Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

thanksgivingdinnerCan you believe that Thanksgiving is in just two days? Time just flies this time of year. Normally, I consider Thanksgiving my favorite holiday but due to the nature of this year I’m not quite as into it as I usually am. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to make it a good holiday.

As usual, we will be hosting at our house. I don’t find the cooking to be a chore, and honestly we really like not having to drive anywhere on Thanksgiving. (Plus, I can have an extra glass of wine — ha!) Drew’s mom and aunt will be coming up, but that’s all so it will just be seven people.

My Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change much from year to year. I keep it pretty traditional, though I’ll try a new recipe or two sometimes. Usually one of the appetizers or desserts will be something new.

Here’s my list…

Cheese ball and crackers
Devilled eggs

Roast Turkey with sausage-cranberry stuffing
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes
Asparagus (it happens to be on sale this week and Drew requested it)
Cornbread with cranberry honey butter (new recipe)
Tossed salad
Corn
Cranberry sauce

Sugar-free blueberry pie
Pecan pie or sugared pecan topped cheesecake

For wines I have a riesling, a vino verde, and a petit syrah. I also found a non-alcoholic black currant cordial that I thought might be nice either mixed with seltzer or kicked up with vodka. So we will try that, too! 

A couple weeks ago I made a 9-lb. chicken, so this 12.5-lb. turkey won’t be too far off! Of course, I will also have my Crock Pot ready with onions, celery, and carrots to make an overnight turkey stock. I look forward to the soup as much as the roast bird! And of course I also love a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night. I always like to have it on white bread with American cheese and lots of mayo. It’s one of those things from my childhood that still just makes me feel all happy and at home!

Today I also started a cranberry fluff, which we will be taking to the “feast” in my daughter’s class tomorrow. If it comes out good I’ll be sure to write about it.

What about you? Are you hosting Thanksgiving or travelling somewhere? Anything new and exciting on your menu or do you also keep things fairly simple and traditional?

Thanksgiving 2014

thankgiving 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here in the Northeast, it was rather eventful… the first major snowstorm of the season hit, complete with travel tie-ups and serious power outages. The snow started on Wednesday morning, and as I suspected, the library opted to close so I didn’t have to go in to work. Drew’s mom and aunt came up in the morning, as well, in order to stay ahead of the storm.

thankgiving 2014

For most of the day we watched the snow fall. (We ended up getting close to a foot!) The kids were excited and built a snow man and snow fort in the afternoon. We had all just settled in to start a movie before dinner when everything went silent. Yes, the wet, heavy snow (or an accident… or who even knows) caused the power to go out. At first we were hopeful it was temporary, but soon we realized that we wouldn’t be able to use the oven to make dinner. So while I was gathering candles and oil lamps, Drew got out the propane grill and camp stove so we could get everyone fed.

Outages were widespread and I began to get worried about what would happen for Thanksgiving. Would I be able to cook? We came up with a plan B, just in case. Luckily, the mashed potatoes and stuffing were already made. We could easily warm those on the wood stove. We figued we could cut up the turkey and cook it in the Dutch oven outside if we had to. We all went to bed, not knowing what to expect in the morning. Luckily, our power came back around 1 AM. I was incredibly thankful! Some people in the area are still without power.

Thanksgiving day was very nice. I was able to cook the traditional dinner after all — no fire pit cooking was necessary! I think everyone enjoyed the meal — we were sure full! I made roast turkey, sour cream mashed potatoes, green beans with slivered almonds, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, cornbread, and cranberry sauce. My mother-in-law brought the cranberry-sausage stuffing. For dessert we had apple crisp — simple, and just enough!

thankgiving 2014

After the dishes we washed, and turkey bones were simmering to make stock, the kids and Drew’s mom played board games for a while. I did a bit of crochet, and Drew started to put up the Christmas tree. I think we’ll decorate it tonight.

thankgiving 2014

Today I did some more cleaning, and I’m just taking it easy. No shopping for me today! There’s nothing I really need and I just don’t have the patience to deal with the crowds. I used to always enjoy going out on Black Friday, but in recent years it has gotten way too crazy. Nope, not for me anymore. I think I’ll spend the rest of my day off working on craft projects and making some turkey soup for dinner. Some down-time in front of the fire seems pretty perfect to me!

CLOSED {Review & Giveaway) Hostess Gifts and Merci Chocolates

Merci Chocolates

I received a box of Merci Chocolates and a promotional item for my honest review.
I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

If your December calendar looks anything like mine, you’ll be attending several holiday parties. I am always looking for great hostess gifts. What could be better than chocolate? Merci chocolates seem to be made for saying “thank you.” I think the name alone gives that away! And indulging in a piece of yummy chocolate is such a great way to wind down after a whirlwind party.

Each box of merci includes a delicious selection of rich, European chocolates in flavors like milk chocolate, hazelnut-almond, marzipan, dark mousse, and coffee and cream. I think my favorite, however, is the praline-creme. Such a delicious treat paired with a cup of dark roast coffee!

merci

As someone who enjoys entertaining in my home, I know how much goes in to party planning. I don’t think there is anything out-of-the-ordinary that makes a great hostess, though, as long as she is having a great time too. Enthusiasm is contagious! I do appreciate always being greeted at the door, and taking guests special needs into consideration is always appreciated, too. (These are things that I try to do myself.)

I’m really looking forward to our Christmas movie party in a couple weeks, so you can bet I’ll be keeping in mind what I enjoy when I attend someone else’s party. Basically three things: good friends, good food, and good fun. Sounds simple, but I think it’s true! I will also be bringing a gift of merci to my mother-in-law’s on Christmas Eve as a token of thanks for always having a lovely holiday dinner and making everyone feel welcome.

merci2

The sweet people at merci have generously offered to give away a gift pack to one of my readers so that you can also say “thank you” to someone!

Rules

  • Open to U.S. residents 18 and over only.
  • Giveaway will close at 12 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, December 19, 2013.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and posted on the blog the next morning. To enter, please leave a comment telling me what qualities you think make a great hostess OR a party that you are looking forward to this holiday season.

And don’t forget to check out merci’s Facebook app, the Thank-You-Maker! You can send a friend a meaningful thank you, and in return receive a Buy One Get One Free coupon for merci chocolates! If you’re on Twitter, send a tweet about giving a meaningful ‘Thank You’ using the #merciHoliday hashtag.

You can find merci chocolates at many stores including World Market, Target, and Amazon.com. 

Thanks to you, my readers for supporting my blog. And good luck with this giveaway. Trust me, the winner will truly enjoy these scrumptious chocolates!

Snow Day

snow day

You’d think that after living in the Northeast for my entire life, that snow would be boring by this point. But you know what? That first real snowfall is still so exciting and beautiful and I just stare and think about how magnificent nature is.

I really am so lucky to live in the most gorgeous part of the country.

snow day

snow day

snow day

snow day

snow day

Christmas Home Stretch

holiday scents

OK, are you guys all ready for Christmas? I am about as ready as I’ll ever be. The pillow I’m working on for Noah might not be done in time, though 🙁 If that’s the case, I’ll give the boys their handmade gifts on New Year’s Eve — I just need a couple more days. But maybe I’ll rally tonight and get it done, who knows?

Anyway, today I’ve just been puttering around the house. I folded and put away a few baskets of laundry, made homemade pizzas for lunch (Hawaiian for the kids and Chicken Cordon Blue for Drew and myself), and finished up some last-minute gifts.

thread

secret sewing

piles of yarn

The kittens had the right idea, I think 🙂

sleepy kitty

Drew took the boys to the comic store for a while this afternoon and brought home dinner, which meant no cooking for me! So I think I’m going to indulge in a cup of tea and a cannoli and see how far I get on that pillow.

sweet dreams

Sweet dreams!

String Up the Lights

christmas tree 2012

Do you have a Christmas tree decorating tradition? Ours is to hang up all of the ornaments while Christmas Vacation plays in the background. It’s something Drew and I have done since our pre-kid days, and every year without fail we laugh at all the same parts.

While I love the idea of a real tree, the reality is that our artificial tree just makes more sense for us. We can put it up whenever we like (in our case — last weekend, even though we didn’t decorate it until today).  We can use it for years. We don’t need to water it. And honestly I love that it has glitter on it. Find that on your local tree lot 😉

christmas tree 2012

This year, the ornament hanging went much smoother than in years past. The kids all listened, and there was minimal frustration. We have some very old and very fragile ornaments that they’re not allowed to touch yet.

christmas tree 2012

And yes, there was hot cocoa. (The grown-up version had a little extra “Christmas cheer” thrown in!)

christmas tree 2012

Over the next few days we’ll move ornaments around until it’s just right. I had planned on making a popcorn garland this year, but I just didn’t have time last week. Our old garland is at least 30 years old. Have you ever seen 30-year-old popcorn? Yeah, and I thought the ornaments were fragile. We strung it up last year, but this year it’s staying in the box.

christmas tree 2012

This early in the month, it’s still a work in progress. And I really need to find our tree skirt!

christmas tree 2012