Coping: With Manic Holiday Preps

A discussion about how NOT to prepare for Thanksgiving is in order around here, although I’m sharing it with YOU and not necessarily “she who must be obeyed” until after our guests are down the road a week from Sunday.

The first thing you don’t want to do is do a one month leisurely project in 3-weeks. If a project will honestly take a month, add 30% more time so you have some padding that can come out if necessary.

I can assure you that outfits like Trump (the real estate developers) operate on-time (or early) with big projects like their Post Office project in Washington D.C. is that they make up realistic plans and have penalties for failing to hit project milestones.

Milestones don’t work in marriage. So forget trying to keep to a schedule.

About the only major improvement you can hope for it getting the materials moving and showing up.

We have, sitting in boxes in the shop now, a new queen-bed base and a queen foam mattress, not to mention some nifty indoor-outdoor reclining lounge chairs. Place the kids in the recliners, kick on Nintendo, and now the adults can go have a nice conversation over at the house.

The second pothole to avoid is allowing the designer to be less than absolutely precise – as in engineering terms – because that will stretch out project length.

The way I have been able to make up for the “soft” design goals (which I may be too pig-headed to understand) is by getting as much job automation as possible.

For example, I got one of the Wagner line rollers so that I could outline the whole ceiling in about 20 minutes.

The high tech is always at a price, though. While it made the painting time drop by 2/3rd’s compared with doing brush cut-in work, the clean up with the brush is 2-minutes with some old rags, some dish soap and a thorough rinse.

With the high tech – super-fast tools – the clean up time goes through the roof.

It took me 20-minutes to get the line painter cleaned to my satisfaction, eating a good chunk of the time-savings.

Another painting tool to consider is the $25 Easy-Twist paint stick I picked up at Lowes. It was the back-up in the event my Wagner Power Painting “Sidekick” didn’t get here in time.

The EZ-Twist is really a slick product, unless you’re creeping up on 68 a little faster than optimal and it’s been a long, long time since you’ve rolled a cranky ceiling.

Still, there was a huge increase in efficiency, and I daresay I would paint and cut in a normal bedroom in a single color in a matter of 45-minutes. It’s a great tool, but the problem is in the cleaning.

I know $25 is not supposed to be a princely sum, but I’m always trying to make tools last a while so it was a bit disappointing to find that the clean-up of the EZ-Twist again ate back a good portion of the time-savings claimed.

Yes you can roll the room in little time if any. But if you plan to use the unit again, then it’s clean up and that can be a bear.

I know why apartment owners and managers use a single color: Ease of application and speed.

Problem in our deal here is that the Designer says she wants a gold ceiling and a reddish coral called “Fire on the Mountain” which looks great in the house, so why not carry the look?

Sounds fine on paper and it would make the editors of A.D. proud. If you don’t know what A.D. is, don’t utter the words (even in jest) Architectural Digest three months before major holidays, vacations, spring breaks, anniversaries, or birthdays.

If you’re forced to use the words, make sure you’re nowhere near home or a Big Box Hardware Emporium with a paint department.

The Turkey Has Landed – Check Thaw Times!

Before I took on the ceiling – and the jury is out on whether a trip to the Chiropractor will follow – it was off to the store to pick out our bird.

Elaine’s a great cook, don’t get me wrong, but her idea of turkey is to get a breast only, and not get so worked up over things like giblet gravy, which is something I TRY to hold out for once a year. Realistically one in five, but this is that year.

“OK, then you cook it…”

Fair enough. So we have 21 pounds of bird thawing until Wednesday night.

Being a data-driven mad man, I went to work last week on an assortment of “Turkey Calculators” available online.

Here’s one for Norbest and if you put in 14 adults, that will give you 4-days and 9 hours of thawing time on a 21 pound bird.  We will have six adults, but the teenagers eat like a famine.  And we LOVE leftovers.

Butterball turkeys have always done me proud in the past, and they have a slight difference in calculations. Portions are the same, but the thawing time on the Butterball worked out to 5-days and 6 hours.

Not that it matters a hill of cranberries, but having had the unfortunate experience of a still-frozen bird on a Christmas morning once upon a time, I’ve gotten really sensitive to thawing times.

Once thawed, the bird is good for up to four days in the fridge before cooking, so my plan is to have it ready to prep on the 23rd.

Two other items worth mentioning:

One is that since I have converted to Oatism (meaning on the Oatmeal Diet which is working great, thank you) I have been converting everything I can off wheat.

This year, since one of our guests is diabetic, my sense is that using oat flour for thickening will be a lot better than corn starch (which I don’t care for) or Wondra which works great and provides for lump-free, but I don’t know what’s in it in the way of processing.

Oat flour, for what I’ve read is non-GMO because there’s no demand for oats so no money for screwing up Ma Nature with research based on returns to investors, but I digress.

I was telling you gleefully in our last construction discussion about how I always pad the budget to get a tool?

Well, same thing in cookery.

Since the turkey was so reasonable, the budget padding went for a $24 Hamilton Beach Electric Carving Knife with Case (74275)  simply because I like them.

Power tools, power tools…kitchen or office. Gotta have ‘em. Yes sir…a passable addiction.

And after I have saw-sected the turkey, it will all go into the Vacu-Seal and I will be happy with turkey leftovers for up to a month.


Seriously: Look at thaw time in the fridge and go get ‘em early. And double the size of the bird and toss a lot in the freezer because it’s one of the best tasting and savory price-point meals you’ll find these days.

Off to cobble to Mission-style side tables for the bed in the GQ…sheesh. Tell me this ends at some point?

Write when you get rich or win the Lotto…

16 thoughts on “Coping: With Manic Holiday Preps”

  1. Very good suggestions. I plan to pick up a cooked chicken at Costco, call it a turkey, make all the sides and enjoy. For 6 bucks, you can’t go wrong.

  2. With us, T-Day preparations amount to:
    a) Buy a passel of food (complicated by daughter’s Grumpy Tummy), and
    b) Trying to get Halloween put away (H-Day is huge here, over 500+ kids, we do the whole front-yard graveyard thing…). Haven’t finished yet.
    c) Trying to get ready for yummy-yummy-deer season opener.

    Basically, September – February is too busy to deal with. But we do, somehow.

    Happy T-Day to all!

  3. “She who must be obeyed”. First heard this on G. Gordon Liddy’s show. Used it now and again.
    Frozen turkey? Nope. Fresh only as it seems to taste better.
    No electric knives. Super sharp carving knive is so much better and no damn noise.
    ALL, have a really great Thanksgiving as all of us have so much to be thankful for! So give thanks.

    • Perhaps that’s why I could never keep a wife around. I never even imagined that they should be obeyed! I figured they were just kidding. And I flunked obedience school.

      Still looking for the right one with whom I might share my wealth.

  4. George, As I’m now on my third fixer upper I have found that where painting is concerned “productivity tools” for small projects (and 1 or 2 rooms is a small project) the labor saving is small while the hassle factor in cleanup goes off the charts for a net gain of near zero. The one exception is the small pad painter with wheels edging tools which take some skill to use. Since I am never doing a whole house at a time I have long since gotten rid of power rollers etc. As you have discovered the cleanup is a royal PITA. Now I just toss the cover and clean the roller frame with a scrub brush under running water. Much easier on the blood pressure. I only use the gun or HVLP sprayer where a flawless finish is critical.
    Closing in on 62 so I’m not all that far behind you. If you have strong masochistic tendencies and not enough to do then buy a fixer upper hobby farm. I bought an antique fireplace mantle and 16 acres and got a run down house and a falling down barn as part of the deal. And it was an expensive mantle. After 6 years the house just has the master and a half bath left to redo (the master will be a gut to studs, rewire and replumb job). Waiting to build up the bank account some more before tackling that.

    James Johnson, ex-nuke

  5. It’s obvious you were blessed with an above average energy level as well as brains, so have been very active all your life. Therefore, it’s going to be a challenge for you to back off the accelerator pedal as you age. All those marvelous projects you want to do will have to scale back and completion times stretched out.

    I like what James said about simplify. That’s another natural urge that comes along. Since I retired over four years ago, I have been slowly getting rid of “stuff”. The energy just isn’t there to do everything the head conjures. I finally settled on photography to occupy my life/time. I bought equipment I could afford before I retired, and will learn how to use it to the max since new is not in the budget.

    Good luck with your remodel and cooking adventures. BTW, I strongly suggest you stay where you are until your body can’t handle it anymore. Then, move to some nice little place in or near a small to medium city.

    • Energy levels go up and down, aided by simple food and nutrients. When the energy goes up, it’s good to push it for all it’s worth, and when it goes down it’s time to listen to your body and give yourself a break. I’ve been doing this over the past decade and the general trend is up. I’m still running around doing roofing and concrete on my houses even though I’m a tad older than George. Spend lots of time outdoors, avoid schedules when you can, and love yourself and at least one other thing, person or otherwise.

  6. words of advice re foam mattress from one who has experienced them – it takes about 3-7 days to get rid of the chemically smell that a brand new foam mattress has – have found it depends on the brand, type of foam and thickness, but they ALL seem to have (including the pillows) a smell that one ought to eliminate prior to using and sleeping on it for hours at time.

  7. Hey Bud. I sent you an email regarding a rapid wave turkey, fowl, whatever cooker. I think you will be impressed. Convection, halogen, infra red. We are on our second one. Amazon has them.
    Happy Yankee Thanksgiving. PS: may not fit a 21 lb. er.

  8. Hope the electric knife works for you, George.

    I’ve never had one, partly because my favorite cookbook author compared it to “a steam-powered violin bow”.

    Bon appetit, George!

    • What? You don’t have a linear-actuator bow for your fiddle with the uprocessor controlled rosin indicator and frequency DRO? OMG what kind of music do you play?

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