Category Archives: holidays

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I know you’re expecting to see details about Pi Day next week, but this year I’m going to change it up and write about Pi Day organization.  Here’s what it takes:

Already Done

  • Send out Evites. If you’re local, you got an evite, although I can’t guarantee they didn’t go to Spam.
  • Decide on pies. Mark the recipes with post-it notes.  11 this year – I can’t help myself
  • Make list of ingredients and then shop for those ingredients
  • Make little pie placecards and nametags
  • Make sure you have enough plates, napkins, forks
  • Check on red/white wine supply

Up Next

  • Go through recipes and sort out which are baked and which are non-baked
  • Figure out how many pie shells need pre-baking
  • Do any of those pre-baked ones need any chocolate coating or other prep?
  • Figure out what oven temperature is needed for the baked pies
  • Figure out what can be chopped/ground before Saturday
  • Make an actual schedule of the order of baking, set up by oven temperature needed

Friday night

  • Make the oatmeal cookies that become the crust for the Crack Pie
  • Make Crack Pie crust
  • Boil the condensed milk to make dulce de leche
  • Do any pre-baking of crusts and coat the chocolate ones
  • Do any nut chopping/grinding that needs doing

Saturday

  • Get up early and get started!!

Hopefully there will be time in here for a shower before everybody arrives!  Oh and here’s what’s on the menu:  Crack, Banoffee, Blueberry,  Dutch Apple, Red Velvet Whoopie, Reese’s, Pecan Dream, Shaker Lemon, Vanilla Crumb, Skillet Berry Cobbler and Pear Croustade.

Have I made you hungry or just tired?

Easter Candy Impulse

Oh no! I stopped by the grocery store last night to pick up something quick and was confronted by a HUGE display of Cadbury chocolate eggs.  Not just any run-of-the-mill Easter candy, but my nemesis, the Cadbury egg.  I don’t know why I like these, but I really do.

How do I keep myself from temptation for the next six weeks?

Leaping Ahead

Happy Leap Day!  My cousin Duane was born on Leap Day. He got his picture in the Pipestone, MN newspaper when he was 4 because he finally had an actual birthday  to celebrate.

Starting in Ireland  centuries ago,  then spreading across Europe,  Leap Day was the day every four years when women could propose to men. In Scotland, the woman had to wear a red skirt when she proposed. There were penalties if the men refused. In some places, the man had to purchase twelve pairs of gloves for the woman. In Finland, he had to give her enough cloth to make a skirt. Currently  in France, La Bougie du Sapeur, a satirical magazine, only publishes on Leap Day.

I was fascinated to read that during 1930 and 1931, the Soviet  government added February 30th to the calendar and made all the other months have 30 days so that all the weeks of the year could have 5 days.  I don’t know why they dropped the plan.

How would like to see Leap Day celebrated? How would you change the calendar if you could?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Well, today is Valentine’s Day.  Husband is on the Rez and will return tonight. We have never really celebrated this day much, as I will get flowers and chocolates for myself anytime I want them, and I don’t expect my stressed and overworked spouse to get them for me. He says he always feels spoiled and catered to by me, so he has no expectations for me today, either.

When I think of this day, I think of Al Capone, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and a guy named A. Claire Dispenet  (Ace),  the  Francophone owner of the original Magnolia Bar and Steak House in Magnolia, MN.  Magnolia is about 6 miles east of Luverne.  My dad grew up there.  Claire had a rather shady history as a bootlegger in the 1920’s.  My dad worked for Claire as a bartender in the 1950’s before he built his gas station and coffee shop. During Prohibition, Claire drove a beer truck on Minnesota’s North Shore for the Capone organization. His beer truck was stolen, and Claire had to phone Chicago to relate the news. He was told to not worry about it, and that they knew who the guys were who stole the truck, and that “We will take care of them”.  Claire knew what that meant, and decided then and there and seek employment elsewhere. He didn’t want to be involved in a murder.  He ended up serving time in Ft. Leavenworth Prison for bootlegging sometime after that, though.  My dad really liked him. Ace, as he was affectionately called, was a character. His wife was a very devout Catholic and made sure he was buried as close as possible to the grave of the former priest in the Luverne Catholic  Cemetery. Dad said she hoped Ace could grab onto the Priest’s robes and sneak into heaven behind him.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day now. What are your memories of this day from elementary school?

Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Rat!

When I adopted YA from China, there was an enormous amount of support for the new family I was creating. There were adoption magazines, online forums and a very active local chapter of Families with Children from China.  You know me, I dived right in, learning about traditional holidays in China as well as taking part in gatherings with other adoptive families and even subscribing to two adoptive magazines.  We even traveled to Illinois once to go to an adoptive family conference when YA was 3.

I dropped the magazines early on; they were really depressing, overwhelmingly focused on all the negative aspects of adoption and very few of the joys. Then when YA was about five and I was signing us up for another “culture camp” (these were annual weekends), she said “Do we have to go?  They’re boring.”  So that was the end of culture camps and big FCC gatherings.

When she was in middle school I was informed that the Chinese delicacies that I had taught myself to cook for CNY weren’t that great. Could we just have take-out instead?  Okey dokey.

Then when she was in high school and I was in a whirlwind of cleaning before Chinese New Year (it’s traditional to really clean the house before CNY so the kitchen god and goddess give a good report on your household to the emperor of heaven), she said “You know, I don’t really care about this, so if you’re doing it for me, you don’t have to.”

So here I am, several years later, still caring about this holiday that I embraced when she was a child. I still have little figurines of the kitchen god and goddess; I still try to get the house spiffed up before the new year and I still have a my best friend and her hubby over for a nice take out dinner to celebrate the new year.  I don’t put out a lot of decorations, although there are a few things I’ll put out.  I had a toilet tank topper made from some fun Asian-designed fabric last year, so that’s a must and a great dragon flag for the front of the house.  I do make a few CNY cards.   YA just rolls her eyes.

What will you be up to while I’m celebrating the Year of the Rat?

Hole in My Heart

Although I think of myself as flexible and resilient most of the time, there are some changes that I just don’t like. My friends and loved ones moving away is right up there in the “I hate this” stratosphere.

Lori and Tom live 2 doors up from me. I knew right away when I moved onto the block 29 years ago that they would be good friends.  They championed me when I was divorcing wasband #2, supported me during the adoption process.  Lori is a rubber stamping buddy of mine, we share reading as a passion and I’ve been drawn into one of her favorite charities, Mission Haiti.  Tom more often than not does my snowblowing and now that they are moving to an apartment in Chicago, he is even giving me the snowblower.  YA had a ton of hand-me-downs from their 2 daughters (which really helped my finances back then) and we did a lot of activities together when the kids were all younger, including Supper with Santa, trick-or-treating and many backyard neighborhood get-togethers.  They are two of the kindest, most generous people I know.

This move to Chicago has been coming for a while. They actually rented the apartment a year ago but a health crisis kept them here until now.  Their oldest is in Cincinnati with the only grandchild, Lori’s work has offices in Chicago and Tom does programming work from home, so the Windy City seemed like a good next step for them.

But it doesn’t make me happy, even if it’s good for them. I know how to use e-mail and texting and even skype, but it isn’t the same as just running a couple of houses up.  So on Friday I have a chunk of time blocked on my calendar that says “cry on the sidewalk” as I fully intend to go home to wave them off as they depart Minneapolis.

Who would you have move closer (or back)?

Good Fortune

Fortune cookies, while a fun novelty, don’t always register for me. Most of the time that YA and I have Chinese food, it is at home, delivered by our favorite place, Fresh Wok.   YA loves cream cheese wontons, which I consider dessert; this combined with the fact that the fortune cookies are always at the bottom of the bag, they are usually overlooked until after we’re full.

I have some good friends who are moving this week, so this past weekend, I took Chinese take-out over to them so they would have one night when they didn’t have to cook. I decided to make it an early Chinese New Year party so brought lucky money envelopes, red paper plates/cups, the works.  When I was setting things out, the fortune cookies were actually on the top of the bag so I put them each of our place settings.

Here is what mine said:

“Because of your melodic nature, the moonlight never misses an appointment.”

Lovely, although in terms of it being a fortune, all I can figure is I’d better keep being melodic or the moonlight will miss an appointment?

What fortune would YOU like to crack open?