115 thoughts on “Thanksgiving open thread

  1. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    I’m very thankful for everyone here and the socialization and sense of normalcy you have brought during this pandemic.

    I’m especially thankful for WFI, Kim, and Meme, and everything they’ve done to facilitate this forrum.

  2. Happy thanksgiving, all! I missed yesterday so I’ll update today. We are in Oklahoma at my parents. DH is not with us because I dropped him at his brother’s about two hours away. BIL lost a significant part of his field of vision and cannot drive. DH brought him a computer and is setting him up to bank online, get groceries delivered, etc.

    We all quarantined for two weeks before coming here, as did my brother, so I don’t think we are a risk to my parents. Our first night here, I was awoken by a thud around 3am. My dad had gotten light headed and passed out. When I got down to their room he was out for at least 3-4 minutes. My dad is very thin, but at 6’3”, but still a lot of work to get from the floor up to bed with his legs kind of shot. So – the visit starts with conversation about when are you moving, and what is the plan for if/when this happens while my brother is not here.

    The weather here is nice, so we’ve visited a lovely local park and gotten to spend some time outside. We watched Ted Lasso last night, so thanks to those of you who recommended it. We are having Turkey breast and ham, stuffing, corn casserole and green bean casserole. Our pie ratio is 1:7 so I am very jealous of some of you!! We put up my parents’ Christmas tree yesterday and will decorate it tonight. We are making it into a combined holiday, since it will clearly be the last month or two in this house, and will drink Prosecco, zoom with my sister and aunt and share favorite memories of 42 years of life in this home. We head home tomorrow morning, and I’m very glad we came. Hearing stories from friends and relatives, I really appreciate my kids’ willingness to quarantine so we could be here.

  3. We just had Thanksgiving dinner and FaceTimed one sister who was cooking dinner with her girls and the other who was just sitting down to dinner with her husband and one son, and our parents. Our pie ratio is very high. I made sweet potato tarts—6 or them, just for me. Also made chicken for my son, mushroom stuffing, and mashed potatoes

  4. Becky, thank goodness you all were there when your dad collapsed. It sounds like they are agreeing that it’s time to move elsewhere that there is assistance. That’s not an easy reality to deal with. Wishing you all the best.

  5. Looking at BF ads that came with today’s paper, I see an interesting item in the Lowe’s ad– an electric Razor scooter, powered by a Kobalt 24V battery. This is apparently the same Kobalt battery used for their suite of cordless power tools.

    BTW, also in the same ad is the lowest price I recall seeing for the Firestick, $17.99 (and I think you get an extra 5% off if you use a Lowe’s credit card). Roku for $24.99 is best price I’ve seen for that.

  6. For anyone considering a Ring doorbell, Home Depot has one for $69.99, the lowest price I can recall seeing. They also have the peephole camera for $59.99.

    We have a Ring doorbell and like it very much.

  7. I’m glad you were able to be there with your parents.

    We had a nice quiet day. There was a mishap with the timing of our turkey and ended up eating just before 3. My preferred holiday meal time is 4. But the earlier time allowed for some after dinner bike and foot races that DD2 insisted we do. DH and I overate, which gave the race advantage to the kids.

    What time do people normally eat holiday meals? I’ve always been the 4pm group.

  8. We normally eat around 1. Today was 3:30 because it was just three of us and we could arrange the day around a college b-ball game that was on tv. I worked really hard cooking yesterday so today could be relaxing. It was fine, but felt a bit off. DS2 came over for a driveway visit and I sent him home with some food. FaceTimed with my family. I made individual pies with a new pampered chef pan I got this year. I think I’ll continue that. They were perfect for sharing pies – with my in-laws where we delivered basically a whole take out meal, we could give them a couple pecan and a a couple apple.

    WCE, I saw your posts about apples. My mom canned sooo much applesauce this year. I didn’t think I liked applesauce, but I tried some to appease her. It’s wonderful. She didn’t oversweeten it and intentionally left it thicker. Chunkier just doesn’t seem the right way to describe it. I’ve been having some several times a week as a lunch side. She also froze some apple rings to make pies with. I chopped those up for my little mini pies this week.

  9. Our day was great. We facetimed with both of my sons, but I’ll also see the local one and gkids Sat. The 14 lb turkey, stuffed, was slightly overdone at 3 1/4 hrs at 325, but everything else perfect. And my pan gravy made up for it. The official bubbled family branch ate at great grandpas.

  10. We ate at 5:30 today, as planned. At MIL’s we usually eat at 2-2:30, which I personally hate because then I get hungry again before bed.

    Had a nice zoom call/trivia contest with DH’s side. It was nice having BIL over as well. Talked to my family as well – but I haven’t spent T Day with my own family since the 90’s so that was no different really.

    I think dinner turned out pretty well for my first time making Thanksgiving dinner. Still not my favorite holiday meal, but it was nice being able to cut some things I don’t like (sweet potato casserole) and add some (corn, Mac-n-cheese).

  11. Happy Black Friday everyone!! We will have our Thanksgiving dinner tonight since I was working yesterday (took a vacation day today) and DD still has school. We zoomed with both sides of the family last night and played a few Zoom games with the nieces and nephews. I think the grandparents thought the games were a hoot!

    Since we are still under govt lockdown all the stores (including Amazon France) decided to postpone Black Friday until next week. I think it’s so funny that they have Black Friday here since there is no Thanksgiving. I also think it’s funny they call it “Black Friday” instead of vendredi noir.

  12. SM: I’m glad you were able to get sweet potato tarts! Enjoy! I had a warm pain au chocolate for breakfast this morning.

  13. JM, amazing that they can move Black Friday there! We have it here too, also with the English name. Germans use English words and phrases, correctly or not, all the time. It is the opposite of helpful—we hear a word we think we know, then find out it has a different meaning in German, so we have to learn the Denglish (deutsch + english) words just like German German ones. It sounds like you had as much Thanksgiving as a lot of people in the states this year. My son was disinterested, so I didn’t plan to do anything. Then I couldn’t stand it. I probably could’ve found canned pumpkin, but my local grocery didn’t have it. Sweet potatoes are now a regular produce item here, thank goodness, and the tarts were good.

    We had dinner at 9, partially because I started late and partially because I wanted to be able to eat “with” the relatives. It was much too late for my kiddo, who has been really good about getting to bed at 10 recently.

    We haven’t played zoom games since we went through all the freebies at House Party. What games have people enjoyed?

  14. The one thing that’s gone virtual is my church’s Giving Tree. DH and the kids loved getting tags from the tree and heading off to the stores to buy gifts. They would end up with the more difficult to buy tags but would have a lot of fun doing this. I forwarded them the virtual lists and it’s not the same reaction from them. I’ll do the virtual gifts since my family is showing less enthusiasm this year. There are always practical needs like food, clothing, grocery store gift cards which are done at intervals through the year.

  15. Your Thanksgiving dinners sound lovely. Ours was incredibly and surprisingly nice. Everyone was involved in the simplified preparation, and the dishes our kids made were better than mine used to be. We had a leisurely dinner with lots of candles and cloth napkins, followed by an extended family Zoom call. Even my prosaic choice of music, Amazon’s TG Dinner playlist, was enjoyed by all.

    Today looks like a nice weather day with no rain.

  16. This is the second time within a few months that I’ve read of a notable woman about my age dying of a heart attack. They seemed so healthy and vibrant, just from what was reported. Welp, today I’m thankful I’m still alive and kicking!

  17. Hope everyone had a good turkey day — ours went off fine as well. We put three separate tables out on the back deck; we also washed all our couch blankets and brought out two heaters, but the almost-70-degree day meant everyone was fine in a sweater (it was probably high 50s by the time we ate — unheard of for late November!). My mom spent the day being the most dramatic about safety and social distancing, and then planted herself at the small table with my FIL, where DH had planned to sit so he wouldn’t be alone. Oh well. She was happy. It was definitely awkward to manage conversations with people 8′-10′ away on both sides, but I think everyone was just happy we were able to find a way to get together at all.

    Turkey was ok; I didn’t take it out of the fridge early enough, and it was still slightly icy on the inside, so I cooked it longer and at a lower temp, but the breast still got way overcooked before the bottom part was done. But that’s what gravy’s for. DD decided that we didn’t have enough food, so she made mac and cheese and cornbread; then my friend brought her world-famous challah (well, it’s famous in *my* world, because it’s awesome). It’s a very good thing that we have the garage fridge, because we would never have fit all the leftovers in one. Another bit of kismet: the 48′ table we had bought to hold the pizza oven and accoutrements was just the right size to serve as an outdoor buffet table. ;-)

    The wine was delicious, too — we had some Alsatian gewurztraminers with the turkey, and then a vendage tardives gewurztraminer or pinot gris (I forget which) with the pie (it’s the dessert wine version — late-harvest, where they let the grapes get shriveled and almost frozen, so the juice is more concentrated). It was nice to open up a few bottles that we had gotten during our trip to the Riesling festival in Ribeauville a few years ago and reminisce about the Before Times when we could do crazy things like travel and sit together at the same table.

    Our pie ratio was somewhat insufficient at 1:4. But they are deep-dish 10″ pies, so we still have a full one left over.

  18. Our pie ratio was too low (1:4) so am making another today. Plus Thanksgiving fell on my and DH’s anniversary, so that’s a great excuse for more pie.

    We had a lovely Thanksgiving day with the kids and FaceTiming with family.

    Now I’m waiting for hotstock alerts on the completely out of stock everywhere items that the boys want for Christmas.

  19. We ate earlier than planned (3 instead of 4) because the turkey got done way before I thought it would – 22 lbs and only 4 hours! But that meant DH and I could take a walk before it got completely dark and we came back for pie. I was able to facetime all the members of my family too, so that was nice. Our pie ratio was 4:11; after the allergic family goes home next week I’ll make a chocolate pecan pie.

  20. We had a nice Thanksgiving. The turkeys got done an hour ahead of time, just as the stuffing went into the oven, so they “rested” a long time. My nephew’s GF is Muslim amped very appreciative of the halal turkey. The stuffings turned out fine. We had a variety of wines, most people brought a bottle and put it on the sideboard to share.

    Although the wind was blowing, the south facing porches were sheltered and warm. The turkey drawing contest worked and my quarantined nephew could join by zoom. Maybe next year we can all be together.

    The pie ratio was about 1:3. We have so much pie left.

    The hardest part was not being able to just invite people to come. In the before times, I had visions of DD1 bringing all her fellow grad students who were too far away to go home. But, for what we could do, it was nice and normalish. My brothers told some of the same stories that always get told. We had some decorations reminiscent of my aunts decorations from our childhood thanksgivings. There was turkey and pie and conversation and laughter.

  21. Cass, that sounds lovely.

    Laura, you mean Eiswein.

    WCE, trimming the branches properly can make an amazing difference. I remember the guy we rented from just shaking his head and telling my husband not to expect any apples, the tree was just too old. Turns out my gardening hubby knew how to trim a tree. I thought he was nuts to chop it back that far, but there was a crazy amount of apples the following summer.

  22. We do holiday dinners at 5:00. I don’t like eating a big meal before a “real” dinnertime, and I figure 5:00 is about as early as you can do dinner.

    Interesting about how hard it seems to be to get the timing right for a roast turkey. The first couple of times I hosted Thanksgiving, I underestimated how much time it would take for the bird to cook; in recent years, I seem to be overestimating, and the bird is done before I thought it would be. What formulas do you all use? My current one is 15 minutes per pound in a 325 degree oven (for an unstuffed bird).

  23. SM: Yes, eiswein is another variant of what we had. “Vendange tardives” literally translates as “late harvest.” Ours was made out of either gewurztraminer or pinot gris grapes, I forget which.

  24. Our pie ratio was 1:4, and I feel like we have too much with one pie, but DH disagrees. He is the bigger pumpkin pie fan obviously. I use it mostly as a vehicle for large amounts of whipped cream. I was going to make a second dessert as well, but I’ll wait till Christmas.

    This was my first time making a whole turkey, and our 13 pounder was done at 350 in just under 3.5 hours, just as expected. My regret is that I covered it with foil at the beginning, and that was a mistake. I should have taken the foil off sooner or covered it with foil after because the breast skin didn’t get dark enough with the foil on too long. I had done a buttermilk brine, and lots of people warned that can make the skin darken too much, but was busy zooming & didn’t watch it carefully enough at the beginning. The meat was pretty good though – flavorful and not dry.

  25. Public Service Announcement: Ooni pizza ovens are on sale 20% off today — shipping after Christmas, though, but the one we got is now $200.

  26. Laura, what can’t you cook in your pizza oven? Other than size, is there any reason you can’t make everything in it that you make in your regular oven?

  27. We had a nice day and we enjoyed a Thanksgiving at home because we didn’t have to deal with traffic. It wasn’t as fun, but it was relaxing since we usually have to strategize abbot when to come/go to Long Island. We did a couple fo zooms so we were able to see new babies and it was fun to catch up with the cousins that we just see once or twice a year. We never have leftovers since we don’t host this holiday and it was really nice to be able to eat the leftovers for lunch. We have plenty for dinner too.

    My mom is stopping by for a visit today and we will sit outside because it is warm for November.
    I am trying to convince DH to make an appointment to look at subarus tomorrow for DD. He doesn’t want to do this because he is convinced that the DMV will cancel road tests and we don’t need a third car now even if she can get her license in Jan.

  28. “My current one is 15 minutes per pound in a 325 degree oven (for an unstuffed bird).”

    I think that’s the same formula I usually use, along with monitoring the pop-up indicator that usually comes on the birds we buy.

    But I usually use the bag method, which effectively steams the bird so I don’t worry about overcooking resulting in dryness. It also makes it easy to collect drippings for gravy. The downside to that method is the skin doesn’t get crispy.

    We didn’t have turkey last night. Instead, we continued DS’ tradition by having a hot pot meal, followed by apple pie. The pie was very good, so much so that DD, who doesn’t usually like apple pie (although she likes apples), enjoyed it.

    We do have a turkey defrosting in the fridge (DW bought it on Wednesday because it was one of the choices for redeeming a reward from the grocery store that she got when she bought stuff for the hot pot) that I’ll cook tomorrow or Sunday, and DS will make stuffing to go with it.

  29. SM: I use it for Neapolitan-style pizza, because my oven doesn’t go to 900. I could fit a cast-iron pan in if I wanted to roast veggies or a steak or something (it’s not tall enough for a hunk o’ meat, although I think some of the larger versions are). But for us for now, it’s a unitasker.

  30. Aaaaaaaaaand the boy’s computer is dead. On the busiest shopping day of the year, just ahead of final exams and 9 days before the warranty expires. What to do? We started the process to send it in, but that includes running diagnostics. There is no way to do them, because it won’t start up at all. So we clicked on “contact us”, obviously. That isn’t helping; it just brings up a little window with a :I face. Not a smiley or a frown, just a straight line. And then nothing happens. There is supposedly a virtual agent, but there is no place to type anything in, and nothing happens. Suggestions, anyone?

  31. Laura, the efficiency we stayed in when we first got here had a smallish-oven in a ~30 sq ft kitchen that said “pizza oven” on it. Nice things about that little guy were that it heated up super fast, and setting the timer to turn off at the end of baking was easy (most ovens have them–pretty sure the one I grew up with did, but I rarely use them, because it’s a pain). I can’t recall trying to do anything in it that wasn’t possible, am trying to figure out why it’s worth it to pay more for a “regular” oven.

  32. Thanksgiving and College Student Update:
    Thanksgiving yesterday we had a turkey tenderloin, which I have never (at least knowingly) had before. It was good, but will try a different recipe next time…the turkey was good, the accompaniments in the same pan just didn’t quite have the flavor I expected. Turkey tenderloin is regularly stocked in our grocery store, so I may have it again at Christmas.

    DD#2 is home and had a negative COVID test earlier in the week as did her boyfriend, so we are back to being in a bubble with his family. We are seeing much less of her, of course.

    DD#1 is still in NY, she comes home this coming Wed. Since the only other day we could have brought her home was this past Wednesday, I am so glad we didn’t as it was the heaviest travel day of the pandemic. She should be scheduled for at COVID test this coming Monday, assuming it will be negative as she has only been around her roommate since their last negative test this past Monday. DD# and roommate made a small Thanksgiving dinner and spent a good deal of time just relaxing and then making more progress on packing stuff to go in storage.

    When I leave for the airport, we all go into our masking around each other, social distancing in the house, DD#2 cannot see her boyfriend until DD#1 gets a negative test here. Then everyone is home until at least Jan. 14.

  33. House Update:
    Our deck (only about a foot off the ground) was rotting and after deciding in August to get it replaced, it was finished on Wednesday. It took a little over a week, but with weather and a delay of material delivery, not bad. Of course, now I need a table and chairs so I can work out there when it is nice.

    Next – and just started – is “sanding” the paint off our concrete patio and getting it back to its original state. The people before us painted it, which looked nice initially, but it is slick when wet, gets moldy fast, and after a couple of years showed what they were trying to cover up with the paint. It may need more work after what is really underneath is revealed. But, so far I am loving it.

    Also in this update, my home office is being repainted. It is the only room that has not been repainted since we moved in. I love the current color, but it feels very dark in here. Since the pandemic I am finding I’d rather be in a lighter room. I am going one shade lighter of the same color. family I am also moving a large mirror to another spot that should allow it to catch light from the window and reflect it back into the room. Of course, all the furniture must move, so this is good excuse for a cleaning and purging day or so in this room.

    We have 2 more big projects – the house needs to be repainted and the half bath is in need of a makeover (wall paper needs to go). The painting should likely happen in 2021, but the half-bath will likely get pushed to 2022.

  34. Happy T-day weekend and Black Friday all!
    Looking for some recommendations from the Totebag crowd on Roomba or other robot vacuums. My mother is in her 80s and in good health, but hasn’t wanted to let her cleaning people in since the pandemic. I was thinking of getting her the Roomba to handle the vacuuming until she is comfortable letting the cleaners back in. So a few questions: does it work? how difficult is it to use? my mother is facile with iPad and her iPhone, but we do end up needing to be her tech support more often then we’d like. I don’t want to give her a gift that ends up being more of a tech headache, than a cleaning help.
    I welcome any thoughts and recommendations.

  35. I’m jealous of all the home renovations described here. We’ve been unable to secure our regular contractor to get work done. First he couldn’t get enough workers since they were collecting generous unemployment, and then he got busy with bigger jobs. Our backup contractor is also unavailable.

    AustinMom – I’m happy both DDs will be home soon, but I’m curious why you’re traveling to bring DD#1 home. I thought it might be a school requirement or is there a bunch of stuff to bring home.

  36. LTL, I’ve posted before that our roomba was a total waste because we had to spend so much time blocking off all the places it gets stuck and moving chairs around to make room for it to get under the dining room table and such. But others here have had much better experiences with it.

    One big consideration is if their home is all one floor or multiple floors.

  37. Rhett is our Roomba expert. I don’t have one because we have a lot of stairs, but my friends with dogs like their Roombas.

  38. Any recommendations for “local” places – sporting goods stores, household goods, BBQ/restaurants – in Houston? A nephew – mid 20s – recently moved there with his GF and I’d like to give him a gift card from a local place he’d find useful.

  39. My only recommendation is to make sure that the gift card is for a place that is near(ish) to their home or office. Houston is a large place and it is like trying to give a kid a gift card to a place on the Upper West side when they live in Astoria or Park Slope. I managed a team in downtown Houston and I traveled there all of the time. I don’t what it is like now, but the traffic used to rival LA.

  40. So a few questions: does it work? how difficult is it to use? my mother is facile with iPad and her iPhone, but we do end up needing to be her tech support more often then we’d like.

    Oh it totally works. The technology is totally different since DD bought his. It uses cameras now so it doesn’t bump into things like it used to.

    In terms of tech support the only issue would be initial setup – getting it logged into wifi, getting it to map the house and defining the rooms in the app.

    It creates the map automatically but you need to tell it what room is what and tell it where one room starts and one room ends.

    After that the app is super simple to use. You just click “new job” and what room you want cleaned. Or you can just click clean all.

    The only concern I’d have is with bending down to empty the bin. It’s super easy and can be rinsed in the sink. I’d want to be sure there aren’t any issues that would wake it a problem.

    Oh and make sure you get one with the new mapping tech I think they still sell one model that works the old way.

  41. So a few questions: does it work? how difficult is it to use? my mother is facile with iPad and her iPhone, but we do end up needing to be her tech support more often then we’d like.

    Oh it totally works. The technology is totally different since DD bought his. It uses cameras now so it doesn’t bump into things like it used to.

    In terms of tech support the only issue would be initial setup – getting it logged into wifi, getting it to map the house and defining the rooms in the app.

    It creates the map automatically but you need to tell it what room is what and tell it where one room starts and one room ends.

    After that the app is super simple to use. You just click “new job” and what room you want cleaned. Or you can just click clean all.

    The only concern I’d have is with bending down to empty the bin. It’s super easy and can be rinsed in the sink. I’d want to be sure there aren’t any issues that would wake it a problem.

    Oh and make sure you get one with the new mapping tech I think they still sell one model that works the old way.

  42. We were notified by the health department that Colorado is going to start vaccinating health care providers in December. We’ll see how it goes.

  43. I am glad everyone’s Thanksgivings were nice & enjoyable. Ours was too. Turkey was done at 230, 5.5hrs of cooking at 325 for a 19lb stuffed bird, The best skin I ever did, and all over the bird, not just the breast side. Gravy was great too, even though I stuck my right sleeve in it on my plate early in dinner. Pie:People 2:5. A vegan peach pie DW made back in peach season and froze and a vegan apple gallette DS2 & GF (who is vegan) made with apples from our tree. Plenty of leftovers.

    @ Lfb…only suggestion: cook the turkey on a rack breast side down until you think there’s ~90 min to go. Then turn it over breast side up for the rest of the cooking. Helps keep the breast meat moist and the bottom part also gets cooked.

  44. LTL, while I have no personal experience with a Roomba, I can relay what a friend related to me. He has two DDs, both of whom have had long hair, as well as his DW whose hair is usually more like shoulder length. His experience was that what killed his Roombas was hair wrapping around the brushes and eventually causing so much resistance against those brushes rotating that the motors burned out.

    However, he liked the Roombas so much that he replaced them. He initially repaired them by replacing the motors, but as the prices came and technology improved he found it made more sense for him to just buy new units.

    We have a Mint, which I believe is no longer made. It was similar to early Roombas in being battery powered units that self guided itself across our floor, but rather than vacuum, it Swiffed (or Swiffered?) the floor using Swiffer sweeper refills. That avoided the issue my friend had with hair killing the brush motor. We were very happy with the Mint, but have gotten out of the habit of using it regularly.

  45. Kerri, I’m not sure what you have in mind, but here are a couple of links.

    For kind of Texas-themed household stuff I’ve gotten gifts at https://manready.com/collections/bar-grill

    For restaurants, I don’t know if churrascarias are unique to Texas but I had never eaten at one before I lived here, and I really like this place. Definitely not a place for vegetarians, though. https://churrascos.com/

    This restaurant has South African food and is also very good. https://www.pelipeli.com/

  46. Kerri, how well do you know his tastes? Since you don’t know where they’re living, you might want to get them something they could use on a weekend or day trip, like to Galveston, South Padre, or San Antonio. Maybe boat or beach gear rental, or a tour of the Alamo.

  47. Thank you, Rhett and Finn and Denver and Lauren!
    Really appreciate your feedback. I ordered her the Roomba and we’ll do the initial set up and hopefully it will work for her…..even if it just bridges her until she is comfortable with the cleaners coming back, that would be worth it.
    Costco had a pretty good deal this weekend. I’ll let you all know how it works out.
    You guys were so helpful and so responsive. I don’t post often, but I am so thankful for you all.

  48. DS1 is working the Boy Scout live Christmas tree fundraiser this year (with DH). Tonight, a gentleman pulled up and said, “I’ve been buying live Christmas trees from this Troop for 40 years and this year, we decided not to get a live tree. But I wanted to support the boys” and gave $40 (~price of tree) to DH.

  49. LTL — Yes, please post more!

    WCE — That’s a heartwarming story. A similar thing happened when our troop was selling wreaths,

    BTW — I highly recommend this for fresh Christmas tree smell. It has more staying power than others I’ve tried. It looks as if Amazon has sold out but the Thymes website still has some in stock. After Christmas I’ll try their other frangrances.

  50. Sad news about Hsieh, who focused on developing a different culture at Zappos than what reigns elsewhere. I wonder what his next big act would’ve been—he retired from Zappos just a few months ago.

  51. Kim posted the other day about a notable woman her age dying of a heart attack. Today in the Boston Globe I read about a notable woman my age (53) who just died of ovarian cancer. She was a prominent cancer researcher at MIT. This is the third instance I can think of of a prominent Boston-area cancer researcher or physician dying young of cancer (breast cancer in the two other cases I’m thinking of). It just seems so unspeakably cruel.


  52. From the obit about Hsieh:

    “At Harvard, he studied computer science and generally tried to do the smallest amount of school work required for decent grades while earning money through computer programming and managing a student diner. He signed up for Mandarin because he already knew how to speak it.”

    A man after Rhett’s own heart.

  53. “He signed up for Mandarin because he already knew how to speak it.”

    I love that! Last night at dinner we were talking about foreign language. DD1 is taking Latin, mainly because she didn’t want to learn to speak French, Spanish, or Mandarin. DH took German because he felt it was the easiest, and with only a handful of languages that speak it, and those countries speak English fluently, he felt that when he would eventually drop it he wouldn’t regret not continuing. I told a story of how the only kids that took German in my school were the jocks and kids that didn’t care about school. The reason being that so many German words are a string of English words strung together (my apologies S&M for the generalization). I got a D on my French 3 final and that was it for me.

  54. Kim. Thanks for the tip. So I ordered two different scents at the Thymes site and used a 15 percent off coupon. Not a good year for real greenery with a kitten who will nibble on *everything*.

  55. Lemon Tree, that is spot on! Only thing I’d change is that the words strung together sometimes seem to be Old English. It is like the space bar is broken.

  56. @Lemon – That cracks me up! DS hates foreign language (he takes Spanish – the other choice was Mandarin which he deemed way too hard). He says in HS he will take Latin because it’s a dead language, and he won’t have to speak it. OK. Of course, I did think “well that will be good for the SAT”.

    I liked taking French, but I dropped after getting my worst college grade in French Literature. IT was my worst nightmare – reading a bunch of poetry and discussing the symbolism and meaning in flowery language. In French. MEH. I don’t know why I took that class because I had already almost immediately dropped the English version of the class. But that was the end of my French minor.

  57. I loved this bit from the obit.

    His SAT training began in sixth grade. His parents also required him to take piano and violin lessons. To make them think he was practicing, he recorded practice sessions and played them back early on weekend mornings.

  58. My dad took Russian in college because he asked around and people said if you had a certain teacher it was the easiest language to take to. He ended up having the teacher for all four semesters and bribed him with cigars, so he got Bs every semester even though he could barely speak a word of Russian.

  59. College update: DD is 90% set on joining Cass’ DS at MSU. She still wants to visit Oregon State to see if that sways here. NAU is out.

    DS picked up the PS5 at Walmart this morning. His late birthday and early Christmas present.

  60. How nice to have the college situation mostly decided, DD!

    And congrats on the PS5. I don’t play video games so I don’t get it, but I read in the media about how this thing is a huge big deal.

  61. DD, I thought of you and your DS in an electronics store the other day as we walked past a stack of PS5 accessories and PS4 stations. There wasn’t a PS5 console in sight.

  62. Tony Hseih is awesome!! I also have been a long time fan of Zappos – most helpful customer service ever. And you always feel like you are talking to a real person, not a bot or someone in an international call center. Amazon hasn’t even ruined it just yet like they have Whole Foods!

  63. Kim – We are not traveling to bring DD#1 home. I don’t know if it is a my family thing, or a Texas thing, but “bring home” does not necessarily mean physically…paying for her to come home, arranging her travel to come home, etc. all fall into the generic “bring her home”. You are the second person to point this out recently, so now I am wondering about that phrase.

  64. Decrapifying – A term coined by a friend who felt that decluttering just didn’t embody what was going on. Friday/Saturday/today, I am decrapifying my home office to be ready for the painter to come tomorrow. Most of my deceased parents’ papers and photos live under the guest room bed and they had to be moved. I went through two boxes of papers (the third box is smaller and just income tax returns) and got them down to one. I might have gotten it down more, but it was down to things that required reading each page. It felt good to let that go.

    Friday we ordered a new Christmas tree – led lights and 6.5 feet (down a foot) and about 18 inches narrower at the base. It should be here Wednesday. I put 2 older trees on our local buy nothing page (one lit and one unlit), I realize some people have put their name on both, but it has been 90 minutes and each post has more than 10 people interested. The site’s pattern is to give a post at least 6 hours and then draw if there is a lot of interest. I will be drawing tonight and hopefully these will both be gone by Wednesday.

  65. Austin, I assumed you meant that safety precautions would begin when you left your house to pick her up at the airport; I had to think an extra beat to figure out how else your statement could be understood.

  66. S&M – Ah…a kindred spirit! Apparently, this usage is not common, though I didn’t realize it until the past few months.

  67. Rocky, I’m sorry to hear that. If I’m remembering correctly, the only surprise connected to her getting it is that it took this long, remembering what you said about the shin dig over the summer. Is that correct?

  68. Well, she does see her two daughters and a couple of granddaughters regularly. Over Thanksgiving it was just MIL, FIL, and their oldest daughter. Oldest daughter is a pharmacist and now has to carefully self-monitor, although they told her to keep coming in to work.

  69. RMS, I hope your MIL’s case stays mild, and she doesn’t give it to anyone else.

    Does she have an oximeter? Last time I checked, a lot of sellers had them in stock again. If she doesn’t have one, perhaps you could buy one and have it shipped to her.

  70. Austin, I’ve never heard that usage of “bring home” either.

    RMS, I hope she stays ok.

  71. Best wishes to your MIL, Rocky.

    DS is scheduled to take the SAT on Saturday. There weren’t many places offering it, but I found him a seat at a high school about half an hour away. I am crossing my fingers that they don’t cancel the test. They might, because Covid numbers in Massachusetts are going up, and I expect they will continue to do so this week. We have received a couple of emails from the College Board telling us to check their website every day up to and including the morning of the test, in case they decide to cancel.

  72. RMS – glad your MILs case seems mild.

    My parents receive news of deaths of their friends and acquaintances almost every day. It’s not all Covid. There were people in their 90s that died this year plus people with prolonged illness that passed away. It’s the cumulative of all this.

  73. AustinMom, interesting now that I reread your comment I see how I misunderstood.

    RMS — I hope your MIL makes a speedy and full recovery.

    I can’t help myself. I feel a strong urge to shop today. This might be a gift idea for a college student or for anyone who likes popcorn.

  74. Kim, that is a cute gift idea. Once again, I find myself spending a lot of money today and it is all about me!

    I couldn’t figure out what to buy my SIL for her bday (today)so I am going to drive to a nearby bakery and drop off some treats and a card. How many times can I give jewelry, make up, moisturizers, candles etc?? I am running out of ideas for people like my step mom, SIL etc. Event gifts like spas, dinners and shows are out right now, so I am limited to “stuff” and it is repetitive.

  75. I’m thinking gift cards for streaming services might be a pandemic friendly experience gift. Just enough CBS All Access for my kids to watch Survivor: David vs. Goliath, without them getting billed every month once they are done. Just enough Disney Plus for my niece to watch Hamilton a few times, and perhaps the Mandelorian.

  76. I spent a lot of time looking at recipes for holiday treats and buying ingredients and pans/bowls for making these. I had to think hard before I bought because last year, I got rid of kitchen items I hadn’t used in ages.

  77. Not feeling the energy today.

    As we plopped onto our family room sofa last evening after dinner DW said what I was thinking “nice to have 4/5 days off in a row, but not like they were really relaxing between the T-day prep followed immediately by the change of seasons from fall to Christmas, and having 2 of 3 kids home and a GF (around whom DW is still obviously (to me) trying to make a good impression).” In her case it’s compounded by the fact she’s leaving today to go see her folks and go into world headquarters of the business she and her sister run through the week.

    Difficult for me to get out of bed today. I did, but when it came to getting dressed even putting my usual jeans on was too much effort. So today is a sweats day. I still have a bunch of office things to get done; my pants choice won’t impact that.

    Rocky – I am sorry to hear about your MIL and I’m glad her symptoms are mild.

    We did some gift shopping or at least deciding last night:
    – DS2: a gift card to Weathertech so he can get fitted winter mats for his new-to-him Honda CRV
    – DS3: some sweatpants, LLBean Wicked Good (r) slippers
    – All: Hess Trucks. DS1 actually asked if we were planning on getting those for them this year. (A really big deal when we started getting them in 2000, now just a family tradition).
    – Our folks (both sets): some kind of 3-month fruit-of-the-month club. Likely thefruitcompany.com. If you have any that you’ve used and liked I’m all ears.

  78. Today marks the end of the first 20% of the snowplowing season (my contract runs Nov 1 – March 31). Thus far, zero value for my money. Typical. I don’t even have my driveway stakes in the ground yet; probably a Saturday chore. And I just put the winter mats in DW’s car this morning; I’ll do mine before I go to the gym tonight.*

    *stupid of me to go tonight. Monday is always the busiest day of the week + today is right after a holiday. But, like the others, I need it.

  79. We were supposed to go to my parents for Thanksgiving, but I had developed a couple of concerning symptoms, and I couldn’t find a rapid test in time, so we decided to stay home. We ordered two smoked turkey breasts, and I did Walmart curbside pickup for everything else I needed to make a standard dinner. Except Walmart was all out of stuffing mix, so I got that from Cracker Barrel. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but they sold me cornbread dressing mixture that was part of their Thanksgiving In A Box to go kit, with the instructions to add a quart of stock and bake. I did that, along with a pound of Italian sausage, and it was good. The kids said the turkey breasts from Honey Baked Ham was the best Thanksgiving turkey they’ve ever had. We set up an iPad on the back of a chair on Facetime and ate dinner “with” my in-laws (my brother and his family were at my parents’, but in laws would have otherwise been alone).

    Friday morning my lab test was posted to the new portal as “negative,” so we made new plans with my parents for the next day. Meanwhile, I blew all the leaves from the yard and paid the kids to do another deep cleaning of the house in preparation for Christmas decorating. We put the tree up Friday afternoon and watched Christmas Vacation that night.

    Saturday morning we met my parents’ in one of the numerous small historic downtowns that have transformed into affluent havens for Washingtonian second home buyers, and did some Christmas shopping. I packed a folding table, seven camp chairs, a cooler with wine, seltzer, and Cokes, and a tray of brownies, so we were able to have a kind of picnic tailgate lunch (minus the football) with takeout hot sandwiches. (I knew it would otherwise be impossible to get any outdoor table for seven at one of the many little restaurants, and this worked out well.) I let my dad drive my new car (he has the same model, but the previous year there was no hybrid option, so he wanted to compare). I told him that if he wanted to buy one, wait three years and I’ll buy his current model from him for my kids.

    Saturday night we watched the Christmas Chronicles 2 on Netflix. Sunday we didn’t do much. We put up the outside decorations, but a bunch of the light strands were broken, and my middle child decided that we should string lights along the entire length of the period split rail fencing that I installed earlier this year, so I bought 3,000 more lights at Walmart last night. They’re going to install them on Wednesday, their next “asynchronous learning” day.

    I’m working from home today. With rising case numbers, my company is pushing more of that when possible. The kids are at in-person school today and tomorrow — I drove them. This is the first day that DW and I have been alone in the house in nine months.

  80. RMS – That Formula 1 crash was amazing, and he was in the car for a over 10 seconds before he walked away. In college I had a professor who was involved in creating the Halo (the neck brace all race car drivers wear). In this crash, not only did he not break his neck, but he didn’t burn to death. It really is cheating death.

  81. I put up all the indoor decorations on Friday, and DH and I got the light balls up finally on Saturday after BIL, SIL, and their kids left. One of their kids is definitely not neurotypical – they don’t really have a good diagnosis, but it is EXHAUSTING being around a kid who is never not talking and also thunders like an elephant around the house constantly. Much quieter after they left! I need to order a couple of outlet timers for the column lights and outdoor outlet on the front of the house, and more extension cords since there is only that one working outlet on the front of the house, and then I can get the rest of the lights up on the bushes. We didn’t get to the Christmas tree since first we need to locate the plastic sheeting in the basement, but that is the next project.

  82. My one kid is remote for a week after a rash of Covid cases pre Thanksgiving. All this while it was trickle, suddenly it was a flood and they hit their remote learning metric. Other kid is hybrid for a week. The thinking is that the pre holiday and holiday related cases will have been exposed by then. My thinking is that it will settle down in Jan. I think some of it may have to do with college aged siblings coming home.

  83. I forgot to mention…all the outside lights I put up ~2 weeks ago work perfectly (so far, knock on wood, etc)!

    We are going with only a fake tree this year for the second year in a row. I imagine this is one aspect of our new normal. I said to DW that I’d be fine with a real tree in the family room too like we’ve done for a long time, but we should make it smaller (which = 7-8′ for us). She said it’d be too much effort. Fine by me as I do the selection, standing it up, putting 1000 lights on it, almost all the ornaments. And the reverse on January 7-8-9 since she likes to keep it up till Little Christmas but have it all away by my b’day (10th).

  84. Our “exciting” news is that DS’ school is canceled at least through tomorrow due to the ransomware attack on the school system last week. He says it feels like summer, except for the weather and the inability to do anything.

    I had to work all day Friday, which was annoying — was really looking forward to those 4 days off in a row — but am now down to the last section on the transom I am making, and I think DH and I just worked through the idea for the sidelights last night. Still have to convert that idea into an actual pattern, which will take forever, but I want to be in a position where I can finish everything by Christmas break, since we’ll be at home with nothing to do.

  85. I too have been shopping a lot in the past few days. DD2 left behind her high end chefs knife, so I bought her a new one and kept hers since I “needed” one. Kim’s suggested scent diffuser. A warm hoodie/tunic from sharper image for perpetually cold DH. Stocking up on future replacements of things that appear to be discontinued. More ebay replacement pieces for my everyday china that was made for two years only circa 1998. New handmade salt n pepper mills after cat broke mine. Fancy green loose tea and specialty coffee. 2 pair of fleece leggings, tx Totebag. More wine.

  86. Fred, I empathize with your morning! That is all too familiar. I hope your routine and toes to other people pull you through the day.

    Meme, I wound up buying more during “Black week” as they’ve started calling it here, and now on cyber Monday. Presents for my sisters, but also long Johns for my son (he has an “athletic” build, so we are still searching for some that fit his large quads (inherited from me),layering tops for me, other equally “thrilling” (ie absolutely bring) items. I’m nearly done gift shopping. Still would like to find something for my son, but he’ll be fine if I don’t, as long as we get to travel, and if we go, I’ll need to figure out Mitbringsel for two friends.

  87. I put a modest amount of lights up at the new place, and we put up our tree. It is looking fairly festive!

    We no longer have a fireplace, so I’m pondering where I should put the stockings. What do others do? Or does everyone have a fireplace?

    I did a bit of Black Friday shopping, but not much. A few upgrades to my WFH winter wardrobe. We have all of DS’s presents ordered – some delivered.

  88. Lauren, do any of your relatives like crafting? I just sent Diamond Dotz from Joann to my stepmom because my MIL likes doing them.

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