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.

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

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

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And some of them did super cute things like this:

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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.

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Giving Thanks

Peanut gave thanks last night for his holiday leftovers. Personally, I love his manic, “I just got a turkey bone” face. It looks like he got away with something he doesn’t want us to know about. Even though Scott handed him his prize, and I was happily documenting.

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Return to the Land of Books

Sometime in the past few years, I forgot what it’s like to work in a library.  You’re constantly (or semi-constantly) helping people find books or making lists of books or sorting through new books.  So if you’re someone who likes to read, it’s natural that you’ll find at least one book a day that you want to read.

Can you read a book a day?  Because I can’t.

Which means that every day, my reading list gets less reasonable.  In a week, I will have picked out more books than I can read in the next five years.  Approximately.  It also means that I can bring home books any old time.  Today’s choices were an assortment of gardening books for Scott and for me.

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I bet you can pick which books are for which person.  Except that there’s a curveball in the stack.  Outwitting Deer is for all three of us (Peanut being the third).  He needs to learn how to lure the deer to our house so we can have endless venison in our freezer, even if Scott is doing well on that front by himself.  Peanut could always learn some new deer luring skills.

If that isn’t enough reading for the night, the retail industry was thoughtful enough to mail us seven catalogs today.  Seven!  I love a good catalog, but seven seems excessive to me.
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It is a helpful reminder that we’re supposed to get our shopping lists together within 24 hours of Thanksgiving OR ELSE.  First come the turkey and parades and football (and thanks!).  Then the mild list-induced panic.  Then Christmas Eve, which is my favorite.

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.

Weekend Decompression

Okay, it was a big weekend.  For one thing, it was four and a half days long.  For another, it involved meeting lots of new (to me) people and going to lots of new (to me) places.

“Good” would be an understatement for the weekend as a whole, but I haven’t had a chance to mentally sort through everything yet.  At the moment, I’m drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper, eating a York Peppermint Pattie, and answering tech questions for folks at work.  That’s about all my brain can handle until tomorrow.

That happens to you sometimes, right?  (Please say yes.  It’ll make me feel better.)  Your brain can soak in whatever is going on, but it takes its time organizing that information.  Until all of that mental filing takes place and a story or two can be formulated about the weekend, here are some of the things that happened:

  • There was a football game in which the team I was cheering for soundly trampled the other team.
  • There was a hike that involved me making it to the top of the mountain (it’s been a losing streak on that front for the past few years).
  • There was a delicious Thanksgiving meal that seemed to have endless leftovers, which was a good thing.
  • I discovered that flavored creamers are in fact amazing, and my addiction to diet soda could be at an end.  You can ignore that reference to Diet Dr. Pepper earlier.
  • I ate what might be the best doughnut I’ve ever had.  Further proof will be required to verify that claim against Krispy Kreme.
  • There were mountain views out the wazoo, complete with crisp air, burning firewood smells, and sunsets and such.
  • There were awesome people.

The people part was important.  It was a trip to hometown de boyfriend, after all, so he and his friends and family played a big role in the weekend.  I’m hopefully going to refrain from totally embarrassing said guy and will just say that it’s awesome to get to know somebody beyond the basic information that you gather about so many people.  All of those stories about when they were little kids and that one embarrassing thing they did at such and such a time.  I like those things a lot.  If Great Aunt Lou is telling stories about you and you want to cringe, just be happy for whoever else is around to hear.  They’re having a great time.

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.