Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All About Thanksgiving

This year was our first to host Thanksgiving. It happened by default really.
After an incredibly busy summer and fall, we were determined to stay home and do nothing. Nothing can be done anywhere, but its done best when  in your own home, sleeping in your own bed, with the liberty of choosing whether or not you will live in your pajamas that day. Yep, that kind of nothing.

The past few years we've spent Thanksgiving away with Nick's parents and sisters, renting vacation homes in the snowy woods. We figured since we would be in town this year that meant Thanksgiving dinner would be at Mom and Dads. Well, as it turns out- Mom and Dad had tickets to visit our older sister (or should I say the grand-kids) in Tennessee... leaving us (my younger sister and brother-in-love, Nick, Hadley, and myself) to fend for ourselves!

We started with, "We're just going to keep it simple. Easy. Relaxed." To me this meant visions of Mexican food, hot cocoa, and staying in our pajamas all day... maybe combing our hair and brushing our teeth, I mean after all - we're not cave-people!

But nostalgia got hold of us as we began discussing menu options, and we agreed that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be best.

And then my OCOOC (obsessive-compulsive-out-of-control) personality got the best of me, and before I knew it was saying things like, "Wouldn't it be fun to make it all from scratch?" 

First, let me explain to you WHY that idea is crazy:

Fact One: I have never baked/roasted/smoked/deep-fried a turkey in my life.
Fact Two: I have never assisted someone in roasting a turkey.
Fact Three: I have never even helped in the preparation of said bird... no, I lazily watch from the couch in disgust and horror.
Fact Four: I don't stick my hands inside of animal carcasses. It creeps me out. In the eight years of our marriage Nick has had to remove the giblets and neck from every chicken I've roasted.
Fact Five: I have never made Stuffing, pie crust, or yeast rolls that didn't come from a box or the frozen food section.

Now, before you get all judge-y... I DO cook. Pretty well in fact, or so my family thinks. And every now and then my almost 3 yr-old tosses me a, "Good job, Mama!"
We just don't have holiday feasts at our house every week.
So for a job this big I went to the queen of the kitchen (and my favorite food blogger) the Pioneer Woman. She got me started in the right direction by sharing her Thanksgiving week schedule. It didn't seem so frightening once I realized you could prep and bake leading up to the day.

Monday-  Hadley and I made pumpkin puree from two small pumpkins. And that was about all we got done that day.
Tuesday- We cleaned the house and made the pie crusts.
Wednesday- We make the turkey brine, cleaned the bird (I did it. Nick held my hand but I did it. Gag) and began brining the turkey. Then Nick took Hadley to work with him (my hero) and I began prepping all the veggies for the stuffing, cubed the french bread, and bake the cornbread in the skillet (Also for the stuffing) and then onto the dough for the yeast rolls.  Then I started in the pies : Pumpkin, Pecan, and Chocolate. And then I spent the evening cleaning up the royal mess I had made. But it was delightful.

Thursday- Got up at 4:30, clean the turkey and stuck 'er in the oven. Then went back to bed. And guess what, our turkey was done by 9:30... since when, the in the history of ever, has that happened?? Over-achiever.  We turned the oven on warm, to keep our turkey cozy, and waited for Tara and Miko to arrive.
Somewhere in here I set the table.
Soon as Tara and Miko arrived, Tara started peeling, and dicing, and chopping, and boiling like a beast. She was responsible for the mashed potatoes and bacon green beans. I stuck the stuffing and rolls in the oven, then sat back and watch liked I was working hard. Nick jumped in and made the gravy.
Best.gravy. ever.

I must say it turned out to be the most unbelievably easy Thanksgiving dinner, which was not at all what I had anticipated. Usually the cooks come to the table crazed and exhausted, so I was very thankful to enjoy our holiday down time even leading up to dinner.
And the foods of our labor.... slurp.

Thank you Pioneer Woman for sharing your cooking wisdom.
Thank you, Tara, for those mouth-watering bacon beans and dreamy garlic mashed-potatoes.
Thank you, Nick, for standing by my side to make sure I didn't faint on the turkey, and that delicious gravy. You are my knight. And know that now I will probably never attempt gravy since I have you. ;)
Thank you, Miko, for capturing the day, enjoying the food, and being graciously vocal about it. And the laughs.
Thank you, Turkey, for not coming out of the oven looking like a burn victim.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Monster Cookies: not new to Pinterest, but new to us!

A couple days ago I received a text from my older sister, "Have you ever had monster cookies?"

Being the cookie fanatic that I am, I did a quick recipe search.

They should call this the "Every Cookie" cookie. Its basically a peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal, M&M, Peanut M&M cookie... all in one. Yes. Its intense. Its delicious. Its a diabetic-coma experience.

Here is the recipe we used with our own edits and instructions.

Monster Cookies
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (Softened)
  • 1 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 3 cups Quick Oats
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Peanut M&M's
  • 1 cup Mini M&M's
  • 1/2 cup  Milk Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer- beat sugars, butter, and peanut butter. We used a natural peanut butter that was very creamy, which made our cookies gooey and soft. Regular peanut butter will work fine.
  3. Slowly mix in eggs one at a time and vanilla extract.
  4. Add oats 1/3 cup at a time, baking soda, and flour 1/3 cup at a time until fully combined.
  5. Stir in all M&M's and chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop out with 1/4 cup measuring cup, and roll into a ball then flatten with hands until about palm size. 
  7. Placed on lined baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes- till the outside looks done but the center is still gooey. After removing from oven, leave cookies on the warm baking sheet; this will help the centers to bake a little more.
Makes about 16 jumbo cookies. 

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

White Chili & Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Today is a perfect autumn day.

Bright leaves have begun to fall. The cool, crisp air smells like wood-fire stoves burning. And since early this morning the fog has been shifting through the hills and over the valley.

Its a chili-and-cornbread kind of day.
Here's our favorite...

White Chili
4-6 Servings
  • 1-2 Cooke Chicken Breasts (Chopped or shredded)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder, Cumin, Oregano {I just do an even blanket of each across the onion}
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Pinch of Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 Can Chicken Broth
  • 2-3 Cans White Beans {Great Northern}
  • 1 diced Tomato
  • **Grated Cheddar Cheese and classic Cornbread Muffins.
  1. Brown diced onion in a large pot with a little oil. Blanket onion with each of the spices and Worcestershire Sauce.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, excluding cheese and cornbread. Warm on medium-high heat.
  3. When ready to serve,  top each portion with shredded cheddar cheese and mash in a cornbread muffin.

For dessert.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1/2 Cup & 2 tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 white sugar & 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 & 3/4 cups flour
  1. Combine butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Blend together.
  2. Add baking soda, salt, and flour with mixer.
  3. Chill dough 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  4. Roll dough into balls and bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, 7-10 minutes {Until edges are very lightly browning- don't overcook!}
  5. Chomp, chomp, chomp... enjoy. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Little bit of Fall- 2013

My favorite thing about Fall is the decorating.
And the baking. And the eating.
And the fall candles from BBW.
And the cool {rainy} days that call for a good book and comfy blanket.
And the cuddling that comes with that.
And the natural inclination to make family time, both at home and extended.

But mostly... it's the decorating.
Creating a welcoming and cozy environment, and then savoring in all its pumpkin-y splendor.

Come on in for a quick, fall home tour.

Starting yesterday- new built-in book cases going in around the fireplace. Woohoo!!! Happy, happy.

Thanks for stopping by.
Happy Fall!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

When God Made Daughters

 When God created daughters, He took very special care
to find the precious treasures that would make them sweet and fair

He came them smiles of angels, then explored the midnight skies
And took a bit of stardust to make bright and twinkling eyes

He fashioned them from sugar, and a little bit of spice
He gave them sunny laughter, and everything that's nice

 He smiled when He made daughters...

 because He knew He had...

Created love and happiness for every mom and dad.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Yesterday was kind of a big deal.

After almost two years of Nick's youngest sister Rachel living with us, we packed up her belongings into two cars and moved her into her new {beautiful} apartment.

Hadley, Rachel, and Nick- moving her in
Her amazing view

Two years is not a lifetime... unless you're Hadley Grace.

Since Rachel moved in when Hadley was just four months old, she has been with us as long as Haddie can remember. And Hadley simply adores her "Tee Tee" Rachel. And her shoes. And her purse.And her socks. And, well... anything  that belonged to Rachel.

Most evenings Hadley would work her way into Rach's room to distract her from homework by jumping on the bed while singing, "No more monkeys jumpin' on the bed!" Or sometimes she would go in and cozy up with TeeTee {auntie} and chat for some girl-time. These were their special moments together.

We are thrilled for Rachel and this new chapter of her life- but we sure will miss her!!!

During her time with us she became one of my very dearest friends. We've walked through some life changes together, and I am ever thankful for her support, honesty, encouragement, and the bond we now will always share. My sister and my friend.

So yes, it may have been just a Monday... but yesterday was kind of a big deal.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: a Piano story

When my older sister, brother-in-law, and their three kiddos packed up and moved across the country a couple months ago- we inherited the family piano.

It is well-worn and has been well-loved by three generations of my father's side of the family.

And its a big part of my story.

This is the piano my sisters and I first learned to play. It was our place of expression when we were happy, stressed or upset.

Yes, we're old friends this piano and I.

And now here she sits, in our home.

Adorned with a young picture of my grandmother, and a cheerful little bowl that currently holds all of Hadley's "dol-yers" she begs from her father.

Above the piano are framed four of our favorite hymns... which seemed appropriate with this heritage piece.

And now I am blessed with the great privilege of teaching the fourth generation.... sing and make melodies in her heart unto the Lord.              

And for that, I am truly thankful.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday: February 7th

Today I am thankful for blue skies and sunshine. 
{They make washing dishes and folding laundry cheerful chores.}

And nose-scrunch smiles like this one. 

And sweet potato fries. They're a household favorite.

 And this verse:

Psalm 28:7

What are you thankful for today?


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