Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving

Seasons 52 dessertLast week my family celebrated Thanksgiving in a way that was a bit of a shock for everyone. Well, everyone except me: we went out to a restaurant to have Thanksgiving dinner.

This was not my idea. I have been dutifully cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family as well as 8 of my in-laws for the past decade–ever since my son was born. Every year we have pulled out my grandmother’s ancient, but still very useful, portable electric roaster to cook our turkey in. Every year I have pulled out my recipe book, filled with my husband’s family Thanksgiving recipes for stuffing, sweet potato casserole, orange cranberry sauce and hollandaise sauce. Every year I have stood with my mother-in-law as she gives me tips and suggests about how to cook her Thanksgiving feast (while she helps, of course).

And every year when I talk about making the stuffing, my mother-in-law and I have the exact same conversation about it.

Me: I’m going to start on the stuffing
MiL: Oh honey, you’re not going to stuff it in the bird are you?
Me: No MiL, I’m not. It’s your recipe and I’m going to cook it exactly like you do. I just call it stuffing because my family has always called it stuffing.
MiL: Oh good! Here’s the cornbread you’ll need to make that dressing (heavy emphasis on the word dressing). 

And every year, after having this conversation, I bite back my tongue and keep myself from screaming: Good GOD woman! You know what I mean! I will never call it dressing so let’s just move on with life!

But as usual, I digress.

Back in August, my father-in-law suggested that instead of having me spend hours in the kitchen and have everyone try to squeeze into our not very big living room and dining room, that we go out to eat, their treat. Since it was going to be the same group of about 11 of us, I immediately said YES! My husband was far more reluctant. He emailed his dad back about his disappointment over breaking tradition and how important it was to me and the kids. He CC’d me on the email of course, so I could immediately write him back and say, “As the person who is going to spend hours and hours in the kitchen cooking with your mother, I fully endorse this restaurant idea…now you email your dad back and fix this mess you’ve made!”

After an actual discussion between us, my husband completely saw it from my POV and agreed that a meal out might be fun. For him it was a big step out of his comfort zone, which is not something he’s used to. For me, not only did it mean NOT having to cook for a cast of way too many and still having leftovers for days and days, but it was actually a throw back to my childhood.

Even though my mom is a perfectly good cook, she has never actually enjoyed cooking. Whenever we could eat out, we did. And since I grew up in California, thousands of miles away from any family members who did not live in my actual house, my mom thought it was a waste of her time to make a huge Thanksgiving meal for four people. Especially when two of those people were kids who didn’t eat much. Plus, we lived in apartments with fairly small kitchens most of my life, so it’s not like it was easy to have tons of dishes going at the same time.

So every year my mom and step-dad found someplace that was not our own dining room for us to eat. I have very vivid memories of Thanksgiving dinners eaten at Sizzler, which up until I wrote this post, I thought was defunct since all the ones in Indiana had shut down. Turns out they still exist! Just on the West coast. This made me blissfully happy as my dream to once again eat their Malibu chicken, which was the stuff my childhood dreams were made of, is still a reality! Thank the Lord for mediocre steak houses and our love of them!

I also remember having Thanksgiving at church sponsored events where each family would contribute something to the meal. My mom would pick stuffing, but several boxes of Stove Top stuffing, make it quickly before we left the house and then we’d get to sit down to a full Thanksgiving meal at a huge table in some sort of cafetorium and eat with people we sort of knew from church. Those meals were a bit dicier as aside from my favorite, the stuffing, you never knew what strange ingredients people would add to their version of mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce.

One year we went to some super fancy place near Disneyland that was rather darkly lit and had some sort of ocean theme to it. I swear it was called something like Pirate’s Cove or something oddly similar…probably without the word pirate since I do remember it being nice. I was like 8 though, so really anything that wasn’t Bob’s Big Boy or Del Taco was pretty nice to me.

I do have to say that despite years of eating Thanksgiving dinner in restaurants, today’s trip to Season’s 52 for our family celebration was probably the nicest, tastiest one I’ve had at a restaurant. I do have to admit that the one we had aboard the family cruise we took two years ago comes a close second, but that was more for the whole being on a cruise bit than anything else.

To me where we ate wasn’t nearly as important as family being together. Although the fact that I spent no time in the kitchen and currently only have one bowl in my sink (from last night’s popcorn and movie watching), is the real holiday blessing!

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Wildcard Wednesdays: Dream Dinners

Dream dinners cookedBack in August, one of my best friends invited me to a rather unique birthday party. She invited four of us to a Dream Taste event she was hosting through Dream Dinners.

For a couple of years I’ve heard her talk about Dream Dinners. Often when I’d stop by her husband’s classroom to get my lunchbox out of his fridge (unlike the rest of us, science teachers get to have fridges in their prep rooms), I’d see him eating some of their leftovers and they always looked great. A part of me was interested in finding out just what Dream Diners was all about. However, a larger part of me poo-pooed the idea as I consider myself a pretty good cook and I love garnering the praise my family heaps on me after a successful meal. Even if it means I sometimes spend an hour (or more) putting dinner together after a 10 hour day at work (including my commute).

But when she invited me as part of her birthday celebration, how could I turn it down? Ok, I could have turned it down and still not been a total jerk of a friend. Since attending the Dream Taste required me to purchase at least three meals to prepare while I was there, my friend made it very clear that I was under no obligation to come. She knew I’d been interested in the past and thought the Taste might be an easy way for me to try it. She had a feeling I would love it as much as she does, but she didn’t tell me that at the time.

I was not quite sure what to expect when I got there. I arrived with a cooler in tow, just like she’d told me to. I found the birthday girl and three of my other friends ready and willing to experiment with something new. Since we’d had about 8 different meals to pick from, we had some overlap in what we were preparing, but each of us had at least one dinner no one else in the group was making. My friend, in true hostess style, showed us all how to get our order forms, our cooking instruction cards, our aprons and gave us a brief tour of the facility and  outlined the rules.

dream sideThankfully the “rules” are pretty simple. Find an empty station with the recipe card for the meal you want to prepare. Get the proper sized plastic bags to store meal contents in. Using the very handy, very clearly labelled recipe cards, follow all the steps exactly. Then, pop the cooking instruction card in the large bag (with all the smaller bags inside), put the meal in the fridge (on the shelf with your name on it), wash your hands and start over.

At first I was a little nervous. Although I am a good cook and someone who has done make ahead meals before, I’ve never done it in an industrial kitchen with all my recipe items already chopped and waiting for me. Plus, there were other people outside of our party there and they all knew exactly what they were doing, which was also a bit intimidating. However, after my first meal was measured, bagged and stored, I had the hang of it.

It was so simple and so fun! On several of my stations I got to work right next to my friends, so we had the chance to chat while we assembled our meals. Then, when we finished, there were samples from next month’s menu ready for us to try (along with candy and soda), so we all pulled up chairs, sampled, talked and looked at next month’s offerings. At that point, an employee came over and told us how it would all work if we wanted to come back for another round. It was a very low pressure sales pitch and two of us decided we liked it enough to try again (one lived in another state so it was never an option for her).

When I signed up, I only put $20 down on my next order, making sure to double check that I could cancel if my family tried the meals and did not like them. Thankfully, that did not happen. My family LOVED the meals I’d prepared. And they were so EASY! I thawed each one in the fridge two days before I planned to cook them. Since all the cutting and measuring was done, I came home, pulled the back out of my fridge, spent a few minutes mixing ingredients and cooking and before I knew it, dinner was on the table. Seriously, one of the meals took me less than 15 minutes to cook. And, it was delicious. Everyone in my family raved about it.

dream dinners coolerSince my initial order of 3 dinners, I have gone back three times. I actually just finished up my fourth order on Monday. I now have a freezer full of delicious dinners to try. I have chicken bruschetta skewers, oven baked chicken chimichangas, coconut shrimp with Thai chili sauce, pesto ravioli with chicken & walnuts, and rosemary smokehouse turkey burgers on pretzel buns to name a few. Of the 15 meals I’ve made, only one hasn’t been fantastic. Perfectly fine, but not fantastic. However, since I get to rate each meal and make comments on them, each time when I get the next month’s printed menus, if that item is on it again, I’ll get to see what I rated it so I’ll know to order a larger portion or to avoid it. In the four months I’ve been making meals there has yet to be a repeat offer.

dream dinners rawLast month I discovered their mini chicken pot pies. We’d gotten to sample them at my first official Dream Dinners session and I knew my kids would go gaga over them. When I put together all of the ingredients at the store, I was a bit worried that they’d be complicated, but they were amazingly simple to prepare, ready in about 30 minutes and my family raved about them. The only way this dinner could have been easier to make was if I’d bought frozen processed pot pies from the grocery store and then they would have had all those extra preservatives, salt and who knows what else. However, with these pot pies, I knew exactly what was going into them and could even tweak the spices if needed. My husband told me I had to order them every time I can.

While Dream Dinners isn’t cheap, it’s run me about $200 for 12 meals (we get 4 portions out of each meal, so it’s about $5 a portion), considering the time I save on nightly food prep and cooking time plus the food waste I’ve managed to cut down on for recipes that only call for a few tablespoons of an ingredient, I think it is completely worth it. I know I will be going back for many months and maybe years to come.

 

 

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Teaching Tuesday: Thanksgiving break

My first teaching gig definitely spoiled me when it came to Thanksgiving. Since I worked at a university laboratory school, things worked just a little bit differently.

For those who aren’t in the know, let me explain what I mean by a laboratory school. No, we didn’t have the students penned up like lab animals, but yes, we did experiments on them. Sort of. Laboratory schools, which are few and far between these days, are linked to universities with particularly strong teacher’s colleges. They exist in part to help train would be teachers. They also exist to try out new ideas in education. It’s because of experiments in laboratory schools that different types of scheduling like block 4, block 8, trimesters, balanced calendar, etc exist. Laboratory schools also exist for professors and student to conduct educational research on a wide variety of educational topics.

Don’t worry, everyone who sends their children to laboratory schools does so voluntarily (in fact there is usually a high demand and limited space in them) and with complete knowledge of the experiments, research, etc that goes on in them.

There are tons of perks to both teaching at and attending a lab school. My students were easily able to audit college classes (at almost no cost to them, but only for high school credit), take college classes for credit (at a cost to them, but some of my students graduated from high school with enough credits to be college sophomores), they were able to attend lectures from experts in a variety of fields (I got to take my high school freshmen to hear Elie Wiesel speak before we read his book Night) and, we got extra vacation days.

While we did not get every day off that the university did, we got many off that our city school corporation kids did not. When there were snow days, if the university wasn’t in session or the university closed, we didn’t have to make them up. Also, unlike every other school corporation I’ve ever worked at, we got Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week off.

Although it may not seem like much, that one extra day off was so important. My husband’s family lives in North Carolina and instead of having to set off for a 9 hour drive after working a full work day (which put us in NC between 2-3 am), we could sleep in on Wed if we wanted and still be at his parent’s house by dinner time. Plus, we got to spend three full days visiting with both his family and friends. If we decided to visit my folks, who only lived 2 hours away, I had a full day to make sure all of my grading was done so that I could actually have four restful days off.

For the past 14 years I’ve taught in regular ol’ public schools and we’ve only gotten Thursday and Friday off. When our son was born 10 years ago, we made one final trip to visit my husband’s family for Thanksgiving. Despite leaving as soon as my work day was over, we rolled in way too late with a very cranky baby who had major trouble getting back on his schedule and vowed we’d never do it again. That was our last holiday visit to North Carolina.

My in-laws are both semi-retired (my MiL is self-employed), so when we couldn’t make the travel to them work, they decided to travel to us instead. While it is a lot easier when they come here, working a full day on Wednesday still makes the prep work for house guests and Thanksgiving dinner for 11 stressful and the “break” not much of a break.

Luckily this year my in-laws decided to stay at a hotel and take the entire family out for dinner, so I got a bit more of a break.

Still, I was thrilled to learn that my school just released our 2018-2019 calendar and for the first time, we will be getting Wed-Fri off. I’m not quite sure what this will mean, but it may mean a trip to NC to see my in-laws for the holiday, something my son doesn’t remember and my daughter has never experienced.

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Chocolate Monday: DeBrand’s Classic Collection

Debrand classicI know it seems like I cannot sing the praises of DeBrand’s Chocolate enough in my blog. The truth is that I cannot. I have fallen madly, hopelessly in love with it. It is some of the best chocolate I have ever had and I am beyond thrilled that they have opened up a store less than 15 minutes from my house. My wallet and my waistline may not be so happy down the line, but for now, I am giddy with excitement.

Although I’ve only been to the store once so far, while I was there not only did I pick up some of their amazing pecan caramels and a chocolate shortbread cookie, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, but I also put together my very own box of their classic collection. Although I have favorites among both their truffle and connoisseur collections, my heart truly belongs to their classic collection. The best part about having a store so near me is that I can go in and hand pick all of my favorites to ensure that there is never a chocolate I like but do not love–I’m looking at you mocha cream.

Looking at my box of goodies, it’s pretty clear that most of my picks are milk chocolate. That should not surprise anyone who reads my blog with any sort of regularity. I’m a milk chocolate girl. Still, I do have some absolute favorites in their dark chocolate collection as well, so I had to throw those in.

The first piece in my collection of 8 is their gourmet PB&J. This is a bit of an odd choice for me. As much as I love any combination of peanut butter and chocolate, the idea of throwing the jelly into the mix generally grosses me out. When I was younger, I had a few oddities I thought were quirky enough that they earned me bragging rights. One was that I did not eat pizza. The second was that I never threw up after drinking too much. The third, was that I’d never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The pizza thing died as soon as I went off to college. It’s not that I’d never had pizza or anything. My father just loved it so much that we ate it constantly and only sausage and green pepper pizza…two toppings I despise to this day. I got sick of pizza, so whenever they’d order pizza, I’d just eat breadsticks. However, my freshmen year of college several of my friends would buy cheap pizza from this place that delivered until 3 am and we’d sit in the study lounge, eat pizza and talk until the sun started to rise again.

I caved to the puking after drinking only once in my entire life and that was a bad, bad, bad night that I have almost no memory of. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that when I mentioned getting a tad sick (and it was just a tiny, tiny bit), all of my friends realized I’d crossed some sort of line. It’s never happened since, which I still consider a sort of badge of honor.

As for the PB& J thing, I don’t really have a good reason for it. My mom never made them for me and I never asked for one. I’d never tasted one until I was 19. I had missed dinner in the dining hall due to a late class one night and the guy I was dating made me a sandwich. Since we were in the dorms, there wasn’t much on hand. He thought it was nuts I’d never had a PB&J so he made me one. I ate half of it out of politeness, but did not see the appeal and have never eaten one since.

However, somehow when it you take away the bread and cover it in chocolate instead, I find it appealing. It doesn’t hurt that this PB&J uses a very tart raspberry jam. Raspberry and chocolate is my weakness and this piece is an amazing blend of salty and sweet.

My second chocolatey delight was the caramel coconut. Despite being a dark chocolate piece, I find this one exciting because it is three tastes I love all rolled in to one. The caramel is speckled with little chunks of coconut which give it a perfect texture. The caramel is the ooey-gooey liquidy kind I love. While I do think it would be even better in milk chocolate–I’ve always been an Almond Joy gal, it’s still a solid offering. I like the little bits of coconut that stick in my teeth at the end, leaving me a bit longer to enjoy the piece.

debrand vanillaNext up was a version of one of my absolute favorites in life: vanilla buttercream. This one is pretty good. Not quite as thick as I usually like my vanilla creams, but still full of delicious vanilla flavor. I liked it, but it’s not my favorite in the collection.

Since I love caramels so much it’s really no shock that half of my custom box was full of caramels. Nor is it a surprise that I decided to try the Debrand caramel. Unlike their other caramels, this is not a liquid version. This is a straight up, super chewy block of caramel covered in creamy milk chocolate. The caramel is soft, creamy and perfectly sticky. I loved letting it slowly melt in my mouth. It’s not as good as their pecan caramels, but still really darn good. I love that it is more caramel than chocolate.

debrand rose caramelI immediately tried another caramel because really, is there such a thing as too much caramel? No, no there isn’t. This one is the rose carmella. I love the rose design on the top of this piece. The description says it is a liquid caramel with a hint of rose water. I’ll admit that I’ve never really had much rose water (or any flower flavored water), so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pick up those hints. After all, I’m terrible when it comes to picking up fruity hints in beers and wines–I’m better with wines since they are already a bit fruity, but when a beer says it has hints of apricot or strawberry, all I ever taste is, well, bitter beeriness. Blech. This piece is definitely a liquidy caramel, which makes it an A+ in my book. Since it is also covered in sweet milk chocolate, I think the flowery hints do get a bit lost in the big picture. However, when I tried a taste of just the caramel, there was definitely a slightly perfumy taste to it, which I found interesting and kind of cool.

Peanut butter and chocolate is another personal favorite combination of mine. The only reason not to simply adore peanut butter and chocolate is if you are allergic to it. Otherwise, I am suspicious of anyone who doesn’t love the marriage of two of the most delicious flavors on earth. This piece is a salted peanut butter, which I think sounds even more intriguing. The peanut butter inside is super creamy and definitely just a little bit salty, which is fabulous. It’s so interesting because from a texture standpoint it reminds me of creamy peanut butter, but the extra saltiness to it makes me think of the far superior crunchy peanut butter. It also makes this piece a bit more savory than sweet, which I really like.

My second to last piece was a dark piece, but since it was a strawberry rhubarb caramel, I saved it for last. I was about 10 years old when I had my first piece of strawberry rhubarb pie. I was at the county fair with my aunt and we stopped in the Grange building to visit another aunt and uncle who happened to be volunteering. The Grange building was basically a big restaurant, so we decided to eat with my aunt and uncle. I couldn’t tell you what my main course was, but I grabbed a piece of strawberry pie and was super excited. It didn’t taste like the strawberry pie I was used to and when I mentioned it to my aunt, she told me about the addition of rhubarb. Even though I like the straight sweet of strawberry, the tart that goes with rhubarb became a new love for me. This caramel piece has that same, hit you in the back of the mouth, puckering effect of that first piece of fair pie. Once the initial wallop of the tart rhubarb subsides, there is a lovely undertone of sweet, sun-ripened strawberries. The caramel really just lends it a slight creamy texture. Honestly it is more rhubarb than anything else and that is 100% ok with me.

debrand raspberryMy final piece is my “best for last” piece: a milk covered raspberry. This piece is also available in dark, and in the last classic assortment I got from DeBrand, I got the dark chocolate version, which I really liked. So I was super excited to try their milk version. Even though tart raspberry is the way I enjoy dark chocolate best, I will always be a milk chocolate girl, so I had to try it. Oh my goodness! This is sheer, unadulterated goodness. It’s a raspberry cream, so while it has a bit of the velvetiness of a standard cream filling, it is also drenched in totally tart liquidy raspberry filling. It is a raspberry cordial filling to make Anne of Green Gables proud. I cannot heap enough praise on this piece and will go back again and again and again for it. I could easily buy a box with nothing other than this piece in it and be thrilled. Of course I would miss my other favorites too much, so I guess I’ll just have to keep saving this chocolate for last!

Overall:

Value: 10/10 (at $18 a box, each piece is $2)
Taste: 10/10
Appearance: 9/10

 

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Free Reading Friday: The Big Tiny: A Built-it-Myself Memoir

big tinyI have a student who is absolutely obsessed with tiny houses. As long as I have known her, which has been two years now, she has talked about her desire to live in a tiny house. When she first told me about this, I thought she was a little bit crazy. After all, she was talking about having cardboard furniture and all I could think about was her either getting a ton of paper cuts all over her backside or sitting down to watch some TV and having her “chair” collapse.

After she showed me what her dream cardboard furniture looks like, I felt a bit less worried for her. However, I still didn’t think it looked even remotely comfortable, even with pillows and blankets piled on it. But, to each his own, right?

This student is in my AP Language and Composition class and as part of the class, students are required to pick 4 books off of a rather extensive non-fiction book list. Each book has a different project that goes along with it. The first book, which they read over the summer merely has to be annotated. The second book, which they read during the second quarter, gets an essay over the author’s bias. The third book, which they read during the third quarter, also gets an essay, this time over the theme. The final book, which they read during their final quarter of high school requires a creative project which explores both bias and theme.

Although the list I provide has a wide variety of books to suit just about every reading interest, I also allow students to suggest books for me to read and then approve for their essays/project. Due to her love of all things tiny house, she asked me to read The Big Tiny: A Built-it-Myself memoir by Dee Williams.

Unlike some of the books my kids suggest, I was intrigued by this one. I wanted to understand the tiny house craze and what would drive someone to give up a perfectly nice sized house for something smaller than my bedroom.

Williams’ journey from slightly hippy Washington homeowner to full-fledged, living off the grid hippy Washington tiny house owner began after a near fatal illness, which made her re-evaluate her life and her priorities.

Slowly, she began downsizing all of her possessions and building her tiny house. The book chronicles here entire journey from her life before her illness, through her sickness, through building her tiny house (almost completely on her own), to actually living in her house (which she parked in friend’s backyards). It was interesting to see Williams go through the planning process to see what was absolutely vital to her.

It turns out that in order to have the size of house that would fit on the trailer she was having custom built, everything would have to fit in a 6X11 area. This meant that there was really no way for her to have even a shower in her tiny home. She also made a rather large measuring mistake and could not fit the small fridge she had intended to use in her new pad. So, she decided she could get by with a cooler. After all, she only has one hot plate burner, so it’s not like she was planning gourmet meals. Since any sort of space heater would be an insane fire hazard in the house, heat was also out. Instead, she invested in thermal underwear, lots of think socks and warm blankets for her sleeping loft. She tells stories of the frost and snow right above her head as she wakes up seeing her breath each morning.

Luckily for Williams, she’s not completely alone in her tiny house. For the majority of the book she has her beloved dog with her. A dog she carries up into the sleeping loft every night and then back down each morning. This leads to more than one slip, one of which does some real damage. Williams was also fortunate not to have to buy any land for her tiny house. Two good friends of hers allowed her to “park” her house in their backyard. While technically illegal for her to live in someone else’s backyard, as long as she claimed to be the caregiver to her friend’s aging aunt, she could live in her house with no interference. Which is exactly what she did.

Living in her friends’ backyard solves a few issues for her. First, she actually has access to a power source if she needs it. Although she uses solar panels to charge the rather large battery which she uses to power her burner and laptop, if need be, she can also plug her tiny house into her friends’ power source. In addition, she had an easy place to shower, negating her original plan to shower at truck stops. This arrangement also gave her access to safer food storage and an extended ability to cook. Since she had not only befriended Rita, the aunt, but was also helping to care for her, she had daily trips into full-sized homes.

The access to some of these amenities makes it easier to understand how she can survive in only 84 square feet.

Although the book is interesting, I think at times Williams comes off as a bit sanctimonious. While I cannot, and would not want her lifestyle, I did like looking into a life so very different than my own.

For anyone interested in seeing inside her home, here is a video she made not long after the book came out. Amazingly enough, since the book has come out, Williams has actually downsized even further, giving up her palatial 84 square feet for just 54. This time she does have a shower–it’s just outdoors. Check out her new house here.

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Throwback Thursday: Cabbage Patch Kids

CPKI was a child of the Cabbage Patch generation. I still actually remember getting my very first one when I was 8, only months after they started appearing in stores. For those of you not alive during this time, they were nearly impossible to get. Stores sold out within minutes. My step-dad heard a rumor that a local department store was getting a shipment in and my mom made him drive immediately over. I don’t remember how long he was there for, but he came home with two dolls, one for me and one for my little sister (who was not even two at the time). Apparently when he went in to buy the dolls, he was directed to the back of the store in the layaway department. They hadn’t even bothered to put the dolls on the shelves in the aisle. Everyone got in a line and when you got to the front, you could get two dolls. The only choice the employees allowed customers to make was skin color, which at the time was either Caucasian or African American. No choice of gender, hair color, eye color…nothing.

Not that my sister or I really cared. She was too little and I was just thrilled to have the doll. Jennifer Lynn (as I would rename her) was the first in a rather long line of CPKs. I actually didn’t end up keeping her, but gave her to my best friend when my grandmother sent me another CPK for Easter. However, counting her (and the one that I accidentally left in the courtyard of our apartment building that was stolen), I had 15 Cabbage Patch Kids. Yes, that’s right, 15. I also had a CPK horse,a  Koosa (a “pet” of sorts for CPKs–mine was a cat) and an original Furskin bear (Boone).

Not only that, I had 6 different CPK pin ups. And I don’t even know how many small, posable figures I had.

My collection included a preemie, a cornsilk, an astronaut, two circus, a World Traveler from Holland, a set of twins, a baby,  and one with a pacifier. Any variation of CPK they made from about 1983-1988, I had. I loved those dolls.

I wasn’t the only one in my family to get in on the craze. My aunt bought a few too. I’d like to say they were for my cousin and I to play with, but in truth, she just liked collecting valuable toys. She also had about a million Beanie Babies at the height of their craze. My step-mom also bought a few and kept them in boxes. Not long after I stopped playing with dolls, my step-mom took them out of their boxes and let my younger cousin play with them a bit. When I went off for college, her CPKs went into a box and were stored in my old bedroom closet.

When my daughter was born, my step-mom pulled her dolls out of storage and gave them to her darling granddaughter. She also bought her her very first CPK, which was designed specifically for toddlers as the only part of the doll that is plastic is her face. She doesn’t even have a full plastic CPK head, just a face. My mom later bought her a regular CPK with only a tuft of blond hair on her head.

So, by the time my daughter was 2, she had 5 Cabbage Patch Kids, which definitely broke my record. She still loves all 5 of them and plays with them. However, I can see a big difference in her dolls, which are pretty darn ratty, and the ones I got when I was a bit older. Mine were in pristine condition because while I played with them, I mothered them as if they were real children. I was never one to take their hair down or take their clothes off. My daughter currently has one of the 1980’s dolls on her bed. The poor thing is completely naked AND her red hair, which used to be in pig tails, is one giant mess.

Not that I care. I’m just happy to see her loving the same toy that brought me so much joy when I was a child.

 

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Wild Card Wednesday:My daughter the vegetarian

Yesterday when my daughter got in the car after school she informed me that she is now a vegetarian. Apparently her best friend at school is a vegetarian and as a result, my child is now convinced that eating meat is wrong and wants no part of it. Did I mention she’s 7?

As I see no harm in letting her try her hand at vegetarianism, I said, “ok, honey.” Then, I went on to explain how this decision will change her world. Considering that many of her favorite foods revolve around meat of some sort (pepperoni pizza, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, etc), I wanted to make sure she understood that all those things were, in fact, meat.

She quickly let me know that she’s very aware of this and that she can live without all of these items.

Of course she didn’t decide on this rather massive lifestyle change until after I’d gone to the grocery store for the week, so I didn’t have a host of veggie options for her lunches. Although I don’t load my kids up on meat, they do have ham sandwiches or turkey cubes and cheese at least twice a week. Plus, my daughter loves getting school lunch and at the elementary level, there is not much to pick from on the hot lunch line that does not have meat in it. At least not that she will eat.

Tonight we went out to eat as a celebration for my husband passing a national certification exam for his new job. Since it was his celebration, he got to pick where we went. He picked one of his favorite seafood joints: Kona Jack’s. My kids LOVE Kona Jack’s…mostly because they have simply amazing salt water fish tanks all over the restaurant.

As soon as we walked in, my daughter announced to the hostess that she can’t eat seafood because she’s a vegetarian. The hostess smiled and said, “so am I,” which my daughter got a huge kick out of. She was kind enough to point out the only veggie option on the kid’s menu: grilled cheese. Once we were seated, before we’d even place our drink orders, my daughter also told the waitress she was a vegetarian.

Everything was going along swimmingly until the calamari appetizer arrived. Both of my kids LOVE calamari and Kona Jack’s is particularly amazing. My son dove right into the plate. My daughter kept hovering near us, getting all sad eyed at the sight of her beloved calamari.

Finally, as the last few pieces remained, she started crying about how she wanted to both be a vegetarian and have a bite of calamari. She asked me if she could still be a vegetarian if she had a bite of calamari. I felt so bad for her. She was fighting so hard against her insanely impulsive nature. I told her that vegetarians don’t eat any meat at all, but that if she really wanted one little bite, she could have one and then keep trying to be a vegetarian.

I left a small piece on my plate and after much hemming and hawing, she took it. I was proud of her for only taking that one small bite and not asking for more. She proceeded to eat part of my salad, all of her fruit cup, half of her grilled cheese and quite a bit of ice cream.

I’m not sure how successful she’ll be with her new found vegetarianism, but I think it’s great that she’s already found something to believe in and is trying to stand by it.

 

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