Friday, December 6, 2013
The lovely Idena asked in a comment if decorating more than one room was even a thing. Wow. Idena, do you live in a Grinch-apocalyptic Whoville? I'd say if Facebook is any indication I may be the only person in Small Town who only decorates one room. Of course, there may be others such as myself who aren't bragging about our Grinch-homes on the internet. And I must say...
My comment about holiday hand towels being "dumb" (perhaps not the most reasoned of descriptors) certainly hit a nerve. There is apparently no middle ground on this issue, as everyone appears to LOOOOOOVE holiday hand towels or to HAAAAAATE holiday hand towels with absolutely no "meh" middle ground. Who knew?
The season of high demand for us semi-competent accompanists is upon us, and last night that did not please me. It was 13 degrees and snowing when I left for Christmas choir practice, and I wanted to watch The Sound of Music Live. Imagine my delight when I got home two hours later and could read the entire hilarious Tweet-storm that TSOML provoked without having to sit through the three actual hours of the production+WalMart commercials. One example:
"Julie Andrews is spinning around in her grave." "Julie Andrews isn't dead." "She will be after she watches this."
I am not judging whether or not the production was good (LISA) but Husband finally had to tell me to either pipe down with the snark-produced giggles or go to another room.
Husband and I ate in the new restaurant on Main Street last night, and people, our meal was really good. I had a delicious caprese half-sandwich and a cup of black bean soup. Husband had a rustic pizza. We shared (free) appetizers of homemade bread with herb butter. Yummmmmm.
But what made my heart go pitter-pat was that the restaurant/emporium sells SALSA LIZANO! Salsa Lizano, as my Tico-phile friends know, is the taste of Costa Rica. Without it you cannot make the foods that taste like my Peace Corps years on a fork. Gallopinto. Huevos con tomates. If you've tasted Salsa Lizano you know of what I speak.
I've been surviving for 30 years now on the kindness of travelers who risk the contents of their suitcases to smuggle me back bottles of this delicacy, but I always have doled it out as if it were the nectar of the gods and the gods were no longer producing nectar.
Please, Small Towners, go have a sandwich or an espresso or something at the Chef's Kitchen. You'll get a great sandwich and I'll have a continuing supplier of non-contraband condiments.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:44 AM
Thursday, December 5, 2013
"Candy canes! Great!" we huzzah-ed him.
"Not so great," T said. "Yesterday C (his five-year-old son) was here for a music lesson and he kicked over and broke the ones outside the performing arts building."
T and his wife, who are truly good parents, insisted that C write an apology note, then they took him downtown to withdraw his own money from his own bank account for the replacement canes. In spite of these stellar examples of How To Deal With Childish Anarchy, T remained worried.
"I can understand if he had broken just one, because he didn't know it would broke if he kicked it, but he went on and broke FOUR. What kind of a kid does that?"
I laughed and laughed. Obviously I had never told him about the time I Boy#1 and Boy#2 were about C's age. They were playing outside and I was vacuuming when the doorbell rang. It was an irate woman, one whom I'd never met.
"DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE THROWING ROCKS AT CARS?" she screamed at me. After I ascertained that none of the rocks had actually hit their targets (yup, they have my athletic genes), I apologized profusely and promised I would "take care of it." I was mortified that my children, the loves of my life, could be such utter hooligans.
I called One and Two in and prepared to give them what-for. In the case of One, this was unnecessary. My tenderhearted rule-follower already was in tears, and sure whatever what-for he was going to be given would involve a spanking. Or jail time. Younger brother Two had true regret in his eyes--but his regret was that he had not hit the moving car. No amount of lecturing or explaining that he could have DAMAGED SOMEONE ELSE'S STUFF made a dent in his lack of remorse.
"And in spite of that," I reassured my colleague, "Two has grown up to be a fine, compassionate, ethical man who has never been in jail. You're handling this just right, and C will be fine."
What kind of a five-year-old kid breaks something just because it's there and it makes a thoroughly satisfying crack when it breaks?
A boy kind, and someday T and his wife will laugh about this. Not today, but someday.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 11:06 AM
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I'm not being modest about this, or fishing for compliments. "Oh, MomQueenBee, you are SO competent," said no one ever, but I value my own talents. My strong suits are willing semi-competence, and an ability to produce quickly under deadline. Oh, and the ability to correctly use the words "compose" and "comprise," but that particular strong suit is sadly under-valued.
Anyway, my Christmas competence is even more semi- than most of my other competences. I am always the last one to have my decorations up, the final house on the street with no lights peeking through the front windows, the obvious slacker when it comes to ho-ho-ho-ing.
But this year? On the second day of December, in the Year of Our Lord 2013, the House on the Corner is Christmas-ed!
Boo to the yah to all of my (imaginary) detractors who didn't think I could do it, with a special fist-pump for those who have warned me Santa Claus will not stop at our house on Christmas Eve if I am screaming up the chimney "JUST A MINUTE! THE TREE IS ALMOST UP!"
Of course, decorating for Christmas is not what it used to be. Over the years my holiday prettify-ing of the entire house has shrunk like the Grinch's cold, hard, heart, until the pretty is now all contained within the four walls of the living room. I'm not criticizing you if YOU want to throw holiday spirit into every corner of YOUR house, but two things: l) holiday hand towels are dumb, and 2) don't come crying to me when you're still picking holly berries out of the guest room carpet in July.
And if you are one of those who has posted on your Facebook page "The first of our six trees is up and decorated!!!! I love this time of the year so much!!!!!" I am not judging. Good for you, I say, even if the use of multiple exclamation points indicates I am saying it with just a bit of sarcasm. I will love visiting your house, and truly, I will admire those themed trees.
Just don't expect me to be doing anything similar. Ever. Notice the still-unlit spot on our tree where the pre-lit lights decided this year not to light? Semi-competence is enough for me.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:09 AM
Monday, December 2, 2013
|Martha Stewart, eat your heart out. Also your gizzard.|
And so it's December! After waiting all year for the Best Day of the Year, said day has come and gone and was truly lovely. But before we move on, a few random observations to clear out of the observation tower:
Observation #1: This is the first year in my long series of preparing Thanksgiving dinner that I tried brining a turkey and roasting it in a roaster. I was an Oven Bag early adopter and never looked back from the convenience and ease--until this year, when all the cool kids were brining and roasting.
The brining was not exactly easy, what with the need to clear out refrigerator space for a 23-pound bird marinating in a plastic bag containing three gallons of salty flavor, but I worked around this issue by using an ice chest on the deck in 33-degree weather. It also was convenient to have the gizzards in advance so that I could make my special gizzard dressing, which is MINE AND ONLY MINE AND NO ONE ELSE WILL EAT IT! MWAHAHAHA!
However, I had never realized how long a turkey takes to roast when it is free-range and un-bagged. The exact time for this step is "forever, plus two hours." Holy smoke. At the moment the turkey was scheduled to be set on the table, the meat thermometer was reading 130 degrees, which is approximately the temperature at which Ralphie's mom would be telling his dad "You'll get worms!" (YouTube failed me when I tried to find a clip from this seminal moment in A Christmas Story.)
I had the joy of telling Husband "Yes, that looks done to me" with each slice he carved off the carcass of this reluctant feast, so next year it's back to an Oven Bag.
Observation #2: Slow cookers are my friends when it comes to preparing Thanksgiving for a crowd. How many did I have plugged in? Let's see--one for the un-special dressing (What? You didn't think I'd leave all the non-gizzard eaters without dressing, did you?), two for green bean casserole, one to keep the gravy warm, one to keep the mashed potatoes warm, one to keep the rolls warm.
And since I seem to be making a lot of non-solicited endorsements of Reynolds products today, their stock probably rose last week thanks to my multiple purchases of slow cooker liners. I'm a huge fan and so are the people who did the dishes while I rested my tired feet on an ottoman Thursday night.
Observation #3: Do Cyber Monday deals seem to not be quite as spectacularly amazing as they were in the past? I offer as proof the following deal that Amazon.com thought would induce me to hand over my credit card number this morning:
- Order in the next 7 hours and get it by Tuesday, Dec 3.
- More Buying Choices
Really Amazon.com? You think I can be bought for FOUR CENTS? Well, considering that I just endorsed two different Reynolds products and Reynolds paid me no cents at all, you may be overbidding.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:07 AM
Friday, November 29, 2013
|I took this picture right before we sat down to eat.|
This year's gathering was smaller than many we've had in the past. We missed my mother and my mother-in-law, who were probably baking heavenly rolls together and laughing at the really terrible gravy I made. We missed two of my siblings, one working in Australia and one called away by an emergency. We missed two of the Boys and Lovely Girl, who were together but not with us. We missed several of the next generation who spent Thanksgiving with the "other" sides of their families this year.
But the weird thing is that on Thanksgiving, it's as if we're all together. People who weren't here for the turkey, we missed you but we included you as well.We talked about what you probably were doing at the moment we were digging into the cranberry salad and scooping up slabs of pecan pie. We reminisced about how the absent brother can really carve a turkey.
"It's probably a good thing the little kids are at their other grandparents' houses this year,"we said when the turkey took a full two hours longer to cook than I had anticipated it would. We exchanged "wishing you were here" text pictures with the Boys and Lovely Girl in the nation's capital as we all happened to sit down to eat at the same time.
We were thankful for so many things this year, including the gorgeous day after several days of nasty weather.
But most of all we were thankful for those we love, the ones who were here and the ones we were missing.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 9:48 AM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
|I'm showing the internet the inside of my refrigerator. Wow.|
Three kept me company this morning while I was finishing up the pre-Thanksgiving cooking. This is an actual transcript of our conversation.
Three: So, what have you already done this morning?
Me: I've brined the turkey in a salt solution, cooked and mashed the potatoes with cream cheese and butter and cream, baked the sweet potatoes, cooked the syrup for the sweet potatoes, and refrigerated all of it for final baking tomorrow.
Three: In other words, cooking for Thanksgiving means you take a lot of healthy foods, and make them unhealthy?
I think he's beginning to see why this is the eve of the Best Day of the Year
Posted by MomQueenBee at 12:57 PM
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
So I photographed the six easy steps to the perfect cranberry sauce, the sauce that has sauced the holiday table of the House on the Corner for the past quarter century. I rinsed the four cups of cranberries (snap a picture), added water (snap), boiled until they popped (snap), etc., etc. through the sugar, raisins and walnuts.
Then I sat down to write this little chapter in the annals of the Best Day of the Year. I transferred the pictures to my laptop, opened the editing program and noticed something strange: The pan in the pictures was not the pan I used to cook the cranberries this year.
And that's when I remembered that whoops! I apparently have written exactly this same post before, because I have TWO sets of the exact same photos of cranberries topped with picturesque mounds of sugar, then bubbling merrily for 10 minutes, the same shots of my disembodied left hand tipping two cups of walnuts into the mix. Only the pans are different; even both left hands are eerily similar in their need of manicures.
Huh. I must really like this cranberry sauce. But I'm here to warn you--the Ocean Spray people may be pulling your leg when they say the antioxidants in cranberries are good for the memory.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:02 AM