The Road Between Halloween and Thanksgiving

Has been a rocky one.  I wouldn’t say rocky in a bad way, but they say that even good things can be stressful.  That said, I find myself looking at a Thankgiving where I don’t have to wonder what I’d say I’m thankful for.  Not that my family does that, or that I’m not thankful for things.  But it always seems trite to say I’m thankful for my family, my health, my friends.

This year, however, I am thankful that Black Friday is my last Black Friday as an employee (barring any unforeseen circumstances, of course).  I’m thankful that after two years of actually trying (and not just pretending to try), I finally heard the words “We’d like to offer you the position.”  I’m thankful that I’ve been given a chance to start a new adventure.

This is not to say that I haven’t been thankful that I had a job.  I know things could have been far worse.  But I can be thankful and recognize that something isn’t unhealthy for me.  And my job, while it got me by, was incredibly unhealthy.  I may or may not share why–without going into details, because I’m not interested in burning bridges or dragging anyone through the mud–but I do intend to eventually make a list as a reminder to myself of why this is a positive move.

Right now the future is uncertain.  I can’t say for sure that the new job will be the perfect fit, but my shrink says job interviews aren’t just the company interviewing you–you’re interviewing the company.  And I got a very good feeling about it.  But what I do know for certain is that if I don’t like it, I will have two things going for me.  1. Now that I’ve left one crappy job, it’s that much easier to leave another (I don’t mean that to sound flippant, just the facts). 2. I will now be getting experience outside of retail.  And that?  That right there is more important than gold.  It not only means that I’ll be more valuable, but it also means that I’ll keep learning.

And if you’re not learning, you’re not living.


Thanksgiving Shopping

Okay.  I’ve given this some thought.  Here’s why I think retailers shouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving:

Retail employees get very few things to look forward to in life.  Most of them don’t get paid vacations, some of them may have to work every day of the week just to get hours.  There are generally three days out of the year that retail employees don’t have to work: Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas.  That’s it.  Three days that retail employees know they get to breathe a sigh of relief.

That said, there are many occupations in this world where people don’t even get that.  But people need emergency rooms.  People don’t need a TV set.

On the flip side, there are many people who neither want nor need to celebrate Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas.  I’ve worked on Easter.  If someone asked me to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’d probably say okay too, so long as I could work it around my celebration schedule.  I don’t need the entire day to celebrate.

So here’s the thing.  No one should be forced to work a holiday.  If a retailer wants to be open, they can be.  I honestly have no problem with that.  I don’t think they should be, as it doesn’t seem worth it to me, but if that’s what they want, then so be it.  But the employers need to make do with the employees that actually want to work that day.  Only one employee wants to work?  So be it.  Customers are going to have to wait in line?  That’s unfortunate.  Maybe they should be at home.  They should also be handsomely rewarded–double time, not just time-and-a-half.  This would likely up the number of people interested.  This should be extended to any holiday where people generally get together with their family: 4th of July, New Years Eve/New Years Day (for the evening of the former and the morning of the latter), Memorial Day, Labor Day.

When push comes to shove, people don’t need to shop on those days.  I understand why retailers are open: everyone else is off of work and has seemingly nothing but time.  And if a retailer is suffering, being open on holidays isn’t going to get them out of the red.  Being open on holidays isn’t a solution, it’s simply a matter of greed: on the retailers’ and the consumers’ parts.  It’s not necessary, but, really, it’s not the end of the world.

Holiday Traditions: Pot Luck

So, the holidays are over now, making this post incredibly un-timely.  However, it has a great recipe that can be used all year round whenever you need to bring something to a potluck that is sure to be a hit.  Or, like in the case of my workplace, it will sit in the fridge because people forgot to pull it out, and then you’ll have a ton of it to yourself.  Which is a bonus, because it’s super yummy.

My mom asked me this year what I was bringing to Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m unofficially in charge of desserts, and my desserts often change from year to year (though, this year both pies I made were so good I think they will be standards.  And probably future posts…).  However, the one thing that never changes.  The one thing that would cause riots from certain family members if it didn’t show up is fruit salad.

I know there are a million and one versions of fruits salad out there.  You’ve got your jello/cool whip variety, the health-conscious plain fruit with maybe a drizzle of honey or yogurt variety, your marshmallow variety, your rice variety… The possibilities with dessert salads are endless.  I don’t think, however, that my family’s style fruit salad has ever shown up at any potluck I’ve ever attended.  And I’m not really sure why…

Let’s begin.  You’ll need:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream (You’ll only use about half, but you might as well beat it all)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 2 cans fruit cocktail with cherries
  • bananas
  • apples
  • any other fruit you’ve got lying around that you want to get rid of

Really, other than the whipping cream and the fruit cocktail, you can do whatever you want.  I’ve used mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries.  If my sister weren’t so darn picky I’d probably throw in some toasted coconut.  The quantity of everything you use is entirely based on how many people you need to feed/how much you want left over.  There are no rules, which is what I enjoy about this recipe.  Remember, it’s got real whipped cream in it, so unless you add cheese or ground beef or tuna or something, it’s going to be delicious no matter what.

The fun part:

If you don’t have a stand mixer, I suggest getting one.  I have the smallest kitchen in the world, and I insist on having room for my Kitchen Aid.  Growing up, we used a hand mixer.  It gets the job done, but it’s 15 minutes of standing in one spot and holding your arm at a weird angle.  It’s probably why my sister stopped making the fruit salad and why the job went to me.  I put up with the 15 minutes for the opportunity to lick all the cream off the blades when it was done.  I’m easily bribed.

Anyway, in your mixing bowl (my mom always chilled the bowl, which I’m sure is the preferred method, but it works regardless) pour the cream, sugar, and vanilla.  It’s really all to taste.  I never measure, so the “cup” is approximate.  You don’t need a ton because the fruit will add sweetness as well.  The vanilla is just a nice touch.  Get those puppies whipping.

If you have the stand mixer, you can do all the next steps while it’s mixing.  If not, well, sucks to be you, because you’ll be in the kitchen 15 minutes longer than if you had one.  So get one.

Drain your fruit cocktails and rinse them if they were in syrup.  The kind I found at Aldi was in fruit juice as part of their “healthy” line of foods.  In that picture I also threw in the remaining contents of a jar of cherries left over from a sundae bar–halved.  Because the cherries in the fruit cocktail are the best part, right?

Chop up your apples and bathe them in lemon water to prevent browning.  I usually only use one apple because my sister is picky.  There’s a theme here….  She doesn’t like the crunch.  I like the crunch.  It’s a compromise.  Go nuts if you want.  Drain and add to the fruit cocktail.  If you’re like me, you’ll either drain the lemon water into another bowl, or you’ll fish the apples out by hand, because you’re going to need lemon water again.  Waste not…

Repeat the last step with the bananas.  Only this time you can throw the lemon water out.  Unless you’re adding something else that needs to not brown.  Can’t imagine what that might be, but maybe you have special fruit I’ve never heard of.  If you do, please share it with me.

Mix everything up all pretty-like.  Sure, you could eat it as it is right now.  I’m sure it would taste great.  But we’re missing something….

And I’m missing a photograph.  It would appear as if I was a little over-zealous in letting people eat the amazing fruit salad that I forgot to photograph it with the whipped cream mixed in.  I suck.  Regardless… To finish off the salad, heap about half of the whipped cream onto the fruit and stir it in.  If everything is sufficiently covered, meaning you can’t really see the fruit any more, then you’re good to go.  If not, add more a little at a time.  It’s personal, really, how much cream you choose to add.

Okay, I lied when I said there are no rules.  There is one rule: Do not mix the whipped cream into the fruit more than, say, half a day before serving.  You can make this in the AM and serve that evening.  That’s fine.  But don’t mix it in the night before.  It still tastes great.  I still eat it (in fact, it’s my traditional Black Friday breakfast to prepare me for a crazy day of work).  But the presentation is lacking.  The longer the whipped cream sits in the fruit, the more it mingles with the juices, and the runnier it gets.  So, by all means, whip your cream and prepare your fruit a day or two in advance, but don’t add the cream until the day of.  Easy-peasy.

Obligatory Holiday Post

It’s Thanksgiving, and that means you shouldn’t be reading blogs, so hopefully you have an RSS feeder (like Bloglines or Google Reader) that will keep this post warm for you while you enjoy loads of your favorite holiday foods (I shant mention turkey, for I have a dear friend with a poultry allergy, and the poor dear has to suffer through lobster on Thanksgiving).

I thought I would do something uncharacteristically cheesy.  I thought I would post what I’m thankful for.  You won’t get me to do this sort of crap around the Thankgiving dinner table, so don’t even try.

First up, and these are not really in any order except the order in which I thought them up…

El Señor Draggy Pants.  I am equally as thankful for Dragon as I am for the fact that The Hippy let me have a cat in the first place.  I’m thankful that The Hippy loves him as much as I do.  I am, however, not SO thankful that I don’t try my luck on a daily basis and continue to vie for another cat.  A house is not a home without a cat, but a home is not perfect without two (a home with three or more is a little bit crazy, but since my sister and my parents both have three cats within their domiciles, we’ll let it go for now).

My crazy-ass friends (or crazy ass-friends, if that’s how you choose to read it.  I know I do), including, but certainly not limited to the ones in this picture.  It just happened to be the crazy-assist picture I have on my hard drive.  It is my opinion that I’m the most “normal” looking one in that picture…. ahem.  I appear to attract friends that like to name their group: The Wench Posse, The Bottomweights…  No matter what they call themselves, though, they are all awesome and they have all had a hand in turning me into who I am right now.

My family, including, but not limited to, these two.  I have a good family comprised of many weird-ass people.  My sister is my best friend.  My dad is the person who taught me how to be a smart ass.  My mom taught me how to cook and stood by in befuddlement as I learned to sew.  My niece lets me be my weird self and gave me the fantastic nickname Chachi.  My brother-in-law is really good at picking on me and making me laugh until I cry–and being totally embarrassed by me choking in a restaurant.  My boyfriend is the smartest person in the world and can find his way through anything.

That’s certainly not everything, but it’s a start.  I realize it’s a pretty cliche list, but let’s face it… Cliches are cliches for a reason.

Itching, Itching…

For an excuse that is…

I have apparently been put in charge of Thanksgiving dessert.  This task usually fall on my parents, and I’m usually in charge of the fruit salad (which is more of a post-dinner/pre-dessert than an actual dessert).  Typically, we have pumpkin pie for the pumpkin pie eaters (myself not included) and french silk or some other creamy chocolate for, well, pretty much everyone since many people take both kinds.

This year, however, provided it’s okay by the other purely non-pumpkin pie eater (I discovered my dad doesn’t really like pumpkin pie… weird! So he’s a third), I plan to make the Red Velvet Cupcakes I’ve been pining over.  And if I make enough, I will have the potluck at work on Black Friday covered.  Woot!

Until then, however, I must sew.  And if I’m not sewing, I must be productive in some way.  I’m failing at productivity… Miserably.

And I need new work pants.  I feel like things are crumbling.  But at least I might have a new home tomorrow, and that’s pretty exciting, even if The Hippy is now paralyzed with fear.  Not moving until after Christmas, though.  That’s just too damn much to deal with.