Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Stress-free Thanksgiving Vacation and Dinner…Almost

My first attempt at going solo cooking a Thanksgiving feast was nothing less than a total disaster in every sense of the word.  Who knew that frozen turkeys required days to thaw?  Who knew that there was a bag of innards that needed to be removed before cooking?  Who knew that my parents didn’t wake up to begin cooking a lavish feast soon after midnight just because it seemed like a fun thing to do?

Well, apparently, the whole world knew except me.  Draw your own conclusions as to how my first Thanksgiving attempt really went down; it’s too nightmarish for me to recount.

Fast forward almost 15 years to Thanksgiving 2010.  Two words: Boston Market.  Yes, they have become my festive meal savior.  The new tradition in my household is to log onto BM’s site, order a holiday meal complete with two pies, and choose a pick-up date and time.  That’s exactly what I’ve done each Thanksgiving and Christmas since last year.  So this year, pairing a vacation with the promise of having a stress-free, Thanksgiving feast seemed like the right thing to do.   Those plans hit a snag and were in serious jeopardy just days before the big road trip.

You see, for the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving, I’d been terribly sick and was praying for a sign as to whether we should cancel our vacation plans, or stay at home while I nursed myself back to good health.  The answer to that prayer?  I awakened on Wednesday morning feeling much better than I had in a week.

I spent the morning taking care of a few chores, we left home just 10 minutes past our self-imposed deadline, and after running a few essential errands (including a stop at Boston Market), finally hit the road a mere 1.5 hours behind schedule.  Success!  This was going to be a wonderful Thanksgiving vacation.

Although the drive out of town was harrowing at times, we arrived at our destination unscathed, but you wouldn’t have known it if you’d seen the horror on my face as we drove up to the hotel.  How could it be?  I’d booked rooms at a townhouse-style hotel without knowing it!  What’s the big deal?  Well, the two rooms were in different buildings…a no-no as we were traveling with four children.  Not to mention, breakfast was in a separate building and the only pool on location was an outdoor pool – a no-go in 50-60-degree weather.

Sigh!  So I walked inside, inquired about a penthouse suite, learned that they were all booked, and ultimately handed over my form of payment – for two rooms – in separate buildings.  Not one to be defeated, I headed out to the van to call the hotel company’s reservations center and found an alternative hotel that suited our needs.  Just as I was giving the agent a credit card number, the call was disconnected.

Had I misinterpreted “the sign” about whether or not we should stay home?  If so, how many more roadblocks would be in our way over the next few days?

Still not discouraged, I called the reservations center again, gave the agent very specific information about where we wanted to stay and skipped ahead to the good part where I heard the magic words, “Your reservation number is…” Yes!  “Kids, buckle your seat belts!  We have a new destination!”  :-)

There we were, back on the road again, but this time, we needed only cover about 15 miles to reach our destination.  As we sighted the new hotel, the word “Hallelujah” came to mind.

As we checked in, we found that although the new hotel had interior room entrances (not separate townhouse-style buildings), no adjoining rooms were to be had.  Not a big deal, because the desk clerk said she’d give us rooms next to each other.  Well, it turned out that the rooms weren’t next to each other as the room numbers would imply, they were across the hall and diagonal.  Good enough!

After settling into our rooms, we headed out to pick up a few last-minute items from the grocery store and set out to find dinner as well.  Panera was nearby according to our navigation system, so we headed over for dinner!  The parking was metered, but payment wasn’t required this time of night.  Another good sign.

My husband and I strolled hand-in-hand down the walkway toward a much-anticipated bowl of broccoli and cheese soup.  It sure seemed dark inside, but Panera does tend to have tinted windows.  We tugged at the door handles, but the doors were locked.  Now what?  It was getting late on Thanksgiving Eve and our dining options were dwindling by the minute.

Back to the car we went – no merry stroll this time.  After using the GPS to search for other restaurants, we managed to find food.  Finally, went back to the hotel to eat, my husband and kids swam, and I enjoyed the hot tub.  A great night was had by all!  Things were going our way.

As I looked through our “fully-stocked” hotel room kitchen, I realized that there wasn’t a pot big enough for something that I needed to make the next day.  So we spent a portion of Thanksgiving morning hunting for a large pot in which to boil the pasta that was needed for the homemade mac & cheese.  Sorry, but the mac & cheese and cornbread stuffing are dishes that I don’t think Boston Market does well.  After just two stores, we found a suitable pot.

Let’s get this minimal cooking underway!  Gosh!  What was that horrid smell?  The pasta!  No!  The pot was cheap, therefore, the pasta burned after just a few minutes – and it was still undercooked.  After that part of this slowly-unfolding disaster was taken care of, I had to deal with the fact that neither or our rooms had ovens.

The hotel company decided that the extended-stay rooms no longer needed ovens, so all of the newly-built and newly-renovated locations that had granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and flat-screen televisions have…no…ovens.

What happened to “all the comforts of home?”  Utensils…check!  Full-sized refrigerator and freezer…check!  Cloth dinner napkins…check!  Dishes…check!  Dishwasher…check!  Mixing bowls, pitchers, pots and pans…check, check, check!

Oven…Houston, we have a problem.  My home, as do most others, surely has an oven!  But no ovens were located in our “fully-stocked” hotel room kitchens.  Luckily, the front desk clerk offered to let us use the ovens in the main kitchen that the hotel’s chef uses.

Final crisis averted.

We enjoyed our almost-stress-free feast and relaxed before heading back to the pool and hot tub.

Our Black Friday plans didn’t involve going to stores that would be the scenes of pushing and shoving, so we slept in late (7 AM), enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and headed out at 9:30 AM to pick up a new blazer for my husband and camera lens for me.  We conquered Black Friday sales in under an hour and ended up having the rest of the day to do whatever our hearts desired.

Speaking of which, we haven’t decided what to do for the rest of the day.  The kids are enjoying a low-tech game of Monopoly, my husband has awakened from a nap, and I’m bidding farewell for now to you.

I hope that a Happy Thanksgiving was had by all!

Feeling truly blessed,

CC

October 2nd Is Name Your Car Day!

Clio.  Patsy.  Felix.  Floyd.  Reg. (short for Reginald).  No, those are the names of actors, pets, family, or friends.  They’re car names.  You read that correctly.  Cars!  Not the names that manufacturers give to their creations.  But names given to vehicles by their owners.  These personifying names were posted by members on the Facebook page “Naming Your Car and Referring to It As a Person”.   (There’s a page or group for just about anything one can imagine.)

I don’t recall ever having named one of my vehicles.  However, I do remember the name that my mom gave to her pre-minivan era, people-mover: a light blue, Ford station wagon with external wood-grain paneling (pretty image, huh?).  Her name – Betsy!  The car – not my mom.

October 2nd is Name Your Car Day!  Who knew there was a car-naming holiday?  I didn’t until an hour ago.  As I stated earlier, I don’t believe I’ve ever named one of my vehicles.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Holidayinsights.com lists the following advice for those of us who need car-naming tips.

  • Don’t select wimpy names. That might give your car a personality complex and it will perform accordingly.
  • Do give a strong, aggressive name to sports cars and cars with powerful engines.
  • Sleek, sexy feline-like cars savor names that begin with “lady”.
  • Old junkers are proud just to be around. You can call them just about anything. Try “Tramp“, or “Old Yeller“, “Old Blue“.
  • Pick names to reflect your personality.
  • “Pickemup” trucks must have country names.
  • Don’t give common names (like Joe, Mike or Sue)  to luxury cars. They beam over names like Reginald, Archibald, and Crystal.

My newest vehicle is a combination of several “personalities”.  It’s a sleek, black, luxury minivan with a large engine that goes, “Vroom!”.  Following the above advice, whatever name I choose should match my personality.

Brutus is out; it’s a strong name, but there’s nothing sleek or luxurious about it.  I’m also not a guy.

Candy is very feminine, but it’s lacking the strength that defines both me and my vehicle.

Hmm, Charlotte is a strong, feminine name.  I’m channeling the character, Dr. Charlotte King, from television’s Private Practice.  That names fits for other reasons, too.  Charlotte’s medical speciality?  Sexology! 

I think I’ve found a name!  My strong, black, sexy, luxurious minivan could be aptly named Lady Charlotte.

Lady Charlotte is a few months shy of her first birthday, but when the day arrives, I’m sure she would love to receive birthday wishes.  Good thing there’s a greeting car for that!

Send a greeting card

What’s your vehicle’s name and why did you choose it?  If you’re thinking about naming a vehicle for the first time, what names would make the list of potentials?

CC