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Deb - hanging out online sounds like a good idea - just keep the coffee cup filled!

KathieB - I'd be glad to share my grandmother's recipe. It's simple, but so delicious! You just might have to remind me again if I don't get it on here today or tomorrow.

Holly - your day at the USO sounds wonderful. So many of these brave young people away from home and family. Maybe you'll have a chance to tell them your "other family" (Greenleaf) is cheering them on, also.

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The Great Gumbo Pot Chase ... went to the hardware store this morning and bought an enamelware canning pot, perfect size for gumbo and congratulated ourselves for not having to face the hordes at Walmart. Got the pot home, read the label that said it shouldn't be used on a glass top stove. Nuts. Back to the hardware store to return it, then on to Walmart. Now have twin pots of gumbo simmering on the stove, and my goodness but it smells good in here.

Lloyd play elf this morning and took cookies to our immediate neighbors on either side and above us as well as the complex office & maintenance folks. He was a little hesitant about distributing so many cookies, but I assured him I held back enough to keep his cookie tooth happy for several days. :D

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My flourless peanut butter cookies,which are usually very good,were a total flop this time-unknown to me,my son had bought a variety that contains honey and nuts and other stuff that just didn't work like the plain variety. I tried cooking a pan last night and again this morning-ugh! Well,the last ones went out the door for the birds and squirrels and raccoons,if their teeth and beaks are up to it!! Just call me Ellie Mae Clampet! :( But,I was successful at parching some peanuts in the shell,so I added them to the baggies of store bought candies I am bringing to our family gathering this eve. We don't really exchange gifts anymore,as no one in my family can afford it,and I didn't get to make any minis for them this year. But I'm just glad I'm feeling up to joining in,as I wasn't able to for Thanksgiving, and everyone who lives locally will be there,except for my sons,who are in Georgia with their father's sister and all. I hope everyone has a safe and joyful day,whatever you do! :)

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CJ, will you share your grandmother's recipe for oyster stew? Despite the oil spills, nice plump fresh oysters are relatively easy to find here.

Love the Christmas Adam story ... kid's logic cracks me up.

Here's the recipe I use - it doesn't have all the extras like potatoes and onions and whatever - just oysters.

Grandma Wray's Oyster Stew

4 cups milk

2 cups half-and-half cream

2 pints of oysters, including the juice they are packed in

5 Tbs butter

Salt to taste - maybe one teaspoon

- In a medium-sized saucepan heat milk over medium heat, to scalding. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. DO NOT COVER or it will curdle.

- Add oysters and butter, and bring carefully to a almost a boil

Serves 3

* To increase or decrease the amount, calculate 1 1/2 cup milk/cream and one 10 oz jar of oysters per person

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I have had your cooking, Kathie. Your family must have no idea what they're missing. Their loss.

We're still waiting to get our car, but my DW is hopeful that we'll get it before we're supposed to depart for Houston. No car= no trip. If things start working out for a change, the plan is to depart at 2 a.m. on the 1st and cross into AL around 8 a.m. We should reach Houston by 6 if we don't have any problems. It has been 2 years since we last made the trip and everyone, especially the kids, are excited about a visit with my in-laws.

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I have had your cooking, Kathie. Your family must have no idea what they're missing. Their loss.

We're still waiting to get our car, but my DW is hopeful that we'll get it before we're supposed to depart for Houston. No car= no trip. If things start working out for a change, the plan is to depart at 2 a.m. on the 1st and cross into AL around 8 a.m. We should reach Houston by 6 if we don't have any problems. It has been 2 years since we last made the trip and everyone, especially the kids, are excited about a visit with my in-laws.

We won't be awake to wave at you or give you breakfast. Have a safe trip (crossing fingers it will happen).

We'll finish off our gumbo for Christmas. Our neighbors invited us for dinner, but they're eating shortly before we have to get ready to go work with the USO; so we took a rain check.

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The kids were great! and we both felt as if we'd been visiting with grandchildren all evening. Our neighbor called this AM and invited us to come by when we got home, so we did and their grandson and one of his buddies were home from Ft Bragg for the holiday; so we got to continue to lay with young service folks! I am exhausted, and truly blessed.

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Oh,Holly,now that was a very good day! Thank you and your husband !

Deb,please thank your son for me,for his service to our country. Daddy was in the Air Force,stateside in the early 50s as a radar instructor,and one of my nephews served 2 turns in Iraq as a Marine,so I try to thank servicemen and servicewomen in person whenever I run across them. So glad you had him close by you this holiday!

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We have freeze warnings tonight! Actually, we have freeze warnings for the next three nights so after he got off work today, Bruce helped me wrangle all the outdoor planters into huddles here and there around the yard like little clusters of green cattle and then tarp them all. Quite a few are hardy enough to handle a light freeze but it would scar my cactus and succulents if they were left uncovered so they're all tucked in nice and cozy. It was kind of cool to see that my flapjack kalanchoes were folding up their leaves to protect the new inner leaves. Apparently flapjack kalanchoes are very good parents.

I was glad to get that done before the leading edge of the cold front came in. When the barometer changes, it makes me puff up like a blow fish and that puts a lot of strain on the parts of my skeleton that are growing more bone, especially around the sternum. It's a serious conflict of interest going on in there. LOL! It was hard to breathe for awhile and the swelling in my jaw joints was pushing enough on my inner ear to make me walk with a noticeable starboard list. It knocked me out cold for awhile this afternoon and I'll probably have some limited mobility till the front passes on out in a few days.

Just after sunset tonight I thought I heard the sound of the motorized paraglider that buzzes around here a lot. There were two things strange about it...........he's usually not up there after dark and he was flying a lot lower than usual. Then it occurred to me. He was flying around looking at the Christmas lights! Just imagine what that view would be like!

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Holly, bouquets to you and Knox for spending the day with our service men and women. I can't think of a better way to spend the day. :flowers:

Our Christmas dinner was awful. I never thought I'd say that about anybody's food in New Orleans, but oh, my. My green salad was great, if I do say so myself; it received several compliments for content and dressing. The rest of dinner consisted of over-baked and too salty sweet potato casserole, a pan of some kind of gritty oyster dressing that tasted more like boiled chicken liver than oysters (which weren't to be seen anywhere in the dish, never mind there wasn't any poultry in sight), macaroni and cheese in which the mac wasn't quite cooked and the cheese wasn't quite melted (which was okay, as there wasn't enough to feed 15 people in the 8x8 pan it was baked in anyway), a potato salad and pasta salad, both of which were salty and over-spiced, a dried pork roast, a dried out beef roast, greasy gravy, a dish of cauliflower and broccoli that somehow didn't get cooked ahead of time and so was ready to eat about time for dessert, and canned cranberries. Dessert was a dry layer cake with some kind of frosting that was drying out to the point of cracking.

The fiasco was at cousin Gloria's home and was the result of one of Gloria's nieces volunteering to provide the food for the family gathering in payback for all of the meals Gloria has hosted. Glo said when they were planning the meal, there was mention of stuffed mirlitons, stuffed bell peppers, gumbo, and other good stuff. None of that appeared. And the ... ummm ... caterers arrived about 4 hours later than planned with lukewarm food with no apologies, and with nothing to drink and no dinner rolls (although Glo had offered to provide both).

Lloyd and I lingered after the other guests left, and the three could only shake our heads. None of us could remember being subjected to a worse meal. We couldn't come up with a single good thing to say about it. I said I wished I'd brought one of my pots of gumbo (even though my offer to do so had been flatly rejected) but Glo said no, my good gumbo couldn't have saved the meal and the folks who cooked up that mess didn't deserve to have any. I'm glad I brought a container of gumbo for her. At least she'll have good leftovers tomorrow. As we were leaving, she was busy throwing out the leftovers from the meal that the cooks so kindly left for her.

Glo said she had some reservations about letting the niece honcho dinner. Turned out she was right.

Heading for bed and thinking about having gumbo tomorrow. :p

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We had most of the remaining gumbo with the rest of the cornbread for Christmas dinner before we headed out to the USO. Dh & I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves meeting and greeting the folks in service, but there were so many volunteers there we felt totally useless; I finally walked into the kitchen, found my friend there and instructed her to put me to work, where I happily spent the rest of the time dishing up food until we ran out and then helping clean up; DH hung out in the hall and visited with the guests. The USO is housed in a building of the Naval College, some of the oldest buildings on the base and all of them on the National Registry.

Today we need to hit the grocery store. It is cold here too

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Holly, your day at the USO sounds like one that will be remembered for years. It made me smile just hearing about it.

Kathie, in light of how your in-laws always delegate you to either salad or roll detail for holiday meals, it made me chuckle just a bit that your gumbo would have saved the day. There's nothing like a dash of irony to flavor a dish. Next year you'll probably be promoted to a main dish and the niece will take over rolls and salad. At least you had a nice gumbo to look forward to at home and it was nice of you to share with your SIL.

Deana, you *do* have some of those muscle types to do the building of that stair railing, right? You're not going to try and do it yourself? And since you went to Home Depot and they're having after christmas sales on decorations, I wanna hear what else you brought home with you.

This week hasn't turned out quite like I planned but then again, I've learned not to plan much of anything so in that sense, I'm right on track. <chuckling> This morning I tossed the ham bone and a 15 bean assortment into the crockpot. If I weren't terrified of pressure cookers I'd never make beans in anything else but since I live in fear of kitchen explosions, I use the crockpot instead. The house is starting to smell good already. I'll make cornbread later.

So I heard Bruce banging around in the garage, running saws and pounding on things. Curiosity finally got the best of me so I went out to see what he was doing. He's making me a potting bench for the patio! He had me sit down to measure where my comfort zone is while sitting so he can get the height just right. How sweet is that? I hadn't even said that I wanted a potting table but my old one was left behind in Colorado (ran out of room in the PODS) and he knows I've been using the top of the deck box with less than stellar results so he found some plans on line and now he's out there making me a new one.

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Ahhhh Deb, you surely have a keeper there. Oh how sweet is that!

Pressure cookers are my friend. I made homemade beans as part of the buffet meal I cooked yesterday. I start them in the pressure cooker and bake them in an old fashioned bean pot nice snd slow. I've never mastered doing them in the crock pot. The always come out hard when I try it that way. Don't know why.

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Well, guess I'm gonna have to make 15 beans tomorrow, thanks Deb! :) I am boring, so I only cook the beans, I don't do any of the stuff to make it soup.

Today we went out and got phones activated and watches sized.

I did my daughter's baby shower Nov 22, then the next day started making lists and then Christmas shopping. So after the decorations come down this weekend, I'll have some time for the first time in 2 months to do, something. I spent last night and today getting all caught up here.

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No hunky types doing the stairs and I am doing half if not all the work. No fun stuff from HD either - I have enough decor for 3 houses already although I am lusting after a light system I saw on a neighbors house. It covered their whole house in tiny dots. It's very cool and looks amazing. I am thinking I will knock on the door and ask which one it is.

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Ahhhh Deb, you surely have a keeper there. Oh how sweet is that!

Pressure cookers are my friend. I made homemade beans as part of the buffet meal I cooked yesterday. I start them in the pressure cooker and bake them in an old fashioned bean pot nice snd slow. I've never mastered doing them in the crock pot. The always come out hard when I try it that way. Don't know why.

Bruce finished the potting table and took it out to the patio for me. It'll be perfect. We'll need to get paint for it but other than that, it's all finished.

IMO, beans taste incredibly good and fresh when they've been pressure cooked, especially pintos. I've petted pressure cookers in the store but I grew up using what may have been the most unstable thing in the world and it left a lasting impression. I never minded the big canning pressure cooker, but that little one was possessed.

Well, guess I'm gonna have to make 15 beans tomorrow, thanks Deb! :) I am boring, so I only cook the beans, I don't do any of the stuff to make it soup.

This is the perfect time of year for ham and beans after all the holiday fare. It's one of the reasons I get a picnic ham for Christmas dinner because I want the bone for soup. The first thing I do is take the flavor packet that comes with the beans and toss it in the trash. LOL! Then all I put in are the beans, a small can of mild, diced green chilies, some minced onion, and salt and pepper to taste. The green chilies cook down and the flavor blends so well that I've never had anyone guess my secret ingredient by tasting it. When they're about halfway done I toss in some bite sized pieces of ham that I pulled off the bone so that the bean:ham ratio is almost even and then it finish cooking. We even had real butter on the cornbread since I had some leftover from baking.

<looking up from licking my fingers as I pick the last of the ham from the bone> Mmmhmm. Yeth you do. <pausing to swallow> That really hit the spot.

Deana, when you find out the brand on that projector let me know. We saw a couple of houses using them this year and thought we'd look into it. We have a projector for halloween that shines ghostly faces and skulls and monsters on the wall and I have two of those light projectors that look like snow or water; one green and one clear. But the little light thing is pretty cool and we have a big open wall on the side of the house where it would be just right.

.

I'll have some time for the first time in 2 months to do, something. I spent last night and today getting all caught up here.

And it's *SO* good to see you Tracy! We've missed you a lot! I saw your avatar and did a little happy dance.

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Thanks Deb! I'm so happy to be back. And welcome back to you as well, I did my own happy dance when I was reading yesterday and saw you were back!

Beans are soaking, and I'll lay out a glob of frozen dough to rise tomorrow for bread. I always wanted to put a ham bone in my beans, but the one time I actually did, it was just so-so. Guess I had got used to it without. But, I do have some ham, so maybe I'll try again... :)

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Tracy, try the ham flavoring packet. When I was taking classes to become a diabetes educator that was one of the things the instructor told us to pass on to our newly diagnosed diabetic folks. The packet with a little olive oil works really well with greens, especially mustards and collards; but I'm chicken to try it in the beans; although it does wonderful with blackeye peas...

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Holly, I actually do use the seasoning packet, about 3/4 of it. Since I don't put all the other ingredients in, that's plenty enough seasoning for just the beans. Yum!

And that's a great idea using it for greens, I'll save the rest of the packet next time and use it for that! Thanks! :)

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We had Chinese yesterday and cooked a turkey this evening. Funny how things work out, but the sound of beans and cornbread sure do bring back memories. I'll have to put the ingredients on our grocery list.

So today I was at work when the repair shop called. It took them 23 days to tell me what I already told them before the car even arrived- the timing needs to be fixed. New camshaft, oil control valves, two cylinder valves and two timing tensioners. Those parts combined with 28.5 hours of head scratching and labor comes to a total of $5,519.

If we were to attempt the trip to Houston, we would have to use the tiny car we're renting, as our car wouldn't be ready until the first week of 2015. The timing couldn't be worse, but how do I tell my DW she can't attend her sister's wedding?

I'm going after Kia Motor Corp with both barrels. I'm going to hold them to the original warranty based on the catastrophic and premature failure of their product. If they don't honor it, I will make sure everyone near and far finds out just how unreliable their cars, and incompetent their mechanics really are.

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