Our Little, Late, But Very Thankful Thanksgiving

This year it was just the three of us. Michael and John both had to work, and my leaf mold allergies hit a new all-time high. I couldn’t breathe without panting like a dog (so attractive), couldn’t talk, and could only stand for a few minutes before needing to be horizontal again. Not the recipe for a good Thanksgiving! But I’d done enough prep and planning and Michael’s a fabulous enough cook that it all came out great. Most importantly, we were all relaxed and happy, and spent the meal talking about everything we were thankful for. Here’s the tablescape:

thanksgiving-tablescape
This was our first holiday meal here with my grandmother’s kitchen table. It brought back many happy memories, and I couldn’t bear to cover it with a cloth. I love that it shows its age! As usual I used stuff from the yard for decorations: leaves and ornamental grasses this year, since everything else had been hit by a recent frost or drowned by the day’s rain. But I think it perks up our old carved wooden turkey quite well!

The napkins were something a little special, and I’d enjoy doing it every year if we can. I grabbed three cloth napkins at the Dollar Tree and I had a gold Sharpie paint pen left over from another project, so we each wrote out a few things we were thankful for a few days ago and I tucked them into the grapevine napkin holders and put them at the appropriate places. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a different color napkin each year and once there were enough stitch them into a quilt? With the size Thanksgivings I used to host that would be a quilt a year! This is a corner of mine.

thanksgiving-napkin

I forgot to take a “pretty plate” picture before we started eating, but Michael’s still looked good about ten minutes into the meal!

thanksgiving-michaels-plate

The most-loved dish (as always) was . . . the Jell-O salad! Weird, right? But Michael and John both eat it by the bowlful, so even after doubling the recipe we only had about one-third of it left when it was time to eat. I found out later they’d both had big midnight snacks the night before – LOL!

thanksgiving-jello-salad

The shunned dish was no surprise, either. It was my new dish for the year: roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes with pecans and cranberries. I loved it, and will be eating my fill of leftovers. The guys distrust colorful vegetables, and I’m pushing them out of their comport zone if I try something more exotic than peas or carrots. So of course the only picture I have of them is in their leftovers container 🙁

thanksgiving-brussell-sprouts

Normally we have Thanksgiving around lunchtime, but since we ate so late this year we had a chance to use candles both on the table and in the sconces flanking the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen. They came out of the house Michael grew up in, and are no longer wired for electricity, but are perfect for candles. With my tremor I’ve had to switch over to the two-for-a-dollar battery-operated votive candles. If you don’t look too closely you can’t see the difference, and it keeps me from setting myself and the house on fire.

thanksgiving-sconce

OK, here was our menu:
One turkey named Matthew (I always name my birds). We baked this year instead of deep-frying, but we did brine. Scrumptious!
Sausage Stuffing (my Aunt Beverly’s recipe – no other can compare)
Jell-O Salad (you know, with cream cheese, mandarin oranges, etc)
Tossed Salad
Yeast Rolls
Turkey Gravy (I didn’t do giblet gravy for Michael this year. I swear I’ll do it for Christmas.)
Dumplings (leaf-shaped, of course!)
Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole with Chow Mein Noodles (Michael’s idea after I forgot to put french-fried onions on the Kroger list – YUM!)
Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Casserole
Apple Pie (Everyone had it for breakfast!)

So we will probably eat leftovers all weekend, which is how I like it!

I’ve done absolutely nothing today (Black Friday) and I’m finally starting to feel a bit better. I don’t know if it’s just the passage of time or the Mucinex Sinus Michael fought crowds to buy me yesterday, but I think I’m better. At least people can now understand me when I talk! I’m looking forward to tomorrow – Small Business Saturday! If there aren’t any stores locally that have what you’re looking for check out Etsy – a few of my go-to gift shops are on there! And don’t forget Instagram. There are shops there that literally make me drool onto my iPad, and their sales ROCK! Also you can see exactly who you are supporting with each purchase. I like that! And, of course, you can buy Nerium products from me and my husband.

thanksgiving-gift-sets

I truly can’t tell you how much a little extra income would help us right now, and I’m sure many small business owners are in the same situation. So try out something new: #shopsmall. You’ll be glad you did!

I’m linking up to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, trying to get back in the habit. Stop by and visit!

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Pets Make a House a Home!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ToPetsWithLove #CollectiveBias
hero-imageIf you didn’t notice immediately, that’s Winnie the Yorkie photobombing my carefully arranged shot. Seconds later my dogs were snarfing down the treats and food that spilled on the floor and Winnie (my mom’s dog) was finding a spot to stash the new toy that the big dogs couldn’t get to. There is never a dull moment at my house, and that’s how I like it!

We consider our dogs part of the family, and we treat them accordingly. They get healthy food, their favorite treats, a variety of toys, and lots of snuggles! Saminda (Sam for short) is our chocolate lab and resident Southern Belle. She’ll hold out a paw when it’s time for a nail trim as if she’s at a fancy salon. And she never opens her own doors. But like Scarlett O’Hara, she has no hesitation about eating her fill in public. She truly does “gobble like a hog” and I’ve seen her distract Boss at meal time and then scamper over to eat his food as well as her own! And Boss, our rescue dog, is a picky eater. So we buy the flavor food Boss likes best and feed them in separate rooms. When Winnie is here I have dogs eating in three rooms while I monitor them until everyone has eaten all of their own food. After that I don’t feel like running all over town for pet food and supplies.

my-krogerThankfully, I have a Kroger at the end of my street. We do have specialty pet stores nearby, but I can’t remember the last time I made a trip there. Kroger always has everything I need. Although you can tell from the picture below the large bags of Purina Beneful were going fast! Perhaps because of this coupon,  good for your favorite Purina pet products at Kroger only while supplies last! (Get a move on, bargain shoppers!) I’ll certainly not be going near the pet supply store anytime during the holidays. It’s less than a mile from two malls, and I do not deal with mall traffic between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

beneful-collageOn this trip I chose Purina Beneful Original with Beef as the main ingredient. Perhaps I’ll try Chicken next time. I love that no matter which flavor I choose I know it will be sugar-free and loaded with anti-oxidants. Yep, dogs need those, too!

Beggin’ Strips have been a long-time favorite for all the dogs, especially the bacon flavor. I usually tear the strips in half since I do give out treats after every potty break – check with your veterinarian about recommended treat sizes and frequencies for your own dogs. I was pretty darned excited when I saw that Beggin’ Strips had added a Beggin’ Littles option to their selection – and in bacon flavor, no less! A little less work for me, and quicker treats for the dogs. Sam is not patient about waiting for her treat. She smells that bacon aroma and will drool all over my feet if I don’t hurry – LOL! Boss, my sweet cuddle-buddy, would sit and wait as long as needed, but once he gets a taste of his treat he wags his tail so hard his whole rear end moves!

All the dogs in the family get gifts at Christmastime. I’ve had as many as five dogs in the house at one time during the holidays, but the smallest (Winnie) is always the alpha dog. I’ve heard from other Yorkie owners that their dogs have “big dog” attitudes. Winnie is fearless, and always willing to pit her ten pounds against any dog or human ten times her size. So of course the clear choice for her gift is a pull-toy!

toy-collageNeed a fabulous dog gift you can make for free with things lying around the house? It’s the ultimate in frugal and environmentally friendly living. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. To follow the tutorial in pictures start at the top right with the picture of my hand sticking through a huge hole in my husband’s Tshirt and follow clockwise.

1. Gather scrap fabric (i.e. old clothes) in a variety of densities. I selected only 100% cotton, but I had everything from thin weaves to stretchy knits to tough denim. You’ll also need a tennis ball, scissors, and a utility knife.

2. I cut the fabric at one-two inch intervals and then tore it the rest of the way. It’s quicker and there’s a more natural curl with less dangly strings.

3. Then I tied a knot in just ONE end of each strip. Meanwhile, my husband was using the utility knife to cut an “X” on either side of the tennis ball.

4. I threaded a strip through (knot first) right-to-left, then another left-to-right, trying to keep them as even as possible. I kept going until I just couldn’t fit another strip through the ball.

5. I knotted the ends without a knot up close to the ball to hold it in place, then divided the strips into groups of three and braided them.

6. When I reached the end of the shortest strip on each side I pulled the braid tight and used the longest strip to knot it in place. Then I knotted the ends of all the other strips to keep them from fraying.

It made it through twenty-four hours with Winnie without damage, and that’s pretty impressive. Anyone old enough to remember the “gorilla with Samsonite luggage” commercial? Same deal.

sam-awaiting-supperPoor, unloved Sam (who clearly needs a mani/pedi in this picture!) Our dogs get fed at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and they get exactly the amount specified on the dog food bag. The picture above is Sam at 4:30 p.m. huddled over her bowl and watching the grandfather clock. Mealtime is serious business for her, as are squirrels and mail carriers. She likes the UPS man. Maybe it’s the brown truck.

dogs-eating-togetherPlease be impressed by this picture. At our house, it’s the equivalent of the video some woman took of her dog saying, “I love you.”

dogs-at-rest-collageWhen Winnie visits there’s a lot of playing, sleeping spots change nightly, and Michael gets growled at when he kisses me good-bye in the morning. Winnie will never admit she likes him enough to nap on his ratty socks. And after she heads back home all three dogs usually sleep twelve hours straight. It’s like sleep-away camp for dogs, and I suspect they all love it! (Click to enlarge for extra sweet doggies!)

For more inspiring ideas for pampering your pets and making cure they enjoy the holidays check out the Social Hub! Do you make toys for the pets in your family? Share your favorites in the comments!

Things That Make Me Crazy

7qt_lyceum_v2Crazy, in this instance, meaning more crazy than my usual amount. Just to clarify.

— 1 —

Being shushed. You know, when someone says, “Shhhhh!” I, myself, prefer the dagger glare with a finger to the lips for someone being loud in the library or movie theater. If that doesn’t work I go to the librarian or manager and have them show the offending parties OUT. They WILL do this. The phrase “Within sixty seconds after I resume my seat I want them GONE!” along with a smartphone clenched in your hand usually works well.

Being shushed is only for young children, usually those still in diapers. If someone shushes you as an adult, feel free to take umbrage and begin communication on the topic. BE WARNED: If you are cursing or behaving in a vulgar manner in public you are in the wrong. Tone it down or take it home. Being shushed by another adult in your own home is another matter altogether. NOT acceptable.

— 2 —

People who are “disabled” and can still live normal lives. As a nurse, I used to take this as a given. So many of our young patients came in on Medicare because they were disabled. And why should I even notice or care if my patients are disabled? Well, it’s part of the admission assessment (“What sort of work do you do?”). Also, we all know the insurance companies run the world, so when providing information to qualify a patient for a particular test, drug, treatment, or even length of stay I was always asked for their insurance information, which specified whether or not they were disabled.

Some people were clearly disabled. Some clearly were not . . . “Yeah, I’d gutted this eight-point buck and drug it ’bout a half-mile to my truck when my chest started hurtin’.” Dude, you can work for a living better than I can, clearly, since I’m in incredible pain just standing here with narcotics and muscle relaxers on board and an ice pack around my neck. Asshat didn’t even send me any venison sausage.

— 3 —

Kids who try to motivate other teens to do college “their way”. I know, peer pressure has been an issue since the dawn of time, or perhaps just since poodle skirts. Anyway, each kid should go to the school that works best for him or her, not for their friends, girlfriend/boyfriend, or their favorite teacher. Go to school where you feel at home or you won’t last. Listen up now or wait and see how many of those credit hours transfer later (50% if you’re lucky). If you feel the need to rush a fraternity or sorority, do so (if your parents can afford it – it’s more than you make!).

But first, before selecting a college, a major, Greek life, a job change, or any other big decisions . . . the pro/con list. I only do these for huge decisions, but they are certainly just as effective for deciding what to have for lunch.

— 4 —

Post-election whiners. It’s pretty much a given that this year no one got exactly what they wanted. Most years close to half the population voted for a candidate who didn’t win. The solution isn’t to whine about it or dramatize your “fear for the future”. And the #notmypresident thing is laughable, since both Canada and Mexico have made it clear you’re welcome to visit, but don’t plan on moving there without jumping through some hoops. Suck it up. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

— 5 —

Clean house snobs. Years ago, when both my boys were still young and I was working full-time and physically able to scrub floors, do yardwork, etc. I hosted Thanksgiving for a large group. Within the next couple of days I got a call from one of my guests. She wanted to apologize in advance for not accepting any future invitations to my home. She said that with my two dogs (chocolate labs) and the lack of cleanliness she just couldn’t justify putting her young children in that environment. Since I still had a “filter” back then I thanked her for being honest about her reason and for letting me know well in advance of any other gathering I had planned. My house is ten times dirtier now than is was then, so she should probably not even drive by.

— 6 —

Rude drivers. I usually don’t get worked up about this until the holiday shopping season, but this year people are already pushing me to my limit. Before you honk at someone in front of you because they are not going far enough above the speed limit to satisfy you, because they let someone pull in front of them, or just because they didn’t want to run a yellow light realize it might be me in front of you. And I might just put my car in park and walk back with my cane to discuss basic manners with you. Don’t make me do that.

— 7 —

People who duck out of Mass early. I’m not talking about people who have a fussy infant or a child who really needs the restroom. I’m talking about people who just want to beat the crowd out of the parking lot and maybe get to the restaurant or country club for brunch before the rush hits. Stay for the final blessing. Stay for a little while longer and talk to the people around you. Sit in the car and discuss the readings, the homily, the music while the parking lot empties. And maybe once a month instead of going out to brunch give a gift card to the elderly people in the clunker parked in a handicapped space and go home to cook and eat brunch together. Just a thought.

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