Category Archives: holidays

Keeping Work At Work

I took October 5-9 off for a staycation at home.  I was getting too burned out to do a good job for my clients and colleagues.  I admit, however, that I took my work laptop and and a testing file home in the event I had some extra  time to finish an evaluation  report,  and so I could check my work emails.

I am proud to say that the evaluation report is unfinished.  I checked my emails a couple of times, but not obsessively, and I didn’t reply to any of them. It was hard to be a “participant-observer” watching what people were doing but not responding.

This week was spent resting, cooking, and cleaning.  I didn’t realize how tired I was, and I napped a lot. I could probably use another week off, but I need to get back.

What was your best vacation ever?  How hard has it been for you to leave work at work?

Christmas Is A Comin’

We purchased scads of stories on audio cassette tapes when our children were young. They listened to them as they drifted off to sleep. Daughter says she still has to listen to audio books before she can go to sleep.  Some of these were stories narrated by famous actors.  Meryl Streep narrated Peter Rabbit  and The Tailor of Gloucester.  Danny Glover narrated How the Leopard Got its Spots.  Jack Nicholson narrated The Elephant’s Child and How the Camel Got Its Hump.  The stories changed as the children got older, and there were crime mysteries, old time radio shows, and, finally, recordings of novels like  A Wrinkle in Time and the Lord of the Rings.  They all sit now in the basement in boxes.

In our effort to get rid of stuff, we are going to have these stories transferred to electronic files and CD’s, and give them to our children for Christmas. Our grandson is old enough now to appreciate stories. It will give us the pleasure of passing on these wonderful recordings and make space in the basement shelves.

Christmas is coming, and we are starting to plan for quiet visits with our son and his family in Brookings. Our daughter is flying to Sioux Falls for a wedding at that time, and we will see her in Brookings, too. It will be a quiet and very much appreciated time together.

What are your plans for Christmas?  What are your ideas for gifts? What stories do you think are essential for children to hear?

Jump Start

Back in March and April, when we thought life might be back to “normal” by now and before I got hit by the furlough, I was thinking I would be very very busy at work this fall.  I had my regular programs that normally run in October and November.  Then I had five programs that should have run in the spring and were postponing until autumn as well.  In an effort to not be crazy, I thought maybe I should ramp up my holiday projects, so I wouldn’t have them hanging over me if I was insane at work.

Luckily I had already identified my theme for 2020; this is probably a good idea because at this point I might be choosing toilet paper to represent this bummer of a year!  So I ordered a few supplies that I needed and got down to work.  First I did the Ukrainian eggs (two weeks), then I worked on my Solstice cards (three weeks).

Then I got furloughed and could have put everything else off but decided to forge ahead.  The last big project is my calendar.  I get a download from one of my favorite craft companies and then decorate each page, add pretty papers and eyelets.  The pretty papers turned out to be a problem.  By the time I was ready to work on the calendars, all the craft shops around here had closed their doors .  I tried to find papers online but it was just impossible to search out everything I needed.  I just had to wait until I could get the paper in person.

I’ve been working on the calendar pages for about a month now – been stringing it out and filling in between other projects.  But yesterday, I finished up December and got all the eyelets added!  Woo hoo.  I always like to be ahead of the game with my holiday projects but I’ve definitely set a record this year.  And even if I do get called back to work, all my fall programs appear to be postponing again to next spring.  Maybe I’ll do the holiday baking early too…. I could use cookies about now!

Any projects that you’re ahead of schedule on this year?

Go Fourth!

With 4th of July events cancelled all over the country and the current political unrest and unhappiness, it seems hard to celebrate Independence Day with enthusiasm.

For many years, Child and I took part in two parades every 4th – the Tangletown Parade and the Richfield Parade.  The Tangletown is a homegrown parade in which kids dress up their bikes and dogs sport their best red, white and blue bandannas in order to follow a firetruck through the neighborhood, followed by a big party at Fuller Park with games, music, face painting and a big picnic.  The last few years I’ve gone up to the high school parking lot where the parade starts to see everybody in their finery and then I head home.  Then later, YA and I go down to Richfield to watch their more traditional, candy-throwing parade.  I got hooked on this parade when YA was in gymnastics and her team was part of the parade line-up.

No parades this year.  Richfield unilaterally cancelled all the 4th of July stuff and Tangletown cancelled the parade and party, but is doing a decoration contest and neighborhood scavenger hunt.  I hadn’t though about decorating (besides putting out all my flags) because I didn’t really want to put any money into it but then something I saw yesterday changed my mind.  In walking Guinevere, we found a house up on the water tower hill that had outdone themselves with their chalk decorations.  Their entire driveway was filled with a huge chalked American flag and then the sidewalk all long their property was covered in fireworks.  Such a low-cost and low-tech way to decorate – I think I’ll get my chalks out in the morning (before it gets too hot).  And I might even have enough Independence Day spirit left over to do the scavenger hunt with Guinevere on our morning walk!

How have you traditionally celebrated the 4th?  What’s different this year?

The Grill Master

Husband loves to grill. Until last Thursday he had three grills. One is a classic Weber. One is a Kamado ceramic grill. The third was a large Charbroil that he has had for about 30 years. He discovered last week that the bottom was rusting out, and that it needed to be replaced.  All the grills are fueled with wood or charcoal.  He dislikes gas grills, and I would be afraid for him using such volatile fuel. He uses each grill for different grilling purposes.  I don’t even try to understand.

The Charbroil was too heavy for us to get in the back of his pickup to take to the landfill, so he got a local moving company to take it away.  It was a sad day.  He has an emotional attachment to his grills. He had a new grill in mind, and in about 11 weeks, a fancy, schmancy, Yoder Cheyenne griller/smoker will arrive from Kansas City.  It will arrive all assembled. It looks like a train engine, weighs 315 pounds, and has a separate compartment on one end for the fuel. It has a chimney.  He got all the bells and whistles on it.  Happy Father’s Day!

I like grilled food, and he is expanding his repertoire to make his grills do smoking and tandoori cooking.  We aren’t big picnic people and we don’t eat outside much but sometimes food just tastes better out of doors.

What do you like to take on a picnic?  What do you like to grill?  Got any good barbecue recipes or stories?

Memorial Day Birthday

Photo credit: Justin Casey

My sister is grumpy today. 

For the first twelve years of her life, her birthday was a holiday.  No school or parents working on her day.  Her day.  Then in 1971, Memorial Day became one of the “Monday holidays” which means that her birthday only lands on a holiday every seven or eight years.  This year, when it falls almost a full week before her birthday, is one that she particularly dislikes.  Even after five decades, she still takes this personally.

It never bothered me as a kid that she had her birthday on a holiday.  My folks didn’t actually make a bigger deal about it because of the holiday and I still got to go to the pool (in Missouri, the public pools

usually opened on Memorial Day).  I still got the dinner of my choice and a birthday cake with lots of frosting.  All good, even with no holiday in sight.

My birthday is in August.  There are only two months during the year that don’t have big, recognized holidays in them.  August is one of them.  June is the other, but I always thought June redeemed itself by having the end of school.  And, of course, since I moved to Minnesota, I have always counted the State Fair as a holiday, thereby making August one of the best holiday months.

Even though we won’t be having the Great Minnesota Get Together this year, I don’t hold August responsible for that.  But my sister probably would.

If you could move your birthday to a holiday, which holiday would you choose?  And why?

By the Dozen

YA and I both like eggs, although it still takes us a couple of weeks to go through a dozen (unless I’m baking).  After Easter we had a LOT of eggs – all the hardboiled eggs that I felt the need to dye and then bonus eggs from Farmer Ben.  In discussing this bounty, YA said “why don’t you make that frittata”.  I’ve made a veggie frittata a couple of times recently for book club, but didn’t realize she was paying attention.  I wanted to make a richer variety, so dug out a recipe I found in a magazine last year and “fixed it up” a little.  So here is my version of a Potato Cheese Frittata:

4-5 potatoes (I used Yukons)
1 large onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
12 Farmer Ben eggs
1 cup whipping cream
12 oz manchego cheese
(unless you’re really cheap like I am and can’t bring yourself to                spend $16  on a wedge of cheese… then you can use half                            manchego and half cheddar that you already have in the fridge)
1 jar of roasted red peppers (I used a 15 oz jar) – or you could roast            the peppers yourself if desired
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes then boil for 3-4 minutes until soft.
  2. Thinly slice onions and sauté in oil and butter until brown. Use an oven-capable pan (I used my cast-iron skillet)
  3. Add potatoes to onions and sauté another 2-3 minutes
  4. Whisk together eggs, half the cheese, cream, peppers, salt and pepper
  5. Slowly pour egg mixture into the potatoes and stir as the eggs begin to scramble
  6. Stop to swear like a sailor and run your thumb under cold water when you touch the burner. This step is optional.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes in 350° F oven until not jiggly.
  8. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes until bubbly and golden.
  9. Cool a bit before you eat unless you want to burn your tongue (not saying why I thought I should mention this!)
  10. Explain to your kid why the dish is so yellow because she’s never had farm fresh eggs in her life.

What’s your go-to recipe for a plentitude of eggs?

The Easter Parade

Daughter phoned this week to ask, or rather, to demand, that we send an Easter basket to her. She said she thought she deserved one because she had been stuck in her apartment for a month and hadn’t seen any of her friends, and, well, could we send milk chocolate and some sour things, please?  I said that we would of course send her an Easter parcel, but she wouldn’t get it until the middle of next week.

We also sent a parcel to our grandson containing old Curious George books we had here, and The Golden Egg Book, which is a sweet story  by Margaret Wise Brown about a bunny who finds a mysterious egg and who ends up with a duckling for a best friend.  Son and DIL thought our grandson would appreciate pretzel fish rather than  candy, so he got those, too, as well a teddy bear. He will be two at the end of the month.

This is the first Easter in my memory that we haven’t been doing music in church. I usually complain how exhausting all that performing is,  but I hope we never have another Easter like this one, and I would welcome that sort of stress right now.

What are some of your Easter memories?

Let’s Celebrate

Photo credit:  Jennifer Chen

A couple of month ago I had a doughnut ice cream sandwich for breakfast.  It was PJ’s fault – she had announced the day before that it was going to be National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  It was a sweet treat that was a bit too sweet even for me and has not been repeated.

Of course the very next day was Groundhog’s Day and just a couple weeks later, I saw some silly bit on the internet that February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I decided to do some checking and

    • National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (first Saturday in February)
    • Seuss Day (also called National Read Across America Day) – March 2
    • Pi Day – March 14
    • Star Wars Day – May 4
    • National Take Your Dog to Work Day – June 22
    • National Hammock Day – July 22
    • National Black Dog Day – October 1
    • Bathtub Party Day – December 5

There is actually a National Day calendar online and from a quick glance, there is something to celebrate every single day of the year, even February 29.  But there are plenty of things left to put on the calendar.  I looked and didn’t see Dust Bunny Appreciation Day nor did I see a National Day of Reading in Bed.  Sorely needed.

Any other days we need to celebrate?

3.14159265…..

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?