All posts by BobStanza

Christmas Is Coming

The weekend after Thanksgiving was primarily used to finish decorating for Christmas. All the orange lights, fall wreaths and other harvest reminders are swapped out for strands of colored lights and pine. It’s also the time to wrap up anything left of the big meal. This year it was turkey hash and turkey soup. I don’t think this year yielded my best results of leftover fare but it wasn’t bad and after a few quarts of soup make it into the freezer all vestiges of our dinner will be gone.

We’ll head back to Kirkwood tomorrow where I have some more decorating to do before heading to Chicago. It will be good to have wrapped up for when we get back. There will be a lot going on with work and holiday activities so being able to relax when we can, and drink in the sights and sounds of the season, will be very welcome indeed.

Here are a few pictures that made me smile during the busy weekend.


For the second year we’ve moved our celebration of Thanksgiving to Friday to allow people to spend time with other family and friends in the city on Thursday. Having lived the hustle and bustle of trying to attend several parties and dinners on one day when we were younger, I feel pretty sure those that join us on Friday, and stay a night or two afterwards, appreciate spacing things out a bit.

Now, although the day has changed, the meal remains the same. In truth, while we’ve made some refinements over the years, we do a pretty traditional dinner. Details can be found here including recipes for those interested. This timing also works well when it comes to preparing a large dinner for a bunch of people. Thursday is prep day and the time to make cranberry sauce, cranberry orange relish and desserts which makes Friday a little less stressful.

This year we were joined by Jen, Ron, Vi, Cam, Dustin, Niki and Zoey. It was Vi’s 10th birthday on the Friday so it doubled as a birthday party and dinner for her. We watched some Christmas shows, had some drinks, Vi opened presents and all had a great time. Although I left the mashed potatoes and the bean and corn casserole in the oven a little long, I think everyone very much enjoyed the dinner.

The next morning Dustin made some delicious eggs with biscuits and gravy for breakfast because, of course, we hadn’t eaten enough. Afterwards I got some help moving the train board upstairs and that will be my focus for the Sunday so it’s running when everyone is back for Christmas.

Niki had a bridal shower to attend and Ron needed to do some promoting for his upcoming show so everyone headed home by late afternoon and Corona got to come out of hiding by early evening. We nibbled on leftovers and relaxed for the evening. Sunday will clear out a lot of what didn’t already get taken home when I make stock and we have a proper Thanksgiving leftovers dinner Sunday night.

Thanks to Kathy for the pictures but sorry she didn’t get a selfie with someone to add to the gallery.

Prep For The Holidays

Veteran’ Day weekend is usually the time I start getting things ready for the holidays. Cleaning, decorating and the like. After retirement I may be able to push that back a bit but when most of this happens on weekends and there are two houses to prepare you kind of need to get a jump on it.

After a couple weeks of much hotter than normal days the weather turned right for the task. Thursday we still had a high of close to 80 so I got the leaves mulched, cut up firewood and loaded the wood crib. On Friday, when it never got above the low 40s I started a fire in the evening and kept it going through Sunday. That made setting up the Christmas tree and other decorations seem very appropriate.

Getting Ready For Winter

It’s been a very strange fall this year. Above normal temperatures most all of September, October and early November. Very dry during a lot of the summer and fall interrupted by a few periods of flooding rain. Some don’t want to blame global warming but it seems pretty clear to me that extreme climate instability is becoming the norm regardless of the cause. We’ll see what the winter brings. I’ve heard wide ranging forecasts so will be preparing for anything and everything.

I mulched the front gardens more this spring and it really helped with weeds so now that we’ve had the first freeze and most all the flowers are dead I decided to do that more thoroughly this fall to get a jump on next year. It also makes the area look much tidier as we get into the holiday season.

I put more chopped leaves on the new daylily garden per recommendations. I put a first layer on a couple weeks ago and most had already started poking through. Same with the garlic. So I piled it on pretty deep to give those plants some better protection during the winter.

Finally I planted the daffodils I got at Greentree Festival and spread some anise hyssop seed tops around in the pole light garden in front and covered that area with chopped leaves and a top coat of mulch. Hopefully that will make it look good for spring through fall next year. Now I just need to figure out a way to get that watered routinely. More drip irrigation in our future I predict.


Lack of water has resulted in a quick fall. Leaves are now close to peak even though two weeks ago there were few signs of autumn. So while it’s not what I’d call a beautiful fall the late warmth gave us beautiful and long lasting New England Asters. Since these pretty lavender flowers bloom even after the goldenrod has faded the number of pollinators that take advantage of them is remarkable.

We do what I consider an admirable job with Halloween decorations here but it’s rather unfortunate so few people see them. I found a couple more things to add to the cemetery this year and will continue to expand it slowly for our family’s enjoyment. Nevertheless, we’ll likely spend most of our Halloween evenings in Kirkwood surrounded bunches of little ghouls and goblins from the neighborhood, with parents in tow, who come by to see the yard and get a bag of treats.