Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Texas Thanksgiving

In true Texas fashion, I spent the Wednesday before Thanksgiving doing my last minute shopping at Wal-Mart... in my flip flops because the high was in the low 80s.  As usual, we were headed to my in-laws over in San Marcos to spend it with J's side of the family.  Our annual offering is broccoli rice casserole.  The recipe can be found in this book.

Don't let the cover fool you, with all of those fresh looking vegetables.  Every other recipe contains sour cream and a stick of butter, which is why we love it!  Broccoli rice casserole is a standard at any holiday meal.  For Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, you will always find it on the menu.  It's highly versatile and can be paired with turkey or ham.  The best part is that you don't have to season it at all because it contains cream of mushroom soup and a jar of Cheez Whiz.  These two highly processed foods are staples in the southern/Texas diet and contain enough sodium to give an elephant a serious case of water retention.  Can you say belly bloat?  The recipe does contain broccoli, but any health benefits provided by this vegetable are cancelled out by the other ingredients that shoot straight to your arteries and get stuck along the walls to form blockage.  Mmm, mmm, good!

I may have to get my mother or in-laws to ship some other Texas staples we just won't be able to live without over to England.  The list will probably contain the following.

1.  Rotel tomatoes - you just can't make yummy queso without it, or King Ranch Chicken, either

2.  Velveeta cheese - I bet they have that fresh stuff over there and you really need this dayglo orange cheese paired with your Rotel to get it just right

3.  Pace picante sauce - my husband loves to pair this with his tortilla chips and will do in a pinch for your queso if you find no Rotel in the pantry... it aint made in New York City, but right here in Texas

It will be interesting to see what other differences we find in the aisles of our local grocery store in England.  Maybe visitors will need to "pay" for their stay at our house with packets of Ranch dressing mix or Tex-Joy seasoning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes

Baby, it's cold outside.  London, that is, not Texas.  The high today was in the upper 70s.  I had on a pair of jeans, t-shirt and flip flops.  After my pedicure at noon, I had to crank up the AC in the car because it was stuffy.  My youngest daughter was running around in knee length shorts all day.

This next week it's supposed to reach up into the low 80s here in the Texas hill country, turning cool just in time for Thanksgiving on Thursday when a front blows through Wednesday night.  Take a look at the Thanksgiving forecast for the London area.

Scattered Clouds, High: 39 °F 
Thursday Night
Chance of Snow, Scattered Clouds, Low: 30 °F 
Clear, High: 33 °F 

The girls and I spent this balmy Saturday at a few local stores stocking up on boots, sweaters and jeans.  After seeing the above forecast, we may need to go to the local sporting goods/hunting superstore to invest in some long underwear and pocket warmers.  Nothing says redneck like a bit of camo in the wardrobe.

Everybody is gearing up for Thanksgiving and it's so odd to think that we won't be celebrating it in England.  The kids will have their usual 5-day school week.  It will be just another Thursday on the calendar.  No deep fried turkey, mother's homemade dressing that was granny's recipe or my mother-in-law's yummy cherry salad... no broccoli rice casserole or pumpkin pie.  No Cowboys or Longhorns v. Aggies game to watch on the TV while we teeter on the edge of consciousness in our food induced comas.  

And the worst part (insert gasp of horror here), no Black Friday to kick start a crazed holiday shopping season with every other Texan who woke up at the crack of dawn to scout out the good deals.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cats and Comforters

We had three cats, but now we're down to just two.  Calico was adopted by my husband's secretary and she's living the good life, with her own private collection of catnip stuffed mice and private litter box.  We adopted Calico and her sister Tabby (yes, we're incredibly unimaginative when it comes to pet names) seven years ago.  They were born to a stray cat at the middle school where I was teaching at the time.  A club on campus looked out for local animals and the sponsor fostered the momma and her kittens until they were old enough to be adopted.  We had them declawed/spayed and they've been with us ever since.

KK is the old crotchety granny cat in our household.  We adopted her from the Ft. Worth Humane Society back in 1998 when she was supposedly 3-4 years old.  Of the three, she has always been the most personable.  She always comes down to investigate folks when they come to visit, unlike the other two who cower under the nearest bed until company leaves.  The one downside to KK is that she retained her claws.  Since we moved into our current home, she has destroyed the back of my Pottery Barn sectional sofa and frou-frou master bedding with her claws.  She's arthritic in her old age, so she jumps up as far as she can and then digs in to pull herself the rest of the way onto the bed.  

With our impending move to England and the fact that KK will not be making the trip with us, I decided to purchase some new bedding.  And the winner is...

I love red and this duvet cover from Pottery Barn looked nice in the catalog.  It should arrive with the supporting cast of items I ordered by the end of this week and I hope it's a keeper.  Assuming this ensemble works, I'll be looking for further linen options in Callie's room as well as the two guest bedrooms.  Our pack date with the moving company is a month from Saturday, so I need to get busy making some decisions!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Yep, You're Gonna Need a License for That

Here in America you need a license to drive, to operate heavy machinery, to teach children, to practice law and to dispense medicine - all necessary precautions to safeguard our citizens.  But a license to watch TV...  

If the mood strikes, we could have a TV with cable in every room of our house.  We could put a flat screen on each and every wall.  With our DVR's, we can tape multiple shows and play them back while barbecuing on the back porch or taking a bubble bath.  And we don't need no stinking TV LICENSE to do it, either.  Some countries require that you have a license to own and operate a TV.  Step away from the remote if you don't have proper licensing. Maybe I'll apply to be a TV cop.  The cable and satellite hackers would fear me and I would be called hero.

I could totally understand a license for something like the washing machine or dryer.  I can't tell you how many times I've been guilty of shrinking and maiming poor, innocent clothes.  Honestly, I didn't intend to turn those white undershirts a pale shade of pink and have no idea how that red item got in there without being apprehended.  And it's not like I purposely lose those socks in the dryer.  There aren't enough milk cartons in the state of Texas for all of the black dress socks that have gone missing on my watch.

Here are a few licenses I think might be useful in most countries.

1.  a license to procreate because your gene pool can't be watered down anymore without that whole theory of humans constantly evolving getting debunked

2.  a license for anyone over age 80 to go shopping on Saturdays or Sundays when parents are crowding the stores because, geez, you're retired and can shop during the week when the rest of us are working

3.  a license to act like an ass at any youth soccer, football or baseball game when you heckle the other team's players as well as the ref and then try to act all innocent when folks stare at you in disgust - in my opinion, this license needs to be astronomically expensive since it means you're probably dooming your child to numerous therapy sessions once they reach adulthood

And finally, we might need to institute blog licenses because it seems that just any raving lunatic can post her stream-of-consciousness ramblings on the internet these days.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Poor Planning

I was gung-ho and ready to go.  All it takes is a pair of running shoes and a little effort.  How difficult can it be to complete a half marathon when you see all of these other ordinary folks doing it so effortlessly?  

I started training in the summer, building up my distance and stamina until I could jog 7 miles without really feeling the burn.  Sure, the blisters slowed me down, but that was fixed with a better pair of shoes.  Silly me was wearing a neutral shoe when I needed a stability shoe because my feet roll inward when I walk/jog.  Thanks, father, for the terribly flat feet.  And a good pair of padded socks - can't forget those, especially when three pair cost almost as much as the shoes.

So I get myself all psyched for the training schedule and then find out we're moving to London.  Seriously, who can focus on logging laps when I've got to plan for a new life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean?  I've done my best ostrich imitation, trying to ignore the fact that I'm supposed to walk/jog 13 miles on November 14.  

My just punishment will be huffing and puffing while trying to keep up with my amazingly motivated friend that is up to 12 slow, steady, nonstop miles... while teaching middle school, getting a second graduate degree and single parenting her two daughters.  Run, Marla, run!  Forget finishing it in 2.5 hours.  Forget getting in better shape along the way.  My new goal - to cross the finish line without anyone having to dial 911.