Everyday Epiphanies-Simple Ideas for the Holidays


Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart.com

Living In Durham Blog


Christmas time is always my favourite time of the year for numerous reasons, the weather, the Christmas atmosphere, the colourful decorations and of course because I was born on Christmas Day, so it is extra special for me. Now, people always ask me this once they realize I was born on Christmas Day. “Do I get lots of gifts?” The answer is no. Oh, my gosh! It’s all about my kids really– at Christmas time. Recently, I said to my daughter, “It’s going to be my birthday soon,” Her reply, “Mom, lets just focus here, I am thinking about the gifts” Oh, my gosh! “Like forget the mom and her birthday, focus, mom! focus on the important details, please.” I couldn’t help but laugh—{actually I am laughing as I write this} oh, my, gosh!  I used to be just like her at Christmas time, just the gifts, thank you very much. The things we moms go through. This year will be especially more important than any other Christmas for me and my kids though, so I will do my outmost to try and make them feel happy and have lots of fun.

The Kids love making their own ornaments at Christmas time, just a couple to add their own personality to the tree. The best thing been born on Christmas Day is that no one really forgets your birthday, I guess that’s it, but I do try to enjoy this day, because not only is it my birthday but it’s such a special time of the year for me, and this birthday for me will be particularly more important than any other. This weekend I will be decorating the house for Christmas starting with the outside first, then work my way in. My decorating style is usually on the Traditional Style of decorating. My kids are always happy to see the decorations go up especially my 5 yr.old son. 

        picture courtesy of “Southern Living Mag”

Holiday Style Secrets: Tone down the tree.Since I have two wonderful children, I always want to make them happy all throughout the year, but especially during the Holidays. I usually am very busy baking for my company or just busy trying to get the house ready for Christmas. This Christmas I will decorate my home as usual, I usually let the kids help with decorating the Christmas Tree, and they can add there own handmade craft items to it as well.  During the Christmas season I usually try to attend church on Christmas Eve. If I don’t then I just stay home and watch a couple holiday movies with the kids. This time I will rent a couple movies to watch with the kids though, since that’s what they would like me to do, and I don’t mind at all.

The ideas I have presented below for the Holidays are for you to just browse through, visit the websites and see what you like, it’s always great to see what ideas these online magazines have. Most people have their own traditions to follow their own ideas and ways of doing things each holiday season, but you also get to pick up new ideas as well.  You will see below ideas from “Southern Living Magazine online & Southern Accent Magazine online both sister companies with different ideas for Christmas. In addition, appetizer information from the “Ladies Home Journal Online as well.  I choose these online magazines because they always have something for everyone and I really like these ones, they are my favourites’. “Martha Stewart Living” also offers great ideas for Christmas.


Fresh Greenery, Fruit, and Flower Centerpiece

picture courtesy of “Southern Living Mag”

At Christmas time, I usually have my favourite things I like to create every year, like cooking a Smoked Ham from the local butcher shop. I don’t like buying those frozen hams from the supermarket, they don’t offer much in terms of flavour. If you live in the Durham Region, like say Bowmanville, Newcastle, Oshawa, Whitby etc. I usually purchase my Ham from Ullrich’s Meat 905-263-2398. I like to support local farmers and local Artisans especially during the summer time and at Christmas time as well, because I believe we should all support the local small business community whenever we can. Shop Locally, Eat Locally is the motto I try to live by.

“Wines I Love”

Image of Archibald's LogoEveryone I believe have their favourite Wine or Alcoholic beverage they like to indulge in at Christmas time. I don’t consume wine or much alcohol during the year, but at Christmas time I have my favourite place I purchase wine. I don’t shop at the LCBO for wine only for rum for the Jamaican fruitcake I make during the holidays. The Jamaican Fruitcake I make every year is not like the ones you find in the supermarkets, oh, my gosh! It’s really good, really moist and delicious, made with Jamaican Appleton Rum and California Red Wine, and Guinness. Most of this though is used to soak the dry fruits I used in the fruitcake. I make this Fruitcake every Christmas from a recipe my Grandmother had, and then I give some to a few friends I have at my church, so they can get drunk, oh, my, gosh! Okay, so it’s not so bad, but if you eat too much you better not be driving, lol!

I always purchase my wines from “Archibald’s Estate Winery” http://www.archibaldswinery.com/ Owned and operated by Fred & Sandy Archibald. They make Apple Wines which I really love.   Also, if you order a case of wine (A Case of Wine includes 12 of your choice) from the company they can ship it anywhere in Ontario for FREE!  If you live in the Durham Region or not and you visit the store they will let you try the wine before you purchase so ask them, they won’t mind. You can pick a variety of flavours if you wish. (you can visit their website see link above)  Enjoy!

Here are my favourite ones:

Ida Red Oak Aged—This wine goes well with most dishes.

Apple Raspberry—This wine goes well with Roasted Chicken or Ham

Apple Black Currant

Apple Strawberry

However, of all four my top favourite is the 
“Ida Red Oak Aged.”Dry Wine

6275 Liberty St. N., Bowmanville, ON L1C 3K6 Canada · Tel: 905 263-2396 · Fax: 905 263-4263 · Email info@archibaldswinery.com


“Favourite Thing to Make during the Holidays”


What I like to do every year with the kids is make them a Gingerbread House and let them do the decorating themselves. This year is no exception, I will make the base of the Gingerbread house for them and then let them decorate it. This creates a lot of fun and excitement for them because they get to decorate the Gingerbread house however they choose to do it, and it gives me extra time to do other things.

Below you will find the Gingerbread house I made for my kids last year. After watching a television cooking show based in the UK. I realized this recipe was a keeper. The Gingerbread dough is so easy to make and so easy to handle, even if you are just a novice baker you will love this recipe. It uses quite a bit of ginger but it’s worth it.  You can prepare the dough ahead put in the refrigerator and get on with something else until it’s ready. Don’t panic once you make the dough and it comes off the stove you will be saying this is too soft I can’t work with it. You will be at first, but once you put it in the refrigerator– don’t forget though you will have some flour on hand to sprinkle on it while you roll out the dough. * Note the cooking time on the recipe says 40 mins. but it doesn’t take so long it should only take you about 15-20 mins. each batch depending on how many Gingerbread houses you plan on making.

Making Gingerbread houses are great fun for the kids and they are not expensive to make quite the opposite. Another Idea would be if you are the kind of person who have many grandchildren, nieces, or nephews you can make the Gingerbread houses but do not decorate them just wrap them as gifts once they are set. Then give them to the children as gifts for them to decorate.


 Gingerbread house and people recipe


Here is a recent comment posted on the site about this Gingerbread House:  Posted 05 Nov 2010 3:51 PM

“I have made this gingerbread house for the last 3 years for my children’s school fayre. I donate it for the raffle prize and it always gets lots of attention and comments after it has been eaten! really nice soft chewy gingerbread. Very easy to make.”

Here is the link below for the Gingerbread Recipe Enjoy making it and have lots of fun!!

Recipe Link: http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/610040

Template Link: http://uktv.co.uk/download/uktvfood_gingerbread_template.pdf


Party Appetizers

These wonderful party appetizers are from “Ladies Home Journal” online you can click on the link below and you will see a slide show with other appetizers as well as the link for the recipe.

Slide Show @ Ladies Home Journal w/ recipes: http://www.bhg.com/recipes/entertaining/appetizers/party-appetizer-recipes/?page=7

Crab-Vegetable Roll-ups

Crab and Vegetable Roll-Ups

This sort-of sushi without the rice and seaweed uses zucchini ribbons to wrap up a crab-filled package of flavor. Creating an assembly line with the ingredients lets you wrap and roll with ease. http://www.bhg.com/recipes/entertaining/appetizers/party-appetizer-recipes/?page=7


Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes

Instead of making eight large crab cakes, you can make about 30 miniature ones. Cook them about half the time until warmed through to at least 160 degrees.


 Salmon Croustades


Salmon Croustades

Add a little New Year’s confetti to these appetizers by dusting them with cracked tricolor peppercorns, rather than everyday black pepper. http://www.bhg.com/recipes/entertaining/appetizers/party-appetizer-recipes/?page=7

Over at “Southern Living Magazine” you can get great ideas for appetizers some will work for you and some won’t but it’s fun to browse and see what ideas they have. If you have a large family and lots of friends you can get them to help or have some of your friends offer to do appetizers for your party. You can also use these ideas for your New Years Eve Party as well.  Enjoy!


Our Best Holiday Appetizers—“Southern Living Magazine”

Start your holiday party with these delicious dips, spreads, and finger foods—-http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/christmas-holiday-appetizer-recipes-00417000068898/

Marinated Mozzarella

Marinated Mozzarella

These snacks are as simple as sliced cheese. Prepare them ahead of time to allow ample chill time. Be sure to garnish with a sprig of parsley or rosemary for a bit of panache. Recipe Link Below: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000001665328


Rich chocolate mousse

For a citrus version of this mousse, add the grated zest and juice of an orange to the chocolate at the melting stage.

This Recipe comes courtesy of “Hello Canada Magazine Online
Please visit link below for the recipe. I love this recipe because it is simple and easy to work with.  *Note: Even though the recipe calls for a “Lily O’Brien’s Organic Dark Chocolate” always remember you can substitute this with your favourite brand of chocolate.

Recipe Link: http://www.hellomagazine.com/cuisine/recipes/20080723354/rich/chocolate/mousse/1/

Rich chocolate mousse


Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 200g/8oz Lily O’Brien’s Organic Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp brandy or rum (optional)
  • 4 tsp whipped cream

Put the chocolate pieces into a bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat gently, stirring, until melted. Remove from the heat. Beat the egg yolks together and add them to the melted chocolate while it is still hot, beating thoroughly – this cooks the egg yolks slightly.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. Using a large metal spoon, fold the stiffened egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Carefully spoon the mousse into glasses or ramekins, cover the top of each with cling film and chill for 2 hours, until firm. If liked, just before stirring, use a skewer to make a few holes in the top of each mousse and drizzle some brandy over the top to soak in. Put the cream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and decorate each mousse with a star of whipped cream.


Decorating The Home For The Christmas Holiday 

Once again decorating ones home for the holidays is always based on individual styles, I am usually on the “Traditional Style” of decorating but for lots of ideas, whether you are Traditional or Contemporary you can head over to www.marthastewart.com for more ideas. Over the years I have collected a lot of ornaments so I don’t need to purchase any now, and many people like myself have collected quite a few, I suppose.


For those of you who like to host dinner parties during the Holiday Season and usually have a more formal setting then you can head over to “Southern Accent Magazine” www.southernaccents.com where you will find lots of great ideas and tips for your party.

Seven Steps to a Highly Successful Dinner Party

1. Camouflage your flaws.

Picture courtesy of “Southern Accent Magazine”

Hosting a party is expensive, messy, all-consuming — and definitely worth the effort. In this age of convenience, an elegant meal is a true delight. Here’s our guide to success: http://www.southernaccents.com/entertaining/parties/seven-steps-highly-successful-dinner-party-00400000026405/


86 Fresh Christmas Ideas—“Southern Accent Magazine”  You can browse through there extensive list of ideas. (See Link below)


Use our best decorating ideas to trim your tree, decorate your home, and set the table for this holiday season.

Christmas Decorating: Bright White Door


 Christmas Decorating Ideas: Pendant Lights



Christmas Decorating Ideas: Front Columns

Music for your enjoyment


This song reminds me of my Dad who use to love these oldies songs.
I love the original version to this song but this ones nice too.



Matthew WestContemporary Gospel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvSwcMp9vU4