This has been a very odd week in the Midwest. We woke to snow on Thursday, and we’ve also had sun, rain, and temps varying from the twenties to the seventies; but that’s life in Ohio. Today is bright and sunny, if a bit chilly right now; and numerous businesses are closed this year for the holiday; so it’s a good day to celebrate spring, family, and for those of Christian faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our own celebration will be small, since so many of the family live in other states, but we will make the best of it and try to catch up by phone with everyone we can. Of course we’re planning some yummy food, including this trifle I made last night. I think it turned out well, but it’s a new recipe so the real test will be in the taste, later.
I hope everyone has a great day; and however you choose to spend it, I hope you find some time to relax, unwind, and simply be happy.
It’s time again for the ultimate American football game- the game that decides the winner of the national championship-and also at my house, the time we usually throw a casual little party. For my family, the Superbowl is less about the game (apologies to avid fans out there,) and more about the excuse to entertain, to eat delicious food, and of course to enjoy the commercials and halftime show!
This year, of course, everything is different. We are having a very small gathering; some of the usual most notable participants in the expensive commercial race are instead donating funds to COVID research (kudos to them!); and far more people will be watching the game from the comfort and safety of their own homes than attending in person or going to parties, sports bars, etc. to watch with friends or strangers.
Still, we can make the best of the current situation and embrace a festive mood. To that end, I decided to share a recipe my family loves, that my husband actually perfected and makes for special occasions, Reuben Dip. I hope you enjoy it!
Baked Reuben Dip
16 oz. sauerkraut, rinsed and drained, available in bags in the deli section of most grocery stores
8 oz. sliced corned beef, chopped into small pieces
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded swiss cheese
1 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. thousand island dressing
Mini rye breads, for serving
In large bowl, mix ingredients well.
Transfer to greased 8×8 baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes or until bubbly and browned at the edges.
Serve warm with rye bread or crackers.
This recipe can easily be doubled for larger crowds.
It’s a brand new year, and we can all finally say good bye to 2020 which caused so much heartache and adversity to so many. Of course, our problems are far from over. Luckily, amid the political unrest and the continuing health issues, there is a glimmer of hope; a vaccine is on the way. Some have already received it, with more scheduled to do so in the next weeks and months. I pray that this vaccine will prove to be the cure we all need.
On the writing front, I have to apologize for the somewhat irregular timing of my posts of late. While I thankfully remain healthy, we are short-handed at my day job at a time of year when we tend to be very busy, meaning I’ve have had a lot of extra hours and days spent working away from home when I would rather be writing. Hopefully this situation will be resolved soon.
In the meantime, I intend to continue writing as regularly as possible. I will most likely continue to share book reviews as I post them to Goodreads. I have set my goal for the year at the same level as last year, which is 30 books, meaning I need to read 2-3 per month. This may not sound like a lot, but considering many of the books I’m drawn to tend to average 400-500 pages, I have to be realistic in setting goals based on the free time I have available.
I will also continue to post topics about random things that interest me and hopefully you as my readers, and I also have plans for when things calm down a bit to work my on personal writing, so hopefully I’ll have some short stories or story bits to share as the year goes on.
I hope all of you out there are healthy, and as happy as possible. I wish those of you who set resolutions the best of luck in achieving them. May this year be kind to us all. We certainly need it to be.
I have to apologize for the irregular timing of my posts of late. Many of us are currently dealing with the normal holiday activities such as shopping, wrapping, decorating, planning menus and get-togethers. Like I’m sure many of you, I have found myself a little overwhelmed with the bustle and craziness that is natural for this season. Add in some major upheaval in my day job, along with the added stress of dealing with the public due to necessary safety precautions this year, and I have had my hands full.
Still, I am hopeful that everything will come together, and this will be a wonderful holiday, not just in spite of the current situation, but because we are still able to celebrate. My family has been relatively lucky this year. We are all healthy; we are still working; and my daughter was able to get leave, so our immediate family at least is able to be together.
So while we still have to be careful around the public at large, and wear masks outside the house and try to stay 6 feet away from people, the holidays will still come according to our calendars. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with the world on Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukah, Cuanza, or whatever or whenever you choose to celebrate, I urge you to focus on what is good in our lives, the blessings that still exist despite the turmoil around us.
We all deserve a little peace and joy this year.
Thank you always for reading, and best holiday wishes from my family to all of yours. May 2021 dawn brighter, healthier, and happier for all of us.
This week we celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving, a traditional festival of the harvest going back to the 1600s. This year, though it is especially difficult for many to remember what we have to be thankful for, when we are faced with a pandemic that robs us of health and life, and forces us into isolation away from friends and families to protect ourselves.
For my family, my daughter doesn’t have enough leave time to join us this year (she’s serving in the Air Force), but my husband and son will be here, and at some point we’ll contact the extended family digitally.
Very few of us are not affected in some way by the current crisis, but what we should try to remember is that this day, Thanksgiving, is not about our problems, but the blessings we have been given.
The early settlers, most notably the ones who settled Plymouth in early 1620, went through a great deal of hardship-starvation, disease, and death, not to mention complete isolation from everything they had known in Europe-before they invited their neighbors for that defining harvest celebration. However, they persevered. They survived, they continued, and they prospered.
We, their heirs to this dream we all share, can do the same. We can endure: we can outlast this crisis: we can triumph again. Hopefully by this time next year, this illness will be beaten back and the fear and isolation will be a distant memory. For now, we go on as best we can, and find new ways to make this holiday memorable, even with the necessary limitations place upon us.
Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you all! Keep safe, and be strong.
Today we in the USA celebrate our veterans, past and present. Today we remember the sacrifices they, and their families have made, to keep us safe, to protect our borders, to prevent incursions from terrorists, and to keep the peace.
A number of members of my extended family have been part of this important group of our citizenry, including my daughter (currently serving in the Air Force,) as well as my husband, father-in-law, stepfather, and several uncles (all former members of the armed forces.)
I am sure you will join me in thanking them for their service, especially those on duty in the current environment of global crisis and political upheaval. May God keep them safe, whether they are serving inside the borders of the US or on foreign soil, and bring them home safely again.
Contemplating keeping your little ghouls and goblins home this year? It’s hard to imagine simple things like trick-or-treating in a world where we all wear masks outside the front door everyday just to stay healthy. However, that doesn’t mean we still can’t make the most of the holiday.
If you’re planning on staying home for Halloween this year, your family can still enjoy the night with a few simple at-home ideas.
Deck out your space. If you don’t plan to go outside, bring your carved pumpkins and dangling bats inside. Dress the room where you plan to spend the evening with candles and black cats, skulls, and anything spooky; either store bought or homemade with the kids. Turn down the lighting and pull up a playlist of haunting tunes to set the mood.
Let the kids dress up (and join them if you dare.) Costumes can be fun anytime, and you don’t have to worry about your little princess or pirate being too cold indoors if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Plan a scary menu. Easy-to-make snacks like these can add to the party atmosphere, and there are countless recipes available with a simple search. Don’t forget to include candy!
Bring on the entertainment. When your little goblins are ready to settle down, consider putting on a not-too-scary movie for them to watch. Here are a few favorites of my family. (You can always watch something scarier after the little ones are in bed if you wish.)
Ichabod and Mr. Toad-this cartoon classic from 1949 is one I grew up watching every year with my family, and shared with my own children. This double feature has a group of madcap animals in a grand adventure, followed by a light-hearted but still spooky version of Washington Irving’s classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow. While there are chilling moments, the animation should not be too scary for children over 7 or 8. This is currently available on Disney plus.
The Witches. The original 1990 movie based on a book by Roald Dahl focuses on a young boy who accidentally spies on a convention of witches and overhears plans to turn every child in England into mice. Angelica Houston plays the head witch in this movie which features Jim Henson monsters and is available on Netflix.
Hocus Pocus. This movie from 1993, also available on Disney plus, features three witches who are accidentally brought to life in their Salem home, now a museum. They proceed to craft a plot to harvest the life essence out of children to seal their return. The three who resurrected them must find a way to stop them before dawn following Halloween night.
Monster House. In this 2006 movie, available on Hulu, three children must battle against disbelieving adults as well as an evil house that is possessed by an evil spirit to save the lives of unwitting trick-or-treaters who dare to knock on its door.
Whatever you choose to do, be safe and have a great night! Happy Halloween!
While the weather is definitely starting to cool off here in the Midwest, and a number of leaves are already falling to the ground, many of the other usual signs of the season are muted this year. I have seen a few of the neighbors changing the décor on their front porches, and there are pumpkins for sale in the local grocery stores, but, not much else.
There are less Halloween decorations and costumes available, less talk about the season on the news, for obvious reasons. This year we are under a quarantine, which means even in areas that do allow for trick-or-treating it is unlikely that many will feel safe allowing their families’ participation, not without justification.
I remember when my children were young, the year of the awful events of 9/11, and the nation was gripped by terror. That year, following those eye-opening and life-changing tragic events, many families were in fear of going out, of taking part in normal events. We flew American flags in defiance, all the while waiting for the next attack, the next crisis.
When Halloween came around that year, fearing for our children’s safety but not wanting to deny them the joy of the season, we stayed home and invited the extended family over for our own celebration.
All the children came in costume, and the adults were assigned different rooms, hallways, and corners of the limited space with a bag or bowl of candy to give out so the kids could “trick-or-treat” before we had a party with games, food, and creepy music. Later, we would recall that Halloween as one of the best we ever celebrated, despite the fear that inspired the planning.
The point I wish to make is, don’t let the current situation get you down. Yes, we are under threat, yes we must take precautions, but that does not mean you cannot enjoy the season. If it makes you happy, decorate for fall. Festoon your space with mums, pumpkins, and what have you (I already have a few of my own in place.) While circumstances dictate we must adhere to a certain amount of isolation, we can still enjoy ourselves and allow our kids to have fun and make memories that will last.
However you decide to celebrate, or even if you choose not to, I hope you get the chance to enjoy the beauty of the crisp air, the brilliant colors, the tantalizing aromas, and the sweet tastes of the season. Happy Fall!
This coming weekend marks American holiday Labor Day. Though the official holiday is Monday, September 7th, for many the celebrations will begin this Friday and continue throughout the extended weekend.
What a year it’s been! At this time last year, most of us were planning to celebrate this American holiday in our own style-with family and neighborhood gatherings, cookouts, and fireworks shows. What a difference a year can make! Now, many of us fear, not unreasonably so, to venture out unless absolutely necessary.
Labor Day, officially a federal holiday celebrating the efforts of American workers, and unofficially the” last hurrah of summer,” means many things to different people. Some take it as a welcome break from work, as federal and state offices will be closed, as well as many businesses. For others, it’s about shopping the big sales, or an excuse to party, or just a last summer blowout as children are returning to school.
This year, though many schools are finally back in session, albeit many are using a method of staggered attendance, the holiday doesn’t have quite the same meaning. Many, my husband included, are still working at home and will be for the foreseeable future.
However, for many, including the adults in my family, it is still a paid holiday we intend to enjoy. While we are planning a cookout, we will be having a smaller crowd this year, and any shopping we do will probably be accomplished online. Still, the day gives us a perfect excuse to pull out our smoker, and prepare too much good food, which will furnish leftovers for a few days at least.
Labor Day also means that autumn is just around the corner, and I’m already looking forward to cooler temperatures, putting up fall and Halloween decorations, and planning autumn treats to bake and share.
While the world is a vastly different place right now, we still can take joy in the day and wherever else we can find it. I choose to be optimistic that things will get better. In the meantime, we need to continue about our lives as best we can. This means planning as near a normal holiday celebration as possible, and rejoicing in the time we have as a family.
As I was driving home from work one night this week, I heard the radio announcer call our current times “The Era of the Staycation.” How apt and how current he was.
Due to the coronavirus that is impacting us all in so many ways, people are staying home. Some of us are working at home, others have lost their jobs, and some are simply choosing to stay home because of health concerns. Many recreation facilities and events that we might normally visit or attend at this time of year are closed, either temporarily or for the duration.
Whatever the reason we are not venturing out, we are spending the time and possibly the money we would normally put towards a summer vacation in the security of our own homes.
Since we are staying home, many of us are choosing to make upgrades to the place we live 24/7. We are spending our resources on sprucing up our spaces; with paint, with landscaping, with pools and recreational equipment. In short, we are making our homes a vacation destination tailored to our needs and desires. If you have a large budget to make upgrades, think how best to spend your dollars so that whatever changes you make will add long-lasting value and function to your home.
If you don’t have a large vacation/remodeling budget, there are still things you can do to make your enforced staycation fun, memorable, and happy for entire family. Even minor changes, such as paint or houseplants can give your space a new look. Try “shopping” around your house for furniture, art, pillows, and lighting that might look better in another spot, or simply refresh your scenery.
Plan activities to set the mood for fun and relaxation. Let the kids camp out in the backyard, and consider moving the TV to a patio for family movie night. If you don’t have a fire pit, you can always make s’mores in the microwave to eat on your deck or balcony.
To get a completely new view, try sites such as https://artsandculture.google.com/ where you can take virtual tours of parks and museums from your computer or blue toothed TV.
The choices for a staycation are limitless; all it takes is a little imagination and effort, and of course, those closest to you for a truly memorable vacation at home! I hope you get to enjoy one soon!