Friday, December 31, 2010

Blessings Innumerable

All the cool kids are doing some type of 'Year in Review' this week to celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. GeekDad has a Top 10 posts of the year, Whatever reflected on the past year yesterday, TPM decided to review the past year by giving out awards for various political stunts. Closer to home, will gave us his Top 7 theatre moments from the past year, and Literary Cat gave us an overview of her, well, literary adventures.

Since I am a sheep and follow the direction my peers and idols point, I figured I should also do some way of recapping the past year. Thus, in no particular order, here are a few of the blessings I've received and learned from in 2010:
  • God has a plan. Sam and I managed to get by on $600 a month of income plus food stamps for 6 months this year. Looking back, I'm still not certain how God managed to pull us through Sam's last semester in grad school, but somehow He managed.
  • Take Nothing For Granted. Up until this year, I'd never truly known what it was like to be completely without and having to rely on God. Because we had to, however, I appreciate so much more everything Sam and I have.
  • Sam got his Masters in Music. That right there is a huge reason to celebrate. I couldn't tell you the number of times Sam and I discussed his dropping out of the program, and I am incredibly proud of him for sticking through it.
  • Moving back amongst friends and family. When I graduated from college, I thought I'd left this town far behind. Some might consider moving back to one's secondary home-town a failure in life, but it has been a wonderful blessing in mine. My in-laws are here, my sister is here, and many of my friends from college are still here. The beginning of 2010 was lonely, but the end was all I could have hoped for.
  • Learning to care for my home. Teenage me would never have predicted that I'd one day be a housewife and be happy about it. But I derive a great deal of pleasure, pride, and accomplishment from caring for my home, paying the bills, cooking meals for my Sammy, and doing my best to live up to Proverbs 31:10-31
  • Bringing Tiger back into the fold. After nearly five years apart, my first cat has rejoined the pride. The first month or so was pretty rough, what with all three cats fighting because no one knew just what was going on. Once Tiger figured out though that she was here to stay and calmed down, though, she became an incredibly sweet addition to our little family.
  • We have a new nephew! Speaking of sweet additions to the family, Sam's sister had a new baby boy last October. Even though we still haven't managed to go see him, we were both very excited for her and her family. 
Over all, I'd say that this was possibly one of the best years I've had yet, even if the first half of the year were rough and stressful in many ways. Sam and I have survived our first year of marriage, and I find myself thankful and hopeful heading in to the New Year.

Happy New Year everyone! Praise God, and may 2011 bring you joy and great happiness!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Checking out today

Literary Cat is coming over to play today, and then the whole crew is getting together to hang out tonight. As I've just finished all of my chores for the day, that doesn't leave much time for blogging.

But don't worry, I still love you!

(Yes, even you.)

And to show it, I'm going to leave you with a fun link that you can play with for hours. Or, at least, Sam, Sherri, and I have all played with this for hours....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There and back again

Glad to see that my experiment with the Blogger scheduler worked out. On the other hand, it does remove one more excuse for why I don't update all the time. Ah well.

As to our trip, some things did go sadly "wonky" over Sam and I's Christmas Vacation, but we did make it safely home yesterday afternoon. Some of you may remember I had a bit of a nasty cold in the middle of the month, but after a few days of laying around watching cartoons got to feeling much better. By the time the Christmas Party rolled around, we were both in tip top shape and had a fantastic time hanging out with all of our friends.

The next day (or maybe it was two days) all of us got together again to continue our latest adventure in D&D with the big group, and while we were there my nose was constantly running and I was downing pain killers for the sore throat that was developing. Hip Gamer noticed what I was doing and nonchalantly pointed out that if I had strep he was sorry, as he'd gone to the doctor the previous week and they'd put him on anti-biotics, though they didn't think he'd actually gotten strep. Walking Hyperbole then chimed in and explained he and Adorable Nurse had had horrible sore throats and coughing the previous week.

Oi vey.

The night we went over to Sam's parents for Christmas with them, I was noticing more drainage and coughing, so I tried to keep everyone at arm's length. By the time we left for Kansas the following morning, my voice was crackly and could not hit any of the upper registers. Which made me very sad, as it meant A) No singing Christmas Carols during the car ride and B) I had a raging headache/sore throat while riding in a car. But I could still torment Sam.

After we'd finished all of our Christmas Eve celebrations at my parents' that night, my voice was completely gone and I was utterly out of it. As there was a remote chance it was strep and not just a bad cold, Sam called his sister to see if she wanted us to go ahead and continue on to Kansas City the next day. We both really, really wanted to see our niece and new nephew, but we also did not want to get the new baby (or big sister who loves cuddling with the new baby) sick.

Everybody wanted to see each other, but they finally decided that as much as they love us, they did not want to risk a houseful of sick children. Completely understandable. Instead, the hope is to get up there around the end of January and see them then.

That decision resolved, I went and collapsed into bed.

Am I the only one who thinks McCoy looks like Gollum here?
What followed was a joyfully hazy time of sleep, movies (including ST IV), food, sleep, Nintendo, sleep, card games, pictures, and, oh yes, sleep. It took a few days, but by the time Monday rolled around I had my voice back and was coughing only occasionally, so we went and visited my Grandma Nena  (Hi Grandma!). It was an enjoyable afternoon, filled with good conversations, food, and the final round of Christmas fun.

And yes, I did bring home more recipes from Grandma. Good things will come of us this.

Trust me.

We made it back to my parents' house that night, and concluded our final evening with my parents by watching Sam participate in a long-standing family tradition--he beat Ganon in the original Zelda.

Yesterday morning, Sam and I packed ourselves up in the Jeep and headed on back to Oklahoma. It was a fantastic trip, all things considered, even if I was sick and we didn't make it all the way up to see Sam's sister and her family.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

With any luck, Sammy and I will be home tonight, unless things have gone considerably wonky since last Thursday. Tomorrow I should hopefully be able to pick back up on blogging in real time, and be able to share with all of you our adventures.

Thank you to those of you who have checked in over the weekend. Especially that person in Russia who keeps visiting the site. You know who you are.

Any way, I thought I'd share a final couple of Christmas videos. (Yes, I'm copying off of will. I never claimed to be original.)

All I have to say is Chip and Dale have an uncanny knack for picking trees. Just saying....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Failing Illusions

Christmas when I was six. 
There comes a time in the life of every child, when they learn that Santa isn't real. For some it happens as they approach middle school. For others, it happens much, much earlier.

I figured it out when I was 4 years old.

My grandparents had moved back into town the previous summer, and were now living in a small retirement complex where my Grandma Nena still lives to this day. My parents had driven down with my brother and I on Christmas Eve, or perhaps the day before. After 20-odd years, some of the details are hazy in my mind.

I do remember the tree that was set up in the corner of the living room, positioned so you could see it whether you were in the living room or the kitchen. Presents were piled up beneath the tree, and I happily helped my mother unload our presents from the car to put under the tree.

The day progressed, and there was much laughing and talking, food and card games. While the adults were playing bridge (or perhaps it was hand and foot?), I played in my Grandmother's bedroom, chattering at myself the whole time. In the course of my play, my doll fell off the bed onto the opposite side of the room, and when I went to retrieve it, several presents wrapped in brown paper and ribbon were piled on that side.

Confused, I pattered back out to the living room, announcing, "Mama, Mama, we missed some of the presents that need to be under the tree!"

I imagine the panicked looks that the other adults must have been exchanging, but I honestly don't remember them. My mother looked at me with a surprised expression, "Where are they?" she asked.

"Next to Grandma Nena's bed! Come look!" I told her, leading them to her bedroom.

But when we got there, there were no presents.

I was now genuinely upset. "But they were there! I promise!"

"Well, if they were, they're not now. But it's time for dinner now, sis," said my brother as they lead me back to the front room.

We settled in and around the dining room table, and soon all thoughts of the mystery presents disappeared from my head. After dinner, Grandpa Jim insisted on all of us piling into the van and driving around town, looking at all of the pretty houses glowing with Christmas lights and good cheer. When we got back to the house, Aunt Di read my brother and I the Christmas story.

Soon it was time for presents, and I fleetingly thought of the packages I'd seen earlier, but they never made an appearance that evening. Before long it was time for little girls to be in bed.

The next morning, there was much excitement because, of course, Santa had been to visit during the night. When my sleepy head padded out to the front room, what did I see beneath the tree?

Brown paper packages tied up with string.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A couple of other, less noble, Christmas stories....

I am fan of John Scalzi's blog. In fact, I've gotten my friend, Literary Cat, hooked on his blog as well. It's fantastic.

Last week, he posted two separate stories on his blog, the first about the Inn-keeper from the tale of Mary and Joseph, and second about the much less known Christmas Bunny.

If you're not sick of all things Christmas yet, I highly recommend you got check them out!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Story

Luke 2:1-20
New International Version

  In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirnius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
  "Glory to God in the highest heaven,
 and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Animals of YouTube Present....

So, I lied about not posting anything further while we're gone. I think I've figured out how to have posts pop up on a schedule, so here's hoping this works! If this shows up just minutes after the previous post, well, then I have failed and everyone will get my extra filler post a day early, and I'll have to go back to the drawing board.

Ah well.

It's nothing much, but I thought these two videos would help to get everyone in the Christmas mood! :-D

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tonight begins our five day Christmas extravaganza, as we're going to have a full turkey dinner (second one this week!) with Sam's parents and do a small gift exchange.

Tomorrow, we're driving up to my parents' house for Christmas Eve. I predict that there will be chili, presents, and card games. We've decided to leave tomorrow morning instead of when we'd originally planned (when Sam gets off work), due to inclement weather that's supposed to hit the Kansas area tomorrow evening. As Sam put it, after last year's Christmas Blizzard (which I hope to write about next week), if he's going to be trapped by weather he wants it to be in Kansas instead of Oklahoma.

Christmas Day we're going to drive up to Kansas City (hopefully) and see Sam's sister and her family. After all, there's a new nephew and precocious niece to spoil!

If that works out, we'll stay over night in Kansas City, and then go back to my parents' house Sunday afternoon/evening. Again, providing the weather is cooperative. Monday we're driving out to see my Grandma Nena and then back to my parents' house, a 5 hour round trip. It'll be good to see her again! :-D Finally, on Tuesday we'll come back home, just in time for Sammy to go back to work on Wednesday.

Why am I telling you all of this? To explain why I'm going completely off of the grid for the next few days. At least, I figure that's what'll happen, unless I think of something. But no worries--I'll soon be back with lots of cute, happy stories, as well as more pictures of kitty cats. Scout's honor!

So remember dear friends, take joy in your friends and family, be they far or near, and never forget that even if there's no one at home with you on Christmas, the baby boy whose birth we celebrate is with you.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Faithful friends who are dear to us...

Outside, two pillars of red and green framed a porch drenched in icicle lights as a lightly chilled wind blew dark clouds across an eclipsing moon.

Inside, the house was cheery and bright. A modest tree stood before the front window, decorated with angels and ornaments found over the years. Beneath the tree, a pile of presents steadily grew as each group of guests arrived. Stockings were hung on the wall with care, between shelves laden with books and holiday trinkets.

Ensconced in the big chair sat Walking Hyperbole, his hand unconsciously running through Adorable Nurse's hair as she sat on the floor in front of him. Hip Gamer gestured and talked animatedly from his place on the couch, a holiday drink in hand. Beside him lounged Rapier Wit, long, lanky legs splayed before him, while Gleeful Traveler sat also on the floor and leaned against Hip Gamer's legs. Curled in a large, leather office chair next to Rapier Wit, Literary Cat relaxed and watched the proceedings with a knowing gaze. Sher-bear nibbled a cookie made especially for her while she sat at the table, with the occasional laughing exchange with Literary Cat.

My Sam was perched on the keyboard chair, leaning his chin against the back of the chair, just behind Walking Hyperbole and Hip Gamer. I sat at the table with Literary Cat and Sherri, soaking in the joy of having my family in my home.

We sat and watched as images from the past five years flickered across the screen, while Christmas Carols intermixed with Fall Out Boy, Flogging Molly, Great Big Sea, Lily Allen, and Five Iron Frenzy in the background.

As a picture of Adorable Nurse playing amongst rocks and waves came on the screen, she said "I love that shot of me!"

"I really miss that shirt. Whatever happened to it?" Hip Gamer wondered as another picture from his college days appeared.

Walking Hyperbole sat up a little straighter, "I really have lost weight already. That makes me feel awesome!"

Another picture scrolled across the screen. "Whoa! Check out Sam's monstrous beard!" Hip Gamer said.

I piped in, "That was taken my senior year, so yes, we have proof that he and I did meet at school."

"That was your birthday party Rapier Wit, remember?" Sam added.

Rapier Wit beamed. "That's right! Does this mean I can officially take credit for your relationship now?"

Meanwhile a portrait of Sherri in Central Park came up.

"That's a great picture of you, Sher-bear," said Adorable Nurse.

"Thank you!" she said, only a trifle bashful.

On the television, Literary Cat and Rapier Wit posed at their wedding.

"And that's a picture of Literary Cat going 'I'm tired of taking pictured now," Adorable Nurse laughed.

"I'd been taking pictures all morning before we even got there! Yeah, I was tired of it," Literary Cat replied.

"There's a lot of pictures from weddings on there," I said. "Weddings are about the only time we take pictures when all of us are together."

Rapier Wit gave the couple next to him a sly grin, "Hear that Hip Gamer? It's up to you to have the next wedding so we can take pictures again."

At that point Hip Gamer decided it was time for all of us to open presents.

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.
--Edna Buchanan

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Sam and I are doing much better, and the rest of the day will be taken up with helping the house recover from 3 days of neglect. Then tomorrow will be all about baking and making stuff for the Christmas party on Monday.

As such, I'm going to be away the next day or two, so I thought I'd share this bit of wisdom I came across this morning. Why didn't he tell me this 20+ years ago?

If my father were to tell me one thing, and Sir Patrick Stewart was to tell me another, I don't know who I'd be more inclined to believe. That wonderful voice! O.O

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Have a cold...

and thus all I want to do is lay around and watch cartoons. Therefore, I thought I'd share some of the better ones I've come across. Here's hoping you find them as entertaining as I have!

Get Out
Uploaded by Esma-Movie. - Check out other Film & TV videos.

Work from Michael Rianda on Vimeo.

The Cat Piano from PRA on Vimeo.

Les Dangereux from Daniel Klug on Vimeo.

I've decided that I really, really like French animation. Ah, the things that the internet reveals to us...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Complexity of Screen Names

There's a post over on GeekMom that has got the poor hamster back up and running the wheels turning in my head. To summarize for those of you who hate clicking on an embedded link within a post to find out what in the seven hills the author is talking about, Ellen Henderson blogged about how she doesn't understand why women would choose to include the word "mom" (or some variation of it) in their screen names.

Because I've put so much thought into my own choices, I’m always curious about what’s behind other people’s screen names. When I became a mother a few years back and started visiting parenting websites and message boards, I was surprised by the number of people — well, the number of women, to be precise — who chose screen names based on their status as mothers. “ProudMommy” and “Mom_of_three” and “Lucysmom” were common configurations, and while I understood the enthusiasm behind them — we were, after all, connecting through parenting sites — I was a bit taken aback by these names. And later, when I noticed similar handles on groups and websites totally unrelated to parenting, I was, frankly, a little dismayed.
Maybe it means I’m a bad mother or a raging egoist, but I don’t identify myself primarily through my relationship with my child. I am delighted and proud to be his mom, but that’s not the entirety of who I am, and I just can’t see myself using his name or my position as “mommy” to project myself into the online world. Neither, by the way, would I use my child’s photo as my profile picture on Facebook — he isn’t me, and I am something more complex than just the person who gave birth to him.
And then, in the comments, there's a continued discussion over those poor deluded souls who have no other source of identification except through their husband or children. [/sarcasm]

This relates back into my ongoing irritation with much of the feminism movement (or, at least, the aspects I've had personal exposure to). Allow me to explain; if you look along the right side of this blog, you will notice links to such sites as Sociological Images and Historiann, which often reflect upon the role of women and the ongoing fight for equality they have. I follow them because I find many of the ideas they bring up to be interesting and thought-provoking. However, sites along these lines also frequently frustrate me.

There is an underlying assumption amongst many feminists, both online and in real life (because, trust me, I was trained and mentored by two raging feminists) that if you find joy and satisfaction in things such as cooking, homemaking, or children, then that means you are either a) uneducated, b) foolish, or c) a victim of society. Furthermore, if the choice you've made is to take care of your home and forgo a career, then you are a bad woman who is betraying the cause of equality for all women.

Please forgive the language, but bullshit.

I recognize and understand that the world is not an equal place--women are frequently pigeonholed as care-takers and men are thought of as unmanly if they choose to take an interest in their home and children. I realize that it is true that many women make less than their male counterparts in the work place. I have witnessed and even, shamefacedly, participated in perpetuating some of these problems.


I do feel that it is okay to be a woman who stays home and takes care of children. I see nothing wrong with taking joy in one's house and being proud of one's children and husband. I do draw a certain sense of identity from my husband, and one day will likely do so with my children as well. I also draw a certain sense of identity from my friends, my parents, my writing, my reading, the schools I attended, the churches I've been a part of, and the theaters I've worked in. For some reason, many feminists look down upon women who choose to be caretakers, thus unintentionally encouraging the patriarchal belief that caretakers are less important than workers. Ms. Henderson mentions later in her post that she has no problem with the handle of "GeekMom" because it shows that she is something else other than "just a mom."

I doubt she would bat an eyelash at the screen-names of "Angel Cole," "Lighting Angel," or "Li'lBookWorm." The first is a character name I came up with a long time ago, the second is a reference to my love of theatre and angels, and the last is a description of my reading habits. That doesn't mean, however, that I identify myself only through said story, theater, angels, or books. It's one aspect of my personality. Just as, if and when the day comes when I have a child, "NewMommy!!!11!" would represent only one aspect of my personality. But because it is a reference to childcare, in her apparent worldview that means that I only identify myself through my children if that's my name.

In the end, what I'm trying to say is that I support the cause of women trying to make the world a better place for all people. I would love to see laws enacted that provided more and better opportunities for working parents to provide care for their children, or that people would be paid equally depending upon skill and ability, or that no one would bat an eyelash if little girls liked Star Wars or little boys wanted to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. I just wish that these same women would support people like me who want to make a happy home and (hopefully) focus on my children, without assuming I'm either too stupid, too lazy, or too co-dependent to do otherwise.

I am myself, no more, and no less.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Growing Up

Editor's Note: I meant to post about this earlier, but 3-day weekends have a tendency to make everything go wonky.

Over the weekend, Sam and I attended a local community theatre production of Little Women, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. As we walked back to our car after the show--dodging other drivers and trying not to freeze to death--it struck me just how much my relationship with theatre has changed over the years.

Ten years ago, my only real exposure to theatre was the productions our high school had performed and the occasional trip to Crown Uptown in Wichita. Had I seen this production then, I would have thought it fantastic and highly enjoyable, especially since it was based on one of my childhood-favorite novels.

Five years ago, I was on the verge of graduating from college with a bachelor's in theatre. Had I seen this production then, I would have spent the whole time picking apart the acting done in the show. While there were many splendid moments in the show, not all of the actors were strong throughout, and many of the character choices did not match the image I had in my head for the characters. Most likely I'd have attended with several of my fellow students, and we would have spent the next day ridiculing it to our classmates. Not because it was a bad show--because it wasn't--but because all of us at that time were very much theatre snobs, and would have insisted we could have done it better.

Two years ago, I had come to the decision that I needed to get away from theatre, at least for awhile. I'd injured myself during my latest gig, and was finding in myself a desire to settle down. During that time, though, I'd done multiple professional shows and seen Broadway/West End shows. This production of Little Women would never have registered on my radar, and had I seen it then, my focus would have entirely been upon all of the little technical slip ups--the dark spots on stage, the lamp that kept flickering in and out--as well as the mishaps with lines and entrances.

This weekend, however, I had what I consider now to be the better response. It actually made me happy. Yes, a part of me did notice the parts that weren't perfect. However, I had an absolute blast. It was fun for me to see people--many of whom were untrained for this--experiencing the joy of being on a stage and interacting with the energy of the audience. I loved all of the little details that were in the set design, and highly impressed with the period costumes that they'd managed to piece together. Overall, it was a very merry experience.

And I realized that this is what I missed about theatre, and why I had burned out. I missed the absolute joy that comes from creating a good story, and seeing people grow and do better. Having been away from it for the past couple of years, I was able to appreciate the way the whole community came together to enjoy what their local thespians had managed to put together to present to them.

More importantly, I came to the understanding that even if I never actually work in a theater again, I want to be that person who goes to the local plays, musicals, operas, concerts, and art shows. It may not be Broadway, the London Symphony Orchestra, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it is still the arts, and still needs to be supported and cultivated.

It was a happy discovery.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Four Years Ago....

"What are you doing between shows today?" Drama Manager asked.

Never looking up from the intense game of Connect 4 I was playing, I replied, "Don't have any plans. Debating whether or not I want to drive all the way out to the apartment, just to turn around and come back a couple of hours later. Why?"

"Good, then Music Geek and I are taking you to get your Christmas present." the tall blonde replied, satisfaction radiating off of her in waves.

That made me look up from the game. It would be lost in three moves any way, and Magic Bed Guy was grinning far too smugly.

"Oh? What is it?" I asked.

"You'll find out on the way." Music Geek piped up, skulls and crossbones emblazoned across her chest.

No amount of pleading or wheedling on my behalf would cause either girl to relent, and so I had to wait until we'd finished the latest show of A Christmas Carol to find out.

Finally, all of the students were out of the theater, and I made my way back to the green room were the others were waiting on me.

"Ready to go get your present?" Magic Bed Guy asked, as apparently he was driving us.

"Yes, but what is it?" I mock-wailed, thoroughly enjoying myself.

Music Geek and Drama Manager exchanged a long look as we headed out towards the car, as if debating how much longer they could stay mum before I hurt them.

"We've decided to get you a cat." Drama Manager declared as she and I crawled into the back seat.


I had made no secret that I loved cats and dearly missed Tiger. They had all heard my reasoning that a cat is easier for a theatre person to take care of than a dog is.

"We're taking you down to the SPCA to get a cat." Music Geek clarified.

If I thought the students had taken forever to get out of the theater, it was nothing compared to the excruciatingly long drive to the SPCA.

Twenty minutes later, we walked through the door.

A long counter ran down the right side of the room, behind which a ragged woman was processing an adoption for an energetic ball of licky fur that I later found out was a black lab. Another woman told us to feel free to look around at the animals available.

Next to the counter were four cages, each of which contained a cat. Inside the top cage was two cats about a year old. The first, Austin, had white fur with black patches/spots, similar to Sherri's Oreo. The second was a pure black cat standing protectively in front of his brother.

"Well aren't you a cutie." I said, sticking my finger through the wire mesh at the black cat. His name tag read Nelson.

Nelson batted playfully at my finger, then stuck his cheek next to it in a clear command to scratch it. I complied.

"Let's go see some of the other cats." Drama Manager said, gesturing towards a room further back.

I told Nelson he was a handsome lad, scratched under his chin one last time, and headed towards the back room. Two steps later I felt something catching on my shirt, and when I looked back, Nelson had reached his paw through the gaps in the cage to catch my shirt.

"Don't worry, I'll be back." I reassured him as I disentangled his claws.

Music Geek wanted to go look at the dogs before we continued looking at the cats, so we wandered back to the dog area first.

"Aren't pugs precious?" she wondered wistfully, as though she didn't already have one.

"I like labs myself." Drama Manager replied. Her boyfriend had recently gotten one to train as a hunting dog.

"Don't have the time or space for a dog, unfortunately." I told them, and then went back to where the other cats were. Music Geek and Magic Bed guy stayed behind with the pups, but Drama Manager went with me.

Kittens were cavorting with a bell. A couple of the older cats were curled up towards the top of the cat trees in there. Tabbies, calicoes, a Manx, two Siamese cats, and several tuxedo cats stared up at me from behind the glass.

None compared to Nelson, though.

After several minutes of Drama Manager trying to interest me in the kittens, I wandered back to the front room where Nelson and Austin were.

Nelson was at the back of the cage with Austin, but when he saw me he wandered back up to where I was.

"You know I can only take one of you, right? I can't afford both of you right now."

Well, more accurately I couldn't even afford one; my friends were getting me a cat for Christmas.

Nelson gave a sad look back to his brother, then meowed at me. It was the prettiest meow I'd ever heard.

"Okay then." I told him, scratching his chin.

Drama Manager told the lady behind the counter we were getting Nelson. Thirty minutes later we walked out with a very frightened cat in a cardboard carrier.

"I don't care for the name Nelson, though." I murmured to him through the box as we bounced over railroad tracks.

A very frightened meow answered me.

"It's okay, we're almost there." I assured him.

Drama Manager, Music Geek, and Magic Bed Guy made suggestions the entire ride back to my apartment. Like any good group of theatre technicians, they had numerous creative names, from pop culture to literature to names like Spot. As I thought about their creativity, I suddenly knew what my black cat's new name would be. Just then, we pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex.

"Welcome home, Techie."

Here he is, four years later.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

The lights were dim in the house. Sam and I had curled up on the couch with a couple of mugs of coffee, intending to kill some time while we waited for our food to settle. Our intentions were to go to the gym a little later in the evening,

Dinner was put away and cleaned up, though the cats were still prowling about waiting for their food. We'd decided against playing a game, because invariably when that happens, we end up playing games all night and never complete our errands. Nala hopped up on Sam's lap and started rubbing her head against his chin, which slowed down his coffee intake considerably.

The screensaver kicked on on our computer, which in turn is hooked up to our new television (a Christmas gift from Sam's grandparents). We talked about our day. Sam told me how the design was going on the new website, the FedEx class he's taking to be able to ship chemicals, and the excitement of actually selling a spa at work; I told him about the potato soup I made up on my own that day, the latest internet scandals and memes, and of course all of the cute things the cats had done to entertain me.

After a bit, the screensaver popped up one of the videos I have from my college years. Sam commented on how one of these days I'd have to narrate these videos so he knows what's going on, since the screensaver doesn't play sound. Instead I woke the computer up and actually started playing through some of those old videos--will helping Sherri with her contemporary math class, Sherri maiming Mama Cow, Walking Hyperbole calling Adorable Nurse while Rapier Wit bounced to Mario Kart music in the background, Tiger when she was a kitten....

It was a wonderful opportunity to allow him a glimpse into my life back then, and the way many of our mutual friends interacted as college students. While Sam's first year and my last year at our Alma Mater overlapped, we never met one another. He came to be friends with all of my friends the following two years, due to his friendship with Rapier Wit. 

(At least, that has always been my contention. 

Sam insists that he and I met each other during a trip to Bartlesville to see our friend, Living Life, in The Complete Works of Shakespeare: Unabridged. He recalls details of the trip that he would only know if he went with, but none of us remember him being there. What's more, he insists that he and I rode in the back of the car and talked the whole way there and back.)

Steadily we worked our way through my senior year of college, watching more video snippets: College Players dressing up as pirates, street performers in London, rehearsals in Dorland, and a trip to the Renn Faire. My redheaded husband was growing sleepy, despite the coffee in his system, though he swore he wasn't bored looking through my memories. Still, I figured I should wrap it up, and so at random selected one last video.

The camera was panning across a table full of people, and I was pointing out who some of the people were that featured in stories I'd told him. 

"Of course you know who that is. And that's Drew." I pointed out.

"Wasn't he in the music program? I swear he worked as an assistant for my Dad or something." Sam asked.

To be honest, I couldn't remember the exact details, though yes, I did know he'd been involved with the music program.

"That's the guy who played El Gallo in the Fantastiks with his girlfriend. And that's--wait a minute! Is that you?!"

As the camera had continued to pan down the table, there was this shot:

There before our eyes was proof that Sam and I actually had crossed paths during college. 

I remembered vaguely that there was a guy Rapier Wit had known when he was in Jr. High/High School that had shown up at our college, and obviously that guy was Sam. Still, it startled me to realize I  had video and pictures of Sam from before what I think of us our "official" meeting. 

Meanwhile, Sam was oblivious to the shock running through my system.

"I remember that. He had called me asking if I wanted to go to the Renn Faire, and I had told him, 'Sure, when is it?'

'Um, we're leaving right now.'

'Man, there is no way I can go right now, I'm in the middle of something.'

Then he told me to meet y'all for food afterwards."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ten ways to help warm up the house...

Winter finally decided to show up last night. I know this because when I woke up this morning, there was the lightest layer of snow on the grass. By the time I'd gotten the three cats off of me and gotten out of bed, the snow was completely gone. But, for a brief moment, it was there.

(For those of you up north who have been having snow since late September/early October, well, that's what you get for living up in the great white north.)

In the past year or so since I started trying to pursue a more frugal lifestyle (admittedly because I didn't have another option), I've learned a thing or two about saving money on energy bills. So here are my suggestions for the winter:

1. Weather Stripping is Your Friend. Sam and I are currently living in an old house that was built in the late 40's/early 50's, and as such has lots and lots of drafty old doors and windows. To be fair, our landlady has been steadily replacing those windows, but she only has about half the house done. When the first hints of cold weather started showing up in October, Sam and I spent a Saturday going around the house tacking up weather stripping around the doors and caulking around the windows. It cost us a grand total of $15--including the caulk gun, and I know we saved at least that much on our gas bill last month alone.

2. Cook Hot Meals. Growing up, my Dad would often talk about how certain foods were  winter foods because they would "thicken up your blood" and help keep you warm. And there is a certain amount of truth to this. T'is the season to be making hearty soups, baking goodies, and eating lots of red meat, as these are things that warm you up from the inside out. Especially if you make chili--that'll keep you warm for a good long time.  The corollary to this is to drink hot drinks--hot tea, hot cider, mulled wine, coffee, hot chocolate. All of these things do wonders to help warm you up as well. Which leads me to....

3. Use Your Stove/Oven. It didn't take long into our marriage at all for Sam to figure out that the main reason why I make so many cookies/breads/pies/roasts/chicken bakes etc. in the winter is that it helps to warm up the house.  For some reason I don't completely understand, using the oven heats up the house far better than our actual heater ever dreamed of doing.

4. Switch Your Ceiling Fans to Run Clockwise. It sounds counter-intuitive, but running your ceiling fans in the winter (if you have them. My sympathy to those of you who don't. I've been there.) actually helps to reduce your heating bill. Most ceiling fans have a switch on the side of the base to change what direction the blades of the fan run. In the winter you want that fan to run clockwise, as that'll push the warm air up by the ceiling back down into the room.

5. Take Advantage of the Sunlight. One of the first things I do when I get up in the morning is open up the blinds on the side of the house that's getting sunlight. Letting in that sunlight does wonders for helping to heat up that side of the house. It also makes kitty cats happy. Then, after lunch I'll close back up the east side of the house and open the blinds on the west side. As soon as the sun starts setting you need to make sure you have all the blinds closed back up to help retain the heat you've gathered during the day. Of course, for many of you there actually isn't anybody home during daylight hours, in which case...

6. Kick the Heater Down if No One is Home. I'm not saying turn your heater completely off. However, as much as I love my cats, they have built in fur coats and do not need the house to be as warm as I do. If I know Sam and I are going to be gone all day doing errands--or if we're going out of town--I'll kick the heater down to about 68 degrees. True, the absolute first thing we do when we come home is kick the heater back up, but even at 68 degrees it'll still be significantly warmer inside than outside.

7. Get Up and Move. Exercise is of course an important part of staying healthy. However, it also helps to raise your core body temperature. If I'm completely freezing my tail off, I'll get up and make myself be active. Sometimes that means chasing the cats, other times it means getting chores done. Most frequently, however, I'll crank up loud music and dance around for 10, 15 minutes. Admittedly, I do this when NO ONE ELSE IS AROUND. However, it's still fun and warms me up.

8. Blankets are a Beautiful, Beautiful Thing. If you ever come over to our home, you'll notice that we have blankets draped everywhere around the house. I originally started doing this because my dear, sweet Sherri gets cold very, very easily. However, I will frequently drape a blanket across my lap instead of getting up and turning the heat higher, especially when I'm the only one at home and the kitties are feeling snuggly.

9. Turn Down the Heater at Night. Not nearly as low as what you'd turn it down to if you were gone, if for no other reason than that would make it nigh impossible to get out of bed in the morning. At least for me. However, being in bed with lots of blankets, a spouse, and a bunch of cats, Sam and I don't need to have the heat up nearly as high. Even if you're lacking the animals and spouse, once again blankets are a beautiful, beautiful thing for retaining body heat at night.

10. Invite People Over. Speaking of body heat, another excellent way to help keep the house warm is to invite people over. Extra bodies in the house will help to build up the heat, as well as warming up one's heart and soul. (Corny, I know, but I couldn't resist.) Particularly if you can get them all doing something active with you, like playing one of the incarnations of Rock Band. Or, if you lack the tech for that, there is also charades, dancing, and midget wrestling. You know, in case you needed some options....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kill the cwicket, kill the cwicket, kill the cwicket, kill it dead!

I hate bugs.

When I was a little girl--three, maybe four years old--my parents, my grandparents, my brother, and I all went to a park for a picnic. I don't remember the details of why we were there, though I think it may have been a family reunion of some sort. (Or a funeral. In my family, frequently that's what causes family reunions.) But we were at a park.

I was old enough that I could go to the bathroom by myself. This is an important fact, because while we were at this particular park I really, really had to go. So my grandparents took me over to a port-a-potty that was in this park, and I went in by myself, closed the door behind me, and proceeded to Take Care of Business.

It was dimly lit, and something about it just seemed wrong. I went to stand up, and suddenly there were things flying all around me. Screaming at the top of my tiny lungs, I forced the door open and tried to run away, but tripped and fell because I still had my pants down around my ankles.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of moths came hurtling out of that port-a-potty behind me.

When my mother relays that story, she often comments that my grandfather was initially convinced that there had been a hive of bees in there, since he saw his grand-daughter come screaming bloody murder and tons of insects flying out.


Thus began a long and abiding fear and loathing of all insects. Spiders top the list, because poisonous creatures with 8 hairy legs are terrifying; however, all insects are evil and suspect as far as I'm concerned.

Fast-forward 20-odd years to today.

Once again, I really, really had to go, so I sauntered into my own bathroom and proceeded to Take Care of Business. I had my iPhone with me, and thus was distracted, but I could sense that something just seemed wrong. I finished the job (complete with paperwork), and when I looked down, this is what I saw between the toilet and the wall:

All this is a picture I found on Google, and it still squicks me out!

And I proceeded to run from the bathroom, screaming at the top of my now much-larger lungs.

At first, I was convinced it was a spider, because from 5-6 feet away, all I saw was 8 long things extending out from an obviously insectoid body.

I believe I then proceeded to send Sam a profanity-laden message about a huge bleeping spider in the bathroom. When I went back to check on it, however, it had disappeared from where I had seen it.

(Yes, I did spend the afternoon curled up in a small ball on the couch, waiting for Sam to come home. Why do you ask?)

Eventually, Sam did come home, and we went back to the bathroom to see if we could track down the spider. When we found it, Sam surprised me by freaking out himself, "That's a bloody cave cricket! I hate those things!"

(Okay, so that's a highly sanitized version of what he said, but the gist is there.)

Apparently when he'd moved to town several years ago, he'd had a horrifying experience of one of them being between the sheets of his bed, and he's hated'em ever since. So now there were two full-grown adults who wanted absolutely nothing to do with that monstrosity in the bathroom. Sam suggested we sic the cats on'em.

I went back to the bedroom, trying to coax Techie, Nala, or Tiger to actually enter the bathroom, hopefully see the cricket, and commence with pouncing.

Can't you see we're sleeping, Mama?

They were most unimpressed by Sam and I's plight. Eventually, I dug out the laser pointer to trick Nala into running into the bathroom. Once she saw the cricket, she proceeded to masterfully chomp off the cricket's hind legs. No sooner had Nala's teeth closed on the cricket than Techie appeared out of the shadows like Batman. In three swift moves he somehow managed to trap the cricket under the bathroom trashcan.

Of course, now the cricket was trapped under the trash can, and the felines could not complete their meal. They spent the next five minutes trying to free the cricket again. Or maybe they were just torturing the leg that was still sticking out. Cats are sadistic that way.

Hearing the commotion in the bathroom, Tiger had to come check on her younger compatriots' handy-work. Seeing the other two batting at the trashcan, she heaved a sigh and nonchalantly let the cricket free from it's prison. Before the cricket had a chance to even register that it was no longer under the can, Tiger bit off another two legs with a surgeon's accuracy. A couple more swats, and then the three cats strutted back out of the bathroom, tails in the air.

I believe I mentioned cats are sadistic, yes? As proof, I submit that after batting around the cricket, eating off it's legs, and beating it some more, the three cats left the poor bastard twitching on the bathroom floor.


Finally, we decided the cats were not going to finish the job. (Or rather, it would take them another twelve hours to do so, with the periodic torture session, and we wanted to be able to use the bathroom.) Sam didn't want to touch it, and I sure as hell wasn't going to get close to it. After some thought, I got out my Swiffer mop (sans moist towelette) and  Sam proceeded to whack the cricket into oblivion. Once we were positive it was dead, we scooped it up in a Tupperware container I didn't want any more, and set it outside for the semi-feral cats to take care of.

Thanks for the noms, lady!

I hate bugs.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Angel Cole's Best Stuffing Ever

The Best Stuffing Ever

1 pan of cooked cornbread (6 cups crumbled)
4 tbsp of butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup chopped celery
1 small onion
4 eggs (beaten)
4 cups chicken stock
1 can cream of celery
2 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two 9x13 baking dishes. 

Crumble cooked cornbread into separate mixing bowl (should have about 6 cups). 

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the celery and onion until soft. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, onions, and cornbread. Then add eggs, chicken stock, and cream of celery, stirring after each item. Next add sage and thyme, mixing well. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Pour mixture into two 9x13 baking dishes. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2-3 sweet potatoes
1/2 & 1/2 (or milk, if you're health-conscious)
2 tbsp butter
Pinch of brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash, peel, and cube potatoes into 1 inch chunks. In medium to large sauce pan, cover sweet potatoes with water. Cook on high heat until water is boiling, then reduce to medium to medium-high and boil for 12-15 minutes, until tender when you stick it with a fork. Drain water. Partially mash the potatoes, then add 1/2 & 1/2 or milk until you can just see it at the edges, approximately a third to a half a cup. Mash further, then add butter and brown sugar. Finish mashing until potatoes are at consistency desired (I like them to still be a little lumpy, but that's me). Salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Angel Cole's Rosemary Tri-Rolls

Angel Cole's Rosemary Tri-rolls
It's dangerous to go alone. Take this.

1 cup warm milk (70-80 degrees Fahrenheit)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2-1/4 active dry yeast (NOT bread machine yeast)

Additional ingredients: 1 stick of butter, 1 tbsp dried rosemary

In bread machine pan, put all ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer. For Sunbeam, add wet ingredients, then the sugar and salt, then the flour. After all the flour is there, make a small hole about the size of your pinkie in the flour, but DO NOT break the surface to the wet stuff below. Fill the small hole with active dry yeast.

Next, select the dough setting on the machine and walk away for about an hour and a half. Once the cycle is complete, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flour your hands. Then get out two large muffin pans and grease them. Take the dough and rub small amounts between your hands to make balls about the size of walnut, and then place three dough balls into each muffin tin. Make sure you leave plenty of room for the rolls to rise. (You should end up with approximately 24 tri-rolls.)

Cover the rolls with a dish towel and place in a warm, out of the way place to let them rise for at least 2-3 hours. Once risen, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt 1 stick of butter, then lightly brush the butter on top of the rise rolls. Next, generously sprinkle rosemary over the tops of the rolls.

Bake rolls for 13-16 minutes or until golden brown. Once golden brown, pull out rolls and brush butter over the tops of them once more.

Sam's Turkey Rub

Sam's Turkey Rub

3/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp rosemary
2 tbsp sage
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, sage, basil, marjoram, thyme, and pepper. Next, wash the turkey inside and out, remembering to remove the neck and bag of organs, then pat dry with paper towels. Gently loosen the skin from the breast of the turkey--do this by slowly working your fingers between the breast the skin. Work it on loose to the end of the drumstick, doing your level best not to tear the skin. 

Once the skin is loose, use your hand to spread a generous amount of the spice mixture under the breast skin and down the thigh and leg. Rub the remainder of the spice mixture over the outside of the breast and drumsticks. Then, use toothpicks to seal skin over any exposed breast meat, and to hold the wings in if necessary.

Angel Cole's Uber-Simple Cornbread

Angel Cole's Uber-Simple Cornbread

3/4 cup corn meal
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup oil
1 egg (beaten)
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and Grease a 9x13 pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine together all the dry ingredients. Then add in the milk, oil, and beaten egg, and stir just until the cornmeal mixture is thoroughly moist. No need to stir until creamy or any such nonsense. Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes back clean. While the cornbread's still hot, spread 2 tbsp butter over the top of the bread.

Thanksgiving 2010

Author's Note: I'm posting the self-created recipes in separate posts, because they were cluttering up this entry WAY too much, and will also allow for easier linkage and searching in the future. Once they're all posted, I will come back and update this entry with the proper links. Please have patience as this will take me about an hour to accomplish. For all of you who will read this after that hour, well, you now know how I work.

Author's Note 2: While I was working on this, Kim went into the hospital again for early contractions. Please take a moment to pray for her if  you're reading this. Remember, God's outside of time and space, so it'll help even if she's safe and home by the time you read this!

Kim is a very wise and intelligent lady. Ergo, if she gives you advice, you should at the very least give it serious consideration, and would be smart yourself to actually follow it. So, when she pointed out in the previous post that Thanksgiving meals and Christmas meals often overlap, I said to myself, "Self, Kim has just given you excellent and sensible advice. Go ahead and post your Thanksgiving."

So I'm going to go ahead and tell y'all (all six of you ;-) what Sam and I made/did for Thanksgiving, complete with appropriate linkage. Sadly, I didn't think to take any pictures of what we made, mostly because iPhone's are horrible for taking pictures of food with. Or anything that requires fiddling with one's aperture or shutter speed for, since that's not something one can do. At least, not on the 3GS. 

(When Sam and I were living in the Horrible, Dark, Crappy Apartment, we tried to take pictures of some of the food we were making for me to post on the blog. It did not turn out well, at all. Blurry, dark, grainy... ick.)

Ah well. That being said, here's what we did:

We got up at what normally would be the reasonable hour of 9:00, except that it was completely UN-reasonable thanks to staying far, far too late at Walking Hyperbole and Adorable Nurse's house the night before. Sam and I got home at approximately 3:30 am. 

But we finally captured that thrice-damned vampire! 

Ahem. Anyway.

We got up, and after having a light breakfast of coffee and cereal, we started out by making cornbread, which would eventually get turned into The Best Stuffing Ever (which was based on this recipe at Originally, my Praise-God-That-She-Is-Mine Mother-in-law was going to bring over the stuffing that Granny used to make, along with a sweet potato casserole, but due to Poppy's passing she and my Oh So Punny Father-in-law were unable to attend. Because of this, I had to punt and figure out how to do dressing on my own.

My first inclination was to go with Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving Stuffing, but I didn't have nearly enough time to do it properly, i.e. let the bread chunks sit out for 24 hours to become sufficiently dried out, nor was I going to be feeding ten people. Instead, at about 5 o'clock on Wednesday I settled on playing with the recipe above.

Now, the original recipe called for just using a box of Jiffy's cornbread mix, but I like making cornbread from scratch, so that's what we did. 

Once the cornbread is done, Sam normally likes to take a stick of butter, peel back a bit of the wrapper, and spread butter over the top of the hot cornbread and let it soak on down (normally works out to about 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter). For the purposes of the dressing, though, we abstained. We then cleared off the top of one of the bookshelves and placed the cornbread (uncovered) on a cooling rack on said bookshelf, and then promptly forgot about until it was time to make the dressing.

After the cornbread was out of the way, we kicked the oven down to 275 degrees, and began prep on the Turkey. One of these days, I really, really want to try brining a turkey. However, from what I've read, brining is not something you want to do with a frozen turkey, which is what Sam and I had. Instead, Sam and I did a spice rub on the turkey.

This took us about 30 minutes to do in total. Sadly, probably 10 of that was Sam and I trying to find where the bloody bag of organs had disappeared to inside of the turkey. In our defense, neither one of us had ever cooked a turkey before.

The oven had gone down to temperature by that point, so we proceeded to follow Pioneer Woman's "How to Roast a Thanksgiving Turkey" and put the turkey onto the rack in it's roasting pan before covering it tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil. Ree's rule of thumb is that for each pound of turkey, you roast it for 10 minutes. We had a 14 pound turkey, so we set a timer for 2.5 hours, popped it in the oven, and heaved a sigh of relief. Don't worry though, we eventually got back to that turkey and cooked it at a higher temp later.

(At this point, I'd like to take a moment and make what should be a fairly obvious aside: I'm absolutely in love with The Pioneer Woman's website. It's all about food, photography, homeschooling, kids, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, prairie fires, burping, and Ethel Merman. If you like any of the above, check it out. If you have no qualms about cooking with lots of butter and cream, be sure to check out her cooking section. Or better yet, get a copy of her cookbook. Pick one up for me too while you're at it. ;-)

(Another aside: I am in no way, shape, or form being compensated to shill for her website. I just think it's pretty darn awesome.)

The time was now about a quarter to noon, give or take a few minutes. Having just popped that turkey into the oven, I then turned to my highly beloved Sunbeam bread machine to make Rosemary Tri-rolls. If you don't have a bread machine, then you can always use this no-knead bread recipe to get started with. I, however, am blessed with a bread machine, and took advantage of it.

Once the bread machine was set to work, Sam and I tried to figure out what to do with ourselves for an hour or so, since our cooking schedule had a nice break in it. After some waffling, I mentioned that I really wanted to watch the original Star Wars for some reason. Sam pounced on the idea, and declared we'd start a family tradition of watching the original Star Wars Trilogy on Thanksgiving, because they're movies we both love and can quote from memory, which means when we're busy doing stuff in the kitchen, it's okay 'cause we still know what's going on even if we can't see the screen. Plus, it's just comforting.

So we had A New Hope going, and around 1:30 or so the bread machine was done making dough for us. We then proceeded to make the actual tri-rolls, then set them on top of the stove with a dish towel over them to let them rise.

The timing worked out well, because as we finished setting aside the rolls the timer went off on the turkey. we pulled the turkey out and kicked the temperature on the oven up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. We melted a stick of butter, and then removed the aluminum foil from the turkey. Setting aside the foil to be used later on, we brushed that wonderful, melted butter all over the outside of the turkey. Once buttered, we put the uncovered turkey back into the oven. Every 30 minutes afterwards, we'd remove the turkey and baste it with butter again, until the meat thermometer read between 165 and 170 and the juices from the turkey ran clear. Any hint of pink and back into the oven it went.

When we checked it at about 4:00, (we'd progressed to Empire Strikes Back, and Luke was finding out that the strange Muppet tormenting him was actually Yoda) the turkey was almost done, so we popped it back into the oven for a final 30 minutes. During this time is when we started prep for our side dishes: whiskey-glazed carrots, green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, and, oh yeah, The Best Stuffing Ever. By prep, I mean we washed, peeled, and chopped up the carrots and potatoes, combined all the ingredients for the green bean casserole, and combined all the ingredients for the stuffing. When that turkey was done, we wanted to be ready to throw all the rest of that stuff in and get going. 

At about 4:30, Sam pulled the turkey out, checked it to make sure it was cooked, and then ran out to pick up Aunt Karen, our fantastic dinner guest for the evening. :-D As soon as the turkey was out, I turned the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for the dressing and green bean casserole, which would bake simultaneously for about 30 minutes. 

This, my friends, was a mistake. 

Not because I was baking them at the same time, but because what I SHOULD have done was pop the rolls in to cook, since they also bake at 375 degrees, but I just wasn't thinking. Instead, I did the green beans and dressing first, and I had to move the rolls off of the stove top so that I could cook the yams and the carrots, which resulted in the rolls collapsing back in on the tops before I could get them into the oven.

Live and learn.

The casserole and stuffing cooked up just wonderfully, however, and I'd just set the taters to boiling and the carrots to simmering when Sam came home with Karen. While Karen played with the kitties and watched Luke discover that *SPOILER* Darth Vader's his father, Sam started making the turkey giblet gravy. 

By 5:15, we were sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast, where the only thing sad was the the rolls whose tops had collapsed. The turkey was very juicy and tasty, Aunt Karen raved over the carrots, and I think had Sam not already married me, he would have proposed over the stuffing, and I'd have accepted because of his Turkey Gravy.

And if not the stuffing, then definitely would have proposed over the pie.

The pie!

I forgot to mention that on Wednesday, I'd gone ahead and made a Pumpkin Cream Pie with a home-made graham cracker crust and a splash of Southern Comfort for good measure. It truly was sinfully delicious, and I would make it for every holiday, except I think Sam really, really wants me to make a Mocha Silk Pie next.

So that was our adventures in cooking on Thanksgiving. :-D Mostly successful, and next year I'll know how to time things better!