Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! 2013

Made it to watch the ball drop, although iffy at first.  We all laid down to watch a movie and fell asleep.  But my son woke me up for some apple crisp pie at 11:00p.m. and I toasted the New Year with my husband and sons.

I am looking forward to this new start of this new year.  I am hoping to continue a healthier lifestyle, enjoying my family and friends, and maybe even getting started on my bucket list!

I wish all of you a Happy, Healthy, Safe, Fun and Prosperous New Year.  May 2013 be a banner year for us all!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Last night I received an email from a wonderful fellow blogger, C. Michelle Ramsey at WRITING MY DREAMS.  She had given me the Liebster Blog Award and I am truly flattered.  I have been amazed that there are people actually reading my blog.  Since May, over 4200 of you have stopped by and that truly is an honor for me, especially as I am such an amateur!  

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you;

2.  Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees;

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you         feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs)  

4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

Questions asked by Michelle: 

1. What is your most memorable 'Aha' moment in life?  One of the greatest pleasures  is doing what others say you can't.

2.  Favorite Food.  - Burgers

3.  Greatest Secret You Never Kept - I always keep secrets (wink)Seriously

4.  Favorite Song - Set the Night to Music - Roberta Flack (our wedding song)

5.  Favorite Book - Hershey's Chocolate Lover's Cookbook

6.  Favorite Author - since joining Twitter,  I have been purchasing and downloading many  books from the numerous authors I have been following.  I have enjoyed them all and cannot pick a favorite - but as a kid, I loved Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew).

7.  Scariest Moment as a Kid - Growing up.

8.  Random Word - flabbergasted

9.  Favorite Historical Person - Cleopatra

10.  Dream Vacation - a week (or month) on a private island

11.  Greatest Adventure You've Ever Taken - my marriage

Random "Me" Facts:   

1.  I love junk food.

2.  I am in the midst of a mid-life crisis and all I want to do is have fun.

3.  I hate going out by myself.

4.  I cry at movies, I even cried at the end of Wreck It Ralph. (happy tears).

5.  I have a major crush on Bruce Willis.

6.  I'm afraid of the dark. (and spiders).

7.  My new favorite phrase is "Holy Crap".

8.  I love New York!

9.  My favorite place is anywhere there is a beach.

10.  When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

11.  I sing in the car all the time, loudly and out of tune.

Questions for my Nominees:

1.  What is the one food you can't do without?

2.  One thing you want to do before you die?

3.  What is your favorite hobby and why?

4.  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

5.  What book are you reading now?

6.  What are you looking forward to most in the New Year?

7.  Favorite meal when eating out?

8.  If you have one 'do-over', what would it be?

9.  What is your favorite movie and why?

10.  Who is your favorite TV character?

11.  If you had a day to do anything you wanted to do, what would you do?

My Nominees:

 I have enjoyed following these blogs and hope that you will too - please be sure to check them out as well as Michelle's blog WRITING MY DREAMS.  

As always, thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy, Fun, Safe and Prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Cookies Anyone?

Every year at Christmas my friend Linda gives me a plate of her delicious home-made Christmas cookies.  My sons don't eat the cookies because they are allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.  They don't even ask for them as they know they can't eat them...until this year.

Mikey went up to the plate Linda gave me and asked, "Mommy, can you make me some Christmas cookies?"  So I said to myself "Oh crap."  and to Mikey, "Of course I will.  We'll have to look for some recipes tomorrow and I'll see what I need."  I love to cook, but hate to bake.  I overcook things, put in baking powder instead of baking soda and at some point the kitchen ends up looking like a flour sack exploded in it.

One year I made Christmas cookies with a friend of mine so I went in search of  the recipes we had used which I put in my Chocolate Lover's Cookbook.  I looked in the cabinet that I thought it was in.  It wasn't there.  Oh no, it must be in the bookcase in the garage which was boxed in by some old toys, beach gear and outdoor furniture.  There was a small opening on one side where I began sliding cookbooks out and then smash.  A candle on the shelf fell and the glass smashed in a million pieces.  So I cleaned that up, replaced all the cookbooks and tried to figure out where on earth my cookie recipes were.  As it turns out, the book was in the cabinet over my refrigerator.  

I made my list and picked up the ingredients at the market in the morning.  

And had success!  I first made thumbprint cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies

1/2 C  Fleischmanns no salt margarine (dairy free)
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg replaced with Ener-G Egg Replacer 
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 C quaker oats
2 C flour
1/2 teas salt
2/3 C apricot preserves

350 degree oven
Beat butter & sugar until fluffy - beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine oats, flour, salt in another bowl then add to butter mixture.  Form 1 inch ball, place on cookie sheet.  Press center with thumb and fill with apricot preserves.
Bake 12-15 minutes, then cool

makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen

The next batch of cookies I made were Craisins Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.

Craisins Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 C Fleischmanns no salt margarine (dairy free)
2/3 C brown sugar
2 eggs replaced with Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 1/2 C old fashioned oats
1 1/2 C flour
1 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. salt
1 5 oz pkg. Craisins
2/3 c (allergen free from Whole Foods) chocolate chips.

375 degree oven

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy - Add eggs mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Add to butter mix in batches, mixing completely.  Add the craisins, then the chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoons full on ungreased baking sheet - Bake 10-12 minutes

Makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen.

Today we began with Butterballs.  The recipe I had made in the past called for regular sugar and was very dry.   My friend Cindy gave me a recipe which called for confectioners sugar and they came out nice and moist.  (I used the wrong measurement for the vanilla (more) and it came out great!)

Cindy's Butterball Recipe

1 cup Fleischmanns no salt margarine (dairy free)
1 teas vanilla (I used a tablespoon)
1/2 C sifted confectioners' sugar
2 1/4 C sifted flour
1/4 teas salt
(I omitted 3/4 c finely chopped nuts due to nut allergy)

325 degree oven

Mix all ingredients together - roll into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake to desired texture 20-30 minutes, I eyeballed it - Cool, not completely and roll in confectioners sugar.  Once cool, roll again in confectioners sugar.

My sons now have three different dairy, egg, and nut-free cookies.  They taste pretty good in spite of the substitutions.  Mikey's favorite is the butterballs!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Twas the Week Before Christmas...

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
My sons and I decorated, with no help from my spouse.

The stockings were hung on the rail by the stairs
The blankets and pillows decorated the chairs.

Unfortunately we tied the tree to the wall,
Because after a few days of tipping we feared it might fall.

Part of the village was set up under the tree,
And some even sat on the table near the TV.

The nutcrackers guarded the TV remotes.
To see the outside, we had to put on our coats.

Santa and Mrs. Claus looked out below.
At Rudolph's nose glowing right there in the snow.

A family of reindeer stood in the side yard.
Where at Halloween, there was a graveyard.

A moose and a wagon out front with a light.
The beautiful decorations lit up the night.

A snowman will welcome Santa, that jolly old elf.
When he comes here on Christmas all by himself.

But no, he won't be alone this year.
He'll have his sled and all the reindeer.

And after he leaves, and rides out of sight,
He'll say, 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

(this was composed with a little help from my 11 year old son)

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

RIP Little Angels

I hugged my kids harder this weekend.  We all slept together on Friday night, although I didn't really sleep too well, waking up quite frequently.   In Newtown, Connecticut signs are hung saying our hearts are broken, and my heart is broken too.  I cannot wrap my head around the fact that little 6 and 7 year old children were targeted in such a horrific and senseless attack at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I look at my beautiful sons and cannot image the horror and fear of initially not knowing if your child is alive or not, then the overwhelming grief of learning they are not.  My heart breaks for those families who have lost their precious children and loved ones.

So, I hugged my boys tighter, we watched some Christmas movies together, read some books and cuddled on the couch.  This afternoon, we took a ride to the cinema and finally saw Wreck It Ralph which my younger son had been asking for weeks to go see.

Later this evening, after the boys went to bed, I turned on CNN and watched Anderson Cooper name each slain child and teacher, show a photo when available and tell a little bit about each one.  I'm glad I watched and hope you have the opportunity to do the same.  If I were those parents, even in the midst of such personal loss and suffering, I would think I would want everyone to know what wonderful, special children they were.  I hope by watching I did a little to honor their children by learning a little about their own stories.  Parents should not be burying their children.  My heart is broken for them.  May God help somehow ease their pain.  

RIP Little Angels.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Sharon Springs Christmas - Victorian Style

The small upstate New York town of Sharon Springs has hosted 3 annual Victorian Festivals, but this is the first one we have had the pleasure of attending.  

We awoke to a crisp cool morning with a fresh coating of snow giving this Victorian Christmas Festival a magical touch.  A horse and buggy carriage ride departed from The New York House, a quaint bed and breakfast around the block from Main Street which conveniently was the place we were staying.  

I met up with another woman who was checking into the New York House, while my husband and sons went to a neighboring town for a late breakfast.  She and I took a walk together into town and stopped at the American Hotel where they were offering $5.00 Bloody Marys (although I opted for the $7.00 Mimosas!).  

We then walked around a bit where I was reunited with my husband and sons and we met up with the Sharon Springs local celebrities, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge.  

Then off to the Roseboro to get a picture with Santa!!

Back at the American Hotel, owners Doug & Garth were preparing for the reading of the Sharon Springs Christmas Chicken story.  Doug read the tale about the chicken who didn't cross the road, and told the real reason why, while Garth accompanied on the keyboard.  It was hysterical and had us all in stitches!

There were other activities throughout the town including Victorian dance lessons, book signings, singing, and even a classical guitarist.  The shops were decorated and open for some serious Christmas shopping.  

A new shop just opened in town called Decades.  Decades is owned by Roger & Chris Hazard.  Roger is the producer/designer on A&E's Sell This House.  The showroom was originally a bank, and they had the vault set up exquisitely, featuring a stunningly gorgeous blue chair which is part of their extensive line of customizable furniture.  There is a large selection on their website and it is all made in the USA!   

Roger & Chris' website can be seen here:

The evening was brought to a close with the best costume contests where  applause by the crowd determined the winners.  Josh and Doug escorted the contestants on their walks in front of the judges.  

The last events for the evening were the lighting of the tree and the classical guitarist at the New York House.  We missed the tree lighting as we indulged ourselves in a fantastic meal at the 204 Main Bar & Bistro, our favorite restaurant in the area!  The food is always fantastic, service is great and the company is terrific!  And we were able to meet up with some friends from Cooperstown which made the evening perfect! 

Norm, the chef, really outdid himself with the appetizer of dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped in bacon over baby lettuce.  I thought I died and went to heaven.  It was one of the best dishes I had ever had!

By the time dinner was over, we had missed the tree lighting, but we were able to catch the last set by the classical guitarist Harry George Pellegrin at the New York House.  

Before checking out on Sunday, I walked over to the Beekman Mercantile and picked up some Christmas gifts including their lump of Khol beauty bar, some cheese, a fruitcake, sugared plums, cinnamon honey and some other odds and ends.  

Shop Beekman products here:

Brent was in the shop Sunday morning and we chatted for a bit.  When my sons came in, Brent took a photo of us in the shop with his Polka Spot (the Beekman Boys' temperamental llama) iPhone app.  

And with our goodies in tow and memories of a fantastically, fun Christmas of yesteryear, we packed up our car and headed back home, making sure our reservations were made for next year!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Team Beekman ~ The Amazing Racers

We were introduced a couple of years ago to the reality TV show The Fabulous Beekman Boys and fell in love with Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell throughout their journey of running a goat farm in upstate NY.  The Cooking Channel is currently re-running season 2 episodes on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. EST and we fans are hoping to see a new 3rd season on The Cooking Channel soon.  

From city boys to farmers in Sharon Springs, NY, Josh & Brent bring class and flair to all they do.  They have a growing line of successful products in their Mercantile including goat milk soaps, their own BLAAK goat cheese and other tasty treats including a fruit cake which is absolutely delicious (believe it or not!!!)   Check it out!!

But in the meantime, fans were in for another treat this past September.  Josh & Brent secured a spot as a team competing in this season's "The Amazing Race" Sundays on CBS at 8:00 p.m EST.  

And Josh & Brent have been FABULOUS!!  

Phil Keoghan, the host of The Amazing Race, referred to Josh & Brent this past week as the little train that could!  They have fought back from a missed flight, a four hour delay, a speed bump, and a sprained ankle and they now will be racing on the 2 hour season finale against the other three finalist teams for a grand prize of $1,000,000.00.

And as we have done for the past few months, we will be yelling at the TV, cheering them on as we anxiously await the outcome of this edition of The Amazing Race.