The Boys Are Back In Town… Almost

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The month of May will be here tomorrow… WHAT?!?!? Am I the only one who it snuck up on?? It seems just yesterday that the boys were leaving after Christmas break (and when I saw the mess that was left in their wake, I may have actually been grateful that they weren’t coming home again until summer…oops!!) But I do love May for lots of reasons: Tim’s birthday, Will’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, my favorite cousins birthday, my nephew Andy’s birthday, Mother’s Day (plenty of notice boys… books are always good), school ends, summer begins, and our household occupancy doubles while my laundry/cooking/cleaning TRIPLES! I have learned to make very few plans in May because I know it’s the longest my boys will be home all year and we just plan to soak it in.

Other mothers talk about having their college kids home for the summer and I must say that I have never had that experience. Our oldest son worked every summer and spring break for his entire undergraduate life. It looks like both our middle son and youngest are headed down that same path. I’m not complaining, because I believe it’s good from them to experience all that they can while they are young and unencumbered. (Plus, none of them are dumb and they know there is no way their dad would put up with them staying in bed until noon.) Do I miss them? YES! Would I love to have them home for a longer period of time? Sure in theory but I’m pretty sure we’d get on theirs nerves about the same time they started getting on ours!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tim and I are loving the empty nest! Seriously, when your kids do what you raised them to do it’s hard not to be happy for them (besides, I’d be crazy to mind less laundry, smaller messes and cheaper grocery bills…just sayin) it also means that when any or all of the boys are home we put everything aside and just enjoy our time with them. So for the next month there will be late nights, tons of good food, great conversations and more fun than you can imagine. Seriously, I may be worn out and used up come June but it will all be worth it!

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So Much To Be Thankful For

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I’ve been married for 24 years and made it this far before having to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. Yep, we’ve always celebrated with family so at most I’ve brought a few sides and pies so this was a big adventure. No, we were not asked to leave the family but all the celebrations were in our hometown of Carrollton this year and with all three boys home we decided to stay here in Augusta so that they could catch up with their friends.

Now the four of you who read this may or may not know that I am a notoriously bad cook. It’s not that I don’t have the intelligence to follow a recipe it’s that I simply don’t pay attention to the details like I should (OOPS!) But this year is going to be the year that I master cooking. And people, so far so good. The food turned out amazing (I swear my family kept raving about how good it was…seriously, I’m not kidding!) Between my mom and google I found easy to follow recipes for everything I fixed from sides to pies to dressing to turkey. I didn’t even freak when Matt’s five friends spent the night… found a breakfast casserole recipe for that!!

Truly it just may have been the best Thanksgiving ever for a lot of different reasons. For the first time, Tim and I decided to live on the boy’s schedule and all I can say is there is nothing like starting a three hour movie at midnight… it helps knowing you can sleep as late as you want the next day. What a week! Of course there was wrestling (told you it would happen), but also tiddly winks, back porch sessions, good food, great conversations, incredible football games and more late night movies than any of us can remember. It’s funny, just when your kids become enjoyable human beings, you ship them off to college. Thank goodness for college breaks!! Now, on to Christmas…

Food For Thought

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Yes I grew up in the South, yes I am a southern girl by the grace of God but I can promise you my culinary palette is not southern by any means. My dad, while southern born, was raised in New Jersey with a Yankee dad and Southern mom. My mom, an adventurous southerner belle. So add one tour of duty in Vietnam, three kids in three years and you have nothing close to normal!

Take regular week night meals for example, most people grew up eating a meat, one to two veggies, bread and maybe dessert. Me? My mom and dad are AMAZING cooks, so one night we’d have Hungarian goulash the next night Lo Mein then Swedish meatballs followed by Chile Rellenos ending with Meatloaf. That truly was a typical week in my house. (Don’t even get me started on my paternal grandfather’s specialty, Spanish Dish. YUM!!) So you can understand my intrigue with the traditional “meat & three” meal served by my mother-in-law the first time I ate with them. (Silly me, I thought she cooked different!)

Holiday meals in my family? Amazing! Since both sets of grandparents lived within an hour of each other we’d get two feasts per holiday. At Granny’s we’d have a straight up traditional southern meal: turkey, cornbread dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, Le Sueur peas, green beans, cranberry sauce and hot yeast rolls. At Mom Weber’s house? Yankee all the way: standing rib roast with au jus, stuffing, creamed onions, mashed rutabagas and carrots, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. But the best holidays occurred once we got to be adults and both families would come to my parents’ house where we’d mix both Southern and Yankee. It was the BEST!

Once I married, I began to realize how blessed I was to grow up with parents who can best be described as culinary adventurist. Me? Didn’t really rub off on me…. I’m cooking more and getting better in the kitchen but let’s be honest, I still have a long way to go!!

Thank You Google!

Google taught me to cook. You see, I didn’t take Home Economics in high school. Nope, I thought it way more prudent to take PE and weight lifting… in the same semester. Hello, there were far more guys in those classes and at the time that held more importance than cooking. (Apparently I was pretty good at figuring out the least useful skills in life and pursuing them.) Plus when you were the only girl in the class, the coach said you didn’t have to work out if you’d keep his grade book. Ummm, OK!! Therefore, I’m certain it will come as no surprise to anyone that I was never known for my cooking ability.

Now my lack of cooking skills became apparent quite early in my life. There was the great pudding debacle when I was 10. Who doesn’t love some pistachio instant pudding? I clearly followed the directions putting in two cups of milk and stirring until mixed. Eight hours later when it was still soupy as all get out, I calmly showed my mom the measuring cup I had filled twice and dumped into the powered pudding. She just as calmly pointed out that it was a 2 cup measure i had used and not a 1 cup measure… thereby doubling the milk. Ooops!!

Not long after, I decided to prove I really could cook this time making cherry Jell-O (yes I realize pudding nor Jell-O is cooking but you tell my 10 year old self that.) Who can mess up Jell-O right?!?! I mean it’s water and powder people, surely any idiot can make Jell-O. It was like a chemistry experiment in my kitchen that day with all my planning and preparation. I was certain it would be the best Jell-O ever and was patting myself on the back when after only 30 minutes, my Jell-O was set. Man I was good! I proudly showed mom my success and we tasted it… ummmm, it was not very good. Again mom began to walk through the steps with me when I realized it didn’t say “add 1 cup hot water OR 1 cup cold water” no it clearly said “add 1 cup hot water AND 1 cup cold water”… it was at this point I realized paying attention to detail might not be my strong suit.

It’s here that I tell you once I was married and began cooking on a regular basis, I really got my game on and could whip up a healthy, delightful meal in no time… except that didn’t happen. No, I’ve been cooking for 24 years and until I retired almost 2 years ago, it was just so-so on the food front. I could whip up a mean Hamburger Helper meal or stick a frozen lasagna in the oven with the best of ‘em but not even close to gourmet. (The good news is that I served a salad with every meal so my sons grew up healthy albeit with vary untested palettes.) But now that I have retired, I have to say I’ve gotten quite good in the kitchen. I dare say, I even found that I really love cooking. Maybe it has something to do with me pretending I’m on a cooking show whenever I make anything or it could just be that I have plenty of time for it now but it is probably the fact that one can Google any food and get detailed directions that even I can follow. Whatever the reason, I just want all to know that I’ve finally begun to conquer the kitchen and now make a pretty mean risotto. Yes, I said risotto… bring it on Chef Ramsey!