My Sweet Marie

Archive for the ‘Holidays and Announcements’ Category

I will bet most of you will be gathering with friends tonight for a big party, or maybe you and your sweetie will go out for a fine dinner at a white tablecloth establishment. Whichever your plans, have fun, drive safe or better yet, don’t drive. Grab a bus, cab or walk, please!

Having worked in the restaurant industry for so many years, I cannot go out for New years. When I have, all I can see are the staff working hard, hoping you will just gobble up and leave so they can get to their parties! So for many years, we have done our own thing. Denis and I have a neat tradition that we do every year, and I think I will share with you! No, no, not that! Jeesh!

After a great meal of many courses, we will retire to a comfortable spot, get out our 2013 calendar and we sit, sip and reflect. Some years we’ve cried over the memories, some laughter and sometimes, like this year, I plan to burn that sucker! I mean the calendar, not Denis! It really amazes me how much we do in a  year, what we see, who we spend time with. When it’s all there in black and white, and blue and red…well you get a great sense of who is important to you and what is.

When we’ve finished with the calendar, we will refill those glasses then spend some time on making predictions, talking about our hopes and plans for the New year. This is my favourite part of the night, aside from the yummy food of course! One year I remember predicting that my brother in-law and sister in-law would get a baby, as they’d been hoping for many years and it wasn’t long after that they did in fact adopt a beautiful little girl, Nicole. One of my favourite predictions ever! One year we predicted we’d maybe get another grand-child and not only did we get one that year but we got two! I think this year, I will predict we win the lottery, let me re-phrase, the big lottery, the jackpot of all jackpots!

When the children were small, we’d make them a special meal, which usually they asked for hot dogs as that was a rare treat to them but whatever they think is special, then we’d set the clocks up a few hours and at midnight (really 9 p.m.) we’d have our countdown and go on the porch with sparklers! They had champagne, (ginger ale) in champagne glasses and yell and holler, and in no time, they were in bed so that we could have our celebratory meal and get our New year’s eve going!

Whatever your traditions are and whoever you share them with, may they be filled with great fun, lots of love and a little sparkle!

Please don’t drink and drive! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

Sweet Marie


Have you seen the movie Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase? Well that family has nothing on us! Surely if those directors and producers knew our family they’d be making movies about us! We are large and no doubt, in charge! I have seven siblings and when we all gather for holidays with our spouses and children, and their children we are now 55 or so people! It really is something to witness. Our family has a tradition where we take turns hosting the Christmas party. The host gets to choose the date, the venue and the menu! Sounds like a good deal doesn’t it?

This year was my turn and I chose to have a comfort food theme. You see when you have a hall, you have to plan ahead and book the hall early and make arrangements with people for different things.  I have to say that I was completely in awe of the food that showed up on our buffet table! We had two long tables set-up just for the food and we had to be very creative to get it all to fit! We had stew, cabbage rolls, even a vegetarian cabbage roll, Kapusta, chicken and sliders, shepherds pie, mac and cheese of three types, two types of meatballs, salad, sweet potatoes, squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, buns, corn bread, appetizers and desserts! Let’s just say if someone went home hungry, they have an issue!

Hosting is a lot of work as you’re the one who arranges everything, delegates odd jobs and gets there early so the hall is ready to go when the crowd rolls in. I was lucky to have my hubby’s help and my sister Monique and her husband Gaston showed up early too to lend a hand, thank you God for them! I can take a deep breath now knowing I won’t be hosting again for 8 years! Phew! I have passed the torch to my brother Denis and I heard a rumor he already has a theme picked out but I won’t let that secret slip….yet.

When hosting there’s the children to think of and we usually have a table set aside for them to do crafts, play games etc, but really what they like best is running wild. There’s plenty of room to do and as long as they stay out of the kitchen where they could get hurt, we’re all OK with it. They get to see cousins that they don’t see very often and it doesn’t take them long to warm to one another. They also usually get gifts from some of the generous aunts who love to see those kids smile!

For Mom it’s a busy day that wears her out but it’s a day where her entire family is gathered and everyone is happy to see one another. This year was a bit tough for her, even if she didn’t complain, it was her first Christmas without Fred and he so loved going to these functions. I feel he was there watching over all of us and making sure nobody burned the cookies!

Thank you all to my siblings, my nieces and nephews for all of the contributions and mostly to Mom for having such a large family for us to enjoy. And now I shall have a nap!

Love to you all,

Sweet Marie

Happy thanksgiving to you all! Today is our Canadian Thanksgiving and people all over the country will be feasting on turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, stuffing and likely a squash or two! That will likely be followed by pumpkin pie or in my case pumpkin pie cake! I hope you snagged an invite to at least one of these dinners!

On Friday I was talking with a young woman who had never cooked a turkey and this weekend was to be her first! She is only 23 after all so I’m sure Mom or Gramma has done the turkey till now! She asked me if I had any tips to not make it dry? This is the question of the day isn’t it? here’s a couple of tips I shared with her:

  • keep it moist by basting it every 30 minutes or so
  • I use gluten-free chicken broth or white wine to baste mine. Some people use butter but I find that too oily and fattening!
  • Do not overcook it! For a 10lb turkey, it should be just less then 4 hours. The biggest mistake people make is overcooking!
  • Stuff an onion in both ends of the turkey and some chopped garlic under it’s skin, that’s right, get under his skin!
  • In the last 30 minutes, remove the lid to get it nice and brown.
  • I season my turkey with paprika, salt and pepper and the garlic under the skin, that’s it!
  • when the drumsticks easily pull away from the body, it’s ready! Eat it  now, don’t leave it in the oven waiting for the late comers or it will dry out! If they’re late, they can have it dry!

Enjoy your turkey, remember to go around the table and take turns saying what you are thankful this year. I for one am truly thankful for my family, my husband, my children, my precious grand-children, my siblings and their families, my Mother, my in-laws and all of my dear friends! These are the people that keep my world going and are always there for me in times of need!

Happy Thanksgiving people, hope it’s been a good one for you too!

Sweet Marie

While I was in Australia I would get regular updates via e-mail and Skype regarding my step-father Fred. Towards the end of my holiday they were getting graver and graver. I was completely naive to think I’d make it home in time to say my final good-bye.

Fred has been a step-father to me for almost 19 years. When we first met, he loved to cook, was a Mr.fix-it and loved to create projects with wood. We have a wooden bench that he made for us and now I will always think of him when I sit on it to get my shoes on! Once he married Mom the cooking eased off and she took over all the cooking! She just can’t help herself!

Fred had been in hospital for the last month with congestive heart disease. His organs were not working and it was causing him serious issues. He was to fight his last battle in that Chatham hospital that served the lousiest food ever if you asked him!

While on Skype with Denis on Sunday morning(Australia time), his phone rang and I told him to grab it. It was our brother-in-law Ken calling to tell him of Fred’s passing. There was no need for him to tell me as I read it all over his face. This was not a fun moment for me as I was a million miles away! Thankfully I had Jane there to hug me and I just laid low the rest of the day.

Sadly by the time the funeral arrangements were made it was Tuesday Australian time and I could no longer be in Canada by Wednesday! I would have had to leave early Tuesday morning to make it. So while I was in travel on Wednesday, my family was gathered for Fred’s final hurrah. As I passed the time inflight, I couldn’t help but ponder and think of Fred. I said my good-byes in the air and hoped that Fred would understand.

Fred was a constant in our lives for the past 19 years and one thing you could count on was his opinion! I often laughed with him about politics or if I wanted to really get his goat, I’d say something about John Deere. John Deere was his favourite product by far and swore that anybody that used anything else was nuts! He’d go on about for quite a while if you let him!

Fred will be missed most by my mother Bev. Her and Fred married 10 years ago but have been together for almost 19 years. They took care of one another in their own way which is how it should be. They were great companions often playing rummy till a fight broke out!

Fred left behind a daughter Shirley, her husband Brian, their three sons Brandon, Brett and Bradley. He also left behind his son Jamie and wife Maria and their two kids Samantha and Nicholas.

Let’s not forget that Fred also leaves behind my 7 brothers and sisters and our many children and grand-children! I’m sure he was met at the pearly gates by not only his parents but by our nephew David who was likely on a Harley!

Fred, I am sure you are in heaven now, enjoying all the chocolate chip cookies you can muster, walking freely without a worry and looking down on us all and bragging what a great family you had! We’ll miss you Freddy!

With love,

Sweet Marie

Today we remember all the soldiers, known and unknown who braved their lives for our safety and freedom. Thank you to all of you still fighting! Sweet Marie


A few Remembrance Day quotes:


“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” -Maya Angelou


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy


“Year after year we gather and shout commands in the Square,
Wait for the Governor-General, say a few words of prayer,
Lay our wreaths in order, mothers and big shots first,
In memory of those who have made it to the other side of the worst.”
– George Johnston, Canadian poet, Remembrance, 1966


“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” -Jose Naroskyorge Johnston, Canadian poet, Remembrance, 1966

On Tuesday my mother will turn 76, I am working that day so won’t be around to celebrate with her though 😦 . Lucky for her, she has 8 kids and about a million extended family members and half million friends to give her some much deserved TLC. I hear she’s going out for lunch on Wednesday with her sisters, which I hear is always fun, I know they’ll take good care of. I am sure one of my siblings will have her over for dinner, likely Marg or Marc, or maybe Monique…or could be Marc or Andre, then again…Phil and Denis are good cooks too, we will just have to wait and see. I’m thinking it won’t be Colette as she lives in Michigan but surely she’s a great cook too.

I struggle every year with, do I buy a gift or not? Do you have this struggle? Actually it’s not do I buy a gift, but how do you buy a gift for a woman who would turn the world upside down for you if you needed her to? What could I possibly buy her that a) she doesn’t already have or b)that she wants? She is 76, really does she want another trinket to dust? Does she need another coffee mug? Something to ponder for sure. I’ve got 2 days to get it done too!

In years past, I have written her poems and tucked them in a store-bought card, I have gotten her those little books with all the Mom poems in it, but in that little book, for each poem I made a side note to tell her how that poem was about her. For example there was a poem about Mom being funny, well there is nothing funnier than the time she camped with us! Let me tell you that story.

One summer, a few of my siblings were going camping. We had a camper at the time so we talked Mom into joining us. On the first morning there, she headed to the washroom for her morning routine. She had taken Melanie along with her and not 5 minutes after they left we could hear the laughter coming from the bathrooms. I mean the place was full of women getting ready for morning and there is my Mother heading back to camp laughing her butt off! She was practically crying, Melanie was laughing too, she was about 6 at the time. So apparently, Mom got out her toothbrush, put some paste on it and lifted the brush to her mouth, only to find it empty! She had left her teeth in the camper! Well once Mom starts laughing, there is no stopping it as she keeps reliving it in her head…too funny. I still smile when I think of it!

Anyhow, Mom if you’re reading this, I want you to know that everyday I thank God for choosing me as one of your kids. I am grateful for every single thing you do, have done and likely still will do for me. My childhood would have been a whole lot different without you. You are the reason I am who I am today. Thank you. May your day be filled with love, laughter and joy as you ooze all that on us on a daily basis.

love you lots,

Sweet Marie

Where were you on 09-11-2001? It’s one of those dates that you know exactly where you were at 9:37 a.m.! I was in Bayfield on my regular Tuesday/Wednesday run, in my sales position with Sysco Foodservices. I heard something first on the radio going from one call to the next, then when I went into an account in Goderich, the TV was on and I saw the second plane crash into the second tower, live! I could not believe my eyes, I kept asking those around me if that was a replay of the first crash and eerily everyone was thinking like me, for once! I knew at that moment that life as we knew it would change forever.

How prophetic was that? My sales in that area depended largely on the flow of American customers to their restaurants, their Inns or their conference centers. I had people calling me before the noon hour on that day cancelling orders for their weekly delivery, it was an immediate drop in sales volume and a direct hit to my numbers. I knew though I was just a little casualty in this horrible tragedy. I lost my job two months to the day of the attacks, a huge hit for my family.  Ontario’s West Coast is still recovering ten years later. Some  Americans are still shy to cross the border but the area as recovered by attracting Canadians and that has been good for them.

I remember that morning calling my husband, my kids making sure they were safe. It was a horrible and scary day for all. I called my friend Heather, as I knew Gary was away and he often travelled through Logan, sure enough he had been there that week but was safe and not on an airplane that day! Wow, they had been looked after that day, Gary was not one of the 24 Canadians who perished! Ironically, it was their anniversary, glad they’ve been able to celebrate many since then!

Next time you are travelling and there’s a long line up at the security gate, remember why. I, personally am all for the security checks. They’ve needed to be vigilant since the attacks and they will continue to be, plan on getting there early and stop whining. Think of the almost 2,740 people who perished because of the lack of security, ten years ago today. Over 3,000 children lost one or two parents, think of that when you have to take your shoes off and it’s an inconvenience.

Safest regards,

Sweet Marie