Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Welcome To December

Whoa. December. How did that happen?

I am still shaking the sand out of my eyes and ears, having buried my head in escape from much of what was going on around me for several weeks following a certain day in November. I am back in the game, though still avoiding as much news as possible, which I am fully aware is not a mature way to deal, but it seems to help manage my anxiety so I am going with it. And also this.


Anne never lets me down.

We made our first trip to Napa last month and I was smitten. What a gorgeous part of this country.


We also made a second trip to Washington DC to visit our daughter. It was a lot more fun than the moving weekend- no trips to Target required. The city was aflame with autumn and refreshed us with crisp air.



Thanksgiving happened at our house this year. Having my whole family at my table made me very thankful.


but it was kind of hard to pass the salt

My November Nature Escape took me to Pedernales Falls State Park with my dog and a good friend. Still not many colorful trees to be found, but the day was glorious.


Meanwhile back in the kitchen- did you know you can freeze pomegranate seeds? Well YOU CAN!


I usually remove the seeds in a big bowl of water, but this time I tried a Martha Stewart technique which involved holding a half in one hand and spanking the peel side with a wooden spoon until all the ruby beauties fell out. I’m not sure it was any easier, but it did relieve some frustration.

Then I put spread the seeds out on a tray and froze them before sealing them all up into a large zip bag, where they await my December salads and cocktails and any other uses for them I can dream up. They taste pretty good by their little frozen selves, too.


I have sought refuge in many a good book these past few weeks. This one particularly pleased me, and didn’t seem to get a lot of press. The author is British and wrote the short story on which the film 45 Years was based. (I also loved that film, though Mark yawned all the way through it. Anyone else see it?) The prose in this novel took my breath away.


And yes, I would be lying if I said I haven’t fantasized about flying back to Paris for a good long while. Remember December in Paris?


even though I never cared for those “hula hoop” decorations on the Champs






Le sigh. Let’s go back.

But no- it’s onward and upward. Bring it, December! I am looking forward to a driving trip back to Pagosa Springs, Colorado (where it was 9 degrees this morning!!), lots of time in my kitchen, some fires in my fireplace, all the books, and good thoughts for 2017. What about you?


Filed under books, Christmas, cooking, Paris, Paris in winter, Uncategorized

For All The Things

The Monday after Thanksgiving is always a little sobering. The turkey holiday flew by too fast and involved too much food and drink. Family has dispersed to their respective towns and states. And worst of all, there is no denying that Christmas is making a full-court press. Isn’t it too bad that these two big holidays are bumped up against each other the way they are? A little time and space between them would be so much nicer. When I was in college in Virginia and couldn’t always make it home for Thanksgiving, my family celebrated a few “Thanksgiving in July” feast days. That was a great idea, Mom. I wish we could have made it stick.

Perhaps in a pathetic attempt to avoid focusing on the December calendar, I am still lingering with Thanksgiving today. Give me just a few more hours to savor the memories of a long weekend with family and the beautiful place we gathered, which was San Diego, California. Allow me also to continue nurturing my feelings of gratitude, a practice I need to engage more regularly.

For the beauty of this world.





For my children, who have survived their mushy-brained adolescence and somehow lived to tell about it (but not too much, please), and who actually like being with each other and with us.


For my selfless and forgiving husband, who both lifts me up and keeps me grounded.


For our own parents and siblings, who started us on our journeys with love and images of family that shaped our own.

For old friends who stick with us, even as we stumble and crumble and lose sight of the world’s goodness.


For literature and poetry possessing the power to tenderize our hearts to each other and to the world around us.


Thank you for this moment of quiet. Now go forth into the madness that can be December with a grateful heart and the fortitude required to listen to Christmas carols pumped into every building you enter for the next 25 days. Good luck!


Filed under family, gratitude, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized

Pie Wrecks

Have you ever seen the hilarious blog called Cake Wrecks?  It features photos of  cakes-gone-bad, many of which were made by professionals who somehow got them very, very wrong.  I became familiar with Cake Wrecks when a wonderful little book by the same name arrived in the bookstore where I worked. I highly recommend it, and its sequel, for some good belly laughs.  Really- it’s crazy funny.

On Thanksgiving Day, as I was removing my lovely, deep dish, cranberry-apple pie from the oven, I had my own Pie Wreck.  I carefully placed my hot, bubbly pie on the counter, and within five seconds I heard a big thud.  Most of the sides and rim of my glass pie pan completely blew off.  Large pieces of glass surrounded the pan, and some tiny pieces flew off onto the floor.  I was so shocked, I stood there looking at it, slack-jawed.  What the heck had just happened?  Turns out, Google revealed that Pyrex has had many complaints about its newer products exploding like mine did, or even more violently.  One picture on the web showed a large, rectangular dish that exploded in the oven- a real hot mess. My pan was brand new. Somehow I’m not really inclined to go run out and replace it.

Look closely around the lower and left side rim.

Look closely around the lower and left side rim.

my poor bleeding pie

my poor bleeding pie

So- what did we do?  Well, I carefully threw away all the big chunks of glass that were lying around the pan.  I then left it on the counter, as I contemplated what the next move should be.  I knew I couldn’t take any of it to the large family gathering we were attending in a few hours.  Even I have my limits.  My own family, however, will be sharing the interior of the pie tonight.   I’m not too worried about it, because while the pie was sitting there on the counter, looking like a crime victim, Wonder Chien sampled one side of it, and he hasn’t yet shown any signs of internal bleeding.  So I’m pretty optimistic that we can safely eat the other half.  I bet we chew each bite pretty carefully, though.  There is also a good bit left of the pumpkin pie, which I quickly made to replace the cranberry apple debacle.  If anyone is too wimpy to risk chewing glass, he/she can opt for the safer pumpkin.

Has any of you ever experienced exploding Pyrex?  Or in my case, Pie Wrecks?  If so, did you eat it anyway?  Just kidding- I don’t really want to know about that.  I’m sure we’ll be fine.

I hope you all enjoy your leftover family and your leftover food.  If anyone wants to stop by Chez Mai, we got pie!


Filed under Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

Bonjour mes amis, and Happy Thanksgiving!  Although there are many days that I miss Paris, Thanksgiving is not one of them.  Having spent my last two turkey days there (where my daughter did not have the day off school, there was no football on TV, and turkey, cranberries, pecans, and canned pumpkin were scarce commodities),  I am beyond thrilled to be in Texas for Thanksgiving this year.  We have even had a well-timed cold snap, lending the season an authenticity that is so often lacking in these parts.  I had forgotten how  much I enjoy the plethora of radio and newspaper stories about pie crust, lump-less gravy, and the never-ending variations of dressing and squash recipes.  Food, food, glorious food!  For a few short weeks I am surrounded by talk of food and how to prepare it, serve it, and eat it.  It has been heavenly.

My two daughters came home from college yesterday, completing our family of five and filling our little townhouse to capacity.  I think Sawyer the Wonder Chien is as happy as I am to have them all home.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the abundance in my life.  For family and friends, of course; for the joy I receive from good books; for my love of preparing food and feeding it to my family.  And, of course, for the amazing opportunity  to write a blog about my experiences in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Thank you all for reading it, and for celebrating my good fortune with me.  Sharing it with you all makes it even more amazing.

For Paris

For Paris



For Texas

For Texas


For food

For food

For my precious kids

For my precious kids


And most of all, for my husband, who heightens my joys, softens my sorrows, and makes my life more abundant each day.


I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be celebrating it.

P.S.- Technical difficulties are preventing me from updating my “On Top Of My Nightstand”.  I am reading a great book called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


Filed under family, Paris, Texas, Uncategorized

So Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends!  Like last year, it’s a bit strange being here in the Land of No Thanksgiving, knowing that at home the grocery stores are all bursting at the seams and kids are flocking home from college.  I don’t miss the crowded stores as much as I  miss the kids coming home!  If any of you has sightings of my offspring, please tell them to slow down and quit texting.  Thanks so much.

We will be feasting on Friday with our table fully extended for ten.  Like last year, I ordered a cooked turkey and gravy, and will be rotating the side dishes through my one tiny oven and then zapping them in the microwave before they go to the table.    My poor refrigerator is already groaning with all the provisions I have stuffed in it.  It’s times like these that I miss my old “walk-in”  fridge!  It looks like we will be having pretty standard Thanksgiving fare, although we will substitute potato gratin for mashed potatoes, add  a cheese plate and, of course, lots of French wine.  And a few baguette.  With ample French butter.  Yum.

I hope to have some visual aids to share after the dust settles and the dishes are put away and the guests have gone home.  In the meantime, I hope you all have a memorable Thanksgiving wherever you are.  I am so thankful for my time in Paris and for you, my friends, who so graciously encourage me write about it here.

Merci.  Merci.  Merci.


Filed under Paris, Uncategorized