Monday, December 20, 2010

"It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like"...STRESS!

As I write this I’m sitting in the Comox airport waiting for a flight that will take me to Edmonton after a week long vacation on beautiful Vancouver Island. I’ll arrive in Edmonton around 5:00 this afternoon and then get up at 5:30 the next morning to drive back to Calgary for a meeting early Monday afternoon, drive out to Sunshine Ski resort for a late afternoon meeting, and then drag my body, screaming in protest from the time difference, back to Calgary to meet my step-daughter for dinner before she has to drive back home to Manitoba. Tuesday morning I’ll mount a protest as I drag myself out of bed to the sounds of Christmas music emanating from the radio fixed on Shine FM, blast myself awake with a scalding hot shower and get on the road for Lethbridge for the day. Sound familiar? Maybe not the travel schedule but you can probably relate to the early morning and action packed days.
I look around at the people in the airport, watching the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle. Children wearing red santa hats and people holding bright bouquets of flowers anxiously mill around the arrival lounge, waiting with anticipation to be reunited with their family and loved ones for the holidays. On the departure side security is buzzing with activity. Travelers with carry on packages fidget impatiently in long lines, waiting their turn to practically strip down and pass through metal detectors, pat downs and explosive swab tests. I study the nameless faces as they pass by, yes “it is beginning to look a lot like”...wait a minute...what’s that I see etched deep into travelers’ faces and hidden behind forced smiles? Perhaps not “Christmas” as the song says, but...yes...that’s it...STRESS!
It’s less than a week before Christmas. Have you found yourself over the last week or so staying up late at night to decorate the house, bake the traditional Christmas goodies, shop for gifts, wrap presents, clean the house, prepare for guests, or any other number of chores we feel need to be done before we celebrate Christmas? It’s so easy to get caught up in “Christmas mania” and forget what the season of Advent is really about—a quiet time of reflection and preparation. Not preparation for dinner, or preparation for family, or preparation for gift giving, but preparation to welcome a tiny baby, the Saviour, Jesus Christ, into our hearts. In our busy lives we lose focus of this real reason for the celebration of Christmas and instead become hamsters on the perpetual wheel – always running but getting nowhere!  Christmas celebrations have become more challenging than ever with blended families, step-parents, step-children, step-grandparents, in-laws, out-laws, immediate family, visitation schedules and everything else that piles in on top of us.
I hope this will be a gentle reminder to me and to anyone reading it that the decorations DON’T need to be perfect, the house DOESN’T have to be immaculate, the baking DOESN’T have to get done and we don’t NEED all the gifts.  December 25 will arrive whether the house is decorated or not. The birthday of our Saviour and King will come regardless of whether all the traditional baking is done. Don’t miss the real reason for Christmas. Don’t miss the awe and wonder of what happened in a stable some two thousand years ago. “She gave birth to a son...wrapped him in a blanket and laid him a manager…” Luke 2:7 “The angel said, don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Saviour has just been born in David’s town, a Saviour who is Messiah and Master…” Luke 2:10-11. Amen!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Easiest Snack Mix Recipe...EVER!

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting a lady who is a woman after my own heart sharing my love of baking and experimenting with new recipes. She shared with me what I am convinced is the absolute, EASIEST recipe in the world for a snack mix!!! No baking required, 10 minutes start to finish and very little clean up required. Tastes great, easy to make, low stress, what else could you ask for in a Christmas snack recipe! The hardest part of this recipe is finding a large brown paper bag (yes this is part of the recipe)!  Check your local grocery store to see if they'll bag your groceries in paper rather than plastic. (If you're in Calgary check out the Calgary Co-op)  So here's the recipe...


1 box Crispix cereal (or Shreddies if you prefer)
1 box mini Ritz crackers
1 bag cheddar Fishie crackers
1 bag pretzel sticks
As many peanuts as you want...or none if you wish (I used almonds and macadamia nuts)
1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Original Dressing Mix (dry) - find it in the salad dressing aisle
1/2 cup vegetable oil (you can use a little less if you like)
2 - 3 tablespoons dill weed

There are no rules to this recipe - use any combination of ingredients you want in whatever combination you like.

Here's the fun part...put all the cereal, crackers, fishies, pretzels and nuts in a large brown paper bag. Pour oil, ranch dressing mix and dill weed directly into the bag. Close bag and shake for a few minutes (good way of taking out frustrations, too). 

You can store the snack mix at room temperature or if you want to keep it for a long period of time put it in a container in the freezer. It's just hard to not eat it all at once!!