Andshelaughs · Baking · Christmas · Christmas Baking · Christmas Cookies · Christmas Gift Ideas · Christmas Lists · Christmas Recipes · Christmas Toronto · Cooking · Meaning of Christmas · Recipes · Simple Living · Uncategorized

Christmas is: Sharing

I have a few closely guarded secret recipes that are standards at our house. The, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without these mom”, kind-of-recipes.

Cookies are my thing, and I make a lot of them at Christmas time. I love the way that fancy sugar cookies look added to a tray of down-home-country-girl sweets. The little maraschino cherry balls that my granny used to make melt in our mouths, but by far our favourite cookie recipe is this;

WHIPPED SHORTBREAD WITH TOBLERONE

1 lb butter at room temperature

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup corn starch

3 cups flour

1 tsp vanilla

Large Toblerone bar.

Cream butter on high until light and fluffy. If using a stand mixer, use the whipping attachment for this. 

While butter is being whipped, divide Toblerone into triangles and then divide those triangles into thirds. 

Combine all other ingredients and slowly add to whipped butter, using regular attachment. Be patient when mixing as this dough gets quite crumbly before coming together into a smooth dough. 

Place 1″ spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press a piece of divided Toblerone into each mound of cookie dough, and top with same amount of dough. Feel free to be generous with the chocolate…just sayin’

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Do no overcook. Let cookies cool on tray before moving them to a cooling rack as they are very delicate and crumble before they cool. 

 

Advice · Advice for Men · Advice for Women · Andshelaughs · Art of LIving · Christmas · Christmas Gift Ideas · Christmas Lists · Christmas Toronto · Columns · Communication · Family · Fearless Living · Friendship · Girl Stuff · Graceful Living · Gracious Living · Healthy Living · Holidays · Living · Matters of the Heart · Meaning of Christmas · Middle Age · Midlife · Relationships · Simple Living · Uncategorized · Wellness · Wisdom · Women's Issues · Words of Wisdom

Christmas is: For Boundaries

stressfreechristmas

Last year,  a decree went out that there would be only one gathering around a traditional Christmas table.  She who does all the planning, shopping and personalizing,  shall be making one Christmas meal whenever the hell she liked, and you could show up (on time) or not at all.  And it brought her great relief and joy.  A very durable boundary wall went up to protect her, and the world was good.

Last year, after seven, yes, count’em, seven rescheduling attempts at a  family get together, it finally happened, with the people whom I arranged a second dinner for, arriving over two hours late.

My jolly goodwill and ho-ho-home form the holidays ended. I leaned on my wee bottle of Jameson to get me through the evening, and then I did some reflecting.

I decided, after much hurt, anger and frustration, that the only thing to do was surrender. I surrendered to the values I hold dear.  This was met with love and support from people who love me.  Everyone else continues to have that glazed, “I don’t compute”, look on their face.

You can’t change people. Although it’s a saying we frequently use, really accepting that means you hold fast to your boundaries like a life raft, especially around toxic people.

I came from a kooky family but we did Christmas right. We put aside our differences, and showed up, on time, respecting the effort we had all made to have a special day together.   Homemade gifts showcased every person’s creativity, and the food, my goodness, the food!

Since those days when we gathered on Christmas Eve to see one another, make our way to church, and finish off our meal and gift giving in the wee hours of the morning, so much has changed. I’ve experienced great loss during the holidays more than once. I’ve struggled to put food on the table and gifts under the tree. I’ve had Christmases when the pain of loneliness was almost unbearable. In other words, I’ve worked damn hard for my happy, and I’m not letting anyone take it from me.

I want no part of disrespectful, entitled people under any circumstances, but especially during one of the most joyful, loving, happy times of the year.

I have stopped being the only one who engineers parties, family gatherings and sacred times to connect. Planning, shopping, cooking, and decorating take a lot of time. I love doing it when I know it means something to my family and friends, and I resent doing it when someone shits all over the plans. I stopped buying gifts I didn’t want to buy and came back to my homemade roots. I stopped hosting parties for people who may or may not show up. And you know what? The world didn’t come to an end. In fact, it feels damn good. Boozy-eggnog-in-my-cocoa-good.

My exhaustion levels have gone WAY down, and my Hallmark Christmas movie watching time has gone up. I have come back to the sweet meditation of making; sewing, baking, stitching. And the people I thought it was so important to connect with have faded into distant social media clicks. Live and learn.

Boundaries are the best gift you can give yourself for Christmas. They give you the time and space you need to heal, and root yourself in traditions, new and old, that bring you joy.

 

 

Advice for Women · Art of LIving · Christmas · Christmas Gift Ideas · Christmas Gift Ideas for Her · Christmas Letters · Christmas Lists · Christmas Marketing · Christmas Toronto · Christmas Toronto Things to Do · Creative Life · Fearless Living · Girl Stuff · Graceful Living · Gracious Living · Joyful Living · Life · Life Lessons · Living · Meaning of Christmas · Meaning of Life · Mindful Living · Simple Living · Spiritual Living · The Art of Living · Uncategorized · Whole Living · women · Women's Issues · Working Women

Christmas Survival Guide for the Lost Woman: Delegate

opinions

My friends have let me down. I’ve let them down too.

At some point women give up their own selves for the selfless, and mostly unrecognized emotional work of maintaining a home (creating the atmosphere, remembering birthdays, preparing for holidays, and bearing the greater responsibility of relationship nurturing).

Don’t be her. Don’t be the woman we all become at one point or another; a frumpy feeling, sad, uninspired woman who feels like the dishrag that society treats her like.

This Christmas I’m challenging you to connect with your pals, and I’m also challenging myself. In order to make more time for me, and to enjoy the preparations for the holidays, I’ve come up with a few strategies.

 

  1. The word of the year this Christmas is; Delegate.

Make lists….and then give them away. I mean, you single-handedly make the magic happen, at least save some time not shopping and not running errands.

shopping list

 

2) Clear out the clutter.

No, not stuff, people. If you need the whole house so you can spread out the holiday decor,  but your lovey insists on being sprawled on the couch watching the boob tube and basically being useless, ask them to leave. Unless they’re helping, they’re hindering. Vamoos!

joy

 

3) Bake ahead, and if you don’t like baking, don’t.

This year I’m googling ‘christmas cookies that freeze well’, and I’m going to use it. I’m also stocking the freezer with some frozen cheater meals so that I can enjoy my time off throughout the holidays, without cringing when I’m asked, “Have you thought about dinner”. Also, it’s so I don’t tell them that prison dinner might be worth it since I wouldn’t have to cook or do the damn dishes. My eggnot loaf is currently cooling on the counter so it can be frozen.

eggnog loaf

 

4) Be the one who puts a stop to gift exchanges. Other than a few things under the tree on Christmas morning that my loved ones need, will have sentimental value, or are a true ‘Santa’ surprise gift, gift giving falls a long-distance second to just spending time together.

get together

 

5) Make some gal-destinations a priority. Whether it’s a spa date for candy-cane mani’s, or a local church craft sale…make an excuse to get out, wander through all of the delights of the season, and make it a date with someone you’ve been meaning to get together with but haven’t.

one of a kind

 

 

Whatever you do this Christmas season,  make sure you make time to slow down and take in some of what brings you joy.

 

 

 

Advice for Men · Advice for Women · Anxiety · Anxiety & Depression · Anxiety and Depression · Christmas · Christmas Gift Ideas · Christmas Letters · Christmas Lists · Christmas Marketing · Christmas Toronto · Christmas Toronto Things to Do · Creative Life · Dating Advice for Women · Entertainment · Friends · Friendship · Friendships · Guy Stuff Women's · Life · Life Lessons · Meaning of Christmas · Meaning of Life · Men's Health · Men's Issues · Mental Health · Personal Development · Professional Women · Romance · Romance Dating · Social Anxiety · Student Life · Toronto Life · Toronto Life Dining · Uncategorized · Women's Issues · Women's Rights · Working Women

Christmas is For Friendship

elcatrin.png
I had the pleasure of getting out for dinner/dessert with a handful of people whom I don’t get to see too often.

We agreed on a place and a time, and enjoyed an evening at a gorgeous restaurant.

Life is busy, and as I get older, I prioritize my free time very carefully. Well, at least I try.

Many times I’ve heard that getting together at Christmas time is hypocritical. That the Christmas spirit is bogus. That if you can’t make time the rest of the year, why bother at Christmas time?

I’ll tell you why. It’s a damn good reminder that there is more to life than work, bills and wishing you were living on a secluded island with a muscular, pool-boy who who knows how to shake a mean margarita.

It’s a good goose on the bum to motivate you to make plans.

So, tonight was a kick-off to what I hope will be a season of cozy catch-ups over coffee, boozy brunches with the gals and lingering dinners with friends.

Tonight, as I sat listening to, and talking with my friends, I realized just how fortunate I am to have people in my life who are genuine, kind, and more intellectually and spiritually evolved than the general public.

I’ve come to beware of people who zap my energy and I know my personal boundaries.

So rest assured, if I’m spending time with you, I not only like you, I respect you. Ok, ok, I admit that I do spend time with some folks for the sheer entertainment value they provide. Use your imagination…

My wish for you this Christmas is the same as my wish for me; that you have enough time to spend with your friends to refresh your soul, and enough entertainment to keep some fire in your soul.

 

Andshelaughs · Buddhism · Catholosim · Christianity · Christmas · Church · Creative Writing · Creativity · Education · Entertaining · Entertainment · Faith · Girl Stuff · Health · Humor · Uncategorized

Is There A Hole In Christmas?

IMG_3679“They say that anger is just love disappointed”….

So went the lyrics of the Eagles song I had cranked as I poured my first coffee this morning.

After changing plans due to weather I crawled back under my covers and settled in between my mass of duvet and fluffy pillows. I starred out at my tiny piece of the snow-covered urban wilderness.

Thursday already,” I thought to myself with a sigh. My week off is almost over. I decided I’d lay in just a while longer and watch the white tree boughs brighten as the sun rose.  Willie Nelson was already stretched out in his watch position, letting me know that all was right outside the window and that I was safe from threat of intruders. “Good old Willie Nelson,” I smiled, and let my eyes close.

Our little corner of the world is a happy place. Sure, there’s the stress and demands of every day living, but I’ve been really good at keeping any nonsense at bay, and it’s something that I’m glad that I did.

As I indulged in the soft warmth of my bed, I listened to those song lyrics and thought about anger, disappointment, love and wisdom. Discernment as you know my darlings, has been front and center for me and has pushed my girl-brain into overdrive.

Anger, for a woman is something that’s not ok. We’re supposed to be gentle, smile, and be mothering. So, quite often an angry woman is not seen as feminine at all, but an abomination of all that is sugar, spice and everything nice.

Every time I’ve been angry, it’s been because I’ve been hurt, felt rejected, or disappointed in love. Not necessarily glass-slipper love, but love in general; friendship, romance or collegial respect.

So what does this have to do with Christmas? Well, sometimes holidays get muddled up in what we think should be happening, who we think we should be spending time with, and giving or receiving the gifts that should be under the tree. It’s when those should-be’s don’t happen we feel hurt and angry, and that is the hole that we put into the season of Christmas.

Yah, you read that right – you put it there. I put it there. We put it there. Sometimes we do such a good job of it, it should come wrapped in shiny paper and a beautiful bow so that we’re forced to open it and stare our disappointment down. We’d all open a beautiful package with grand expectations (mine would be a tiny blue Tiffany box by the way), and then we’d be wounded when it was empty. Empty! Empty? Yes – empty. Odd  isn’t it? It would be empty. Because it’s not real. Because it’s a figment of our fucked-up imaginations and social subconscience.

Christmas is a season of giving, a season of light, a season of slumber and contemplation. I wrote about waiting, hope, endings and beginnings last year as the season of Advent started.  Light and giving sound great right? Well, slumber and contemplation can be cozy, but they can be uncomfortable too. But I’m convinced that it’s in those moments of discomfort that we choose to grow or let the expectations we never grew out of turn us into some kind of jerk.

Drop the should if you can. Just let them go. Enjoy what you truly enjoy, embrace the friendships that keep you sane, and toast the things that your wise discernment has help you cast aside. If you haven’t begun to think about the wisdom of discernment, maybe contemplation can be your gift to yourself this Christmas.

Andshelaughs · Comedy · Entertainment · Fruitcake · Girl Stuff · Humor · Inspiration · Life · Living · Meaning of Life · Men's Issues · Motivation · Opinion · Perspective · Relationships · Sexuality · Singles · Uncategorized · Weddings · Women's Issues · Writing

Mistletoe & Manson

"What happens under the mistletoe, stays under the mistletoe."
“What happens under the mistletoe, stays under the mistletoe.”

Each year I hang my mistletoe with the distant hope that perhaps, just maybe, there might be a slim chance that Mr. Wonderful will knock on my door while I’m tapping at the keyboard, and sweep me off my slipper covered feet.

I know, it’s crazy, but I’m absolutely convinced it could happen. Maybe I’d have to get asked out on a date first, but it could happen.

That’s the thing about love and lust and matter of the heart isn’t it? We hope, we dream, and we all want to be someone’s special someone.

Tonight I just about gave up all hope when I read a Yahoo news clip;  Charles Manson was issued a marriage license, and the plan is to get hitched to some young twenty-something?

In my head I exclaimed, “Hellooooo? WTF?!”, and ” Are you freaking kidding me?!”

But then I thought about it, and I decided that there is still hope for me.  After all, I’m just an amateur nut-bag compared to Manson. My eccentricities and extended single status are nothing compared with Manson’s brand of wacko.  My mistletoe is waiting…

Dear Santa, Please send me someone to love….