Monday, November 30, 2009

Let the Season Begin!

With Thanksgiving being over with I can finally get into the Christmas spirit. I'm not one to listen to Christmas music or to decorate my house for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Since I think it's important to savor and appreciate the moment, the golden rule in my house is no Christmas stuff before we've had our turkey feast.

To start things off, I've set out my amaryllis bulbs in pretty red metal containers.

Usually I force my bulbs by setting them in a glass container filled with water and rocks, but when I found these vibrant red containers for $2.00 at the Christmas Tree Shop I thought I'd use the plastic pots the bulbs came with and just place them inside the decorative holder.

To cover up the planting medium I used some dried Spanish moss I had laying around.

Amaryllis bulbs usually take 6 weeks to bloom so I may not have these opened for Christmas but I will have some lovely foliage in the meantime.

Over the next week I'll be slowly pulling out my other decorations as well as putting the tree up. Andy and I have a very real looking fake tree that we usually put up, but this year we may get a real one. Although I prefer a real tree, I like to keep my tree up until a week after New Year's and by then a real tree starts to look pretty shabby. What do you prefer real or fake and why?

Our calendar is very packed this month with several Christmas parties to attend as well as both Andy's and mine's birthdays. I'm sure all of your calendars are full as well. I'd love to hear what sorts of things you do to fend off the stress of the season. Post a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear your advice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The First Thanksgiving

The first colonists often celebrated days of thanksgiving as it was a big part of their religious beliefs. Thanksgiving days for the early colonists were quiet days of prayer - not feasts as we think of them today. However, in 1621 the pilgrims had their first big harvest and the reason why this harvest was successful was in part due to the support they received from the local Wampanoag Indians.

To celebrate the first large harvest as well as the cooperation and interaction between the English colonists and the Native Americans, a feast was held in Plymouth in the fall of 1621 - this is by many to be considered the first Thanksgiving. Since Plymouth is just a few miles from where I live, this time of year brings added meaning as we think about this historical event that took place hundreds of years ago right out our back door.

The legacy of thanks, and particularly of the feast, have survived the centuries as people throughout the United States gather with family, friends, and enormous amounts of food for their yearly Thanksgiving meal.

So, what foods were on the table during that first historical meal? Although we can't be certain as to exactly what they ate, we do know that this meal did not have mashed potatoes since potatoes were not available to the colonists during that time. Based on historical writings we can be certain that venison and wild fowl, probably wild turkey since it's so common to this area, was most definitely on the menu.

Although our modern Thanksgiving menu includes lots of vegetables, the colonists' menu was centered around many different meats since vegetables did not traditionally play a large part of any meal. Back then colonists needed lots of protein since they were more active and needed to survive long cold winters.

It's also interesting to note that pilgrims did not use forks to eat since they had yet to be invented. Instead they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. Salt also would have been at the table, but pepper would not have been.

Above - Traditional Wampanoag Indian place setting included a spoon, turtle shell, and knife.

Above - Traditional Colonial English Setting Table from early 1600's

Here's a list of foods that were probably on the menu. This list has been obtained from Plimoth Plantation.

Foods That May Have Been on the Menu

Seafood: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
Wild Fowl: Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles
Meat: Venison, Seal
Grain: Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
Vegetables: Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
Fruit: Plums, Grapes
Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns
Herbs and Seasonings: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips

What Was Not on the Menu

Surprisingly, the following foods, all considered staples of the modern Thanksgiving meal, didn't appear on the pilgrims' first feast table:

Ham: There is no evidence that the colonists had butchered a pig by this time, though they had brought pigs with them from England.
Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes: These were not common.
Corn on the Cob: Corn was kept dried out at this time of year.
Cranberry Sauce: The colonists had cranberries but no sugar at this time.
Pumpkin Pie: It's not a recipe that exists at this point, though the pilgrims had recipes for stewed pumpkin.
Chicken/Eggs: We know that the colonists brought hens with them from England, but it's unknown how many they had left at this point or whether the hens were still laying.
Milk: No cows had been aboard the Mayflower, though it's possible that the colonists used goat milk to make cheese.

So, as you prepare for your Thanksgiving meal think about what the early colonist may have eaten and how different things are today. But one thing that has not changed throughout the years is our gratitude for the blessings we have received and for the family and friends that are so close to our hearts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Please Watch This For Breast Cancer Awareness

Medline gloves produced this video as a way to raise breast cancer awareness. It's amazing how they got so many employees, doctors and patients to participate. I love the gentleman at the end of the video. If you watch the video twice you'll see him hamming it up earlier on in the clip. This video made me laugh and cry both times I watched it. When the video gets 1 million hits on You Tube, Medline will be making a contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community. Please check it out. It's an easy and great way to donate to a wonderful cause, and who hasn't been touched by breast cancer?

For your convenience I've embedded the video in my post, but PLEASE click here after you are done viewing it on my blog so your hit registers on You Tube.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful for Nie Nie

I'm sure many of you know Stephanie Nelson from her blog the Nie Nie Dialogues. If you don't you really must check out her very inspirational blog here. I've been following Stephanie's blog since before her plane accident. She was inspirational back then with her amazing exuberance, incredible style, and stories of being a Mom, but after the tragic accident back in August 2008 that almost killed her and her husband, Stephanie's faith, hope, and perseverance amazes me even more.

Not only has Stephanie endured incredible pain from the burns of the plane crash fire, the accident left her so disfigured that it took her own children months to not be afraid of her. It's now been well over a year since the accident and Stephanie is back home raising her children and trying to lead a normal life. She still has many months--even years of surgeries and therapy a head of her, but her faith in God, personal strength, and love of her family keep her focused on the future. Stephanie has shown us what true beauty really is - it's not what we see on the outside but what is on the inside that matters. I'm thankful for having the opportunity to read her blog. She makes my problems seem so irrelevant and she reminds me to be thankful for everything I have. Stephanie inspires me to be a better person by the example that she sets. With more surgeries scheduled for Stephanie in January, please remember to think of her in your prayers.

Click here too see an interview of Stephanie and her husband Christian.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You Know Thanksgiving is Coming When...

....A bunch of wild turkeys cross the street in front of your house (sorry the pics are blurry, but these guys were moving fast!).

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Went a Bit Overboard!

It seems I just can't resist a good sale - especially if gardening is involved. The other day while shopping at Lowes I saw a display for spring bulbs. I wasn't planning on planting any bulbs this fall, but when my eye caught the 50% off sign I was hooked!

Andy knew when I saw the sale sign that I was a goner so he left me standing there blurry eyed in a "sale stupor" while he roamed around the store to do more manly things (whatever that means). 30 minutes later he comes back to see me standing in the same spot. "What on earth are you still doing here?" he says annoyingly. He then looks down at my cart and sees what must be 30 packages of bulbs. "You're not planning on buying all of these are you?" "Of course not," I say as I cross my fingers behind my back. "Well then why are all those packages in the cart?" I then say to him confidently, "I'm planning the spring bed in my head and trying to figure out a planting scheme." ...Actually I'm just confused at that point. "Well just make a selection and let's get out of here before you buy the entire display!" "Maybe I will -- After all it's a darn great sale!"

The rational thing to do would have been to buy maybe one or 2 packages, but obviously I'm not rational so I ended up buying a total of 200 bulbs! Here are my purchases spread out on my kitchen table (along with the 2 packages of amaryllis bulbs and 1 package of paperwhites that I intend to force indoors this winter).

Looking at them all spread out like that makes me want to procrastinate - something I'm really good it! I have no idea where I'm going to put them all, but this spring should be full of color. Now I've got to hope for a few days of nice weather so I can get them in the ground before it freezes. Some how the actual planting part wasn't in my head when I was standing at the 50% off sign dreaming about spring - UGH!

Before I sign off on this post I'd like to mention a some things I've been thankful for these past few days:
  • Thankful that Andy was able to rent a leave vacuum and shredder to get up most of our leaves. Boy if we had to rake them all by hand we'd be out there for a week straight!
  • Thankful that Andy's eye was not seriously injured while using the shredder. He usually wears goggles but had forgotten to put them on. Thankfully no long term damage was done.
  • Thankful we were able to find Ellie after she decided to chase after a squirrel and wander the neighborhood for an hour... jeez she's so little and it was so cold outside that if we didn't find her she would have never survived - I shudder to think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You Veterans!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Swine Flu Yuk!

Early last week I was sick with what I thought was a bad cold, but as things progressed from bad to worse it was apparent that I wasn't dealing with any normal cold. To help me feel better and to reduce the severity of the virus, my doctor put me on a course of Tamiflu. Let me tell ya folks that stuff works wonders! Within 24 hours of taking it I felt better and within 48 hours I could actually get dressed and do things around the house. The only draw back is that the medicine does have a side effect of nausea so you really have to take it with food.

I'm thankful that I have a great family physician as well as a wonderful DH who took care of me over the past week. We took every precaution to make sure that the virus didn't spread to Andy but only time will tell... I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Now that I'm back to the land of the living I need to catch up on my blogging and take care of all the things I've neglected around the house. Last night I put up a few Thanksgiving decorations. I never decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving - no reason to rush the season since all the retail stores do that for us.

While I was recovering I didn't get a chance to do any posts for the 30 Days of Thanksgiving so here are the things I've been thankful for these past few days:

I'm so grateful for having Andy in my life. He kept my spirits up, made all of my meals, and generally took care of anything I needed.

On Demand cable. It may seem frivolous but when you're sick the TV is your friend. My eyes hurt too much to read a book so the only activities I could do was sleep and watch TV. Thankfully we have On Demand cable so I was able to watch a ton of great movies.

A nice warm fire. Andy kept the fireplace going the entire time I was sick and the warmth of that fireplace was so comforting and soothing.

Chicken Soup. Need I say more.

Ginger ale. For me this is the best stuff for nausea.

The warm sun and a gorgeous day on the first day you are really feeling better. Ahhhh.... so wonderful!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Home Sick But Thankful

It's Day 3 of the 30 Days of Thanksgiving and I woke up today feeling really awful. Thankfully it doesn't feel like the flu, but my raw scratchy throat, cough, and stuffy nose is no fun either. On days like these I'm thankful for being a telecommuter. There's nothing fun about dragging yourself into work when you are feeling under the weather, and using up time from my sick bank is something I'd rather save for something a bit more serious than a bad cold.

A few months ago our corporate headquarters announced they were shutting down the local branch that I worked at. At first I was told that I'd be laid off, but after a few months they reconsidered and decided to let me keep my job as a telecommuter. I was thrilled at this decision because working from home meant I'd be able to spend more time with my family and more time in my garden.

In my life I've found that whenever something really bad happens something better is always around the corner. Sometimes the good that comes out of bad situation isn't immediately evident and the lessons learned come hard, but with faith and patience the good never fails to happen.

Having our office close and getting laid off couldn't have come at a worse time as our country was experiencing the worse economic recession since the Great Depression and finding a new job would a long journey. But, without our office closing I would have never had the opportunity to telecommute, which is something I've been wanting to do for many years. Of course, I feel awful for my co-workers who didn't get that opportunity, but I have enough faith in God to know that something good is also coming to them -- just in a different way.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Month of Thankfulness

For the month of November I'm celebrating the 30 Days of Thanksgiving with one post of gratitude for every day of the month. I can't think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than to give thanks for all of our blessings both large and small. If you want to join me, please visit Karla over at her blog Karla's Korner and sign up. As Karla says you can devote an entire post each day to something you're grateful for or just end each post with a simple comment such as "Today I'm thankful for my children."

Of course I'm thankful for my family (both immediate and extended - Andy and Ellie included - goes without saying), my friends both near and far - including the blogging community, my home, my job, my health, and my relationship with God. But, since my life tends to be so busy I often overlook the small things I should be grateful for so for the next 30 days I'm going to concentrate on being thankful for them.

Since I didn't post yesterday I'm devoting this post to 2 things I'm grateful for:

Eyes to see the beautiful colors this time of year even when it's raining, cold, and gets dark early now that the clocks have turned back. This reminds there is beauty and light in all situations even when things seem dark and gray.

A sense of humor and patience as I realize I'll never win the war with the squirrels who keep snacking at our bird feeder so I might as well just let them eat. After all, humor and patience can help get me through the most difficult moments in life with grace and love.

Just look at this deviant little, fat, fellow!