Thursday, November 27, 2014

The last Thanksgiving at Mom's

Today, my extended family will gather to celebrate one last Thanksgiving around the big table in my childhood home. (Mom and her hubs are moving to a retirement facility in January.) It's a bittersweet day, especially since my son stayed in Brooklyn in lieu of a 10-day visit over Christmas. Life is a trade-off.  To overcompensate, as I am wont to do, I am cooking up a small storm. The pre-brined Trader Joe's turkey will go in at noon "stuffed" with fresh sage, thyme and a cup of white wine if I can figure out how to get it in there.


I'm dressing up my cornbread dressing by cooking the mirepoix in rosemary-infused olive oil and soaking my dried cranberries in Marsala. Chopped toasted pecans are a given. Later, I'll do a roasted Brussels sprouts, fennel and bacon dish topped with pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds from TJ's. Isn't cooking just the best therapy? Happy Thanksgiving to all... and don't forget the Tums!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Crystal Bridges, here we come!

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
It's like I always say, half the fun of a trip is the happy anticipation of it. And, since it's a sad 21 degrees outside, I've decided to start looking forward to our weekend in Bentonville, Arkansas, two weeks early. From all reports, Bentonville is a hip and happenin' town thanks, in large part, to its jewel, the three-years-old-this-month Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  located in a holler (yes, a holler) in the Ozark hills.  Read all about it here. Our plan is to stay at the hip and whimsical 21c Hotel because penguins are my favorite.
A candid borrowed from TripAdvisor.
There are, apparently, lots of green penquins standing around the hotel. The staff has fun moving them around to surprise their guests. Yes, it will be December. And, yes, that might not be the prettiest time to visit Arkansas, unless it snows. (Oh, and I hope it does!) But, the way I figure it, winter is penguin season. And I want to see them in their element.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Out with the old

I realized I need to accelerate the distribution of my stuff if I'm going to have enough space to accommodate Mom's stuff at the end of the year. I hadn't planned to take much of her stuff but, darn it, I'm doing it for the kids. It's possible they might want some of her stuff - or my stuff - someday. My attic is full and, since we have no basement and a storage unit is out of the question according to the hubs, I'm in full-out, blinders-on purge mode. Some of the things I'm getting rid of are unusual, if not downright strange...
 like this antique saddle makers bench, for instance. I decided to put it on Craig's List. 
This is a German World War I-II ammunition carrier. I gave it to a guy who sells things on eBay for people. His 30% cut seems worth it to me.
This is the challenge. According to my research, it's a vintage Japanese ceramic gofun geisha doll in a glass case...worth anywhere from $150 to $350+ online. The eBay guy doesn't want it (too hard to ship) and, in her 18" box, she's taking up way too much space. I'll give her a run on Craigslist. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Most of the stuff will end up going to Goodwill, I imagine. (I've already made three trips to shelters in the last two days.)  It's true what they say, "The stuff that you own soon starts to own you."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Moving Mom via Memory Lane

I spent an afternoon last week with Mom, expunging one of the many closets in my childhood home. The move to her new apartment is getting closer (2nd week in January) and a sense of urgency is setting in to get things distributed before the holidays. I left with two boxes of stuff for Goodwill and a box of "keepers," such as art pottery, copper pieces and an album of my baby pictures.
Oh, to have that little bottom again.
As the first-born, there are a LOT of pictures of me, much to the dismay of my baby sister, Number 5. (Photos of her as a child are almost non-existent, poor thing.) When I was an infant, my dad was stationed at an Air Force base in Sacramento. My mom had a camera and a LOT of time on her hands.
Babies, both of us.
I am thrilled to have the pictures, although after I scan and catalog them, I doubt I'll even look at them again...
Check out Dad's death grip on my little arm. Classic.





until I have grandchildren, of course!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hermann highlights

Wine tasting in Missouri offers different scenery than in California.  Different grapes, too, which weren't so much to our liking with a few exceptions. Still, a fun and scenic adventure. Great weekend getaway.
The view of the Missouri River from Oakglenn Winery. The scenery was the best part about this place. Otherwise, a little too touristy and kitschy.
Trying my iPhone's panorama feature
This is a popular spot downtown that offers every kind of sausage you can think of...and then some.
They give you just enough samples to make you stay for lunch...and take home five 1-pound packages. (Or, we were just exceptionally malleable customers.)
The dining room at the Wurst Haus.  I can't recommend the German potato salad and red cabbage enough. The real deal.
A giant sycamore shades the patio at Hermannhoff Winery.
A little sitting niche by the Hermannhoff patio. 
The wine cellar at Hermannhoff.  The wines there were just okay, but there were drier (which, to our palates, means better) California wines next door.
Our favorite stop, Bommarito. Not on the official wine trail map, so you have to ask.
This is where we actually purchased wine to bring home. Delicious. Award-winning. And, with a female winemaker/sommelier, to boot.  Highly recommended.
The scenery at Bommarito isn't bad either.
This is the Adam Puchta winery. A trolley full of red hat ladies forced us to wander away from the main tasting room. What a stroke of luck! We strayed into the gift shop and found the premium tasting room - excellent samples of port and sherry. We brought home a bottle of to-die-for port which we'll attempt to save for Christmas Eve.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hermann MO: Willkommen

We checked into the Alsace Suite at Schiller Guest Suites in Hermann around 3 o'clock yesterday. I took these photos before we messed the place up...
Huge suite. Living room opens to kitchen. Bedroom beyond.
The kitchen with its fabulous old sink. This is a bed-and-do-it-yourself-breakfast.

Pull out sofa. Great colors. Fantastic light.
Lovely bedroom in the French provincial style.
The view from the bed. Fireplace even put out a little bit of heat, which is good since it's 29 degrees as I write.
Sampling hard cider at a tasting in The Bank Bar downstairs.
There are grapes everywhere in this valley. Even on our windows.
Our kitchen table. The owners left a freshly baked Quiche Lorraine, eggs, fruit, yogurt, OJ, cream, muffins and pumpkin bread and, of course, coffee for us to fix ourselves, at our leisure.
And now, for a little wine and beer tasting, because when in Hermann....