Hello dear friends! Well! Hasn't this been a horrible week? The tragedy in France, and the ongoing tragedies in the Ukraine and Syria, plus all the rumors of war, one can hardly sort them all out. Seems there's hardly any corner on earth that's at peace. People always ask at times like these, "what can I do?". Well, there's always prayers, first and foremost,of course. Become more compassionate, merciful, kind and generous. Who knows? Perhaps if we all work at it, we can become a counterbalance to all the wickedness in the world. Maybe we can even outweigh it. Well, that's my thoughts on it anyhow.
JUST A DAY
Guess what we did today? We celebrated Thanksgiving! It all started because the turkeys were on sale this week for fifty-two cents a pound ( our little-under-12-pound turkey ended up costing $6.11). Who could pass that up? But we don't have a big enough freezer for a turkey and what little space we do have is used for storing bargains on cheese and butter and our foraged nuts. Plus there were so many bargains that were pointing us to celebrating this week, it seemed that it was meant to be. We even found a Oreo cookie crust on the reduced for quick sale rack for a dollar, so we could have our traditional chocolate eggnog pie. Cranberries were ninety-nine cents a package, so we bought several for juice making later. And finally butter prices have come down! $2.39 a pound, so we stocked up, lately it had been creeping up to almost $4 a pound around here.
So we are celebrating Thanksgiving almost two weeks early. It really doesn't matter, after all, Thanksgiving just a day on the calendar. Our true thanks giving comes when we have gathered the last apple from the orchard, dug the last potato and canned the last green bean for the year. Then we give thanks for the bounty of the earth and to our Creator for being so benevolent to us, undeserving as we may be. We have enough food put by to see us through another year and plenty to share. God is good!
To tell the truth, I hate the holidays. Some years I would be quite content to go to sleep on the eve of Thanksgiving and not wake up until January 2nd. All my children live too far away to share in the celebrations except for one son who chooses to spend them with his in-laws. You know the old saying about a son being a son until takes a wife? But even before my children grew up and left home, coming from a family of drama queens, holidays were always tension filled. So I started to feel the blues come on when I saw a sign at a local store announcing there were only 46 more shopping days until Christmas. I knew I needed to readjust my attitude quickly, reminding myself that I don't really like entertaining and I'm not overly fond of spending all day in the kitchen either. I also had to remind myself, while it's a lovely fantasy that we'll all gather together and be laughing and reminiscing, the reality is far from it. As my sister used to tell me, "We're not the Waltons.". Or a Hallmark movie either, for that matter. So what's to be done about the holiday blues?
First, focus on what you do love about them. If you like to decorate, decorate. If you like to bake do so and give it away. If you like to give presents but don't have anyone to give them to, there's plenty of charities that would be glad to take them. One of the most enjoyable things we do every year, is buy toys for the Toy for Tots program and there's also a giving tree at the local grocery store. Don't be a baby Pathetica, focusing on how lonely and sad you are, think about how you can help others. Visit shut-ins, volunteer at a soup kitchen, babysit the neighbor's kids for free. If you have a job that stays open during the holidays, you might consider volunteering to work on the holidays so that others that have family can spend it with theirs. There's so much pressure on being happy during the holidays, but has anyone seriously recaptured the joy they felt on Christmas when they were nine years old? Life gets in the way. Lower your expectations. As Benjamin Franklin said, "I'd rather be a pessimist, because then I can only be pleasantly surprised.".
If you really can't bear the thought of holidays, just ignore them, keep your head down and plow through them. If it means staying in your pajamas all day and eating chips and drinking pop while watching old movies, so be it. Be kind to yourself. If the sight of the neighbor's family gathering together makes you bitter, draw the curtains and turn off the TV movies all filled with Norman Rockwell images of the "perfect" holiday. Don't answer the phone if listening to family tell you what a wonderful time they are having without out you feels like a stab in the heart. You're human after all, most of us aren't cut out to be Stella Dallas. I speak from experience! Just think of it as having a bad cold. Just something to bear with for a short while, things will be better tomorrow. After all, it's only just a day!
For my part, I like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the day. And now I finally have the time to do it. I also love to make homemade presents for my husband, it reminds me of when we were first falling in love and I hadn't any money for gifts. And it's nice that he appreciates them too, for there's nothing worse than to spend hours upon hours making a gift that isn't appreciated. We were just discussing how when we were young, we would have given our eye teeth to just be alone during the holidays, there were so many obligations back then; it was rush-rush -rush, with hardly time to catch our breath. Now we have the golden opportunity to do it! There will be lots of watching the snow fall (we're expecting several inches later this week!) with Nat King Cole crooning to us in the background and moonlit walks along the snowy lanes and quiet talks beside the fire. It will certainly be different than the busy holidays we had when the boys were all home and every day on the calendar was filled with activities. But hey! Who says things have to remain the same?
But most importantly, remember to count your blessings. If you have food in your stomach, a roof over your head, you are blessed. An extra bonus if you have someone special to share it with. We've been desperately poor at times, but we discovered that usually they were our happiest times. Here's a true story of a particular trying time and how we managed to have a joyous Christmas in spite of our pocketbooks.
All right, enough of that! I've rediscovered the joys of sewing this week. I used to sew a great deal when I was younger. Before the advent of thrift stores, sewing was an economical way to build a wardrobe, but now sewing has become an expensive hobby. My mother was a wonderful seamstress, but a horrible teacher. She basically just left us to our own devices and would occasionally yell into the dining room, where our sewing machine was a permanent fixture at the end of the table, that there was something wrong with the tension on the sewing machine, which she could tell just from the sound of it. But I did learn quite a bit just from watching her. We also had 4-H and everyone learned to sew an apron in Home Economics class. While most of my sewing these days consists of pillows and an apron or two, what I really want, is to become an expert tailor. This week I'm sewing my husband a vest, which sounds simple enough, except this pattern has a tricky pocket like the ones in men's suits. So now I've learned how to do that and discovered some tricks along the way to make the next one easier. I also had to redraft some of the pattern because the measurements were way off on the vintage pattern. I think it's going to turn out alright. It will certainly have a hand crafted look to it, which I think is good. Don't want it to look mass-produced. Anyway, it's slow going as my machine is in the same room as the woodstove and the heat blasts me out of the room quite often! Speaking of which, here it the middle of November and we still haven't used the furnace! But this will probably be the last week for that as the temperatures are supposed to plummet this week.
There isn't much gardening going on around here anymore, but we are experimenting with growing lettuce in our unheated enclosed porch. We planted the seeds in an old galvanized trough-like chicken feeder that we picked up at a garage sale for a quarter. The seeds have come up, so we'll have to see how successful this experiment is. Will keep you posted.
Inside, all my Christmas cacti are in bloom. Here's a picture of a rare yellow one that I've been babying along.
Chocolate eggnog pie has become a Thanksgiving tradition at our house. It not the most economical of recipes (why is eggnog so expensive?) but here's the recipe for those that are curious:
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 C. cold water
1/3 C. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C. eggnog
1 1/2 squares baking chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. rum extract
2 C. whipped topping
In a small bowl, soften the gelatin in the water, set aside.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in eggnog. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat, add gelatin, stirring until dissolved.
Divide filling in half, setting half aside to cool. Add melted chocolate and vanilla to one half ; stir well. Pour into pie shell and chill.
Meanwhile add rum extract to the remaining filling. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon over chocolate layer. Refrigerate overnight.
Well this is turning into a long-winded post! Best be getting on to:
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Bought turkey for 52 cents/lb, cranberries for 99 cents/lb. and even got the stollen for the stuffing for $1.50 (it was crushed and on the discount rack of our Polish butcher). The rest of our Thanksgiving meal came from our garden and pantry, making the total less than $10 for the three of us plus plenty left over for the rest of the week.
My dear friend, Matty, sent me a book that was several nights amusement.
Sewing a vest for my husband from wool that I purchased at the thrift store for $3.
Still heating with wood from free pallets.
Found a free internet security site to replace the $80 a year Norton security we have on the computer presently.
Watched several old movies on YouTube.
Kept the car parked in the driveway, saving on gas.
Well that's it for this week! Hope you have a wonderful day and an even more lovely day tomorrow!