Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scenes From A Holiday

Yeah, my posting has really dropped off in regularity since starting my job. Sorry about that. I miss it, but I often feel as if I have nothing really to say.

I hosted my family for Thanksgiving this year. I've done a mini-Thanksgiving once before, right after Lauren was born, for some law school refugees and my one single sister. But otherwise, I've nev
er had the opportunity to host the holiday. This was my year, and I was looking forward to it. There was going to be 7 adults and 5 kids - not a very big group - just my immediate family. Of course, I stressed because I don't have a table big enough to seat everyone. Nor enough chairs. Nor enough bank to go out and buy something, but I do confess to scouring craigslist for dining room tables in the days leading up to the event. But I made due with moving the slightly larger table that we use for our everyday eating off the kitchen into the dining room, and moving that table - a small (only seats 4) antique-y table into the kitchen area. Then I set up our card table on one end, which was several inches shorter than the table, but gave us enough room to seat the 7 adults at one table. The kids would eat in the kitchen. I borrowed 4 folding chairs from my parents, and that worked. It wasn't gorgeous, but it got the job done.

To make this hodge-podge pretty, I used my best linens given to me by my mother from Italy. I have several tablecloths, but none big enough for a "large" table for 8. So I had to use two tablecloths - my prettiest one on the main table and a different one for the card table portion. It looked ok. I made the centerpiece with a trip to Michaels and some faux berry branches around a couple of simple white taper candles. I made the napkin rings to match. Festive! I used the leftover materials to add some color to the light above the table. I set the table with my china, silver and crystal we received from our wedding. I LOVE that sort of thing. I polished all the silver pieces - candlesticks, bowls, a pitcher, a serving piece (that's some dirty work, polishing silver!) Even though the table itself wasn't ideal, it ended up looking pretty.

Mr. Chick was in charge of the turkey and cocktails - pretty much the two most important elements to any holiday gathering. He smoked the turkey. He put it in a brine the night before and put it in the smoker really early on Thanksgiving. It turned out perfectly! As chef, he gets top honors. As bartender, he hit it out of the park, too, by making Sidecars for everyone. Yummy! We'd never had Sidecars before, but they are delicious. I like offering a special cocktail when I entertain, so this was great.

For the rest of the meal, my mom and sisters all brought something, so the burden wasn't completely on me. That's how we do it in our family, and I like it that way. I decided to change it up a bit this year and make a soup. We've never done a soup on Thanksgiving, but I wanted to. I found a great, simple recipe on City Mama's blog and made it with a few slight moderations (like using half pumpkin, half butternut squash), and it was delicious! Very s
ubtle in flavor and good. I also did the green beans, cranberry and appetizer. Mostly I got my house in order, cleaning windows, vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, you name it. I feel like I live in a fairly tidy/clean house, but when you have people coming over - even family? It needs a DEEP clean to get ready for that. I felt like I was preparing for days.

And then I got sick with a cold. Still have it today. So does Nicholas, who is home for the 2nd day in a row from school. Love that. But I digress....

During family holidays we like to play games. It's something to do together and we always have fun. This year was no different. We played some old-school games we hadn't played in a long time. Bef
ore dinner it was Outburst. After dinner it was Guesstures (you know, like charades?) Hilarious! It was girls vs. boys, and it was a tight game. Whenever my sisters and I get together there is always laughter, and this time we were laughing so hard we were crying. GOOD kind of laughter. Something about watching my dad try to do charades under a time pressure makes for lots of laughs. Even the kids got in on the action and attempted to take a turn or two. They did pretty well! Even my 4 yr old niece got a couple. Family fun.

I don't know exactly how the wigs came into play, but at some point we were all trying on these two wigs. I think one of my sisters needed to borrow a wig for a party she was going to, and I had two for her to choose from, and they all got passed around. One is a short-hair wig - a real wig - that my dad used when he did an Elvis impersonation years and years ago. I'm not sure how I ended up with it. The other is an obnoxious red wig we got for Lauren this year at Halloween for her Little Mermaid costume. So more giggles bubbled forth as everyone wore these wigs and hammed it up. We're a crazy bunch, I tell you.

So the day went well, the food was good and in abundance, and everyone had fun. I call that a success! I'm not quite ready for Christmas, and can't fathom decorating for Christmas a month early, but in another couple of weeks I'll be breaking out the stuff for that holiday and getting ready for Round 2 of family entertaining. I look forward to it.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Yesterday was Lauren's 4th birthday! She had a little party at her preschool, complete with a zoo-themed cake and birthday crown, and we'll be having a family party for her tomorrow - pizza, cake and ice cream. And presents, of course - can't forget the presents. I'd show you a picture of my birthday girl, but my USB ports are acting up and I can't download any pictures from my camera. Or connect to my printer, but that's a different story....

Wanna hear something weird? On the day Lauren was born my water broke. I was sleeping and something woke me up just seconds before heard/felt a small pop and then felt the trickle of water. This happened somewhere between 4-5am, I got up, determined it was my water that had broken (vs. peeing...), called the doctor, called some friends to come stay with sleeping Nicholas, and then made our way to the hospital by 6:30am. Lauren was born at 8am. Well, yesterday morning, 4 years to the HOUR, I woke up from a deep sleep in the 4-5am hour because I felt a trickle. Just like when my water broke. I wasn't dreaming about water, lakes or toilets, but for some reason, I almost started peeing. In bed. For no reason. I immediately woke up and used the bathroom (not even a very full bladder!). And then I noted the time and it struck me that it was about the same time I had woken up to the same sensation 4 years prior. The day Lauren was born. It hadn't happened to me before (I haven't wet the bed since I was a young child, but don't worry, I didn't wet the bed yesterday - just came close), but for some reason my body had a similar response to that day. Strange, huh?

My charming, adorable, stubborn-as-hell, smart daughter is 4. And it just keeps getting better and better. Happy Birthday, Pumpkin! We love you!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Showing My "O" Face

The Chick family are big UO Duck fans, and right now our Ducks are kicking ass! We just beat the previously unbeaten ASU Sun Devils in a home game yesterday that put us at the top of the Pac-10 Conference, and should place us at #3 in the BCS standings (thanks to Boston College losing yesterday and making it possible for the Ducks to move up.) Our remaining games - Arizona, UCLA & Oregon State - are not slam-dunks, but there is no reason the Ducks shouldn't win each of them. The teams we've beaten so far all have better records than our remaining 3 opponents. Visions of Pac-10 championships and national titles are running rampant among all Duck fans. It's contagious and at fever pitch.

Between us, Mr. Chick and I have 1 season ticket to the Duck games. That means that we don't get to go to the games together and instead take turns. Unless we trade, of course, which we were able to do for one of the games. But going to the games is an all d
ay experience. It's nearly 2 hrs to drive to Autzen Stadium, each way. Plus the time to tailgate, the game itself, and dealing with all the traffic and parking issues. Yesterday, ESPN College Gameday was in Eugene for the game, and Mr. Chick and our fellow tailgating friends left home at 6:30am in order to get there in time for some of that Gameday fun, tailgate, and go to the game. Which didn't start until 3:45pm. That's a LOT of tailgating, people. We're part of a group of people from law school who go in together for a bunch of tickets. Thanks to one of our friends and his rather large trust-fund that makes a sizable donation each year, our tickets are good ones. And our tailgate spot is awesome because we have two premium parking spaces very close to the stadium. And at Autzen Stadium, you can drink in the parking lots. So we're not relegated to the outer lots, away from the stadium, to tailgate. We get an optimum location. It's awesome. And to be there for home games is stunning and overwhelming. Autzen is one of the toughest stadiums to play in for opposing teams. It's known for it's noise levels. I don't know about yesterdays game, but at last weeks game against USC, at which I was present, they measured the volume inside Autzen at 127 decibels, which is louder, I'm told, than a jet engine taking off. I pretty much screamed myself hoarse at that game and loved every minute of it. I'm sure yesterday was much the same.

Right now is a really fun time to be a Duck fan! Go Ducks!

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