Christmas Movie Fest

It’s official…time to start watching Christmas movies and specials. According to the Holiday TV guide distributed by WASH-FM, eleven Christmas programs were televised nationally yesterday and anyone interested in a holiday movie fest can spend every day until December 25th immersed in holiday programs.

ABC Family leads the way with holiday programming, but Lifetime, Hallmark, as well as ABC, CBS, and NBC all air numerous holiday specials.

Whether you prefer Frosty, Rudolph, or the Grinch you’ll find ample opportunities to satisfy your Christmas viewing appetite.

4663-national-lampoons-christmas-vacationMy favorite, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, appears on the schedule multiple times but I’ll have to search local listings for Elf and Miracle on 34th Street.

Check out the listings so you don’t miss your favorites!

Black Thursday Killing Thanksgiving

Last year I received a petition from Change.org asking me to help employees at Target. Since Target decided to push ahead their traditional Black Friday shopping, the stores plan to open at 8:00pm on Thanksgiving Day. The employee who started the petition asked for public support so she and other Target employees could spend the holiday with family.

Of course, if the store opens at 8:00, employees will report at least an hour or two earlier so if Thanksgiving dinner isn’t eaten by 3:00 or 4:00 an employee couldn’t possibly celebrate with family and going out of town is not be realistic. Wal-Mart made a similar announcement last year and their employees threatened to walk out.  Several other major retailers joined suit and as a result Thanksgiving changed from family holiday to just another shopping day.

Certainly some people must work on Thanksgiving. Hospitals and nursing homes can’t close for the holiday. Police officers, firefighters, and others charged with public safety need to be available. However, do grocery stores, malls, or other retail stores need to open on Thanksgiving? Isn’t 6:00am or 4:00am on Friday early enough for consumers to begin Christmas shopping?

Black Friday may be replaced by Black Thursday, but the word Black has a new meaning. Originally, Black referred the day retailers began to turn a profit and therefore get “in the black”. The new meaning signifies the death of Thanksgiving. My suggestion to those required to work in retail on Thanksgiving is to wear black to work that day or accessorize their uniform with black.

As for me, signing the petition last year was just the start. I avoided stores that were open on Thanksgiving Day throughout the holiday season, and I’m committed to not making holiday purchases at stores opened on Thanksgiving this year as well. It’s going to be quite a challenge though since so few stores are remaining closed this year.

Stores to avoid:

  • Walmart
  • Kmart
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Old Navy
  • Office Max
  • Staples
  • Toys “R” Us
  • Michael’s
  • Macy’s
  • J.C. Penney
  • Kohl’s
  • Best Buy

I’d like to think I can avoid these stores year round, but with so many on the list that will be difficult. I need to spend some time getting to know local small businesses. I don’t want to be responsible for the demise of an American holiday.

Time to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Day, a time to reflect thankfulness, also reminds me of the lame answer I gave Sarah last year at Thanksgiving when she asked me what I was thankful for. I said something like family, friends, a job, and good health…not very specific, but absolutely true. So, here’s my more thoughtful answer.

I’m thankful for my parents. To begin, I’m thankful they have been married for over 50 years, an accomplishment in which they take great pride. I believe their strong marriage has had a positive effect on my marriage as well. I’m also thankful both enjoy good health and independence. So few people my age are lucky enough to have both parents well and together…truly something to be thankful for.

Next, I’m thankful to be married to my best friend. There’s nothing better than traveling, talking, eating, and just hanging out with the person I most enjoy being with every day. Now that doesn’t mean every minute of every day is perfect, but being with someone who always makes me number one is pretty special. How many people have a partner who is thoughtful, considerate, funny, and a hard worker? And to think he’s spent his entire adult life surrounded by “girls”! That’s no easy task, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world. And finally, few women are fortunate enough to have a husband who loves HER family as much as she does – parents, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, as well as extended family. How thankful I am that my family is his family!IMG_0706

Of course, that brings me to the three of you. I’m thankful for each of you and for more reasons than I can count, but let me start by explaining what I’m thankful you’re not.

I’m thankful you just watch “Sixteen and Pregnant” instead of actually being sixteen and pregnant.

I’m thankful that you aren’t rude, obnoxious, or mean-spirited like Snookie or others on “The Jersey Shore”.

I’m thankful that you are Meghan, Emily, and Sarah instead of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. You may never make as much money as the Kardashians, but I’d much prefer daughters who are not self-centered, sleazy, backstabbing, spoiled brats.

I’m thankful you don’t wear clothing made of meat like Lady Gaga.

I’m thankful you’re not in and out of rehab like Britney or Lindsey or Paris.

I’m thankful you’re not suffering from eating disorders like the Olsen twins.

I am thankful you’ve avoided the desire to emulate the behavior of celebrities seen on television, movies, and featured in tabloids. Sure it would be great to have loads of money and everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but family and friends and good health…those are the things to dream of and to be thankful for.

I’m thankful you are healthy and have good sense, and the ability to avoid the crazy behavior popular in today’s society.

I’m thankful you want to spend time with family. It must be miserable to have a family that dreads holidays and spending time together, but that seems to be a common theme in many families.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to ask yourself, what are you thankful for?

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Mom

Originally published Thanksgiving, 2012 before I began sharing Mom’s Monday Memo so this may explain why some of the references seem a bit dated.

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 48

Back on track, one pound lighter, and just in time as I plan the next few days around food. The goal for the upcoming week…don’t go completely crazy overeating.

I’ll concentrate on three things:

  1. No soda! Don’t drink extra calories.
  2. No candy! Dessert – now that’s something else, but I can stop after one slice of pie or cake. Just stay away from the bags of candy and homemade fudge.
  3. Walk, walk, and walk some more! Walking off large meals is the only chance I have to keep from gaining weight this week.

I still need to lose two more pounds before the end of the year. Difficult…but not impossible.

I remember 30 years ago when pregnant with Meghan Dr. Webster scolded me during my December appointment for gaining six pounds since my last appointment the previous month. He reminded me that if I continued at that rate I’d gain an additional 30 pounds in the next five months. Then he admitted that he’d gained five pounds during the same period and that we’d both need to do better.

I’m not worried about gaining six pounds this month, but I’m also not optimistic that I’ll lose weight this week. I’ll be have with maintaining the status quo.  Happy eating and happy walking!

Ready for a walk!
Ready for a walk!

Stop and Smell the Stuffing

“Stop and smell the stuffing,” commands Kenan Thompson’s Mr. Senior character in an SNL skit in which he tries to stop people from rushing to celebrate Christmas and trampling over Thanksgiving.

As one who enjoys everything about fall and Thanksgiving, like Mr. Senior I’ve wanted to pull the plug on everything related to Christmas until I’ve had time to digest my turkey and pumpkin pie. No Christmas music. No stockings or nutcrackers hanging from street lights. No Salvation Army bell ringers with donation buckets posted outside stores. No ads with elves or Santa. No red and green. November means gold, orange, brown, pumpkins, Pilgrims, Indians, turkey, dressing, and football.

Even my Christmas cactus decided to bloom early. Maybe it’s confused by the Christmas tunes heard in commercials. I’ll have to protect it from the wrath of Mr. Senior for a couple of more days!

Donate Hurricane Supplies!

As you count your blessings and make Thanksgiving preparations remember to share your good fortune. An easy way to do this is by donating to a local food bank.

Many organizations are collecting for food pantries and I noticed today Publix is now asking customers to add a contribution to their purchase upon check out with the proceeds being distributed to local food banks. It can’t get much easier than that! And it only takes small contributions by many to make a difference.

In addition to making monetary contributions there are many opportunities to participate in food drives. One painless way to donate to a food drive: donate the canned goods you purchased in May or June in preparation for hurricane season.IMG_1376

The extra peanut butter, soup, spaghetti sauce, juice boxes, cereal, and canned foods make the perfect food bank contributions, and since this food’s been set aside for the hurricane that never materialized, when you donate it you’re not only sharing food but expressing your gratitude that you survived another hurricane season storm free.

Take a few minutes and clean out the food tucked away with your hurricane supplies and donate!

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Mom

 

 

Every Day is Thanksgiving Day

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

Every day is Thanksgiving Day

So much to be thankful for –

            So little to regret.

I give thanks for life itself.

            A touch from someone who loves me

            The joy I feel that is beyond my understanding

A burst of color across the western sky as a full moon rises in the east

Safe flights

Awareness of truth without knowledge

I have so much to be thankful for.

Wedding Planning? Evernote to the Rescue

A year ago I downloaded Evernote, the app that promises to help you remember everything, to my computer, iPad, and phone. And while I can’t say that I remembered everything, I stayed organized throughout the wedding planning process.

Evernote allows you to create notebooks and then save notes, pictures, receipts, email, websites, and ideas. I’ve created notebooks for gift ideas, travel, orders, and home inventory; but the wedding notebook’s the one that’s kept me sane.

So how does Evernote organize wedding planning? My Wedding notebook contains:

  • Forwarded emails relating to the wedding
  • Pictures of ideas for flowers, decorations, and wedding dresses
  • Recipes for food and drink
  • Receipts, receipts, receipts…a great way to keep track of expenses as well as phone numbers and addresses of vendors
  • Diagrams and directions for ceremony and reception setup

Ideas clipped and saved in Wedding notebook:

Best of all notes automatically sync between devices so I could access notes anywhere, anytime; and notes can be shared. All the advantages of paper notes and notebooks (which I love) but with added convenience since notes are always available and there’s no worry about losing papers or leaving the notebook at home on the kitchen table.

Planning a wedding or other big project? Evernote to the rescue!

For more ideas on how to use Evernote to plan a wedding check out “8 Ways to Plan a Wedding with Evernote”. Then start planning and start remembering everything.

 

How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Dinner

thanksgiving-turkey-dinnerIn November, 2009, Dad sent each of you a similar email with directions on how to prepare a Thanksgiving Dinner since Emily was living in New York and wouldn’t be with us for the holiday. Since he’s the cook in our family it makes sense that he sent this to you, but I thought it may be a good time for a reminder. Since we won’t be spending the holiday together this year, I thought I’d update his directions.

Shopping List (by the way Rachel Ray suggests you shop on today or tomorrow to avoid the mad rush)

  • turkey
  • disposable turkey roasting pan
  • green beans
  • bacon
  • can of chicken broth (maybe more)
  • can of cranberry sauce
  • potatoes
  • Bisquick
  • Stove Top stuffing
  • Dinner rolls
  • Dessert – Publix, Sams, and Mrs. Smith all make good pies if you don’t want to make dessert, but you don’t have to have pie if you’d prefer to make cupcakes, brownies, or cookies. This is your version of a Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Also check that you have foil, flour, butter, wine or other beverages. You don’t want to run out on Thursday to pick up other food.

Turkey

  • Begin defrosting in wrapper Wednesday morning under COLD water in the sink. Change water every hour.
  • Follow the cook time and temperature on the wrapper of the turkey. This is a good guide and is accurate.
  • Remove giblet package and neck from the cavity of the turkey. CHECK BOTH ENDS. Unhook the legs. Usually connected with a plastic or metal device.
  • Wash the surface of the turkey with water.
  • Place in roasting pan with breast side up and back down. Add can of broth and can of water.
  • Rub turkey with butter or margarine. Rub in salt and pepper.
  • Make a tent of two sheets of foil. Seal the seam by folding it over multiple times. Cover turkey and wrap around edges of pan.
  • Place in oven. TAKE out one rack place the remaining rack on the lowest setting.
  • Place giblets and neck in sauce pan with water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer as turkey cooks. Use this broth in the gravy or dumplings.
  • Cook and leave alone until 30 minutes prior to ending time. Remove foil. WARNING: Turkey will be gray looking, don’t worry. It will brown up over the final 30 minutes.
  • When done, the legs should look as if they are falling away from the breast. Turkey golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven. Carefully remove from the pan using several sturdy utensils and place on a cutting board to “rest” for at least 20 minutes, but you can wait up to an hour. This gives you time to get the rest of the meal ready.

Gravy

  • Mix a 1 1/2 cups of water with 3-4 heaping spoons of flour (not Bisquick).
  • Bring the juices and droppings from turkey pan to a boil in a large pan on the stove.
  • Have a large cup of water ready.
  • Mix in flour/ water mixture with boiling droppings. Reduce heat immediately. Add additional water as needed to thin gravy. Add more water/flour mix if it needs thickening.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Mashed potatoes (You’ll want to start the potatoes about an hour before the turkey is ready since you’ll need to peel them and give them time to cook and then mash.) If they’re ready a little early, place in a covered dish to keep warm. You can also make the potatoes much earlier in the day and then place them in a warm, buttered crock pot so you won’t have to make them at the last minute. If you do this, make sure you make the potatoes a little stiffer than usual since they  get softer in the crock pot.

  • Peel one potato per person (add a couple of extra to make sure you have plenty)
  • Cut potatoes into small pieces and place in large pan with enough water to cover potatoes. Add salt.
  • Cook on high (you may need to turn down to avoid boiling over) until potatoes are done. You can check by piercing with a fork which should easily slide out when cooked (or you can always do the taste test). It takes potatoes about 10 minutes to cook once the water begins to boil.
  • Strain potatoes and mash with butter and milk. You may also want to use sour cream or cream cheese if you want to make them a little more special.

Dumplings (You’ll need to start preparing about 15 minutes before removing turkey from the oven.)

  • 2 1/4 cups Bisquick
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Chicken or turkey stock made from the giblets.
  • Mix ingredients and then drop spoonfuls in the boiling broth. Lower neat to simmer for 10 minutes uncovered and then cover for an additional 10 minutes.

Green  Beans  (You can put these on any time after you start the turkey.)

  • Place two slices of bacon in pan.
  • Lightly brown.
  • Add beans and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer or turn off heat for hour.

Dressing (This can be done when you take the turkey out of the oven.)

  • Follow directions found on the Stove Top dressing package. The microwave directions are quick, easy, and work fine.

Cranberries

  • If using canned cranberries make sure you put them in the refrigerator when you put the turkey in the oven (or even earlier).

Rolls

  • Don’t forget to prepare them!

Carving the Turkey

  • Use an electric knife or good carving knife. Do not carve turkey at the table.
  • Begin by cutting off legs at the joint. Do this through the joint and not the bone.
  • Begin cutting the breast from top to bottom, starting by slicing nearest to the skin.
  • Eventually, you will have to begin cutting and picking at the dark meat of the thigh.
  • Cut a generous amount for dinner. Wrap the remaining part of the turkey with the foil tent and keep moist. Finish slicing after dinner.

And don’t forget dessert!

Of course, this is a basic Thanksgiving how-to. You may want to make more or different dishes, but this will get you started. You may want to add one new or special dish or ask guests to bring something so you don’t have to do all of the work yourself.

Good luck on your Thanksgiving dinner preparations!

 

 

“Life in the Fast Lane” – with Orthopaedic Shoes

IMG_1369Last night we celebrated the 66th birthday of Joe Walsh at the Eagles concert in Tampa. Great news: while now eligible for social security, the band still sounded terrific as they performed from 8:15-11:15 with only one short break.

Unfortunately, the Eagles’ fans don’t seem to have fared as well. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I didn’t expect to be one of the youngsters in the crowd. The Medicare set in attendance complete with orthopaedic shoes enjoyed every minute of the concert, including “Life in the Fast Lane”, but struggled to walk up the steep steps of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Something this older crowd had in common with the one at the Hotel California tour in 1978 – beer spilling. It seems drunk 20 somethings and wobbly sixty and seventy year olds both have difficulty squeezing through the row to their seat with a beer in hand, but what’s a concert without wearing a little beer?

The concert, dubbed, “History of the Eagles” taught the type of lesson that makes everyone a history buff. Starting with more mellow sounds like “Saturday Night” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and concluding with “Hotel California”, “Take It Easy”, and “Desperado”, the band’s hits provided memories from the past 40 years…unforgettable.

“Take it Easy” from the Eagles concert in Philadelphia in July.