Monday, December 30, 2013

French-toasted honey cake


I had this meal at Denny's in London recently. It is part of their Hobbit themed menu. Everything was great but the french-toasted honey cake was amazing.

On a recent cookie run to Hollandia Bakery I spotted honey cake and bought one.

Here is the recipe I came up with. Dear hubby LOVED it. It is very sweet obviously but sooooooo good.

1 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 honey cake, sliced into 8-10 slices
4 tablespoons butter

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, honey and salt. Pour the egg mixture into a pie pan. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Dip the cake slices into the egg mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side. Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2-3 slices of cake at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all the slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey, whipped cream or fruit.

Hellmann's Creamy Hot Artichoke Dip



I haven't made this recipe in years until my sister-in-law asked me to make it for her open house on Christmas Eve.  I had forgotten just how good it is.

1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in 1-quart casserole.  Bake uncovered 25 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with your favourite dippers.

Enjoy.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Wrap-up

No matter what you celebrate or don't celebrate during December, I hope it has been a wonderful time for you.

I have had some really horrible Christmases in my life and I've had some that were very special.

I think this year has been incredibly special.


I joined my older son, daughter-in-law and handsome grandsons to decorate their Christmas tree and take some photos.


We took the grandsons shopping to buy presents for their parents.  They wrapped them at our place and then Grandpa read them Twas the Night before Christmas before we took them back home.





Our first Christmas party was at a Chinese restaurant with some of Hal's family.  They haven't sent me any photos YET.

Christmas Eve was pot luck supper at my mom's.  There was so much food.  I think I managed to hug everyone there.  I did my best anyway . . . LOL.  So wonderful to spend time with my extended family.


After Mom's pot luck we popped in at my brother Dan's for a visit and MORE food.


I love brunch with my older son's family on Christmas morning.


Our younger son and his girlfriend arrived Christmas night and stayed for a few days.


On Boxing Day my sons and daughter-in-laws and grandchildren joined us for a lovely dinner.  I started cooking the 30 pound turkey at midnight so it would be ready for lunch.  One sister and hubby and son plus Mom and Nanna made for a lovely full table of fun.


The nice part about having our special meal at lunch is that we aren't too tired to have some fun afterwards.  My sister gave me Apples to Apples and it is a hilarious game, especially when my crazy family is playing it.


On the 26th Hal & I made a little road trip to buy each other Christmas presents.  Hal really wanted cowboy boots so we went to Keleher's.


I visited The Art House Studio last winter and I've been trying to get back ever since.  I finally made it and had a great time picking out some lovely pretties for my own studio.  I asked Karen to show me something fun I might never have seen before and her eyes began to sparkle and she did show me some fun new products.



And of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without the tradition torture of the jig saw puzzle . . . LOL . . .


In My World . . . the Christmas Season lasts until January 1st . . . so who knows where I will be celebrating next.

I hope you all have had a wonderful December so far . . .

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Personality Type: The Good-natured Realist

My Personality Type: The Good-natured Realist



Good-natured Realists are warm-hearted, helpful personalities. They do their work conscientiously and have a pronounced organising talent. They often feel they are committed to traditional values. The family in particular is extremely important to Good-natured Realists. Their greatest pleasure is making themselves useful and taking care of other people.

But they do not like pushing themselves to the fore; they prefer to fulfil their tasks out of the limelight. Good-natured Realists are real workaholics; they are very reliable and nothing is too much for them when it is a question of completing a project. Thoroughness, conscientiousness and sense of duty are their strongest points. They prefer established and familiar situations to new and unknown situations.

In dealing with others, Good-natured Realists are considerate and obliging; they are always happy to put aside their own requirements in the interest of their family and friends. Their home is mostly very well cared-for, cosy and tidy. Their perfectionism on the one hand and their aversion to delegating tasks on the other hand often lead to them taking on too much both professionally and privately. They cannot stand discord; conflicts make them very unhappy. One could almost describe them as being harmony-addicted - and this sometimes leads them to strongly neglecting themselves and their own wishes because they are unable to bring themselves to put up a fight.

Good-natured Realists dream of a stable and trusting relationship for life. Marriage and family are very important to them. They take care of their partner attentively and lovingly and put up with a lot for a harmonious relationship. They are also loyal and reliable friends. However, they can be very hurt if their interpersonal commitment is taken for granted for too long.

Adjectives that describe your type
introverted, practical, emotional, planning, tradition-conscious, good-natured, self-sacrificing, caring, devoted, friendly, loyal, considerate, reliable, conscientious, loving, quiet, reserved, modest, helpful, objective, hard-working, warm-hearted, communicative, painstaking, altruistic

What is your personality type?  http://www.ipersonic.com/test.html

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, it is another Christmas post . . .

I LOVE SANTA CLAUS . . .


I ran into him at Brix N Stix at the Elgin Mall late last night . . . we were both shopping . . .

Monday, December 16, 2013

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert



For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for "offenses against morality and religion." What shocks us today about Flaubert's devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose (marvelously captured in the English translation of Francis Steegmuller), and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine. In reading Madame Bovary, one experiences a work that remains genuinely revolutionary almost a century and a half after its creation. - Publisher


Madame Bovary, when it was first published in 1857, was considered very shocking.  It is not nearly as shocking in our time but still a gorgeously written story of an immature and romantic woman who is trying so hard to find everything she had dreamed of as a child.  Her quest for romance and passion ends up destroying the husband who has loved her no matter what and finally destroying herself.  A great cautionary tale of the times with a valid truth for today.

I have read this book more than once and truly enjoy it.

It is listed as the 10th greatest fiction book of all time according to http://thegreatestbooks.org/?page=1.

This book is also on the following lists:
22nd on The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time: The List (The Observer)
110 Best Books: The Perfect Library (The Telegraph)
Top 100 Works in World Literature (Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute)
7th on The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Time (The Novel 100)
50 Greatest Books of All Time (Globe and Mail)
2nd on The Top 10: The Greatest Books of All Time (The Top 10 (Book))

Madame Bovary is a must read for anyone who loves the beauty of words.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Shawshank Redemption



Number one of the Top 250 movies according to IMDB is The Shawshank Redemption.  Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, it is the story of a young banker, convicted for the murder of his wife and her lover, and his life in prison.

Both Robbins and Freeman give award worthy performances in this great story of hope.  My favourite scene is right after the arrival of donations for the prison library.  That is all I am going to say except that it is an uplifting moment.  The ending of the story is spectacular and I cheered out loud.

It is good to never lose hope . . . and to be a very clever banker.

If you've seen this movie before, why not watch it again?  If you have never watched this movie, I really think you should.  But Parental Guidance is definitely necessary.

Enjoy!!

Only 10 shopping days until Christmas . . .

Hal & I - Christmas 2012
I love Christmas for no particular reason and every reason . . . fun, friends, family, food . . . the excitement just makes me happy.  I've learned not to go overboard . . . you don't have to accept every invitation, you can use paper plates and you don't have to spend a zillion dollars on every person on your list.  And I think that is why I enjoy the season so much.

At hubby's company Christmas party . . . my halo kept falling off . . . 


I was starting to worry a bit this year that we might not be ready for Christmas because my dear hubby has not had much time off.  Today we got most of our shopping done and we are getting organized around the house.  Right now he is making Christmas presents . . . shhhhhh don't tell . . .


Wishing you all a safe and happy 'whatever you celebrate' at this time of year . . .

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

St. Mary's Quarry, St. Mary's ON

The final stop on our Fathers' Day tour was to the St. Mary's Quarry in St. Mary's ON. As you can see from the photos the quarry is stunning and the water is so clear that despite its depth you can still see right down to the bottom.


Once a limestone quarry, it has been rehabilitated for swimming. The Quarry is now Canada’s largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool. This exciting attraction includes high and low dives, cliff jumping, and a slide. There is a large grassed area for picnics or sunbathing, sand volleyball and there is a tiki hut for snacks. Spend an hour or a full day! The price was very reasonable, especially since it is quite possible to spend the entire day there thanks to the excellent facilities.


This is as close as I get to jumping in . . . LOL . . . I can't swim enough to save myself. But I did enjoy relaxing in a muskoka chair under a shady tree while the kids and grandkids had a great time.

Some days . . . you just have to push through . . .



Some days I just feel like I don't want to do a darn thing.  

Usually this happens at a time when it is impossible to take a day off . . . like two weeks before Christmas.  I have gifts to make, a house to decorate, shopping to do, Christmas cards to make (although it may already be too late for that).  Plus everything non-Christmassy that I need to accomplish like a hair cut, clean my house, plan classes, take classes, read, work My Dreaded To Do List . . . and on and on and on . . . 

And we have places to go and people to visit.

Having a busy schedule generally makes me happy. I don't like not having something to do (do you love the double negative?).  In fact, I drive my dear hubby crazy because if we are watching a show I either have a project in my hands like knitting or I jump up at every commercial to do something.

I have overbooked myself.  I think that is the problem.  But as I look at my list I can't see anything I want to cut out of it.

So I guess I better just push through this feeling because I know it will make me happy to get things done . . . if I can push myself away from this computer and get my butt out of this chair.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rheo Thompson Candies, Stratford ON




We had a truly fabulous time at Rheo Thompson Candies.  It took a long time to narrow down what we were going to buy because everything looked and smelled so good.  Look, Hal even found a chocolate tie!

The decor was elegant.  The staff were very helpful.  I can't think of a single negative thing to say about this business.  I thought that the prices were quite good as well.

I ended up purchasing a special treat for myself -- toasted coconut marshmallows -- not the gooey store-bought kind, but really soft, pillowy, sweet marshmallows.  Oh I want to go back there now . . . 

Jenn and Larry's Brittle 'n Shakes and Ice Cream Cakes, Stratford ON



We really enjoyed our stop at Jenn and Larry's just across the road from our boat cruise. We bought peanut brittle to snack on and it was delicious. The store decor was so old fashioned and marvellous. Larry was wearing whites just like a soda jerk from years gone by. Definitely worth a visit. We did not try the milk shakes but we have a definite reason to go back just to try them.

According to their Facebook page, Jenny's Peanut Brittle was founded in 1999, and has quickly become the best brittle in Stratford! Her peanut brittle sells out at culinary festivals, craft sales, events and Christmas time. Jenny has outgrowing her kitchen, and needed a new location to create her ever so popular peanut brittle!

Jenn's father, Larry, and her mother, Gail, owned and operated Larry and Gail's Drive In on the highway to Sebringville from 1967-1974. Larry was famous for making delicious homemade milkshakes and dreamed about breaking out his 1953 Hamilton Beach milkshake maker and create his milkshakes for the public once again.

So, father and daughter duo opened up Jenn and Larry's Brittle and Shakes on September 3, 2010 at 49 York Street, Stratford, Ontario.

I say you should plan a trip there.

McCully's Hill Farm, St. Mary's ON


The second last stop on our Father's Day 2013 road trip was to check out McCully's Hill Farm Market.  We had a great time checking out the wide variety of fresh, frozen and canned products.  I came home with rhubarb strawberry jam and chili sauce, both delicious.  We did not partake of anything else we saw listed on their website because the day was passing quickly and we wanted to make it to our final stop, which you will be hearing about very soon.  I would like to go back when we have more time to see what else is available to see and do at the Farm.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Avon Boat Rentals, Stratford ON

One of our stops on Fathers' Day was to Avon Boat Rentals .  Avon Boat Rentals has the cruise boat and you can also rent paddle boats and canoes.  There was actually a series of votes necessary to decide which form of river transportation we were going to use.  We finally agreed to take the cruise.


W
It had been raining and our 'captain' was busy drying everything off in preparation for our cruise.  hile we were waiting we purchased swan food and began feeding every web footed creature we found . . . geese, swans, ducks . . . 


I really enjoyed our leisurely float down the river.  I thought the price was very reasonable.  I recommend this boat cruise.



Book Review: The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan


The story is about an ancient prophecy that is coming true.  It is about one woman drawn into a secret and dangerous world of hidden groups determined to help her complete the prophecy and even more dangerous groups who wish to stop her DEAD.  Sometimes it is hard to tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

I'm not usually a fan of scary books and this book is a mystery with some very scary parts and yet I kept reading and reading and reading.  It is not a good book to read to help you sleep at night.  It is far too exciting for that.

I read some of the reviews on Amazon and it seems people either loved it or hated it.  I really liked it.  I won't say loved it because it really isn't a genre I usually read.  The book was gifted to me.  I would not have picked it myself.

If you are looking for a book for a long trip or a holiday read, I would recommend it.  Apparently there is another book in the series as well.




Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Greatest Books of All Time . . .

I LOVE TO READ!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  My dear hubby has suggested that if I couldn't find a book to read, I would read the corn flakes box . . . LOL . . . and he is very right.

I found this great website The Greatest Books of All Time and I'm challenging myself to read or re-read each one over the next year, starting now.

So be prepared for lots of book reviews in December and throughout 2014.  I'll keep you up-to-date on what book I am reading and I would love to hear your opinions of it.  I'm hoping for this to be a very interactive project.  

Any locals want to get together to form a book club to read the Greatest Books of All Time?  I'd be happy to host.

So the first book on the list is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.  I found a free copy at DailyLit.

How can you not enjoy a book with this description:  The greatest book about why you shouldn’t read books, weirdly written at a time when there weren’t that many books to read. Quest along with Don Quixote and the long-suffering Sancho Panza as they break peoples’ china, get beaten up by peasants, and murder sheep.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November Knitting

Wow . . . I really didn't get much knitting done this month . . . and yet I felt like I was busy every minute . . . 

At least I have two finishes to share:


This washcloth is from the  Monthly Dishcloth blog.  


This strip is for the mystery knit-along blanket at Holiday Mystery Gifts group.

Scrapbooking in November . . .




These are photos of a friend's daughter.  I was "kid-sitting" her and found out she had never been to a fire muster parade . . . so we went.  I want a really cutesy title for this layout but I just haven't come up with the perfect one yet.  Any ideas?


The rub ons I selected to decorate the next few pages turned out not to work and, and since I had nothing else in mind, I decided to leave them plain.  Today I was out running errands and spotted some great science-y clear stickers which may find their way on to these pages.  We'll see.





This was my entry for a LSS monthly contest.  Somehow I missed the memo that said you couldn't put the photos on . . . sigh . . . Oh well, I really love this layout and the quirky wonderful people in the photos.


This layout was the basis for my very first All About Me 2014 class.  Obviously each student got to pick their own papers and embellishments.  But you know how I love fall colours.  The embellishments are a little over the top for me but sometimes that can be fun.


The paper piecings in this layout were my draw prize for October.

You may recognize the next few layouts.  They were inspired by some online crop challenges a week ago.










Yes, I know the photo is fuzzy . . . sometimes my camera refuses to behave.  I am hoping Santa brings me a new one.


I also finished a 20 page Christmas album on Saturday but I won't be sharing it until it has photos and embellishments.  If you are looking to create a quick and beautiful album for yourself or for a gift you should check out Complete a Scrapbook Album in One Day in colour or black and white.