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How I Lost 10 Pounds On My Summer Vacation

I’m back and so glad to be here. It’s been an incredibly busy summer that started out with us packing and moving the in-laws from their apartment into a senior’s facility. They didn’t need to do much downsizing because the spaces were comparable in size, but their move inspired me to continue to clean out the accumulation of “stuff” that one collects over the years.

As we packed—and packed and packed—I kept thinking that I don’t want to put my boys through this. Better to get stuff sorted and recycled and discarded BEFORE it’s time to downsize.

Fragile-packing-boxThere’s also the fact that the older we get, the harder it is to make changes in our life. At 95 and 86, my in-laws were resistant to the move. They didn’t want to leave their apartment. They didn’t want to part with anything. My father-in-law kept packing and unpacking and repacking the same box, until we’d finally sneak it out of his room when his back was turned, tape it closed, and move it to the pile of boxes so he’d be done with it.

Except when we’d arrive the next day, he’d have opened all of the boxes in his search to find the one we took from him.

On the day before the actual move, I was packing up the last of the kitchen items. When I thought I was finished, I double-checked each cupboard and drawer to ensure that I hadn’t missed anything. Then I opened up the dishwasher…and it was full of dirty dishes that my mother-in-law had been storing there until the move.

My DH says that the look on my face was priceless, a mixture of stunned disbelief and barely contained annoyance. Before a few choice words could escape, I sealed my mouth shut, unloaded the dishwasher, and proceeded to wash and dry all of the dishes so I could pack them away for the movers.

The packing ordeal lasted three whole weeks. Three weeks of hot, humid weather. Three weeks of sorting and packing, unpacking and repacking. Three weeks of digging deep and discovering more patience than both my DH and I thought we ever had.

Thankfully, it’s long over now and the in-laws are still adjusting to their new place. On the day my in-laws moved, my mother went in for her knee operation, which I’ll tell you all about next time. 🙂

Bake-Love-Write-coverDuring my in-law’s move, I lost 10 pounds, a nice bonus considering I’d been trying to lose those 10 pounds for about 10 years. But now I’m sure I’ll gain those 10 pounds back this winter because of the BAKE, LOVE, WRITE Cookbook: 105 authors share their favorite recipes and advice on love and writing.

You should check it out. Maybe buy copies to give to your friends and relatives as gifts. My Banana Nut Bread is in the book along with a pile of mouth-watering recipes that will make you want to spend time in your kitchen. And then, of course, there’s the advice on love and writing that each author shared.

When was the last time you packed up and moved yourself or someone else? Did you love it as much as I did? Or are you looking forward to the next move?

Naughty and Nice Blog Hop!

Naughty and Nice Blog HopJoin me for the Naughty and Nice Blog Hop, which runs from December 11 to December 16, 2013. For details, visit my website. The grand prize draw is for a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ loaded with ebooks. And in addition to the many blog hop prizes, if you subscribe to my Newsletter, you’ll be eligible to win 1 of 5 free copies of my books (winner’s choice).

And now, whether you’re naughty or nice during this holiday season, I’d like to repost my family’s favorite Christmas treat.

Sheila’s Poppycock Recipe

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup whole un-blanched almonds

8 cups popped popcorn

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup margarine

1/2 cup golden corn syrup

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. vanilla

Sheila's Poppycock RecipeHeat oven to 300 degrees. Spread pecans and almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast lightly. In a very large unbuttered bowl, mix nuts and popcorn together.

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup and cream of tartar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water, approximately four minutes. Note: if you like your poppycock less chewy, then cook until the mixture forms a hard ball when dropped into cold water, approximately five minutes.

Remove from stove and stir in the soda and vanilla. Be careful because the addition of the soda makes the mixture foam up.

Pour over the popcorn and nut mix. With a wooden spoon, stir until evenly coated. Leave in bowl until the poppycock is partially cooled but make sure you stir it once in a while to keep the mixture from forming into one hard ball.

When the popcorn and nuts have cooled some, dump it on to the countertop or on large cookie sheets and continue to stir occasionally until fully cooled. I usually leave it out overnight and every time I walk by, I stir it to break it apart. Someone will no doubt sneak a piece or two but that’s okay because it’s easy to make a second batch.

This makes a wonderful Christmas gift. I like to put it into jars and tins to give to family and friends. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Winter Wonderland

Last week, our snow melted. I know, weird, huh?

For anyone familiar with winter on the Canadian prairies, you know that once the snow arrives, the cold white flakes stick around till the following spring…which if we’re lucky occurs in late March. And if we’re not so fortunate, it might stick around till late May or early June.

Anyway, back to last week…

The first snowfall of 2013

For two days, the snow melted and it felt like spring. And let me tell you, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—better than being able to walk outside without a toque, mitts, heavy winter coat, and boots.

I spent those two days with a snow shovel in my hands, chipping the ice off the driveway, and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my head. And then the clouds moved back in and it began to snow again.

Now we have another foot or more of the white stuff.

Sure, it’s pretty, especially with the glow of Christmas lights shining through a dusting of newly fallen snow. Or on a frosty, sunny morning when we wake to trees covered in hoar frost and the entire landscape glitters.

But today, as I’m digging out from the latest snowfall, the temperature is dropping, the wind is blowing, and my back is sore. And it somehow feels more like a life sentence than it does a beautiful wonder of nature.

In my next life, I’m putting in a request for Hawaiian parents. 🙂

Before I go, I’d like to wish everyone an early happy Thanksgiving. I’ll be on a little vacation, someplace where there is no snow or snow shovels or toques or mitts. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

Do you get snow in your part of the world? What’s your favorite thing about the winter season? And for those of you who have never experienced the beauty of a winter wonderland, if you were to wake up to a fresh snowfall, what’s the first thing you would do?

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