Category: Entertaining, Holidays & Special Occasions

Turkey Safety Myths

turkey safety tips represented by carved turkey

At my home, nothing says “Thanksgiving” like the aroma of a turkey roasting in the oven. It’s a holiday filled with tradition. But there are some traditions we can do with out – including several  turkey safety myths. Make sure your family and friends don’t spend the day after the big meal suffering from food poisoning. Beware the myths below. Turkey Safety Myth 1:  Refrigerating a whole cooked bird is safe False! Always carve your turkey after cooking. A whole cooked turkey will not cool quickly enough, putting it at risk for bacterial growth. Carve the turkey into smaller pieces so it cools faster in the refrigerator. Turkey Safety Myth 2: Thawing it on the counter is safe False! Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter. Once a turkey has sat at room temperature beyond two hours bacteria grow rapidly. Thawing a turkey in a refrigerator is safe. Allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey. Turkeys are also safely thawed in a microwave and cold water. When using the cold-water method, allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey and keep it in the original wrapping. Change the water every 30 minutes […]

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What to Give on Halloween Besides Candy

      While my kids were growing up, the family home was on Washington Street in San Francisco. To call it “Halloween Central” would be an understatement. Ant-like ribbons of ghosts, goblins and all manner of creatures climbed the stairs, trick or treating well past dark. The last time I counted I had dished out 700 pieces of candy. I was the meany on the block, always asking trick or treaters to say “thank you” and take only ONE! A teal pumpkin indicates non-candy treats are offered. A teal colored pumpkin on the front porch indicates that alternatives to candy are being offered. This is a very thoughtful gesture for kids who don’t eat candy, whether it’s because of food allergies or other health concerns.  Since real pumpkins don’t come in “teal” here’s where you can get one: teal pumpkins. If you prefer not to give candy, here are some alternatives: I like to fill a big basket with a variety of things and let the kids choose. If you do a web search for these and want to stick to the holiday theme, precede your search term with “Halloween,” as in “Halloween pencils.” bouncy balls bubble wands Cracker […]

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A Holiday Tips Guide

Holiday tips guide, Santa counting cash for holiday tips

In December I found a holiday tips guide to help decide on year end tips for the people whose services are so important to my everyday life. Tips or small gifts and a thank you note are appreciated by many service providers. Especially these days, when so many have suffered financially during the pandemic. How much to give depends on your budget and how happy you are with the service. I’m generous with tips during the year, for my hairdresser, for instance. So I reserve holiday tips for service providers I don’t see regularly – the sanitation worker and newspaper delivery person, for example. Personally, the “jury is out” for my newspaper delivery person. He tucks a Christmas card and self addressed envelope in the paper every year. And every year I return the envelope with $10 and a request that he not leave the paper right on the threshold of the front door where I could trip on it, which he ignores. I’m thinking of skipping the tip this year and returning the card with another reminder not to leave the paper where I can trip on it. Is that mean? Let me know what you think in the […]

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Microwave Shortcuts for Thanksgiving Dinner

microwave shortcuts for Thanksgiving dinner

I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my family many times over the years. And I loved doing it. But I must confess that this year I’m happy to be going to my daughter ‘s home for Thanksgiving for the first time. I’ll contribute the carrot souffle, a family favorite, to the buffet. Also,  I hope she, and you, can use these microwave shortcuts for Thanksgiving dinner. Shortcuts for Thanksgiving Dinner and Beyond Some things work in the microwave, and some don’t. I wouldn’t recommend trying to defrost your turkey in the microwave, for example. But I haven’t cooked popcorn on the stovetop since they invented microwave popcorn. (I sprinkle it with truffle salt.) And I love steaming all kinds of vegetables in a special microwave-safe dish I bought for that purpose. When doing the research for this article I found lots of microwave shortcut tips. But “10 Ways to Use Your Microwave for Thanksgiving,” by The Food Network, was the most timely and useful. Unusual Uses for Your Microwave While looking for microwave shortcuts for Thanksgiving dinner, I found  “20 Uses for a Microwave that Will Surprise You,” from Lifehack.org.  There are lots of interesting uses in the article. And don’t […]

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No-Carve Pumpkins for Halloween

no-carve pumpkin

    Halloween is right around the corner. Carving pumpkins can be great fun. I did it every year with the kids when they were young. But if scraping out slimy pumpkin seeds doesn’t appeal to you or rain may turn your masterpiece into a sunken fly-infested mess, here are some fun no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas that don’t require you to wield a knife. No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas for Halloween Better Homes and Gardens’ website offers some great no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas. In spite of the title, “20 Easy No-Carve Pumpkins Anyone Can Make” some are a little complicated and require a trip to an arts and crafts supply store. But there are some truly easy ones, too, like my favorite – the pumpkin gold fish shown above. Tip: Click the button to “Start Slideshow,” then “View All.” Then you can click on your favorites for details. Just looking at the photos will help you come up with your own ideas. You can adapt them and make your pumpkins as simple or elaborate as you like. Find More Links You Can Use at HabiLinks Curated Guide The internet is full of great resources, but page after page of search results can be too much […]

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Wrap Up Your Gift Shopping the “New Normal” Way

gift shopping

I usually wait until December to switch from “Thanksgiving” to “Christmas” mode. That includes thinking about gifts and decorating my home for the holidays. But his year, across San Francisco, homeowners are putting up holiday lights earlier than ever. Like the song, it seems We Need a Little Christmas Right Now! Inspired by the neighbors, I trimmed my windows with a profusion of icicle lights yesterday. Merry Thanksgiving. Come Friday I hope these tips help you with your holiday gift shopping. How to get the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday In the past, Black Friday was the best day to snag great deals at the mall. Cyber Monday was best for online specials. Like so many other things this year, the way we shop has changed. As a result, many online retailers as well as “brick and mortar” stores have jumped the gun and offer “Black Friday” specials throughout November and December. To get the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, see goodto.com. Making a list and checking it twice Coming up with gift ideas for everyone on your list at once can be overwhelming. Try keeping a “gifts” folder in your files. Make note of […]

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