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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Thursday, November 25 , 2010

Nurses create gifts with TLC Gift basket ideas Divine holiday fare Gifts on a budget Tree of Love Family letters as gifts


A tradition of Christmas notes reflects life and love By Dan Marois Feature Writer / Photographer

It all began on Christmas in 1978, the year that my wife, Denise, and I were married.

W

e purchased a goldcolored, cardboard Christmas tree ornament. The ornament was unique because it could be split in two and a small item, perhaps a tiny gift, could be placed in the ornament and then hung on the tree. On Christmas Eve 1978, a long standing tradition was literally hatched in this ornament. Before retiring for the night, I grabbed a piece of red wrapping paper, scribbled a note on it, and

placed it in the ornament. It wasn’t until all of our gifts were opened on Christmas day that I told my wife there was one more gift to open. I pointed to the bulb in the tree and asked her to open it. She pulled out the small piece of paper and read it aloud. “Merry Christmas! I hope that you enjoy our first Christmas together. You make me very happy and I love you more than I ever thought I could. For the next 52 years or so, you can expec t my annual Christmas note in this ornament. Love, Dan.� At Christmas the f o l l o w i n g y e a r, m y w i f e opened the bulb and first read the note from the previous year before reading the new note aloud. As the years went on, the number

no longer fit in the ornament, they were placed in a scrapbook with each one in its own plastic cover for safekeeping. Being a writer all my life, the family messages each have a d i f f e re nt m o o d , sometimes serious, sometimes not so serious. As we read them aloud each year, it is clear that these oncea-year messages actually chronicle our life together.

of notes grew with the size of the paper and length of the message. When all the previous messages could

The notes often mention milestones. The 1982 message hinted that it might be time to start a family. The note said, “Is this the year when Denise and me and baby make three?� The hint became reality as the 1983 Christmas message welcomed our newborn daughter, Katherine Noelle, who we affectionately nicknamed, “Katie Christmas.� The Christmas note in 1991 reflects mixed emotions. It was the year that I dealt with some health problems and the year that our house was broken into and a theft occurred. To the plus side, it was the year that my wife and I first appeared in a mystery theater show. Who would have known that being in this one show would bring a new career and new business into our lives, an adventure that continues today, 19 years later?

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HOLIDAY

“ Dan’s Chr is tmas m ess a g es complete the year; each one starts the year and ends the year,� said my wife, Denise. “In a time when traditions are fading, this one continues strong.� My only hope is that long after I’m gone from this earth that someone continues the Christmas tradition. Nothing would please me more than to know that on December 24, 2078, the next generations will be sharing 100 years of Christmas messages.

Par t of the Marois Christmas celebration is reading through the messages from years gone by. The tradition is happy/sad because it stirs up many emotions that bring tears of joy and sadness at the same time.

The 1993 message included a school essay by my daughter, Katie, who was 10 years old at the time. She wrote about our Christmas traditions from the unwrapping of gifts, to the reading of the Christmas messages, and on to the breakfast feast always prepared by her father. The 1998 message talked about the joys of portraying Santa Claus at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center for employees and their families. In 2001, I wrote a poem about my holiday message tradition titled, “The Tradition of Our Love.� The 2006 note was a short story placing my wife as a lead character in a Victorian Christmas tale.

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Nurses create special yet affordable holidays with TLC By Nancy Dubord Feature Writer / Photographer

Every year the Levitre family even gets matching holiday pajamas to put them in the spirit of the season.

For LuAnn Levitre, a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, Christmas is a year-round event that begins right after the holiday.

To a c c o m m o d a t e L e v i t r e ’s Christmas shopping and gif t giving plans, she has “two large designated drawers” that she uses throughout the year to contain her assortment of bargains and handmade projects.

“I keep an eye on things as the price goes down, down, down,” she said. “I wait until it’s 75% off. I get placemats, jingle bells, napkin rings, decorations... reduced down to almost nothing.” Throughout the year she frequents the clearance sections of the stores she patronizes hunting for bargains that fit in with what she knows her adult children want or need.

Levitre is a prolific cook and an ardent crafter, too. Before the holiday season, she sends each of her four children a box filled with her loving handiwork and great buys. Her children’s budgets, taste buds, and holiday decorating needs appreciate her efforts.

The Levitre family abounds with personal and economical traditions. “When the kids were little we got a punch bowl with little glasses. I didn’t want them

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“I started this spring,” she stated innocently, then added she has several extras completed. “I go online to buy yarn. I’ve found quite a few websites that are quite cheap.” Although Marquis maintains that yarn colors ordered this way usually match their online appearance, when she finds yarn Felt purses, made with wool yarn and locally that she likes, she notes washed in hot water to shrink them, identifying information to place an and a hand-knit sweater made by Marie order on the Internet.

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Marquis. For her older grandchildren, she buys wool yarn to use for felt purses which she makes by first knitting the purse and then throwing it in a hot water wash so it shrinks into felt.

Some of her edible treats come from recipes that date back to when Levitre’s own grandmother used to bake her something and send it to her when she was in nursing school. For this Christmas, Levitre has a special gift she’s been creating for each child that assures the legacy from her kitchen will continue. “I’m handwriting each page in a book.” Using recipes from her “grandmother, mother, friends,” as well as her own, in short, any recipe that holds a memory and a pleasure for any family member is being penned by her into an individual book (no photocopies) each child will receive as a gift this holiday.

A nur sing colleague, Marie Marquis, with her own creative and cost-cutting abilities, pursues gift-making and giving for her 11 grandchildren. She’s already knitted each of them a sweater.

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Nurse LuAnn Levitre holds a gift earmarked for her children, a “Treasured Family Recipes” book which includes any recipe her adult children have enjoyed throughout their lifetimes. All these recipes have been handwritten by Levitre.

Each December, she orders calendars with blank pages so she can create personalized memory calendars for gift giving to family members the following year.

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Also, she reflected, she listens. “My daughter just said that she didn’t have a potato peeler. So I bought one on clearance for her.”

“My scrapbooks are from Creative Memories because of the warranty,” she offered, but papers, stickers, die cuts, embellishments and all-in-one kits whose components revolve around a single theme such as Christmas, Valentine’s, weddings, etc., are purchased online at great savings.

Marie Marquis holds up a Santa rug that she made by locker hooking.

to drink soda. So every year (at Christmas) I made a fruit punch that became a tradition. Well, we even had that same punch in the punch bowl when my son got married.”

T h is ye a r w i ll f i n d a ll h e r grandchildren wearing flannel pajamas with a common theme: f ro gs . W h e n h e r gr an ds o n, Lucas, was almost 3 years old, he brought her to a frog pond and they both noted a “squished frog” unsuccessful in its attempt to cross the street. PJs for each of her 11 grandchildren made with inexpensive frog fabric bought at Marden’s will be a whimsical reminder of this day for them. “Pink frogs on pink fabric for the girls; green frogs on green fabric for the boys.” Diane Beaucage, another nurse, makes memor y book s for Christmas presents for her two daughters, a son, and her and her husband’s parents.

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

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HOLIDAY

LuAnn’s Holiday Fruit Punch 1 can frozen orange juice 1 can frozen lemonade 1 48 oz. can pineapple juice 1 large apricot juice (2) 1 liter bottles Sprite (2) 1 liter bottles club soda

Diane Beaucage, LuAnn Levitre, and Marie Marquis, St. Mary’s Hospital PreAdmission Testing nurses, use TLC for creative holiday gift making and giving.

Mix together the juices. Add club soda and Sprite. For the ice ring to keep the punch cold, add the entire contents of a jar of cherries to your water. Freeze thoroughly before adding to the punch. Enjoy!

Tree of Love from page 8

Erickson; and myself,” she said. “A Christmas story is read and we sing carols as we gather around the tree. Once we get to the tree we holler: ‘Light that tree.’ We then quietly sing carols on the cancer floor.”

And the tradition continues, last year raising over $3,000 for the Cancer Care Immediate Needs fund. “It’s great to see that little sapling help this wonderful cause,” said Bugel. “I love trees; they are living things and this one stands tall in remembrance of others.” Paper ornaments can be purchased with donations of $5 and $10. Glass star ornaments (inscribed) can be purchased with a donation of $25. The paper ornaments will be on display at the WHA Gift Shop and can be picked

Tree of Love glass star ornaments.

up anytime. The glass ornaments are boxed and are available inside the gift shop. Donors and those honored will be listed in the Sun Journal on December 19. Donation forms are available at the WHA gift shop; to have one mailed

or for more information, please contact Wilkins at 783-6865. I’m very happy to see the tree still standing,” said Bugel. “I love trees; they are living things like we are and it’s nice to see that tree that started so small is still standing.”

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Put together a package that targets specific interests By Nancy Dubord Feature Writer

Gift baskets with a central theme are a great way to acknowledge a special interest, encourage a budding hobbyist, or pamper that special someone. Whether put together by the experts or assembled by the do-it-yourselfer, a decorative basket filled with items geared specifically for a home gardener, an aspiring gourmet chef, or an outdoor enthusiast, to name a few, is sure to be a people-pleaser. For an ex tra thought ful gif t for individuals with dietar y p re f e r e n ce s o r co ns t r a i nt s , consider these items for baskets f r o m M e n d - A - B o d y (w w w. mendabody.com), a company whose emphasis is on promoting produc ts to enhance and maintain wellness and that carry a good selection of foods that are diabetic and/or waist-friendly or appropriate for the gluten intolerant. Their Walden Farms line includes “great tasting, guilt-free dips, salad dressings, sauces, and syrups, all sweetened with Splenda... made with all natural ingredients including rich cocoa, fruit extracts, natural spices and vinegars (and) are zero carb, zero sugar, zero calories, (and) gluten free.” This locally-operated company can assist customers with their selections or suggest one or more of their holiday baskets suitable for gift giving. Whether looking to buy, or for creative inspiration, go online to check out www.the-basketcase.

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Under the “Holiday” section, look for the catchy title of “Christmas Morning in Maine Basket” featuring a host of savory items such as blueberr y jam and syrup, popovers, pancakes and waffle mixes, coffee, and cookies. According to the website, Barbara Lauze, the local owner of this company, not only has dozens of basket themes already put together, but is willing to customize her baskets depending on the need and budget.

My personal favorite from years gone by is a basket filled with Lindtz chocolate truffles, a canister of Godiva hot chocolate, a variety of other chocolate treats, and a couple of matching Victorian cups and saucers. Yummy and pretty together. It’s easy to pick a theme and go

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A practical gift for newlyweds, new home buyers, or young adults launching out on their own is a gift basket with a set of screwdrivers, a hammer, a measuring tape, and a leveler – all tools helpful for small home repair or to hang up pictures. Bicycling enthusiasts could benefit from a basket filled with gear to promote happy and safe bike touring. Dan Deschenes, a local biker, advises nutrition bars for lengthy rides, shirts made from fabrics that wick sweat to the material so the sweat evaporates quickly, a hand pump, a spare tube for tire punctures, and either a handlebar or an eyeglass mirror to maximize viewing. For added of f-road biking pleasure, he suggested including a bicycling magazine and subscription with either a mountain or road biking nuance, depending on the person’s preference. A gift certificate to a local bike shop would be a real bonus, indicated Deschenes.

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Shop local craft fairs for bargains. Yvette LaRochelle and Bonnie Stone made several baskets for a local craft fair with different themes from goods and gift certificates donated by local merchants and community members. Each basket is not only attractive, but has a clear theme (baby, movie night, coffee lovers, etc.) and typically offered at a discount for savvy holiday shoppers.

with it. Soliciting input from friends and family adds to the excitement. Surfing the net with search terms like “Christmas gift baskets” or “specialty gift baskets” turns up photos of cute, scrumptious, gimmicky or attractive baskets sure to inspire... or tap into your wallet.

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

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Black Friday shopping traditions

and Big Lots offered free gift cards. “We start the day at these places.” And no matter what the store opening times might be, Nadeau arrives about a half hour in advance to join the oftentimes lengthy line of shoppers. After the “freebie” locations, the brigade branches out to other nearby locations to complete the buying mission. Since each shopper brings along a cell phone, Nadeau said that it’s easy to keep in touch and monitor each other’s progress.

By Dan Marois Feature Writer / Photographer

When people meet Bill Nadeau, of Lewiston, they know he’s a fun-loving fellow always ready to brighten up the day with conversation and humor. In fact, many people go to his Auburn eyewear store, Affordable Eyes, not only to make a purchase, but to indulge in his easy-going banter. But talk about Black Friday shopping with Nadeau, and this mild-mannered Rumford native bypasses the light conversation and starts speaking with the intensity of a general going into battle. For at least the past 20 years, Nadeau has approached Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year and the official kick-off to the Christmas buying season, as a ritual not to be missed. “On Thanksgiving night, the family sits down with all the sales circulars to see what’s what,” said Nadeau; they chart out a detailed plan for

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the following day. He explained that everyone comes up with a list of what they want and what stores have the items. “Let’s say that I wanted a crock pot at Kohl’s while someone else wanted perfume and another wanted boots,” said Nadeau. “One person will go to Kohl’s and buy everything while the rest of

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us spread out to other stores.” With shopping lists completed, Nadeau’s family begins to detail the travel route and number of cars that will be needed to complete the mission. Where their travels begin is often determined by which stores offer free items and how early they open. “Some places have ‘freebies’ for the first customers in line,” said Nadeau, noting that one year JC Penny offered free snow-globes

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“Sometimes you can get the items really fast, but you can have a long wait in the checkout line,” said Nadeau, admitting that some shoppers lose their patience and become angered and frustrated when things don’t go exactly right. “For the most part, people are in a good mood and help each other,” said Nadeau. “Last year, there was a pregnant woman shopping alone and we held on to her items and place in the line while she went to the rest room.” W h i l e h e t r u l y e nj oy s t h e excitement of shopping on Black Friday, Nadeau said that he especially likes the bargains that can be found. He’s purchased items that were usually $200 or more at discounted prices of $49. He’s also had good luck with discounts on jewelry, videos, and

other impulse buying items. In trying to boost sales, many retailers have already launched Black Friday specials well in advance of the actual shopping day. Nadeau has not b e en impressed by their efforts. “I’m not in the mood to shop right now,” he said, preferring the buildup to the day after Thanksgiving. He did admit that he might go online to websites like www.blackfriday.com to get a sneak preview of the Black Friday circulars. Nadeau’s shopping mission usually winds down somewhere between 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., at which time he and his family gather for their traditional after shopping breakfast. “We talk about our morning and compare what deals we got,” said Nadeau. For shoppers considering a Black Friday journey, Nadeau is the voice of experience. “Be aware that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. If a store runs out of items, don’t get discouraged, just blow it off. Most of all, the whole idea is to go out and have fun,” said Nadeau. And if someone is still hesitant about shopping on Black Friday, what should they do? “Give me a call,” said Nadeau. “They can come along with us!”

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Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Traditions: From sentimental to silly By Christina LeBlanc Feature Writer / Photographer

No matter how the world may change, some things always stay the same. For many families, those are holiday traditions. Though each family may celebrate the holidays differently, within families there are certain habits, rituals, and activities that are important enough to do every year, whether it be where to go, what to eat, or even how to exchange gifts. “We celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday, so every year we bake a cake for Jesus,” said Claudia Limoges, of Auburn. “And then we get to have cake for breakfast!” Food plays a large role in the holiday for a lot of families.

advent calendars, and each day, starting December 1st, my son and daughter would go downstairs and open their advent calendars and they’d each have a gift waiting on the couch that they could pick up, shake, and put under the Christmas tree,” she said. “It was a fun thing to do – I got to play Christmas Elf, and we built up to Christmas day in a fun way. We even have a countdown ornament on our tree.” Holiday traditions can range from the sentimental to the silly. “On Christmas Eve, my family gets together with my brother’s family and we have dinner and do a Yankee Swap with goofy gifts,” LeBlanc said. “You never know what you’re going to get – you could luck out with a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card or wind up with a toilet-shaped piggy bank that makes a flushing noise. It’s an adventure!”

No matter the traditions, it’s nice to just spend some quality time with family and friends. Looking to start some new traditions? It’s never too late. Here are a few ideas:

• C hoose a holiday movie that you and your family enjoy (classics include “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Home Alone,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) and make it a point every year to pop some popcorn, cozy up, and enjoy the flick together. • H ave a favorite baked good? Spend some time in the kitchen together on Christmas eve cooking them up, and then enjoy them together on Christmas day. • Love to travel? Make it a point to pick up a holiday ornament from every new place you visit. •C  elebrating Hanukkah? Choose a theme for each day’s gifts (i.e. you give books on the first day, movies on the second day, clothing on the third, something homemade on the fourth, etc.). Everyone will get creative and it’ll be a fun thing to look forward to together. • I f you just want to spend some quality time with loved ones, have an annual pot-luck

gathering where everyone can get together and have fun. To spice things up, do a different theme every year for dress and food (i.e. Hawaiian luau or 50s diner), or change the party’s location every year so different friends and family members take turns hosting.

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Others have gift-related traditions: Samantha Depoy-Warren and husband Kyle, of Portland, give one another a book each night of Hanukkah. It ’s a fun and sentimental way to stock up on some great new reads. For Patti LeBlanc, of Auburn, the holidays start early and last as long as possible. “We always had

In the end, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, so any tradition is great when it means something to you and yours.

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Coming up next...

To Kill a Mockingbird

For Patti LeBlanc, of Auburn, the holidays start early and last as long as possible.

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

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HOLIDAY

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Tree of Love is a holiday tradition By Jackie Rybeck Feature Writer / Photographer

According to WHA past president, Tonie Ramsey, the tradition began 27 years ago.

The Tree of Love is a tradition carried on by the Women’s Hospital Association at Central Maine Medical Center.

“Back then, we would have meetings with other area WHA board members to swap fundraising ideas,” Ramsey explained. “Mary Goss and I went to Norway for one of the meetings and someone mentioned this Tree of Love.”

and lit up,” smiled Goss. “It was a perfect way to raise money.” When the meeting was over they approached the woman who had spoken of the tree. “We practically cornered her to get as much information as we could,” said Ramsey. “And then came back here to start planning our own Tree of Love.”

“We both looked at each other

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Goss was appointed chair of the newest WHA fundraiser and got the word out that they were in need of a tree. Her neighbor, Joe Bugel, came to the rescue. “I heard Mary was looking for a tree and I happened to have a blue spruce that was growing too tall on my front lawn,” he said. “It was a sapling I had bought from the Extension Service and we planted it at my wife’s ancestral home in Leeds where we spent our summers. That was in the early 1960s and when the tree was about five years old we moved it to our home in Auburn.” Bugel added, “The Tree of Love really started out as a little guy. It was maybe 6 inches tall when I bought it, five feet tall when I transplanted it, and 20 feet tall when I donated it to the WHA.” Goss’ husband was in construction at the time and had connections with Cote Crane, Helms Brothers, and DeBlois Electric. “It was dug up, moved to the main entrance of the hospital... all for free,” Goss smiled. “We only had one glitch.” “Oh gosh yes,” added Ramsey. “It was September and we had a hurricane and it blew the tree over, but it was quickly reset.” The WHA sold ornaments in memor y of, or in honor of, loved ones and the first lighting ceremony was held in early December 1973. Proceeds from the Tree of Love fundraiser went to the special needs fund at the cancer unit.

8

HOLIDAY

Past and present WHA leaders, seated L-R: current president, Nancy Wilkins; and past president Toni Ramsey. Standing L-R: Tree of Life past chairman, Nancy Goss; and current co-chair Debbie Haire.

Tree of Love glass and paper ornaments.

“It was a beautiful ceremony,” said Ramsey. “Well, maybe it was cold and the lights went on... and then off... and then on, but it was still moving.” According to Nanc y Wilkins, current WHA president, the tradition has been passed down through several WHA members to help those with special needs in the cancer unit. “The tree has since been moved next to the Cynthia Rydholm Cancer Center,” explained Wilkins. “And due to the cold, the ceremony begins inside at the mezzanine. The lights on the tree remain there year-round and they are controlled by a remote.”

And it is still a beautiful

and emotional ceremony. “There are not many traditions left,” said Ramsey. “And this one is still going strong. There are many of us who have bought ornaments for loved ones for 27 years. It has had such meaning to so many of us and can be quite emotional when the tree begins to glow in the dark.” According to Wilkins, this year’s ceremony will begin in the mezzanine at 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 4. “We gather there and hear from the chaplain; oncologist, Dr.

Tree of Love

page 4 ‰

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Giving thanks to family traditions with this classic Pumpkin Roll Mix it up with Jenny

It’s true – the kitchen is the heart of the home. Ever notice how people always gather there? Whether baking treats, making dinner or spending time with family and friends, the kitchen is my favorite place to be.

Since my day job is Consumer Test Kitchen Project Manager for the Nestle Test Kitchens, you can bet I love to stir things up. This column lets me pass along to you some of my best recipes, tips, and baking secrets. When I was growing up, we had certain holiday traditions. Most memorable for me was that our extended family would often gather at one of my aunts’ houses. The adults would squeeze together around the dining room table and the kids would sit together at a smaller table on folding chairs. To this day I wonder just how everyone fit into their houses! We always ate on the good dishes, one of my uncles would always carve the turkey, and we kids always tried to hide our green vegetables under the mashed potatoes. Sound familiar? I’m thankful for these memories an d th e co mf o r t of f amil y traditions. And I’m grateful that as our families grow, we can share these memories and make new ones together. Holiday dinners wouldn’t be the same without the familiar dishes that everyone loves. One recipe that is a tradition with us is this classic Pumpkin Roll. It’s got that terrific spiced pumpkin flavor, a sweet, creamy filling and it looks fantastic when you serve it. It’s fun to make, too. If you want some helpful tips, watch the howto video online at http://www. verybestbaking.com/video.

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Libby’s Pumpkin Roll

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CAKE 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel) 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 large eggs 1 cup granulated sugar 2/3 cup Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

FILLING 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

FOR CAKE: PREHEAT oven to 375º F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into

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TIP: Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick. Nutrition Information per serving: 370 calories; 150 calories from fat; 16g total fat; 10g saturated fat; 105mg cholesterol; 280mg sodium; 52g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 43g sugars; 5g protein; 50% Vitamin A Jenny Harper is Consumer Test Kitchen Project Manager for the Nestlé Test Kitchens and VeryBestBaking.com.

(Family Features) Photo courtesy of Nestle

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

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HOLIDAY

9


Heirloom gifts for the holiday By Duke Harrington Feature Writer / Photographer

As holiday traditions go, there are those that bring smiles, those that bring laughs, and those that turn the entire family into a hot, sloppy mess. For the Bellavance family, however, they are tears of joy, thanks to a one-time whim which has since become an annual event none of them would give up. The tears that flow each year, they say, are there only because this new tradition has brought their close-knit family closer than even they could have imagined.

It wasn’t always easy for the Bellavances, at their Stevens Mills Road home, in Auburn. The father, Louis, had muscular dystrophy, which forced the mom, Lorraine, to spend her life hustling for all she was worth, whether it was chasing bobbins at the Hill Mill (where Davinci’s Restaurant is today), chasing numbers in a variety of bookkeeping jobs, or chasing after her five children. The family didn’t have much, but they had love, and each other, and maybe that’s what imbued their possessions with extra meaning. Whether it was furniture, or knick-knacks, or holiday decorations, things in the Bellevance household were more than mere stuff to be cycled out easily whenever someone got tired of looking at it. Those things were there every day, every month, every year, as ingrained into their daily existence as the common air they breathed. By the late ‘90s, Louis had been dead for many years and the oldest Bellavance child, Mark, had recently passed away from complications of the MD he had inherited. By then, the remaining children were all adults with families of their own and Lorraine

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It was a large secretary desk her parent s had purchase d when she was a little girl growing up in Rumford. For the Bellavance children, the desk had been more than a wooden hutch stuck in a corner. Each one had memories of pressing it into service as a pretend post office, playing at sorting mail into its many pigeonhole slots. Bellavance did not really think her children would fight over the desk when she died, but it was something that had special meaning to each of them, each slot on its face a seeming repository for childhood memories. So, in 1998, she hit upon a novel idea. Today, she cannot quite remember how it occurred to her, but here is what she did: She gave each of her four surviving children a card. After the annual reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,� in which a book is passed and each member of the family reads a stanza of the famous poem, Bellavance had each child draw one of the cards at random. On the card drawn by her youngest

child, Kirk, she had written a simple note, “You get the desk.�

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childhood while she’s still around.�

“I was blown away and, I would say, in shock,� recalled Kirk. “It didn’t hit me until a day or two later what I’d actually got.

The nature of the random draw also helps to soothe any false sense of favoritism. “I leave it in God’s hands that it goes where it was meant to be,� said Bellavance.

“I remember using that desk to play post office, and library,� said Kirk. “As a child, those are some of the first games I played. Now, to have that with me, and to think of the history of that desk, of all the people who’ve touched it, and all the people it’s touched, it’s quite overwhelming.�

And so it has gone each year. Given the emotions that broke forth after the surprise bequeathment, and the fun of all the family stories prompted by the gift, Bellavance chose to repeat the process the following year, and has done so each year since.

Far from being jealous, the Bellavance brood fell spontaneously into a group hug, tears flowing freely, in support of the gift. “There are some families that might get into fisticuffs over stuff, which is kind of sad,� said Kirk’s older brother, Eric. “But, this way, there’s no question of who gets what, and mom gets to see the enjoyment of each person having something from their

Mistletoe: Staple of holiday decor has a deep history

HOBART WELDER

Holiday Special

had downsized out of the family home into an apartment, where she retained one large piece of furniture with an heirloom-like quality.

Chances are, holiday revelers will find themselves underneath the mistletoe at least once this holiday season. While they might know what to do when that time comes, they might not know the history of that plant above their heads. Especially sacred to Celtic Druids, mistletoe was believed to bestow life and fertility, while also protecting against poison and serving as an aphrodisiac. Mistletoe would later take on a more political meaning, as the ritual of cutting the mistletoe symbolized the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Nowadays, mistletoe is typically hung in doorways or entr y ways from one room to another. This tradition can also trace itself back several centuries to the Middle

Ages. During the Middle Ages, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. Throughout Europe, mistletoe was placed over doorways in the house as well as the stables as a means to prevent the entrance of witches. The tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe likely stems from the belief that mistletoe bestows fertility and is of ten associated with the Roman festival of Saturnalia, a period of merrymaking that predated Christmas. In 18th century England, a young lady standing underneath the mistletoe could not refuse to be kissed. Once kissed, the kiss would signify deep romance or eternal friendship. History also suggests that mistletoe was a symbol of peace. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace. When standing underneath the mistletoe, enemies could declare a truce and spouses could end any marital turmoil with a kiss.

HOLIDAY TRADITION — Lorraine Bellavance, of Auburn, poses with the secretary desk she gave away to start a holiday tradition, now 15 years old. Each year, she passes on a family heirloom to one of her children, decided by chance based on the random selection of Christmas cards.

Each year it is a different item, with a different meaning. Some are crafty things of family folk art, like the knit Christmas tree that went to oldest daughter Paula, who has since also succumbed to MD. Others reflect the family’s Franco heritage, like the framed fabric with the words “Benissez notre demeure� painted on it. That went to daughter Sheila, as did the bust of Jesus that came into the family as a promotional item given with the purchase of an encyclopedia set. Other items have come down through multiple generations, like the vase of purple glass Sheila

Reindeer not all red-nosed Rudolphs While Rudolph might be the most famous reindeer, there remains no documented evidence of a red-nosed reindeer guiding Santa’s sleigh on an especially stormy Christmas Eve. But just because no one has yet to find the real Rudolph, that doesn’t mean we don’t know a few things about Santa’s sled buddies. • Reindeer are also known as Caribou in North America. • Females generally weigh between 170 to 260 lbs., while males are often much larger, weighing as little as 200 lbs. but as much as 460 lbs. • Reindeer reside in both the Arctic and Subarctic, and hunting of wild reindeer and herding of semidomesticated reindeer is important to several Arctic and Subarctic people.

• Reindeer fur can vary considerably. In northern populations, reindeer tend to have white fur, while southern populations are darker in color. • R eindeer size can also var y d e p e n d i n g o n l o c at i o n , as southern reindeer populations tend to be larger than their northern counterparts.

received, which had been a 1933 wedding gif t to Bellavance’s mother, or the ceramic statue of a woman that went to Eric. “It’s not much,� said Bellavance. “It lost its arm at some point. But it belonged to my grandmother and I can remember playing with ‘the lady’ as a child myself.� The statue was most often used as a simple doorstop, said Bellavance, but that put it at perfect kid height, and, thus, there is a memory of almost every adult in the family having crawled over at least once to engage “the lady� in a baby-talk dialogue. And, if some items given have been touched by every member of the Bellavance family, others are sacred for their relative lack of use, like the family bible that went to Kirk, or the commemorative plate, printed with a calendar for the year 1952, that went to Eric. “It was the year I graduated from high school,� explained Bellavance. “I got it at a jewelry store on Lisbon Street. It was called Roger’s, I think. I used to work at W. T. Grant’s [department store] and I’d pass it every day on my walk to work. I

don’t know why, exactly, but I just wanted to have it.� That story of a shop girl’s impulse, which might have gone untold but for the gift, is what makes each item a treasure, said Eric. “It’s because it’s from mom,� he said. “She doesn’t have a lot, she never did have a lot, but she’s very generous with what she does have. These are the things of value. I don’t know if they’d have value if they went on the Antiques Roadshow, but I couldn’t place a [monetary] value on these things.� “It’s gotten so we look forward to this every year,� agreed Sheila. “Who’s going to get the gift and, more important, what’s it going to be?� Bellavance said she rarely knows herself ver y far in advance, sometimes not until the f irst guests arrive on Christmas Eve. Does she know yet what this year’s gift will be?

“I think I have an idea,� she said, with a mischievous grin. “But we’ll just have to wait and see.�

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• I n most reindeer populations, both males and females grow antlers. Among deer, reindeer have the largest antlers in relation to body size. • Males often battle with each other by locking antlers for the right to mate with certain females. • During migration, some reindeer reach speeds of 37-50 miles per hour.

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10 HOLIDAY

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

HOLIDAY 11


MEGA brands hot holiday toy list Dragons Universe: Ultimate Action Dragon Destroyer On a planet isolated in time and space, the soldiers of the Alliance are under attack from the Predavor Dragons. They have come for Power Cores, the energy source of the Predavor’s life and the Alliance’s machines and weapons. This is the Dragons Universe! Enter an exciting, dynamic, and buildable universe with a rich story and breathtaking designs. The classic Warrior versus Dragon style of play has grown up and moved ahead into a world filled with new technology and weapons. With each side having everything to fight for, it’s up to you to decide

who will reign victorious. What will you choose? The decisive battle has erupted! Two ultimate Predavor Dragons, Bloodclaw and Deadeye, go face-to-face against the super heavy-weight Alliance Warbyrd, equipped with multiple missile launchers, dual built-in flight controllers and landing gear, and light and sound effects. The Ultimate Action Dragon Destroyer buildable set includes one Alliance General and two Tr o o p e r s w i t h s h i e l d s a n d weapons, as well as two exclusive Dragons with buildable, removable weapons and Power Core in chest. Age: 6+ SRP: $49.99

Pull Along Musical Pirate Ship Little swashbucklers will absolutely love having a pirate ship of their very own by claiming the Pull Along Musical Pirate Ship as their flagship vessel. This multidimensional playset allows little pirates to sail about the Seven Seas with a pull-along pirate ship that plays a magical buccaneer tune! It also transforms into a secret pirate hideout when the crew needs shore leave and to hide treasure from other brigands! The secret quick-release trap door keeps the treasure safe from thieves; as they step on the floorboard, it quickly releases and sends the brigands tumbling down to a holding cell!

This multi-dimensional playset (above) allows little pirates to sail about the Seven Seas with a pull-along pirate ship that plays a magical buccaneer tune!

With all of the accessories a little buccaneer could ever ask for: a catchy tune, a crew, a real working cannon, a friendly shark and a treasure chest, the Pull-Along Musical Pirate Ship offers many options for hours of adventure and fun for your little captain. Age: 1+ SRP: $29.99

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Based on the movie Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue, Thomas and James must travel through the mysterious mountains of Misty Island (above).

The #1 preschool toy brand, Thomas & Friends is now available for young children through Mega Bloks, the #1 choice of preschool building blocks. With Thomas & Friends, children enter a world of imagination through the tracks of a train and the words of a story. The all-new sets feature incredible attention to detail and allow kids to construct their very own Thomas & Friends world in new heights!

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Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Local traditional holiday treats By Deb Conway Feature Writer / Photographer

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From giving the perfect gift to festive decorations, it isn’t easy to stay within a budget during the holiday season. When it comes to meal preparation, however, staying “in the black” is easier if you follow a few simple steps. For each meal that you plan, list the number of adults, children, and ravenous teenagers who will be at your table. Then, pull out your cookbooks or fall back on your family traditions and preferences to make a list of what you would like to serve for each meal. With that information, and some help from sources listed below, you will be able to estimate how much of each item you will need.

Check your pantry, so you don’t end up with an extra 10-pound bag of potatoes, and create your shopping list. Finally, when you go to the market, do your best to stick with what’s on your list. Although “one-stop-shopping” may be convenient, you will find that buying “local” will fill your belly with fresh and delicious regional favorites, and your heart and soul with the pleasure of greeting familiar faces as you go about your errands, satisfied in knowing that you are supporting locally-owned businesses.

With careful planning, and taking the time to ask questions at each stop, you may even discover that it can be just as easy to stay within a budget by shopping locally. For your “main dish,” Douglas Doyer, the meat department manager at Bourque’s in Lewiston, recommended a holiday ham. Beef roasts, bone-in rib roasts and boneless pork roasts with apple cranberry stuffing, are very popular items at Bourque’s. The prices of each cut of meat varies, so ask for help with choosing the cut that will fit your budget and will be substantial enough to satisfy all of your guests. On Sabattus Street, just a few doors down from Bourque’s, you will find Grant’s Bakery where Doug Grant can help you plan your pastry trays and finger sandwiches for less formal gatherings, and supply you with an assortment of fragrant, soft, and fresh dinner rolls, biscuits, and sweet breads to complement a more formal meal.

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Blackie Labbe, owner, and employee Matt Manson, of Blackie’s Farm Stand

Grant’s Bakery is well known for its amazing tourtiere, a traditional meat pie and a regional favorite with roots in the rich French-Canadian heritage of Central Maine. Though tourtiere is often a side dish, it makes a wonderful main dish as well. The Italian Bakery, on Bartlett Street in Lewiston, also offers a wide array of sandwiches, calzones, pizza, fresh salads, and traditional “petite pastries” for large gatherings or lighter meals, as well as a variety of breads including herb foccacia and Italian bread. For local fresh vegetables, the place to shop is Blackie’s on Minot Avenue in Auburn. Matt Manson or Blackie himself can help you select your vegetable side dishes from Blackie’s bountiful harvest. From acorn squash to native corn, sweet potatoes to cabbage, pumpkins to onions, and cranberries to Macintosh apples, you can lay your table with the finest fruits and vegetables that the good Maine earth has to offer. In addition to several varieties of squash and potato, you can also pick up locally made butter at Blackie’s. To round out your meal with a fine beverage, Roopers on Minot Avenue will help you select a wine that will be affordable and will compliment your food offerings perfectly. If you are serving ham or pork, Carrie Bell, Roopers’ store manager, recommended a Reisling by Chateau St. Michelle.

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

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“Reisling is a sweet tasting wine [that is] easy on the palate and will compliment the saltiness of pork.” With a poultry dish, she suggested a Firesteed Pinot Noir, a “fruit based” wine. A pinot noir is “more delicate than most red wines, and heftier than whites,” and will also go well with beef and fish. Both of these wines are made here in the United States and will fit nicely into your budget. For most of us, selecting the perfect wine is a mysterious and daunting task, but our friends at Roopers are happy to help you choose the right beverage to enhance any meal. No holiday meal would be complete without a delicious, sweet dessert. For sweet treats you can pick up a beautiful decorative cake, a raspberry swirl cheesecake, or a cream, pecan, or apple pie while you are at Grant’s, or you can visit the Italian Bakery for “European style” cookies and whoopie pies, a local favorite, as well as more ethnically diverse items such as Baklava and Tiramisu. The Italian Bakery has a large variety of filled pastries, including bismarks, eclairs and the heavenly cannoli with its creamy sweet ricotta filling, all of which will send your family to bed on Christmas eve with sweet dreams dancing in their heads. On Christmas morning, you can wake up to the Italian Bakery’s delicious hand-cut donuts.

Enjoy the Holiday Season!

Doug Grant, of Grant’s Bakery

Whatever you choose to serve this holiday season, remember to plan ahead, make lists, and talk with local experts for assistance with making selections that will satisfy both your taste buds and your budget.

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Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Tips for selecting the right tree

Gift ideas from the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards winners

By Tresa Erickson

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While freshly cut Christmas trees are lovely, they require diligent care to keep them looking good, more than you have time for. You’re going to make things easier on yourself this year by purchasing an artificial Christmas tree. Here are the features you should focus on.

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You grew up with real Christmas trees. Every year, your parents would take you and your brother to a local tree farm, where you would traipse all over looking for just the right tree and haul it home on top of the car. Oh, how you loved the smell of that tree. The mess, on the other hand, you could have done without, which may explain why you’re making the leap this year to an artificial tree.

Artificial Christmas trees come in all colors from the traditional green to hot pink and silver to retro white. Holiday ornaments look nice on green trees, but will really pop on white or some other cool color. The color of the tree you select should suit your overall style, as you will be using it year after year.

Construction Most businesses will have samples of the artificial Christmas trees they sell on display. Take the time to check these out and how they are constructed. While some trees come in all one piece and collapse, others have individual branches that must be slipped into place

one by one. Either way, you will have to fluff up the needles on the branches. Needles may be made of PE, PVC or a combination of the two. PE needles resemble real tree needles in shape and texture, while PVC needles are flatter and softer and often used on combination trees to fill in space on the inner branches. The best trees have a solid base and trunk and full branches with high-quality needles. They are also fireproof.

Lighting Some artificial trees come with lighting. While convenient, this can be problematic should a light bulb burn out. The rest of the lights on the tree may not work until the bulb is replaced. Should you want a tree with lighting, you will find ones with white lights or colored lights in various types from LED to fiber optic.

where you are going to store the tree, in your large basement or in a tiny hall closet. The bigger the tree, the more storage space you will need for it. Depending upon the space you have available, you may be able to leave the tree intact and store it upright with a cover over it. This could save you substantial time in setting it up each year and may reduce some of the wear and tear on branches.

Sabattus Antique Mall 519 Sabattus Rd, Rtes 126/9 2 miles from Exit 86 of the Maine Turnpike.

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Size Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to an artificial Christmas tree. You cannot shape an artificial tree by cutting it, so you must purchase one that will fit the space where you intend to use it. Measure the space, adding six inches on the top for a tree topper, and bring the dimensions and a tape measure with you on every shopping trip. Appearances can be deceiving. What looks small in a large store with high ceilings might not be so small at home.

Holiday Shopping Fresh Cut Christmas Trees, Wreaths, Maple Syrup, Maple Candies, Jellies, Pickles, Relish, and Lots More!

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Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

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HOLIDAY 15


Holiday cooking for the heart

Cheryl Forberg, R.D., consulting dietitian to NBC-TV’s “The Biggest Loser,” the New York Times bestselling author and James Beard award-winning recipe developer, have partnered with CanolaInfo to create a heart-smart, diabetesfriendly holiday recipe collection that allows people to have their cake (or pumpkin flan) and eat it, too. “A diabetes-friendly diet is really how everyone should eat,” Forberg said. “That’s because heart disease and type 2 diabetes are largely preventable with a good diet, exercise and other healthy habits. These recipes prove that nutritious is delicious. Now that’s something to celebrate during the holidays!” As a common ingredient in Forberg’s six holiday recipes, canola oil delivers on heart health. It has the least saturated fat and most omega-3 fat of all cooking oils and is free of trans fat and cholesterol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil on its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, which affects 65 percent of people with diabetes. Forberg’s diabetes-friendly holiday recipe collection includes these three recipes plus Warm Apple and Cranberry Sauce, Holiday Rapini Sauté and Pumpkin Flan. For the complete collection, go to www.canolainfo.org.

Turkey Roulade Yield: 8 servings Serving size: 2 slices (4 ounces) Plastic wrap 1/2 boneless, skinless turkey breast, about 1 1/2 pounds 1 1/2 cups Cornbread and Dried Fruit dressing

16 HOLIDAY

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Yield: 2 cups (8 servings) Serving size: 1/4 cup

Kitchen twine 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon marjoram 1/4 teaspoon thyme 1/4 teaspoon sage 1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms 2 tablespoons warm water 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil 3/8 cup white whole-wheat flour 2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth 3/4 teaspoon salt (optional) 1 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Preheat oven to 350º F. Place large piece of plastic wrap on countertop. Place turkey breast half on plastic and cover. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Using meat mallet, pound turkey to rectangle about 10 x 6 inches, about 1/4-inch thick. Remove plastic wrap from top of turkey and spread dressing evenly lengthwise over surface, almost to edge. Roll turkey lengthwise. With kitchen twine, tie roulade lengthwise once and in several places across turkey. Discard plastic wrap. In small bowl, mix together spices. Rub canola oil over all surfaces of roulade; rub spice blend evenly over roulade. Place roulade in shallow roasting pan, then place in oven. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes or until internal temperature measured with an instant-read thermometer reads 155º F. Remove roulade from oven and let rest 15 minutes before carefully removing twine and slicing into 16 half-inch slices. Serve with Porcini Mushroom Gravy, Warm Apple and Cranberry Sauce and extra Cornbread and Dried Fruit Dressing. Nutrient Analysis per Serving: Calories 140, Calories from Fat 35, Total Fat 3.5 g, Saturated Fat < 1 g, Cholesterol 65 mg, Sodium 150 mg, Total Carbohydrate 5 g, Fiber 0 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein 22 g

Soak mushrooms in warm water for 5 minutes. In 2-quart saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour until blended and continue stirring until roux is lightly browned and develops nutty aroma. Whisk in broth, optional salt and onion powder. Bring to a gentle boil until just thickened, stirring. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with pepper. Add softened mushrooms and any soaking liquid. Puree gravy in food processor or food mill. Return mixture to saucepan. Heat just to a simmer. Nutrient Analysis per Serving: Calories 50, Calories from Fat 25, Total Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 115 mg, Total Carbohydrate 5 g, Fiber 2 g, Sugar 0 g, Protein 1 g

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he holiday season has a l w ay s b e e n a time for celebration, togetherness and, most of all, indulgent eating. However, with heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S. and about 24 million Americans with diabetes, a healthier take on holiday meals could benefit everyone.

Now Available THE PRIESTESS AND THE POPE PS Publishing Is Pleased to Announce The Publication of A New Novel By Local Author PAUL DIONNE

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Yield: 6 cups (enough for Turkey Roulade and 8 side dish servings) Serving size: 1/2 cup 4 cups cornbread cubes, dried 4 ounces lean Italian turkey sausage, casing removed 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 cup chopped yellow or white

The Priestess and the Pope weaves a powerful narrative with telling historical details, revealing for readers the crucial leadership role women played in the formation of the early church, which has long been hidden from the public eye.

To Order a Copy Online, Go To:

Holiday cooking

page 17 ‰

www.authorpauldionne.com www.createspace.com/3451091 www.amazon.com

Publisher: PS Publishing/CreateSpace

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Holiday cooking from page 18

onions 1/4 cup chopped celery 1/4 cup chopped carrot 1 small garlic clove, crushed 4 each dried apricots and pitted dried plums, coarsely chopped 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 3/4 teaspoon dried sage 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram 1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper Canola oil cooking spray 1 egg, lightly beaten Preheat oven to 350Âş F. Place cornbread cubes in large bowl and set aside. baking dish of dressing in oven. After 15 minutes (or when internal temperature of roulade, measured with instant-read thermometer, is 155Âş F), remove roulade from oven and remove foil from baking dish with dressing. Continue baking dressing for about 15 minutes or until top begins to brown.

In small nonstick skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling and stirring until brown and cooked through. Drain well and set aside. In large nonstick skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery and carrot; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow garlic to brown. Stir in sausage, apricots, plums, thyme, sage, marjoram and 1/4 cup broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; pour vegetable mixture over cornbread.

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Add parsley and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing may be prepared to this stage a day ahead and refrigerated, covered.) Whisk together egg and remaining 3/4 cup broth and pour over cornbread mixture, tossing well. Spray 2-quart baking dish with

canola oil cooking spray (use larger baking dish if not reserving dressing for Turkey Roulade) and transfer all but 1 1/2 cups of dressing to baking dish. Cover dish with foil and set aside.

Nutrient Analysis per Serving: Calories 100, Calories from Fat 35,

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Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are preventable the majority of the time. (Family Features)

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HOLIDAY 17


Budget-conscious tips for the holiday shopper and host By Elizabeth Webster Feature Writer / Photographer

Happy from Holidays

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18 HOLIDAY

My parents, who grew up during the Great Depression, were thrifty but festive during the holidays. My mother spread the newspaper on the clean floor of our garage and lightly sprayed a can of gold paint over the pages. This became our Christmas wrapping paper. She tied her packages with a red ribbon and added two wired pine cones and a fresh sprig of fragrant pine. Cheap, simple, but also elegant. I’ve learned the hard way how to be more frugal. For example, when my husband and I went to live in Hawaii for three years, I thought it would be cool to send some aloha spirit home in the form of six-packs of macadamia nuts. This misadventure had me paying more in mailing costs than what the nuts themselves cost. To add insult to injury, when we flew home for the holidays the next year, I saw in our local drug store the same six-pack of macadamia nuts at approximately the same price charged in Hawaii. Nothing against the U.S. Post Office, but I now try to keep my holiday mailing costs down by bringing Christmas presents to whomever is hosting Thank sgiving that year and to other family members in attendance. My sister’s son still likes putting together Legos, so we pool our orders together to receive the free shipping on orders of $99 or more and special rewards offers.

Need to ship a gift? Purchase a $1 tin at any Craft-Mania store and a festive red lobster claw wine stopper ($5.95) at Wyler Gallery on Maine St., Brunswick. Insert a crisp $10 bill in the tin, a list of best wines under $10 and package the tin with the wine stopper. Include a note: “Cheers! Enjoy a new, good inexpensive wine this holiday season!”

Turn starfish and sand dollars into holiday ornaments.

Frugal shoppers note that until midnight on December 20, L.L. Bean offers free shipping on all of its merchandise, although customers ordering furniture will incur a freight charge, stated Nancy in customer service. After both of my parents died when my son was still an infant, I carried on the newspaper wrapping tradition in a much simpler style. Now when our employed (yay!) 22-year-old, college grad son comes home from Boston for Christmas, he knows where to look for his gifts from Santa. They’re wrapped in the sports pages that contain interesting Celtics and Patriots news with a big “Ho, Ho, Ho!” written with a red Sharpie. Our 16-year-old daughter, who’s big

into art, just looks for her gifts to be wrapped in the Sunday comics with the same red “Ho, Ho, Ho!” One year, we were in a true “CAN do” mood when it came time to make Christmas and hostess gifts. We collected and cleaned soda cans, took off the tab, bent the can in the middle and made many trios of red, white, and green choir angels to give as gifts. It was an inexpensive gift to make: we just bought glue; red, white and green raffia; red, white, green, black, and tan paint; thin pieces of bendable gold for halos; fake straw material for hair; and photocopied the hymns for the angels to hold.

Budget page 19 ‰

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010


Budget

ďż˝

from page 18

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The next year, we made mama and baby angels from gourds. Both sets of angels are about a decade old and seem to have held up well. Another year, it was a heavy lift when my daughter made door stopper holiday houses out of bricks. Now, we have to decide what type of Christmas ornaments weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to make with the sea life that we seem to attract. First, it was the 60-odd sand dollars that we found floating like spaceships on the waves at Scarboroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pine Point Beach during an early summer morning walk. Several years later, during a trip to Block Island for our anniversary, we found 170 starfish washed up on the beach during another walk at dawn. A worker at a snack shack gave us containers to hold the smelly creatures. When we got home, we sprayed them with lemon and laid them out in the sun to dry. I predict that friends and relatives will see Santa starfish and sand dollars this holiday. As I go about my holiday shopping, I try to follow what American essayist Charles Dudley Warner said about gifts: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.â&#x20AC;? I know several homesick Mainers who live out of state and wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be coming home for the holidays. Two enjoy wine and two are recent college grads who prefer beer. In my efforts to keep mailing costs down, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll send the wine drinkers a red lobster claw wine stopper ($5.95 apiece at Wyler Gallery in Brunswick) and put a crisp $10 bill in a small $1 Santa tin from CraftMania in Auburn, along with a list of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Best Wines $10 & Under.â&#x20AC;? The working college grads will receive a sturdy metal red lobster beer opener ($8.50 from Nest in Brunswick), along with another crisp $10 bill and note encouraging them to try out some new beers. As for gif t giving and party hostessing, Lewiston-Auburn residents are certainly lucky to live in an area that offers a wide variety

       

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Turn gourds into holiday angels for decoration and gift-giving.

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You can make these soda can angels very easily and economically.

        

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of good discount stores within close proximity to one another. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll definitely feel more jolly by enjoying the two-fold savings: using less gas to comparison shop and buying the best-priced item. It appears that Mainers will continue to be careful with their holiday spending, based on an October survey by Critical Insights. This survey of 600 Maine residents showed that 48 percent of respondents expected to spend less on holiday gifts this year; 49 percent planned to spend the same amount; and only 3 percent expected to spend more.

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To lure consumers into stores to shop early, major retailers like Sears and Toys-R-Us started offering Black Friday deals on the Friday before Halloween and will continue every week through December. Lee Duguay, president of CraftMania on Center Street in Auburn, noted that â&#x20AC;&#x153;while adults will cut back on holiday spending for other adults, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll still buy for their kids.â&#x20AC;? Duguay said that he enjoyed â&#x20AC;&#x153;great sales with the hands-on, educational toys and art suppliesâ&#x20AC;? that he ordered last year and has placed an even bigger order this year.



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Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

    ďż˝   Â?Â?Â?   ďż˝Â?Â?  ďż˝ � ­  Â? Â&#x20AC;Â&#x201A;­

HOLIDAY 19


Look for more letters in the rest of our Holiday Series and in the Season’s Greetings on these dates: Fridays. December 3, 10, 17 and 24.

We’ll pick a winner every week! This week’s winner is Kaitlyn Vye! She will take her family to see the Maineiacs at the Colisee on Sunday, December 5th at 4:00 pm. (4 tickets!)

20 HOLIDAY

Feature Stories & Advertising, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday 11-25-10  

A Sun Journal Special Sections feature supplement of articles about local people and products to get you in the holiday spirit.

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