Category Archives: holidays

Appliance Shopping

The electronic display on our range/oven is more on the fritz than off the fritz these days. Most days a good “thunk” to the side of the range will turn the clock/temperature display back on but with the holidays coming up, I thought it was about time to get it fixed.  Unfortunately one of the two broken parts isn’t made anymore and although we could send it in to try to have it rebuilt, but it would take 6-8 weeks and there is only a 70% chance of success.

So I took the day off; after voting and a nice breakfast out, YA and I started out for our hunt. As we drove to the first place on my list, a place that does refurbished  appliances, YA gave me her list of “requirements”.  She wanted stainless steel with a grill in the middle of the burners, electronic display separate from the light switch, a bigger drawer in the bottom; I lost track of her desires after that.  My list was shorter – gas, cheap.

My requirements were met within the first five minutes. YA spent quite a bit of time googling ranges at Home Depot and Warner Stellian before giving up and agreeing to the range I liked.  I know her idea of shopping was to hit several stores and mull over many alternatives before making a decision.  It’s hard for me to imagine a more horrible scenario for spending a day!  I do not have the shopping gene; she has it in spades!

Of course getting the old range disconnected and then the new range connected is going to take a while – Centerpoint Energy does not make it easy for you to buy an appliance that they don’t sell you. Looks like we’ll be thunking the side of the old range until after Thanksgiving but hopefully not into December!

Do you start your holiday shopping before Thanksgiving?


Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

A friend of mine sports a lovely bracelet with initialed charms of her grandchildren. I loved it, so I decided that I’d tell my kids that the most special gift they could give me is a bracket or necklace with my 12 grand kid’s names for Mother’s Day, my birthday, or Xmas. Years went by and this special gift never materialized.

Still wanting one, I decided that if I wanted this so badly, I’d have to make my own. I went on Google, ordered the charms, and bought a silver chain. I excitedly strung the initialed charms, in order of birth, onto the chain.

Hanging below the 12 charms is my “Survivor” pendant. I’ve worn it around my neck 24/7 ever since. The unexpected out play of giving myself this gift is that I find myself constantly rubbing the charms together. It makes me feel like my family is with me. 12 charms are a lot for one chain, so I put three charms on my three kids on an ankle bracelet.


Lobby for a Hobby

The egg table went up today. I’m way behind my usual schedule but after an evening of wax and dye I feel pretty good and remarkably relaxed.  Between paper crafts and the Ukrainian eggs I am in hobby heaven.

It’s fantasy time. Money and time are no object.  What’s a hobby you’d like to try?

Haunted House

My mother is extremely pragmatic. When I was growing up, some of this manifested itself in not having many decorations around the house for holidays.  It was a waste of money and time to put stuff up just to have to take it down in a short while.  We did have a tree and stockings at Christmas but the rest of the holidays came and went without any seasonal knick-knacks or gewgaws.

I went the opposite direction – I have boxes and boxes of holiday décor in the attic: Spring/Easter, Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July – you name it. But not as much comes out these days, since we got a naughty tabby.  Nimue is a terror on décor.  Nothing glass can go out.  Easter grass is a no-no.  Plastic Easter eggs hit the floor and then become dog toys.  So over the last 8 years I have put out less and less.  And now I find myself becoming my mother.  Seems like a lot of fuss when I have to guard it from the cat and then just put it away in a couple of weeks.

I did put out a few things last night for trick-or-treaters – a large ceramic pumpkin with our name carved out as the teeth, some tin can luminaries that I made years ago when YA was a toddler and the big orange candy bowl. I do have some pumpkins and corn stalk on the front porch as well.  Not quite the over the top haunted house that I used to have for Halloween, but it will have to do.

Here is one of my favorite haunted house poems:

Haunted Houses

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What makes a good haunted house in your mind?

Are You Batty?

I’ll bet you didn’t realize that October is National Bat Appreciation Month, or that October 24-31 is Bat Week . I learned this when I clicked on Tuesday’s photo 

 where I learned that bats:

– help us by devouring tons of insects and forest pests

– and by pollinating some of our favorite fruits

– are one of the largest and longest living species on earth

– the smallest bat – called appropriately enough Bumblebee Bat – has a body about 1 inch long

– white-nosed syndrome has decimated some bat populations since being identified in 2006

When I checked in my Mammals in Minnesota Field Guide (by Stan Tekiela), I found that Minnesota hosts both the Big and Little Brown Bats, the Northern Myotis, and the Red, Silver-Haired, and Hoary Bats.

– these live 15-20 years – females often gather in “maternity colonies” of between 30 and 75 bats, depending on species

– some species live in holes in trees or even under bark, and either migrate or hibernate in winter

– others make their summer homes in attics, church steeples, barns and other buildings; spend winters in caves and mines

– most Minnesota bats are between 1-1/2” and 4”, with wingspans between 8” and 16”

Bats are our friends. One way to help them is to build or buy a bat box, giving them a safe place to roost:

Got any bat stories? What actor played your favorite Batman, or your favorite Count Dracula?

Hot Dish

Dorcas Reilly, the creator of the famous and loved (and also loathed) green bean casserole died this week. She was 92.  Perhaps she attributed her longevity to the casserole.

Thanksgiving is Daughter’s favorite holiday. She isn’t coming home until after Christmas, and she made me promise that I would cook Thanksgiving dinner for her then. The green bean casserole will be on the menu. It is one of her favorites. It has to be the traditional one Dorcas developed using cream of mushroom soup. Daughter also informed me that Brussels sprouts with bacon will be on the list. She has the whole meal planned, and will email the recipes to us. We will, of course, cook it to her specifications. Life is easier that way.

The favorite casserole, however, is the one printed below. We will also make this for Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner:

Butternut Squash Casserole
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1 pound thinly sliced onions
    • 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 3/4 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  •  2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from soft white bread
  • 2 cups (packed) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until onions are light golden, about 8 minutes. Add squash; sauté 4 minutes. Sprinkle sugar, salt and pepper over vegetables; sauté until onions and squash begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.

Spread vegetable mixture in prepared dish. Pour chicken broth over. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes. (Squash mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat in 350°F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.)

Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, rosemary and thyme in medium bowl. Sprinkle over gratin. Bake uncovered until top is golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.

What is your favorite hot dish? Which is your least favorite? What would you like to be remembered for?


For a variety of reasons I was contemplating  the tradition of Hobo Days at South Dakota State University.  It has been going on since 1912, apparently, and involves festivities in conjunction with Homecoming.  There are parades and contests, such as the six month competitions for beard growing (for the men) and leg-hair growing (for the women), a parade featuring a 1912 Ford, and people dressed up like Hobos (mainly the men) and “Hippie Chicks” (mainly the women). The women used to dress up like “Indian Maidens”.  That was eventually deemed offensive, so the women were recast as Hippies.  I wonder how former Hippie women feel about it?

I believe that university staff look on the tradition with mixed feelings. It certainly promotes school spirit and cohesiveness. It is also a time of heavy drinking and all the problems that brings, and also glorifies homelessness.

I think I am pretty anti-tradition when it comes to festivities like Hobo Days, but I must admit changes to my comforting and familiar  Lutheran liturgy are upsetting.  Change is hard. Finding new traditions isn’t easy.

What traditions do you cling to? What traditions would you like to see end? What new traditions would you like to see?