Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

My kitchen is clean and closed for the night, my ingredients are prepped for tomorrow and my schedule is written out, so while Charlie is at basketball practice I thought I'd pop on here and share a few pictures of our table setting, since I had time to capture it my good camera today.  No promises for tomorrow though.  After I publish this post,  I plan to put away my camera. phone and computer for a few days and just be present and enjoy time with the people I love most.  Hey family, did you hear that?  I won't make you pose holding a plate of food! :) You're welcome.  As for my game plan that I published earlier in the week.... Well, I made a few changes... I ended up baking a pumpkin pie and my Mum made the glazed onion relish (we'd each rather make what we ended up making.  Pearl onion peeling isn't my favorite.)  I also ended up buying a whole bird rather than just a breast - it just didn't feel festive enough without a whole bird.  Nevermind we only eat the breast meat and carve it up before going to the table so no one really sees it but me.  Especially now, since I just vowed to stay off Instagram and put my camera away...  I also skipped the gratin.  It was a beautiful day today and after making a few sides I wanted to get outside and bike to the park with my boys.  Otherwise though, I'm right on track. ;)

So with a thankful heart, I hope tomorrow brings you the chance to celebrate and reflect on the things in life for which you are most grateful.  I thank you for reading this blog, whether you leave comments or not, whether you've read from the beginning or just discovered me today.  I'm thankful to be part of such a supportive  and creative community here and on Instagram, you all encourage me more than you know.  Many blessings to all.   xx

^^ I wasn't quite sure how my table would turn out this year but I LOVE it. I had ordered a beautiful set of scalloped antique pewter plates that didn't arrive in time. (They'll be making an appearance for Christmas brunch instead).  This gorgeous blue and white bowl was a birthday gift from Jimmy and I'm so glad it worked for a centerpiece too.  It sits on our table all the time.  It's from Wisteria.)  Flowers are anchored in Oasis. ^^

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Menu + Game Plan

I did a double take at my calendar this morning, Thanksgiving is next week?  Wait.  What?  I missed a week somewhere.  Between the blogging and instagram community in full deck the halls mode and us just celebrating Charlie's birthday last weekend (he turned 7 in October!), I'm all out of sorts time wise.  Since I'm hosting, I decided to get my thoughts together on what I'm serving and how I'm planning my time. (The new Barefoot Contessa Thanksgiving special yesterday helped!)  I (like everyone else) try to make as much ahead as possible, so the kitchen isn't pure chaos on Thanksgiving day.

Here is my menu and day by day plan...

This Week
1. Order pies (ie. call and tell my mum she is in charge of desserts. ;)) 
2. Order turkey
3. Plan menu (check)
3. Plan table setting, buy new linens or candles if needed. 

1. Grocery store

1. Prepare Cranberry Sauce (this is my favorite recipe)  
2. Prepare apple sauce (Mum's recipe)

1. Flower shopping for table and buffet
2. Last minute forgotten groceries run (inevitable)  - usually Jimmy's job!
3. Start setting table

1. Make Herb and Apple Bread Pudding (recipe
2. Blanch Green Beans, cover and refrigerate 
3. Make glazed onion relish (my recipe
4. Peel and cube butternut squash, refrigerate 
5. Prep potato + fennel gratin (recipe)
6. Set out and label serving dishes in buffet area

1. Several hours before dinner: Prepare turkey (recipe) - making a breast instead of a whole bird this year since there will only be 6 of us!
2.  Prepare gravy (star of my Thanksgiving dinner, recipe)
3. Bake gratin
3.  An hour before dinner: peel and make make mashed potatoes, roast butternut squash (toss with pecans and dried cranberries before serving), finish green beans - warm them up by tossing in pan with olive oil and browned shallots. Warm up apple and herb bread pudding. (This all sounds like a lot, but really it is just putting things in the oven or tossing them in a pan. The only thing requiring minimal work is the mashed potatoes - Charlie's favorite! Uncork wine.
4. About 20 minutes before dinner, light candles and freshen up :)

I'm sure you noticed a theme with the recipes. Ha.  I stick with my girl, Ina, for holidays like Thanksgiving. And if the recipe isn't hers, then it's likely my Mum's.  I should note, I do have two ovens which helps a bit (even though one is teeny tiny) since the gratin, turkey, bread pudding, and butternut squash will overlap in time.  Also, when planning a menu this big I have a wild card, an item that I'd like to make if time is running smoothly and I'm enjoying myself, but I can easily cancel too if needed. In this menu, it's the potato and fennel gratin.  I'd like two potato dishes, but if it doesn't happen it really doesn't alter the menu much.  I will just make it on Friday to have with leftovers instead.  Also, we still need to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday and I don't want it to be fast food and take out, so I try to have easy nibbles for those meals so the boys (including Jimmy) can help themselves.  It just isn't fun to be in the midst of prepping a holiday meal then stopping to prepare another.

Enjoy the prep and planning but don't stress the small stuff.  Everyone enjoys the day more when the cook is relaxed and it's not all too perfect.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October + Halloween In Pictures

Was this not the most spectacular October?!  The foliage was especially stunning (or is it this good every year and I just forget?), the days were sunny and the mornings and evenings were chilly enough for fires, hot chocolate and spiced lattes.  Every morning Charlie and I bike to school and I always think the same thing, can it get any prettier?  Is this town for real? I am so very grateful to live where I do and to experience an October like we just did.  Pictures and words do it no justice.  Jimmy and I had planned to steal away to Massachusetts for a weekend but canceled and I'm so glad we did.  October here is my favorite and it already goes by far too quickly, I don't want to miss any of it.  Plus our weekends are filled with soccer and football, also things I hate to miss.  Fall getaways will have to be saved for many years from now and that is fine by me.     I am sad that the vibrancy of October can't last longer, but I suppose that's part of the magic, right?  And hey,  it's still Autumn, with Thanksgiving to look forward to (I'm hosting again), many more days of falling leaves (and raking!  oh, the the never ending raking!), crunchy leaf walks,  pumpkin spiced desserts and scented candles - so, welcome November!

I snapped a few pictures throughout the month and many last night (why can't Halloween always fall on a Saturday?).  Here are a few snippets from around our village and home...

^^Homecoming parade in the beginning of the month. Charlie is in the front row, waving at everyone but me, so this was the best I could get. ^^
^^ Jimmy jokes that I take this same image every year, but how can I not? ;) ^^
^^ stone walk and gate to village cemetery ^^

^ The evening of Charlie's 7th birthday, we went to watch the High School football game where Andrew played in the halftime show in a combined Junior and Senior High band performance.  It was a fun night.  Charlie got sick the following day (3:00 AM in the morning to be exact...) and we had to cancel his party plans, so I'll wait till the rescheduled celebration to post pics and talk about his special day. Hopefully, illness free next time...^^

^^ We bike past this tree every morning and Charlie and I love watching it change color and start to lose its leaves.  Such a beauty. ^^
  ^^ Halloween!^^
^^ Homemade caramel popcorn and hard cider for our friends that went trick or treating with us.  Kids did not drink the hard cider, only the parents!!  But they did eat the popcorn.  Ha.
Popcorn recipe here, Printable tags here ^^
^^ Before the school Halloween Parade on Friday ^^
^^ Andrew playing trumpet in the parade, wearing pieces of a recycled patriot costume ^^
^^ The first graders making their way down the street ^^

^^ Before trick or treat.  Charlie and I spent 2 days after school carving these pumpkins.  He was such an enthusiastic helper this year.  My skin might be dyed a permanent shade or orange. ^^

^^ Football player, ninja, business man, and Abe ^^
^^ A couple phone pics of our pumpkins - C and I loved them so much! :) ^^