Living the Grateful Life

or at least making a good attempt



Remembering Thanksgivings Long, Long, Long Ago

When I was a child, the day before Thanksgiving was always the day that we packed our suitcases into the car and went to the farm. My mother was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and when her father died many decades earlier, my mother’s brother took over farming. The excitement only grew as the day went on and each mile marker was passed, bringing us closer and closer to my mother’s childhood home. A place where I could run around to my heart’s content, checking on the baby pigs, wandering around the farm machinery building, and walking to the natural well that the family had named “Boy Blue.”

I am the youngest of all of my cousins. Number ten of ten. My oldest cousin is 17 years older than me, and he, along with other older cousins and my brother, can’t come because they live too far away. Even still, I have plenty of cousins to hang out with, and all of my aunts and uncles are here.

As we walk up the stairs into the old white farmhouse, I can smell the smells of farm and good food. We carry our suitcases up the narrow, steep steps. I will either be bunking with my cousins in their room, or we may camp out on the living room floor. My mom will sleep in her childhood bedroom.

The first night is filled with talking, telling stories of long, long, ago, laughing, playing games, and watching TV. If I get tired of what is happening in the living room, I can go and sit at the dining room table and join in on the game, or I can go into the TV room and see what my cousins are watching, or I can go into the kitchen and listen to my mom and her sisters talk about stories of my grandmother and the older generation of relatives.  Once I tire of that I can go outside and investigate the farm.

On Thanksgiving Day,  the women prepared the typical turkey dinner with all of the fixings. The adult table held all of my aunts and uncles and a few of my older cousins. I, of course, sat at the kids table. There was always a big plate of black olives for us to stick onto our fingers. Wiggling our fat black fingers at one another, we would slurp the olives off one by one until all of our fingers were empty. Then we would reload and do it over and over again until all of the black olives were gone.

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5 Things I Love About My Electric Pressure Cooker

About a year ago I purchased this electric pressure cooker, and I can tell you that I have been in love ever since. Seriously, how does anyone survive without one of these?

Elite Platinum 8 qt. Electric Pressure Cooker

There are so many different models to choose from, and I did my research before selecting this one. The major selling points for me at the time were that it was large enough to cook for large family gatherings (which it has), that I got it for a ridiculous pre-black Friday sale price (under $40 – HONESTLY!), and that I could use it for canning (which I never have). The only downside to this model for me is that it doesn’t come with a steaming rack, something I wish that I had so that I could pressure cook eggs and other things that need to be up and off of the bottom heat plate. I can easily go out and purchase a steaming basket, taking care that it will meet the measurements to fit into my electric cooker.

Now that I’ve had this baby for a year, I’ve had a lot of people asking me questions about it, wondering if they should take the plunge and buy one. I answer their questions honestly, and have developed a list of the things I love about using my electric pressure cooker:

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What I Cooked in My Hotel Room!

I’ve had a travel kitchen for many years. Want to stop during a five hour trip for a cup of coffee? I got it. Are you getting hungry, but don’t want fast food or a sandwich? No problem. I pretty much felt like the supermom of travel cooking! But what about staying at a hotel? Could I cook there? Would I set off a fire alarm? Yes, and yes, but I promise that the fire alarm was coincidental.

We just got back from a three day stay at a waterpark hotel. Each year we go as a family  while my husband attends a conference. After a day of traveling and setting up a hotel room, I’ve always hated having to go out once again to eat and shop for breakfast foods (this hotel does not have a continental breakfast). I wished that I could finish setting up a room and just have a nice meal ready to go because my children were starving and cranky by that point. And, honestly, so was I. So I planned. Should I bring the slow cooker? Or maybe the pressure cooker? Well, I bought myself an early birthday present and brought this instead:

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Yes Mom, I Can!

IMG_20160717_100251_406My mother hated to cook. When company came to the house, she would fret and stress out over what to feed them. Most of the time she would go out and buy Kentucky Fried Chicken or hamburgers from our local diner to bring home. On the rare occasion when she actually did cook, she made hotdogs or spaghetti and then she would ask everyone, “Does it taste OK?” mutiple times while they were chewing.

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