My 2014 Thanksgiving Menu

nov23Next week portends to be a great week. It’s Thanksgiving! I don’t have any photos of food – but these shots of the beautiful fall season this year will have to do.

nov23aI plan on making the Thanksgiving meal, but in a different way this year. This year, we’re doing buffet style. There will be a table of food, but no table set with plates. The reason for this is two-fold. The first is that we don’t have a dining room! I’ve rearranged the furniture once again, who is surprised?

The second is that the husband will be undergoing major surgery on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I’m confident he’ll be out of the hospital by Thanksgiving but just in case, I’m doing a lot of preparation work this weekend.

The girl comes home Monday, the boy flies home Tuesday, my parents and Brother Peck will be here Wednesday. I look forward to hugging them all! Then I’ll tell them to help themselves to whatever is in the refrigerator. Ha!

nov23bHere’s what I’m planning on making . . . God willing.


Proteins – I’m making a lot of proteins this year because I want to have a LOT of leftovers. Since I have a plenitude of venison in the freezer, I’m going to use it up!

– Turkey (because I must)
– Venison
– Beef Tenderloin (because I love tenderloin)

Sides – These are my favorite sides, some from year after year, and some new this year.

– Stuffing. I don’t stuff the turkey. I make this on the stove.
– Gravy
– Green bean casserole
– Green bean prik king curry, because there must be a Thai dish in this dinner.
– Thai green bean salad. It’s a green bean fiesta!
– Mashed potatoes. The girl loves mashing every year.
– Sweet potatoes. Mom is making it this year. Her’s is the best ever because of the one secret ingredient. Did I tell you what that is yet?)
– Crab mac n cheese for the boy.
– Deli breads. I bought this from Whole Foods and they are in the freezer as we speak.
– Lots and lots of green salad with my mom’s standard Balsamic Garlic dressing. It’s delicious.
Kale & brussel sprout salad – I love this recipe from Nancy Fuller. It’s yummy, to die for, addicting and really good for you!
– (Frozen) Corn on the cob
– Cranberry sauce – from the can everyone, from the can.


Apple Pie Egg Rolls
– No Bake Cookies
Sweet & Salty No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
– Banana Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice
Pumpkin Cheese Cake - this says it takes 11 hours to make but I swear I’m up to it!
Upside down pineapple cake – a perennial favorite!

hmmmm…maybe I’ll skip the peanut butter bars – but the no bake cookies and the cheesecake are made and I’ve purchased the banana wrapped sticky rice. Three down, three to go.

nov23dI’m having more than just turkey as a protein this year. I’m also having a touch of Thai, and a lot of fresh vegetables in the form of salads. I for one, prefer fresh vegetables over cooked vegetables and I am going to cook things that people will actually eat so crab mac n cheese it is!

nov23fMy  last thought before the week begins is this – many blessings to you and to yours. My Thanksgiving will be perfect – no matter what happens because I remember this – we are to give thanks in whatever our circumstances.

nov23eOr we can order pizza…

November 21, Three Branches

nov21There are three branches of government. They act as a check and balance to the abuse of powers by one branch over another. It’s how our Constitution was written.

nov21aIt’s how it works.

There are two statues in front of the Supreme Court building. The female is called the Contemplation of Justice. The male figure is the Authority of the Law. The male figure is holding the Ten Commandments. These two figures are reminders to us, the citizens, that we are a country ruled by law.

There is one more branch of government, the Executive Branch. No single branch is more powerful than the others, they exist co-equally. This is how our democracy has worked for hundreds of years and I’m surprised, and frankly a little anxious, that this precarious balance of power can so easily be disregarded and abused. The system is only as foundational as the character of the people in power.

Oh President Lincoln. Where are you?

November 20, Day Of Gratitude

nov20This is my favorite season of the year for so many reasons. It’s a time to eat, a time to shop, and a time to decorate.

The best part though, is that it’s a time of gratitude. I’ve heard comments about how we should be grateful all the time, not just during this time of year. Most of the time, it’s said in a cynical tone. Yes, we all agree we should be grateful all the time, but when there’s a time set aside for reflection it makes it even more special mostly because, we do it together. All of us. There’s something really powerful when the entire country comes together in gratitude. Just like in the photo above. I shot this during one of my favorite ministry events, Oil Change Day. When we all bow our heads together, the presence of the Holy Spirit is undeniable.

I’m so grateful for so much, and I thank God for that.

November 19, Missing Wallet

oct2I thought perhaps this week would be much more restful and peaceful than last – and it is – but barely.

My wallet, along with my identifications and credit cards are missing. Or maybe I lost it. Same difference. My insurance card is also in the wallet so that is missing too. The last three days have been spent looking for a small yellow Vera Bradley wallet with my life in it.

The above photo has nothing to do with either the wallet or the freezing cold here in Maryland today. I took it this summer, when it was warm – and when I had my wallet.

I hope you had a fantastic hump day!

The Mystery Of Zena

zena1When I invited my little guests to Zena’s birthday party, their parents had to ask I repeated it – yes, it’s a birthday party for a zebra! What’s so odd about that?

zena2As I looked through the photos again this week, I realized how really fascinating it is to have a zebra as a part of your family because I think that’s what Zena is for Doc Linda, a part of her family, not a pet.

zena3Even though Zena lives in the middle of Maryland, she is not a domesticated animal. She’s still a wild animal whose ancestors roamed the plains of Africa. She has all kinds of toys to play with, and companions in the form of other horses and donkeys, but yet, she remains wild at heart.

zena4Doc Linda and Zena are very close. Zena gets excited whenever Doc Linda comes around and she runs to her like a dog would do to its master. Doc Linda knows that Zena is still a jumpy animal so she is gently and steadily training and calming her. Zena cannot be ridden, she can only tolerate this from Doc Zena for a few seconds.

zena5Doc Linda is the only one permitted to do this to Zena. I wouldn’t try this at home.

zena6Zena is constantly kissing Doc Linda. It was so cute.

zena7It’s easy to be skeptical of having an animal like this in your care. I would never do it. But Doc Linda obviously knows what she is doing when it comes to all kinds of animals, including wild animals that are indigenous of Africa. Someone said, “I thought you couldn’t train a zebra?”

Doc Linda answered with her finger to her mouth, “Shhhh, don’t tell Zena that.”

Too cute.

zena8You can tell Doc Linda is all about Zena. This is her bedroom – check out the bed spread.

zena9This is my friend Susan. She obviously came dressed in black and white as requested by the hostess. Why is she laying down on Doc Linda’s bed?

zena91Because she was looking at this painting. Doc Linda is also a world traveler and a photographer. She’s been to all kinds of exotic places and when she was at the Grand Canyon, she shot this from the bottom.

Do you see what Susan is looking at? Can you see it? Creepy isn’t it?

Doc Linda said she was laying in bed one day and saw this alien like creature created from the reflection of the river. I’m not sure I can still have this hanging on my wall in the bedroom but it is quite neat.

zena92Everyone had to try it out, including Neighbor Ashley and Sydney-girl. I had to laugh at the girls, they squealed when they saw it.

zena93So happy birthday Zena. We really enjoyed the evening.

She’s so beautiful isn’t she? Can’t wait for next year’s party!

A Tortured Week

yesnoWhen our children leave home for the first time, the thing that parents worry about the most if the safety of our kids, both physical and emotional.

This week both our kids have occupied our frontal lobe of our cerebral cortex which in turn makes our hearts hurt. I’m not an anxious parent (hey, I heard that), and I have a lot of confidence in the ability of our kids to make wise decisions. Things happen though, nothing serious, just enough to make a mom worry.

It’s snowing in North Dakota, and the boy is learning to drive in the inclement weather. Sometimes you have to learn these things the hard way. He’s driving a little Toyota Camry, the bottom line is – we’re going to purchase some snow tires.

The girl found her car wouldn’t start and she couldn’t get to the stables to ride. She figured it out though, much to her credit. Someone was able to jump her car and she is apparently good to go. She then reported low pressure in one of her tires so her dad told her to go to a gas station and get some air in it. When she got there, she called and said she didn’t know how to use the air machine.

It just makes me feel so helpless, all of it.

She figured it out somehow, I think with the help of the gas station attendant. These are great skills to have.

Both the girl and the boy called the husband with these issues within an hour of each other. I noticed they call their dad when they have car issues, and they call me when they need money.

But then – I get a call that struck such a knife in my heart I could barely breathe. The girl called to tell me that she passed out in the shower, and that she didn’t know what happened and that she woke up on the shower floor. My girl, my unemotional, analytical, stoic, no drama girl – was hysterical and scared. One of the first thoughts in my head when she called was this, “It’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, why is she taking a shower at 4 o’clock?” It’s funny how our mind works to protect us from information overflow that can overwhelm us at once. I had to process the news a little bit at a time.

I immediately drove the three hours to her school and it was by far the most anxious three hours of my life. When I got there, I found her and her roommate in a state of worry but the girl said she felt fine. Thank God for Danielle-girl, she’s a good roommate and friend. I took the girl home with me anyway, to ensure we can keep an eye on her. To make a long story short, we went to see a doctor the next day and took blood work, among many other tests and the girl has a clean bill of health. I suppose it could have been a myriad of reasons for her episode. I do worry that it could happen when she’s either riding or driving but she assured me that if she felt dizzy or sick like she did before the episode, that she would get off the horse or pull over. She stayed with us for a few days and now is back at school.

If you have a daughter – you would know how we felt this week.

Someone asked me what we would do if the boy passed out at school. Well, he’s in North Dakota – so . . . I don’t know.

photo(15)So this week we relied on our faith in God, prayers from friends, and on laughter. He sent us this today, I guess he started No Shave November a few days late since it’s well past the November 12th. He keeps us laughing, even with all that goes on with our kids, it’s what we count on to get through things like this.

Here’s to a calmer, less stressful, pre-Thanksgiving week. I’ll be so happy to have both of them home next week!

November 13, Asked To Wait

nov8The leaves are no longer green but this was taken only a few short days ago. It’s funny how fast things change but I still feel like I’m standing still, waiting for change myself. I have at times associated patience with complacency. It’s not the same thing of course and I wonder if that’s what makes it so hard for me to wait. What’s even harder is not knowing what I’m waiting for . . . For someone who like to have control over my circumstances, that can be a challenge.

Wait with me.


And Another Thing About Halloween

halloween1Have you been watching the Walking Dead? I have  – but honestly, I’m not enjoying it as much. I don’t know if it’s because I have to wait a week between episodes or the fact that the husband isn’t interested in it and won’t watch it with me that makes it not so fun. So I’ve decided to stop watching it for the season and just wait for it to come out on Netflix when I can watch at my leisure when the husband is gone.

The boy watches it and he says that he relates most to the character of Glen. Then I saw this on my photostream and I just had to shake my head. College kids can really be something can’t they?

Speaking of college, this is a special time in their lives, a time when they can explore their surroundings with new freedoms, without their parents’ constant attention – and nagging. You can imagine can’t you? You’ve been there.

So I don’t know why I was surprised when I received this text from him – but I was. I’ve been very disturbed by the news about the spread of Ebola. I’ve been thinking about the victims in Africa and those doctors and nurses who had the courage to risk so much to help. I pray for the military who were sent to that part of the world to help curb the spread.

halloween2This was their Halloween costume. I have no words.

He didn’t know how focused I was on the issue so I’m sure he didn’t realize how I would react to this. It’s too early to be doing things like this. But this is college, and they are kids who clearly are irreverent.

I suppose it’s genetic. His dad once dressed up as a baby seal killer. I don’t think PETA is laughing.

halloween3And his friends dressed up along with him. He said they were in the top five in the costume contest.

There are times when I’m so proud – this is not one of them.

I apologize to you all.