On My Mind Christmas 2021: The Farewell Tour

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

Christmas, On My Mind, Susanne Skinner, December 2021Eight years ago, Aline invited me to write a guest post (my very first blog!) sharing my job search over fifty experiences in real time. My writing skills live in the professional realm of my day job, but I said yes hoping others would find ideas and encouragement.

One article led to another until Aline asked me to become a regular contributor and eventually, I became the Monday author.

The Farewell Tour

It has been my pleasure to write for The Next Phase Blog; exploring topics that pique my curiosity and expand my understanding of the world we live in. Working under Aline’s guidance significantly upgraded my writing skills and brought a joy to my life that I didn’t know was missing.

As 2021 comes to a close I’ll be stepping back from weekly blogging to become a guest author. Aline offered me carte blanche to contribute when and where I can. Despite my farewell tour, I won’t completely retire because as everyone knows, there is always something on my mind!

In Case You Missed It…

Negative news is all around us, so I make a point of seeking out positive, informative and entertaining stories, especially during December.

Many of us love Amazon for its convenience, but not everyone prefers to shop this way.  If you are a lover of books, this is an alternative option that supports local bookstores – and that’s a good thing!

A British firm developed an additive that makes plastic biodegradable. When added to both rigid and flexible plastic it allows plastic to biodegrade naturally within a year.

American manufacturers take note! The French government recently voted to make all electronic goods manufacturers indicate how repairable their products are. In other words, you’ll know exactly how long it will last and if it’s fixable. Planned obsolescence is now out in the open.

Dream Big! An Australian man dreamed he won the lottery a few years ago and remembered his winning numbers. He’s used them ever since, and this month he won $3.4 million.

In The Christmas Kitchen with Suze

The word of the day in my Christmas kitchen is Fudge and, in all honesty, I’ve never been a fan. It’s usually too much (poor quality) chocolate aided and abetted by the addition of marshmallow fluff and sweetened condensed milk.

Christmas bowl, ornaments, fudge, In the kitchen with SuzeMy sister recently shared a recipe for cake batter fudge, swearing to its goodness. I love a challenge, so I began exploring options outside of the milk and dark chocolate standards and found amazing variations on the theme.

The most important ingredient in any fudge recipe is high-quality chocolate. The rest of the ingredients are delivery vehicles and using poor-quality chocolate means poor quality results.

White Chocolate Fudge

Each of these recipes uses white chocolate and I buy Ghirardelli or Guittard (chips or bars) because they are easy to find. I admit to preferring Valrhona, which has become cost prohibitive at $31.00 per pound, or Callebaut when I remember to order it in advance.

The unexpected and unusual additions to these recipes are cake or cookie mix and Jell-O powder. Packaged mixes contain flour and therefore require sixty seconds in the microwave to make them safe to eat.

Sugar Cookie Fudge tastes just like its name. Don’t forget to add the holiday sprinkles for a perfect presentation! I had about four ounces of leftover Marshmallow Fluff and I added it with tasty results. It lightens up the recipe without affecting its firmness.

Marshmallow Fluff, fudge, This strawberry fudge received two thumbs up when I shared some at a recent luncheon. I used regular Marshmallow Fluff and 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s freeze-dried strawberries that I ground in my spice mill. You can also use the same amount of strawberry Jell-O.

If you’re stuck finding a gift for someone who loves to cook and read, these spices are the answer! Game of Scones, Of Spice and Men, and a Wrinkle in Thyme are just a few of the tongue-in-cheek offerings.

Read ~ Watch ~ Listen

Read: 

This fall I began reading Alice Hoffman’s magic series.  I fell in love with her books because they are beautifully written stories for magic lovers like me. I am reading them in chronological order (because my mind works that way) but it’s not necessary.

If magic isn’t your thing, another great Hoffman book is The Museum of Extraordinary Things. It’s the story of strange yet lovable people, with period history and a little bit of fantasy woven into the story.

Watch:

Continuing the theme, PBS offers a little Christmas magic with The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Tchaikovsky’s exquisite music and Alan Cummings’ narration tell the story of the Nutcrackers origin, the Christmas Eve story we all love, and the postscript ending of the little girl and her prince.

Listen:

Susanne Skinner, Read-Watch-Listen, books, movies, musicI’m a new fan of The Vitamin String Quartet even though they’ve been around since 1999.  Their instrumental rendition of Christmas standards is pleasantly different, and sometimes it’s nice to hear songs without the words.

They’re contemporary studio musicians whose unique interpretations of classical, hip-hop and rock music is worth a listen. It’s hard to pick just one from their Christmas collection, so why not enjoy them all.

The Christmas season officially begins when you hear the King sing—and this rendition of Blue Christmas performed by Andrea Bocelli and Reba McIntyre is Elvis-worthy.

The Long Farewell

To my faithful readers, commentators, and long-standing supporters, thank you so much for your loyalty! Please continue to support, share and follow us on The Next Phase Blog.

My last regular weekly blog will be December 27th, sharing a few of my thoughts on 2022. I look forward to guest appearances in the new year and am already creating a list of topics!

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

1 thought on “On My Mind Christmas 2021: The Farewell Tour

  1. Your blogs will be missed. But hey congratulations on your new grandchild to come. Many blessings for good health and happiness.
    Thank you for the fudge recipes. I think I might even be able to make them.
    Just a note on Amazon if one is inclined to use it. There is Amazon Smile which you s one of their extensions for shopping. You can select a charity of your choice through Amazon Smile and a percentage of your purchase will be contributed to your selected charity. One good charity that I can recommend is Kennedy’s Disease Association which is a very rare neuro muscular Degenerative disease.
    Suze thanks again for your blogs. ❤️

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