There’s More Than One Way to Crack a Nut

Jackson asked if we could get some nuts to use our nutcracker on. What nutcracker, I asked, perplexed. That one, he said, and pointed toward the mantle. Ohh, Jerimiah and I laughed, that’s not a real nutcracker, that’s a fake one. Why would there be fake ones Jackson wanted to know. Good question, I said. Then I explained that we have a silver, handheld nutcracker that does the job he wants to do and that the bearded man in buffalo check on the mantle is just for decoration. Then I went down a rabbit hole so big that I woke up yelling, Kurt Adler Nutcrackers!

Kurt Adler nutcrackers are the actual bees knees. I told my family this over breakfast. And if I had the money to blow on the one-of-a-kind Wizard of Oz one they sell at Macy’s then my day would be made.

My family looked at me with confusion in their faces and I had to agree, what the actual hell Missy?! But look at it though:

That’s one MFing cool nutcracker. Not like the ones I buy at Target on clearance two days after Christmas.

Anyway, if you are in the mood for a new nutcracker this year may I suggest you check out Kurt Adler Nutcrackers. You’ll find just what you are looking for! If you actually want to eat nuts though, well then, just throw a bag on the driveway and run them over with your car like my mom used to do. But wear a helmet, those suckers can fly.

Now let’s go crack some nuts!

M.

Christmastime is Here

We decorated for Christmas, woo, what at time. Well, we partially decorated. It’s more like a decorating weekend around here. Not that we can’t do it all in one day, I just never know what I want to do, how I want to decorate, what new items I may need to incorporate, then we realize we need something because we misplaced an item or it broke (this year it was the star for the “big” tree) and Jerimiah has to run to Target, then there’s the whole Jackson gets bored and spends hours chasing the dogs around trying to put a Santa hat on them, and then it finally happens (only with Duke this year) and hilarity ensues. At that point we are hungry and take a break for dinner, then decide enough already and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to start the season off right. Yesterday was no exception. So enjoy the photos of the mantle, the family room tree, and the living room tree. That’s as far as we got!

Hope you’re feeling a bit of Christmas magic this week!

M.

Good Ombre

I don’t make pies. I don’t bake. It’s not something I enjoy. I never have and quarantine has not helped me with that. I didn’t start a sourdough roll or learn how to expertly frost sugar cookies to look like Kamala Harris, though I do wish I had done that one. But I did google “What is the easiest pie to make when your husband asks if you want to make homemade pies for Thanksgiving” and this Apple Ombre pie popped up so I decided to try it.

All you do is buy varying shades of apples, thinly slice them, layer them in a pie crust (you can make your own if you’re that kinda person) then sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top and bake it low and slow. Like for real, that’s it. I bought a pie crust because I’m easy and cheap, yes I mean that, and took a painstaking amount of time picking out apples the right shade of green, yellow, pink, and red, like too much time. Like, I spent too much time inside a Kroger during a pandemic picking out apples.

I used the largest jar of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust I could find at Sam’s Club, then I baked that beast. I ended up making two of them because they were so easy to make and we legit ate one right after I pulled it out of the oven with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. So yeah, good stuff, y’all.

So if you Google “Ombre Apple Pie” the picture you get will not look like mine because this was my first time, but I will make this pie regularly now, it’s that easy and delicious, and so I hope to get better, but for now look at this gloriousness.

Yum. That is all.

Also, I decided to do some more baking since I had all the shit out and I made my first cherry pie ever, while the boys worked on almond silk and pecan pies. Then I threw in some pumpkin bread before we called it a night. Yes, I did this all for the three of us a to eat dinner together on Thursday. I’m a mess, but at least I’ll be all carbed up that day!

Happy Pre-turkey Day!

M.

Hello, Karen?

We’ve been phone banking for the Democrats of DeKalb. We live in DeKalb County Georgia. You’ve probably heard of us on the news lately, and hopefully they are pronouncing it correctly, it’s “Duh-Cab.” Anywho, we have over 500,000 registered voters in our county, but our population is about 800,000, so as you can see we have some work to day. DeKalb Democrats tries to get people registered to vote, it doesn’t matter how you register, which party you affiliate with. They also do phone banking to make sure people know they can vote in Georgia both in-person early (starting three weeks before Election Day) and also vote by mail, anyone can, you don’t know a “reason.”

That should probably explain all you need to know about how the state was flipped this year, considering you already know about Stacey Abrams and if you don’t then go ahead and Google her, or maybe read this.

Anyway, we have been phone banking and we let Jackson do it too. He actually really liked it. Might be illegal, might just be morally wrong, but he had a great time calling people and telling them how they can request an absentee ballot, he is a civically engaged kid, what a great way for him to learn about the voting process too!

So the other day while we were all phone banking, well Jackson and Jerimiah were, I did it one day then decided it was not for me (I am writing and sending postcards to voters instead) Jackson was getting some really lovely people on the phone, older ladies are his sweet spot of course, and they were chatting away with him, telling him all about their grandkids and what not. He ate it up, and can tell you all about Debra and her absentee ballot that she had to do because she’s been living in California with her grandkids for the last six months to ride out the pandemic. Anyway, so Jerimiah gets this really nasty lady on the phone and then we did something bad.

Jerimiah is chatting away and then we hear him get quiet and he’s all, “Umm, okay. Not sure what to do about that.” He called this woman, let’s call her “Theresa.” He called Theresa and said, “Hi is this Theresa?” And the white woman on the other end of the line decided to lose her shit on him about calling her. She said he had the wrong number, which is all she needed to say, she didn’t even know who he was or what organization he was with, she just flipped. Then said she was calling the cops, filing a police report, the whole nine yards. Jerimiah just politely hung up and then sat there in stunned silence for a moment before he told us what happened. He didn’t know what to do. Should he alert someone? Is there a no-call list? We shrugged. So he just marked her as “Wrong Number” in the system and hoped no one else would call her. Except…

Well I did call her. I asked for her number and used my Google phone number to ring her up. She answered and sounded like she was driving. She seemed to be a young, maybe 30s white woman with an attitude from hell, like I expected. So this time I said, “Hi, is Karen home?” And she was like, “Oh my God, you have the wrong number.” And I said, “So you are not Karen?” And she said, “Right.” And I said, “Are you sure you are not a Karen?” and we sat for a moment in silence before she hung up on me, and I gotta say, I did feel vindicated. Childish and immature too, but mostly vindicated.

I know, Michelle, I should have went high, but I just couldn’t. I’m all out of patience for people like that, and though y’all know I don’t prescribe to the whole “Karens are evil” thing, simply because I know some really nice Karens and I don’t think it’s fair, it is a social construct that does exist and I did exploit it and for that I am sorry. To all the other Karens, not that bitch.

Be safe and well, y’all.

M.

Fuck the Pilgrims

We wanted to enjoy a nice “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving this year, then our family decided they wanted to come here for the holiday, so we scrapped that idea and went all in with a regular old Thanksgiving. Then we decided that Covid has no chill and it was not a good idea to have a house full of guests this holiday, and probably any holiday until this shit is under control, so now we are back to a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving.

We aren’t really sure what a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving looks like, maybe we get pilgrim statues and hang them from their necks over the fireplace? Too gruesome? Or maybe we make a list of all the lands the pilgrims stole from the Indigenous People, and we donate five dollars for each land we come up with? Too expensive? Okay, maybe we just learn about the lands near us that were stolen from the Indigenous People, read about small box blankets and what not, and give thanks that the Native Americans are as resilient as they are? Perfect.

The point is Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is just an excuse for us to be with family, enjoy each other’s company, and eat a ton of good food. We don’t prescribe to the whole “Thank you” toward those first settlers who were monsters, and no, we aren’t grateful for them. I mean, I could be living in London right now, speaking with a British accent and going on about my business and not being led by one Donald Trump, so ehh.

Sure, I’m happy to be in America (sometimes) but I don’t really care either way because the truth of the matter is, you make the most of wherever you are, and that’s that. So yeah, fuck the pilgrims and their blooding and plundering, they didn’t do me any bloody favors.

Happy Fuck the Pilgrims Week, y’all.

M.

It’s Friday

I’ve been waiting all week for it to be Friday! All. Week. Why? Because I’m officially finished with my first semester of my MFA program and I’m not gonna lie, it feels better than I thought it would. Like way better. This was a tough semester, y’all, in a tough year, with some tough moments, and I don’t just mean the political climate, or the pandemic, but I’ve had one of the toughest years in the last decade mentally and emotionally and physically too and I am so looking forward for reasons to celebrate. Today, I have one.

Woohoo! School’s out for one month!

Of course I’m reading for next semester already. And I’m reading for a literature contest, and I’m trying to learn to read for fun again, and I’ll be working on revisions from work I did this semester and I’ll be trying to come up with ideas for all my fictions classes next semester, but still, you know, no deadlines for a month! Woohoo!

Oh, and the holidays at home with my people, just Jerimiah and Jackson and the dogs and me. This pandemic has pulled us all so close that I’m afraid what will happen when life goes back to normal. But, I can’t worry about that today. Today is for celebrating! And maybe eating pizza and ice cream, and certainly watching some old episodes of “The Gilmore Girls” or maybe a sad-ass crime documentary, I don’t know! There are so many possibilities!

Whatever you are doing today, do it with a little pep in your step, y’all because as Rebecca Black would say, “It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday!”

M.

Dam Yam Hypothesis

We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.

The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”

Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”

And just like that the world righted itself.

But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”

Stay strong parents! And get those yams!

M.

Squirrel-Lee

Thursday of this week was a bit hectic. Jerimiah had to go to his office for a meeting (gasp) I hate when he has to leave the house for work. I’m so used to him being at home with us where it’s, you know, safe. And I never feel prepared on those days. Truly he’s only left about four days since the second week of March, but still. So, he was gone all day, the dogs were acting nuts, I had class, Jackson had class, I planned to cook a nice dinner and have it ready in the hour between when Jerimiah would be home (5:00 pm) and my class started (6:00 pm). In a normal year the time between five and six is also known as “Hell Hour” on account of all I’m trying to juggle. Of course I haven’t experienced “Hell Hour” in like seven months now so this week it took me by surprise.

It was a pretty uneventful day, save for the crazy dogs, then suddenly (as it happens) all hell broke loose. Jackson had a bit of a meltdown concerning math, I had started dinner, my phone was ringing, Jerimiah was texting me about an errand I had him run, and just when I was like, “The hell, Thursday?!” the baby squirrel showed up at the front door.

What now?

For sure. A tiny, baby squirrel who had fallen out of a tree and was in such shock that it was trying to get into our house, while the dogs lost their mind at the glass front door, then tried to climb the brick by our front door and fell again. I couldn’t take it anymore, so Jackson and I sprang into action (after I turned the heat down on the mushrooms I was sautéing.)

I immediately remembered the last time I had saved a baby squirrel, many moons ago in North Carolina. I’d Googled “Squirrel rescue” and a place had popped up and I called them and was schooled in squirrel rescue. In fact, I learned so much that I had saved the number in the event it happened again, and had just, last month, deleted the contact: “Squirrel Lady” from my phone. After all, she had been the Lincoln County, NC “Squirrel Lady” so she wasn’t going to be much help now. But I did remember some key points.

1. Don’t touch it without gloves.

2. Put it near a tree, the mother is probably around just waiting.

3. If it comes to you for help it’s probably in shock, they aren’t that trusting.

4. Only call someone to come get it if it looks terribly injured.

5. Do not try to keep/rescue/rehabilitate it yourself.

Number five came in handy a few times when Jackson begged to keep “Lee” as we named him. “Squirrel Lee.”

Obviously Jackson wanted to save Lee, so he put on his ski gloves and went for it. Meanwhile I was cutting the Brussel Sprouts to roast them, and hoping my kid wouldn’t get bit by a rabid squirrel. Hell Hour, geez.

Turns out Lee loved Jackson, so much so that every time Jackson would place him back by the tree, Lee would run back to Jackson to get picked up. It went on like this until I finally had to say enough and force Jackson to come inside so the Mommy squirrel had a chance to come back. The whole time I was terrified I’d find a dead Lee in the morning, and also had a dream of Lee trying to break into the house and cuddle in bed with me. I dunno, y’all. I dunno.

Anyway, Friday morning Lee was gone. And Jackson was happy, but also sad. And I was still burping up Brussels Sprouts from the night before.

The squirrel-Lee story.

The end.

M.

**Please don’t try this at home, we are not trained professionals.**

Super Saturday

I’m not even sure where to begin, but as I sat misty-eyed listening to our VP Elect speak last night I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of love and light for this country again. Suddenly a waving flag didn’t mean hatred and ignorance anymore, suddenly the sight of a person waving a flag went back to what it used to mean: freedom, united people and beliefs, love for country. Sure, flag waving is banal and sentimental at best, but when the right people are speaking. When the good and the strong and the kind people have been passed the mic, suddenly I can stomach it all much better.

It was amazing to hear our newly-elected officials speak. Amazing to see emotion, love, and strength in their words. Amazing to feel like someone you can trust, two people you can trust to make the big decisions for our country, are right where they need to be.

When Madam Vice-President Elect Harris spoke to the children in our country, my son’s ears perked up. He smiled and nodded along, while I looked at my husband and our eyes met and I asked if he could ever imagine Trump addressing the children so wonderfully, let alone acknowledging them at all.

It’s a new day. A new hope. A restored faith for many of us. Let’s enjoy it, then get ready to get back at it. We have an election in January to prepare for, but I’ll enjoy this win for a few more days, then jump in.

Get some rest, y’all. You deserve it.

M.

All Hallow’s Eve

This Halloween was a bit different from others in the past. We didn’t go trick-or-treating, or partake in a fun family costume. We were just too nervous and didn’t know what to expect from the evening. Instead, we did some new and interesting things, like visiting the filming locations of “Stranger Things” a show that Jackson has just started to be really interested in. You can scroll on down my blog and see where we went the last couple of weeks.

But for the actual night of Halloween, we opted to sit out in the front yard and have a s’mores pit going while we put pre-bagged treats in a bucket six-feet from us, just in case we had any trick-or-treaters. We didn’t have many, maybe six, but we did have a couple visits from some friends, and picked up an invite to watch a movie outside a friend’s backyard around the fire pit, where we saw “Flaming Pumpkins” for the first time ever! Seriously, see pics below.

It ended up being a nice night. We didn’t get home until 1 am, however, so we were dragging butt all the next day, but it was just the sort of social gathering (safe, fun, and outdoors) that gave us a little fire to keep going (pun intended).

Before the backyard party, Chief Hopper ended up walking up and down our street to lighted porch lights, and because he’s the only kid on the cul-de-sac and all the neighbors adore him, he filled up on candy! Then while at the party he got to partake in the age-old ritual of “The Candy Swap.” So it really was a fun night after all.

I hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween, but more than anything I hope you have already voted or have a plan to vote tomorrow. Please, pretty please, with spooky, scary sprinkles on top!

M.

We “Boo’ed” Jackson’s friend Bella earlier in the day!
Candy bucket ready!
Getting ready for All Hallow’s Eve in the front yard!
S’mores on the ye olde fire pit!
You know me, just there for the “Boos”
The haul.
The much anticipated “Candy Trade” to end the night.

Things are Getting Stranger Season Two

Another day in Stranger Things location land, and we made it to “Hawkins,” which is actually the downtown square of Jackson, Georgia, about an hour from our house. We went yesterday, so the square was decorated for Halloween too. They had a map of “Hawkins” so you could walk around and point things out annoying to your friends, of which Jackson did. Ha! It was really cute, and it didn’t take very long. Of course everything was shut down and the signs were all gone, but he recognized the buildings, even the spot in the alley where the boys got into a fight in season one. So please enjoy some more pics today and I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow, when I’m not tired as hell from Halloween festivities!

M.

Chief Hopper checking out the map at the pub that was used as the face of “Hawk Theater.”
The other side of the pub, headed down to the alley.
Finding the right spot to recreate the scene.
Peeved that there was a car in the lot, even though it said, “No parking in alley.” But you can see the Rental Solutions in the background, same as it was in season one, see below.
Melvard’s right next to Radio Shack! Where Joyce and Bob (season two) work!
The Probate Court building is under construction, but this was used as the outside of the Hawkins Library. Jackson recognized the clock tower as we pulled into town.
Don’t mind if he does. He is dressed up after all!

Happy Halloween

We have a kid obsessed with the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” To be fair, only season one so far, but still. We also have a Halloween upon us wherein it is not safe to wander door to door asking strangers for Covid, err, candy, so we’ve been thinking up ways to celebrate this year while being socially conscious. Enter, visiting “Stranger Things” film locations while in costume! So far, so good. Living in the South’s version of Hollywood has been pretty interesting. Here, take a gander:

Chief Hopper at the Wheeler house (in East Point)
Hopper lighting a cigarette leaving the hospital. (Don’t worry it’s not real. The cigarette or the hospital, it’s actually a Baptist church by Tyler Perry Studios.)
Hopper “looking around” after finding Benny dead at his diner.
Looking for Mad Max and the boys (season two) at the Palace Arcade.
No sign of the kids at the Hawkins Middle School gym (and we had just missed them starting the set-up to film season four, got to see some new signs going up and a huge tent, before security ran us off. Oops!)
And then there was Hawkins Lab. Talk about spooky szn! It’s actually an old building on Emory’s campus about ten minutes from our house. It’s so close we are headed up in a week or so to get Covid tested there (before we see family for the holidays). Ha! I’m sure Hopper will make another appearance then too.

Today we are headed to a little town just outside metro Atlanta called Jackson, Georgia which is the setting for Downtown Hawkins. More pics tomorrow. Until then, Happy Halloween and enjoy more of his favorite location!

M.

It’s fake, haters.

Things are Getting Stranger

We finished season one of “Stranger Things” with Jackson last week and have moved on to season two, but we can only watch it during the day because he likes it, but also thinks it’s creepy. Sure, I feel that flow. So it’s been slow going, but he has developed a little obsession with Hopper, which makes sense seeing as Jackson loves the law. Police Chief Jim Hopper is his new favorite, but “Stranger Things” isn’t new at our house.

Way back in 2018, Jerimiah and I watched the first season with my mom when she was visiting. She also loved the show, and had asked to wait to watch the next season with her until she came back again. Well we forgot about it the last time she was here, so we’ve been stuck in this season one standoff for ages now. Back then Jackson was too scared to watch it BUT he had a little crush on a girl who liked the show and when he asked her what she thought he should be for Halloween that year, she said “Eleven” from “Stranger Things.” So this happened…

Yeah, that’s all of us dressed up for Trunk-or-Treat at Jackson’s school that year to impress a girl he never got the guts to “ask out.” Ho hum.

We were a big hit, but I did have to explain the Eggo connection to him because again, he’d NEVER watched the show.

Fast forward to 2020 and he’s like, “Ohhh, now I get the Eggos!”

Cool.

Anyway, I wanted to be Marv, Harry, and Kevin from “Home Alone” this year. But then Covid happened and well, it’s not like we are going trick-or-treating anyway, so I let him do what he wanted and guess what he wanted?

Yeah, that’s Chief Hopper with a (fake) cigarette dangling from his mouth while he decides if he’s gonna crack open another beer or get to work. “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation” my 12-year-old has taken a liking to saying, “Coffee and contemplation.”

So there you have it. The Halloween costume has been created, once again, and he was headed to being all dressed up and nowhere to go. That is until we got a great idea! But this is a long post and my fingers are all burned to shit from ironing patches on shirts and coats and what not, so I’ll tell you about that another time. For now, enjoy some more pics of Chief Hopper.

M.

The Hike

Jackson took us on a “hike” yesterday evening. He discovered a new trail with his friend Bella a couple of weeks ago that was “way far away.” Way far away, is really just behind our cul-de-sac and he’s been wanting us to go “exploring” out there with him so he could go further out, so we harnessed the dogs and took out about five o’clock last night.

We only made it to the end of the cul-de-sac before our neighbor Mary (who’s just come back from seven months in Germany) stopped us to say hello, tell us she loved our yard signs (BLM and “Bernie, Ok Fine Biden”) and to warn that there is a mother coyote and her babies living back there somewhere. Cool. Cool. Cool. Thanks, Mary! (Side note: she also said she came back to vote “him out” and it was so different being back in the US where no one takes Covid-19 seriously.) Have I mentioned how much we love living in the brightest blue spot in the South?!

Anyway, we trudged off through the woods then, with Jackson and Duke leading the way, while I slapped at mosquitos and tried not to step on Winnie, who is so afraid of everything (she’s literally a 60-pound 8-month old puppy 🙄) that she kept running between Jerimiah and me every time she heard a twig snap.

Jackson was dressed, of course, as Police Chief Hopper from “Stranger Things” because we just finished the first season and he’s obsessed, and also he knew we might need the protection of the law, especially when we reached the “creepy, energy place that has a fence around it” like in “Stranger Things.” We were all, “Oh sure, okay. (Wink, wink).” Until we got to the fence with barbed wire and we’re like, “Oh damn, yep, that’s like in the show. Weird.”

So there you have it. We took a nice long “hike” on what we think is sewer easement land, stuck behind our cul-de-sac and a creek/lake we had no idea existed and right before a creepy energy compound secured with fence and cameras. Not weird. Not weird at all. Ps… we saw a dead raccoon, but no coyotes.

As usual, enjoy the pics from our little adventure.

M.

Saturday at the Farm

We visited a friend’s farm last weekend. It is called Butts Mill Farm, and it is out in Western Georgia, near the Alabama state line. Our friend’s parents own it, and it’s less of a farm in the way you are imagining, and more of a family-fun farm, complete with peddle cars, number boats, and miniature horses that you can pet and feed and fall in love with and try to convince your husband to let you bring one home and get denied. Which is bullshit, but I just want you to be aware before you go.

Well, maybe you’ll have a nicer husband.

I digress. We had an excellent time at the farm, and not just because we visited for free and were fed pizza for lunch (although, bonus!) Yes, our friends are that nice. But really it was because we adore these friends and their family was so super nice, that we even got a super-special tour of their big collection of vintage cars and truck, which Jackson LOVED! Whew.

We got to play in a creek that has swings you can set in and watch the whole day go by. We got to feed goats, and go inside an antique Grist Mill. We got to ride a horse (well Jackson did, for the first time mind you) and play all day. Jackson was happy to be with his buddy Bella, whose grandparents own the farm, and Jerimiah and I were happy to hang with other adults and carry on conversations and not be inside our house. It was sort of the perfect day. Not too hot, overcast most of the day, and did I mention the 12-year-old rescued Macaw named River, who was just a delight, until he started screaming at me? Wow. It was a good day. Here are the pictures and trust, if you ever find yourself around these parts and wanna go check out the farm, let me know. We are always in for a trip out west.

M.