Only a few days away from Thanksgiving, and it's starting to get real!
I CANNOT LOCATE MY THANKSGIVING DECORATIONS!
I did locate my recipes for cornbread (for the dressing) and the filling for Sweet Potato Pie. I will either use Patti LaBelle's recipe or one posted by Monica Mingo.
The decoration issue is bothersome. I have so many boxes and I cannot locate the one containing the laser-cut felt leaf-shaped placemats, faux corn, place cards (made by myself and my younger daughter some years back), iridescent orange glass beads, etc.
I am really not interested in buying new decor but I really get into making the day special, so I suppose I will have to schedule a trip to Michael's when I go out Tuesday to get the last minute fresh ingredients. In the meantime I will try to find the box. But time is limited, after all I still have to fulfill my daily responsibilities.
Hope your planning is going smoothly!
The guest list is finalized, and there are fewer than usual. On the one hand, I will have to make the dish they usually bring. On the other hand, I don't need to have the kids wash the patio table and bring it in. Less tablecloths and napkins to iron and one less centerpiece to make. Also, fewer dishes!
I picked up a beautiful dark orange carrot for my stuffing/dressing from the farmers market, and a quart of vanilla ice cream from the independently owned ice cream shop.
I was supposed to pull out my Thanksgiving decor box, but it wasn't where I thought it was. I'll have to do that tomorrow.
Well, it's the week before Thanksgiving and I do NOT have it together. (I promise I was raised better, mom started talking to me about it at the end of September!)
So now it's time to get moving and get it together. Here is the plan:
-Finish the major grocery shopping
-Pick up potato ricer
-finalize guest dishes
-Pull out the decorations and make a list of what you need to buy (candles, napkins, etc.)
-Check to see that there is enough flatware
-Plan what dishes go in what serve ware
-Make a list of any serve ware you still need to purchase
-Assemble recipes for any new dishes
-Pull out recipes you haven't memorized
-Family Meeting to Layout out the game plan
-Prechop veggies for stuffing/dressing and freeze
-Prechop veggies to go in roasting pan with turkey
-Boil sweet potatoes for pie
-Check cabinets/fridge one last time to make sure you have everything
-Get flowers for centerpiece
-Buy green beans
-Iron and fold napkins
-Roast Turkey Thighs
-Make lemon wineberry cupcakes
-Bake sweet potato pie
-Get roasting pan out of storage and wash
-Go out to eat or get takeout
-Sweep the front walk/patio
-Set up snack table
-last check of bathrooms for sparkling cleanliness, soap tissue etc.
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<p>This swimming stuff is turning out to be a piece of cake.</p>
<p>I've learned to push off, and my kicks are becoming smooth and efficient. (The secret is starting the movement at the hips, not the knee, and keeping the splashing to a minimum) My arms are satisfactory. </p>
Look Ma, I'm swimming!
Now that I'm doing the locomotion, so to speak, it's time to add the next step: rolling to the side to breathe. No big deal. I take a deep breath and push off. Kick, kick. Right arm, left arm, roll to the side and breathe---breathe in a snoot full of chlorinated water. I stand up abruptly, splashing, sputtering, and sneezing.
"You alright?"asks Patty with her annoyingly chlorine-free face.
"Well, I didn't drown," I mutter. "Excuse me." I head to the locker room to blow my nose.
I try again. Again I inhale water.
A third time. Same thing.
"Okay," Patty says, "Let's just do your bobs again. Try to get the rhythm of the breathing."
I bob up and down in the water. Deep breath, dunk under, bubbles out of my nose, up to breathe in.
I finish the session just doing what I know how to do: swimming as far as I can go on one breath.
It's not fair! It was all going so well! I was going to master every step with no problems, after that first day I just knew it. I coulda been a a contendah! I coulda been somebody! (e-cookie if you get the reference) Off to the locker room to change.
Back at it in a couple of days.
The Adults' Table
This is the first time I used a black tablecloth. The felt leaf placements make a nice contrast.
The Kids Table:
Is this not the fanciest kids table you've ever seen?
Thanksgiving is always a team effort around here. My youngest daughter set the tables the night before (with some minor adjustments from me.)
My older daughter and my husband got a ton of prep done in the morning ( I went to the gym and ran by the grocery store for a handful of forgotten items. ) He peeled and chopped potatoes, minced and sauteed the veggies for stuffing, and got the veggiesthat would go in the bottom of the roasting pan rough chopped. She helped by cleaning up as he went, and touching up a few other areas of the house. He made the mashed potatoes, the green beans, the cauliflower, the gravy, and the mac and cheese. He and my youngest also made cranberry sauce--first homemade sauce we've ever done, and it was superb!
My older son helped me move in the kid's table from the deck the day before. He and my younger daughter also cleaned it. My other son helped clean up around the house.
I had to clean the oven before I put in the turkey. Should have done that the day before. I roasted the turkey, baked the cornbread (and then assembled the stuffing), arranged the flowers, cleaned the bathroom, and retrieved rarely-used serving items. I even squeezed in some laundry.
I was in the shower when the first of our guests arrived. My in-laws brought a dessert and some snacks to enjoy while we were waiting on dinner. Then my side of the family showed up with enough dessert to feed the entire freshman class of the Naval Academy, and enough sparkling apple cider to fill a swimming pool.
Dinner came off wonderfully. Everyone raved over the food, and the company and conversation were excellent. We ate right around 4:30. We'd never eaten that early before, but I've decided it's the perfect time. By the time dinner is half over, it's dark out and the candlelight is beautiful. There's time to digest and have dessert before it's so late that you're going to bed with a full stomach. (And we had ALOT of dessert).
My nieces and sister-in-law helped wiped the chargers and scrape plates for the dishwasher. Everyone pitched in to clear the tables and throw out any trash. Husband was excused since Family was sent off with kisses, hugs, and leftovers. (They were NOT sticking me with nine desserts and nearly full pans of mac'n cheese and cornbread dressing, no way son!)
Since everyone was so great about cleaning up when the night ended, I was left with the muffled hum of the dishwasher, that happy tiredness that comes from a job well done, and this:
Another successful Thanksgiving.
How was yours?
The wind kept blowing the sign down. Luckily, it was standing when we arrived
One thing my husband and I are committed to is feeding our family the best food available.
Not to toot my own horn (toot toot!) but I was and am the driving force behind this principle of our family. I got us going to Whole Foods as soon as we wed years ago, and have since gotten into "beyond organic" "pasture raised" and "local". I hit up the farmer's market almost every Saturday (if the kiddos' games don't get in the way) for eggs, vegetables, fruit, and honey.
We get most of our meat from Polyface Farm. Every five weeks or so I arm myself with cloth totes and freezer bags and go to the pickup site to procure 5 weeks worth of ground beef and whole chickens. Sometimes I order steak, eggs, or chicken backs for making broth. I sometimes get duck eggs, but those aren't available as often.
I want my children to appreciate what goes in to making the quality food they eat, and appreciate those who labor to produce it. So I got them up early one morning and we made the journey to 43 Pure Meadows Lane to see where it all happens.
Those of you who are foodies or into natural living and the local food movement may know the main man, Joel Salatin, from his appearance in such works as Food inc , The Omnivore's Dilemma and American Meat. We were lucky enough to have him lead the tour. When I saw him striding toward the tractor, I somehow managed not to jump up and down and shriek like a 14-year-old fangirl. (And I really wanted to. )
Waiting for the tour to start
It's much too large a property to walk, so they have everyone jump up on bales of hay and take them for a ride. There were two tractors: one driven by Joel, and one by a young apprentice. It was two hours of fresh air, sunshine, and fun. I relaxed, enjoying rolling along on the tractor, taking in the views of tree-covered mountains in the distance and the undulating hills of the farm with it's creeks, ponds, and wild bushes--pretty sure I saw a few elderberry and a barberry bush--a welcome breeze lessening the summer heat considerably.
Joel explaining the process of raising these dedicated layers. My children, totally oblivious to the presence of greatness, ponder the chickens
At every stop, Joel expounded on the process and the philosophy behind everything they do at the farm, taking questions. My kids enjoyed riding on the tractor and seeing the animals much more than listening to Joel talk. They exclaimed over the size of the turkeys, and firmly opined that the goose guarding the laying hens looked an awful lot like the AFLAC duck.
After it was all over, a few people headed straight for their cars, while others clustered around Joel for further discussion, photo-ops, and expressions of gratitude and admiration. An older man asked what he wanted on his tombstone. He responded he didn't even want a tombstone, he'd prefer his body consigned to the compost pile. A middle-aged lady presented him with a copy of a book she had written, in which he was featured. I asked him a question about the disturbing thing he learned at a think tank meeting in Richmond. (And then kept myself from fangirling because he was standing two feet away, talking to me! OMG!) As an aside, he has amazing skin for someone who has spent decades toiling away in the sun. Pretty sure none of that is owed to fancy moisturizer or chemical peels. It's got to be the food. In addition to raising all that protein for sale, they grow most of their own produce on the farm.
My son was pulling on my arm at this point, so when he finished speaking I thanked him for the tour and made my way to the car with the kids. We made the long trip and got home, safe and sound, before dark. It was a good day.
I was invited by a friend to attend a pool party at her country club.
Knowing that country clubs often have dress codes, I visited the club's website. There are rules about dress for the workout room, proper attire on the golf course and guidelines on what not to wear to play tennis. For events at the clubhouse, the rule is basically "keep it nice." So, nothing faded, ripped, worn, or too immodest.
Well, that was easy. The event would be by the pool, but (swimsuits not withstanding) I figured the same rules would apply. I decided on an ensemble similar to the one pictured above: A black and white maxi dress with a bold, graphic print. Also like the photo, I opted to pull my hair back and wear small earrings. Since the event was held in the evening, I wore black liquid liner. I skipped eyeshadow and wore a nude lipstick to keep it from being "too much." A red crococile handbag added that pop of color, and the sunglasses I wore against the late-afternoon sun finished the look in style.
I looked fabulous, even if I do say so myself.
There were one or two other women in maxi dresses. I also saw sundresses, sleeveless polos paired with crisp shorts that came a few inches above the knee, and flowy tunics with nice jeans or pants. There was one woman who was a bit overdressed in a sleeveless white lace sheath, heavily lined eyes, bright red lipstick and an updo that was clearly held in place with many pins, mousse and hairspray. Better a little overdressed than underdressed, I always say.
(If you just have to have this dress, by the way, you can find it at White House Black Market, currently half off and in limited sizes. You're welcome.)
You'll note that this ensemble includes the classic white shirt recommended by Tim Gunn for every woman's wardrobe. It really is an essential piece, along with the jeans of course. I styled it with comfortable heeled sandals in brown leather. The brown is a nice neutral, and the color was close to my skin tone.
I added color and pattern with the red/white/blue tote bag. A slender scarf in shades of dark blue held my hair off my face in a ponytail. I finished the look with small pearl earrings and a silver cuff bracelet.
Lunch was great. I haven't seen her all summer as we've both been busy with kids, home projects, and travel. We lingered for awhile, catching up. When I looked up the place was almost empty. After we handled the check we walked around, browsing the offerings for fall and making a few purchases. (Another good reason to carry a totebag out shopping. It holds a few smaller bags with ease, perfect since we weren't out for a major haul)
I looked fab if I do say so myself, and had no issues with walking so much because the sandal was a manageable height with a solid heel.
What would you wear out for shopping and lunch with a friend?
The weather was perfect. Sunny, warm, with a bit of a breeze.
My brother in law pulled up to the property with his family and their dog.
My kids ran out to meet them and they immediately started the fun, tossing the Frisbees (regular and extra large) and playing soccer on the front lawn. The dog got in on the action too, chasing down the ball and running off with the Frisbee. The adults just hung out. We watched the kids from our lawn chairs and discussed grownup stuff like family, fireworks and real estate.
I had gotten all the ingredients for s‘mores the day before. (Organic graham crackers, organic marshmallows and organic/premium chocolate of course). There was one small problem. We didn’t have a fire pit, a fact I didn’t even think about until that morning. So here I was on the fourth with everything for s'mores and no way to make them. Smart. I ran to the Home Depot. Nothing. Zipped over to the closet Target. Nada. Didn’t have time to go anywhere else, as the aforementioned guests were soon to arrive. Oh well, maybe we could put some wood in the grill and make s’mores that way.
When I pitched this idea to my sister-in-law, she scoffed. “Let’s just get some rocks and make one ourselves!”
Sure, I was game. We have a gravel surface for it, so it was perfectly safe. Kids and adults alike gathered rocks and arranged them in a circle. My daughter brought some dry brush for kindling, my husband grabbed some firewood left over from last winter from under a tarp, and my brother-in-law directed the kids in the correct arrangement of the materials. I grabbed some newspaper, but the brush was enough.
The kindling was lit.
As the fire caught, my daughter and niece carefully poked it and added more brush under the watchful eye of my brother-in-law. The fire was crackling and ready to go in short order. S’MORE TIME! I was so ready.
(My nephew, however, was not. He made it very clear that he wanted a plain marshmallow. Not even on a stick. Plain.)
Can you believe I’ve never made s’mores before? I’ve meant to for a while, just never got around to it.
I stuck a wooden skewer into the marshmallow until it just came out the other end. Arm fully extended, I approached the fire. Carefully, I moved the stick forward and let the flame engulf the sweet little pillow. It didn’t take long. It bubbled, and as soon as it started to char a bit I pulled it out, still aflame. I blew it out and put it on top of a square of chocolate atop a half graham cracker. I put another cracker on top and squeezed, pulling the skewer out.
I give it a rating of “pretty good.”
I think next time I’ll use cinnamon graham crackers. And if there’s some way to make the chocolate softer, that would improve it too. Maybe I’m supposed to put the marshmallow on the chocolate while it’s still on fire. I’ll get the hang of it I’m sure. Is there an app for that?
I helped the kids with their s’mores too. They like them too, but they were really all about what came next.
Dusk approached, and it was greeted with much excitement. Time for the fireworks!
First up, “smoke balls”. Clouds of red, yellow, green and blue billowed up from the small spheres—somewhere between a marble and a golf ball in size—and drifted across the lawn, gradually dissipating as the wind carried them across the property.
Next, a firework called “Purple Rain”. It’s my favorite. It’s small cylinder shoots it’s sparks surprisingly high and wide. And just when you think it’s done, it starts up again.
We set off the rest of the fireworks, judging each one.
When they were all done, we retired to our chairs by the bonfire, eating cupcakes and drinking soda. The night had turned a little cool, so the warmth of the fire was welcome.
After another hour or so, we reluctantly called it a night, rounding up the trash and pouring water on the fire.
We waved goodbye to our guests and hit the hay.
Hope you had a good one too.