Enjoy the Choir

For those of you who were not able to make it out to a Christmas choir, you are in for a treat. Now that Chantalyne is at an arts high school, she has the chance to sing for us in a fairly professional choir.

I did not record the whole two hours of all seven choirs for you, but here are the three songs that her choir sang.

I should also prepare you that these are not all Christmas songs. Wenceslas / Yankee Doodle, an amusing mash-up by Steve Kupferschmid, can only partly be considered “Christmas”. The Holly and the Ivy is certainly a Christmas carol. Sim Shalom is a Herbrew song. The other choirs also sang in French, English, Latin, Arabic and a couple other languages I can’t identify right now.

Enjoy the show.

Merry Christmas 2013

Wherever you are, however you celebrate – and even if you don’t! – a very merry Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas 2013

As a new year approaches, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on who you are and who you want to be.  On where you are in life right now, and where you want to be a year form now.  On what really matters in your life and on who really matters.

May all the love in the world be yours.


Frugal and fabulous DIY Christmas treats

Here are two yummy DIY Christmas treats that will wow your guests: Cupcake Rudolfs and Rice Kristmastreesicles. You can make them yourself at home with almost no effort and almost no cost.

So you want to really Wow your guests at Christmas this year, but a chocolate fountain and a dozen French maid server girls can’t be squeezed into your budget? No problem. Here are two tried and tested (by Mrs. Happy Guy and our girls) do-it-yourself Christmas treats.

What these two treats have in common:

  • They are each incredibly simple to make.
  • They look adorable…and pretty fancy.
  • They taste great.
  • Among several dozen items at the dance school bake sale, these were both among the first to sell out.

High-in-demand reindeer cupckaes!

Cupcake Rudolfs

Cupcakes!You start with a cupcake. You can bake these yourself, as Mrs. Happy Guy did in Christmas-themed cupcake paper (here are some cupcake recipes), or you can buy them from the store. Any flavour will do; pick a flavour that your guests will like, or make several flavours to lend an air of surprise.  Chocolate, vanilla, red velvet – any will do.

Frosting!Ice them in brown frosting. Reindeer are not dark-furred, so mixing chocolate and vanilla icing might be best, or you can do what Mrs. Happy Guy did and just add brown food coloring to white frosting.

Snout and Nose!For the snout, add miniature cookie. We used ginger snaps. I say “we” because I very helpfully taste-tested several of them (for quality control purposes).

For the nose, any red candy will do – Skittles, M&Ms, gum drops. Just use a touch of brown frosting for “glue”.

Candy eyes!For the eyes, we bought them read-made at the bulk food store. Tip: put the eyes close together, or they start to look uncannily like brown bears.

For the antlers, just add mini pretzels, tucking them gently into the frosting deep enough that they stay.

That’s it. Ta-da!

Rudolf the red-nosed cupcake!

Rice Kristmastree Squares.

You start with a large tray or two of regular Rice Krispy Squares about an inch deep. Here is the recipe.

Then you cut them into triangles, shaped like Christmas trees. If you want them to look like they came off an assembly line, measure them carefully to make sure they are all the same size and shape. If you want them to look home-made and like real trees – various sizes and shapes – go wild and cut with abandon.

Candy-coated!To turn them green, we coated one surface generously with melted green “chocolate” melting wafers. Melt them slowly, stirring occasionally over low heat. Feel free to use a knife to ensure that they form a smooth surface for the trees.

Now stash them in your covered porch to cool. If you aren’t blessed with an unheated covered porch, a fridge will do.

Once the green coating is hard, you can decorate. How you decorate is up to you. We used piping icing for the garlands. We used Skittles (my younger daughter’s favourite) for the ornaments. Use some green piping icing for the “glue”.

Fondant stars!And we used fondant for the stars. We added a yellowish coloring, but it turned out more orangish. But that’s OK, because stars are actually balls of flaming gas, and orange is good for that, right? Besides, it didn’t stop people from grabbing them up.

For an added dash of festivity, carefully stick a popsicle stick through the bottom, and Presto! – your Rice Kristmastree Squares become Rice Kristmastreesicles.

Rice Kristmastree Squares!

With that, you are all ready to receive your guests and make their eyes pop and their mouths salivate. And you didn’t even have to hire 12 drummers drumming.

Proud to Be a Grinch [humour alert]

It was my first meeting of “GA”. This is not AA (Alchoholics Anonymous). It is not even AAA (American Automobile Association). It is GA…Grinches Anonymous. This is roughly how the meeting went.

“Please stand up and introduce yourself,” I was urged by the wall-of-brick bouncer blocking the doorway.

“Uh, OK…” I paused to remember how I had seen them say this on TV at AA meetings. “My name is The Happy Guy, and I am a Grinch.”

The room fell silent. People looked at one another uncertain how to react. Finally, a little old lady spoke up, “Isn’t that somewhat of a conflict of interest, sonny?”

It’s true. The Grinch is not generally seen as the most jovial of fellows. And I am called The Happy Guy. Even my website says that: www.TheHappyGuy.com. But I had to face the unhappy truth. I am a Grinch.

Oh sure, I don’t have lots of cute furry, green skin like famous Grinches can afford. And I can’t seem to twist my face into that famous diabolical grin, no matter how hard I try. Not even when I use a plunger, a blow torch and a porcupine – but that’s another story.

“Tell us, please, what makes you a Grinch,” the moderator suggested.

“I just seem to spoil everybody’s Christmas. They ask me what I want for Christmas…and…and…and I draw a blank. I can’t think of anything.”

The room fell silent. Again. People looked at one another uncertain how to react. Again. Finally, Little Old Lady spoke up (again), “You mean I can have your Christmas presents, sonny?”

I know it is probably hard to believe, but when somebody asks me what I want for Christmas, I just can’t think of anything. It’s like asking me to list the international hopscotch tournaments won by the American Samoa team.

At the moment I am being asked, I just don’t want anything. I always seem to have enough. In fact, I always seem to have more than I need. I have over a hundred music CDs, but when was the last time I played most of them. I’ve given away more books than I’ve read, and I’ve read more than I have.

We have a special machine just to make waffles. And one just to make popcorn. Both of them make prize-winning dust bunnies. And we have a machine just to make bread, which we at least use to make pizza dough. We have glasses and bowls that I would never recognize and some clothes in which I would not want to be recognized.

“Why does that make you a Grinch?” the moderator asked.

“I make it difficult for them to give. What I really want is less, not more. What I really need is for somebody to come and take things away.”

The room fell silent. Again. People looked at one another uncertain how to react. Again. Finally, Little Old Lady passed me a notepad, “Mind jotting down your address for me, sonny?”

What would a Grinch want for Christmas?

My wife suggested socks. Got’m.

Shirts? Got’m.

Nail clippers? Got’m.

Pyjamas? Got’m.

Pens? Got’m.

Bookmarks? Gloves? Paper? Flashlights?

Got’m. Got’m. Got’m. Got’m.

Batteries? There’s an idea. Put me down for batteries. You never know when I might get hungry.

Cologne? Here are the bottles from the last two years. One of them is open. No, wait…that’s just a scratch on the lid.

Isn’t there anything I want?

“Why not ask if they have any ideas you could consider?” the moderator suggested.

“You mean, like hiring them as a consultant on how to give things to me?” I asked.

The room fell silent. Again. People looked at one another uncertain how to react. Again. Finally, Little Old Lady spoke, “Just refer them to me. I want lots of things.”

VIEW THIS VIDEO: I’ve got enough

Why would anybody want more stuff to clean, more stuff to break, more stuff to fix, more stuff to store, more stuff to keep track of, more stuff to trip over? I don’t even know where to put last week’s dirty dishes.

If people keep buying gifts when you already are storing more things than you could ever use, sooner or later your house is bound to explode, the way a balloon bursts when you over-fill it. I wondered if my insurance covered that.

“Couldn’t you humor them? Just a little bit?” the moderator asked.

“Actually, I know one thing I want…a chalet in Switzerland and a map of the best hiking trails in the vicinity.”

The room fell silent. Again. People looked at one another uncertain how to react. Again. Finally, Little Old Lady jumped up and declared, “My bags are packed. When do we leave, sonny?”

I don’t think I’ll ask for a GA membership renewal in my stocking this year. But that is probably what I’ll get.

Enough – [Christmas video]

This is my favorite Christmas song, by Alberta country artist Remi Boudreau.

I’ve got enough
I’m completely satisfied
I don’t need stuff
Just this thing that’s true and tried
I don’t need the perfect gift to fit me like a glove
I’ve got enough

Even on an average day, I find that we are surrounded with so many messages that tell us that no matter how much we have, no matter how gluttonous we might become, that we could never have enough.  More.  More.  More.  And those messages only seem to grow in abundance as we get closer to Christmas.

Given that we are full-steam into shopping season, this might help us all to keep it real. Watch and listen to the video, and hopefully it will put you in the Christmas spirit.  In THE Christmas spirit.

READ ALSO: Proud to Be a Grinch