Saturday, November 26, 2011

Give Thanks.

As most of you know, there's an abundance of things for the Marquez family to give thanks for. And we do.

This  was our fourth Thanksgiving since Nic's accident. The first year, she was still an in-patient at Methodist Rehab, and she had to get a day pass to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. Jacqui Katool hosted it at her home, and Nicole enjoyed dinner while sitting in a wheelchair.

The next year, she was home, and we had dinner at our house. It was a joyful day!

Last year, I hit the wall. Exhausted. My strategy for Thanksgiving dinner was to keep my mouth shut and hope someone would invite us to their house. It worked! We had dinner around my parents' dining room table!

But this year was different.

I acquired a 10' long rustic farm table and that started a chain of totally rearranging my house! My tiny dining room is only 10' x 10', so that wasn't an option. I had to put it in our den, which meant moving furniture around, or even out. But it was important enough to do, as it meant that my entire family could sit at one table for Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving was picture perfect...the weather could not have been better. The day started with brunch, which disappeared pretty fast.

 Classic Breakfast Casserole is a family favorite, and a Thanksgiving tradition, usually eaten during the Macy's Parade, but as children have grown older, if they parade hasn't been Tivo'd, that doesn't happen any more.

Even though I cooked all day Wednesday, I still had some last minute things to make the pumpkin pies.
Soon, the table was set...

Before long, the table was surrounded with family. The Marquez's on one sister's family, The Jordans, on the other, with my parents sitting at either end.
I sat across the table from Matthew and Sarah.

My plate was filled way to full...
Yet, fifteen minutes later, it looked like this:
While my niece, Lauren, and brother-in-law Bob had an after-dinner snooze...
Sarah and I washed dishes...and washed dishes...and washed dishes....

Then we stuffed the leftovers into the fridge...
And of course, while we cleaned, the guys watched football. Two of Joe's best buds, Phillip Norton and Micah Pellerin, stopped in to watch whatever big game was being played...
Those are Joe's hairy legs stretched out on the ottoman. Joe graduated high school with Phil and Micah, and they are all still great friends. (Kudos to Micah, who is a first-round draft pick for the NFL!!!) Larry loved having all the guys over, too. He's just happy when he's with his "babies." 

It seems like every year there is more and more to be Thankful for. Joe is leaving December 6 to go to Los Angeles for what could be the opportunity of a lifetime (stay tuned!). Nicole's motivational speaking career is taking off and she continues to grow stronger every day. Larry and I are fat and happy and in good health. And our extended family is doing well. The list of blessings we have is long. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Orange You Glad it's FALL??!!

Fall is my favorite time of year, hands down. Perfect weather--right when we thought we couldn't take another hot and humid Mississippi day, the weather has turned cool, making it a great time to take a walk, dine outdoors and enjoy doing just about anything without sweating!

One of the things I like most about fall is the colors: reds, golds, bronzes, yellows and ORANGE, which is one of my favorites. I've heard tell that orange is the color of insanity. Well, call me crazy, but it's one of my favorites, and there's plenty of orange just about everywhere you look this time of year.

Huge pallets of bright orange pumpkins stop customers just inside the doors of every supermarket. Pumpkin patches appear at fruit stands and church lawns. Pumpkins for baking, carving and decorating. I love them all, even those that aren't orange (since when did white or green pumpkins become a part of this season?)

Orange mums add a splash of color to front porches and the leaves are starting (trying!) to turn shades of orange, red and gold. 

Inspired by the season, I brightened up my hair a bit (rather, Crystal Williams at Social Agenda Salon in Fondren did it!). The initial result was amazingly neon. I'm talking hair so bright orange that pumpkins everywhere would be jealous. After a moment of shock, Crystal quickly regrouped, squirted some toner all over my head and voila! A lovely head of gloriously bronze hair, perfect for the season!

I really just love all things pumpkin...from pumpkin pie to one of my favorite seasonal beverages;
Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale...kinda sweet, kinda spicy, very smooth.
Another fun orange treat is candy corn. CBS Sunday Morning did an entire segment on candy corn recently. While good on their own, my favorite way to eat them is mixed with equal parts of roasted, salted peanuts. Eaten together, it's the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Kind of like eating a PayDay candy bar.

If you'd like to see lots of ORANGE, head down highway 49 south and stop in at Donna's #6 Produce. It's on the right, just outside of Florence. It's a "you can't miss it" kind of place.
I recently set up their Facebook page and I'll be updating the content a few times a week. I went down to meet Donna and tour the place and wow! Was I ever surprised! It's a treasure chest full of not only fabulous produce, but homemade ice cream and fudge, pumpkin rolls (incredible!), preserves, syrups, jellies, sauces and more--all made on site, and an incredible gift department. And this time of year, everywhere you look it's orange: There are Vardaman sweet potatoes, pumpkins, satsumas...Please go to their Facebook page and "Like" it!

They say it's going to be a long winter, so don't let this beautiful fall weather pass you by. Get out and enjoy a jig if you feel like it...if someone calls you insane, just tell 'em the orange did it!

Blessings to all who read this!