Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hey Santa: Christmas in Kansas

This year, I thought that I would share some of my family's most cherished Christmas tree ornaments with you, my gentle readers.

This is an ornament that Mother of Ken made several years ago and it seems appropriate to begin with it:

Here's the tree with lights, ready for us to decorate and Boomer ready to supervise:

The most famous and important ornament of all is the Egg Carton Santa that Father of Ken made when he was a child. It is the first ornament that goes on the tree every year and it has a special box of its very own:

Tags that belonged to our late, beloved first Boxer, Kramer:

The little bear with the bow tie:

Brother of Ken's very own egg carton creation--this time, a bell (I think) that is an homage to the Oakland Raiders:

The baby ornament that Mother of Ken bought the Christmas that she was pregnant with me:

The bear with the scarf:

The felt Wizard of Oz ornaments that everyone in our family has a set of:

Super Mouse:

Brother of Ken's Bednight Bear ornament:

Once all of those ornaments were on the tree, along with many others, it was time to put the angel on top. Kenna is helping Father of Ken:

Here is our table, set for Christmas dinner:

We had beef tenderloin with white wine and shallot sauce, puffed Manchego mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, herb rolls, and salad.

For dessert, we had a variety of candies and cookies including (from the bottom left), homemade toffee courtesy of Grambi and Aunt of Ken, dark chocolate bark with pistachios and dried cherries, peanut blossom cookies, butter mints, Ina Garten's jam thumbprints (not worth the effort), and Danish wedding cookies:

The living room:

The Nativity set (or "activity" set as Brother of Ken used to call it) painted by Grambi:

A winter storm hit here on Christmas Eve, so we had sleet and snow coming down along with winds gusting up to 45 mph. We sent Grandmother and Uncle of Ken home early and then decided that we weren't going to be able to make it up north to Mother of Ken's church for Mass. This is the first year in my entire life that I haven't gone to church on Christmas Eve, but it just wasn't safe for us to be on the road, especially in the dark. It sleeted and snowed all night--it sounded like someone was throwing marbles at our windows. We were supposed to celebrate Christmas with Father of Ken's family, but the roads were not clear, so we had to wait until Saturday. Thankfully, we had plenty of leftover tenderloin to eat. Needless to say, no part of our Christmas plans took place as we expected, but everyone is alive and safe and we eventually got to see each other and that is the important thing.

There is still a lot of crap on the roads, several days later. In New York, I am used to competent snow removal, but in Kansas, that doesn't exist. I love Kansas, but the city manager here once said that "our best source of snow removal is the sun." They don't plow much, they don't treat the roads, and they just let people pack the snow down until the whole town is like an ice rink.

Holiday Road

I apologize, gentle readers, for not giving you any new posts for a while. Things have been a little crazy around here with the holidays and a certain stubborn 91 year old with shingles. Anyway, I'll try to bring you up to date with the next few posts. These pictures are from two weeks ago when Kenna and I drove from New York to Kansas. The trip took three days because we had to take the southern route to avoid bad weather. By the end of the second day (about 14 hours in the car), Kenna was not happy. Here she is relaxing in our hotel room:

After a good night's sleep, she hid under the bench in the room to avoid getting back in the car:

She was a wonderful dog, though, and she got back in the car and endured another eight hours on the road. We arrived in Kansas late Friday afternoon, much to her relief, and she was reunited with Piper and Boomer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Ran

After a long trip from New York, Kenna and I arrived in Kansas last Friday. On Saturday, Father of Ken and I were headed to Grambi's house and we saw this on the way outside of a flea market:

Just a little something for you gentle readers to enjoy while I get some other blog fodder together.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Festivus for the rest of us!

Yes, gentle readers, the holiday season is upon us. Kenna and I decorated the house for the winter season and we thought we would share some of the photos with you. We used a few Christmas decorations, but mostly we used things that we can leave out until February so that we don't have to pack them all away in a week when we leave for Kansas.

The snowman collection on the windowsill:

My new letters that spell out "Noel." Mother of Ken has red block letters that spell out "Noel." She has had them for years and we have gotten into the habit of rearranging the letters to spell out other words like "Leon" and "Nelo" and "Onle." I am thrilled to have my own Noel letters now and mine even have glitter and sequins!

The stairs--I was watching Little Women as I decorated and this is how the March's stairs are decorated:

The top of the secretary in the kitchen:

Snowflakes hanging from the kitchen ceiling:

Kenna is exhausted:

Later, she tried once again to breach the indestructible dog toy. Still no progress on that front.

Today, we had snow. Not our first snow, mind you, but our first December snow.

Kenna does not care for snow. It gets in her dog ears and then she shakes repeatedly when she comes inside--kind of like Kramer on the plane when he had water in his ears.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!:" Update

I hope that you all had a happy Thanksgiving. Kenna and I started the day with bacon and baked French toast--yummy!

Later in the day, I prepared Thanksgiving dinner: Cornish game hens (which Grandmother of Ken calls "Guinea Hens"--I don't get it either.), mashed potatoes with cream cheese and sour cream, roasted asparagus, rolls, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. My friend made homemade dressing for us, which was delicious.

Clean kitchen, all ready for company:

Our Thanksgiving table with the candles lit and the butter ready to go:

Apple pie:

Kenna was exhausted after all of the Thanksgiving and Black Friday excitement:

We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with good friends and we even got to watch one of Kenna's favorite movies: Best in Show. Yesterday, I did some holiday shopping and wrapped everything that I have so far. Sometime this week, we'll probably do some decorating for Christmas. Stay tuned for pictures and some more Reminiscing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

Happy Thanksgiving, gentle readers! On Monday, I decided to host Thanksgiving at my house, so I have spent the last few days getting ready. The table is set:

I have made pie crust and rolls so far and will make the rest tomorrow. I also have my family's traditional overnight baked French toast in the refrigerator ready for me to bake and eat tomorrow morning while watching the first part of the Thanksgiving Day parade.

In other news, I sent out another fellowship application and my very first job application (at least the first one for the career for which I have been preparing for the past ten years):

Gentle readers, I leave you with this timeless clip of Thanksgiving fabulosity:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I apologize, gentle readers, for not posting anything for a while. Now I am back to tell you all about last weekend, when my college friends Leah and Melissa came to visit. We met ten years ago at Hood College, which was a women's college at that time, and we decided that it would be appropriate for us to spend Saturday in historic Seneca Falls.

On the way, we drove past Wells College, which also used to be a women's college and has since gone co-ed. They were part of our athletic conference, so we were happy to drive by and wave.

On to Seneca Falls:

You may recall that my friend M and I tried to visit Seneca Falls about a month ago and didn't have much luck. The house that we tried to see then isn't open on Saturdays, but Leah and Melissa and I decided to go to the Women's Rights National Historical Park, which was open.

They offer tours of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's house and the Wesleyan Chapel, but since those weren't for another hour, we spent some time in the museum in the visitor's center. The exhibits are a diverse collection of items pertaining to women's history and women's rights, including this reproduction advertisement:

There was also a "uterine support" in the same case--I'll spare you the photograph.

They had a lot of audio-visual things and one of them was a TV monitor that showed conversations about women's issues and then gave you the opportunity to vote and express your opinion. This was one of the questions:

We, of course, voted "yes." These were the results:

Never allow women's college graduates to be unattended in such an exhibit. They will vote multiple times to "correct" the voting in answer to the aforementioned question.

Melissa and me looking at a globe:

When we had seen all of the exhibits, we went down to the theater to see the introductory film before we went on our tours. The film was pretty good until it totally died at the part when they were talking about Amelia Bloomer, so we ended up having to leave the theater to tell the park ranger that it broke. That is when we were told that the tour of the Wesleyan Chapel would begin shortly and that we should wait in the lobby for them to announce it. So, we waited. And we waited. And we waited. And about 25 minutes later, they were still standing around talking and not taking us on a tour, so we decided to tour the chapel ourselves. This is what is left of the chapel where the women gathered for the women's rights convention in 1948:

This is the fountain/monument between the chapel and the visitor's center:

They are in the process of restoring the chapel, so this is pretty much all there is to see right now:

After we saw the chapel, there still was no tour leader in evidence, so we decided to go and eat lunch and skip the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house assuming that they were not likely to offer that tour either. All in all, I am disappointed with Seneca Falls. You would think that for a place of such historic importance, they would be better organized and better equipped to handle visitors. Maybe things are better in the summer...

So, just as I did when M and I were disappointed by Seneca Falls, we ended up at the outlet mall in Waterloo, which is across the street from this fine establishment:

After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, we came back to my house for a fondue feast using the fondue pot that Aunt and Uncle of Ken gave me for Christmas last year. Here is the cheese on the stove:

Cutting up some bread:

In addition to fondue, we had delicious cookies from Leah:

And adult beverages:

Kenna set the table:

Apples for the fondue--these are Sweetango apples, my new favorite:

Leah also brought apple-cherry crumble bars, which were so good that I kept half of them and ate most of them on Sunday and Monday:

Here's our spread including cheese fondue, bread cubes, purple cauliflower, grape tomatoes, and Sweetango apples:


I love this picture with the little cheese tail:

Blob of cheese:

The sink when we were done:

We had an awesome weekend (too short, though) and none of us wanted to face the week ahead. Life would be so much better if you could shop and eat fondue all day every day.