

# # #

Do you know the difference between harmless fun and bullying?

(by Alan Teal)

1)         Harmless fun lets everyone enjoy themselves

  • Think of going to a party and playing charades or cards with your friends; think of children playing “Freeze Tag” at a family reunion
  • Everyone chooses to play; everyone has a chance to laugh and have fun

2)       Harmless fun means no one ends up embarrassed or hurt

  • Your date uses a lampshade as his prop in charades and everyone laughs
  • When you have a choice, it’s fun

3)      Bullying starts when someone is singled out without their consent

  • When someone is chosen as the “butt” of the joke without their knowledge, bullying has begun
  • The intent is to embarrass, scare or humiliate
  • Some people don’t mind being the center of attention but many do

4)      Bullies aren’t happy with just the laugh

  • They need to talk about the prank over and over
  • They relish telling the victim how “funny” their reaction was, how “hilarious” the situation is and, therefore, how witty they are
  • They like to tell the target how ‘everyone was in on it,’ thereby increasing the humiliation factor
  • A bully’s laughter comes when the target is put down, made to feel smaller so … they can feel larger

5)      Groups can be bullies, too.

  • If you hear about a prank ahead of time, speak up.  Your silence equals permission
  • Confront the organizers.  Let them know you are uncomfortable with their plans; chances are others are also but lack courage to speak up (Pack mentality… the weakest follow the strongest).
  • If it appears that the person to be pranked won’t appreciate it, the shift from harmless fun to bullying has already started
  • Be brave enough to be the “party pooper” and tell the victim ahead of time.

I can take a joke; the question is .. why should I have to?

image from southern-cinderalla-tumblr.com


Categories: Life, News, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 41 Comments

Sometimes

Sometimes the most beautiful paintings are found right outside our door.

..:: Autumn ::.. an emjayandthem photo (click for full image)

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.  ~Albert Camus

Categories: Beauty, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

How about some candy instead?

This time … I knew to expect it. This time … I was ready.

Hold the tunes; how about some candy instead?

You see … last year on this date, I had no idea that Christmas music would be playing just one day after Halloween.

This year .. I switched radio stations ahead of time.    (It’s the little things that make us feel in control of our lives, isn’t it?)

We had mild weather for the little trick-or-treaters in West Michigan … but not that many kids.  That’s OK because I’m gonna round up our extras in support of our troops.

Did you know there’s an organization that is HAPPY to get your  leftover (wrapped) Halloween candy?  And that this candy is shipped to our military personnel all over the world? Visit here for more info.

Making the time to do something nice for others might just spark a little Christmas spirit anyways!

Categories: Attitude, Charity, Food, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Share | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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A Little Wild Farm

Planting roots on our little wild farm.

Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with People in My Path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine; For your light has come!

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...