Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Stressy-family Crazy Day To You!

OK. So I was going to post a list of articles and links for ways to deal with the stress of the holidays and the loveliness that is a family dinner. Instead, let me just give you a couple of thoughts. First, in Slate this week, Dear Prudence, the advice columnist, fielded a question from a woman whose boyfriend's family was charging $40 per head for their tholiday dinner. If you are not invited to this particular waystation to hell, give thanks right now. See, if your thankful list was slim you've just added one more thing to it.
Also, this is the season where we all tend toward unattainable goals. We're going to have the most beautifully decorated home, the most perfect dinner, and we worry about every facet of being both a giver and a receiver. Just remember this, in the words of that brilliant goddess of wisdom Anne Lamott,

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Fourth Wave of Feminism is Here! In Turkey-land.

Five Things You Didn't Know About Cranberries

I love cranberries. We go through tons of cranberry juice here at the Basilica. You already know the containers are our preferred packaging for homemade laundry detergent. We also eat lots of dried cranberries and put them in everything--granola, pies, cobblers, salads. You name it. In honor of Thanksgiving here are five things you maybe didn't know about those bitter little red fruits.

  1. The Pilgrims called them craneberrys because the blossoms resembled the head of a sandhill crane.

  2. Cranberries are one of only three fruits completely native to North America. The other two are blueberries and Concord grapes.

  3. In 2002 the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture declared October to be National Cranberry Month.

  4. During World War II, American troops required about one million pounds of dehydrated cranberries a year.

  5. Seven of 10 cranberries sold in the world today come from Ocean Spray, a grower cooperative started in 1930.

Now you know all you need to know for Trivial Pursuit, crossword puzzles and to impress your friends.

On a more important note, here is the absolute best way to use cranberries--in cranhattans!


Muddle a tsp. of sugar, a couple of drops of bitters and the juice from approx. 1/4 of a lemon or lime in the bottom of a glass. Add a jigger or so of bourbon, or more. Stir, add ice to glass and fill 2/3 with ginger ale (Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale is perfect but Big K works just as well). Top the last 1/3 with cranberry juice and drop in couple of cranberries for effect. Perfection!

At the Basilica we recommend these before and after Thanksgiving dinner and the next day and so on.

Bobby Flay's Easy Thanksgiving

It should come as no surprise that Bobby Flay's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. First, he has many, many things to be thankful for including tv shows, a gorgeous blond wife that seems like a nice person and 672 restaurants that carry his name and philosophy. Plus, what iconic chef wouldn't love a holiday primarily dedicated to food, with no gifts or virgin births or shiny trees to take over the spotlight. Turkeys that are not on a table with gravy command very little attention.

I was surprised to read that Mr. Flay likes to make Thanksgiving as simple as possible. I am the queen of making simple things look difficult but he distills the essence of serving others into practicality while still making the meal special. Go here to read the full article in the Wall Street Journal. What do you do to simplify your Thanksgiving?

Thanks Dave for the headsup!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Make Mashed Potatoes With Snoop and Martha

I missed this last year when it aired but think it is quite appropriate for Thanksgiving week. The next three days will be devoted to navigating the holiday with style and spirit and without Xanax. Enjoy the stoner and the ex-con making some mashed potatoes!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Great Netbook Caper of 2009

If you haven't been online or seen a magazine or newspaper lately, you may not be aware that you want a netbook. Consider yourself informed. Apparently everyone wants one, no exceptions. The Frugal Maven is ahead of this trend since I cannot keep a laptop working past 13 months. A few weeks ago in the grips of not-swine-but-still-nasty flu (again, ahead of the trend), I got blue-screened. After fighting it with my meager arsenal of computer fixing tips (pushing F8 a bunch of times with my eyes squeezed shut in concentration) I gave up and called Mumbai, also known as Microsoft. Steve from Mumbai, er, sorry, Orange County, gave me several tea based remedies for my sniffles and coughing but could not fix the blue screen. He did, however, charge me $62 and turn me over to the specialty tech team. Who told me it was a lost cause. The Geek Squad told me the same thing without charging me a dime.

This led to the search. Which took two hours. It lasted exactly until my eyes lit on a pink Toshiba netbook with a 9 hour battery. I am not a pink person and normally eschew anything that can be labeled cute except for kittens and puppies. This tiny little laptop with its' pink shiny cover blew away my tough exterior, leaving me longing for unicorns and My Little Ponies and tiny yappy dogs with bows in their fur. I was lost. Plus, it was on sale at the H.H. Gregg for $50 off since it was the day Windows 7 came out and their truck was late so they were just trying to move the existing merchandise. I offered them $50 less than the sale price and walked out with it for $299. Not bad. Plus their store in Clarksville, Indiana is poorly lit and scroungy looking and smells like foot. I figured I deserved another discount for lack of ambience.
The whole point of this is to tell you that you do want a netbook whether you knew it or not. Mine fits in my purse. It's easy to lie in bed and use. The battery life is everything I could wish for. The keyboard works beautifully. It's really pretty. Etc.

So, here's a roundup of deals on netbooks this week and around Black Friday. Good luck!
  • Gateway 10.1" - $229 at Radio Shack and Best Buy. Best Buy advertises over 7 hours of battery life and Radio Shack lists theirs as 3 hours so Best Buy is a no-brainer. Also, according to the ad that came in my paper this morning, Radio Shack is now calling themselves The Shack, which somehow seems dated and pathetic. So, Best Buy it is.

  • Target's ad has their Acer for $199. And for the record, they are still Target, not The Tar, so points for them.

  • Office Max is rumored to have the Acer as a Black Friday deal for $150 but I can't get confirmation.

This should be enough to get you going. Let me know if you know of deals that I missed!

Drug Store Coupons Abound!

Do not--I repeat--do not step into a drugstore this week without your extra $5 offf $25, $3 off $15 coupons, etc. This is the bargain season and it would be a shame to leave a nickel on the table. Here goes:

  • Rite-Aid $5 off of $25 here.

  • Rite-Aid $3 off of $15 and $2 off a Rite-Aid brand purchase of $2 or more here.

  • Walgreens $5 off of $25 through 11/23 only here.

  • CVS has a $5 off of $30 coupon but you have to take a quiz on Medicare Part D and listen to a doctor drone on and it made me tired so I didn't even get through the whole thing. But, there is a deal here to buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 egift card free which is better anyway. This is a limited time offer but doesn't have an expiration date so act fast to take advantage of it!

20% GAP Coupon - Good Until 1/30/2010!

Go here for a 20% coupon for the GAP good until 1/30/2010. Great for after christmas sales!