Thursday, November 27, 2014


If I were a betting woman, I’d bet hardly any of the regular readers of Thursday’s Child will catch up with us this holiday morning. Many of you will be basting the turkey, having put it in the oven at 4:00 AM (I’ve been told there is such a time of day). Others will be hustling everyone around for a trip to Grandma’s house (or Aunt Millie’s or Cousin Jim’s or good friends who also live far from family) for the traditional turkey/ham/standing rib roast and all the trimmings. Some will be sleeping in, waiting for Somebody Else to make a pot of coffee that will rouse the most persistent snoozer.
Me, I’m taking it easy. Our family dinner is tomorrow at my Ohio daughter’s house. I made and delivered a 2-lb. loaf of gluten-free bread earlier this week for my daughter to use in her special stuffing, and today I’ll clean veggies and make a good low-cal dip to take with me. (Recipe at the end of this post.)

Memories of childhood Thanksgiving holidays bring pictures of long car trips starting Wednesday night, driving/riding through the dark and often snow, to arrive on Thursday morning. We often stayed at my step-grandmother’s house a couple of nights before loading up and driving back to where we were living (either southern Missouri or Wichita, KS in those days). Whichever locale, it was a lo-o-o-ong trip for a kid.
I never recall any of those meals—did we have turkey? Ham? Chicken?

We might have—I’m sure we did—go to Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins’ house. By the time I was 11 or 12 they were in their early 70s and probably didn’t have the big meal at their house. (Not surprising—they had 10 children, with spouses, 26 grandchildren—or was it 27?—and by then a handful of great-grandchildren. Too many for a small house!)

After I married, I became a Palmer—that family was more conventional as to holidays than my dad and stepmother were. The tradition was: get together, make a big meal, eat and enjoy each other’s company. I recall another long, slow drive from central Illinois to rural Iowa, during snow and possibly ice—memory fails here, which is just as well.
That was to set the pattern for years—no matter the weather, we went “home” for Thanksgiving and Christmas; for my husband and me it was back to central Illinois. By the time we had three children, my in-laws came to visit us in Indiana.

As the children grew up, I continued the tradition of holiday dinners—cooking and baking, inviting others to join us, going to Thanksgiving Eve church services. Lots of work, but it made for fond memories.
In our family, we’ve passed the torch—my house is no longer large enough to hold all of us for holiday meals. The noise level of 22 people—if they all get here—threatens to raise the roof (literally). So the next generation has grabbed the torch and uses it to roast a turkey. Besides, my daughter lives in the country where there’s ample room for kids to play safely outside, weather permitting, where the noise level is less noticeable to aging ears.

Tomorrow at our gathering I’ll get to visit with a few of my grandsons and their families. We’ll eat and eat and eat—too many good things to pass them up—and later we’ll take a walk around outside to view the changes my daughter and son-in-law have made to their property in the past year. Some of our group will congregate in my son-in-law’s taxidermy shop, which will be open now that hunters are out doing their thing.
If we had to pass up the pie offerings earlier, due to insufficient room to sample all of them (pumpkin, apple,  and butterscotch are regular features), now’s the time to head back inside, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and have “just a little slice” of whatever’s being cut. It’s the rare person who can pass up all three offerings.

By the time a few people are making going-home noises, we will be packing up leftovers so everybody can have a little bit of Thanksgiving dinner another day. I drive about an hour back to my Indiana home, and pat my well-filled tummy. Another cup of tea is about all I’ll need after our lovely feast. I’ll spend the evening savoring the family connections, remembering how much the youngest children have grown in a year since I last saw them, and being thankful once again that I am a part of such a good family.
New additions to the Fond Memory Department.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I wish you a peaceful time of reflection—a time to count your blessings—a time to list all the ways you are thankful.

May you, and I, pass on these blessings.

[If you’re not a sour cream fan, here’s an easy substitute.]
2/3 c. cottage cheese
2/3 c. plain yogurt (Greek yogurt works well)
2/3 c. mayonnaise

In a blender, mix the cottage cheese and yogurt. Pour out into a bowl, add the mayonnaise, and whisk together till smooth. Stir in dip mix of your choice (I use Hidden Valley).
Makes about 2 cups.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 20 of 30 Days of Gratitude:
I'm grateful for creative folks who generously share their joy in creation, their enthusiasm, their vision, themselves.

We've been visited by Young Man Winter (he hasn't been around long enough to be Old Man Winter) who lives up to his name: youthful, in-your-face, a real go-getter, eager to show his stuff. Bah!

I'm handicapped here at Thursday's Child--I try to celebrate whatever comes down the pike. Not an easy job if you're housebound by snow/ice/wind/dropping temps (all of the above some days).

So I'm not ready to celebrate Winter, because--duh--Winter isn't due for another month. I'll be glad to wait, thank you.

While I'm hibernating in my cave--fully equipped with WiFi, videos/books/yarn/fabric/food, and coffee/tea/hot chocolate--I've taken to surfing the 'Web for new ideas. Wow!

My big find is The Missouri Star Quilt Company, located in Hamilton, Missouri--up in the northwest corner, population between 1,700 and 1,800, most of whom work for the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

You can read all the info about the company if you search on the name and look for a link to an About Us section (probably at the bottom of the home page).

A selection of precuts from my stash:
L to R: charm squares, strips, fat quarters.

I've fallen in love with the tutorials! Every time I check the website there seems to be another one. They're all free. They're all excellent. Most, but not all, use precuts of fabric (fat quarters, strips, charm squares, 10" squares, and other types). If you're looking for a lovely project and you're in a time crunch, this is your store.

Best of all is Jenny Doan, the star of the company, who makes most of the videos. I love her enthusiasm, her joy in creating something from all those fabric choices, and her down-to-earth personality. Jenny is not a perfectionist--I tend to be too much so, and I find her free spirit approach to a creative endeavor liberating. What she brings to the sometimes-daunting process of quilting is a talent for making it efficient and do-able by beginners, as well as appealing to busy advanced quilters. Her quilts are always beautiful; her approach is get-it-done, on-to-the-next! My kind of teacher. And a great "face" for The Missouri Star Quilt Company.

While I was temporarily not poking my nose out of my cave, I made voluminous notes from her videos for such patterns as:
   Exploding Block Quilt - Bordered Square - Square in a Square
   Double Slice Layer Cake - Windowpane Disappearing Nine Patch
   Disappearing Four Patch - Jelly Roll Race I and II

Then there are sewing projects requiring little or no quilting: Totes, a Minky Scarf, Christmas Stocking, Fabric Ornaments, Christmas Table Runner, Christmas Table Topper (doubles as a mini tree skirt), Chicken Pincushions (great to see the thing being made--I never could get my head around it just by reading instructions). These sound like great gifts--fast, beautiful, easy.

If that's not enough for you, there are tutorials on binding your quilt, free-motion quilting, sashing; plus tips and techniques scattered through the various sessions. Or if you're free-motion challenged (I seem to be), the quilting of these projects, including the big quilts, can be done on the home machine. Really!

I'm now looking at my super-sized stash with new eyes--strip sets? charm squares? 10-inch squares? fat quarter packs? Oh, yes, pick one of these and one of those, use Jenny's tutorial, and voila, a quilt is born!

Creativity shows up everywhere . . . be on the lookout for that new approach, fresh viewpoint. People like that are inspiring.

Let's celebrate creativity, wherever it shows up.

Takes some cutting, but worth it.
This is a 45x57 lap quilt,
Easy Does It, by Darlene Zimmerman.
(Made from fat quarters.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When I left for the Y this morning at stupid o'clock--still dark, still cold, me still half-asleep--I was jarred awake by snow! On the mulch around my big maple out front. On the vehicles that live along our street and have no garage to call their home. Wow! Snow.

The receptionist at the Y said it for all of us: "It's not even the 15th of November yet!"

As an aside: I may be at fault here--yesterday I couldn't stand it any longer so I played the White Christmas DVD . . . "snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW!" Anyway, thought I better confess.
When I got home from the Y, my thoughts turned immediately to soup.

Now, I don't have soup for breakfast, unless you count soupy oatmeal which I have once or twice a year. But I remembered the Butternut Squash Soup I made recently, and that's what we're having today--you, the reader, and I.

It's a slow cooker recipe, but doesn't take all day, even on low. This recipe came to me by chance. I was waiting at the doctor's office for my appointment . . . the receptionist said the doctor was delivering a baby and would be along shortly. Uh-huh, I remember being the one who delivered babies myself and there was no "shortly" about it. But it wasn't her own baby, so maybe the mom would take pity on us patients waiting (patiently, of course) for the doctor to return to her office.

While I waited I browsed magazines. I don't take many periodicals nowadays--I can read what I want to at the library, the doctors' offices I visit, and the style salon I go to every three weeks.

That day's offerings included a current Woman's Day.

So here 'tis. I've tinkered with it, as I always do, so you're getting my version.

Here's what I started with

Serves 4-6 (from Woman's Day, October, 2014)

Use a 5-6 quart slow cooker.

Whisk together and put in the cooker:

1 tsp. coriander (or curry powder or savory)
1 tsp. ground ginger (or grated if you can get it in a jar)
Salt & Pepper

1 small onion (or shallot), finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or minced out of a jar)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Cook until squash is tender, approximately:
     HIGH - 3 hours
     LOW  - 5 hours

Drain and rinse contents of 15-oz. can of cannellini beans.
Mash half of the beans and add to the soup. Stir, then add the rest of the unmashed beans.

If you have enough squash, you may also add a 15-oz. can of chickpeas (rinsed).

One tip: butternut squash is a very firm creature. The next time I make it I plan to cut off the neck and cut it into thick slices, clean the seeds out of the bowl of the squash, and microwave the whole mess for 3 or 4 minutes. Then peel. My hands haven't quite recovered from peeling the raw squash.

The recipe called for this to be served with a couscous garnish (mixed with apricots, pistachios, scallions, and parsley). Since I don't eat couscous, I skipped the garnish and ate my soup with buttered multigrain gluten-free toast.

Let me tell you--this is a hearty soup. A small bowl or cup of this soup is filling and just right for these cold days.
Thick enough to be called a stew. Yum!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If you're a regular on Facebook, you know that November is the month for "30 Days of Gratitude."

Anyone who wants to participate signs on and lists something for Day 1, Day 2, and so on.

I usually forget to do something like that every day. My daily must-dos are walking, pills, and rest in the afternoon.

So I'm taking today's blog as a time to run through a week of Gratitudes.

Thursday - I'm grateful for the Internet - email - blogs. So much information is available, and quickly, right in my own home. I can keep up with friends and family easily. And I can get my entertainment on other people's blogs. I might learn something, too!

Friday - I'm grateful for health care workers and for those who work in alternative healing, such as acupuncture, Reiki, and other types of energy work.

Saturday - I'm grateful for the abundance and availability of items when I go shopping. My new refrigerator makes it easy for me to stock up for a week, instead of buying only what I can use in a day or two.

Sunday - I'm grateful for my church where this Sunday we will honor all who have served in the armed forces. My gratitude for all veterans and those currently serving is boundless.

Monday - I'm grateful for friends who want to sew and knit with me. We enjoy each other's company, share each other's burdens, and make useful items for families in need.

Tuesday - I'm grateful for teachers and instructors who work at the senior center; their dedication to good health practices helps many who otherwise might not have the opportunity to reap the benefits of yoga and tai chi.

Wednesday - I'm grateful for strength and stamina to do my own yard work; our leaf crop this year is especially abundant.

If you can't do the 30 days of gratitude on Facebook, make yourself a list of seven days. Write down what you will do each day. Then write down why you are grateful for that day's activity.

Have a good week!