Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Hello dear friends–  Our house if full today.  Lulu’s come in the door with her arms full of chocolate cake, stuffing, sweet potatoes and her legendary dinner rolls.  The great grandparents are settled on the sofa and 4 little grand-girls are squealing around the house.  Pretty perfect!

I’m hoping you’re sitting down around the table today with people you hold dear.  I hope there’s hugs and laughs and extravagant thanks for the blessings of this year.

And so truly thankful for you all who read this little blog– it’s a joy to have blog-friends to talk with from near and far.

“Give thanks to the Lord, … Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of his wonderful acts. Glory in his name.  Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”                –1 Chronicles 6:8-10

P.S. thank you to pandagun.tumbler.com for the turkey graphic

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.

Bittersweet Thanksgiving

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Hello friends– I’m wondering about your Thanksgiving.  Was the turkey tender, the cranberries tart?  Did you eat too much pie and was there a baby or two to pass from lap to lap?

We had a sweet day with our kids in San Francisco and all our son-in-law’s extended family –with a new baby, some memorable pecan pie and an after dinner walk up the hill to see the sunset over the ocean.

But this week we also had an alarming health scare in the family.  Hospital stays, anxious nights and prayers for God’s love and mercy.  The difficult side of life.  I’m hopeful for a good recovery and thankful to be back home with my mom tonight.

Here’s a few of my favorite memories of the week up north (grand-kids, grandparents and that pie!) :
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Thankful Ani & Brian for the days with you and that baby Lois.

The Wonder of Thanksgiving

d99090“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
–G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936, British writer, poet, philosopher)

I’m hoping to lose myself in wonder this Thanksgiving, recounting all the tender blessings of God in my life.  I wonder that he calls me his child, at the blessing of our much loved family and dear trusted friends that surround us.  I wonder at the beauty of the maple trees in the yard and the tin hands of baby Lois.  And I wonder at new friends, who read here and start conversations back and forth.   Lost in the wonder of God’s goodness– so thankful.

and thanks to silhouette design store for the graphic.

30 Days of Gratitude

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Hello Friends– It’s November 1st.  When our kids were small, it was the day we posted “The Thankful Heart Chart” on the fridge so they could draw pictures (donuts and dads, dancing and dogs…)  all month to show how they were thankful. I have well over 20 of those precious charts folded and tucked away in a file.  Love them.

But now our kids are grown and out, I need to continue daily thanks this month of Thanksgiving.  So I have a little list.  My plan is to answer one of these questions a day– just writing a word or two on my calendar until I have a whole month of thankfulness accrued.  I thought you might like the list too…

So here’s a list of 30 questions, one a day, to urge our hearts to be a little more grateful.

#1. What made you smile today?
#2. What is the thing you love the most about the person closest you?
#3. What is some comfort at home you are grateful for?
#4. What accomplishments in your life have brought you the most happiness?
#5. What has changed in the last year, that you are grateful for?
#6. What is the best part of autumn for you?
#7. What is something a family member did this week that gave you joy?
#8. What is something beautiful you saw today?
#9. What is something that was hard for you, but you did it anyway?
#10. What made you laugh today?
#11. What was your favorite family outing you went on this past year?
#12. What is your biggest talent?
#13. What gift did you love receiving this year?
#14. What is something that you love in nature?
#15. What is the sweetest thing that happened today?
#16. What is your favorite family tradition?
#17. What is one kindness someone did for you this week?
#18. What do you love about your parents/grandparents?
#19. What do you enjoy about the place that you live?
#20. What do you love about one (or more) of your friends?
#21. What trial or challenge has strengthened you?
#22. What is a dear memory from your childhood?
#23. What is the best part of your job?
#24. What freedoms are you grateful for?
#25. What occasion have you enjoyed with friends this month?
#26. What thing in your life gives you strength?
#27. What have you read/heard this year that made a difference in your life?
#28. What things in your days give you quiet and peace?
#29. What day in the last year brought you pure joy?
#30. What can I do to express your thanks for all these things?

All this thankfulness from my heart goes to the God is good and merciful and faithful in his immense love for us.

“Many, O Lord my god, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”
Psalm 40:5

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thank you margeretbergart.com for the graphic.

Early Thanksgiving

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Hello all– Of course I have my share of cranky wake ups, but like Emerson, I woke this morning full of thanksgiving.  This past week has been one of the sweetest– the safe arrival of little baby Lois, days caring for her with Ani & Brian.  And it’s been made all the more sweet sharing the joy with family and friends, old and new.  So any notes, happy phone calls, texts, encouraging words…  Joy passed all around.

So I thank God for this new little soul–so much ahead for her.  It makes me happy to imagine her years to come ( I told her about reading books together and going to the zoo).  And I am utterly thankful for Larry (my co-grandparent), for family who’ve called and texted and (kindly) demanded daily photos!  For friends with beautiful thoughts and words of love.  And the happiness of watching Ani & Brian step into parenthood so deftly.  My heart is full.  I am thankful.

Here’s Ani & Brian with little Lois at the Apple store (Thanks Bri for helping get my laptop fixed!)
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thanks anchor-imparo for the Emerson quote.

Giving Thanks Again

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We’re on it today– pumpkin and chocolate tarts in the oven, shining up the grand-girls for the big family gathering, roasting maple carrots, collecting everyone to head over to the feast…

We’re just about too busy to be thankful.  So I want to take the moment, to settle my heart.

I’m remembering this year since the last Thanksgiving– easy to be thankful for hikes with the grand-girls, meals with old friends, intriguing books, quiet Friday nights with Larry, long talks with my mom…  But there were days that were much harder to give thanks– an unexpected illness, tensions at work that surprised me, misunderstandings that had to talked out…

And have you seen lately, so many articles, anecdotes on how being thankful makes you happier?  I’m working on it!  Today with all our kids together, a table full of bounty, sunshine through the windows in San Francisco, it’s easy to be truly thankful. But even when disagreeable days loom, I’m hoping to be doggedly thankful, happy to count God’s gifts.  Life is rich and God is good.  I remain thankful.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
–I Thessalonians 8:18

Counting Blessings

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Hi friends– Are you a late night worrier?  I’m especially good at it.  At times I can drum up enough worries to keep me awake for hours.  But on the other hand– I do love this counting blessings plan.

Isn’t that what Thanksgiving time reminds us to do?  My 4th graders in room #2 are beavering away on their “Thankful Heart Charts” to fill them up before the holiday.  They draw on things like donuts and Minecraft as well as moms and math and God.

And I’m trying to remind myself of blessings through my days this month.  We’ve been blessed with our cozy small house, with friends of many years and our kids we’ll be with Thanksgiving week.  And there’s more blessings, if I just keep counting.  I’m hoping to be awash with thankfulness for blessings, large and small as Thanksgiving comes along.

I’m sure you have your own list of ways you’ve been blessed.  I’m hoping you and I can both slow down enough to be true blessing counters in this season of Thanksgiving.

“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.”     –Epsesians 5:19-20

San Francisco Thanksgiving

LYCfGTOTWWB7-3oMm_qV9D62pCUlgSsIzE-v7eLkr6UHi friends– Just home from a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with all of our kids– the first time we’ve all been together like this since 2009!  You know that warms an old mother’s heart!!  Here’s the “great eight” of our rollicking sweet time together:

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IMG_3051     Kt0k5JOUeYnAA6pTthAiqSt4MKLPGUrwZaUqMwahauc     #1. Our Thanksgiving Dinner– Jessica set the prettiest table and piled our plates with all those Thanksgiving dishes that make it feel like a day to give thanks.

mGoRZXVBWp1iSxpOttaReZwoHcTvZXmFK0WZxbC8i0Y     8nGwFM361svm0NMuJ-gOVUp2muhYmLxDqu4D30sYIfk

ogiMK2J8RGR8LV36Wqb8QMrHASFttPXdMaQQeSDrRLo     BHgox5b68o9G0q3uqBywAHZgEJMprzAK6P63NGgypH8#2.  Thanksgiving morning most of the family hiked off to Land’s end in view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean beyond.

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IMG_3090     IMG_3088     #3.  Ani & Brian invited us all in for a post Thanksgiving Brunch– serving up Chinese “jook” laced with turkey—supplied by Brian’s mom, along with her amazing pecan pie!!

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#4.  Our most elegant meal was hosted by Aaron & Jessica at Spruce– all dressed up in our best, sitting by the fireplace, a beautifully served meal   –even the grand-girls were impressed!  And I loved the time at the end of the meal to share around the table why we were thankful.

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IMG_3095     IMG_3164#5.  And you know we loved, loved having those grand-girls at arms length!

IMG_3213     IMG_3220#6.  Saturday morning Jessica brought us all to her favorite florist for a wreath making class– clipping and wiring and arranging. Oh, and snacking on tea goodies and mimosas.   It couldn’t have been more fun!!

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IMG_3243     IMG_3246#7.  And I learned how to make the Best Pizza from Jessica and her pizza steel!  It was grand — from rounding up pizza supplies at Bi Rite to the chopping, sprinkling and pulling those piping hot pizzas from the oven.

aHqxUJxo_ceSM0AIZZBrSPNQTqdqPDaks_0Txpdd36E#8.  And of course, the very best, was all just being together.  So thankful for the time with those kids.

Giving Thanks

IMG_0634Hello all–  How was your week?  Have you bought a turkey yet?  Planning pies?   Hope you have cozy plans for Thanksgiving ahead with family and friends…

We’re gladly anticipating Thanksgiving here–Of course, I’m deeply thankful for our smallish but cozy home, for our family far and wide, for dear friends and usually pleasant jobs.

And for small things– like the camellia’s blooming early this year in the yard, pumpkin bran muffins on the kitchen counter, yesterday’s breakfast with friends, but there’s really something much more…

I’m profoundly thankful for God, immense enough to create the universe with a word and at once, able to know the secrets and prayers of my heart here in my small corner.  What could be more truly awesome than that?  I am so very thankful to know him and be his.

“for in Him, we live, and love and have our being.”   Acts  17:28  So true.

 

 

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P.S.– Last weekend the Grand-girls (and their parents!) were here, we spent an afternoon drawing on the kitchen floor to fill this year’s Thankful Heart Chart.  Those girls are thankful for mom & dad, for birthday cakes & Little Mermaid costumes, for donuts and Harry the dog…
And I’m so very thankful for them.

Back to School Thanksgiving

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A class full of fourth graders with our teacher Mrs. Mitchell at Wilson School (1961).  

Hi there– We started back to school last week.  And after our first few days together, there’s a lot to be thankful for.  So Thanksgiving is coming a bit early, counting God’s blessing for the school year ahead…

#1.  Those bright eyed “school girls” who come in early and start in on reading quizzes and morning math problems…

#2.  That little cluster of soccer playing boys, who would rather be at recess.  They challenge me to keep things fun & engaging in room two.

#3. That big guy who speaks English as a second language, but it tearing his way through our classroom library at a tremendous rate!

#4. The girl in the front row, who would’t give up figuring out place value– asking dozens of questions in her attempt.

#5.  Joanne, Kim, Maryann and Becky, by beloved teaching buddies who help me through computer glitches, pass along great writing prompts, share history study projects and listen to my periodic whining when things get complicated.

#6.  A new principal with a ready laugh and a listening ear.  She’s determined to help us to help kids learn.

#7.  A chance to read with a room  full of children every day– BFG here we come!  There’s a lot ahead this year with this room full of fab fourth graders…

Thank you Lord, for all these things and more.

P.S.– Debi, did you see yourself in the front row in that grade school photo?

Thanksgiving 2013

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Hello friends– I love this cheery book about a family all arriving at Grandma’s house for a rollicking Thanksgiving day.  And I have a thankful heart for this very first Thanksgiving that we’ll have a grand-girl, Baby Mae,  sitting at our turkey laden grandma table–along with our parents and our own kids.  So glad.

Looking back on the year, there’s plenty of motives to give thanks–time with our family and dear friends, a cozy home and small daily joys.   But when it comes down to my most profound heartfelt thankfulness, it would have to be that our God is the holy eternal God, the “same yesterday, today and forever.”

PALM 100
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful singing.  Know that the Lord Himself is God;”
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are his people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;  His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And his faithfulness to all generations.”

Thankful.

Thanksgiving Books for Kids

Hello friends– Do you love Thanksgiving as much we do around here?  In my third-fourth grade class at school, we’re filling in those “Thankful Heart Charts” and making plans with the cafeteria lady to use her ovens to bake 30 little pumpkin breads!  And we start off every day of November with a Thanksgiving picture book– I’m hoping to drum up a whole lot of thankfulness in room #2.

Here’s some of our favorite books:

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Pilgrims of Plymouth is one of those beautifully photographed National Geographic books.  It’s a slice of history for young readers, detailing a child’s life almost 400 years ago.  There were games of marbles and meals cooked over open fires, no school, but plenty chores to help the family.  It’s simple, but engaging, a great first introduction to colonial America.

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This rollicking book of Thanksgiving poetry can keep you amused for days–starting with the school Thanksgiving pageant and moving on through visiting relatives, the lively feast and even the post Thanksgiving dinner nap.  The illustrations add to the fun with loads of colorful detail.  It’s a books kids from 5 to 55 can enjoy.

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This Thanksgiving story is a tender tale for older readers with a decidedly southern flavor from Truman Capote.  Twelve year old Buddy and his best friend, his elderly cousin Miss Sook prepare the country house for Thanksgiving. The holiday is populated with a houseful of colorful characters, and Buddy is dismayed when the school bully, Odd Henderson is invited.  A crisis occurs in the middle of feast, but Miss Sook makes things right and consoles Buddy through it all.

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These two books make quite a pair.  The text is the same– the classic lyric, “Over the River and Through the Woods” by Lydia Maria Child.  Both books follow a family on their way to the grandparents homes, but that is where the similarity ends!  My old trusty-rusty version pictures an old time family on an idyllic sleigh ride through the woods.  It’s all “Currier & Ives-ish.”  The newer version features a wacky New York City family and includes a NYC traffic jam, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, balloons and all and a death defying arrival for the youngest member of the clan.  It’s pure fun.  They belong side by side on your Thanksgiving bookshelf.  Happy reading!

Never Too Early For Thanksgiving (& Sweet Potatoes with Pecans)

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Hello all– Can you believe it’s only November 3rd and I’m already full of turkey and stuffing?  Since my sis is here for 2 weeks from Kosovo, her kids planned an early Thanksgiving dinner while she is here.  Great fun to all be together.  And I say you can’t get started with all that thankfulness (and turkey) any too soon.

Our contribution to the feast was a good old chocolate cake and my favorite Thanksgiving dish– sweet potatoes with pecan streusel.  Lulu (my sis) and I spent the morning peeling mashing, baking and frosting.  That’s my favorite indoor sport– cooking with my sister!  Here’s the sweet potato recipe:

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SWEET POTATOES WITH PECAN STREUSEL
2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Cook the sweet potatoes in their skins (we microwaved them, but you can boil or bake them as well).  Peel off the skins and drop them in a mixing bowl.

Mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher or an electric mixer.  Stir in the other ingredients until all blended.  Spoon it into a 2 quart baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

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STREUSEL
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 full cup pecans

Stir the butter, sugar, flour and pecans all together and sprinkle them on top with your fingers.  Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Oh yum!

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Thanks Matt and Andrea for inviting us in to your cozy home (and sharing your yeasty homemade rolls!).  And hugs to Amelia our littlest family feaster.  It’s good to be thankful together– I’m hopeful that this whole November will be full of thanksgiving…

Pumpkin Pecan Dessert

Hello all– This warm and comfy dessert has been around for a long time.  But for us, out it comes every October for Laurel’s birthday.  She loves this stuff!  So when we met up in San Francisco this weekend, we made a pan full for a little birthday celebration.  And it was just as delicious as always–  sweet spiced pumpkin, topped with buttery, nutty, crunchy “cake” and, of course, all those toasted pecans and whipped cream.  Happy Birthday Laurel!

PUMPKIN PECAN DESSERT
15 oz. canned pumpkin
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
3 eggs
1 yellow cake mix
2 sticks of butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 pint whipping cream
2 tab. powdered sugar
1 tsp. instant vanilla pudding powder

Combine the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, spice and salt.  Mix them thoroughly and pour it all into a 9″x13″ pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle on the cake mix dry from the package.  Top that with the pecans.  Carefully drizzle the butter over it all.

Bake it up at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes until it is beautifully browned on top.
While it’s baking whip together the cream, powdered sugar and pudding mix with an electric mixer and store it in the fridge until you need it.

Cut up the those lovely pumpkiny squares and serve them warm or cooled.  It just tastes like fall.