D-Squared T-Squared – Week 47

 

 

I hate to say it, but as the end of the year approaches, our creative endeavors are slowing. I mean – they’re not, but they are. Wha?

 

Take this last week, for example. The most creative focus I experienced had to do with food. As it was Thanksgiving, that isn’t too surprising. And believe me when I say it was creative.

 

But I feel like that’s incidental creativity. And though I certainly enjoy the spark and the finished products, it seems a little cheat-y as far as D2T2 aims are concerned. Dems da breaks, though, and that’s all I’ve got for this past week. A select few were actually around to sample my creative food-ing. As for the rest of you – you’re just gonna have to trust me.

 

There’s always next week, right?

Hollywood Nights

 

 

The other night I was driving through Holly-weird and I saw the dangedest thang. An SUV was cruising along with a cup of coffee sitting on its back bumper. That in itself isn’t odd, but the fact that the cup stayed on the bumper for over 3 friggin’ miles was a freak-show.

 

When I turned to head home, that cup was still planted on the bumper. For all I know that coffee is still cruising somewhere in Los Angeles.

Plenty

 

 

Today I am pleasantly plump. Some might think I’m downright fat, but that would be overstating things.

 

Like many in America, I am blessed with too much food. Even if I’ve not gone to the grocery store in a while, I can forage in my cupboard or freezer and lack for nothing. And the goods I find there are foods I want. Generally, my choices are not limited.

 

But there are also many in this country (in this world) who are not so fortunate. They may have gone without yesterday. They may be hungry today. I happen to know people who depend on basics, like beans and rice, for the majority of their sustenance. And though I’m sure they tire of it now and again, they know they at least have food. Something. And so it goes.

 

I don’t mean to sound like abundance is bad. I mean, I’ve got leftovers in my fridge right now. And I appreciate the hell out of that food. I understand the benefits of gainful employment, of shelter. And I thank my lucky stars more often than you can imagine. But I also know how to turn a carrot and a potato into a moan-inducing soup. I learned that out of necessity, for I’ve experienced bare cupboards. I’ve cried over losing a $5 bill, knowing I needed that money to eat. And not knowing when I’d have another fiver in my pocket.

 

So – though Thanksgiving is over, I am still grateful. For abundance. For creative cooking. For knowing enough to appreciate what I have. And what I have is plenty.

A Song of Thanksgiving

 

 

This blog post’s title seems almost proper. Not!

 

Mister and I learned this song years ago, from a friend’s young niece. I think that niece is about grown now, so, well, I don’t know what to say about that.

 

Anyhoo, sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques” (or “Are You Sleeping Brother John?”), these brief lines always make me smile. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

 

Turkey dinner, turkey dinner,

Gather round, gather round.

Who will get the drumstick?

Yummy, yummy drumstick!

All sit down. All sit down.

Cornbread muffins, chestnut stuffing,

Pumpkin pie – 3 feet high.

We were all much thinner

‘fore we came to dinner.

Me oh my! Me oh my!

Turkey Day Details

 

 

Are you flipping out right now? Too much to do and too little time?

 

Take a deep breath. Take another. Repeat after me: It will all be okay – one way or another. Take another deep breath. Exhale slowly.

 

Here’s the deal – it will all be okay – one way or another. It always is. Or isn’t. Frankly, for some folks – not being okay is the norm.

 

I can tell you this – I’ve experienced every type of danged Thanksgiving mishap and in the end, they’ve never mattered. It’s a day of gratitude. And if, at the end of the day, you’re grateful simply for the holiday’s end, it counts.

 

Here’s to being grateful. For something.

And So It Begins…

 

 

It’s on, y’all. Oh, it’s on.

 

The Social Season has kicked off and for us it began with an outdoor soiree, featuring a lovely jazz band. Not only did we enjoy the music, we also got to talk with the keyboard master, Mr. Bobby Pierce. And he was a real gentleman.

 

Here’s hoping your Social Season is kind, lovely and swingin’!

Crazy Larry – For Reals

 

 

This is a glimpse of my friend Crazy Larry’s drivers license. For reals. It is one of the most excellent license photos I’ve ever seen.

 

That alone would be reason enough to share this photo (and hopefully lead you to a giggle or two), but there’s more! Crazy Larry recently received an official letter from the CA DMV informing him of his need to re-take his drivers license photo, as his current photo does not fulfill official CA DMV regulations. For reals.

 

I love my friends for many, many reasons. Crazy Larry’s drivers license photo is just one more beautiful cherry on top of the friend-loving pie. For reals.

Fried Turkey – The Basics

 

 

A few years ago Mister got a Turkey Fryer. He’s never looked back. And while I am perfectly content with a good, ol’ roasted bird, I, too, enjoy the deep-fried version.

 

As much as I encourage others to deep-fry their own Thanksgiving turkeys, I definitely wish Safety upon you all. For reals. So in the interest of not burning down anyone’s home (and avoiding emergency room visits), here are some Safety Tips we use each and every time we pull out the Turkey Fryer.

 

The bird must be completely thawed and dried. Please, people – don’t try shortcutting here. Thaw your damn turkey! And once you’ve done that (and anything else you might want – such as brining), please take some paper towels and blot the bird dry. I cannot stress this enough. When water (or ice) hit hot oil, it is extremely dangerous. And no, I don’t care how awesome you think you are – you’re not awesome enough to negate this reaction. Please, please, please heed this advice and don’t burn down your neighborhood.

 

When setting up your fryer, make sure it’s on a flat surface. Cement is great. So is a patio. But we’ve also set up on grass. The only thing we did to flatten the area was to use a giant piece of cardboard. “But Mikki,” I hear you saying, “cardboard is flammable.” Yes, it is. And I’ll get to that. But in the meantime, I’d rather cook on a flat surface than lose the use of my feet due to a scalding oil spill.

 

 

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby! I hope to never need it, but I always keep it handy when using the Turkey Fryer. So far, the worst we’ve suffered are a few oil drips. The cardboard has taken care of that, but we were ready with the fire extinguisher, had we needed it.

 

Leather (or other protective) gloves are mighty helpful. Mister uses the BBQ gloves I got him several years ago, and his hands are grateful.

 

Don’t overfill your fryer with oil! Again, you don’t want a scalding oil spill, and too much oil may lead to that when lowering your thawed, dry bird into the cooker. Pay attention to your fryer’s oil limits and recommendations.

 

When it’s time to fry, bring your oil temperature up to less than what is required for cooking. Then carefully lower your bird into the fryer, and raise the cooking oil temp to the manufacturer’s recommended level.

 

 

Stay with the danged thang while cooking! This is no time to head back into the house to watch the foosball, y’all. Pause or record the game. An active fryer is too dangerous to leave unattended. And besides – it only takes 45 minutes or so to fully cook your bird.

 

 

Take care when removing your cooked turkey! You don’t want to accidentally drop it back into the hot oil. That’s the kind of thing that can lead to an ugly “splash” story, told for years to come. No one wants that kind of scar. No one.

 

Once cooking has finished, be sure the gas to the fryer is OFF. And keep people away from the fryer as it cools. It’ll be hot for a long time. Kids (and pets) shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it.

 

 

I share these critical suggestions with you because I care. Not only do I want your turkey-frying experience to be top-notch, I also want you to make it to next Thanksgiving. And believe me – once you’ve had a fabulous deep-fried turkey, you’re gonna want to stick around for another go-round next year, too. It’s that good.

Gratitude Box

 

 

This is a Gratitude Box. I make one every year before Thanksgiving and force everyone I see during that week to participate in my Gratitude Box ritual. Basically, I provide small pieces of paper and a pen, then ask folks to write something they’re currently grateful for in their lives. I then ask them to take a different piece of paper and write something they hope to be grateful for in a year – something that hasn’t yet come to pass. Capisce?

 

Anyhoo, I encourage you to start this Thanksgiving tradition in your own home. All you need is an empty tissue box, some sort of wrapping paper, tape and a bit of colored tissue paper for the hole in the top. You’ll also need some sort of pen, to write on the finished box.

 

If there’s plastic in the top of the tissue box, reach in and remove it. Next, wrap the empty box. I suppose one could wrap in such a way as to place the closing flaps on the top and the bottom of the box, therefore keeping all 4 sides smooth for writing, but I’ve never done that. And honestly, now that I think of it, I have no idea why I’ve resisted this idea. I think it must be because I know I’ll be poking a hole in the wrapping paper where the empty box’s opening already exists. Maybe I’ve thought it would be too hard to push the flaps through the hole. Just put the folded flaps wherever the heck you want them, okay?

 

Once the box is wrapped, find that pre-existing hole in the empty box. Using scissors or a knife, cut through the wrapping paper so that the box’s opening is exposed, Press the cut wrapping paper down and into the opening.

 

Take your colored tissue paper and push it into the box’s opening.  You want the colored paper’s edges to stick out of the box, like a gift. You also want the tissue inserted deeply enough into the box to allow folded slips of paper to be inserted into the opening. That is, after all, the whole point.

 

About those slips of paper… I usually try to find some sort of pretty paper, then I cut (or tear) it into pieces, about 1″ x 3″. I try to end up with more strips than I could possibly need. I mean, you never know how grateful people are going to be!

 

I almost forgot – you now need to decorate your Gratitude Box. I like to use quotes about gratitude. I find them inspiring, not only for myself but also for the people I force into participating in my little ritual. I find these quotes any place I can: books, the interwebs, magazines. And I usually try to choose shorter quotes, as I need them to fit on the danged box. Once I’ve chosen my quotes, I write them on the wrapped box. If I feel like it, I’ll add some swirls or stars. You know – jazz it up.

 

That’s it! Place your Gratitude Box in a place of prominence, along with the paper strips and a pen or two, and you’re ready to harangue your friends and family into your practice of gratitude. Let them know their secrets are safe. Anything they write and place in the box will stay there, unread. Their gratitude is private.

 

There is one final step. At the end of Thanksgiving night, tuck the colored tissue into the box’s opening and burn the whole danged thang. That’s right. Burn it. The idea is to release all that gratitude – through a ritual of fire – into the Universe. It’s beautiful, really. And I always feel my gratitude increase after the release. Here’s another thing, too: the people I think will dislike this tradition the most are usually the ones who get into it wholeheartedly.

 

If you end up trying this (or already practice a similar tradition), let me know how it goes. As for me, I’ll be pushing the Gratitude Box on everyone this week, just like every year. And when I burn the box at the end of Thanksgiving night, I’ll watch the smoke swirl into the sky and think of all that gratitude, flying out to every corner of the Universe. And I’ll thank my lucky stars I’m able to feel so very grateful.

Passengers In Time, Lost In Motion, Locked Together

 

 

Here’s how it happened: I broke my own rule.

 

Every year it’s the same. I tell myself that Christmas Socks and Christmas Music do not exist until December 1st. And every year, I adhere.

 

Until this week. I don’t know what happened. I just couldn’t stop myself. Mister was late, so I dialed up the satellite radio to the Holiday channel and I let her rip. It was great. There was Johnny Mathis and Les Brown. Sinatra and The Crystals. Bing was there, and so was Marvin. I was – as Mister’s grandpa used to say – as happy as a denuded lark in a thistle patch.

 

And then I heard the garage door open, and I rushed to change the music channel. I mean, it’s November! What would Mister think? As quickly as I could – which was way too slowly – I changed the channel to the next option: 80s Hits.

 

Here’s what I can tell you: I was in heaven. First up was A Flock of Seagulls and “Space Age Love Song.” This is my very favorite Flock of Seagulls song and for some reason I decided to tell Mister my take on it. I’ve always “seen” it as a brief moment in time. In my mind – the lyrics are about simply seeing someone and knowing that person could mean capital L-O-V-E. But only in that moment. I’ve always seen the song as being about a solitary moment, and what might have been. Because it’s fleeting, I suppose the song’s moment holds more power for me. And I friggin’ love the chord progression. Of all their hits, it really is my fave.

 

Then came The Kinks and “Come Dancing.” This song has always befuddled me. I mean, how was it ever a hit? It’s a story song, first of all, and it’s incredibly sweet, for cry-eye. And as crazy as it is, I’ve always loved it. Knowing it’s about Ray Davies’ late sister only endears it to me. I will always love it.

 

Next was Van Halen and “And The Cradle Will Rock.” When David Lee Roth hits the lyric “Have you seen Junior’s grades?” – I am a goner. Every time.

 

And it just kept going. There was The J. Geils Band, Billy Joel and Mike and The Mechanics. Kenny friggin’ Rodgers was played, for God’s sake. By the time The Fixx and “Secret Separation” played, I admit – I was drunk. On nostalgia. On wine. On love. On 80s music.

 

I am an 80s lady. I own it and I love it. I think the thing that got me about the other night was this: I’d forgotten just how much I love 80s music. That brief reminder was heartfelt and darling. I’m still reeling. Happily. Yeah.