Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope y’all are set to have a wonderful day with loved ones, reflecting on what a wonderful life we’ve all been given!

I found this Norman Rockwell painting on Pinterest… From best-norman-rockwell-art.com.

Do you ever wonder what other folks are feasting on for their Thanksgiving meal? Here’s our menu this year, along with the names of the folks preparing each dish:

  • Turkey (smoked by Daddy!)
  • Dressing (Uncle Craig & Family)
  • G-F Dressing (Daddy)
  • Cranberry Sauce – No kidding: we actually eat this out of a can – no changes made. It’s one of probably 2 or 3 foods I can ever remember eating like this regularly… (Mama)
  • Green Fluff – You know… That delicious, unidentifiable green fluffy stuff that’s served cold and probably has Jell-O and marshmallows in it… It’s amazing. (Mama)
  • Broccoli Souffle (Aunt Carol)
  • Rolls (Aunt Carol)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole (Grammy)
  • Fruit Salad (Grammy)
  • Squash Casserole (Grammy Evelyn – Haha, yeah, we call both grandmothers the same name… So, I have to delineate by adding one or the other’s first name…)
  • Pies – Possibly chocolate pie and caramel pie??? (Great Aunt Lou)
  • Pecan Pie (Aunt Carol)

Since the menu was shared by the whole family, each household only needs to prepare a dish or two. Plus, this way everyone’s able to contribute. It adds that special dynamic of family recipes and memories…

Festive Fall Table

Last year, Daddy bought Mama a set of each color (at the time: red, cobalt, green, yellow, orange) of Mainstays dishes.

At the time, this color was not available… But, this is the kind we purchased – Mainstays 16-Piece Round Dinnerware Set ($26.88). Click on the image to see it at Walmart.com.

So, this year, I was able to set a festive, fall-colored table using all but the cobalt.

It is so simple, affordable, and festive. We paired them with alternating green and gold napkins (avoiding setting the gold by the yellow, or the green by the green…). On the table, we have a white (off-white would work great) brocade table cloth, covered with an off-white lace cloth. A centerpiece of a few varying-sized pumpkins – some white, some orange – makes for an excellent fall table.

 

 

Review Some Feasting Basics

With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about family get-togethers, gift-giving, and feasting. Here are a few basics you might want to review with the family prior to the holidays:

For children (Yes, trust me, they can do this! It just might take a little practice.):

  • Remain seated at the table until you have been excused. Ask to be excused if necessary.
  • Never complain about any of the food (this goes for adults, too, of course). Instead, be gracious and try everything.
  • Be considerate by remaining quiet, or carrying on pleasant (“inside voice”!) conversation when appropriate. No rowdy behavior at the table!
This is a favorite Norman Rockwell painting that I edited just a bit to show a little of what I'm talking about...

This is a favorite Norman Rockwell painting that I edited just a bit to show a little of what I’m talking about…

For everyone:

  • Your napkin goes in your lap.
  • The salt and pepper always travel as a pair. If one is asked for, both are passed.
  • Be aware of your elbows. Family gatherings often mean tight seating arrangements, so try not to invade your neighbor’s personal space even when cutting into that steak…
  • Always thank the host, the hostess, and compliment the cooks. This makes for positive, uplifting conversation.
  • Wait to start eating until everyone has been served.
  • Try to keep the conversation appropriate to mealtimes (e.g. Avoid disturbing/gross topics, etc.).
  • Being an adult does not win you the right to complain about the food, or be inconsiderate by appearing “picky”. Please don’t ever make a big deal about foods you won’t eat. Be gracious and try everything. It’s simply not that hard.
  • If you or a loved one has food allergies/sensitivities, now is not the time to make a fuss over it. In fact, the topic does not even have to come up at the table. If you’ve brought special food, allow it to be enjoyed, but not as a focal point. It’s just not all about you. It’s about a feast, family time, enjoying the blessings that God has given us.

Make Way for Baby

A sweet Norman Rockwell picture – found, of course, on Pinterest. 🙂

It has been many years since our household has had a baby crawling around, getting into everything. I am amazed at how quickly our house and routines become “un-babyproofed”. You don’t really notice the change until suddenly… grand babies come along. 🙂

This weekend, my sister and her husband are coming down – with the baby. Even the idea of this makes our whole family smile. Is there anything cuter than my nephew? I didn’t think so. 😉 But, it also makes us start thinking about baby proofing, and pulling out all the nearly-forgotten baby stuff. Here’s a list of items that are good to keep on hand for guests with babies (I’ve probably listed these before, but this will serve as a refresher):

  • Portable Crib(s)
  • Baby Gates
  • Baby Swing (We just got one of these… Having one really REALLY helped on those long nights when Ryan was smaller.)
  • Quilts/Blankets (These should be washable, and allowed to get stained.)

Meanwhile, we need to think about moving chemicals, etc. to a higher cabinet, and using all those old outlet covers again. I’d better get busy…

Casual Fellowship + Food

We enjoyed some fun, relaxing, casual fellowship with dear friends this past weekend. It was a great opportunity to catch up, regroup, and (as always…) eat some amazing food (it’s a great strength of ours). 🙂

This is something like (if not exactly the recipe) we had the other night. Puff pastry, apple butter, cheddar cheese… So good! Click the image to find the recipe.

Often, a good rule-of-thumb when hosting guests, or bringing food to an event, is not to try new recipes. Go to your tried-and-true stash, and work from that. However, when you’re as close with your guests as we are to these friends, it’s actually the perfect time for creativity. So, we did a mixture of both. Here are some things you would have found in the kitchen:

  • White Chocolate Cherry Cream Cheese Dip + Ritz Crackers
  • Red Current Jelly in Mascarpone + Rosemary Crackers
  • Double Chocolate Cookies (I don’t know what they were, but they were life changing. LOL)
  • White Castles (Hey, they’re quick, easy, ready-to-go, and strangely delicious once in awhile.)
  • Puff Pastry, Filled with Apple Butter and Cheddar Cheese (Delicious.)
  • Salsa + Fresh Cilantro and Chips

Most of these foods you can keep on hand for those last-minute get-togethers. Keep a box of good crackers stashed away, a block of cream cheese in the fridge drawer, and a couple of topping/mix-ins options (pepper jelly is a good one…), and you’re good to go!

What do you like to do for delicious finger foods?

 

Receiving Hospitality

Someone who has offered you hospitality, whether for a meal, or a whole week’s stay, is worthy of your gratitude.

Once again, as a side note, the extent of your gratitude should not necessarily be proportional to your enjoyment of the visit. 

The Bennets, hosted by the Bingleys at Netherfield. (found on Pinterest)

First off, let me press the point of how important… how imperative it is that you show your gratitude through your gracious manners. Whether you know which fork to use or not, you can be a gracious and thoughtful guest.

A thank you note is a wonderful, additional way to show this gratitude. Yet another way, is to bring with you a hostess gift (click the link to see a previous post on the subject). It doesn’t have to be extravagant! Just bring a little something to show that you care and are thankful for the generosity of your host. Here are some ideas:

  • Fresh Flowers (in a simple vase, if you can!)
  • Gourmet Chocolate
  • Coffee Beans
  • Practical Items (especially for longer visits) such as paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates/napkins, etc. These can help relieve some of the financial burden of hosting, and never spoil! 🙂

Hint: Keep a few of these sorts of things on hand, and you’ll always be ready – even for that last-minute get-together. You don’t ever want to dread last-minute gift shopping.

Hanging Solution for Lots of Towels…

Hey, y’all! I just stumbled upon this fabulous idea, and couldn’t help but share it. We often have the conundrum of where to hang all those extra towels when we have guests. This would solve it! I think I might have to do this when I get to remodel the bathroom…

Just use a traditional towel rod or curtain rod, and lots of “S” hooks! Click on the picture to visit CraftRiver.com