On the Eleventh Day of Christmas…


Your Geevie brings to you…

Some Christmas Music:

I loved this one even way before I made this video for Hal Sparks. It’s even more special for me now.

A Christmas movie:

I loves me some Cary Grant!

A Christmas memory:

“The Present”

Since becoming a parent, I’ve lost that need to get that perfect gift. More important to me is to give it. In fact, many, many years have been so about making sure the kids have such a great Christmas, we adults often opt not to give or receive between us.

It’s more of a gift for us to see how happy our kids are. You remember the Atari story… I always want to give my kids what their hearts desire if I can.

Well Steven actually gave me a gift several years back that really knocked it out of the park. It was one of those gifts you never know how much you wanted it until you got it.

He had one of my novels bound.

I kind of had the feeling he was planning it and I tried to dissuade him. My novels are never “finished”. Every time I reread them I change something and improve something, and he wanted it to be my first draft.

My writer friends out there know how those first draft rereads can be. It’s unpolished and when we read back through we’re embarrassed or beat ourselves up over typos and mistakes that are glaringly obvious to us after we read through it again.

But he was steadfast. And so I knew it was coming. I figured it was a nice gesture, but the impact that it had on me when I opened that present surprised even me.

I opened up the box and saw my name on a bound book – it was more than a realization of my fondest desire… it was like a promise of things to come.

It knocked the wind right outta me.

I may not remember every single gift I ever got over these last 40 years, and believe me during the course of this blog series I’ve tried to, but this one I will never, ever forget.

Christmas Recipe:

Green Bean Casserole. It’s been on almost every holiday table for decades. It’s a classic American holiday staple.

And I hated it.

Mushrooms were definitely an acquired taste for me. And the mushy, gushy texture just put me off entirely. I liked the fried onions part but everything else – blech.

So that was a tradition I was well willing to abandon by the time I got old enough to prepare my own holiday dinners.

Over the past twenty years, however, my tastes have changed and broadened. Not only do I like mushrooms now I try to put them in as much stuff as possible… especially adopting a more flexitarian lifestyle. Mushrooms are savory and hearty, and a very nice substitute for meat.

Last year I incorporated the casserole back into the menu and was totally surprised at how big a hit it was. Even my veggie hating husband loves it.

So it’s back to stay.

Classic Green Bean Casserole (from the Campbell Kitchen website)

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular, 98% Fat Free or Healthy Request®)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French’s® French Fried Onions

* Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
* Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
* Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.
* For Broccoli Casserole, substitute 4 cups cooked broccoli flowerets for the green beans.
* For cheese lovers, stir in 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese with soup. Omit the soy sauce. Sprinkle with an additional 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese when adding the remaining onions.
* To add a festive touch, stir in 1/4 cup chopped red pepper with the soup.
* To add crunch, add 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds to the onion topping.
* For bacon lovers, add 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, to the bean mixture.
* For Golden Green Bean Casserole, substitute Campbell’s® Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup for the Cream of Mushroom Soup. Omit the soy sauce. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped red pepper with the green beans.

(Gin Spin: I leave out the milk. Makes it a lot less goopy.)

Christmas “Joy to the World”

Since we started this blog with an homage to Hal Sparks, I’m going to highlight a couple of his favorite charities:

Farm Sanctuary: Farm Sanctuary is an organization that seeks to end cruelty to farm animals through rescue, advocacy and education. Their goal? “We envision a world where the violence that animal agriculture inflicts upon people, animals and the environment has ended, and where instead we exercise values of compassion.” These are the folks that step in and do something when animals cease to be treated and valued as living things, and are treated more as a commodity.

And if you give a gift in December, it will be matched.

The Lili Claire Foundation: The Lili Claire Foundation was Keith and Leslie Litt-Resnick in honor of their daughter Lili Claire, who was born with a neurogenetic birth defect that would fill her young, brief life with unexpected challenges. Though Lili Claire passed away at only 5 1/2 months, Keith and Leslie created a foundation in her name to provide services to children and young adults who suffer from (and survive and thrive in spite of) these types of neurogenetic disorders.

Given that each year more than 20,000 children are born with a neurogenetic condition (including things like Down’s Syndrome or autism), this organization fills a very important need, in partnership with UCLA and the UNSOM.

You can donate money or volunteer.

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