Wednesday, November 1, 2017

You Knew I'd Show Up...Eventually

November! Finally! And it feels like November! Has your autumn been strange? Mine sure has.  August and September were dreamy and cool, and then all of the sudden it shot into the 80s and stayed there! The fuck?! It was so fucking gross! The leaves all started to blush early and then many of them fried on the branches in that bullshit heat.  Though with the other weather phenomena lately, I guess it’s horribly unbecoming of me to complain about shit being ugly in Ohio.  That was the worst of it. Was your area in the path of some apocalyptic weather system this summer-fall?
I got a tiny taste of coastal life with hurricanes shortly after Labor Day with Irma.  I haven’t bought my Hilton Head place yet which I had been a little frustrated with leading up to hurricane season.  Once it arrived, I was glad!  The hurricanes haven’t changed my mind though.  I just need to go turn some tricks for people with a fetish for maladjusted rude fat men (it’s a niche market) and get it done.  Anyway, the plan was to stop in Atlanta to see my brother (he had moved to Atlanta, but he just moved back), and then head to Hilton Head.  Before I left Columbus, the forecast looked unfavorable and by the time I arrived in Atlanta it was obviously not going to happen.  The South Carolina coast wasn’t even expecting anything “bad”, just maybe 3-7 feet of storm surge.  Listen, I was not about to put myself in the situation to potentially need rescuing with my dog and my Le Creusets because my dumb ass wanted to walk the beach (though I did reeeeeeeeeeally want to be there leading up to the storm to photograph the waves!).  So knowing the fucking disaster that is Atlanta and their idiot motorists and miserable traffic, I left Atlanta about 4AM the Friday before the storm.  How incredibly eerie to be casually driving back to Ohio among all Floridians.  There were no lane changes or speed fluctuations, just disturbingly judicious driving almost in a drone-like trance.  You see cars crammed with people and possessions and pets, clearly distilled to the essentials.  Obviously for so many this is a familiar sight but I hadn’t ever experienced it. 
Not my photo! A buoy that washed ashore in Hilton Head during Irma
 beautiful shot courtesy @that_lowcountry_life
What could be a long story, I’ll make short.  (edited to add, Ha! Short. Sorry!) What a weird fall.  Now I don’t want anyone talking about this on my Instagram, this is a blog only type of deal, but I literally fell into another relationship and it could not be going better.  You know I’m a Taurus and my ability to romanticize knows no bounds, so I’ll be careful and not say anymore.  On the other hand, my goodness, does it take time! I am simply short on time these days.  It’s an adjustment I’m happy to calibrate but I need to strike a balance as I’ve been robbing time from sleep and that’s not good! Even with missing a week for a would-be vacation, September was one of the busiest months I’ve ever had workwise. Well of course I did what I always do and charged through thinking I’ll sleep when it’s all over! Well by the time my last wedding of the season rolled around, I had been going on 3-4 hours of sleep a night for like four weeks.  The last wedding was October 7, on Sunday October 8 I woke up and thought nooooooooooo! Of course, I was sick.  I keep doing this! Push too hard, burn out, get sick.  Oh? And among all this, my uncle died.  Now the truth is I was simply not close with him.  Never any issues, we had a nice rapport, but we just didn’t have that connection.  But this was my dad’s oldest brother and my dad absolutely adores him.  It was a complete shock as he had just turned 67 and was in incredible shape, a marathon runner and triathalon person—I don’t know what the fuck they’re called, triathletes? Anyway, it just knocked the wind out of my poor dad as I could see he had that terrible feeling of robbed time.  My uncle was to retire at the end of the year and planned to travel extensively and my dad was excited to do some of that with him.  So while I was not personally as heartbroken over this loss (and I hope that doesn’t sound as bad as it does to me, do you know what I mean?), I could feel these sort of agonizing vibrations of loss around me.  Luckily I was finally better the week of his Ohio funeral and was able to pull it together and host dinner for 50 (short of 50, no idea how many would come so I was prepared for 75).  The temptation is to think that people don’t care if you cook or host in your house, but the truth is many of them do.  There is a soul and a feeling of legacy that is irreplaceable to me.  The funny thing is the older I get, the more people I lose, the more I believe in the sense of duty of family.  I knew nothing could matter more to my dad right now than if I help him send his brother off the way he wanted.  He doesn’t have the time to do things this way, but he can count on me to do it.  I thought of my cousin’s children who have just lost their grandpa, schlepping to Ohio and wanted it to be nice for them, I thought of how my grandma, the indomitable Virginia, would have opened her doors and fed everyone somehow with only like two hours of work, and then my beloved Aunt Patti, who shared none of her mother’s practicality and all of my artistry and Martha Stewart fantasy, and all I can say is I so intensely felt them.  I almost felt selfish as everyone was at the church service and I was alone in my kitchen getting ready having this world-bending moment of connection and intuition.  For me, these meals the cornerstones of family life. 




After the meal when everyone was sort of milling around, talking with my cousins I realized they think of me the way I thought of my aunt and grandma.  I have no clue where the silver will go when I’m no longer using it, but hopefully there will be another link in that chain. It feels good to hold the spot. 
So? Thanksgiving! Oh my god I am so glad for Thanksgiving.  I am so glad for November.  Things are slow right now, there is a bitterly cold rain falling, and the upside of our mostly shitty October is that there are still beautiful leaves to admire.  I am glad to exhale, breathe in the beauty, and enjoy planning Thanksgiving with all of you. 
A Halloween tradition started by Michelle, still in practice now. Chili on Halloween! 


It will be a little different this year as I have pledged to myself I will not allow myself to work past 11PM, no matter what kind of groove I’m in or how much it may throw off my schedule.  The important thing is that I do it.  Of course, my aim is still lasered perfection as always (though never achieved, because remember! I am not a perfectionist because perfectionists never get anything done because nothing is ever perfect!), but my first priority will be maintaining a normal sleep schedule.  Things change, hurricanes come, people die, you fall in love, and you eat too many mashed potatoes and drink too much wine.  Sounds more or less like Thanksgiving. 

As always, this only works if you participate.  You can argue with me, point out the obvious holes in my logic, whatever you want.  But mainly I want to know about you.  I want to know what you do for Thanksgiving (or Christmas if you’re Australian!), how have things changed for you from last year? How many turkeys? How many people? How many bottles of wine per person? Who can’t be seated next to each other? Tell me! You know you don’t even need to sign into anything to comment here.  

80 comments:

  1. HI we made it down to Hilton Head a week after the hurricane and took photos of the bouy and it was great until Sunday evening when my husband and I were hit with a GI illness that took over our week vacation until Thursday. So we had essentially 3 good days and then the GI bout. Man it was miserable. However, as far as Thanksgiving we are going to Columbus for Thanksgiving with my brother and Sister-in-law and their kids, spouses and grandchildren. I am in charge of a pumpkin pie. Last year I did Thanksgiving and I was still working full time so I made as much as I could in advance- cranberries, biscuits, pie etc.- everything is homemade.

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    1. I’m so sorry to hear that!!! That’s awful! Were You better by the time you had to leave? Sounds very nice!!

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    2. Thank you and yes we were better by the time we were to leave. We flew down and if we still had GI n/v/d there is no way they would let us fly nor would we want to if you get my drift. BTW the islanders want the buoy left on the the beach,but the town does not. It does make an interesting tourist attraction.

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    3. PS I should have added I am so sorry about the death of your uncle and you were so kind to have a meal at your home. But please pace yourself for Thanksgiving from one Taurus to another.

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  2. So happy to see your post today and omg congratulations on the romance! Yes! Isn't Atlanta traffic so terrible? My Dad has had so many meltdowns just talking about the traffic. We have also had a weirdly hot October and I am not a fan. Finally it's cool here and I feel like I can think/breathe again.
    Thanksgiving is over for us and it's a bit of a blur to be honest. We were in Scotland, flew home on Friday night, Thanksgiving was Sunday. But we have a very small family, really for holidays it's just us and our three rascals plus one more, my father-in-law. Six people is nothing to cook for as I'm sure you'll agree.
    I don't know what to do about Christmas this year. I want to make it special but I feel blocked for ideas. Looking forward to reading the comments and of course reading everything you have to say about the holidays. XOXO

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    1. I need to check if you’ve blogged about Scotland!! I hope you did! Did you end up feeling better by the time you were there? That’s how I felt about Thanksgiving this year! The ideas weren’t coming. Then I found the most glorious plates and there they came. Oh Atlanta traffic is just unreal! And so many of their traffic problems would be solved if the people would read the fucking signs posted for ten miles before. It’s a mess! I was feeling a bit lost for ideas too but then got on a green and silver dream and I think I’m going that way. We’ll see. Thinking I’ll bring home a trunk full of Palmetto and magnolia to play with this Christmas!

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  3. Lovely post, and I'm so happy to see you here again. Instagram is great but there's only so much you can write, an I so enjoy your writing. And my condolences on your Uncle, I hope your Dad is doing OK and how great that you were able to create a happy memory within the sadness. So summer. here in CA...in a word -- brutal. 115 degrees for the first time ever, and 100s lasting all the way to the end of October. Then immediately down 50 degrees. So wine country has had a bit of a rollercoaster, but most of us are just thankful we were not in the part destroyed by fire. Like you, I'm ready for Thanksgiving! We'll have the usual suspects here at the house for guests, the usual sous-vide turkey and sides, and because of that magical sous vide, we'll also do Frisbee on the beach Thanksgiving morning, barring rain. Can't wait to hear more about yours!

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    1. Thank you so much! It’s funny, instagram is just not me. It’s all so insincere and I totally feel like a bull in the china shop! It’s not enough words!! I just couldn’t believe the scenes from Napa. Unreal. So glad your area was spared. Oh your summer weather sounds terrible! I’m glad it has cooled down. I love your frisbee on the beach tradition!

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  4. Bullet points because that it how I am thinking these days:

    - Shut the front door about the weather! I would trade you Oklahoma weather for Ohio weather (except the winters up there because winter sucks). We finally had our first freeze this past weekend, we had tornadoes last week, and it will be 78 today. I do not want to hear about it.

    - I am so sorry about your Uncle's passing. Time absolutely does have a way of reminding us about what is important and of the need to connect with the traditions in our family.

    - I host Thanksgiving because everyone else uses paper napkins, paper plates, and red solo cups. Combine that with grocery store pie crust, and do not get me started. So, I host Thanksgiving, and everyone else brings side dishes. We all sit next to each other because I operate on two rules 1) keep your crap at home because it does not come up my driveway (the trash goes to the curb), 2) if you cannot suck it up and be nice for a meal, then stay the hell at home. We have had too much drama from the older (mostly now dead) generation in our family, and we younger ones tolerate exactly ZERO drama from the ones who are left. The ones who come for Thanksgiving do not drink wine except for my brother, so he and I keep it to aid us in our recovery efforts afterwards. Dinner will be traditional Thanksgiving with some homemade Lebanese thrown in because that is how we honor my Sitty (Lebanese for "grandma").

    - How will your Thanksgiving go down this year?

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    1. Tornadoes?! No no no! Glad you made it through unscathed, though perhaps not unannoyed! Haha! Absolutely love your rules! Don’t bring your shit up my driveway! I might make a sign that says that!! Love it! I’d love to hear about Lebanese food! Thank you so much for your comment!

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    2. My Sitty and Grandpa immigrated from Lebanon (him as a young man, and her as a small child), so all the recipes are not written down anywhere. She taught my mama, and my brother and I are learning. Everything is homemade, and it is involved, but you would be surprised at how simple the ingredients are. Homemade cabbage rolls, kibba, baba ganoush, homemade hummus, and tabbouleh.

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  5. thank you for posting bc i was afraid you were abandoning ship again. you promised infrequent updates so it's all on me.:) ummm, i'm hoping this year that L and I will be taking his dad for a thanksgiving buffet at this beautiful lavender farm. it's called highland springs resort and they have a fabulous restaurant. you'd love the whole place. it was built in the early 1920s and albert einstein was a reg guest. also, f scott fitzgerald hung out there too along with many hollywood stars of the era. anyway that's what i'm hoping unfolds. x

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    1. Oh that sounds so fabulous!! I hope his dad is doing well?! Haha thank you! I know I’m so bad about not blogging. You know honestly what my problem is is that I can’t write without spitting out whatever’s on my mind and sometimes it’s just too much to share! Hahaha it’s a weird paralysis.

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  6. You have a heart of gold. Love reading your thoughts. Thank you for writing, 💕
    From Kathryn in Australia.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! That is so sweet of you to say. Thank you!

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  7. I'm in Provence, where I live, and we have had the same kind of fall, leaves scorching instead of turning. Still warm and sunny, don't you just love particulate matter and old diesel cars? Sadly, I have no family left, being, you know, old. Just a couple of cousins in Oregon, who I like but don't see often. I have to rely on friends for my holiday cheer, which isn't bad. When I still lived in San Diego I routinely invited 30 for Christmas, all of those who had no family in the area or no family at all, it would be a potluck from 3pm to midnight, and it was really a great day. Now I'm living in France (8 years), and sharing a two house property with a German friend, so traditions are different. The Germans can be a bit gloomy, you know, and have bad memories of being young after the war, when things were scarce and everyone was tired. I told you I was old. They are, however, great people, and we eat lots of oysters and drink lots of wine, and in between some foie gras, duck, lamb, gratin dauphinoise (otherwise known as cheesy potatoes even though the "true" recipe has no cheese), etc. Looking forward to your Thanksgiving prep, don't fail to respect your sleep schedule!
    bonnie near carpetras

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! Your San Diego Christmases sounds fabulous for one phase of life and your French Christmases sound fabulous for another. I do know what you mean about Germans. I love German people for the same reason I love the language! It is so so alarmingly sincere. They won’t pretend to feel something they don’t. Also I just love the German sense of humor!

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  8. This is wonderful. I kind of hope you haven't fallen in love because I have the perfect mate for you, who also is the Martha Stewart of the family and keeper of the family silver....and single. He also sings like an angel.
    But anyway, you were so good to attend to your father. It is hugely upsetting to lose a sibling. I keep watch on my aunts, who are the survivors of my parents, knowing anniversaries will be heavy days for them as they are for me. One lets it all out, thankful that somebody asked, but the other holds it in. Both such dear ladies.

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    1. Thank you so much! You’ve told me about your friend before! I’d love to meet him! But I have to tell you I’m more partial to pianists, and this guy is a pianist and an organist! So good of you to take care of your aunts.

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  9. SAJ, this has to be your Nobel laureate post. I loved every word ...and yes, things change, but you change only for the better. ❤️

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    1. Oh that is much to sweet, but thank you!!!

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  10. How wonderful that you are following the traditions of your Grandma and Aunt Pattie. I plan details and make lists and have a timeline for Christmas as I find that easiest. I’m a Taurus too. My pantry is fairly well stacked so I can usually create something out of nothing. Enjoy your November.

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha we Taureans aren’t going to starve! It’s so funny when the power goes out or there’s a blizzard or something because I have so much food always I can more or less have a banquet! Haha.

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  11. Welcome back! I "became acquainted" with you through Ellie's lovely blog😢 and though your voice is different, I celebrate it thoroughly. Thanks for the humour, we need all we can get in these strange days we live. I completely get you in regards to your feelings about your uncle. Here in New Mexico, we've been enjoying fall like weather for a couple of weeks after a sweltering September. I love everything about Thanksgiving, so looking forward to over indulging with food and drink. Despite invites from many loving friends, my sister and I plan to cook too much food, eat wearing our pajamas and basically chill.

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    1. Thank you so much! I always miss Ellie but I so so miss her right around now! I want to post about Surviving Thanksgiving but worry David and Gracie might think I was trying to use it to draw attention to myself which of course would wreck me. Your Thanksgiving sounds absolutely fabulous!! That’s the way to do it!

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  12. I was hoping you'd show up, indeed. Bonne chance avec votre nouvelle amour. So glad to see your post.

    I have little to say about Thanksgiving anymore as in France I celebrate it with my British husband. It's impossible to get a turkey until early December here (like the Brits the French eat them at Christmas only) so we'll probably roast a chicken or make a lovely, from scratch, Indian meal. Four bottles of wine - two apiece. (Only kidding, really).

    I'm living vicariously through your Thanksgiving posts so please tell us more later about this year's plans!

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    1. Thank you so much! Indian food and wine sounds like a perfect Thanksgiving abroad!! I’ll be posting more! Thanks again for your comment!

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  13. I kept looking for a post from you and today, voila! So glad you are in a relationship, say no more. It does have a great way of changing one's perspective. I will be waiting on a post regarding Thanksgiving (which is truly a celebration of Family) and know that the post will make me laugh, which is what we all need and crave at the present time. Happy Fall!

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    1. Thank you so much! I’ll be back before Thanksgiving!! I so agree, Thanksgiving is the perfect family holiday!

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  14. My wife looooves Thanksgiving. It is her favorite holiday. She is a gifted cook and delights in preparing and sharing her food. I don't cook. If I fix supper we have Cheerios - or Raisin Bran. Not sure what neuroses enveloped me early on but I don't like to touch food. Growing up we had a housekeeper (read 'someone to keep an eye on my crazy sister') who prepared the evening meal everyday and took a plate home for herself. My father picked her up at 7 and returned her home by 6. Every...weekday...for...20...years. She wasn't much for mess so kitchen experiments didn't happen often. For our family holidays I set the table and fluff the place up. And I do the dishes. Funny, I'm the one who insisted on registering for china when we were married a hundred (33) years ago. And we got it in spades - (16) full place settings, including bowls and coupes. Lenox Eternal. My choice because it is a neutral foundation that can be complemented by pretty much anything else - Rosenthal, Derby, Aynsley, Coalport, etc.. I troll eBay for salad and dessert plates. Being Southern (thank you Jesus) we grew up having dressing, not stuffing. Cornbread dressing made with homemade chicken broth. My maternal grandmother's was the best. She was a farm wife (Alabama) and whipped up feasts with seeming ease. She fed anyone who was in the yard at mealtime. At my special request early on my wife pretty much mastered her dressing. I would say it is the one food touchpoint that signals Thanksgiving for me. It is really the only time of year we eat it. Our fare has lightened in the past years - not in quantity (the sideboard still groans under the weight) but in preparation. Fewer and fewer casseroles. Something called 'kale' now shows up frequently. But she still tops the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Tradition. I'm not a lover of pumpkin pie, or dessert in general. I'll eat it, but I don't crave it. I'm happy with a tub of Blue Bell. When asked I usually request a chocolate silk pie. Some years one shows up. And old fashioned chess pie - which is pretty much like pouring lemon flavored sugar directly into your mouth. Your photos are glorious - I'm content to be a food voyeur (Great British Baking is a current favorite - and always Contessa - and Vivian Howard). Thanks for sharing your journey!! And being interested in ours.

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    1. I just love this comment!! Do you have photos of your childhood Thanksgivings? I’d love to see! And I love Lenox eternal! Wise man getting that china! I can’t believe the way no one registers for china anymore! Your modern Thanksgiving sounds fabulous and how I wish I didn’t like desserts! I learned about chess pie last year and have been curious... Love a cornbread stuffing though I use my standard basic bread. Maybe should try it!

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    2. steven do you have a blog bc i need you to have one. x

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  15. I don't care how long it's been... you NEVER disappoint.
    your blog posts read like a novel. and to think we know the author who is as colorful and unique as he seems to be is icing on the cake.
    I am a shameless do-nothing in the cuisine department. you know that about me and you love me anyway.
    well. I tell myself you do. the thought of you and adorable Barbie actually having love in your life again is the best news!
    your description of the Florida evacuees was eery and chill making to me. the thought of people going back to nothing perhaps. we have had so much of that.
    no one but you can turn a funeral and a holiday and an illness of their own into such fun. fun? I don't know. YES! because SAJ and his wit and empathy are in it. thank god and little fishes. xo darling boy.

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    1. Thank you so much Tammy!! Are you still in your place with the view of the pool? Will you be there for Thanksgiving or with your brother? So good to hear from you! Thank you!

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    2. ha! yup. (my gary cooper vernacular) i'm still in the same place. the martha stewart of the marine's inlaws flips thanksgiving. this year it's at her own family's in another state.
      so the marine and I are on our own. but I LOVE these comments don't you? some great ideas from expats and those who do funky other things. or I might just sit here and indulge in quintessence.
      love her videos of visiting designer's homes and such. and she has a new book just out about dogs and their designer's homes. gorgeous! and fun. i'm butchering title names here you know. but you know of which I speak. LOL. looking forward to your next post when you're in panic/ecstasy mode!
      it always turns out fabulous and you survive. cheers!

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  16. My husband cooks and hates to have anyone in his kitchen. So, I set the table and drink wine.
    Karen

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    1. Excellent! Your husband and I sound alike! Haha the bet help to me is to stay out of my way!

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  17. Thanks so much for your newsy update, SAJ!!! Getting enough sleep is vital as we....'get older'....and I find I don't snack after dinner if I put myself to bed between 9 and 10pm. I'm so happy that you have a new relationship.....that alone takes up a lot of time! Add that to all your career, creative, and culinary gifts and I see why you have 3-4 hours of sleep a night! We had chili for dinner last night (Halloween) and I would love it if you shared your recipe!! I'm always looking for something new to make! I thoroughly enjoy every one of your posts...keep it up...PLEASE!!

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    1. Thank you so much!! I will update throughout Thanksgiving! My chili is pretty basic! Though I do 2/3 turkey and 1/3 chorizo. I really like the texture of that mix! My problem is that I make way too much chili when I do! What am I going to do with all of it?! Haha

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  18. Stephen, darling, we can push ourselves only so far before our bodies call a halt to the abuse. It's great to see you here. I enjoy keeping up with you on IG. (IG is more in-the-moment, and I find that I like it very much.)

    Take a breath, pace yourself, and enjoy the build-up toward Thanksgiving.

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    1. Thank you! So true! It’s going to be a challenge for me to really just stop! I’m so used to forging ahead but I can’t stand getting sick afterward anymore! Thanks for your comment!

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  19. What a beautiful post, visually and poetically! I love your commitment to family, and the care you take of everyone. The red house is stunning, in fact all of Fall is stunning. I'd love to have Thanksgiving in Australia too, but suspect it would not be the same with Summer heat and flies. For Christmas this year, we are going to see the grandchildren in Ottawa, and hopefully my first ever White Christmas. Can't wait :) Always a pleasure to see your blog pop up.

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    1. Thank you so much! Oh how exciting! I’ll be crossing my fingers your get that white Christmas! Weather is so strange anymore, who knows! But I’d think you have a good chance there!

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  20. At least 2 turkeys....I have an abundance of menfolk in my life. I also feed the "orphans", those who wouldn't otherwise do Thanksgiving- because it's the right thing to do. My favorite part is setting a beautiful table, though I often wonder if anybody really cares. Lots of wine and way too much food haha! Mine is a Canadian Thanksgiving, so I don't have the worry of dashing headlong into Christmas prep like you do. I really enjoy your blog, your sense of humor and your honesty. Enjoy the season!

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    1. Thank you so much!! I totally agree with you! When you hear of those people who don’t have somewhere to go, you gotta grab them! It adds some color to the mix. I love the rule of always having at least one complete stranger to keep people on good behavior! Haha

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  21. We are recovering from the Halloween lasagna fest. We are the go-to house, the base foe all in-town trick or treating and parental eveningcare.

    The duty of family. I like and understand that statement. Hosting like you did MATTERS for people. It provides comfort, a safe place, a fond memory of a difficult day. Few people understand that, including my mother.....but that’s for another comment section.

    Thanksgiving changes? Bite your tongue!!! The males in my life demand strict adherence to thanksgiving status quo. This means the exact same dishes every single year, additions are welcome but deletions are forbidden.

    I pleaded for a cabin thanksgiving but was overruled. “Just one last thanksgiving in the old kitchen” they said. Major renovations planned for the future. Nevermind the cabin is far better equipped to handle the cooking, serving and crowds. Dreams of Irish coffees by a giant bonfire after dinner were dashed.

    Headcount this year is undetermined to date but in prior years, two turkeys and as many as 22 guests. Always the original family recipe and the other would be grilled or fried. (The turkeys, not the guests) Stopped frying after a friend had a horrible hot oil accident (shudder). Recent grilled turkey varieties include a rotation of spice rubs. By far the best was Cruz Bay grill rub from St John Spice.

    Bottles of wine per person? At least two with three to be safe. And another case in the garage. Our house tends to be a port in the storm for friends fleeing less than wonderful family gatherings and they need liquid balm. Not everyone drinks a bottle but like turkey, someone always wants the leftovers. (to drink, not to take home).

    I can’t be seated next to my dear mother. I love her but she has untreated social anxiety that makes her unable to enjoy hospitality and togetherness. Everyone else knows how to behave.

    And we will miss by dearest father and my beloved grandfather (my maternal grandfaher). They enjoyed family holidays so much and were the best possible guests.

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    1. I love love love this comment!! Thank you SO much for answering so thoroughly! This is all the stuff I want to hear! I’m so sad it’s not a cabin Thanksgiving! That sounds so fabulous! It’s funny, for as devout as I am in my commitment to the holiday, I don’t get too caught up in making everything the same! I’m such a constant tweaker and use no real recipes that I can’t help but never make the same thing twice! Cheers to your father and grandfather, I know you’ll enjoy missing them in that bittersweet holiday way as you remember them! Cheers to your mother! Cheers to you for doing it all! And cheers to your poor oil-splattered friend! Goodness. That’s something I knew was nooooot for me!!

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  22. Hey Stephen! You are in one crazy mood today, but it is so you. Nice to catch up with all your wild adventures. Sounds like you are doing very well....please don't wait so long to give us more of this amazing entertainment. Hugs for Barbie.

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    1. Haha you know I just blurt everything out! Great to hear from you! Thanks! But what are the plans at Skoog Farm?!!

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    2. We are going through a wild campaign season here and I have not had two minutes to rub together, let alone think about your favorite holiday. Too bad you're not here to join in the "fun."

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  23. Christmas in Brisbane..... hot, humid probably raining ..... but then with the weather as it is it will probably be cool, humid and raining! So different for my family this year and I'm not sure how I will cope, but cope I will. Last year...turkey, ham, eye fillet beef, roast potatoes, veg and gravy all cooked in 35deg C heat... I'm English and that's what we do... my great grandmothers recipe for Christmas pudding with brandy butter....little butter, LOTS of brandy to melt over the hot pudding! Last year both my 30 something sons with partners home for the holidays from far flung places ...Panama City and not so far flung Airlie Beach, Queensland, friends and my husband and 97 year old Dad. 2017??? My 97 year old Dad and my husband. That's it just 3 of us! I think there will be LOTS of wine drunk starting with breakfast so I can get through it. This empty nest thing is awful but I must count my blessings that I have a much loved family who come home when they are able, just this year they can't. I look forward to hearing about your Thanksgiving, I do like the idea of giving thanks....for family, friends and everything we are fortunate to have in this world. Cheers Lindsey, Australia

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    1. Thank you so much! You open that wine whenever you want! I love the big English tradition! I’m sure you also read Heidi’s blog, An Adelaide Villa? I love hearing about her big English Christmas too! I’m so sorry your sons can’t make it home this year! On the other hand, to have the time with your dad will be so nice! And a smaller number means you can go alllllll out on the table which is really fun! I totally understand why you’d be freaking out a bit but I think it’ll turn out fabulous!

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    2. Yes thank you Stephen I'm sure all will be well. I do follow Heidi in Adelaide and I notice another Brisbane blogger Patricia (above). What a small world it is and how lovely is that!!

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  24. SO glad to see your post today! Many moons ago, before I landed here in Podunk, I used to cook for all we orphans - 20-30, buffet style. I started the week before and a friend helped with setting up and dishes. So damn much fun. Too many people in a small SF one-bedroom apartment, but lots of laughs. On occasion there would only be 6-8 and then, of course, we did it all right, using my grandmother's Irish linens, etc. I so miss those days. My immediate family is gone, with the exception of an out-of-state brother, but I still fix turkey, dressing, rolls (my mother's recipe), and my husband makes pumpkin pie - all that for two. Any suggestions on who gets the silver, crystal, china sets, Irish linen? I have no children (only four-legged ones). Enjoy your new love, get some rest (when possible), and write when you can!

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    1. I love this!! Thank you so much for the fabulous images, I can so see it! I’m so glad you and your husband do everything for Thanksgiving and I’m sure your table looks just fabulous! Oh all that china and crystal and silver sounds so fabulous! I’m so glad you have it!! Thanks again for your comment!!

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  25. For Katherine: i also live in France and am able to find turkey parts here all year at Lidl among others. A couple of big "cuisses" make a good thanksgiving dinner, perhaps not so good looking as the whole roasted bird. A friend of mine in the US once asked me how the French celebrate Thanksgiving. No really, not making it up.
    Bonnie in provence

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  26. We MISS you! So good to see you here on the blog - you know you're sorta blogging on Instagram, which is where I go when I need my SAJ fix..kinda nice to actually see your face too! but I'd rather see you HERE, so don't disappear for some long, alrighty??..

    You're in LOVE! Well how wonderful to hear! And not other details? Boo.

    I am serving Thanksgiving here - last year we went to the SIL's house, the food was catered (WHAT?) and while it was tasty enough.. it wasn't the same. So, back to our house, and the extended family is invited, although not all have committed yet.. and whomever decides to come - I'm cooking. The Turkey and (Laura Bush's cornbread stuffing) and a honey glazed spiral ham just because, a roasted root vegetable mash that is THE BOMB but I may have already given you that recipe? Mashed sweet potatoes with the obligatory marshmallow top, Harry & David's cranberry relish if they still make it, couldn't find it last year, string beans, carrots and celery in a cream sauce, rolls, butter in a turkey shape for the table, I'm making an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and a chocolate cream pie (recipe found on King Arther Flour ( I think) and OMG so good. Pumpkin Truffles too - those were posted on my blog and FB last week and I test-made them - DELISH!

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    1. Thank you so much! I really prefer blogging, I wish that I could blend my blog into Instagram and people who wanted to read could just read it there in their feed. The fact that blogger really just requires you to use a computer is so annoying, but on the other hand, I can’t “really” write on my phone so who knows. But thank you so much, I really appreciate you and everyone who reads.
      I’m so glad Thanksgiving is back at your house! I can’t imagine a better Thanksgiving house!! Can’t wait to see it progress!

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  27. Was happy to see that you have a new blog post up!
    I am always impressed by your posts...your commitment to family and food is admirable...
    your food and table settings is so lovely that I think Veranda magazine should pop by and take photos...and I am totally sincere when I say this too.
    Its beautiful here right now...all the fall leaves and colours are bright and cheerful even with a sprinkling of rain...loads of deer and they've nibble our chrysanthemums down to the stalks!
    Sorry to hear about the demise of your uncle...good news about the new relationship.
    How many will you be inviting for your Thanksgiving feast this year?

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    1. Thank you so much! Your autumn has looked absolutely stunning! Can’t believe you already had a snowfall! We had flurries but no real snow yet! Couldn’t believe it even made its way down to my aunt in Bellingham, Washington! Well my Thanksgiving will be somewhere between 7 and 16 max I think. But there are some that I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the trek to Ohio.

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  28. Dear Stephen,
    So, so very good of you to post and update us. You know we hang onto every word!
    Yeah to your relationship and a big yeah to you keeping your family together. I hope you get all the rest you need. My big sis also a Taurean and very gorgeous ( even though i’m Biased I feel I can say that) is very much our immediate and extended family glue. She’s universally loved and keeps everyone in the loop on upcoming births, deaths and marriages literally around the world! We regularly get updated on where we need to be and whose memorial service is on& where.
    I hear you about your father’s loss. Our dad now 86 has lost 2 younger brothers and his older brother has dementia and although he visits him regularly, it is difficult for all.
    Enjoy all your thanksgiving & Christmas preparations. We’re escaping the Sydney Christmas heat & crazy weather & going to Greece so the kids can celebrate a white Christmas with their surviving grandmother in her village. It should be total emotional chaos with an avalanche of food ( kids can’t wait to make home made sausages and roast chestnuts) and good cheer. Hopefully, kids will agree with me and love my parents’s village ( also known as winter Mykonos by a travel writer whose name escapes me) more than my in laws village which is also pretty fabulous!
    I’m looking forward to hearing about your Hiltonhead purchase. I love all the house hunters and fixer upper shows from the USA. I’m in awe of House prices in most parts of the USA & around the world compared to Sydney prices. I know New York, London, Paris etc & some other much sought after areas have sky scrapper prices but the value of homes in all the other areas of USA & the world makes me want to cry! Sydney’s property prices have gone stark raving mad but so have all the other cities around Australia especially the east coast. Anyway, thanks again. Den xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Den! So good to hear from you! I am so excited about your Greek holiday! I can’t wait to research this area!! So fabulous about your sister, I am also the messenger! Haha you can always count on me for an update even if you don’t want one! Yes we are lucky how affordable housing is in much of the US! And our markets fluctuate so much.

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  29. You both entertain and enlighten and your posts are always appreciated and enjoyed. I know I have no idea what goes into keeping a blog going (I do not have one), but I find them so much more enjoyable than instagram. I add my voice to those who would love to see you post on your blog more often. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours (I have nothing to add about my own Thanksgiving as it will be very low key).

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    1. Thank you so much! I totally agree with you, blogs are so much more intimate and realized than Instagram. It’s funny, I haven’t really hit a stride with ig. But the advantage is how much faster it is and it’s effortless to use on your phone, unlike blogging which really requires time in front of a computer.

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  30. YOU asked us THAT QUESTION LAST YEAR!Funny thing is I cannot recall my answer!!!!!!
    This might be NEW to my list.........I CANNOT SIT NEXT TO THE SISTER-IN-LAW!
    My MOTHER is very sick now and today I thought I would take ELLIE's books and make my grocery list!Very SAJ ISH.............don't YA THINK!!!While I sit there and prepare for the end I can make lists..............
    The TOM TURKEY goes in the PIZZA OVEN..........so its all about the side dishes for me and DESSERT!
    I am SO HAPPY you have had another ROMANCE that made me sit up straight in my chair!
    Happy NOVEMBER!
    WE ALL NEED YOU and YOUR ENTHUSIASM right NOW!
    YOUR PHOTOS ARE THE BEST!
    XX

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    1. Thank you so much!! Haha that’s the point! You know I have a supersonic memory so I love hearing how everyone’s holidays change from year to year! Love that you do Ellie’s menu!! I’m so sorry to hear your mother is not doing well. That is just so hard. How have you been feeling? Will your soon-to-be daughter in law be there at Thanksgiving?!

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  31. Connection and Intuition, Gee I've missed you.

    I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Oz even though it makes people incandescent with rage and fury because I like turkey.

    I won't be cooking on Christmas Day this year!!!!! I know. Shocking.

    Happy you are happy and I always get sick when I push myself too hard too. Your in Liberace style Christmas décor x

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    1. Thank you so much! You are the Thanksgiving ambassador! Thank goodness we are here to keep the Liberace spirit alive!

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  32. I just came back from a month of eating with dead people. Our Korean thanksgiving, plus there were other death anniversaries that my aunt cooked for. Although out of interest, there isn't an empty seat at the table literally. Some bow literally and some just nod their heads. Did you now that depending on your family and religion etc some families celebrate the death anniversaries of up to whichever was your most important ancestor? in my mom's family there is one that goes back to the 1300's. I was not allowed in the kitchen - not that i know how to cook korean food. there were a lot of tense moments although i got along fine with the dead relatives.

    Sorry for your uncle's passing. I understand and you don't sound bad bc there just wasn't that extra connection but it is hard to watch someone you care about feeling desolate. I imagine the passing of a sibling is its own very unique pain. And it does not surprise me a bit that you are at the family helm.

    So happy for you on other fronts as well. October was odd. Time vacuum. Apart from the cold, i am looking forward to the winter. PS I go on IG but blogs are not comparable!! Can't wait to see what you do for thanksgiving this time. x

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    1. Thank you so much! That’s so great to keep dead family members so much in the fold. Such affordable and polite guests. One of cousins is married to a Korean woman and I love talking food with her, forgive me for stereotyping but remember I am a gay hairstylist who moonlights as a florist so I’m not breaking any molds, but I love how much Korean people love food. It is such a common thread and Korean food sounds so good. My cousin, his wife, and their son are actually thinking of opening a sushi restaurant in Florida where they live. I didn’t know sushi was also such a part of Korean cuisine! Yes,
      I remember you saying you’d had your fill of ig.

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  33. What a lovely post! So glad I found you (maybe from Karen Ann's blog??). Good for you for carrying on traditions; I'm sure that made your dad feel better. Reminds me of the Irish wakes we went to as kids as the older ones passed on...No one does that anymore; we are a small family now and scattered to the winds. Our Thanksgiving will be just the 3 of us (my kids and I), and we will celebrate in high style. I filed for divorce a few months ago, and this season is the first that my kids and I will have some peace and happiness. (Although, I have to admit, I celebrate every day!)

    I am going to read through your old posts now. Love to read bloggers from Ohio. We're in Hudson (near Cleveland), and my kids are Buckeyes (alumni and current).

    Enjoy your holidays!

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    1. Thank you! I know Hudson! Congratulations on the divorce! It’s nice when one less seat at the table spells relief and not grief! There is a lot to be said for a dinner or party post funeral. It’s so nice for everyone to sort of digest it together and not go home carrying the gloom of a funeral.

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  34. So happy to see a post from you. Wishing you well on the relationship front. After years of disasters, I finally landed a good one, so never say never. We have our Thanksgiving ridiculously early in Canada. It was still warm outside, which is unseemly. The travellers got sick so it was a lopsided table. A lot is riding on Christmas or we just have to write off 2017 from an entertaining perspective. I shall live vicariously through you. xx

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha I know!! What is it?! Everyone has been sick this year! And not just a little cold, it’s a looookng sicnkess fhat feels as apocalyptic as 2017 has felt!

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  35. Good morning, Stephen. I don't see anywhere to "follow" on your blog, so have subscribed via email. Curious....now that you've entered the IG pond, how would you compare it to the blogging experience?

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    1. Thank you! I think I took that button off when there was some problem with it...the email is much more failsafe! Well there are so many wonderful things about Instagram, as your reach is unlimited and the algorithms so successfully connect people who are birds of a feather. I find it equally frustrating and inspiring. I think it’s a lot harder to tell a story on Instagram but that’s because it’s not conducive to my rambling nature. Your ig is one of my very favorites because it seems you just have such a touch for sharing your point with detail but not too much.

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  36. Dear Stephen, how beautifully you express the privilege of caring for one's family via the time-honored ritual of preparing the meal. I found your words very touching and with a sort of universal appeal. Every family needs at least one person who is willing to wear that mantel.

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    1. Thank you so much! I’m so very glad to see you here!

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  37. I am a terrible deep draining sadness and your post brought a smile to me. Thanks Stephen.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear that. Thank you for stepping out of your sadness to tell me that. I hope today is a better day!

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