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Thanksgiving Family Food Favorites

11252010103“Faud” is one of the Qunell family traditional holiday foods, usually served whenever turkey is on the menu.  We don’t really know much about it, other than my dad’s parent’s family was originally from Quebec, so it is probably French Canadian in origin.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t come up on Google under that name.  There are some similar recipes for traditional Quebec meat stuffing and French meat pie filling, but none of the ones I found are quite right.  Unfortunately, it is such a delicacy that I cannot reveal the secret recipe.  Someday, we plan to make a fortune selling this stuff on the internet.  I probably shouldn’t even be showing any photos or video where I divulge some of the ingredients, but today is your lucky day!



Yes, that grayish color and lumpy texture is accurate. So, what are your traditional Thanksgiving foods? (Normal or unusual)


Honoring All Who Served


CarseatBlog would like to thank all of our veterans who have served our country as well as all active military personnel who are still serving all over the world.  We appreciate the sacrifices they have made for all of us. We also tip our hat to the families of those who are serving and who have served. We know many of our readers are military families and we acknowledge the unique challenges that come with that territory. As far as we’re concerned, you deserve thanks and praise for all you do too!

Just the Universe “Doing Its Thing”

On FridayPassenger Pick-Up Terminal 5 night I flew home from the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas and my flight arrived at JFK at around 9:30 PM. After I picked up my luggage and called for my shuttle service I went outside to wait for the shuttle van. They told me it would be there in 5-10 minutes but 15 or more minutes went by with no Red Dot Airport Shuttle in sight.

After a while a mother and her young child appeared and stood next to me waiting for their ride. No carseat in sight. I was disappointed but not surprised. Soon a car pulled up and as they waved, I spied with my little eye a FF Britax Blvd (original generation) in the backseat. I was silently impressed – not because it was a Britax but just because there was an appropriate CR for the child to ride in. The driver and passenger of the vehicle got out to greet mom and child. I suspected that they were the child’s grandparents, which was later confirmed. As grandpa loaded the luggage into the trunk, I watched mom open the back door to the car (driver’s side) and grab the carseat as if checking the installation. I groaned to myself as I watched the seat move all over the place when she did this. I wondered if she was going to leave it that way. She shut the door and came back to the curb. Then she opened the passenger’s side door and climbed into the backseat. She’s going to fix the carseat installation! I silently rejoiced. But then I recognized that look of complete bewilderment on her face. Oh, no! She doesn’t know what to do! At that point I knew I had to offer to help.

“Do you need some help?”, I asked, sticking my head into the car. “Installing carseats is what I do for a living”, I half-joke in my most friendly tone. The look of relief on her face was priceless and I knew in an instant that she wasn’t going to yell at me or tell me to mind my own damn business. I knew I could help her and I knew I could get that seat installed quickly but I also had one eye on the road looking out for my shuttle which was already past due. At this point I start praying that it doesn’t come right this second. I don’t need a lot of time but I also know the shuttle won’t wait for me to finish helping someone with a carseat installation.

At this point all typical installation education goes out the window because I gotta get this done FAST. The seat isn’t attached to the vehicle at all – except by the tether. I’m thinking Thank God it’s a Britax convertible as I get it installed rock-solid with the seatbelt in 20 seconds. I would have used LATCH but the lower anchor connectors were still stored inside the cubby holes under the cover and I didn’t have time to mess with taking them out. I’m also thinking “don’t obsess about perfection – just make this child safER than what she would have been for the ride home if I hadn’t been here”. The entire time I’m looking up every 10 seconds, watching the road, hoping for another minute. So far, so good, still no Red Dot shuttle. Okay, seat is installed tightly and tethered – let’s get this kid strapped in! But wait – ugh, the harness is waaaay too low. I gotta crank it up higher. But it’s an original model Blvd and I’m turning and turning and turning that stupid little knob and it feels like it’s taking forever and hardly moving. I start using both hands to turn both knobs simultaneously. Finally, I get the headwings extended slightly above the main shell and I’m hoping that that’s tall enough for my new friend, Grace. We plop her in – it’s perfect! Mom and I buckle her up nice and snug and I give her a high-five. I tell her that she was awesome, because well…. she was! It was late and they flew all the way from CA and most kids that age would have been cranky and miserable by that point but Grace was perfectly cooperative and full of interesting questions. She was totally adorable and I was so glad that I was able to help her and her family.

Mom and grandparents were so happy and appreciative. Grandma said I had “restored her faith in humanity”. I thought that was super sweet. Honestly, I was just as happy and appreciative that they had taken me up on my offer to help. I learned a long time ago that I can’t save the world, but I still want to.

I gave them my last business card and hopefully they’ll contact me because I know there are other things that need to be checked and explained. I wasn’t able to give the seat a thorough once-over and they didn’t get much education but hopefully I’ll see them again since the grandparents live relatively close to me.

After they drove off, I called my shuttle service back to say “hey, where the heck are you?”  The dispatcher says “the driver told me he got you”. Ummm…. no. Obviously I wasn’t pissed about it and they sent another van to get me within 10 minutes but it made me think that my shuttle was MIA for a reason. Things like this happen to me often enough and I’ve learned not to question them. I figure it’s just the universe “doing its thing”. For whatever reason, I was meant to cross paths with Grace and her lovely family at the passenger pickup area of JFK’s Terminal 5. I’m not sure why but I was happy to oblige.

Halfway Across America

“I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the east of my youth and the west of my future.” –Jack Kerouac, On the Road

illinoisA very long time ago, I was a 17-year-old in Ohio, about to graduate high school and set off on a long drive across the country to get to my college in California. Because I’m a little strange, the part of the trip I looked forward to the most was going to Iowa. Although I had never been there, I had developed a bit of an obsession with it. Something about corn and baseball.

When I mentioned that to one of my teachers, he quoted the above line to me. Sal, the main character, thinks that to himself when he wakes up in a hotel in Des Moines. The line held a lot of meaning for me. After all, I, too, was leaving behind the east of my youth and moving on to the west of my future.

At the time, I didn’t think my western future would last long. I imagined that I would enjoy four years of college in California and then head back to the Midwest.

I wound up staying in California, though. I graduated, got a job, then another job, then another. I met a guy, had a baby, then another baby, then another.

During that time, we made many plans to leave California. We considered Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, and even a multi-year RV excursion around the country. Ultimately, none of those panned out, and we stayed put on the West Coast. For a while I wondered if we would ever really leave California.

But eight months ago, we finally did leave and wound up in Illinois (not the part that’s close to Iowa, though). The West became my past, and the Midwest became my present, and future, yet again.

After a half-year in Illinois, I have reached a few conclusions:

1)    Suburbia is suburbia. Yeah, there are differences, but as long as there are a couple Targets and Starbucks around, it’s not that hard to adapt to a place.

2)    People are really nice here. Maybe it’s a bit of a stereotype, but Southern California is cold and impersonal. Not to say there aren’t great people out there and absolute jerks here, but we are shocked almost every day by how darn nice people are.

3)    People don’t wear motorcycle helmets. California has a motorcycle helmet law. Illinois doesn’t. Even so, I ASSumed that people would wear them because brains are important things to protect. Yet at least 80% of the motorcycles I see have drivers and passengers with no helmets. The other day, my cousin even saw a helmet-less kid on one. Not cool.

siren4)    There are lots of tall things sticking up out of the ground. In a somewhat related thread I started at car-seat.org while we were in the process of moving here, I learned that I have something called megalophobia, which is a fear of large objects. Mostly my fear is of unexpected, lurking-type large objects, so things like water towers (of which there are a LOT out here) aren’t too bad unless I’m right next to them. But sometimes I’ll be driving along, minding my own business, and suddenly a tornado siren will come at me out of nowhere and I lose it a little bit inside. (You may have me committed now.)

5)    Parking spaces are large enough to actually park in. This is especially important if you’re not very good at parking. (See my review of the Nissan Pathfinder for more info.)

6)    I can find pierogies–a large variety, even–in every grocery store, though Persian food is hard to come by.

7)    Left turns. OMG. In Southern California, left turns are almost always controlled by a dedicated traffic light, meaning you never have to think about them. You sit happily in your lane until you get a green arrow, then you go. Here, you’re on your own. You know, edging out into the intersection, trying to time things right, sometimes going across four lanes of traffic. Ack! I’m getting used to it, although I have been known to go out of my way to avoid the really scary ones.

8)    People return shopping carts to the cart corrals. I can’t tell you how many times I’d turn into a parking space in Orange County, only to find at least one cart blocking the space. I haven’t had that problem here once.

So, on one hand you have tornado sirens and non-controlled left turns. On the other, you have pierogies and nice people who return shopping carts. I’d say the good outweighs the bad.