Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer Is Short And So Am I

Summer Is For Fun

Standing in at a whopping 5' 2" this mini mom has a gigantic complaint. This summer was way too short, and the math packet and reading list infringed on our rights to relax and enjoy. The school year is just that, the school year and not summer vacation. Due to the extreme weather last winter we were dismissed from school well into the month of June. To prevent that from happening next year, the powers that be decided to return to school prior to Labor Day. That left us exactly 67 days to get our summer on. I am a supporter of going back to school before Labor Day, but this year was just not fair. Hind sight is 20/20 so , please do not go back to the other formula because global warming is real, and the weather patterns are changing.

People Please


  One of my problems with the district math packet is that I have to download and print it myself in order to save education dollars. Well please be considerate enough to condense the number of pages down considerably. In seventh grade we do not need a " color me" front page with our name on it. I also do not find it necessary to print three mostly blank pages with one line of directions printed across the top and an entire sheet of blank paper to make a graph. We have scrap paper here for that. Is it really necessary to add all the color graphics of smiley suns and umbrellas that chewed up all my color ink cartridges? In our house we learn every day about conservation and frugality.
 Most importantly, you want us to take seriously a district wide publication with numerous spelling, grammar, context and mixed gender errors. Who checked this packet for proper CUPS? For those of you who do not have kids in school that is Capitalization, Use, Punctuation and Spelling. I say ditch the math packet and let them spend time languishing in the sun playing wall ball at camp where they can learn to share and be tolerant of others.

 How Many More?

 I would rather hear my kids shrieking in delight over water balloons, wiffle ball and late night man hunt expeditions than moping and moaning around the house about the summer reading log.I trust well enough that one day they will discover the power of reading for recreation.
I love to read, and I spent hours pouring over the Game Of Thrones series this summer with my college son in the back yard, but I believe an 11 year old can get more enrichment out of spending an afternoon with his Grandfather fishing vacant ponds and learning how to remove a hook from a perch.
 We spent hours baking in the sun visiting oyster grants and learning how oysters were raised. We clammed the muddy flats endlessly and learned how to make chowder and serve oysters on the half shell. These are the stories I want him to remember long after I am gone. When I look back on my summer days in Eastham, Mass. at the family cottage clamming,

 sailing,  watching fireworks, having beach fires and lobster bakes, I think fondly of the packs of kids who came together as summer folk and took the beaches by storm.I do not recall sitting side by side with any pesky summer school work and comparing decimals and fractions. We compared our tans and made friendship bracelets and swore our endless love to one another.

Oystering in Wellfleet Harbor

When I asked my youngest son what was better about summer than math packets. he said making new friends and playing beats that hands down. He may be onto something there. Who couldn't use more friends and exercise? I know the teachers want us to brush up on our skills and keep in the school mode, but there is a lot to learn at the ball park, like on base percentages, batting averages, probability, distance to the fence and teamwork. Certainly no one can argue that being together as a family, especially as the older kids grow up and go off to schools farther away from home can ever be replaced with supplementary work. My favorite projects of this past summer involved saucers of water, matches, corks and an upturned glass to practice the weird science experiments we watched online. learn something cool here

Looking For Something To Do?

 This summer we learned how to make fried cheese in the restaurant with the cool line cooks, picked blueberries and made an awesome dessert, built a greenhouse and planted a garden with the vegetables and flowers we grew from seeds.
We perfected our breast stroke, rode a bike for the first time and kept score at bowling and baseball. We visited the flea market and bargained for treasures. On a road trip we listed all the state license plates and looked up the capitols for every state by opening a hot spot on our phone to power the computer from the car. Then we returned home and used the same hot spot technology to close the credit cards at the restaurant when Cable went down.  Instead of calling 911 to report that our television was not working we employed this  kind of critical thinking and modern ingenuity that is going to set today's students apart from the rest in the competitive world of the job market of the future . The truth and harsh reality is that you cannot learn it all from a book or summer math facts. You need to be on the cutting edge of the ever changing and fast paced world that the internet has opened up to all of us. So if my kids want to take the summer off now to enjoy the last precious years they have to unwind and chill out with friends, I am going to support that wholeheartedly. Believe me, when school starts up again and the assignments pile up I will be there cheering them to the finish line with every creative thought and suggestion possible to get the most out of their academic surroundings.

  This Is America So Everyone Has An Opinion

To all the people out there who will criticize us for waiting until the last day to finish those projects, I say welcome to the real world. It is about making choices and we chose to enjoy our long lazy days of summer because they are precious. Winter is coming and we have plenty of time during the school year to retrain our brain.  It is Christmas at Costco already for crying out loud! This is about time management and getting prepared to get back into the routine. If the schools were more prepared in June we could cover next year's books and fill out the numerous emergency cards so we can actually spend the first week of school with congruent and official homework. Or we could spend those last half days getting a jump on our summer reading list outside under a shady tree.

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten was a best seller written by Robert Fulghum.  Things like: 

“It’s harder to talk about, but what I really, really, really want for Christmas is just this: I want to be 5 years old again for an hour. I want to laugh a lot and cry a lot. I want to be picked or rocked to sleep in someone’s arms, and carried up to bed just one more time. I know what I really want for Christmas: I want my childhood back..”

I want my childhood back too

 Or this:

“Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away. Most of this “something” cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted. It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours. Memory. The census doesn’t count it. Nothing counts without it.”
   When it comes to school verses summer, maybe we all should have stopped in kindergarten. And just maybe this book should be on everyone's summer reading list. The basic concepts of sharing with each other, making friends not enemies, following directions, playing fair and being nice to each other even if we seem different on the outside are missing from most of the adults I know. If the world were able to adopt just half of these policies, we may one day see the end to global fighting. School is not for everyone, but vacation is. I want my kids to spend their vacations connecting with our family,  their community, and the great wide world that they will soon enough have to take on without me.
Thanks for reading
Teach your kids something new today that they may not learn in school
And be nice to as many random people you meet. 
They probably all want their childhood's back too.
Bee El

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Moving On

Garden Days

The calendar may say 3 weeks of spring have passed, but the Jetstream is saying otherwise. There is a bounty on Punxitawny Phil the groundhog, and a lawsuit by the State of Ohio vs The groundhog for misrepresentation of early Spring. I failed to tap my trees this year because  the blizzard of the century  hit at the beginning of the month and covered my entire backyard,and quite frankly I was too tired from shoveling the entire city of Milford to bang in a couple of taps. Please note that once again the snowfall was on a Friday and a Saturday when I specifically asked in my last blog that the snow storms were to occur on Monday nights into Tuesday mornings only.
 Mother Nature what did I do to piss you off? I turn the lights off in every room, hang my clothes on the line, recycle to the point it drives my husband nuts. If you can't compost it, burn it, reuse or give it away then it goes in the trash. I know the public works guys on my street want to know what kind of freaks live in this house that puts out trash once a month and has gigantic overflowing recycle bins with all the bottles from the bar at work. The heat has been off in my house most of the time and when it is on just to keep the pipes from freezing we set the thermostat below 60 degrees. My children actually want to go to school because it is warmer there. No, not really!

 So the maple syrup blog I had planned for this issue will have to wait until next February.



 The Greenhouse Project

  My backup plan for this month will be the construction of a greenhouse kit purchased from Harbor Freight and Tool in Orange, Ct. The  most critical step in this adventure was the perfectly square  foundation set in the exact location. That took an entire afternoon to get it just right. The very next day of this project brought a foot of snow to cover our handy work. The box full of clear plastic panels and a myriad of screws and metal frame parts stared at us from the family room floor as we dissected and studied the sparse directions. I began to wonder what our odds were for getting this completed before spring? While we waited for the snow to melt once again this year, I took a trip to the library in town and took out the only 2 books we had on Greenhouse growing year round. They are The Greenhouse Gardner's Companion by Shane Smith and Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman. The companion book is an excellent source for everything you need to know about greenhouse gardening. The other book is an interesting approach to foraging year long in New England; a more grass roots and environmental approach.  Youtube was another wealth of  overwhelming information with countless videos of professional and hack greenhouse gardeners eager to sharer their own tips for growing year round.


 You Can't Put Anything On The Internet If It Isn't True

This guy has great tips for the greenhouse

Waiting for this
 Fortunately for us a few Youtube faithful managed to video the construction of this exact model greenhouse that we have, and we were able to fit each and every part where it belonged. Although we did have to flip and disconnect and reinstall panels at times, it is complete with only a couple of pieces left over and the spousal bickering was kept to a low simmer. This is not, however a one man or two person project. There was a point in the roof installation where we needed the helping hands of our neighbors. The day we placed the plastic sides in was near hurricane force winds and we spent more time chasing the panels from across the yard. Those little metal clips were likewise a challenge. The following day I held an umbrella over my husband's head while he made some final adjustments. 

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

 Save everything is my motto and that has proven to be fruitful for making seed starter kits out of "clam shell fold over" tomato containers and boxes from the restaurant. I love re-purposing landfill junk whenever possible. Yoghurt containers, cottage cheese tubs and instant
Don't forget to water
I love Lupines
microwaveable soup and macaroni and cheese containers work great.

 That is except in the case where you neglect to add the water before microwaving the macaroni and cheese. A week later and we are still trying to get that smell out of here. There are many seed catalogs out, but beware as they may be addictive to hoarders.

 My advise is to plant what you know you will eat. A Cook's Garden publishes a beautiful magazine with some unusual varieties. Last year I tried to save seeds from Cinderella pumpkins and Hubbard squash as well as Jalapenos and Habanero peppers. We will have to wait and see how that works out. Honestly, the local hardware and feed stores carry enough of a variety to "grow" around. At $1.50 to $2.00 a pack it makes for a considerable savings rather than purchasing $5.00 veggie packs later in the spring. Plus growing your own seeds gives you something to do inside while you wait for it to be nice outside.

Celery From the Root End
 With the weather still refusing to cooperate, I used the tops of these styrofoam containers that the fish comes in around the bottom base of the greenhouse for insulation. We salvaged a space heater to keep the night temperature at 45 degrees. This worked well until the night I plugged it in and almost caught the entire house on fire. The daytime temperature races up to 100 degrees by noon on a sunny day, so I crack the door and window and that maintains a beautiful 90 degree environment for  seed boosting. I have to say that the mescaline and arugula did not do well pre- seeded in the house. It got leggy fast. So I have tried another approach in the bottom of the foam fish boxes. I poked holes in the cartons with a pitchfork and filled it half way with compost made from all the vegetable scraps generated by the restaurant. I topped it off with potting soil and dug long furrows for planting the mescaline. When I water these boxes, the "compost tea" flows through the bottom onto the next shelf of seedlings. When it gets warm enough, I can transplant the entire box out to the raised beds. The insulated styrofoam keeps the soil temperature warmer when the sun goes down. The micro green experiment is being featured as a garnish on the snapper special  tonight.


 When Life Gives You Lemons

    We all had to grow and grow up a bit this month. Sometimes you do not get everything you are wishing for, and sometimes you have to deal with more than you bargained for. You never know the outcome until you dive in and give it your all. Sometimes you get the brass ring and sometimes you grow the perfect tomato. And when you miss the mark for whatever reasons, or your tomatoes have blight, keep your head up and March on. The seasons will pass, and if you get out of the game, they will pass you by. Regrettably you will have missed all the opportunities to feel, learn and heal. These are the moments that set us apart from the mundane. The simple life is actually made up of hard times that we take and reshape in order to harvest the actual crop of our true selves. These growth periods make champions. If winning were easy than losers would do it.

 Family, Community, Planet, Service, Peace,Love and Garden

Every path and every plot,
Every bush of roses,
Every blue forget- me- not
Where the dew reposes,
Robert Louis Stevenson

  Bee El

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What to do?

What To Do?

Last Year's Polar Bear Plunge

Ahh the new year is upon us. Resolution smezolution. I am back in the gym, simply because I have more time. I do not smoke so I can't try to quit that, and the Country of New Zealand would close down if I gave up drinking my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. I hope January is kind to us and moves along swiftly without snowfall on the weekends. If I could possibly request the weather pattern to line up on Sunday night at 8:00 and wrap up by Monday morning at say 10:00 am that would be great.

So how are we going to top 30 days of gratitude and 25 random acts of kindness? How about a month long food drive to fill our town's foodbank with non perishables? Well that is what I had planned, but those plans got shelved for this month. It will have to wait for 28 days in February. Instead I am undertaking 31 days of cleaning and organization in an effort to be a better home maker and underappreciated mother. But hit those Can Can sales and drop in next month.

 January makes me restless with all the extra free time. Which part of my house is going to be ruthlessly demolished and transformed in my crazy winter quest to feed the brain beast? If anyone else is afflicted with this seasonal affliction might I suggest organization as medication. Pick a drawer, any drawer or a closet near you. Bring a very large trash can and begin. If it has been in your closet over a year and you have not worn it, out it goes. Chances are you are not going to be wearing it this year either. By the time you lose the weight to fit back in clothes you are saving , they will be out of season or off the runways, so let it go. And if you do succeed at losing the weight, you know you are going to reward yourself with a shopping spree of new garments, so donate it. If you come across something that has sentimental power like say a wedding dress, pack it away and store it somewhere else. And if you come across a wedding dress and you have tossed the marriage, then donate that too and hit one of the million dating sites advertising this month. Online dating and diet advertisements are taking over. Good news is that those will thin out like the January crowds at the gym.

 I have the hardest time with the kid's closets. I am unwilling to toss out toys in the event they become collector's items in the distant future. Will they really appreciate everything we went through to complete that book of Pokemon cards? Do you know how hard it was for Santa to get his hands on that Charizard card? I also have a blanket chest full of all the cute favorite outfits that I could not part with because I had this great idea to give them to the corresponding child when they decided to have their own kids just for a laugh. I don't think they will find it quite as amusing.

Let the games begin

The New Reveal coming next month

 Well, there it is, my solution to restlessness for the end of January. The cold weather we are experiencing just dumped that messy project in my lap. The arctic blast cleverly disguised as global warming that was whistling under the front door and up the staircase right into my bedroom has finally declared war. Not to mention it was just steps away from the thermostat that was refusing to budge past 64 this week no matter how much wood and pellets we burned.. The problem with this easy  square of renovation is that our house is old, and a simple renovation project in an old house almost always leads to a bigger monstrosity. Remember that movie Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long? I would love to get my hands on the hack shoemaker who had the brilliant idea to pour 2 inches of asphalt material and top it with 3 inches of concrete cement with grouted tile on top. A contracter sundae of bad ideas heaped on top of each other leading to a sore back just trying to remove the layers.It took four of us in that little 5x5 space to scrape,hammer, hack and remove in 5 Gallon buckets all the debris. They call it a mud job. I call it a different kind of job.

So a new year brings a fresh start and a brighter future. You can decide every day what the outcome will be.In the news this week a woman I admire said she chooses LOVE in the face of an unthinkable turn of events. I take her challenge and vow to make that choice whenever I am faced with difficult scenarios and circumstances I want so desperately to change. The beauty is, that like those little sprouts I have all that it takes to power through. The ability was planted in me long ago. I simply need to tap into that energy and refuse to settle. It has been said that it takes six weeks to make or break a habit.  Six weeks is truly a short period of time in a long lifeline. The reality is that life is short and the days are ticking away, so we need to live our bliss and love ourselves. Come on people get out of your comfort zone and get it done this year. Do it with LOVE, own it,and make it happen.

 Do not let the sun set on your dreams.

Bee El

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How I still Believe

 I Still Believe

 We are deeply ensconced in the annual Holiday marathon of activity.The turkeys were barely out of the oven and the decorations were already up all over the restaurant. Keep in mind Thanksgiving came early this year, so yes we do have an extra week of celebrating . When your establishment is in the heart of the city and the tree lighting falls traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving, you have to be ready to go by nightfall. My decoration elves worked overtime to get our place fabulous just in time. The good news is now we are all set right up through the New Year.

 Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or any other form of worship that I am not familiar with, the key is to celebrate. Celebrate the season with the people who mean the most to you and spend quality time with them between the craziness. Looking back on my past love affair with Santa, I cannot say I remember the year I started wondering if he was real. Christmas in our house growing up was always magical. From the hand sewn button count down advent calender to the felt stockings and door knob decorations, my Mom's house was festooned with stations of Christmas Wonder. I must have spent hours rearranging and playing with the manger set in the living room. Our elves that sat on shelves cost 50 cents and came in red or green from Woolworth's Five and Dime. Remember the store with the lunch counter in the back? The" magic wire" appeared on our tree the year I climbed all the way to the back to get an unopened gift and CRASH, the tree came down. I still have the lamb that went to the shattered blue and silver ornament that was part of a set depicting each character from the scene of the manger. That set probably came from Woolworth's too. If you have kids and your tree does not have a magic wire, GET ONE!

Noooo Not the Choir Boy
   The felt doorknob decorations had pictures of Santa, Frosty, an Angel, an Elf and Mrs Frosty. In this handmade collection there was also a Choir Boy that none of us three girls ever wanted on our doors at night. We would switch the decorations around and put choir boy on someone else's door and then hide our favorite one ( mine was Santa of course) in our room until bedtime and replace our door decoration only to wake up sadly with choir boy back on our door. Maybe it was the elf on the shelf who moved them in the middle of the night. So I asked my mother this year for a photo of those doorknob decorations, and she sent me a package containing four of them. She sent my older sister two and gave me the remaining four to share with my other sister. Needless to say my poor little sister is getting The Choir Boy. Yep It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

 Gift giving was a Hollywood game show production at times with the largest and best gifts being saved until the end and sometimes even the end of the day. We went in order from youngest to oldest one at a time. I think this was my Dad's way of preserving every moment and making the day last. There was no mad dash for the ripping open of the gifts like the Running of The Bulls. I think by the time I was 10 my parents wised up and started hiding the stockings in our rooms, so they could sleep an extra hour or at least until the sun broke the plane of the horizon. My sisters and I would be so excited the night before we would sleep together in one room and then gather on the bed to open the stocking stuffers. Some of the best gifts came crammed in those handmade socks like Charlie perfume, Lip Smackers lip gloss in the flavors of Good and Plenty and Root Beer, Life Savers in fold over books with Christmas scenes, Tootsie Roll banks, and an all time favorite of the decade Toe Socks! Among all those treasures were at times spoof prizes like free drug rep pencils and Lilly prescription notepads, or Hardware store calenders and Guida's Dairy key chains. They were priceless and they were ours.

Our Christmas collection of music was a total of five vinyl records with Bing Crosby and Perry Como belting out the great classic Christmas carols. And speaking of carols, I grew up in a time when our neighborhood went house to house singing Christmas carols to  neighbors.My Mom made everyone's favorite cookie and stored them in the Big Blue Tin up high on the back refrigerator. You knew the big day was close when we gathered around the fire to make real popcorn balls.This production, like every other aspect of my childhood had a specific procedure ( go figure, my Dad was a surgeon). From the popping of the corn in the Westinghouse Bubble popper ( 3 batches I recall) to the sorting of the kernels in the top of the turkey roasting pan to the boiling of the golden syrup to the exact soft ball stage, this was an all night affair. It seemed like it took forever for that sugar mixture to heat up. When the components were assembled they were brought to the fireplace room and we slathered our hands with raw butter to prevent them from getting burned by the syrup. First of all yuck and second of all it really did not work. Then the syrup was poured over the sorted popcorn and the balls were rolled together and dropped onto cookie sheets lined with Cut Rite wax paper. When they cooled, they were twisted up into wax paper balls and safe guarded in the Charles Chip potato chip can. These chewy snowballs of popcorn and syrup were heavenly.

 Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls

1Cup Sugar, 1/2Cup Molasses,1/2 Cup White Karo Corn Syrup, 1/4 Cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Bring this mixture to a boil stirring until it boils and cook until 260 degrees on a candy thermometer. Test a drop in cold water to be sure it hardens. Remove from heat and add.

3Tablespoons of Butter , 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Pour this mix over 4 Quarts of popped corn unsalted mixing with a wooden spoon. Rub butter on hands and form balls quickly.

There you go, my gift to you!

We put our tree up just a few days before Christmas and it never saw the New Year, because that was considered bad luck in Scottish households. Our tree cam from the back yard. We cut a Blue Spruce each year and planted four more in the spring. On a recent trip by my old house, sadly, the Christmas tree lot was stripped barren. Specific ornaments were allowed to be placed by children and precious special ones were left for the grownups. My mom was a tinsel gal, but you had to place each strand one by one gently on the tree. you were not allowed to just
 toss it on. Tinsel back then was hardcore aluminum not synthetic. We saved each piece every year ( of course we did, we saved everything) I have never put tinsel on my trees, and my boys try to sneak it on every year. I probably did it wrong as a kid and have never gotten over that. Our tree, however has never seen the new year and I consider myself extremely lucky. Fortunate enough to have a beautiful healthy family that will gather on this Christmas around our tinseless tree to celebrate our traditions.

  I do not specifically recall a go to Christmas meal, but I am sure it was delicious. I do , however remember my grandparents starting each supper with a cup of decafe instant coffee and a half a saccharine. It was a treat to set up the coffee because you got to use the tiny salt spoon to scoop up the saccharine from the crystal dish. It has always been the little things in life that give me the greatest pleasure.

Elves and Fairies do not mix well
I still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa because I believe in myself. Never giving up on Santa means I can stay forever young on the inside and be that little blonde girl in pajamas opening Ants in The Pants , Easy Bake, Creepy Crawlers or my Red Record player or the  Big Girl Real Typewriter. This year during the Christmas Elf hiding, treasure hunt gathering, mad dash,my middle schooler lost a tooth and placed it under his pillow. Well the Tooth Fairy went to bed earlier than the child as often happens when they reach this age. My go to "Did you look under the covers?" was not going to work again because he had tossed the entire bed and searched this time. So I tried to outwit him and stage the Elf with the cash and a note from The sleepy Tooth Fairy. Friends, let me tell you this is a bad idea! I still do not know if it was the fact that I forgot him or he just suddenly realized there is no Tooth Fairy and innocence was slipping away. I had to go to work and he had to get to school, so there was little time for  patching this up. He was so angry he called his Father a naughty word and stomped out to the car. I was finally able to get from him that I could have said I was sorry. The thing is I did say it, he just did not hear me. So he went off to school in a snit. I dropped him at the front door and came home to clean his room and place the I Am Sorry photo on his pillow. It was then I got the recording from school telling me He was not in school. That space of 10 minutes was frightening. ( I know where all your thoughts just went, because mine have not left that place since it all happened) Well of course he was there, I just thought maybe he skipped school to teach me a lesson. Well, I did learn many lessons that day, and my children continue to teach me quite often what I need to know to be a better Mother. Sometimes people say i am sorry and we just don't hear it

Impossible Sadness

Forever in my thoughts
 This is the second time my lighthearted blog was interrupted by a tragedy. Only this time, the words are lost. Sadness, over whelming sadness from the senseless loss. 20 beautiful young souls went to school today dreaming of Santa Claus and they met the Devil. I love my children. I want PEACE for Christmas and every day after that as well. There is no explanation for this ugliness Count your blessings and pay it forward every day, not just because of Christmas or a horrendous tragedy. Please be kinder and nicer to everyone you meet. Make a difference in your family, community, nation and world. So often these tragedies change our community and our nation for a period of time, but the passage of time slips away and some people tend to lose perspective.

I still believe, I am just going to need a little more time.
Bee El
Tears from Heaven at The Vigil in Milford

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Talking Turkey

Thanksgiving Thoughts With and Update

Fall in New England is by far my most favorite time of year. I will endure the piles of dirty snow all long winter long, the endless cold spring  rains and the hazy, hot humid long summer daze just to be able to enjoy the glorious, golden days of fall. I live for the memory invoking smells of hot chocolate, homemade bread, pumpkin spice and crackling  warm fires.  This time of year calls you to the kitchen to create comforting dishes to share around the hearth with loved ones after a Sunday afternoon of leaf raking, apple picking or pumpkin carving.

For Thanksgiving it has been a 20 year tradition to spend the night at the restaurant camped out and preparing the Thanksgiving dinner for forty some other families who are tucked in and dreaming of buttery mashed potatoes smothered in rich turkey gravy with no dirty pots and pans to scrub. The boys hook up the video games and pump up the air mattresses while the grown ups rotate turkeys through the ovens through out the night. At the break of dawn the stuffing is basted and bronzed in the oven while the chef potatoes are boiled and ready for the mashing. Every family has their own traditional method of preparing turkey, stuffing and side dishes. For some it is not complete without the cranberry relish. My mom makes this crazy frozen cranberry ice and would never open a can of jellied cranberry.  I can still see my Dad tenderly shredding or pulling apart the Pepperidge Farm white bread without the crusts in front of the tv watching football. The pulling of the bread makes for a fluffy light dressing seasoned with sage cooked inside a capon, never a turkey. Which brings up the question to stuff or not to stuff?

 Stuffing your turkey is likely to cause stomach cramping. The internal temperature of your bird must reach 165* Packing the cavity of the turkey leads to the increase of bacteria that will make you ill. This culinarian recommends you cook your bird stuffing free with aromatics such as celery, onion and oranges lightly layered in the bird to promote flavor and moisture. Cook your stuffing in a casserole dish and baste it with the drippings from the cooked turkey. This method will also hasten the cooking process and prevent the need for cooks across America from having to rise before dawn to get that feast in the oven in time for the post football game chow down.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon and my staff Talking Turkey, I pause to offer up my thanks for enough leaves in my own back yard for the kids to jump in. I am grateful for children who are healthy enough for me to drag myself from bed at predawn five days a week to get them off to school with a hot breakfast and a bagged lunch. I am blessed with a loving husband of 20 years who is willing to complete my honey do list no matter how many times I revise and edit. I am lucky enough to own my own business complete with its own endless list of things to do. That in itself was a monumental undertaking these past two years.

 As you gather your loved ones around the table remember it is Thanks Giving. Take stock in all you have to be thankful for and pay it forward. Up your gratitude and perform a random act of kindness for someone or some organization in your community. At Rainbow Gardens we have spent the last 20 years preparing a Thanksgiving feast for the staff at the emergency room and the firefighters at Central Headquarters. The gratitude from these hard working people spending a day reserved for families away from their own is  boundless. The true gift in this spirit of giving is the lesson my children have learned over the years. They are not aware, but we are shaping their character... shhh do not tell them as they tend to resist any parental imposed self improvement projects.

Update Hurricane Sandy Damage

During day time high tide
 After see link

u tube video

I started this blog back in the beginning of October to Talk Turkey.

I had no idea what was in store for our small seaside community. When I wrote about paying it forward and being Thankful at Thanksgiving I had no idea I would be sitting here today in a snowstorm reflecting on this past week. Most fortunately my family home and business suffered no loss or damage. As most of you know, this was not the case for many people across the Tri- State region. In a minute my husband and staff and I decided to open our restaurant to the victims of Sandy to give back to our community. We served a free dinner buffet and collected storm supplies while most of my staff had no power. The City of Milford gave instantly. We decided to chronicle the events on our Facebook page and serve a breakfast on the following Saturday. I underestimated the power of social media; not the first or even second time in my life and a local tv station posted the details of what we were doing. This set off a flurry of giving that I was not prepared to receive. Complete strangers from hours away began to reach out to us and mail checks to cover costs and help complete strangers. I am happy to report that we kept none of that money and are continuing to make a difference right here in Milford Ct. with gift cards and suppliesdelivered directly to families in need.

This woman is from another town a good distance away and she just wanted to help.

People logged onto our new website and bought gift cards and mailed them to us. Others came in for dinner with gift cards of their own and gave them back to us. Friends passed out coffee and soup and helped others clean up.

Power companies came from other states to lend a hand. Slowly the power came back on and people who were frustrated being without power felt guilty as they started to watch footage of New Jersey, Rockaway Beach NY, and Staten Island. 
The boardwalk
A week later people continue to drop off supplies and give us checks. I am blessed. I have posted my Thankfulness one day at a time on my Facebook page. People have lost tremendously. Just because the power is back on for most of us, this is not over for a long time.

Like Doll Houses

 So what does it all mean? I am still trying to figure it out. Life is full of surprises. It is what you choose to do with challenges and set backs that define your legacy. Before this blog was posted I hinted about shaping the character of my children without them knowing. What I did not know was that I had accomplished just that. One thing that caught me off guard this week was when my oldest son texted me several times to say how proud he was of what we were doing. I didn't think he would even take notice, but he must have  been paying attention all these years in spite of all my nagging. 

I love my family, I am proud of my staff, I am grateful for all the wonderful friends in my life I will always love fall in New England. I am Thankful for this week of HOPE and I will still continue to pay it forward throughout the month of Thanksgiving and beyond. I ask you all to do the same.

Bee El