Category Archives: thoughts and observations

Those After Christmas Sales

I sympathize with my California friend, Eva S, who lost a sock  somewhere in the stratosphere (www.notesfromthecupcakerescueleague.wordpress.com/). My loss has been much greater—I lost 3 giant rolls of silver and gold  embossed Christmas wrapping paper plus 2 boxes of sparkling-snow-scene-with-cute-puppies Christmas cards. I know I have them because I fell for that after Christmas sales of wrapping paper, bags and cards that were 75% off at the store. I felt I was a giant step ahead for next Christmas when I had my supply of cards and  gift wraps. And yes, I did put them away in a safe place so I could put my hands on them as soon as the month of December loomed into sight. It was tucked in such a safe place I couldn’t find it when I needed it.

After Christmas sales, also known as Boxing Day Specials—can be a boon to some but disastrous to others. First of all, there is no such thing as a “bargain”–not unless it’s in the technological field and at least 80% off, if they want me inside their store. I remember my friends camping out overnight just to be the first through the door when the electronics store opened on Boxing Day. Back then, there were some great bargains.

My dilemma with the missing wrapping paper and cards came to the fore-front when Hubby and I walked past the card-shop. Yep, there were boxes and boxes of cards plus stacks of glittery, Christmas-y wrapping paper AND all for 70% off the regular price. I’m not falling for that this year–besides  it was a bit more reduced last year. Hubby and I walked on by.

I know I have at least 3 past post-Christmas sales of wraps and cards tucked somewhere in a secret hidey-hole. AND I just know that when I need some special occasion wrapping paper, my Christmas ones will fall out of the closet instead.

So Eva S–don’t worry about your missing sock. It’s probably with my missing wrapping paper and cards. Somewhere, they are commiserating with other misplaced items until their owners  finally reunite with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Chocolate Cherry Christmas

At my house, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas unless there was something under the tree that held dark chocolate tucked inside its wrapped package. This Christmas, Hubby and I hit the jackpot.

A few years ago, we received a box of dark chocolate covered cherries with such a deliciously appealing picture on the box, that our brain had already signalled our mouths there was a treat heading its way. And, it didn’t disappoint—that distinctive taste of dark chocolate; that spurt of liqueur bathing a plump cherry; that satisfying melding of dark chocolate, liqueur and a juicy cherry was absolutely heavenly.

After that, when we saw a box of chocolate covered cherries, we treated ourselves to it. But the disappointment was too painful to describe. Let me just say that the dark chocolate was bland and waxy; the syrup was too icky sweet and not a liqueur AND the cherry was a pitiful wizened piece of dubious fruit. After those disappointments, whenever we spotted a potential box of cherry treats, we stayed away—mentally kicking ourselves that we never made note of the brand of chocolate cherries  given to us, way back when.

Last week, I saw an unpretentious sealed foil bag with a clear window, showing the supposedly extra-dark chocolate cherries in liqueur, wrapped in its red and silver foil. I grabbed a bag. On Christmas, Hubby opened the sealed bag and immediately our noses sighed with pleasure as the dark chocolate scent of liqueur wafted out. Immediately,  our brains zinged the message to our mouths that something great would be coming. And this time, it didn’t disappoint.

Our mouths bit into a decadent piece of extra-dark chocolate that immediately squirted a shot of liqueur that had soaked a plump, juicy cherry. This is how a dark chocolate cherry should be always. And yes, I have made note of the brand. Thank you, Witor’s IL Boero–may you always prosper and keep making these wonderful Italian chocolate cherries. It made our Christmas even more special. . . .

Pretzels

My first introduction to a pretzel was the cracker-like, snack-food kind—tiny, crispy. slightly salted and perfect with beer or a glass of wine.  I didn’t know they also came the size of a dinner plate; a twisty bread hot out of the oven with a slightly salty, crispy outside and a soft inside. My cousin demonstrated how to eat it slathered with hot mustard, but I preferred mine unadorned, tearing pieces of it and savouring the warm dough. Being young and skinny, both of us enjoyed our hot pretzels without any guilty thoughts of bread control.

So, it was a revelation to see that food trends had taken a new twist–pardon the pun. I always enjoy seeing “something old becoming new again,” but who would have put the lowly pretzel in the retro box?

I now think  of pretzels as the “perfect” food. You know, like a pizza that has your carbs, proteins and veggies, pretzels can be dressed up or down the same way.  There is a new pretzel cart in town. When I saw the pretzel cart, I dashed over to check it out. I love to nibble on the plain, hot twisty dough, but now I can add my choice of melted cheese, tiny cocktail sausages, teriyaki baby prawns, crispy bacon and a scoop of tangy salsa—see, carbs, proteins and veggies on a dinner plate size pretzel!

And, for all you chocolate lovers out there, there were also chocolate dipped mini-pretzels for dessert.  Heavens, what next?  Oh wait—I just spotted something new at my supermarket—chocolate dipped potato chips. . . Pul–leez tell me that’s not so!

When Words Don’t Flow

Louis L’Amour, one of my favourite writers for Westerns—as in cowboys and the Wild West—was asked the secret of his prolific stories. He simply shrugged and said, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

I always loved that quote. I have it typed in big block letters besides my computer. But I realized that sometimes the water can be turned off, for whatever reason, and nothing flows from the faucet. When that happens, I follow Rule Number 17 from my archaic writers’ guidebook. I turn off the computer and head for the great outdoors. I realized long ago that if the page stays blank for more than 20-minutes and the mind is totally devoid of any rational or irrational thoughts, it’s best to take a break—and that’s what I did.

For me, the break-away from the keyboard, is a method for me to get re-energized and re-inspired. Hubby and I put on our rain-gear to do a morning stroll through the Village and around our neighbourhood. We strolled past Cobb’s where the scent of their freshly baked mince tarts and cinnamon bread logs wafted into the street. We paused at Nicholas Randall’s Gift Shop window to admire their lavish display of possible Christmas gifts, but what caught our eyes, tucked in the far corner, were a tiny trio of mischievous camels, decorated in tiny beads and Middle Eastern costumes. Beside them, regally waving a teeny-tiny gloved hand stood the tiny figure of the British Queen. Next store, The Gallery on the Avenue always has a striking window. That day a spectacular abstract with its bold colours of golds, greens and blues dominated. Placed to the right of the painting were two vases of a turquoise hue, one slightly taller than the other, complementing the abstract perfectly. Moving along, we paused at Ivy’s Bookstore with its display of children’s books in the window and a huge bin of greatly reduced books outside. Of course, we had to sort through the books to see if anything was worthy of our wallets. Starbucks was doing a brisk business when we passed by. A group of carollers were singing “a cappella” in front of the bank and pedestrians dropped change, for the homeless, into their pot. The sounds of “O Holy Night” followed us down the street, past the Pennyfarthing Pub, Roger’s Chocolates, shoe store, barber shop, two boutiques, the Side Street Gallery with its many locally crafted jewellery, soaps, wood-work, paintings, weaving, pottery and much more.

Crossing the street, we made a dash through the Library to see if we could find any new movies for us to watch that evening. We then continued our walk down residential Monterey Avenue eventually turning onto the path through Bowker Creek Park. Bowker Creek’s lively inhabitants of ducks were busily attacking duck feed tossed out by some kindly neighbour. As the Creek winds along, Hubby and I followed the peaceful path through trees, ornamental bushes, parkland and over a small stone bridge.  More ducks, joined by cawing crows and seagulls, all made their presence known as we passed. We listened intently for our favourite duck we had named the “Laughing Duck” because he had this amazingly deep belly-laugh when he quacked. Often, he would do this just as we passed by, but that day, no belly quackle herald his presence. Over the last stone bridge and following a path that cut through the High School’s parking lot, past the School Track, the Rec Centre’s covered indoor tennis courts, around the outside of the Municipality’s Work-yard and finally the street leading home.

Returning to the computer, I could feel the logjam of frozen words sporadically tumbling on the page. It wasn’t an easy flow, but for now at least, the faucet dripped. . . . . .