There is a lot of menu planning, food shopping, and prep to do for Thanksgiving, even if you’re hosting a small group.
Now’s a good time to confess I hate dislike the term “Friendsgiving”. I feel it makes it seem less than, like a conciliatory celebration. We’ve been hosting friends, their friends, and their aunts since 1996, and it is no less a Thanksgiving than one spent with a family of origin. End of rant.
The real reason I am here today is as a public service announcement for the often forgotten tasks to do this week that will make your holiday less hectic.
Restock bulk herbs and spices. Beat the crowds in the bulk aisle by shopping during one of your lunch breaks this week.
Take those knives to get sharpened. You may have a ceramic sharpening doohickey at home, but nothing beats a professional sharpening.
Iron any table linens if you plan to use them.
Schedule grooming appointments for your dogs. Your guests will thank you. Just keep your fingers crossed they don’t get skunked between now and next Thursday.
Long before Instagram people have been documenting their travels and activities with souvenir photo portraits. Photo studios were hugely popular attractions at state fairs and carnivals. The photos were printed on penny postcards and mailed across the country to family and friends… the original selfie.
One of the most popular backdrops, and one I’ve been obsessed with for years, was the “paper moon” which was often a cut-out crescent moon set in front of a painted backdrop with stars. Lovers, friends, pets, and families were often perched on the curve of the moon for the photo.
I am particularly fond of the ones with pets… but you knew that. You can see more Paper Moon photos on my Pinterest board.
This is how our neighbor Julia began her sentences when she was making a point. She was usually pointing a finger at me too.
When we first bought our home we had a lot of work to do, we installed central air, pulled up carpeting, refinished the hardwoods and seemed to have a paintrush in my hand Friday-Sunday. We stayed in our rental in Austin for a month, and drove out here every night after work and on the weekends to work. I would leave work, go by and grab Roscoe and head out to the “new house”in Elgin. Our meals were mostly of the drive-thru variety.
One Sunday morning during that month Julia invited us to come by for lunch at noon. We cleaned ourselves up and head on over at noon. She had been cooking all morning for us. She’d made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, rolls, and chocolate pie. We were blown away at such hospitality and knew we’d made the right move to this small town. We love telling that story to people who wonder why the hell we moved from Austin to a small town who’s claim to fame is sausage and bricks.
While we were getting excited for our first Christmas in our new home, I’d noticed she had all the candied fruits and nuts to make fruit cake, but she’d recently taken a fall and said she wasn’t up to the task that year. I’d never made one so volunteered to help her. Once the fruit cake was baked, she covered it with cheesecloth and pulled a plastic wrapped bottle of Mogen David from her deep freeze, unscrewed the cap and drizzled it over the top. Julia was a good Baptist woman so I assume this bottle had been in her home since I graduated high school in 1983.
The next morning, I walked next door to give her the molasses I’d picked up for her at HEB, so she can make her rolls. Mind you she was moving in a week and was hell bent on baking rolls for her family’s holiday meals. She’d tried to substitute with the sorghum she had, but she said they tasted nasty. She told me that she started baking her rolls every October, and just put them up in the freezer until they came by to fetch her to spend the holidays with them. She was really sad that she wouldn’t be able to do this anymore.
Julia gave us the buffet that is now the work table in my print studio. She gave me her yarn tote too, though it fell apart years ago. She crocheted, she said it was her constant companion and reached for it beside her chair every night when she was watching TV, much the way I do with my knitting.
In September of 2007 Julia was beginning to pack up her to move into assisted living close to her son and his family. She was a few months shy of her 90th birthday and had been living alone since her husband Roscoe died in 1993. She was a pistol, and lived in that house since before ours was moved from San Marcos and plunked down next hers in 1950.
As we were getting closer to actually inhabiting each room of our home, and hanging artwork and family photos, Julia was next door taking hers down.
We miss her being next door, but luckily the new owners are great neighbors and renovating the old house to reveal its original beauty, they love it as much as Julia did.
I only wish I’d remembered to ask her for the recipe for those rolls…
News of of Robert Ballard’s recent efforts to find Amelia Earhart’s plane has spurred new interest in not only her disappearance, but her life. We all know her as the First Lady of Aviation, but did you know that she designed her own line of women’s clothing and luggage? The style icon, apparently traveled with her sewing box on flights too.
September is finally here! I realize it may be a while before the leaves start turning, but a girl can dream, can’t she? The light changes have been announcing September’s eventual arrival for weeks now.
I have been planning, designing, printing, stamping, and packaging new Bean & Noodle Printery letterpress cards and Potluck Tableware for the Holidays. It took me a while but finally understand the benefit of using these slow end of Summer days to get ready for Fall craft shows, retail, and my online shop.
For now, it’s still Summer and you may want to check out this genius recipe for Unripe Nectarine Slaw with Chile, Fennel, and Blue Cheese. If you’re like me and always I have rock hard peaches and plums waiting to ripen, this may be just the Hail Mary recipe you needed for a Labor Day cookout.
Keeping your cool during the dog days of Summer is challenging for sure. Some nights the idea of cooking in 100+ heat makes me want to cry. One of my favorite meals this time of year is a Peach Caprese Salad. Nothing too elaborate for this since it is also my go-to desk lunch.
Peach Caprese Salad (for one) 1 peach (sliced) A handful of cherry tomatoes (or 1 sliced tomato) 4-6 Oz. fresh mozzarella (sliced) Fresh basil leaves (just tear up as much as you like) A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil A drizzle of balsamic vinegar S & P to taste
Notes: There are no exact measurements here… simply tailor to your liking. Any stone fruit will do… even cherries. Oh, and arugula is nice if basil is not your thing.