Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Kids Activities

Yesterday, a woman emailed me and said that Thanksgiving is a magnifying glass.  It dramatically blows up both your blessings and your empty spots.   But, HEY -- IT IS OVER.  You have survived 2014 Thanksgiving.  Now the countdown starts for Christmas...(lol)...

If you have a child in your life -- hey -- EVEN IF YOU DON'T -- there are a bizillion wonderful activities going on at this time of the year.  I have the joy of picking and choosing what I want to do with Lilly (and now, Warren) --  and people often ask how I find out about all these events.  I look in the usual places -- the Museums and theater websites...

No matter where you live -- you have the same options, I'm sure. Start looking around -- surf the net in your area for plays or concerts or holiday mansion tours.  Plan some fun outings.  Make it a surprise adventure for a friend, your sister, a neighbor or a distant cousin.  Use it as an excuse to get back in touch with somebody you miss...

There are so many things happening at basically THE SAME TIME -- I decided to compile a list...

2014 Christmas Events…(Quad Cities, Iowa)

Twas the Night Before Christmas -- at Circa 21….$10 for show only (sat), $20 for brunch (Sunday) -- most weekends, starting the weekend after Thanksgiving…every weekend in December  (309) 786-7733 ext. 2
Disney on Ice -- Opening Night, December 4 - 7, at I Wireless…all opening night tickets are $13 -- but you’ve got to buy them at the ticket booth at I Wireless…

1940’s Radio Christmas Carol, QC Music Guild, $16 adult, $11 child,  Dec 4,5,6,7  Call 309-762-6610

 Dr. Suess, Cat in the Hat, December 6-7, off Locust Street, St. Ambrose’s Galvin…$9 tickets, (563) 333-6251

19th Century Christmas Deere-Wiman House and Butterworth Center, where you’ll find: 2014 Schedule   Dec. 7, noon to 5p.   No charge for admission.

• Beautiful decorations throughout both homes
• Exclusive appearance by Santa Claus. (bring your camera!)
• Free book for each of Santa’s first 400 visitors
• Performance by the Moline Boys Choir at Butterworth Center
• Face painting for children and caricature artist
• Art show and Children’s make-and-take crafts (sponsored by Left Bank Art
   League) in the Deere-Wiman Carriage House
• Children's make-and-take crafts

A Christmas Carol, Dec. 12-21, at the District Theater, 1611 2nd Ave., Rock Island, Illinois  61201  (309) 235-1654

Nutcracker -- December 14-15, at the Adler -- QC Ballet (tickets are from $10-$40)
If you don’t want the whole BALLET experience -- the ballerinas are “reading the book” at these locations this year.  These events are free…and little girls LOVE this story…

The Fountains Senior Living Community
3552 Thunder Ridge Road
Bettendorf, IA 52722
Wed, November 26th
12:30 pm
Davenport Public Library
(Fairmont Branch)
3000 North Fairmont Street
Davenport, IA 52804
Tues, December 2nd
7:00 pm
Moline Public Library
3210 41st Street
Moline, IL 61265
Wed, December 3rd
2:30 pm
Bettendorf Public Library
2950 Learning Campus Drive
Bettendorf, IA  52722
Mon, December 8th
6:30 pm

Dec. 19 and 20, Putnam Museum, Polar Express Pajama Party:  includes hot chocolate, lights out tour of the museum. There are two times each night…For tickets call (563) 324-1933

THIS IS SUCH AN AMAZING do not haves to be a kid to LOVE THIS TRAIN.  Go to the website (linked below), you can see if the train will be in your area. It will be in Davenport and then Clinton Iowa on December 5..and my dilemma is whether we should go early to stake out a place to stand (they open up several of the cars and give a concert -- great Christmas music, wonderful entertainment)...or just bundle the kids in the car and watch the train go through Princeton...(it is soo impressive)...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving


Although some things never change -- Thanksgiving is not one of those things. A family is alive...which means it is always growing -- or shrinking. People come, people go (depending on the people, either one of those things could be the good news or the bad news).

Every family has their happy times. Birthday parties, graduations, good test scores, promotions, beautiful weddings, new babies.

Then there are the not-so-happy occasions. Kids move away. Couples get divorced and the dining room furniture is hauled off to the Goodwill. People die, they get sick, lose their jobs, or maybe their house burns down...

Every one of those things -- good or bad -- has one thing in common.


If you were having the perfect probably would NOT be reading this blog today...So, I am going to assume that something about this day sucks.

You are not alone...Trust me...

If your day sucked -- if you feel lonely -- or somebody hurt your feelings -- or disappointed you...or you are dealing with a loss....well -- it's a very long line you're standing in...

Thanksgiving has become a holiday full of pressure.   Norman Rockwell painted a fictional picture that no family could live up to.  The people you THINK are having a better day than you are probably bored out of their minds, feeling jealous or resentful of their annoying siblings, pissed off at their ungrateful children, and have spent the entire day biting their tongues...

Chances are good they are deliberately telling you the Norman Rockwell-edited version of their day....pretending everything was perfect....because they fear YOU had a better Thanksgiving than THEY DID...

The good news is -- IT'S JUST ONE DAY!!

If today REALLY sucked -- my advice is to write it all down.  Just for yourself.  It is so interesting to read these journal entries AFTER the fact.  It's how I learn.  Every single time.  If you write it down honestly -- then go back and read it in six months -- maybe next year you can PREVENT having another meltdown, crappy Thanksgiving.

But that almost always means you must embrace...that's right...let's all say it together....



P.S.  The Food Network has a Pioneer Woman marathon this morning.  And for the afternoon, I recommend the Lifetime movies.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grandma's Thanksgiving Invitation

Today is the biggest cook day of the year....Good Luck!!
This email has been making the rounds...I love it...(thanks, Sandy)
Grandma's Invitation (Priceless) 

Dear Family,

I'm not dead yet. Thanksgiving is still important to me. If being in my Last Will and Testament is important to you, then you might consider being with me for my favorite holiday.

Dinner is at 2:00.

Not 2:15.

Not 2:05.

Two. 2:00

Arrive late and you get what's left over.

Last year that moron Marshall fried a turkey in one of those contraptions and practically burned the deck off the house. This year the only peanut oil used to make the meal will be from the secret scoop of peanut butter I add to the carrot soup.

Jonathan, your last new wife was an idiot. You don't arrive at someone's house on Thanksgiving needing to use the oven and the stove. Honest to God, I thought you might have learned after two wives - date them longer and save us all the agony of another divorce.

Now, the house rules are slightly different this year because I have decided that 47% of you don't know how to take care of nice things. Paper plates and red Solo cups might be bad for the environment, but I'll be gone soon and that will be your problem.

House Rules:

1. The University of Texas no longer plays Texas A and M. The television stays off during the meal.

2. The "no cans for kids" rule still exists. We are using 2 liter bottles because your children still open a third can before finishing the first two. All of the cups have names on them and I'll be paying close attention to refills.

3. Chloe, last year we were at Trudy's house and I looked the other way when your Jell-O salad showed up. This year if Jell-O salad comes in the front door it will go out the back door. Save yourself some time, honey. You've never been a good cook. And you shouldn't bring something that wiggles more than you. Buy something from the bakery.

4. Grandmothers give grandchildren cookies and candy. That is a fact of life. Your children can eat healthy at your home. At my home, they can eat whatever they like as long as they finish it.

5. I cook with bacon and bacon grease. That's nothing new. Your being a vegetarian doesn't change the fact that stuffing without bacon is like egg salad without eggs. Even the green bean casserole has a little bacon grease in it. That's why it tastes so good. Not eating bacon is just not natural.

6. Salad at Thanksgiving is a waste of space.

7. I do not like cell phones. Leave them in the car.

8. Words mean things. I say what I mean. Let me repeat: You don't need to bring anything means you don't need to bring anything. And if I did tell you to bring something, bring it in the quantity I said. Really, this doesn't have to be difficult.

9. Dominos and cards are better than anything that requires a battery or an on/off switch.

10. Showing up for Thanksgiving guarantees presents at Christmas. Not showing up guarantees a card that may or may not be signed.

In memory of your Grandfather, the back fridge will be filled with beer. Drink until it is gone. I prefer wine.

Love You, Grandma.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving & Flexibility

For a few years -- John and I were alone for Thanksgiving. Elliott and Ross were living in Georgia and Minnesota. I tried to picture in my head what it would be like.  Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us. Hummm?? What was once romantic, (as newlyweds in 1970) now seemed impossibly lonely. And LIKE A LOT OF WORK..

So, I was delighted when my niece Amy invited us to join her family for Thanksgiving. I was more than happy to cook side dishes for her feast -- and even John enjoyed the hustle bustle of Amy's little boys and her house full of Thanksgiving guests...

That girl can rock an apron!
A lot has changed since those empty-nester years.  Ross moved home and is going to nursing school.  After 15 years of living away, and missing Thanksgiving completely -- he is actually back in the house.

And -- Elliott and Emily got out of the Army and settled five five minutes from us. They, of course, have TWO CHILDREN...

So, I joyfully went back to cooking the Thanksgiving dinner at my house. I want to make "Grandma's house" memories for Lilly and Warren.

Ahhh....those grandchildren....

In 2009, Lilly was eight months old for her first Thanksgiving...

Leopard and black velvet....PERFECT...
And her look-alike brother!! What bounty, eh?? Warren was 11 months old for his First Thanksgiving...
Lilly -- in her Thanksgiving leopard outfit the year she was two. Yes, she is loving the leopard...

Last year, she reluctantly tried on five leopard outfits...with Sophie looking on, of course...
I thought wearing leopard would be a charming Thanksgiving tradition that we would do year after year. But, as it turns out, it became something Lilly and I argued about -- so I had to let it go. (yes, I am living inside a Disney movie)...

I'm over it. And that's the lesson.  I cared about the leopard -- but Lilly did not.  So what purpose was being served by me insisting?  Where is the Grandma memory in that??

However -- the thing that HAS BECOME a wonderful tradition is that Lillian spends the night here on Wednesday.  She "helps me cook". We put on our aprons...(she has her own apron hook in the kitchen)....and we cook... 

The very, very best part of Thanksgiving isn't about the meal at all. (that turkey is always a crap shoot)... The Grandma Memory will be Lilly and I working together in the kitchen, wearing our aprons, and listening to Christmas music.

The Grandma memory will be the two of us watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- and talking about NEW YORK CITY.  These are the moments she will remember when she is 70 years old...
Here's the thing....keep your eye on the prize.

On this day, you may have an opportunity to make a lasting memory with somebody you love.  I hope.  Be flexible.  If none of your people want to wear leopard -- let it go.  If the gravy is lumpy -- move to Plan B (have some canned gravy in the pantry).  If somebody important doesn't come -- joyfully move forward with THOSE WHO SHOWED UP...

At the end of the day -- people will not remember whether the turkey was dry or who came late to dinner.  But they will ALWAYS remember the way you made them feel...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tie One On Day

Welcome to Thanksgiving week. I hope this is a happy time for you and you are looking forward to being surrounded by your family and friends. I hope you love all the wonderful things that come with this grand American family holiday. Getting the extra beds ready for out of town company -- shopping for the groceries....baking your special pumpkin pies, your Grandma's stuffing or Aunt Glad's cranberry salad...
God knows there's PRESSURE to make the perfect turkey...

BUT -- there are people you know who may not be having a Norman Rockwell experience.  Many people, through no fault of their own, are lonely during this time of year.  They don't have warm, fuzzy families or giving, caring friends who include them.  Today would be a good time to reflect on that -- and think about what you could do to include them in your holiday.

Which is why I love the whole concept of Tie One On Day. EllynAnne Geisel, author of The Apron Book, created this day and I LOVE IT. You should go to her website to read more about it: Apron Memories
In a nutshell -- on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, you use an apron to wrap a gift of food and deliver it to somebody who just might need a lift.  Consider it a random act of kindness...paying it forward....

It was an honor for me to interview EllynAnne for Inspired To Sew magazine. Click on the link to read the story -- and then, I'm sure you'll want to TIE ONE ON this week!!

There are only two must personally deliver your apron/food/gift...and you must include a hand-written note.   You can do it.  I will, too.


Because I cannot go to her house to personally deliver an apron -- I'm sending this crappy-blog-version of a Tie One On gift to my friend Eileen.  She lost her mother last week...and I would really like to give her a hug.  Her Mom lived the Tie One On principal every day....and there is no better teacher than a good example.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Last Garden Pick of the Summer

Every year, the VERY LAST crop John picks from the garden is...drumroll, please.... RADISHES. Although he has radishes earlier in the summer -- they can be strong. For whatever reason, the radishes he plants in September are amazingly mild....
He also picked the last of the parsley -- right before the first freeze...
The radishes ARE AMAZING....huge, and crisp and flavorful...
I am about to build one of my FAVORITE SANDWICHES....and here are the three ingredients...
Thinly slice the radishes....
Soft white bread, mayonnaise, layers of thinly sliced radishes...some salt....
I am talking a little bit of serious heaven here, people...this sandwich is SO DELICIOUS...the radishes are crispy and so mild.  It's the kind of sandwich you think about in the middle of the night...
And, I have to say -- I MISS WONDER BREAD!!
I understand that products come and go. But how did we lose Wonder Bread?? When that bakery went out of business -- we also lost Twinkies, remember? I believe the Twinkies are back -- but apparently, nobody is going to resurrect Wonder Bread.

It got such a bad rap -- refined white flour, empty calories, no nutritional value, we should all be eating whole wheat, blah, blah, blah...trying to do the right thing -- in the interest of better eating habits -- the sales plummeted and, eventually, the bakery closed...

I'm just saying -- I MISS WONDER BREAD.  No other bread even comes close to the soft, deliciousness that was the Wonder Bread of my childhood.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Missing the Garden...

Last week, we woke up to temperatures of 8 degrees.  As much as I enjoy the seasons...starting the winter off in a vicious Polar Vortex is pushing my conviction....

After just two days of the bitter cold weather, I have a new understanding for the flocks of Snowbirds those-- otherwise-hardy-Midwesterners -- who go south for the winter.  I used to call them pussies.

But now I get it...

Hell...who are we kidding?  I envy them.

AND -- I am really missing the garden...

If you are a gardener, you know that every season comes with it's own gifts and pleasures. That's the whole point of having a garden, really.

This year, the first big mouth-watering crop was the asparagus. We picked it every-other-day for over a month. It was a GREAT year. Lilly loved looking for the asparagus (the weeds would hide it just enough to make it exciting), and we enjoyed eating it hot, with butter. Then cold, tossed with vinegar and oil. And sometimes creamed -- over toast.

One of the biggest rewards of the garden is, of course, the tomatoes. By the time we were sitting on the porch, eating BLT sandwiches made with the first tomatoes of the season...our mouths were watering. It is always one of the best moments of the year.
Every summer, I look forward to hearing from Linda Boothman when she makes her first mayo/peanut butter/tomato sandwich...

If you live in Iowa -- you can grow beautiful garlic, onions and lettuce, cabbage and cucumbers, green beans are very big here.
...but all that is just killing time until you can PICK THE SWEETCORN.
For our family, the big gardening victory is marked by Elliott's birthday. July 8, we ALWAYS have pesto for his birthday dinner. That takes two cups of basil -- and it is usually the first pick of the year. It is a mouth-watering, delicious Farro family tradition.
For his birthday dinner, Elliott always gets snow crab legs...and a big bowl of pesto spaghetti.
In the Fall, gardeners wait patiently for their squash and pumpkins. John dug buckets of Yukon Gold potatoes that will last us through the winter...
There is NOTHING better than fried potatoes...
This morning, on this bitter cold day, I opened the refrigerator and saw the final Garden Crop....tomorrow, I'll blog about it.


P.S.  -- I know this bit of weather/whining is completely inappropriate, considering I don't live anywhere near Buffalo, New York...