Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

Yesterday was quiet and calm, with gorgeous fall weather and near-perfect temperatures. It's been one of the nicest Thanksgivings I can remember.

We had lots of good food.  I worked on it at a relaxed pace throughout the day, cleaning up after myself as I went. It barely felt like work. I even took a nap while the turkey roasted.

The dogs got plenty of warm roast turkey with their supper, and we all went for a good walk after eating.

There's a ton of leftovers. I had a turkey sandwich for breakfast and we'll be eating the same exact meal as last night for dinner tonight. My homemade cornbread dressing was SO GOOD. Grandma would have been proud of me.

Today should be nice. The doctors' offices where Gregg is due to go service aquariums today are closed for the holiday so he gets a second day a row, no less! That's highly unusual for him and I'm glad he has some free time to spend at home for once.

Enjoy the day, my friends!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

First day of fall break

I woke up at 6:45am this morning with pink light streaming in my bedroom window. The sky looked so pretty that I immediately got out of bed and snapped a photo from the front porch.

It's good to be on fall break, finally. Thanksgiving falls really late this year. Once we go back to school on Monday there's just three weeks left until Christmas break will be upon us.

Today has been nice. I drank several cups of coffee on the porch first thing and watched the progress next door. The house beside us that's been for sale for some months now has finally been sold and the new owners are moving in. I saw a (probably) young woman out back with two dogs on leashes, but I haven't been able to get a real sense of what these new neighbors are like yet. I went out to do some shopping today and picked up a box of assorted cookies from one of the local bakeries, and Gregg brought home a package of dog treats from the pet store. I plan to take them over tomorrow as a little "welcome to the neighborhood" gift. I do hope they're decent people; we're doing what we can to get off on the right foot with them. The jerk behind us is plenty as far as bad neighbors go! Wish us luck.

While I was out today I stopped at a garden center/gift shop to have a look at their year-round Christmas items for sale. Nothing I saw inside was of much interest to me but I enjoyed walking around the outside and looking at the plants for sale.

We still have a lot of color left in the trees around here, as you can see.

Oh! And Gregg's birthday picture is framed and hanging on our wall. I picked it up last night on my way home from work:

Tonight he's working late like he usually does on Wednesdays, but once he gets home it will offically be a holiday! I'm having wine while beginning to prep some of the food for tomorrow's meal. We'll be having roast turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing, cranberry mandarin orange walnut salad (the recipe I invented years ago), deviled eggs (I cheated and bought the pre-boiled eggs for convenience sake!) and canned corn and green beans. For dessert I'll be making some sort of apple dessert from scratch, most likely a crisp. Tonight I'll salt and season the turkey, make the cranberry salad, and bake a batch of cornbread for the dressing so that tomorrow our meal will be fairly easy to pull together. With a 16 pound bird we'll probably be eating turkey until Christmas....I'll have to be creative with leftovers!

And tonight makes 12 years that we've had our sweet girl, our Gingerbread. She showed up on our back porch the night before Thanksgiving in 2007.

Image may contain: dog
Puppy Ginger....Thanksgiving Day 2007.
 My sweet girl!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog friends here in the USA! I hope you all are surrounded by good food, good company, and lots of love tomorrow.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Busy Sunday

It's Sunday night again. Today was pretty standard: household chores, laundry, shopping. I tried to do a little extra this weekend because it's almost a holiday! My upcoming work week is only two days long and I want to go into it with a (mostly) clean house.

Thanksgiving is going to be a double anniversary in this house. First, Ginger showed up on our back porch the night before Thanksgiving 12 years ago. That's the anniversary of her adopting us! Then last year we moved into the new house on Thanksgiving was the first night we spent here. So Thanksgiving is a double homecoming in this family!

I bought the smallest whole turkey I could find at Food Lion. It's just over 16 pounds, which is a lot for two people, but the dogs will get their share. Plus, I can make turkey pot pie and turkey noodle soup with leftovers. Gregg's favorite way to eat it is in sandwiches. I prefer it in slices, served over cornbread dressing with a generous pool of gravy on top and a dollop of homemade cranberry sauce on the side. I'm planning to attempt cornbread dressing the way I remember my grandma making it. If it turns out well I'll share the recipe here.

(And yes, where I come from we call it "dressing" and not "stuffing". We bake it in a pan rather than stuffing it in the bird. It's my favorite Thanksgiving recipe).

I made a list of everything I'll be serving at the Christmas book club party and, in an effort to be frugal, started shopping the Thanksgiving sales for non perishable food items. So now I have a jump start on that, too. I've been busy this weekend.

Speaking of being busy, I always think about Ms. Moon cleaning her house and it smelling like "Fabuloso and vinegar" when she's done. I've wondered what that smells like, and then yesterday at the grocery store I found this:

Yay! I was looking for something to mop the kitchen with so I bought it. So now MY house smells of Fabuloso (without the vinegar)!  :)  I didn't realize until I mixed it with water that it's lavender scented. I don't care much for the scent of lavender and I doubt that's the kind Mary uses. Oh well. It smells okay.

I'm off to start our dinner (pork chops) and dessert (apple crisp). Have a good evening or morning, my friends!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Ready for a break

Thanksgiving break can't get here fast enough. We haven't had an extra day off from school since Labor Day and everyone's nerves seem to be frazzled. Even the kids.

My friend little P. woke up on Monday morning thinking that this was the week we get out for the holiday. His mama told him no, there's a full week of school left before that. She reports that at first he got mad, and she had to pull out a calendar to show him he was wrong...…..and then when he saw it was true he was so disappointed he cried. Poor little guy.

I know just how he feels.

The days start to drag right before a break. The discipline referrals have spiked sharply since last week, and there seem to be multiple tearful trips to the guidance counselors' offices by students each day. This morning, two 12 year old girls got in such a vicious fight that it took the principal, one of the assistant principals, the security guard, and a teacher to break it  up, and even when they dragged them apart the girls were still throwing punches and cursing. The teacher got hit in the head, and the assistant principal told me later, "If I'm going to break up fights like that, I need to start going to the gym again! I nearly got kicked in the head!" Later on another two girls got in a fight at lunch. Right now I'm averaging about 15-20 discipline referrals a day which is crazy high.

I don't know if it's the colder weather, or the approaching holidays, or what, but I've noticed a lot of acting out among our poorer kids these days. A handful of them are in foster care (getting shuffled around constantly) or living in residential group homes, and a sizeable percentage of our students get regular welfare checks by DSS caseworkers, which means they've lived with abuse or neglect. It's no wonder that some of them act out so much, but it seems to always get worse as any break approaches. I imagine lots of these kids aren't looking forward to the break (if their home situations are bad) but it should cool things down some.

We'll be staying home for Thanksgiving. We talked a little about the possibility of going camping, but neither of us got too excited at the idea. Since I'll be hosting my book club's Christmas party just over two weeks later I plan to put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house that weekend. One less thing to worry about as I prepare for the party, you know? My mom invited us to eat Thanksgiving dinner with her and my dad, but my cousin and her husband will be there and I don't like them very much. I feel guilty about that, because my parents have become very close to this branch of the family in the last decade or so, but I just can't stand anything other than the very minimum of contact with them. My mom knows this. We keep up the polite fiction that I'm always "busy" when they invite us to do things that include my cousins.....which these days, means pretty much all holidays and special occasions. My parents make plans with them first and then invite us as an afterthought. Which is why I don't feel but so guilty turning them down. I'll cook something Gregg and I will enjoy and we'll simply spend the day at home together, stress free. That's something to be thankful for!

And the 5 day break from school is going to be wonderful!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The devil in the pantry

Somebody kept flying into the pantry every time I opened the door to take out an ingredient for our dinner tonight. And refused (refused!) to come back out.

Image may contain: bird and indoor
He was after the walnuts and prepared to fight me for them.
Image may contain: bird and indoor

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Just another Sunday night

It's been another lazy Sunday. Beyond a couple loads of laundry, tidying the kitchen, and taking out the garbage I haven't been very productive at all. I did finish The Gargoyle this morning. I really, really enjoyed it and hated for it to end--now I'm between books again and looking for the next good one. I also took a short nap this afternoon. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday even if I didn't accomplish as much housework as I'd like. It's not like it's going anywhere, right?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon making spaghetti sauce from scratch, and so tonight there won't be any need to cook dinner. Since we're eating leftovers I plan to make up a batch of apple walnut muffins for snacks this week. I've been baking lots of muffins lately. A boy at school saw me give one to the counselor's little son (Little P.) one time and asked for one. Now he regularly stops by my desk, in the morning or at lunchtime or in the afternoon while waiting on his bus to arrive to ask, "Mrs. Barlow, do you have any snacks?" He's so excited when I occasionally have something to give him. I was on a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin kick for a while and he loved those. He would stop by randomly almost every day and say, "Mrs. Barlow I sure love those pumpkin muffins you make!They're so good! Please make more soon, okay?" The little flatterer! He knows just what to say to ensure a steady stream of baked goodies. I always tell him, "Don't you tell any of your classmates that I gave you these" under my breath which delights him. Honestly, I think the attention means as much to him (or more) than the treats. As the school secretary pointed out, "He probably doesn't get homemade desserts at home." His dad is (I think) a single father, a working class guy that probably feeds Ethan a steady diet of microwaveable or take out food. He's a good boy, and I enjoy his little trips to see me throughout the day and the way he'll immediately scarf down whatever I bring and exclaim it's the best thing ever. So tomorrow he's getting some apple cinnamon muffins.

Season three of The Crown has dropped on Netflix! I'm really excited. I'm holding off on starting it until Gregg gets home from work tonight. I'm a little sad that new actors have replaced Matt Smith and Clare Foy, both of whom I thought were excellent as Prince Philip and the young Queen Elizabeth.

Tonight doesn't feel too bad for a Sunday night. Maybe it's the thought that this week is our last full week before Thanksgiving break. We'll have Wednesday through Sunday off and I'm beyond ready.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Cold and dark

It's cold here on the East Coast this week.

Last night the temperature dropped to 27 degrees (-2.7 for all you Celsius folk out there) after a day of rain and high winds. The wind chill was in the teens when I woke up this morning. Today the high was only about 10 degrees above freezing, and tonight is going to be just as frigid as last night. This kind of cold is highly unusual this early in the year.

I don't mind the cold; in fact, I kind of like it. I run on the warmer side naturally anyway, and with plenty of extra weight padding my body, too, freezing weather just isn't that big of a deal. I lit the fireplace this morning for the first time this year, reviving last winter's habit of drinking my morning coffee by the fire. That was kind of nice. I just hope the weather is this cold the week before Christmas, when I'm hosting my book club's holiday meeting/party. I'd like to be able to turn on the fireplace for picturesque effect, and serve pretty mulled wine to drink.

Last year's mulled wine.

What I'm not liking right now are these short days. I can't wait to pass the solstice so that the days will slowly start to lengthen again. This is the part of winter I dread each year.

Speaking of dark, I'm reading The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. The first 50 pages or so are very disturbing, but I couldn't put it down. I'm about a quarter of the way through now and it's fascinating, but still very dark.

What's the weather like where you are?  Are you reading anything good to pass the time on these long, dark, cold nights?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A low-key birthday weekend

Yesterday was Gregg's birthday, and to my surprise he took the day off work. He almost never does that, but the manager of the pet store found out it was his birthday and told him he should--so he did. I was so glad. He never gets much time off. We spent the day at home, which is what he wanted to do. I grilled a couple of nice bacon wrapped steaks with onions and mushrooms for our dinner. Since we had leftover apple pie last night, I waited until today to bake his birthday cake. It's pineapple-upside down.

Image may contain: food

I'm also baking some chocolate chip pumpkin muffins since the oven is hot. Those will be for snacks this week.

The painting I'm having framed for him won't be ready for almost three weeks! I didn't realize it would take so long, but he's happy to wait. We're both pretty excited about it.

I couldn't figure out how to rotate the photo so you'll have to look at it sideways to get a better idea of it. I think the mat and frame I chose for it will look good....I hope so.

I was disappointed in our families yesterday. No one called or texted Gregg for his birthday. No one on either side makes much of an effort, as much as it pains me to say so. Oh well. We have each other, right? I love that man to bits, and I told him so several times.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Is it just me, or is the latest time change a real downer? I wish we'd just leave the time alone, one way or another, because I always have trouble adjusting when DST begins and ends. Monday I came home from work, decided to take a "quick nap" at about 6:45 (I was feeling wiped out from a stressful day and the early darkness) and ended up sleeping 11 hours! I didn't feel particularly well rested the next day, either. I'm not sure if it's the time change or the flu shot I got late last week, but I've been feeling really.....meh.....since the November began.

I've got to try to perk up before the weekend, though. Saturday is Gregg's birthday and I want things to be festive for him. I'm planning to take a piece of art that's dear to him to be matted and framed for his gift. It was painted by a sweet elderly lady he had a long friendship with before she passed away several years ago. Her name was Margaret and she gave him three or four of her paintings when he admired her work. We're slowly getting them all nicely framed and displayed in our home. It makes Gregg happy when he sees them, because they remind him of Margaret. She was a sweet, sweet lady.

This is one of her paintings hanging in our kitchen. I discovered that it's
 not possible to get a good snapshot of it thanks to the reflection of the lights. 

As per usual when Gregg's birthday rolls around, I'll cook a nice meal and special dessert, and we'll stay home. He's the kind of man who never, ever wants to go out. He's a true introvert, yet his job(s) require him to be out in the public and dealing with strangers and semi strangers every day. When he's off, he wants to be at home; and so of course on his birthday we do whatever he's happiest with.

Speaking of this weekend, it's supposed to be really cold--down to freezing--for the first time this year. I don't mind that part of winter. Maybe some of the huge flying "Palmetto Bugs" (aka, Monster Roaches) will go away. They're really bad out here because we're very close to a creek, and one of the first things we did when we bought this place was get a contract with a pest control service for quarterly preventative treatments. I can't stand a roach. Our guy keeps the fire ants at bay, too. (That's another evil that's best avoided altogether.)

How's the start of the month (and the time change) been for you? I'd love to hear about it, particularly if you're like me and the onset of winter makes you want to eat yourself into a semi-coma, eschew most humans contact, and hibernate in the house with Netflix and a warm, comfortable bed. And maybe a book, of course.