Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do You Know the Gingerbread Man?

I have always liked gingerbread houses. They're so pretty, they're so Christmas. They remind me of the dollhouse I had as a child and even kind of the Barbie Palace Jess had as a child. Or the Legos the kids had. Small houses fascinate me. Probably because they are not so large that I can't control the cleaning of them or the possible freakout of the water heater that ruins the carpet in the closet, or the weird rupture of something under the kitchen sink that ruins the floors of the kitchen and dining room, which actually turned out to be a good thing because those floors were horrible and the insurance paid to replace them.

Jess and I tried constructing a gingerbread house some years ago, made the gingerbread from scratch, even. It was a disaster. We figured we'd made the gingerbread too heavy for the icing that was supposed to hold it together.

So hubby and I were in Sam's Club a couple of weeks ago and I saw a gingerbread house kit that had EVERYTHING you need to make one. It was only ten bucks and I thought maybe we could redeem ourselves and have a pleasant mother/daughter afternoon doing so.

Here's what happened. That's our scarecrow in the background. He's supposed to be outside, but it's been so windy that we have let him stay in, rather than get blown into the next county. I don't know what happened to the center of the box, but it looks quite creepy. What the focus is supposed to be is the upper left corner. That's the quintessential gingerbread house.

So we were decorating the roof and sides of the house and then we attempted to put it together. It worked.

At first. Until this happened.

We tried a number of things after that and it didn't turn out well for the house. Here is our attempt at keeping up the roof.

We however, did have a nice mother/daughter time eating frosting, candy, and gingerbread. The bottom line was that the house fell down and killed all the snowmen. The carnage was horrendous.

We probably won't be trying this again soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

My non-profit had a 'garage sale' after we moved out of the old buiding, and hubby bought a huge desk. That is a whole other blog post. But, I got to set up an office for him and move his stuff from the dining room table and living room floor into the 'spare' bedroom. After which I went into a cleaning frenzy and spent about 16 hours Monday and Tuesday sprucing things up. So Wednesday, I did the mani-pedi thing.

While my feet were being pampered, I listened to a conversation between a woman getting a manicure and the owner of the nail establishment. It started out with her asking him if he had ever smoked, and he replied that he never had, but his father does. And then the conversation went something like where does your father live, Oklahoma City, have you always lived in Oklahoma and he said no. He said that his father used to work for the North Vietnamese government, until they changed and became Communist, after which his father spent 8 years in a Vietnamese prison. They were finally able to make some sort of application to come to the United States "and have freedom."

He said that a church sponsered them to come to the United States and paid for their housing and food for the first several months they were here trying to get on their feet. Once they were employed and had steady income, they paid the church back every penny. He lived in California for awhile, but didn't like it because people were too materialistic and life was too fast paced. He likes living in small town Oklahoma where the cost of living is good and things are more laid back.

"I don't need a lot of money. My business is good, I can buy a house, I can raise my children in a free country. That's all we need. We're very happy."

His appreciation for everything he has, and his humility, really made an impression on me. Here we are complaining about the price of gas, the plummeting stock market, crappy economy and a lot of other things, and we take our freedom for granted. I was glad I was present to hear his story, and freedom was one of the things at the top of my blessings list on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I love the food network. And I love to cook. I like trying new things, sometimes getting fancy, but mostly cooking is a way of nurturing. For instance, I spent last Sunday afternoon using leftover turkey to make a pot pie and a casserole to send back to school with my daughter. After which, I made a batch of apple cinnamon jelly and a batch of hot pepper relish.

The food network has started doing holiday shows, which fascinate me. The fascination part being how they can spend so much time doing things that are completely unnecessary. There are some things we can do without.

We don't really need to talk about fruitcake because we all know there are many uses for fruitcake that do not include ingesting it. Speed bumps, sending it to the troops so they can drop it on the enemy, the list is endless.

Mincemeat. The dried fruit is good, but then you get to the meat. It reminds me of the 'Friends' episode where Rachel makes the trifle, mixes up the pages in the cookbook and puts beef sauteed with onions in the middle. "It tastes like feet!"

Giblet gravy. I like it but my family will gag and run for the barf pan if I put anything in the gravy besides maybe mushrooms. So I just eat the liver, gizzard and heart myself, which grosses them out anyway. In our house, gravy comes from a can.

Scalloped potatoes. Thanksgiving potatoes are mashed and covered with canned gravy. And the potatoes come out of a box. You mix them with milk and some butter. I used to boil potatoes and mash them until I discovered that my family liked the kind in the box better.

Homemade egg nog. Alton Brown has a recipe that uses 4 eggs, a pint of whole milk, a cup of heavy cream, some sugar, bourbon and freshly ground nutmeg. Egg nog comes in a carton. You pour it out into a glass and, if you like, you add some booze. Feel free to sprinkle some nutmeg, from a small can, on top.

Stuffing with nuts or worse, oysters or sausage. I like oysters, just not in my stuffing. Stuffing comes in a box. You add water and butter.

Last, but by no means least, cranberry sauce. The food network chefs go out into the bog and pick fresh cranberries, bring them home and do weird things to them. They add nuts and other kinds of fruit and make a huge deal out of the 'presentation' and how beautiful the dish is. Cranberry sauce should have can lines. Period.