Sometimes Life is Like a Tea Kettle…

I don’t know about you, but my personality is just like a tea kettle. I can be even keel for awhile, and I navigate through life pretty well even when a few curve balls are thrown my way. But sometimes, things reach a boiling point and that’s when I blow.

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This coming week, I’m going to be hosting about 18 people for Thanksgiving. It started out with a pretty manageable group and that number has steadily grown with family coming in from Maryland, Michigan, Miami and now Boynton Beach. This past Friday, my parents, who had left early to head to Florida decided to fly back to New York so they could spend the holiday with us. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled they’re coming, but know that things are now going to get a bit harried this week and my upbeat demeanor  is about to hit Defcon 4.

Out of our 18 guests, about 6-8 of them will be sleeping over so that meant I had to clean the entire house before they came. And trust me, while I can rock a powerpoint, a blog post and a press release, cleaning the house is not one of my favorite past times.

I also had to do the laundry and our dryer is on the fritz so that meant it would take double the time to dry everything (about six loads total). Oh and did I mention that one of my cats (this means you Hazel) peed on my comforter in our guest room and while I tried to wash it, it still smelled so I had to throw it out and get a new one? 

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Meanwhile, I had noticed that in my kids’ bathroom, strange black dots started appearing on the wall. Holy crap. Black mold. Actually, it was just condensation and dirt formed by never opening the windows. So early yesterday morning, my husband and I went to the supermarket so we could buy a 22 pound turkey, a few cans of yams and cranberry sauce and I could get cleaning supplies. Of course, we walked out of Stop & Shop spending over $300 in groceries, but it is the holiday and as my father in law always says, you can’t put a price on a good time.

Once we stocked the house with food and bleach products, my husband had to leave for the rest of the day for a meeting so I whipped into action. I proceeded to clean the kitchen and both bathrooms and even got the black gunk off the walls while wearing pretty latex pink gloves. I was rocking cleaning the bathroom even though I started to feel a little light headed from all that bleach.

After I opened some windows, I ran downstairs to do more laundry, fold clothes, pay some bills and corresponded throughout the day with my daughter who was coming home that night from college by way of Michigan (she decided to visit a friend for his birthday weekend), Philadelphia and then finally back to New York.  We started texting at 6am, I got another text at 11:00am when she got back to Philly, then another call at noon when she was at her apartment, then another one at 2:30 when she was on the train back to New Rochelle.

After I loaded another batch of laundry, put the clean dishes away, loaded more dirty dishes in the dishwasher, threw out the comforter and some old stuff in the fridge, I headed out again to buy a new comforter at Home Goods. The place was packed but I knew what I was there for. I passed the kitchen and dining section first and grabbed two fresh holiday tablecloths on the way over to the bedding department. Then I found a reasonably priced comforter and made my way to the register where I waited another 10 minutes in a long line that whipped around a few aisles. While waiting my turn and mindlessly checking my Facebook and Instagram feed, I glanced over at the items lining my way to the register and of course, had to impulse buy some decorative napkins since I was standing there for so long and was sucked in by the allure of things I really didn’t need to buy.

When I got back home, I put my pretty new comforter on the bed in the guest room and made sure to close the door behind me so the cat couldn’t get in again and wreck the place. I then went to the basement to fold laundry and my son then informed me he had to get a trifold poster board for his marketing class. Of course, it was due the next day. I instantly told him we should pick it up at that moment but he wanted to wait because he still had homework to finish. So I told him we should go in an hour because I had to get his sister from the train in two hours. He proceeded to stay upstairs for two hours and then I had to leave for the train but he still needed his poster board. 

And that’s when things reached a boiling point. I had actually been keeping it together pretty well but after putting in more loads of laundry and listening to our squeaking dryer, and folding everyone’s clothes, and cleaning black crap off the bathroom walls, and putting all the groceries away, and doing the dishes, and buying a comforter at Home Goods and waiting on a ridiculously long line, I finally blew my stack. I never yell at my son, but there I was arguing with him for not being more proactive with me. Why didn’t he come down the stairs like I had suggested so we could go out sooner to get his poster board? Instead, I insisted he come with me to get his exhausted sister from the train and made her wait in the car while we picked up the poster at Staples and then we all headed home and ordered in dinner because honestly, if I had to cook last night, I seriously would have lost it. How did housewives do it in the 50’s anyway?

I know I shouldn’t complain about having to clean my house but sometimes, when you are expecting a ton of guests for the holiday, the last thing you really want to do is clean the house, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, buy a new comforter at a store that’s packed with pre-holiday shoppers and track down a tri-fold poster board from Staples too. 

So yes, I blew my top when I shouldn’t have but my son forgave me because he’s a great kid and knows that I sometimes have a tendency to lose it when things get a bit stressful at home. We now have made a pact that when he’s assigned a project and needs supplies, he should just order it that day on Amazon Prime and we won’t have any problems. Come to think of it, next time, I’ll order my comforter from Amazon too. I actually ordered a slipcover for one of my chairs that has been mangled by Hazel – the same cat that peed on the comforter – hopefully it’ll get here before Thanksgiving so I can cover up her nasty habit of ripping my furniture to shreds.

And that dear reader is the story of the weekend I blew my top. I’m sure you probably have a few tea kettle stories of your own to share – especially around the holidays. While I’m grateful for family, this time of year just gets me totally stressed out and sometimes, like a tea kettle, I reach a boiling point and blow. But it’s okay. Today’s a new day and my son just informed me that all the lights in his bathroom went out. Time for some morning coffee, then I’ll shove another load of laundry into the dryer before I haveout to buy some bathroom lights.

Guess I better put the tea kettle back on the stove.

The No Butterball Zone

no-turkey.jpgEvery year when Thanksgiving rolls around, I wear the holiday like a badge of honor. “I am going to cook!” I declare and then rattle off all the dishes I plan to whip up for our 20 person guest list. There used to be a time when I would simply cook the bird and my mom would handle side dishes, but over the past two years, my dad has decided to head south before the big day which left me in charge of everything, and frankly, that responsibility drove me to the point of insanity.
When my folks informed me they would be ditching us for Boynton’s warm sunny breezes this year, the first thing I did was check the airfares (hey, it would be nice to spend the holiday in Florida), and when I realized it would cost nearly $3000 to sit at my mom’s dinner table, I began to think of alternative plans. Initially, I thought our regular guests would still be in attendance, but something strange happened. You see, I think my parents are the glue which holds together our holiday dinner and and so, when they bailed, everyone else took off for the hills. My sister in law told us they had decided to head to Florida too, my hubby’s dad informed us he’d be hitting Boston and my cousins, well they’re still out of the country so that doesn’t really count.
So when our crowd of nearly two dozen was reduced to six, while I still could have trekked over to Stop & Shop for a Butterball, I made a much better decision. After receiving an email from The Palm, inviting my family to a Thanksgiving feast that would cost nearly $50 per adult and only $22.50 per child, a lightbulb went off in my head. The last time we dined at The Palm, we were blown away – so much so that we even joined The Palm Club and now, since it’s my husband’s birthday month – he can even opt for a free lobster tonight rather than a turkey dinner. We can order the prix fixe menu or anything we want and the best part of all is – I’m not cooking and I don’t have to do the dishes!!!
Instead, today I’m going to take great pleasure knowing that I do not have to stress about anything. I am giving thanks instead to my terrific family members who decided to ditch us this year and in essence, gave me the break of the century. Hope for those of you who are cooking that your turkey turns out divine and your guests help clear the dishes. Me, I’ll be savoring my hubby’s lobster and thanking my lucky stars that no Butterballs were burned on my watch.

The Role Mommy Cooking Show – Part Deux

Our web series continues with the second half of our Thanksgiving cooking show. If you’re a culinary disaster then join me as I whip up my mom’s signature sweet potato and marshmallow recipe that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Hopefully Grandma Dora and my mom will be proud.

Turkey, Sweet Potatoes and Pie Recipes Anyone?

turkey.jpgI think the folks at All Recipes must have been listening to my conversations with friends over the last few days. You see, this year, yours truly will be cooking the entire Thanksgiving feast all by her lonesome. Why do you ask? Simple, my mom and dad decided to head south earlier in the season and so beginning next week, I’m going to be chained to my kitchen and frankly, that scares me.
And just today, I started asking people about the best websites to visit for some great turkey recipes and then BAM! Like a telepathic message from Emeril Lagasse, I get this fortuitous message waiting in my inbox from All Recipes
“According to the National Turkey Federation, approximately 690 million pounds of turkey will be eaten November 27. What’s this year’s preferred method for cooking the holiday bird? As tracked by Allrecipes.com, the world’s #1 food site, it appears it’s back to basics.
Based on the activity of the eight million home cooks who have already visited the site this November, searches for roast turkey recipes are up 135 percent as compared to last year. Brined and fried turkey is piquing the curiosity of a few, but overall searches to these recipes are down three percent. No matter how you cook it, below is a list of America’s top five most popular turkey recipes this year.”

Allrecipes.com’s 2008 Top Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

CLASSIC
Homestyle Turkey, the Michigander Way
WITH A TWIST
Maple Roast Turkey
BRINED
Perfect Turkey
DEEP-FRIED
Deep-Fried Turkey
GRILLED
The Greatest Grilled Turkey
BAGGED
Turkey in a Bag
ETHNIC-INFLUENCED
Cajun Deep-Fried Turkey
OTHER
Garbage Can Turkey

So now that I got the turkey recipes down pat, what do I do about my mom’s classic sweet potato pie with marshmallows? Do you think that could make it through fed-ex…have no fear, here are some of All Recipes favorite picks for those fabulous Thanksgiving Day side dishes.

Most Popular 2008 Thanksgiving Pie and Dessert Recipes

TOP SWEET POTATO
Sweet Potato Pie I
TOP PECAN
Pecan Pie V
TOP PUMPKIN
Brown Family’s Favorite Pumpkin Pie
TOP APPLE
Apple Pie by Grandma Ople
TOP THANKSGIVING CHEESECAKE
Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
PIE WITH A TWIST
Cindy’s Pumpkin Pie
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
FOR THE MINIMALIST
Mrs. Sigg’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie
TOP PIECRUST
Pie Crust IV
PIE CRUST VIDEO
Making a Pie Crust, Step by Step
NOT QUITE A PIE
Crustless Cranberry Pie

Behind the Scenes at the Macy’s Parade

photo.jpgHave you ever wondered what it was like to stand on one of the amazing floats that was crafted by a group of artisans who lend their talents each year to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Well yours truly got the chance to do just that this week when I served as official “spokesmom” for My Princess Academy. This brand new website enables little girls to pursue their love of all things princess with their very own interactive world that offers games, toys and activities while teaching them the true virtues of being a princess both inside and out: confidence, beauty, generosity and intelligence. The float is one of eight new entries this year and one lucky family will even get the chance to be flown to NYC for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade courtesy of My Princess Academy. And…to make things even more exciting, the Clique Girlz – a tween group who is currently on tour with the Cheetah Girls, will be performing live on the My Princess Academy float during the parade.
photo2.jpgThroughout the day, I got to meet school children who were given an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the floats. With several seasoned Macy’s veterans as tour guides, the kids were able to see first hand how the incredible staff at Macy’s work tirelessly to ensure that everything you see on NBC or along the parade route goes off without a hitch. Some new entrants in the parade also include Disney’s Bolt, a Smurf float that’ll take all of us back to our own childhood (gotta love those Smurfs), an incredible Oneida Indian Nation float that features an enormous turtle with a symbolic tree on its back, Horton Hears a Who and an incredible animatronics Ocean Spray float.
The My Princess Academy float will be quite a sight to behold with a gorgeous castle made out of 50 pounds of glitter (and wood of course). Needless to say, I was covered in glitter by the time I got to my car, but maybe it was all that Macy’s fairy dust that makes everyone who walks in that magical workshop feel special for a day.
Another cool tidbit that I learned during my backstage tour. Do you know how the floats get from their warehouse in New Jersey to Manhattan? They are partially taken apart and then head through the Lincoln Tunnel along with the gigantic balloons. Second cool tidbit – do you know where they test out the balloon floats to make sure they’re ready to take flight? In a remote field in North Dakota – don’t know where it is exactly but it’s a secret location so that no one gets to see those floats until Thanksgiving Day!
This year’s parade promises to be a favorite among kids and parents. The show will be packed with amazing performances – from the Clique Girlz to Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly, Gwen Stefani, Kermit the Frog and much more (heard rumors that the Jonas Bros. may be there too) not to mention the incredible new floats and balloons (any Buzz Lightyear fans out there?). You heard it here first Role Mommies – and keep coming back for the inside track on all things fun for families!