How to Decorate a 50′ Tree With Christmas Lights

Guest post by my husband, Randy

  1. Bring a really big ladder.
  2. Take extension pole.
  3. Attach clothes hanger to extension pole (another use for duct tape)
  4. String lights through clothes hanger.
  5. Try and convince a really good friend to climb the ladder holding the extension pole.
  6. After friend gives you a dirty look, climb ladder yourself.
  7. Pray for safety.
  8. Place lights around branches and pray they (or you) don’t fall off.

“My” Guacamole

Guacamole with my messy kitchen in the background - what can I say, I'd rather cook than clean!

2 Ripe Avocados, peeled and pitted
1 T. garlic powder
3 T. dried onion flakes
1 whole lime, peeled and halved
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 roma tomato
1 T. dried cilantro
1/2 tsp. sugar

Throw it all in a blender ( I have a Vitamix blender so I don’t have to cut anything before placing it in the blender) and blend until desired consistency. Scrape into a pretty bowl to serve (which is the hardest part of the whole recipe – you’ll need a good spatula for this.)

Black Coffee!

Now that's a coffee - taken at a Canmore, AB coffeehouse last summer

This is cross-posted from my other blog, FibroDAZE, originally written March, 2010 and entitled “Black Coffee and Other Abominations.”

The Fat Nutritionist is a blog I read. Her tag line is “eating normally is the new black.” I am so down with that. Death to Diets I say! Anyways, her post “Get Out of Jail Free Cards” talks about “largely irrelevant” food labeling. It began with a treatise on coffee and “Canadian style wussy coffee”; that is coffee with cream and sugar. There was a brief introduction which contained a very funny line:

black coffee is an abomination unto the Lord and shall not defile this house

After I finished laughing, made an appropriate comment on her blog about how much we in this house agree with that statement, I started thinking. What other food and/or beverage items are, in our household, “an abomination unto the Lord and shall not defile this house?” I came up with the following list. Note: there’s a bit of a legend:

* = husband’s abominations

***  = my abominations
(no *’s at all means we both agree that these items shall never, ever defile our house.)

List of Foods – Not Exhaustive, although I’m a bit tired after typing now.

  • Offal
  • Head cheese
  • Coffee whitener
  • ***Processed cheese in a jar — my husband says it “adds personality.” I say it’s one step from being plastic.
  • Anything with the word “bean” attached to it [i.e. green beans, lima beans, kidney beans, et al.], with the exception of “coffee bean”
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Octopus
  • Squid
  • Pork Sausage (possible exception: Mennonite Sausage. Good Mennonite Sausage that is)
  • *Chickpeas
  • *Sweet Potatoes
  • *Squash of any type
  • Fruitcake
  • Traditional Christmas Pudding – We do however enjoy this Christmas pudding: and stock up every year when they come out to our craft fair.
  • ***Raw tomatoes
  • *Porridge
  • *Cottage Cheese (exception: Lasagna)
  • Caviar/Tapioca – eerily similar, visually, don’t you think?
  • *Asparagus
  • Anything with the word “blood” in it i.e. blood pudding, blood sausage.
  • *Pumpkin Pie — Last year my sister in law generously made had the nerve to serve apple and cherry pies at her Christmas dinner.  It’s one of the very few times of the year I can eat pumpkin pie so I was a tad miffed.  (I know, I know, there are people starving in Africa, this is hardly a blip on the radar.)

20 Minute Chicken Parmagiana

8 precooked, breaded chicken breasts, such as those from M & M Meats
1 large jar low sodium tomato pasta sauce
8 slices low-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Add chicken breasts. Pour sauce over chicken breasts. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, turning the chicken after 10 minutes. Place one mozzarella cheese slice on each chicken breast when there is about 5 minutes left in the cooking time – you want the slices to melt over the chicken, but not brown too much. Good with rice, vegetables, leftover pasta, salad.  Serves 8.

Holiday Eating Tips

Decorated evergreen outside our home

This was sent to me in an email:

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare… You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

Merry Christmas!

Chocolate Mint Truffle Latte

In the Public Domain, from:

Wow that post title sounds all fancy-schmancy, like something you would drink at one of those fancy-schmancy coffee shops!

Well, it’s not that fancy, but it does taste awesome!

8 ounces milk, heated

1 Chocolate Mint Truffle tea bag (such as those found here:

*Rooibos tea is caffeine free and high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Steep tea in heated milk for 5-10 minutes, sweeten to taste. Serves one.

Nacho Casserole


Great use of leftover roast beef!


1 ¼ c. coarsely chopped cooked lean beef

¾ c  salsa – mild, medium, or spicy as you like it

1/3 c. grated part skim mozzarella cheese

2/3 c. grated low fat cheddar cheese

Baked taco chips


Combine beef, salsa and first amount of cheese in bowl. Place in greased 1 qt. (1 L.) casserole dish.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle second amount of cheese and return to oven for another 10 minutes.  Serve with taco chips and a bagged salad.  Serves 4.

Honey Mustard Chicken

½ c. liquid honey

¼ c. Dijon Mustard

¼ c. low-sodium chicken broth or water

½ T. Garam Masala (spice found in the ethnic food aisle)

8 chicken thighs or 4 breasts (boneless, skinless)

Combine honey, mustard, water and spice in a small bowl.  Place chicken thighs in a medium or large sized casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam.  Add honey mixture and turn thighs to coat.  Bake @ 350 approximately 40 minutes, uncovering for the last 10 minutes.  Serve with rice and vegetables.  Makes lots of yummy sauce.  Serves about 4.

10 Minute Ginger Pudding

Adapted from a recipe by Debbie Beam

(Egg and dairy free)

¼ lb. margarine or butter

2 T. jam (more if desired)

1 ½ c. flour

2 tsp. baking soda

Melt butter, add jam, baking soda and flour, mix well.  Make syrup by boiling the following together for five minutes:

2 c. water

¾ c. honey

1 tsp. ground ginger, or 1 T. grated fresh ginger

Spoon dough into boiling syrup and cover.  Boil for 10 minutes on low and serve warm with either soy or dairy based ice cream, if desired.

Shrimp Chowder

Some days you just want soup.  Some days you can’t worry about how to cook it healthy, you just want something to throw together for you and your family.  Pain levels may be on the rise, you may be pressed for time, you may be exhausted.  Opening cans is about all you can manage.

1 clove garlic minced, or 1 tsp. garlic powder

1 T. butter or margarine

1/4 c. green onions, chopped

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

If you can find low sodium, low fat options for the following:

2 cans cream of potato soup

1 can niblets corn, with liquid

3 oz. cream cheese

2 c. small cleaned shrimp

1 1/2 soup cans milk

Combine in a large pot, bring to a boil, stirring often.  Rich and filling, requiring only buns or to complete.  This would also be good for a potluck.