throwback thursday: winter

it’s almost december, and the air is still fall. climate change is pushing back the cold a little bit at a time, and it feels as though the winters of my youth were colder, snowier, but that just may be my hippie bias talking. 

thanksgivings in austin were always snowy, it seemed. after eating thanksgiving dinner at my aunt and uncle’s, we would go out on the snowmobile with our cousins, taking large drifts in the pasture, getting stuck in them and fidgeting as we stood by while bill wrestled with the polaris to get it out of the drift. 

i remember one christmas where there was no snow. we lined our long gravel driveway with luminaries christmas eve, and it was easy to set the paper bags on the snowless ground and light the candles. now it seems that every other christmas is set in a brown backdrop. 

there were howling winds on the farm. during the years my dad and uncle squire sold fish, it wasn’t uncommon for my dad to keep some in the old van during the winter months. one afternoon when school was closed because of snow, my dad asked me to go to the van for a box of shrimp. i don’t remember putting up a fight or not putting up a fight; all i remember is heading into the small, weightless dry snow that was falling horizontally because the wind was so strong. it was hard to see and the snowflakes bit at my skin.

when enough snow fell to warrant a plow, my cousin or uncle a mile up the road would come with the bucket tractor. our driveway wasn’t horrendously long, but it was longer than the average driveway. whoever came with the tractor would take the snow and pile it into a large hill next to the pumphouse. it was a great sledding hill.

a few times during the winter, my siblings and i would trek down to the creek to try ice skating. we had some old pairs of skates that our aunt colette procured for us, and while they weren’t in great shape, they did the trick. there was a small pool that the creek gathered in underneath a large oak tree before it meandered on its way to slide into dobbins creek and eventually dam up into east side lake before tributarying into the cedar river. (i just checked google maps to see how that all worked out, and our creek is nameless.) if we were lucky, the creek would be free of snow, and the ice would be fairly smooth, with the occasional bump or tree root sticking out. if it wasn’t prime skating conditions, we would walk along the frozen water, maybe stand under the bridge of old highway 16 and pretend we were trolls.

during the halloween blizzard of 1991, austin mn got 3″ of ice. our house had no electricity for four days. of course, time of distress always mean my dad has to take a drive into town (this happened again during the school closings for 1994 and 1995 – instead of staying inside, we drove into willmar to go shopping but we would never leave without these kohls promo codes). the day after the blizzard, i woke up to see the cedar trees in the yard split down the middle due to the weight of the ice. after breakfast, my dad said he was driving into town to see what was up. i went with him. there were tree branches down all over the place, and i bet we didn’t drive above 30 mph. (could’ve been the most cautious he’s ever driven.)

during my entire time at st. ben’s, we didn’t have one snow day. generally, if the busses can’t run between csb and sju, they close for the day. from 1997-2001, we didn’t have severe enough snow to warrant a closure. the next year, of course, there was a snow day. 

there was a small pine tree that my dad planted next to our back door (which led into the back back room. it made sense if you lived there). every christmas, he would wind a set of big christmas lights, the c9s, around the little tree. the snow would rest on the tree just the right way and the lights would glow under the snow.


word wednesday: nostalgia

we all feel nostalgic from time to time, remembering events past or traditions or things that happened when we were younger. the halcyon days. days we remember fondly and look at through our rose colored glasses.

the word itself has greek origins (surprise surprise). it comes from the greek nostos, meaning homecoming, and algia, or pain. it was coined in the late 1600s from a translation of the german word heimweh for homesickness by johannes hofer. he was describing the depression he witnessed in swiss mercenaries who were longing to get home after service abroad. so there was always some pain involved in nostalgia.

which, when you think about, is probably true in the modern definition. it might not be as acute as the swiss were feeling, but there is always a sense of sadness when we think about the good old days. nostalgia really is a two-edged sword, combining the happy days and the knowledge that they’re in the past and not coming back.


review tuesday: YOGA

i understand if you’re not a bendy person that you might think yoga’s not for you. what’s the point, you think? why bother if i can’t even get close to touching my toes? 

after doing yoga regularly for about four years, i’ll tell you what i’ve learned: it’s not about getting into the pose; it’s about the stretch. and you know what else yoga’s about? the breathing. the breath is more important than one might think. 

but what i like the most about yoga? it requires a level of concentration that’s close to meditation; i am so focused on getting my body into the appropriate alignment and pose that my mind doesn’t wander to anything else. add in the deep, regular breathing, and for someone with anxiety, this is a great way to relax your mind while stretching your body.

(and while it’s NOT about getting into a pose, let me tell you – getting into a pose for the first time is exhilarating!)


let me tell you about what this post is really about. my review this tuesday is about fightmaster yoga. when i first started tooling around youtube looking for a great yoga channel, i was looking for something that wasn’t too peppy, relaxing to watch, while still doing various types of yoga. when i needed slow yoga, i’d like that. when i want some vinyasa flow (this is most of the time), there’s that. i also wanted someone who was a little more real and had a soothing voice. after previewing a few channels, i found fightmaster yoga (that links to her youtube channel) and have been with her ever since.

i am so happy about having her as my virtual yoga master that i subscribed to her patreon and donated to her. i’m thinking of signing up for her align course, which you do via video chat to make sure you’re doing your poses correctly. 


i’m doing this review because starting in january, she’s doing another 30 days of yoga for the new year. it’s a great way to try to get yoga in every day. it’s a perfect time to get your yoga on!

meme monday: DYK

did you know….meme was actually coined by richard dawkins in a 1970s book he wrote? i think it had to do with genes evolving and propagating.

anyway, i had nothing on my schedule for today! so i guess today is meme monday and word wednesday!


on the five-year plan

let’s a take a moment to talk about the five-year plan. in taking on the “someday sunday” blog theme, i’ve been talking about things that i would like to do in the future. in all the SS posts, though, i don’t have a plan to do it. that’s because i’m not a fan of the five-year plan, or 10-year plan, or any year plan, quite frankly.

while i am a huge planner for concrete items, those concrete items for me are elusive, hard to nail down. i’ve noticed this theme even at work: i am NOT the big picture person; once that big picture’s come into focus, i am the details person.

so while i would like to go to machu picchu someday, greece someday, get chickens and bees someday, that someday is not in focus. 


i think life would be a little boring if we all stuck to a five-year plan. and it really allows for no upheaval or spontaneity. with a five-year plan, i probably would not have moved to rochester. i probably would not have my job now because the job experience i had in roch wouldn’t have been experienced. 

a five-year plan holds you fast to a certain set of experiences, and without the sense of “anything could happen,” time skips along at a terrifyingly fast pace. routine lulls us into a sense of complacency about time. 

now, i understand that if a person is satisfied with her current set of circumstances, a five-year plan isn’t really in someone’s cards. i feel like that’s where i’m currently at. i like my house, i like my job, i like my life. but if something comes up? i’m not going to pass up the opportunity to at least weigh the pros and cons, consider for a moment what might be, maybe shake things up if that’s what the stars say to do. 

because i’ll sweat the details. but i’m not going to say no to what the future might have in store – my plans are all about the minutiae after the big picture’s been sorted out.  

anything might happen. that’s what life is. 

foodie friday: thanksgiving recap

that’s a lot of food to cook. maybe next year we’ll do tacos.


so jane had an enjoyable time hacking out the spine of the turkey so we could spatchcock it. it makes for a quick roasting time and a more even cook. this year i bought a smaller whole turkey and then bought a turkey breast so there were leftovers for everyone to take home.


liz did good getting the table figured out! those are some of my birch logs that i cut up and made into tealight holders. happy with how they turned out!


the bird turned out really well! and there’s that great gravy that jane spent three hours stirring. 

we tried a weird corn dish this year that i think everyone’s ok with not making again. i think we might pass on brussels sprouts next year, also. that’s a lot of food. 

i have a ton of leftovers! which is ok. and pie galore!

thanksgivings of yore


When daylight saving gives us an extra hour of sleep on a Saturday night, and the days suddenly grow so short that I wonder why it’s 9:30 p.m., look at the clock, and realize it’s still 5 p.m., I know it’s time for the holidays. I’m not one to want Christmas to come right after Halloween, and I enjoy the time it takes to move from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s. But Thanksgiving isn’t what it used to be, for some reason.

When I was young, my family went to my aunt Kathleen & uncle George’s house for the day, along with their kids, my aunt Colette, and uncle Squire. My mom was “famous,” I guess you could say, for her pumpkin pie, and this is the dish we would bring to the Thanksgiving spread. Although I loved the food and the people at the time, looking back, it was really the night before Thanksgiving that was especially endearing.

For the four pies that would ultimately come from the oven, my mom would start prepping right after supper, pulling out cans of pumpkin puree and evaporated milk. She mixed the ingredients in the large stainless steel pot we owned, the only thing big enough to hold all the ingredients. There was a real science to the spices, taste-testing for the right combination after each dash here, teaspoon there. Some years we had pies that tasted heavily of cloves; other years, nutmeg sparkled on our tongues.

After the filling was perfected, it was time for the crust, which was the best part for us kids, and the worst part for my mom. My siblings and I would gather around as we watched her crumble flour, salt, and Crisco between her fingers, then add water until the dough stuck together. We helped get the pie plates ready, which I never remember her buying and that she still uses, by swirling Crisco on the bottom and sides with a napkin, making circular patterns until we were told to stop.

Meanwhile, my uncle Squire always came to our house the night before Thanksgiving to make his contribution to the dinner: cranberry-orange sauce. Because he was a bachelor and didn’t have much of a need for kitchen gadgets, he didn’t own a blender, a necessary accouterment for making cranberry-orange sauce. My dad, of course, was in the kitchen as well, inputting commentary when necessary and generally making fun of my mom and uncle. So there we were in the kitchen, my mom, dad, Squire, and one, two, three, or four kids.

Our countertops were old and not the best for large-area food preparation, so my mom used a piece of laminate, which was a remnant of countertop cut for a sink (something I realized much later in life). After my dad pulled it from its cubbyhole and placed it on the kitchen, my mom prepared for the most difficult part of piemaking: rolling the dough. After cursing her dough and yelling at us to watch out while she flipped the crust from the surface to the plate, my mom let us have the leftover pieces to mash together and play with. After begging to cook our mini-pie creations, mom made us toss our dough in the trash.

But the best was yet to come: It was time to slip the pies into the oven. Baking four pies took time – two batches of prep and hour-long baking for four pies – and of course, small children had to go to sleep to prepare for the next day’s festivities. We were tucked into bed while the pies baked, the smell wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom where we would be lulled to sleep by the scent of pumpkin and spices. It was the best night’s sleep of the year.

word wednesday: luddite

i’m pretty open to new technology. i tend to be an early adopter of some things (see: internet dating, expensive tvs, facebook). other things, i refuse to touch. like ebooks. it’s just not the same! you can call me a luddite when it comes to kindles and other ereaders. luddites are people who are opposed to new technology.

so where does luddite come from?

back in teh early 1800s, the economy in england was pretty horrible, and technology was threatening textile workers’ standard labour practices. the workers had spent a lot of times learning the craft, and were afraid the machines would replace them. so the workers, led by one ned ludd, rioted and broke the machines that would automate textile work. 

the rebellion actually lasted for five years – mill owners were shooting protesters! eventually the military came in to put down the movement. 

this is short because i’ve been cooking all day and i’m off to the wishbone run tomorrow morning, so i’ve got to get myself to sleep. zzzz.



review tuesday: a change of plans

i was going to review john green’s new book, “turtles all the way down,” but it’s been a couple weeks since i finished it, and i have a much more pressing thing to review for you: THANKSGIVING FOOD.

first, just know this isn’t my first rodeo (i think you know that). second, know that i really ENJOY doing this. i’m not sure why. but i just do. 

tomorrow i start the work. i’ll do a lot of prep cooking tomorrow because there’s no timeline, and i can just do it willy nilly. which means i end of doing a lot more cooking tomorrow than on thanksgiving itself. 

day before

i’ll brine the turkey. i use the pioneer woman’s brine and i get organic cage-free turkeys (not fresh – they’ve been frozen). 

i’ll make a couple pies. this year, it’s pecan and pumpkin cheesecake. (!)

the DRESSING. this is everyone’s favorite and it’s always the first thing we run out of. i think i’ll make a double batch this year and see how it goes. 

cranberry-orange sauce. we do the cold version. i tried the hot version last year, and people weren’t as impressed. it’s like we need something cold and tangy to go with everything warm and homey. 

i’ll cook the squash and get it in a bowl. the day of, we’ll throw in some butter and brown sugar and stick it in the microwave.

sweet potato casserole. this is something that we never had growing up, and one year i decided to try it out. SO DELICIOUS. so we’ve been making it ever since. it’s easy to warm up, so we’ll make it the day before.

apricot coronne, a technical challenge from the great british baking show, will be breakfast. i’ll make it the night before.

day of

for a snack/lunch, i’m making a squash galette with bacon. it’s so yummy! and filling, so it should be enough for everyone if we have some cheese and other snacky stuff with it.

then we’ll pop in the rolls – i just use bread dough from the freezer section and make pull-apart rolls. 

spatchcocking the bird. if you do it this way, it takes a little over an hour to roast, which is a-ok with me. 

throw on the potatoes. 

put in all the things that need to warm up – dressing, sweet potatoes, squash

this year we’re trying a parmesan cilantro corn dish instead of green beans. we’ll see how it goes!

then time to cook the brussels sprouts – just fry them up in some bacon. 

bird comes out and time to make GRAVY. 



then it’s time for DIE HARD.