Thursday, December 31, 2009

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End

Well, we are at another end of a year. It is hard to believe that it is already 2010!

When I was little, I thought 2010 sounded so far away and imagined that we would have flying cars, robots to clean our homes and we would be all working at "Spacely's Sprockets."

Even though all of those dreams of the future haven't come true, (too bad, I would really like a robot maid to clean my house), there still have been plenty of innovations that make our lives a whole lot better.

Over 20 years ago, who would have thought that Web sites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter would be available, let alone the idea of social networking over the Internet.

Who would have thought that such a wide database of information would be available at our fingertips thanks to sites such as Wikipedia.

Is is virtually impossible to not find what you are looking for while surfing the net. From how to carve a turkey to how to solve difficult math equations it is right within our grasp and imagination!

But, no matter how far we have come, as part of our human nature, we try to make things better every year, including ourselves.

This brings me to my New Year's resolution part of my blog.

Everyone and their mother and brother have a New Year's resolution.

I could always go with my old tired and true resolution of dieting and exercising. But, when I don't live up to my expectations, I am disappointed and feel like I failed.

This year, I am going to do things a little different.

In the spirit of Social Networking sites, I am going to try and make my 2010 all about networking.

This year am I am going to reconnect with past friends and acquaintances and create new ones. I am going to find a place to volunteer. Not just any place to spend some idle time, but a place that I really feel passionate about.

I am going to find a choir or theater group to join. I have really missed having those two elements to my life.

And, I am going to count my blessings and be thankful for the friends and family that I have. Unfortunately, as many of us know, life can change in an instant.

I am not really sure who reads this blog, or if anyone does, but if anyone is reading these words on this page I hope that you and your loved ones have a very happy and safe New Year, that is filled with many pleasant surprises and blessings.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Those glist'ning houses that seem to be built of snow ..."

As I sit here typing this, snow is falling gently outside laying a nice blanket to wrap all of the neighboring houses and trees, I have the Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack playing on the CD player in the next room, and the Christmas tree is lit.

Too bad my husband had to work today, or else it would be the perfect snowy morning!

I am not a person who really enjoys winter and snow. In fact, I hate it because I can't wear flip flops!

But, there is just something so magical about the very first snowfall of the season right around Christmas time.

It is like walking into a Thomas Kinkade or Currier and Ives painting!

So, if you live in a place that is blessed with the gently falling snow today, go out and enjoy it before it is all turned to a chalky, salty or cindered mess.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December is all about Sparkle

Each month Martha Stewart comes to our home.

Well, not actually, but technically she is here in spirit in the form of her Living magazine.

My awesome Mother-in-Law gives me her copy of the magazine once she is done reading it.

Each month, I love looking at her different articles about how to spin your own wool and how to crochet a pair of socks or even how to make the most complicated recipe in the world.

So in the spirit of Martha's visit, I am going to try and review her magazine each month. I will pick out the good parts and the ridiculous parts and share them with you in this blog segment called: Living with Martha.

For this month's cover, Martha and her crew went all out. Not only is there one cover, not just two covers but three separate covers on this bad boy.

On the main cover, Martha promises to share with me 138 of the Best Decorations, Recipes and Gifts from A to Z. (She also wishes me a "Sparkling Season" which I thought was very nice of her.)

The second cover features "Martha's Famous Croquembouche" and she assures me that it is easier than it looks. When I can't even pronounce it, I know nothing is going to be easy about this recipe.

The final cover has a photo of "Ombre Glitter and Luxurious Bows" and tells me that I should "Dress up with Bells, Bows and Glittering Decorations". Apparently Martha is all about the sparkle this year.

After the barrage of covers, there is my favorite part of the magazine, Martha's Calendar. (I talked about my love for this in my previous post).

Skip past all of the children clothing and car ads plus the Editor's Letter and finally on page 35 there is something to sink your teeth into: "From My Home to Yours (Faux trees are genuinely beautiful and making a deserved comeback)."

In this article, Martha talks about the shinny aluminum trees that were created in the 1950s to provide people with a reusable and environmentally friendly option for the family's Tannenbaum.

She also talks about feather trees and wood trees and how much she prefers these vintage trees to regular ones.

She goes on to say that even though these trees were originally sold for $25, their new cousins can cost hundreds of dollars in retail stores today.

The recipe for the fancy dessert that I can't pronounce is on the next page. (You know the one that is going to be easy.) It takes up a whole page. She even makes her own caramel to go over the whole thing. Way too much work for me.

For the Jewish readers, Martha has a recipe to make marshmallow dreidels. This is actually a really cute idea!

She dips the bottom of 1 chocolate kiss in 8 ounces of melted semisweet chocolate and presses it on to one marshmallow. Cut a slit in the bottom of the marshmallow and insert one thin pretzel stick. Then dip the whole dreidel into chocolate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. After set, she says to pipe white chocolate onto the sides of the dreidel by writing Hebrew letters.

In her craft section, Martha shows a new knit solution to weave really cute adornments that can be placed on sweaters and scarves any anywhere else that needs a little extra pop of color.

The only catch is that you have to go out and purchase a kit called the Knitwit for about $20.

In my opinion $20 isn't that much to spend on something that can make all of these cute different baubles like this knitwit purse.

Also in her crafts section, Martha shows how to make different kinds of candles including scented soy votive candles and frosty salted pillars.

When I see her candle recipes, I always say that I am going to give them a try. Unfortunately, because of our two cats, having lit candles in our house is really not an option.

Now for the meat and Potatoes of the magazine: Holiday ideas from A to Z.

This section features several beautiful photographs and different ideas to make your Christmases bright.

There is so much information in this section, that it makes the magazine worth purchasing.

I am not going to get into too much detail on the blog about all of the projects, but I will list what the A to Z items are.

Snow Angels (maybe stretching for the letter A a little bit)
Bells, Bows and Bowwow
Christmas Cookies
Deck the Halls
Elves at Work
A Family Feast (complete with several recipes for your family feast)
Giving Gifts and Handmade Cards
Cool as Ice
Jolly Kris Kringle (I feel like I was cheated out of a letter)
Light up the Night
Making Spirits Bright
Naughty or Nice
Oh, What Fun it is to Make a Peppermint House
Let it Snow
Trim the Tree With Treasures From the Sea
Uncommon Vision
Winter Welcome
Traditional Xmas Breads
Yuletide Treats
Just Add Zest

All of the recipes and instructions for the crafts and decorations are included in the magazine along with some detailed photos of how to do some of the steps.

For those who are trying to watch their waistline so they don't end up with a "bowl full of jelly" will want to check out Fit To Eat: Cocktail-party foods with a healthy streak. Some of the recipes include Shrimp and Avocado Salad on Endive Leaves, Warm Spinach-White Bean Dip with Crudites and Chicken Skewers With Walnuts and Cilantro.

All in all, the December edition of Living is worth the purchase price. It is filled with delicious holiday recipes that will warm your home and your tummy, cute crafts that the whole family can make and some decorating ideas that will add some sparkle to your home.

In my opinion, this issue is "A Good Thing."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To Do or Not To Do, That is the Question.

I am a huge fan of To Do Lists. They help me keep organized, plus when I am able to cross of something on the list, I feel this huge sense of accomplishment.

There is also someone else who is a fan of a To Do List, or a calendar as she calls it. She is pretty famous, and because she pretty much does everything herself (including making her own honey from her own bees) it is no wonder that she needs a To Do List.

I am talking about the infamous/famous Martha Stewart.

Love or hate this woman, she does have a system worked out and she can make a sweater out of bellybutton lint. (I know during one of her episodes she showed how to do this.)

Martha loves her To Do List so much, that she likes to have them printed in her Living Magazine.

Every morning, I love to see what wacky things she has planned for today.

For Example:

Wednesday, December 2:
* Clean out gutters for the last time, and add leaves to compost
* Send invitations for eggnog party.

OK, first of all, cleaning out gutters full of leaves sounds like a good idea. I think everyone should do it. In fact, if we had more trees around us, I would suggest to the hubby that he climb on a ladder this weekend and dig the suckers out.

Even adding the leaves to a compost pile is a good idea. I am sure there are some avid gardeners and HGTV hosts out there that have compost piles and would be able to use their gutter leaves.

But the biggest problem I have with this is, do you really think Martha Stewart, herself, is at her country home today, up on a ladder digging leaves out of her gutters? I do not think so. Come on, she probably has a gardener or his assistant up on a ladder while she is down below telling him he is not using the proper technique.

As for the eggnog party, who does this? Who sends out hand calligraphy invitations that tell people to join them for an eggnog party?

Can you imagine what this party would be like? There is no way there would be plastic jugs of eggnog sitting around for everyone can taste the subtle nuances that make each one different. I am sure her eggnog would be hand crafted and in beautiful crystal punch bowls and have exotic flavors like caramel and Irish Cream.

Hopefully the eggnog is full of alcohol and everyone can have a good time.

Just for the sheer ridiculousness, I think I am going to have to include Martha's daily activities in my blog posts.

Now, my To Do List is a little different. I kind of treat it like a wish list. It is what I wish gets accomplished today. A lot of the things on the list are completely doable, but some might be carried over to tomorrow.

For example: Create this year's Christmas card list. This is something I might get to today, but will most likely be finished tomorrow. Where as, showering and spraying the cat with water to get out of the Christmas tree will most definitely be finished today.

But as I know, I am not Martha Stewart, so I guess it is OK to let some items on my To Do List go until tomorrow.

And in my world, "That's a good thing."