A Family Outing

There was no big hurry to get going this morning, although I was up at 7:30 in order to make sure that anyone who wanted breakfast would get food, and that my bone broth had not boiled down too far overnight. It smelled heavenly! Mary and Mercy went to meet up with a friend. Others played a table game. Spencer and Jade had other plans for the day so there were just nine of us.

Meanwhile, even though it was Black Friday, a day I prefer to stay at home, I went to Aldi to do the grocery shopping after snagging a couple of Black Friday deals online. It wasn’t crowded at all. Maybe everyone was out shopping Black Friday deals at other stores.

After I got back from the store we ate lunch and then set off on our outing. We piled into three different cars and drove down to Nacogdoches so Lina could show everyone her apartment and the school where she teaches. We all enjoyed seeing Lina’s cozy little apartment and saying hello to Neko, our former cat who now lives with Lina. I think he was a little startled to find so many people in his space!

From there we drove on to Regents Academy, the classical Christian school where Lina teaches. She gave us a tour and we got to see her classroom and the projects her students are working on.

I had hoped to get a chance to see Lina’s local yarn store, but it closed right as we arrived, so we went to a coffee shop where all the kids got coffee before we headed back home (it’s a little over an hour’s drive).

Nobody objected to having Thanksgiving leftovers for supper. Lina is actually quite sick with a severe respiratory infection, and we are all hoping she doesn’t share it. I think I’ll be going to Walmart tomorrow to stock up on Vitamin C!

More game playing finished out the evening. Tomorrow we’re hoping Spencer and Jade will make it over for at least part of the day.

Parting Shot:

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Lina in the doorway of her classroom.

So Grateful

As usual, I was the first one up today, working in the kitchen and baking the breakfast casserole. Then Mary got up and went for a run before breakfast. She is training for a half marathon that is coming up soon!

We had nine of us at the table for breakfast after Spencer and Jade arrived. Mercy and Daniel didn’t make it till closer to noon since they hadn’t even arrived in town until after 3:00 this morning.

Instead of having lunch on Thanksgiving we set up a snack bar and then have a somewhat earlier supper. Almost everyone played a table game while I worked in the kitchen, and then we worked on making paper airplanes for our annual paper airplane races.  It was a gloomy overcast day and we wanted to make sure to do the airplanes while we still had good light.

I know you’re dying to know how the races went. We have three categories: Artistic Design, Distance, and Air Time. Here are this year’s winners:

Jade for Artistic Design, Lina for Air Time, and Daniel for Distance. We had some good planes this year!

The big dinner was bountiful as usual, and almost all of it was gluten free and therefore safe for Mary. I was more restricted in what I could eat, but I did make a couple of the side dishes low carb so that I could have them. Afterward we watched a movie Mercy had brought—The Swan Princess, which was a huge favorite with our kids when they were young. So they really enjoyed the nostalgia trip.

We took a break for dessert when everyone had had enough time for their dinner to settle. Mercy made a beautiful apple pie, Lina made a lovely gluten-free pumpkin pie, and I made a layered dessert that is a big favorite. And there was ice cream. I had planned to make a keto pie but it just seemed like so much effort. I was quite content with a couple slices of cheese and some roasted pecans.

Now the kitchen is mostly clean and I have bone broth simmering on the stove and the house is quiet again. It’s been a good day with family and I’m so glad we have a couple more days together.

Parting Shot:

Thanks to Mary’s expert level selfie skills, we all managed to squeeze into the same shot!

Anticipation

Today was my third day in a row of cooking a LOT. My legs are tired from just standing in the kitchen all day! But I’m doing really well and am not going to have to stay up way past midnight to finish cooking tasks.

Today I made the fruit salad for tomorrow, plus a batch of regular pumpkin bread and a batch of gluten-free pumpkin bread. Due to a couple of requests, I made a huge batch of candied peanuts, something I haven’t done in years. I haven’t missed making them—it took 2 hours of cooking and then breaking them up after they cooled was very hard work.

Lina arrived this afternoon and made a gluten-free pumpkin pie. Then I made supper and a couple of dips and regular and gluten-free breakfast casserole for tomorrow. And a second attempt at my keto crackers, this time successful.  In case you’re wondering why I don’t just make everything gluten free, it’s because of the expense. Gluten-free ingredients are so much more expensive.

Walter arrived home from his road trip in time to join us for supper, and a couple of hours later, Mary, Jordan and Jasper arrived (and Mary and Jordan’s cats, Howl and Calcifer). It is good to have more people around after a few days with just Lucy and me.

Mercy and Daniel will be arriving very late tonight and will be staying at a motel. And Spencer and Jade should be with us for the day tomorrow also. We will only be missing Flynn and Tiffany.

R.I.P.

As I continued to work in the kitchen today, I planned to make something in my roaster oven, which is an appliance I use all the time. I turned it on to preheat, but when I went to check on it, it was not hot at all. I tried plugging it into another outlet, but no luck. The light was on, but it was lying.

I was miffed. How dare that oven go out on me two days before Thanksgiving after 30 years of trouble-free performance? I had already decided I would have to brave driving the Beast (my husband’s work van) to go to the bank, so I continued on to Walmart intent on getting a new roaster oven. Normally at this time of year they are in plentiful supply.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, our Walmart had apparently never heard of how useful roasters can be for the holidays. There were none at all. Then I was more miffed. I came home and ordered one, but of course it won’t arrive in time for Thanksgiving. All the more reason to be glad I’ve been making so much stuff ahead, since I’ll be having to heat it all in the “main” oven.

My reward for all my efforts was to go to a movie tonight. Before I ever knew that my husband would be out of town this week, I bought a ticket to go see Never Surrender, the Galaxy Quest documentary that was showing tonight only. I had to drive the Beast again, and without any dash lights so I had no idea how fast I was going. When I arrived at the theater, I texted my husband about it and he explained that you can get the dash lights to go on; you just have to sort of coax them into it by turning the knob ever so slowly until you find the magic spot. I am happy to report that I achieved this elusive goal on my way home.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed the documentary and tried not to think about my to-do list. Once I returned home I got a couple more things made. Tomorrow is dessert day!

Parting Shot:

This is what a dead roaster looks like after 30 years of hard use, including going to Africa and back.

A Finished Task

Yesterday I stayed home since I didn’t have a way of getting to church. Lucy was sick and stayed home also. I spent much of the day working on my big project. When I agreed to do it, I thought it would take an afternoon. It took 3 days! It involved drafting, sewing, writing, and photography. I am so glad to be done with it. The pattern is up on Etsy and I’ve put the word out to the people who requested it. So glad to be done with it!

Meanwhile, I have been taking breaks to work in the kitchen on advance preparations for Thanksgiving. And yesterday I made dinner and Spencer and Jade came over. Today I made some things and then failed miserably at making my favorite keto crackers because I left out a vital ingredient. Now I have a bag of keto crumbs.

Tomorrow will be mostly in the kitchen, but I get a reward at the end . . .

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

I did not make it to church today, but my husband reported to me on the service he attended in Atlanta—complete with glorious hymn singing, a choir, and a pipe organ. This is one of the hymns they sang—and one of my favorites.

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

by Henry F. Lyte

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Tea and Society

This morning I was up before 6:30 as my husband finished packing and preparing to leave on his trip. He pulled out of the driveway a few minutes after 8:00—and I went and took a little nap before continuing on with my day.

I had a very long list as usual, and as usual I didn’t make much of a dent in it. I got some paperwork done while I drank my tea, and then started assembling the materials I’ll need for a big project I’m working on. I also made my final batch of chai mix, at least for the time being, and got it all bagged up.

At 11:00 my knitting student arrived, and we were able to make some headway on her hat. It will soon be finished! We had a nice visit too.

Then I had a couple of hours to work on a revision project, do some work in the kitchen, roast some pecans, and move the turkey from the freezer to the fridge so it can start thawing.

At 3:00 my friend Connie arrived for tea. Connie used to be my neighbor but now she lives in El Paso (750 miles away) so I only see her once a year or so when she comes into town for a visit. I used my new teacups which go quite nicely with one of my many teapots. I drank many cups of tea. It is always so good to visit with Connie. I wish their visits weren’t so short!

I like that fact that people came to see me today so I could be sociable even though I don’t have transportation at the moment.

After Connie left I made a loaf of keto bread and browned six pounds of meat for next week. Then I finally got to work on my sewing project.

One of the things I teach my writing students in my paragraph class is how to write a process analysis paragraph. They never go into enough detail on their first attempt, and I sympathize because it is very hard mental work to break a process down and then describe it in a clear and sequential manner.

My current project is one I’ve been putting off for a while because I knew it was going to be a challenging process analysis task. Recently on Facebook, I made the mistake of sharing a project I designed and made several years ago, and I had several requests for the pattern, which I fortunately had saved. But now I have to write out all the detailed instructions for each step of the project, and take lots of photos, which makes a quick and simple project into a huge ordeal. When I get it done I think I will offer the pattern on Etsy in hopes of getting some return on all my effort.

A Departure

This morning I had to run some errands before leaving town with Jasper, and I was so distracted by everything I had to do that I sent someone the wrong kind of chai! I will have to rectify that on Monday.

Jasper got all packed and we left the house at about 10:30 this morning, headed for the Greyhound station in Texarkana. Like last year, Jasper is going to Memphis to spend a few days with Mary and Jordan before returning with them when they come for Thanksgiving. I know they will have a good time.

Meanwhile, after seeing him safely onto the bus, I drove to the faire site to meet with Sandy (aka the queen) to discuss upcoming events such as the parade. This year I volunteered to walk beside the float instead of riding on it. I think it will be fun!

After a nice visit, I headed back to my own town, stopping at Walmart and Aldi, where I bought a LOT of food. Thank goodness Lucy was home to help me put it away! Unfortunately, Aldi was out of a couple of things I needed, so later this evening I made another quick dash to Walmart. I hope I got everything I need for between now and Thanksgiving. I would have to be pretty desperate to drive the van.

Tomorrow morning my husband heads to Atlanta to spend a few days with his mother and sister. He’ll be returning the night before Thanksgiving. So I have several days of advance cooking and organizing to do.

Quote of the Day:

As we drove out of town this morning, Jasper and I passed a large school.

Jasper: “There’s the prison.”

Me: “That’s actually a school, you know.”

Jasper: “Schools are just prisons that you pay to go to.”

Thursday in Asia

Another Geography class has come and gone. Today we finished off Asia and had an Asian-inspired meal. I made mango bubble tea for the gentlemen to drink, and plain green tea too. I bought some Taiwanese takeaway food and made extra rice “just in case.” And Jasper helped me make some Pad Thai from a kit I’d picked up. I also offered some “Want Want” crackers for dessert and some pocky sticks. I had asked my neighbor Anna for dessert ideas, as her family has spent years in South Korea. She offered to send over some goodies—some sweet rice cakes, grapes, and an enormous Asian pear.

What a feast! The boys are enthusiastic eaters. During the course of this semester, they have developed a theory that food from pretty much anywhere else in the world is better than American food—although during today’s class they were a little taken aback to learn that some people eat raw horse meat.

After class I had time to work on planning out next semester for a little bit before getting ready to go to my mature mom’s night out. Several people had to cancel so it ended up just being my friend Susan and me. We had a nice visit while I ploughed through an enormous salad.

Jasper spent the afternoon and evening doing his laundry and packing for his trip tomorrow. Maybe I should get some rest since I’m going to be driving.

Eventful

Several times in the past I have commented that I am a one-event-a-day person—and for most of my adult life, that has certainly been true. I find, though, that as my health continues to improve, I am more able to enjoy doing several things in a day. During my trip in September I was very active day after day yet never felt overwhelmed or exhausted, and that was something of a miracle.

Today was pretty challenging by my “old” standards, but I actually found it surprisingly survivable. It started off with the usual frantic preparation and then teaching of my elementary school class. Such a fun bunch of kids.

They were barely out the door before I was busy mixing up cookie dough so I would have something to take to my writers’ meeting. I didn’t have time to actually make cookies but I made them into bars and they turned out okay.

Then I went back to researching some more before getting everything loaded in the car for the rest of the day. I drove to Kilgore for my monthly book club meeting. This month’s book was one that everyone seemed to like and I enjoyed the discussion as I always do. I look forward to this every month and am sad any time I am unable to make it—even though it means I have to read an extra book in addition to the ones I read to keep up with my students.

When book club ended, I lugged my computer and projector up to the meeting room and started setting up for my writers’ group. Normally we meet here in my own town, but the lady who has the key to the church office where we meet is out of town this week, so Steve at the bookstore graciously allowed us to meet there today.

Now I use my projector hooked up to the computer every single week for Geography class. So I thought I knew how to do it. But today, I could not get the projector to show what was on my computer screen. I spent a full hour trying to figure it out. I called Jasper and he tried to help me. Steve tried to help me a couple of times and as the time for my critique group meeting neared, he finally figured out a way for me to make it work. Phew! That was a very stressful hour!

There were only three of us for our critique group meeting so it didn’t take long, which was fine because that gave us more time to visit. Then a couple others arrived for the main meeting and I was able to use my computer and Steve’s wifi to play some videos showing some of the features of Scrivener, the writing software that I use for writing novels and short stories. I had tried and failed to become an expert on Scrivener in the last month—but it’s still my favorite word processing software.

I returned home to a kitchen full of freshly-baked pies, thanks to one of Lucy’s baking sprees. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have pies in your kitchen, knowing you can’t have even one bite? It’s pretty grim.