Thanksgiving is a holiday focused on being grateful and appreciative of our family, friends, and blessings in our life. The day after Thanksgiving our country celebrates Black Friday, a “holiday” that glorifies shopping by the cartload and trampling over each other for the best deals. It’s a total oxymoron, but nevertheless it’s the reality. Now, on the upside, Black Friday is great for getting big items on your Christmas list at bargain deals and off your list well in advance. We’re not all in the position to be paying full price for anything so 40-60% off is a real load off our chest. To get the most out of the post-Thanksgiving sales this year, make sure to do your homework!
The Thanksgiving countdown is in full effect and it’s crunch time for preparing your feast menu and Thanksgiving table decorations. Now most people typically decorate for the fall in October, focusing mainly on Halloween accents. As soon as the Halloween festivities have passed, the jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, haunted houses, etc., come down and out come the maple leaf cutouts, pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, and earth tone napkins, placemats. Thanksgiving is a holiday infused with good food and good company-friends and family alike. We are celebrating our blessings and that calls for an elegant, yet budget-friendly table setup.
Are you ready for Thanksgiving this year? I mean, really ready. I feel like the holidays crept up on us this year. That or it’s really a little early this time around. My family is huge and I don’t mean 15 people huge; I mean the person at the head of the table can’t hear the person on the opposite end huge. Although having such a large family over for dinner is fun in itself, I’d love to get your input on entertaining ideas for after dinner. Continue reading
Day of the Dead (spanish translation - Dia de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated throughout Mexico (obviously) and in several other cultures and or/ countries. The holiday entails gatherings of family and/or friends to pray for and honor loved ones that have passed away. It is celebrated on November 1st, the day before the Catholic holiday, All Saints’ Day. Continue reading
The countdown for Halloween starts on Monday. Can you believe it’s already been a year? The little ones and I like to sit down to brainstorm family and individual costume ideas on the first day of October. We typically like to come up with original ideas that we could possibly make ourselves, but the suggestion box is open to everything. I can hardly wait. What ideas have you and yours compiled? Continue reading
The first day of “fall” officially took place over the weekend. It couldn’t have felt further away from autumn, though. Was it the same for you? I think it’s just strange to see the leaves on the trees morphing into beautiful fall shades while the weather outside doesn’t match. It’s almost like watching a movie with delayed audio. Regardless, we must still decorate accordingly in order to be prepared for the new fall season. Curl up with the new season of your favorite show and brainstorm ideas for your dining room table. Continue reading
Thanksgiving is exactly one month away and the weather is finally admitting it is fall. I had to hop through a pile of colorful leaves to get to my car this afternoon. For a minute there, I thought we would be spending this autumn on the beach. Now that the leaves are here, it’s time we bring out the seasonal decorations to get the house fall-ready.
I’ve stopped by the arts and crafts store a few times in the past couple of weeks just to take a gander at their decoration selection. It’s okay, but I realized a lot of the decor items they offer are artificial versions of things I can use so I decided to change it up this year. I sent the kids on a pine cone hunt, which kept them busy and out of my hair for an hour or so. Since Halloween is already this weekend, grocery stores everywhere have bins of pumpkins they could do without so the prices are just right.
This year, pick up some pumpkins and/or squash, pomegranates, apples and pears. Grab wooden bowls (optional) in which to place a simple arrangement of the above with some pine cones. These can be placed on table runners as centerpieces at the dinner table or as accents above the fireplace mantle. Artificial oak leaves look great laid out like confetti. Not only are these decorations very season friendly, but your guests can enjoy some of them after dinner.
- Cut pumpkin in half, and remove seeds. Lightly oil the cut surface. Place cut side down on a jelly roll pan lined with foil and lightly oiled. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender.
- In large bowl, blend together 2 cups pumpkin puree, spices, and salt. Beat in eggs, honey, milk, and cream. Pour filling into pie shell.
- Bake at 400 degrees F ( 205 degrees C) for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge of pie comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Remember to stop and count your blessings this Thanksgiving.
Happy Turkey Day, everyone!
Although it’s nice to have a reason to throw a party, because that would mean there is something to celebrate, a reason is definitely not a must. Fall is always an awesome season because the new school year begins, new TV show seasons premiere, there are two amazing holidays (Halloween & Thanksgiving), etc.
Those rare moments when you can get together with close friends and family in spite of everyone’s busy schedules, are the best. Even just fitting quality time with friends is the perfect excuse to host a small party or get together. Begin by sending a quick message to everyone providing tentative dates so they can select which day might work best.
At home, gather some autumn plastic table covers (for a quick clean-up) and grab a few bowls that can be filled with fruit, pumpkins, gourds and leaves. There’s no need to spend too much money on Autumn Centerpieces, so creating your own out of stuff you already have is the perfect way to set the mood. Create a playlist based on everyone’s favorites, or pop in an IPod, then grab your most outgoing friend (if you have a tie, grab two) and give them a tray of appetizers to start passing around. It’s the perfect ice breaker.
Make sure and lay out the food family style so you have the opportunity to eat and catch up with friends at the same time.
It’s fall again and let’s face it, it is officially hibernation weather. It may not be completely freezing outside quite yet, but it’s definitely getting there. Am I the only one who enjoys comfort foods, such as cruel carbs, exponentially more during the fall/winter seasons? Perhaps it is the body’s own way of creating heat, but I must say that pasta certainly makes it’s way into my menu a lot more often these days.
I once read a comic strip about a man who claimed, to his scolding wife, that if he added a crouton to his ice cream sundae, it made his dessert healthy. Although this was obviously a joke, there is some truth in this wise man’s theory. Pasta may not be the best item to feature on a daily menu, but salad is and I suggest pairing it with comfort foods for the next couple seasons.
Thanksgiving is almost here and you have plenty of time to create “practice meals” for the family. There is absolutely no excuse when the supermarket now sells pre-made salad kits (I love those!). Open a bag and throw it into a salad bowl. I suggest keeping a good one on hand as salads and veggies should be on the “daily menu” list. I suggest Premium Plastic Bowls and Salad Tongs.
Pulling off a holiday dinner takes many people weeks of planning, but even being caught off-guard, anyone can pull together a beautiful presentation with little effort. Here are a few more ideas to try, even when time is of the essence!
- For a unique centerpiece, take a serving tray and arrange pillar candles on it - an odd number is good, such as 3 or 5 candles. These can be of varying heights and even colors. Then, intermingle fresh evergreen sprigs, berries, ribbon, grapes, and even apples of varying colors and sizes. When the food is ready to be served, simply remove the tray from the center to make room!
- You can create fabulous fall decorations using scissors, a few markers and a brown paper bag or two. Cut fall shapes, such as leaves or nuts, embellish with a small outline with marker, then use these for placecards, menu placcards, greetings on the door. Embellish these with ribbon for a more formal feel!
- Who says all the food has to be served onto the plate? Embellish napkin rings with a bit of chocolate. Simply melt white or dark chocolate candy and pour into leaf or other autumn-themed candy molds (these supplies can be found at your local craft store). Once the chocolate is set, poke a hole through the top and thread the shape onto a wire. Tie napkins up in satin ribbon, and attach the wired chocolates to the ribbon.
- Will your group include a gathering of children? Purchase jelly beans, preferrably in fall colors (although the kids won’t mind the color!). Place several of them in clear plastic baggies. Then, tie the baggies into corn husks (available at your grocery store) to create “indian corn” that is deliciously edible!
And, for a last-minute twist on the standard Rotel and cheese dip, try this recipe out!
Combine 1 pound of Velveeta or other similar cheese product, one package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained), 4 oz of cream cheese, 1 can Ro-Tel undrained, and eight slices of bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir and continue to cook in 30-45 second intervals until everything is melted and well-blended. Serve hot with vegetables or chips.