Sunday, November 27, 2016

Finally, Thanksgiving!

Everyone looked so nice in this photo...and then Chris started to cough!
(He did turn his head away before the cough actually came out.)
Saturday, November 26, 2016

At last, we were all able to get together for a Thanksgiving feast on Saturday evening! We enjoyed several hours together, preparing the meal, watching Christmas movies, setting up a new Christmas decoration, and eating pie that we really didn't have room for yet. It was a wonderful time.

Our second try, this time without the cough.

As every mother knows, the Thanksgiving feast begins long before the actual meal. That's especially true for those who bake their goodies from scratch. For my mom and sister, the baking of just the pies alone began days before the holiday. Not so true for me, I'm afraid. I used to love baking, although I never really got my mother's knack for pie crust. I always pictured myself as the quintessential homemaker who baked everything from scratch, from whole-grain bread to cinnamon rolls. Then I started college, full-time, while working. Then I got married and immediately started a family while beginning a career as a teacher. Baking became a distant, hazy memory. Maybe I'll rediscover that small joy after retirement.

One cherry, one apple, one razzleberry pie.

For now, though, my holiday pies come from the frozen food aisle. Even so, my day began early. I was up at 5:30 to drive Mark to work, and when I got home I plunged into the day's chores. I washed a load of laundry and then started in on washing my bedding. With a king-size bed, that takes awhile since you can't just throw every bulky, king-size item into the washer at the same time. Plus it's finally time to add the extra winter blanket on the bed (it comes off again in early May). It's been getting down into the 20s at night and, in fact, we're supposed to get our first snowfall tonight. The winds that have been blowing the storm system into town were so strong last night that it sounded like the roof was being torn off!

The potatoes, all scrubbed and ready to boil for mashed potatoes.

Once I had the laundry going, I began prepping everything I could for our dinner. I baked the pies, scrubbed the potatoes (I never peel them since all the nutrition is in and directly beneath the skin), and got the green bean casserole ready for baking and into the refrigerator. As it turned out, I wasn't as good about cutting carbs for Thanksgiving as I'd intended (pretty much the same as last year), but the low-carb green bean casserole was a success. Better than the original! For anyone who's interested, the recipe is below.

Mix 4 cans French-style green beans (drained) with 2 jars mushroom Alfredo sauce.
You can half this if all you want is an 8x8 pan.

Top with 1/4 cup minced dried onion, 2/3 cup coarsely ground pork rinds,
and shredded Parmesan cheese (as much as desired). I wait to add these 
right before baking so they'll stay nice and crisp. 

Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until browned, bubbly, and delicious!

Around 10:30 I was able to jump in the shower and then be out in time to wrestle the turkey into the oven. This was the first Thanksgiving in which I had to prep the turkey by myself. In the past, my kids--especially my boys--were around to help me handle 22-24 lbs worth of slippery raw turkey. This time, with the kids all on their own and Mark at work, I got to clean the turkey, wrestle the big guy into his roasting bag, baste him with butter, and load him into the oven all by myself. Good times.

Sarah cuts up the potatoes.

Luckily, I didn't have to do everything alone. Sarah picked up her dad from work and then came over to help cut up potatoes, mix up the beverage (cherry limeade with 7Up, all sugar-free), and prepare the dinner rolls. Mark threw the pork rinds into the food processor and ground them up for me, as well as preparing the stuffing and carving the turkey. Tons of meat on that critter!

Mark does the honors.

Dinner is served!

None of us ate as much as we'd anticipated. I didn't even have seconds because I was barely able to finish my firsts. The pies were hardly touched, although we did manage to finish off the chocolate cream pie brought by Dylan and Jake. So it looks like we're also having Sunday dinner this week, after all. The kids are coming over again tonight for leftovers.

Dylan, Mark, and Chris try to figure out the Star Laser.

After dinner, we gathered in the living room to watch two of the kids' favorite old Christmas movies, first The Polar Express and then Elf. There was also a little carb-crash-inspired dozing going on. When it got dark enough, we went outside to set up the Star Laser Mark had seen advertised on TV and decided he wanted to have. Luckily, we found it on sale, leftover from Black Friday, marked down to $18.88.

The Star Laser flickering on the ground was driving Diego crazy!
He's actually in this picture, attacking the lights; you just can't see him.

We thought it wasn't working right at first. Mark had it set to project both red and green lights on the front of the house, but only red lights were showing. Then Dylan read the instructions, which said it had to warm up before the green became bright enough to see. We went back inside to watch our movies, and when we went back out an hour later, the house appeared to be bursting with bright red and green lights. I tried to film it to share it here, but it just didn't come out.

The lights were flashing outside the door. They even pierced the cracks
in the blinds, casting little red and green lights on the walls inside the house.

I got about half the dishes washed up early this morning.

As with all good things, our Thanksgiving holiday came to an end and everyone returned to their homes around 10:00. Then, as predicted, I spent two hours this morning cleaning the kitchen and washing up about half the dishes. It's times like this that I really wish I had a dishwasher. Still, the counters are clean and the extra table and chairs are put away and the remaining pots and pans are soaking. And you can bet that tonight's leftovers will be served on paper plates with plastic utensils and cups!

Thanksgiving is a fun holiday that helps us stop and remember how much we have to be grateful for every day of the year. My life is richly blessed and I am thankful for so much, but none of it would matter if not for the people in my world. Above all, I am so thankful for the family and friends who enrich my life every day. I love you all!

I couldn't even fit all the dirty dishes onto one counter.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a tall stack of pots and pans...

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