Although our tree has technically been up for about a week, we didn’t decorate it until today. It’s such fun unwrapping all the ornaments, isn’t it? We don’t have a specific theme for our tree; we just have lots and lots of different ornaments that we’ve collected through the years, a few going back to the 1970s. (Drew’s mom gave him an ornament every year!) Whenever we go someplace on vacation or on any kind of special trip we like to purchase something to use as an ornament for the tree. Also, I admit to hitting the Hallmark Keepsake ornaments hard after Christmas every year when they go on clearance for 50% off!
This year we had popcorn garland, but we forgot to put it on until we were halfway-through decorating. So, it’ll just have to wait until next year. (Have you ever tried to put garland on a tree that’s already been decorated? If you can do it, then you are much more skilled than I am — of course I’m pretty klutzy all around so it’s probably that most people would have no trouble!)
Here’s a peek at the finished tree:
Yes, we do even have the train going around! A few years ago the boys received this Lionel train as a gift from Drew’s aunt. We’ll probably have to box it up for a year or two once this season is over, though. It’s quite fragile and once Laura is mobile, well… I’m not going to risk her damaging it. She’s already grabbing and going after things! Have you put up your tree yet? Be sure to post a photo when you do and let me know. I just love looking at everyone’s trees!
Our lights are also up outside. I will have to take a photo of the house later. Drew has these neat mounts that snap onto the gutters so he can put them up from the ground — no need to stand on a ladder. It makes it so much easier for him and I since he’s not 10 feet up, I don’t need to worry (or be outside spotting the ladder). I still have a little decorating I’d like to do, but it’s plenty early. I’m glad the big stuff is all set, though!
Like the crazy shopper I am, I went back to the mall today. Yesterday’s mail brought me a small windfall to use on myself and I could use some new clothes so… off I went. I scored a pair of purple cords at JC Penney’s, but I have to return the other items I bought, unfortunately. I was so excited with the two shirts, the sweater, and the scarf I found at Charlotte Russe, but one shirt (a size medium) was absolutely enormous, as was the sweater. The other shirt was skin tight. Ugh. Are they labeling clothes different so that people don’t feel bad about how big they are? Because there is no way I’m a size small. I also didn’t realize that the scarf was damaged until I went home so it will all go back. Same with the shirt I bought at Old Navy. It, too, seems to be too big for its size. Well, money back in my pocket I guess. Maybe there is a better deal waiting for me somewhere
Noah was thrilled to get a peek at Santa Claus. He gave the big guy a shy little wave. We’ll bring the kids back another day when they’re dressed a little nicer and try to get a photo. This year they are using an empty storefront to accommodate Santa. It’s actually set up really nice. In previous years this mall’s Santa display has been… lacking. Next to Santa’s alcove is a set-up for a camping/RV store. There’s mannequins and various camping-related items. It kind of looks like Santa made his way to the Hudson Valley in a motorhome, though, rather than in a sleigh. Of course, I’m sure he’d have no problem getting rv financing — after all, he does own a toy factory, right?
Ah, Thanksgiving! Ours was very low-fi this year. Drew and I are feeling a bit under the weather and his aunt is still is recovery-mode from her heart surgery back in October, so we didn’t go crazy with anything this year. I didn’t contribute too much to the food, really. I made a pink grapefruit cheeseball (from a Tastefully Simple mix, so it wasn’t much effort, LOL!) and stuffed celery (because to me, celery slathered with cream cheese and green olives is as necessary as the turkey). Drew made the cornbread and we headed down to Westchester for a very traditional dinner of roast turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and cole slaw.
I could do without the sweet potatoes or turnips, and I always find the cornbread odd because it’s not something I grew up with, but it’s interesting how each family has its own traditions. Cole slaw is another dish that I feel is unique to my in-laws’ Thanksgiving table. My family always does a big tossed green salad with Italian dressing. The cole slaw does go well, though.
My mother-in-law makes the best stuffing in the world, in case you didn’t know. It’s her mother’s recipe and it is seriously the best with the sausage and the cranberries. So good. She makes a great turkey as well. I was so full from dinner that I really didn’t feel much like dessert, so I only had a couple cookies. Yes, we all ate well.
This morning we went out for little Black Friday shopping. I don’t care, I always enjoy going out the day after Thanksgiving. It’s something I’ve done for years. The sales were a little underwhelming this year, but we had fun nonetheless. I think I just get excited about it because it’s the one day a year when I don’t have to sit around waiting for the stores to open up. Drew and I were up shortly after 5 (thanks to my little alarm clock, Laura) and once Noah woke up around 5:30 we were able to head out. (Jake is at his grandma’s until tomorrow.)
We’ll finish putting up our Christmas decorations this weekend. Drew put up the lights on the house today and our tree is up and ready to be decorated. Hard to believe that December is so close!
It’s deer season here in the Hudson Valley, so when I heard a “bang” slightly before 6 this morning, I just assumed some hunter shot his Thanksgiving dinner and rolled back over. When Laura woke up and I walked into the den, I looked out the window and realized that the noise wasn’t a shotgun after all. No, it was one of the woodpiles. Somehow it had fallen over. Poor Drew was not happy to know this, since he now has to restack it all.
In other news, I’m so pleased! Last night I put 328 photos from this year into photo albums. I’m caught up through Halloween. I have a couple years’ worth of photos in envelopes in my closet that need to be put in order and in albums, but I’m thinking that with all the deals going on right now on various photo processing sites, I just might limit it to 200 photos per year that I need to catch up (I use albums that hold 200 photos), order them a year at a time, and get them in albums just so I can have everything up to date. I can use the prints I already have as extras or let the kids use them for photo albums of their own.
One thing I wish I had a photo of is this ridiculous camper that’s on someone’s property en route to the library. It’s a complete piece of junk, but it’s “FREE!!!” (as the crudely spraypaint-on-plywood sign proclaims). It can’t be driveable. There’s no way you’d get motorhome insurance for it. I haven’t the foggiest idea what someone would do with it. I have to return some books on Saturday so I’ll be curious if it’s still there.
What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year? We’re having a very low-key dinner at Drew’s mom’s house. I’m bringing my Tastefully Simple grapefruit cheeseball (YUM!) and I’m also making stuffed celery because to me it just isn’t turkey day without it. We’re also in charge of wine (big surprise, right?). Originally I was going to make dessert, but my MIL had an apple pie in the freezer and someone brought her a tray of cookies, so there’s no sense in going crazy on the sweets since no one really feels like dessert anyway. I’ll save my cheesecake for another time.
Yesterday was the “Thanksgiving Feast” at Noah’s nursery school. The kids sang a song and then the teachers read how each child described what their Thanksgiving would be like. Noah’s going to be sorely disappointed, I’m afraid, LOL! See here:
When Jake was in nursery school at least he mentioned turkey in his description (as well as olives and tacos!). I wonder what kind of “grown-up stuff” Noah thinks we’ll buy? A natural acne treatment? Blank DVDs? Groceries? Shampoo? I can only imagine.
I read a lot of natural living-type blogs and over and over again I keep seeing the term “bone broth” come up. Bone broth this and bone broth that. What on earth is this magic bone broth? Well, come to find out it’s exactly how I make chicken stock. I think “bone broth” must be a buzzword or something because it’s certainly not new. In fact, I don’t even call it stock I just call it soup.
Soup is something I eat a lot of, and I prefer my own chicken soup (well, my mom’s is the best naturally, but I think I do okay). Since I’m still trying to meet my weight loss goal, and I’m still nursing, a cup of soup and a sandwich is my standard lunch — easy, healthy, and nourishing. The best diet pills can’t possibly taste as good!
At any rate, a lot of the blogs suggested making the stock, bone broth, whatever you call it in a slow cooker. Now, I’ve always made mine on the stove in a pot. There’s no rhyme or reason, really. I basically take a stock pot and fill it with a chicken carcass (from either a chicken I roasted myself or a rotisserie chicken when I’ve been short on time), celery tops, a couple carrots, a large onion (skin and all, quartered), some peppercorns, and a couple garlic cloves if I think of it. Sometimes I’ll add some dried dill as well. I cover it with water and I allow it to almost reach a boil, then turn it way down to simmer for a couple hours. I’m left with a very rich stock that turns gelatinous when I put it in the fridge. That’s exactly how you want it.
Well, the slow cooker method is supposed to work very well. Many recipes call for the addition of apple cider vinegar — something I forgot to add. Now, I’m not sure if maybe that’s where I went wrong but after cooking on low for about 14 hours, the stock had achieved a deep color, but the depth of flavor wasn’t there. And it didn’t have the gelatinous quality even after it spent the night in the fridge. So I won’t be making it this way again. Have you ever made stock in the Crock Pot? How does it come out for you and what do you do differently?