You can cook a frozen turkey

Or: I still learn something new every day.

Yesterday went as planned, we had a delicious meal, everyone seemed happy to be there and together.

I planned to cook two turkeys and I did. The first one went like clockwork, in the oven at 4:30 am, out a little after 8.

The second one was still frozen solid! Both had been in the fridge since Friday. I guess I should have checked them the night before.

A quick check of the internet said it was OK to cook, just would take a lot longer, which it did. All day. Didn’t come out until after everyone had left!

So, we have leftovers!

But truthfully, it was better than the first, so tender it almost fell off the bones. Maybe next year I will get one large turkey instead of 2 small ones, and cook it from frozen… but maybe not, too.

And the first turkey provided plenty for the meal and some leftovers to send home with the family, too. Just not as much going out the door as we had hoped.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Getting ready

Hello!  I went AWOL again, so sorry!

I have been totally focused on getting things done,and dealing with deadlines, in work, home, and knitting.

The work pressure is never ending… but right now it is a big state grant that needs writing, to continue providing a great service that we do.  I don’t like writing state grants because the format feels very choppy to me.  Have to do it exactly as they say, and they are repetitious.  I never know if I can trust them to realize I already covered something, or if they want me to be equally repetitious. I go with repeating myself in case the thing is broken up into parts and the reviewers don’t have access to the prior info.  But i feel for them if they get the whole thing. This one got a lot more stress filled when the boss said to me that he learned there is at least one other organization bidding on our region.  Mind you, they are located 100 miles away, and that will go over like a lead balloon in teh region, but it might make sense to the state reviewers.  So it is on me to make a strong case.  UGH.  And never mind that they just released the answers to all teh questions we asked at the reviewers conference two months ago.  and that the whole things is due a week from tomorrow.  Do they not realize grant writers like holidays too?

So, I canceled vacation days scheduled for the early part of this week, but kept Friday off. I have big plans for Friday and Saturday, and I was not willing to let people down on account of work.  I will figure it out.

That leads me to the deadlines at home – Thursday we are hosting A’s family as always – there will be 7 of us we think.  I do the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, they bring whatever else they think we need, and it is always interesting to see what turns out to be. I think there will be dessert, if past years are anything to go by. so there is the cleaning and cooking and cleaning that are involved there.  

Then, niece E the younger is coming to stay on Friday, until Saturday morning.  She has been asking for this visit, because she wants me to teach her how to spin and weave and dye yarn. She has never been for a solo visit before, for a variety of reasons, and so this is a big deal! She is the only one of my nieces and nephew who has NOT been here for an overnight visit, and I am really looking forward to it.  I warned her that 24 hours is not long enough to learn all of that, but we will give it a shot.  As a result, we have to get the whole house cleaner, as opposed to just the downstairs for Thursday.   That is what the vacation days were for.  Luckily A is a good sport, and owes me for doing the household chores all summer while she worked… now she can do them while I work!

the knitting and crafting deadlines are almost all gone!  I knit a bzillion hats for the craft fair last week, as well as some ornaments.  Luckily a friend of mine is knitting gnomes like mad and I offered to sell them for her at the table, along with my SIL’s hand sewn teddy bears.  They both filled my table and made it look abundant, without me knitting a million more things.  And their things sold VERY well! I think we sold more than 30 gnomes and ten bears.  I sold one ornament, one pair of baby booties, and 4 hats.  So I am glad I didn’t make more than I did.

I also finished all the baby knitting for my friend, in just the nick of time.  I delivered the last thing – cactus blanket the day before she hopped on her flight to await the baby.  I was thrilled to be done with the pressure knitting.

Now I am working on three things – two knit alongs that I am behind on, and one pair of mitts that is a gift with no deadline. One KAL is the Japanese scarf one that i have been doing all year.  I am about halfway done with the last clue and the next and final one is due out this weekend. I will finish on time.  The other is a Patty Lyons knit along, the Volition sweater KAL.  I am pretty far behind on that, I can’t finish by the deadline looming in early December, but I will get the sweater done shortly after that, I am looking forward to having it this winter.  And I have other sweaters I want to cast on! Luckily, Patty has prizes for WIPs… 🙂

If you notice, I have no shawls on the needles!  I have them going in my head, though, and they will be my reward for finishing any of these things.  🙂

I also managed to clear off my bobbins and not start spinning anything else, in prep for E’s visit.  I have SO MUCH new fiber since i last spun, and I am tempted, but have resisted thus far.  I can spin after Saturday.

I also need to weave – I have a project on the loom that isn’t quite done, and I need to get that cleared off as well, so E can choose and execute her own project this weekend… I am sort of thinking I will get her spinning, the I will weave and get it finished.

Last weekend Whorls and Purls had a potluck and destash party, it is making me want to knit and spin and weave all the things!  The deal is this – gather up all your yarn and fleece, and fabric that you have and are ready to part with, and bring it to one location.  Dump it out on the table.  Everyone draws a number and we go around in order over and over until we can’t do it any more or there is nothing left that you want.  On your turn, you choose something from the table that you want.  I kept my word to A that I would not come home with more than I brought, in fact I came home with way less!  I also felt good that there was hardly anything left that I had brought when it all ended.  One of the group offered to gather up the unwanted things and take them to Good Will, so none of us brought home anything we didn’t want.  It was so much fun, and cleared things out AND gave me a bag full of new goodies to play with at some future date.  🙂

hmmmm… what else have I been doing and not telling you about?  A little sewing – I am making a skirt for myself.  I could have it done by now but for all that came before this… a little gardening – I got the garlic in at last.  Had to bust through an inch or so of frozen soil, but I am hopeful that it won;t matter too much in the end.

 

Had a knitting day with mom and my SIL D a few weeks ago, that was lots of fun, as always.

I think that is about it. Now I am off to read about what all of you have been up to!

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving thoughts

We had 9 for dinner yesterday. Not our biggest crowd ever, but a good size party.

Lots of conversation and fun.

I also enjoyed the quiet visits I had while I was getting ready.

I thought of my friend Jeff who gave us the magical extending table that seats us all – it has 5 leaves! We used to work together, and we had so much fun! When he got a new table, he gave us his old one. We love it, and are so glad to have it.

The dishes we used were from my grandmother, “Ma”, and the glasses were from the other grandmother, “Gram”. They had such different ideas about how one should live a life and entertain. I think I learned a lot from each of them and blended it all with what Mom taught me until I came up with how I live my life and entertain.

“Pa” (married to Ma, of course) stands with me as I sharpen the carving knife. I remember him with his sharpening steel and the big carving knife every year, those long smooth strokes, then perfectly carving the big birds Ma cooked. I am pretty sure he would have cringed if he saw what I did with the knife I sharpened on my little knife sharpening gizmo! I can get the meat off the bird, but it isn’t pretty!

Then there is my ex SIL, L, mother of nieces B and C the younger. Potato peeling is what brings her to mind. I always make too many mashed potatoes (except the year I baked them, and the reaction was so bad that I won’t do that again!) but I can’t beat L in the too much department. One year, early in their marriage, she and brother C hosted Thanksgiving in a cold, drafty-but-beautiful farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that they were renting. There were 5 of us for dinner. She made 20 pounds of potatoes!! She wanted to have enough. She nailed that! She also wanted to keep the stove going because it kept the house warm. I don’t remember being cold, but only how much fun we had, and how we all laughed at those potatoes. And still do.

My 1st stepmother,P, helps me get the gravy right. Stir, stir, stir forever. Longer than you want. Longer than your arm can stand. Just stand by the stove and stir while people move about you, move you to this side and that, while the meal gets itself ready to be eaten. When the gravy is ready, it’s time to eat!

It got quite crowded in the kitchen at times with all the present people and the past people, but that’s what makes it a good holiday celebration, isn’t it?

A month of news, with photos

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I got you caught up on what we are up to!  It has been a rather crazy month – bookended by holidays, filled with family visits and parties, a crazy amount of knitting for the holiday pop-up shop, shopping, and finally, vacation this week, and we both have nasty colds.  It never fails that when we make plans to get through big chores during vacation, someone’s health suffers.  Still, we have managed to get things done that need to be done, and so have time to just lie about and enjoy ill health.

This month has included thanksgiving and gingerbread house decorating:

 

Followed by some major furniture moving the next day.  This buffet is an immense solid piece that was my great, great grandmother’s.  It holds the many many dishes that my grandmother gave me over the years.  We hardly ever use any of them, because A is nervous about using the “good” china, but every now and then I break it out.  Thanksgiving is one of those times.  But I have never had it all out at once, as we had to do to move the buffet. It is a little overwhelming, all these dishes for two people.

moving the buffet 2

Oh, and these were in there as well.  Not the pumpkin, but everything else.  The white and gold dishes were another great-great grandmother’s, the clear glass ones were given to me on my 40th birthday by my mother’s aunt – a wedding gift to her in the thirties.

moving the buffet 1

With the buffet out of the way, we can move the table to the wall, which opens up the dining area quite a bit.  The table comes out far enough that the light is not a hazard to navigation.  It is easy to pull out when we need to fit more people around it.

 

moving the buffet after

Where did we put the buffet?  We moved it to the living room section of the room, against the big wall, behind where all those people were sitting at Thanksgiving.  The couch used to live there, but now lives across the room.

I took this picture before the move was finished, because I loved the shadows on the wall. The sun is so low, it shines in at that angle at about 2 pm. No leaves on the trees, the lines are so pretty.

shadows1

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Then it was time for the holiday pop-up shop in Bucksport, Creatively Maine to open.  The open house was the Sunday night after Thanksgiving – I too lots of photos, but that is because all of the crafts and arts were so amazing, but more than that – the fact that Sonja was able to take the work of 53 artists and in TWO days create this space from a plain white box.  So, here are some of the pictures I too that evening.  The neat thing is that every time I go in, it is different – as people buy things and stock gets replenished, she rearranges to fill gaps, and so it always looks fresh and amazing.  And in about two weeks it will all be gone, packed up and cleaned out.

open house 1open house 9open house 10open house 11

All of this jewelry is made with eggshells.  Yep, eggshells.  She raises chickens and one day got the idea of painting and dying the shells and making jewelry.  She does something to it so that it doesn’t break easily, and they are actually quite lovely.

open house 4open house 3

Here are some of my things – and some one else’s hats as well.  (The large black and white one did not stay on the little head very long, she switched it out the next day.  🙂 )

open house 2open house 6open house 5

You can see some of my shawls hanging on the rack in the background of this shot – I put three in the shop, including an Estonian lace one that had a (for me) high price tag on it. Funnily enough all were some shade of blue-green.  I kept all the other ones I knit this year, and parted sadly with these three.  🙂

open house 7open house 8want this

This window is on my “really want and don’t know what I would do with it” list.

open house 12

From my frame of reference, the shop has done really well.  I sold several hats, and two of the three shawls, including the Estonian lace one!  I also had a custom hat order from a guy who saw the TV coverage of the opening, spotted my hats in the background and came in to buy one.  He was disappointed to find that the one he wanted he had only seen from the back, and it was a woman’s hat.  So I knit him up one without the button flap and button.  🙂  There is still about ten days to go, but I expect the big sales will be done tonight when the shop closes. My yarn stash now has a bit of cash in it, which is good.  And I have a nice sized bag of yarn for making hats and shawls, which I will work on this year so that I have a bigger inventory ready to go and won’t have to spend every waking minute in October and November making hats.  🙂 Having the shawls sell well also feels really good – vindication – they are beautiful AND practical and people will buy them.  I’ll make more, and try to brace myself to part with them.

Onward….

We got our tree last week, and decorated it this week. A declared that anything we don’t put out for Christmas decorations this year is going out the door, so I kind of overdid the ornaments, lol.  I also decided she is wrong.  Anything that doesn’t get put out this year gets reviewed and possibly given away next year.  But not definitely.  I like to mix things up a bit.

 

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So that brings us up to date – the house is decorated, the presents are bought and wrapped, the Christmas cards were mailed Tuesday (just a BIT late!) and we are sitting around this Christmas Eve wondering if we will be well enough to go to Mom’s tomorrow for the big festivities… I think I will be, but not sure about A  which will mean my day there is abbreviated, as hers was last week for her family gathering.  That was different – I participated in the Yankee Swap by cell phone pix and text.  It was fun, but not the same.

But while we wait , sniffle, and hack, I can work on some deadline-free knitting –  I’ll finish this up, make a hat to match, then list it on Etsy.  THEN I will get back to the things I was making last September… 🙂

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And a post from me would not be complete without a few cat photos – Zumba has been particularly cute this month.  🙂 She loved checking out the bags that came in on Thanksgiving, they all smelled so good!

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She is finally growing hair on her belly – guess we solved her food allergies at last. She loves to stretch out and show it off in front of the fire.

cover girl

Happy Christmas to all!

post-Thanksgiving Friday list

holiday table

What’s that old advertising line?  “I can’t believe I ate the whoooooole thing”?

That’s us after the feasting holiday.  We had a nice group of family over – there were ten of us at the table.  My brother C brought along his new poppy – a German Shepherd about 10 weeks old, who is adorable.  She played hard before and after the meal, and slept quietly in the car while we ate ALL THAT FOOD.

holiday table from above

Here’s the table from above – before people and food, but of course, with my supervisor, Zumba.  She hid from the puppy all day, but was pleased when people looked for her and patted her.  She does love people!

So, today, we are low-key – tidying up, emptying the dishwasher and running it again.  Taking the leaves out of the table and putting it back where it belongs.  And I have to make some cookies and artichoke dip for the parties that will be happening Saturday and Sunday. Lots of family to see and places to go.

There will be lots of shoveling, too, since we did get a ton of snow Wednesday night. But the good news – although the satellite TV and internet went out for a while, we did NOT lose power. (We did lose it last Monday when it was just windy and rainy, so we can’t explain this but aren’t complaining!)  A shoveled the walk way, and the plow guy came, so we were able to have people get in and out safely, but we do have to dig out our cars, the propane tank, etc.

That’s it, I think.  Laundry, knitting, maybe a trip to the post office.  Most of the big chores are done, as A was home all week, and kept up with things. So, a nice quiet day at home, just digesting…thankfully.

Friday afternoon list

Sorry, gang, I am really late with the Friday list, aren’t I?

Since I did everything on the list already, I will just fill you in on how my day has been so far!

While yesterday was a day of traveling to brother N’s and overwhelming family and fabulous food, today was a quiet feast. I cooked the whole traditional Thanksgiving dinner on a small-scale for us and A’s 2 sisters. So – got up this morning, cooked the turkey, baked a few potatoes, made a green bean casserole and stuffing, set the table with Gram’s dishes and then we ate! Sisters brought dessert, and A did the cleanup – it is all eaten cleaned up, put away and we are sitting watching a recording of yesterday’s big parade.

holiday table

I love having the leftovers for supper tonight and all week-long… A isn’t into it like I am but she does appreciate the meal the first time, which is great.

Still recovering from a day with family yesterday – I love them all, but I often leave those huge gatherings feeling emotionally beat up – I can’t figure what that’s about, except that it is too easy to revert to old, established roles, no matter how hard I try not to, and don’t want to. It’s exhausting, I am so glad it only happens once or twice a year. It was good to see the kids though, as always – though of 1 nieces and nephews, we only saw three this holiday – not a great percentage!

But nieces C, N, and little E are all looking fabulous and growing up so much. C, in fact os totally grown up and has a “real” job, which makes everyone happy! SHe seems happy living at home, and her parents seem happy to have her, so she is a lucky young woman! Her little sister N is amazing – she is wearing her independence much more comfortably now than ever before – very sure of herself, where she wants to go in life, but she seems to have gotten to a place where she can enjoy the family gatherings, and answering the unending questions about her studies and job, future plans. Both girls were very graceful and welcoming hostesses yesterday. Little E (as opposed to big E, whom we did not get to see this year) is getting BIG – at 7, she is 50 inches tall, which her mom (Sister C) says puts her on track to be taller than C by age ten or eleven, and in the 5’10” range as an adult. So funny as mom and dad are both petite. E had a good day, not tantrums or accidents, she answered nicely when spoken to and asked lots of questions about people who weren’t there. She renamed the cranberry sauce “Slippery Berries” and she ate it in huge quantities, even chose it for her dessert over all the baked goods available to her. So she was the lucky person who went home with the spare pint of sauce, and I do believe she will get some for Christmas, since we have so much of it. 🙂

We were home and settled in with our cats all fed and played with by 7, which was nice, no late night!

I did start the chemo on my lips last night, so far OK – it doesn’t hurt, and while I do notice redness around the edges, no-one else noticed yet.

A and L put together a bag of gifts for me to open as I go through this – they had talked about it a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure they would do it – and S did a set of her own for me, so I get 2 per day! I opened one up this morning for yesterday’s dose, and I got a pair of wax lips from And and L (I suspect a theme with those two) and S gave me “craft coins”, a couple of dollar coins. She and I each struggle to make craft supplies part of our household budgets, so she knows I appreciate every yarn-stash dime.

Now we are relaxing, and thinking about what to do this weekend, while avoiding the madness that will be the stores in Bangor and Ellsworth. We think that the dump won’t be too crowded. 🙂

L will come back to work with A on their never-ending basement projects, and I will work on Christmas card assembly and go check out the new store in Bucksport – Davy Jones’ Locker. And we will all eat turkey! 🙂

Black friday

biggest shopping day of the year, and I am staying home. I think this day was meant to lay low, wash dishes, shovel snow, knit, make cards…anyone out there agree? I saw the mob scene at some mall in California on the news this morning. There is just no way I would go through that.Save money? I think it is worth the extra money to shop in peace on a different day! But I also think it is more fun to make my presents, not buy plastic stuff made in China.

So. A is coming along. Had a surgeon appointment on Wednesday – yes, we went out to Ellsworth in the middle of a snow storm – driving was slow but OK. Getting home again was a nightmare – used a whole box of cat litter to get up the driveway. Then there was figuring out how to get her in the house. Remember, last time was tough, and it was a nice day. So anyway, she got to the top of the porch, and hitched herself in on her butt… all the way to the living room. We got her up one the couch, where she rested for quite a while before we stood her up for the trip to bed. The good news is that the surgeon said the ankle looks fine, and gave her the boot cast. It is painful to get on, but it does protect her foot. In another month or so, she can put a little weight on it. Meanwhile he is OK with her driving, if she can do it (the boot has to be clear of the brake 🙂 )and showering – huzzah!

So we had much to be thankful for yesterday. It was a really nice day – as it always does, the potluck feast worked out fine, we had vegetables, potatoes, stuffing, fruit, cider to go with the turkey I cooked. And a huge array of desserts and coffees to match. I think everyone found something to eat. Even niece E who said “I don’t want turkey!” managed a plate full of food. Her reward? Dessert – “I want a tiny piece of everything” and her mom gave her enough tiny pieces to have her thinking it was. She played out in the snow with Sammy until he was bored and she was cold. Then she played cards with the H clan – she loved having kids to play with and climb on. And a patient T to teach her the game. Mom and B came early and helped with all sorts of little and big jobs – like entertaining A, and shoveling a better path, and keeping the cook company while she finished up things. And B agreed to help us out by building a ramp for the back steps! OMG, that will make it so much easier to get A in and out of the house. Because she is determined to go to work….

So this week was a crazy jumble of sitting doing nothing, racing around cleaning, decorating, serving. But I did find time to do some knitting, and we spent a day with a friend working on building the Christmas cards. I think the trouble with designing them in the summer is that it doesn’t matter that there are like 4200 steps… but at the end of the day, there are 12 completed cards, the plan doesn’t seem like such a good one. 🙂 Still we did have the steps to another dozen in progress, so I think I will stick with this plan for most of my cards. I do have another planned card for this year that might only be 10-12 steps, so pretty soon I will switch over to that one. The trouble is, I like glitter, and it takes forever to dry. 🙂

Today is a lay low day, maybe make some cards… definitely scrub some pots, put some dishes away. Take the extra leaves out of the table, put the folding chairs back in the basement, keep the folding tables up for crafts. Even though I have a beautiful craft room, it seems that the Christmas cards get made in the living room, since they take such a major chunk of time. And I already did my one definite black friday tradition – got the Christmas dishes out and put the everyday ones away. I love using them, and so I get them out this day every year. I’ll keep them out until Epiphany, and love seeing their cheerful holiday design every day. Happy holidays!!