Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Night Divine

If any of you ever decide to come visit us here in Guam (the welcome mat is out and waiting to be stepped on), after tonight I would HIGHLY recommend you come for Christmas.  First off, the weather is pretty spectacular, we're getting trade winds again, which keeps the temperature and humidity down.  But mainly, if you come for Christmas you could go to Rota Walk with us!

Tonight, since this is our first Christmas on Guam, was our first Rota Walk.  I've been hearing about it since practically the minute we found out we were moving here.  It totally lived up to and (incredibly) surpassed my expectations.  Rota Walk is held every year on the Saturday night before Christmas. Rota Drive is the nicest residential street on base and winds up a mountain hill.  Pretty much all of the base leadership lives on Rota Drive and they decorate their houses for Christmas.  Rota Walk is the night when all the lights have to be up and everyone walks from the bottom of Rota Drive to the top of the hill.  Along the way, there are choirs, bounce houses, people serving hot dogs and cookies and even hot chocolate.  It's basically a huge block party/street festival.

My description above doesn't really do it justice, and the pictures below probably won't either.  But, it was a great night. We kicked the evening off by having a rather impromptu dinner party (on the menu chili dogs and tater tots- that just reeks of Christmastime doesn't it?  Maybe not, but I think it's the start of a new Michael family tradition, we will serve chili dogs and tater tots and have a pre-Rota Walk get together every year we are here) at our house.  After all 15 of us finished eating, we headed out to Rota Drive.  It was a beautiful night out:  no rain, perfect breeze, no frogs were seen, no shrews were heard- couldn't ask for more. Price rode in his wagon and he spent the night looking at all the lights and watching all the people.  He got to ride a carabao and even got snowed on.  He saw Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman and bulldozers and big trucks.  I saw Christmas through his eyes.  I heard the carols and felt the tropical breeze on my face, and I realized why my mom always loved taking us to look at Christmas lights, I am pretty sure it wasn't for the lights themselves, but for the lights reflecting in our eyes.

The Carabao started walking off after being hit in the behind with a glowstick. I guess I was laughing about almost being trampled by a huge animal.  And no, contrary to what the picture may lead you to believe, I am not pregnant, I have just been eating a lot of cinnamon rolls.

Once again, I feel blessed to feel a sense of wonder and watch Price experience things for the first time and also be experiencing things we never would have if we hadn't moved to Guam.  It was a hard move and it's hard to be so far away from home this time of year.  But tonight was a reminder that we aren't alone here, that someone recognizes that being on this tiny spec of land could be tough this time of year, and goes out of their way to put on an event like Rota Walk so we can feel closer to home and closer to each other by sharing one, dare I say, magical moment with our friends and neighbors.

Guamanian Nativity Scene

Santa travels by a dolphin guided kayak when delivering gifts to Guam.

Bubble Snow and Palm Trees, it's a Corona commercial in the making

I'm pretty sure that those are Price's gifts on that bulldozer based on what his really generous grandparents, aunts and uncles have shipped to him!

Friday, December 18, 2009

How Lovely Are Thy Branches

I've been meaning to post these for a while, but it's been a whirlwind of a week!

After the dough ornament adventure with Price, I was looking forward to decorating the tree.  I think it turned out pretty well, I even (mostly) like the colored lights...

Once the tree was up, time just started to fly by!  We got into a little bit of a holiday frenzy.  However, it's really not as bad as what we would experience in the States, this frenzy is more laid back.  Kind of like a riptide, just going with the flow, until it slows down even more and then we can relax.

It all started last weekend.  We took a little break from our routine and headed to the Westin for the Med Group Christmas Party.  We got a room for the night so we could have some pool time on Saturday and Sunday.  We had a blast!   It was so much fun hanging out by the pool with friends, having fruity drinks, looking out at the ocean.  Price's harem of tweenage girlfriends played with him most of the time we were in the pool, so he had fun too. Our little water baby swam and swam until he turned blue.

That night, we got dressed up in real clothes (I even wore heels, the invite specifically requested NO FLIP FLOPS, and panty hose), left Price up in the room with his favorite babysitters and had a great night NOT trying to entertain a 16 month old at dinner, eating, drinking and being merry- I even got a case of disco fever and hit the dance floor more than usual (I wasn't even tipsy)- it just felt good to cut loose.  As usual, I forgot to take pictures, but I think some were taken, so if  I get copies I'll post them later.  We did take some pictures from our balcony before we checked out of the hotel on Sunday...

We also spent some time on the beach, trying to get some Christmas card worthy pictures...

Now that Price is walking, he walks right into the water.  Luckily, it's pretty much like walking into a warm lake.

We got home from our mini-getaway and I still had to bake 10 dozen cookies for the base's Unaccompanied Airmen Cookie Drive.  I procrastinated all afternoon and didn't start baking until 9 at night and didn't finish until about 1 in the morning.  I got a call the next morning asking if I could bake about 10 more dozen, so I did.  After making 20 dozen cookies, I don't really want to see another cookie for a while.  That is good news for my scale, the bad news for my scale is that I decided I wanted to give Don's element and some other folks homemade, from scratch cinnamon rolls (by the way, if you ever make these, make the icing in this recipe-even if you're a traditionalist like I am- I never knew adding a little coffee to a cinnamon roll would make my heart go pitter-patter and not because of the sugar rush or infusion of caffeine, but because it is the best subtle flavor explosion, I can't even describe it, just trust me on this) .  So, I made 17 pans of them.  They turned out great, especially considering it was my first time making them (I am learning to love baking here, it's the perfect climate for yeast to work- I am currently 2 for 2 on successful attempts).


Anyway, between all the baking, Christmas shopping, meeting attending, Christmas shopping, and trying to get ready for my brother's arrival this weekend, it's just been busy, busy around here.  I am looking forward to this weekend- Saturday is Rota Walk and Sunday, my brother will be here.  I CAN'T WAIT!!  The anticipation and all the preparation is making it feel more and more like Christmas every day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Today was the first time that I did an "organized" (the quotes are for those of you who know me well, know that I use the term VERY loosely) craft project with Price.  He's finally at an age where we can do things like this.  We had great fun and I said a prayer of blessing and thanks to all of my friends and family members who are teachers, especially of young, unruly children, and do things like this on a regular basis with children who don't belong to them!!

Here are some pics of the fun we had...

"Mom, I think this bowl is too big, I think I might dump everything on the floor."

Smaller bowl, easier access, less chance of a mess.  He loved how the flour felt on his fingers.

Stirring the goop

"I wish I hadn't tasted that!"  It was really salty.

Before paint

After paint

Some paint actually made it onto the ornaments, but he's still too young to really paint.  We won't attempt paint again for a while unless he's naked and outside and his mouth is taped shut and there's a hose to wash him off.

Deck the Halls

Trying to get into the Spirit of the season, I figured it would be a good idea to decorate the house.  So, on Saturday we loaded up and headed to Big Navy to buy a tree and decorations.  Sometimes I am in denial forget that I live on a small island where things aren't always in the abundance I have grown accustomed to.  We get to Navy and decide to get an artificial tree (real trees are available here, but they are shipped here from far away lands and are more dead on arrival than most "fresh" trees).  The nice trees were more than we wanted to pay (I've already asked my mom to buy me a nice tree for next year at one of the after Christmas sales, and we'll just ship it over when we're home next year), and we were a little concerned about Grabby Grabberson pulling a tree down on top of himself, so we (I very begrudgingly) settled on a little 4" tree with colored lights (I don't like colored lights).  Even on display, it kind of looked like Charlie Brown's tree.  Sigh.....

Then, I'm like, "Come on girl, pick yourself up by your boot straps, you can make this tree look nice.  It just needs some sparkle, some pizazz."  I start planning the theme in my head- we'll do all silver balls to reflect the colored lights and find cute whimsical ornaments that reflect childhood.  (Oh and if you're wondering why we are doing all of this, after all, we have been married for almost 9 years, you'd think we would have Christmas decorations already.  Well, we do.  In fact we have boxes and boxes of Christmas things- beautiful, wonderful, sentimental, fun Christmas things.  All packed away in long term storage- sent there by mistake because our big movers didn't load them and we didn't realize it until too late.  One box made it- it contained a pillow and a candle holder).  I was excited, I had a plan and a mission and then I walked down the ornament aisle and was met with- not much.  And NO shatter proof ornaments which, with a newly walking young man who has a fondness and knack for pulling on anything shiny, breakable and off limits, glass ornaments weren't going to work.  So we struck out at Navy, but I figured we still had our BX and I was SURE I could find what I wanted there.

Ha-ha, the joke was on me!  We went to the B/X the next night and they had even less of a selection and the only unbreakable ornaments were about $4 a piece.  Don could see the disappointment on my face and was like, "just get them, it's a little tree, we don't need that many".  But I couldn't justify spending $30 on 7 ornaments.  So, another wave of bah humbug started to crash over me.  And then, I decided, "Nope you're not going to get me.  I want a tree that captures the spirit of this holiday.  I want a tree that Price loves looking at and that makes his eyes sparkle as much as the lights on it."  I started wandering around the store, looking- wondering- what could I use for ornaments?  That's when I stumbled into the bakeware section and found a three pack of cookie cutters.  And I had it!  I knew what I would do.

We would hang the cookie cutters as ornaments.  I found some twine and candy canes and it was taking shape in my head.  It might not be the fanciest tree ever, but it was going to be good.

On Monday, I decided to see what Kmart had in the way of decorations.  I was pleasantly surprised to find ribbon and bows that went with my theme and found some shatterproof ornaments to add some extra sparkle.  Not only did I find what I was looking for, I also discovered that it's apparently ok to bring your pet chicken with you when you shop at Kmart.  I kept hearing a chirp and looked up only to find that a little girl had indeed brought a live baby chicken into the store and no one seemed fazed by it...

Monday night, more inspiration struck and I thought, why don't we make some dough ornaments to hang on the tree too (I am a little concerned about what creatures this may attract, but hopefully shellac will help prevent an infestation).

Today, Price and I made a batch of dough ornaments.  Let me tell you- there was a reason I couldn't find the tree I wanted or the decorations I wanted because making these ornaments was so much fun and really helped me get into the spirit of things. I never would have thought of making our own ornaments if everything had gone the way I wanted it to.  Isn't that what Christmas is about?  The unexpected surprises you find when you weren't looking, the beauty that comes from events not planned?  I couldn't help even but think of the birth of baby Jesus in a manger because there wasn't an abundance of places to stay. I'm not trying to compare my quest for a Christmas tree or its decorations to that of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to have their Son.  But really, it boils down to having to make due with what there is and then being amazed by what comes of it.

I may not have the biggest or most beautiful tree on the block, but I have some memories of a wonderful time I shared with my son.  Memories are going to help make this Christmas in this strange, crazy, wonderful place feel like Christmas (and like home) and I am so happy to have started making them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Weather Outside delightful.   It just REALLY, REALLY doesn't feel like winter.  Last week, we had some rainy days.  It was so grey and dreary those days, I could almost fool myself into thinking it was a winter storm, not a tropical disturbance.  But then, I'd walk outside and it was as warm and humid as always.  So, even though I won't be wearing anything like this* on Guam any time soon....

I have gratitude for several things about our non-wintery Christmas:

1.  I am actually LOSING weight instead of gaining it like I normally do this time of year.  No baggy sweaters to hide my winter insulation.

2.  It's almost the middle of December and I'm still working on my tan!

3. The weather is really nice right now, especially after 3:00 each day- it's so cool.  The other night, once the sun went down and the wind picked up, I could have, almost, actually worn a very light weight sweater outside and have been comfortable.

4.  And I'm not really sure how this relates to it being non-wintery weather, but we have been graced with amazing rainbows the past 3 days. The pics below are of the same rainbow, just different vantage points.

In addition to our great weather, we also had an early visit from Santa this weekend.  On Saturday, the Med Group sponsored  a breakfast with Santa, who arrives by ambulance when visiting the Med Group kids and is accompanied by an elf in Birkenstocks because that's the elf footwear of choice here in Guam.

The food was great. Price had fun doing his drunken Frankenstein walk around the room wanting to play with all the big kids, and he seemed to enjoy meeting Santa.  At least, he didn't freak out...

*BTW, I created this outfit at  It is an AWESOME website that allows you to put together complete outfits- it is so much fun, it's like playing with paper dolls.  And all of the clothes are linked to stores where you can buy the stuff.  Now, if only they'd ship to Guam.  And no, I'm not getting anything by mentioning the website, I just know several of you who read this blog like to shop and this site is really fun to put looks together!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tis a Few Weeks Before Christmas*

and all through my house, not a thing is ready... I feel like a louse.
No stockings are hung, there's no chimney, our walls are bare
St. Nicholas probably thinks I just don't care...

We live on a tropical island you see, and it just doesn't feel all that Christmas-y.
You have white snow, we have white sand.
I'm finding it hard to get into the spirit in this far away land!

Seriously, I think I may getting a case of the Bah-Hum Bug.  Which I don't want!  Is there a vaccine?  For some reason, today has been rough.  I think it is hitting me that my birthday (a pretty big one) and Christmas are right around the corner.  While I am so fortunate and blessed (and actually feel kind of selfish for even having some of these feelings when there are so many people worse off than I am) to be celebrating Christmas with my boys (hubby, Price and brother), it is the first Christmas that won't be spent with parental units and definitely the first Christmas we've spent so far away from home.  It won't even be Christmas in the States while we're celebrating it here (which, I guess is good in a way so Skyping will be easier).

Honestly, I always get a little down this time of year- and really can never put my finger on it.  But I think it boils down to two things.  One, and this is sooo stupid and EVERY year I tell myself to quit caring and EVERY year I continue to care- is my birthday.  It's not about how old I'm getting (although this year, I am officially moving into a new age bracket when it comes to filling out surveys and questionnaires), it's just so close to Christmas it kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

The other reason is that it always feels so rushed and anti-climatic. All the present buying, wrapping and then the mad frenzy of opening gifts and then it's over.  No one seems to slow down and think about (other than the hour you might spend at church) what it's all about.  Maybe in Guam, since everything is on island time, we will have a slower Christmas and really reflect about why we are celebrating on the first place.

I really want to go into this season with a joyful heart.  I want to make this a special holiday, full of warm memories and traditions, for Price.  (as I'm writing this-thank you blog- I'm realizing another positive about being in Guam is we are getting to create our own traditions without being rushed from one end of Texas to another to make sure we get face time with everyone this year).  I want him to begin to understand that it's about more than just Santa and presents.  I want him to experience the magic that I did as a child so that he looks forward to Christmas every year.

In an effort to achieve this goal, I'm going to be journaling this Christmas.  From now through January 6 (12th Night), my blog will mainly be devoted to helping me (and our little family unit) get into the Spirit.  Don't worry- there will still be lots of pictures, like this one, taken last night at the base Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Although it looks like he's doing the Jingle Bell Rock he's actually just walking around, enjoying the beautiful weather we had last night.  

*(with my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)


As you can see, I learned how to create my own background (thank you Photoshop Elements 8) and add a new header (thank you again

I'm not quite in love with the new look.  I feel like it might be a tad on the busy side (Don agrees) and I keep thinking about some great advice Coco Chanel once shared, "before you leave the house, remove one accessory."  So, I am trying to decide what to remove, but I'll leave it like it is for a day or two.

P.S.- I created the trees all by myself in PSE8, however the ribbon came from a digital scrapbooking kit, "Shabby Princess Festival," which I got from Shabby

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Priceless Discoveries

Which of these makes more sense?

The can of soup in the bathroom.


The tennis ball in the dishwasher?

These were today's goodies from Price.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blog In Progress

Since I've been spending more time blogging and am really enjoying it, I thought it might be a good idea to learn some new things while I'm at it.  So, over the next few weeks (probably months with my lazy streak), you may notice some changes.  For instance, as of today the green is gone and the layout has changed.

One of the things I am trying to learn is how to create my own backgrounds, hence the new layout.  I am also playing around with html code (totally copying it- with permission- from websites that have tutorials on how to spiffy up blogs).  One of the things that has always bothered me about my blog is how the posts just kind of run into into each other.  I found a way to add post breaks and am trying to get them to work (I see it in my preview, but not always on my live blog).

Anyway, hope you'll bear with me as this site changes.  Thanks for reading!

PS- the cute post divider (along with instructions on how to add one to your blog) can be found at Shabby Blogs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Little Man, Little Man

Dear Stinker Bug,

My how time flies!  You are 16 months old today.  We've been in Guam for 3 months and a day.  You've changed so much in the past three months (I can't even describe how much you've changed since you were born).  When we got to Guam, you ate different food than we did, you didn't walk and you really didn't have much to say.

These days, you love to eat whatever we are eating.  Your favorite foods are meat (especially cheeseburgers) and pasta. You'll really eat just about anything (except cauliflower- no matter how much cheese it's covered in and chicken nuggets).  We always have to bathe you when you eat any pasta with red sauce because you get covered from head to toe, even if you're wearing a bib.  Usually, when you have spaghetti, we strip you down to your diaper because we know you'll make such a big mess.  You always let us know when you're finished with your food by placing your bowl on your head.

You've also started walking.  Granted, you walk a little like Frankenstein, but you no longer need the assistance of a wall, chair or couch to get from point A to point B.  You still use them but are getting less and less dependent on them.  You only crawl if you want to get some where quickly, then you hit the floor, tuck your head and you're off!  It's fun watching you learn to gain confidence in yourself.  You have no fear when it comes to climbing either.  You are constantly trying to climb up on the couches, over chairs, anything that can support you, you want to be King of the Hill.

Daddy and I both think you're super smart.  Although you don't say a lot that we can understand, you are really verbal and you are starting to make connections with words and things.  I love when you do this!  You can hiss like a snake, you say "cheese", "this", "that", "night-night", "see" and several others.

Your favorite thing to do seems to be to take anything out of it's proper place (your toys, my pots and pans, bibs, ANYTHING) and throw it onto the floor and move it around.  I find my shoes in boxes of electrical equipment and your toys in drawers with the measuring spoons.  And even though it seems like I am CONSTANTLY picking up after you, I love when you're napping and I open a drawer and find a little goodie that you left- it makes my heart smile thinking of you.

Speaking of shoes, you love them.  You want to wear them all the time, even if you only have on a diaper.  You also love to take daddy's and my shoes off our feet and put them back on and I've even caught you trying to wear our shoes, but it's hard since we mainly wear flip flops these days.  (A shoe related side story-  Tonight we took you for a ride in your wagon and some neighbors asked if we had lost one of your shoes.  And sure enough on our previous wagon ride almost a week ago, you apparently tossed one of your shoes out of the wagon- your wagon is one of your favorite places to store treasures-  and it stayed outside, a block away from our house for 5 rainy days, but tonight it is safe and sound and reunited with its sole mate)

You are still such a joy to be around (although, you like to scream in a very high pitched voice when you don't get your way).  We love you so much and are so happy God chose us to be your parents.


PS-  Tonight was a big night for us.  I did something that I have been putting off for a while.  I finally broke down and cut  your hair.

I figured since you were 16 months old, and not a resident of Mulletville USA, and I was sick of your daddy complaining about your hair when strangers confusing you for a girl, and because really if you have enough hair to make a pony tail, and you're a boy and I really am accepting of the fact that you're growing up and not a baby then yes, it probably was the time to pull out the scissors and snip your locks.

I did it.  You lost some hair (bye bye baby mullet) and I shed a few tears.

You're beautiful, you'll always be my baby boy, and you sure are growing up fast!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day- Guam Style

It was a really nice day.  We had a house full of great people and a table full of delicious food.

On the menu today:

2 fried turkeys, 1 roasted turkey, 2 hams, macaroni and cheese, squash casserole, Spinach Madeline, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, corn, rolls, greens, (is your mouth watering yet?), cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes , gravy, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, cheesecake (are you drooling yet?).  We forgot to take pictures of the dessert table and the turkeys before we carved them up.  We had more than enough food (a reason in itself to be thankful), which was great because we all love leftovers and everyone who came had plenty of leftovers to choose from.  Anybody out there need a pie?  I have four in my fridge right now!!

The weather cooperated with us, got a break from the rain showers, and we were able to eat outside!

Part of the crowd, on our back porch

Price's 2nd Thanksgiving, but his first Thanksgiving Dinner

Although we didn't go around and say what we were thankful for, if we had I knew what I would have said.  "I'm thankful for unexpected adventures."  How many people get to say they celebrated Thanksgiving outside, on a pleasant day, surrounded by good friends and palm trees?

I am so glad we had people over, it really felt like Thanksgiving.  Now, we have a looonnnnggg weekend to eat leftovers, do some shopping, start getting in the Christmas spirit, and enjoy some good time with two of the people I am most thankful for- Don and Price.

Happy Thanksgiving! (really, really long)

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all.  I love that the day is only about giving thanks and not giving gifts.  And how can you not be a fan of a day where the main objective is to eat to celebrate the things you are thankful for? I love to eat, but really I love to cook more.

I especially love cooking Thanksgiving food.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One reason is, it's a pretty standard/traditional meal.  No one needs or expects a lot of experimentation on Turkey Day.  For the same reason breakfast is my favorite meal to cook, people are happy to get a hearty, comforting meal- something that no matter where on earth you may be (for instance, Guam) the food feels like home.  Today was no exception- this was the first pot luck/organized meal I've been too in Guam where there was no rice.  The second reason, is even closer to my heart.  Whenever I cook Thanksgiving dinner, I cannot help but feel connected to the roots of my family tree.

I come from a rather large, rambunctious Southern family.  We mostly love each other in a Pat Conroy novel kind of way.  Some of my fondest memories growing up are of times I spent with my cousins and grandparents on The Farm or at the beach.

The first Thanksgiving after my Grandfather died was miserable. O'Peg (my grandmother), wasn't up for having Thanksgiving at The Farm, so we went to The Piccadilly (except I think it may have actually been Morrison's back then- we're talking 1985ish).  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Piccadilly, but not on Thanksgiving (see previous paragraph about food feeling like home, it doesn't feel like home when served by ladies in hair nets).  The next day we headed to our beach house in Alabama.  It was a nice long weekend and O'Peg decided, that's where we would spend Thanksgiving the next year (you know, as I'm writing this, I'm not sure if I have my dates right and if we started our annual trip the year after Grandfather died or a few years later after the beach house was rebuilt post-hurricane).  Anyway, a tradition was born and we began celebrating Thanksgiving on a tiny island off the coast of Alabama.

It was always the holiday I looked forward to the most.  We would usually arrive late Tuesday night after a long drive from Texas.  Wednesday night one of the second cousins would have everyone to their house for dinner and a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.  As the evening wore on and more drinks were consumed the answers became louder and more often than not at some point there would be dancing.  We would all stumble home late, the children exhausted, the adults tipsy.

Because my mom was single, our little family of 3 always got to stay at O'Peg's house (everyone else was scattered in other houses down the beach).  We would get back to O'Peg's in time to start preparing for the next day's festivities.  She and I would get the turkey ready (we cooked it in a way that was wonderfully easy, but no longer allowed in my house thanks to my husband's ridiculous knowledge of food borne disease) and make cornbread to use in the dressing.  We'd finish around midnight.

Thanksgiving Day, everyone kind of stayed at their own house working on their contribution to lunch.  At O'Peg's, we would make the cornbread dressing- to this day, I know the exact page in River Roads Recipe II   (p. 155) that she would use as her guide, but she mainly just used her taste buds, not measuring cups or spoons to get it just right.  My Aunt Jon always made her special Oysters Redneck Riviera.  At noon, every one would start to gather, not to eat, but for The Turkey Bowl.  It was our annual football game.  The Young Punks  would take on the Old Farts, and no matter who won or lost, someone always cried foul,  someone would always accuse someone of cheating.  O'Peg would usually "determine" the winner by hearing the "score" and deciding it was time to eat and she would call the game.  While the game raged on (and trust me with the way the men in my family carry things deep and let their emotions and feelings out on the field- rage is a good word for it), several of us would be setting the tables and getting ready to feed a crowd.  I think our smallest year there were only about 24 of us, our largest year I think there were around 52 of us.

Although O'Peg would call the game for lunch, show time for food was 2:00.  Everyone would arrive at the house with food and family in tow.  The minutes before we ate were always my favorite.  It was like tuning up and starting a symphony.  O'Peg and Aunt Jon were the conductors.  They would direct when the food came out, where it would be placed.  It was beautifully organized chaos.  We always had an amazing amount of food everything from turkey to Spinach Madeline, Cuban pork to LeSeur Peas, creamed brussel sprouts, squash and green bean casseroles- the list would go on and on.  Once all the food was arranged and the family (I'm talking cousins, second cousins, great aunts, random people we brought with us) assembled, we would all go out on the deck, gather in a large circle hold hands and say grace and then each one of us would say one thing we were thankful for.  The little kids always said something funny like "turkey", the tweens would always say something generic like "family" then there were the more creative who would usually say something long and silly and would of course be repeated forever, "Remember when so and so said such and such- ha ha ha ha ha."  Finally, we could eat!  And the food as always was amazing.  We would sit and talk and catch up and laugh.  The house would literally shake with laughter.  There were several years, after losing someone very special to us all, when there were tears, but mostly it was loud and full of laughs.

Somehow, on Friday we still had room for more food.  So we would have bonfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  We told stories.  One year, after a trip to an Indian burial ground, all the women stood up and we did a "tribal" dance around the fire.  More hilarity ensued.

It was the best weekend of the year.  Being on an island, surrounded by family, laughing a lot, eating more.  But O'Peg was central to it all.  She was the driving force behind the weekend.  She died in 2001.   I don't remember if we had Thanksgiving at the beach that year.  But we did do it one last time in 2002- almost as a memorial to her and the end of a wonderful tradition.  So many of us had grown up, moved even further away, gotten busy with life and new jobs or new babies and it was just hard to take 5 days off to go to the beach.  And then came 2005, the year of Katrina.  She destroyed the house and then a few months later my aunt's house was destroyed by a fire.  I mourned for those houses like I had lost a family member.  We tried to all get together again at my cousin's house (not at the beach) that year, but it wasn't the same.

Last year, my Aunt Jon started the tradition up, but in a new location- New Orleans.  And it was a great success.  It wasn't a beach trip, but it was great to get back and cook and catch up.  It was a little bittersweet because it was Price's first Thanksgiving and Don was deployed, but it was nice to be surrounded by family.

So last night and today, as I cooked and used O'Peg's River Road Recipes II, I couldn't help (as I always do) but think of my family and how much I love them and am thankful for them and how they (without even knowing) have helped shaped me into the person I am today.  A person who is happiest cooking for a house full of loud, laughing people, eating good food, telling stories and just enjoying the day and all the many, many blessings in life.

And while we are just about wrapping up Thanksgiving Day here in Guam, my family is getting ready to celebrate in New Orleans and various locations around the world (we're all kind of scattered this year- Australia, Guam, Ecuador, TEXAS, California, Missouri).    I hope all of you who read this have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope you have family or a family of friends to celebrate with and I hope you can find lots of things to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oh No! The Eggo

In the news today, there were two headlines discussing recent food shortages.  I know scientists have predicted that there will come a point in time in which Mother Earth can no longer provide enough food to sustain the population.  I just never thought it would be here now....

First, Kellogg's announced that we should all expect to see a shortage of Eggos in the near future.  Nestle followed soon after with an announcement that there may be shortage of pumpkin this holiday season.  Seriously- no Eggo waffles and no pumpkin pie?  Good thing I got a pumpkin fix last week.  And actually, judging from the copious amounts of canned pumpkin in the Commissary (which at times is true definition of food shortage), I think we're ok in that area (but I probably should go stock up before all of Guam finds out that there may be a pumpkin shortage and buys it all up).

As for the Eggo problem...  I leggomyeggo long ago.  Don't get me wrong.  I really, really love waffles (or any other carbohydrate that I can get my hands on at breakfast time).  The best waffles I EVER had were made by  KJ- they had chunks of cheese and meat in the batter and were paired with a honey mustard sauce.  Of course, being from the South, I enjoy a good helping of chicken waffles from time to time.  And would never, ever, ever, never turn down a chocolate chip waffle.

But I don't eat Eggo waffles.  About once a year or so, I get a craving for them, eat one or two bites and remember why I don't buy them anymore.  They really don't taste that great.  I understand why people do eat them- they're quick and easy to make, but like most quick fixes- they are relatively expensive and the ingredient list is long and full of long words (mostly just vitamin supplements).

So, I'd like to offer this solution to the Eggo shortage- make your own!  There are two ways you can do this, buy a mix (like Krusteaz or Bisquick) or my prefered method-make them from scratch.  Making from scratch can take as little as 13 minutes from start to finish (I made some this morning and timed it, and by finish I mean the first waffle was finished cooking).  I use the Waffle Recipe from  The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 75th Anniversary Edition.


*I like the flavor that a little butter adds to the waffles, but the oil helps them to not stick to the waffle iron, so I melt about 2 tbsp of butter, pour that into a measuring cup and top off with oil to achieve 1/2 cup.  Also, cinnamon is not called for in the original recipe, I add it because I like it, especially with chocolate chips or bananas, so feel free to omit if it's not your thing.

Ingredients Assembled


In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (and cinnamon if desired). Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, slightly; stir in the milk and the vanilla.

Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (the batter should still be slightly lumpy).  This is also when you would add any thing like blueberries, CHOCOLATE CHIPS, granola, etc.

Pour 1 to 1 1/4 cups batter onto the grids of a preheated, lightly greased waffle iron . Close the lid quickly and do not open until done.

When done lift the waffles of the iron with a fork.

Repeat the procedure with the remaining batter.

The Finished Product

The recipe states it will make 10-12 waffles, I think we have a large waffle maker because I usually only get about 5-6 waffles.  We each eat one, so we always have leftovers.  Here's the great thing- you can freeze the leftovers and then when you want a waffle- you just pop it into the toaster like an Eggo!  So, if you've very industrious (unlike me), rather than making waffles for breakfast from scratch and only having leftovers to freeze, you could plan ahead and make a double batch, freeze all of them and then have homemade waffles ready whenever you need an Eggo fix.  The initial output of time is a bit more than opening a box of Eggos, but is a money saver and can be a time saver too.
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