What to do with all your Thanksgiving leftovers :: Stylish notes from The Entertaining Kitchen

If you're like me you most likely have tons of leftovers. Sandwiches are great for the first day or so, but then you yearn for something different... something that doesn't necessarily scream leftovers. Soups and chilis are good options as well... I'm looking into recreating an old Fanny Farmer Chicken Tetrazzini recipe that I remember from my childhood. It was one of my favorites. I remember my mother dumping a can of cream of mushroom soup to use as her base. Many modern recipes call for cream, and I'd like to lighten the recipe a touch without sacrificing taste - which means I need to run out to pick up a bottle of sherry or vermouth! If my creation turns out well, I will be sure to share it with you.

 Hop on over to Rachel Schultz' blog to learn how to make the Turkey and Cranberry Montecristo shown above.

Turkey soup is a perfect feel good food for a cold afternoon.

Turkey Chili  from The Cheap Recipe Blog, or substitute turkey for chicken in a Tortilla Soup.

Foodie Crush shares her Turkey, Cranberry and Brie sandwich


Martha Stewart shares some ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers... I happen to love the spin on a Chef's Salad... you could even make a Salade Nicoise, substituting turkey for the tuna fish. 

Leftover cranberry sauce? Turn it into cranberry butter! I first learned about and started making fruit butters about 20 years ago when I had a part time job at Williams-Sonoma. We'd make bread in their amazing bread machines and we'd need something to put on the bread, so we started using their jams, then we started creating fruit butters with the jams. They were absolutely outstanding! And what a perfect way to use up some of your leftover homemade cranberry sauce. This could not be easier to do.

Cranberry Butter

1 cup of butter
1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce

Take equal parts cranberry sauce and butter and in a small food processor pulse until well blended. Chill in the fridge to set for a few minutes prior to serving. This is wonderful on homemade bread, toast, a baguette, a croissant... however you wish. The possibilities are endless!

Bon Appetit and Happy Leftovers!


Homemade, happy and stuffed :: Our family recipe for a perfect slow, simple Thanksgiving dinner

I haven't hosted Thanksgiving in years. And the last time I did it was quite by accident. We were due to go away but one of my children fell ill so we had to cancel plans. I was so grateful to have my local supermarket open and I ran out, grabbed all the fixings, and spent the better part of the day busily working away in the kitchen. I loved it and was secretly thankful for a day in the kitchen and a quiet day home with my family. Usually we're busy driving to and fro, to one family or the other.  And then my family, so to say, fell apart when we divorced. Last year the children went with their father to his family and even though I had numerous offers to join friends and family elsewhere, I remained home. It was bittersweet but it was not a sad day.

This year was my year to have the children and they all decided that they wanted to have Thanksgiving at home, cozy and intimate and relaxed. Now, that's my kind of Thanksgiving. My parents did the driving and they came to us.

I spent most of yesterday prepping all the side dishes so that I wouldn't have to rush around today. I enlisted help with some peeling, but the rest was up to me. I didn't mind. I love to cook. I find it to be both relaxing and a creative outlet. With the holiday music on to keep me company I set about sauteeing mushrooms, roasting Brussels sprouts with shallots, garlic and onions, roasting carrots, making cornbread and sausage stuffing and brown butter mashed potatoes with shallots. By the end of the day all I had left was the pie... a cranberry apple pie that I saw on Pinterest, the recipe was from Cooks Illustrated.

In my quest to have a slow and simple Thanksgiving I decided not to make a fuss with the table. Here's where the children could help. Nothing says simple and family and togetherness like a child's touch. It was simple and festive and it was perfect!

I have a collection of painted pine cones. I've been collecting and painting them for years. They look lovely displayed in glass bowls and vases and a simple pine cone makes for a wonderful place card holder.
Below my son, Alexander, 8, is hard at work.

You will notice that no two pine cones were alike. I don't think we have two that are alike. The napkins were mix and match as well for a casual, layered look.

Another way to involve the children. Have them carefully place cranberries inside old assorted bottles. Such a simple trick will keep them busy, involved and looks so lovely and festive. Add candles, and voila, instant candle stick!

And then the feast!

Roasted Carrots

Enlist your kids to help peel!
These carrots shrink into nothingness... I bought 2 pounds for 6 people. There were leftovers. (Thank goodness!)
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into carrot stick sized pieces
Olive oil, enough to lightly coat carrots
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350
Place oil covered carrots onto a cookie sheet, arrange so that none overlap.
Place the cookie sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes until they start to turn lightly brown. It's possible for the ones on the edges to get dark, don't toss them, they're not burned... they're delicious!

If you're going to serve these the next day, simply pop them in the microwave for 2 minutes on high

Sauteed Mushrooms

2 lbs Baby Bella mushrooms, stems removed, washed
Approx 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet or pan heat butter and oil until mixture is well melted. Add the mushrooms flat side town, and keep on medium heat until liquid starts to pool in the centers. When this happens turn the mushrooms over, and repeat every 5 or so minutes until mushrooms get nice and dark, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt or truffle salt to taste.

These can be easily reheated a day later in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts with onions, shallots and garlic

2 packages of fresh Brussels sprouts, whole or shaved.
4 garlic cloves - minced
1 medium onion - diced
4 shallots   - diced
Olive oil, about 4 tbs
Salt and pepper to taste

This is a huge hit in our house. If you can buy shaved or sliced Brussels sprouts go ahead and get them, as this will save you a lot of prep time. Trader Joes sells them pre-packaged, nationally, and Stew Leonard's sells them locally. For this dish I also happened to pick up a container of pre-chopped shallots, garlic and onions. Do whatever you can to save yourself some time!

In a large sautee pan, add about 1 tbs of olive oil, heat, and toss in the onion mixture. I added these right into the pan I had used for the mushrooms to soak up those flavors. Cook over low to medium heat. You do not want to burn these. When the mixture starts to caramelize, remove from heat and toss into a large bowl with the uncooked shredded Brussels sprouts. Add about 2-3 tbs of olive oil to the mixture and mix well so that all the vegetables are well coated. Place the mixture on to a cookie sheet and spread evenly. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes, checking on the mixture after 10 minutes. If after 10 they start to brown, turn the heat down slightly and cook a few minutes longer. Once done add salt and pepper to taste.

This dish too can be reheated in the microwave or warmed in the oven.

Lots and lots of garlic in our Thanksgiving dinner!

Skin-on smashed potatoes with shallots and brown butter

10-12 red potatoes
2 cups of lowfat milk, warmed (I used 1%)
3/4 stick of butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling add the potatoes to the water and cook for about 20 minutes or so until potatoes are tender - you can poke them easily with a fork. While the potatoes are cooking take the butter and put it into a small saucepan, melting it carefully over low- med heat. When butter starts to melt, turn the heat down slightly. You do not want the butter to foam, but if it does, remove from heat for a moment. Keep the butter on the heat until it starts to brown. When it has reached an almost caramel like color, remove it from the heat entirely. This will take just a few minutes.

In a sautee pan add about 1 tbs of olive oil, heat, and add the shallots. Cook slowly over low- medium heat until they start to turn a very light brown. When they do, remove them from the heat. About 5 minutes or so.
When the potatoes are ready, drain the water and start mashing them with a potato masher then place them in the bowl of a large mixer, (or continue mashing) slowly add the browned butter, and keep mashing. 

I love the depth and nuttiness of brown butter and add use it instead of regular butter whenever I can. Slowly add the milk and the shallots and when all blended add salt and pepper to taste. Because we've not used a ton of butter and because we're using 1% milk, these aren't completely laden in calories!

If these are being made ahead and served the next day, you will notice the mixture harden slightly over night. Simply add another 1/4-1/2 cup of milk when reheating. You can reheat these in the microwave, but I actually prefer to reheat these in a saucepan on the stove. 

Sausage and Cornbread Stuffing

This recipe was adapted from Country Cleaver

1 pound ground sausage sausage (like Johnsonville Sausage)
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
3 stalk Celery, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Cornbread, crumbled
1 tsp dried sage
½ cup Chicken Stock

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the sausage until it begins to brown. Add in onion, celery and garlic and continue to cook. Stir occasionally until the vegetables have softened and browned. Add in crumbled cornbread and sage. I cheated and bought cornbread (shhh! - I was looking to save some time) I toasted the cornbread on both sides before breaking it up and adding it to the mixture in the pan. Add in chicken stock. Stir gently to combine completely.

To make cornbread from scratch:

(recipe via Epicurious)

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 400°F with rack in middle and butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk together milk, egg, and butter in a small bowl and stir into dry ingredients. Pour batter into buttered baking pan.
Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool corn bread in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.
Cut corn bread into 3/4-inch cubes and put in a large bowl.

In a large casserole dish, place the stuffing in an even an even layer. Bake until its heated through and brown on top - about 20 minutes.

That's not really a turkey... it's a large roaster... I forgot to take a picture of my bird!

I was quite pleased with my freehand carving apple and leaves!

Apple Cranberry pie

The above is the picture is from Cook's Illustrated... below is mine... We couldn't wait long enough until it cooled! It was fabulous none the less and we will be making this again!
For the recipe visit Cook's Illustrated 

Now certainly we cannot, (read I cannot!) have apple pie unless it is a la mode. And naturally, since we made the rest of the meal, we had to make our ice cream too... naturally, of course.... and since this was a family affair I had my daughter help with the ice cream. 

If you don't have one of these LL Bean ice cream balls you really ought to get one. They're under $30 and so much fun to use. You'll need to get yourself a package of rock salt as well.

We simply added a pint of half and half

1/3 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
to the inside of the ball. 
We also added, to the outer cavity, 1/2 cup of rock salt and filled the cavity with ice. 
My daughter was responsible for rolling and shaking the ball for 20 minutes. 
It's heavy and hard work, but fun!

After 15 or so minutes unscrew the top and scrape the ice cream away from the metal walls. If need be shake for another 5 minutes until all is cold, hard and firm!
Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe dish and place in freezer until ready to serve. 
How easy is that?

Needless to say there's practically no ice cream or pie left. We must have some mice in the house!

Doesn't that look delicious?
I urge you to slow down, enjoy and encourage your kids to help out this holiday season!

Feel free to borrow any of these recipes.

I'm still stuffed and now If you'll excuse me I need to get ready for my spin class!

This Thanksgiving Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

The holidays can be intimidating, especially for those hosting. In our minds we have images of flawless golden turkeys on pristine white platters, adorned elegantly with perfectly cooked vegetables or trimmed in rosemary or pine. Those images in our minds aren't reality, they're the creations of food stylists who spend hours perfecting these dishes for magazines.

Our table tops may or may not be perfectly poised, with elegant, festive place settings, silver perfectly polished, place cards, hand crafted and scripted in perfect calligraphy, centerpieces that look as though they ought to be in a holiday display in a Saks Fifth Avenue window. While we pride ourselves in our presentations of our homes, our tables and our This isn't what the holidays are about - most especially this isn't what this holiday is about. This holiday is about friends and family and gathering to give our thanks for all that we have, which, is so very much. And if a piece of silver is tarnished so be it. And if the stuffing is a little too crispy on top, so be it. This is not a holiday about perfection, but maybe about embracing the imperfections.

I've had all sorts of Thanksgivings. I've traveled on some. Spent some with friends, others with family. I've hosted a few as well. We've been snowed out and snowed in and one year we had to cancel plans to visit my family because we had a terribly ill child at home. I ran out, at the last minute - early in the morning, and got everything I needed so that we could at least have a small celebration at home. We had our turkey and all the trimmings. We ended up having a lovely and relaxing day at home and while it may not have been the Thanksgiving that we had anticipated, it was a lovely day none the less. I've nearly dropped an entire turkey on the floor and I've accidentally cooked a turkey upside down! While it may very well have been the ugliest bird I have ever cooked, it was in fact the tastiest. I didn't bring it to the table in its ugly state, but rather we sliced it and placed it on a platter as elegantly as we could.

With all the stresses and pressures we face in our everyday lives, Thanksgiving should be the one day we don't fret. No one's paying attention to the small stuff... No one but you that is. I believe in simplicity and I believe in imperfection. I learned early on that what makes a successful party isn't how glamorous or fancy your table or meal is, but that your friends and family are having fun and enjoying themselves... that conversation flows, that laughter is heard, that food is being eaten and beverages are being poured. Whether your centerpiece is a silver vase of perfectly cut, crisp white tulips or a lavish arrangement assembled by your florist isn't what matters. Do what you can do to the best of your ability. If you're a gourmet chef, wow your guests with your food. If you prefer to have your meal catered, there's nothing wrong with that. Put on some holiday music, your pearls, your heels and make sure to have plenty of good wine and champagne on hand. Don't hide out in the kitchen. Don't cry over a fondue that's fallen. Celebrate, enjoy and be thankful.

If you do want to try that fondue, just be prepared to have a backup plan!
And if it falls, why not serve it anyway? No one is perfect and no one expects us to be either!

Whatever your style, festive and formal or simple and chic, embrace it, relax and enjoy!


Stylish notes from the Kitchen :: The Graceful Shallot

image via Smitten Kitchen

In my humble opinion the shallot is the darling of the bulb family. She is under-appreciated and under-utilized. And I'm here to try and change that. I adore shallots and I think you will too. She's almost a cross between an onion and garlic. The shallot, though closely related to the onion grows in bunches like garlic - she's almost a twixt of the two. When sliced you can see that there are layers like an onion, but each shallot has two to 4 bulbs, like garlic. A shallot has a delicate, distinctive flavor taste that is milder yet deeper than that of an onion's with garlic undertones. Her flavors mellow when cooked. Try substituting these complex little bulbs for onions in your next recipe - why not start with your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) side dishes?

Mashed Potatoes with Sauteed Shallots

via The Entertaining House

I prefer to use red potatoes and I always leave my skins on, but you are welcome to use any potato you prefer and to peel the skin.

3-4 lbs of red potatoes, washed, skins on
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbs butter
4 tbs olive oil (eyeballed)
1/2 - 1 cup of lowfat milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

The lowfat milk and the olive oil makes this version a bit healthier than those versions calling for massive amounts of cream and butter. Trust me, you won't miss either in this version! 

Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil and bring to medium high heat, toss in shallots bring heat down to medium, until they've caramelized to a golden brown, then remove from heat. When potatoes are done remove from heat and drain. In the pan, start mashing them with a potato masher. Add the remaining 2 tbs of olive oil, butter and shallots, working them well into the potato mixture. Slowly add milk and continue mashing. Add more milk until you achieve your desired consistency. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

This dish can be made a day ahead of time. Reheat either via microwave or stove-top. Sometimes potatoes thicken over night. If desired, add 1/4 cup of low fat milk. Stir well, heat and serve!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots and Crispy Onion Bits

via The Entertaining House

We all love brussel sprouts here at The Entertaining House. This is one of our favorite recipes. I use sliced brussel sprouts for this recipe. If you can't find them sliced you can certainly slice them on your own. But for the sake of the holidays and spending less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family, I'm going to suggest you get the sliced ones if you can find them. 

Serves 6-8
3 packages sliced brussels sprouts (2 packages if not sliced)
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup crispy onion pieces. If possible get a fresh variety.
2+ tbs olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a large saute pan heat up the olive oil, toss in the shallots and cook until they are golden brown and caramelized. Remove from pan. If possible, leave the oil infused with the shallots in the pan. When the shallots have been removed toss in the brussels sprouts and coat all with the oil. If needed drizzle a little more oil into the pan. Cook over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes until they start to caramelize, when they do, add the shallots and mix well. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving add the onion pieces. 

These too can be made a day ahead of schedule and can be reheated via microwave or stove-top. Do not add the crispy onions until you are ready to serve.

Shallots are wonderful with asparagus and green beans and they can be substituted for onions in any dish.


Stylish Notes on for a Simple, Slow Thanksgiving

I'm not fussy when it comes to my parties, my tables and my lifestyle. By fussy I mean frivolous. I grew up with the beliefs, in both home and in fashion that less is more. A grand statement piece, or a simple piece that makes a grand statement is all that's needed. I'm sure much of my love of all things simple has much to do with my upbringing - but such is my personality. Versailles is lovely to look at, but I'd never want to live there. I want to look like I've put time and thought into my home and dress, but I don't ever want to look as though I've spent hours doing so... I want everything to look easy and effortless. Not fussy.

And this is how I entertain. While of course how everything looks is important, but if I'm throwing a party, having a small dinner party or hosting a holiday meal, there's more than meets the eye than how decked out your holiday table may or may not be. The table setting is just a part of it. The atmosphere, food and conversation is equally important. You don't ever want to be so wrapped up in your decor, prep or meal so that you totally lose focus as to what you're doing. How can you host a party when the host is nowhere to be seen?

Don't overcomplicate things. Keep it is simple, slow down. Your holiday table can be both elegant and simple. Plan everything out in advance. Where will your serving pieces be? Will you be creating a buffet of sorts or will everything be placed directly on the table? If you plan on having all your food on the table you'll need to make sure there is plenty of space for them. Centerpieces may be best kept to a minimum. Focus instead on the individual place settings. Below are some lovely, beautiful and simple ideas to dress up your holiday table without too much time and effort. Enlist the children if you can. Setting and creating a Thanksgiving table can be a lovely and fun family project. Set the table a day or two ahead of time so that there will be less rushing around on Thanksgiving day yourself. Do this with your food as well. If you plan and prepare in advance you will be so much happier and so much more relaxed and you will have time to enjoy your company and your food!


Stylish Notes on Holiday Decor :: All That Glitters is Gold

via Buzzfeed

There's something about a can of spray paint. It's like magic. There's something about a can of gold spray paint. It IS magic. It's amazing how the simplest of items can be so magically transformed. A little paint adds elegance and glamor without any effort at all. I find gold to be dramatic and luxurious and very festive. Gold complements any holiday decor. There's no better or easier way to dress up your home or your holiday table, whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any holiday for that matter, than with the addition of a few simple gold things. If your style is more relaxed look no farther than out your window...

via The Entertaining House

via The Entertaining House

I spray painted these pine cones with an antique gold last year. Some were arranged in a large glass bowl, with gold balls of varying sizes, and some were placed on a platter with acorns, also spray painted, and a large pillar candle to dress up a coffee table. I've painted all sorts of shells and twigs and river rocks. The possibilities are endless! And what I love most about spray paint, it's fool proof, mistake proof. Really, try for yourself!

Below are some lovely images to help inspire you.

via Buzzfeed

via Naptime Designs

via Colin Cowie

Now while these taxis may not be the appropriate vehicle for Thanksgiving - I believe these were for a wedding - why not find some small plastic sail boats and paint those gold. What fun for a children's table!

Wonderful Palmetto Life

via Pinterest (original source unknown)

via Design Sponge

The salt and pepper dishes made from oyster shells and some gold paint are absolutely stunning.

With Thanksgiving just a week away, have you started your planning?


A Thanksgiving message inspired by the river...

I love river rocks... I love the way they look and I love the way they feel in my open hand, against my skin... smooth and cool to the touch. Perhaps it is because they come from the river, and water has calming powers, that I find them so soothing. Their natural, organic beauty compliments any interior. I have seen many river rocks used as name cards, place holders, conduits of thoughts or well wishes and short inspirational messages. I love the way these rocks look nestled together in a large glass bowl in varying shades of the color gray, in their various shapes and sizes. And so I had a thought, wouldn't they make a lovely home for a simple Thanksgiving message? Perhaps each year guests and family members add something new allowing the collection to grow in both size and meaning.

Source: google.com via Jessica on Pinterest


What are some of the things you are thankful for?



Giving Thanks...

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the
highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. 
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

There is one day that is ours.  There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. 
Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
  ~O. Henry

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
~Theodore Roosevelt

We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. 
~Thornton Wilder

O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
~William Shakespeare

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.  ~William Shakespeare



Got no check books, got no banks.  Still I'd like to express my thanks -
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night. 
~Irving Berlin

Remember God's bounty in the year.  String the pearls of His favor.  
Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light!
Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude! 
~Henry Ward Beecher

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing you, your family and loved ones
A very Happy Thanksgiving! XOXO

Thanksgiving was like so last week...

We had a lovely and busy weekend. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving with my family. We all congregated at my aunt and uncle's house in a tony Hartford, CT suburb. There we were joined by my parents, my 3 cousins, their spouses and all eleven and a half children and an adorable Cocker Spaniel dressed up in her Angela Moore doggie collar. (This is so my aunt Dee!) It was delight and chaos and joy! Most of the time the children were in the basement playing with the toys from my generation... the original Fisher Price Little People, Legos and whatnot, working out on the gym equipment and watching the game in the movie theater. (I aspire to have a basement like my aunt and uncle's!) We dined on wonderful and perfectly cooked food. My aunt is a fantastic chef. And didn't stop until our waistbands got too tight for comfort. I met a new nephew. It was a picture perfect day!

The following day we headed to Massachusetts to celebrate Thanksgiving Number 2. We enjoyed leftovers at lunch with my husband's family. A crowd similar in size to the one from the day before. The kids hung out in the den playing Wii and with their Nintendo DSs while the adults never left the dining room and noshed on all the wonderful goodies all afternoon.

But Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without leftovers of one's own. I spent my Saturday in the kitchen cooking my own bird, relishing in the smells permeating through the kitchen and the rest of the house. There is nothing quite like that Holiday Smell! I would bottle it if I could! With the turkey I made stuffing (nothing fancy, just the Peppridge Farm variety) roasted carrots, roasted brussel sprouts and spicy garbanzo beans lightly sauteed in olive oil. My gravy came out perfectly! This was a slightly healthier Thanksgiving and delicious no less delicious than the unhealthier meals I have had in the past!

And then I realized something yesterday. I'm not the biggest fan of leftover turkey! I find it tougher and gamier than chicken. I feel the same about the turkey from the deli. So we'll have something else for our Christmas celebration with my parents. I'm putting my husband to work. He'll be making a paella. A delicious, mouth watering paella. Oh I cannot wait!

Yesterday Daddy and I headed out for a few hours. We poked around Home Goods and came home with two gorgeous white decorative pillows for our bed. The bedroom gets repainted this week. I've picked a Benajmin Moore color called Azure. Like the Cote D'Azur of my childhood summers in France. It's a stunning color. We'll need new bedding and it will have to go with our new paint color and my new pillows!

From there we hit Target and attempted to make a dent in the kid's Christmas gifts. And a dent we did make! I brought along the kids Christmas lists. Clearly written was that Christopher wanted a Cannon aqua digital camera. We found it. On sale! I got a big tub of pretty plastic gold ornaments and some gold ribbon so I can decorate the stair case in the foyer! I'm so excited to do this! We also stocked up on board games for all three. Alexander is getting a Leapster even though he didn't ask for it. He always feels left out when the other two are on their Nintendo DS machines. This way he'll have something too. We got all our stocking stuffers... toothbrushes, lip balms, hair accessories, cards, Lindt chocolate balls... Our stockings are never fancy. Just practical items that the children need anyway! Rebecca's big gift is a collectible baby doll that looks life like. It's been impossible to track down. It's insane what this doll costs. When we get it I'll head to Target and BabyGap (right to the sale section!) and find some newborn clothes. She wants a skateboard too. A skateboard and a doll! Makes me chuckle. I'll be headed to Angela Moore and Lilly. I want to get Rebecca a couple of AM charms and the Lilly pencils for her stocking. And maybe a dress to put under the tree. And some wrapping paper to cover the initials I will be hanging on her wall. We're well under way. Our purchases were snuck in and are safely tucked away in the basement. I hope to get all wrapped this week!

And the painters start today. I've decided on all my colors except for the kitchen. I've totally changed my mind and will try to get out to the Benjamin Moore store today! I hope it won't take more than a week to get the painting all done. Then I'll be able to have everything ready for the holidays. I'm so happy... I'm giddy with excitement. I just love this time of the year. I just love it!

Deitrich's like Alex P Keaton... loves to get dressed up!

Where the children can be neither seen nor heard... they must have gone in to the theater!

My cousin Alexandra and her son Noah... I covet her blouse and cardi!
How cute is Noah in his suit?!!!

My aunt's amazing food....

This place card is over 30 years old! Replicas have been made for the newer members of the family!

Can you see these magnificent carrots? My aunt found them at a local farmer's market. They are stunning!

Two of the newest members of the family with their Daddies...

My beautiful aunt and my cousin...

My aunt cooking and my uncle opening the wine... we drank this year's Beaujolais Nouveau. Complimented our turkey perfectly!

Mimi is 100 years old! She wasn't really sleeping here... these days her life amounts to eating, sleeping and drinking! (Sounds good to me!)

Molly and her Angela Moore doggie collar...

and another picture of Noah... totally want to gobble him up! (Pun intended!!)

Getting Ready to Give Thanks!

(recipes over at the Entertaining Kitchen)

I'm not hosting this year. We're headed off to my aunt and uncle's house where we will meet up with my parents, my cousins their spouses and all the grandkids... all 11 1/2 of them! I spent the day preparing goodies to give as hostess gifts over the weekend. Yummy gifts... of course we had to sample everything we baked! It's now 6:00pm and I am about to pour myself a glass of Merlot... I'm still in my pajamas and Rebecca and I are trying to decide what Christmas movie we'll watch next... We saw the remake of Miracle on 34th Street that was directed by John Hughes and it was hilarious! A new favorite to add to my list of Christmas favorites!

It's been a year of questions and uncertainty. A year of obstacles and roadblocks. A year of challenges and scares. And a year, for some, of sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with those in need this holiday season. I am grateful for my family, our health and for all that we do have. This is the time to not think about our wants, desires and what we do not have, but focus on all that we do have... and we are, indeed, terribly fortunate, and we indeed do have a lot to be thankful for this year!

I wish you all, my friends new and old, a wonderful Thanksgiving... I'll be announcing the winner of my great giveaway... There's still a little time to enter. Don't fret if you are not the lucky winner... I have a few more up my sleeve!

Thanksgiving Tree

Image from Family Fun Magazine

Every year the children's school has a large Thanksgiving Tree proudly displayed in the front hallway. Each child, PreK-3 through the 8th grade, participates by placing a leaf on the tree with their name and grade on one side and what they are thankful for on the other. The tree not only looks lovely, but is so much fun to read. One year Christopher was thankful for his family. One year he was thankful for Tabasco sauce!

I have decided that we will make our own this year. We'll write down something we are thankful for, and our ages on a leaf that we will hang from our tree. I will keep each leaf and each year we'll add some more. Like a photo album this will serve as another great family memento that will be treasured for years to come.

As many of you know I lost a good friend yesterday. She died from complications of pneumonia. She will be missed dearly by her friends and family and the entire community. The next few days will be hard to get through. Her wake will be on Monday followed by her funeral on Tuesday morning. School will be closed for the day so that all the parents, faculty and staff will be able to attend. I'll need to line up a sitter. There will be a lot of reflection over the next few days. And a lot of giving thanks. I have an awful lot to be thankful for.

This morning the kids would not stop bickering. It seemed every five minutes someone was crying. I'm better but still not 100% and don't have much energy. Or patience. I posted something on Facebook about not being able to handle the kids fighting and that it was only 9:00am. A dear friend the reminded me that at least I am here to be annoyed by my kids.

So to state the obvious I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my health. For our health. I am thankful for my friends near and dear. I am thankful for my new blogging friends who have never failed to offer a kind word of support and encouraging word over these past and difficult couple of months. I am thankful for my home. I am thankful for all that I have. I am thankful that tomorrow is the weekend and my husband will be around to help me with the kids! :P

If you want to make your own Thanksgiving Tree with your family, you will need:
  • Small tree branch
  • Flowerpot
  • Pebbles, rocks, or marbles
  • Card stock or colored paper
  • Hole punch
  • Twine, string or thin ribbon
  • Clear holiday lights (optional)

* Line the flowerpot with pebbles, rocks or marbles
* Place the tree branch in the middle of the pot
* Cut out leaf shapes using the card stock or colored paper
* Using the hole punch, make a hole in the leaf, through were you will string your string, twine or thin ribbon.

If you live in the New England area and know you'll be cooped up indoors, you might want to make some of these adorable Pilgrim Hat Cookies over on my food blog. These are always a huge hit!