Posted in Books, Christmas, Food, holiday, Lists

A few favorite gifts

Time is growing short to find the right gift for yourself or someone you love. I wish I could say I made money off affiliate links, but I don’t. I’m simply a struggling author sharing some things I love that you might enjoy.

Sphynx with one foot on the ground and three on a colorful drinking fountain.

This is my Sphynx Juno. She’s 12. Rather than drinking from the Catit flower fountain like a normal cat, she prefers this pose. She has tried this on other fountains and bowls, tipping them over. This one is Juno-proof!

All our cats love this fountain. We no longer worry one kitty will develop kidney problems from a lack of water.

It’s cheap, cute and easy to clean. I got it from Chewy.

A 2020 Christmas Ornament. Normally we add an ornament to the Christmas tree that commemorates some place we went during the year. But this is 2020. Out of virus concerns, we followed public health recommendations and stayed home. My family hasn’t had the big reveal so no pic yet, but Etsy.com has a delightful variety and you can support small businesses hurt by the shuttering of craft fairs and other in person outlets. If you want to shop local, Etsy gives you that choice as well. Claire of Sidetracked supports Etsy.

Books – ebooks and physical books!

Seriously – feed an author, buy a book, and give the gift of entertainment.

Gift Cards from local restaurants. Support those places you love, but also treat people who don’t live with you to a great meal from some place local to them.

Some local bakeries and ice cream places will ship across country which can be a wonderful taste of home for someone who can’t travel or has special dietary needs.

Personally, I’m excited about the AandJbakery.net gingerbread house kit that arrived at my house this week. As a food allergy family, finding a gingerbread house we could safely build was a challenge until we learned about A&J. The pic is last year’s model. The gingerbread is the best I’ve ever had.

Happy Holidays and a joyous new year
Wishing you peace, Lola

Posted in Family life, Food, holiday

Thanksgiving Tips and Why I don’t make Gravy.

For some people, 2020 will be the first time they have prepared a Thanksgiving dinner rather than bringing a dish to share. It can’t be any worse than my first time making a turkey.

The hubs and I had been married a little over a year and had moved into our third residence. We had new jobs, little money, and no vacation time so traveling 10 hours to visit the “close” parents was not an option. My mom felt bad enough that she flew from Chicago to Newark, NJ to help us out. For three people, we had a 15 pound bird.

Helpful hint #1 – Unless you are feeding 5 or more, get a turkey breast or a 7-8 lb bird.

Naturally, the hubs and I had to recreate ALL the dishes both sides of our family made so we could both have the taste of home. This meant two types of mashed potatoes, two types of cranberries, and two types of stuffing. This also meant we ran out of cookware and places to set prepared food in our tiny kitchen.

Helpful hint #2 – For a small group, streamline the menu. Pick your favorite 5 or 6. In our household of 4, we have turkey, cranberry relish and each person picks one other dish. You can always make a different side dish for the inevitable left overs.

My mom alternated between shaking her head at the hubs and my folly and giving us helpful instruction gleaned. She gave me the task of making gravy from the pan drippings while she coached the hubs through some other task. Her instructions to me went something like “heat in the pan, add cornstarch, whisk until smooth and thickened.”

So I whisked, and I whisked, and I whisked. I got the gravy smooth but there was a problem. “Mom? It’s not thickening!”

“Add some more cornstarch.”

So I grabbed the box and poured in some more. I whisked, got the gravy smooth, but it still didn’t thicken. Mom and I repeated our dialogue to the same effect. I made four additions.

When she finished her project, she came over to check my work. She picked up the yellow box I’d been using. She put her hand on my exhausted whisking arm.

“Honey, no matter how much powdered sugar you add, that gravy isn’t going to thicken.”

Helpful hint #3 – Cornstarch and powdered sugar are not interchangeable.

It’s been over 20 years, but I am still not allowed to make gravy.

If you have a helpful hint for preparing a small scale Thanksgiving dinner, please feel free to share in the comments. It’s a strange year for many of us, but we can all learn something new and we can all use a good laugh.