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Tips For an Easier and Tastier Thanksgiving

I’m going to come right out and say it: planning and cooking a traditional Thanksgiving feast is not easy. It’s a challenge, to say the least. Few people have the sort of kitchens that can store and cook all the food required in one go, let alone sufficient helping hands. There are things in that traditional menu that very, very few of us cook at any point in the rest of the year. After all, when else do most people roast a turkey or make a pie? Yes, I do make pie pretty regularly, but that turkey? Not so much. That’s a big honking bird to cook for two people, which is how many eat here in one go maximum most of the year. Heck, my mother had a husband, three hungry kids, and usually at least one friend of someone in the family at that dinner table most nights, and turkey was still a once a year thing.

So let’s talk about a few ways you can make your life easier if you choose to take on making a more or less standard, traditional Thanksgiving meal for you and yours. After all, you want the energy to enjoy what you have wrought when you sit down to eat. Landing face first in the mashed potatoes from exhaustion and frustration does not make for a fun holiday for anyone.

So what can you do to make sure you’re in good shape to celebrate? What can you do to make unfamiliar dishes taste like you’re a pro at cooking them?

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Take Care of Your Emotional Health on Thanksgiving

It’s a fact. Not all families are created equal. Some of us are lucky enough to have families that welcome and embrace us during the holidays… and others of us spend this time of year being emotionally beaten up by our nearest and dearest.

Over the years, I’ve read harrowing tales on this site from awesome Big Girls who are expected to cook the Thanksgiving feast and then berated for every bite they dare to eat. I’ve read of others who spend the holidays in a constant round of being given diet tips by all their relatives, their spouses, and their closest friends. I’ve read about the folks who wheedle invitations to dinner and then complain about the cooking, the choice of menu, and the decor. I’ve read about families grimly sitting down to a traditional meal that took days and huge amounts of money to create, but that nobody actually enjoys eating. And I’ve read about families who take this holiday dedicated to gratitude and turn it into a chance to object vociferously to the size, body art, hair color, clothing choices, sexuality, relationships, child-rearing plans and/or skills, careers, and literary taste of everyone else at the table.

If this in any way describes your Thanksgiving guest list (or the Thanksgiving you’ve been invited to partake in), it’s time to rethink your holiday plans.

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How To Compose a Thanksgiving Menu

This is a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, cranberries, pie, gravy, seasonal vegetable medley… it’s a meal that many people look forward to every year.

It’s also one that many people dread every year. In this case, I’m not talking about the company, because that will be another article. As per usual, I’ll spend the weekends leading up to Thanksgiving (here in USAnia, anyway) talking about different aspects of Thanksgiving, very much including the emotional ones. But today, I’m just talking menu planning.

You see, no matter how traditional or un you plan to be, the meal needs planning in advance. So let’s break it down and figure out how to figure out what to serve your nearest and dearest for the holiday.

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You Don’t Have My Consent

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt said a lot of great things in her life. Here’s my personal favorite:

No one can make you inferior without your consent.

There are a lot of people out there determined to make me inferior. Why? Because they want to charge me extra for goods and services, sell me diet plans and surgery, or just find someone to feel superior to themselves. Well, I’m sorry for them. It ain’t gonna work.

You see, I don’t consent.

I am not inferior.

I am not superior.

I am equal.

I deserve to be treated well just as much as any other person.

My body is not a problem to be solved or a platform for someone else’s fearmongering. It’s just my body. It does what it does, does not do what it does not do, and is very much okay precisely as it is.

Fat, night blindness, occasional ingrown toenail and all, I am equal.

Nobody has my consent to make me less than I am.

I don’t say it’s always easy. There are a lot of people out there determined to take my consent and yours by force. But do your best not to let them have your consent, either.

Because you know what? They don’t deserve it.

And if you need another quote to get you through, you can always remember what this plucky young lady said to a very sexy goblin king:

You have no power over me.

 

Support Your Fellow Big Girl! Cabiria Style

So. I am always, always hearing my plus size sisters complaining they can’t get Nice Things To Wear, that it’s all terribly constructed sweat shop rags with glitter and tragic silkscreens and those dreaded flaccid ruffles.

Well, time to put your money where your mouth is. You want variety? You want high-quality, ethically made garments? You want clothes that are constructed as well as any top notch straight-sized line? Here you go.


Support award-winning designer Eden Miller get her Cabiria Style line into stores.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I probably wouldn’t wear any of these dresses, with perhaps the exception of the silk jersey Valentina, but that’s just because this collection’s particular variety of whimsy isn’t one to which I’m typically drawn.

I would serve this so hard Venus Williams would blush

I’m going to support Eden not because I love what she’s offering today, but because I want to see what she’ll do next season and the season after that (maybe something with more of a sleeve? Please? Not everyone wants to jam out with their hams out. Also, if you don’t tell me where you got those emerald green cowboy boots I will die a thousand deaths and then never be able to buy your collection.)

Where DID she get those boots?

Since there seems to be a whole lotta Fellini happening in and around Cabiria Style (Nights of Cabiria, my second favorite Fellini flick, inspired the line’s name), I’m going to guess the Valentina dress is named after the luminous Valentina Cortese, who is featured prominently in my favorite Fellini film, Juliet of the Spirits.

Self Praise and other Endangered Species

“If you’re pretty, you’re pretty. If you’re not, what’s the harm in believing you are?”

That’s the response I had to Kate from Eat the Damn Cake’s post about not apologizing for liking your looks.

Seems Kate, and many women like her, can’t pay themselves a compliment on their appearance without burying it in a pack of negative qualifiers for fear of appearing arrogant, because apparently owning a reflective surface and at least one functional eye is arrogant now.

Allow me a world-weary sigh.

People are always going to make fun of you, to dislike you or criticize you or just generally be Not One of Your Fans. Always. We don’t need to help them along.

I remember last year when I visited my grandmother. She rattled off an impressively comprehensive list of my faults, both real and perceived, in chronological order starting shortly after I embedded myself in the womb. The finale was a rather spectacular rendition of What Everybody Really Thinks of You (feat. I’m Telling You For Your Own Good) which was in no way hampered by the fact that aside from an awkward dinner once every three years we don’t actually know any of the same people.

At the end of the litany I surprised both of us by saying “Well, I’m sort of okay with that.”

She was aghast.

But that means I’m not 100% invested in whether every person in the universe thinks I’m perfect. How unladylike!

For a woman, self-acceptance is civil disobedience.

The powers that be (society/media/your chain smoking grandmother) throw us under the bus for fun and profit. We don’t need to make it easier.

I’m not saying burn your bras and grow swaying veldts of body hair (although you can if you want) but maybe do all those beauty routines for our own enjoyment instead of playing some Barbie Dream Shell Game where we have to “minimize flaws” so…so what, exactly? So guys will want to have sex with us?

Is it hard to get a guy to want to have sex with you?

I see plain people with children All.The.Time. SOMEONE’S rolling their stromboli and since I’m not sure Hump the Homely has achieved its 501(c)(3) status quite yet, I don’t think they’re doing it for the tax write-off.

Or maybe it’s to get a man to –oh prize of prizes– put a ring on it?

If you can bake a cupcake and lift your soft palate, you can get a husband.

Maybe not one worth having, but, as my internet friend once said, “There’s a Sigfried for every Roy.”

I think my record has established I am an absolutely horrible person, entirely unfit for human companionship. Just ask my grandmother. Now that it rarely tops 80 or dips below 70, even my dog stays outside most of the day. But even if you exclude the drunk, the Irish and the mentally ill, I’ve still had more than half a dozen marriage proposals in my life and my cupcakes aren’t that good.

Finding someone to love and who loves you with all your intricacies, physical ones too, is a blessing, and it’s one we can bestow upon ourselves. So give yourself a compliment, leave out the qualifiers and just get on with it. After all, as Saint RuPaul of Charles says: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?

Doing Your Homework Is Important

This is actually much, much prettier than the situation earlier in the week at Casa Twistie.

But let’s get a little background first.

When Mama-san Twistie died and we inherited the house, we also inherited Mama-san Twistie’s avocado green thirty-year-old fridge. I hated it. But it worked, and we didn’t have a lot of money to waste, so we kept it. After about four years, it finally bit the dust, and I did a little jig of delight at the thought of getting a refrigerator that wasn’t a decorator color from my long lost childhood.

Unfortunately, when a fridge dies there is little time to consider the options well. Mr. Twistie and I headed off to a Big Retailer That Carries Refrigeration Units, and pointed at the first one we thought would fit our kitchen made by a manufacturer who had been famed for years for their reliability.

Alas! Ten minutes’ research would have informed us that that once reliable manufacturer had become a well-known appliance puppy mill. We started having problems with it almost immediately.

Friends, that fridge has been through three motors in six years. And we didn’t opt for the extended warranty. Silly Twisties!

Earlier this week was the final straw. I woke to find that when I pulled my butter from the fridge to spread on my toast… it didn’t need even a nanosecond to warm up to spreadability. In point of fact, it was kind of melty already. For reasons passing all understanding, the freezer part was still doing just fine, though.

And that, my friends, is what we call the Last Straw. This camel was officially broken. I called Mr. Twistie at work and informed him we were going refrigerator shopping when he got home from work.

This time, though, I got online and did my homework. I checked out what Consumer Reports had to say about various models… including who is doing the actual manufacturing of lines. I read customer reviews. We found that these days Kenmore is made by Frigidaire, who has a good current reputation for reliability… but the Kenmore models have lower price tags.

So yes, it’s a Kenmore. It’s white. It’s basic. It doesn’t have an ice maker because we didn’t want one. It would be a pain to run water to where our fridge is and it’s one more thing to break. We wanted basic, simple, not too big, and reasonably reliable.

What was the thing that put us over the top for this particular fridge? Well, the 20% off sale was certainly a factor, as was the fact that Sears would haul away and recycle the old, dead fridge for ten smackers extra. But what did it was when I started reading reviews by people who had been living with that fridge. Sure there were dozens of people who had written their reviews in the first six months of owning it, and they were helpful. But the real test was that there were reviews from people who had owned one just like this for four, five, eight, even eleven years who wrote in to say they would buy the same one over again.

And that is why research is important. That’s the information you need. When making a major purchase like a basic appliance, a home, or a car, you want to talk to people (or at least read what they have to say!) who have lived with the item or in the neighborhood for a while. Double check where it comes from.

It never occurred to me that a refrigerator would die in six years… let alone four times! Now I’m older, wiser, waryer, and better at finding the info I need.

All the same, this time I jumped at the extended warranty. Now even if this one does turn out to bark as much as the old one, for the next five years, it will all be taken care of without further money coming out of my pocket.

Do your homework. Stay safe and sane.

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