Hello, 2018! What do you have planned for me???
Huh. The better question is: What do I have planned for 2018? My 2018 word of the year is, “INTENTIONAL.”
Adjective, meaning: done on purpose, deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, planned. Meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful.
How does this word relate to My Suburban Sanctuary? I want to live my life with intention. I want to make studied and calculated decisions about what I bring into my home and into my life. I have cut back on my “big box” decor shopping over the years, especially anything made cheaply from China. Not that everything made in China is cheaply made, but you only have to look at the decor being offered at Michaels, Joannes, and Hobby Lobby to know what I am talking about. I intend to continue supporting small, local businesses, whenever possible, buy authentic vintage items and antiques for my home and then use them in intentional ways.
I’ll be purposeful in my purchases and not fill up the car with a bunch of impulsive buys, just because we pass an antique store.
I intend to choose healthier foods and intentionally support my body. I intend to lose weight in a thoughtful manner. I intend to improve myself and by doing so, I will improve the life of those around me as well.
I intend to be kinder. More forgiving. Withhold my opinions until they are asked for, unless it’s a situation that involves someone’s safety or well being, then I reserve the right to “opinionate’! Yes, I just made up a word. A pretty cool word too.
Intentional is a strong word. It implies knowing what you want to do before you actually do it. That might be tough for me, because I’ve always ascribed to the flying by the seat of my pants way of life, making snap decisions, acting on impulse, having only a vague plan……it’s recently left me feeling a bit discombobulated. Adrift, and re-doing things I hadn’t planned well. Purchasing things that didn’t really fit my vision because my vision kept changing, it wasn’t carefully planned! It was more like….”ooh, that’s cool….I want that!” Hence our Goodwill box filled up more than once and Mr B was making almost weekly trips to donate things I no longer liked or wanted or could figure out how to use. I saw dollar signs flying out. It wasn’t a good feeling.
Intentional is a good word for me.
I will also be very careful about who I let in my life, I have systematically divorced “friends” over the years who were negative or mean spirited. I developed that “skill” many years ago after experiencing a major hurt from a friend. A friend I trusted. From then on I became distrustful and had a “don’t suffer fools gladly” attitude. I no longer want to be as distrustful, but I do want to be careful. I want to be intentional about people and how they impact my life… a few I will have to let go, but there are more than a few who have brought passion, joy and light to me, and those are the people I will take along with me this year. 2018, just wait to learn what I have in store for YOU!
What word is yours for 2018? What changes will you make this year? Email me and let me know! MySuburbanSanctuary@Gmail.com
Be intentional in creating your sanctuary. Love the home you’re in now, not the one you may never have.
Every family has traditions. Things that are done the same way, year after year. Things that are counted on. Traditions provide a foundation and a feeling of coming home. Of safety. And happiness. Of continuity. Maybe it’s the way the mantel is decorated. Or the ornaments remain the same each year. Or it’s the cookies that Grandma always made, still being made long after Grandma is gone. Or perhaps it’s Lasagne for Christmas dinner. But what if a Tradition doesn’t “fit” anymore? Becomes too expensive, too “big” or too difficult? Is it OK to change a tradition?
In my case, our tradition was Christmas Stockings. I was a single mother. I didn’t always have enough money to buy a tree. I sometimes put red ribbon bows and candy canes on a Ficus and called it “Our Charley Brown” tree. But the one thing I had without fail was Christmas stockings. Mine rarely had anything in it. It was more for show. But I always made sure my son’s was stuffed with fun things. Matchbox cars when he was young. Bubbles. New crayons. And a new ornament. (which remains a tradition). As I’m sure all kids do, he begged to open his gifts on Christmas Eve. He was filled with excitement, his eyes big at the sight of boxes wrapped and piled under the tree. He almost vibrated with excitement. I had a rule, no gift opening til Christmas morning. Despite the groans and moans and the, “Please, Mommie?” I stuck to that rule. Except. (You knew there was going to be an “except”, didn’t you??) OK, ONE gift on Christmas Eve and we’d get our Christmas stockings to see what was in them. He was well past the age of believing in Santa so there was no fake story about the fat one coming early. Those stockings became our “thing.” I put a lot of time and energy and money in being creative as he got older. The gifts became more elaborate and more expensive. Gift cards to favorite restaurants or to the zoo or some outing to do together. Always a new ornament. And then the teen years hit. So there was after shave and young man things. I think he loved opening the stocking more than anything else.
Enter a marriage and instant siblings. The stocking tradition continued well into adulthood. I was rapidly spending the bulk of our Christmas budget stuffing those stockings. So one year, I decided to go another route. This was the year the whole family was going to be together. All the siblings. My husband was home (He frequently traveled on holidays), the Grandchildren were here. It was a perfect time to introduce a new tradition. I made gift bags. BAGS. I thought I was being clever. I could put larger gifts inside, the bags held more. Brilliant. Not so fast, Christmas Mom.
My son walked into the family room and saw no stockings hung by the chimney with care. In fact there were no stockings to be seen! He promptly grabbed my attention by quietly bellowing, “WHERE ARE THE STOCKINGS????” “WE DON’T HAVE STOCKINGS??” I saw him looking frantically around the room, searching for his stocking. By this time, the rest of the group became restless and I could hear murmurings……“Did Mom forget the stockings?” “Is Mom OK?” “What’s going on?” You know, concerned that I’d had some sort of mental lapse. Which, as it turns out I did. What was I thinking? I explained that this year I didn’t do stockings, I did gift bags!!! Woot! There were no return Woots. My son, drew himself up to his full height, and announced to no one in particular, “This is unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE”. (In case I didn’t hear him the first time.) “What do you mean, gift bags?? GIFT BAGS??“ And he stomped off. OK, maybe not stomped exactly. But very firmly put one foot in front of the other and left the room. Dead silence. I stood for a few seconds, in a mental hamster-on-a-wheel moment, searching my brain for a solution to this calamity. Did I have time to get the stockings from the attic, stuff them, bring them out later, and yell, “SURPRISE! ONLY KIDDING, HERE ARE YOUR STUPID STOCKINGS!” Nope, not happening.
I honestly didn’t consider his reaction. I should have known. We’d moved around quite a bit when he was young and he hung on to things that were familiar. I suddenly realized the stocking meant more than just stuff for fun, it was one of his few remaining touchstones, a symbol that while everything else in his life had changed, this one thing, his Christmas stocking remained. We went on with Christmas that day, it was filled with fun and great food, music, the kids tussling, me yelling, “Take it outside!” and “Don’t slam the door!” The Grandkids overwhelmed with gifts and too many cookies, protesting the taking of pictures, hanging out with their beloved Aunts and Uncles and the rest of us.
It was a great, big, typical, noisy, messy holiday. And I loved it. I was the subject of affectionate scorn from every.single.member.of.my.family. In good fun, and it would become another family joke, told the next year and the year after that. My son, that sweet, goofy, big hearted prankster, never let me forget. He continued to shoot me the stink eye all day, (lovingly, accompanied by his grin, but the stink eye nonetheless), and I could hear him muttering in my direction all weekend long. I couldn’t hear all of it, but I caught enough of, “Unacceptable, and “For petes sake” and there was the odd eye roll. Whatever. I got it. I got it already! Stockings were hung by the chimney with care every year after that. Stuffed to the tops, overflowing. Bonus. There were also gift bags for the things that were too large for the stockings.
My son was killed in an accident three years after that Christmas. I don’t do stockings anymore. Except his. His is hung every year. His last, and favorite Hallmark ornament, a Mustang, hangs from it. A little stuffed reindeer we got from McDonalds during his teen years is in it. This year it hangs from the door to the room he stayed in whenever he came home. That stocking means more now than ever. It doesn’t hold gifts anymore, it holds memories. Years of memories. It is overflowing.
I’m SOOOO excited! Today’s post is about me in the kitchen! The KITCHEN y’all! And I made something, actually a couple of somethings and it all turned out so good I just had to share. Because this is the season of miracles after all, and me in the kitchen creating anything is a minor miracle.
Have you ever had sugared cranberries? Yes? Well, where have I been? I mean, I’ve seen pictures of them, all staged just so on scrumptious looking cakes or in pretty little goblets. But I always thought making them would require following a complicated recipe involving mystery ingredients and math. You know I don’t do math and I’m a total loss in the kitchen, all because I was born without the all important Betty Crocker gene. But even all us Betty Crockerless people can successfully make sugared cranberries. And do it like a boss!
So here’s the recipe and list of
crap things you will need:
Cranberries obviously. You can buy fresh cranberries in a bag at the supermarket. Who knew? I used a 12 ounce bag.
Granulated sugar. You can use super fine sugar for a more sparkly, upscale look, but why? These babies look good with granulated and you probably have it on hand
Parchment paper or foil
2 Cookie sheets or other rimmed baking thingy. (See? I’m gettin the hang of the kitchen lingo.)
Colander for draining the cranberries
Covered container with lid (Tupperware or the like)
That’s it. Nothing fancy.
So here’s what to do with all that.
Rinse the cranberries and pick out the soft, cruddy ones. Let the berries drain in your colander in the sink while you are doing the next part.
Add equal parts sugar and water to a sauce pan. I used a cup of each. Use more or less depending on the amount of cranberries you are using. Mine were in a 12 ounce bag. On medium heat, stir the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t let it boil. Heat until the sugar and water thicken a bit. Turn the heat off and add your cranberries. Stir to cover completely. I was told that if your sugar solution is too hot the cranberries may “pop.” But I let my simple syrup cool slightly and had no problem.
Pour the mixture in to a Tupperware container and seal with a lid. Put in refrigerator overnight. You don’t have to do this if you are in a hurry. But all the “expert” cranberry people say that it helps the cranberries absorb the sugar and increases their sweetness.
The next day (or after you’ve covered your berries in the sugar mixture and let soak for at least an hour), pour them in to your colander again and let them drain over the sink. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour a good amount of sugar on the sheet. I just eyeballed it and made a pile. Using a slotted spoon add the cranberries to the sugar and roll them around, use your hands or another spoon to make sure the cranberries are covered well with the sugar.
Place the sugar coated cranberries on another parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer, making sure the berries don’t touch. Allow them to dry. IF you can wait that long to eat them. About an hour is all it takes. Mr B began snacking on these almost as soon as they hit the cookie sheet.
These are amazing little sweet tart treats. They make a beautiful garnish for cakes or brownies. Need a quick snack for guests? Or something that looks like you’re a kitchen wizard at the next potluck party? These babies will be your ticket. Fair warning, they are a bit addicting.
Don’t plan on storing them for long. They get soft after a couple of days or so. I read that placing them in a covered container over a layer of rice will help keep them crunchy. I’m trying that right now. The ones I stored without rice were soft after 3 days, but still edible and tasty. Just know that these treats need to be eaten soon after making.
Not a problem, I can assure you. I made these for our 22nd wedding anniversary as a culinary surprise for Mr B. I came off looking like…..
Kitchen Wonder Woman. Those tights tho. egad.
I made chocolate cupcakes. From a mix. But I still had to read the ingredients and use the measuring cup to, well, measure. And they were edible! I didn’t burn them, or cause a kitchen fire, and for that I’m happy. I had a bit of batter left after filling the cupcake cups and used that to make what looked like a giant thin brownie, or a thick spongey cookie, but was really a sad, thin one layer cake…..if you got down to eye level and squinted. But some powdered sugar and a couple of sugared cranberries later and I looked like a genius!!! Maybe I’ll start a bakery, move over Magnolia Cupcakes….I’m lookin at you Joanna Gaines! (It’s good to have goals).
Mr B had the cranberry garnished cupcake the next day and said they were still delicious. And he ate 3 pieces of the sad layer cake. So there you have it. Give these a try. And if you’ve known about these forever, don’t mock me. Be kind to those of us who are Betty Crockerless.
Create your sanctuary one room at a time. Even the kitchen. Kitchens need love too.