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Friday, December 23, 2011


issue 3

It's Friday and the final preparations are being put in place for those of us who are celebrating Christmas. The roads are busier, the grocery stores jammed packed but the mood is light and oddly enough friendlier. A bouncy holiday tune began playing on the radio as I headed to my destination. GoldenEars CheeseWorks. 

The visit was spontaneous and figured I would get in and out quickly. Apparently, on the 23rd of December that idea was an epic fail! Pulling into their parking lot, I knew I was in for a lengthy wait at the tills. There were but a few choice spots left. Parking the Mustang, I headed in to the store.

As I walked into the store, the buzzing chatter of shoppers was loud but cheerful. The place was full of happy customers. The GoldenEars CheeseWorks had become one of my favorite local hangouts and apparently a lot of other Ridge Meadow's residents.  

I meandered into the store, knowing my sole purpose was to buy some pizza dough for my Stromboli's (hubby's treat for the guys at work over Christmas). There was just so much to look at. The chocolates gained my attention immediately, I acknowledged their silent urgings to buy but managed to walk past without grabbing any. 

The staff was running to keep up with their customer's purchases, questions and tastings. Wait, you get to sample cheese while you shop? Of course! Every day you can sample their cheeses! I eked by the cheese counter and the sweet aroma of cinnamon buns caught my senses. They were fresh and the cream cheese on top was bellowing. I resisted the temptation. 'I must be strong today', 'I can do this'. Nope, it was too late. The call of the 'Gouda Buns' was just too much to bear. I snapped a bag up and popped it into my basket. 

Returning to the cheese counter, I ordered my Cranberry Quark and fresh Baby Brie and went on my way to the till. Wishing the staff and those close by a 'Merry Christmas', I happily went on my way. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


issue 2
Dec 22 2011

When you least expect it, someone turns up in your daily life to give you a glimmer of hope. A shining moment in the paradox of humanity. A moment that re-enforces your faith and restores the joyousness that is the season. 

Tonight, in Ridge Meadows, I found mine. Never inquired on her name, I just acknowledged her as the 'Delightful Salvation Army Red Bucket Volunteer'. Standing in the chilly, of this early Thursday evening, her charming personality lit up the Save-on-Foods parking lot. She was joyfully singing Christmas carols and shaking her bells. I had taken notice of her actions while driving into the parking lot and her exuberance was energizing. As I walked closer, she was tossing her bells in the air and not missing a beat of her song, catching them and ringing them merrily.  

Walking into the store, I smiled but went on my way to complete my 'sudden' but urgent errand. The order I had placed had finally arrived and just in time too. After 20 minutes, I left the store, with a large bulky, heavy box in my arms. She smiled and wished me a 'Merry Christmas'.  Fumbling through my purse, I managed to get some money and toss it into her shiny red bucket and offered my best wishes back. The smile that had adorned her face had mellowed my very sullen mood. As I unlocked my car and put my box inside, I gazed upwards to the sky and saw a brilliant star. It seemed like it was the only one in the sky and it had me in full view. 

Maybe there is some truth to 'Dr Seuss's Grinch' after all. Sher's heart grew and grew that night. Maybe, this year everything will be all right. 

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011



One of the hardest things to have control over during Christmas is the screaming, running and generally 'hopped up on sugar' children. Here are a few 'life saving' tips to get over Christmas dinner without too much added stress.

  1. Make up little activity gift bags for each child attending dinner. A visit to your local 'Dollar Store' and you are all set. Little games, puzzle books, coloring books, crayons, stickers, story books. (Age appropriate, keeping in mind any really young children around) 
  2. Christmas Crackers. These are great for using as place settings. Tie a balloon to each cracker along with a name tag for each child. They can all open their crackers, once everyone is quiet at the table. 
  3. Separate time for eating. This one can be tricky. Large dinners can be hard enough, but making a special time for the kids can be problematic. My suggestion is to do a 'buffet' style dinner and have all the kids get their food 15 mins before the adults. That way they are already eating, while everyone else is getting their food. It also allows them to finish first and run off to another room to play with toys, etc while the grown-ups finish dinner.
  4. Fresh Air. If the weather is permitting, before all the guests arrive. Head outside to your backyard, frontyard (if you have them) and 'gently' hide some Christmas props. Pine cones, ornaments (plastic or wooden ones), garland, bows, etc. Then print up a 'Scavenger Hunt' list and have all the children do a holiday hunt. The older kids can help out the younger ones with reading, colors, math and the fresh air will tire them all out! If you live in a condo or apartment building. This one is a little tougher. You can do it in a spare room and just make the hiding spots a little more interesting. (laundry hampers, shoe boxes, drawers, closets etc).
  5. Have emergency food rations. It never fails, there will be one or two children that decide to make a fuss about Christmas dinner and not wanting to eat 'that'. Prepare ahead a quick mac n cheese, hot dogs that you can just pop in the microwave to reheat and serve. Trust me, this one you'll thank me for.
  6. Borrow or rent a gaming system. If you don't own a gaming system like 'Xbox' or 'Wii'. See if any of your guests would mind bringing theirs over ahead of dinner. You can hook it up on a spare television and it will keep them occupied! (if you rent one, be sure to rent all age games that way you don't have to worry about the younger ones seeing any violent games).
  7. Rent [or borrow]a Karaoke machine. Check your local Party supply store. Renting a machine is relatively inexpensive and easy to set up. It's a great way to get everyone involved and the laughter from watching 'Uncle Joe' singing 'Bieber' will keep all the kids entertained. 
These are just a few ideas to get you started. These ideas work great for Kwanzaa and Channukah celebrations as well. *dreidel contests work well*

The countdown continues.....



Beastly, a modern twist on the classic tale of 'Beauty and the Beast'. Released to the Theatres in March 2011. It stars the charming and delightful Vanessa Hudgens and the hunky Alex Pettyfer as the Beast. 

Beastly, takes the teen angst and social acceptance due to beauty to a new angle. Kyle, the most 'beautiful' boy in school is a total narcissist and thinks the only way to get ahead is with your good looks. 

Kyle finds himself suddenly cursed by fellow student Kendra (excellently portrayed by Mary-Kate Olsen). [yes, I found it a large surprise that she could actually act]. Kyle has a year to make someone fall in love with him after his transformation into the 'beast'. 

With witty comments from co-stars Neil Patrick Harris and Peter Krause, the movie although not a Box Office blowout, is a great must see on DVD. 

The make-up and artistry work on Kyle after the transformation is incredible! 

Rated: PG13 and runs for 86 mins. 

RAVEN RATING:  3.5 claws

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Not a good today.

5 days till Christmas and I'm facing sitting alone in a house while my husband works. Sure, it happens when you work shift work. Yes, it's supposed to be a happy and joyous time. Christmas just doesn't cut it for me anymore. Too many memories, too much sorrow and far too much stress to contend with. Even more so with the Tribunal just around the corner.

Too top it all off, my immune system has decided to allow me the great honor of being sick. My throat feels like a grater went through it. My nose is stuffed more than a baby's first Christmas stocking and my head is about to explode to the likes of Mt St Helens.

I'm sure there is a padded room out there with my name on it, I just need to find it. Until I do, I'll simply say the following:

Happy Channukah, Blessed Yule, Happy Saturnalia. Let the long winter begin and may the Goddess have some mercy on me soon.

Monday, December 19, 2011



Switching from shopping for gifts to setting up for Christmas!

Christmas dinner is the focal point of the family gathering surrounding this holiday.  Having a table that is fit for a King can be intimidating, here are the first few tips to get you started.

  1. To make a bow out of linen napkins, roll them diagonally, then slip one end through a napkin ring, then take the other end and loop it through the ring and gently pull until you have your bow. 
  2. Use recipe cards for place settings. Write a name on the card. Along with the menu and any special ingredients or activities for the day. 
  3. Mix and match your dishes. Dollar stores are excellent for picking up different colors and festive patterns. Value Village, can be a great resource as well. 
  4. Candles make everything special. Red, green, white, gold and silver candles are perfect choices. Keep the candles for the grown-up tables and use battery powered candles on the kids'. 
  5. Centerpieces can be made easily by a couple small branches of Evergreen. Lay the branches to make a circle, place fresh cut pomegranates at each end. place a silver or gold metal tray in the center of the circle. Place candles on the tray (melt a little wax from the candle to keep the candle in place)

More to come so stay tuned!

Sunday, December 18, 2011



With only 5 shopping days left, the need for local options is growing. In honor of late and last minute shoppers. This tip is for you!

Grocery stores, drug stores and restaurants are perfect to find those last minute gifts. From fresh flowers to chocolate to gift cards.

  • London Drugs/Shoppers DrugMart -Electronics department for great deals on movies, computer needs, televisions. Cosmetic department has lots to choose from. Perfumes, body sprays, bath products. Be sure to check down the 'Seasonal' aisles for fantastic bargains! Housewares aisles, you can find some incredible deals on kitchen appliances, dishware, silverware and everything ин between.
  • Safeway/Save-On-Foods/Great Canadian Superstore - Great for picking up a dessert, appetizers, last minute cranberries. Be sure to check out their selection of gifts, fruit baskets, fresh flowers and chocolates. Bakery department is awesome for finding a special treat for two or for the entire clan. Specialty cakes are available (call ahead to see what can be done). 
  • Restaurants. - Gift cards for a local restaurant  are a great last minute gift. Smaller denominations can be used for nice stocking stuffers too!  Be sure to check out the smaller eateries as well.