Simple advice for a better life.

Where did the time go? Don’t we say this more often now than ever before?

Time just seems to fly by, as 2010 is almost gone, and 2011 is  ready to begin.

New Year, new beginning, new resolutions, and the same good old great parties to give it all a great jump start.

Last year I posted a summary of party foods for your convenience, but if you missed it have no worries,  just click here, and start planning your party.

Here are a few new ones for your consideration:

Try one, or try them all, and please come back with comments.

Enjoy your party!

HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2011

Things to Smile About – Maxine Humor

MaxineThe holiday  hustle and bustle is almost over (don’t count your blessings yet….it starts all over again in the  New Year, you knew that, right?), so lets take some time out for a good laugh.

Nothing beats fun “wisdom” from Maxine:


4 years without president

****My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t.

****I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

****Some people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them.

****I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

****Don’t take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.

****You’re just jealous because the voices only talk to me

Maxine - few drinks

****Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

****Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.

****You’re just jealous because the voices only talk to me

****I’m not a complete idiot — Some parts are just missing.

Hitting escape

****Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.

****God must love stupid people; He made so many.

****The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

Maxine - getting older

****Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.

****Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Are you feeling better yet? Good!

You know that laughter is not only the best medicine, but it also burns calories!!

My Christmas Tree Decorating Theme

Christmas TreeDecorating a Christmas Tree is  a fun time for the whole family to engage in.  We always used to have a fresh Christmas Tree, and I loved the evergreen smell that filled the house.  However, later on we decided to save a tree, and purchased an artificial one.

Our tree decorating theme continued to change throughout the years, as the family was growing older. We started with a bunch of handmade items created by our children, and added some handcrafted ones purchased at craft shows, and church bazaars.  I still have most of these decorations, but will slowly pass them back to the family  “artists”, as now they decorate their own trees, with their growing families.

My current Christmas Tree decorating theme consists of snow flakes, angels, and Ukrainian design ceramic ornaments.

Today I will share pictures of my angel ornaments.

Ceramic Guadian Angel

This is a Ukrainian design ceramic bell shaped ornament, with a painted picture of a Guardian Angel, protecting small children going sledding.  There actually is a special prayer for children to their Guardian Angel, and my little granddaughter is learning it already.

Crinkle paper angelThis angel was made by a very  nice young lady I knew in upstate NY.   I purchased it at a church bazaar.  It is made out of a wooden ball, crinkle paper, and some ribbon.

crochet angel

This crochet angel is very special to me, as it was made by my sister, and sent to me from Europe.  She is very talented, and creates all her crocheting pieces, thus one of a kind, without any written instructions. She taught me how to crochet, during our early teen years, but I am not nearly as good at this as she is.  I am so proud of her.

Stained Glass AngelThis stained glass angel was made by an artist in Europe, and gifted to me by my niece, who lives in Krakow.  My nieces are such dolls.

crochet doily angel crochet doily angel 2

These two angels were created by a very kind lady I worked with several years back.  Every year I decorate my tree with these, I reminisce about those happy days we shared at work.

Embroidery Floss AngelThis angel is made mostly out of white embroidery floss and some ribbon.  I also purchased this one at a church bazaar.

Nylon twine angel This very dainty looking angel is made out of a nylon twine.  It was handmade by a craftsman in Krakow, and my niece presented me with it.  She loves art, and being an architect herself, she has a good eye for beautiful things.

Straw angelThis angel is created  out of straw.  I purchased it at an art museum, as it reminded me of  Christmas ornaments from my childhood.

I had a wonderful time sharing these pictures, and thoughts, with you.

Hopefully you found them interesting and enjoyable.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

KHRYSTOS NARODYVSIA – SLAVYTY YOHO!!

WESOLYCH SWIAT BOZEGO NARODZENIA!!

Peppermint bark  - suburbangrandma.comChocolate Peppermint Bark is lots of fun to make, and a great idea for holiday gift giving.

My daughter passed her recipe to me to try out, and I am sharing a slightly modified version with you.

I know you will love the creamy, yet crunchy, texture, and the minty refreshing flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz dark chocolate chips (12 oz for a thinner layer)
  • 18 oz white chocolate chips (12 oz for a thinner layer)
  • 1 cup chipped candy canes, or peppermint hard candy

Directions:

  1. Unwrap the candy canes, or peppermint hard candy.
  2. Place them in a Ziploc bag,  and zip it closed.
  3. Place the bag between two kitchen towels, on a counter top, or any had surface.
  4. Using a meat mallet, or a rolling pin, break up the peppermint candy to medium size (raisins size or larger) chunks.
  5. Set aside.
  6. Line a 11 x 18 inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and grease it lightly with butter , or cooking spray.
  7. Melt the dark chocolate and spread it evenly over the bottom of the cookie sheet (use a knife, or the back of a spoon, for easier handling).
  8. Place it in the fridge to cool completely, to firm up.
  9. Melt the white chocolate.
  10. Save 1/4  of the chipped peppermint candy, for topping.
  11. Fold in the rest of the peppermint chips into the melted white chocolate, to incorporate evenly.
  12. Pour the white chocolate/peppermint chips, over the cooled dark chocolate.
  13. Smooth it out.
  14. Sprinkle the saved peppermint chips over the top of the white chocolate.
  15. Press gently with your hand, to slightly embed them into the white chocolate.
  16. Place the pan back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or longer, so the chocolate bark sets firmly.
  17. Once set, using your hands, break up the Chocolate Peppermint Bark into uneven pieces,  and store in an airtight container (I peeled off the foil paper,used a knife to pre-cut the bottom of the dark chocolate, for easier handling)

Peppermint bark close up view- suburbangrandma.com

Enjoy!

Honey cake variety arrangementUkrainians (as also  many other Europeans) use honey in cooking, baking, and home remedies to treat almost anything.  My dad would always concoct some home remedy with the use of honey, but then again, one of his hobbies was beekeeping.

I love honey cake, but especially more so around the holidays.  There is something very soothing about having hot herbal tea with a piece of honey cake, on a cold winter day, which is perfect around Christmas.

Here is my favorite recipe for a honey cake, which I call “Never Fail”, as it never has failed me yet.

You can use a little bit of creativity, and turn one plain honey sheet cake into  three different cakes.

Honey Sheet Cake

Original honey sheet cake.

Honey Sheet Cake - separated into thirds

One third of the honey cake is iced with chocolate ganache and walnuts, second part will remain plain, and third part will also be iced with chocolate ganache.

Honey Sheet Cake - Chocolate ganache topping with chopped walnuts,white icing with Irish Caramel Cream liqourHoney Sheet Cake - Chocolate ganache topping, and chocolate rum fillingHoney Sheet Cake - original and plain with powdered sugar

Once the three sections are separated, the plain one is sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving. One section is layered with two layers of white frosting flavored with Bailey’s Irish Caramel Cream liquor,  and the third section is layered with one layer of chocolate icing flavored with rum.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey (wild flower, or clover, not buckwheat)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1/4 tsp allspice, ground
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Chopped nuts (optional)
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs and sugar until thick.
  2. Add vegetable oil, honey, and sour cream.
  3. Beat well.
  4. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
  5. Gradually mix it into the liquids.
  6. Add vanilla, and mix well.
  7. Grease and flour two loaf pans, or a 9 x 13 sheet cake pan (I use the sheet cake pan).
  8. Preheat oven to  350 F.
  9. Pour batter into the pans. Sprinkle nuts over top (optional).
  10. Bake on the middle oven rack for 40-50 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from pans onto wire rack, and cool completely.
  13. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar before cutting to serving pieces.

If you decide to make it into a torte, this is the time to cut it into layers, and spread you favorite filling.

Wrap the torte in foil, or saran wrap, and keep it refrigerated.

Honey cakes also freeze very well.

Enjoy.

TIP: You can turn this plain honey cake into a torte, by cutting horizontally in half, or more layers, and layer it with your favorite butter icing.  You can frost the sides as well, but it will be fine just leaving them plain, and pouring chocolate or vanilla glaze over the top and letting it drip down the sides.


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