Archive for November 2009


November 30, 2009

This was the Christmas card we sent in 2000. 

They were five and almost seven.

It was our first Christmas with TWO children.

After the month we have just had….I SO needed to find this.


With Apologies to P-Dub

November 26, 2009

The Pioneer Woman dot com is a website that I have been following for a couple of years.  This ranching mom with her four kids and their cow poop, calf nut adventures  makes me feel SO much better about soccer game/practice grass stains.  She homeschools her children and has introduced me to some awesome websites to take my Technology students to.  And she has led me down several paths when it comes to the kitchen.  Thanks to Rachel Ray, I have EVOO in my cupboard and a whisk in the drawer but thanks to The Pioneer Woman I now stock fat free low salt chicken stock in my fridge.  And notrealbutter.  And I use it.  Alot.  I am always ready to consider something new in the kitchen.  Imagine my delight when I saw her recent post about what the Thanksgiving meal was going to look like at her house.  Wouldn’t it be fun to replicate that at my own?  Then I read her post.

Roasted Turkey – fresh and brined with her homemade concoction- Fresh?  Uh huh.  Did that route with a chicken from the Eastern Market once.  I found grass in its innards.

Mashed Potatoes – cooked the day before with cream cheese and butter

Cornbread Stuffing – my sister married a Southern boy and cornbread stuffing is all they serve on holidays.  My kids pass….every time.

Butternut Squash Puree – I would love it.  The rest of the family….not so much

Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges – see above.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce – I have my OWN beloved specialty for cranberries.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots – none of the key ingredient available in this house.  But will be making Pastor Ryan’s Roasted Carrots in the very near future.  Rosemary I can find.

Turnip Gratin – uh….right.  My kids would hang me from the rafters for even looking at  turnips at the market.  They still haven’t forgiven me for slipping parsnips into the pot roast a year ago.

Fresh Corn with Wild Rice – interesting dish but I know my kiddles would have been set off by ‘spoiling their corn’ with another ingredient.  They’re purist in that way.

Dinner Rolls – good recipe but we tend to prefer the frozen bread balls that you can set on the stove in a muffin tin and watch them rise during the day.

Pecan Pie – I DID try this.  I have never made a pecan pie and didn’t know until two days ago the HRH LOVES pecan pie.  Of COURSE he does.   Three kinds of sugar and nuts with whipped cream on top?  A no brainer.

Pear Crisp – I love the Pioneer Woman’s fruit dishes.  Apple Brown Betty is right up there at the top of the list for Sunday morning breakfast in this house.

Okay… I had a plain old frozen turkey from the Super Mart.   Cooked in a turkey bag.  We are foregoing mashed potatoes this year in light of other kinds of calories.  I have a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie cooling on the cupboard.  The Princess requested Sweet Potato Casserole (another recipe from my Southern Brother in Law).   The Prince wants Green Bean Casserole ( I am sure we all grew up with that one) and HRH is happy with anything.  I chopped up three heads of broccoli with 6 stalks of green onions and a handful of raisins for our usual broccoli salad.  I mixed in the slaw dressing and will toss in the crisp bacon bits after breakfast in the morning.  It always tastes better after it has been sitting in the fridge a while. Left overs rule!

I have had a life long love affair with cranberries.  I love the relish on top of cottage cheese or just plain.  I once made Apple-Cranberry Chutney and served it over a blocks of cream cheese with crackers for an appetizer for my theater group party.  Yum.   And I went through bag after bag every year when my Kindergarten students threaded them on florist wire with cinnamon covered apple slices as they made Math patterns.  The smell of that project drying into Christmas tree ornaments premeated the classroom, the Kindergarten centrum and the whole dang hall for weeks.  Talk about getting into the holiday spirit!  So, I have my own cranberry dish for the holidays.  It involves sugarfree orange jello, oranges, wholeberry cranberry sauce, cinnamon and walnuts.  It is a heavenly mix of sweet and sour and no one else in the family can abide it.  Too bad.  It’s all mine.  It’s ‘traditional.’

So is our sage dressing.  For years and years I have been making sage dressing according to the way my mother taught me.  And she learned from her mother… we thought.  About eleven years ago we spent the Christmas holidays at  my parents’ home in Florida .  EVERYone was there.  My mother and I were chatting and watching while my Grandmother made her sage dressing.  Our mouths dropped when we saw her plop a saucepan full of mashed potatos in with the bread crumbs and onions and celery.  Potatoes?  I think GG was a little put off by the fact that we made such a big deal about it.  She put potatoes in her dressing because her mother put potatoes in her dressing.  Didn’t we know that?  All of these years we were missing a key ingredient to the family recipe?  Go figure.  But it has actually been kind of liberating.  Since it’s not actually the family recipe, I can slip other things into the dressing.  Chopped apples and raisins were tossed in one year.  My kids are now suspicious of anything small and black in their food.  Another year I had a can of water chestnuts that I hadn’t used for a recipe and Princess deemed them too wierd for the Thanksgiving canned goods drive at school.  I chopped them up and tossed them in.  Now my children are suspicious of anything crunchy in their food.  But I keep trying.  HRH’s rule of thumb is that anything can be tolerated with enough gravy.

So, P-Dub, thanks for giving me some other options to think about this year.  But I think I’ll stick with the tried and true.  The pecan pie is new this time.  Maybe I will tackle a mincmeat pie for Christmas.  Oh wait….doesn’t that have those small, black, hideous raisins??  Hmmmm.

‘Go The Distance’

November 17, 2009

Remember when that voice said those words and raised goosebumps on the back of your neck the first time you watched the movie ‘Field of Dreams’??  It was an inner voice basically cajoling the main character (played by a then hunky Kevin Costner) to build a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa corn field, gather together the remote people who played a mysterious game that brought about a needed reconciliation with his long dead father. 

Dang, we loved that movie.

Saw it a multitude of times.

Never really thought much about that phrase.

But I am here to say now that distance……sucks.

I didn’t think it was going to suck when I went away to a college seventeen hours by car from home. I was up to the adventure and looking forward to finishing my education and starting my career.  I was all about classes and friends and student teaching assignments then.  My parents flew me home for Christmas.  I missed my Grandfather’s funeral.  Distance sucked.

I didn’t think it was going to suck when my sister moved away to a state thirteen hours away by car.  I was excited for her ‘adventure.’  I knew she would be back.  She had gone to a local college after all.  She loved her home.  But she found a career and a husband and started a family.  Holidays became an issue.  One of us had to travel in order to be together as a family.  There were birthday parties, school events, missing teeth and other things that we missed with only sporadic times spent with my niece and nephew.  Distance sucked.

I knew that distance sucked when we started our adoption journey.  Our son was in a city clear around on the other side of the world.  But we were busy with paper work and preparations for his homecoming to keep us distracted.  Then came some pretty scary political posturing by two nations that didn’t give a fig that he was there and we were here.  Distance REALLY sucked.

When my parents decided to sell their home of forty odd years, pack up their belongings and hit the road, distance became an ‘adventure’ once again.  They used our home as a ‘base’ and traveled toward California via the northern route and then the southern route.  They made trips to Florida and back again.  It was fun to be in touch and to welcome them home.  Then they found a house in Florida and decided to put down roots.  The distance between my sister’s home and theirs was bearable.  The distance between their home and ours was not.  I worried about the things they would miss as my son grew up.  And the things WE would miss.  Distance sucked.

My parents stayed with our son when we traveled to the other side of the world to bring his sister home.  Seventeen days we spent in a remote city in Siberia.  Plane flights, long car drives, telephone service was sketchy at best.  We talked….twice.  Emailed a couple of times.  Missed everyone immensely.  Distance sucked.

But again, years have passed.  There have been birthdays and holidays, school events, sports events, missing teeth and big deals that have to be shared over the telephone.  Distance sucks.

Distance totally sucked for an entire summer three years ago.  My mother’s ‘simple’  surgery became complicated with infections and blood clots.  My sister spent the entire month of May eight hours away from her family as she helped my dad navagate the medical waters and papers and plans.   Then I arrived when school got out with my two children in tow.  The ‘plan’ was to settle in and get my mother back on her feet and go home.  We would be there a couple of weeks….maybe.    Seven weeks later my children had been away from their Dad, their friends and their bikes and their soccer teams.   My mother was still in a wheel chair but was better….MUCH better.  They put their house up for sale and we headed home.  Our hopes were high that their house would sell and they would move closer to one of us.  But regardless,  we said then, that if either of them needed any kind of surgery, they would have it near my home or my sister’s.

Fast forward three years.  My mother is still in ICU in a medical center near her Florida home after  triple by pass surgery.  My sister has just left the hospital for her home 8 hours away from there.  And here I sit….in my home twenty four hours away.

Distance TOTALLY sucks.


November 7, 2009

They are stored on my cell phone.  All kinds of pictures of Autumn in Michigan.  All of my favorite Michigan fall doings.  I have been collecting them for weeks.  Weeks!!  Now that I have a few stolen moment to share them with you, do you think I can find the little thingy that holds the little thingy that holds my photos on my cell phone????



If I could find it, you would be treated to pictures of healthy, vibrant girls playing soccer on a crisply cold Saturday morning.  There is also one of a pile of bright orangey pumpkins stacked on and around a bale of hay.   And piles of acorn and butternut squash at the vegetable stand down the road.  There are pictures of the hardy fall flowers surrounding the museum where my neice was married a few weeks ago.  I snapped a Halloween cutie with a plastic pumpkin full of candy that almost as big as she was.  I managed to catch a flock…a flock, mind you….of wild turkeys crossing the dirt road I sometimes take to work. 

And the trees.  The gloriously dressed up and garnished trees of southeast Michigan.  I revel in the oranges and reds and bright yellows.  I love their breath taking beauty.  I am totally distracted by them when I am driving in the fall.  Totally.  Just ask anybody.  After all, the only way the Prince would agree to have me drive on a school field trip several years ago is if I PROMISED not to ‘say one. more. word. about the BEAUTIFUL trees’…..heh.  But I DO love ’em.  I love the way they turn a formally dark and shady spot into an area that actually glows in the afternoon sun.  I love the waxy colors as they struggle to cling to branches that no longer need them for nourishment.  I even love the way they sound when they do finally fall down.  And you can slosh around in them.  Crunch ’em up.  I love raking them up in the cool air…..and laughing when the Princess buries herself and tosses them over and all around her.  (She’s 14.  Isn’t she a little OLD for that???)  I even love the smell of an occasional leafy bonfire. 

Let’s face it. 

I just love fall.

And there is one picture that I took on an actual camera that will send my South Carolina, Florida and California family members into a frenzied fit of jealousy.  I am sure you will hear their collective groans and sighs and gnashing of their teeth if they read this.  Sorry folks, but I just have to share it.  I have to let people know what the very best thing about Fall in Michigan is. You know what I mean?

Are you ready now?

And here it is.








Icy cold apple cider and a warm, slightly crunchy, greasy donut.

Available only at your local cider mill.

Ain’t NOTHING like it.

Autumn in Michigan is grand……..