Category Archives: family

The First Steps – A New Beginning

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the first step quote

I am using this quote to kick off a new era of Maison Celeste. It has been so long since I have blogged regularly. I am learning that there have been so many improvements in the land of blogging and website building. I planned on getting started sooner, but life has intervened. The divorce took so much longer to finalize than I had anticipated, and it was a very expensive and soul crushing process. It was a move that was vital for my mental well being, but it cost me a lot.

Part of the reason I have not written is that I was having a hard time thinking of positive things to write about. I was told by my creativity coach, Kathy Cano-Murillo, to keep posts upbeat. I was not feeling upbeat. As usual, I began the school year thinking that I knew what I would be teaching. And, as happened every year since 2008, there has been a change to my teaching schedule. I am obviously over certified. So, school was not feeding my inspiration as it has in the past.

The big bright spot in all of this is that I have become reacquainted with the place where I consider my hometown. That would be Lafayette, Louisiana. I visited every month for the past few years, with trips to New Orleans interspersed between those trips. I have fallen in love again with the culture of Acadiana. Lafayette has changed so much since I lived there in 1997. Since then, it has been awarded The South’s Tastiest Town, The Best Food Town, and The Best Overall City in America… Business is booming and Cajun cuisine is getting the recognition it deserves. And it’s not too far from New Orleans!

I wanted to move back to Lafayette over the summer, but circumstances made that impossible. So, now I am announcing my intention to move there this summer. There is so much to do. I plan to put my townhouse on the market, but not until I have vacated it, save for some of the large furnishings. In order to do that, I need to pack up or use up or get rid of a LOT of stuff. I have been accumulating art and craft supplies for years, and many of those are unused and in my garage and studio.

The other challenge is that the townhouse I plan to share with my new guy is much smaller than the one I live in now. So that doubles the need to lighten up. The plan, as I proposed it to Kathy last summer, is to write about the items I have. I want to revisit the moment when I though it was a good idea to buy 200 paper mache bells (they were 8 cents apiece…) or 500 mini photo albums with NASCAR drivers on them (10 cents apiece…). I will then decide if the project I planned with those things can come to fruition in the present. If so, I will make things and sell them on my Etsy site. If not, I will get rid of them.

I know this was a bit choppy, but I just needed to write something. This is the first step.

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Preparing for Oaxaca

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In less than 6 weeks, my husband and I are leaving for Oaxaca, Mexico.  I will be attending an NEH Summer Institute for School Teachers entitled Mesoamerican Cultures and Their Histories.  I am really excited about it and have been reading all that I can about Oaxaca – and I still have reading to do for the course!

I have most of the foundations set for our trip.  I got a tremendous deal on airfare from Atlanta to Oaxaca offered by Continental Airlines.  I am really glad I jumped on that when I did, because airline tickets are running $200 to $250 over what we paid.  I am NOT counting the insanity that is the $900 – $1000 airline ticket prices that I have seen on Travelocity – right now, they are hovering in the $600 – $700 price range.

I had purchased an airline ticket using Travelocity for my Dad which was also a good deal.  That is, until the day before yesterday when I received an ominous e-mail from them with some gibberish about one of the legs of the flight being “no longer available”.  I hate it when that happens…

I immediately called the number given in the e-mail for “alternate routing” and was greeted by a lovely Indian woman – um, maybe in Bangalore?  I didn’t give her much time to use her scripted conversation – launching right into the reason why I was calling.  That made it a little uncomfortable for me when she answered back, “Okay.  And how are you doing today?”  Uh, NOT GOOD.

She explained that she would have to put me on hold while she contacted the airline (AeroMexico, maybe?) for my consolation itinerary.  I put my cell phone on speakerphone while I waited – surfing the net for possible alternatives myself.  My father’s original itinerary was as follows:  New Orleans to Mexico City, then Mexico City to Oaxaca, and the opposite upon return.  The plane arrived at Oaxaca at 10:15 at night, and we were going to have to get him to his return flight by 6:30 AM, but it was do-able.

Here was the counter offer:  New Orleans to Atlanta; Atlanta to Dallas; Dallas to Mexico City… where he would need to spend the night and take another flight from Mexico City to Oaxaca.  When she finished getting me clear on that little gift, I was not happy at all, but I went ahead and asked her what the return trip would be like…  I swear to you-know-who that she had to put me on hold to find that out.  Then she kept getting the order mixed up – not making it really clear how my dad was getting from Oaxaca to Mexico City.  If SHE couldn’t get it straight, then how is my 74-year-old father supposed to?  (of course, he’s sharp as a tack, but still…)

I ended up canceling the flight – I’d better see that refund on my credit card by the end of the month.  I then booked a flight on American Airlines – New Orleans to Houston; Houston to Mexico City then to Oaxaca.  It’s the same itinerary my sister ended up buying for my nephew, who will also be joining us – at a different time.  Whew.  After that, I needed tortilla chips, cheese dip, and a margarita.

I also urged my mother not to delay in her ticket buying.  She also lives in Atlanta, but the great deal I got with Continental was no longer available.  I think that she was finally able to use her Frequent Flier Miles with Delta to get to Mexico City, then she booked a separate Mexicana Airlines flight from D.F. to Oaxaca.

More about where we are staying later!

My Husband cleans house!

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Dear Folks:

On Monday I spent 9 hours steam-cleaning our carpets with a rented Rug Doctor, which I got at Kroger.

The Stanley Steemer web site has a quick quote widget which indicated that they would charge us $283 plus tax to steam clean our carpets for us. This is due to our having a three-story house with two carpeted staircases. I’m guessing their actual bill would have been larger than that.

The Rug Doctor, on the other hand, was $28 for 24 hours, plus $18 for detergent (which is where they make their money, I’m sure).

I did virtually all the work myself. As you know, practically everything in our house is carpeted. Doing the stairs with the attachment hose took a very long time. I also needed the attachment hose, and working down on my knees, to do all the edges and corners around the baseboards everywhere, and to do extra spot cleaning on stained areas–which we have a lot of, what with the large dogs that have lived with us.

I did not move any large furniture items or bookshelves, except for one sofa and the dining room table. I cleaned exposed floor, but I only did part of our two offices, because it would just have taken too much time to move everything out of the way and then replace it. I also steam cleaned that enormous old gold-colored area rug that we have in our dining room. It looks rejuvinated.

It was hard work, but it was quite gratifying to pour out the gallons and gallons of dark, dirty water dredged up from the carpets.

This action was the latest in our massive cleaning binge, which includes discarding bushels of stuff we have lying around that we realize we’ll never use. Extensive vacuuming was done beforehand, of course, and I am now committed to grooming the dog twice a week and bathing her monthly. It’s a necessary preventive measure that we have heretofor neglected. We are also saving money because for now we are not paying the doggie groomer $65 every two or three months to shear the dog.

Celeste may even cajole me into repainting the bathrooms. I already want to do some spot-repainting on worn areas on lower walls in various high-traffic areas like the staircases.

The inside of our house is so shockingly darn clean that we urge you all to visit it soon lest it sink back into its dingy, fur-encrusted earlier state. And we realize that we have an awful lot of nice pictures sitting in closets that have never been hung on our walls. We need to attend to that also.

You can check out his blog at http://wheatwilliams.com/wordpress  – he writes about learning classical guitar when he is not being domestic and/or working.

Today I braved the Public Transportation System (MARTA) to meet my sister at the Atlanta Airport for dinner.  Whew!

Raoul Dufy Exhibit in Jackson, Mississippi

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Last weekend, I went to Jackson, Mississippi to see the Raoul Dufy exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art.  I also invited my mom and my sister to come – kind of a girls’ weekend.  As usual, nothing could be that simple.  First of all, Mom decided to take advantage of some days off to precede the rendez-vous with a visit to my sister’s family in Covington, Louisiana.  That, in itself, is not a problem:  Covington is about 2 1/2 hours south of Jackson, so Mom and Sis could drive up and meet me, then I would take Mom back to Atlanta.

My husband, in the meantime, had an opportunity to go to NearFest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that same weekend.  That meant coordinating dog boarding not only for my dog, Lupita, but also for my mother’s dog, Poppy, because we were also taking care of her while Mom was in Louisiana.  I keep Lupita at Man’s Best Friend up here in Norcross, so I just had to make sure her shots were up to date and drop her off.  Poppy was a bit more tricky.  She’s only about 7 months old and has never been boarded.  I had already made reservations at the Hilton Garden Inn in Madison, Mississippi and they do not accept pets.

I hesitated to also board Mom’s baby at MBF because they have a bit of paperwork to fill out.   Also, Poppy is only a 10 pound puppy (and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – princess…) and she could not just stay anywhere.  So, after a brief websearch, I found the Chateau La Pooch just down the road from the hotel in Madison.  Perfect solution!  So, Poppy was going to ride with me to Madison on Saturday and stay at the CLP for two nights, then ride home with Mom and me on Monday.

The drive over was 6 1/2 hours – I had my trusty Garmin GPS to guide me.  I really only stopped a few times – picked up a book on CD at Cracker Barrel, and did drive-thru for lunch.  I didn’t want to leave Poppy in the car – even in the shade – for long because it was HOT!  This wasn’t a problem until I got to the Mississippi Tourist rest stop and decided I wanted to look at a map – one thing about the GPS is that it doesn’t give you the big picture.  Surely we were almost to Jackson!  So, after walking the dog, I picked her up and walked into the Welcome Center to find a Mississippi map.  After I did that, I walked back out.  Her feet never touched the ground, although I did try to get her to drink from the water fountain (which she declined to do…)

As I walked out, the kindly security guy came up to me and said, “Ma’am, we try to keep the dogs out on the grass…”  So, I looked at him pleasantly and explained my dilemma:  Leave a puppy in the car and have someone report me for animal cruelty, tie her outside (where someone might snatch her – I didn’t say that), or carry her in just for a moment to look at the map.  He told me that Jackson was not far away – I knew that already… and we said our good-byes.

After I dropped her off at the “chateau”, I went to the hotel.  Mom and Sis were not coming until Sunday, so I had the evening by myself.  I used my laptop to search for shopping options (if there’s a Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, TJMaxx, or Tuesday Morning in the area, I like to check it out.), and drove out to shop.  I didn’t find too much, but stopped at a Stein Mart and bought a dress and a new top.  Then, after searching up and down the frontage road of I-55, I decided to try Raising Cane’s, a chicken finger restaurant.  Then, I went back to the hotel and went to sleep.

Part Two later!

Whew!

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Well, I have accomplished my first two projects of the summer:  going to the John C. Campbell Folk School for one week was the first one.  The second one, I was kind of dragging my feet on, but thanks to my Mom’s encouragement and help, I got ‘er done.

The Atlanta Collage Society was accepting member entries for a show at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association in Blue Ridge, Georgia.  I’ve known about it for a while, and figured I could always enter the two framed pieces I have if I don’t get around to framing any others.  I gave one of my pieces – Butterfly Girl – to my sister for Christmas – it was framed, too.  The two remaining, A Winged Mother and Hail Mary, were ready to go.

After I got back from “camp”, Mom offered to help me pick out frames and mats for more pictures to frame.  For this show, they didn’t want small pieces, so the two little ones I framed would not do.  We finally decided upon Lost My Head, Montgolfier Milagro, and a new unfinished piece I had in one of my sketchbooks.

My mother is an artist and a master “matter”, but my pieces were a challenge to frame.  Lost My Head is a strange size and Montgolfier was on canvas board.  The unfinished piece had no background, so I had to painstakingly pry all of the paper off and re-glue the elements on a background of hand-made paper.  I called it “Oasis“.  All three of them look awesome, but it was not easy.  My Mom rocks!

The show will be from June 20 through July 18 and the reception is supposed to be June 27th.  Blue Ridge is not far from the John C. Campbell Folk School, so I may take my husband, spend the night, and visit the area for the weekend.

Gluten-Free Gumbo

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Recently, my father came to visit us. Every time he comes, he expects us to expect him to cook. No time for diets, here. He especially excels in Southeastern Louisiana cuisine – Cajun, mostly, and always makes a gumbo or jambalaya.

Since my husband has gone gluten-free, this kind of threatened to cramp Dad’s style, but he rose to the occasion. Now, he could have made a jambalaya – that is rice-based, and he does a killer smoked meats version. But he wanted to make a gumbo.

In case you are not aware, gumbo begins with a roux. A roux is traditionally made with flour – wheat flour. The standard ratio is 1 part fat (oil, usually), and 1 part flour. (I have seen different ratios, but that is the one my Dad uses). You heat it up slowly until it browns to the color you want. You add half of the vegetables to stop the roux from cooking more, then you add the stock and other things.

This is not a tutorial on how to make gumbo.  I tried to keep track, but Dad is more of an instinctive chef, and it was hard to keep up.  Besides, there are plenty of good recipe books, cooking shows, YouTube videos, and websites to help you with that.  Here’s a recipe from Emeril LaGasse for Delmonico’s Seafood Okra Gumbo!

I will say that Dad planned ahead to make a shrimp and okra gumbo with chicken, because we had some on hand.  Okra is a natural thickener, but cannot replace a roux completely.  I had already done a little reading up to see what gluten-free blogger had worked with a roux before – it’s also the base for cream of mushroom soup, for instance.

We had some masa harina on hand, and I thought that would be a good substitute for flour.  I find rice flour a bit gritty, and am not familiar enough with other varieties of gluten-free flour to choose amongst them.  Masa has a good smooth texture, and I thought it would be good.

After experimenting a bit – Dad made a “fat mixture” of chicken fat, butter, and olive oil – he added masa to the fat until he thought the ratio was correct. As I mentioned earlier, the usual ratio of fat to flour is 1:1.  Dad ended up using 3/4 cup of the mixed fat to 1/2 cup masa.  It made quite a bit of gumbo – he also had about 3 cups of okra in there with the shrimp and chicken.

If I can organize the notes I took, then I will share the recipe later.  In Dad’s opinion, the gumbo was a tad “sweeter” than one made with a traditional roux.  But we thought it was fantastic – I am no stranger to gumbo myself and my husband was grateful for the gluten free effort.

So, gluten-free does not mean gumbo-free.  Give it a try!

This is not my dad's gumbo, but it looks like this...

This is not my dad's gumbo, but it looks like this - maybe a little greener.

Christmas Goose

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I have already done at least one post on the Game of the GooseLast year, I img_0308planned on having my French students make a large goose game but didn’t go through with it.  In that plan, I made a bulletin board with a poster-sized game in black and white (I enlarged it in Microsoft Publisher, printed it out on my laser printer and painstakingly taped it together. I had the rules (in English) posted in the center of the game. I addressed the circumstances of each special field by copying and pasting it onto a separate document with the rule next to it.

I did allow my students to play the game, and used flat glass pebbles as the markers.  I printed out paper dice for them to use so they would not swipe them.  They enjoyed playing the game, but after thinking through several strategies, I could not really justify the game in my lesson plans. I was planning on printing out coloring pages for the students to color – mainly the flags of all of the Francophone countries – and different crowns to replace the ubiquitous goose.  I may do that again one day if I ever teach French or Spanish again, but I would need to have some task to do that has to do with the target language – like vocabulary memorization or something like that.

Anyway, while I was on that kick, I painstakingly laid out two of my own versions of a blank grid to be filled in one day by a class. I also cleaned up a scan of a goose game (juego de la oca) I bought in Mexico and translated the directions into English. All three are available at my CafePress Shop in different sizes and formats.

I had one blank customizable goose game lying around when I packed to go to Louisiana for Christmas.  On the off chance that it might be an entertaining family project, I packed it up with a box of Sharpie markers and brought it along.  I laid it out during the Christmas Eve party at my sister’s in-laws and it was a hit. Here are some pictures from the party.img_0285

This is my niece and her cousins working on the board.  Yes, the little one contributed as well!
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The boys were not left out!  This is my giant nephew and another cousin of his doing their part for art!

I drew in the special fields, like the well and the bridge.  My mother was in charge of inserting the Fleur de Lis.  The FDL is a big thing over down New Orleans way, so it was the perfect emblem to replace the goose.  I still have some finishing touches to put on the game, then I will upload it to my site and make it available for my sister and her in laws to buy at cost.  It will be a great memory of a Christmas spent together.

The game still has a lot of possibilities for using as a response to literature.  I am planning a similar exercise using a personalized Loteria game.  It really is all about knowing about and using analogies.  The students must think about the story and customize the game to match the theme and major characters and plot points and settings in the story. They would also replace the goose with a symbol that represents the story.  The original “Special Fields” are:

6 The Bridge — If you land on 6, advance immediately to field 12.
19 The Inn — The good food and drink makes you sleepy, and you lose I turn. (Exception: if another player lands at the Inn within the same turn, you change places and you go back to the space that player just came from.)
31 The Well — If you fall in the Well, lose 2 turns—unless another player landing there releases you sooner, sending you back to the field that player just arrived from.
42 The Maze — You get lost and go back to field 30.
52 The Prison — If you land in prison, you stay there until another player landing there relieves you and you go back to that player’s last field.
58 Death — Your goose is cooked. Go back to the beginning and start all over.

For example, if we were to do a House of the Scorpion theme, we would use scorpions in place of the geese.  The “prison” might be a room filled with sawdust (making reference to Matt’s imprisonment when he was only six).  The Inn could be the Convent where Maria is staying or it could be the orphanage, or you could include both.  It makes the students think about what they have been reading and to show that they can synthesize that information and interprete it in a different form.

I would welcome any input that readers might have for using this in a reading or social studies class.

Thanksgiving Notes

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This Thanksgiving, my husband and I ate at my mother’s house.  I brought two pies and a recipe that I made last year.  My husband is seeing if indeed he has celiac disease like his brother does.  So, for the past couple of months he has been eating gluten-free.  That means no wheat products.  Ironically, my husband’s name is Wheat (it’s a family name).

Now, I was able to find a very nice (and very expensive) gluten-free pie crust from Whole Foods.  With those, I made Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie and the Karo Syrup Pecan Pie.  Below are the recipes

LIBBY’S® Famous Pumpkin Pie
Estimated Times: Preparation – 15 min | Cooking – 55 min | Cooling Time – 2 hrs cooling | Yields – 8 servings

Ingredients:
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 2 large eggs
* 1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
* 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
* 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
* Whipped cream (optional)

Directions:
1.  MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
2.  POUR into pie shell.
3.  BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

NOTES:  1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger and cloves; however, the taste will be slightly different. Do not freeze, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.

FOR 2 SHALLOW PIES: substitute two 9-inch (2-cup volume) pie shells. Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (3,500 to 6,000 ft.): Deep-dish pie- extend second bake time to 55 to 60 minutes. Shallow pies- no change.

Karo Syrup Pecan Pie recipe – from the Karo Light Corn Syrup label (the link to the Karo Syrup website was wonky, and the recipe was different, so I just went ahead and preserved the one on the label)

Ingredients:
1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) pecans
1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pastry shell

High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir the first 5 ingredients thoroughly using a spoon.  Mix in pecans.
3. Pour into pie crust.
4. Bake on center rack of oven for 55-60 minutes.  Cool for 2 hours.

Tips: Pie is done when the center reaches 200 degrees F. Tap center surface of pie lightly; it should spring back when done.  If pie crust is over-browning, cover edges with foil.

I thought about making Paul Prudhomme’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, but ran out of crusts.  Lucky for me, I went to a pie social at my husband’s church Wednesday night and was able to have that and some mince meat pie.  Now my pie cravings are complete – until Christmas.

Last year, I found a recipe for a side dish made with carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  It was a hit, so I made it again.  Lucky for me, I had it on my hard drive, because it is no longer at the url where I found it!

Roasted Carrot, Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Mash

Ingredients:
3 large carrots, peeled and diced, ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced, ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes
1 small (1-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced, ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place a roasting pan in the oven and preheat for about 10 minutes. Combine the diced carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash and garlic in a large bowl. Toss well with olive oil.
3. Transfer the oiled vegetables to the hot preheated roasting pan.  Shake the pan to spread the vegetables evenly in the bottom of the pan.
4.  Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast the vegetables without stirring for about 10 minutes. Stir the vegetables and roast until tender, checking after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes. It could take up to 30 minutes for the vegetables to reach tenderness.
5. At this point, you can transfer the roasted vegetables to a large bowl and mash well, or you can use a ricer to rice vegetables into a large bowl. Add the whipping cream and butter and mix well.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Transfer to a warm serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Makes 6 servings. This recipe can easily be doubled to yield more servings.

Mom made a reasonably sized roast turkey and three kinds of (gluten-free) cornbread stuffing:  one in the turkey, one with oysters, and one without oysters.  She also made green beans (not company beans), and pecan and apple pies.  Woo hoo!

Update on the “House”

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I have gotten most of my house cleaned – the living room, the dining room (including rolling up the oriental carpet and turning it around), and our bedroom.  I spent most of yesterday dusting my bedroom and doing 5 loads of clothes while watching “House”.  I am on Season 3 now and am almost caught up.

If you could wrap Anthony Bourdain and Hugh Laurie up into one big bundle, that would be my ideal man right now.  Yes, I know that says a lot about my taste in men…  Yikes!

I went to see Juno a couple of days ago – it was the perfect movie for a rainy day.  Very funny and very unpredictable.  I went by myself – I had a coupon for a free small popcorn that I upgraded to large.  I do not necessarily plan on eating two large buckets of popcorn.  It’s just that the quality of the popcorn can often be unpredictable.  If I get a stale batch or popcorn that I don’t deem worth the money, I just dump that out and go back for my free refill – specifying that I want a really good batch this time.

I also went to see Walk Hard (with my  husband) last night in lieu of doing anything too strenuous for New Years’ Eve.  It was a predictable film.  My mother had warned me ahead of time of the gratuitous frontal male nudity.  It was really not necessary – but who am I to give advise to people who make lots of money making stupid films.  They obviously know more than I do.  I was happy to see Jenna Fischer from the “The Office” playing a successful movie role, however.

I brought my popcorn bag home with me with the hopes that their free refill would be good today when I go to see Enchanted again with my mom.  I know, I have a popcorn problem – which is why I don’t go to the movies so much.  That, and the $10 ticket price! But I promised Mom I would go because I went to see Enchanted without her the first time.  Bad daughter!

While we are at the movies, my husband is going to spend some time at my mother’s condo with our dog, Lupita.  He would like to try and find some way to make it so that Mom can keep Lupe while we are in Spain.  She tried to keep her while we were in Mexico, but got too many complaints about Lupita barking when left alone in the condo while Mom worked and pursued her busy social life.  I think it is a waste of time and am already prepared to fork over the $200+ to keep her at Man’s Best Friend for the 10 days we are away.  I checked out all sorts of possibilities – like Mom leaving her in Doggie Day Care while she is at work.  But all of the boarding places and doggy day care places near where she lives or works would cost just as much as paying for 10 days boarding at MBF.

Okay, time to get up and eat and fold the last load of clothes.

Thanksgiving night

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I am probably going to go to sleep right after this post – I have not gone for seconds of apple pie and ice cream like my husband has. We got back from “lunch” at Mom’s at around 6:30 – we had been there since about noon. Mom did the big thing – the turkey and stuffing. She brined the turkey using the Victoria Gourmet Smoky Brining Blend she got from the Cook’s Warehouse. It was really good, but the turkey was HUGE – 18 lbs. for just 5 people!

I brought the makings for Kir Royale and I wish I had brought an appetizer because we didn’t eat until 2PM or so. First course was a curried pumpkin apple soup – left over from a luncheon Mom had last week. It was great. Then we had the turkey, stuffing and giblet gravy. For side dishes we had Oysters Rockefeller (not served in the shells), a congealed salad, green beans, and a roasted butternut squash, carrot, and sweet potato mash I made.

I made the desserts as well. I made a pecan pie using the recipe on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle. It was good, but leaked under the crust so it was a little hard to pry out of the pan. I also made an apple pie. I used Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie recipe, but used Jonathan apples as well as Granny Smith. I also used calvados (apple brandy) instead of the water, and added some quince paste to the pie – I had some left over from making some cupcakes. I went to the store and bought some ice cream to go with it. I got one pint of Haagen Daz Light Dulce de Leche and then could not resist a new flavor: Cinnamon Dulce de Leche. Awesome!

While I’m on that thought process, what about this: Haagen Daz has a limited edition flavor – Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan.  That would be awesome with that King’s Cupboard Pear Cinnamon Caramel sauce, wouldn’t it?  With poached pears?  😉

Now I’m hungry again…