Sunday, November 25, 2007


Sunday evening...long weekend almost over. Of course, I would love a few more days, but the time off has been good.

Wednesday I picked up my mother at her place in Lakeville and brought her to our place to join our Thanksgiving celebration. Since my mom is my children's only living grandparent (and always has been), my kids LOVE having grandma here on the holidays. But since she has 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren Grandma is in great demand. We were thrilled to have my mom here!

This is the first holiday meal that I have fixed in our St. Paul home. Meal prep got underway on Wednesday, as my mom and I started making a few side dishes and pies! My mom bakes great pies and my goal in recent years has been to pay closer attention to the pie baking process. It's all about the crust...and my mom's crust is outstanding. We made two pumpkin pies and a blueberry. I made the crust for the blueberry and it wasn't bad. I think I'm ready to go solo (although I think my kids will always prefer "grandma's pies"... perhaps some day I will have grandchildren will swoon over my pies).

We broke tradition and had our Thanksgiving meal in the evening. That gave me the whole day to continue prep. I thought I would be able to sleep in, but instead I was up at 6:30 am and baking cookies at 7. I made my date-filled cookies, a.k.a "once a year" cookies--they are so labor-intensive that I usually make them no more than once a year. If my daughter didn't love them so much, I probably wouldn't make them that often.

The Thanksgiving meal is probably one of my favorite holiday traditions. It's a huge meal to prepare, but I can't really imagine going out to eat at a restaurant or being somewhere other than home. It was a nice first Thanksgiving here...the table looked beautiful with a red tablecloth and our fiestaware (I should have taken a picture). The food turned out great. The stuffing, gravy, turkey...all turned out well. The only thing that really went wrong was the cat walking across the pies...they were on the counter...thankfully with towels over they were smooshed in a few places, but still edible!

I fell into bed Thursday night, very full and very tired. No major shopping plans for me on Friday. All I did was stop at Target after taking my son home. I did hit a mall on Saturday and I can say that I would just as soon skip major mall shopping until the holidays are over.

The rest of the weekend has included eating leftovers (lots of leftovers with a 22 lb turkey), some crafting/painting, and yes, today some shopping at some smaller stores--mostly to buy craft supplies for gifts I plan to make.

May the countdown to Christmas begin...

Monday, November 19, 2007


The entrance to Macy's (or Dayton's, as I still call it) 8th Floor Holiday display.

This year's display is the Nutcracker story.

Joel with his daughter, Bree.

I'll be busy the next few days with Thanksgiving preparations, but I was told I need to post a new blog entry. So I thought I would throw up some pics from our trip to the "Dayton's" 8th floor display. (For those who do not know the history, Dayton's initiated the tradition of the 8th floor holiday display in their downtown Mpls store some 45 years ago. Wisely, Macy's has decided to continue the tradition.)

Joel and I took his daughter to the display on November 10th, just a day after it opened. Most people don't realize it opens so early...but that's really the time to go--the crowds are so much smaller.

It was a wonderful show. I'll be going again this year--it's a tradition that my daughter still indulges me in.

The show is also a great way to ignite a little holiday spirit. We followed our two trips through the Nutcracker with a trip to the 4th floor to check out the holiday decorations. All the Santas got me excited about bringing out my Santa display (which I did this past Saturday...more on that later)

I'm looking forward to Joel and mine first holiday season together in our home. I love decorating and cooking for the I'll be sure to share some of that fun in the weeks to come.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The 14-place servings of fiestaware we use every day. I love that I can store it on an open shelf.

A close-up view. Our colors: tangerine, scarlet, cobalt blue, peacock (turquoise), heather, plum, and cinnabar. There's a few stray yellow pieces we picked up when we couldn't resist a great clearance price!

I'm sharing some photos of our ever-growing Fiestaware collection. We have 14 place settings (in 7 colors) and assorted other pieces. On Halloween, Joel and I went shopping at Macy's (we had a coupon that was about to expire!) and added a few pieces to our collection--the 3 bowls pictured below, along with a few other items. I have to admit I was on a fiestaware high when we found the pedestal bowl for $3.

I know, they are only dishes. But the fiestaware represents much more than just dishes to me. Like any soon-to-be bride, once Joel proposed to me I started dreaming about what our home would be like. I was anxious for the day when we wouldn't be shuffling between our two homes, but living together in one. Obviously, we had both accumulated many personal items during the years and the challenge would be combining our two households. But I also felt it was important that we start our life together with some new things, not just all the stuff from our past.

What better way than with new dinnerware that we would use on a daily basis? Cooking, eating together...those were the things I was looking forward to. Neither one of us owned a wonderful set of dinnerware (no offense, hon!). I was more than willing to pass on my old stuff to my kids.

My heart was soon set on Fiestaware. Fiestaware is classic; it's simple and durable, will be around forever (sort of like us, right?). It offers lots of color choices that you can mix and match...and I love color.

Joel, being the smart man he is (he proposed to me, right?), agreed to the fiestaware idea and soon we were stopping at fiestaware displays, discussing colors... Joel surprised me with something like 12-place settings for Christmas last year. I was thrilled. And even though it was hard, I let those dishes sit in their boxes in a corner of my bedroom until we moved in together.

Now we enjoy our fiestaware every day as we sit down to eat together. I love it.

Behold, the new bowls purchased on Halloween. This "treat" includes the deep purple pedestal bowl we purchased for $3 (a deep discount from the $32 original price). We also scored a butter dish and 4 ramekins.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Calico Beans

Calico Beans

1 lb hamburger
1 lb bacon
2 cans dark red kidney beans
1 large can of baked beans
1 can lima beans
1 can northern or butter beans
small can of tomato sauce or ketchup
brown sugar (1/2 cup or so)

Brown hamburger as you fry the bacon. After hamburger is browned, add all the beans, tomato sauce and brown sugar. Crumble fried bacon into beans. Simmer at low heat. Yum! Yum!

This is a favorite family dish that makes an appearance at every big family gathering. Full of protein and iron. (The only downside is that too many beans will make you toot--so avoid being downwind from your loved ones!)

Sunday, November 4, 2007


It's quite hard to get decent pictures of a black cat. Friday night I seized this opportunity. Squeakers climbed onto a pile of white tissue paper lying on the table. He seemed to like it there and I think he may have even thought that I had made a bed for him to lie on.

Squeakers has been in the family for 10+ years. He joined the family when Ana begged that we "save" this stray (we already had one cat and it has since become part of the story that he wasn't that much of a stray). He was given his name because of the squeaky noise he sometimes makes when you pick him up.

He has never really been a lap cat, but he's grown more affectionate with age (and now sometimes lays in my lap). He's become quite pampered in his old age; receiving special canned cat food each morn before anyone dares do anything else (or risk listening to his constant meows) and getting his water from a dripping bathtub faucet (turned on just so he can get fresh water).

It's a cat's life...meow.