Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Kitchen Triathalon

My husband, D., is a cook.  In his early life he initially wanted to own his own restaurant.  He was actively working toward that goal when I was hired to work at the restaurant he was managing.  Our relationship works very well as I don't mind cleaning up.  I share this to say D. cooks frequently therefore I am well versed in kitchen clean up.

Being a contender in the clean up division I find the Thanksgiving meal to be the triathlon of clean ups.  Ours was a quiet celebration with only four in attendance so we had a small menu and made plans to enjoy it at the mid-meal.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry relish, rolls and a cherry pie for dessert.  Of the seven items listed only two were not pre-prepared.  Why, I wondered, were we in the kitchen all day?

The Thanksgiving meal, large or small, appears to require more hours and more kitchen tools to prepare, serve and clean up than any other meal.  We put the turkey in the oven at 9:00am and I was not out of the kitchen for more than a 30 minute stretch until the final wipe down was performed (with a Norwex rag) at 3:30pm. 
My Thanksgiving table.
I will give that I don't use paper goods.  We've eaten on the china since my son came home from elementary school and asked if we had any china.  When I said, yes, and wanted to know why he replied, "Cause my teacher said they only use their china when someone dies."

The good thing about Thanksgiving clean up is there are, generally, more hands to make the job go quickly.  I had the best time storing left overs, drying and putting away dishes in the midst of setting the kitchen to rights while my son, home from college, stood at the sink, elbow deep in dishwater and continued to wash all I put in the water until we were done.  We chatted and laughed and enjoyed each other's company, and the chore was no more.

Example of D.'s artful carving.
It was a wonderful day to enjoy food, family and a day spent together in thankfulness for all our blessings.  I pray your Thanksgiving day was as special.

Were you part of the cooking team or the cleaning team at your Thanksgiving feast?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aging Gracefully: Crossing the Threshold

Hitting 50 is the bell ringing, flag waving, socially accepted, certified doorway to old age.  AARP welcomes you under the confetti of mutliple mailings in anticipation of this momentous occasion.  On your 50th birthday you cross the threshold into old.

Since I've turned 50 there has been more than one store clerk ask if I wanted to join their senior's club.  On my receipt, just yesterday, the clerk graciously gave me the 15% senior discount, assuming there was no need to ask.  Don't get me wrong, I'll take a discount at any age.

I've also noticed that remarks concerning the aging body have my ears perking.  I find myself paying closer attention to the indigestion, bloating, acid reflux and Bengay commercials.  During some mild discomfort I went to investigate on the Internet and hit a BINGO for menopause symptoms.  Hello Old Age!

While at the library recently I held the door for an elderly lady walking with a cane.  She said to me, "Oh dear, never get old."  "It's too late!" I wanted to cry, "I've turned 50, I'm at the top of the hill sitting in a wagon!"  Instead I replied, with a smile, "I don't think I have a choice so I'm trying to do it gracefully."

Therefore, here at the threshold, in addition to the Dating and Mating series, Friday Forum posts, Treasures of the Heart, empty nest chronicles, writing commentaries and thoughts in general it seemed timely to pen my progress on Aging Gracefully.

When I crossed over in August, I started taking Vitamin D along with a Women's daily vitamin and have sought information on what helps ease the symptoms of menopause.  I'm a card carrying member of the AARP.

Positive changes already in progress have been to lose weight, truly attempt to exercise more, updating my make-up regime and turning my wardrobe towards a more classic look rather then trendy. 

I don't fear age, I fear the problems that come with age.  It isn't my goal to be mentioned by Willard Scott as a Smucker's 100 but with more and more mentions of 102+, if I make it I'd like to be ambulatory and continent.  With those goals in mind there is no better time to prepare than here at the threshold.

I say "Cheers!" to aging gracefully.   
What do you say?                                                  
photos courtsey of:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Holiday Season Begins with Coffee and the Friday Forum

Each week, in our small office, the Friday Forum meets to enjoy a speciality coffee and tasty treats. Often we give our opinions on new food products.  You can find our previous blogs here.

With so many holiday flavored creamers available it is hard to decide which ones to taste.  Coffee Mate is a front runner with multiple varieties.  We have tried: Warm Sugar Cookie, Gingerbread, Eggnog, Peppermint Mocha, Pumpkin Spice.

Flavored coffees were put aside but we did not forsake good coffee blends.  Starbucks Kenyan blend, Pete's Arriba coffee beans and an office favorite, Magnolia blend from Trianon Coffee in Austin, have been brewed.

Two Snyder pretzels varieties, our test products, were evaluated: York Peppermint Chocolate Pretzel Sandwich, and Milk Chocolate Pretzel Dips.  On this November Friday E. also provided a lovely spread of Philadelphia cream cheese and crackers, pumpkin muffins, and fruit.

M. out front, who provided our pretzel samples, said, "The cream cheese spread had a great blend of veggies that complement any cracker. We also enjoyed the Snyder’s pretzels dipped in Hershey’s chocolate and the York Peppermint pretzel was the hit of the day. I think everyone enjoyed it the most."

N. gives these reviews:
"coffee – delicious!
Sugar Cookie Creamer – delicious!
Gingerbread Creamer – pretty good, not as good as sugar cookie.
Snyder’s peppermint chocolate pretzels – so good! It’s like a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie
Snyder’s Hershey’s chocolate pretzels – very yummy and potentially addictive
Thanks to E. for the lovely and tasty spread of cookies, muffins, fruit, crackers, and cream cheese spread! She gets an A+ for both presentation and taste."

This Friday C. provided great kolaches and donuts from Daylight Donuts along with a wonderful Amish coffee cake made by E., our own in-house pastry chef.

M., out front, had these thoughts, "I absolutely loved the magnolia blend coffee. I also put in the warm sugar cookie creamer and it tasted even better. The warm kolaches were fantastic as well as our conversations of family and face book irritations!"

M. agreed, "Coffee was delish as usual and we never seem to lack a tasty treat, but I am sure it is the conversation and gathering that makes everything even better."

Here's hoping your office is a warm and friendly place to celebrate and enjoy the holidays.  From our office to you: Season's Greetings! 
Pictures courtsey of:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dating & Mating #8: Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

No matter how much it is said, "Don't judge a book by its cover" it will be.  We judge most things, initially, by how they appear.  Knowing this it makes sense to encourage everyone to look their best but a quick glance around and it is apparent that that advice falls on deaf ears. 

All kinds of good advice here: DM#7, DM#6, DM#1-5

Today I want to talk about hair; a point of contention for many and a page one issue when dealing with our 'look'.  It is safe to say most people like what they don't have, i.e. thick hair wants sleek (not considering sleek is usually thin and/or oily), thin hair wants thick (dry, heavy, unmanageable) straight wants curly (kinky, unruly, frizzy) and so on.

I, like so many, am on a continual quest to find that perfect hairstyle.  That one that fits the shape of my face (heart, oval, square) along with the right products (de-frizz, conditioner, mousse, gel, Clairol) to make my thick and wavy, dishwater blond, mop to look good.

Without the right products on a windy,
humid day my hair is unruly:

Tightening up the waves was
an idea, but even in the 70's
it wasn't the look for me.

Technology allows us to obtain the opposite of what we have.
With the help of a straightening iron I reached sleek and straight.
When your family is used to one way . . . not!

Today, 50 years in with the same hair, I return to the salon hoping the beautician (now there's an old word), may have the skill to produce exactly what I think I want, to look my best.

What I need to do is accept that my hair is a reflection of my personality and/or my feelings at any given point in my life, or moment in the day.  Because it is so easily changed let us join together in solidarity and not try to find that perfect style but rather embrace our hair type and what it has to say about us.

If we are to be judged, let us be judged truly.