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Friday, December 02, 2011


part 5


Christmas, a fixed holiday on the Julian Calendar for Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ the 'Messiah'. Yule, a fixed holiday for the Pagan's to celebrate (also known as Mithra, Saturnalia, Feast of Sol [sun] ). Both on the same day oddly enough. 

While there has always been discussion on the exact date of birth for Christ. Pagans have been celebrating Yule for centuries on the 25th of December before the birth of Christ came along. It marked the time where they would worship the Sun gods in great celebrations. It was a way to ensure the return of the sun and spring.

As the religious practices of Ancient times faded away into obscurity, Christians seized the opportunity and decreed December 25th the 'official' birthday for the Messiah.

This holiday season don't look at the differences in religions, look at the similarities. We are all one and we only have this one earth. Whether it is Merry Yule or Merry Christmas, either way, we are all celebrating!


Santa, Do You Remember Me?

Dear Santa Claus,

You probably don't remember me because, well I haven't believed in you since I was a kid. But, here goes nothing. 

My name is SSgt Mj Smith* and I'm 21yrs old. I am currently stationed in this god-forsaken desert country somewhere. I've never really been this far away from home before. I thought I would be rotated home for the holidays but unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. 

I'm really not sure what they are going to do for us guys over here, but I'm sure it won't be anything as good as Grandma's apple pie and Mom's homemade sugar cookies. The food here isn't bad per say, but I'd much rather be sitting at home eating with my brothers and sisters. 

What do I want for Christmas? Well, first I would ask for this fucking war to end. I'd ask for the nightmares to go away, for all my friends to stop dying around me. Most of all Santa, I'd like to come home in one piece. 

I love being a Soldier, don't get me wrong Santa, but when I signed up I didn't really understand just how hard it is. I didn't know that I would look forward to phone calls at 3am from home because it's daytime there. I didn't know that I would have to stare in the face of my best friend and watch him die while I laid helpless beside him. I never knew there was so much damn hatred in the world and that people could be so inherently cruel to one another. Most of all, I never knew how much I would miss myself. 

It's so hard to find reasons to smile or to laugh anymore Santa. Couldn't you find it in your compressed time frame and stop by here. I don't need much. A candy cane and maybe some chocolate and a phone card. OK lots and lots of phone cards. I believe in you Santa. I have to. If I don't believe in you, I won't believe in anything.

You are everything that is good and pure and wonderful on this earth. That is worth believing in. That is worth me fighting for and that is worth me dying for if that is my destiny. (kinda don't want that last one though)

So, Santa, if you can make it, please stop by Christmas Eve. Me and the guys here will do our best to make sure you land safely with the Reindeer (on the sand though the tents suck for supporting the sleigh). 

Thank you Santa, for letting me ramble on. 

Yours ever so truly,

SSGT Mj Smith 

p.s. If it isn't too much trouble, I could really use The Vampire Diaries on Blu-Ray and Lost Girl.  

*name and story are purely fictional and not to be confused with anyone dead or living*

Christmas in Uniform. Making Merry for Our Military

Christmas in Uniform
Making Merry for Our Military

We watch the television and see our men and women who are overseas fighting/peace-keeping and wonder how we can make their holiday season go a little better?

With the recent Wars, more focus has been placed on our Military Personnel stationed in far away lands.  With having little comforts of home and a long depressing holiday season ahead, it should be 'our' responsibility (yes I said responsibility); to ensure that they are not forgotten.

Yes, their respective families and friends send care packages, letters and trinkets to let them know they are thought of, but at this time of the year that simply isn't enough. Sending a care package to someone overseas doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate.
A simple shoe box filled with non perishable goods like trail mix, candy bars, gum, phone cards (believe me, phone cards mean so much). Letters, postcards and quick notes to say 'Hey, you are thought of and appreciated this holiday season', can make the difference in a Soldier's outlook. Christmas in a desert, isn't like celebrating on your home soil. Christmas trees are a thrill to have on post. Of course, the best gift to send a Soldier this holiday season, is the gift of hope and love.

If you knew that your freedom came from someone standing tall. Guarding you from invaders.  Wouldn't you want to express your gratitude?

Below is a list of companies that can help with sending a care package to 'ANY' serviceman or servicewoman around the world. If you choose one selfless act to do this holiday season, send a piece of your heart to a Soldier. It won't go unappreciated and you may just change someone's life (including your own).

COMPANIES THAT CARE  (one of my personal favorites) ( great site and company)

Military Mom at Home: Care Package Ideas

Military Mom at Home: Care Package Ideas: Care Packages... Parcels Sent With Love I have had many people requesting ideas for care packages. Yes.. this list has been truly in the ...

Belleau Wood: Christmas Truce



Today's tip is for those sports fans on your Christmas list. Fans is a fantastic site to show your favorite team colors with apparel, housewares and even pet fan gear. With sizes that go up to 6x (in some products) and the beautiful designs from 'Touched By Alyssa Milano' (the biggest fan around), you are sure to please even the Diva's on your list. 

Need a hoodie or t-shirt from a specific School/College? Fans Edge can help with that too. Type in the name of the school you are looking for and (most times), a good selection to choose from will come up. Great for grads of all ages! 

Fans Edge has secured transactions, several payment options (including currency changes) and great shipping prices. 

This holiday season, let them show off their team spirit in style!

*read more about Alyssa Milano and her designs at *

Thursday, December 01, 2011


My Favorite Holiday Music

Every year there is that one song that sticks in your head until the last snowflake melts. Here are my picks for Holiday songs that won't drive you insane. 

  • Belleau Wood by Garth Brooks (beautiful piece, Military based and guaranteed to tear anyone up)
  • Santa Bring My Baby by Elvis Presley
  • So This is Christmas by John Lennon
  • Silver and Gold by Burl Ives
  • O Holy Night by IL Divo  
  • Carol of the Bells by Vienna Orchestra 
  • Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie (classic if you can see the video)
  • It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Johnny Mathis 
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
  • White Christmas by Bing Crosby (with Danny Kaye, Vera Miles, Rosemary Clooney)
  • The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole 
  • Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill
  • Ave Maria by Barbra Streisand 
  • Mary's Boy Child by Harry Belafonte

I could keep going but the list would be as long as the 'Great Wall of China'. 

Suffice to say, I love Holiday music and I hope you enjoy my favorites too. Perhaps, some will find their way into your hearts and traditions as well.

Be blessed!


part 4

Saturnalia in Ancient Roman times was a winter festival that Pagans would celebrate with the glitz and glam of 'modern' Hollywood. 

Elaborate meals would be prepared. Silver and gold would be mingled in the evergreens for decoration and a sign of prosperity for the hosting families. The more gold you wore or showed off, the more prosperous you were. Of course, sacrifices and gifts to both the Gods and to one another was very important in the celebration rituals. 

Christians, later adopted several of the Saturnalia practices as Christmas became the more predominant holiday. The ritual of gift giving for Christians comes from the Magi presenting Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now it's DVDs, jewelry and an ugly tie for 'Uncle Joe'.  Just like their Pagan cousins, Christians also gather to celebrate with elaborate Christmas dinners. 

Every nationality has their own special 'dishes' for the holiday season. From Potica to Stollen to Buche de Noel; food plays a pivotal role in modern day celebrations. Pagans and Christians alike both enjoy and share in this rich and tasty tradition. 

Now where did I put my fork?

*Potica -Slovak/Czech bread
*Stollen - German cake
*Buche de Noel - France and Quebec cake (Yule Log)

Insomnia Chronic Style

Insomnia Chronic Style

At some point in time, everyone has suffered a night where they just can't sleep. Hours of endless hours staring at the ceiling, counting sheep, tossing and turning and yet still sleep eludes you. 

Chronic insomnia is debilitating, depressing and can cause many health and safety issues. The longer your body goes without REM (Rapid Eye Movement) which refreshes the mind and gives your body the rest it needs. The more your body begins to fight against you. 

Constant yawning, nodding off at inappropriate times (like driving) and general malaise feeling can make even 'Mary Poppins' grumpy. Chronic insomnia for me is compiled by the other existing chronic illnesses I suffer from. I can go days without sleeping and no matter what I try, take or do; sleep stays at bay.

Medications have their merit and I've been on medication for years to aid my sleep. The problem being, my body becoming dependent on the drugs instead of my internal clock. So, now I am reliant on something that really doesn't work but I would be tremendously worse without.

Just once, I would love to go an entire month of sleeping all night, every night. For now, I take what I  get. It's amazing what you can learn to do on 3-4 hrs of actual sleep. 



What do you buy the 'tween's that on your list this year besides the 'Bieber'? Well, if they are into 'Harry Potter', 'Batman', 'Vampire Diaries' and 'Superman'; then I have the perfect tip for you. 

The 'Warner Bros.' online store has something for young and old alike. From books to movies to memorabilia, 'Warner Bros'. is sure to have something to bring 'oohs and ahhs' Christmas morning. 

With classics like the 'Lord of the Rings' special limited edition box set or the soon to be flying off the shelves; The Hangover Game. 

For those discerning 'Harry Potter' fans who can't get enough, pick up a Wand or give them their very own personalized 'Welcome to Hogwart's' acceptance letter. 

With a verified secured checkout and reasonable shipping (kinda pricey for Canada, but some things are worth the cost) make this a definite site to bookmark this holiday season. 

Starbucks Let's Merry!

Starbucks Let's Merry!

Santa Claus Obsolete At The Mall? pt 2

Unfortunately, here is the sad proof of my earlier commentary. Sad Sad day for kids and the Toronto Eaton Centre.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011



In the 15th century, it is said that Londoners had a by-law that stated that they needed to decorate their homes and churches with whatever the season had that was 'green'. For the most part that meant evergreen trees, holly leaves, bay leaves(Laurel), and ivy. Evergreens represented life because they did not die in the winter as other trees did. 

Residents would wrap evergreen around banisters, and around hearths. Placing candles around to make a charming functional centerpiece. Holly and Ivy, were both used for their greenery as well as their religious representations.

While Christianity also finds special meaning behind the holly berries and ivy  (representing the Crown of Jesus and the blood he shed).  Pagans use holly to ward off evil spirits and darkness of some magic. 

Through the years and into the modern era; we still use holly and ivy in both the Christmas and Yule celebrations. Red and green have become synonymous with the holiday season and bring a smile to any one's face. The placing of evergreen garland expanded to include putting an entire tree of evergreen in the home in accordance with the traditional 'law'. 

May the home be filled with the love, life, hope, peace and tranquility that this season brings! 

Yes, Sher there is a Foodie Claus

The following is a secret letter from Santa's kitchen that was intercepted before any real damage was done.

Dear Sher:

It seems like centuries since Santa received any letters from kids wanting 'Baby Brie' from Golden Ears CheeseWorks, '2Bench White' from Tinhorn Creek Winery, 'Beef & Barley Soup Mix' from Glenlochar Kitchens and Balsamic Reduction from 'Nonna Pia's' in Whistler. Seems to me (I'm Santa's personal Chef Chet Nuts), that you have an obsession with food. 

Most kids, your age (ahem), want stuff like Emerald rings and Vampire Diaries on Dvd. What could you possibly want with those ingredients? Unless, of course you are, one of those....dare I say it? 'Foodie'. 

Sweet Sher, while we at the North Pole love getting fan letters and wish lists, we simply can't be fulfilling 'Foodie' lists. I mean, really, could you imagine the chaos that would ensue?  People would be flocking to stores to buy cooking equipment. Taking cooking lessons and, and, putting out gourmet dishes for Santa. Instead of his favorite chocolate chip cookies and milk, he is likely to get something like 'Braised Reindeer tenderloins' with a glass of 'GEW'. 

I'm sorry to say little girl, that your wishlist won't make it to Santa's bag. I've used it as kindling for the stove to make Santa his traditional ' Hot Chocolate Truffle Martinis'.  (betcha want that recipe don't you?)


Chef Chet Nuts

p.s. Dear Sher:

This is Santa.  My Chef Chet Nuts has been roasted over my open fire, and I promise there will be some 'foodie' gifts under your tree this year.



The holiday season is a perfect time to buy jewelry and today's tip will help you stretch those dollars while still finding that perfect piece that says 'Wow'. is a wonderful site for everyone on your list. From stunning necklaces and earrings to that spectacular ring she keeps asking for. Great prices, easy and secure transactions and free shipping make this site extremely attractive. Canadian residents can be excited that everything from the site is shipped from Canada to Canada with no duties!

No matter what your budget, My Jewelry will be sure to put sparkle under anyone's tree.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Holiday Movie Picks


This is my favorite time of year for watching movies. To have a well rounded video collection, I recommend the following holiday themed movies:


It's A Wonderful Life (B&W version)
Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara Stanwick version)
A Christmas Carol (B&W version with Alistar Sim)
The Santa Clause
Home for the Holidays
National Lampoon's Christmas
Miracle on 34th St (B&W version) 
Holiday Inn (B&W version)
Christmas With the Kranks
White Christmas
The Bells of St Mary's (my personal favorite)
A Christmas Story

For those who like 'Action' in their holiday movies, I suggest:

Die Hard
A Long Kiss Goodnight
Reindeer Games
Home Alone
Lethal Weapon
The Ice Harvest
The Last Boy Scout

Cartoon wise you can never go wrong with:

A Claymation Christmas
A Nightmare Before Christmas
A Winnie the Pooh Christmas
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
The Little Drummer Boy (my personal favorite)
A Muppet Christmas Carol
Polar Express

Of course the holiday season wouldn't be the same without these Tear jerkers:

I'll be Home for Christmas
One Magic Christmas (my personal favorite)
The Family Man
The Night They Saved Christmas

Of course, these are but a mere slice of the holiday movies out there. Go out and check out some of the lesser known movies, they are worth while and make a great addition to any one's movie collection.

Happy Movie Viewing

Long distance travel and Chronic Illness

Long distance travel
Chronic Illness

We all dread it. Those of us who suffer from any type of Chronic Illness dread travelling for the holidays. While flying is considerably faster than driving, it can be as taxing on the body and mind for a Chronic Illness sufferer. 

Anxiety, cramped spaces, limited bathroom availability (let alone space), motion sickness, and above all pain; makes travelling at times virtually impossible. Even quick drives can be problematic. 

So imagine, what it would be like for someone who suffers from chronic pain (like Fibromyalgia, Chrons, MS) to sit in one seat for an hour, two, three. Even a 'normal' person starts to have body aches after sitting for a long period of time. For us, it's like a nouveau torture chamber. 

The idea of hoping in a plane for ten or twelve hours scares the hell out of me. Yet, it is something I want to do in order to facilitate a life long dream. Of course, the short 4 hr 50 min flight to the East Coast still poses a certain amount of fear and trepidation for me. While I want to fly, I don't want the complications that will arise from it.

Travelling also means packing medications, accessories and making sure that all documentation is ready to go (extra health insurance, vaccines, allergies, emergency contacts etc). This time of year is tough enough to travel in as a healthy person. When you compile everything extra that Chronic Illness sufferers have to contend with; it really doesn't make it look all that appealing. 

Making sure you are prepared for any situation that might come up will help make travelling a little less worrisome. (Airport  security not included here, that's a whole different blog all to itself )

Travel smartly, safely and happily this holiday season while remembering that a Chronic Illness sufferer is travelling too and could be sitting next to you, so be patient, tolerant and show compassion. One day it could be you. 

*quick tip* print off a copy of all your medication and dosages just in case you run out or they get lost (damn luggage handlers). Give a copy to a trusted person at home and carry one copy with you. This way, if you do have an emergency, there is someone at home that will be able to assist .



Christians and Pagans* celebrate this time of year for different reason but with similiar items that make us all unite into one humanity.

Advent = meaning 'to come'. Christians await the 'coming' of Christ's birth and Pagans await the return of the Sun from it's 'winter slumber'. 

While the Advent Calendar, counts down the days until Christmas eve, the Advent Wreath is decorative in nature. 

Parents and children traditionally mark each day of Advent with opening up a window on their calendar. The calendar can have toys, chocolates, stuffed figures to mark each day's countdown. It is a great way for kids to learn the days of the week and math as well as 'biblical' teachings that accompany each day's window. 

The wreath was not developed by an early 'Martha Stewart', but rather by sheer preservation. In the dark ages, cart wheels were brought into the home during the winter to prevent them from decaying. To 'hide' the look of the wheel, garland and tree boughs were strung in and around the wheel making it look like a 'wreath'. They were also used as impromptu chandeliers, as they were easy to hang and would spin them in ritual to bring back the 'sun' (light).

As the tradition flourished over the years, Christians adopted the use of the wreaths as decoration while maintaining the biblical reverences with the calendar. 

The joys of this holiday season can be celebrated, marked and shared by everyone no matter the religion. 

**more to come**

*Pagan = Wiccan for this purpose



Have a 'foodie' on your list, but have no idea what to buy them? Well this daily tip is for you and them. Any foodie would be proud to have a personalized 'gift basket' from Golden Ears CheeseWorks in Maple Ridge. 

Their homemade cheeses, combined with jellies, relishes, compotes, herbs, vinegars from other local merchants would make any foodies mouth water. To make the gift basket even more special, Golden Ears CheeseWorks also has a variety of cheese accoutrement's like cheese boards, knives and brie warmers. 

If you still have room in your specially made gift basket, consider a gift certificate for one of their amazing Cooking Classes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glenlochar Kitchens Pays A Visit to Golden Ears CheeseWorks

Glenlochar Kitchens Pays A
Visit to
Golden Ears CheeseWorks

Sunday morning, while everyone was getting their 'Grey Cup' parties all prepped and ready for guests, the new owner of Glenlochar Kitchens' Georgina Sonmor was cooking up some Wintery goodness in the kitchen of Maple Ridge's Golden Ears CheeseWorks (22270 - 128th Ave)

Glenlochar Kitchens started in 1991 and it's newest owner Georgina Sonmor is thrilled to be providing quality soups that are 100% Canadian. With varieties like Beef & Barley, Country Chowder, Dill Pea and a very hearty Stonehouse Soup as well as five others, Glenlochar has something for everyone. Located in Surrey, it's sure to be a hit with the 'shop local' foodies. 

The savoury aroma from Beef & Barley soup filled the store beckoning customers to try a sample. All the soups are 'Low fat, No Trans Fat, No Cholesterol and are a very high source of fibre'.  The soups come dry packaged and the consumer just needs to add just a couple of ingredients and it's great for the stove top or to make ahead in a crock pot.

So the next time you are in Maple Ridge, be sure to stop into Golden Ears CheeseWorks for some incredibly fresh cheese (just released Farmer's Cheese) and a box or two of Glenlochar Kitchens Soups.  If you can't make it, Glenlochar has a fantastic website and toll free number to get you connected.

1-888-567-3718 (toll free)
604-317-8933 (Lower Mainland)



Today's tip is for the health conscience. For those who suffer Chronic Illnesses, have specialized dietary needs or are just wanting to eat more Organic food; then today's tip is for you.

Abe's Market is a website for the Natural and Organically product minded. With gift baskets, free shipping and some amazing speciality items, Abe's will be a hit with everyone on your list. 

Be sure to check out their wonderful line of Natural products for your 4 legged family member too. 

Food, bath, beauty, home and fashion all on one site!



If you have a die hard fan of the Discovery Channel with hit shows like 'Deadliest Catch', then the Discovery Channel Store is the perfect website!

They have show DVDs, as well as apparel, general merchandise and one-of-a-kind gifts that are sure to be a hit for anyone in the family or for a 'Secret Santa'. 

Safe and easy transactions and a fun site to visit. Take advantage of the 'Cyber Monday' savings if you can!