Happy New Year’s Eve!

As 2015 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to wish you and yours a safe and Happy New Year!  May 2016 bring you much love, health happiness and prosperity.  Thank you for reading.  And, thank you for bringing me such joy. xo

New Year's quote

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Is Happiness a choice?

Wildflower

I really like Drew Barrymore.  She seems like someone that would be fun to hang out with.  When I saw this book, I just had to grab it.  Before you ask, no I haven’t read her previous book, Little Girl Lost.  Honestly, I didn’t know that much about her apart from her work and those little tidbits that you absorb without thinking.

This book is just a collection of stories about things in her life.  There’s no particular order to them, so if you prefer a linear story you might want to skip this one.  Overall, I enjoyed this book and the bit of insight into the woman she’s become.  Oh, there were still  parts where I was all ‘who cares!’ or ‘wait, tell me the rest of this story!’.  By and large, I most enjoyed that I could “hear” her voice in her writing.  I love when people can pull that off.  No, I don’t know why that is.  I suppose I just think it’s cool.  For someone that has gone through so much (just what I gathered from this story), she’s turned out to be a lovely lady.

There was, however, one thing she said that has gotten me thinking – “Happiness is a choice”.  I love that saying.  I believe that it’s true.  The choosing doesn’t work for everyone though.  Perhaps it’s the time of year, but this topic really has just stuck with me the past few days.  I read an article the other day about the large number of emergency room visits this time of year due to the number of people battling depression.  So many are losing the battle and attempting, sometimes succeeding, suicide.  These stories leave me heartbroken.

I’ve family members and really dear, dear friends that truly struggle with depression.  It’s their constant companion.  My sister, not so many years ago, was diagnosed as bipolar.  She will tell you that happiness isn’t a “choice”.  She’s gotten mad at me for thinking it is.  But I still do to some degree.

While I cannot begin to imagine her struggle, or anyone else’s for that matter, I’ve dealt with depression of the postpartum kind and, again, after losing people that have meant something to me.  It’s unbearable, that feeling.  I get that.  But, I also know that, at least for my sister, she “chooses” happiness.  She chooses to try to do something about it.  She sees her docs, talks to her friends, takes medication, etc.  That’s still a choice.  When I said that to her she just looked at me and very slowly, said yeah.  Is she happy?  No, not always.  Not everyday.  But some days.  For her and so many the journey is just SO HARD.  I often wonder what I can do for her and my other friends.  I haven’t any good answers other than to try and be around.  Be supportive.  To try and always be kind and understanding…..even when I don’t feel like it or when I simply don’t get it.  As I move forward into 2016, I hope to find some other, more useful way to remind those I care about, and even those people I don’t yet know, that they are valued.  That their lives matter.  They matter.

OMG!

So I’m a slacker AND I’m rude!

I forgot to ask about your Christmas.  If you celebrate.  If you don’t, how was your day off???

This is what happens when I have to deal with a lot of conflict.  It’s too much.  And I suck at it.  Okay, so yeah, back to it I go.

Hope everyone had a VERRY MERRY whatever day!

xo

 

Slacker art thy name

I’ve spent some free time the past few days reading a few other blogs that I enjoy.  You know what I learned?  I’m a slacker!  I don’t make New Year’s “resolutions”.  I don’t have big plans for this blog other than just to enjoy it.  (Sorry, if you were expecting those!) I don’t typically take a hard look back on the past year (lots of good stuff there but plenty of not so good stuff there too).  I tend to be someone that just wants to take the day’s lessons and look forward……Oh, I had coffee with a girlfriend that I haven’t seen in a while?  Do that more!  Got a good workout in?  Yes!  Make time to take care of myself!  Played Old Maid with my giggly people?  Play more!  As for you overachievers, good for you!  I’m a slacker.  But, hey, it works for me.

And before I forget.  For you fabulous people, you know who you are, that hit that “like” button and a millionty times more for those that hit that “follow” button, THANK YOU!  Do you know that hitting those buttons, for me, is like receiving a treasured gift?  I’m always surprised that people actually read this thing.  (See, Penny, it must be true, I’ve written it down!)  Whatever your reasons for reading, thank you.  You simply delight me. Love and hugs!

Onward to the books!  I am thinking of putting together a book list?  Things I’ve read for the year, with post links.  What do you think?  Helpful or who cares?  Ooh, sorry, I got distracted.

notorious rbg

It seems as though I’ve read a lot of stuff on the Supreme Court this year.  So why stop now, right?  After reading Sisters In Law, I was interested in learning a bit more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Now I’m not gonna lie, I knew NOTHING about her before this whole Supreme Court kick.  I’m somewhat embarrassed by that because, as I’ve learned, our nine justices impact our daily lives in ways I still cannot comprehend.  And RBG, well she looks like a tiny slip of a woman!  Who knew she was such a complete and total powerhouse?!  She gets billed as a champion of women’s rights.  No doubt that’s true.  I prefer, however, to think of her as a champion for the rights of ALL citizens.  For anyone that might be interested, this is a quick, very readable, look at her life, her career, her impact on our nation and its highest court.

And now I must go play referee.  Days of rain have left the natives VERY restless.  Send tequila.

Ciao!

 

Merry Christmas Eve!

I am so far behind so I’ll make this a quickie.  I spent yesterday cleaning and hanging with the people and my girlfriend.  So, while the house looks good THERE ARE COOKIES STILL TO BE MADE!

But first, I have to show off a bit.  I’ve been knitting the baby blanket from hell a lovely, not so small, baby blanket for a newish baby in the family.  And, I have finally finished!  Just in the nick of time!  Behold the shameless self promotion.  I cannot help it.  I am awesome….for at least the next five minutes.

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Oh, if you’re in need of a certain bit of somethin’ somethin’, I might have read something wildly inappropriate.  I was just looking for something holidayish on my kindle.  Well, I share my kindle account with my mom and sister.  Have I mentioned their love of bodice ripper romances?  So, yeah, that’s pretty much all they read.  But, hey, it’s the holidays.  I don’t mind an extra bit of romance.  ‘Tis the season and all that.  So, I saw this title (just the title, not the cover or anything else).

snow & mistletoe

Whoa!  Hold up! It’s erotica, people.  And, not especially good erotica at that.  It’s readable.  But, seriously, I’m a grown ass woman and I cannot suspend that much reality.  WHO ordered this, that’s what I really want to know.  😉

Merry Christmas Eve, sweet people!

I like mine extra SPICY

I took my kiddos to last night’s hockey game.  Not only did the hometown team win but they won big.  Read as you can redeem your ticket stub for a free frosty after a certain number of goals (which they got).  My small goalie thought it would be a good idea to collect ALL the ticket stubs.  (Sorry, innocent strangers sitting near us.) Poor thing seems to think that, not only, is he going to be given 9,000 frostys but that yours truly is going to let him consume them.  Yeah, Harvard is looking less likely.

Whatcha want first, books or baking?  Let’s go with Bold, Spicy and absolutely yummy.  No, I’m not talking about a man this time.  Behold, that which is my favorite gingerbread:

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If you were expecting cookies, sorry.  That’s tomorrow.  This, my friends, is Christmas in cake form.  If you’re not a fan of spicy gingerbread, I’m so sorry.  You don’t know what you’re missing!  You can still try this, just cut back on the spices, don’t add in the extra ginger and most definitely serve it with the freshly whipped cream.  Even you bold and spicy people, you know who you are, don’t skip the freshly whipped cream.  It’s so yummy and so worth the extra time on the treadmill.

My Favorite Gingerbread -recipe adapted from Claudia Fleming, pastry chef, Gramercy Tavern

  • 1c of Guinness Stout (sacrifice yourself like I do and drink the rest)
  • 1c dark molasses, NOT blackstrap
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1c dark brown sugar
  • 1c sugar
  • 3/4c vegetable oil
  • OPTIONAL:  1inch piece of fresh ginger grated (I use a microplane over the saucepan), Chopped candied ginger – I use a couple of Tablespoons (I explained I like it spicy!)
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
  • Unsweetened whipped cream (Heavy whipping cream beaten to form stiff peaks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a large bundt pan or pretend your me and spray pan with Baker’s Joy.  I love the person that invented that stuff.
In a heavy saucepan, bring the stout and molasses to a boil.  Remove from heat and whisk in the baking soda.  This can really bubble up, so don’t just dump it in and walk away.  If you are using the grated ginger, add it in.
Stir together flour through spices.  In a mixer or with a handheld, beat together the eggs and sugars.  Add in the oil, then the molasses mixture.  Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  (Toss in your chopped candied ginger here, if using).  Don’t overmix.
Pour batter into your bundt pan.  Tap pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles.  Bake 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool for 5 or 10 minutes or until you remember before inverting onto a rack or cake plate.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with the whipped cream.  Remember your supposed to share.  They tell me that’s in the rulebook.  Whatever.
a fatal grace
I finished the second of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series.  As with the first, the prose and imagery are lovely.  I don’t like her endings though.  Oh, it’s not going to keep me from reading the next book, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just that I’m reading and reading and loving it all.  Then, it’s as though a light’s been switched off and she must finish quickly.  It’s not always satisfying.  Still, I’m not without hope that the next one will be better.  Doesn’t hurt that the scenery is outside Montreal, which is on my list of places I’d like to visit.  Or that there’s snow.  Tomorrow’s the 23rd of December and we’re expecting temperatures in the mid-70’s.  There’s something very wrong about that.
Ah well, I must run.  There’s dinner to prepare and then Christmas lights to view.  It’s a tough life!  Break out the hot chocolate and carols and enjoy!

 

You KNOW you want one!

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White Chocolate Peppermint Martini’s!

  • 2oz each, Vanilla Vodka and Godiva White Chocolate Liquor
  • 1oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • Crushed Peppermints & Marshmallow Sundae topping for the glasses (I could not find Marshmallow Sundae topping so I improvised with some of the white melting wafers, see below, and crushed peppermints.  Worked like a dream AND they were both already in my house so I didn’t have to do any extra shopping.  This made me insanely happy.)
Pour the alcohol into a shaker over ice, shake, pour into your festive martini glasses!  Try not to drink too many.
I know, I know.  I was supposed to post this at the end of last week.  But, instead, I spent time catching up with my girlfriend, Amy, and drinking these!  I’d apologize but it was some much needed girl time.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I require a good bit of downtime.  I’m naturally a pretty happy person and I love my job.  But, I think that one of the things that makes me good at it is that I make it a necessity priority to allow myself to recharge.  For me, that typically means a quiet night at home.  Nothing better than dinner with the family followed by a movie or a really good book.

But not, my friends, tonight.  Tonight, I’ve been offered really amazing tickets for the hockey game!  Lower bowl, playing the Canadians!  I’d take you all but I don’t have enough seats.  Don’t worry, I’ll cheer for ya.  I’m helpful that way.

Even though my tickets came with a parking pass, there’s a restaurant across the street I usually valet at.  Fortunately, I made these Bailey’s Tim Tam Cheesecake Balls.  Now, mine aren’t nearly as pretty.  But, they are pretty tasty!

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I made a few changes.  Target was the only place I found Tim Tams. They only carry the caramel and the chocolate flavors.  Guess which ones I went for?  Of course you said the chocolate ones!  Smartie!  Although I used Bailey’s, next time, I’m going to use a coffee liquor.  I’ve some Patron XO in my cupboard that’s calling me.  I used Ghirardelli Melting  Wafers, Dark for the outside and White (thinned with some heavy cream) as my drizzle.  I prefer working with the melting wafers for this sort of thing as it is much easier to work with than regular chocolate.  They sell the big bags of this stuff at Sam’s which makes it fairly inexpensive if you’re doing lots, which I was.

Now, for the books.  Of course, I’m still reading Christmas themed stuff.

winter stroll

I picked this up because I read Winter Street and wanted to know how things ended.  Please.  Kill.  Me.  If I pick up another one of these.  There’s no ending!  Seriously!  So Ms. Hilderbrand, much as I love some of your characters, you are dead to me.  I’ve been fooled again and I am not happy.  This meanness at Christmas time cannot be tolerated.  Love, me.

Fittingly, I also finished this really fun, rather odd book called It Ended Badly: 13 of the worst breakups in history

It ended badly

Now, I can’t tell you why I enjoyed this book.  Some of the stories are completely and utterly horrible.  Still, it was pretty fun in a perverse sort of way.  And, hey, if I ever get on one of those quiz shows….. well, I’m gonna kill it, baby!

Okay, well I’d better dash.  Lots to do before game time!  Hope your week is starting off even better than mine has.  Cheers!