Friday, December 30, 2011

Chili Cheese Dip

File this under Super Quick Fix!

This is my go-to appetizer.
It combines three of my favorite things in a recipe:
fast, cheap, and tasty! 

And, as if it could get any better,
the ingredients store well so it's easy to keep on hand
for the unexpected, hungry crowd.

1 can of chili (beans or no beans)
1 package of cream cheese*
1 bag of chips (camera shy)

Cut cream cheese into pieces.
Place in microwave-safe dish.
Microwave it for 1 minute.

Dump in can of chili.
Nuke for 30 seconds.

Another 30 seconds in the mic.

Stir well.
Continue microwaving at 30 second intervals
until well blended and smooth. 

Serve warm with chips.
Bask in the glow of admiration
of family and friends.

See? Easy peasy.

*An unopened brick of cream cheese 
keeps in the fridge for several weeks.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some Holiday Awesome-ness

It's The Little Things
I get the most satisfaction from the smallest of things. I don't know why that is! People often remark, "Doesn't take much to make you happy, does it?"

Well, the blog 1000 Awesome Things, by Neil Pasricha (author of The Book of Awesome) is full of nothing but life's little under-rated pleasures. I love it! He also has a new book on holiday awesome-ness. Speaking of the holidays . . . 

The Holidays
The holidays can be depressing for more people than you know. Personally, the holidays stress me out. Sometimes I think my kids are what keeps me from boycotting Christmas altogether. So this year I'm focusing on the season's tiny pleasures. 

Some Holiday Awesome-ness
  • Getting a card from someone you lost touch with
  • Plugging in your lights from last year and having them all work
  • When that kid crying in the mall isn't your kid
  • That moment near the holidays when there's suddenly cookies, chocolate and candy everywhere
  • When your neighbor shovels your little patch of sidewalk
  • Successfully regifting a present to someone who actually wants it
  • Just barely wrapping a gift with that tiny scrap of leftover wrapping paper
  • Knowing Kwanzaa is worth more Scrabble points than Hanukkah or Christmas 
  • When the gift receipt is already in the box

Your turn!
What "makes your day" this time of year? Join the conversation and add to the list! I'll go first...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Beautifully Ugly Tree

This is a reprint of a note I posted on Facebook about a year ago.

You may know that I am not fond of decorating for Christmas. I don't fully understand why, I just know that for many years I have viewed it as a chore. For 2 years now I have searched for a "primitive" style christmas tree. I thought that such a tree with its sparse branches, would be less work. Last year I purchased a (traditional) pre-lit tree, thinking that would help. The tree was up and ready to decorate in record time, no thanks to my whining about it. And this tree still does not look good. The bottom 2 rows of branches are significantly longer than the rest of the tree. {sigh}

Well last night I found my primitive tree

I decorated it this evening and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent lovingly placing each branch. My kids think the tree is ugly. This doesn't surprise me; they don't share my aesthetic. Their assessment is technically correct. There is nothing symmetrical or abundant about the tree. The branches are skinny and wiry. The trunk has bare places. No matter how I place shims under the base I can't seem to get it to stand straight. 

But as I hung my crafty country style ornaments on my tree, I wondered why this was not onerous and burdensome. Why was this tree different? It took time to unpack and set up - someone had put it in the box with the branches pushed down instead of up. 

Then I realized I liked decorating this tree because there are no expectations of this tree, or it's decorator

No one expects this tree to compete with those on display in stores and town squares. 

This tree accepts its weaknesses, even embraces them. 

There is beauty in its honesty. There is beauty in its lack of pretense. There is beauty in its simplicity. 

It reminded me of us as humans. We all have ugliness in our hearts. But there are those who see the potential in us. And there is One who values us regardless of our outward appearances, who saw our pathetic state and said, "This one is worth something. This one has value not seen by others."

As I lovingly coaxed my tree to life, I found the lyrics to "Perfect People" by Natalie Grant running through my head. "So come as you are, broken and scared.... Who lived and died to give new life To heal our imperfections...."  

My tree only has a few ornaments and no star for a crown.  Yes, my tree is ugly.  But only to those who don't recognize its value.

Linking to