Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving and a holiday season to come that is full of fabulous food, terrific times, loads of laughs, fun fellowship and lots of love all round.

D
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Am I Prepared for Thanksgiving?

Before I move on with today’s topic, I wanted to express my thanks to those that are coming to my site to read my various Thanksgiving related posts.  As I looked through the search terms yesterday, there is no doubt what is on the minds of so many right now, and that is Thanksgiving food preparations.

Search terms

I hope that my ideas have been helpful to those of you that have read them.  It seems that I will be taking my own advice this year, too, as we have decided to dine at home again instead of dining out, and I’m quite happy about that, too.

I started my own food preparations yesterday and baked a big pan of cornbread for the dressing last night so that it would have time to thoroughly dry out by Thursday morning.  As it baked, I decided to quickly check my Facebook page to see how my friends were faring with their own holiday preparations.

The first post that showed up, however, was anything but fun holiday happenings.  It was an update post from a friend’s page concerning her little grandson that is extremely ill and has recently been transferred to a large hospital in another city for more specialized treatment.  I think it is safe to say that while so many of us are supporting this precious little one with our prayers, he may not make it.  We’re going to keep bombarding God with our prayers anyway.  He is in very capable medical hands now as well.

What has struck me and literally brings tears to my eyes every time I read a new update from the family is how faithful they are and how willingly they are opening up and sharing their heart with hundreds of us each day.  Thanksgiving meal preparations are not on their agenda right now, but Thanksgiving has been in their hearts every single day from the very beginning.

Let me just say that one more time… mostly for my own benefit… because it hit me like a ton of bricks last night.

Thanksgiving has been in their hearts every single day from the very beginning.

God never ceases to amaze me how he speaks at times.  My friends are already prepared for Thanksgiving.  They are living it on a daily basis in the midst of a struggle that few of us can even imagine.  I am so humbled by their faith, and now I must ask myself if I am also prepared for Thanksgiving, not only this week but every single day in the future.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

“…give thanks *in* *all* *circumstances*…

D
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Twas the Sunday Before Thanksgiving

Twas the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when all through the town
Not a creature was stirring, but oh, they did frown.
Mother Nature surprised them with a blanket of white
As they slept snug in their beds on that cold autumn night.

Sleet, ice and snow fell all over the land
So dry and parched and windblown with sand.
A few stockings were hung by some others with care
But St. Nick said it was too early for him to be there.

We arose from our slumber with a bit of a fright
And wondered what would happen when dark turned to light.
We surely had plans for this day yet to be,
But  icy roads and freezing temps changed our plans, you see.

Over coffee and breakfast, we discussed what to do
And decided that one thing was most definitely true.
This day would not be what we hoped it would be,
But perhaps be a good day to put up the tree.

So out came the tree from the attic above
And soon followed by the many ornaments we love.
Music was played on the sound system nearby
And we enjoyed the afternoon, which surely did fly.

Memory upon memory made its way back to mind
Of past years, kids and pets, and people so kind.
At the end of the day, we proclaimed just how great
It was to have had such a nice snowy break.

God always knows for us what is best,
  When we need a day for some peace and some rest.
So when snow once again finds its way to my door,
I will look forward to that snowy day all the more!  😉

Snow Dog
Someone loves eating the snow!

Snowy greetings to one and all!

D
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Freezing Friday

Baby, it’s cooooold outside!

Chill factor has dropped 66 degrees in 14 hours
Winter has arrived with a fury

The temperature has dropped 53 degrees and the chill factor has dropped 66 degrees in about 18 hours.  The front first hit with a typical haboob around 2:15 pm yesterday, although it wasn’t too bad as compared to others we’ve had over the past couple of years during the drought.  I was finishing my errands just before it came through, and it was pretty neat to watch it come in from the north.  The weather isn’t going to warm up until Monday or Tuesday, so we will be below freezing for an extended period and nothing is going to melt off.  We need every drop of moisture we can get, but it looks like we will have some icy roads to deal with before it is all over.

Yesterday afternoon, I brought home almost all of the food from the RV that we were planning to take on our camping trip, so it’s nice that we already have our weekend meals planned out and didn’t have to fight the crowds at the grocery store yesterday afternoon before the storm moved in.  That is certainly something to be grateful for, as the lines were pretty long and even made the news yesterday.

We have tickets to go see Catching Fire this afternoon, and I hope the road conditions hold out long enough for us to go see it and not have to try again another time.  I’ve read all three books, so I know what happens, but my son is coming along, and he has not read this book yet.  He is usually the one who has already read the book before the movie and enjoys watching my reaction as the one who is learning the story for the first time, so it will be fun to be the one to watch his reaction for a change.  Catching Fire is a pretty intense and emotional book, and it sounds like the movie is going to stick very close to the storyline.  The ending of this book is just… well, go and see it for yourself.  I will try to come back and share some thoughts after seeing the movie in another post, but I won’t be a bit surprised if this movie is better than the first one.

D
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Early Winter

The forecast for the weekend ahead finally deteriorated enough yesterday evening that we pretty much had no choice but to cancel our camping trip that we had planned.  This just did not look good at all for traveling in the RV on Thursday and returning on Sunday.

Forecast at our destination
Forecast at our destination
forecast1
Forecast for our area

I am very, very grateful that we were not already on the road and had time to make this decision before getting stuck out in this weather, which will be our first big arctic front of the season and one that is coming earlier than normal.  We all really wanted to go, since our son was coming along with us this time, but it was just not to be, I guess.  This would not have been our first time out in snowy weather, but we have never been faced with driving on slick roads, something I am not a fan of.  At.  All.  The only wreck I’ve ever been involved in was on slick roads, and I want to avoid that in the future if I can.

We may have another opportunity to go camping next weekend after our Thanksgiving meal with family, and it now looks like my husband will be off for two weeks after Christmas, too.  So, there are other options in the not-too-distant future to go out again.

I’m headed out later this morning to go to the RV storage place and unload all of the food in the refrigerator that I don’t want to freeze.  We are just going to leave everything else, including our clothes that were already loaded, just in case we can go next week.

The other positive thing about the cancelled trip is that we can go see Catching Fire tomorrow on opening day!  The Hunger Games series is one of the best book series that I’ve ever read, and I loved the first movie a lot.  I have a Goodreads widget on my site toward the bottom left, that shows the most recent books that I’ve read, too.  Widgets are so handy and fun!  😉

D
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Easy Thanksgiving Lunch

For my last post on Thanksgiving food this year, I thought I would share how I prepared a quick Thanksgiving lunch for four last week when my dear aunt came for a quick visit.  She does not come to see us very often, as she is getting on in years, so I decided to make an early Thanksgiving lunch in honor of her special visit.

I didn’t know that she was coming until 5 pm the day before, so there was not much time for advance food preparation.  I really wanted to serve some homemade goodness, so after a little thought, here is what I came up with.

Table Mums_edited-1
Some pretty mums were on closeout in the floral department

Boar’s Head Maple Glazed Honey Coat Cured Turkey Breast
I simply went to the deli counter at the grocery store and got four slices of this delicious turkey in dinner slices.  Just before we were ready to eat and after removing the dressing from the oven, I warmed the slices in the 350 degree oven on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for about five minutes.  After the turkey slices were warm, I then put the rolls in to warm.  (see below)

Mashed Potatoes with “Extras”
I bought a tub of plain prepared mashed potatoes in the refrigerated section, then added some extras on the stove over low heat, adding a little milk, butter and cream cheese to make them creamier and tastier.  I was astounded at how good they were, too.  This was my quick version of my favorite mashed potatoes recipe by The Pioneer Woman, which can be found here, although I made a much smaller batch.  I was careful to only add the additional ingredients a little bit at a time, and I didn’t need to really add any additional seasonings to my batch, since they were already seasoned.

Homemade Cornbread Dressing
The only thing that I cooked the night before was a double recipe of cornbread.  (I also washed a head of romaine lettuce – see salad below.)  I used two packages of Jiffy Cornbread Mix and just followed the instructions on the box.  After it cooked, I crumbled it up finely and put it back in the oven at 225 degrees to allow the crumbs to try out for about 45 minutes and left the pan of crumbs on the kitchen counter overnight, covered by a clean towel.  An hour before lunch the next morning, I chopped a small sweet onion and four celery stalks in the food processor, then sautéed them in a small skillet with some butter until they were soft.  Next, I combined the cornbread and veggies in a large mixing bowl, added some chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture was a smooth consistency but not runny.  Finally, I added roughly a teaspoon each of thyme, sage, garlic powder, salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.  I poured it into a glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray and baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until it was slightly brown on top and completely done in the middle.  Easy peasy!  I have a friend that just seasons hers with poultry seasoning, if you don’t already have the other spices on hand.

Easy Garlic Green Beans
Instead of opting for a typical green bean casserole, I opted to just prepare some good green beans instead.  I used this ten-minute recipe that uses frozen green beans, and they were delicious!  For a little splash of color, I also added a few diced pimentos from a jar to them just before serving.

Romaine Tossed Salad
My “go to” tossed salad anytime is simply a head of romaine lettuce that is thoroughly washed and dried leaf by leaf and torn by hand, diced Roma tomatoes and carrot that has been peeled with a vegetable peeler.  I serve it with either bottled ranch dressing or olive oil/balsamic vinegar right on the table, along with some freshly ground black pepper for anyone that might like it.  For my salad, I also toss in a few pine nuts, too.  In fact, I’m happy to toss a few pine nuts in just about anything now.

Sister Shubert Dinner Yeast Rolls
If you have not already discovered these excellent yeast rolls, hang on to your hat.  They are already cooked and found in the freezer section.  They only need about ten minutes to warm in a 350 degree oven and even less time if you let them sit out to thaw just a bit before warming.  I keep one or two packages in the freezer at all times and just pull out what I need for dinner.  They are one of my favorite dinner rolls ever, even though they are frozen, and we always take some in the freezer of the RV when we go camping, too.

Dessert – Blue Bell Pralines and Cream Ice Cream
Since I really didn’t have time to bake a pie, I just bought a pint of this delicious ice cream and served it in single scoops in my small glass dessert cups.  A single scoop of ice cream was just the ticket for our group after this lunch and required no prep time.

In actual prep time on my part, not counting the oven cooking times where I was free to do other things, I spent less than 30 minutes the night before and about 30 minutes the next day before lunch.  My lunch guests were so pleased to have an early Thanksgiving lunch, and it was very easy to pull together.

I’ve had quite a number of hits on my site over the past few days from people looking for Thanksgiving meals ideas and prep information, so I hope this gives another option to those folks that want to prepare a good, quick meal for a small group and not spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

I’m off to finish some final preparations for our camping trip tomorrow.  I’m a little “iffy” about this trip, as the forecast is not looking too promising, but we are prepared for the cold.  I just hope the roads stay clear of ice and snow, as the first big arctic front is going to pass through while we are gone.

D
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An Unexpected Gift

I am so blessed to be friends with some truly wonderful people, and I’m also blessed to even know some of their elderly parents so well that I call them friends, too.  The father of one of my best friends is not in good health, and her mother cares for him full-time now.  Once a month, I try to cook a meal for them, and I’ve also kept them supplied with fresh tomatoes from our garden for the past few months, which they have absolutely loved.  Taking a meal to them is also a treat for me because I enjoy chatting with them.  They are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and take this difficult stage in their lives with a patience that I only wish I possessed.

About two weeks ago, I took a meal to them which consisted of Pioneer Woman’s potato soup and some sweet cornbread to go with it.  I joked with them that they were test subjects for this new soup recipe from PW and that I was afraid it might not be fit to eat.  Of course, anyone that knows anything about Pioneer Woman’s recipes knows that they are all pretty much fabulous.  My friend’s mom told me that I could cook anything for them anytime, especially if it was a PW recipe, and I agreed to continue to look for more of PW’s amazing recipes online to prepare for them in the future on my monthly visit.

A few days ago, my friend’s mom stopped by to return my dishes from that dinner, and to my huge surprise, she brought this along, too…

Pioneer Woman Holidays_sm
Pioneer Woman Cooks – A Year of Holidays

… and it is for me!!!  😀

I would have purchased this cookbook at some point on my own because I’m a huge PW fan, but receiving it as a special, unexpected gift from a dear friend makes it a treasured keepsake for me, not just a cookbook.  She also gave me a card with a sweet note inside that she had written, and I just got very teary when I read it.  I love these people so much and never, ever expected something like that.  I can’t wait to make them a meal from the new cookbook now, too.  Unexpected gifts are just the best, aren’t they?

As I think about the gifts I will give to others this year for Christmas, I need to continue to try even harder to find some special gifts that will hopefully be remembered and treasured, even if it is not the primary gift that I give them.  I did a great job of doing just that a few years ago, when I compiled family recipe scrapbooks for my kids, as well as one for me.  The scrapbooks contained all of our long-time family recipes, and I made sure to include my own recipes, as well as recipes from their grandmothers and great-grandmothers.  I worked very hard on the scrapbooks for about two months, and both kids were just blown away by them, even our son.  Both kids spent a lot of time on that special Christmas Day looking through their new scrapbooks and realized that I had put a lot of work into them.  Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever top that gift, but I would like to keep trying to find ways to give more thoughtful gifts like that – the gifts that will be treasured for a long time.

D
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