If you send holiday cards, address a couple to Holiday Mail for Heroes, and drop them in the mailbox before Monday, December 7. The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are teaming up again this year to deliver as many good wishes as possible to those serving in the U.S. Military all over the world. For details, visit http://www.redcross.org/
Wishing you many tidings of comfort and joy this season!
Blessed Advent! Today is the first Sunday in the Christian season of Advent, one of the most meaningful times of the year for me. Traditionally, the Advent season has called believers from a time of dark and hopeless night to joyful expectation of the coming Light. Certainly, we can hear the longing in such hymns as "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and "Come Thou Long-expected Jesus," as the Israelites waited for God's Redeemer in the first Advent, or coming, of the Christ. How much more we wait and yearn today for the second Advent, when Christ will reign as King and sin will be destroyed!
And so, this time of waiting and anticipating becomes a time of preparation. Practically speaking, that looks like cleaning house. And today, after church, that's what we did. Mr. T&C and Little took care of the windows, while I put away all the fall/Thanksgiving decorations. Then, some mopping, dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing (those Mr. Clean erasers really work, by the way) to finish the job. Now, no one much likes to pile Christmas decorations into a dirty house, but to have the mind-set of "getting ready," well, to me, it makes a world of difference. So, the house is clean and waiting.
I sat down Thanksgiving night and sneezed seven times straight. A cold. I worked all day Friday, but by five o'clock I had the chills and all the bones in my face ached. Sinus infection. I went straight to bed, and Saturday I stayed home while the Mister, Big, Middle, and Little went to get our Christmas tree. We always go to the same little tree farm in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina. I was bitterly disappointed that I didn't get to go, but they chose a beautiful tree, a Frasier fir, and it's on our deck, waiting.
Tonight, I made some turkey chili and enjoyed the clean house and thought it would be smart to make some kind of Christmas something, so I made two rolls of Cranberry-Pecan shortbread cookie dough, a slight modification of the cookies in the December issue of Southern Living (http://www.southernliving.com/). To glam them up slightly, I shaped them in squares and then pressed each side in crystal decorator's sugar before wrapping them in parchment, sealing in a Ziploc bag, and putting them in the freezer. To wait.
So many things are.
My parents are visiting us for Thanksgiving. They arrived Tuesday, which was less than 48 hours after our Florida friends returned to see the Clemson v. Virginia game. This time there were seven teenagers total, three adults, and one Little. It did not rain, but it was cold. I served chili for a late supper, and in the morning we had sausage, egg, and cheese bites, which were a huge hit.
Several weeks ago we were invited to take part in the Thanksgiving service at our church. It is typically a fairly small service, held in the Chapel rather than the Sanctuary. We each had a small part in a prayer; then Mr. T&C and I led the responsive reading of Psalm 92. Finally, Big led the Apostle's Creed before the Benediction was given. It was an honor to be part of this time of worship, and I think that this service will become a part of our Thanksgiving tradition.
In 15 years of marriage, I have made Thanksgiving dinner 13 times. The largest crowd was 18, and my brother-in-law did deep fry the turkey that year. So, I have roasted 12 Thanksgiving turkeys and a few Christmas ones as well. I have rubbed them with olive oil, with butter, and with various combinations of herbs and wine. I have stuffed them with onions and lemons or with apples and onions. This year, I decided to try a dry rub. So before we left for church, I rubbed some butter over the bird, and then lavishly patted it down with a mixture of brown sugar, paprika, and salt and pepper. I stuffed it with onions and slid it into the oven. We returned home about two hours later, and the house smelled divine. Half an hour later, I pulled the turkey out to check it, and it looked perfect! Temperature? Perfect. So I covered it loosely with foil and left it to rest while I finished the remaining loose ends.
At last, all was ready and we sat down to dinner. After a few words of gratitude around the table and a prayer of Thanksgiving, Mr. T&C began to carve the bird. He was eager to try some techniques he had seen Tyler Florence use on the Today show. He plunged the tip of the knife into the crispy brown skin, but the knife didn't penetrate. He aimed a bit farther down, thinking he had hit breastbone the first time. Again, nothing. So, we whisked the turkey into the kitchen, where I discovered I had roasted it upside down! (Did I mention I had a terrible headache before church this morning?) We flipped that bird over, and sliced him right up. Oh, it was a mess and all the good, crispy caramelized sugar skin was on the underside, but the turkey itself was tender and moist. So, I am planning to try, try again.
brown sugar roast turkey with gravy
cornbread dressing with sausage and pecans
sweet potato souffle
Sister Schubert's rolls
Mr. T&C and I had our first real date in November 1993, when we saw Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. After Mr. T&C made sure that we had great seats, he politely excused himself, and returned in a few minutes with a tub of popcorn and soft drinks. He then pulled a packet of peanut M&Ms out of his shirt pocket and poured them into the popcorn. I had been brought up under the instruction that going to the movies was treat enough; refreshments were overpriced distractions. As you might imagine, a spontaneous offering of popcorn sprinkled with candy was--well, let's just say, things looked promising.
We did treat ourselves to an early lunch at The Green Room, which is a new restaurant on Main Street. We both had a cup of the cauliflower soup, which was quite tasty. We split an Orchard Sandwich--thinly sliced apples, gorgonzola, toasted walnuts, baby greens, and balsamic vinaigrette on toasted ciabatta bread. It was really good. The service was attentive and friendly, and the restaurant is attractive. After lunch, we did a little window-shopping, and then it was back to our own little corner of Main Street.
If he asks me, I would definitely go out with him again.
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you? Matthew 6:28-30
Blue of the Seven Seas; Gold of God's great sun
Let these our colors be Till all time be done-n-n-ne,
By Severn shore we learn Navy's stern call:
Faith, courage, service true With honor over, honor over all.
Started off Friday with another tasty breakfast in the Carnegie Lounge of Hotel Wales. From some hotel literature and my well-worn copy of Access: New York--a great travel guide, by the way--we determined that the Carnegie Lounge used to be called the Pied Piper Room and featured charming murals depicting scenes from "The Pied Piper" and other children's stories. One of the front desk staff told the Mister that all the murals were removed about a year ago; it seems a shame. Still the people-watching is quite good from this vantage point--lots of dog-walkers and UE moms pushing strollers and getting little ones off to school. We left the hotel and headed out into the next day of our adventure, once again walking over to 5th Avenue. The weather forecast was dismal--cold and rainy, but it wasn't raining yet, so we crossed into Central Park to see what we could see. Despite the chill, it was wonderful. We saw the Alice in Wonderland sculpture; the Hans Christian Andersen Ugly Duckling sculpture; and the sculpture of the famous Iditarod winner Balto. We walked and walked, seeing the conservatory boat pond (Stuart Little), the Dairy Barn, Navy Plaza, and Wollman Rink. It was a delightful walk, and, before we knew it, we had walked almost 40 blocks!
We stepped out into Grand Army Plaza, did a quick look-see in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel (Eloise could have been there!), and then into FAO Schwarz, where Little had a ball. She zoomed through the Barbies and all the pink stuff, meandered through the vast Lego store, admired the array of art and craft supplies, and finally lost herself in the Schleich toys. After quite a bit of deliberation, she settled on a lionness, a kangaroo, and an Indian for her collection. We settled up and then headed out into the cold. We stopped for a photo with the singing toy soldier at the entrance.Little just loved this place and did not want to leave. Until food came into her mind. When I planned this trip, food was not the focal point, primarily because restaurants are so expensive in NYC. I figured we would find some delis and diners and save the four-star restaurants for another time, and, for the most part, that plan worked well. We found a place called Red Stone Pizzeria on 5th Avenue across from Saks, and we all had a slice of our choice. (Actually the boys had a couple!)
Next stop, the Museum of Modern Art. Mr T&C and the boys were doubtful about "modern art," but MoMA's collection is really art of the 20th century, so we saw Van Gogh's Starry Night as well as works by Cezanne, Hopper, Warhol, and Mondrian, Little's favorite artist. We took in two floors of paintings and then we headed to the Architecture and Design floor, which features some of the coolest design in everything from toasters to clothing to furniture to cars.
We walked a couple of blocks to the west and took a few photos by the amazing lion sculptures at the New York Public Library. Then, with some encouragement from me, we climbed the well-worn marble steps to see some of the most beautiful architecture ever--gorgeous floors, paneling, moldings, murals, and furniture--and all of it used everyday. The Rose Reading room was magnificent, and I was soooo curious as to what all those people were studying and reading about.
The lights of Times Square were beckoning, though, so we headed up to Broadway for the New Amsterdam Theater. Mr. T&C had visited the theater just as the Walt Disney Co. began its multi-million dollar renovation--he was amazed at the detail of the restoration. It is a beautiful building. The show, although darker than the movie, was still terrific. Little was beside herself. To see Mary Poppins fly from the stage and over the audience was so exciting.
After the show, we walked a couple of blocks to Magnolia Bakery, where we each chose a cupcake to take back to the hotel. Then we hailed a taxi just as the rain began to fall. The day was "practically perfect" in every way.