Merry, Merry!

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Santa Delivers

Wine, that is, to a couple of neighbors.  We brought over a couple of bottles to our next door neighbor last week.  We’ve known the one couple who got a delivery today for almost as long as we’ve lived here.  The other couple is new to the neighborhood within the past month.  For them, it’s a “Welcome to the neighborhood.”  They probably still have some unpacked box

For the other couple, well, they’ve been bringing over Christmas cookies for years, but his year, they got wine instead of gourmet chocolates.  Being a member of Naked Wines makes that an easy choice, and a whole lot less expensive than buying it from a state liquor store.

In both cases, the husband opened the door, and was perfectly willing to chat for a couple of minutes.  No face muzzles required.  No demands to know “vaccination” status, or anything like that.  The new neighbors took us up on the offer for a trailer load of firewood for free, saying he got sticker shock after receiving his first heating bill, and decided to put their wood burning stove into use.  We’ve been in that house a couple of times when the previous owners were there.  Their wood burning stove is about half the size of ours, but every little bit helps, I guess.  Anyway, we have no shortage of firewood.  With somewhere between two and three acres worth of woods with snags, and cutting down some mostly dead trees, a log splitter, etc., it’s something we can provide, w/o trying to charge for it like some people with roadside stands do.

I’m just glad we could bring a little cheer to some people after what was mostly a crappy year.

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‘Tis the Season

This is still my favorite Christmas movie.  Yes, I know, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a classic, but this is plain old funny, and it never gets old:

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The Cranberry Caper

Mom didn’t want us there at her place, bringing over a catered Thanksgiving dinner, but she wanted some leftovers.  Since it had been a week and a half since Thanksgiving, and we ended up with a 17 lb. bird, we had lots of leftovers.  Transforming them into turkey noodle soup, and pot pie extends their shelf life, so to speak.  So, that’s what I made for us, and her, and brought her half of them, made with white meat only.  We also made pumpkin custard from our own home grown pumpkins, but that was long gone before today’s visit.

We could not find fresh cranberries for love nor money before Thanksgiving, so I made applesauce instead.

We still have some dark meat turkey that we can disguise in a mild curry sauce — coconut milk, garam masala, turmeric, cumin,  fenugreek, and a few other things.  That yellow curry sauce works well with shrimp, too.

Mom does not want us there for Christmas, either, bringing over a big meal, so we made a deal with her to show up on Boxing Day with some fresh leftovers.  If she needs us before then to run errands or another honey-do list for her, she will call to let us know.  I like this deal.

Funniest thing today was that mom knew all about how we could not find a bag of fresh cranberries anywhere near us before Thanksgiving, but then, when we went grocery shopping for her today, there was an entire bench in the store with them.  I grabbed a bag.  The whole bill went on mom’s credit card, but I forked over $3 in cash for what that they cost.  She was funny about it at first, but then did put the money in her wallet.  We could not find two things on her list, either at a grocery store, or a pharmacy.

On our way out, we joked about how some things are much easier to find in our state than hers —  like cranberries.  Mom was in good spirits after that visit.  We ran her errands for her, left her a few days worth of food that’s better than anything she can get from her retirement community, and set up her Christmas decorations.  She seemed happy.

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Bottle Rockets

No, not the band from St. Louis, although they’re really cool, too, but the kind that go fizzzzzzzz . . . bang!

Finally, my spouse bought his own small fireworks this afternoon.  50% off, so it was a good deal.

Those roman candles will be nice, and the basic bottle rockets will be fun, too.

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Grrrr, and Happy Thanksgiving

For the grrr . . . I switched autopay for my electric bills from one bank account to another two months ago.  Yes, I have two accounts for this one house, because when the previous owners added the annex, they had it wired separately.  Well, one account transitioned just fine, but the one for the main house didn’t, so my electric company took me off autopay, but only for the one account.  Spent 45 minutes on the phone with them, and Tamika told me there was nothing she could do about it, so I’d have to pay that bill month to month via credit card, which I pay off using the bank account they refuse to draw from.  This was not an issue of insufficient funds.  I’ve got plenty of money in that checking account.

For the Happy Thanksgiving, we managed to get everything we normally serve for dinner, except a bag of fresh cranberries.  We could not find those anywhere this year.  I usually make cran-apple sauce with them, so this year, we’ll just go with applesauce.  Couldn’t find a turkey smaller than 17 lbs., so we’re going to have to transform a barge load of leftovers into things that can be frozen:  curry to disguise the dark meat flavor, turkey noodle soup, etc.  Pot pie and tetrazzini is best eaten fresh, so that’s for the weekend before the leftovers hit the “use ’em or lose ’em” point.

Mom refuses to eat at the same table with us at the same time, so she told us to not cater Thanksgiving dinner for her.  Alright.  Makes it easier for us, because we’re not on a tight schedule to get everything cooked here, packed up for transportation, driven over, and unpacked.  She does want leftovers, though.

Mom used to get all stressed out about holiday dinners when I was a kid.  Never understood that.  Not everything has to be cooked at the same time, let alone on the holiday.  Plenty of things can be made a day ahead, but she never did it that way.  And, when the bird’s in the oven, there’s plenty of time to make stuffing, scalloped potatoes, or whatever.  The gravy can be made from the drippings when the bird is resting before being carved.  I find the whole process rather relaxing, instead of stressful.

Anyway . . .

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Standard Time Sucks, and Other Things

Living in a temperate zone at a northern latitude, the difference in daylight hours between summer and winter is significant.  The farther north you live, the bigger the difference.  A few hours of daylight in winter can be almost the opposite in summer.  Down South, it’s not a big difference.  I’d vote for sticking with Daylight Savings time year ’round, because I’d rather have the extra hour of daylight in the afternoon than in the morning.  When I was in grade school, Nixon said one winter that we had to go on Daylight Savings time, and my brother and I had to walk to school with flashlights, so we could see where the road was, and didn’t fall into a drainage ditch.

We also visited mom today, and did some shopping for her.  Brought over one of the late season tomatoes from our garden.  It was the only one we had left that was bigger than a golf ball.  First frost was only a couple of days ago, so we harvested whatever was still on the vine three days ago, to let it bench ripen rather than vine ripen.  Hey, I was thankful for the Indian Summer.  We’re normally done with harvest after the first week in October.

Also brought her the jar of Beach Plum jam I forgot to bring a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a Cape May specialty.  When we take a mini-vacay there, we always bring her back some little something.

When we did her shopping for her, she spaced out on giving me her credit card, and I spaced out on asking for it, so I paid cash.  We didn’t find everything she wanted, as is often the case.  She totally forgot about the credit card thing until we were ready to leave.  I’m glad she brought it up.  She gave me the cash to cover it.

Mom also made a bit of a production of celebrating my S.O.’s birthday.  Since we visit every other week, it’s never really on the right day, or even the right week, but none of us really care about that anymore.  We’re not kids.  She gave him a couple of bags of Tate’s cookies, and a couple of bags of Ghiradelli chocolates, then told him he didn’t have to share them with me.  As if he wouldn’t.  *eye roll*  She gave me money for my birthday, and I spent it on Lobster bisque, “crab critters,” and crab cakes from a really good local seafood market, which, of course I shared with him for dinner over the next week.

As far as Thanksgiving dinner goes, I asked her whether she wanted to go with the usual plan in which we cook everything at our place, then pack it into coolers and crockpots to bring over, or do what we did last year, stay home with our feast, and bring leftovers next time we visit.  She’s still afraid to sit at the same table with us at the same time to share a meal, so she went with the latter.  Easier for us, but not as fun as sharing a good meal with another family member who would otherwise be alone on a holiday.

The items I could not get on her shopping list I was able to find online from pharmacies elsewhere in the country.  At some point, with these, I have to make an executive decision.  She has a tendency to over-specify everything — brand, size, color, mouthwash flavor, etc. — and if I get one of those wrong, but the rest right, there’s a good chance I’ll either be told to return it, or get reprimanded.  Sometimes, she’ll deal with it.  My executive decision today was to order one of the items she wanted, in a three pack instead of two, because the three pack was cheaper than two of the cheapest individual ones, and to order two two-packs of another item, of which she wanted two.  The latter is something in a size, brand, flavor, and with real sugar, that we can’t find around here or near her anymore, and she won’t settle for a generic or store brand version.

I’ll bring all three of the first item, and two of the latter next time we visit.  I’ll save the other two of the latter for a Christmas present.  At her age, that’s the sort of Christmas present she actually appreciates — along with things like underwear, and non-slip slippers, that most kids would be disappointed to receive, no matter how much they were needed.

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Whoops, Not a Steal

No, this has nothing to do with baseball or theft.  We went on vacation for a few days, and stayed at our favorite pet-friendly B&B.  When we got there, we realized the one thing we forgot to pack was our dog’s food.  So, fine, we got some from the local Acme, but then, we had to use one of the coffee mugs in our room to measure out his meals.  As is our habit at home, we use a mug to measure it out, and leave it in the bag of food.

When we packed up and left this morning, we had inadvertently left the coffee mug belonging to the B&B in the dog food bag, and didn’t realize it until we got home.  Whoops.

So, I emailed the owner of the B&B, who we’ve met many times, to let him know we had it, and would mail it back to him ASAP.  But, to make sure he knew the situation, I followed up with a phone call.  Just as well.  His laptop died on him this morning, and was out for repair.  Anyway, he knows the situation, and was very gracious about it, telling me no rush on mailing it back.

I’ll wash it out, pack it up, and take it over to the post office tomorrow to send it back to him.  This is so embarrassing, but at least I let him know as soon as I realized what happened.

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Aargh!  My local post office isn’t really a problem, but when I need to put a hold on our mail for a few days, the USPS website gives me grief.  I had it working for years, but then, it suddenly refused to recognize my login.  Dealt with that nonsense for a couple of years, and finally signed up for a new account, as if I’d never had one before.  Now it works again. It was like pulling teeth, though.

Oh, well.  My mailman is a really nice guy.  No matter where I’ve lived, I’ve never had a jerk for a mailman.  I’ve never met a jerk working the desk or phone at a post office — ever.  It’s not the front line people who deal with the public who mess up things.  Navigating the USPS website isn’t as bad as the old voice jail deal was, but it’s still more of a pain in the ass than it should be, just to put a hold on your mail for a couple of days.

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Used My Capt’n Chucky’s Gift Certificate

After making a polite pill of myself with the radio station, I did receive my $50 gift certificate to this local seafood market that has other things, but specializes in crab cakes (several different varieties) and other crustacean items.  So, we went there yesterday.  I blew a little north of $100, but I wanted to sample a bunch of different things, and it turns out their prices had gone up a buck or so per item from what’s listed on their website’s menu.

Last night we had some of the freshest, crabbiest crab cakes ever.  No breading, no filler, just jumbo lump crab and binder.  Also tried some “roll ups” with shrimp, crab, and a wasabi cram sauce, that were sort of halfway between a spring roll and an egg roll.  The spring roll thingies were alright — good, but nothing I’m likely to order again.  Served with a nice chilled Pinot Grigio and a side salad, it was a really good dinner.

Today, we visited my mom, and brought a quart of the lobster bisque soup.  I made a batch of butternut squash soup from the last of the butternuts we grew in our garden, and left that with her.  We had some of the bisque ourselves, for lunch, and offered to leave the rest with her if she wanted it, but she didn’t.  It’s thicker and creamier than other lobster bisques I’ve gotten from elsewhere.  She tasted it and loved it like we did, but it’s milk based, and she tries to stay away from dairy other than yogurt and small quantities of hard cheese, so I sort of figured she’d pass on the leftover.

Tonight, we’ll try a different variety of crab cake, have some more of the soup, and maybe try a few “crab critter” appetizers, which are balls of crab, a little smaller than golf balls, deep fried, then frozen, so we can bake a few at a time, and leave the rest frozen until we want them.

We also got a quart of cream of crab soup, which supposedly is also good on pasta like farfale and rotini.  I may freeze that in smaller half-pint containers.  Could have bought it already frozen, by the pint or quart, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The guy working the counter was the only employee there at the time.  Not old enough to be one of the owners, but he might very well have been their son.  His knowledge of their inventory was stellar, and he had no problem accepting the gift certificate from the radio station along with the balance of my tab in cash.  If he were just some HS or college kid working there on weekends with no supervision, he might not have known how to handle that transaction.

I can say for sure that we will return.  I wouldn’t put it on a weekly or biweekly grocery list, but every once in a while for a treat, it’s on my list.

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