The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Nachos (Or How New Traditions Begin)

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Enthusiasm. Don’t you just love it?

One of the best things about being an enthusiastic person is that when you have offspring they often take on this trait.

I know because I have two kids and even though, individually, they’re as unique as little snowflakes, they share my* enthusiasm.

It’s a lot more fun to be enthusiastic when you have other enthusiastic people around you. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

I was in a mall today.

I don’t generally go to malls, ever, actually, but Thing 2 made a special request to go to the mall to buy Christmas gifts for her family, this morning, and well, when a little enthusiastic elf asks for help in elf matters, you just smile and say, “Sure!”, with enthusiasm**.

So, after the grown-ups were caffeinated, we headed out to our local mall to help the Things do a bit of shopping. We went for the divide and conquer approach, whereby the parents each take a Thing and help him or her to find what he or she needs and then meet up to trade Things and do it all over again. It works well for us. It was fun. The mall wasn’t very crowded and the kids were in great I-don’t-care-what-we-do-we’re-not-in-school moods.

We took our time and helped each Thing find the gifts that fit the bill. This was easy for one and difficult for the other. Thing 2 is decisive and goal oriented and was seriously like an elf on a very enthusiastic mission. Thing 1 had a hard time, but mostly because he really wanted to get something special and he wanted to stick to his reasonable budget.

Even though there were no fewer than three fancy schmancy easy-just-buy-whatever-sparkly-diamond-places, he just wouldn’t stray from his logical path. Go figure! Personalities come out in the most interesting ways, sometimes, don’t they?

Anyway, eventually, everyone got what they needed and I was even able to do a bit of secret elfing with Thing 2 and her enthusiasm in tow.

We ended our mall adventure with a teensy stop into the Apple Store (to ogle things we would not buy) and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (just to inhale). We enjoyed the seasonal red shirts the staff were wearing at the Apple Store – though the expendable joke was not lost on us.

Then we all hopped back into the car, which was parked in the same spot*** we always seem to get at this mall, and took ourselves out to a late lunch. We had worked up quite an appetite walking in circles and trying to dodge each other in the mall. It’s a great place to play super-spy, by the way, in case any of you were wondering.

Lunch was delicious. Burgers and fries and root beer****. Hot and fresh and yum! A real treat!

We arrived home just in time for the carb coma to hit, so the kiddos went to their separate corners and Daddy-O and I crashed into a delightful nap. I am a terrible napper, generally speaking, but with fighting the plague and all the running around, I guess I was due for a good one. Oh so dreamy! I guess Daddy-O is the Ross to my Joey, because I seriously can’t ever nap. Thing 2 can even recount stories of my escaping naps when she was teeny. I’m just no good at napping.

I awoke refreshed and with a newfound mission in mind. I simply had to get something into the mail and nothing was going to stop me.

(You should know I have a stockpile of very thoughtful gifts sitting neatly on a chair in my bedroom. I buy these things with every intention to get them sent out to their intended recipients asap, but alas, life happens and there they sit. Am I the only one? Tell me I am not the only one!)

So, I snipped school photos of the Things, wrote out a speedy holiday greeting, located the item and channelled my inner Grammy***** and packaged that baby into a teeny size that really should have been impossible to fit into a standard 8×10 Canada Post parcel envelope, but lo and behold it fit! (Dude at the post office was impressed. I know he was. He just expresses himself differently than I do.) Into the mail it went and we will have a new tradition to add to our already diverse Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, ChrismukkahLa Befana, 12th Night mix because when that parcel arrives it will be a kind of miracle. Plus I know the recipient will laugh and be happy and that’s all that matters really.

When I arrived home, my Things had the TV paused for me (there was a brand new Austin & Ally episode) and were waiting (and waiting and waiting) while I was out making miracles happen and grabbing a few ingredients at the grocery store (Chipits were on sale. W00t!). The plan was to make a simple snacky supper, since we had had a late lunch.

We decided on nachos, but not just any old nachos would do. No sir-ee!

We had to have nachos worthy of a new tradition.

I give you, “The Night Before The Night Before The Night Before Christmas Nachos”.

They were delicious and I can guarantee my little enthusiastic, creature of habit, elf-y, Things will be reminding me next December 22 that we have to make them again.

We are only two sleeps away from Christmas and we still have plenty to do, but you know what? We are all being very chill about the whole thing. There really is no need to panic.

What traditions have emerged in your family over the years that seem so logical, but may be completely unique to you?

What’s your go-to dinner when the hour is getting late?

How are your Holidays going?

 

 

 

 

 

*Daddy-O is enthusiastic too, but he can claim them on his own blog!

**See how well that works out?

***Of course when you go the mall only a handful of times all year, selective recall is strong.

****Guess where we had lunch!

*****Grammy is my Mummy. She could pack an elephant in a matchbox and ship it to Istanbul and it would never escape because the sheer amount of tape used would stand up to anything the world might throw at it.

Source: http://ca.eonline.com/news/605724/weird-holiday-traditions-you-thought-were-normal-but-prove-your-family-is-totally-nuts

Supper In a Flash!

Feed daily!

Sometimes, despite best laid plans, we get out of our routine of good habits – such as meal planning or writing a weekly (or monthly – who are these people?!) menu.

When this happens, as it has for me recently, I am forever grateful for my imagination, creativity, enthusiasm, the ability to make something from (practically) nothing, and a good collection of meal ideas to fall back on.

Here are a couple of good “go to” recipes that can be made quickly and inexpensively, which, to me, is a great bonus!

 

Oven Baked Chicken Legs

Package of plump delicious chicken legs

Drizzle of olive oil (I use EVOO)

Seasoning (Applied in the following order)(Or not)(Whatevs.)(I’m breezy!)

Freshly cracked black pepper

Kosher salt (pinch)

Seasoning salt

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Cayenne

Oregano

Parmesan

Arrange the chicken legs on a sheet pan covered in aluminum foil. Drizzle EVOO over the chicken. Begin layering your flavours. I eyeball this process according to the spice level my family desires. I sprinkle from on high so the spices kind of snow down over the sheet pan. I find this allows me to control the spices better and I never get a giant clump of cayenne or a gob of garlic. Next I take my tongs and just flip the legs over and back to sort of evenly coat them with the EVOO and seasoning. It isn’t an exact science and I am sure it will be fine whether you do this or not. Go ahead! Give it a try!

375 degree oven 40 minutes (or until done).

 

 

Oven Fried Rice*

2 c Uncle Ben’s Converted Long  Grain Rice

2 c water

1 pkg.  onion soup mix

1/2  c. oil

2  tbsp. soya sauce (I use gluten free)

I add a red pepper that has been diced because it makes it scrumptious and any time I can add a veggie, well, I do! I think it would be so pretty to add red and green (Christmas!) or several different colours to assist in the whole “eat the rainbow” quest.

Bake for one hour at 350 degree oven with cover on.

After first half hour of cooking, remove the cover and stir. Replace cover** and continue baking until done.

 

Take them out and cover to keep warm – or if you are lucky enough to have two ovens you can cook both things at once, keep the chicken warm, and well aren’t you the fancy schmancy Martha Stewart-y type? What the heck are you doing here reading my silly blog? Surely you have a Regatta Gala or some other fabulous event to attend tonight? No? Taking a break from being a Socialite? Okay. Cool! Hi!

 

What are your “go to” oh-no-is-that-the-time meals?

What kinds of things can you whip up in a flash that will feed your family and make them happy at the same time?

Feel free to share in the comments.

Bon appetit!

 

 

*We call this “Nanny Rice” at Chez Peady. Feel free to adopt this habit.

**I use an enamel roaster with a lid and I find a lot of moisture escapes. To accommodate this fact, I tend to add about a 1/2 c extra water. I feel that an awesome Dutch Oven would contain the moisture better, so if you have one***, try it and let me know how it goes.

***Dear Santa, LeCreuset. That is all****.

****Well, that and a goat.

Source: http://literarywinner.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Why-do-they-want-dinner-EVERY-night.jpg (Sometimes you just have to share the love with a stranger blogger.)

Mele Kalikimaka!

Tropical Tree

Today might be a three post kind of day because I have so many drafts, that I am starting to get anxious about it.

Anxiety at Christmas? You don’t say!

Hah!

Who doesn’t have a little extra anxiety during the holidays? I don’t think I know a single person, actually.

However, I have vowed to not be that stressed out Mummy. No way. It’s no fun to be told Christmas is nothing but stress. Or worse, to think it. Especially when you have little eyes and ears watching and listening to everything you do and say. It’s simply not true, anyway.

Christmas is a wonderful season of perpetual hope, and if there is one thing I have learned in my years on this planet* it’s that hope floats. It’s always there and you have to hone your hope holding skills throughout your life, because it’s short. Really, really short. Even when it seems long.

Christmas is what you make it. You can make it all about stuff and spending and stress. Sure! Go right ahead. Seriously, fill your boots, but don’t blame your getting caught up in the commercialism on Christmas. Nope. Christmas didn’t make you do that. Santa didn’t point to the most expensive, elaborate, electronics and say, “By the powers of Comet’s Candy Cane, I command you to buy that!”. Not a chance.

Christmas is simple.

Humans make it complicated.

You have to be human, but you don’t have to be pressured into a holiday that stresses you out.

Cool your jets.

Take a breath.

Remember the wonder.

Breathe in the aromas.

Think back to a time when you believed in the magic.

Embrace the simplicity of an old fashioned Christmas, whatever that means to you.

Know that you are not alone.

Everyone is stressin’ a bit.

No one has *everything* done.

Martha Stewart has a team!

We just have each other.

Smile and know that even when people around you seem to have everything under control, there’s always an element of mystery in how the heck things get done.

For instance, we here at Chez Peady have been having the soggiest December I can ever recall and we have also been fighting a wicked cold, so we are very admittedly behind our typical December schedule. All the things that have not yet been done, were put on the back burner while the things that had to be done got done. School concerts, finding the lost trumpet, trumpet practice, finding the right shoes, making sure everyone was where they needed to be on time, getting a bit of shopping done, making sure I talked to my mother as often as possible, getting to a few charity eventseven one in my Jammies – these all took precedent over making sure the ornaments were in the perfect place.

It’s life and it’s messy.

Look!

Christmas Mess

 

Am I freaking out? Nope. Why should I? Why should I waste a single drop of my precious energy freaking out when it will get done, with or without a grown-up tinsel tantrum?

It always has. I have yet to miss a Christmas. *wink*

So, my best advice to you, as Christmas is festively, twinkling up on us, is to take a deep breath and embrace the merriment.

 

Don’t forget to take care of your own needs, too. You matter! We need you to be at your best**, of course.

This morning I went to Zumba – just so you know I really am practicing what I preach – and I almost jumped for joy when I heard this pop up in the middle of class.

Yes, we did a Hula this morning to Mele Kalikimaka***. It was so fun! Could my Zumba instructor be any cooler?

 

So, tell me, what stage of preparedness are you in for the upcoming Holidays?

Are you about ready to be Dasher and flee the scene?

Are you happily a Prancer ready to take on the task and dance your way through your cookie exchange?

Are you feeling Grinch-like and wondering what the heck is the big deal anyway?

Has your inner Ebenezer reared his Scrooge-y grumpiness?

What is your best advice for having a yule that’s cool?

Leave a comment and share your best tips for avoiding tinsel tantrums.

 

 

*No, I have never lived on another planet. Though there was that time last winter when it felt like we lived on Hoth.

**But we even like you when you are at your worst.

***Mele Kalikimaka**** has been a month-long mind-worm. Go ahead and ask my chicas! Ukuleles at Christmastime? Oh YES!

****Then there’s this, which I saw on Saturday, but wasn’t blogged out until today, hence the edit! COME ON!! This is hulu-arious! (Day #8) Zucchini is the sweetest doggie!

The Secret To A Happy Marriage

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I know the definitive answer to the question, “What is the secret to a happy marriage?”.

Would you like to know what it is?

Are you sure you can handle the truth?

Are you sure?

Really?

B’okay!

Prepare to be amazed.

Brace yourself.

Here it is.

The secret to a happy marriage is …

 

I’ll cook. You clean.

 

That’s it!

*bows*

I’m here all week for all your KISS* counselling needs.

 

 

This post has been brought to you by an awesome mid-week American Thanksgiving feast and an abundance of leftovers neatly cleaned up and stored tidily in the fridge.

Source: http://umagz.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/happy-married-life-quotes-1.jpg

*Keep It StOOpid Simple (alternatively, Keep It Simple Sister)

Me and My Little Brain.*

Always Thinkin'.

Sometimes my brain makes me sad.

I have eluded to this before. It’s just a part of my life.

Someday I’ll delve deep, invite Oprah and her purple sofa over for tea, have a nice chit-chat and get to the root of it all.

But!

Sometimes my brain makes me ridiculously happy and that is what I am talking about today on I Don’t Blog in Alex’s blog series called #BlogSmallJoys.

I would love it if you popped over there to read my post and stuck around long enough to answer the burning question, “What’s that sound?”.

 

I’ll be back here tomorrow with a new post.

You know I will because tomorrow is day 13 of NaBloPoMo and I haven’t missed a day** yet!

Apparently, I love a challenge!

Who knew?

 

 

 

*Have you read the J.D. Fitzgerald series called “The Great Brain”? This title was one of my favourite books in the series when I was a little kid.

**Including today, because this totally counts!

Source: http://crooksandliars.com/files/primary_image/14/02/hat.jpg

Considering Casseroles.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something … Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity.*

 

Breakfast for dinner casserole.

 

Can a casserole be considered creative?

I say, if it renders everyone a) speechless or b) leaves them only able to mutter “mms” and other yummy sounds, it can be!

 

This is such a casserole.

Simple ingredients, easily thrown together at the end of a long and busy day, that results in yummy noises and a happy, full, family.

Easy-peasy!

 

Here are the things I connected:

EVOO

Frozen Hashbrowns (the little diced ones)(I’m sure the shredded ones would work, too.)

Dehydrated Onion Flakes

S & P

Eggs

Onion Powder

Cream

Grated Cheddar (I used a pre-shredded three cheese blend)

1 Roma tomato (seeded and diced)

1 Red pepper (also seeded and diced)

Sausages (cooked) (I used a Gluten Free brand called Cavicchis’ Meats)

 

Here is how I connected them:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Into a 9 x 13 pan (I use a glass one) add about a table spoon of olive oil and coat the bottom and sides. (I have a teeny silicone brush for this task and it works well.)

Immediately add the frozen hash browns to the pan. (You can use a lot or a little of any of the above ingredients in this recipe, by the way. It’s difficult to get it wrong. Tonight I used an entire 900 g bag because everyone was really hungry.)

Add some freshly ground black pepper and a teensy bit of kosher salt (careful with the salt!).

Sprinkle about a teaspoon of dehydrated onion flakes over the hash browns.

Next, break your eggs (Tonight I used 9, but you can adjust according to your own needs.) and beat them together (with a fork – oh yeah, fancy!) with a bit of pepper and onion powder (trust me..) and cream. You want the consistency you’d be expecting for scrambled eggs, so adjust egg:cream ratio as needed.)

To the beaten eggs, add a cup of cheese (or a handful.. or as much as you’d like.. or need.. or are limited to) and blend.

Add your peppers and tomatoes.

Pour the egg mixture over the hash browns.

Top with the cooked and sliced sausages, spreading the pieces evenly over the casserole.

Don’t be concerned if it seems like the eggs have vanished because they will fluff/rise up nicely while the casserole bakes for the next 30-45 minutes in the middle of your preheated oven.

 

I use my nose and my eyes a lot in my kitchen. When it starts to smell like supper, you’ll know you are almost there.

When the hash browns are browning (Hello! They’re hash browns.) on the bottom of the pan (score one for the see through glass pan!) it’s time to turn the oven off.

The centre should be set. (No jiggly casseroles, please and thank you!)

Allow it to cool a little bit, and while it does, the kids can help set the table, so *everyone* gets to sit down to a scrumptious, simple supper – together.

 

Are you pro casserole or do you prefer your foods stick to their separate quarters on your plate?

Leave a comment and tell me about one of your creations that just works.

Oh, and if you try this let me know what you think of it!

 

 

 

 

*Source: Wired: UK, 2011, Steve Jobs: A Wired Life, reprinted from “The Next Insanely Great Thing” by Gary Wolf, Wired 4.02, February 1996

Time Crunch.

Chalkboard mugs are very happy-making!

 

 

I have about 20 minutes to post this.

It will be short and sweet*.

I am quite literally feeling the time crunch.

 

The first Monday after Daylight Savings Time ends can be rough, but we all survived the day from beginning to end with nary a freak out. I am very happy about the way the Things have gotten better at adjusting to the whole “Spring forward. Fall back.” each year.

I remember how challenging it was when they were teeny. It felt like they would never “get” it.

Just like all the other molehills that a parent can easily turn into mountains, it just seems to eventually work out.

More often than not, these days especially, the grown ups remain calm and the Things follow suit.

Thank goodness for that!

 

10 minutes! *deep breath*

Remain calm.

 

Monday was mellow, but very productive.

The combination of a very lazy weekend and the snow storm happening in a neighbouring province was a terrific motivator.

I had my coffee in the very happy-making chalkboard mug you see up there and was all set to get stuff done.

I managed to find snow pants for Thing 2. So challenging to find!

I bought a pair in the right colour, but too small a size. Another that was the right size, but wrong colour. I was seeing flurries. It was really not the time to get all persnickety about perfection. (A downfall of mine, but I digress …) The girl needed snow pants and she needed them yesterday!

We tried them on after school and decided that we could try one more store after supper just on the off chance they had one purple pair left. If they did? Great. If not? The fitting ones would win, regardless of their colour.

 

Long story short?

After getting stuck in a really horrendous traffic jam while picking up Daddy-O and arriving back home way later than usual, I whipped up a yummy supper which we happily devoured and cleaned up after and then it was very late. Very nearly too late to take a Thing out to a department store to find snow pants.

What should we do? Are you getting sleepy? Are you sure? Okay then, let’s go!

So, we were off to will a pair of purple snow pants into existence.

And we did.

We got the last pair of purple snow pants in Thing 2’s size and she was positively giddy with joy.

 

Never mind that I currently have three pairs of snow pants in my bedroom right this minute. We got the pants!

 

Time’s up!

*whew*

 

 

*Just like me! *snorks*