Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Its beginning to look a lot like.......

I know its a little more than 24 days away, but thats as far as the Santa counter goes. I have a little decorating done. But have lots more to do. I still have to do outdoor swags for the windows, but that will have to wait until Saturday. Tough to do that stuff in the dark.

Here is my cute little retro tree in my living room. Looking at those fat colored lights takes me right back to childhood. As do the burned fingertips. Tiny cool-brights are for weaklings.

The big Christmas tree will have to go somewhere else this year. I haven't heard from the carpet people yet about the installation date, so I'm thinking its not going to happen by the 9th. Which is OKAY. (Note my new, relaxed tone.) There is nothing wrong with having the main tree in a different place for one year. NOT A BIG DEAL, I say. We do however, have to put all the stereo equipment back in the armoire in order for me to play my adorable 40s-50s-60s Christmas CDs. And that really shouldn't happen until the carpet is put in because it is a major pain in the butt to put it all together and take it all apart again. So hurry please carpet people! I can't have a party without my super soudtrack! It just won't be the same.

I know this isn't very simple. Its kinda materialistic. Christmas is about Jesus, and sharing, and getting together with family and friends (I have a manger scene, I just haven't unpacked it yet). Which we do. But I can't help it. I just love decorating for Christmas. LOVE IT. If I see Christmas stuff in an antique store, better get out of the way. I could sit for hours going through boxs of old ornaments and decorations. I don't pay a lot for things. But I pay for a lot of things. Its fun to completely turn the house over and put a little holiday cheer in each and every room. And the yard. And the mailbox. And my office at work.

I may be a little aggressive though. I have found myself driving slowly past a house nearby where an elderly couple live. They have the best collection of outdoor plastic santas from 50s and 60s I have ever seen. There are about 20 of them. I'm not sure what I'd do with them, but I want them. I actually am contemplating stopping by and giving them my phone number. Just in case they are about to move into a retirement home that doesnt' allow plastic santas and they'd like to sell. To someone that really GETS plastic santas.

Anyway, how far are you in your holiday decorating? Show me your plastic santas people!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday wrap up

Foggy day here today. Actually yesterday was quite foggy as well. It's eerie in the early morning. Everything feels so heavy and damp and it's so quiet. It was beautiful the last three days and will be again today, making it up into the 60s. I was stringing lights on outside trees yesterday and it felt very strange to be decorating for Christmas without a coat on.

I hope everyone had a good holiday. Mine was nice. A lot of work, but worth it. I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

Here are some shots of the meal itself. Try not to see the cans of soda on the table. Not local and soda with Thanksgiving dinner is kind of yucky, but whatever. There is no picture of the turkey as it was being carved as I took pictures and wasn't very attractive at that point. The table setting leaves a little to be desired, but I was hurrying at that point and was just concerned about getting the food onto the table with some semblance of warmth still attached to it.

This is what's left of the caramel swirl pumpkin cheesecake. I highly recommend this recipe. It is easy and always gets good reviews.

This was the only thing I managed to get a shot of before it was sliced. My apple-cranberry pie. Yummy.

One good thing about these past few weeks. That party is in less than two weeks. I am not going to get stressed out. Well, try not to at least. What gets done, gets done. I get myself all worked up and end up not enjoying myself because I am tired or anxious or what have you. Everyone had a good time at Thanksgiving regardless of the less than perfect table setting or lukewarm brussel sprouts. I have to learn to step back and be more relaxed. No one's expectations of me are nearly as high as what I expect of myself and I end up not having fun. And that isn't what holiday get togethers with friends and family are about. Lesson learned. Until next year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

100 mile Thanksgiving

So here is the run down. Not everything is local. I just couldn't do it with the amount of time I have to track things down. But I did pretty well. Will post a picture after the big day.

Turkey - A beautiful 22-pounder from Shady Acres in Elizabethtown

Stuffing - Potato Bread cubes from Martins in York County, with Shady Acres Butter, local celery, and tons of my onions that are really small because they didn't grow real well. Not sure where the celery is from. I stopped at three farm stands in search of celery with no luck. My grocery store had celery marked 'local', so not sure of what their definition is. Flat leaf parsley grown by me.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes - Farm stand in Lebanon County. My roasted garlic will go in the mashed potatoes. And my eggs will go into the sweet potato souffle. Sour cream for mashed potatoes from Shady Acres.

Brussel Sprouts - Again, grocery store had 'local' Brussel Sprouts.

Baked Corn - From a box, but very, very local. John Cope's Corn is made in Rheems, which is a little over a mile from our house. All through august and september the trucks loaded with sweet corn rumble past our house headed for John Cope's. The baked corn made with dried sweet corn, eggs, and butter is just awesome. The canned dehydrated sweet corn I could just eat cold with a spoon. Not sure how widely available it is, but if you can find it, try it. John Cope's corn has been on my Thanksgiving table since I was born.

Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake - pumpkins purchased in Lancaster County, my eggs. Crust made with Sweetzels spice cookies made in Skippack, outside of Philadephia. Not organic, but a small, family owned company. I could claim that the Philadelphia Cream Cheese for the pies is local too, but that would be dishonest.

Apple Cranberry Pie - Apples from Masonic Homes Orchards in Etown, that Daisy Flour from Annville, Lebanon County, and butter from Shady Acres.

Mulled Cider - Apple Cider from Adams County.

What wasn't local: try as I might, all cranberries I find are from California. Grrrr. Pecans and coconut into the souffle. I cheated and bought those brown and serve rolls. So not local. I don't know about other people, but I always like to have a relish tray with different types of olives and pickles. I have dill pickles that I made this summer, but I purchased olives and sweet pickles from the Mt. Olive Pickle Company from North Carolina. Mt. Olive is the second largest pickle manufacturer in the United States and recently worked with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to unionize laborers and improve working conditions for migrant workers. So, not local, but bearing the union label.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Got pumpkin?

I do. Lots of it. I roasted two pumpkins yesterday in preparation for Thanksgiving and ended with a lotta lotta pumpkin. I make a pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie for dinner, a pumpkin pie for each family unit to take home, and I usually give some away to co-workers. And I still have three pumpkins on the porch to roast.

My lists are made and I'm only a little stressed out. I won't be getting much sleep these next few days, but by Thursday morning the whole house should be clean, a guest room will have been competely redone, and most everything will have been cooked but the potatoes and the bird.

Hope everyone has a great holiday!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Some wily weather yesterday. Torrential rain and crazy wind and a tornado watch all day long. But round about 4 p.m., we stepped outside to see this. I couldn't get the entire thing, but we could clearly see the beginning and the end. Pretty neat.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

more anxiety

So we go to pick out carpet last night for my husbands living room. Actually its a family room, but we each have a room that we call our living rooms. I have mine and I decorate it my way, he has his and decorates it his way. Weird, I know, but it keeps us married. Anyway, his living room has just been painted a brick red color and he needed carpet. I have been bugging for weeks to go pick carpet. But no. He waits. And waits. And actually thinks carpet will be installed by Thanksgiving. Hahahahaha! So after several hours of walking around different carpet stores and being shocked at the price of carpet (I never knew carpet was so expensive), we bite the bullet and purchase a really good (although pricey carpet {thank God the rest of the house is hardwood}) and sit down to talk about having it installed. I knew there was no way it would be in by the end of next week. I did not think it would take almost three weeks. So guess what it is three weeks? That's right. That party. So now on top of the anxiety of having this party I have to worry about whether I will have carpet. And on top of that, no tree can be purchased or decorated until there is carpet in that room. That is the room where the real tree goes. The main tree. I have smaller fake trees for other rooms. But that is the main tree room. Haha! So I envision having carpet installed the day before, rushing out to get a tree and staying up all night decorating it. SUPER! DUPER! LEFT ARM TINGLING!!

Check out these cute ideas I found on a Colonial Williamsburg site. Don't you just love the egg one! Although there is no way I would undertake something that tedious. I'd have to buy fake eggs. The apples on the other hand.....$1.50 at the orchard for 20 pounds of deer apples.....just might be doable.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Any Ideas?

Okay, so after Thanksgiving, approximately 2 weeks later, I will be hosting my department Christmas Party. I'm guessing about 30 people, made up of current and old employees and a few non-work friends. I'm already starting to freak out about this but would like to get past turkey day before I advance to the full freak out. Most of these people have never seen my house before and I really, really want everything to look perfect. And I know, it isn't about things, or the house, or whatever, its about being with friends and acquaintances and blah, blah ,blah. People, I want my house to be over the top. Homey and smelling good and not a speck of filth anywhere, filled with meaningful touches and a jaunty 50s Christmas song soundtrack, and just the best Christmas decorations anywhere. I want people to contemplate what they have to do to live there. I know that this is unreasonable and materialistic and self-absorbed but this is what happens when you read Martha Stewart Living every month for 10 years. To make things worse, the week before I will be attending the Marietta Christmas House Tour and will witness amazing feats of craftiness and brilliance that people spent a year thinking up and executing and I will try unsuccessfully to duplicate in less than a week. An 8-foot tree form made entirely of fresh fruit and greenery? I think I can do that!

So, what brilliant decorating/entertaining tips can you contribute? I'm having trouble with the outside. I want outdoor decorations that are natural looking (no inflatable thingies or motorized deer), with white lights, and that aren't too hard to assemble. I have plenty of pine/cedar trees on my property from which to borrow. I have ivy. Give me ideas! And what about food? Can you recall just the best appetizer that you've ever had?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Not politics

So I ordered the turkey last week. This was apparently a good turkey year. Last year the biggest they had was 17 pounds. Sounds like a lot, but after 10 people eat and everybody gets a leftovers, I still have two growing girls to feed for three more days (my neices stay with me over the holiday weekend) and 17 pounds doesn't do it. So I asked for a big turkey. 'How big' she said. Well, 22 or 23 pounds sounds good. Lots of leftovers. "We have a bigger one. We think probably pushing 30 pounds". I was tempted. Wow. 30 pounds. Turkey for days. But I don't think it would even come close to fitting in the oven. So 22 or 23 will do.

The turkey is local then. Less than 5 miles away at Shady Acres. I believe I am competing in the 100-mile Thanksgiving. I think everything should be available from nearby except the cranberries. Hopefully I can get a hold of Jersey cranberries. While a little more than 100 miles, it's the best I can do and people expect cranberries on Thanksgiving. I went out to lunch with my sister-in-law and the kids on Saturday and we all went to a local diner and had a sort of Thanksgiving type meal. Turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato souffle. The kids went on and on about being excited to help this year and was I going to make exactly what I made last year and it has to be the same. It's funny when the most mundane thing you do in your mind is something cherished as a tradition in someone else's. It really put me in the mood for the Holidays. I almost wanted to start decorating. But there is so much more to do beforehand.

The chickens are starting to slack off in the egg laying. I thought for awhile that there was another sneaky chicken, but after pulling aside everything in the shed and checking for eggs, it must be that the days are too short. They are very spoiled now and seem to think that if they surround me and cluck very loudly, then I will let them out. They don't get out to run free too much these days. They have their little chicken yard, but there just isn't enough light by the time I get home to let them roam around. They, like me, will be glad to see warm weather return in the spring.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Praise Jesus and pass the wine

If you haven't been to visit the anonymous woman yet, please do. I finer collection of politically related articles and musings is hard to come by. Today she linked to Eleven new and happy things, a Mark Morford piece that pretty much describes the way I'm feeling.

Things I am already tired of

OH my, what a week. Elections, and pulled back muscles, and pink eye. GREAT. So my patience is a little thin. And I am tired of the following:

Calls for bipartisanship. From the same Republican Party that has been ANYTHING but bipartisan for the last 12 years. Since 1994 and the famed "Contract to Screw America" these bastards have been anything but 'friendly'. Last week, Americans were being warned by Republicans that a vote for Democrats was a vote for the terrorists. Hey, Dems, don't extend anything across the aisle other than your middle fingers.

Constant media bleating that really only conservative democrats won. So really there isn't anyt difference. And the liberals were once again foiled, so really it was a conservative victory. Huh-uh. No way. Only a handful of the Dems elected have espoused conservative views (Casey is one of them) and most have put forward pretty liberal leanings.

'Advice' from talking heads that there really isn't any reason to dig up more dirt and Dems should just move forward. What is the point of exposing any more corruption? It's just bad manners. Excuse my French but fuck that. There are people currently in the Bush Admnistration that committed ILLEGAL ACTs and should be in jail. Investigate away my friends. I'd rather my tax dollars be spent shining the light on unlawful acts than being handed over in a duffel bag to a Halliburton contractor in Iraq.

The glares from all my right-wing coworkers. I did not gloat. I didn't say anything to anybody on Wednesday Morning. I may have skipped past one person's office, but they're my friend. Quit shooting me dirty looks. Quit cutting off the conversation as I approach. Quit mumbling that you expect a terrorist attack any day. Quit saying the country is ruined. Just shut up. Your party lost because it is incompetent. Get over it.

I'm tired of hearing that there is no difference between parties. Nothing will change and I'm naive for thinking so. Things are the same under Bush as they were under Clinton (two people actually said this). To these people I say "Are you on drugs?". I'm sure it will make a difference to the one million people that probably won't slip below the poverty line next year. Hopefully it will make a difference to the million people a year that have slipped since Bush has been President. It will probably make a difference to the 45 million people without healthcare and will certainly make a difference to people that work 40 hours a week and still aren't making a living cause the minimum wage is a joke. Those people beg to differ.

I'm tired of my mother in law playing games every year. She's coming to Thanksgiving, she isn't coming. She doesn't want to drive all that way (32 miles!) and nobody wants to drive her (She is 53). You are an adult. Act like one. Nobody wants to drive you because you want to leave right away every year and take all my leftovers home to your alcoholic husband. I can say this because there isn't a chance in hell she'll ever read it. I'm brave like that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm having a dream

I worked at the polls from 7 in the morning to 9 at night yesterday. Thanks to computer glitches in Lancaster County, a judge ruled that polls had to stay open an hour later. Polling places in our area were mobbed, exceeding turnout for Presidential elections. And then I watched coverage of election results until 1 am. So I was really tired. And I'm having this dream that Democrats handily took back the house and almost have the Senate. I don't want to wake up. I like this dream. In one fell swoop that smug f'ing look was wiped off Bush's arrogant little mug. How's that mandate lookin' now cowboy? I hope this dream lasts for awhile. I like looking at the sad little faces of the Santorum kids. Awww....daddy has to get a real job now, cause the mean people of Pennsylvania minded his attempts to destroy the middle class and gouge elderly people for their medication. And poor wittle Don Sherwood of Scranton....who could have known that having a 5 year etra-marital affair with a woman 30 years younger than you and then beating her might cause the good people of Scranton to question your commitment to family values. The only troublesome part of this dream is that shill in Connecticut. How did that happen? Anyway, just let me sleep for ten more minutes. I just want to dwell here a little bit more.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Taking a break

Ok, no more politics. I know I've been pretty much all politics for the last week or so. So back to normal scintillating details about my exciting life. I grew Tabasco peppers over the summer. I wasn't really sure what to do with them, but I grew them and they turned into two nice size small bushes of little red peppers. I harvested them a few weeks ago and went looking for a recipe. I found a few claiming to be methods to make real Tabasco sauce, so I followed one of them. FOr three weeks these little red peppers marinated in a jar of vinegar. On Friday, I drained them (saving the godawful hot vinegar for a future unknown purpose) and then pureed the little peppers into a saucy paste. I ended up the hottest damn sauce. Taking a whiff over the jar burned my nostrils and sent me into a fit of uncontrolled sneezing where I actually had to grab hold of the kitchen counter. Not sure what I'm gonna do with it.

What was left of Saturday was spent removing the last wall of wallpaper in the guestroom. I had wanted to put up a wall of beadboard panelling, which is why I left that wall along. The intergrity of the plaster is questionable and we thought it unwise to be pounding little nails all over it, so the last bit of wallpaper had to come down. It turned out to be a contact paper Caribbean sunset with two layers of paint on top. Lovely. Why would anyone paper a wall in a small room with a Caribbean sunset? Anyway, no more wallpaper! Ever! We are officially a wall paper free zone.

On Sunday, I planted 130 more bulbs and 6 shrubs. 50 Orange Emperor Tulips with 50 Grape Hyacinth, 10 more red Darwin Tulips and the last 20 Poet's Daffodil. It felt good to be done. I had a little helper chicken the whole time though. I would dig a hole, the chicken would madly scratch and pull apart the removed clumps of dirt to remove the grubs and worms, and I was left with nice loose soil to put back into the hole. That chicken must have eaten about two pounds of worms. I also planted the few remaining shrubs I had lingering around. Two Blue Muffin Viburnums and four Winterberry Hollies. I know that I'll probably hate their location next year, but I procrastinated enough about where to put them and they needed to get into the ground. Sunday evening I felt good. There was nothing left to do outside but rake leaves occasionally. All the outdoor chores were done. Woohoo! Time to concentrate on the inside.

Can you tell I heart you tube? This was sent to me by a good friend. It's awesome. Watch it and share.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Down to the wire

So it's crunch time. Only a few days left. I'll be out doing lit drops this weekend and being a poll monitor on election day. What will you be doing? Volunteer to do something. Call your local committee people and volunteer to provide rides on election day to elderly people or disabled people. Anybody you know that can't get to the polls, figure out a way to get them there. Make sure everybody you know is voting. Make sure they know how important this election is. We need to put the brakes on this administration. They are gutting the Constitution. Running the country into unimaginable debt. The Iraq War was a profiteering mechanism. Now their 'friends' have made their money and like rats deserting a sinking ship (Bechtel) are jumping off. Don't buy into the 'values' meme. There is nothing moral or good about this administration. They have cloaked themselves in Christianity and are looting the treasury, destroying the middle class, hurting elderly people, hurting children, just pulling us all under. Don't let it happen! If you live in Virginia vote for Webb. George Allen is a racist, mysogynistic, hateful man and should lose. Virginia is the key to taking over the Senate! Oh sweet day! Democrats can bring this country back together! Pitch in! Do what you can. And for God's sake vote on election day.
Scientists and Engineers for America...SEFORA

Seriously. Vote!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pumpkin recycling and the election

This is a great Molly piece. But not gloat if Dems win the majority? In both houses? I'll try. Really I will. But it will feel so very very good. And if, after an entire day working the polls, and then returning home and drinking beer while watching the returns come in, and we win, and this appears on my front lawn the next day with a sign saying some rather uncharitable things about Republicans.......

it's not my fault. I just couldn't help myself.