Friday, December 26, 2014

12 tissue boxes of Christmas


Mark made tzimmes with a potato kugel topping. Note how my plate had nothing but fresh veggies on it! #Christmas #dinner #family #mealOn the eve of Christmas Eve, I got sick.  I am still sick.  I have the bug that will not quit.  I am stuffed up, tired, sore, head achey and generally miserable.  I think Mark may be coming down with it too.  It's like a gift that keeps on giving.
I woke up on Tuesday morning, feeling spectacularly crappy and basically spent the day, in a fog, on the sofa with the dogs, hiding under a blanket while sipping tea and eating oranges.  Now, that would not be a bad way to spend the day if it weren't for the fact that I felt like hammered crap.

Wednesday morning arrived and I needed to do just a little bit more baking.  I had actually baked a couple of batches of cookies on Monday and needed to get at least one more thing made before Christmas arrived.  Every year, I make Skor Toffee Bit cookies for my dad.  I had forgotten to get the bits with my shopping on Sunday so Mark bravely faced the grocery store for me on Monday and picked them up for me.  There was no way I was not making these cookies for dad!!

While the cookies turned out okay, I realize now that I should have never done them.  In my fuzzy state, I ended up adding double the sugar to the recipe.  Luckily I realized my mistake and was able to double everything else (except the Skor bits, I ended up using a package of butterscotch chipits in addition to the bits) and save the batch.  By the time I got them done, every square inch of counter space and my dining room table were covered with cooling cookies.  I realized I was done and the baking had to stop.

Christmas day was nice.  We saw my family and had a lovely meal but I would have enjoyed it more if I had been able to breathe a bit more.  My brother and his partner were here from Ottawa and it was great to see them.  My mum is getting over the same bug I have so we were a great pair!!

Boxing day has been quiet for us.  Being sick is NEVER fun but being sick over the holidays is particularly yucky but at least we're not expected to be anywhere anytime soon. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

getting to goodies

Before & after, Hershey pretzel hug treats. These are always popular! #yummy #Christmas #bakingBetter later than never, I'm finally getting started with some holiday baking.  I've been off work for over a week now but just haven't gotten the gumption up to get started.

Today, I made some Hershey pretzel treats.  Now, you're supposed to make these with kisses but I now only use hugs.  I found that the kisses just never melted for me, properly.  Maybe Canadian kisses have too much wax in them, I don't know.  When I use hugs (or Candy Cane kisses - any of the white chocolate kisses), they turn out fabulously.  I have even had good luck the last 5 years or so to get square pretzels at the Bulk Barn.  These are easy to do (I imagine it would be fun to do them with kids) and they are always a huge hit on a cookie plate.  The biggest part of the job is always peeling the hugs but this year it didn't take too long.  I'm  hoping that having these finished will get me in the mood for real, serious cooking baking.  We'll see.

In previous years, I did a lot of holiday baking.  Two years ago, we were getting ready to move so I didn't do much.  In 2013, between the big ice storm and my getting really good and sick with the flu, I did even less than I had the previous year.

I have a list of things I'd like to accomplish in the kitchen before the big day arrives but I'm planning to not beat myself up if I don't hit everything on the list.  My goal for this holiday season is to relax and enjoy it.  If I can get to everything I want to do, great, if I don't.  It's not the end of the world and the only person who'll know about what didn't happen will be me!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Coffee, Coffee, COFFEE!!!!

The fine folks at Influenster recently sent me a Keurig 2.0 (model K300) to check out. They sent this to me, free of charge, in exchange for my review.  It is the first time I have received a Voxbox and was really thrilled to learn that I would be receiving a Keurig machine to review.

We're fans of Keurig products and have been using one of their older machines in our house for about 18 months now.  What we find appealing about single serving coffee makers is the variety.  Mark likes really bold, dark roasts and I like medium roasts and flavoured coffees.  For years, we compromised on our regular morning pot of coffee and if we really wanted to indulge ourselves, we would "get our coffee on the outside" a la Jerry Seinfeld.

I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about the Keurig 2.0 for a few months now and was anxious to check it out.  Out of the box, I noticed that this particular unit was a lot smaller and lighter than our current Keurig.  Also, on the box and on the materials which accompanied the coffee maker, it stated that the machine will only operate with Keurig branded products.  Some of Mark's favourite blends are not branded with the Keurig ring so I'm not sure if we'll be able to make a permanent switch or not but I did try it out with one of my favourite flavours, Green Mountain Vanilla Caramel. 

As I expected from Keurig, the machine heats up quickly and made a nice cup of coffee.   The temperature was good and the flavour was consistent with what I was accustomed to drinking.

The reason that this machine is "2.0" is because of the carafe.  Keurig 2.0 allows you to use a larger pod and made a pot of coffee.  Now, the carafe that comes with the K300 is made of plastic and would not be great for keeping coffee warm in.  They do sell upgraded carafes which are probably insulated but the accompanying carafe I received was pretty flimsy.  Flimsy-ness aside, it did brew a nice pot of coffee.  This feature would be really useful if you were having a group of people over and didn't want to be making 4 individual cups of coffee. Using one larger pod saves you time and it also cuts down on the waste.

In addition to the carafe, I received a box with samples of individual k-cups and the larger pods.  The Keurig 2.0 would make a terrific gift for anyone on your Christmas shopping list who loves coffee.  It doesn't take up a lot of room on your counter and it consistently brews delicious coffee.  If you'd like to see what it looks like, I have made a little video (my first ever) - you can also hear how it works too!!

Thanks again to Influenster and Keurig for this opportunity!

Monday, December 15, 2014

waiting game

While we were waiting in the clinic earlier, I mentioned to Mark that it was 350 days ago that we found out his cancer had metastasized to his liver. Where did that time go!?

We are just home from Mark's appointment at the cancer clinic. I had forgotten how weird the energy is in that place. When you're in the chemo area, everyone is very positive and friendly. Perhaps because they are actively participating in their treatment and there is a lot of hope that treatment is working like it's supposed to.

Over on the other side of the building however, it's different. You have folks there, like Mark, who have completed chemo and are waiting to find out how they did. Other people are there for a six month or twelve month check up. What we saw today was a large group of newbies. They are the walking wounded who have recently received a cancer diagnosis, or are perhaps recovering from cancer surgery and are there for the first time for their chemo consultation. I remember how we felt the day we were in that position. It's a terrible, long, exhausting day. You're overwhelmed and terrified. We felt a lot of that energy yesterday.

We waited for almost 90 minutes to actually see the oncologist. The news was as we expected, no surprises. Mark has responded well to the chemo and he'll go back for another scan and bloodwork in June. For the foreseeable future, he'll be visiting the clinic every six months. I have no idea when you get to be officially cancer free but for now, he's done with chemo and surgeries, which is a very good thing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

check in

2014 has been a whirlwind year for us. It feels like just yesterday we got that call from the surgeon's office about Mark's liver cancer. At times it feels like we didn't accomplish a lot this year but in reality, we did. Well Mark did, I was just along for the ride really. A couple of weeks ago, he went for a scan. It took place about 3 months after his last chemo treatment. He is still waiting to feel normal again. Not sure if his old normal will ever return or if he is stuck with this new normal. The new normal has a lot of stomach upset and neuropathy in his hands. Compared to cancer though, I suppose it's a small price to pay. Tomorrow we have a follow up meeting with his oncologist. This is the first time we'll be seeing him since chemo ended and we'll find out the results of his scan. We're both optimistic about the meeting. The surgery went well, he completed his chemo and he seems to be feeling okay, all things considered. All the same, it's a worry. It'll be nice to have it out of the way and to know what his status is!

Friday, December 12, 2014


The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur. Work has been really busy for both of us. Mark's had a few doctor's appointments which have keep him on the run and I have had a few extra meetings regarding my volunteer work. Everything seems to ramp up just before the holidays. Things only really shut down for a few days but the prep work for those few days seems to take a lot of our time. Today was my last day in the office until 2015. I feel worn out, mentally and physically. Of course, I have a list of things to do over the next week that is as long as my arm. This weekend though, I think I'll not worry about that list and just take it easy. I'm exhausted and have been fighting a bug all week so may just lay down on the sofa and see what happens.