Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where Did Thanksgiving Go?

The evenings have grown so much longer as this winter season comes to a pinnacle, and at 4:30 pm I drive through my suburban neighborhood with my headlights gleaming. I look around me to spy the twinkling Christmas lights that have begun springing up at each of the houses I come to pass. But wait, isn't it still November?

In recent years it seems as though the joyous holiday of Thanksgiving has taken a backseat to the impending holiday season. Pumpkins and gourds are thrown away just after Halloween, and are replaced by blow-up Santas and lines of glowing reindeer on the neighboring lawns surrounding our house. On this holiday that celebrates our family, friends, and an abundant feast, however, I think it's important to take a moment (or several moments, perhaps) to consider Thanksgiving for what it is, as opposed to being so worked up about what is to come next month- and, for that matter, the following day.

Believe me, it may sound like it, but I'm no Scrooge. I LOVE the Christmas season: the music, decorations, cookie-making, even the hustle and bustle. To hold out on the celebration, however, is to create even more wonderful anticipation for the event.

To consider such a remarkable holiday as Thanksgiving (or, not consider it at all) to be a part of Christmas is to undervalue its importance as an individual day to recognize the things that we are the most thankful for.

I am thankful for my family: my mom, dad, and sister; in-laws who are wonderful (rare, I know); a phenomenal husband whom I adore, a beautiful and bright daughter, my awesome extended family who, though I may not get to see often enough, always put a smile on my face.

I am thankful for my friends: those with whom I've been close to since we were young; my buddies from high school; those I met at college and beyond.

I am thankful for the things that are represented by the bountiful harvest: the food that we are able to eat every day, our home, our health, and so many of the “things” that I tend to take advantage of having.

So, as I get to my own home, still bedecked by corn stalks and cornucopias, I realize that perhaps I am not “behind the times,” just being thankful in the moment.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do *Not* Try This at Home

It's about time that I fill you in on some of the recipes that I have tried lately, so you can have an idea what to have (or not have- as evidenced by a rather strange concoction from the other day) for dinner.

Let's go with some of the winners first:

  1. Looking for something light and simple to put together? The other night we had lemony chicken Caesar salad for dinner with some soup on the side. Though Caesar dressing is usually chock-full of fattening ingredients, when you make it yourself, you can control what goes into it. For example, I used a light mayo instead of the full-fat variety, and only used about half the recommended dressing for the finished product. Additionally, I decided to forgo the croutons in lieu of a slice of toasted french bread that could either be crumbled on top of the salad or dipped in the soup!

  2. One of the wonderful things about autumn is the plethora of fall vegetables that line the shelves of the produce department, the flavors of which can comfort and warm you. That is why on Sunday I made pumpkin lasagna, testing out a new recipe from Robert Irvine. The final product came out really delicious (I loved the combination with the spicy sausage!), but the left-overs (of which there were A LOT) were kind of mushy- not very appealing.

  3. Another good one was the turkey-sweet potato shepherd's pie that I made last night. It was different, but good. Although I was hesitant to add the orange zest to the potatoes for fear that they would become too citrusy, the the flavors were actually really good together.

and the big, fat loser:

  1. Okay now for the one you've been waiting for, the one that I will NEVER make again, orange-glazed chicken with pears. I have included the link because you never know if some readers are masochists who actually want to try this atrocity. The white vinegar, the soy sauce, the ridiculous amount of sugar- it was like a joke. Ugh! And it had sounded so good... Oh, well.

So, good luck to you all with your cooking adventures this week- and don't forget to drop me a line if you've tried any of these or are planning on it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saying Goodbye is Sometimes the Hardest Thing to Do (especially when it comes to candy)

Today was a sad day.

Today I threw out the remaining Halloween candy that has been calling to me from the pantry for the last two weeks. I covered it up in the garbage can with old paper towels and yucky trash, lest I get a major hankering and want to go in after it.

You may want to take a moment to mourn this chocolatey loss. I do need to move on, however: there are, as they say, other peanut butter cups in the sea.

The time for eating delectable treats at 8 am is behind me, at least until Christmas rolls around, with its goodies tucked away in my stocking...

Those thoughts should keep me satiated for the time being.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Treats of the Season

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It's important, as I mourn the loss of summer's long, hot days (and cute sundresses), to recall the gratifying and wonderful goodies that the cool days of autumn and winter bring...

  • The feel of being snuggled up in a yummy cashmere sweater
  • The soft whisper of the fire as it warms my backside, and the illumination the embers create- dancing on the hearth (better than fireflies)
  • As the world falls into an earlier evening, cocktail time can begin sooner (hey, as long as it's dark out...)
  • The first snowfall that sticks (not the twelfth, but the first.)
  • The smell of fresh pine from the Christmas tree and the wrapped up presents underneath it (and shaking them to guess the contents)
  • As long as I'm all bundled up, I may as well partake in that extra piece of pumpkin pie a la mode. Mmm.

What are some of your favorite treats during these fall and winter months?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Your *Extra* Time

The brooding, bitter winter lay before us all, with its icy winds and biting temperatures that nip at our faces, no matter the amount of wool that we have wrapped around our heads. We are, however, recompensed with an extra hour, with which to... do what?

What are some of the things that I plan to do during this time of “falling back”?

  1. blog
  2. check my email 47 times
  3. update my facebook status every 10 minutes
  4. complete the crossword puzzle (with help)
  5. attach the completed crossword to the refrigerator door
  6. read the most current issue of “Us Weekly”

Hopefully I will be able to finish all that I've set out to do during my extra hour.

So, I ask, what are your plans during YOUR extra hour? How do you plan on spending this extra time that you've been given?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Beginning

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The drive was long and monotonous, but I was giddy to begin a completely new experience. A completely new life.

Five hours after we had loaded up the Mitsubishi with all my important possessions, we pulled up to the college dormitory that I would be calling “home” for the next two semesters. The day was warm and clear (eventually I would come to the realization that this was a rarity in this snow-belt upstate town) and the gentle wind blew through the leaves, the likes of which danced on the branches in response.

The other freshmen, walking anxiously along the campus sidewalks, had that exact same expression of excited trepidation on their faces. My mom parked the car next to the prodigious building where I needed to sign in and my sister and I each grabbed a suitcase from the over-stuffed the trunk.

After taking care of the necessary paperwork, we walked over to the dorm elevator. Stopping on the sixth floor, I walked with anxiety toward my new abode. Was my roommate there already? What was she like? Would we share clothes and stay up late at night to talk about boys? Peering my head in, I saw two empty beds, a couple of dressers, and a pair of identical desks. I let out the breath that I hadn't realized had been trapped in my lungs since the elevator. No one else had yet arrived.

After setting some things up, making the bed, and hanging up some of my clothes in the tiny closet, it was time for my family to leave... I was to be on my own.

We traveled down the elevator and over to the car, where we said our goodbyes. I hugged my mom and sister and promised to call. They honked the horn as they backed out of the lot and I laughed and waved goodbye. The car got smaller and smaller until they rounded the corner and was gone.

The reality was sinking in: I was finally an independent woman! I turned around and took a few steps toward the college that lay before me. And I cried.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Festivities

So, I just woke Avery up after she had herself a 3 hour nap, probably due to her extreme exhaustion that stemmed from a holiday weekend chock full of candy AND craziness!

I think the scariest thing that befell our family this Sunday happened to occur when we ventured to the nearby village, where they held a holiday “festival” and the kids were encouraged to trick-or-treat at the various stores.

There were upwards of a million people there... and Avery was not happy to be a part of the festivities.

Let us begin with the walk there. We are not going to comment on the wedge-heeled boots I decided to wear (but they were so cute with my outfit!) or the fact that we had to hike 27 miles to get to our destination from the parking spot- no. I think it best to focus on the fact that (from the very beginning) we were nearly run over by 4 seven-year-olds, each with his very own Spider Man costume, ready to either save the day or run over unsuspecting toddlers that dared to stand on the sidewalk.

Within moments the baby started screaming in fear, mostly because of the gentleman dressed up in the Stony Brook University's mascot uniform: the seawolf. The guy was obviously trying to be nice- he waved and laughed- but when he smiled and a hundred sharp fangs glistened in the sunlight, Avery screamed and ran toward the nearest shop.

That was the first of the fearful experiences of the day.

Shortly afterward, Kyle walked with her into Godiva (where I was sure there would be GREAT trick-or-teat candy!). Within moments, he walked out carrying a screaming child in his arms (and no candy).

“She saw Michael Meyers”

“Excuse me?”

“You know- from 'Halloween'? She saw Michael Meyers, and she's not happy.”

After that fiasco, we began walking back. This whole festival was not turning out as I had planned. Kyle let her walk around on her own as we got to the village center, but I trudged onward. I noticed within seconds that they were both right next to me again, Avery in Kyle's arms.

“Uh...” Kyle motioned toward Avery's little feet.

“What? Wait, where's her...”

Gone. One of her little orange crocks that I had bought specifically for this duck costume was... gone.

“It's, uh, down the drain.”

Sure enough, when I looked down the drain, there was her little shoe: staring up at me. Mocking me. Bastard.
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