Category Archives: Gatherings

Any Port In A Storm

I was delighted to read the story of the New York dentist and his wife who welcomed ten Korean tourists into their home after their van was stuck in the snow. They found beds for them, and they spent the storm cooking Korean dishes and watching football. What generous hospitality!

I figure with the Twin size air mattress and we have in the basement we could sleep nine extra people pretty comfortably. We have fourteen bed pillows and lots of sheets and blankets (Don’t ask. It is German thing) so there would be sufficient bedding. Our freezers are full, and we could certainly feed ten people for days. Being prepared for such an occurrence certainly speaks to keeping a well stocked stocked wine rack!

How many people could you accommodate in a pinch? What would you feed them? Tell of some weather bound experiences you may have had.

Christmas Cheer

Yesterday was possibly the worst Christmas Day we have ever had, as all the things that could have gone wrong with Daughter’s flights home went wrong. Our weather in ND was awful, with snow, sleet, a Winter Weather Advisory, and then an Alberta Clipper with a High Wind Warning. Her flight from Denver was cancelled. To make matters worse, her flight from SeaTac to Denver was four hours late due to technical problems, and they allowed anyone at SeaTac who missed a connecting flight to depart the plane with their luggage. The cost and uncertainty and anxiety in rescheduling was too much for all of us, so she had a friend drive her back to her apartment in Tacoma. We will try to have her fly here for Easter. It is in early April. I know we have April blizzards, but this gives us some hope.

Daughter was as brave as could be, waiting on the plane for four hours. She would have had a couple of days waiting around in the Denver airport for a flight here, but that would have been too sentimental a decision. It was a tearful decision, but I am glad she is at her home in Tacoma. I will send her cookies and lefse and her presents.

When was your first Christmas alone? What are some good Christmas jokes? I need some humor!


We finally got out of the house yesterday to buy some groceries. The weather had been so awful we didn’t want to venture out until Friday afternoon. I think the whole town got to the store the same time I did. It was crazy busy, and I saw one ribeye roast after another being handed out at the meat counter. Grocery shelves have been pretty bare due to the interstate being closed and trucks unable to deliver to the stores. Anyone planning a large family gathering for Christmas must have been stressed and panicky not being able to get things from the stores.

Our daughter will arrive at our local airport tomorrow night around 9:00. We are traditionally Christmas Eve people, going to church, celebrating with our big meal, and opening presents and calling it a night. This year our Christmas dinner will be on Boxing Day, and we agreed that presents will be simple and few. The bathroom remodel is at a standstill until the flooring arrives and workers can get here from Bismarck. Our home isn’t the tidiest right now, and there isn’t much we can do about it until the construction is done.

The most important thing for us now is to get our daughter home, and to just hang out together for the week. I am not so concerned with having everything done at the proper time than I am at having a less stressful holiday. Our tree is up but not yet decorated. We will do that on Monday. The Christmas baking is done. We will spend the week cooking our favorite foods and taking naps.

Are you a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day person? How do you manage holiday pressure and stress? Tell of some of your more memorable holiday gatherings.

Your Order, Please

Our daughter is flying home next Thursday for a week of rest and relaxation. It has been a big year for her, getting her independent clinical social work license and starting a private practice. She is very excited to be home and her phone calls are becoming more frequent.

One of her joys visiting home is choosing the menus for our meals. She wants Turkey Chipotle Chowder and homemade cinnamon rolls. We have settled on Horseradish Encrusted Beef Tenderloin garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy baked asparagus, and apple hand pies for Christmas Day. Sometime during her week here she wants Croque Madame Casserole.

We love to cook for her, and it will be good to have her home. She will lie on the sofa and knit an afghan for us as our Christmas present. She also wants to play cribbage with her father. She doesn’t want anything from us this Christmas except a quiet and good food.

How are you planning to spend the holidays? What would you like to eat ? How were your visits home when you were in your 20’s?

Cookie Storm

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that I’ve overdone.  Again.

I have rules about things around the holidays.   All self-imposed, so my own fault.

  1. No holiday music or movies until after dinner on Thanksgiving (YA always turns on the holiday station right as we leave from our Thanksgiving feast.)
  2. No holiday baking until the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  3. Tree purchased on Black Friday and put up some time that day.
  4. My best friend and her husband (and sometimes their kids & spouses) come to help decorate the tree, almost always the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
  5. Cookies and hot chocolate are served at Tree Trimming. Normally I make 5-6 kinds of cookies over the weekend for this gathering and then do the rest of the holiday cookies in the following few days.

These rules formed a perfect storm this year as my friend from Nashville arrived last night as well to babysit the house and the dog while YA and I take a trip.  I decided that I needed to get all the cookies baked before Tree Trimming.  I also had to get the house cleaned up.  AND, the front porch was coming down the final stretch.

3 days, 15 kinds of cookies, tree, lights, tree trimming, house clean enough for company AND the front porch is done.  I feel like I’ve been through the proverbial wringer and every muscle in my body has hired a hit man.  There is even a blister where the dough scoop hits my middle finger and I woke up during the night with pain in my hand and had to take an ibuprofen!  So I’m thinking that I have overdone it.  Just a bit.

(Anna’s M & M, White Chocolate Madadamia, Lemon Snowflakes, Peanut Blossoms, Frosted Sugar, Malted Milk, Cream Cheese Spritz, Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Vanilla Crescents, Pecan Meltaways, Speculaas, Soft Ginger, 2 kinds of fudge).  Yes I know this is only 14 – the 15th debuted it’s way right into the trash.

When was the last time you over-did?

What a Deal!

Husband’s son Mario has come to Winona for a 10-day visit, and brought the whole famdamily! It’s a complicated, blended family with 3 girls: 20 years old, 17, 13; and a 2½-year-old boy and his 3-month-old brother. Their mom is a dream.

Happily, they are staying just around the corner from us, at the home of Mario’s mom. (She bought this house in 2021, having no idea at first that her former boyfriend would be sharing the back yard fence.) What serendipity! We just walked over there this evening with our contribution of salad and fixings, played with a little kid, held a baby, ate, talked with teenagers in front of a (real) fireplace, helped clean up, made plans for tomorrow, and walked back home. I met more of their relatives, and there will be an even bigger crowd for the big Thanksgiving blowout on Friday. If needed, we can “overflow” over to our house, which holds about six.  : )

I was a little nervous about so many of them coming for so long, and of course this is just the first day.   But we’ll all be fine – there can be an easy flow back and forth. Who set this up??

When do you eat your Thanksgiving meal?

Well, I’ll Be Stuffed!

It’s time for the annual CarbFest.  We always spend Thanksgiving with close friends and I am always asked to bring the vegetarian stuffing and a dessert.   A friend asked me to send her my recipe for the stuffing and as I typed it out I realized that I have probably never followed the recipe to the letter even once.

In fact, this year, I’m thinking of adding some cornbread  to the sourdough as the base of the stuffing.  And I have to go get craisins today because I always used them instead of the dark raisins.  I’ve also never used fresh parsley – not once in 20+ years.

I’m thinking I should probably have told this to my friend.  What if she makes the recipe as written and doesn’t like it and then wonders about my sanity??

Do you have a recipe that you always alter?

12 South

Photo credit: Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

On one of the afternoons I spent in Nashville with my friend, Pat, we went in search of a bakery that was listed online as “one of the best bakeries in Nashville”.  We used her car’s GPS to find it; the area was quite busy as it was Sunday but we managed to find a free parking spot and Pat maneuvered into it.  It was a beautiful day so we were looking forward to walking a couple of blocks to the bakery.

It was a really interesting neighborhood and Pat told me it was called 12 South – about a half mile stretch on 12th Avenue South – filled with restaurants, clothing stores, vintage clothing stores, an outdoor market, jewelry store, donut bakery, art gallery and a cookie shop.  Lots and lots of folks were walking about, shopping and sitting in outdoor areas of the restaurants.  Lots of dogs too.

The only problem was that the median age of everybody in the neighborhood appeared to be 30-25.  Tops.  I’m not kidding; Pat and I were the oldest people walking around.  It certainly didn’t feel unsafe (and I did enjoy petting a lot of dogs) but I did feel a little out of place.  I commented to Pat that maybe we needed passports to be in 12 South.

Have you ever felt out of place anywhere?

Happy Halloween!

As you read this today, I am, I hope, winging my way back to North Dakota from a conference. I am slated to arrive back home in time to start handing out treats.

The organization putting on the workshop I attended always has a big party the Friday we meet. It is surprising how wild middle-aged lawyers, government appointees, and State regulators can get. This time it was described as a Halloween party, and everyone was encouraged to bring costumes. We come from all over the US and Canada for this meeting, and it was amazing how many brought costumes. I considered bringing a Venetian carnival mask, but I was worried it would be damaged during the trip, and I couldn’t really wear a mask over my glasses, so I demurred. There were lots of witches, a monk, doctors in scrubs, the Phantom of the Opera, and Brittany Spears, to name a few. I wore a skirt outfit, and told people it was my expert witness costume, as I often wear the same outfit to court.

During the days before the party, some of my female colleagues and I were amused by the antics of a younger male attendee whose demeanor and presentation left no doubt that he thought very well of himself, and who knew he was a very handsome fellow. To our delight, he came to the costume party dressed as Jesus. It was perfect!

What was your best Halloween costume? Dressing up tonight?

Where in the World is Renee Going?

I am traveling and will arrive at my destination this afternoon. I am getting there by plane. I am going to the most boring psychology conference in the world, and I suppose they had to have it in a pretty entertaining place to make up for all the meetings about jurisprudence, professional regulation, and licensure. I expect to hear yet again about the legal problems for regulatory boards brought upon us by the North Carolina Board of Dentistry and their attempts to put teeth whitening shops out of business!

There is a beach that proudly houses a sculpture of a 70 foot tall giant emerging from the sand. There also is a large Ferris wheel, a marina, a 3000 seat state of the art theatre, and one of the largest gaming floors outside of Las Vegas. I will not visit any of these attractions, as I don’t gamble and I don’t like large Ferris wheels. I might take a ride on a 36 foot, Americana-themed Carousel, however.

I fly into one jurisdiction, go by taxi to another jurisdiction, and will be very close to yet another jurisdiction. There will be lots of neoclassical architecture nearby, as well as an enormous library should I have some free time on my hands. I am here for six days.

Where do you think I am going, and where would you visit if you were there?