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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Always. Nontraditional. Thanksgivings.


Our Thanksgivings are anything but traditional.  I guess you could say our tradition is to be nontraditional.

As children, we both had the traditional meal, except when my great aunt decided to serve Swedish Meatballs.

"Swedish Meatballs on Thanksgiving?" my mom said with shock, " whoever hear of that?" Now that she is 86 and detests the taste of turkey, she would gladly eat Swedish Meatballs.

In the 80's we lived on a Minnesota  farm where we tried our hand at raising turkeys and ducks and chickens.  Melida was in kindergarten and the teacher inquired of all the children what they would be doing on Thanksgiving.  Melida, in her animated style explained, " We will open up our freezer,all the turkey's will jump out and dance a jig! Their names are Duke, Earl and Ourfolks."  That year, we ate our pets.

That next summer we had a Thanksgiving celebration for a German Exchange Student in the community.  It was so hot in the non-air conditioned house cooking a turkey the old fashion way, in a roaster. We had all the trimmings of a traditional meal in July. In my younger life, I never gave it a thought that someone in other parts of the world would not have tasted turkey, cranberries or pumpkin pie. I think they enjoyed it!

When we moved to Iowa, we started hosting the Thanksgiving meals for students who couldn't get home.  I felt bad that I couldn't fulfill their meal expectation.  Their tradition.  It was then that I realized that no matter how alike us American's are, we are all very different is so many ways.

We shared a meal with a couple from the south.  She brought Chicken Dumplings.  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Why on earth would you serve something with Chicken when you are having turkey?  I have found out, since living in southern Indiana for the last 20 years,that Thanksgiving is NOT Thanksgiving without Chicken Dumplin's  I have not made them, nor will I.
Dumpling preparation will forever be left to the pros,  The pro's are the guys and gals who make them every year for the Church Summer socials.  When these folks die there is a special kitchen in heaven made up of rolling pins, flour, boiled chicken and stock.

In the 90's turkey became "the meat" of choice on our shopping trips.  It wasn't so much for the health benefit, which would seem like the logical reasoning.  We consumed it because it was cheap.  Beef prices had skyrocketed and turkey was now available "ground" making way for turkey chili, turkey spaghetti, turkey meatloaf, turkey burgers, turkey this, turkey that, and turkey what!.  When Thanksgiving rolled around, I proclaimed it a NON-turkey day.  Sure enough, I had no thanks for the old bird, I wanted to be thankful for beef.  That year, we splurged and cooked Prime Rib.  That year, we all got sick because we weren't use to the richness of beef and ate too much.  It was like we started the " Thanksgiving Day Over Eaters club" for the first time. And it was worth it! 

This year we plan to celebrate Thanksgiving at the cabin on Saturday.  Tom wanted to smoke a turkey, which we have done in the past.  I just wanted a plain old fashion meal.  The kind that includes sage dressing and pumpkin pie spices. I finally have a gas range and  I can't wait to roast the bird.  We no longer eat turkey everyday...so I am good with having turkey.  We raised our own pumpkins this year and I am not sick of eating them yet.  I always buy the biggest bag of cranberries and sometimes end up throwing half away.  If I don't throw them away, I freeze them for next year and then I throw them away.  My favorite dressing is Corn bread with sage sausage.  Another acquired taste since moving to the south.  When in northern Illinois, the dressing faze was "White Castle Sliders Thanksgiving Dressing". I just couldn't bring myself to make it.  But I will.  I have promised for the last 20 Thanksgivings.  I even looked up the recipe.  I am getting there. I'm thinking about it. Maybe next year.

 I love being nontraditional.  I love to shake it up.   So, I guess I will go to White Castle and get 12 sliders (without the pickle) and make this the best Thanksgiving ever for someone who has been waiting 20 years.  I don't want to disappoint.
Hope helping prepare pumpkins.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Man Cave/She Palace

Every room in my house is feminine.  There is not one ounce of "man caveique" here.  There may be a drawer or two filled with manly things like toenail clippers and screwdrivers.  That screwdriver drawer never has the right size either.  You need a phillip screwdriver...forget it, you need to buy a new one!

The feminine room decor is about to change.  Yes, the cabin will be the masculine home.  We have already decorated the great room with everything Green Bay Packer. Since the kitchen is connected, I will soon be the proud owner of a Packer crock pot.  I believe it was put on MY Christmas list.  Now don't get me wrong....I love the colors Green and Gold. Tom loves the Packers whether they win or lose. ( Like this weekend, no one is talking about it!)  But I really don't want to eat off a plate, drink out of a cup and wipe my face with The big G.  Give me the solid colors and I can work the motif in, thank you very much.

Right this very moment, construction of a detached garage is happening in the forest! Tom will have his own man cave away from the cabin. And I will have the attached garage to "feminize" and possibly turn into a craft, dining, and fun area for overflow company.  I already put curtains up.  I cannot believe that I am excited about decorating a garage.  But here's the deal.....it has drywall walls and ceiling and it is nicer than some basements!  My friend, Susie, named it the She Palace.  I like that!

 I am not a writer nor am I a poet so here is a poem anyway....sorry it doesn't rhyme. It speaks volumes on the true meaning of Man Cave/She Palace.  When you read it, go left to right and change your voice to masculine and back to feminine.  Then read it to your friends out loud.

Man Cave.              She Palace.
Yard Stuff.               Fun Stuff.
Farts.                        Flowers.
Beer.                        Wine.
Sports Radio.           Cooking Channel.
Grunting.                  Laughing.
Hollering.                 Singing.
Mine.                        I don't want it, it smells like farts.
 
Man Cave and She Palace are the places for the perfect married couple in the cabin, by the woods, and always ending up together on the porch that just happens to be decorated with the Green Bay Packer Theme.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Candy, Costumes and the ER

I'm a senior citizen now and Halloween still has that magic hold on me.  I never go to costume parties.  I never dress up.  I don't send out cards.  And I quit answering the front door.  But I DO buy Treats....LOTS AND LOTS OF TREATS.

I used to just buy my favorite....DUH....Snickers.   Then I realized that Tom's favorite was Heath Candy Bars and Butterfingers. My girls would eat just about any kind...except maybe Black Licorice...and who would actually hand that out at Halloween.

 When the girls were small we lived in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. These Halloweens were nothing like what we saw on the Halloween Peanuts Special.  That Peanut gang would hop, skip, run and walk to each candy laden home and squeal...TRICK OR TREAT.  Those kids had cool costumes and everyone seemed happy.  My girls had plastic costume that no one saw.  The weather just didn't cooperate in the mid-west. They wore costumes with their snowsuits over them.  Ice, snow and sleet couldn't keep them from this yearly tradition. Freezing cold, they would walk like Zombies before Zombies were cool. Wearing little red snowsuits and plastic Care Bear masks, they trudged up to front doors, rang door bells with mittens and shivered the words...TWICK O TWEEEET.

   
By the time we moved to Southern Indiana my older girls were beyond the years of Trick or Treating, but Bissy and Hope got to enjoy the "movie-like" atmosphere of the Halloween Season.  It was like the scenes in ET  or Halloweentown.  Our subdivision was full of families going door to door.  I was shocked...literally!  And I wasn't prepared!  Twenty years later....I am fully prepared with at least 400 items to hand out!  Yes...FOUR HUNDRED!!

Even before Hope was born, Bissy talked about what "that" baby would be for Halloween. The standard answer was "A Packers Cheerleader", of course. When Harper was born, Bissy's daughter, it was inevitable that she would also be "A Packers Cheerleader".  Harper and Vinnie were the Packer Duo when they were 2.  And the weather was Movie Scene perfect!
Vinnie and Harper, The Packer Duo!

For the past 10 years I set up my Halloween station in the garage.  Eleven years ago, I did my "Candy Handing" via my front door.  That was a lot of  doorbell ringing, door knocking and door opening for 400 kids!  Eleven years ago, I stepped out onto my front porch to "oooo and ahhhh" about the neighbors new baby.  That night, I heard a snap, fell forward and landed next to the cutie pies stroller.  If I had a costume on, it would have been the LADY on the LIFE LINE commercial reciting her only line, "I have fallen and I can't get up!"  That little baby is now 11. He no longer lives in the neighborhood but I sometimes see him with his Grandparents.  I don't have the heart to tell him how his cute little face ruined my night! That could just ruin his life!  or not!

Have you ever had to go to the ER?  Pretty scary right?  Try going on Halloween night!  Ax Heads!  Pumpkin Flame burn victims!  Scary Clown syndrome treatment! Zombie scab pickers!  Vampire Blood Bank seekers! Candy Corn Comas!  Then there was me with no costume and a very lame excuse of "Baby oooooo and ahhhhher".

Sure enough! A broken leg!  Halloween is a reason for an Anniversary.  Best Anniversary ever!  I get to buy my favorite candy, hang out in the garage, sit on my Packer Chair, feed Little Green Bay Packer Duos sugar, and NEVER hear a doorbell.  Did I mention the Wine???