Yukon Cornelius

Was just watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and we saw Yukon lick his pick. My daughter said that needs to be a meme. So, I created one!

YukonRocks

Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Black Thursday?

I sit here less than twelve hours away from the start of Thanksgiving Day and can’t help contemplating the upcoming holiday. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, family and friends. The warmth and love surrounding this holiday has always been something I’ve looked forward to. Even when I was in the military Thanksgiving was a time to gather at someone’s house to celebrate and enjoy the company of good friends. We always took time out to remember our Shipmates, brothers and sisters in arms, who were away from loved ones doing their duty to our country. It meant everything then. But, it means so much more now as our kids grow older and our time together as a family wanes.

So, my question is this, where did Thanksgiving go? When did we as a society decide shopping and cheap electronics was more important than family, friends and thankfulness?

I look around at the ridiculous amounts of Christmas decorations adorning stores and neighbor’s yards. I got out of the car to pump gas and was assailed by Christmas carols being piped over the speaker system. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays as much as anyone, but really? Why can’t we hold off until Friday? I watched a commercial for JcPenney’s where they chant Go, go, go, go. go, go, SHOP, SHOP, SHOP.  Why does the shopping season now start on Thanksgiving? Aren’t we kind of missing the point?

Do you know where the term Black Friday came from? Many believe it came from an accounting term. The Friday after Thanksgiving was the start of their most financially solvent period. It would send their finances from the red into the black. Yes, that’s all this season means to retailers. Get the customers in, make them spend money, don’t care how it’s done, just do it.

And we fell for it.

Back in 1924 the Macy’s Day Parade was started because many of the employees of Macy’s were first generation Americans who were proud of and wanted to celebrate their new American heritage? Macy’s had intended it to be an employee celebration of thanks, not the official ushering in of the shopping season. 

WOW! Imagine that. New Americans being thankful for being in this country and for everything they had been blessed with on a holiday made for just that occasion.

So, what happened? When did a celebration of joy, pride, and thankfulness become a way to push consumers into buy, buy, buying? How did Black Friday eat Thanksgiving Day?

We let it become the monster that it is. We let greed for a good deal drive us to camp out in front of retail stores to be the first to get that $300 laptop. We allowed retailers to dictate to us how we were going to spend the holiday weekend. They are laughing all the way to their billion dollar bank accounts while their minimum wage employees have to put the turkey down, step away from the table and go to work.

I’m reminded of the beginning scene of A Christmas Carol ~

SCROOGE: You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose.
CRATCHIT: If it is quite convenient, sir.
SCROOGE: It’s not convenient and it’s not fair. If I were to stop half a crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used. And yet, you don’t think me ill-used when I pay a day’s wages for no work.
CRATCHIT: Christmas only comes once a year, sir.
SCROOGE: A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December! But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier the next morning!
CRATCHIT: I promise, sir. Merry Christmas, sir!

We watch this scene and can recognize it for what it is. Why can we not recognize it in real life? Scrooge demands Cratchit work Thanksgiving…all in the name of squeezing consumers a little bit longer, a little bit harder, a little bit more aggressively each year. All the while shouting, “Give the people what they want!”

Well, I don’t want it. I choose to side with Cratchit, not Scrooge. I refuse to be a party to something that has robbed families of the reason we gather. Be thankful, people…not greedy.

I will not be shopping anywhere on Thursday. Shopping can wait. I’ll be at home, enjoying my family and the blessings I’ve had this year.

I shall keep Thanksgiving in my own way.

Will you join me?

Chunky Chocolate Cookies

Absolutely Scrumptious

Chunky Chocolate Gob Cookies

cookies

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped (16 cookies)
  • 3 (1.75-oz.) Mounds bars, chilled and chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

What to do:

  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.
  4. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients.
  5. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  6. Stir in cookies, candy bars, and desired amount of chocolate morsels.
  7. Chill dough 30 minutes.
  8. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 2″ apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until barely set.
  10. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes.
  11. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Courtesy – Southern Living, Oxmoor House JUNE 2007

For the Love of Baked goods!

I know you’ve all been enjoying the recipes I’ve been posting, especially the Pumpkin Pie minis. I’m so glad! I’ve seen my blog go from very few hits to the over 300 hits in one day, thanks to the Pintresting of a recipe or two. It’s wonderfully gratifying to know that you all are enjoying them as much as I do.

I love to cook. Well, actually, I love to bake. This is especially true as the weather turns cooler and the leaves change to brilliant fall foliage. What is it about fall that just makes you want to throw ingredients into a pan and fill the house with the delicious scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, pumpkin, etc?

Perhaps it is the past memories of my mother spending hours in the kitchen preparing for her annual Christmas open house. As a good Norwegian she would bake Krumkake, Rosettes, Sandbakkels, Søtsuppe (Sweet Soup, we always called it fruit soup). Then she would always add a modern twist with new favorites such as the year she made a mint fudge. I have such warm memories of these times (even if she did make me dress up in traditional Norwegian garb for the occasion). As the holiday season nears (and in celebration of the wonderful world I came from) I will be posting some of these traditional Scandinavian holiday recipes.

So, stick around, kick off your shoes and get comfortable. There is much fun ahead!

S.J.

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

Are you ready for a read that will transport you to a world where the Alimentatori and Cambiare walk amongst humans? Don’t know what the Aliments and Cambiare are? Then perhaps you should find out.  Consider picking up Book one in The Dagger of Aita series.

~ The Alimentatori ~

An ancient race of beings, fathered by The Grigori.
Though birthed by the Daughters of Men they are anything but human.

~ Jacen Trudeau of the House of Samsaveel ~

When a hedonistic Aliment who cares nothing for the traditions of the Alimentatori receives word that his beloved older brother has been murdered Retribution is what he seeks.

~ The Cambiare ~

Mythological creatures? Urban legend? Cold-blooded killers?
A near extinct race whose mere existence threatens everything Jace holds true.

~ Casa Sede di Alimentazione ~

High atop a cliff overlooking Lake Bracciano, the Sede’s pristine exterior hides ancient secrets, hidden agendas and political intrigues. Trust is non-existent and the truth is buried deeply within.

~ A Hidden Threat ~

Seemingly at odds with everyone around him,
Jace suspects his brother’s killer is not his only enemy.

On his quest for Retribution Jace finds
Enemies where he expects to find allies
And allies where enemies should lie.

Where were you?

NeverForget

Often during days of remembrance for great tragedies the first question asked is “Where were you?”

This day is no different. I invite all to tell me their tales. Where were you when the Towers were hit? When they fell?

In return, I shall tell you my tale, unique by perspective only.

You see, in spring of 1998 we moved from the US to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. When we moved there, we purposely chose to live in an area that was locally populated, not the Expat area. We wanted our children to have a true to life experience when it came to living in a foreign country. We were the only expats living out in Mirdif at the time and we loved it. For several years we lived a quiet life enjoying our Expat status and the sights and sounds of a foreign nation. Mosques surrounded us and the calls to prayer sounded five times a day.  As much a part of our lives as the sound of church bells ringing at a nearby church. It became the backdrop to our lives. We were not afraid.

But, on September 11, 2001 our sense of safety was shaken to the core. I had gotten up, like I did everyday and turned on my computer to meet a friend online for our morning IM chat. Immediately she asked, “Are you okay?” I paused and kind of laughed to myself. “Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Her response took the breath from my lungs. “Because a plane just flew into the Twin Towers in NYC. Go turn on the t.v.”

I immediately signed off and ran to the living room. I turned on CNN and watched in horror as they spoke about the first tower being hit. As I watched the second plane hit and my knees went week.  They began to banter about the word terrorism.  In a panic, I picked up the phone and called our house maid/nanny who’d taken our children out to a local grocery store to buy some candy. Suddenly the neighborhood where we’d felt safe seemed a dangerous place to be. The mosques around us started chanting over their loud speakers and the words America and Americans were interspersed with Arabic.  I know logically that they were calling people to prayer…to pray for our people and our nation, but in the moment it seemed almost sinister and frightening. The children arrived home with our wonderful housemaid (we loved her like family and that’s what she was to us). I hugged them and her and then told them what had happened. We all watched the news together. I cried as they talked about the lose of life. Then…then news of the Pentagon being hit…and my knees buckled. I sat on the coffee table and wept. As a Veteran, my heart ached for the men and women at the Pentagon. They were my brothers and sisters in arms. Then the news that another plane had been taken and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I prayed for those people too. We watched the news all day. They grounded all flights within the US, including International flights. Those words sent a shock through us. For the first time since our adventure began we had no way of going home.

That night we stood out on our steps and looked at the sky above our gates and spoke in soft tones about the days events. We heard the mosques chants echoing around us and we clung together, comforting each other. The next day the embassy called with a request that all Americans bring their passports and come to the consulate for a meeting. We attended the meeting and listened as they tried to reassure us that we were safe in Dubai. One person brought up the fact that the Bin Laden family owned the construction companies doing all the work in Dubai. They told him that’s the Saudi Bin Laden’s and have no connection to Al Qaeda. Then someone said “Well, what about the picture in the paper today of Osama Bin Laden sitting on the beach? He was sitting in front of the Berj Al Arab.” The man from the consulate kind of laughed it off.  We were all scared and no amount of reassurance was going to keep our families safe especially when the news stated that terrorists flown from Dubai and some financing had come out of Dubai.

There is more to what happened over the days following 9/11 but this exercise was to tell you where I was.

Now, if you are so inclined, tell me your tale…

To speak or not to speak…

So this week I had someone pestering me, as apparently he feels it is his turn in the limelight.  Dante, the head of a Cambiare “Glaring” decided he would like to have a word with all of you. Unfortunately, I’m sorry Dante. I cannot allow you to have free reign and do as you will no matter how much you beg for a chance to speak.

Why, you might ask, won’t I let Dante address you? Well instead I’ve decided to let you, the reader, in on a little secret.

I am an organic  writer. I don’t use an outline. I don’t know the exacts of where my story is going or even how it’s going to get there. I sit down, slip on the persona and let go. My characters tell their stories and I am merely the one who types it in. It is my lot in life to be their conduit but as such, I also know that there are certain characters I cannot trust, who will take a mile if I give them an inch. Dante is a glorious character but his history, his life, is integral to the telling of Jace’s story. Allowing him his moment  to shine will surely give away far too much about what is to come. So, though he has much to tell you, he will keep his silence and remain a mystery. As time marches on you will have the opportunity to fully explore who he is and what makes him tick. But for now, suffice it to say, Dante is dark, dangerous and larger than life. He is a hero, a villain, and the one person you’d want on your side during a fight to the death. He loves hard, plays hard, and has a confidence that sets most people back on their heels.

Are you woman enough to be his lover? Are you man enough to be his friend?

Only time will tell…