Real Poutines! An Acadian Tradition.

Real Poutines! An Acadian Tradition.

(The original idea for this post was to have a fake beef with Quebec, then the direction looked like it was moving to show my American friends one of my family traditions. I think it turned into a sneak peek into what it’s like to be part of a huge Acadian family? Like most of my posts, I just let them be what they want to be. And like all of my posts, I hope it inspires you to make an effort to do things with your family; may it be the family you’re born into or the one you create for yourself).

When I was growing up no one but Acadians knew what a poutine was. Fast forward a few decades and poutines are now a global thing, but those aren’t real poutines.

Sure french fries, gravy and cheese curds are delicious, but they aren’t what we call poutines.

I am not going to accuse Quebecers of high jacking the name poutine from the Acadians; oh wait, yes I am!! Do Acadians have a beef with Quebec for stealing our poutine name? We do!! Have we ever made a fuss over this theft?? No, no we have not! It’s just not in our nature.

Could our Acadians poutines  compete with Quebec poutines in the global market? In a word…no! Our poutines, the real poutines aren’t…how do I say this diplomatically? Let’s just say they aren’t pretty!

What is an Acadian poutine? It’s basically a slimy boiled potato ball with pork in the middle. Am I tempting you yet?

Poutine or poutine acadienne are a staple for French speaking Maritimers (from the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). Although you can now buy them throughout the year, they have traditionally been made for the Christmas holidays.

Before we dive into things, I do need to share a few key words, so my none-Acadians can follow.

râpures  – grated potatoes

poutine – a slimy grayish boiled potato ball

poutine râpé – Acadian poutine, we have had to add the Acadian part since we were ripped off by Québec, lol

râper – verb to grate potatoes

râpe – a home made machine used to grate potatoes. Pronounced rawwwp. This word has an unfortunate pronunciation in English

Épurer – verb to squeeze the water out of grated potatoes

My family has made poutines for generations, there is no recipe per say; you have to “intern” for decades before you can become the top baller. Ok top baller isn’t really a thing to anyone but me, I am hoping it catches on.

I have an un-scientific theory why Acadians originally made poutines and English speaking Maritimers didn’t. I think they just didn’t have the proper manpower needed. Historically, French Catholics had large families while English Protestants had smaller families. I suspect the real reason may have been that the Acadians were poorer and potatoes were cheap and readily available?

My theory is based on the fact that it takes a village to make a batch of poutines. I think the rule is that you need a minimum of 3 aunts, 2 uncles and a combo of 2 nieces/nephew or 2 cousins. One doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide; hey, I think I am going to make poutines today, it takes planning and a team.

In this post I am going to share with you how one Acadian family, mine, keeps the tradition alive.

Most large extended families would have had one or two râpes in the family; yes this word sounds horrible in English, so please refer to my keywords above.

So here’s how it worked in my family growing up. It gets complicated, so please try to follow.

My mother’s father was the top baller because he owned the râpe. He decided when he would make his poutines and the others would plan accordingly. The râpe, again it’s a machine that grates potatoes, would go from house to house to house.

Example: pépère DesRoches, my moms father, would make his on the 21. My mom would make hers on the 23, in the morning. As soon as she was done, she would call my fathers mother and tell her to send someone to pick up the râpe. Once they were done, they would passe it down to my dad’s sister, who would then drop it back off at our house.

I should note that not only were Acadian families large, once you married into another Acadian family the two families often merged to create a super family.

Eventually my moms sister, tante Irène, and my mom got their own râpes, which made our family super fortunate to have 3 in rotation!!

Example of the Acadian super family; my moms sister, tante Irène, who lived across the street from us, wasn’t actually related to my cousins from my dad’s side, who lived next door to us, but she was automatically called ma tante Irène by everyone, related by blood or not. Side note, Acadian families also tended to cluster together. I had 7 cousins living on my street; my brother and I made 9 of us (kids). Needless to say, no one picked on us. The older cousins would look out for the younger cousins; sure the older cousins would beat the shit out of us from time to time, but no one else was allowed to.

Getting back to poutines; you couldn’t just go to the store and buy a râpe, you had to know someone who would make one for you. It was a small motor with a circular thingy that was pierced and would spin quickly and grate the potatoes. It was usually made by someone who worked at the CNR, Canadian National Railway. Ok don’t ask why someone who worked with trains would be making these on the side; it’s too complicated for this post.

Now, let’s fast forward to the present and get to making poutines.

After my moms father passed away, my mom became the top baller. You need a top baller to test the texture and taste the potatoes. The top baller title will make sense, just keep reading.

Today we went to my uncles,  my moms brother, with our râpe in hand to help him make his poutines. Because her little brother and his wife, who are both in their sixties have not yet achieved top baller status. She was needed to oversee everything. I guess it’s a bit like the mafia, there can only be one top baller and once top baller status is achieved, he or she rules for life.

The ingredients are very simple, you need potatoes, porc and porc fat. Peeling the potatoes is a pain in the ass.  I think that 50 pounds of potatoes will make 47 ish poutines. I am not a top baller, nor do I aspire to be, so I don’t need to know the correct potato ratio.

You also have to cut the meet and fat into small cubes. So far I have avoided having to help peel and cut. When the knives come out, I volunteer to run errands, no one has caught on as of yet!!

The next step is to start passing the potatoes into the potato grating machine, la râpe. Now you maybe wondering if you could use a food processor? You can’t.

Here’s were it starts to get weird, once all the potatoes are grated, we call that la râpure. You have to go through la râpure and remove any chunks of potatoes that weren’t liquefied; does it look yummy yet??

That isn’t the weird part, the Râpure is very liquidity, we use a large measuring cup to scoop some of the râpure into fabric square and we squeeze out the liquid, that is the weird part. And it’s at this stage that the top baller comes into play. The raw squeeze potatoes are mixed in with mashed potatoes. This mixture can’t be too dry or too wet. You need to adjust how much liquid you are squeezing out. The top baller also needs to taste the mixture to make sure it’s salted enough. It looks gross, but remember these are just cooked and raw potatoes.

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This next step of making balls is where the baller and top baller names come from. I’ve been calling my aunts and mom the ballers for years, I think it’s funny.

The photo below shows my ballers, my aunt Claudine and my mother, she’s in the red apron. She let me wear my grandfathers white apron this year, which is an honor, she is so happy I am back home. She may also be grooming me to someday be the top baller, but I don’t think I can handle the pressure!

The potato mixture is flattened and the porc is added in the middle. If you put too much meat or your ball walls are too thin, they will bust once dropped into boiling water; please note, ball walls isn’t an official poutine term. Poutines are made in French or Chiac, I am doing my best to translate in English.

As a child, this is the part that you begged to get in on because it’s basically like making snowballs.

The balls are gently dropped into a pots of boiling water. The pots need a constant slow boil. The poutine balls will float to the top and then sink to the bottom of the pot as they cook.

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It takes 3 ish hours for them to cook, all the while you need to keep checking to make certain they aren’t boiling too much or too little.

And voila!! They are ready to eat!! The photos above are why our poutines will probably never go global, but trust me they are delicious!

Once my uncle and aunt’s poutines were ready to eat. That evening there were 11 of us for dinner, you don’t have to be invited, you can just show up. It’s also acceptable to show up with an empty pot, because as soon as we make them, we start giving them away. An Acadian will share their poutines freely, but they won’t share their pots, so you have to bring your own!!

As mentioned above, they look slimy, but keep in mind that they are just potatoes and porc, so not so exotic. We eat them with salt and pepper, others add brown sugar, which seems odd to me, but who am I to judge what others put on their slimy potato balls.

We made my uncles poutines on Dec 21, we made my moms poutines on Dec 23. My mother’s sister, came over to help. My brother and I now have more responsibilities since my father has passed. My mother’s brother joins in for the squeezing part.

This process will go on in several of my families homes around town. Once done and the families come together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the first thing you are asked is: combien de poutines avez-vous fait? Which means how many poutines did you make? The bigger then number the bigger the bragging rights. They will also ask if any have busted, this makes a mess in the pot and is a sign of bad ballers.

Fun fact, the pots are so big that if weather permitting, if it’s cold enough, they are usually stored outside. From the 23 to the 26, there is always a warm pot of poutines on the stove ready to eat. Anyone who enters is offered a poutine. And anyone who is leaving is asked if they want to bring some home.

And this maybe hard for some to wrap their minds around, but we eat these on Christmas morning. Even now my brother, nephew and 3 cousins show up at my moms house Christmas morning for a poutine or two!

That’s my sneak peek at our Acadian tradition of making poutines. I hope you are enlightened and if you are brave enough to want to try one, hit me up next year and I will hook you up!

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you and your families a Happy New Year! May your hearts be happy and your bellies be full!

muah!

Liette

 

 

 

A Winter Wonderland Dinner Party

A Winter Wonderland Dinner Party

This Christmas Eve in honor of my big move back to The Great White North, I decided to throw a Winter Wonderland themed soirée. I’ve done a Plaid Christmas for the last two years in a row, so it was time to move on. This theme would also be perfect for New Year’s Eve, birthdays, anytime really. It’s also very inexpensive all you really need is paper and scissors.

In this post we’ll plow through helpful tips on how to turn your dining party into a freaking blizzard. ❄️

A Frosty Table Setting

I always focus most of my energy on my dining table; it would be great to have the budget to transform your whole house, but my budget is frozen this year. (Sorry, if you keep reading you’ll have to put up with my wintery puns…not sorry!!)

Before we talk about what will be on the table, let’s discuss the actual table. When I had my little house, I used to have a large sheet of plywood that I would place on my table to turn my small table for 6 into a big table for 12.

If you’re going to try this idea make sure to place something in between your table and the plywood so you don’t scratch your table top. I had a piece of carpet padding, which worked perfectly.

Also! Did you know that you can rent tables and chairs?? I will be hosting in my new fancy downtown apartment, but my furniture is still making its way here from Las Vegas.

No table? No problem! I am renting one from Clowns Around/Bob Lee Productions, they are located in Dieppe. It’s perfect, they will drop off the table, chairs and white tablecloth and pick them back up afterwards. It’s really not that expensive, you can save a few bucks if you pick it up yourself, but for an extra $35 ish, it’s easier to have them drop off and pick up.

I rented a white table clothe and silver napkins and then then layered white and silver things. In the center is the table I had a big white bowl filled with silver tree balls that I bought at the dollar store, snowballs and a set of mini lights that turned out to have a blue tint which was perfect. I scattered plastic snowflakes on the table that I also got at the dollar store.

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Snow Globes

I like having assigned seating for my dinner parties. Something fun is instead of having regular name place cards are personalized snow globes. I bought snow globes online, there is a slot to put in a picture and to add water. Your guests can take them home with them.

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Social media is a great place to download pictures of your guests if you don’t have any good ones in your phone.

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Here is how my table looked with everything put together.

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Let It Snow!

And you can’t have a Winter Wonderland theme without snow. If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, you can make your own.

I invited my friend over to help me make it snow. I have no idea how many snowflakes we cut? We cranked the Christmas music and chatted away. This is a super inexpensive way to create a bit of drama.

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I tapped these on my light fixture and omg!!! It came out beautifully!! It was the focal point of the room; I named it my blizzard chandelier.

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I may keep these up all winter?? Lol

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I couldn’t host without a Christmas Tree, I bought this tall skinny one. Since I only have a couch and a chair in my living rooms, I added a bunch of white balloons to fill the space. It was another inexpensive way to add a bit of drama to my theme.

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I shot a quick video before my guests arrive, I will be trying to add more videos to my posts in 2020.

Even though I plan events for a living and I am always fairly calm, cool and collected; I had a moment a few hours before my party that I started to feel a bit frazzled. The lead up to the holidays is a lot! We tend to be overtired and can get overwhelmed.

I had to check myself and remind myself that this was meant to be fun and that my guests, in this case 9 of my family and friends, wouldn’t care if things weren’t perfect.

So an hour and a half before they arrived I took a hot bath in my super big bathtub! I love my new place and it was exactly what I needed to chill out!

If you feel yourself getting stressed instead of rushing to get everything perfect, walk away! It sounds counterproductive, but we don’t need added stress. It’s perfectly fine to have your guests help you finish off a few last minute things when they arrive.

I ended up hosting my fancy dinner party in my pink slippers and nobody judged me!!

One last party tip, find an activity or game to play after dinner, we played Jenga and it was hilariously funny!

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Happy New Year!!

muah!

Liette

For additional pictures and videos, follow me on Facebook @ oui-liette

 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy Everything!

Merry Christmas & Happy Everything!

I wanted to take a few minutes to wish you the very best Christmas! I hope you get the opportunity to chill and enjoy these next few days with your loved ones.

Oh my goodness the weeks leading up to the holidays are insane! I feel like we put so much pressure on ourselves, why???

I decided that the weeks leading up to Christmas would be the perfect time to move from the US back to Canada; here I am! Eh!

Like many this time of year, I may have underestimated the time it would take or the energy needed to get everything on my list done. One casualty was my annual Christmas card.

I put a lot of thought into my Christmas Card theme each year. I try to make them as ridiculous and funny as possible. Last year’s was just so so, so I needed to nail this year’s.

I had an awesome idea, but it was a total funny fail! We did laugh our butts off trying to pull it off, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

My idea was to show that living in Las Vegas hadn’t changed me a bit. I would of course be dressed up as a show girl, but instead of feathers I would have pine branches. These costumes were my inspiration.

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The plan was to have a headpiece and tail made of greenery that looked like these lovely ladies above.

I recruited my brother and my nephew Jack to help me. My brother builds and fixes things so I thought he would be up for the task.

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Well…let’s just say that I overestimated our costume abilities. I also discovered that duct tape can’t fix everything…oh and that it can easily cut off your circulation if too tight!

Instead of looking like a NB showgirl, I looked like a green angel who got punched in the nose in a bar fight.

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Not one to give up that easily, I decided to change locations. So I gracefully climbed to the other side of the wall.

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Ok, maybe gracefully is a bit of a stretch?? Lol.

After ditching my wings, we did manage to get some cool shots. The life lesson here is to always have a plan b and to laugh your way through your fails when possible.

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I was going to get my friend to photoshop the  cut on my nose, but I decided to keep it as is, because it shows that nothing is perfect. Shit happens, life is messy, you can roll with it or hide away. I choose to roll with it, 99% of the time anyway.

Thank you again for reading! And Happy Holidays!

muah!

Liette

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Shop Local This Christmas!!

Shop Local This Christmas!

With 7 days till Christmas, most of us are still looking for one or two….or seven gifts; hey no judgment here.

Why not skip the herds of people at the mall or Cosco and take a walk downtown? It doesn’t matter where you live, each city or town has locally owned shops that would love a share of your business.

I just moved back to Moncton two weeks ago and today I had lunch on Main Street with my friend, Stacey. After lunch, I braved the cold, apparently I am a weather wimp now, lol; and browsed the little shops that line Main Street.

There was certainly a buzz of life to the downtown area. As I walked down Main Street I noticed new restaurants and cafes that hadn’t been there before. I also noticed people, lots of people!!

I could feel my cheeks getting rosy and noticed that I was signing along with the Christmas music coming from Keating’s; even without snow it was starting to feel like Christmas.

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I popped into The Home Mercantile and was greeted with warm smiles from the staff. I am not certain what I was expecting? Maybe some tacky touristy tchotchkes?? But what I found made me feel like I was home.

Yes I realize, home is in the name, so obviously that’s the point. Maybe I am being a bit mushy and sentimental being back in my hometown? But it made me proud to be in a store filled with items that highlighted New Brunswick, Moncton and Canada.

This store is sassy and funny! Which reflects the people who live here. I bought one of these candles below; in addition to smelling really good, they made me laugh! The one I bought says: Calm the Fuck Down! Seriously, how could I not buy it???

I am a sucker for stationary and loved the mix of French and English cards with local regional  humor.

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I seriously laughed out loud when I saw this very Maritime take on Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll; Sex, Drugs and Lobster Rolls!

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I bought a NB Home T-shirt that I will wear with pride and I may need to go back to get a tuque or a baseball hat? I’m short a few stocking stuffers and these would be perfect.

As I left with my new purchases, in my material shopping bag, of course; I thought what a great shopping experience.

I hadn’t been annoyed by slow walkers at the mall. I hadn’t experiences cart rage; you know when you’re at Cosco and someone decides to park their huge cart in the middle of the aisle while they chit chat away; man I hate that! Pull over for goodness sakes!!!

I left feeling relaxed and pleased with my sassy, sentimental purchases.

Tomorrow is the last Saturday before Christmas, the malls will be crazy!!! Call your friend and have them meet you downtown. Grab a bite to eat, pick up a hot chocolate at Tim’s and brows the small boutiques in your area.

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My new t-shirt, my lipstick is extra bright to camouflage the scab on my nose, did it work?? lol, not sure? But it’s healing.

Merry Christmas & Happy Everything!

muah!

Liette

For more pics and quickies, follow me on Facebook @oui-Liette

Host a Holiday 5 à 7 Like a Pro!!

Host a Holiday Cinq à Sept Like a Pro!! Tips from a professional events boss.

My English friends are probably asking themselves what the hell is a cinq à sept? It’s basically a cocktail party/ happy hour from 5pm to 7pm. I think it sounds fancier if you say the numbers in French, lol.

Do you get kicked out at 7? No of course not…well maybe? It all depends who’s hosting, lol.

Why should you host your own 5 à 7? Well the holidays are so busy, a Happy Hour is a great way to get people together without having to commit to a full evening. It’s also a bit more casual and the best part of hosting a 5 à 7 is that you don’t have to go out! They will come to you!!

I hosted one this week in my mother’s apartment which isn’t super big, but I like small spaces, they’re cozy.

In this post I am going to share 5 party tips that I use in my corporate events that will help you pull off a flawless 5 à 7/party…you’re welcome!!

Tip #1 Good Vibes Only

When you’re thinking of hosting an event, you need to put some thought into what vibe you want to create?

Is it a dinner party? A big blow out drinking party? Or a chill cocktail party? It’s your party so you get to decide.

Think of it this way, if you jump in your car and start driving without knowing where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

Once you decide what vibe you want to create, stay consistent and focused; having a clear vibe vision will make your planning easier.

My vibe was a casual, yet fancy happy hour! You maybe thinking, aren’t casual and fancy polar opposites? Maybe to some people? But I am complicated, lol.

I wanted people to feel relaxed and comfortable, so that is the casual part, but it’s Christmas, so it also needed to be fancy, but not fussy.

I guess that’s not the only vibe I was going for. I’ve invited 15 woman who have helped my mother and I get through this past year; 2019 has been sucky! My father got sick and passed away and these woman were there for us so I wanted to do something nice to thank them. But, my goal was for it to be a celebration and not too sad.

I did have a few tricks up my sleeve to make it fun!! See tip 5, Expect the Unexpected.

2. Zone Out

The key to entertaining is to be organized and to create defined zones, especially if you are working with a small space.

So what do I mean by creating zones? When I am planning a corporate event, we have defined areas for each activity or stage of the party. There is always a welcome/reception area when you first walk in, there are food stations, bars, a seating/social area and sometime a dance floor.

When hosting my own parties, I go through the same process. What will happen when my guests arrive? If you’re hosting a larger event and will be running around a bit, designate someone to be the greeter. This person will greet guests at the door and take their coats. BTW, it’s more than ok to give your friends and family members jobs.

Once your guests arrive what do they do next? Create a flow so they don’t have to think about it, the goal is to make the flow instinctive.

I think it’s always good to get them drinking as soon as possible, not to get them drunk, but to get them jolly and maybe just a little merry?

My mother’s kitchen is tiny, so the bar was set up in the spare bedroom, which is just off of the living room. I cleaned the top of the dresser off and voilà, it’s a bar!!

The day before or a few days before set up your bar with everything you’ll need, but the ice. Walk through it, do you have everything you will need?? The more you can do leading up to the party, the more free time you’ll have during the party to have fun wit your guests.

For larger parties, have someone be the bar tender, at least for the first round.

I like having a signature drink, the hostess or host should be responsible for what is needed for the signature drink. You don’t have to stock a full bar, but it’s nice to offer your guest at least one drink upon their arrival.

I had a Christmas themed mimosa, which was champagne and cranberry juice, but since not everyone loves champagne, referring to myself; I’ll also be serving Caesar’s, which is a super popular Canadian drink.

I won’t have any beer or wine, those with their hearts set on beer or wine can bring their own. If you’re attending a party and have very specific taste, please bring your own drinks.

So your guests have arrived and were greeted at the front door; someone took their coats and they have their first drink in hand, now what? We call this process the run of show, walk through everything from start to finish.

Next is the main part of the party so feed them and let them mix and mingle. It’s during this stage that you bring out the special touches, keep reading for examples.

After my party, I noticed that I didn’t have many pictures, because I was so busy hostessing. I was pretty bummed until my friend Nadine sent me a bunch of pictures she had taken. Even though I am a pro, I did forgot to ask someone to be the paparazzi for the evening. For our corporate events we usually hire a photographer who roams and takes pics. Thank you Nadine!

3. Bust a Move

This tip has nothing to do with dancing, but feel free to dance if you want to! Do you boo!! Lol. Bust a Move here means move furniture out or in, re-purpose the function a room to fit your party needs.

As mentioned above I moved my bar into the spare bedroom and since I love to decorate this room has it’s own vibe.

I bought a huge wreath and had my brother hang it. I added some pink balls, because I love pink and the headboard in this room is a plush hot pink velvet. I think it looks fantastic and it makes the room smell festive! Seriously, are you really surprised that this event has some pink touches?? Lol

If you’re repurposing a bedroom make sure to clear off the bedside tables and put small personal stuff away.

Since it’s winter in Canada, my guests arrived wearing coats. The old, throw the coats on the bed always works, but since my mother has a closet in her entrance, we moved all her coats and stuff out so that we can use this closet as our cost check. Why did I move what was already in there? So we didn’t have to cram coats in. I put them back after.

The point is to look at all available spaces in different ways, don’t be afraid to move stuff around. My mom has a large recliner in her living room, yup, we moved it to her bedroom because it’s just too big.

Change things up! If you’ve been in your house for years and always have every tree and snowman in the exact same place year after year. Please Bust a Move and keep it fresh!

Example, my mother always puts her Christmas tree in the alcôve of her big picture window. I took down her curtains and added green garlands around her window.

If I am being honest, she didn’t look impressed when I told her I was taking down her curtains. She said, can’t you put the garlands around the curtains?…no! I just couldn’t, lol. Once the garlands were up she loved them and it makes her living room look bigger. She had never thought of doing this, but loves it!!

4. Light It Up!

I’ve mentioned this before, but lighting can make or break your soirée. Don’t ruin your vibe by having harsh lighting, dim the lights, light your candles and tree!!!

So it turns out that my mother doesn’t have dimers on her lights, maybe Santa will get her some for Christmas? So getting the lighting just right was challenging, but we managed.

5. Expect the Unexpected

I think each party should include something special or unexpected. It doesn’t have to be too complicated. A small touch or an activity will help to help make your event memorable.

Years ago at one of my Halloween parties I had a fortune teller; ok it was one of my cousins, but she seriously has mad psychic abilities!! It was just for fun, people were lined up to sit with her.

For my Holiday 5 à 7, I had a few special things planned. When I chose the date, one of my cousins (not the psychic, another one, I have lots!), told me that Dec 12 was her birthday. So of course, we had a birthday cake for her, but that wasn’t our only extra thing.

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The whole reason for this soirée was to thank our female tribe, fyi 80% are family members; aunts, sisters and cousins…we are a force!! Lol

I wanted to send them home with a small meaningful gift that would remind them of my father. I found none tacky angel wings tree ornaments at Pier 1 Imports and they are lovely. The fact that they were 40% off when I was shopping was certainly divine intervention!!

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The only male at this party was my nephew Jack. When I told him about the gifts, he said, that’s sort of depressing! He was sort of, kind of, half right. I suspect that this would be a touching moment, but my intention was never to send people home depressed; so I came up with a brilliantly funny way to give them out.

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I bought a Santa Suit on Amazon for $30 and Jack showed up as Santa and handed them out. It was funny and entertaining.

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Our Christmas Eve dinner them this year will be Winter Wonderland, we have a different theme each year. Our after dinner game will be giant jenga! Try to add something fun or unexpected to your events.

Another easy idea is to buy a Polaroid camera and snap away during the party or create a selfie photo background with props; people will dig it, trust me.

Tip 6. Stay Cool

This is a bonus tip, do as much pre-planning as you can so that you can enjoy your guests, because in the end that’s the whole point.

Remember that nothing is perfect! Do as much pre-planning, but the day of and during let shit go!! Roll with the punches and laugh off any mishaps.

I get my love for entertaining from my mother who is the most chill hostess ever! Be mindful that if the host or hostess isn’t having fun, your guests probably aren’t either.

I hope you can incorporate one or more of my tips for your next party! Let me know which one resonates with you the most?

Go forth and entertainment!! 🎅🏻💋

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This post is dedicated to my dad and my aunt Janet, who have both just passed away. Please be kind especially during this time of year. The holidays can be a very hard time of year for a lot of us, so don’t be an asshole. It’s also ok to acknowledge that you are thinking of someone who you know is doing their best to make it through the holidays for various reasons. Pretending everything is normal or perfect can make them feel more alone; just my two cents.

muah!

Liette

 

 

Dear Santa, Is Naughty Really So Bad?

Dear Santa, Is Naughty Really So Bad?

As children we’re taught to fear ending up on Santa’s naughty list; sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s the goal.

Why? Because Santa is watching you; so you better watch out, you better not cry and you better not pout! First of all, why is he watching me and how do I get him to stop? And secondly; I like pouting, it’s sort of my thing, lol.

This year, let’s throw caution to the wind and just say, FRIG IT!! But if we’re going to take a walk on the wild naughty side? Let’s be the best naughty version of yourselves as possible.

I’ve created this naughty bucket list as a guide…you’re welcome! Let’s see how many we can hit this holiday season.

Cocktails

You can’t really be naughty without a little booze; let’s face it, all of our best bad life choices started off with some sort of yummy cocktail!

I am certainly no bar tender, but when hosting an event I try to find one signature drink for my party.

I will be hosting a cocktail party in a few weeks and this is what I will be serving. Soooo I renamed this Mimosa to fit my theme; yup, you’re allowed to make shit up, especially if you are being naughty. I am naming this one Elfed Up, because if you drink too many, you will be very Elfed Up!! Lol

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These are super easy to make, these are a combo of cranberry juice, orange-pineapple juice and champagne, but feel free to use whatever juice you like. And as per my champagne expert friend, Lynn, it needs to be champagne! Sparkling wine, will not do!!

Fill your champagne flute half way with champagne, then fill to the rim with your juices. Add a few frozen cranberries, they look pretty and will keep your drink cold.

The next drink is my fav on a cold night. I am going to call it Haaaatt Chocolate, in honor of my friend Staci who pronounces hot, as haaaat, lol; she’s also hot stuff so it’s fitting.

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The special ingredient that makes this drink so haaaatt is Fireball Whiskey, because chocolate and cinnamon basically belong together. You can use a hot chocolate mix or a pod, then add a shot (2oz) of whiskey per glass and voilà!! Baby, it’s not so cold outside!!

Top with whipped cream or roast a few marshmallows and prepare to be merry!!

For extra naughtiness, serve in a sassy mug!

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Gifts

‘Tis the season for giving, here are some really smart ass gift ideas that Santa may not approve of?

I love this dirty laundry travel bag! Its practical, funny and cute! It’s from the same company that I bought my customized luggage tags, see last weeks post, the company is called Airportag.

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Now I usually make my own Christmas cards, but I had to share this one!! I like funny cards and this one makes me laugh!

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And since we’re talking balls, these will help you have a Blue Christmas, lol. For a fun activity, get a few friends together and hand paint some balls with naughty messages.

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I bet we all have that one naughty friend…ok we know more than one, who would love hanging this stocking by their chimney with care?

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So you get the idea, there are lots of funny options for anyone on your naughty list.

Baking

Even the naughty have to eat! My family has a cookie baking party every year. I sent this picture, see below, to my mom and told her we were making these. Did she flinch or tell me I was being inappropriate? Nope, she laughed and said ok!! (she is seriously the coolest mom ever!); and she is obviously on Santa’s naughty list.

But if Santa Penis cookies aren’t your thing, just make sure you make the most sinfully delicious decadent cookies ever!! Call over a few friends, drink till you’re a little Elfed Up and bake!!

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If you’re bored and want to chuckle, search sexy cookies on Pinterest; karma sutra cookies?? Why???

These are the aprons that we wear to make our cookies each year. Yup, we’re a family of Ho, Ho, Ho’s!! Lol

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Merry Kissmas!

On our bucket list is getting the maximum number of hugs and kisses possible! Don’t get all “me too” creepy; make certain your affections are welcomed, no one likes a perv!

Did you know that researchers have proven that hugs can help with stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and they can also diminish the risk of heart disease? Well it’s true, they help boost your oxytocin levels! Ok, I don’t actually know what oxytocins are? But you don’t need to know how it works in order to reap the hugging benefits.

And kissing  apparently boosts your “happy hormones”; and hey, I am all for happy hormones! So make sure to hug and kiss your loved ones a bit extra this season.

This pic was too cute not to share…again! My friend/coworker and I were getting head shots done and then this happened, lol.

I had one of the designers add some mistletoe to make it Christmassy. I may have plastered her office with a bunch of posters the night before I left the US to come home for Christmas a few years ago? I figured I was probably already on Santa’s naughty list for the Rudolph incident, so what the hell?? What Rudolph incident? Keep reading.

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Have Fun!!

Sometimes being naughty is way more fun than being good. Please keep in mind that there is a big different between being naughty and being mean; don’t be mean! Naughty for me is being a little mischievous and not taking yourself too seriously.

I try hard not to take myself too seriously, exhibit A: my 2017 Christmas Card when I dressed up as Rudolph; actually, I dressed up as all Santa’s reindeer.

You maybe wondering how did that get me on the naughty list? Well…Rudolph kind of got shot in the head on my card, lol.

I thought this was hilarious, there was text on the flip side that explained the image.

If you create your own Christmas cards, don’t be afraid to be silly and show some personality! Apparently my personality is a bit twisted.

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Last Christmas, I found these silly reindeer glasses, I brought them to a party and people loved them; hats and games are always fun too. This year my brother has made us a giant Jenga game for Christmas Even, I can’t wait to play. Be silly! You’ll have more fun.

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Qui se rassemble se ressemble!

During the holidays, as in life, you need a really solid co-conspirator; someone who will be up for all your crazy shenanigans, even if it gets them on the naughty list. When you find them, hold on to tight, they’re keepers!!

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who are up for pretty much anything! Yes, some need a bit of coaxing, but once they commit, they are all in! Does everything always work out according to plan? Nope, but we always have fun!

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This is dedicated to my friend Aline in Moncton and my friend Lynn in Vegas.

I am hosting a small cocktail party in a few weeks and I have a special something planned. I will need a bit of help, so I recruited my nephew. I told him what I was planning and asked him if he was in? He said of course!! I will share the dets after the party, I don’t want to ruin the surprise. When you have a crazy idea, just go with it and see what happens.

Be a true bad ass!!

If you want to be a true bad ass this holiday season, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, pick up an extra toy when you’re doing your Christmas shopping; sign up to deliver food boxes or donate blood, hey, the blood donor clinics have free snacks!! We promise, your secret will be safe with us! We wouldn’t want to ruin your naughty reputation!

The underlying message of this post is that nothing and no one is perfect; so let it go and embrace the imperfect, half done projects and general hot mess that is life. If that gets you on anyone’s naughty list, so be it! I guess I will see you there, lol.

muah!!

Liette

Holiday Staycation!

Holiday Staycation!!

With the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and burnt out.

You’re giving so much to others, how about you treat yourself to something fun for you?? It’s not being selfish, it’s taking care of your heart and soul so you can be there for others.

Now this idea will vary depending on where you live, but it works anywhere and everywhere! The basic idea is to escape from your daily grind for 12 to 24 hours; with all the time that you spend doing laborious tasks, you deserve some time to yourself this month.

It’s easy and doesn’t have to be too expensive.

Step 1 – Find a holiday activity and book it!

Every city, large or small have holiday things to do. Look it up and buy tickets for you and your mate, friend or mom; whoever you want to share your Staycation with, just be sure it’s someone you like, lol.

If you don’t like concerts, go see a movie or find a craft show, just make certain it’s an activity that you enjoy.

I staycationed last night in Las Vegas; and yes, this city has a lot of options, but I couldn’t help but notice all the concerts people back home in my little hometown of Moncton are posting on social media. So you don’t have to live in a big city.

Seeing Mariah Carey perform her Christmas concert has been on my  bucket list since I moved here three years ago. I missed her last year, her Christmas concerts were too close to Christmas, I was already back home for my Christmas vacation.

But not this year!! I asked two of my close friends if they were interested and they said yes!! We bought our tickets in August.

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The lady can sing!! Her show was so much fun!!

Step 2 – Get a room!

Now you maybe thinking, why would I get a room in the city that I live in? It’s a waste of money. First of all, no it isn’t a waste! It’s part of your “you need a break” staycation.

So get a room, have a romantic night with your partner or have a pajama party with your BFF.

Here’s a helpful hint, if your schedule is flexible, pick a night that the hotel isn’t busy. Sunday nights are usually the best nights to get the best rate. Also, ask if they have a locals rate? Or ask them what night in the next few nights could they offer you the best rate? Call the hotel directly and tell them you are planning a special night and that you live in the city, they will help you, I promise!

My friends and I have booked a hotel room on the strip, because if you live here going to the strip is sort of a pain in the ass. The traffic, the people, the parking, the people, the walking…

But, if you have a room on the strip, you can have a few drinks without having to drive home; instead of dreading all the crazy party people who invade the city, you become part of the party.

Step 3 – Make a night of it!

So you have your show tickets, you booked your hotel room; now get dressed up and go out to dinner. Think of it as your very own Christmas party and make it special.

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My friend Shondra never disappoints! Her silver sequins jumpsuit was on point! Woman kept walking up to her all night to rave about her jumpsuit!

For our night on the strip, we booked a fancy restaurant and got dressed up in our shiniest outfits; Shondra out shined, as she should, because she is fabulous!

If you are parents of small kids, maybe your staycation is getting a hotel room, ordering room service and watching Christmas movies in bed? Hey, do you! Whatever you need to recharge your batteries.

Step 4 – Gifts!!

This is a bonus step; ask your staycation partner or partners if they want to exchange gifts? I mean it is Christmas!!

My friends and I did a « our favorite things » gift exchange. Turns out all of our favorite things include fuzzy slippers, candles and luxurious face masks and lotions!

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What a treat to get back to our room, take our heels off and put on our new fuzzy slippers! 

As we packed up and left Caesar’s Palace this morning, Shondra mentioned that it felt like we had been there for the whole weekend; which was exactly the point. We spent a solid 12 hours away from our regular lives; we laughed and made great memories that we will treasure for years to come. Moving forward, Mariah Carey’s, All I Want For Christmas, will make me think of my awesome friends in Las Vegas.

Thanks for reading, let me know if you are planning or could use your own Holiday Staycation!

For more pictures, videos and holiday gift ideas, follow me on Instagram and Facebook at: @oui-liette

Muah!

Liette

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So full disclosure, I am not a big drinker. I only drink 4 or 5 times a year and this was one of the nights. I think I started a trend, because after my impromptu photo shoot in front of this random hotel wreath, there was a line up of people waiting for their turn, lol. 

 

 

Stuff Your Stockings!

Stuff Your Stockings! Great stocking stuffer ideas from Santa’s helper.

Growing up, one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning was diving into my stocking to see what Santa had left me. About ten years ago “Santa” asked if she…I mean he, still needed to fill my stocking? Duh! YES!!

The truth is you’re never too old for gifts in your stocking; and it turns out, that I enjoy buying stocking stuffers almost as much as I like getting them…almost.

So here are my top 5 stocking stuffing ideas for this Christmas.

Tag Your Bags!

I travel a lot for work, as do many of my friends. The other day I was waiting patiently…ok maybe not so patiently, for my hot pink Samsonite bag at the baggage carousel. I finally spotted it coming down towards me. I got into my best baggage pick up stance, just as another woman darted in front of me and grabbed it!  Turns out we had the exact same pink bag. This is exactly why I don’t have a generic black suitcase, but apparently I now need to add something unique to my hot pink bag so it stands out…more.

This was the inspiration for my first stocking stuffer idea, customized luggage tags.

I got these on Amazon, they are called: My Personal Memories and were $14.99 each.

 

I bought some for my staff, of course I had to get one for myself too! They come in a variety of colors. I got black, but now wishing I had gotten one of the bright colorful ones.

I went a bit rogue on customizing my tags. I did the first letter of the last names, as shown in the example, but then I wrote out the first name.

For a few of my closest friends I found these below, they are from a company called Airportag, http://www.airportag.com

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They are called Face Luggage Tags and were a bit more at $19.90. I think these are sooo cute.  I’m so tempted to show you all of the ones I ordered, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise, as a few of my friends are loyal blog readers; those who aren’t loyal readers aren’t getting anything for Christmas!! Kidding, sort of. So, sadly, I can only show you the one above, it’s my friends dog.

What’s nice about these is that you have the option of printing the names and address on the back side.

You can’t stuff a stocking without a stocking!

Ok, maybe I should have starting my post with this one? If your loved ones don’t have cool stockings with their names on them, well, not to be judgy, but I am secretly judging you, and so is Santa!! Lol

But seriously, I noticed one year that my stocking was getting raggedy, the red fur was shedding all over the place, so I upgraded. My cousin, Nicole, and I now have matching stockings that we stuff for each other.

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If you live in the Moncton area, check out: Made By Monique, on Facebook. She can create matching, monogrammed stockings for everyone on your list. Just hurry, Christmas is fast approaching!

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So a fancy, smancy new stocking can be part of your stocking stuffing gift; just don’t forget to stuff it. Do not give anyone an empty stocking!!

Staples Stuff!

My secret stocking stuffer location is Staples, yes the office supply store. When I am having a hard time thinking of what to get someone, I go to Staples and it never disappoints!

If you want to change the life of your Millennial or Gen Xer, get them a super long phone charging cord, like 10’ long. It will seriously improve their quality of life, lol.

Think about it, you’re laying in bed, watching something on YouTube or browsing on your phone and it’s charging at the same time! And you don’t have to be at the edge of your bed, because your cord is too short. You can be in the middle!!

Here are a few cord options, I would go for the pink one, obvs. These are 6’, but I highly recommend the 10 footers. They also have phone pad chargers and a bunch of other cool stuff that you need, but never think to buy for yourself. I think you will find tones of stocking stuffers for everyone on your list at Staples.

Make Christmas Memories!

This is a great ideas for everyone, but especially for men for their partner, mother or sister…

Start a new tradition of buying a new tree ornament every year and put it in their stocking. It’s thoughtful and sentimental. I try to find a funky Santa or snowman every year. This year I bought three of these jolly guys, one for me and two for gifts. If you find something you like, buy more than one. Omg he is so cute!!

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I got this guy at Crate and Barrel

Practical Stuff

My stocking stuffing strategy is to have one or two, substantial gifts, don’t fill it up with cheap crap! So one or two nice things and then, go ahead and load it up with cheap crap! Lol

If you’re giving socks and underwear, wrap it and sock it!! Socks in a sock, why not?

If you have a university student home for the holidays, get toothpaste, Mr. Noodle, deodorant…the key is to wrap each item.

For ladies…or men, pick up a few silicone gel eye patches, bath bombs and wrap em up!

Gift Packs

All my stuffing ideas are items that I would like to receive myself; this last idea, I love giving and receiving!

If you want to test the waters with your subject before buying ask them one question; do you shop at Sephora? If the answer is yes, you are cruising down easy street!

During the holidays they offer a variety of gift packs; this one below is a Lashstach. It’s a package of a bunch of different brand together, these are a bunch of different mascaras. Sometimes they are a little smaller than regular size, but bigger than sample size.

Why is this so cool?? Because you get to try a bunch of different brands to see which you like best. Usually when you run out of mascara or other, you don’t want to gamble on another brand, just in case it’s not as good as your current fav. This gift pack let’s you try them all.

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Here is another great one! This brand sells lipsticks, they go on very glossy so don’t worry if you aren’t sure if these shades will be flattering. They are glossy with a hint of color, so will be flattering on everyone. Again, it’s a great way to try a bunch of different shades.

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A few years ago I gifted my bff with a black liquid liner gift set and she loved it!!! This year I bought a Benefits gift set for a coworker, we do a gift exchange; it includes a bronzer, a full size mascara and an eyebrow shadow.

If you are unsure find a sales person and tell them the coloring of the person you are buying for; fair, blonde hair, blue eyes, or olive skin with brown hair and brown eyes.

I hope one of these ideas will be helpful to you! My two key take aways are: make sure you have at least one nice gift, the others can be useful fillers. And two, wrap everything that goes in the stocking, half the fun is unwrapping and it will make the morning gifting last longer.

My next Christmas post will focus on Santa’s naughty list! Hey, sometimes being naughty is just way more fun!!

Thank you for reading!

muah! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Liette

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Santa’s Ho,Ho,Ho’s! Taking cookie baking to the next level!

Santa’s Ho, Ho, Ho’s!

At first glance this post looks like it’s  about baking cookies; and it sort of is. But as you read you will discovered that it’s more about spending time with loved ones. That being said, these two recipes kick ass!!

 

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Our 2017 cookie crew.

In this post I will share our grandmother DesRoches’ super simple and yummy Scotch Cookie recipe. Full disclosure, there is no Scotch in them; nor was she Scottish, lol.

We also always make peanut butter balls, they aren’t always pretty, but they are always super delish! I guarantee that you will love our balls. Scroll all the way down for both recipes.

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Our two best ballers!!

This family cookie baking tradition started a few years ago. I invited all the ladies on my moms side of the family over on a Sunday afternoon to bake Christmas cookies; because baking cookies alone is depressing, so the more the merrier!

Now lots of people bake cookies during the holiday, which is awesome, but we had to take it to the next level. Because that’s what we do…ok, that’s what I do, but they always follow me willingly!

How do you take it to the next level? Matching aprons, that’s how. I had custom aprons made for all of us; and you can too! I think this was the key to making this an annual event; because now that we have aprons, like it or not, we are kinda committed.

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Just a bunch of Ho! Ho! Ho’s!

Having matching aprons or hats will make you feel like team; I promise, you will have more fun if you match!

Our sassy aprons have our names on them, but you could also just do matching aprons. Or get blank ones at a craft store and bedazzle them. You have lots of apron options. I am used to ordering in bulk because of my job, but I also do it for my personal parties. I always use Kadopromo, if you are buying in bulk, go with a company who does this for a living, the prices are better!! They often have a minimum number of items you need to order in order to get the best price. Here is who I use, but the internet is full of suppliers, there is no excuse not to match! lol: https://kadopromo.net/

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We must have been really good this year because Santa gave us an early Christmas gift, that will help us mix it up!! See below.

What you could do, is have a group fund, where everyone gives $20 and the head elf buys the group gift; either an apron or spatula? We have had our aprons for years now, we just order more as our family expands. It’s a one time expense, so it isn’t so bad at all.

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We ordered monogrammed spatules from Kadopromo!! Full disclosure, Kadopromo are not paying me to promote them. I really do use them because they rock!!
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Ok now I am just showing off, look how pretty they are with their tiny bows!

For our cookie baking, each ma tante and cousine (aunts & cousin) bring an ingredient; it’s not fair to expect the hostess to provide all the ingredients. And don’t forget your empty container to bring some back home.

 

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This is our official invitation for this year’s party. This may actually be our 4th event, not our 3rd? Oops!! Lol

We take lots of pictures, it’s fun to look back over the years. Because we are such a big family, some of us are scattered all over the place; it’s nice to have memories of those who can’t be with us this year.

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We miss you Evangeline! We hope you are back for a Canadian Christmas next year!

Mémère DesRoches’ Scotch Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2bls of  Butter
  • 1 cup of Brown Sugar
  • 4 cups of Flour. Yup only 3 ingredients!!
  • Well 5 if you add the frosting and cherry for the tops.

Directions

  • Combine brown sugar and butter, mix till smooth and creamy.
  • Add flour
  • Once the mixture is creamy, make into small balls, a little bigger than a quarter. Take a fork and gently press them down (don’t smush, just lightly press so the fork leaves horizontal marks).
  • Bake 350F for 18 minutes
  • Add pre-made frosting, I like cream cheese, but you can do vanila.
  • Cut up bottled red cherries and place on top
  • EAT!
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This is how they should look!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 cups peanut butter (creamy)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 3 cups or rice krispies
  • 2 ounces of paraffin wax
  • 1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Melt butter and while it’s hot stir in the peanut butter
  • Mix well and add vanilla, powdered sugar and rice krispies
  • Melt chocolate chips and paraffin wax
  • Dip balls into melted chocolate
  • Cool on wax paper or parchment paper
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Don’t forget the parchment paper!!
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Our 2018 crew of Ho! Ho! Ho’s! lol

Giving Thanks

I am thankful to you for reading and I am also so thankful for my family! There is something about belonging to a tribe that tightens around you in hard times and makes you laugh, but also let’s you cry if you need to! They say you can’t pick your family; if I could, I wouldn’t swap a single one!!!

So what is your ultimate Christmas cookie?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you from me and the fam!!!

muah!!

Liette

 

 

Christmas Photo Shoot in the Desert.

Christmas Photo Shoot in the Desert.

On an early…really early morning in October, my friend Sean and I ventured into the Las Vegas desert to take a few Christmas photos. Sean is a great landscape photographer and wanted to practice portraits. I needed a few shots for my upcoming Christmas card, so off we went. Here are some of the pics.

Cover Shot

It’s always best to take pictures at dawn, dusk or when it’s overcast. Sean and I are both from the East Coast of Canada; we didn’t realize how quickly the sun rises in Vegas. Because Las Vegas is in a valley surrounded by mountains, the sun doesn’t slowly rise, it just pops up.

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Sean wanted to try a few shots with the sunlight behind me. I clicked away with my iPhone while he set up.

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The sun peaking out from behind me, makes me look like I am glowing…like an angel! lol. That’s not what he was looking for though.

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This is the shot he was looking for. It looks like it was taken at sunset, but it was taken just a few minutes after the previous pictures above. I think it looks really cool! My head is blocking the sun, making the rest look dark. Well done Sean…well done, lol.

Desert View

This is a classic Sean landscape shot. Different photographers have different ways of working. I am used to moving and the photographer taking shot after shot in quick succession. For most of these, I needed to stand still for longer periods of time…without talking, lol.

My prop for the day was a large Christmas wreath. I still think it’s odd that Christmas happens in places without snow…that seems very unnatural to me.

& magic mountains

These shots in front of the Seven Magic Mountain sculptures were the first shots we took, before the sun popped up, hence no squinting and shadows. These sculptures are 15 minutes off the strip. There were two other photographers taking pictures while we were there. It’s a popular spot!

7 Magic mountains 2

I have discovered that it’s hard to maintain a natural smile when standing still.

Wreath

The picture below is of a Joshua trees; there are lots in and around Las Vegas.

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Trying to be artistic with my wreath. 

Here is Sean and his big lens! He now thinks he needs a new camera to go with his big zoom lens. I took all of these with my iPhone; not to brag, but I am a fairly good photographer as well, lol.

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And that’s a wrap!! Thanks Sean!

I will use some of these pictures for future blog stuff. Just wanted to share.

Muah!!

Liette

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Thanks for reading!!