Friday, December 29, 2006

Party in Hawaii

Taken from Sweetspot Magazine sent to me December 29.....check out the Hawaiian music site. I never knew Hawaiian music could be so much fun!! There is even a Christmas album which may become the must have album for my collection of odd Christmas tunes!

This newsletter is full of ideas for a Hawaiian party...I haven't had one or been invited to one for many years. Might be a good read for those of you who have travelled to Hawaii and are now missing your second home.

It's cold outside and budgets are tight. So this year, our-savvy-little-selves are staying clear of cash-grabbing New Year's Eve parties. Instead, we're spending the night in and doing it in style. Here's how you and your pals can join in the fun:

D├ęcor
First, we're picking a theme for our impromptu party and going retro-Hawaiian with inspiration we picked up from our last trip to London's coolest pub, Trailer Happiness. (But any theme will do.) We're decorating the room with party lights (stolen from our Christmas tree), surf boards (erm, or in our case our snowboard) and colourful tropical fabrics (please, who doesn't have access to a thrift store boasting racks of $1.99 Hawaiian shirts?).

Guests
We're playing telephone, spreading the word with our guests coming in beachwear. If we're really ambitious we'll make leis out of paper and string. One of our favourite online resources is Party 411. They've got all the supplies we need for our pseudo-Luau.

Sips and Eats
We're serving Mai Tai cocktails, fresh fruit, shrimp rings and some yummy Ono Ribs. But there are more tropical-themed recipes in this awesome online guide: http://entertaining.about.com/cs/dinnerparties/a/luau_3.htm

Tunes
Set the mood with some Hawaiian music. We're downloading tracks from www.hawaiianmusicstore.com.

Entertainment
Nothing says Hawaiian than Elvis in Blue Hawaii. We're renting the DVD and popping it on for some side-splitting backdrop entertainment. Long live the king! Then later (after the Mai Tais kick in), we'll be suggesting a couple of rounds of Identity Crisis or The Therapy Game. We may even try our hands at island-authentic limbo and hold our own how-low-can-you-go contest. Party 411 has the kit.

We're feeling the Waikiki heat...all we need now are a few sun lamps, sand and a cabana boy to say "Aloha!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Baking

The only time I bake is 1) Christmas 2) if I have time to do something for one of our many office Goodie Days 3) friends birthday or dinner party 4) the grannie smith apples next door are ripe and need to be picked

One thing I love about baking is the gadgets! Cooking just doesn't incorporate enough gadgets which is probably why I don't enjoy it as much as baking. With baking one has bowls, whisks, spoons, graters, grinders, blenders, pastry blenders, zesters, rolling pins, measuring spoons, oh the list goes on.

Sharing recipes with coworkers and friends is a delight! Tasting someone else's baking is pure pleasure! Taking a recipe and experimenting, adding your own twist is so much fun.

My favourite sites are www.allrecipes.com, Kraft (recipes which are easy to modify), Thrifty Foods (online eflyer and recipes) and Chatelaine magazine online. Oh and I do admit it....Martha Stewart for recipes, crafts and inspiration.

Also on my list of fav sites is: http://www.goldaskitchen.com and www.ashtongreen.com--both Canadian. I love looking at the new gadgets!

And I can't resist kitchen shops--Muffet & Louisa, Capital Iron (best cast iron frying pans), Haute Cuisine...

I have a good selection of cookbooks too, including my Grade 8 Home Economics cookbook which was printed in the 1960s and was a joke to my HE class because of the opening photo and some of the recipes. The reason I kept it is it does have the basics and a long list at the back for removing stains from clothing which actually work.

Now Christmas is over, the baking is done until a Goodie Day or birthday or my good intentions of taking my own homemade muffins for morning coffee break.

This may be me one day!!

As I am preparing for my exam on Friday, December 15 and studying until my brain feels it is on overload, I begin to wonder why in the world I have taken up the return to attempting to get my degree. I love learning, although I am sure I could learn at a much cheaper rate by lots of reading and self study. The other point here is a degree helps me to get a better job at work.

I sometimes get discouraged that this will take forever! I only get funding for one course a year from the Career Development Fund. The university I work for does not offer staff a reduction in tutition fees. My workplace promotes higher education, but then does not offer it to its own staff. I suppose helping me by a fee reduction would mean I'd just be a graduate doing a clerk job!!

No matter how long it takes, and no matter if this is to obtain a better job or for my own pleasure and goals, today I came across this story. It hits home on the university front and that it will not matter if I don't get my degree until I am sixty or seventy or eighty for that matter. It proves that in a society where we put so much value on youth and so little on our seniors there still is brain power after 50 and value no matter what one's age.

Kansas woman, 95, prepares for final exams

HAYS, KS - Like most students at Fort Hays State University, Nola Ochs plans to spend some time reading and studying during this week's fall break. But she'll take time out on Wednesday to celebrate her 95th birthday.

Ochs is living at Wooster Hall on campus while pursuing her general studies degree at the university. She has about 15 hours to take next semester to get her degree.

If she does it, Ochs will be the Guinness Book of World Records' oldest college graduate.

But it will also be the culmination of a lifetime of learning. She started at Fort Hays in 1930, when it was known as Kansas State Teacher's College.

Then in the 1970s, in her 60s, she took classes part time at Dodge City Community College, and eventually St. Mary of the Plains in Dodge City. She took some virtual classes earlier at Fort Hays before deciding to attend classes this semester.

On Friday, the last day before fall break, her family and fellow classmates threw her an impromptu birthday party during her Biblical Studies class. Her son, Alan Ochs, flew in from Jetmore for the occasion. Her granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs, didn't have to travel as far — she's in the same class as her grandmother.

After the party, Alan Ochs took his mother home for Thanksgiving break.

"We're happy to get her back home for a while," Alan Ochs said. "We missed having her out there, especially through the fall harvest."

Though Nola is amused by her potential status as the world's oldest graduate, she said she's more excited about getting to walk at the graduation ceremony with her granddaughter.

Asked for some words of wisdom, Ochs simply said, "I give thanks to the Lord and try to live day by day. I try to do whatever is pleasing to Him. That's what I want to do.