Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

A New Year’s Day Meal – Carol Style (Hoppin’ John, Tossed Salad, Corn Sticks, Sweet Iced Tea)

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Today is New Year’s Day, and so I will cook my version of a New Year’s Day meal. Here’s the menu, the recipes and the symbolism – some serious and some definitely tongue-in-cheek:

Hoppin’ John

Tossed Salad


Sweet Iced Tea


Hoppin’ John

1 can mild tomato/jalopena mixture (RoTel) If you like things a little spicier, use regular RoTel.

2 cans black-eyed peas

1 can diced tomatoes (optional – I love tomatoes)

1/2 lb link of turkey sausage

Cut the turkey sausage into bite-size pieces – dump everything together and cook. You can serve this over rice or mix some rice in it, or eat it by itself with no rice. It’s delicious riceless or not.

Tossed Salad

Lots of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, grated carrots, diced bell peppers with grated cheddar cheese on top.

Cornbread Sticks

2 cups cornmeal MIX

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, well-beaten

buttermilk (enough to make a good batter)

Pour into cast iron cornstick pans that have been sprayed with Pam and pre-heated in a 425 oven. The batter should sizzle when you pour it into the pans. Bake until golden brown. Serve hot. I like to crumble a cornstick or two into my hoppin’ john.

Sweet Iced Tea

4 family-size tea bags

1 gallon distilled water (You don’t HAVE to use distilled water, but that’s what I always use).

1 cup Splenda

Put the tea bags in a 4-cup measuring cup, fill with some of the water and microwave on high for about 6 minutes. Let it sit (steep) for about 5 minutes. Pour into a pitcher and add the remaining water to make one gallon. Add the Splenda and stir. DELICIOUS and refreshing!


The blackeyed peas in the Hoppin’ John symbolize coins – a sign of prosperity for the new year. May there be lots of that in 2007. The turkey sausage symbolizes my American heritage – the wild turkeys from the first Thanksgiving. For me, it also reminds me of the land where RT and I are building a house – dozens of wild turkeys reside there. The tomatoes and jalopenas symbolize good taste and spiciness. May I never grow too old to be spicy.

The leaves of lettuce in the salad are a symbol of folding money – currency. Again, may there be lots of that in 2007. The tomatoes remind me of the fruits of summer, the carrots for year-round bounty, and the cheese for the perfection of aging (I wish!).

The corn in the cornsticks are another symbol of my American heritage. Enough corn for good health, enough oil to smooth out the rough places in life, an egg to remind me of the newness of life, and the buttermilk to remind me that the sour places in life make the good places all the more sweet. Baking the cornsticks in cast-iron pans reminds me of what the American pioneers used in their travels cross country to explore new lands.

The iced tea is symbolic of my Southern roots. Sweet iced tea is pure Southern! The Splenda makes it something I can drink without worrying about calories. RT and I go through a gallon of this tea about every two or three days. I make several gallons every single week. I have to admit that I almost always used decaf tea so I can drink it in the evenings without worrying about it affecting my sleep.

There you have it! A New Year’s day feast with some traditional and some Carol-grown symbolism attached.

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Winter Break – Christmas Holidays – School is out for two weeks – and I’m thinking about a “balanced calendar”

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Regardless of what you call it, winter break (or the Christmas holiday) is a wonderful time!  Right now, the two weeks out of school stretch before me like an empty canvas.  How will I spend my remaining days out of school?  I’m obsessive/compulsive. So I have a list:

(1) Get my name changed.  Since I got married in September, I’ve put off changing my name.  It is such a hassle.  However, I want to have the same last name as R.T.  So I will go through the required rigamarole.  It is a tedious and long process.  Last Friday I took care of my social security card.  Later this week I will handle my drivers license.  Then I will have a marathon letter-writing session and send notices to everyone else (banks, credit cards, my employer, etc.) who must change my name on their records.  Of course then I must notify my friends and make the announcement when I return to school in January.  Children and co-workers will have to change what they call me.  (Yes, I can think of some jokes with that last , but I won’t go there.)

(2) Get my old clunker car inspected and get a new tag for it.  However, before doing that I will have to get it started.  As of this moment, the battery is dead – deader’n a doornail.  Then once that is done, I will either sell it or give it away. It’s worth a few hundred dollars – at most.

(3) Get repairs done to my not-as-old car.  The trunk latch doesn’t work, the back taillight is out, and the CD-changer stopped working.

(4) Visit my mother for a couple days.

(5) De-clutter RT’s and my house. . . or at least one or two rooms. . . or at least a closet or maybe a drawer – something will be de-cluttered before school starts again.

Those things will get done.  I’ll also have a chance to sleep late in the mornings and generally feel renewed and ready to face the challenges of teaching by January 8th when school starts again.  It’s a good thing to have a few weekdays in which to take care of personal business and to rejuvenate.

And thinking about all that made me think about a “balanced calendar.”  A balanced calendar is when students attend school for nine weeks, then school is out for two or three weeks, then another nine weeks of school, then another two or three break, etc.  That makes so much sense to me.  Children and teachers would still attend school the same amount of days/time.  However, there wouldn’t be that long, long break during the summer.  Instead, the breaks would be spread throughout the year.  Summer break is nice, but it’s too long and it’s too hot.

Our school system considered going to a balanced calendar recently, and groups of parents basically shot down the idea.  I think their objections had to do mostly with high school sports programming.  I was disappointed that we didn’t give it a try. 

Having these two weeks off – even with all the Christmas activities packed in them – make me realize anew how wonderful it is to have time off to recharge.

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Testing Santa Claus – “I want a scooter and a teddy bear and . . . “

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Both the grandgirls – Sweet Stuff and Sunshine – told Santa Claus that they wanted a scooter and a teddy bear for Christmas. That’s all they wanted.

Santa listened to them when they shared those wishes a few weeks ago, and since both Sweet Stuff and Sunshine are incredibly good children, they were assured that Santa would bring them what they wanted.

Yesterday, Sweet Stuff (5 years old) quietly confided to her mother that she had a test planned for Santa Claus. She really wanted a Barbie, but she hadn’t said a word about it to anybody so she could see if Santa really knows what children want without their telling him.

My son-in-law, overhearing the conversation, exchanged looks with my daughter and then remembered that they still needed to get some carrots to leave out for Santa’s reindeer, too. It took awhile for him to find those carrots, but he returned home with a smile on his face. Santa should pass the test easily.

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A Phone Call from the GrandGirls – the anticipation of Christmas

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

My cell phone rang yesterday morning.  Looking at it, I saw that the call was from my daughter’s number.  However, recently I’ve learned to not assume that a call from my daughter’s number would necessarily be my daughter.  My five-year old grandgirl, Sweet Stuff, has memorized my phone number and has called me several times in the past week. When I answer the phone by greeting my daughter by name, she giggles and says, “No, it’s ME!”  So, to be on the safe side, I answer the phone with a generic “hello?” Good call.  It was Sweet Stuff again.

Yesterday she was full of excitement over the holidays – brimming over with giggles and stories of their Christmas activities.  She told me that they were making gingerbread and cookies and that they were wrapping presents.  They were hurrying to wrap her daddy’s presents before he got home from work.  Later they would make gingerbread houses.

She was so excited and happy that  I could feel the Christmas glow over the phone.  She put her younger sister, Sunshine, on the phone.  Sunshine told me her version of the day’s plans.  I took the phone out to PawPaw who was in the backyard working on the stools he is making them for Christmas.  He told Sunshine that he was helping Santa by making something in his workshop for them.  Sunshine called out, “Sweet Stuff, PawPaw is making us something in his workshop!”

Their sweet voices resonating with Christmas joy brought back memories of their mother and uncle – my two children – as little ones excited about Christmas – and back even further to memories of myself and my siblings as we awaited with breathless anticipation Christmas morning.

Christmas – the thread joining generations together in joy and wonder.

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Simon Sez Santa

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Tiara-tip to my Cotillion friend, Tammy, for sharing this!  Go ahead – click on the button below.  It’s silly!  It’s fun!

Simon Sez – The Santa Version

Christmas Tag – 3 Things I want and 3 Things I don’t want for Christmas

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Beth at Blue Star Chronicles tagged me for this “Christmas Tag” meme. Here are the official rules:

Ok this is how it works. The player (me) must list 3 things that I would love to get for Christmas. Then I must list 3 things that I definitely do not want to get for Christmas. Then I tag 5 friends and list their names. The one I tag needs to write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes then tag 5 more people. They must also clarify all the rules. When you tag someone you need to leave a comment that says “you’ve been Christmas tagged!” in their comments and tell them to read your blog. Ok everybody.

I made a decision months ago that when people tag me for memes, I will almost always do the meme, but I won’t tag other people. Others who read this are welcome to write their own “Christmas Tag” post, but I’m not going to tag anyone.

With that said, and with the caveat that of course I wish for world peace, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity, an end to hunger and abuse, no problems for anybody anytime, and lots of love and joy for everyone – those above any of my wishes for myself personally, I will keep my wishes smaller and within the realm of my own life. So here are my 3 wishes:

1. Personally, I love jewelry – rings, pendants, earrings. The sparklier the better. A unique necklace/pendant would be great since I wear a necklace almost every day – and I alternate between a gold cross pendant and a “C” pendant. Let’s see, one with lots of diamonds would be nice.

2. I want the building of RT’s and my new house will go smoothly and QUICKLY. We have a house-warming party scheduled for July 12th. I hope everything goes so well that we can be well settled into the house in time for that party.

3. Gift certificates to Barnes and Noble. I spend an obscene amount of money on books every year. I buy children’s books compulsively. However, I USE all the books I buy. I read to children as part of my job, and I love children’s books. Still, I spend too much money on them.

Then the three things I definitely do NOT want for Christmas.

1. Clothes of any kind.

2. Any “stuff” – Despite getting rid of carloads of stuff when I moved last summer, RT and I are still drowning in stuff.

3. A pet of any kind.

Now then, if you would like to write about the three things you DO and DON’T want for Christmas, be my guest! It’s actually rather fun!

As an ending, I will share a quote my friend, Patti, just sent me:

Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.

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Thursday Thirteen – (My 40th Edition) 13 Christmas-y Things I Enjoy

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Thirteen Christmas-y Things I Enjoy

  1. The yearly Christmas parade.
  2. The children’s Christmas program at church
  3. Singing Christmas carols at church
  4. Making dinner for my family (R.T., our two children and their spouses and the two grandgirls)
  5. Shopping with R.T. The man knows how to shop!
  6. Wrapping gifts
  7. Squinting when I first look at the Christmas tree so I can see how evenly the lights are distributed
  8. Putting the old, familiar and treasured ornaments on the tree
  9. Seeing my collection of nesting Santas
  10. Buying something that I know will be perfect for whoever I’m shopping for
  11. Christmas Eve candle-lighting service at church
  12. Feeling so close to my family
  13. Two weeks off work.


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Condensing Christmas to just ONE HOUR

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

In a local newspaper today was an article by Cathy Clarkson. The title was “Condensing Christmas into One Hour.” In the article she writes of hearing a radio host asks the question: “If you could condense Christmas into one hour; what would be in that hour?”
Cathy described her Aunt Ellie’s boiled custard and coconut cake, the Barbie Dream House she received as a child, a Kleenex wrapped box of dusting powder from a student long ago, and her son’s happiness one Christmas at getting a complete cowboy outfit.

Condensing Christmas down to one hour has left me knowing some things for sure: I would not include cleaning house or “falling apart” when the clear tape is gone.

There would be no time to get stuck in traffic or hunt for a parking place at the mall. My hour would not include looking for a present for someone that I barely know, or worrying over when I will have time to bake cookies for neighbors. There would just be just 60 minutes and no time to waste on something that was not precious, or delicious, or worth keeping.

It made me think about the question and what’s important to me.  I love that phrase that determines what’s important – “no time to waste on something that was not precious, or delicious, or worth keeping.”  What would YOU do if you had to condense Christmas to just one hour?

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Thursday Thirteen – (My 39th Edition) My 13 Favorite Christmas Customs

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

My Thirteen Favorite Christmas Customs

1. Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.

2. Singing Christmas carols in church with piano accompaniment. Christmas carols are some of the most beautiful music ever!

3. Decorating the Christmas tree with our special ornaments. Almost every single ornament has some special significance to me.

4. Sending and receiving Christmas cards – although I have to admit I don’t send cards every year and most certainly won’t send them this year.

5. Decorating the house – I love Christmas decorations.

6. Drawing names on my side of the family – We have over 50 members in my family. So drawing names is the only sensible ways to handle gift-giving.

7. Buying gifts for my family. I love trying to pick out just the right thing for each person.

8. When I was a child – a small bottle of Welch’s grape juice in my stocking each Christmas. They don’t make those little bottles anymore, though.

9. Driving around a couple nights before Christmas and looking at all the decorations.

10. Buying gifts for family and some “angels”.

11. Christmas dinner – turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato souffle, pecan pie.

12. Sitting in front of a warm fire with R.T.

13. Advent Wreath & Devotions.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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All Things Christmas: Drawing Names for Gifts, Shopping for the Person who has Everything, Decorating the House, Goody Swap Day

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Just a random post of Christmas topics:

It’s December.  Christmas is three weeks away.  Today I stopped by Target on the way home from work and bought two wreaths and two wreath hangers – one for the front door and one for the back. I came home, put them up, and VOILA!  I’ve decorated for Christmas!  Yesterday RT and I bought a Christmas tree.  It is still outside, leaning against the porch.  It’ll likely be next week before we decorate it.  We have a busy week.  I rarely go out of town for school, but tomorrow I will be going to Memphis for a workshop and will be out of town overnight.  RT goes to Michigan for a couple days this week, too.  Then this weekend we have a family wedding in Georgia.  With that kind of schedule, if we decorate the Christmas tree by next week, we’ll be doing really well.  But, hey!  There are wreaths on the doors.

RT and I stopped by my storage room yesterday to see if my boxes of Christmas decorations and wrapping paper were reach-able.  We could see them behind and beyond some other stuff.  Big, unwieldy stuff.  They were reach-able – but only with a lot of effort.  We decided the effort was too much.  We looked – and then we left it all in the storage room.  We’ll use it all next Christmas.  RT has a few things – some stockings and tree ornaments – at his house.

We draw names in my family since there are about 50 of us altogether.  Some people in the family joke about getting “bad” names.  Basically, “bad” names are adult males who don’t need anything and who can buy for themselves anything they really want.  I don’t consider them “bad” names to draw because I figure a gift certificate to Best Buys or Circuit City, and the shopping is done for any male over twelve.  It’s tempting to buy a shirt or cologne or sweater – but DON’T!  Guys tend to hate that stuff.

I don’t like shopping in crowds – especially if I’m under pressure to find a gift for a particular person.  It seems lame to look at stuff and wonder if it might possibly be something that so-and-so might like.  However, it’s December so there’s not much choice about getting out in the crowds.  I could shop via the internet, but one must do that early, and it’s only 3 weeks till Christmas.  So except for a few things,  I’ll do my Christmas shopping in local stores in the evenings after work starting next week.  Actually I’ve found that Tuesday or Wednesday evenings are pretty good times to shop in the weeks before Christmas.  The crowds aren’t too bad then. 

I’ve already got some of my gifts.  If I could just find two Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital cameras, I’d have the grandgirls taken care of.  I must get two different colors so they can tell them apart.  And what is with stores selling out of stuff so early?  Didn’t they know Christmas was coming and they’d need more merchandise in stock?  Cameras that sell for about $50 in the stores are being sold for $100 and up on eBay.  I’d give an IOU for after Christmas before I’d pay such jacked-up prices.  The grandgirls DO enjoy taking pictures, though.  I keep checking at Target whenever I can to see if they’ve gotten a shipment in. 

We’re going “minimalist” this year – minimum decorations, no overboard gift-giving, no stressing out about anything.  We’ve warned the kids not to expect any excess.  We love them and they’ll get a nice gift – with the emphasis on “a”.  And they’re thrilled with that.  I think we’ve felt compelled to spend too much in the past when excess wasn’t wanted or expected.  We’ll just relax and enjoy the holidays.  RT has got a stack of firewood from our land – this cold weather makes for great fires in the fireplace.  We’ll take walks and enjoy life, each other, the kids and grandgirls. 

At school Wednesday we’re having our annual “Goody Swap.”  That’s the day I’ll be in Memphis.  I’m thinking of all the calories I WON’T consume since I won’t be at school with all that food tempting me all day.   

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