Monday, December 27, 2010

Here's To the New Year

So you're probably reflecting on the wonderful times had with family and friends over the holiday season. I know that I am. It was our first Christmas in our new house. Our time was so relaxed and easy. Our family made it that way. This Christmas was definitely one of my favorites. Now on to the new year.

I've made the resolutions of spending less, saving more. The eat better and exercise five times a week resolution has been made. The clean out the basement promise always makes me chuckle, too. So this year I still wish for all of these things, but I have decided to try and do things a little more smaller scale. I think this might work. So here goes.

I will put things back where they belong. I will try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. I will truly ask people how they are and not stop when they say fine. I will eat out once a week and no more. I will limit myself to one soda a day. I will remember that if I can spend $100 on a pair of shoes, then I most certainly can donate $100 to charity. I will read more. I will hug my family and friends more. I will drive the speed limit. That one is going to be really hard! I will sleep eight hours a night. I will hand write a note a week. Post my blog on Mondays. I will cut down on my recycling---meaning I will buy less packaging. I will try and buy organic when possible. I will drive less. I will live in the moment.

That may seem like a lot. It is. A lot of common sense. Things that I should already be doing on a regular basis. In our modern world with all the technology we have we some times lose the common sense part of the equation. Convenience overrides common sense all too often. And that leads to a lot of frustration. And it is so easy to complain about the problems. But to be part of solutions, not problems, is my goal this year. What's your goal this year? I'd love to hear what it is.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Dog Days of Christmas

I did indeed mean to say the dog days of Christmas. With Bailey and Sweet Pea in the house I have been trying to figure out what they must be thinking during this holiday season. Here's a little excerpt:

We sure must be good dogs. Our people have brought us a tree. Our very own tree in the living room. Now we don't have to go outside to lift a leg. And can you believe that they are hanging treats on the tree for us to eat and play with. Could life get any better? So we're pretty happy about the tree, but the round thing that they hung on the door? Not so much. It blows in the wind and bangs against the glass. It's hard to get a good nap around here with all that racket. And what's up with all of the extra light on the front porch. We did lots of sniffing and growling before we figured out that these weren't dangerous.

And Ann, she is baking! Lots of crumbs on the floor to feast on. More than usual. She sure does spill a lot. To our advantage of course. And these things that they wrap in paper. The best gift of all is the unwrapped paper. You don't even need the so called gift inside. Just wad up the paper and let us have a go at it. Walked around the house with a shiny thing hanging off of me. Couldn't shake it. My girl said I looked cute in a bow. I don't know. I'll stick with the paper. And the clean up. What, are they trying to kill us? That vacuum comes out every day lately.

Usually we aren't ones to complain,but the noise in our house! Same songs over and over. You know that we are sensitive to the bell sounds in the songs. It's our job. We react to stuff like that. We were born to patrol. To guard our people. From the bell at the door. You know, FEDEX and UPS. These people get way too close to our house and our family. And they have the nerve to ring our doorbell. The injustice.

We think Ann might need a new dryer. For some really strange reason she's been hanging socks up on the stair railing. We aren't sure if she's being her normal frugal self, or what.

That's all from the dogs. Enjoy the holiday through your eyes, the eyes of a child or wise eyes. Enjoy the beauty of the season from all viewpoints. Merry Christmas!

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh What A Glorious Monday

What a great weekend. You know the feeling. You've slept well. The weekend was filled with friends, family and fun. You ate well. You probably even crammed all of your chores into the already crazy busy weekday schedule. This left time all weekend for relaxing and recharging. You stretch and actually wake up awake. Strange concept, I know. A far cry from waking up tired. And that waking up tired bit gets old.

So you do your stretching and yawning and yes, you did remember to preset and load the coffee pot. So the aroma is wafting upstairs to lure you out of bed. You decided to choose your outfit for the day the night before. No worries there. And the lunches were made last night after supper. Yes! Alright, now this is getting a little extreme, but you actually filled the dog bowls with food ahead of time, too. All of this terrific preparation should allow me at least one extra cup of coffee. Happy Day. Happy Ann.

So I need to be be somewhere at 9:00. Traffic is traveling smoothly. I drop Gracie off at school. Ding, ding, ding. What is that? Oh, the low fuel light is on and dinging. I am driving the vehicle that I don't usually drive because it is easier to park downtown. We have two vehicles and together they measure out to be the length of a football field. Ok, a little exaggeration. But seriously, try and park either one of them downtown in the city lots and it could send you to the crazy farm. So anyway, I need fuel. I stop at a station and pull up to a pump. I proceed to fill the tank. Cool. That didn't set me back too far in time. I start the car and try to leave. The person ahead of me is inside the store and apparently in no hurry to get a move on. I try to back up. There is a group giving another group directions to Chicago. Oh man. Not hard. Right, right and you're headed in the "right" direction. But this obviously bears repeating. Many times over. For the love of timeliness!! Ugh. I have to be somewhere.

Finally the group breaks up and the person ahead of me leaves at just about the same time. Of course. My GPS recalculates and off I go. My appointment is downtown. The maze of one way streets. This is why the need for the GPS. Funny little side story. I received the GPS on Mother's Day from Gracie. My parents helped her buy it. She wrote in my card that with our moving, "I want to make sure when you drop me off at school you can find your way back to pick me up again." Such a funny kid.

My GPS does not fail me. Leads me right up to the front door. And this is where I try to walk in. Not gonna happen. The place is in lock down and you must enter on the other side of the building. Finally I am in. With seconds to spare. Not how I usually like to operate. The appointment was a success. I found a new place and a few spots along the way that I'd like to explore some time. Even with all of my preparations for the busy morning I barely made my appointment. Think if I hadn't pre-planned? Life is funny that way. On to Tuesday.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Simple Homemade Christmas

Man, it was hard getting to you today. My two new pups are crazy nuts. Redundant, I know. But worth it. They are rescue dogs and have just learned to absolutely let loose and play. They rip around the house so fast I only see a blur of fur. Up and down the stairs, across the living room, through the dining room and kitchen and it all starts again. Look out if you get in their way. They must be going at least 20 miles per hour. Thankfully I don't have a house full of precious breakables. As I was climbing the stairs to get to the office they flew by me and before I had reached the office back they came. I got situated in my desk chair, have my soda where I want it and here they come again! This time they come to a screeching halt in the office doorway, each with a ball in their mouth, giving me a look that I could not resist. Many games of toss were played. They are exhausted now and sleeping on the floor by my feet, so I will take the opportunity to write.

I'm on a groove for the holidays. It feels great and I welcome it. We put up the lights on the house and the tree. I have even been making Christmas treats and it feels good. Like it should. I know the reason for the season. And I will never forget it. It's incredibly important and permanent in my life. It's the mainstay that kept my family secure over the past year and some. Maybe that's why the extras weren't that important last year. Oh, and the fact that Scott and I both had foot surgery really added to the disjointed feeling we had last Christmas. So this feels homey this year. And we are having the holiday here at our new house with our family. This, too, feels right. The idea all came about by a few words spoken by Gracie a couple of weeks ago. "Mom, do you think we'll ever have a holiday at our house? I think it would really make it feel like home for us." Yes, Gracie, I believe we can do that. Next came the phone call to my parents and sister with the reception that I knew in my heart would come. Of course we'll be there! That day after school I was pelted with questions. Did you call Grandma and Papa? Did they say yes? Aunt Amy, too? What will we eat? What time is church? We'll still open presents on Christmas Eve, right?

So the baking and making of gifts is underway. It's a homemade Christmas at our house. I can't exactly tell you what we're making for gifts because my people read this blog. But I would love to share some of the easy, and I mean EASY, recipes with you that we have made.


Before I give you the recipe, I need to give credit where credit is due. This is not my recipe. I believe it originated with my friend Sara's mother-in-law, Rita. If she didn't create it, she was gracious enough to pass it on.

One package of Oreo cookies or Oreo-like cookies (I used a generic brand this year and saved $1.50 on each package and it tastes the same to me)
One 8 ounce package of cream cheese
Almond Bark

In a food processor, blend the cookies until the mix is finely chopped. Add cream cheese gradually until mixture balls up in processor. Chill. Break into pieces about the size of a quarter and roll into a ball. Melt almond bark and dip each truffle. Place on wax paper. I use tooth picks to dip the truffles. Later I dollop a little almond bark over the hole left over from the toothpick. Freeze until needed.


Not hard. Melt more almond bark and dip medium and long pretzel sticks. I dip the pretzels about half way. We sprinkled with red and green sugar to be festive!

For this last idea I have to thank the nice lady in line behind me at Aldi. Maybe our paths will cross again some time. We both had our arms full of baking stuff and she shared this recipe with me. Melt almond bark. As much a you want. Or use the stuff left over from the before mentioned recipes. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and pour melted almond bark onto it. Use the leftover pretzels from above and smash them into tiny bits. Then add crushed peanuts, almonds, whatever kind of nuts you like. Sprinkle these over melted almond bark liberally. Let sit and break it apart later. Almost as you would peanut brittle. Great way to use up leftovers!

Try to keep things simple and enjoy the spontaneous moments. Do something for someone less fortunate. Look beyond the lists and the cards. Really look at people, sincerely ask them how they are. Take the time to listen. These are gifts that truly touch people. These are the best ingredients for a homemade holiday.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux