A Relaxed Thanksgiving, Todd Plays the Hero, and Cyber Monday Shopping

Everyday Adventures

A Relaxed Thanksgiving

Did you have a good Thanksgiving?

I’d been making one or two things a night all week and on Wednesday night set up the slow cooker with chicken leg quarters and vegetables so that, Thursday morning, we woke up to the heavenly scent of homemade chicken broth filling the downstairs. I’m only sad I didn’t think to do this before.

Since we didn’t have anything too pressing at the moment, I was able to kick back and watch the Macy’s parade and the National Dog Show while I polished the silver and did a few small tasks from the couch. (The one down side to a closed-plan house is that you can’t see the living room tv from the kitchen, especially when they’re a couple of rooms and a hallway away. Maybe we’ll install one of those little under-cabinet units when we redo the kitchen some time in the future then I’ll feel really fancy, hah!)

The turkey didn’t have to go in until 2:30 for our 6pm dinner (thanks to the speedy nature of our tabletop roaster oven which, once again, served us in good stead) and then it was short work putting together the casseroles to wait for their time in the oven. The only thing I was still working on when my family arrived was the pumpkin brownie trifle for dessert.

We usually watch a movie after dinner, allowing everyone time to digest before digging into dessert, but this time we landed on a marathon of Who’s Line is it Anyway? and laughed our butts off between that and Molly the French Bulldog’s antics.

I think it was one of our better holidays, and definitely our best turkey to date!

Todd: Not Just My Hero Anymore

Ah, neighbors. Unless you live on serious acreage you’ve got them and you just have to learn to live with them, or at least near them. We’ve gotten used to the neighbors on our west side, the personal care home, bringing an ambulance, firetruck, and police cruiser or five to the end of our block on a regular basis as well as the frequent caterwauling of one of the residents–I don’t know her story, but I do know she seems to shout everything, to anyone or no one at all, while wandering their back yard or between the small cottage she shares with her father and the main house.

On the other side, to the east of us, are two sets of duplexes that officially belong to the cross-street, and are more or less separated by trees and a partial fence. There are young kids in these duplexes and, thanks to the thin (read as: un-insulated) exterior walls, it frequently sounds like they’re right under my office windows when they’re outside playing. Aside from the occasional check to make sure they’re not flailing makeshift weapons around our cars, I just think of the day when we’ll get our privacy fence up on both sides and the noise barrier that’ll bring.

All of that to say, I didn’t think too much of it when I heard crying outside on Sunday afternoon. I figured it was the lady next door and briefly peeked out the kitchen window to confirm. Only I didn’t see her, and the noise wasn’t so loud in the kitchen as it was in my office. That was kind of odd.

My next thought, as I stood in the back doorway, was that one of the kids on the other side of the yard was crying out his or her displeasure at being disciplined. Not pleasant, but also something you kinda feel awkward intruding upon, if that’s the case. Or is that just me?

But then I heard the very definite cry of “Help me, please!”

Turned out that one of the boys next door had been climbing in the tangle of trees that divide our properties and had gotten his knee wedged between two of the trunks and was undeniably stuck. I couldn’t easily get to him but got his parents from inside (the kids had been called in and none of them mentioned their sibling was stuck in a tree!) and then went back to our house to get Todd (and his saw). He had to saw through a good bit of one of the trees (they’re not super thick, thankfully, but pretty sturdy) before they could pry the two apart enough for the boy to remove his knee.

If Todd hadn’t been home I think we would have had to call the fire department.

It’s Shopping Time!

I’ve decided that I’m going to do my level best to make the presents to my family this year (both due to budget and the simple desire to), even though I’ve decided this a bit late in the game (it helps that we’re a small group for Christmas or any other holiday). Still, I’d be a poor excuse for a maker if I didn’t let you guys know what’s available from my own shops this holiday, just in case they fit someone on your Christmas list!

First, there’s the CyberWeek sale over at The Crafty Branch

CyberWeek Sale

Our first four Creative Mischief kit releases are all available: Portable Plein Air, both Holiday card kits (which work great for scrapbook layouts, gift tags, and more if you miss the card-sending window), and our new Bound & Determined bookbinding kit. Kits range from $40-$50 plus shipping, but you’ll get 10% off through this Sunday and free shipping if you order 2 or more kits (which saves you about $9 each, at current rates).

For the girl who’s got everything, may I suggest a Character Cocktail? What’s a Character Cocktail you ask? Only a custom-designed, personality-based cocktail presented as a ready-to-frame piece of original art.


This close to the holidays I’d suggest getting a gift certificate for that hard to shop-for girl or guy on your list (we have pretty ones available for you to place in a stocking, just note that you want the gift certificate in the PayPal checkout), since they usually take 2-3 weeks to create.

Finally, for the foodie, gamer, or comic book lover on your list, What to Feed Your Raiding Party is a perfect gift.


Whether you’ve got a cousin who’s moving into their own place and will have to fend for themselves for the first time or your dear Aunt Agnes collects unique cookbooks, this book works either way! We’ll even gift wrap it and tag it at no extra charge. And don’t worry if they’re not a gamer–not only do the recipes stand up just fine on their own, the comics that open each of the five chapter are parodies of popular movies, so anyone can enjoy them!

So, dear readers, what’s your holiday plan: make, buy, or buy handmade?

A Few Ideas for Those Last-Minute Christmas Gifts


No matter how many lists you make, this time of year it’s practically unheard of not to leave someone off your list. At the very least you’ll receive a last-minute invitation to a dinner, open house or event and, well, of course you want to bring a little something for the host(ess), right?

collage of 4 alcohols that make good holiday and hostess gifts

A bottle of something is always in season, but for Christmas and New Year’s it’s an especially nice gesture to wrap a bottle in a pretty little bag that they can either share now or save for later.

Courtesy of the folks at W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd., here are a few suggestions that are both festive and affordable for all your holiday giving. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have one of these bottles presented to you!

(left) Warm his heart and delight his senses this holiday season with a bottle of Landy Cognac. The holiday season is a time to make him feel special and Landy Cognac will do just that with a refined blend of cognacs from French prestigious origins. Landy Cognac is available in three aging statements – VS, VSO, and XO. He will appreciate it neat, on the rocks, or blended in a delicious cocktail! SRP $ 24.99-$119.99

[Jenn’s Note: Cognac just screams luxury, this is the way to go if you need to impress a boss or maybe a new in-law with something a little different than your usual bottle of wine.] 

(top-right) If you are looking for a great value this holiday consider Barone Fini Pinot Grigio, a reasonably priced white wine with a crisp, clean taste. With its subtle fruit flavors, this wine can be enjoyed with rich holiday meals and allows your guests to enjoy the delicious tastes of the many flavors of the holidays. Barone Fini has long been recognized for producing Pinot Grigio of the highest caliber at a great price point and we would love to share this wonderful product with both you and yours this holiday season. SRP $9.99 http://www.facebook.com/BaroneFiniWines

[Jenn’s Note: We’re always in favor of a good bottle that comes in under $10 and this Pinot Grigio was absolutely delightful. It was perfect in the Rosemary Risotto I made last week and, of course, the rest was great in the glass to go with dinner.]

(center-right) Prohibition may be over, but America’s love affair with Moonshine has just begun! Original MOONSHINE is the perfect gift for the whiskey fan on your list. Made by a third generation master distiller with his grandfather’s authentic recipe, it is hand-crafted from 100% estate-grown corn and distilled four times in a Prohibition-era copper pot still. At 80 proof, our all-natural, recipe is charcoal-filtered for the highest purity, quality and taste. A truly versatile spirit, SHINE can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a wide range of mixed cocktails…perfect for the holiday season. SRP $39.99  http://www.facebook.com/moonshine?sk=app_6009294086

[Jenn’s Note: Moonshine is, for many people, one of those curious novelty alcohols. If you know someone who is always up for something a little different, even having this adorable bottle on their bar will please them to no end.]

(bottom-right) Discover the spirit this holiday season with Ruta 22 Malbec. It’s the only Malbec from Patagonia – the perfect reason to give this unique find as a gift. Wow your loved ones with this one of a kind wine that they can keep for themselves, for that unexpected house guest, or bring to a holiday party and steal the show! Ruta 22 pairs perfectly with red meats, cheeses, and pastas…three favorites at any holiday party, making this wine a great party guest! SRP $12.99

[Jenn’s Note: This was a rich, slightly spicy Malbec that went great with a humble pot roast–I can only imagine what it would be like next to a standing rib roast or other rich and meaty dish. And it’s another steal at under $15!]

Have a wonderful time these next 2 weeks when the conviviality is high on the ol’ priority list! Remember, though, always be safe, use a designated driver and remember moderation in all things. I guarantee you’ll enjoy your holiday more if you’re able to remember it!

Images and product information provided by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd. Samples were accepted by the blogger for the purpose of review but the opinions expressed in this post are entirely her own.