Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Turkey Day Wrap-Up

First, a BIG thank you to everyone who sent good wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving holiday on our recent post. Grenville and I read and very much appreciated all your comments. And, we hope that those of you who celebrated had a wonderful time, no matter where or how you celebrated.

We had a wonderful and hectic holiday with family in our native NJ. The total guest count was 13 in people and 4 in canines. All the dogs belong to my brother and his wife, so there were no 4-legged guests.

Our NJ trip was a 3-day quick trip We left NH on Tuesday afternoon and (a long) 6+ hours later arrived at our NJ hotel. Even though we traveled 2 days before the holiday, there were significant (but not unexpected) backups in the late afternoon/evening traffic, especially driving through CT. Thankfully, we only saw one minor accident.
A very fun activity that preceded dinner when everyone received a turkey-themed headband or hat to wear. Grenville (Pat) had a turkey cap; my headgear was a drumstick. 
The host, my brother had the honor (?) of wearing the head turkey hat. We had a great time laughing and everyone was in a happy mood even before the wine was served.

Our NJ stay was very short this time. We returned to Nashua, NH on Friday in time for the city's yearly Holiday Stroll held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The weather cooperated with temps in the 40s and no rain, snow or wind to dampen the spirits of the estimated 25,000 celebrants, including us. Details and photos to follow.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Turkey Day

Wishing Everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Day, except for this fellow. 
As we're traveling for the holiday, this fellow is an early Friday Funny.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, Everyone. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thankful Holiday

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November and observed in all 50 states. 

The holiday originally was founded as a religious observance for community members to give thanks to God for a common purpose. Many years later it's the precursor to "Black Friday" sales (many of which have already started).

Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated as a federal holiday annually since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln designated a national day of thanksgiving and praise. It was to be observed on the last Thursday in November. The specific weekday seems to have been the "traditional" celebration day and was solidified by Lincoln's proclamation.

In 1941, Congress approved changing the holiday celebration to the fourth Thursday in November. The change had been recommended in 1939 by President Franklin Roosevelt who felt it would help bolster retail sales during one of the final years of the Great Depression. The proposed change  led to some protests as some derided the holiday as Franksgiving from 1939-1941.

Roosevelt was concerned concerned that a shorter holiday shopping season could dampen the economic recovery when there were five Thursdays in November (like this year).

It's been reported that more people in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving than they do Christmas. As to why — perhaps, it's because it's a secular rather than a religious celebration.

So why is turkey the favorite Thanksgiving main course ?

Most likely, in 1621, the Pilgrims of Plymouth didn't include turkey on what's widely considered the First Thanksgiving  While there were wild turkeys in the area, the best existing account of the Pilgrims' harvest feast comes from colonist Edward Winslow's writings of the feast with no mention of turkey. Winslow did cite that "wild fowl" were gathered for the meal, although these could have been ducks or geese.

Colonist William Bradford noted in journals reprinted in 1856 that colonists had hunted wild turkeys during the autumn of 1621. Since these are native to North America, it gained popularity with Americans as the holiday's bird of choice after Lincoln's declaration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Classic Thanksgiving dinners include a variety of side dishes and desserts. Many of these have been modified over the years; some are not even included at some tables.

Stuffing (or dressing) is usually a mix of bread cubes, chopped celery, carrots, onions and sage stuffed inside the turkey for roasting. Chestnuts, chopped bacon or sausage, and raisins or apples are sometimes included too.

There's been some debate on the term. Some argue that if it's cooked inside the turkey, it's stuffing. Others say when prepared outside, it's dressing. South of the Mason-Dixon line, cooks call it dressing, no matter how it's prepared, because "stuffing" is an unpleasant word. Northern states and New Englanders usually call it "stuffing" with no distinction as to whether it's done in or out of the turkey.

Side dishes are often regional favorites. In the South, Thanksgiving isn't complete without corn pudding and bacon-infused Brussels sprouts or other greens. Midwesterners love green bean casserole (so do we). A New England table isn't complete without Parker House rolls. But beyond the regional divide, some folks can pile their plate with candied yams and glazed carrots, while the person next to them would prefer mac and cheese.

Dessert usually includes pumpkin pie as the most common, followed closely by pecan, apple, sweet potato and mincemeat pies.

Our holiday will include many of these foods, but we won't be cooking any of them. We're traveling to our native NJ and spending the holiday with family. We're providing another accompaniment — the wine.

We're thankful for many things.

Grenville & I wish everyone Everyone a happy gathering with family/friends or both.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Funnies

Does this fellow have Time on his hands?

Yes, it's a really bad awful pun, I know (but used it anyway). Feel free to think of others.
The workman was repairing clock numbers on one of the two towers at Clocktower Place. This former textile manufacturing mill is in Nashua, NH and its where we now live.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nashua, NH Celebrated Veterans Day

Last Saturday was Veterans Day and the City of Nashua, NH held its annual Veterans Day parade which, although sparsely attended, was a wonderful tribute. Various school marching bands and civic organizations participated in the parade on Main St.
This date is an official U.S. public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
In 1918, the hostilities of WW I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The U.S. previously observed this date as Armistice Day. In 1954, it was renamed to Veterans Day.

It coincides with holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other countries to mark the anniversary of the end of WW I.
Memorial Day celebrated in May honors those who died while in military service. Armed Forces Day, also occurs in May, and honors those currently serving in the U.S. military. Every parade we've attended has always ended with emergency response vehicles.
Although the weather last weekend was windy and cold, we proudly celebrated. Grenville is a U.S. Navy veteran.
Where there observances/celebrations in your city/town as well?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If the Lid Fits (It Didn't)

This is a post about 2 lids and an older kitchen appliance.

Once upon a time, actually in September, I wrote how after cracking the lid of a small KitchenAid food chopper, a replacement lid was located and ordered from Appliance Parts Pro, an online parts supplier. (This kitchen appliance I've owned for over 15 years was obsolete per KitchenAid.) 

(But, KitchenAid does have a newer redesigned food chopper. I ordered and returned it within a day. It wasn't as sturdy as the original and I didn't like the redesign. This photo shows both units.)

Replacement lid ordered, end of story, you might think. No, it wasn't.
The description for the replacement part said it fit a KFC3100WH model, same as the number on my older unit.

It arrived and the lid didn't fit the bowl (photo shows "new" lid top; "older" one bottom). Called Appliance Parts Pro, explained problem and was issued a FULL refund, including shipping. As for the lid, the customer rep said "hold onto it for 30 days, if no return is requested, do whatever you want with it." (Bottom line, getting something even for "free" isn't always helpful.)

After the experience of ordering then returning the newer KitchenAid chopper hadn't worked out, I decided to look on eBay and searched for the lid only (once again).

WOW ! there were several "lid only" auctions. I contacted a "buy-it-now" seller who offered a money back guarantee if it didn't work. No problem, and I figured it would work after she said the model number was KFC31200WH.

Lid came and it didn't fit and looked like the Appliance Parts lid that also didn't work.

Once again, contacted seller and returned lid.

No, didn't give up and
 checked eBay auctions selling the entire unit with lid and bowl.

Found one. The seller said the unit worked perfectly, only "issue" was an upside
down nameplate. Placed a bid and won and total cost (with shipping) was under $15. Unit arrived fine, looked as described, done deal (finally).

Curious, I wondered if the lid and bowl from this unit would fit my older unit. Not only did it not fit, but looked same as 2 lids bought earlier that also didn't fit.

Found out why when I looked at the eBay purchased model and saw the model number — KFC3100WH2

Problem solved, manufacturer's fault. KitchenAid had updated/improved this model during the product's lifespan, adding the 2; sellers didn't distinguish between models KFC3100WH and KFC3100WH2.

Not only does the eBay purchase work, I also have a spare lid courtesy of Appliance Parts Pro because it fits too.

Wondering what happened to the older unit that started this chain of events?
It's still working. I glued the cracked part, used it, and it's holding up.
Lessons learned?
Just because something is described as a match, doesn't mean it will work.
Now, it looks like I'll be using these appliances for another 15+ years.

How about you — any appliance stories headaches of your own?

Monday, November 13, 2017

if You Can't Find It

At The Vermont Country Store in Weston, VT, then maybe you don't need it.
We'd heard about this store which refers to itself as the "Original General Store." The main store is located in Weston, VT, about an hour from where we recently stayed in Killington, VT. This is Weston's main thoroughfare, The Vermont Country Store is on the right. The store is America’s first restored and fully operational country store and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Don't worry about being hungry when you get there. The rear of the store features a wide variety of foods to sample from including crackers, dips, cheeses and candies. We noticed that the samples would be refilled by store personnel when they began to run low.
The Vermont Country Store remains a family-owned and operated business that dates back over 100 years and it's still operated by the Orton family. The store's extensive inventory includes "old-time" favorites and classic products. There's an entire section devoted to sweet treats. Do you remember some of these candies?

The original general store and catalog business was built on the premise that merchandise sold must be durable and above all practical, a tradition it still maintains. According to the posted Customer Bill of Rights, customer satisfaction is top priority. Every item is backed by a no-hassle 100% guarantee. Forever.

Our late October visit was just in time to see this extensive displays of Christmas-themed items including vintage-themed candles, lights and figurines.

The toy section included new toys modeled after earlier vintage ones including Rock-Em, Sock-Em Robots, Magic 8-Ball and Pick-Up sticks. (Do you remember how adults liked played with Rock-Em, Sock-Em Robots in the Santa Clause film?)

Not only did was there a country sink, but also a vintage washing machine and many related house wares. I recall that my mother used a laundry sprinkler top to dampen clothes before ironing them.

In 1897, Gardner Lyman Orton opened a general store with his father-in-law Melvin Teachout in Calais, VT. Gardner's son, Vrest, was born that year. The Teachout-Orton general store was the model for The Vermont Country Store.
Syrup display at the Vermont Country Store

Vrest served in WWI, attended Harvard and worked in NYC before returning to Vermont in 1930 and settling in the village of Weston. He married Mildred Ellen Wilcox in 1936, and founded a book publishing company, The Countryman Press
Vrest and Mildred Ellen Orton

In the fall of 1945, the Ortons started a mail-order business through The Voice of the Mountains catalog. The 12-page, 36-item catalog was produced on a printing press in their garage and mailed to 12,000 people at Christmas. A frugal Yankee, Orton insisted that items must be “useful, work and make sense.” Based on the catalog's success, the Ortons purchased a 1927 former country inn and opened The Vermont Country Store in Weston, VT in 1946. 

As its catalog mailing list grew, the store gained national attention with the publication of a 1952 article in the Saturday Evening Post magazine, "The Happy Shopkeeper of the Green Mountains." The magazine was one of the most widely-read publications in America with a readership of several million people. 

The feature article gave the store exposure to a national audience. People all over the country wanted to visit the store. That tradition continues today when in summer and fall months, the parking area is filled with busloads of tourist groups. Thankfully, our visit was in the "off" season after summer and leaf pepping had ended and before ski season starts and we didn't have any crowds in the store.

Thankfully, our visit was in the "off" season after summer and leaf pepping had ended and before ski season starts and we didn't have any crowds in the store. 
Yes, we looked at everything and yet managed to leave without buying anything more than some fudge. The selection is extensive, and most prices seemed to be higher than in other places we've visited.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Funnies

If this is the result of a yoga workout . . .

Then, maybe I'll skip it
Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
BIG Thanks to all Veterans, including Grenville (USN)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Good Reads

photo by Candace Freeland
It's been awhile since I've posted about a good read, but after completing the latest work by author Jan Karon, I wanted to share why her Mitford novels have been so enjoyable to me. Maybe, you might be interested in reading some of her books too. 

Admittedly, I've read several "series' books, including Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, followed by her Cormoran Strike novels written under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. I've also read books by authors James Patterson and Donna Leon. Galbraith (aka Rowling) and Patterson's books generally include a few gruesome murders and focus on detection and crime solving. While considered mystery novels, Leon's novels focus on a crime-solving police inspector in Venice, Italy. So, at least, the setting is lovely.

Karon's Mitford series is different as are no killings to solve and little violence. The novels are Christian-themed centering on an Episcopal rector, Father Tim Kavanagh, and set in the fictional town of Mitford, NC. A lot of things happen to bachelor Fr. Tim late in life including his his adoption of an abused mountain boy, Dooley, and his marriage to Cynthia, a children's book author and artist.

Karon's novel writing career happened later in life following a successful advertising career that included numerous awards and being named an assistant VP.

Now 80 years old, she began at age 50 to fulfill a lifelong dream. After leaving her career, she relocated to her home state of NC, settling in Blowing Rock. In 1989, just as Charles Dickens had done in England years before, she started writing weekly installments in the local newspaper, The Blowing Rocket. Readers enjoyed learning about Fr. Tim so much that the paper's circulation doubled.

In 1994, those installments were published as the first Mitford novel, At Home in Mitford, and which has since been reprinted over 80 times. The latest novel released in September 2017 is To Be Where You Are.

The novels in the Mitford series span 23 years, which makes it time-consuming to give a complete synopsis of all the characters and events. But, if you're looking for something "new" to read, you might want to check if your local library has these books.

Having read all the previous books in this series, it was a happy surprise to read about this latest one. I don't check a favorite author's websites to find out about upcoming works. But as a long-standing Mitford fan, I happily placed the latest book on reserve in my local library.

Not being the first to read an author's works has its advantages. For example, Grenville and myself read the complete Harry Potter series several years after the last book was published. There was no wait for the next one to be released or to place it on reserve at the library.

Colder weather is coming and always a great time to settle down with a good read. Be forewarned that once you start reading about Mitford. Its cast of characters may soon become like friends or even family members (even if fictional ones).

And, if you're considering giving them a try, here's the Mitford series listed in order of publication. The two books marked with an asterisk (*) while included in the Mitford series are considered part of the Father Tim series which are not centered in Mitford. 

At Home in Mitford (1994)
A Light in the Window (1995)
These High, Green Hills (1995)
Out to Canaan (1997)
A New Song (1999)
A Common Life (2001)
In This Mountain (2002)
Shepherds Abiding (2003)
Light From Heaven (2005)
Home to Holly Springs * (2007) 
In the Company of Others * (2010)
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (2014)
Come Rain or Come Shine (2015)
To Be Where You Are (2017)

YOUR turn — What types of books or series of books do you enjoy reading? 
(Please share as I would really like to know.) 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Funnies

Move along little doggies — How many 🐶 can you count?

She was walking 7 dogs all at once. Even more amazing, all 🐶 were well-behaved.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's Banana Bread Time (Again)

Welcome to November (already). It's the perfect time for me to get back to baking. Fall🍁temperatures finally are getting seasonal here in Nashua, NH and those 70-degree temperatures in October will be just a memory by the end of this week. It will also be darker early as daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday in November, when clocks are moved back an hour. 

Now that Halloween🎃tricks are over, here's a treat to enjoy.

Before posting this recipe, I checked on how many times this blog has included a similar recipe. It was four times (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016) Not sure how I skipped a few years cause we usually have some over-ripe bananas that need to be used quickly. The choices (according to Grenville) are banana bread or banana bread. (You get the idea he likes it.)

Previous recipes from various cookbooks and online had results ranging from great to OK

This one was not only very good, but easy too It's from a cookbook in my collection, The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day. This was a requested birthday gift a few years ago. There's no glossy photos in this book, just a no-frills approach in its nearly 600 pages.

The recipe gave a choice of using either 1 large loaf (9x5x3 in.) or up to 4 smaller ones, depending on the size pan. I opted for 2 smaller pans which were the same volume as the larger 9x5 in. pan. 

Banana Bread (Martha Stewart)
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temp.
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C mashed very ripe bananas 
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter pan (s)
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well.
  3. Stir dry ingredients together and combine with butter mixture. Blend well.
  4. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Stir well.
  5. Stir in nuts and pour into prepared pan(s).
  6. Bake 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Turn out onto a rack to cool, then enjoy (but wait till it cools).
Grenville and I enjoyed this treat with of glass of milk. That's healthy, isn't it?