Let the Thanksgiving games begin!

Wow, it’s been quite a whirlwind since I last posted. Not only has The Flirt moved in (more about that later) but I have gone back to my seasonal job at The Big Red Box Store on top of my regular day job. I have been on the run, and it’s not going to slow down until after Christmas. Uff da…

Anyway, Thanksgiving is next week and I am getting ready to go grocery shopping for everything we will need that day. After many years of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, we have this down to a science. I cook the stuffed turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and provide the pickles, veggies and lefse (Norwegian flatbread), Cookie Salad, and anything else I feel like making. Mom brings the Green Bean Hotdish and sweet potatoes, and our friends will bring homemade bread and desert.

OMG… my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Lots of work to do between then and now, the biggest of which is the shopping. Today, I’m sitting in my favorite blogging spot with the recipe box, my favorite recipe book, and a cup of tea. The Flirt is sleeping in, so I’m enjoying this quiet meal planning ritual. Very soon, though, I’m going to have to start laundry, and then shopping. I made the mistake of sleeping in, when I should have been up and had most of my chores done before first light. Oh well…there’s that darned “should” again.

Here’s hoping you are all enjoying doing some small thing that makes you happy, whether it’s a daily, sometimes, or annual thing. Life’s too short not to just stop and do happy things, even if you have to shoehorn them into an already busy schedule. Blessings all!!

Struggling not to multitask

I would have bet the whole farm that I had to work at the Big Red Box Store tonight. I even got dressed and went there after working all day at my primary job, and tried to sign in to work. Well, will wonders never cease…the time clock wouldn’t let me in because I actually didn’t have to work.


So, what does a girl do with an unexpected night off do? She obsesses about what to do with all of that extra time. Too much work to do at home.

As if working two jobs wasn’t work enough, there’s always a lot that needs doing at home. Especially when I do have to work tomorrow night, and Thanksgiving night, and I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Not that cooking Thanksgiving dinner is terrible work. It’s quite a labor of love. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I LOVE cooking for my friends and family. We’ve got it down to a science. I cook the Turkey, Ham, and potatoes, and set up all of the little extras like the veggie tray, pickles and some side dishes like Cookie Salad. OMG…Cookie Salad. I can’t wait! Mom brings the Green Bean Hotdish, and my friends bring the best homemade bread and deserts. OMG…I can’t wait!!!

But, I digress…Thanksgiving is a lovely distraction.

Our society is so consumed with the idea of multitasking, and it’s something I have become so trained to have to do constantly, that it’s next to impossible for me to sincerely enjoy an unexpected night off. Just to lounge around binge watching something I’ve been missing out on, or putz around my house doing something I feel like doing, as opposed to something that needs doing, is not possible without guilt.

That’s right…I feel guilty for enjoying down time. Therefore, I don’t.

I always have to have something else going on in the background. Tonight, it’s the laundry running while I am avoiding being productive. That’s worth something, right?

My question, to myself as well as to you, my Faithful Readers, is why is it so terrible to enjoy time doing nothing? American society prizes hard work to the point of exhaustion. If you are sitting, and not being productive in some way, you aren’t working hard enough. If you are on time, you are late. If you don’t work overtime you are lazy. Sheesh…I can’t even watch TV, or go out somewhere, anymore unless I at least have laundry going.

What happened to doing a good day’s work and then going home and doing whatever the hell you feel like? Without guilt, without worry. A person should have a whole weekend to be able to rest, relax and putz around the house, or around the yard. Or just sleep until you are fully rested. What the heck does being rested feel like?

I’m only 46, and I feel like I have traversed a longer road than my age would give evidence of. I have felt like I needed to pack in a whole lot of living in between my two jobs, and I have done a pretty decent job of it.  Nobody can accuse me of not checking things off of my Bucket List.

In the last few months, I have become aware that I crave a few things. I so badly would like to slow down. I have run at such a fast pace in the last five years, and in stressful circumstances, that I feel like I am burning out.

I crave to do things that feed my soul. Crafts, gardening, reading. I love all of those things, but have lost the drive to do any of it because there just isn’t much time to really do them.

I crave so  badly to turn my weigh-station of a house into a home.  A real home where I get to cook something for supper every night. A real home that I get to spend time in. A real home where I get to have company more often than just Thanksgiving.

Changes are coming. They will be slow and deliberate, but they are coming. One more thing I crave to do and don’t have much time for is writing. Well, look at me…looks like I’ve taken a step forward tonight!

Here’s hoping that you don’t suffer from relaxation guilt and that your life is slow and and as non-productive as makes your life lovely. Blessings all!


In anticipation of Thanksgiving and it’s traditions

Everyone has a favorite holiday, and this little Sparrow is no exception. Thanksgiving is the one I love the best, and I’m always excited when this time of year comes around.

As a kid, I have very fond memories of Thanksgiving and, although I am a huge turkey fan, I think it was a house full of my family and friends having fun and eating together that was the best part. It never ceased to amaze me just how many people we could stuff into Aunty B’s little house. Some how there was always room for everyone, and more food than you can imagine. Most years we went to Aunty B’s, but we had Thanksgiving at our house or Grandma’s once in a while too.

Even though most of my older relatives have passed away, Thanksgiving still comes around every year, along with its associated traditions. One tradition that I never understood is that we always eat at 1pm, as opposed to 5 or 6 pm, and I think it’s because when supper time hits, everyone is looking forward to digging out the leftovers for round two! I know I sure am…

I love to cook, and I really enjoy having my house full of my favorite people. Not only do I love having the excuse to use my china, but I also love using the china I inherited from Aunty B, the pretty bowls I inherited from Grandma, and the serving dishes from their mother’s china. Using their dishes for Thanksgiving is a little like having them here with us, and that is a tradition I couldn’t do without. I love  to listen to my friends and family talking and laughing while eating the food we all made. I love to listen to all of the kids joking around and having a good time together. I love hanging out with the other ladies in the kitchen afterwards, putting things away and clearing up the dishes.

One tradition I miss terribly is playing cards all afternoon after everything has been cleared away from the meal. After all the older relatives passed away, nobody played cards or games anymore. A new tradition that the kids have started is having a Wii tournament. It’s not card playing, but it’s close enough! Forging new traditions is alright with me, and it’s amazing to me how they spring up out of nowhere, like a crocus blooming in what’s left of the snow in Spring time. What a lovely and unexpected surprise!

When my ex-husband left, one of the things I had to try to figure out was how to move forward with family traditions. Christmas was a tough one, especially given that it was more his favorite holiday than mine. I was worried that the lack of his presence would leave a hole that was a little obvious and loud, but what I discovered was that as long as everything else was kept the same, him being gone really didn’t matter so much. The routine of that day was what saved it and made it good.

Traditions aren’t always things we do, but the food as well. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and all the rest of the trimmings. There’s something heavenly about the smell of cooking turkey, that makes my heart burst with joy.

In just a few minutes I’m going to get dressed and go over to my friend’s house, and we girls are going to make lefse while the men are out deer hunting. This will be the third year running for that activity, so I will count that as one of my new Thanksgiving traditions too. After that, I’m taking Older Son out to lunch and then we are going shopping for everything we need for Thanksgiving day…this also has potential for becoming a tradition.

I am thankful for so many things and you, my 32 faithful readers (Wow!) are most definitely included. I wish you all, and for all who stumble upon my little corner of the internet, a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s my fondest wish for you that you have as much to be grateful for as I do, and that you find as much joy in your old holiday traditions, and in discovering new ones as I do. Blessings to you all…

Something to look forward to

I was just sitting here thinking about the fact that I forgot to plug my van in overnight. That could be bad since, with windchill factored in, it was at least -20 last night. Oh well. It usually starts pretty well, and I’ve got high hopes that it will be ok this morning. I’ll just have to leave it running for a good long time before we leave for work and school today.

As I was thinking about that, I began to think about all the other extra stuff you have to do to survive when winter comes and I was appalled at what it entails. Luckily enough, there are blessings to be found everywhere:

1. Everyone needs a whole extra suit of cold weather gear, head to toe. Most years you just use what you had last year, but it must be maintained and items replaced as they wear out…kind of like a soft suit of armor. (Thank goodness I was able to afford to get the boys new jackets this year.)

2. You must plug your vehicle in when it gets cold, otherwise it may not start, and it requires a special heavy-duty extension cord that can withstand low temperatures. (The good news is that these are pretty cheaply found at The Big Box Store.)

3. Your vehicle must be winterized: make sure the engine is in good running order, change out bad wiper blades, and remember to stow away your blankets and winter survival kit. (Thank goodness we can make our vehicles go in the cold. I can’t imagine being cooped up all winter without being able to get anywhere.)

4. A specialized shovel is required to be able to move large amounts of snow out of the way. In many cases, people hurl the snow out of the way with snow blowers. (In my case, I am fortunate to have teenage boys to hurl my snow for me!)

5. Homes must be winterized. Special attention needs to be paid to windows, doors, and any other spots that may leak cold air inside. Any leaks must be caulked up, and if the window is old, it’s a good idea to cover the whole thing with plastic. (I’m so happy that I won’t have to put plastic on the windows this year…I’m getting them replaced!)

6. All travel plans made during the winter are tentative, subject to the weather. A good example is the storm that beginning to blow through the whole Northern region, preventing my brother and his family from traveling to my house for Thanksgiving. Curse you, Old Man Winter. (At least they will be safe and warm, and they have his wife’s family close by)

While there are many ways to feel blessed in the winter time, there is also something to look forward to: Spring!

It’s always such a relief to shuck the winter jackets, put away the shovels, and stow the sweaters. It’s such a blessing to step out of the house and feel the sun shine on more of your skin than the little bit of your face that isn’t covered up with a scarf. Just four more months!

Batten down the hatches, an Alberta Clipper is coming!

What’s an Albert Clipper?

Is it a boat? No. Is it a brand of hair clippers? No. Is it a wind storm that can freeze the flesh off of your bones? Yes, oh yes.

We here in North Dakota have been spoiled rotten with the weather this Autumn. By this time, in a normal year, we should have at least a foot of snow on the ground. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve had only one blizzard, and in the North Central part of the State, it’s all melted away and we are left with bare ground again.

Old Man Winter may not have been able to conjure up lasting snow for us, yet, but word has it that we are going to be having a series of Alberta Clippers sweeping through this week.

According to Wikipedia:

An Alberta clipper (also known as a Canadian Clipper) is a fast-moving low pressure area which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the United States.[1] Most clippers occur between December and February, but can also occur occasionally in the month of November. Alberta clippers take their name from Alberta, Canada, the province from which they appear to descend, and from clipper ships of the 19th century, one of the fastest ships of that time.[2]

The storms sweep in at high-speed over whatever land they encounter, usually bringing with them sharp cold fronts and drastically lower temperatures. It is not uncommon for an Alberta clipper to cause temperatures to drop by 30°F (16°C) in as little as 10 to 12 hours. Often, the storms bring biting winds with them, only increasing the effect of the newly lower temperatures. Winds in advance of and during an Alberta clipper are frequently as high as 35 to 45 mph (56 to 72 km/h). These conditions would cause wind chill values to drop into the -20 to -50 Fahrenheit (-30 to -45 Celsius) range[4].

Oh well…the good weather couldn’t have lasted forever. The good news is that they generally don’t bring a lot of snow with them, so there’s something to be grateful for. Time to batten down the hatches and bundle up the children. The wind is going to blow hard and cold. Not the kind of thing you want to get caught outside in.

Something else that’s good news is that Thanksgiving is coming, and it’s an indoor activity!

One Holiday At A Time, PLEASE!

As I was leaving after work at The Big Box Store for the night yesterday, I ran into a friend/co-worker who was putting up the Christmas tree. Yep…it was Halloween night, and we’re already putting up the Christmas trees. I just wanted to groan out loud. We hadn’t even got to fully enjoy Halloween before Christmas is already being advertised, and skipping right over Thanksgiving, which is another 25 days away.

Sigh…I’m already feeling a little beat up by Christmas, and it’s only November 1st.

Part of it is that I really love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday of all, and it always gets kind of drowned out by Christmas before it even has a chance to arrive. Another part of it is that Christmas has gotten to be such an over-commercialized behemoth, that by the time I get to the Day, I’m so grateful to have it finished I could cry for joy.  I always feel more than a little relieved between Christmas and New Years Day.

So, in protest of this holiday over-crowding, I’m changing the background on my blog to reflect the next holiday coming up. It’s but a small squeak in the dark, but it’s my squeak, and I’m sticking to it.

Digging deep…this morning’s blessings

With Autumn approaching, I find that I’m feeling hum drum, and just down in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year with the beauty of the changing trees, the Autumn smells in the air, and just the fresh crisp feel of the season. It’s a beautiful time of year, and yet I find the specter of the coming Winter overshadows it to the point of making me feel some dread. I’ve been told that we should expect 2 1/2 degrees colder temps on average, as well as 4 more total inches of snow this winter. We had a hard time finding places to put it all last year, and I can’t imagine trying to store more of the stuff. Uff-da….

Anyway, in the effort to drag my attitude out of the basement and into the light, I’m digging deep, with my trusty snow shovel,  for whatever blessings come to mind this morning, and they are as follows:

1. When the ground freezes and the snow falls, there will be no chance that I will get leakage in my basement from a severe thunderstorm.

2. I am fortunate enough to have two strong sons to help me shovel out. I also have some extra cash I’m going to pay my neighbor with the Bobcat to clear my driveway when the snow is so deep it would take us hours to clear by hand.

3. I have a have a nice warm winter jacket, which I affectionately call the Big Brown Bear suit. It’s never failed me, except that the pockets have holes that need sewing up. After 12 years, if that’s the only malfunction that happens, no big deal. I have a needle and thread.

4. Snow really is pretty. There’s nothing more peaceful than when the land has a fresh coat of snow on it. Not only is it peaceful to see, but it lends an extra measure of quiet to everything that is like nothing else.

5. While Christmas, in all its commercial glory, is not my favorite holiday, I love how everything is covered with lights at Christmas time. When everything is so dark that we hardly get to see the sunshine, it’s nice to have those little lights twinkling in the darkness. Sometimes I take the long way to where I’m going just so I can take in some more of the holiday decorations.

6. I like holiday food. Some of the best traditional holiday food is only made in the Winter. Lefse is a good example. I learned how to make lefse last year, and I  plan on making homemade lefse for Thanksgiving and Christmas. No promises about Easter, it’s just too darned busy that time of year.

7. Speaking of holiday food, Thanksgiving is coming up. Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. I live for roasting turkey, and making the whole dinner with all the trimmings. I love to have people over and make a big day of it. I can’t wait!

Well, I supposed that will have to be enough for now. It’s time to get the boys off to school, and me to work. I hope you all have a blessing-filled day.

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