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Romantic Holiday Date Ideas

"Love isn't emotion or instinct - It's and art." ~Mae West~
“Love isn’t emotion or instinct – It’s and art.”
~Mae West~

Christmas can be such a special time of year for couples.

Whether you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary, or whether you’re new to one another, dating during the Christmas holidays can be fun, romantic, and very, very special.

I offer you a list of possible date ideas suitable for both young and old, shy and bold.

1) Stroll hand in hand  through your  ‘town square’ after sunset and take in the light displays. Be sure to stop for a hot cocoa at a local café.

2) If you have to suffer for months through the snow, ice and cold, make it fun! Go on a skate-date. Outdoor rinks often offer skate rentals if you don’t have your own. It may be fun having your man help scoop you up off the ice!

3) Take in a local church choir sing. They’re often offered at this time of year, just check out their calendars on-line. Be sure to know whether they are selling tickets, or accepting toys or food items for donation.

4) Stay in and have a movie night. Get cozy under a duvet, share some popcorn and something a little stronger to sip.  If you haven’t’ seen your sweetie’s favourite holiday flick, ask him/her to bring it along so you can share it together.

5) Go for a winter hike or  cross-country skiing. Be sure to pack a thermos full of your favourite hot beverage, and leave a crockpot full of chili cooking, and beer chilling in the fridge for when you get home.

6) Go shopping together. Don’t go with a hard and fast list, just go to see what catches your sweetheart’s eye in case you decide to exchange gifts. Be sure to stop for a relaxing meal/drink so you can talk about your favourite Christmas memories.

7) Check out some of the Christmas events at your local live theater. There may be plays, sing-alongs or variety shows that will get you both in the spirit.

8) Go get your photo taken with Santa, and swap photos with your sweetheart. Always remember that no matter how old or stressed you may feel, you are a kid at heart. That’s the joy we should bring to our partners at Christmas and always.

9) Swap naughty lists over a light meal. You won’t want to order more than an appetizer as this little outing for intimate couples usually ends up at home within an hour.

10) Surprise your sweetie with something over-the-top-romantic like a horse and buggy/sleigh ride. It will be worth the effort.




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Pucker-Up Bourbon Pecan Pie

Pecan pie.
Pecan pie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s nothing like the spirit of the deep south, and a long, slow southern drawl to get a girl into the Christmas spirit.

The second holiday recipe that I offer up may take a couple of test runs to perfect, but the testing will be delightful!  If  the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the first detour is his sweet tooth.

As with all of my recipes, I provide you with a little mood music following the instructions.

Pucker Up Bourbon Pecan Pie


Your favourite  pie pastry recipe, made to fill one 9″ pie plate

3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups halved  pecans

2/3 cups of maple syrup (the real stuff)

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/4 cup bourbon ( 1/4 cup more for sipping)

3 large eggs

3 tbsp butter


1) Preheat over to 350 F

2) Roll pie pastry and line a 9″ pie plate, crimping edges.

3) Evenly place chocolate chips and pecans on pastry.

4)Mix maple syrup, brown sugar bourbon and butter in a pan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool ~15 minutes.

5) Beat eggs in one at a time until thoroughly blended.

6) Pour sugar and syrup mixture in pie shell and bake approximately 30 minutes until the pie is set in the center.

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The End of Homemade Christmas Cookies

making cookies with grandma
making cookies with grandma (Photo credit: sanzibar)

That’s right, if Forno Cultura’s secret gets out, it will be the end of homemade Christmas cookies as we know it.

Grannies, keep your babies and grandbabies out of the city. Tell them since the Ford fiasco,  they’ve shut down the roads, locked the gate until the whole thing settles down.I thought that we had a day in the downtown  that couldn’t get any better.

I thought that a beautiful brunch at Le St. Tropez, and a matinee performance of my favourite musical Les Miserable could not be topped.

I thought that was the best way to finish off a weekend of tree lighting, hot cider sipping and night time parades.

Until I stepped through the doors of Forno Cultura.

Sweet love of all that’s holy, may my soul be saved from the Italian devil of bakery heaven!

We were greeted with Amereti cookies, just slightly crisp on the outside, and oh-so-chewy-and-orgasmically satisfying on the inside

Sweets are sold by the kilogram, and could put a gal on the fast track to selling herself on the streets for just a taste of the dark chocolate, black olive deliciousness that leaves you neither satisfied nor wanting more.

Just like a thorough and proper lover, it leaves you contented. Sated. Feeling as if you know what the end of the world feels like, and it feels marvelous.

So, don’t tell your mamma or your granny, but there just simply is nothing better than the treats you’ll find down the stairs at 609 King Street West.

If you are a singleton, or more likely, half of a couple who is less than satisfied, go soothe your soul, espresso in one hand and sweet beloved cookie in the other, amid the warm aura of Forno Cultura, . It will make it all, everything, exquisitely,  bearable.

Who knew that the secret to happiness was the brine of black olives embraced by the  bittersweetness of chocolate?

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Christmas Tipple: The Snug Sailor

Another edition of ‘Christmas in the Kitchen’….

warming up
warming up (Photo credit: a song under the sugar sugar)

….or perhaps I should say, Christmas in the Liquor Cabinet.

I’ve had a few inquiries about the recipe I referred to in my post THE CYNICAL ELF about this recipe, so I am graciously passing it along. My suggestion is to just be honest with yourself, and quadruple the recipe. After all, it’s unsafe to operate a stove after you’ve had a drink or two.

 The Snug Sailor


1 tbsp five-spice powder

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 oz Spiced Rum

2 oz Crabbies Ginger Beer

1 oz 35% Cream

1 oz 2% Milk

2 oz dulce de leche

1/2 lemon (zest & juice)

nutmeg for garnish


Stir five spice together with sugar

Rim a mug with the spice & sugar mixture

Add remaining ingredients to a pot and heat over medium heat

Whisk constantly until bubbling.

Serve in the mug rimmed with spiced sugar

Please enjoy responsibly in the cozy embrace of your rugged man-of-winter by the lights of the Christmas tree, or wrapped up fireside after a long session of merry-making.

Don’t drink and drive. Drink and make love. Happy holidays…..

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Gift Guide for Teenage Boys

Cufflinks I: Men Prefer SWANK
Cufflinks I: Men Prefer SWANK (Photo credit: jessica @ flickr)

As the mother of a boy, I have always been disappointed by the lack of gift ideas for them. Unless they’re connected to the computer or video games, there seems to be a black hole of gift guides for the young gentlemen in your life.

So, as a gift to you this Christmas, I offer up a selection of possible gifts for teenage boys.

Gift Giving Guide for Teenage Boys

1) High quality finery such as a set of cuff links, a silk tie, a dress shirt, and dapper dress socks

2) A great set of headphones for their iPod/iPhone

3) A selection of classic rock.

4) Toiletries that will make him feel like the great gentleman he’s developing into being; shaving soap, shaving brush, cologne, nail trimming set

5) A classic book such as Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man & The Sea’

6) The gift of time; take him to a museum, gallery, dinner or concert

7) Sports Equipment

8) Fly fishing lessons

9) Bedroom makeover, including new bedding, new art, and new lighting

10) Again, the gift of time – instead of a gift card, take him for lunch, dinner, brunch, and to his favourite shop where he can choose an item of clothing of his choice.

Wishing everyone a joyful Christmas surrounded by people you love!

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Christmas Shopping in Perspective

Some children looking at a selection of Christ...
Some children looking at a selection of Christmas Cards during the 1910 holiday season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I proudly posted that I had finished all of my Christmas shopping on my Facebook page, I was surprised at the response.

Expectation is a funny beast. I expected folks to say things like, “Wow, that’s great.”, or “Now you can just relax and enjoy the season.”

But oh no. Expectation once again reared its ugly head and bit my ego in the buns.

Instead, their (you know, the universal ‘they‘) feedback was all up in my delightfully sweet and innocent face, “You should focus on the REAL meaning of the season.”, and other such very religiously correct poo-ha.

The reason that I have finished my Christmas shopping my darlings, is precisely for those reasons. But did they  assume the best? Oh no they did not.

It was as if  they thought  I have some hidden bunker of materialistic dazzling gifts and  that I drip showy gifts every where that’s blessed with my presence as I hover just an inch or so off of the mundane ground.

Sorry to disappoint you all, but I buy very few gifts, and the gifts that I do buy, I buy because I see Christmas as an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to slow down and it’s an opportunity to express gratitude to the people who make life wonderful every day of the year.

It is a time to remember joy, hope, generosity, love and peace. I’ve heard multitudes of people sneer and say that if people can’t be like that all year, don’t be a hypocrite and celebrate Christmas. I disagree. Yes, it’s the least we can do to stop and extend charity to those less fortunate during this season, but it’s better than the alternative; an entire society void of any sense of community, charity and affinity with one another.

It’s the ONLY time of year that people take time to reconnect. I spend far more time and money on food and entertaining than I do on actual gifts. Presence is presents. I have turfed many a man because he couldn’t be bothered to be around for the holidays. Pish-posh – no woman should put up with that.

Give me an hour or two of quality time throughout the season, and I’m thrilled, delighted, and yes, it makes me feel special; friend, lover, colleague or family.

So, I do have my holiday shopping complete. I finish it up early in November so that I can focus on spending time with  and welcoming my friends into my home for the holidays.

My idea of Christmas is not dueling on the highways to merge into mall parking lots attended by security and police. It is not getting elbowed by greedy ‘princesses’ who just have to have the latest bag, shoe or trinket and feel entitled to better service, better prices and better selection than everyone else.

From now until the new year, I will be holed up in my little abode, cooking and baking in my kitchen. Having tea by the fireplace with my girlfriends, and perhaps a snog or two under the mistletoe.

Don’t let the pressure of the biggest advertising season of the year get you down. The people who really care are the ones who are just happy to spend some time with you. And let’s face it darlings, those are the only people who really matter.



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The Cynical Elf

Christmas 2011
Christmas 2011 (Photo credit: jreifegerste)

Part and parcel of being an old-fashioned-I-like-to-digest-my-news-in-print-form-darling is getting the really great advertising inserts that proliferate this time of year.

Quite frankly, they beat the heck out of the recent spree of front page ogre-inspired images  of our mysoginist-drug-adled-personal-black-hole-of-ethics-and-dignity mayor. But I digress….

Today, I brought home the LCBO ‘Give Cheer’ insert. I opened up the 41 page glossy mini-mag with the eyes of cynicism. “Beer & Cookies: Surprisingly Sweet Matches”, seemed like another annoyingly magnificent effort to appeal to the glamping/foodie crowd.

Pul-eaze, I thought as I sipped my bourbon. Beer and cookies? Really?

Spare me the obvious effort to be avant-garde and just give me shortbread and eggnog. Even I, the culinary-Christmas-cook thinks that anything other than butter or chocolate added to shortbread is a little too far-fetched.

I can’t say I was convinced by the beer-cookie pairings. I would likely give it a try if someone put any of them in front of me; Dark Beer and Coffee Toffee Shortbread or Winter Ale and Gingerbread Cookies aren’t likely to be on my top ten must-serve selections this holiday season. But if they’re yours, I’d love an invitation and wouldn’t mind having a swig and a nibble.

What did catch my attention were some of the delicious sounding cocktails like the Winter Spice Sour with Cinnamon syrup and deluxe whiskey. Espresso with Sortilege Maple Cream Whiskey  kind of lit my fire as did the Golden Cider (main ingredients are Goldschlager and Canadian Cider).

I’ll be cheeky and let you know that the ‘Snug Sailor’ kind of made me warm in my girly bits just thinking of getting snug with a sailor, but I think that may be the bourbon talking.  Unfortunately the cocktail does not involve a sailor, cock or tail. It does however involve Crabbies Ginger Beer which I love, love, love, and Sailor Jerry spiced rum.

So, as I flipped through the beautifully presented advertising piece from the LCBO, once again it became apparent that I am not a ‘leading-edge-consumer’.

I am not a trend-setter.  In fact, I think that trend-setters lack the deep-rooted self-confidence and grace that define classic style and taste.

I also happen to like to think I fit into the self-confident-classically-styled-individual category.  On occasion, I also like to think that I fit into a size zero and look like Marilyn Monroe, but that’s usually the bourbon cheering me on.

Although it is rare that I ride the edge of seasonal style, whether it be fashion or food, I do like to know what’s current and trending. Trends are fads, and fads are fun.

Fun, my sweet sugar plums is a big part of what this season of giving and sharing is about.  Heck, you may even find me at home serving up maple cream liquor lattes and shortbread spiked with something nutty….

Happy Holidaying to you. I’ve gotta run and get a bottle of that maple cream whiskey before it’s sold out!