Happy Tofurkey Day!

Wrightsville Beach Sunrise  One good thing about having a three year old is that sometimes, there are benefits to waking up early. This is what we saw on Thanksgiving morning from our hotel room on Wrightsville Beach, NC. Wow. The water was so calm and the colors were spectacular.

 We had a great dinner on Wednesday night at Circa 1922 in Wilmington. Highly recommend this place. http://www.circa1922.com/aboutUs.htm If you are a person who checks out the dessert menu before you order, you’ll want the Crepes Grand Marnier…

So then it was back to Raleigh to make some roasted butternut squash and cranberry sauce for meal #2. My hubby made 2 pies (apple and pumpkin) on Wednesday morning…so we were ready to feast! I’ve been a vegetarian since 1998 and several years ago discovered this delicious vegan roast made by Tofurkey. So I purchase this for myself and anyone else that wants to share, along with some awesome vegetarian stuffing made by Mom. www.tofurky.com/products/tofurkyfeasts_roast_info.htm It has a texture similar to turkey and a great soy based flavor. I know that Quorn also makes a meat-free roast that is good as well. I’m curious to know what my fellow vegetarians love to eat on Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, so let me know! Last year I found some great vegetarian crock-pot meals for a special dinner. This year over Christmas, I’d love to make fondue. It will be perfect in snowy Wisconsin.


Cold toes

This week we had snow twice in Raleigh. Before Thanksgiving! This is a rarity. Friday morning we went down to breakfast and the snow was falling hard. It started to stick, but didn’t last longer than an hour. It was beautiful and just what I needed that morning.

What is cold? I know that when I go to Wisconsin in winter, after 2 days, I’m used to -20 degree temperatures and don’t feel cold when I’m outside. But why is it that people, mostly parents and teenagers who are overly socially aware, feel that they can’t put on a coat or dress for the weather? Twice this week I saw kids wearing shorts. Its Fall. The high for the day is 42.  Today we were at the NC State/UNC Football game in Chapel Hill (State won) and I saw a college student wearing flip flops. Her feet were red. Is peer pressure so bad that young people need to freeze to please? I do remember at one point in my life when I needed to wear a jacket that I picked out, not my Mom. I think I was in 8th grade.

But to do this in college? Aren’t you grown up enough then to know better?

Its my hope that my daughter doesn’t feel that she has to please with what’s on the exterior. I hope she is secure in herself to share what’s on her mind and leave it at that.

snow flurries!

Yesterday a boy in my class said, “tomorrow we’re going to have snow!” and I said, “surely not in Raleigh…”.

Well sure enough, today while out on the playground there were indeed snow flurries. Then around 2 pm there was an actual MEGA flurry of flakes outside, however short-lived. This is a rarity for mid-November in North Carolina. I’m looking forward to our trip to Wisconsin this year and real snow. Now that the little one has had some experience with sledding and ice-skating, she knows what to expect. On another note, saw the movie “Secret Life of Bees” over the weekend. It was quite good, and pretty true to the book. I had forgotten about some of the details, such as the wailing wall and some of the more violent scenes. But Alicia Keys did a good job as well as Queen Latifah and Abigail Breslin. I’m still working on the hat I”m knitting for my husband and am actually at a point where I need help reading the directions from a more experienced knitter. Not sure about how the sizing works and then working on the crown of the hat. I’m hoping this one actually works (and fits) because the last hat I knitted looked like a weird bell and I never wore it. My daughter wants a sweater when this is done, so I have to complete it soon…

simple things

dscn3607Today my daughter was coloring with pencils when she decided to go up to the office to sharpen them. So I went up to help her turn on the light and she said, “you can sit in that chair” and she showed me how to use the pencil sharpener. I guess I’m behind the times on electric pencil sharpeners, because all you had to do was put the pencil in gently, and it got sharpened and then spit out when it was done. So we watched them get sharpened. Much different from the days of the crank sharpener on the wall at school. Or the crank sharpener that was defective that ate up your pencil.

Rickshaws and Meditation

The Great Park in Windsor, UK
The Great Park in Windsor, UK

I’ve often had the conversation with my husband about what he’d do if he lost his job. Layoffs are so common these days, that it is important to at least have a backup plan…He says that his dream job is to work at Home Depot. He knows the store like the back of his hand, and often helps out other customers while he is there shopping. He goes there every weekend to “buy bricks” for our ever-growing back patio. Soon the bricks will be all purchased and he’ll have to buy the sand…We also wonder why some people with high-paying jobs don’t take “a job” just to get by while they look for comparable work. I don’t understand it. My husband does not have an ego so large to prevent him from this.

What work would I do? You may be asking…well, fortunately for me, there will NEVER be layoffs in the education field and I’ll always be able to find work at a school. But, I have thought about alternate jobs that make me happy. Working in a coffee shop. I’ve done this, and its so fun. Its social, its high-pressure, it satisfies the need to clean, and you can have all the coffee you want. “High-pressure”, you ask? Ahh…the life of a Barista in the morning rush. Little sticky notes on the expresso machine…rows and rows of drinks that for the customer, are the life blood of their morning. Get it wrong, and their day is ruined. They wait in lines, chatting with each other, or their nose in a newspaper until they hear “single tall vanilla latte” or “double macchiato” . Then the day is started…off to work.

I would also head down to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico for some good outdoor labor. I would love to see the changing seasons there and the migration of the birds in and out of the marshes. I have worked there in November 1997 with my AmeriCorps team.


Working at the “Bosque” for those familiar enough with it to know about the wolves that howl and night and the wild turkeys that roam your campsite in the day…is also part of my grand plan for keeping my daughter “busy” in the high hormone years.

So, back to my original thought…Rickshaw drivers. What a fun job. You stay in shape, you make conversation, you get to wear cool hats with lightning rods protruding from the sides, and “tipping is good karma”. Something to consider if ever out of work.

What about meditation? I woke up this morning missing my meditation practice. It ebbs and flows. Its ebbed out of my routine for awhile, but I woke up thinking about the tree pictured above that I studied on my walks in the Great Park, Windsor. How did it get to be so beautiful? Did lightning strike it? What did it look like when it had leaves? My sister has the pleasure to see this tree as it passes through all the seasons. I saw it in autumn, with rain and cloudy weather. I would love to see it decorated for May Day with long colorful ribbons hanging from its limbs. This tree is something to meditate on. Something to bring about calm and peace. We all need a little peace of mind.

Have to add a link to Larry’s Beans, the beans sold and brewed in the coffeeshop where I worked. Larry’s Bean’s are brewed in Raleigh, NC.


Keep ’em busy

Last night we went to the Duke Children’s Classic horse show at the fairgrounds. We got their early and went out to the practice ring to watch the riders warm up. It was great fun watching the horses so close up. We struck up a conversation with the woman next to us about her daughter, who was riding “Timmy”. The daughter is 15 and has two more years at the barn before she leaves for college. Sophie got to pet Timmy’s soft nose and we chatted about the wonderful benefits of horse riding to keep girls “busy” in the teen years. This seems to be effective for another family friend as well. Lots of hard work, exercise, and a little horse poop to keep you grounded while the hormones go crazy.

I ventured into the horse world for a couple weeks during my teenage years. My sister was working at a barn in Rougemont, NC and I stayed there for a little while, mucking stalls for free lessons. I worked hard, was exhausted at the end of the day, and even learned some riding skills. My favorite horse was named Reid. It was a great time for me, but sadly, my horse lessons were sporadic, and its not something I practice now.

pins and needles

What an exciting day! I could hardly read the paper this morning because this election is so historic. I’m so glad that so many young voters registered and that voter turnout has set records. I voted last Thursday at my local community center, and there were at least 20 people canvassing the voters. The tv media was there as well as amateur and professional photographers. I waited 35 minutes in line and felt so proud to cast my ballot for “change” this year. It’ll be a late night in our household as we wait and watch the votes get tallied…

If our man doesn’t win, we may head to the UK to live with sis or to Canada…sorry Mom.

Hot tea

I love autumn. Right now the leaves are such beautiful colors in my neighborhood. I don’t remember seeing such an array of colors last year. I’ve been drinking lots of tea since the weather turned cold. Chai tea is a favorite although I had some Lapsang Souchong yesterday. Its got a smoky flavor to it, almost like the tea leaves were dried over a campfire. Very appropriate for autumn.
Tea bags can be used for tea dying or t otreat headches or puffy eyes

I was a little disappointed this Halloween because we took out our daughter (a very happy purple fairy) and were only greeted at the door at 2 of the 10 houses we intended to visit. At 3 of the other houses we found a bowl of candy by the front door. The lights were dark at the other 5 houses. What a bummer. Lucky for us, our daughter is easily pleased and had a great time. What has happened to Halloween? Does everyone do the “trunk or treat” at the church? Is this because we live in the south? Next year, we go to someone else’s neighborhood.

I’m new to this…

Yesterday we all hopped into the car and drove to Durant Nature Trail for a little hike. We had to reiterate to Sophie several times that we would not be going by the playground but would just be walking and exploring. The weather was cool and crisp and there was a fine mist over the lake. The leaves have just started to change colors here, so it was the perfect thing to do on a Saturday morning at 8:30am. Most people are still sleeping at this hour, but when you have a three year old, you’ve already been up, eaten breakfast, read the paper, and are ready to go by now. I had the luxury of waking up at my leisure when I went to visit my sister last week. What a rare treat! She had to get up to feed the baby, but my duties didn’t need to start that early. While I was in England I realized just how much we Americans sit around. We sit in our cars, we sit in front of the tv, we sit in front of the computer. People get up and move more in Europe. I walked for at least an hour everyday that I was over there. So I came back inspired to walk more with my family. We did. We saw a great blue heron, a man fishing (don’t think he had a three year old), lichen on tree stumps, and a crystal clear lake.