Monthly Archives: December 2010

Out with the old …

Well, here we are on the eve of a New Year and it’s found me, as always, in a reflective and somewhat poignant mood. For some reason I’m always a little melancholy as the old year passes, mostly when reflecting over things not done, chances not taken, relationships not nurtured. This year I’m changing that and focusing on the good stuff. The things I’ve done during 2010, the times I’ve taken a chance on something, the people who have been in my life and mattered to me more than words could ever say. All in all, it’s been a pretty good year and I’ve been blessed by so much that is wonderful and positive.

So, as the old year ticks away, I’m focused on planning for 2011. I don’t make resolutions, but I do set goals – big and small – and use the S.M.A.R.T acronym to pin them down. Goals have to be:

Specific – what exactly are you going to do and how are you going to do it? For example, “I will attempt to lose half a stone by Easter by sticking to a 1500 calorie a day eating plan.”

Measurable – “I will keep a written record of what I eat each day and daily calories consumed” When you stick to your daily allowance you’ll feel like a winner, you’ll feel you’ve succeeded, and as we all know, nothing succeeds like success.

Achievable – goals need to stretch us, but they also need to feel within reach. Think big, but maybe take baby steps on the way 🙂

Relevant – are they really what you want or are you going along with someone else’s idea of what you should be achieving. We’re bombarded with diet shows and adverts at this time of year, but if you’re not too bothered about your weight then losing half a stone won’t keep your interest for very long.

Time-Related – put a time factor into the equation, otherwise things remain too vague and it’s easy to give priority to other things. Procrastination is the thief of time.

Richard Bach wrote, “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it come true”. As we step into 2011, I wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, prosperous, successful and truly blessed New Year. May all your dreams come true.

Love and Light

New Year’s Games

Well, 2011 is about to crowd out 2010 and I find it hard to fathom another year coming to a close. Where did it go?  Since I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago (I never managed to hold to them), I won’t ask you if you’ve made any. I thought instead it might be fun to list some party games you can play on New Year’s Eve.

The Celebrity Name Game

Each person writes the name of a celebrity on a piece of paper and tapes it to the back, or forehead of someone else. Then you take turns asking questions and trying to guess who your celebrity is.

The Grouping Game

This game, something like musical chairs (without the chairs) is a great mixer and fast moving. Put numbers on pieces of paper up to about half the number of people at your party (2,3,4,5, etc.). Then designate an announcer. Everyone starts out in one big group. The announcer pulls a number (like 6), calls it out and immediately, everyone must re-group into no more than that number of people. Groups should latch arms or wrap arms around each other to define their group.  Anyone who isn’t part of a group with the correct number of people in it is out of the game. As different numbers are successively called out the number of participants gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, there are less than ten people. The last group, or winning group, should have anywhere from two to five people.

Body Parts (and no, this is not X-rated)

As people arrive, take a picture of: an ear, lips, an eye, an elbow or whatever G-rated body part you mutually agree on. After everyone’s participated, take a few moments to load the pics into a Word doc or other such program. Print them out and let folks try to figure out what body part goes with which participant. A variation of this (that takes pre-planning) is to have everyone send you a baby picture and people try to guess which picture goes with which party-goer.

 Guess which month it is

This one takes some planning. Browse through old magazines or newspapers and get a list of at least three events for each month that occurred throughout the year. Write something about these events in small pieces of papers and fold them. You can now ask your guests to pick one and read out whatever is written inside. Then ask them to guess the event.

 Most likely to…

Remember in high school where you were voted most likely to… ?  Well, you can turn that into a fun game. Pre-write a bunch of “most likely to” scenario’s for the coming year.  Example: Most likely to change jobs in 2011 or most likely to  take up an extreme sport in 2011.  Then, like the celebrity name game, each person picks (but doesn’t peek at) a prediction, it’s taped on their back (or forehead), and they get to ask questions throughout the evening and guess what their prediction is.

These are just ideas I picked up while surfing the internet. Be inventive, have fun, and most of all, play safe.  Happy New Year, everyone!

 posted by Laurie Ryan

Food Fun Monday: Steamed Vegetables and Fish

We’ve been posting recipe’s on Mondays but after everything I’ve stuffed in my mouth the past few days I’m having a hard time even thinking food. So for the sake of calories and something simple I’m posting a favorite standby that Jack and I like.

Other than that this dish is healthy, I like that it’s one of those standby dishes for when I forget to take anything out for dinner. And it is a one pot meal so little cleaning up.

• Frozen vegetables. I get the packages of Costco Stir Fry vegetables. But I think the mixed vegetable with pasta would be good too.
• Fish must be boneless. I like the frozen Tilapia fish from Cosco but Halibut and Cod are good too. Don’t defrost.

Put vegetables in the top of a steamer and place fish on top. Season with your favorite. I use Johnny’s or Dash. Bring salted water to a boil and cook until the fish is done. By that time the vegetables will be tender but not overdone. By using frozen ingredients they get done at the same time. I’ve never used defrosted or fresh but something to experiment with.

Top with butter, or sour cream or nothing.

Posted by Lavada Dee

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad

Joyeux Noel

Mele Kalikimaka

Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie

However you say it, it’s almost here. Tonight lots of little children will be working hard to stay awake and parents will be working equally as hard to get them to sleep.

Being part of a larger family there are a lot of happy Christmases in my past. I am very blessed that a lot of the family is local and my siblings and their families, along with our parents, still meet for an annual Christmas brunch. We’ve outgrown some of our homes as we number over 40 people these days, so I’m grateful to my brother and his wife (with the biggest house) for hosting AGAIN this year. It is a joyous time of renewal for all of us.

When I was thinking about what to write today, I realized that I didn’t really need to write anything. Most of us will be busy wrapping those final packages, visiting with friends, baking that last batch of cookies, and going to services.  So I’ll keep this short and simply wish you the merriest of Christmases from all of us here at Over The Backyard Fence.  May you get everything you wished for.

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.”  ~Andy Rooney

posted by Laurie Ryan

Christmas Traditions

We all have traditions and at no time are they more prevalent then at Christmas. A traditional Christmas dinner, opening packages on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, are just a couple. I could write a series of blogs on our family’s but in researching traditions I found sending Christmas cards intriguing. Maybe in part because times are changing, and we are starting to use technology instead of the post office to send season greetings to friends and family.

Christmas Cards
The custom of sending Christmas cards started in the U.K. in 1843. They were expensive to post and it wasn’t until postal rates came down enough for ordinary people to send them that they became popular. Sort of sounds familiar in reverse.

Besides postal rates, producing cards was expensive. Around 1860 printing methods improved to allow Christmas cards to be produced in large numbers. By 1870 the cost of sending a Christmas card had dropped so more people were able to afford them.

The first cards usually had pictures of the Nativity scene. In Victorian times robins and snow-scenes became popular. Now day’s cards have all sorts of pictures on them and we have the very popular custom made and personalized cards. Christmas letters have also become popular and I for one, look forward to hearing the highlights of our friends and families year.

Hallmark Cards was created in 1915 by John C Hall and two of his brothers and are still one of the biggest card makers today. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know where the local Hallmark store was at.

Christmas cards are just one of many many traditions. In researching traditions I found amazing insights in to some to the things I’ve never given much thought to. Like Christmas Trees and Boxing Day. Ahhhh the internet, love it and all the information at my fingertips.

Embracing old traditions or creating new ones, may this season be Merry and Bright for all our friends at Over The Backyard Fence.

Posted by Lavada Dee

Food Fun Monday – Russian Teacakes

Since I won’t be making these this year (too tempting), I thought I’d post this recipe for anyone else who might enjoy them. Russian teacakes are my all time favorite holiday cookie. My mother has made them since we were kids and there’s a whole lot of nostalgia wrapped up in each one. I think the recipe is out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

You will need:

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup salt
  • additional powdered sugar for rolling cookies in

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix thoroughly butter, sugar, and vanilla. Work in flour, salt, and nuts until dough holds together.

Shape into one inch balls on cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until set, but not brown. Roll in powdered sugar while warm, then let cool and roll a second time.


posted by Laurie Ryan


I had a Christmas blog written but with the final episode of Survivor airing on Sunday I decided to follow up on the blog Laurie did on September 13, just before the first episode of Survivor. It was fun to re-read her blog. You can find it easily by clicking on the Entertainment Category.

This season they divided the initial two teams by age. A younger one and an older one. Like Laurie said, it didn’t seem fair. And, early on the older team voted Jimmy Johnson off. They seemed doomed and as a team probably were, but this Wednesday the final six squared off with three from the older team and three from the younger team.

Jane one of the older women was voted off so it’s 3 to 2 going into the final. Not bad. Certainly not one sided like a lot of us thought it would be.

Remember when Laurie posted the first show hadn’t aired and true to her prediction her favorite didn’t last long. Have to say the guy’s eyes had me too. Heyyy what can I say, all we had to go on was looks at that point.

Again like Laurie I get frustrated and sometimes downright disgusted and swear I’m not watching another reality show and this one was no exception. There’s usually a real baddy, everyone hates him or her at the end, but not so much this year. However I thought this was one of the more down and dirty shows they’ve produced. Holly (who is still in the running) started it off when she drowned Dan’s $1,400 shoes. Anyway that’s what Jane said they cost on Wednesday’s show. So who in their right mind would wear these kind of shoes in the jungle?

And, talking about Jane. The last thing she did before going to tribal council was to throw a bucket of water on the fire. When asked about it she said she built it. What in the world?

Then Na’Onka (love the name) stole food and the things she said on camera about fellow players . . . She would have qualified for an end of the show baddy but she up and quit. By the way not until she had secured a place on the jury. It will be interesting to see what she says on Sundays final show. Purple Kelly quit at the same time. At 22 you’d think if Dan at 63 is still in she could have made it?

So did you watch the show? If not I apologize as this blog is probably boring you to death. If you did, did your favorite make it to the end? And, are we ready for the next one scheduled for the spring of 2011?

Posted by Lavada Dee