Monday, December 31, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Failed Resolutions

Barbara: We like to keep it positive here on the blog as much as possible, but it can also be fun to poke a little fun at ourselves from time to time. And what better time than the infamous resolutions time? Okay, so what 5 resolutions are you going to make this year that will definitely not last?
1. Meditate every day.
2. Get to the gym 3 times a week.
3. Get away from the computer at regular intervals.
4. No wheat.
5. Not resort to platitudes and clichés in my writing ever again.

1. Sadly, number one just might be the same as Barb’s. Meditate every day! I live in hope!!!
2. Read more books on a regular basis!
3. Stop over-punctuating!!!
4. Rid myself of my ticks and twitches. Sit STILL!
5. That’s it, I think. I am happy with everything else!

AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!! Have a great one xoxo

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Memory

Today we’re sharing a special holiday (any holiday) memory.

Deb: I have so many wonderful memories of Christmases past, but I will focus on one from Christmases long past. When I was a kid, I would sleep like a doornail, except on Christmas Eve, which I am sure was the case with many of us. I would wake up somewhere in the middle of the night and see my stocking laying at the bottom of my bed, gleaming and teaming with delights! When I still believed in the literal Santa I would be too afraid to move, lest he hear me from the living room, thus ruining my whole family’s Christmas. But when I entered the believing years that did not include Santa, I would wake up and gingerly open my stocking, piece by piece, chocolate by chocolate and thrill in each thing. I would then put them all back exactly how I found them and fall asleep with visions of my very own sugarplums dancing in my head. When I woke up, the family gathered around to watch my brother and I open our stockings. I would ooooh and ahhhhh at every single thing. My Mom (one of the great stocking stuffers of all time!) didn’t suspect a thing. Never have my acting skills come in so handy.

Barbara: I also have many special memories from Christmases recent and long ago, but the one memory that popped into my mind when we decided to write this comes from an Easter celebration when I was 7 or 8. My father was king of the magical set-ups and, for some reason, Easter was his specialty. I think because we always hid upstairs in one of our bedrooms while Santa did his thing on Christmas Eve (we celebrated—and continue to celebrate—on Christmas Eve), there was no chance to change up the surprises. In other words, we hid, Santa came, bells were rung, we’d come downstairs and we’d be surprised and delighted by the bedazzled tree and the gifts flowing from underneath (don’t get me wrong, it was GREAT). But every Easter egg hunt had to be different. Sometimes we celebrated at home, sometimes on a hike in the woods, sometimes in a park, sometimes in our backyard, sometimes it would be warm spring, sometimes still cold winter. But the bunny always managed to hide its treasures without us knowing and we’d always stumble upon them as if my father had nothing to do with it (I should also give kudos to my mother for diverting our attention!). But that one year when I was 7 or 8, it was cold and snowy out and we were all hiding in our kitchen so the bunny could go about its humble work in the living room. I was at an age when I might have been suspecting my parents had something to do with the holiday magic. Certainly I was on high-alert, paying close attention. Now, all the magic visitors to our house always announced that it was safe to come out and revel by ringing a bell of some kind. Well, on that day, while every single member of the family waited in the kitchen, that magic bell rung—all on its own—from faraway in the living room. The Easter bunny had come with no adult interference! That moment of impossible possibility never left me, and co-opted me a few more years of devoted belief.

(Years later, when I was an adult, I asked my father how he did it. He gave an innocent shrug. But I worked out that there might have been a fishing line rigged to the bell.)

Any significant memory of a holiday in your life?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Holiday Must-Haves

Barbara: Pick your favourite holiday (especially if you don’t celebrate Christmas), and answer this question: It wouldn’t be the holidays without… ?
1. Turkey.
2. Games.
3. Plates of sweets on every surface.
4. Family.
5. Cuddling around music/fire/blankets/books/movies.

1. Turkey and Colin’s stuffing.
2. Leftovers for Boxing Day sandwiches (I think I love this more than the actual dinner).
3. Family and friends.
4. Reading new books and magazines the week between and listening to new music cuddled up!
5. Festive table settings and memories of Christmases past.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blogging Out Loud: Pressure Over The Holidays

Deb and Barbara: Now that we're on the other side, be honest, do you succumb to the holiday pressure? If so, any tricks?

Barbara: Okay, I have to add here that I've developed a coping strategy that I almost forgot to share. I make lists on my computer that I update and tweak every year that help me with my grocery shopping, special recipes (with all the specific tweaks for vegans and meat-eaters), and time management. It makes such a difference to my stress levels and efficiency to have a reference list I can call up (or print out; or email myself: ie my shopping lists) at a moment's notice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Deb and Barbara: We hope you have a kind, lovely, and beautiful day!

Thanks to Luke for his beautiful filming!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blogging Out Loud: Merry Christmas With Or Without Gifts!

Deb and Barbara: Today we talk about whether we could or couldn't celebrate Christmas without gifts (a hint: we are honest but not proud).

And on that note: Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, happy day to those who don't, and to everyone on every day, we wish you love, peace, and joy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blogging Out Loud: Holidays and the Empty Nest

Deb and Barbara: For every child-filled holiday season, there comes a time when the kids move out and move on and holiday celebrations don't necessarily unfold as they used to. What does that mean to you, either as child of or a parent of?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

More Easy Holiday Recipes

Barbara: Last year, I shared a few of my favourite holiday recipes—known for their super-simple prep times (and rave reviews from the revellers), here and here.

First up this year is a great nibbly treat, on its own or added to a cheese plate, slightly sweet, slightly salty, a bit spicy, mmmm. Best part? It's vegan-friendly AND it makes a perfect homemade hostess gift.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

2 cups pecans (or any nut)
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

Put the almonds in a glass pie plate and douse with water, mixing well. Combine the rest and mix it with the nuts.

Microwave (uncovered) on high for 2 min, then stir, then follow with another 1 min and, if necessary, another 1 min, until glazed and syrupy (I've made it where it doesn't end up "glazed" and they're just as good). But be careful not to burn (very easy...)

Spread out on parchment paper to cool, breaking apart occasionally. And voila!

Then we have a classic recipe ‘round these parts: melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. My sister sent me this recipe about 25 years ago and I have no idea where she got it, but it is divine. It’s only super-easy if you have one of those stand-alone mixers where you can leave the batter mixing for 10 minutes and go do something else. That said, there were many many years when I did not have the stand-alone and just stood there for 10 minutes with a handheld. Do-able, just boring.

Melt in your mouth Shortbread Cookies

These are more soft puff-balls than elegant flat biscuits. Delicious!

1 cup softened butter
½ cup icing sugar
2 ¼ cups flour

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add flour ¼ cup at a time.  Then blend for 10 minutes (on a Kitchen Aid-type mixer, blend at setting 6).

Drop onto greased sheets (or parchment) and put in 325 oven for 15-20 minutes or until just short of golden.

I bought this $4.00 scoop last year and, man, it makes the cookie dough doling that much easier. Last year, I kept the balls round (as is), but this year, I used a silicone spatula to very gently flatten the cookies before baking. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blogging Out Loud: Facing The Holidays When Times Are Tough

Deb and Barbara: What do you do and how do you cope when you're surrounded by all the holiday hoopla ... and you're just not in the frame of mind to enjoy it?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mice Love Christmas Too

Deb: A wee mouse snuck into our crawlspace to see what the big Christmas fuss was all about. He climbed into the birchbark canoe of our beautiful Canadian Santa and he gobbled all the apples that were in a barrel in Santa’s canoe. I couldn’t help thinking of his conversation with the mousewife when he got home as he recounted to her his disappointment as he gnawed on styrofoam painted apples. He must have been miffed to say the least.

I guess, reeling from his apple disappointment, he decided to give the dried boxwood wreaths a nosh and cut through them like he was designing a maze. A mouse maze. Imagine his disappointment when he realized all too late that they were treated with a preservative to keep them looking fresh. Again he complains to Mrs. Mouse. I suppose it was at this point that he turned tail and scurried home, secure in the knowledge that humans were clearly overrating this holiday of Christmas. I shall not inform him to the contrary.

At this point, with apples and wreaths gobbled, or half gobbled, I thought I was forced to switch up our Christmas theme and quickly brought down all the old silver, making little vignettes with vintage trees and silver tea sets. So our theme this year became sliver and gold with tiny vintage trees as our guest stars. It’s nice to mix it up once in a while, don’t you think?

Thanks “The Mouses”. Merry Christmouse. Love, The Mochries. xo

Please enjoy the Christmas images below from our home before the mice start to think they are nice. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blogging Out Loud: Your Dream Holiday

Deb and Barbara: We know most of us try to love and appreciate what we already have, but in the spirit of "wishes", could you dream up a fantasy holiday celebration? If you don't celebrate Christmas, dream up another favourite holiday.

For more information on the beautiful Casa Loma, click here!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Tree Wishes

This is a re-post of last year’s story asking for Christmas wishes for our holiday tree and wreath. We thought this year we would share the story with you again so we can invite you to share and enjoy the wishes from last year in your own way. We loved the results, we're hanging our wishes again this year, and we are truly appreciating all the love we share with you all over the year!

Deb: I have come to see those of you who read us as more than bloggers, writers, followers of the blog. Through all the turbulence and joy of the last year, you have become so much more. You have stood with us in many ways. You have been advisors, shoulders, supporters and friends.

And it is in that spirit that we would like to have a small piece of your hearts in our homes for Christmas, and as the Old Year becomes New.

Colin and I have a little tree that lives in our bedroom at Christmas. Each year I decorate it with colourful glass birds of every description. This year I would like to decorate it with you and your thoughts and wishes. Not just wishes for me or for my family, although we will accept with grateful thanks, but anything you care to say.

In essence, it can be anything your heart desires. It can be a word, a phrase, a quote, a prayer, a hope for the planet, for her people, for each other or for yourselves. It can be funny, silly, irreverent, heartfelt, or whatever comes to mind. Basically, the sky is the limit.

I will print each one out, place it on a Christmas tag and tie it on our little tree. Barb will do the same with the wreath that adorns her front door. Just before Christmas we will post photos of said boughs brimming with ... you!

This unique, talented, exciting group of people should be together for the holidays in some form. This might bring us a little closer to that...

And this was the result!

Deb: Thanks, blogees, one and all, for joining in the festive trimming of the tree and wreath that we proposed some weeks ago. Here it is in all its glory in our respective homes. It’s lovely sharing this season with you all.

Barbara: Thank you all sooooo much for sending so many lovely wishes. I loved them when you sent them, and then again when I cut them out, and then again when I hung them. Here are all your words.

"Peace" and goodwill to all!
Give someone the gift of your undivided attention.
Am Ende des Jahres
zurück blicken auf den Weg,
der hinter einem liegt.
Sich erinnern, inne halten.
Aufatmen. Durchatmen.

Am Ende des Jahres
Hoffnung schöpfen.
Einen Neuanfang wagen.
Sich freuen, auf das was kommt.
Sich leiten lassen,
einem Stern folgen.

Am Ende des Jahres
an einem Ziel angekommen sein.
Stolz sein,
etwas geschafft zu haben.
Hindernisse überwinden.
Nicht aufgeben.

Am Ende des Jahres
einem Wunder begegnen.
Keine Angst spüren.
Sich überraschen lassen.
Staunen, glauben.
Vertrauen haben.

Am Ende des Jahres
einfach Mensch sein.
English: At the end of the year

At the end of the year
look back at the road
that lies behind you.
Remember, pause.
Breathe. Breathe deeply.
At the end of the year
gather hope.
Start anew.
Look forward to what will happen.
Be guided by someone,
follow a star.
At the end of the year
reach a goal.
Be proud
of something you achieved.
Overcome obstacles.
Never give up.
At the end of the year
come across a miracle.
Don't be afraid.
Be surprised.
Be astonished, believe.
Have faith.
At the end of the year
simply be human.
Joy and happiness
The greatest gift is a friendship you never knew you'd have.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16 NRS
Friends come from strange places and I found both of you on Facebook and I am sure glad I did. I love you both without ever meeting you, yet! But that will happen.
From Norway with love: GOD JUL OG GODT NYTTÅR.
Thank you so much for your blog! It has helped me through many troubled times. Thank you both for thinking of us despite never knowing us before!
"You'll see it's all a show/Keep 'em laughing as you go/Just remember that the last laugh is on you." - E. Idle.
"What has happened, has happened. It's where we go from here is what counts." - author unknown
"There are many ways to skin a chicken." - me
"It's not enough to bash in heads/You've got to bash in minds." - Captain Hammer.
"Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste, there's so much to celebrate!
Believe in what you feel inside
Give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need if you just believe."
Bippitty Boppitty Boo -- Ba Doo!
"Love wholeheartedly and without restraint."
merry christmas to all my love ones above
My wish is that for everyone here to make at least one person smile.
"Go to work. Do your best. Don't let your praying knees get lazy and love like crazy."
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune—without the words,
And never stops at all,
All you do is make people laugh.
Thoughts are focused on nothing except what's going on up onstage.
There are other people enjoying the same thing.
There is friendly contact.
There is support given and taken, sometimes without anyone ever knowing.
There is no judgment.
There is no negative thinking.
The drive is not as lonely.
The future does not look as hopeless.
In the black of life, there was some light.
And all you did was make people laugh.
If love is the treasure, laughter is the key.
Never give up on your dreams!
Merry Christmas.
This post isn’t for the tree or wreath, just to simply express my gratitude. I have been reading this blog for a short time now, after discovering it via Colin’s twitter, and finally got the courage to actually post a reply. I wanted you guys to know just how much your blog means. By sharing what you all are going through somehow helps me deal with the depression and other things I have going on in my life. It is hard to explain, but posting a reply and talking to someone REALLY helps. It is easier to talk to people online rather than in person for me. Regardless of whether or not anyone ever reads this, it is helping me. Even just having something to look at and keep up with everyday helps!
So thank you so much!! You will never know how something so small can help so much!
"Guess why I smile a lot. Uh, 'cause it's worth it.
"So I'll say Merry Christmas
I'll wish peace to you
I'll hope for the hopeless, your dreams come true.
And I'll pray for the laughter
I'll sing through the tears
I'll say Merry Christmas for all the world to hear."
"All you need is love."
"Hang in there."
"Peace and love to all"
"Stay shiny"
In Western lands beneath the sun
the flowers may rise in spring
the trees may bud
the waters run
the merry finches sing
Or there may be this cloudless night
and swaying beeches bare
the Elven stars as jewles bright
amid their dancing hair

Though here at journeys end I lie
in darkness buried deep
beyond all towers strong and high
beyond all mountains steep
Above all Shadows rides the sun
and stars forever dwell
I will not say the day is done
nor bid the stars farewell
Love from Norway, no signs of snow :(
"You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in that tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang. Sing it anyway!"
Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.
"Dreaming is free.
"Let there be so much joy and love in you this Christmas it spills out to those around you!"
Peace, love and happiness!
The Best of Times Is Now.
What's left of Summer
But a faded rose?
The best of times is now.
As for tomorrow,
Well, who knows? Who knows? Who knows?
So hold this moment fast,
And live and love
As hard as you know how.
And make this moment last
Because the best of times is now,
Is now, is now.
Now, not some forgotten yesterday.
Now, tomorrow is too far away.
So hold this moment fast,
And live and love
As hard as you know how.
And make this moment last,
Because the best of times is now,
Is now, is now.
Listen! I hear bells!
Here come all the shiny gifts!
You sleigh me, Santa.
Dashing through the snow.
Santa is coming, my dear.
Are three ho's enough?
It's snowing outside.
I need something to keep warm.
Hugh Jackman...Naked.

Favorite Christmas?
Fireplace burning, Nat King Cole,
Hugh Jackman...Naked.

I don't want visions.
No Sugarplum fairies, thanks.
Hugh Jackman...Naked.

Hey Santa Baby,
I want one thing only please
Hugh Jackman...Naked.

The halls are all decked,
The fireplace is brightly lit,
WHERE the HELL is HUGH??!!
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman
Love and hugs
“Fall, then figure out what to do on the way down.” 

Deb and Barbara: Please feel free to add a new wish for this year, or if you didn't have a chance to leave one last year!