Thanksgiving 2013

Fall 2013 Collage (resized)

Well, Thanksgiving is over and I don’t know about you, but I ate way too much!

The menu was simple~turkey, dressing, and all the traditional fare. We also have ham every year, because most of us like ham better than turkey.  Really, we serve turkey WITH our ham, but only because you’re supposed to have turkey.  It’s not a law, just a “rule”, but we follow it anyway.

I’m content with the familiar traditions, and often reflect on the changes.  We had a couple of new family members this year.  My son was here with his new wife, and one of my sisters recently got married, so she and her new husband came over after their noon meal with his family.  Some of my nieces and nephews were away at their in-laws.  So, some changes are good and some are a little bittersweet.  It’s nice to see our children grow up and have new and exciting things going on in their lives, but it still seems like they should all be with us.

I hadn’t given much thought to all the controversy about Black Friday being moved up to Thursday evening, at least not until my son and his wife left to do some shopping.  Then I understood.  It cut the family time short.

It’s funny, when my 75-year-old Dad calls me at 10:15 pm from Wal-Mart, with my mother along for the ride, I’m amazed that they could be at my house all day, eating, playing Ping-Pong, and staying until after 9:00 pm to help clean up, then manage to get a second wind and go shopping. How is that the younger ones couldn’t hold up as long?

Could it be that this whole Gray Thursday thing was a plot forced upon retailers by people who need exit plans?

Oh well, it was a wonderful time while it lasted and every year my sense of being blessed grows, as does my thankfulness.

The collage above is of my fireplace mantle.  It’s kind of hard to decorate, because it is short and wide, but I like the way it turned out.

For my table, I used a tarnished silver tray with painted pumpkins and a candle. Well, one is a spaghetti squash, but it added a little height, so I went with it.

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This was simple, but it takes a little while for Puffy-Paint   (easily found at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby ) to dry.  It’s always worth the wait, though.  It gives the best 3-dimensional aspect, and is also the most effective, and least messy, way to incorporate glitter into projects.

As you may be able to tell, I always go for the simple.  I don’t have anything against the overstated, I just typically don’t have time for it.  So, simple, with perhaps a bit of elegance, is usually my style.

I hope your Thanksgiving Day was enjoyable and that your feelings of “Home” are ones of peace, love, and contentment.

I can’t end without mentioning the best part of my Thanksgiving Day.  Daisy was here and she spent the night with me and Pawpaw!  We were exhausted by the end of the day, but the happiness I feel when she sweetly tells me she loves me and that she loves being at my house, or when I see her running around and playing with her little cousins and giving hugs and kisses to everyone, is worth every bit of exhaustion.  To the last drop.  Or until I drop.

I’m feeling abundantly blessed.

~Gigi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Rain

(I cannot find the name of the person who took this photograph, but I did not take it.)

(I cannot find the name of the person who took this photograph, but I did not take it.)

Wow!  What else can I say?  Behold, the beauty we are blessed with after enduring the dreary showers in the fall!  I love how that works!  Putting up with a little irritation and messiness is worth it to then be able to enjoy the beauty that follows.

The beautiful fall foliage is nature’s last “Hoorah!” before the long, dry, cold, gray spell of winter.  Then, we will have to endure a little more irritation and messiness before springtime rolls around again!

Early in life we exclaim, “April Showers Bring May Flowers!”  We accept the showers and look forward to the rebirth of the beauty that they bring about.

I know I can’t change the weather, so I don’t try.  It is what it is.  I listen to the forecast and make plans accordingly.  I can even take my chances and hope the forecast is wrong. Sometimes, it is wrong and I get lucky. But for the most part, I just accept what the forecast is and try to work around it.

It’s harder for me to learn the same lesson when it comes to people. Ugh. I really have learned this lesson.  Seriously, I have.  But sometimes I ignore the occasional irritation and messiness of relationships and expect something more, or maybe just something different.

Note to self:

1) Some winters (or difficult relationships) are longer, colder, and harder than others. Make plans accordingly. Sometimes predictions are wrong.  If you’re feeling lucky, take a chance and expect more.  If the prediction is wrong, take what you get and enjoy the beauty when it eventually emerges.

2) Sometimes beauty is re-birthed in brand new things, including relationships.  Know when to let go.

3) Even when it’s difficult to see the beauty, give thanks.

~Gigi

 

Red Beans & Rice (of sorts!)

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It’s a cool, rainy day in the south today.  Fall is definitely here and within days there will be beautiful fall foliage exploding across the hills. That is if the heat this year didn’t do too much damage.  Well, I’m expecting the best, so whether we have lots of color, or a little less than usual, I just know it will be beautiful and I’m excited!

Because I have the freedom to work from home, today just seemed like a good day to stay inside.  So, along with making phone calls, sending emails, updates, and doing a little inventory, my thoughts naturally wandered to the more domestic challenges of the day.

I managed to do several loads of laundry and thought about what to do with the sausage in the refrigerator that needed to be used. Notice, I didn’t say “cooked,” because it’s already cooked.  It really Just needs to be heated. Okay, it’s processed turkey sausage.  Ugh.  Anyway, there were also a few cans of red beans in the pantry, so I thought Red Beans and Rice sounded pretty tasty, as well as quick and easy.  At least as far as my version is concerned.

I’m not an exotic cook, and I don’t fry foods.  Sautee?  Sometimes.  Fry?  Never.  There’s nothing self-righteous about it, though.  I just don’t care much for fried foods and, mostly, I can’t stand the mess.

I do like to try new things now and then, but I try to stick to things that are somewhat healthy. Not that exotic food isn’t healthy food, it just takes a lot more time and energy, and grocery shopping.  Basically, it just takes more time.

When our son was at home (and usually with friends) and we had more get-togethers, I committed more time preparing meals.  I learned to keep the basics on hand and that makes it so much easier to throw something together quickly.

When I cooked more often, we ate lots of grilled fish, chicken, and an occasional steak, that is when my husband cooked the steaks.  His are the best.  Otherwise, I tried to mix it up a little more by putting a healthier twist on the less healthy fare, and I tried new recipes way more often than I do now.  Actually, we still eat like this.

I used to cook about five times a week and even milled my own wheat to make bread, muffins, pancakes, etc. Now I cook maybe once a week, because on an ordinary day it’s usually just my husband and me. Mostly, we eat out.  But if I cook, I just try to do something healthy, easy, and quick.  And he basically eats whatever I cook, so I’m lucky in that way.

He’s probably just happy to have food.  He likes to eat it two or three times a day.  To be fair, though, he fixes (we say it like that in the south) his own breakfast, picks up his own lunch, and before he comes home in the evening, he calls me to see if he needs to stop and pick up anything for dinner.

Did I mention I’m lucky?  He’s very low maintenance.  Lucky for both of us!

Back to dinner.  I couldn’t quite remember how to season the Red Beans & Rice, so when I don’t have a recipe handy, or don’t want to spend the time searching through cookbooks, then I “Bing” or “Google” whatever it is I’d like to cook. I will generally find a long version and a short version of recipes, then I look to see what I have on hand to revise it accordingly.

In other words, my recipes are seldom, if ever, exact.  Exact recipes are for baking.  Otherwise, it’s the inexact science (or art?) of cooking for me.

I found my starting point right here , which gave me the minimum ingredients I could get by with in order to consider it Red Beans and Rice.

I  had a tiny red bell pepper that someone had given me from their garden, so I sliced it and sautéed it along with some diced celery. Then I added the cut up sausage.

After that, I pretty much followed the recipe.

Well, sort of. I also added some Gumbo File (sounds like fee-lay), a dash of Creole Seasoning, salt, pepper, some thyme, a tiny bit of red pepper, and a bay leaf.

There is one more thing, and this is gonna sound so weird that I almost don’t want to admit it.  I added a dash, and I mean like one little sprinkle, of cinnamon.  Sounds weird, huh?  I don’t know why I did it, but it tasted fine.  More than a tiny sprinkle would have ruined it, though, because even at that I could tell it was in there.  You could leave that out.

Oh, and I didn’t use white rice, I used instant brown.  I don’t know if it makes any difference, being instant and all, but the fact that it was brown rice made me feel like I was making something healthier. My advice to anyone who can’t stand brown rice?  Don’t use it.  Go for the white.  Why ruin an otherwise good meal with something that will ruin it for you?  (Perhaps eat a little less of the white?)

This was so quick and easy.  All I really did, after sautéing the bell pepper, celery, and sausage, was add everything to the pot and let it simmer for a while. Of course, the rice was cooked separately. That’s it!  We’ve got beans, veggies, herbs, a whole grain. That’s a healthy meal, right?

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One other confession, in addition to the cinnamon, is that we would not be having this for dinner if Daisy was here.  Dinner would be cheese pizza, spaghetti (no sauce for her, she only likes butter on her pasta), or a Taco Bell soft taco. Or McDonald’s.  That girl loves McDonald’s. Really, I think it’s just the play area that she likes.

Whatever she wants (most of the time), I’m down with it.  Any day of the week.

Her mom and dad can fuss with her about food.  Gigi doesn’t do that.

~Gigi

 

 

 

Now THIS is ROSIE

So, since ROSIE is an adjective (see About Gigi), I think this project provides a good example of something that I find to be just ROSIE!

A friend told me that trays are all the rage now and I ran across this little cutie at one of my favorite hidden-treasure-hubs, The Salvation Army.

If you look closely, you can see that this one (like most of them, I think) used to have little feet that someone either cut, filed, or somehow broke off.  No big deal.  Just add some round pads to the bottom of the tray and it won’t scratch your surface.

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I didn’t have one of these on my dresser when I was young, but I always wanted one. With just a little bit of rehab, I think it will look just Rosie in Daisy’s bedroom!

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There just happened to be the right shade of pink ( Ballet Slipper ) in my spray paint collection. That, along with masking tape, a few paper towels, and some newspaper, was all it took for this project. Oh, and this handy trigger by Rust-O-leum, which is one of the best things to happen to  paint since combustion.

Anyway, I covered the mirrored bottom of the tray with the paper towels and used pieces of masking tape to hold it down around the edges.

A note to the wise. Or to the patient. It would have been better to use a primer.

I know, I know,

Yes, I have spray painted in the past.  Many times.

However, being more of a hare than a tortoise, I skipped that part.  So, naturally, the paint kind of slid off on some parts of the tray. It only took a couple of coats with a little drying time in between to get good coverage, though. Probably about the same amount of time it would have taken to use a primer in the first place. Oh well, all is well.  I’m trying to lose that perfection obsession anyway.

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Quick, easy, adorable!  The only thing that might make it a little cuter would be to add some bling. Perhaps some gemstones glued to the center of the flowers?

Pink Princess Tray

Oh, and just because these trays were originally used on dressers and bathroom vanities for perfumes, powders, etc., you could get creative and use them elsewhere.

One last reflection for today.  I’m not sure our vanity tray is posh enough to fit in this space, but what little girl’s bedroom wouldn’t be adorable with this Princess Rose daybed?

PrincessDayBed

I’d love to hear about some of your re-purposing projects!

~Gigi

 

Modern Day Grandmother

As I consider a modern day grandmother, I wonder if she’s one who fits a certain criteria, or if she breaks the stereo-typical grandmother mold. Perhaps she likes to knit, or sew, or garden, or cook…or, perhaps, not. Perhaps she has a career, or has never worked outside the home.  Maybe she loves the outdoors, or can’t stand the elements. The possibilities are endless.

I grew up with three grandmothers, because I had a great-grandmother. She actually outlived the other two.  I loved each one, but my great-grandmother was quite a character.  Maybe it’s because she lived the longest and had more stories to tell.  She did have the stories to tell, and enjoyed telling them, too.

She may have given us a glimpse of life before things were modernized, but that’s only partially true.  They may not have been modern times for us, but she was pretty modern for her time, whatever moment in time she happened to be in.  And she was tough.  She was what you would call feisty.

She lost her mother when she was 12 and, as the oldest, became caretaker for her younger siblings. She married young, soon had her own children, eventually divorced (more than once), and helped her daughter raise my dad.

She was a business owner.  She had a neighborhood grocery store in a decent sized city in the 1940s, and I’m pretty sure she may have originated the phrase, “taking care of business”, although decades later Elvis got credit for it (i.e., TCB).  And business wasn’t limited to her job or career…it simply referred to whatever was the business at hand.

She ran a tight ship, but always played games with us. She was tough (I know, I said that already), yet had a gentle side. She loved her family fiercely, and taught us to do the same.

She lived in the moment. She played the hand she was dealt and made the most of it. She did things she wanted and things she enjoyed, but one thing never changed. No matter the decade, no matter the circumstances, her family was her top priority.

She was what Oprah would call her “authentic self.”

Ironically, I just took a phone call from my dad and he and mom are visiting the town where they were born and raised, the town where we were all born . Mom is at a Red Hat Society event with her sisters and Dad just came in from romping around southern Indiana and western Kentucky with his sister.  And on this glorious fall day, from hundreds of miles away, our conversation reminded me our strong ties and deep roots.  I am taken back to some of the very memories I’m writing about.

He talked about different places they visited and things they had done, even foods they had eaten, and my emotions are stirred.  It’s a nostalgic feeling.  It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s a home feeling. And although I just have Daisy right now, it’s the feeling I want her, and my future grandchildren, to have when they think of me and our family.

So, what does it mean to me to be a “modern-day grandmother”?  It’s just living in the moment and making good memories with those I love.  Maybe it will even cause them to be a little stronger, smarter, or more well-rounded than I…or at least a little bit entertained.

Most of all, may it give those I love the ability to always have a little bit of home with them wherever they go.

~Gigi