Holiday Residue

There are a few things happening in my brain right now.

1) I’m sleepy.  It’s a half hour before I have to leave for work, and I am desperately fighting to be productive.  One load of laundry has been switched over.  Dishes have been loaded into the dishwasher.  Lunch has been put together.  I have plopped onto the couch.  (OH NO!)

2) I’m really grateful for Thanksgiving.  Scott’s family, who is also my family, is wonderful.  They helped with all of the craziness of cooking multiple meals for 9 people.

Image

They were gracious about everything that turned out looking not quite like a magazine picture.   (It still tasted delicious).

Image

They were patient when our turkey came out of the oven a bit later than planned.  It was a tasty turkey, for sure.

Image

And some of them did super cute things like this:

Image

See that pink sleeping bag?  There’s a little munchkin in that sleeping bag, and both the munchkin and the bag made their way around the living room and hall and various other places.

And now that the cute munchkins (who are becoming less munchkin-like all the time) have left the building with their parents and other family members, it’s time to keep moving.  My body and my brain want to stop here for a while.  Let’s hang out on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for a week, shall we?

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  As evidenced by the fact that it’s now the Monday after Thanksgiving.

For just another minute, I’m going to relish the success of a good weekend with family.  My very favorite recipe from the weekend was all Scott’s doing.  He made Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie.  Yum!  He even added one pie crust recipe with another innards recipe to make it just about perfect.  I think his main ingredient adjustment was to cut the number of chocolate chips in the recipe in half.  I wouldn’t normally condone that type of behavior, but it turned out just right.

So just to recap, take this crust and smush some of this into it.  And bam!  We’re planning to make it again soon.

Home Withdrawal Antidote

As you might expect, working 40 hours this week kept me busier than working on random projects from home for the past few months.  Not that I wasn’t busy, and not that I didn’t work.  (Like those double negatives?)  I just had a bunch of flexible time and very very happy feet.  My feet didn’t know how good they had it until they had to wear normal shoes again this week.  Drat.  But I’ll get to that some other time.

Long ramble short, I had a lot of quality time with Scott and Peanut (our dog) for the past several months.  And I had less quality time with them this week.  It was a good week, and I definitely like my new job.  It’s just that every life change requires some adjustment.  Right?  Right.

I found one big happy reminder of home at work this week, and it got me through little moments of home withdrawal.  Who knew that pictures on a cell phone could be so helpful?  I hope you enjoy the cute as much as I do:

p1

p2

p3

p4

p5

Did you see that adorable face settling into the crook of Scott’s neck?  Did you?!

What about the eyes closing over the course of about 20 seconds?  You might assume that it took a few minutes or longer to get all of those pictures, but it was 20 seconds.  Maybe 18.5.  It’s enough to melt my heart every single time I look at those pictures.  Sigh.

These two pictures came in a close second of awesomeness:p7

p8

Cute.  (And I love them.)

Holiday in the Woods

I certainly grew up in a family that liked to eat, but my husband’s family is all about the Thanksgiving feast in a way that my family never was.  There are about 10 side dishes and leftovers for every branch of the family to take home.  It’s kind of amazing.

Scott being Si from Duck Dynasty (the tea glass is key)

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few days–eating.  The comical twist in the story is that while rushing out of the house on Wednesday afternoon, Scott and I forgot all of our toiletries for the trip.  No toothbrush, no deodorant, no anything.  Fortunately, Scott’s family is generous, and there are these things called drug stores all over the place.  Even with those good things, I went 4 days using my finger as a toothbrush, not brushing my hair, not wearing a lick of makeup.  It added a tiny bit of rusticity to the holiday.

On top of that, I went hunting for the first time in my life.  Or I went along for a hunt, anyway.  Scott and I sat in the woods for a few hours (almost–it got really cold!), and I looked around and read my book in turns.  Scott is a better hunter than I am, but at least I did my best to not talk.

The main wildlife we saw that morning was a racoon that we treed nearby.  Accidentally treed.  The poor guy looked really cute at first and took a nap far up the tree.  Then he got really agitated that we wouldn’t leave, and he wagged his tail really hard and made weird sounds at us for the next hour.  It was kind of disconcerting.

That one morning of cold adventuring will last me a while.  Scott, however went out again the next day and met with more success.  Something about a wife flipping book pages and a racoon hissing in a tree didn’t work out too well for him.

Cooking for Other Folks

My family goes out to eat with guests sometimes instead of cooking.  It saves prep time and dishes and stress, and I totally appreciate that.  Oddly enough, there’s also some sort of link between proximity to my house and going out instead of cooking.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I’ve ever cooked dinner for my parents.

This weekend includes a visit from my parents, and I made up my mind about something in the last half hour.  Now I just have to convince them.  See, we’re meeting a few people for dinner on Saturday, and I really want to cook for these particular people.  I feel confident that I can prepare a meal without setting off fire alarms or ruining anyone’s day.  Neither of those statements was true a few years ago.  And I want to spend an evening in my cute dining room with my obnoxious dog and four people I like a lot.

Photo by Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman

There’s still the matter of getting the parents on board, however.  Like I said, their perspective is totally defensible.  They would rather hang out with me for an afternoon without dicing and groceries and making me work.  They want us to enjoy being relaxed together.

But let’s be realistic about how we usually spend our together time.  Sometimes when they visit, my parents help me with big projects like ripping out all of the dead shrubs in my front yard and totally redoing the garden.  Sometimes they repaint a few rooms or we go shopping together on Christmas Eve because we’re all really bad about getting ready for the holidays in a timely manner.  Sometimes we see the sights around town.  Once in a blue moon, we’re blissfully lazy together and we all fall asleep in the living room.

All of that history indicates that there’s a really good chance we’ll be productive on Saturday.  Why not direct some of that productivity towards the kitchen for a change?  Cooking dinner is a heck of a lot easier than totally redoing my front garden bed.

And now for the reason behind the sudden inspiration.  I recently came out of a food-induced coma that didn’t involve me eating a blessed thing.  The Pioneer Woman‘s recipes are powerful like that.  You don’t even have to consume any of the heavy cream and butter to know that as you read her recipes, you’re in the presence of greatness.

The menu options for Saturday currently consist of chicken pot pie and salad, steak salad and bread (plus homemade onion ring type things on top… um, yeah), or chicken parmesan with green beans and possibly a small salad.  All of those options would have pecan pie with ice cream and/or whipped cream for dessert, and all of them are from The Pioneer Woman.

So what do you guys think?  Dinner for five people.  Pre-Thanksgiving celebration with parents.  No need to do the traditional Thanksgiving menu (let’s not get carried away with this cooking thing).  Possibly the first meal I’ve ever cooked for my parents.

*Mom and Dad, when you read this, I’ve always appreciated your desire to treat me to a good meal and save us from washing a thousand dishes.  But hey, I’ve got a kitchen that I like just four steps from the guest bedroom.  You don’t have to make reservations, and you can’t beat the commute.  I say we give it a try.

December Decisions

It recently came to my attention that my family intends to spend Christmas in Colorado, which makes sense.  Two of the five in question live there, and the other three know where to find good snow in December.  Unfortunately, my Colorado plans for the year don’t include December.

I was really sad about that at first.  My family is fun to be around, especially at Christmas.  My mom indulges my love of corny movies, my dad and I wear armadillo slippers on Christmas morning, and Santa still writes letters to me about how he’s trying to quit smoking or how it’s cheaper to outsource toy-making instead of using elves.  Definitely warms the heart of this girl.

I briefly considered forgetting about my planned trip to Colorado in September.  That made me more sad than missing Christmas, so back to the drawing board I went.  Then I remembered that there are these modern inventions called phones and postage (so cutting edge, that postage!).  Santa and I can still correspond.  My armadillo slippers are safely tucked away in my house, so that’s a go.  And I conquered the traditional Christmas stollen recipe last year.

Nothing to fear.  This year’s holiday season will be about getting to the post office in time to mail presents to Colorado, about celebrating the birth of Christ in my own lovely church, about enjoying my favorite canine friend, and about creating new traditions.  There will be gallons of warm apple cider consumed, an embarrassing number of Christmas movies watched, and possibly a mini adventure on Christmas day.  Feeling good about Christmas in Virginia, and now we return to our regularly scheduled program (also known as “It’s really hot outside!”).

Show and Tell

Mountains are pretty awesome, and my niece is pretty cute.  That’s my thesis.  Here is my first piece of evidence:

That’s great, right?  But not as adorable as this:

If you have a niece who’s that cute and that sad, you naturally want to help.  I thought that sitting with her and chatting might do the trick.

I was obviously wrong.  Companionable silence didn’t work, either.

And a good while later, I settled on the whole misery-loves-company thing and put on my best “Yeah, this stinks!” face.  She’s way better at that look than I am.  On the bright side, she loves stuffed animals and taking rib bones to show and tell.  We’ll get on famously as soon as I stop trying to get pictures of her.

After that blow to the self-esteem, I consoled myself by taking a picture of my shoes.

Turns out that I’m a lot easier to entertain than a tired 7 year-old.


Long Drives, Weddings, and Other Things

Okay, I’m back from my giant vacation, also known as 3 days off.  Unfortunately for you, there were about a trillion small things going through my head on the trip.  I’ll try to keep the random thoughts to a minimum.  The one-sentence summary is that mountains and corn fields still make me happy, I still stink at taking pictures, and my brother is (still) a happily married man.

A large part of the time was taken up with driving to and from the mountains, and the drive traced the last four years of my life pretty well.  I-40 W takes you from the Chapel Hill area (2007-2008) to Winston-Salem (2006-2007) to Asheville (small trips from around 1987 to this week) in a few short hours.  It basically served as a modern version of memory lane.  And as the drive wound to a close and I went through the tunnel into Norfolk, I realized that it was kind of freeing to see those places and feel totally content with where I am now.  It’s easy to question if you took the right steps in life, and it’s nice to see that the choices that seemed crazy a few years ago weren’t so insane after all.

And speaking of the big picture, it was wonderful to see my brother and his wife recite their vows to one another.  I thought that since they were already legally married, that part of the ceremony might not seem as meaningful as it would the first time around.  I was totally wrong.  Watching them promise to love each other and be faithful, etc. for the rest of their lives was still a very big deal.