Sunday, December 22, 2013

And On the Seventh Day...

...supposedly you rest. Not so much. The good news is that the guitar strings are mostly settling in - a lot quicker than I thought. Tomorrow, it'll be another "let's play as much as we can" kind of day and we'll make sure all is well for Tuesday night. My hands are a bit sore. I've over-baked, over-knitted and over-played. 

Today, though, the other alto at church had a problem; she almost fainted in the choir room. Luckily, one of our sopranos is a doctor, and she was able to help. She also told me how to help her in case it happens in church. I kind of knew, but I also knew this gal had some other issues. I was a little concerned that she would hit the floor. 

So I was the only alto. And we sang a 4-part song. Urgh. I was hoarse. I have the Proclamation to do for Tuesday night, which should be fine. The gal was very upset, which she shouldn't have been. Stuff happens. I just hope she's ok for Christmas. But I've been the only alto before. 

Not bad for a soprano...

Oh, and the amp worked. So it was either the battery or the cable. Or both. And since the guitar has a new battery in there and I'm using the cable the boys bought me last Christmas, I'm not sure which it is. And I don't care. As long as it works. We have to be at the church at 10 p.m. for an 11 p.m. service. Plus the reception afterwards. Not sure how long I'll be staying. 

Came home; drank lots and lots of tea and tried to keep my mouth shut. That didn't work as well as I would have liked...but more on that later.
Creamy Potato Soup

Kid #2 couldn't stand it: he had to bake ONE MORE BATCH of cookies. A modified version of my M&M cookies. Not the big monsters we made earlier. These are more traditional, flatter and more crunchy. We now have Cookie-palooza. And we're done. 

Got the neighbor's box of breads to him: pineapple/banana; carrot/poppy seed; chocolate/banana. 

The choir got their cookies. I sold a potica. I put together the tray for my eye doctor. Whew. All I have left is to make a small plate each  for 2 of my girlfriends, a tray for my mom's house and a plate for the open house. Kid #2 has his that he wants to give, and then we're finished. Done. Amen. 

I've done soup two nights in a row. Also pulled chicken BBQ style. Tonight's soup was creamy potato with bacon.  Recipe follows here. Yesterday I did Ham & Barley. It's been soup-kind-of-days.  We went from "slop to snow" this morning, but only enough snow to make a nice mushy ice. I just want a white Christmas, preferably enough to snow us in. 

CREAMY POTATO SOUP  (serves 6 - 8)

5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled                           5 c. water                   
1/2 c. leeks, diced
Fresh ground pepper                                          5 strips bacon, crumbly
1/2 c. sliced carrots                                             4 Knorr vegetarian cubes
1/2 c. half & half                                                   
1 t. each: dried marjoram; sage**
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Cut the potatoes into roughly the same-sized chunks. Put the peeled potatoes in the water, with the veggie cubes, in large pan. Set to boil. Cook bacon till crumbly and set aside, reserving bacon grease in the pan. When the potatoes are not quite fork-tender, add the carrots and keep cooking. Add the leeks to the bacon grease in the pan and cook till translucent, not browned. Drain and set aside. 

Add spices to the potatoes, and then add the leeks. Whiz this with a stick blender or in your traditional blender (watch - it's hot and blenders get pressure built up with hot liquids!). Make it as smooth or chunky as you'd like. Add the half & half and stir it together.

Crumble the bacon. Toss it in the pan. Serve in bowls or mugs with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

**Play with the spices. You can do herbs de Provence or Old Bay Seasoning, or whatever you'd like. 
 ---You can substitute onions or shallots for the leeks. 
---This freezes well, but don't freeze with the cheese. 

So that's what we had for supper, and you could also have added some cornbread or pretzel rolls. I didn't add salt because I thought the bacon would be enough. I did, however, add a couple of drops of hot sauce. 

Leftovers for tomorrow night. I'm teaching yoga, so I'm not eating much before then anyway. 

Looking sweater-ish

It's beginning to look a lot like a sweater... I am almost sure that I'll only get 2 buttons on the yoke. Which is fine. I could lengthen it, but remember, when you go over the bust with a button? Not usually a good look, especially if you have a bust.

I'm already on the second ball, so I'm kind of glad I've got 19 of them. 

For Christmas Eve, I'm bringing the Before and After Scarf to work on. I need to just meditate to get through this (more on that later) and I think knitting is a good thing for me to do. It'll keep me from over-eating and hopefully help me keep my mouth shut. 

That could be a good thing...

The Bears...

Are losing. My mother is happy, because somehow, she's a Packers fan. If they lose, it's not the end of the world. They can clinch the playoffs if they win. If they don't, then the game against the Packers will likely decide. 

I'm not really a football fan. And I live in a town where high school football is the be-all and end-all of weekends. Even after  -- long after -- people have graduated, the stands are packed with alumni who are still enthralled. 

Not me, so much. My mom has loved football since high school, but I didn't get that gene. 

As you can see, Quinn isn't happy about the Bears either. Or perhaps she's not happy that I'm pointing my phone at her. You decide.

Tippi's hiding out in the back of the house. 

They're jealous of their other elkhound friends who live in real "snow country." We will not see that kind of snow, unfortunately. 

Family Drama...

Ayyyyyyyyyy. As you all remember, my youngest brother died this summer. And as you all remember, the drama was off the charts. 

It still is. It abated a bit. I'm almost done with the estate; we're just waiting on the time to file the Federal and State taxes. I have to get a list of claimants and see how the IRS lien is coming out. The attorney is trying to get it waived. I'm just hoping that I get my money back and the funeral bill gets paid. 

So his kid has a "baby-mama." Though his maternal grandparents don't believe it's really HIS kid. He's also been told by his mother that, when he reaches age 25, he will magically be "cured" of his schizophrenia and bipolar disease. 

Which is crap, because anyone with brain cells and the ability to research will tell you that it gets WORSE at age 25, unless you've been diligent at managing it. And even then, it'll still get worse.

And he hasn't been managing it. 

So, my mother usually has Christmas Eve. This will be just as bad as Thanksgiving, though we got through that with a minimum of drama. The kid called my mom and asked if he could come for Christmas Eve. She said yes, as long as he behaved, and told him up front that if he wasn't on his meds, or he tried to start something, he'd be out on his butt on the sidewalk before he realized it. 

Well, he texted my brother D and told him that he was bringing baby-mama and the holy child... My brother called me. I called my sister. She told my mom - which I was going to do if nobody else wanted to. You would have to tell someone something like that. You can't just show up. 

My sister, the soft-hearted one, said, "Well, maybe he's thinking that it'll make grandma happy if there's another baby around." She also said that if he had them there, he'd be so involved with them that we wouldn't have to entertain him. 

I told her she was nuts. He is the center of his universe and we should all revolve around him. He'd be shoving the baby and the girl in our faces and demanding that we just all go along as if we're the Waltons (the TV ones, not the WalMart ones). We've been walking on eggshells with this kid and frankly, I'm done. 

My mother hit the ceiling. I mean, had a hissy fit of fairly monumental proportions. She called him and told him absolutely, positively, "they are not invited." Perhaps that sounds cold, but honestly, for once, she and I agreed. He wants to be a "big man" and he wants to shove his things into our faces and force us to accept him and whatever, or whoever, he brings along. 

Sorry, but someone has to pull his chain a bit. My mother told him that they are not invited for a couple of reasons. She doesn't like that he lied about it when he didn't tell her from the get-go. Also, his mom said that it would set a bad example for her. She's (my mom, I mean) old-fashioned in that regard. And she also knows that what I've said all along is more right than she thought at first. The kid wants to manipulate us. Kid #2 called him a "psychic vampire" and my mom's therapist also told  her, "You really need to cut him out of your life, because he will use you and suck you dry emotionally." 

She was willing to give him another chance, but like me - she's not tolerant of liars and manipulators. 

So I'm not sure if this kid will show up without his girlfriend. And if he doesn't, I'm just fine with that. My mother is scared of him anyway, and frankly, that's not fair for her. He knows where she lives, he's got a record of domestic violence and a history of not staying on his meds. She doesn't need that. Even if she's wanting to try to be a grandma to this kid, who is my deceased brother's son...she told me today that she just can't do it anymore. She's drained. 

And it's not fair to the rest of the family. Honestly, if I was my nephew & wife, I'd be telling grandma that "we think it's easier if we stay home" because they've got the 3 small kids. Who wants their kids exposed to someone's melt-down, especially when, as usually happens, he melts down with a weapon or his fists. I'm kind of tired of having holidays with my stomach in my throat waiting to see what this kid is going to pull, and what the damage will be. So far, honestly, he only challenged Kid #2, which was a stupid thing to do. Kid #2 is a teacher; he won't engage. 

Lord knows it'll only get worse from here. I try to not "discard" any human being. But I'm not raising someone else's kid because his own mother is "tired of his shenanigans." Well -- that would still be YOUR problem, not ours. She kept him from our family (not that that would've made any difference, in view of his mental issues) for YEARS because we "were not stable." 

Ha. That's all I have to say. Just. Ha. 

Christmas Eve Menu...

Will be finger-food. We had done the big dinner for years. A few years ago, we did a "munchies" thing and it went over quite nicely. My brother has to go to his in-laws. My sister isn't going anywhere, but her husband is spending the evening with his daughter (it's a tradition). I'm going to Midnight Mass. 

It's easier to do a "munchie" meal because we can also manage our eating, I hope! So we'll have cocktail meatballs, salsa & chips, veggie tray & dip, artichoke dip, mini ham sandwiches, spanakopita, and a layered taco salad. I'm bringing a cookie tray. 

We'll have our annual "Wrapping Paper Wars" which is a tradition started by my SIL. You unwrap your present and then ball up your wrapping paper, and toss it at someone. Well, PELT someone. Extra points if it bounces off someone and hits someone else. 

The great-grandson will be helping pass out the presents. I'm going to try to videotape some of the pelting, just so we have it on record. Hey, it'll make it into next year's Christmas website, right? 

A friend of mine is having a cool open house the weekend after Christmas. She's calling it "The Christmas Leftover Open House." I'll bring cookies... 

Random Picture...

Granny's Pans
These are the long potica pans I have from my granny. They're fairly lightweight and they've got a great patina on them. They make gorgeous potica. There's one that's just a tad ratty (it's at the bottom of the stack), so my mission after the holidays is to not only find a 100% cotton damask cloth (and they apparently cost an arm and a leg - I started searching), but also to find at least two more of this sized pan. I have 5 of them, and with the slightly ratty one on its way out of use, I'd actually like to have 6 of them. 

One batch of our recipe makes 3. So this would enable me to do a double batch, plus, as Kid #2 says, "Have some cut ends" - which is my favorite part: you cut off the ends and place them in a separate pan to make little "sweet roll" bites. 

Kid #2 gave Kid #1 a bit of a razzing because when Kid #1 cut the potica, he "cut to fit" instead of "cut to squish." I'm not talking a BIG squish; just you cut them a tad larger so that you can tuck the ends in. 

It's all technique. 

They'll learn. 

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