Monday, November 30, 2009

In High Gear

I left work around 2:30 Wednesday, headed for my parents' house. I arrived around 5:15 and immediately began cooking, making a dessert, a cranberry salad, and some cornbread for dressing.

Thursday morning began early when I baked a ham. Then breakfast of eggs, biscuits and...wait for it...ham! Cleaned the kitchen and moved on to make the dressing. Next, I cooked the squash and onions to make a squash casserole. While the squash was cooking, I assembled a mixed veggie casserole, then whipped up the squash casserole.

After I showered, I changed the table linens and set up the buffet area. Mom set the table.

Guests began arriving a little after one and dinner was ready by two. Done by 2:30. No one ate dessert. I cleaned the kitchen and was in stretch pants by five. A lazy evening watching Miracle on 34th Street.

Friday I put up the Thanksgiving "stuff" and did three loads of laundry. Dad brought in the Christmas tree and ornaments and we set a card table in front of Mom with the hooks and let her put hooks on everything that needed it. I decorated the tree.

Following a lunch, Dad settled in to watch the Alabama vs Auburn game and Mom & I decided to bake cookies. We baked a batch of Justines' (5 1/2 dozen) and Jam Thumbprint cookies (4 1/2 dozen.) Cleaned the kitchen. Sis and the nieces came over for left-overs.

Saturday I began bringing the rest of the Christmas decorations down from the attic. I was able to get quite a bit done. Mom and I set the dining room table with her Christmas china. Uncle Bill came over to watch Florida vs FSU game and Mom and I headed to KMart where we met Sis. Back by six with lots of treasures, I made a pot of chili for dinner and we settled in to watch Criminal Minds. (BTW--did anyone see the episode Wednesday nite? Wow. Not a happy little holiday episode.)

Sunday I stripped the bed and did three loads of laundry. Dad helped me flip the mattress. I finished decorating the house and wrapped some gifts. I was able to catch a little Barefoot Contessa and Paula Deen on the Food Network. Then I made a quick meat sauce and spaghetti, prepared a salad and warmed some garlic bread for lunch. Cleaned the kitchen and Sis and her hubby came by just as I finished. We chatted for a while before they left, then I loaded my car and hit the road around 3:30.

I was home by 6:15 or so, and, after unloading the car, cleaned a mess left by a very unhappy cat. Everywhere. I mopped, scrubbed, and vacuum. Then had to sit for cuddle time. It's not very exciting, sitting there, holding a cat, so I assembled some Christmas baskets. I finally made it to bed around ten.

Quite frankly, I'm exhausted. But I feel very good about everything I accomplished.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Time to get A Bakin'

I'm a team leader for the next round of Operation Baking Gals and this round I'll be sponsoring David King, the husband of my friend Mary Kay. This is second tour in Afghanistan and I want to inundate him with goodies. If you are out there and ready to bake, please check out the Baking Gals website and consider "Giving A Little Support".


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh! I Wish...

I wish I were a gifted photographer or painter. I wish I were a writer of great talent. I wish these so that I could convey the incredible beauty of middle Tennessee on a clear November morn.

My commute this week has been exceptional; from the drive downhill on a street lined with maples in red and gold adding glory to pastel Victorians to point on the hill where I see the courthouse dome rising over the deep red oaks that surround it. Out the highway past the little white Missionary Baptist church nestled at the foot of the rolling green hills, past the 60's brick ranch sitting atop the rise, with it's bright red barn and freshly painted white fence. To the left there are two old white columned houses built in the day of functional beauty, farmhouses shaded by more golden maples set apart from the more modern brick homes build a century later.

And now the antebellums, resplendent in the morning sun, one guarded by the old slave built stone fence and tall, century old hickories and oaks; the other in sturdy brick, with tall hollies standing sentry in the drive.

Then past the old, faded red barn with it's once white silo and peeling white fence in the foreground as the hills rise behind in various muted shades of autumn.

All this beauty and rural charm and in my head I hear the great George Beverly Shea singing...Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all thy hands have made...

Oh! I wish I had a better vocabulary with which to describe this, but let it suffice to say, I arrive at work mellow with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday Gravy

My Italian friends int he NY/NJ area refer to this quite often. A slow-cooked tomato sauce that is thick and rich. I've made it myself twice, the second being this past Sunday (how timely!)

I made meatballs of ground beef and pork, oregano, salt, pepper, Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan, and an egg and browned them. I took them out and browned a couple of country ribs. I placed the meatballs and ribs in the fridge for later.

Then I sauteed chopped onions, green pepper, and porcini mushrooms in the pan before adding garlic. Then I added tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and seasonings and turned the temp down to low. I would stir occasionally, but not often. Around 4I added the meats back into the sauce and let them finish cooking.

I spooned the sauce over whole wheat penne with fresh grated Parmesan. I'm still eating it and I have frozen left-over sauce for another day.

Thanks to the ladies who helped me in the instructions (no real recipe). Excellent!

Friday, November 6, 2009

How To Dress

While other parts of the country have clearly defined seasons and know exactly when to pull out the sweaters, and other parts of the country have almost no seasonal change at all, I seem to live in the amorphous part of the states.

It was 32 degrees this morning with hard frost on my windshield. The predicted high for today of 66 degrees. How to dress? Well, I wound up with a 3/4 sleeve light weight cotton blouse, jeans (because it is casual day), a cardigan, and a denim trench coat. The office was 69 degrees when I arrived. It will reach 82 by 2 p.m. when the air conditioning will be turned on.

So here is the way my day will go. Take off trench coat upon arrival. Take off cardigan around 9 a.m. Turn on desk fan around 11 a.m. Turn off desk fan around 2 p.m. Put on cardigan around 3 p.m. Take off cardigan for drive home.

Each day, I try to calculate what to wear to work and predict the comfort level in the office. It has become a challenge. I love beautiful fall sweaters but do not see them in my immediate future.

On the other hand, a beautiful 66 degree autumn day is a thing to be treasured. I'm thinking of heading to the Amish community south of here tomorrow, the drive there will be so spectacular!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween Recap and Stuff...

I won the Spooky Foods contest with my Finger Sandwiches.


The competition was tough. We had Mummy Dogs


and Barbecue Worms


Strawberry Ghosts


There was more, but these were the contenders.

Then Saturday, I went to party at a friend's. Can you guess who I was?


And Sunday I made Easy Brunswick Stew in my crock-pot. It was a Southern Living recipe and those are always good, but it made way too much! I am really tired of Brunswick stew. I see Chinese in my immediate future.

I've been reading lots of supernatural/werewolves/vampire stuff lately and it's all been really good. I loved Soulless by Gail Carriger. It is a Victorian romance with werewolves and vampires and ghosts. Too cute by far.

And finally...

I was shopping for life's little necessities the other day. Standing in the deodarant aisle at Target, I was struck by the realization that I've been using Secret for over 30 years. My mom bought my my first stick when I was in high school!
Is that brand loyalty, or what?