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Decorating for Christmas -- it is taking forever!  Is it even worth it any more?  It also makes another colossal mess to clean up.   Why does all this crap leave such big piles of little berries, sparkly dots of glitter, not to mention "snow" everywhere?  Everything really does look pretty when you get it all done, sneezes and itches notwithstanding.  I guess that's why I keep doing it.  It is getting harder, though, I don't deny that, and each year, I keep looking for ways to simplify it while still keeping it looking fresh and different from the year before.   It is also very hard on the hands and nails.  While it is quite relaxing to sit back and admire the handiwork, the twinkly lights and   wonderful fragrant candles burning all around, you think, ugh, I will have to put all this away before too long.  

work in progress


Estate sale Saturday -- I found two good buys on fabric.  $14!  for quite a few yards!  Pierre Deux and ???  I got there very late, and my heart sank when I saw a number of fabric bolts over in the corner of the living room with a SOLD sign on them.  I wandered around till I found some more that had been left behind, and two of them were to my liking.  It wasn't a total waste after all.

Appalling conversation between estate sale workers overheard:   It was resoundingly stupid, and a collection of the silliest, most ignorant slippery-slope arguments I have ever heard, politically speaking.  Lunchtime banter between a group of young white males who were eating their box lunches at one of the kitchen islands, it was impossible for all not to overhear.  They were terribly amused with themselves and their "cleverness."   

There were quite a few people milling around in the super-large kitchen in the estate sale house, and I couldn't help but notice that those of other races and ethnicities kept their eyes down and kept going to other rooms, just as I did.  I really felt for the one young African American male in the group.  He did not contribute to their conversation.  There was actually a set of Imari cups and saucers I might have bought, but for having to listen to this claptrap while inspecting the goods.  Several other sets of beautiful china were laid out on the various counters, tables and islands that I wanted a closer look at, but I just moved on because I knew the next thing I would do would be to open my big mouth, and I would probably start a free for all. 

I thought about saying something to the estate agents, but since these were their employees, that would have been dicey, because some of them might have even been their relatives.  I am still thinking about sending an email to the owner of the business, or calling, and pointing out that no matter our skin color, our money is all still green.  I wonder how many sales they lost because of the nonsense of these guys trying to one-up the other in their redneck silliness?  It was also a painful reminder of just how narrow and rigid the political views of some of my fellow citizens here in my lovely home state of Alabama really are.  This is also why I am so opposed to the Electoral College:  I do not want people of this mindset controlling and/or nullifying my vote in every single presidential election!  My opinion counts, too, you know.


Glimmer strings -- the greatest thing since  -- uh -- the invention of electricity, maybe?  You must hotfoot it to Pier 1 and get some!  Each string takes three AA batteries.  The first string I bought a couple of weeks ago, the salesperson accidentally gave me blue when I meant to buy white.  However, I found a place where it works -- on the nativity.  I went back and got some more, making sure to get white lights this time.  I used one here --

one here --

and another on the mantel garland.


chicken and dumplings

Holiday foods -- should we all just get fat ((to quote Jim Morrison))?  Fatter?  What about that spiking blood pressure and the inevitable gastritis brought on by too much alcohol and salty, sweet and fatty foods, not to mention ever-expanding waistlines that come with over-indulgence?  I grew up listening to regular sermons delivered by my father at the dinner table on the "sin of making your god your belly" -- I guess it made more of an impression than I thought.  It will be back to the Y for me this week, as I have taken a couple of weeks off, first to enjoy my son's visit, and then this past week, trying to get the house decorated for the coming holidays.  

Don't get me wrong -- I will be making some holiday goodies, but I will definitely not be over-indulging.  It is too hard to get it off, once it settles on the hips!  I will share some of our favorite holiday recipes later in the week.  


The saga of the front door wreaths:  

I sent the husband out to Lowe's for some fresh wreaths for our front doors.  I have not used anything on the actual doors (although I do decorate the porch) since I had the old door replaced a few years ago with a pretty one of my own de$ign.  😉  This year, I told Sweet Hubs I wanted to try it, and I thought we could use Command hooks which will not damage the glass.  Here are the conclusions to be drawn from this tale:

     *Command hooks are for the birds (at least in an outdoor setting).  
     *Duct tape works every time.  
     *Natural conifer wreaths shed like a mangy old cat. 
     *Premade wreaths have really tacky bows. 


Finally, we have had some torrential rains to relieve the Exceptional Drought, (71 days without rain -- a record)  and then some less violent steady rains, the best kind.  Unfortunately, some areas in the Deep South experienced some tornadoes in the last few days, and there was some loss of life.  That's always very sad when we see these reports of lost homes and loved ones to our sometimes violent weather.   

My complaint is totally insignificant compared to a drought and tornadoes, but the heavily overcast rainy days did make it really hard to get any decent photos for this blog post!


What's wrong with this picture?
That arc of knockout roses has been cut back to the ground.
The !@#$%^&* drought has caused this.
They had gotten so scraggly that they were truly deplorable.
We have been promised some rain next week,
so do let's hope it comes.

The same thing happened here where there used to be azaleas.
We had been planning to get rid of these anyway,
so it was not a sad thing to see these go.

The geranium just keeps on going, however.

The Great Chestnut Roasting Debacle.
I had never tried roasting chestnuts before, but I figured if they are sung about-- "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack frost nipping at your nose" --  well then, they could jolly well roast in the oven just as well.
I didn't know it, but I was already behind the 8-ball on this one.
I bought them at least six weeks ago at the farmer's market,
but little did I know they sort of have an expiration date.
At least, according to Big Martha.
She says if you can hear them rattle in the shell, get rid of those.
Well, I didn't know that, but they did rattle at bit.
I popped them into a 350 degree oven, but it seems you are supposed to use 450.
Also, I used an open pan lacking an open fire, but Martha's suggested foil packet would have prevented what happened next.
When they got hot -
"pop! pop! pop!"
just like the song says.
They made a COLOSSAL mess in the oven, and
when I retrieved them all (carefully),
they were like little hard-fired ceramic balls.
After first sweeping and then vacuuming out the oven with the dust buster,
I tried a nutcracker on those which hadn't exploded, you know, just to see.
No luck, so next I located the metal meat mallet.
Yay!  Success! That cracked the suckers!
Same story.
Thoroughly disgruntled, I walked out into No Man's Land East in our back yard and threw them out.
I doubt any squirrels have teeth sharp enough to cut through these things.
I wasn't about to put them in the garbage disposal.
Maybe they will ward off evil spirits or raccoons or something.
Of course, after I made this mess,
I Googled it to see what I should have done.
Now I know.

Ever roasted any chestnuts?
We used to roast pecans and peanuts in our fireplace
when I was a kid.  I don't think I ever actually saw a chestnut till I bought these.

This is the place setting I devised for our Mexican Thanksgiving dinner served (partly) on my new Chinese dinnerware.

My clearance Fall wreath from Pier 1.

My turkey S&P shakers are my only nod to the ceremonial turkey.

That GOBBLE thing is supposed to be a trivet.

Some candlelight photos of the table when all the food and the pitcher of margaritas were laid out.  We only had half that pitcher of margaritas, saving the rest for the next day, just so you know.

The menu consisted of Calabacita, black beans and corn, Mexican rice, chicken enchiladas and beef nachos.
We never got to the pie -- too stuffed!
I made all this the day before, and reheated it all SLOWLY at the same time in a very low oven which worked out very well.

It was fun, combining my Chinese dishes with Ralph Lauren china plates, Pier 1 margarita glasses and the drink in a martini pitcher.  You might notice I used the soup spoons as little condiment serving spoons.
Hey -- it worked!

P.S.  Done any cybershopping this weekend?  I bought a stencil on sale.  That's all!  More on what I will do with that later.  I agree with the designer James Swan (Million Dollar Decorating) who opened his post Friday with the statement that "wild horses could not drag me into the stores today."  I did do some cyber-looking, but I just couldn't get excited about anything there either.  As Maxine says:

Brendan, this one is for you.


Shopping is good for then soul (and for sadness when your only kid goes back to his home on the other side of the world), so I hit an estate sale on Sunday afternoon and discovered this beautiful view out the kitchen family room window on the back side of the house -- Fall in all her glory!  There was a fabulous art collection and many Asian artifacts in the house, but I did not get there on Saturday because I was busy getting the big boy ready to leave that afternoon.  I did make it over there for the half-price remainders on Sunday, but there was not a lot left.  Truthfully, the art was all way out of my price range anyway, but I did get a couple of cool things.

...at an estate sale on Sunday afternoon...

One of my finds --
a charger plate.

I don't know if this is Chinese or Japanese,
but it is definitely authentic Asian by the markings on the back.


I saw a few things around the web this week that tickled me, this among them:

Gee, I wonder who this was referring to?
How appropriate!


We already had our TGV dinner early last Friday.   I went traditional this year for my son's visit:  Chicken and dressing, sweet potato casserole, green chili corn casserole, sautéed brussel sprouts, cranberry orange relish, chocolate pecan pie.  Here at Chez Scribbler, we are having Mexican food on actual Turkey Day.  You all know what I am thankful for this year --  my heart is truly grateful for the visit with my son for five days.  He made it back home to China safe and sound in case you might like to know.  He said the flight was very smooth and uneventful.  That's what I like to hear.  

Some of what's happening today.
Sweet Hubs is at Sprouts with a list for the rest.

The sources

Great veggie dish from the Sunset book.


Will you be shopping or cybershopping this coming weekend?  I am doing my part (😀).  First up -- a tortoise monogrammed bracelet.  It will be in my Christmas stocking.

The initials will be mine, however!


My real Christmas came early, though (aside from my son)  -- a humongous box arrived late afternoon the same day my son did.  Talk about great timing!

It's been opened by customs, of course.

Tired son preparing to open box.

Inside the big box and the eighteen miles of foam wrap was this gorgeous big red box, like a suitcase:

Inside was this:

(even the tissue paper was pretty so I saved a few sheets)

 Here is what was in it!

A set of dishes, 
Chinese style!

This was my reaction!

There will be much more to come on this, you can bet!  Like a tablescape?  Maybe we will have our Mexican food in them on TGV?  I don't think there is any law against serving Mexican food in Chinese dinnerware, is there?  At any rate, I am going to rearrange this cabinet and get them set up to best advantage.  

I love the bamboo design!


...becomes this!

The little "bucket" style container holds the soup spoons.

The tureen is the star of the show.

All these pieces are hand-painted, so there are variations in the bamboo design.  I will show you some more information on these when I do a table with them.  

I have a swell idea for that red silk case -- like this!
I saw this photo in the new Coastal Living,
but I have also seen this concept on some of the design sites lately.
Now I just need to find a cool base.
I am thinking an  IKEA hack?

It is here on the stretchers of the iron table in my LR at the moment.

My wine corks moved over here under the book table,
and the green garden stools moved outside the table legs.

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and I will see you next week!

With gratitude in my heart for all that is good in my life -- health, family, home,

P.S.  I do promise to share some favorite recipes next week -- I just need to find them again and organize them for you.   You will still have plenty of time to review them and decide if you want to give any of them a try well before Christmas!


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