Thanksgiving Is Getting the Shaft

What happened to Thanksgiving? I feel like it has become the fruitcake of holidays. Sure, it’s a day everybody acknowledges and celebrates but it’s not something you’re that passionate about.

It seems like more and more Thanksgiving has become a roadblock to December 25. An event to mark off your to do list, to get through, even endure, so you can go back to celebrating the holiday Thanksgiving interrupted – Christmas.

I’ve seen this slowly happening for the last decade and then about two years ago it seems that Thanksgiving got a real kick to the curb. It used to be that someone putting up a Christmas tree right after Halloween was considered eccentric. Now it’s not out of the norm.

Years ago I surrendered my angst about Christmas decorations going up in retail establishments in October but I never thought homes would be all ho, ho, ho’d right after the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup had been handed out for trick-or-treat.

Even the Hallmark Channel known for its very traditional take on the holidays has abandoned any sense of turkey day decorum. This year for the first time in their almost 20 year history the channel went 24/7 on Christmas movies starting on October 25. Et tu Hallmark, et tu?

I’m telling you it’s the equivalent of getting Santa Claus’s blessing to go full Christmas before you even shop for a Halloween costume. It’s shocking to me and I think very rude to Thanksgiving, mean girl even.

It’s like Christmas is the disco ball of holidays and Thanksgiving is a 20-watt light bulb sitting all alone in the middle school cafeteria.

This makes me sad and has emboldened me to start a movement. I’m going to call “I’m With Thanksgiving.” People should rise up and support this day of reflection, gratitude and gluttony because Thanksgiving needs its spotlight back!

And I mean real spotlight not some half-hearted effort to give the holiday a shout out – Thanksgiving poinsettia I’m talking to you.

If you haven’t seen the Thanksgiving themed poinsettia at your grocery store let me educate you on this insult to floral, fauna and good taste.

The plant is either the color of a sweet potato casserole that appears to have gone bad or worse watered down gravy made with a powder mix that would send your great grandmother spinning in her grave. It’s desecrated even further with chunks of gold glitter.

I don’t know whose idea this was but it needs to go down as one of the worst floral trends ever. Surpassing even those gigantic Texas homecoming mums. In fact I might start another movement called “Free the Poinsettia” because just like Thanksgiving this plant deserves so much better.

Can anyone please tell me why have we forsaken Thanksgiving? To me it doesn’t make sense because Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday.

It’s a judgment free zone to stuff yourself senseless and just like a good piece of chocolate pecan pie it needs to be savored not overlooked and rushed through as a prelude to Black Friday sales.

Tomorrow I urge all of you to help me take Thanksgiving back to its glory days. Really dig in and enjoy the holiday. Surrender Santa and focus on the turkey. Relish those mashed potatoes with real butter and form an intimate relationship with the only true stuffing – cornbread.

You’ll know when you’ve achieved Thanksgiving nirvana. It’s when the waistband of your pants has gotten uncomfortably tight and yet, like a true champion, you power through another piece of pie. A day like this should be heralded not given a poinsettia so unattractive it has the power to turn you right off your mom’s green bean casserole.

 

 

Dear Snarky – Thank You Note Throwdown at Thanksgiving

Dear Snarky,real-feelings-thanksgiving-dinner-funny-ecard-fkn

 My two sisters and I are so angry that our niece has never written us thank you notes for the wedding presents we gave her that we are planning on staging a manners intervention on Thanksgiving.

 We feel like we have to do something because her mom, our sister, sure isn’t making sure her grown daughter writes them. What has happened to people’s manners? Who doesn’t write thank you notes for wedding presents?

 Our niece has to be told she’s failing her family and P.S. my mother would be rolling over in her grave to know that one of her granddaughters’ was that lazy and ungrateful.

 The only problem is my husband. He says it will ruin Thanksgiving. What do you think Snarky?

 Signed,  Manners Police Because Someone Has to Be the Bad Cop

 Dear Manners,

 Oh my, I feel like there is a whole lot more going on here than a wedding thank you note, like years of family drama and deep-rooted hostility.

 My short answer is ditch the intervention. I agree with your hubs it will, 100 %, ruin Thanksgiving and I’m getting the vibe that you and your sisters just might love drama and pot stirring.

 Now on the thank you note issue. I’m going to reverse my longstanding position on handwritten thank you notes. Are they awesome? You bet. Should you get your feelings hurt if you don’t get one to the point of creating family division? Um no.

 If you sent a gift than yes you need to know it was received, but I now think any expression of gratitude is fabulous. I would much rather receive a sweet text from my nephew with a photo of him holding my gift and blowing kisses than a generic four line thank you note card.  Yep, times have changed.

 As for your niece – let it go. If the lack of gratitude upsets you and your sisters that much than don’t get here anymore gifts. There’s a strong message about how you feel. But for the love of turkey and dressing don’t let a thank you note destroy your holiday because that “Manners Police” would be a humongous etiquette gaffe a thousand times worse than not writing a thank you note.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a PM on the Snarky FB page. 😉

 

Turkey Issues – The Struggle Is Real

We all have personal miles6cda45495482169ad2bdb2d9fe468866tones that signify we’ve crossed the road from child to adult. There’s the entry-level ones like getting off your parent’s cell phone bill plan and using those twenty percent off Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons because saving money has suddenly become very important.

Then there are the really big watershed moments like getting married and having children. For me one of my “hey you’re a grown woman” milestones was cooking a turkey for the very first time.

I’m not going to lie turkeys scare me in all forms – fresh, frozen and free range. Have you’ve ever seen a turkey up close and personal? I have and they’re jerks.

When I was growing up in Texas wild turkeys roamed around my neighborhood like they owned the place. They were the poultry version of mean girls. They would strut around with their cranberry congealed salad colored snood and wattle and give you what can only be termed as a very assertive and hateful gobble as if they were demanding your allegiance to their reign as poultry royalty.

I spent the better part of my childhood screaming and making sure I didn’t run afoul of fowl. I still believe to this day that the whole weirdo snood and wattle thing is a sign that aliens, somehow in this space-time continuum, hooked up with turkeys. (Alien/poultry crossbreeding – it could’ve happened, just saying.)

It didn’t help my gobble, gobble phobia when one Thanksgiving morning I witnessed my mother doing, what seemed to me at a very impressionable age, unspeakable things to a twenty pound Butterball. As I turned the corner into the kitchen I saw my mom scalding the turkey with hot water, then she started giving the bird a real beat down, going all Ali/Frazier circa 1975 on it.

As if that wasn’t enough after she stopped the brutality and took a few puffs on her Winston’s 100’s she stuck her hand, like her whole entire hand and wrist, into the turkey and begin ripping stuff out.

I don’t remember anything else after that. I either passed out or have repressed the traumatic memory. All I know is that after that I was on team “I never want to touch a turkey.”

I was able to stay on that team for years until I had a family with children and a husband that wanted a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. Oh sure, I could have bought a ready-made turkey from a grocery store or even had my husband do the honors, but I had made the momentous decision that I was going to conquer my turkey fear and give in to the bird.

I started out by doing extensive research and discovered just why my mother, all those decades ago, was going WWF on a turkey. She had not sufficiently defrosted the Butterball and due to wanting her family to eat before midnight my mom had to resort to extreme thawing measures up to and including turkey water boarding with boiling water and poultry pugilistics.

Armed with this knowledge and wanting to stop my family’s cycle of culinary violence the first momentous decision I made was to go the fresh, not frozen turkey route. The second and much more troubling was deciding where to get the fresh turkey. All my earth mama friends, and by that mean women who would rather die than pack a Smuckers Uncrustable in their kid’s lunch, were all about the farm to table scene which is not as cozy and mason jar”ish” as it sounds.

Oh no, in regards to Thanksgiving dinner the term farm to table was very literal. As in you went to a farm and selected which turkey you wanted slaughtered for your holiday meal. I have a strict, never wavering, rule that I don’t ever want to know my protein before I eat it. No, how do you do’s, or eye contact should ever be made with anything that will someday be making a trip down my digestive track.

This is why after much soul-searching I went to Whole Foods and opted for one of their fresh turkeys. When I walked out of the store carrying my just purchased reusable grocery bag (because I felt like otherwise I would be judged “So Not Whole Foods Worthy”) laden with an organic fifteen-pound turkey, from a farm that thankfully I never had to visit, I felt grown up. I was an adult who was going to cook a turkey like a boss.

Once I got that bad boy home I was still energized and the next day I was ready to embark on part two on my adventure – baking the bird. Armed with Playtex kitchen gloves that went up to my elbow, I began the most perilous part of my journey skin-to-skin or, in my case, plastic glove-to-skin contact with the turkey.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-36-52-amYuck!

It was bad enough that I had to basically give the turkey a spa treatment in the sink, but when it came time to remove the giblets or whatever it’s called from the “body cavity” of the bird I had to take a break and let the waves of nausea pass. Finally, with the aid of kitchen forceps (aka salad tongs) I successfully delivered a packet of gunk from my turkey.

Next up was seasoning and while I could vigorously massage in pepper and thyme like a nail technician giving a salt scrub pedicure the one thing I couldn’t do, no matter how many pep talks I gave myself was the whole Hannibal Lecter procedure of burrowing under the turkey skin to add “flavor.”

According to the recipe I was to use surgical precision to separate layers of bird epidermis all in an effort to place pats of mustard chive butter and twigs of rosemary to “create a flavor profile” that was “bar none.” Was I cooking or honing serial killer skills?

I was this close to calling it quits, but instead decided to throw out Plan A – which was the fancy cookbook I was following on how to cook a turkey and go to Plan B – redneck. Oh yeah, I was going to stick the bird in a vat of oil and deep-fry that sucker.

This was my kind of recipe. It had three sentences. Put oil in a stockpot. Place turkey in oil. Fry. Never mind that also included with the instructions was a skull and crossbones symbol and dire warnings about the possibility of grease splatter catching you or your house on fire.

I got my biggest pot, poured what looked to be a gallon of cooking oil in it, turned the burner up and plunged the turkey into a hot tub of flammable liquid. Yes, there was splash back and I have a scar on my inner forearm from the kick back of poultry meeting Wesson oil causing what I’m sure was, at least, a second degree burn, but it was so worth it.

That Thanksgiving my turkey wasn’t close to perfect. (Parts of it were even charred, but I got around that by referring to it as “Cajun style” which I thought might amp up my kitchen cred.) But it didn’t matter because I felt wonderful. Not even the sight of my family burying the meat under their mashed potatoes or discreetly draping some squash casserole over a wing dampened my glow.

I had conquered my fear and I had never felt more grown up. Or quite possibly that could have been the wine and painkiller I had taken to deal with the agony from the burn talking. Whatever. The important thing is I did it and I never did had to do it again.

That’s right ten years and counting and I’ve never cooked another turkey. One and done! That’s the upside to being an adult sometimes you can do exactly what you want and this grown up said no to cooking anymore turkeys.

 

Premature Christmas

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 8.14.13 AMIt’s taken a lot of discipline and dedication to make it to this day without giving in or being weak. Oh, how I’ve wanted to not just succumb but to throw myself in with the herd and celebrate being one of “those people.”

But, I can’t. I. Must. Stay. Strong. I’m almost to the finish line. All I need to do is gut it out for 24 more hours and I’ve done it. I’ve achieved my goal, no forget that, it’s not a goal. A goal is something you’re aiming to accomplish. What I’m talking about is so much more important than any goal. It’s about obeying your mother which you don’t approach with a half-hearted, namby pamby “I’ll try.” No, maternal obedience from an adult daughter demands, a “must do” attitude.

This steadfast compliance in the face of overwhelming temptation is why it took everything I had while buying leaf bags at Lowes to not lovingly gaze at a fresh evergreen garland with a sassy overlay of candy canes and a sprinkling of faux snow that screams Santa + Jack Frost = Best Friends Forever. You see, I was raised from a very young age to embrace one of my mother’s most fundamental edicts – thou shalt not decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

This used to be one of my mom’s easier rules to obey. Back in the day most folks didn’t even put a tree up until December Uno. It was downright weird to see anyone going full holly jolly before you could actually start opening a flap on your Advent calendar. This was primarily because everyone had “real” Christmas trees. Time travel back to the 1970’s and the fake Frasier Fir was so flammable some counties had outlawed it. Never mind that it looked almost as artificial as the facelift my great Aunt Ethel got in Guadalajara, Mexico circa 1972.

Once faux Christmas trees reached an authenticity level so acute that it could fool even the most discerning of squirrels the last remaining barrier to premature Christmas decor was breached. Now, it’s almost impossible to not I spy at least one neighbor with Christmas lights up in October. The neighbor might not have the lights on but they’re up and if I follow my mother’s rule to the letter that’s still a no, no.

I always admired my mother’s keen passion for keeping Thanksgiving as a separate event and not smooshing it together with the Christmas season so it becomes like a piece of chocolate in a s’more. You know how when you eat a s’more you get a taste of the chocolate, but it’s totally overwhelmed by the gooey, bulky show off that is a charred marshmallow. That’s exactly what she thought happened to Thanksgiving when you’re carving the turkey next to a fully flocked Christmas tree.

Growing up, especially as teenagers, my sister and I would delight in aggravating my mother by pointing out people in town who had Christmas decorations up early and to be truthful early to my mom was anytime before the first weekend in December. When a salacious marital cheating scandal happened to a prominent citizen my mom’s very pious response was, “Well, what did anyone except from that woman. She had Christmas up before you could even buy a Butterball in the grocery store. I’m telling you it speaks to character.”

When I pressed my mother for details about how exactly putting Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving was a moral defect. She looked at me like I had just asked if writing thank you notes was ever optional and responded, “You don’t skip over Thanksgiving just because something better in the form of Christmas is lurking all bright and shiny around the corner and you don’t skip out of a marriage for exactly that same reason. It would behoove you to remember that young lady.”

Remember it I did. And as much as I have always wanted to get started on putting up Christmas decorations early (because what woman with a holiday To Do list a mile long doesn’t want to start getting stuff done) I lived in fear my mother would find out and have a very dignified, and somewhat reserved, hissy fit. (Think of it as a long, drawn out, sigh of devastating disappointment.)

This year is the first Thanksgiving I’ll celebrate without my mother. She passed away in March. My sister called me and asked if I was going to start decorating early. I told her no way because I believe with all my heart my mom is still with us and she would somehow manage to express her disapproval from the great beyond.

“I feel the same way,” my sister shared. Then we both started laughing. My mother maybe gone but her Thanksgiving spirit or “Holiday Decoration Timeline” is still living large.

Hey, while we’re talking about Christmas do you know what you make a great gift? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Tabled Manners

0f41ba2c52be0afcfb0d953850545a84Many a Thanksgiving dinner has been ruined by manners and I don’t mean bad manners. I’m not talking about Uncle Charlie who has the disgusting habit of picking his teeth at the table with the remnants of the turkey wishbone. Yes, the whole caveman dental procedure can turn you right off your sweet potato casserole which is a tragedy because who wants to say no to a vegetable dish that features, maple syrup, a box of gingersnap cookies, corn flakes and mini marshmallows? Not me that’s for sure.

Trust me, dining with a Neanderthal D.D.S. is nothing when compared to breaking bread or a turkey leg with someone who has just graduated from “protocol” school. Basically, it’s a place where you go to get all mannered up and then, if you happen to be vaguely related to me, show off what you’ve learned at Thanksgiving. Can you say best meal of the year ruined?

I knew I was in trouble when the Thanksgiving table was set with enough silverware, goblets and plates that it looked like a Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma had mated. No, correction not just mated, but had a wild, passionate, Vegas fling. There were seven forks per place setting! Seven. Who needs seven forks?

When I verbalized this question I got a side eye and then some shade thrown at me by little Miss Protocol. She explained, oh so concededly I might add, that the forks were meat, salad (duh, I’m not a total rube I get that) dessert, shrimp, snail, fruit and pastry. And then there were spoons for days. Did you know there was something called a bouillon spoon?

If you’re right now patting yourself on the back thinking, “Why of course I knew there was a soup spoon, that’s what a bouillon spoon is you backwoods heathen.” Just stop, right now and wipe off that self-congratulatory smile. Apparently a bouillon spoon is different from a soup spoon. The B.S. (that’s my little name for it) is meant for clear broths only.

My first thought is who wants a clear broth as part of their Thanksgiving dinner? I don’t need my palate cleansed. If you do that you’re missing out of the delightful taste of mashed potatoes still hanging out on a back molar and at least one bicuspid mingling with a soupcon (see I’m classy, I just used a French word) of canned cream of mushroom soup and a curly fried onion from the green bean dish. That’s the essential Thanksgiving flavor profile right there. No one should mess that up. It’s, it’s . . . un American! So, if you ask me that bouillon spoon can take a hike right back to whatever freedom hating drawer it crawled out of. U.S.A, U.S.A.!

As for Miss Protocol, by the end of dinner that night I was glad I had a bounty of forks because I wanted to use all of them to go on a stabbing rampage. Primarily, because out of the seven forks taking up space at each place setting only two were used. Yep, the good old meat and salad fork got quite a workout while the other five forks just laid there on the place mat like lonely brides that had gotten stood up at the altar.

I must admit I felt smug that Miss Protocol and her silverware fetish couldn’t rattle me. Yes, yes, I wanted to stab her, but that was for her attitude not because I was in anyway intimidated by the mystery that is the chocolate spoon. (Spoiler alert it’s not made of chocolate. It’s a scoopy looking spoon that you use to eat chocolate. Go figure.) The truth is, and I’m not bragging here just stating fact, that I’m extremely proficient in all things etiquette related.

How could I not be? My mother hailed from the deep south. I was not only a registered member of Cotillion where I learned very important things like a gentleman always carries three handkerchiefs. One for your nose, one for show and one to give away to a lady in need. I was also a Brazos Belle, a Symphony Belle (both requiring you to walk/sway in very large hoop skirts, thank you very much) and while not a debutante would consider myself debutante adjacent. (It’s like you’re a deb, but you’re saving your parents a boatload of cash by not actually making your debut. Okay, I just made the debutante adjacent term up. Hmm, maybe it needs to go on my resume. Yeah, you’re right,  probably not.)  If all that doesn’t say “I know a shrimp fork from an oyster thingamabob than nothing does. Oh and I almost forgot to add that I have had a subscription to Southern Living magazine since the day I got married. That, right there, maybe the most important.

So based on this list of non accomplishments, but reeking of Scarlett O’Hara, I feel very confident in my etiquette knowledge. Make that I did feel very confident until I recently took an etiquette quiz and FAILED. It was a napkin question that took me into deep F territory. I’m so embarrassed that for years I’ve been doing the whole napkin in the lap thing wrong. Did you know that you’re supposed to wait to put your napkin in your lap until your hosts have been seated and they have placed their napkins on their upper thighs? I thought as soon as your hosts sat their backsides in a chair it was go time for the napkin. But no it’s like a napkin waltz and I’ve been messing up the choreography.

Worse, I, being a little braggy, challenged my kids to take the etiquette quiz with me. I thought I had it in the bag because despite my best efforts my children can be remedial in the manners department. (I can’t be the only one who gets a case of the vapors when a child pulls out a cell phone at the dinner table.) Here’s the tragic news. They both bested me! I was stunned and in immediate need of  a gentleman to surrender his  handkerchief so I could dab away my tears.

When I asked them how in the world they scored better than I did my son answered, “We both guessed that the stupidest answer must be the right one.”

“And the napkin question. Is that how you answered that one? You just looked for the most ridiculous answer?”

“No, I knew that one.”

Flabbergasted I asked, “Are you telling me you knew to wait for your hosts to put their napkins in their lap before you do?”

My son smiled and confessed, “Nah, I just wanted to mess with you.”

“That right there mister is bad manners. It’s not polite to mess with your mother.”

“Polite no. Fun yes.” He muttered as he sauntered off leaving me in an etiquette shame spiral.

I rolled my eyes and forced myself to let my napkin humiliation go. Taking a page from the Scarlett O’Hara playbook  I told myself, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

You know what’s always in good taste? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Dear Snarky – We’re Having Thanksgiving at a Relative’s House Who Can’t Cook

Dear Snarky,0db510e857caa82347f72ce8908414c0

Our Thanksgiving is about to be ruined. Every year my family rotates who host the big turkey dinner. This year it’s my brother and sister-in-law’s turn. The problem is neither of them can cook, like at all. The bigger problem is they don’t know it. Five years ago we had the dinner at their house and it was almost inedible.

Now, it’s their turn again. Is there anyway we can avoid this disaster? And please don’t say we should all bring food. We did that last time and my brother said we really hurt my sister-in-laws feelings. Ugh.

Signed, Hungry Family

Dear Hungry Family,

Shame on all of you. In fact, you deserve to eat icky food on Thanksgiving because you’ve waited FIVE years to do anything about this. C’mon you’ve had half a decade to figure this out. That’s plenty of time to have started a new family tradition of everyone bringing the sides and desserts or working on the Thanksgiving rotation so your brother and sister-in-law wouldn’t host until 2050 or something.

So suck it up and since you can’t enjoy the food give thanks for family togetherness

And P.S. I’d still bring at least a pie or something.

Screw You “Handcrafted” Marshmallow

This is the time of year when I 1a1c7fece33977b0f9d70a02bd4a0737usually have to take a break from social media. And no it’s not the gratitude posts causing me to flee the Internet. I usually find those go one of two ways. They’re either heartfelt or a not so humble brag wrapped around a Bible verse.

What’s making me retreat from my digital life is the Thanksgiving themed cooking tips. I was actually feeling like I was letting my family down by not handcrafting marshmallows or cooking a pie where I butchered my own pumpkin. Yeah, that’s right I said butchered and I know what I’m talking about because I shamelessly caved and let myself be the victim of kitchen peer pressure.

Embolden by the experience of watching on-line cooking videos that made it on my Facebook newsfeed I, with gusto, grabbed a handful of dish towels and attempted to embrace a 100% homemade Thanksgiving. Well, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. It’s more accurate to say I decided to try a few new recipes. This resulted in me (in no particular order) crying, my oven catching on fire and gooey candy sugar doing, at best guess, at least $200 in damages to assorted pots and pans.

It all started with the oh so innocent sugar pumpkin. It’s a cute, little thing that sugar pumpkin. Who knew that cooking it would it would release a demon spirit that would not only slime my kitchen, but make the oven spontaneously combust.

Now, in case you’re wondering why I was cooking for Thanksgiving a week before the big day my answer is simple. It’s because I’m not an amateur. Anyone with a few deep-fried turkeys under their Williams Sonoma holiday botanical print apron knows you don’t try out new recipes the day before or (are you crazy?) Thanksgiving morning. No, you do any experimentation ahead of time.

This explains why I was slaughtering a pumpkin in my kitchen several days ago. The hint that things were going to go terribly, terribly, wrong was when the first line item in the recipe was an ice pick. In fact, thinking back the whole recipe sounded like an inventory for a dungeon. There was the pick, the serrated knife, the cleaver. Was I cooking a pumpkin or time traveling to the 8th century to be part of a murderous Viking rampage?7f62068a-bc33-4619-9233-e9e435bbe49e

The ice pick was used to pierce holes in the pumpkin before it went into the microwave to “soften.” When I took it out after 10 minutes it looked like a before picture for Proactive. All the holes I had poked in the pumpkin were oozing white stuff like plump zits that had just exploded. If that wasn’t bad enough I then had to cleave the thing in half and scoop out it’s guts.

Yes, I know everyone does the scoopy thing when they carve their Halloween jack-o-lantern, but you don’t do it to a hot gourd oozing pumpkin pus. After I had gutted the pumpkin it went into my oven for 30 minutes to continue “softening.”  The softening ritual was cut short when the stem of the pumpkin (Yeah, I left the stem on. So? The recipe didn’t mentioning any de-stemming.) caught fire. This wasn’t just a petite, ladylike blaze easily put out with a delicate sprinkling of baking soda. Oh no, this was an inferno that engulfed the entire oven. The good news I finally got to use the fire extinguisher my husband had purchased five years ago.

Still shaky from almost burning my house down I summoned my inner Martha Stewart and continued cooking. Next up was Martha’s marshmallows that required, thank God, zero oven time.

I would now like to go on the record and say homemade marshmallows are the wb4423781-271c-4e65-9ff4-523433e104a9orst idea ever. The recipe looks easy enough. Loads of sugar, Karo syrup and a gelatin pack or two and you’re good to go. The one thing Martha doesn’t tell you is that the combination of those ingredients might create marshmallows, but it also produces a space age polymer with a bonding quality so advanced it could cement the cracks in the earth’s inner core.

I couldn’t get this goo off of me, my pots and pans, and (sniff, sniff ) my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer. I was like Edward Marshmallow Hand.  I literally was unable to even let my dog in the house because my fingers were stuck together prohibiting me from opening the sliding glass door. Finally after using fingernail polish remover I got my hands clean and then began the harrowing and futile attempt to wash, chisel and otherwise rid my kitchen of sticky marshmallow muck.

Today, I’m still picking marshmallow out of my hair. So please, I beg of you, heed this cautionary tale and realize that somethings, like pumpkin, are best out of a can and that mass-produced marshmallows should be hailed as one of the great culinary feats of the last century.

You know what’s yummy and kitchen disaster free? My Snarky book series. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may cover_1-3-21I gently suggest you give it a try like right now. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Admit it – We’ve All Wanted to Escape From Our Family on Thanksgiving

Andthg_37 now for something to make me really unpopular . . . I’m going to confess that I don’t get what all the fuss is about regarding having to work on Thanksgiving. Right now, all of my social media newsfeeds are flush with what I’m going to call the “No Work Thanksgiving” movement.

Based on the fervent “likes”, “shares,” and “retweets” one would think working on Thanksgiving is a major societal problem of the 21st century. The thing that really makes me laugh is the sanctimonious chatter about how working on Thanksgiving is “robbing people of family time.” Yeah, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And in the spirit of full disclosure I’ve worked many Thanksgivings and LOVED it! Like skipping out of the house, loving it. (I also loved the money because I really needed the money.)

Before you think I’m anti family (or anti my family) let’s examine the holiday. It’s not even a religious occasion. I would understand this level of outrage if, indeed, it was a holy day. But it’s a Federal holiday that came about in 1863, when, President Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in the month of November as a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Okay, I will now concede that sounds religious, but really, how many people go to church on Thanksgiving?

And if you’re going to be angry about a holiday that’s gone full retail where’s the Fourth of July fury? That’s a huge day in American history, but no one cares that Victoria’s Secret dares to cheapen the birthday of this great country of ours with a “Let Freedom Ring” three thongs and a cheekster for $13 sale.

It’s also a day that requires hours of hard culinary labor. Anyone who says they don’t believe people should have to work on Thanksgiving must never have hosted the holiday at their home. Sure, the reward of toiling in the kitchen is grand and glorious. You, for doing all the pre meal prep, cooking and cleaning, get the thank you gift of gazing upon the wonder that is your Uncle T.J. stuffing his face at the speed of light so he resume his prone position on the couch to watch football.

As for the whole “robbing people of family time” argument let’s be honest here. Most of us don’t have fairy tale families where our Thanksgiving is 24-hour extended kin group hug. For a lot of us, a whole day consumed with a cornucopia of relatives, in a confined space, with no chance of escape, is akin to tip toeing barefoot through the hot coals of hell. Add in second cousins, who have been drinking alcohol since 10 a.m. and you have me volunteering to work every holiday. In fact, many times as I have been bolting for the door to get to work my husband has begged, “Please, please, take me with you.”

The “No Work Thanksgiving” moment doesn’t just focus its ire on the merchants that chose to be open on Turkey Day there’s also a heaping helping of disgust for folks who dare to shop on mashed potatoes with gravy Thursday. Lots of time is spent on social media dissing people camped outside a Best Buy to get a “bitching deal” on a TV that’s bigger than most people’s first homes.

Here’s my take on that. If you have a family member (or members) that has chosen standing outside a Best Buy instead of gracing your table for Thanksgiving you should be rejoicing, like Hallelujah chorus rejoicing, because you’ve been saved for spending an entire day with this level of nitwit. In fact, I would go so far as saying you need to write a thank you note to Best Buy for their awesome system of herding and corralling humans that don’t need to be free ranging it on Thanksgiving. It’s like having a babysitter for the ickier part of your family tree.

(Now, just to be fair, I must also defend the Best Buy campers. I’ve been told by some that they have a “great time waiting in line” and that it “beats the hell out of spending the day with family.”)

As for the folks that hit the malls and Target Thanksgiving evening all I have to say is you go girls (and men being forced against their will to Kohl’s for their fleece sale). Two years ago, I interviewed a group of woman, four sisters-in-laws, who were having a blast Target on Thanksgiving night. They didn’t really care about the shopping. For them it was all about taking a break from a surly mother-in-law and husbands who needed to up their game on the kid watching duty. Technically, they were family members spending time together. They just weren’t doing it at a table while passing Great Grandma Eunice’s sweet potato, cornflake, and marshmallow fluff casserole.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Betrayed By Better Homes and Gardens

Thanksgsweatsiving is a week away and I’ve done nothing to get ready for the holiday. Usually by this time I, at least, have made out my shopping list, but, ugh, I can’t seem to get my act together. I place the blame on the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The magazine has never had an adverse effect on me before, but now it’s guilty of killing my entertaining spirit. My turkey day joie de vivre has been crushed. All because of the high expectations brought forth by BHG. Why, oh why, have you betrayed me Better Homes and Gardens?

Here’s the deal. I don’t read Martha Stewart Living because it’s like looking at a fashion spread in Vogue. Would any human and/or alien who inhabits our galaxy wear the outfits featured in Vogue? Hell, no. It’s the same thing with Martha. The magazine is a cry for help. It’s not even aspirational reading. It’s – if you spend three days handcrafting linen napkins and then one whole day turning that creation into origami table art – go check yourself into a mental health care facility because it’s evident you are suffering from some sort of undiagnosed psychological disorder that’s being played out in an entertaining fetish. I always thought of Better Homes and Gardens as a safe haven of sorts. It’s readable and relatable. There are pages of recipes and tips that I can actually use and do. Then I received this month issue.

The thing that got me wasn’t the cooking or decorating tips, but the suggestions for welcoming house guests. The magazine calls it “five star hotel indulgences.” I call it scary. Let’s do a quick rundown of some of the recommendations. First up, hand-crochet holiday slippers. WTH? If a family member or friend gave me slippers she or he had knitted I would be freaked out. So many spooky questions would be running through my mind. When did they have the time? Why did they make the time? What did they not do to make the time? How did they know my shoe size? And most importantly, are the crocheted slippers some sort of process in a ritual serial killing? For me the knitted footwear is screaming, “Haul ass to the nearest Marriott Courtyard.”

Then there’s the guest room decor suggestions. Sure, it’s the usual suspects – fresh flowers in an heirloom vase and homemade harvest granola enriched snacks. But there’s also the recommendation to supply your guests with bandages and First Aid supplies. Am I the only one that thinks this is a red flag for the whole serial killing thing? Work with me on this. If you walked into a guest room and saw medical triage supplies would you or would you not be alarmed?

This issue also features a cutesy door hanger template you can use for your guests. One of the areas on the hanger was for “House Hints & Rules.” The magazine on their sample door hanger wrote “No treats for the dog” and “Backyard gate sticks.” Hmm, is this because the dog likes to feast on human remains? And about that backyard gate, I bet it sticks, as in sticks so much you’re never, ever, escaping.

I could be over thinking all of this and I fear the real problem is that I have a social disorder of my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being a guest in other people’s homes, but if they’re making a November 2014 Better Homes and Gardens fuss I’m going to be uncomfortable. Great hospitality to me is when my sister says, “I made a Costco run and there’s a tub of Artichoke dip with your name on it. Knock yourself out.” Or when a good friend asks, “Do you want one or two dogs sleeping with you?” That’s my kind of gracious living. It makes me feel at home and welcome. I don’t need flowers, an organic chunky knit throw artfully gracing the guest bed, or hand ground hummus. I just want to spend time with my loved ones and know that I’ll be able to reciprocate.

One of the problems with putting on the Ritz for house guests is that your overly indulgent hospitality may limit the number of invitations you’ll receive in return. Your guests could think, “I’ll never come close to replicating this” and be embarrassed to extend a “Hey, let’s do this at our house next year” invite or even return for a visit.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, maybe that’s what’s going on. Maybe this whole “five star” hospitality thing is a way to passive aggressively thin your houseguest herd. Oh, well played Better Homes and Gardens, well played.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

 

Dear Snarky – Still Stuck at the Kiddie Table for Thanksgiving

Dear Snarky,10384343_1569011313310456_5708472324052755564_n

I’m going with my fiancé to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving. We have been dating for three years and for the past two years his mother has made me sit at the kids’ table. Hello, I’m 26 years old! This Thanksgiving I’m sure she is going to pull this stunt again. Should I stand up for myself and refuse to eat at the kiddie table (that is not even in the dining room BTW) or do I suck it up and not cause a scene?

Signed, Turkey Trouble

Dear Turkey,

 First off, I feel the need to offer you some premarital advice. Are you sure you want to a marry a man who can’t pull on his big boy britches and tell his mother that his soon to be wife will be dining at the same table as the rest of the adults? Also, your future mother-in-law sounds like a handful so be sure, very, very, sure you’re ready to marry into that kind of drama.

 As for the kids’ table – I would happily sit there and own it! Bring some cute crafts for your fellow diners and have a blast while counting your blessings that you’re not stuck eating with the adults who no doubt are either grousing about the country going to hell in a hand basket or Aunt Shirley’s and Uncle Stewart’s recent couple’s colonoscopies.

 Your bliss (faux or real) at eating with the kids will also show your future MIL not to mess with you because whatever shade she throws your way you’re going to turn it into a rainbow. 

 If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With An Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.