What a Day!

A different kind of Christmas tree this year, a stowaway, shopping for ankle weights, a really sore back and a Celiac-y me won what? Where did this all start?

Uh, maybe yesterday when I starting thinking about getting a Norfolk Pine, or some small something that we could decorate for Christmas, instead of the whole big tree.  I stopped in at a locally owned nursery to see what they had, with plans to ask hubby what he would like to do. The nursery had Norfolk Pines, and when I asked, hubby said he was all for something small. He works retail and he’s tired.

Today I was lifting a box. I did it like the guy in the drawing of how not to do it. You know, the one with the big X over the stick figure who is leaning out too far. What happened when I did that is all the muscles in my lower back that I overworked two days ago while pulling weeds went all wonky on me and got super tight. They were mostly better yesterday, but not anymore.

When hubby got off work today we went to a different nursery to see if they had more than Norfolk Pines because I’d had second thoughts about getting one of those. If I could keep the thing alive it would get too big for the room. We found a Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow shrub and got it. I am really excited about that because I’ve wanted one for a long time. When we are finished using it as a Christmas tree/shrub, it will go outside. This will involve moving a bunch of stuff in the front yard, like moving furniture, but a lot more work with shovels and such. I’ve been wanting to do that anyway.

After we got the plant we went to look at ankle weights. I got a book at Goodwill a few weeks ago, “Strong Women Stay Young,” and I need some ankle weights so I can do the exercises. I’m doing my best in that department – trying to be strong and sort of young. I used to hit the floor running in the morning. Now I try to hit the floor without a splat. So, here we are going into the store and I can barely stand up straight and I’m walking like I’m 99 years old on account of my misadventure with the box, but I’m going to look at weights. Really felt weird to be in such shape while shopping for exercise equipment.

Now, for the thing I won. There was a food drive yesterday and I contributed. A lady at the collection table told me to fill out a coupon for a raffle. This was after I’d been to the plant nursery. I saw a Norfolk Pine among the prizes. I thought I might win that and we could use it for our Christmas tree. I had a feeling I was going to win something. I did and it wasn’t the Pine.

I got a phone call today and was told that I won a bakery tray from the bakery at the grocery store where the food drive was held. I thought, “I can’t eat that and don’t want it in my house because I’m so sensitive gluten” but what I said was, “Oh! Thank you!” and I immediately began to think of who I could give it to. I decided my son and his girlfriend (who is also a friend of mine) could eat it and she could keep it at her house. So, tonight she and I went to pick it up.

Guess what? My photo as a raffle winner – taken while holding the (beautiful, delicious I’m sure!) bakery tray – will be on TV because one of the local stations was doing the food drive along with the Southeast Texas Food Bank. I was laughing. I had to tell the lady at the store who gave me my prize and took my photo that all my friends know I can’t eat gluten and here I’ll be on TV holding a bakery tray.

Oh! I almost forgot. The stowaway. He was a brown lizard and he was on the plant that we bought. I was taking the tag off and looking at the shrub when saw him clinging to a limb, and I’m sure hoping that I wouldn’t see him. I caught him and was going to put him outside when I noticed markings that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on a lizard. I wanted to look him up so I decided to put him in a pickle jar while I looked up lizards online. He made a leap for freedom and I tried to catch him but the cat got him first.

Well, I reckon this is enough living for a day. G’night, good folks. I’m going to hobble off to bed now.

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Making Cookies for Christmas

The other night I baked cookies. I followed the recipe on the Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Morsel bag. You know, the one that says “Toll House” on the front. It was the first time I’ve made cookies in forever; I’ve been without a regular oven (have been using a toaster oven) for a few years now. I just got my oven fixed in October – at the same time I was figuring out that my doctor’s suggestion that I not eat gluten might actually fix me. Since I followed the recipe, I didn’t use gluten-free flour and I did use butter. (I’ve also gone pretty much non-dairy, for now at least, but I am eating chocolate morsels. It’s Christmas and they don’t seem to bother me.)

While I was making the cookies, my husband and son were out fishing. When they came in after fishing, the house smelled good and my husband was so happy to see cookies. He picked one up and took a bite and started this “Mmmm! Mmmm!” stuff. I said, “I don’t want to hear any ‘Mmmm! Mmmm!’ noises! Just tell me if they came out OK.”

Can you imagine being told something like that? He looked shocked and confused! He asked, “Why?” and I told him, “Because I can’t have any, that’s why!” I felt like I was clinging to a branch on a cliff the whole time I was baking those things. And they smelled so good… Don’t let go! Don’t eat any cookies! You can make some for yourself tomorrow!

And the next day I did make some for myself. I used the Toll House Cookie recipe, but I used Better Batter Flour in the same amount of regular flour called for in the recipe. I also used coconut oil (again in the same amount)  instead of butter. And they are so good! Mmmm! Mmmm!

Autumn?

We are down to the last few hours of Thanksgiving, and I feel like I missed Fall. I usually feel this way at the end of November, but more so this year. I love the fronts with dry cool air, and Fall colors and decorations – the cornucopia, fall squashes, pumpkins, watching the leaves change color. Well, there’s something good. The woods that I see out my studio windows have really been pretty.

The reason it goes by so fast here I think, is because I’m on the Gulf Coast. I grew up with school textbooks and scenic calendars with definite seasons in all the photos, and I think that affected my expectations. We don’t have such definite seasons here. And, when September is as hot as ours was this year, and then we go into October and November with our temps running 10 degrees above normal…geez. This week the weather is finally doing what it normally does and we’re getting two cold fronts in one week. We are loving it!

Besides our weather patterns not fitting in with school textbooks and most scenic calendars sold in the US, Autumn actually lasts until the third week in December, but we start putting up Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving. That certainly helps to shorten the season! I was surprised to learn that people used to wait until Christmas Eve to put their trees up. Now we put trees up before the Thanksgiving turkey is all gone. And not only Christmas trees, but we can decorate every single room in the house with Christmas stuff; there’s no end of pillows and linens and garlands galore. We seem to have made Christmas into its own short season.

As with Fall decorations, I want to have time to enjoy the Christmas decorations, too. By January 1st though, I want to do winter colors. I have an icy blue tablecloth that I like to put out during winter with a lace tablecloth over it. It reminds me of ice and snow, even if I look outside and see a random butterfly in January.

I think what I really want in my heart of hearts is to live more in sync with seasonal changes than what I seem to be able to pull off. Farmers used to do that, ya’ know. They had to pay attention to weather and animal behavior and all kinds of signs in the skies. These things took the place of the meteorologist. They also had their seasonal chores. The other day, I saw a suggestion for farmers to use the winter as a good time to catch up on their reading. It was in a replica of a 1910 Almanac. Their tools had all been cleaned up and oiled during Fall. Fence mending and home repairs were done before the snow started. Of course, this was New England. I’d rather live here than there, so I guess I’ll just get in sync as best I can where I am. One thing that would help would be if I would get off this computer. Our brains weren’t designed to have this much light to process at this late hour. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.

Our Traditional Christmas Meal

This year I’m not up to making the traditional Christmas meal, but I was just looking at the cookbook that has my gumbo recipe. Gumbo is our tradition. Looking at the cookbook brought back memories.

I bought my cookbook at Don’s Seafood & Steakhouse one day when a friend and I had lunch there. The year was 1977, and I paid $1.95 for it. There are some good Creole recipes in this book and we like the Shrimp and Okra Gumbo. We only use fresh Gulf shrimp after trying that farm stuff and finding out it has no flavor whatsoever. I don’t think there’s enough crab boil in the world to help it either. I also make the roux according the cookbook directions.

Another thing we traditionally have is Key Lime pie. The recipe I use is not the real way it’s made with eggs, but it’s really fast using whipped topping, lime juice and condensed milk. I wondered why I stick to that recipe when the cooked one looks really good? I think the reason is tradition, and the recipe came from the same lady I was with when I bought the cookbook. I think of her every time I slice into the pie. Oh, I did make her pie today. It’s in the fridge waiting and we’ll dig in after tacos and tamales tomorrow.

There’s comfort in our traditions. I like being reminded of my friend. And I don’t think there’s a problem at all with food being a comfort to eat. I think it’s a gift from God that we ought to rightly use and enjoy. Funny how a friendship can influence a family for years.