Monday, November 29, 2010

We Are Decorated!

I admit it. I'm a very linear person, which means I'm a "one holiday at a time" girl. Never do my Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations mix. On Friday, I put away Thanksgiving and pulled out Christmas.

Our indoor tree is up. It's a metal ornament tree. It will spin around slowly, if we wish. (Hey, I'm linear, but I'm not boring!) We purchased this tree several years ago and it holds all the wonderful ornaments we collect during our travels.
We have an outdoor tree on our front porch. We put lights on it and the decorations are salt dough ornaments that family, friends and neighbors paint during our annual holiday open house. I'll post a picture of it decorated in its full glory after the party. For now, you'll have to be satisified with the photo of The Husband cutting down the tree at the Owasso Christmas Tree Farm, with me "helping." I'm an excellent helper.
I'll share a couple of other areas of the house that have been decorated. The fireplace mantel is below. The green Santa in the middle was purchased in New Orleans earlier this year. I think he is cool.
I had the gas line in our fireplace capped a few years ago. The random smell of gas made me a bit nervous, you see. The bonus is that I have another place to decorate! The poinsetta painting is an antique mall purchase from several years ago. It's part of my "dead lady" art collection I'm amassing for seasonal decorating.
And finally, our guest bath has been overrun with elves and black Santas. We encourage diversity around here! If you look closely, you'll find several black Santas at our house. (Check the mantel picture.)
I did all this decorating while watching television.

No sappy Christmas movies for me though.

I watched the first three episodes of "The Walking Dead." I'm happy that all of our questions about what would happen during a zombie apocalypse are now answered.

So, are you decorated?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Decorations

I've packed away the Thanksgiving decor and am working on Christmas. Photos to come!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Recap

The adult's table:
The place settings:
The kid's table:
The room:
The head fry cook and the bird:
The kids:
When my heart melted:

We asked the kids what they were thankful for and the three oldest told us. When it came to Baby Lauren, she looked at me and said "I'm thankful for Aunt Cindy." I love that child!

I hope your day was wonderful!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Image source:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cajun Fried Turkey

A few years ago, our Cajun friend Robert gave us a lesson on the correct (safe) way to fry turkeys and the recipe for his seasoning. It was a revelation to us and we've fried turkeys for Thanksgiving ever since. The recipe is at the bottom of this post, but first a few pictures of how I seasoned the bird today.

The bird and the seasoning.

Injection time.
Throw on the seasoning.
Rub it in good.
Cover and refrigerate until tomorrow.


Bert's Cajun Fried Turkey Seasoning

2 jars
1 coffee filter
6 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons Tony's seasoning of Slap Ya Mama seasoning
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco or other Cajun-style hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
4 tablespoons Zatarain's concentrated crab and shrimp boil liquid

Two-three days before you cook, mix all seasonings in one of the jars. Fill the jar almost full with HOT water. Shake well and let stand for at least an hour.

Filter the sludge through the coffee filter into the other jar. This is slow going and does take several hours, as you have to keep adding more liquid to the filter as it drains. Be sure to keep shaking the liquid prior to adding additional to the coffee filter, otherwise all the good stuff will be left in the first jar.

The goal of this process is to separate the liquid from the solids in the mix. The liquid part should not contain any solids as they will clog the injection needle. DO NOT dispose of the solid sludge. This stuff is more valuable than GOLD.

At least 24 hours before you cook the bird, inject the liquid into the bird in about 35 places. Don't put more than 3-4 cc in any one spot as it will make the meat pink and people will think it is not done.

TRICK - To limit the amount of liquid that runs back out of the bird, slide the needle under the skin and make the injection an inch or two from the puncture, then change spots with the needle without pulling out of the skin. The fewer holes in the skin, the better.

Now take the sludge left in the coffee filter and coat the outside of the bird. Rub the skin well and the bird turns an orange color.

Place the bird in the fridge and let set overnight until you are ready to cook.

Follow the turkey frying directions that came with your equipment to safely cook the turkey.

How do you cook your turkey?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Save the Date - April 29, 2011

Go ahead. Admit it.

You're looking forward to the royal wedding, just like I am.

Everyone loves a good wedding. And this one will be good. Oh so good.

I watched his momma get married and I'll watch the Prince get married. I'm especially glad he's marrying a commoner.

A fairy tale wedding of which little girls dream.

I'll watch, will you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping

My sister and I met recently to plan our Thanksgiving feast. We agreed who was responsible for preparing each dish and discussed the tablescape extensively!

I created my Thanksgiving shopping list today in about 15 minutes. I used the method I blogged about here last year. Truly, it is the simpliest way for me to create a shopping list that guarantees I will not forget an important ingredient. I now have everything I need to begin the cooking fun.

How are your Thanksgiving preparations going? I hope they are stress free!

Chex Party Mix Recipe

I just made my first batch of party mix for this holiday season. I've been making this recipe since 1983 and family and friends love it.

1 tablespoon each: garlic salt, celery salt, seasoning salt, onion salt, red pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 box each: wheat chex, corn chex, rice chex
1 bag pretzels
2 bags pecans
1 cup Wesson Oil
3 tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce

Combine spices together in small bowl. Combine combine cereal, nuts and pretzels in two large pans. (I use disposable turkey roasting pans.)

Pour oil and Worchestershire Sauce over contents of pans. Sprinkle spices evenly over cereal mixture. Mix well.

Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Papa Needs a New Porch - Part 2

I mentioned here that we are rehabilitating our old front porch. The project is going well and we are both very happy with the results.

The concrete was delivered.
The guys had to wheelbarrow it up a ramp over our steps to pour the new section of the porch. The south end of the porch is brand new and level!
The new section of the steps (left side of photo) is also level. Yippee!
The cracks have been filled and the entire porch has been ground off to remove any remaining remnents of old paint. The grinding was noisy and generated a lot of dust, but made everything look great.

The side walk has also been repaired.
The next (and final) steps are to apply a couple of coats of stain and sealer to the sidewalk and the porch. The stain will unify the old, new and repaired concrete and make it look beautiful.

I'll show you more pictures when everything is finished!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Airport Security

There's a lot of discussion occuring now on airport security. Specifically, the enhanced body scanners and new physical pat down procedures (if you refuse to go through the body scanner.)

In early 2009, the Tulsa airport was one of the first 10 airports in the nation to receive the new body scanners. I have been through the scanners numerous times. I don't have a problem knowing that a TSA (in a remote location from the scanners) is reading the scan; because 1) faces are blurred and 2) the image cannot be saved to a hard drive for later viewing.

One time, shortly after the machines were installed, I was subjected to a physical pat down after the scan.

Why, you ask? Because of the underwire in my bra. Yes, it's true.

The TSA who frisked me was a woman who was very professional and asked me if I wanted a private screening and also told me exactly where and how she was going to touch me. Subsequent trips through the scanners did not trigger a pat down, so I assume they learned to recognize the underwire in bras!

I do not dispute that all of the enhanced security measures are an added pain when traveling. I confess, I've been known to moan and groan about them. But I will tell you, I'm ultimately happy to abide by the rules if it makes flying safer. I do not ever want to see on television what we saw the morning of September 11, 2001. And I certainly don't want to be a passenger on a plane that is used for a terrorist attack.

For all those people who are screaming about an intrusive government infringing on personal rights, might I suggest you get in your car and drive to your destination? Thanks. With you out of the way, the security line will move much faster.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our First Visit With Ella Mack

The Husband and I met our new grand-niece this week.

Ella Mack lives in Kansas and has had a busy social schedule since her birth. We were finally able to get an appointment this week to meet her (tee hee)!

Hello, Sweetheart. Aunt Cindy loves you.
You have a lifetime ahead of you to play games with Uncle Steve!
Welcome to our world, little Miss.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Perfect Salt Dough Ornament Recipe

The Husband and I host an annual holiday open house where one of the activities is painting salt dough ornaments for our front porch Christmas tree. We have tried lots of dough recipes over the years that, for one reason or the other, didn't turn out the way we thought it should.

After a lot of experimentation, the following is what we consider the perfect combination of ingredients and baking instructions.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

  • Combine flour and salt, mix in 1/2 cup water and begin to knead the dough
  • Add remaining water and continue kneading until dough can be rolled out easily
  • Cut out shapes with cookie cutters
  • Use ice pick to make a hole at the top of each shape for an ornament hanger
  • Place shapes on cookie trays and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 200 degrees 
  • Turn shapes over and bake for an additional 1 1/2 hours at 200 degrees
The resulting ornaments do not puff up during the baking process and are consistently crisp.

Have fun making and decorating your ornaments!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vintage Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Over the last few days, I have been reviewing Thanksgiving recipes and decorating tips in my collection of vintage cookbooks and entertaining books.

During my review of this book:
I found this photo of a Thanksgiving table and instructions on how to make the gold spray painted fruit centerpiece:
I was amused by the centerpiece and then I realized the dishes looked familiar. Why, you ask? Because I happen to own six dinner plates in this pattern; Adaptation of Early English Ivy by Crown Ducal, England.
I acquired these plates about 10 years ago at a "tag sale" in Connecticut. I think I paid $8 for six.

It's strange for me to see them in a Thanksgiving tablescape, as I only use them in the spring and summer.

Perhaps I should purchase some fruit and gold spray paint and try to replicate this table setting for the upcoming holiday. What do you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Papa Needs a New Porch - Part 1

You never run out of projects when you live in an old house. Some are more urgent than others, some are big, some are small, some are obvious, some are hidden.

We moved in 7 1/2 years ago and fixing our porch has been on our project list from the very beginning. We are just now getting it done. Hey, it took time to figure out what we want, to discuss the project with a structural engineer and various contractors, as well as obtain approval from the Preservation Commission, since we live in an historic district.

When we purchased the house, we knew there were some porch issues to be addressed. Let me show you what we started with:
Sorry for the poor quality of the photo, but it does not prevent you from seeing the blue, indoor/outdoor carpet. Yes, I said BLUE INDOOR/OUTDOOR CARPET. Ick! Shortly after we moved in, The Husband ripped up the carpet and worked really, really hard to remove the adhesive from the concrete.

Guess what we found when the carpet was removed?

Cracks. Big cracks. Cracks that had been patched previously. Patches that failed. We had the San Andreas fault line on the south end of our porch! The porch evidently cracked when the southwest pillar settled some years ago.
We also had a major crack in the steps. FYI...That's my attack frog, so be warned.
Did I mention the sidewalk was also cracked? No? Guess what? The sidewalk is cracked, ya'll!

The Husband diligently spoke to people and sought referrals for concrete contractors. He sought out contractors for discussions and estimates. He finally found a guy who does great work, has happy customers and doesn't charge an arm and a leg. So, the project has begun.

Day 1:
Day 2:
This work takes care of all the big cracks. Now the smaller cracks need to be ground out. Think noise and concrete dust.

Stay tuned for the next progress report!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tulsa Collectibles

I acquired these 1950's Community Chest and Red Cross Campaign Awards at a recent Tulsa estate sale. For the Cowgirl and Indians I paid $12.50 each. I returned the next day and purchased the Astronaut for 25% off the original price.
Many years ago The Husband purchased these two at a local garage sale for 25 cents each. Obviously, there's been a slight price increase for today's market!
Not all of the awards have the plaque on the front, but all have the date inscribed on the back. Only three of them have the original red feathers. The dates are:

Cowgirl - 1952
Indian Brave - 1953
Indian Maiden - 1954
Astronaut - 1955
Man & Woman - 1956
Roughneck - 1958

These are great additions to my vintage Tulsa collectibles. I brought my new purchases home and immediately incorporated the Indian Brave and Indian Maiden into my Thanksgiving decorations.
Now, I'm "on the hunt" for the remaining awards in the series. I would imagine one of them is a Cowboy to go with the Cowgirl. I wonder what the other ones might be?

? - 1950
? - 1951
? - 1957
? - 1959

And this is how you get hooked on garage sales, flea markets, antique malls and estate sales!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Washington, DC - Part 4 of 4

Our last full day in DC started at the National Air and Space Museum.

The Husband loved seeing The Spirit of St. Louis. I loved seeing the space capsules. I was 9 years old when man landed on the moon. My 12 year old brother was extremely fascinated with the entire space program, so of course I was also!

We left the Air and Space Museum and were walking across the mall when we stopped and offered to take a young couple's photo. They returned the favor for us and this may be my favorite picture of our entire trip:
We then walked over to the City Segway Tours office for an afternoon of fun. Yes, I said segway. Have you ever ridden one? No? Neither had we.

After watching a safety video, we were assigned to a small group and taken to the alley to learn to ride.

Here I am. Aren't I cute? (dork)
Here's a photo of The Husband.
And here we are together.
The tour took us to places we had already seen, but that was okay. What took us two days to see on foot, took us two hours on a segway! 

The funny thing is, when you are on a segway, you are an object of curiosity to other tourists. At least two groups of tourists videotaped our group as we drove by them. The Husband waved at one group and they all smiled, laughed and waved back at him. Children were also fascinated with the segways. I waved at several kids who waved back and then turned to the parents and started chattering. I can just imagine the conversations.

Next time we are on vacation and there are segway tours available, we will definitely sign up. If you have the opportunity, you should try it. Trust me, if I can do this, you can do this!

We had dinner at Luigi's, which is a great Italian place. And, guess what? Bottles of wine were half price that night. Score!

So this was our last day in DC. We had a great time. We hope to go back in the future and spend more time in the museums. 

How about you? Have you been to DC? What's your favorite thing in the city?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Washington, DC - Part 3 of 4

After attending the Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall, we spent two more days exploring and enjoying DC.

On one day, we spent a lot of time in Smithsonian Museums. Just a few of the highlights were:

Ben Franklin
Girl With A Hoop
Marie Antoinette (and The Husband)
We saw many, many more interesting items this day. A person could spend weeks in the Smithsonian Museums and not see everything. We plan to return in the future!

After leaving the museums, we walked to Central for a lovely dinner. And let me tell you that their Chocolate Mousse is absolutely scrumptious!

I have one more post to write documenting our last day in DC. Be sure to return and read it, because a safety video and a helmet were required!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Washington, DC - Part 2 of 4 (Rally to Restore Sanity)

The main purpose of our trip to DC was to attend the "Rally to Restore Sanity."

The Husband designed this shirt. It says, "Oklahoma - Restoring Sanity" and displays the image of one of Oklahoma's favorite sons: Will Rogers. Who was a Democrat, a comic and a social commentator. Can you say Jon Stewart?
He also designed this hat. It says, "I'm a Patriot Who Supports President Obama."
One for me too!
Here are a few of the people we walked with to the rally.
There were free hugs.
There were Canadian anchor babies, who brought their grizzlies.
There were funny signs.
"Relax, it says McDonalds!"
There were people who were experienced at rallying on the National Mall and showed us how to save our spots.
There were ladies from Alabama who were as happy to be amongst "their own" as we from Oklahoma. They told us they had a small, formal inauguration party on the night of Obama's inauguration. How fun!
This was our view. We were lucky to be able to see the screen and hear the audio. We arrived at this spot 1.5 hours before the start of the rally. Fifteen minutes later and we would not have been able to see or hear anything.
We enjoyed all the rally entertainment: Father Guido Sarducci, Yusuf (formerly known as Cat Stevens), Ozzy Osbourne, The O'Jays and everyone else.

We laughed when Jon and Steven sang. We laughed when Jon and Steven disagreed. We laughed when Jon and Steven agreed. And we listened closely to Jon's speech.

We met some lovely people at the rally. They were all surprised to hear we came from Oklahoma. We told them our purpose was to prove, contrary to what you see in the national news, that there are Democrats in Oklahoma. People who feel, as they do, about the state of our nation.

We were asked "What is it like to be a Democrat in Oklahoma?" Our response was, when we tell people we are Dems, typically their response is "We'll put you on the prayer list at church."

And, you know what? We don't need to be put on a prayer list. We just need to be able to have a civil conversation about our beliefs with each other. An attempt to find common ground, from where we can move forward together to fix the things that need to be fixed. The economy, perhaps? Or maybe healthcare?

So here's hoping that a civil discourse can begin now that the mid-term elections are over. If not, we may have to rally for sanity again. We'll be there. Will you?

Edited to add:
I forgot to tell you that we had dinner at Vidalia after the rally. This is an excellent and elegant restaurant. We would dine there again, if the opportunity ever presents itself!

We did laugh, however, after seeing they listed deviled eggs on their bar menu as an appetizer. Three for $5.50! Perhaps I should just whip up a plate of my special deviled eggs and stand outside their front door?