Regarding The Holiday Season: Cluttering, Muttering, & Buttering

CLUTTERING:  Here’s a true confession.  While I’m too frugal to ever overdo Christmas decorations around Chez Bean, I do, deep down, consider all of them, ours and yours, to be a sophisticated form of clutter.

I mean, we just get a room decorated in a pleasing and soothing way, then *WHAM* there I am putting red and green stuff, willy-nilly, around a beautifully color-coordinated room that is not visually enhanced by said stuff.

Is that not the very definition of clutter? Hmmm…?

~ 🎄 🎄 🎄 ~

MUTTERING:  I realize that sending holiday cards is no longer the done thing.  Most of the cards that we get are from companies we do business with.  Only a few friends and family still exchange cards with us.

I like cards, I like newsletters, and I appreciate receiving them.  But… [and this is the muttering part]… if you send a Christmas | Hanukkah | New Years card that is a photo of your family, then please include the names of the people on the card.

Kids grow.  Kids marry.  Kids have kids.  And I’ll be doggone if I can figure out who is who on these multi-generational family photo cards.  I need a cheat sheet to identify your progeny.

Please include one. For me. 

~ 🎄 🎄 🎄 ~

BUTTERING:  I’m not all that enamored of butter.  It has nothing to do with how healthy it is.  No, it’s a taste issue.  I eat it, but not often and always in small dabs.

So you can imagine how oddly difficult it is for me to become excited about Christmas cookies, that are everywhere this time of year.  Cookies that seem to me to be 98% butter– with some flour and sugar thrown in for the fun of it.

My point here is that if I don’t eat any of your homemade cookies made from Great Aunt Maude Winifred’s heirloom recipe that’s been in your family since Great Uncle Jeremiah “Pappy” Alexander decided that the family should move to the New World, I’m not dissing you or Great Aunt Maude Winifred– or Great Uncle Jeremiah “Pappy” Alexander’s decision to emigrate here.

No, I just don’t like butter. Ok?

In Which Ms. Bean Finds A Recipe & Makes It Her Way

Saw the recipe. Thought it sounded good.

Made the recipe using ingredients I had on hand.  Ingredients that were close enough to those listed in the recipe.

Similar.

Didn’t have apple cider, so used pomegranate juice instead.  Most of a small bottle.

Didn’t have the specific aromatic spices required so substituted Penzey’s mulling spices.  Put about a teaspoon of them in a tea ball, so I wouldn’t have to strain the mess through cheesecloth later.

Lazy, but thinking ahead.

Didn’t have a clementine in the house.  Contemplated using a grapefruit, that was in the house, but decided that the tanginess of the pomegranate juice would not be improved with grapefruit zest in this recipe.

Also, I’m a messy zester, thus it came to be that no citrus was added.

Didn’t have any fresh ginger, so used crystallized ginger.  Two pieces.

Didn’t have the requisite amount of castor sugar, so used the end of the cane sugar in the bottom of the sugar bowl.  About three tablespoons.

Probably.

Put tea ball with spices into juice in a saucepan.  Brought the mess to a boil, allowing it to simmer on the stove top for a while.  Took out tea ball, added sugar.  Mixed mess around until sugar dissolved, then let sweetened mess simmer on very low heat until it thickened into a syrup.

The result?

Delicious, drizzled on fresh fruit salad. Or added, a splash at time, to a glass of red wine.

The recipe?

Vaguely adhered to.

The friend’s response?

Shock + dismay that I didn’t follow the recipe as written, but a request for the recipe exactly as I made it.

As if I have any idea… 🙄

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you follow recipes precisely as written OR do you wing it as you go along?

And how does that work out for you?

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Be The Light: Of Queenly Diets & Quiet Delights

INTRODUCTION

As you may remember, starting last March I joined a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive stories in the news, presenting these stories on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of November, I’ve a story to share with you, my gentle readers & fellow #WATWB participants.

• • 👑 • •

THE NEWS STORY

Emily DiNuzzo, a reporter for Business Insider, decided to follow Queen Elizabeth II’s diet that was first reported by Today last August.

DiNuzzo’s experiences, documented in I ate like Queen Elizabeth II for a day — and learned how to appreciate the simple things in life, show that the Queen eats a balanced, basic diet but doesn’t forego a few treats throughout her day, like pre-breakfast biscuits or a post-dinner glass of champagne.

• • 👑 • •

MY COMMENTARY

Overlooking that what Emily did might not be a news story that dramatically changes the world, I found her joy while “researching” this story to be quietly delightful.

[And funny.  I’m with Emily on no gin + Dubonnet aperitif before lunch.  Even with Emily’s addition of simple syrup in it.]

Plus, dare I say that I found this story encouraging?

I know that not everyone thinks the monarchy is great, but considering that this past Monday Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, you have to admit that in a world where moral and mental health questions surround many leaders, the Queen is doing a number of things right.

Healthy body.

Sound mind.

Solid relationships.

Sure, Emily didn’t uncover the latest scandal or find the drama in Elizabeth II’s daily life, but she did give us an insight into what helps make someone in power, the longest-reigning English monarch ever, stay balanced.

And there’s positivity in that.

• • 👑 • •

The Making Of A Turkey Day Outlier

I’m not a big fan of the traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner.

It might be that because as a child we usually had steaks for Thanksgiving dinner. 

My father hated poultry.

My mother happily agreed to this break from tradition, knowing that roasting a turkey + making all the trimmings was WORK– while grilling steaks, making a salad, and mashing potatoes was about as EZPZ as a holiday meal could get.

Also, we never, ever had pumpkin pie.

My mother despised it so she usually made a lemon meringue pie.

That was her favorite pie.

And me, little Ally Bean?  I liked whatever the grown-ups decided to give me, so whatever Thanksgiving meal showed up was [and is] cool by me.

In fact, if you’re all about a traditional turkey-centric, carbohydrate-ful  Thanksgiving dinner every year, then enjoy.

But if you’re a little more loosey-goosey [so to speak] about what you have for Thanksgiving dinner, then you might be, like me, a Turkey Day Outlier.

Care to ‘fess up about your preferred Thanksgiving Day dinner in the comments below?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

It’s Halloween, Betwixt And Between, If You Know What I Mean

How in the world could it be the last day of October already?

Like witches, time flies, eh?

It’s been a busy weird month here at Chez Bean, but we did manage to turn three basic pumpkins into festive Jack-o-Lanterns, one of which is featured below.

And I have plenty of candy* + plastic bloody eyeballs on hand for tonight’s trick-or-treaters**.

So all is well here as I wait… wait… wait… for darkness to fall, when little ghosts and goblins at the front door will call.

Happy Halloween!

* I usually hand out Snickers, but [get this] yesterday when I went to buy Snickers at Kroger it was sold out, so I opted for Twix & Skittles & Starburst.

** We get anywhere from 125 to 225 kids here.  The number fluctuates depending on Halloween Day weather and the day of the week.

Share Your World | Hell’s Bells Nut Shells

Walnut shells on the garden bench left by industrious [hungry?] squirrels.

 What do you consider is the most perfect food for you? (It can be your favorite food to something extremely healthy.)

APPLES: Natural. Sweet. Healthy. Portable. Alkaline. Reasonably priced. Easy to sauce. Nice to crisp. Wonderful to pie. Tasty to cider. Pretty to look at.

 Are you focused on today or tomorrow?

I’m usually focused on both.  They are, after all, connected to each other in ways unbroken.  Like the flow of the eternity symbol [figure eight on its side] my mind glides effortlessly from today to tomorrow, and then back again to today.  I’m mindful of now, but with a sense of perspective about later.

• If you could interview one of your great-great-great grandparents, who would it be (if you know their name) and what would you ask?

The only great-great-great grandparent that I know of is the man who immigrated from Scotland to America.  He was, supposedly, from a well-off nobleman’s family [weren’t they all?], but being a minor son with no title to inherit, he decided to come here to make his fortune.

If I could talk with him I’d ask him: why did he came here? what did he do for a living when he got here? and how did this life differ from the one he left?

• What inspired you this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

Here’s what inspired me last week: did you know that a rainbow can happen even if it’s not raining where you are?

I didn’t, nor did Zen-Den.

On Thursday night he drove home from where he works downtown, and noticed, as he drove along, that a rainbow in the sky seemed to end at our house.

When he got home, he walked inside the house and asked me when it’d rained.  I told him that it hadn’t rained here.

He said that it hadn’t rained on his drive home either… BUT there was a rainbow in the sky out front of our house now.

Of course, we both went running out the front door to see this rainbow– and by golly there it was.  Large and bright and colorful.

Now how amazing is that?

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Catch up with everyone else who is answering Cee’s Share Your World Questions this week by clicking HERE.

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Here Are My 3 “Sorry / Not Sorry” Opinions 

INTRODUCTION

One of my favorite podcasts is Sorta Awesome.

It’s a weekly talk show in which at least two of the four co-hosts, who live in different parts of the USA, talk politely + intelligently about awesome things that they like.  Things like: books, TV, family, relationships, travel, health, beauty, self-awareness, personalities, social media, blogs.

The episode that hooked me in this time was Episode #110 in which all four women shared their 3 “sorry / not sorry” [potentially unpopular] opinions.  This was a conversation [with a digression into raw chicken that was priceless] that at times had me laughing so hard I feared that I’d pee my pants.

But I didn’t. 

Grateful for what didn’t happen, and upon reflection, I decided that this Sorta Awesome “sorry / not sorry” topic would make for an interesting blog post.  So without further ado, I give you the following…

MY 3 “SORRY / NOT SORRY” OPINIONS

#1

I question the smarts of people who place flags in such a way as to have the flag pointing back toward the house, instead of having the flag point forward.  It’s all about history and common sense, kids.

Flags are the colors + symbol that you follow as you’re going into battle: they show you the way.  Therefore, you don’t point the flag back at yourself, because you might impale yourself on it as you move forward.  That would make no sense.

So for the love of all that is good, fly the flag properly. Please.

#2

I do not believe that curly/frizzy hair is a sign of improper grooming.  Here’s a news flash: God gave some people curly/frizzy hair and it’s okay to let it be curly/frizzy.

Not everyone has stick straight hair [natural or forced] like the Kardashians or Melania Trump.  No, some people, like me, have curly/frizzy hair that we keep clean, professionally cut– and wear in a style that is *gasp* natural.

Yep, that’s the truth. Deal with it.

#3

I refuse to pretend that mochi balls are a tasty treat.  I don’t care how deliciously on trend you think they are, how calorically perfect you think they are, how cleverly Japanese you think they are… I don’t like ’em.

They taste awful to me and have a miserable texture.  But that is, of course, because I don’t like to eat blobs of fruity-tea-flavored melting ice cream wrapped in color-coordinated Play-Doh.

In a word, I’d describe mochi balls as: bleech.

CONCLUSION

You may or may not agree with what I’ve written above.  It matters not to me, which is the whole point of this exercise in honesty.

I figure that by sharing, what I’d describe as rather benign, opinions on a variety of topics, I’ve opened up the blog comments to all of you, my gentle readers, to do the same.

Blogger see. Blogger do.

So… tell me a few of your “sorry / not sorry” opinions.  I’d love to know.