Thanksgiving was good this year, but hard. For Thanksgiving day, my aunt and cousin came over, and it was hard because my uncle wasn't there, and I know it is very hard for them, and for my mom, because my uncle was her little brother. But the food was really good (as it always is), what with the turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and red jello (my other cousin's favorite) and of course pumpkin pie (my grandmother makes a really good pumpkin pie). There was just general sort of hanging out and talking (my cousin is going to an orthodox church, which is fascinating and interesting).
That night I made cheesecake. I've never made cheesecake before (well, I helped once, but that doesn't count), and I forgot until somewhat late that I was going to make it, so I started it at nine or ten and didn't finish until eleven or so, and it took longer than I thought (recipe, you lied about prep time, it was nowhere near ten minutes, it was much closer to half an hour). But there was Kahlua Mocha Cheesecake and Toffee Cheesecake for Friday. Then I had dinner (I had forgotten, somehow) and went to bed, but only after finishing Fire: Tales of the Elemental Spirits, because the last story is a McKinley novella and I only had thirty pages or so left. I still don't care for Peter Dickinson, and I've really tried, what with reading all his short stories and nearly all his novels, so it comes as no surprise that I didn't really like these short stories (not that I dislike them, but I just don't like them). But the McKinley stories are very good. I realized that in my head, McKinley and Charis sound very much alike in terms of style and voice. I liked Hellhound the best of the two, although First Flight was pretty good (it felt rather too much like Dragonhaven for me to love it, I think).
Friday I got up earlier than I usually would on a holiday (around seven or so), because my grandmother was making zwiebach, and I need to learn how to make it. Zwiebach is a German type of bread, a yeast bread, which is light and a little sweet (but not really sweet, sort of like Hawaiian bread as far as that goes), and is two knobs. My grandmother has been making it forever (over fifty years) and it is a family tradition, especially around the holidays, and neither my aunt nor my mother know how to make it, and I want to learn in order to carry on the tradition. So I had my first lesson on making zwiebach, and now have a general idea what it is supposed to look like and how it is supposed to feel. There's an art to making this sort of bread (it isn't just following the recipe, it's knowing how much flour to put it and how long to knead it and how long to let it rise and such). It takes a long time, but not because it's particularly hard or that there's a lot to do, but the yeast has to rise and then the dough has to rise twice. You could tell which rolls I made, because when I pushed the second knob into the first, I did it not quite right, and left fingernail marks, and so all mine had lines in them. But I have now helped make zwiebach, and it is incredibly exciting (there are also cinnamon rolls which go along with it, because not all the dough is used to make rolls, and they are also delicious).
That afternoon I braved the crazy people, only because it was the afternoon there weren't that many people, and bought a few sweaters and a couple movies (Dark Knight for four dollars, yay), and a jump drive and Candyland (for my little cousins in a few years). It was rather fun and not that crazy. My aunt and uncle and little cousins also came over, and the house began its decline into looking like a small, local tornado came through (but in a good way). The cheesecakes were both delicious.
Saturday Joel came over, which was very good. The timing was rather interesting, because he came in right as my aunt and uncle and little cousins were getting ready for their Christmas picture (my cousin David is two, and Elizabeth will be one in January), and Joel got roped into being helpful and doing things like entertain Elizabeth when we didn't need her, and it is amazing how many people it took to take those pictures. My mother, of course, with the camera, and my grandmother, and Joel, and me, and then my mom took more pictures the next day because none of the pictures on Saturday turned out well as a family sort of picture. Then Joel and I finished watching season one of Chuck, which was amusing because somehow I missed seeing several episodes of season one and didn't know it until Joel and I watched through them all, and we kept watching episodes and I would find I hadn't seen it. Chuck is great (and not morbid, because I can't handle morbid or dark yet, so while we still haven't finished Pushing Daisies, it will have to wait).
We wandered around outside for a bit (there were stars, which were happy) while waiting for dinner to cook (deep pit turkey enchiladas, which are one of the best things to do with leftovers), and then Joel and I met Maggie and we watched 9 (as in, the Tim Burton movie) and the theatre. I was rather liking it, until the last few minutes, because I found the ending completely unsatisfying as a story. It is an interesting sort of movie, because it doesn't really fit into any common category, as it is an animated (but with the feel of stop motion) post-apocalyptic, apocalyptic movie with steampunk influences (although it isn't steampunk). Also, more main characters died than in a Joss Whedon film. That says a lot right there. I did like that the places of sanctuary (and this might be a very minor spoiler) are a church and a library; it seems very fitting.
Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, and so very happy because Christmas is coming. Joel and I wandered around in the park by the river (only there is no water in it, and there hasn't been water in it for years, because of this drought that we are in), and discussed vampire werewolf ducks and werewolf vampire ducks because of the full moon (we came to no conclusions). Sadly, we didn't find Narnia. (I miss the parks in England, particularly Kensington in London, because it was gorgeous and there were trees and wildflowers and you couldn't see ugly buildings and fences from every part of the park, as you can here at most of the parks.) Then Maggie came over, and we all watched Muppet Christmas Carol, because it is the best version of Christmas Carol, and Joel hadn't seen it. The casting is brilliant (Gonzo as Dickens, Kermit as Bob Cratchett, and so on) and it manages to capture the humor of Dickens (not an easy thing to do) and the very British Victorian feel that A Christmas Carol ought to have, while being a musical.
It was a very good Thanksgiving weekend, especially with having Joel around, because he makes a most comfortable sort of couch cushion (as well as a useful excuse for going to the park). I also like leftovers (we pretty much had none after the weekend), and the cheescakes I made, which were a success, and having my aunt and uncle and little cousins over.