Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving, with vampires and shotguns

A belated happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! And a special Thanksgiving wish to our neighbors down the street who provided such entertainment yesterday in the form of no less than eight police cars all lined up, and who knows how many cops loading their shotguns behind their open car doors and marching down the street, pointedly not looking from side to side to see all the neighbor faces pressed against their windows. I have no idea what was going on down there; I don't even know what those neighbors look like. But it seems they were up to no good yesterday. Thanks, villainous neighbors! That was exciting.

We had a small dinner at our house, just me and Jim, my mom, Alexandra, and my brother and his girlfriend Charisma, who came down from Seattle. Jim and I have made a number of Thanksgiving dinners together now (this is the beginning of our 10th year together) and this was by far the most stress-free. The thing about Thanksgiving food is, it's easy to make. You just have to time everything right. And since there were only 6 of us this year, we just did the basics: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce. And of course, pie.
Yum. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the basting team of Jim and my mom:
And one hopeful pup:
The bird was divine. Good job, basters! And, the basters doubled as the gravy-makers, and the gravy, which I think is the most stressful part of the whole preparation, was the. best. ever. Easy, and PERFECT!

After the pies, which were made by the pie-maker Jim (pumpkin and apple) with me as apple-peeler, we did what everyone does on Thanksgiving and we watched a vampire movie! Oh, and not just vampires. Vampires vs. werewolves. (Underworld). Very festive. While we were doing that, Alexandra slunk upstairs to hijack my blog. I know she's going to be vastly upset that I am already posting again and pushing her post down, but. . . what can I say? Sorry, Al.

Here are a couple of tips for reluctant holiday hostesses:

1. Have a special recipe box just for holiday recipes you make every year.

Then, as the holiday approaches, you just take it down and there's everything you need, all together. Plus, as magazines always have new recipes every year and you try new ones, you add them, make notes to yourself, whatever. And Christmas cookie recipes -- keep them all together. Makes things so easy.

2. Cheap flowers. Small vases.

This one came to me by chance this year. Being in the middle of finishing a book, I did not put a whole lot of advance thinking into this meal. (Which is where my recipe box came in very handy.) I forgot to buy flowers until the night before, and then all that was really left to me was Safeway, where a basic bouquet was $24!! So instead I bought three $4 boquets of little filler things: the green mums, the small caranations, and whatever thos cute little pink pod things are, and I arranged them in little creamer pitchers. They filled 5 small containers, and looked totally cute all lined up down the table. You can keep a giant boquet on the table anyway, but some small ones, you can.

So, that's my "Martha" moment today!

And here's a thought, for everyday, not just holidays:
Use cloth napkins every day.
We just started doing this, after I read (wish I could find it to quote) the stats on how many trees would be saved annually if more people would start using recycled paper napkins and toilet paper. It was staggering. And it occurred to me I could do better than that (on the napkins, not the TP!) -- Cloth. We have a zillion and one pretty cloth napkins we never use. It's kind of like how some people will never use nice soaps but just keep them forever on the counter to look pretty? Well, I long ago got over that and I use those nice soaps. But my napkins have just been sitting there all pretty and tucked away, and so now we're using them instead of paper. And it's nice. Still need paper towels for some things, sure, but this has way reduced our paper consumption. And to the argument that you'll just use more water to wash them: not really. You have a few napkins to throw into the load of laundry you're going anyway. And to be honest, most meals aren't messy and you barely use your napking and don't necessarily need to wash it after dabbing a crumb from your lip. (Unless the thought of touching something that has touched your own lip really grosses you out, which would be weird.)

So, there's that. To save trees, and be elegant. I guess if you have kids, this may not be so viable, but I don't. Except this one, who definitely requires paper napkins for eye-goo maintainance:
Have a great weekend, all! If you feel like ruminating on your "misspent youth" go on over to Sunday Scribblings and contribute.


Alex S said...

Look, I will be very frank with you so sit yourself down. You have receieved zero comments to this post in almost 24 hours, and its not largely, its not largely, its entirely in fact because the entire blogospohere is ENRAGED that you pushed down my Thanksgiving Day post with this new one. I know, its rather irrational but you have to respect the will of the people and you have not. You have not. Instead, you thrust this new post above what is arguably the best, not to mention the most important, post that has ever shown up on your blog. make your bed Fatty and now you must lie in it Fatty....a cold, commentless bed.
p.s. Hows all that extra stuffing going? I wish I had tupperware with wings that could fly over there, full itself, up, and come right back to me!

Anonymous said...

You've inspired me to dig out our cloth napkins. We used nothing BUT all those years we were in the tropics. I don't buy napkins, but we eat so much take-out food and we always seem to end up with extra napkins...which I later use when we're eating home-cooked meals. I don't know why we haven't been using our cloth ones, but I'm going to find them right now! :) P.S. That picture of you is ADORABLE.

Unknown said...

I can't tell you how much I want to come over to your house and just look around for a few hours. You have the most interesting and colorful style I've ever seen! I want to let it envelope me and inspire me. It's refreshing and fun! I want to look through you and the hub's work spaces and see what you're up to. I want to braid your magenta hair. did that freak you out? sorry, I didn't mean to be freaky:)

I don't use paper towels. It drives people nuts who come to visit. They're always looking in drawers and cupboards for them and I just hand them a dish towel. Same thought process. I'll dig out my cloth napkins, too. it would be fun to make a bunch with scraps...hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Laini and Jim - I love looking at all your vibrant photos. I go through the paper vs cloth issue periodically - but I am such a messy person - really, I think somebody else should feed me sometimes - anyway, I may decide try the cloth ones again after reading your recommendations, though.
Wonder what happened with the neighbors and the SWAT team? Please let us know the ending to that mystery if you find out the scoop...speaking of mysteries, Alexandra hijacked your blog and wrote a post? I must read that now, too...

Dalissa McEwen Reeder said...

Happy Thanksgiving!
I just have to comment on the cloth napkins... I totally agree and I have five kids! We use them all of the time. I keep them in a basket by the diningroom table ready to go. They never get so soiled that they don't wash up nicely.

As for paper towels... what I do is save any ratty kitchen towels and put them under the sink in a stack and use them in place of paper towels. I am addicted to buying cute kitchen towels so I always have plenty of ratty ones. They are also just as easy to toss in with other laundry loads except for when they are heavily soiled in which case I either throw them away or wash them separately.

I'm right there with you on not making my own tp... i'm just not that green.

Amber said...

Listen, if you were really dedicated, you would take those pretty napkins into the bathroom with you. Just saying. ;)

I have become obsessed with the reusable shopping bags. I swear I buy one everytime I go to a store! I now have a basket with about twenty of them in my van. It's has become crazy.

Hahaha about your very own Cops episode on Thanksgiving.


Anonymous said...

Happy Leftover Turkey Day to my two favorite Portland turkeys!
Laini, you are such a smart hostess with the mostess -- your holiday recipe box is too awesome.

Amber said...

Hey! I just finished "A Certain Slant of Light", as per your recommendation before. I LOVED it! Really good. Thanks!


Sustenance Scout said...

Cute photo, Laini! Loved all your ideas AND the colors in your sitting room; you really are Martha Jr. aren't you? Glad you had such a wonderful Thanksgiving! K.

Camille said...

Hi Laini and Jim,
What beautiful dishes you have! I think using cloth napkins adds an air of festivity and refinement to any meal, even hot dogs or a peanut butter sandwich.

BTW Laini, I am watching the movies and reading the books you recommended to me at Esme's. Mr. Darcy is a hoot.

blessedmatch said...

I really enjoyed this blog. Too bad that it's all coming to an end.

I am sure everybody knows by now how the police weren't after Laini's neighbors. It seems that Alexandra's little hijacking had nothing to do with Xanadu, but everything to do with the outlawed interrogation technique of Bulgarian Cupcake Torture. Who could have thought that the raccoons were just a diversionary tactic for advance surveillance?

Alexandra seems to think that I am going to post bail for her. Pshaw!

As for Laini, poor Laini. It was all so avoidable. Lying to the police under oath to try to protect the person who had been torturing her. Just like Barry Bonds and Bill Clinton -- it's the perjury that gets you.

How apropos that Laini's post mentions Martha Stewart. The pink hair just doesn't go with pinstripes...

Katie said...

Laini - do you still watch Pushing Daisies? 'Cuz your pie looked so good and I just bought a big peach pie to watch wednesday's show with the family:o)

That show always makes me want PIE!

Thanks for sharing your holiday pics.

Deirdre said...

Love, love the idea of the holiday recipe box. I hate searching for a recipe.

Not only do I use cloth napkins (most of the time), I've taken to making my own as well. Okay, sort of...I still need one more part for the serger and watch out, we'll be able to color co-ordinated our meals.

Your Thanksgiving sounds lovely, even with the police excitement.