Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving (NaNoWriMo) Tanka

(Technically, it's not a tanka, but I'm borrowing the syllable format.)

We gather around
The table that's filled with food.
I've been working on
A NaNoWriMo novel.
I have so little free time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I am Thankful for Grocery Stores

We just had our new kitchen  countertops installed yesterday, which means no longer any difficulties cooking in the  kitchen! Whooo! Well, mostly. The sink is in, but the faucet isn't hooked up yet. 

Speaking of the sink, since the installers had to cut a hole in the countertop for the sink, they used that spare piece to make us two cutting boards. They also said that if they need to make repairs to the counter surface, they can use the cutting boards rather than order a new piece (do not ask me how this works). Neat!

Tonight will be my first night cooking with countertops, but since I am also writing a novel for NaNoWriMo, I can't devote a lot of time to cooking, so I grabbed some quick and easy dishes from Trader Joe's, coq au vin and corn pudding, which I think is new for Thanksgiving. Which brings me to the title of this post...

I am so grateful that grocery stores make a big deal out of Thanksgiving. Especially places like Trader Joe's because they come up with crazy things like turkey stuffing flavored potato chips, which I bought but have yet to try. A few years ago they came out with a seasonal sandwich wrap that is basically Thanksgiving dinner in a tortilla that I absolutely love. Chunks of turkey breast, stuffing, and I think it's a cranberry cream cheese. I had one for lunch today and grabbed another for lunch on Saturday (or sooner). I have mixed feelings about Trader Joe's as a company, but I do love their food and innovation. Even when it's godawful like the salmon jerky. (Vomit.)

There are a few Christmas and Yule treats in the store already, but it is very much Thanksgiving, not Christmas that rules. At my gift store job, it became Christmas on October 26th when they made me pack up Halloween. (And boy, did I hear about it from the customers. A customer today stopped in their tracks upon entering and said, "Whoa! It is Christmas!" And not in a happy kind of way.) At the bookstore job, we have some ornaments and some cards, but one of the front window displays is dressed for Hanukkah. Also, the ornaments aren't really Christian (the Virgin of Guadalupe is technically Christian, but Ganesh is definitely not, nor is a menorah). 

So thank you, grocery stores for keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving alive! Christmas is one day, people, not two months, thank you very much.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Samhain Blessings! In Our New Home

It only seemed natural for Greg and me to have our house-warming on Halloween. I've been working 8 days a week (no, that is not a Beatles joke) at my hourly jobs and all off-hours on my Journal columns. Greg has mostly been on 6 day weeks in preparation for the Christian Holy-Money-Day that kicks off (officially for his job) today. But we were determined to have guests for Samhain, so we worked hard the last few weeks to clear the living room and make the kitchen usable enough to prepare a feast!

Since Halloween fell on a Saturday this year and I work a full shift on Saturdays, it was blessed luck that gave me the day before off. After sleeping a full 12 hours, I got to work in the kitchen. I usually suffer from insomnia, so this shows just how exhausted I've been, but this is my all-time favorite holiday, and our first gathering in our home. I wanted to make it a good one!

The menu:

  • deviled eggs (flavored with African smoke spices from Trader Joe's and garlic)
  • white chicken chili
  • vegetarian chili (I highly recommend this recipe)
  • pumpkin bread (Trader Joe's boxed mix)
  • pumpkin bars with chocolate chips (also from Trader Joe's mix)
  • mini corn muffins
  • party mix
  • sliced apples
  • roasted pumpkin seeds
And that was just what I made (Greg helped on the chili). We also had pumpkin biscotti (Trader Joe's), chips and dips brought by friends, BBQ beef smokies also brought by friends, a vegetable tray with hummus, pop, beer, cider, a sangria that Greg made from an apple mead he also made, and pretzel monster fingers made by our first overnight houseguest Robin! (She was our first overnight houseguest at our last apartment, too, because she drives all the way across the state to see us.)

Did I miss anything? 

We had treats for trick-or-treaters, too, and passed out almost all of them. This year, I participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project, so I had skull erasers and mini Play-Doh containers in addition to little bags of mini Oreos, Swedish fish, and Sour Patch Kids, which are also largely allergy-friendly, depending on the allergy. The Play-Doh was a big hit! I'm definitely doing that again next year!

We ended up with a lot of leftovers, as expected, so we're hosting Game Night tonight, as well. I hope I am not jinxing anything when I say this was a great Samhain weekend. We even (mostly accidentally) left out a Crock-Pot of cider by the new fire pit that Greg bought, so the fairies are probably pretty happy with us, too.

Have a blessed season, everyone!