Thanksgiving Big Plans!

Happy Thanksgiving–  Are you ready for the feasting and family, for making pies and giving thanks??  We’re having our meal at our house for the first time in years!  Can’t wait to have grandparents, kids and cousins walk in the door!!

So since I’ve been plotting and making big plans (!) for weeks, I thought you might like a few Thanksgiving ideas I’ve come across. Here’s a few of my favorites:

PLANNING AHEAD
#1.  Find out who’s coming!!  It’s always a good idea to invite a friend or two to round out the family, make it more festive!!  (Have a guest list number to plan tables, amounts of food)
#2.   Imagine your big dream menu–  Then go back and simplify!  You don’t need 12 dishes on the table (3 vegetables?? no!) — narrow down to the very best, what makes it taste like Thanksgiving for your family…
#3.  Grocery shop early in the week– to avoid last minute crowds– And– a frozen turkey needs to defrost in your fridge (1 day for every 4 pounds– so a 20 pound turkey needs 5 days to defrost!)
#4.  Determine when you want Thanksgiving dinner on the table– then count backwards and make a list of start times for each dish!
#5.  Make as many dishes as you can the day before– cranberry relish, cakes, stuffing, make & refrigerate pie crusts, prep veggies…
#6.  Empty out the fridge to make room!  Old leftovers, extra bottles of mustard, less than fresh veggies– Out!!
#7.  Set out serving dishes with a post it note on each one for what will go on the dish.
#8.  Pick up some take home containers to send leftovers home with guests (available at Smart & Final if you have one nearby).
#9. Run the dishwasher Wednesday night and have it empty to use on Thanksgiving.
#10. Set the table Wednesday afternoon and admire it for 24 hours before the big meal.

GETTING THE FEAST ON THE TABLE
#1.  If you have houseguests, send them off for a lovely breakfast out, so you can get to work in the kitchen!
#2.  Tape your recipes up on the kitchen cupboards, easy to see, out of the way.
#3.  Set a cooler in the corner of the kitchen to keep hot things hot before the meal, and to hide dirty dishes after you eat!
#4.  Clean as you go while you cook, to keep counters clear and save yourself from a monumental mess at the end of the day!
#5.  Have a small group?  Just do a turkey breast, about a pound per person.
#6.  Eating early?  Cook two small turkeys in place of one large bird, to cut cooking time.
#7.  If guests want to help ask them to light the candles, open the wine, write out some place cards, read Thanksgiving stories to restless kids.
#8.  Never try out new recipes out on a big cooking day like Thanksgiving.
#9.  Keep appetizers light, a bubbly drink, some salted nuts, or raw veggies– dinner is coming!!
#10. Serve dinner buffet style– easier to manage and just set the cranberry relish, butter, gravy on the dining table to leave room for a pretty centerpiece.
#11. Relocate to the sofa after dinner for a relaxing round of desserts.
#12. Invite the non-cooks to help with the clean up– supply kitchen music and lots of towels.

MAKING IT SPECIAL
#1. A few days ahead, write out a notes detailing why you’re thankful for each guest and on Thanksgiving, tuck them under their plates.
#2.  Organize a family walk in the park after dinner to make room for dessert a little later.
#3.  Before the meal read Psalm 100 and have someone thank God for the year of blessings.
#4.  Post a large sheet of paper titled “Thankful Heart Chart” on the wall.  Set out a mug of markers and have everyone draw small pictures of what they are thankful for– trees, donuts, Grandma Lo, music, turkey, faith, friends…
#5.  Play “Thankful A to Z”– go round the circle and think of something you are thankful for– starting with each letter of the alphabet.
#6.  Have the family all chip in to buy a World Vision gift (chickens, a bicycle, schooling, vaccines) for a family in a 3rd world country.  (catalogues available at worldvision.org)
#7.  Play Thanksgiving charades (act out turkey, pilgrim, Mayflower, pumpkin pie, football…)
#8.  Have your Thanksgiving meal the weekend before the actual Thanksgiving– cheaper airfares, lets everyone also have a Thanksgiving with the other in-laws, less traffic, more people able to come.
#9.  Be liberal with your Thanksgiving hugs and telling people how thankful you are for them.
#10. Kids are only about 2/3 the size of adults.  So they should only have to sit at the table 2/3 as long!

That’s it.  Hoping you are part of a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving feast with people you hold dear.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

P.S. thanks to Holly Hobby for the illustration.

Walking Each Other Home

Hello all–  Thinking through blessings this November, reasons for thanksgiving.  And what comes to mind are the people around us–friends near and far, who share life with us.

Love what Tim Keller wrote:
“Spiritual friendship is eagerly helping one another know, serve, love and resemble God in deeper and deeper ways.”

It’s Jenni handing me a worthwhile book and some sage advice, Jackie stitching up a “family blanket” for us, Lynn walking with me in the mornings sharing her studies, Jenon texting early morning encouragement. It’s Joanne talking though daunting medical concerns and trusting God in it all and Kim rounding us up to make meals for foster kids.  It’s friends (& family) who trekked to Wisconsin to celebrate our Laurel & John’s wedding.

These are the people I want to spend a life with.  I recently heard a TED talk with Anne Lamott– she told about people “walking each other home.”  That’s it.  So thankful to walk my way home with the people God has given us.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love… Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”   Romans 12:10 & 15

P.S. photo of Wisconsin farmland from last summer.

 

Celebrating John and Laurel

Hello everyone– This past weekend we celebrated our John and Laurel here in California– They were married in the woods of Wisconsin in August,  so we had a little second party (because you can’t have too many parties!) here at our house for family and friends who couldn’t make it back to the wedding.

There was lots of busy prep going on a couple days ahead– picking up supplies (thanks Lulu & Jenon!), early morning cake decorating,  getting grand-girls all decked out in the “Link’s Camp” shirts! and setting out cupcakes, setting up tables.  (The bride & groom on the cake is from Grandma Lo’s 1949 wedding and has graced many family wedding cakes since!)
     

     

Then in came family & friends to congratulate John & Laurel, here with Roni & Bret– Jill & Tim loading up on bratwurst, salads and Wisconsin cheese!, Jobay hanging out at the cupcake table, chatting with friends, Grandma Lo and soon-to-be-mom Andrea, friends & family under the maples trees…

     

     

And thanks to my trusty kitchen crew (all 7 of you!) who slaved away all afternoon to make it all go smoothly– And the Gayland for brewing up a keg of Wisconsin Spotted Cow Beer!
     

Laurel and I ended the weekend with a birthday shopping trip to Homegoods and the requisite stop at Yogurtland.  Thanks for coming out– love you girl of my heart!

Being Known

“The beautiful thing about God is that even though we cannot fully comprehend his love, he fully comprehends us.”       — Morgan Harper-Nichols  (Daily Life Devotional)

It’s true– we all want someone to truly know us, to understand us deeply.

I had a older woman friend in Spain.  She would have us for coffee and spoil our little kids like they were her own grandchildren.  We would walk arm in arm to the plaza for pastries.

And one day in her kitchen, she told me the story of her marriage to her husband.  She had been in love with another young man, but her parents arranged for this marriage.  He had provided well and it had been a fine home for two sons over the years.  But she ended telling me,  “I just wanted someone to know.”

We want someone to know…  The wondrous thing is that there is one who knows us profoundly and loves us fully– it’s an enormous comfort.  So thankful for the love and understanding of God.

Search me, God, and know my heart;”  –Psalm 139:23

photo– Marin headlands hike

Chocolate Walnut Pie Bars

Hi there– I sure wish you could meet my Monday night ladies.  They come in the door in around 7:00 each week.  I can hear them talking and laughing as they come up the steps.  There are hugs and cups of coffee and when I finally get them to settle in, there is time to read and pray together. It’s a bright spot in my week.

And, of course, we eat.  This week it’s these pie bars– nutty and sweet (a little like my ladies!)

CHOCOLATE WALNUT PIE BARS

Crust:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

Filling:
3 eggs
1  1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. melted butter
1  1/2 cups chocolate chips
1  1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

To make the crust, mix together the flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Then fold in the melted 1/2 cup butter until it’s all crumbly.  Press the mixture into 9″x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s lightly browned.

While that’s baking, stir together the filling– beat the 3 eggs in a mixing bowl, then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla.  Then mix in the butter, chocolate chips and walnuts.

Spoon the filling carefully over the crust, covering it from edge to edge.  Bake it in the same 350 even for 25 to 30 minutes longer, until the filling is set.  Let it cool completely and then cute into tidy bars!

Joining Jac & Jackie

Hi there– We ended up our trip with a restful stay with the dearest friends Jac & Jackie–at their cabin in small town Endeavor, Wisconsin.  It was 5 days of woodsy walks, quite meals and talks on the porch.  From the first big hug, it felt like we were on a retreat!  Here’s my favorite bits.

Early the first morning Jac & Jackie bundled us into the car to trek down country roads past such farms, wild turkeys and then onto a forested track.  We came out onto a tidy Amish farm with it’s little log cabin bakery.  We stepped in to racks of pies, breads and sweet rolls fresh from the wood fired oven.  Breakfast!

     

Later we wandered over the Amish market– So many baking supplies.  I was wishing my sis Lulu, the baking queen, were there to stock up!

   

We spent a quiet afternoon hiking the 4 mile loop around Devil’s Lake– wooded paths and rocky shores.

     

And mostly there were talks by the campfire, morning walks and morning prayers on the front porch. Such a sweet time with friends we admire.
   

Thank you Jac & Jackie– for feeding us, showing us the Wisconsin countryside, for asking us the important questions and praying and loving us through it all.  You’re the best.

Peach Crostata

Hello all–  When we first arrived in Wisconsin a couple weeks ago, our dear friends Jac & Jackie trekked down to Madison to meet up for dinner with us at our kids house. It was a sweet time catching up with them, and ended dinner with this fresh peach crostata.  Sweet summer peaches– they make any dessert a celebration!  After supper we walked and talked down along the lake in the coolness of the evening– so thankful for J & J.

PEACH CROSTATA

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
3-5 tablespoons ice water
a couple more tab. of sugar

Peaches:
5 peaches, peeled, pitted, cut into slices
1 tab. flour
1 tab. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

To  make the crust use a food processor or a pastry blender (Or just 1 forks, if that is what you have on hand!), cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix in the ice water, starting with 3 tablespoons and adding more if needed until you have a ball of dough.

Wrap the dough ball in a piece of plastic wrap and set it into the fridge while you prepare the peaches.

Peel, pit and slice the peaches.  In a mixing bowl coat them with the tablespoon of flour, tablespoon of sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon.

Then take the dough from the fridge, roll it on a floured counter with a rolling pin until it makes a 11″-12″ circle.  Set the dough on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil or parchment paper.

Mound the peaches in the middle of the dough and then fold up the edges inward to hold in the peaches.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the turned up crust.

Put the crostata into a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes– until the crust is nicely browned.  Serve it up hot, cut into wedges,  with a scoop of ice cream!  A fine summer dessert.