The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

2016 Giftmas Blog Tour

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever by Kara Reynolds

People have strong, emotion-filled memories associated with the holidays, especially with the food we eat at those special times. It’s why I make sweet potato casserole every Thanksgiving—it’s my mom’s recipe, and making it reminds me of her. Every time I add a full cup of sugar instead of three-quarters of a cup I laugh inwardly as I imagine her cringing at how much delicious sugar goes into the dish. I am sure (I hope, anyway) that you have similar fond memories of holiday food.

For the first Thanksgiving that my husband and I spent together (before we got married), we went to visit my family on the East Coast. For weeks leading up to our trip, I regaled him with stories of my family and different holidays we’d spent together. I think my nostalgia started to make him miss his own family, because a few days before we left he suggested we eat dinner at a Country Buffet, like his family used to do when he was a kid. As buffets go, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either. I couldn’t wait to get home and eat my grandma’s food.

Later that night, my husband starting having stomach cramps. He spent the night on the couch in my living room. When I came back upstairs in the morning to check on him, he was in the bathroom. He had full-blown food poisoning, and it was kicking his butt. I helped clean up the mess (from both ends, people. It was BAD).

He recovered enough by the time we had to fly out, so we went on our trip. My dad’s family picked us up in Baltimore and took us to my aunt’s house in Pennsylvania. By the time we got there, my stomach was starting to gurgle…

I spent the next two days on the toilet at my aunt’s house, while my sister laughed her head off at me every time she walked down the hall and heard me spewing into the commode. My poor husband spent those days making small talk with my family, who he’d just met, and force-feeding me Gatorade.

It was a terrible trip, but I have fond memories of it because that was the week I realized I wanted to marry my husband. Because I could clean up his bodily fluids (and he mine) without being repulsed, it was clear to me that we truly cared about each other.

We’ve had nine Thanksgivings since then, and every time we sit down to eat we share a grin and remind each other how thankful we are that we can actually eat the meal that year—and that we’re thankful that we’re eating it together.

 

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Kara Reynolds is a stay-at-home mom of three who likes to spend her nearly-non-existent free time writing novels. Her weaknesses include James T. Kirk, lightsabers, and anything TARDIS-blue. She writes contemporary and light speculative YA novels. She is clearly a gigantic nerd, and if she could go back in time, she would tell her teenage self to embrace her inner geekiness. While Kara lives in Wyoming, she is not of Wyoming. But it’s growing on her.

Kara blogs about writing every week at Operation Awesome (http://operationawesome6.blogspot.com). You can follow her on Twitter @reynoldstribe.

 


Edmonton food bank. If you haven’t already, please click here  and donate to help feed a family this month — whether it’s a dollar, ten or more every little bit helps! And, as a bonus, all these donations are in Canadian dollars so if you are American, for example, your $10 donation might only cost you $8 (I don’t know the exact exchange rate). Also, if you use PayPal to donate they will add 1% to your donation. Once you’ve donated come back to enjoy the recipe I have to share and enter my rafflecopter to win a cozy prize!

 

Thank you so much for helping!

And if you can’t help monetarily, there is still something you can do — help us spread the word about this fundraiser. As with donations, every little bit — every tweet or Facebook share — helps. We can’t reach our fundraising goal without you!

To thank you for all your help I’m also hosting a giveaway. The winner will get a cozy crocheted throw (homemade by me!) in whatever colour(s) they choose. I will ship it anywhere in the world, and though the odds favour those people who donate to the fundraiser (even $1!), you can also earn entries by tweeting about the giveaway or just by showing up because everyone gets one free entry as my gift to you 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13% of the way there…

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Thank you, thank you!

Because of your generosity we’ve raised $66 for the Edmonton Food Bank — that’s just over 13% of the way to our goal!

The Food Bank was in touch with me yesterday and they said that they can turn every dollar that is donated into three meals for hungry people.

$1 = 3 meals!
If you can spare enough to provide three meals to hungry people in Edmonton this month, they — and I — would really appreciate it.

Go here now to help

And then enter the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But wait! There’s more!

Mine is far from the only blog involved in this tour. Check out some of the other Giftmas Blog posts I’ve come across today 🙂

Christmas Baking and Gingerbread Bloodshed with Stephanie A. Cain from Tiffany Michelle Brown

Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave) from Beth Cato

Food, Glorious Food! from Eileen Bell

Giftmas Tour 2016 from Pamela Q. Fernandes

Christmas Lunch with Pamela Q. Fernandes hosted by Barbara Tomporowski

I’m thinking about adding something to the Rafflecopter if we reach say, 20 donors, and something else once we reach $250 (or half our goal). I’m kind of stumped as to what to add though. What would you like to see? Books? Crafty things? Critiques? Gimme a shout and let me know what you’re thinking.

giftmastourschedule

 

 

2016 Giftmas Blog Tour

Money was tight when I was a kid–for several years my mom was raising three of us on a waitress’s salary and you’ve gotta know that wasn’t easy (I talked about it a bit here). Things are better for me these days, but not everyone is so lucky:

“In the wake of the plunging global price of oil, Edmonton’s unemployment rate grew from 4.9% in March 2014 to 6.9% in March 2016. This translated to a massive 31% increase in food bank use in the city. Edmonton is not alone… What sets Edmonton apart is the thousands of people who flocked to the city in May to escape the wildfires further north. This short-term crisis and dislocation, combined with a severe lack of affordable housing and an inadequate safety net for jobless Albertans, have pushed the city’s charitable sector to the limits.”

[Source: http://bit.ly/2gdzODj ]

I want to help. So this year my annual Giftmas Blog Tour is going to be food-centric and raise money to help the Edmonton food bank. Myself and a handful of awesome women have come together to share recipes and raise money to help feed hungry families this season.

Please click here or on the image below and donate to help feed a family this month — whether it’s a dollar, ten or more every little bit helps! And, as a bonus, all these donations are in Canadian dollars so if you are American, for example, your $10 donation might only cost you $8 (I don’t know the exact exchange rate). Also, if you use PayPal to donate they will add 1% to your donation. Once you’ve donated come back to enjoy the recipe I have to share and enter my rafflecopter to win a cozy prize!

giftmas-1

Thank you so much for helping!

And if you can’t help monetarily, there is still something you can do — help us spread the word about this fundraiser. As with donations, every little bit — every tweet or Facebook share — helps. We can’t reach our fundraising goal without you!

To thank you for all your help I’m also hosting a giveaway. The winner will get a cozy crocheted throw (homemade by me!) in whatever colour(s) they choose. I will ship it anywhere in the world, and though the odds favour those people who donate to the fundraiser (even $1!), you can also earn entries by tweeting about the giveaway or just by showing up because everyone gets one free entry as my gift to you 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now, the recipe 🙂

2016-giftmas-blog-tour

 

Butter tarts are a thing my family takes very seriously. My grandmother’s in particular are kinda famous — no really. My grandmother used to run a the Northside Restaurant in Nanton, which is a small town about an hour out of Calgary.

Once, when my mother was in the hospital in Calgary my grandmother came up to visit her and brought her butter tarts. After my grandmother had left the nurse came in to check on my mother, saw the butter tarts and said, “Oh, those look just like the butter tarts from the Northside Restaurant in Nanton — have you ever had them?”

After Mom stopped laughing she and the nurse chatted about them — it seemed the nurse and her husband would always stop at the Northside anytime they went anywhere near Nanton just for the butter tarts.

…or so the family legend says 😉

This recipe isn’t my grandmother’s, it’s my mother’s. I thought about sharing Grammy’s but figured that might be more than my life is worth… and besides, Christmas really makes me think a lot about my mom (who died a few years ago now). She was never actually a big fan of Christmas, but she faked it pretty well for the sake of us kids LOL And she liked the family aspect that saw us all come back “home” and spend time together. More or less 😉

…back to the recipe!

For the pastry, both my mother and grandmother tweaked their recipes a few times over the years, but for the most part they always seemed to come back to the same one — the standard pastry recipe from the side of the Tenderflake container so if you’re not sure where to start, that’s a great jumping off point 🙂

I hope you enjoy this recipe and check out the rest of the blog tour to see what everyone else is offering — it’s gonna be something special, I can tell 🙂

giftmastourschedule

Tour Schedule:

December 5th — Introducing the tour 🙂
December 9th — Kara hosts Tiffany 
December 11th — Jennifer hosts Diamante 
December 12th — Final day for donations!

 

About Toilet Paper…

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner_congrats

Well, I “won” NaNoWriMo again. I think this makes my ninth victory in twelve attempts (I can’t double-check that because the NaNo site is not loading properly right now LOL) For this NaNoWriMo I was a rebel — I wasn’t writing one novel, I was writing a series of interconnected short stories. Or, that was the intention. As it turned out, some of the stories were less connected than others.

I’m kind of an old hand at this NaNo thing, but this year seemed especially difficult. I knew it would be going in — part of the reason I decided to do NaNo this year was because I had so much going on in November that it was ridiculous for me to add NaNo to the mix — but I didn’t realise just how very tough it would be. Things like the results of the American election and an unexpected weekend away added extra bumps along the way. Some of the biggest obstacles I had to deal with were 100% internal and included a ginormous helping of impostor syndrome right around the middle of the month.

highlight-reelIf you get a bunch of writers/editors/publishers together and start them talking it soon becomes clear that things aren’t always shiny, and what you see on social media is only one of many facets of our lives. As the quote says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” With that in mind I’ve been making a real effort to peel the curtain back now and then, to acknowledge the struggle from time to time.

Some writers don’t go to conventions or writers groups or whatever so if we don’t talk about this publicly on occasion they might not benefit from those ventfests I enjoy from time to time. They might not get that they aren’t alone. I’m not looking to be Debbie Downer, but I think it’s important that we be real about this stuff.

A small group of friends and I have banded together to work through Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story“. Right smack dab in the middle of my most recent bout of impostor syndrome I was working on the latest assignment for that group — to write a story about an old woman doing some task while thinking back to something in her past. I used that assignment not only to add to my NaNoWriMo word count (every bit of fiction counts!) but also to work through some of the stuff I was feeling. Now that I’m in a much better state of mind, I think it’s kinda funny so I thought I’d share it here.

Uh, enjoy?

And know that when you’re feeling badly about your work, or like an impostor — you are not alone. I think we all go there from time to time. I certainly do.

Continue reading About Toilet Paper…