Guest Author - Gayle E. Santana
Last night, the TV was on a news channel. I wasn’t really watching but just half hearing what was being said. The fear and negativity that spewed into the room from one story after another left me no room to breathe. It made me feel as if I were about to be overtaken by a huge wave and there was nothing I could do except watch it coming for me.
While news is indeed useful, this constant dumping of various versions of the same news—that we are in a financial downturn—is not at all helpful. It causes us to run about like Henny Penny yelling, “The sky is falling!”
Here is my advice: Turn it off. In spite of what you are hearing, as long as you are alive and well and on the right side of the dirt today, things will eventually get better. Trust me, they always do.
The real news of the day is that the holidays are coming and you need to get ready. If you are thinking about canceling your usual holiday fun—don’t. There is no need for extra money to have a wonderful holiday season.
Here is how to get it done.
Worried that your house is not good enough as is? Give yourself a good slap and follow these instructions. Clean up—not “perfectly” mind you. FlyLady http://www.flylady.com is a great site to go to if you are challenged in the area of cleaning and clutter. There is a perfect crisis cleaning plan if you have guests coming soon.
Gather a few things you have like decorations, table cloths, etc. Decide on a theme. It can be a theme of colors, angels, candles, whatever you decide. Put the rest away (but not too far in case you need something.
K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Silly!
Need a few ideas for your table?
-Glass jar, bowl or vase filled with coffee beans and gold wrapped chocolates as a centerpiece on dining, side or coffee table. Riesen Candy by Storck could do nicely and they are inexpensive and delicious.
-Beautifully-wrapped empty boxes (small)
-Boxes or jars filled as follows:
Take a box, wrap the bottom half. Fill the box with fruit and nuts/or nuts, candy canes, what ever is appropriate for you. Tie a lovely ribbon around it and it adds festivity to your table.
Look at this picture on REALSimple.com for inspiration.
Put on some motivating music and begin decorating.
Now that the house looks great, let's make it smell great.
Cook your favorites or try something new. It’s bound to get you in the spirit.
Francine Segan is a noted food historian and author of four cookbooks, with regular appearances on CBS, the Discovery and History channels as well as the Food Network. Here is Francine Segan’s recipe for a rub that can be used on meats like London broil and chicken breasts, or use it to spice up your favorite chili recipe or barbeque sauce.
Francine's Chili Coffee Rub
3/4 cup finely ground espresso
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
1. Combine all spices in a bowl.
2. Uses: Sprinkle into your favorite chili, baked bean or stew recipe.
Stir into ketchup, honey, or BBQ sauce. Drizzle a little olive oil onto
steaks, chops, fish, or chicken and then press on a good thick layer of the
rub. Grill, broil, or pan fry.
Cooking with Coffee
Festive Drink Recipes:
NOTE: you can replace Cool Brew in these recipes with strongly brewed coffee
Freshly Whipped Cream
1 cup of heavy cream
¼ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Pour all ingredients into a glass bowl. Use a wire whisk or electric mixer to whip into consistency of whipped cream (enough to form soft peaks—Warning: Over mixing can turn your cream into butter)
Double Mocha Cream
2 tbsp. Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (sometimes found in the baking section)
Hershey semi-sweet Mini Chips
1 ounce Cool Brew Mocha Flavor
¾ cup of milk
2 tbsp. sugar
Mix together sugar and cocoa powder in a large mug
In a separate cup or bowl mix milk and Cool Brew Mocha Flavor
Heat in microwave for 1½ minutes until hot.
Gradually add hot coffee/milk to sugar/cocoa mixture stirring well.
Top with a large dollop of whipped cream
Sprinkle with Hershey semi-sweet Mini Chips
Crunchy Toasted Almond
1 oz Cool Brew Toasted Almond Flavor
6 ounces of water
1 tbsp. (or to taste) brown sugar
Unsalted, unflavored almonds crushed
Microwave water and Cool Brew Toasted Almond Flavor in mug or cup for 1 ½ minutes or until hot
Add Brown Sugar
Top w/large dollop of whipped cream
Sprinkle with crushed almonds
Bake a great pie or cake.
Presentation and attitude, not money, is key in dazzling your guests this holiday season. For most of us, that is a great thing, because if you watch the news, money is surely in short supply. Don’t be shy. Ask your guests to participate and bring a dish, dessert or drink.
Now EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY!
Remember that every single day without fail the sun rises. Each day is a new beginning for you. Opportunity and good cheer abounds in spite of what they say. Let’s go find it.