Monday, December 27, 2010

Except for the jail bit & the money, Martha & I are just like twins!

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I've always wanted to make a Bouche de Noel. So, this year, I decided to make one for my Christmas dinner dessert. I found several recipes on Martha Stewart's site and choose this one because I love orange and chocolate together. I'd never made a jelly roll before; but I remembered as a child seeing my Mom make them, so I wasn't daunted. The whole thing took time and patience, but it wasn't hard.



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Walnut Orange Bouche de Noel


I'll take you through the steps; if you'd like the recipe, you can either look up Martha's site or email me.



  • .Step one was making the cake itself [pics 1 & 2]: 6 eggs separated, sugar added, folding of stiff egg whites into yolks, adding of ground nuts (I used pecans instead of walnuts), and spreading in a parchment lined, greased and floured cookie pan (with sides, of course). Once that was baked, it was inverted onto an icing sugar dusted tea towel, then rolled up with the towel. And that wasn't difficult!.

  • Step 2 - the filling: Beat cream cheese, marscarpone (I used creamy ricotta), sugar, Grand Marnier & grated orange rind (pic 3); fold into beaten whipped cream. Unroll cake, spread most of filling (pic 5), re-roll and spread remainder of filling over the top.

  • Step 3 - the chocolate bark: melt semi-sweet chocolate & spread in a parchment lined cookie sheet (pic 4) until firm but still pliable. Tear into strips about 1.5" long and layer on top of cake to resemble tree bark..

Here's the finished product.

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Looks pretty impressive, huh! And it was pretty darned good! But we only need to remember Martha's tainted past to know that looks can be deceiving.
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Despite Martha's recent climb back up the ladder of success, we really should remember not to take full "stock" in anything she says as it seems to me (especially after trying this recipe) that she continues to only divulge half-truths! And regardless of my still being on the bottom rung of said ladder, allow me to set both you and Martha straight on how to improve this recipe..




#1 - The nuts should have been ground finely as opposed to coarse!

#2 - The filling could have used less orange zest - there was a hint of bitterness in there. (Perhaps Martha hasn't fully dealt with anger over past issues?)

#3 The whipped cream should have been whipped to high and not soft peaks.

and lastly

#4 - The chocolate bark ... Man oh man! The chocolate bark! This was not a good thing! You see, after peeling about half a dozen pieces of bark off the parchment paper and placing them on the cake, any others I tried peeling off would begin to melt onto my fingers. (And because of health, hygiene and the fact that this was my Xmas dinner dessert, it wouldn't have been right to go with my gut instinct to just lick my fingers in between.) Another flaw in the chocolate bark was that the pieces were too thick; less chocolate could melted and spread in the cookie sheet so the bark was thinner. (Or perhaps bitter-sweet chocolate could have been used (as this melts quite thin and runny), poured over the top of the cake and then lines made with a fork to resemble tree bark.)

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Nevertheless, I persevered and followed Martha's instructions on creating bark. I did, however, dust the whole thing with icing sugar afterwards in order to cover my fingerprints which were imprinted on the bark because of the melting. .

I chilled my lovely Bouche (doesn't that sound naughty ... and somewhat painful). And after a stellar Christmas turkey dinner avec all the trimmings, I took it out of the refrigerator and presented this labour of love/work of art to my dinner guests amidst oohhs, ahhs and thundering applause. (Ok! Perhaps no one actually applauded; perhaps that part was all in my head.) Then ................... I tried to cut my pretty Bouche de Noel! .




But my bark was worse than my knife!.

The bark made it impossible to slice off neat portions. I found myself more or less sawing the slices off -- slices which were at least 1.5" wide because of the suggested size of the bark. (Kind of piggy-sized slices, what? after such a huge Xmas dinner. It's fine for Martha! She has a personal trainer!) Also, it seemed like I was sort-of sawing in several directions at the same time because of the staggered effect of the chocolate bark pieces! I almost needed someone on the other side of the Bouche to help guide me through the maze of bark! And as I sawed these trucker-sized portions of Bouche de Noel, the lovely filling kept oozing out! .

Dessert + Ooze = Words not usually associated with each other! (Thank goodness!).

They say that presentation is important in a meal. Well, it's a good thing my guests were family! But all in all, the taste helped enormously in overcoming the rather wide, unattractive, mashed pieces of Bouche! My guests were appreciative. .

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Would I make this recipe again? Probably not.
I only give this recipe 5 unattractive
Martha ex-con ponchos out of 10!



But I'll definately try another Bouche de Noel and/or jellyroll sometime.

That part was fun!

Saturday, December 25, 2010



A very Merry and Happy Christmas to all my bloggy friends.
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Thank you for your friendship, your following, your love & support & laughter. I appreciate all of you.
I'll see you in a few days!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rednesday Festive Aprons

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I was cleaning up my blog posts the other day and I came across something that I started last Christmas but never posted. It was a display of my Christmas aprons.
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Yes, those pictures were taken last year -- back in the good old days when I could stand on 2 feet; when I could walk, run and twirl to my heart's content with the sheer joy of the season! (How those aprons delighted in their Xmas twirls!) And any cook would agree with me that you can never have enough aprons. Let me show you my Xmas collection.
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Here's a good one for baking as it covers me completely; I won't mind getting it's plain, servicable fabric full of flour and butter.
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The next 3 aprons were purchased last year at a local thrift store that usually displays Xmas in their basement. I've had to miss it this year :( The first 2 are vintage 1950's, I would say.



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This pretty bibbed apron has a good full skirt for twirling, perhaps while listening to The Barra McNeils sing "Christmas in Kilarney" and carefully serving round the eggnog and shortbreads. (Or this year, for catching the droplets and crumbs that may miss my mouth. ..... But then, there's not much of a chance of that with me, is there!)
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And this last one (my favorite) was a gift from Santa last year; he got it at a church sale. I love the deep pockets; they're good for holding my tissues on Xmas Eve as I watch "It's a Wonderful Life" (and cry) whilst cracking almonds and filberts and sipping my wine.
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It was fun to find this lost post, even if it does make me sad thinking of the lack of twirling that will happen in them this year.
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This year, I am reduced to the memory of twirly-Xmas-aprons-past; and the thoughts of twirly-Xmas-aprons-future. Xmas-aprons-present shall not twirl; they shall simply sit in a quiet state of obedient repose! How boring! How sad for my Xmas aprons!
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How do you think I can help my Xmas aprons experience the joy of the season without their usual twirls?
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Deck the Halls!

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I think I'm ready!.


With the help of my lovely slaves, the halls are decorated, the tree is trimmed and the lovely fat turkey is in the freezer; there are chockies in the larder along with nuts and enough ginger ale and Coke to rot the teeth of all 6 females who will be inhabiting this house over the Xmas season. A mother knows her Xmas work is done when she can say that!.

Here's a look at my jolly little tree .... \.

Because the tree is so little this year, there are only about 1/3 of my ornaments on it. But I tried to put on my favorites, like these:

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It takes so much energy for me to do even one chore, so I haven't been posting much lately. My apologies to my neglected bloggie friends.
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Why just yesterday, I sat on my bedroom floor and tried to organize the gifts for my 5 girls. It was exhausting! But even more exhausting was trying to wrap them: crawling over and under trying to get at the boxes, the tissue and wrapping papers; the sissors, the tape and ribbon and the tags! OMG! I'm afraid that after the first half hour, most of the gifts got stuffed unceremoniously into gift bags.

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Stuff ... stuff ... stuff! It didn't matter if the bags were the right size! It didn't matter that the tops were overflowing and bulging with undies and socks! It didn't matter if the sides of the bags were popping and threatening to break open!
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"Argh! I just don't care!"
I yelled at my poor, defenseless foot!

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It's not true -- I did care!

But I let it go! Those negative thoughts were sent upward and outward to the gift wrapping gods as I sat there on the floor with my eyes closed, rubbed my toes and intoned "Ummmm. Ummmm"..

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No! Wait a minute now!

I was intoning "Yummm. Yummm" ..... as my hand was swifting moving from Hershey Kiss bowl to mouth.

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Ya gonna keep those de-stressing tools close at hand (& at mouth)!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Xmas is a'Comin!

What a week it's been! Monday was my visit to the Ortho surgeon; the fracture is almost healed and he wants me to practice walking a little each day. (Ouch! I follow Drs orders, but it makes the fracture ache a little.) He also gave me a pressure sock to help with the swelling, and I think it's helping. Look at this: almost matching feet!!.Well, except for the fact that I still have no ankles on my right foot! Libby says their "kankles". (And no, my right leg & foot are not usually striped like that.)

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A friend was kind enough to drive me to Kentville that morning; and after my appointment (and a rather awful Chinese buffet lunch!), we went Xmas shopping -- much needed on my end! I got just about everything done and was home by 6:30 pm where I collapsed on top of my packages with a cup of fortifying tea next to me..

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On Tuesday night -- or I guess I should say Wednesday morning -- my baby came home from uni for Xmas. Lots of hugging and kissing happened! (And I've been noticing that there's an amazing amount of food missing from my cupboards!)

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Last night, we got our Xmas tree. A friend got it for me from her Dad's tree lot. It's a cute little thing and it smells heavenly. But it's probably the smallest tree I've had since pre- children! Whereas I always choose a tree that's shaped much like me (short but full-bodied), Shirley must have been seeing the "real Me" which is hidden under these love-handles -- still short ... but slim!
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With any luck, tonight the decorating will happen. I'm anxious to sit in the sweet glow of fairy lights.
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It may be slow at my house, but Christmas is a' comin!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nativity Linky Party

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Today I join Lynne and friends in showing off our Nativity scenes at her linky party "The Reason For The Season".


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I'm particularly fond of Jim Shore's work. This angel in the upper left is new last Xmas; the larger scene was a gift from the girls, given to me little by little. (It's my favorite Nativity scene.) The little set in the lower left is my middle daughter's favorite; the bottom centre has been with me since the first Xmas I spent with my husband; and the rustic scene is very jolly and always hangs on the bathroom door..


The small scene in the upper left was sent to me by a fellow blogger last Xmas on a gift exchange. To the right is a pretty glass set which I thrifted. Lower left is a tiny flower-pot nativity which I made when the girls were tiny babies. And another favorite of mine is the gourd nativity scene which my daughter brought me back from New Mexico.




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I love Nativity scenes. I love the remembrance of Christ being "the reason for the season". And I love remembering how happy He makes me and how many miracles I've received over the years and the blessings that come my way all the time.


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"For Unto us a Child is Given"


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Xmas Cheer

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It's been difficult to have to sit and watch Christmas unfold all around me. But Saturday I was determined to begin some Xmas prep no matter how uncomfortable it was! And uncomfortable it was! I sat on my bedroom floor spread-eagle with gifts and wrapping paper and wrapped the gifts to be sent to other provinces. It was very ouchy!

These helped with the pain!

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When the girls got up, they carried Xmas boxes upstairs and began to decorate..
There's still lots to be distributed throughout the dining room and kitchen:


But that has to wait until Sunday afternoon when we're all free again. We each had Sat evening plans with various friends. But it was a wonderful start to the decorating. And just sitting amidst the mess and seeing all that jolly red and green lifts my spirits so much.
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And even while my heart is rejoicing, my little tootsies still complain.
There's still a hint of bruising and some swelling along the side of what used to be an ankle. (I believe it's in there somewhere!) There's still pain and aching in the area of the fracture. And although a little less sausage-like, my fat little toes are still stiff and swollen, sticking straight out from my foot like little soldiers at attention, refusing to relax and sit on the floor. Stubborn little toes!
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Tomorrow a friend is taking me to visit the orthopedic surgeon again on the other side of the province. And as there's still Xmas shopping to do, we're making a day of it with our international students. I'm really looking forward to it. I've never shopped in New Minas before.
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Even in a wheelchair, I'm sure there are bargains with my name on them that I can conquer!
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have Wheels, Will Travel!


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I did it! With the help of Gini, I got groceries last night at my local Sobey's store. She pushed the shopping cart and I wheeled myself in the wheelchair provided by the store; and I must say, they were pretty darned impressive! They were clean & in good repair, and the wheels were easy to turn which made it great for maneuverability. Better than the one provided me for work by the Red Cross. I was smokin' last night!
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It felt wonderful to be running my own errands. The shops were full of pretty lights and Xmas decorations. All sorts of busy, rushing people milled around me (staring at my foot with its "Dash Getaway" sneaker); but I just slowly meandered through the aisles, stopping occasionally to grope the tomatoes or sniff the Clementines. It was quite enjoyable!
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Why, I still felt great after Sobey's; so I had Gini wheel me down the mall to Shopper's Drug Mart where I bought some other necessities. I'm relieved to report that I no longer sport an inch wide gap of grey at my hair line thanks to this new-to-me product:(New color for me #80 Butternut -- very pretty;
and a nice fragrance to the hair dye)
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As well, I was able to replenish my facial moisturing cream (Marcelle Anti-Wrinkle); AND it was on sale for half price! so I was able to buy a day and a night cream.
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Yes, it was such a successful night that it fair screamed celebration. So, on our way home, we headed to DQ for one of these:
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Ah, what freedom has been gained! After all that, I feel like a brand new woman today!
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A happy, hopeful, young, moisturized, slightly tubby woman! (Freedom does have it's costs!)
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Monday, December 6, 2010

What I'm missing ...

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What I'm missing most this week:

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  1. Going out to get the Christmas tree with my international students: Everyone should experience being surrounded by beautiful, fragrant trees in their natural habitat and choosing the perfect one for home. (Not to mention freezing one's buns off, trying to untie the lovely creature when you get home and attempting to get it straight in the tree stand. These are the kinds of things that really prepare children for the real world.)
  2. Cleaning my own house: I like knowing that every little nook and cranny is clean at Christmas before putting out the decorations. 4 weeks people! My house is so NOT clean right now! (I'll soon be able to either submit my science experiment for MIT's consideration and/or have my home featured on TV's Hoarders Buried Alive.)

  3. Fast food: I don't eat a lot of it, but man! When you can't get to McDonalds, you sure commence to start hankering for it! And what's even worse -- they've begun calling to me! French Fries, greasy Cheeseburger ..... I can hear them all the time -- along with their evil sidekick, thick Chocolate Milk Shake. (And you can't ignore the call because the're like the heroine of the food world! And I ain't ready for rehab yet, baby!)

  4. Christmas shopping: Besides needing to buy more gifts, I'm missing all the sales at the grocery and drug stores for those wonderful Xmas necessities such as Brie cheese, mixed nuts, large bags of potato chips and huge vats of dip! And then there are those boxes of chocolates that they only sell at this time of year! (I've been a good girl, Santa. And ohhhhh! I've suffered so much .... for sooooo long!)

  5. Matching shoes: My left shoe is showing signs of wear while the right one remains pristine. How am I going to fix that one? (And although I will probably be choosing to wear flats from now on, I'm still on the fence about on the above patent leathers. And I would NEVER wear those shoes and socks together! Ewwww! A little too "Wicked Witch of the West" don't you agree?)

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I'm missing out for sure. But my foot is healing; there's much less discomfort and pain, and I can actually sleep on my right side again. (Did you know that sleeping on your right side is better for your heart? )

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Having a completely healed right foot sure would be good for my heart.
Soon, Sandy! Soon!

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Driving Miss Sandy!

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I drove to work yesterday -- the first time in 4 weeks! Oh joy! Oh Bliss!
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But my driving required the perfect boot -- it had to be lightweight as well as adjustable in order to fit my still slightly-sausage-like toes and my fat ankle; and most importantly, they had to be STYLIN! So what did I come up with?
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My daughter's old converse sneaker --
Or as we used to call them in Newfoundland in the 60's -
Dash Get-Aways!
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STYLIN' fo shor!
Note the skull shoe-lace and the red wooly sock (festive as well as warm on my tootsies).
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But that's only my injured foot. Alas, my left foot must be much more functional therefore less stylin'.
My foot didn't complain too much after the driving -- just a funny sort-of heavy pins and needles sensation from the nerves waking up. And I took off my new stylin boot when I got to work and put my foot up until I was ready to go home.
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And when I got home (safely and without running into anyone else on the road), I was so pumped that I decided to bake cookies. Peanut butter oatmeal with chocolate and butterscotch chips.Reward for a hard day's work.
Phew! I was tired after all that!

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But how encouraging for me! I'm feeling like there may be an end to this foot purgatory. Still, I'll not push the envelope too far this weekend. My foot will mostly be found in a supine position until Monday.
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My stylin' boot is at the ready!
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rabbit, Rabbit Day!




Rabbit Rabbit everyone!

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It's the first day of my favorite month.

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And if you can't have a miraculously healed foot, receiving a lovely gift in the mail is a pretty darn great way to start the month, huh!

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Last month, I won a giveaway at Blondee's Diary (http://blondeesdiary.blotspot.com); and on Monday, this very pretty package was peeping out of the top of my mail box.

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But as pretty as the package was, the inside was prettier..

  • There's a new daily reading journal called "A Year with God" (and it's not dated, so if you get lazy and miss a day, you don't feel guilty about it! God doesn't want us feeling guilt anyway!)
  • A postcard of a beautiful watercolor by an artist friend of Blondee -- one worthy of framing.
  • and gorgeous handmade lilac lotion and lilac goats milk soap -- one of my favorite scents. The lotion is in a ball form, and it's perfect for rubbing on my sore, rough elbows and heels. Plus, I smell absolutely divine!

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Thank you so much Blondee. What a lovely gift to receive!

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It's a beautiful morning! I woke at 7 with the sun streaming in my window; the temperature is 3 deg celcius (38 deg fahrenheit). And as I prepared for work, I was filled with a sense of well being, hope and excitement for the coming Christmas season.

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Ahhhhh! Contentment!

PLUS I smell absolutely divine!

Life is good.

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