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thanksgiving 2014

How on Earth is it Thanksgiving time already? I swear it just turned y2k..

Like yesterday… right?

For those of you who have been reading for awhile, you may recall that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Not only the day itself, but the days leading up to the feast.

Life has changed drastically for us in the last few years, and the excitement of my whole family coming over is no longer a reality since we live so far away from any family.

I’m grateful this year that our youngest child was able to travel home for the week. She arrived from Providence last Saturday, and it’s been great to just have her here

My RYAN is halfway across the world studying in Scotland for a semester, and jamanda will be in Florida celebrating together. We will be missing the three of
them so much

This time of year can be very exciting, but also very depressing, depending of what the earlier part of your year had in store for you.

I have many friends and family going through tough times for one reason or another. It makes me sad, and I think about their individual situations a lot.

It makes me really stop and appreciate the little things in life, even when I think I’m having a bad day.

As we go forth in this holiday season, just take a second to think of others’ and send good wishes, whatever method works for you.

Tomorrow is big cooking day ( click the above Thanksgiving link if you have no idea what I’m talking about)

I decided to start a little early this year. I picked up my bird ( tiny.. 10 pounds… How do I even cook a turkey that small?) and made my brine IMG_1080.JPG

I’ve been BRININGfor about 10 years, and wouldn’t dream of skipping this important step.

There are so many reasons to do so.. I can elaborate if you’d like..

One of the coolest reasons? IMG_1082.JPG

I brine in this cooler.. I bought specifically for this purpose.. And what’s super-cool about this? My turkey never ever goes into the fridge! It frees up all of that precious fridge real – estate!

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Here’s this years’ bath 😁 ( with my yittle bird in there)

I’ve roasted the chestnuts

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And getting ready to peel them for dressing #1 tomorrow

I’ve made my creamed onions ( my favorite! )

And I’ve made my CRANBERRY SAUCE.. Although this year I made it in my vitamix… And it was awesomely easy and perfect!

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This years’ cranberry sauce is extra-special….

I received a knock on the door yesterday and a neighbor was holding a package addressed to me. It was from a dear friend, Laurie ..

Laurie sent me 2 pounds of organic cape cod cranberries and Eastham turnip! THANK YOU, Laurie! Oxox

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I am so grateful, as It was hard to find Massachusetts cranberries (which I’ve eaten my whole life ). ( last year my mom sent me some last mintue.. Thanks, mom! )

The other thing that I couldn’t find last year was Bell’s seasoning.. Something else With which I’ve grown up.

It took me 5 stores… But guess what I found today!!!

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It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it truly is.

I’m very exciting to make my two stuffings tomorrow!

I think in an overwhelming way I am thankful for not only my family, but my friends as well. I have some pretty fantastic friends, from all stages of my life. I have friends that I haven’t seen in almost 30 years, ( Wowzers!) and yet, we chat like it was just yesterday.

I have friends who are always there, regardless of time zone differences, and that I truly can talk to about anything, and vice-versa.

I have friends that I’ve met in the last year that I can’t imagine not having in my life. I look forward to spending time with everyone.

I have friends who have had layovers at DIA and because we are so close to the airport, I’ve been able to visit with them

I even had the pleasure of traveling to Austin this past September to stand next to a friend as she married the love of her life…. I’ve been friends with for years, but did not actually meet face to face until her wedding dress rehearsal!

If you know me then you know that I am who I am.

And I am truly blessed.

I’m working hard to keep TRADITION alive, despite all of our recent changes…

Like I said in my post about traditions ( click tradition link if I’ve lost you ) .. You don’t really realize when they are happening..

And in the same way, you don’t realize how dramatically we go through the stages of our lives until we are far into the next stage.

As always, thanks for reading. I’d love to hear some of your families’ traditions 🙂

Oxox
Michelle

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the ryan story

so many bloggers these days are writing the ‘birth stories’ of their children.  While I think ( personally ) that sometimes there is too much info out there, I also think that having the story of one’s grand entrance into this world, is something that , if documented properly, can be something to be shared for years to come.

21 year ago today, I gave birth to my second child. back then, there weren’t blogs ( that i know of) we did not have a computer nor, computer access) ahhhhh.. the simpler days..

 

The night before Ry was born ( and early the next day) is by far one of my greatest memories. In fact, many times ( like in the 1,000s) I will often in my own head relive that entire experience.

here goes.

Ryan was not due until late May. I had my appointment with my doctor early in the afternoon. It was a Thursday, the Thursday before Easter Sunday.

Sparing you the details, he told me that my baby would most likely be born early and to not dismiss any signs of early labor; he felt like the baby was not in any danger, therefore not bed rest or hospitalization like when I was later pregnant with  Ali

point taken.

I left the office excited and nervous. I stopped at Friendly’s for an ice cream cone. Toasted almond fudge in a sugar cone. It was sooo good.

I drove home to get Jason off of the bus and realized that I still had not finished Ryan’s car seat.

When Jason was a baby, car seats were not mandatory.In fact, his car seat didn’t even have a seat belt attached!

This was back in the day when money was uber-tight, Scott was working full-time and working on his masters’ degree at night, 5 days a week. He’d leave at 5am and get home at 11:00 pm. This is where our family tradition of scrambled eggs at midnight began. Eggs were cheap, and Scott and I ate scrambled eggs in bed while catching up on the day probably 3 nights of the week.

anyhooo.. I picked up a car seat from a thrift store a few weeks prior, and took the seat cover apart, made a pattern our of it, and found fabric n sale to re- the cover.

when I got home that afternoon, I decided that i should work on it. It was a good thing that I did.

I texted Scott to tell him what the doctor said.. ( that was a funny… there was no texting, there were no cell phones)

Scott’s answer, ” He can’t be born this weekend, I have a study group and a final!”

HA! trying to tell a baby when it will be born is like.. well, it’s like something 🙂

fast forward to 8 pm that night. I started feeling some signs of labor. We were about to watch 90210. I took the clock off of the wall and began timing contractions. They were quite regular, but manageable.  He said that if I still had them when the show was over, we could call the doc.

When the show was over, I was still having them. Scott said, ” are you sure you are in labor? you don’t look all crazy and breathing weird like the women on TV” ahh.. another one of Scott’s silly statements.

Now, this was our second child, but circumstances were quite different with Ry.

WE called the doc, He said to come in, Scott called him mom, I called mine and we dropped Jason off at our neighbors house.

On the way to the hospital, Scott said that he felt like we were wasting a trip. HA!

They got me all settled in my room, and sure enough, I was in labor. Scott was watching Johnny Carson and Cheers Reruns. I felt pretty good, all things considering.  Shortly after midnight I started to have some intense cramping, so the gave me something for the pain.

Which sped up the labor, and seconds later, they told me to push. I was in shock. I remember asking them ,” already? I haven’t  been here that long”

 

now this is the interesting part.  Ry wasn’t expected until the end of May. When I went into labor, I never thought about the date. At all.  Until I began to push… and out of the blue, I looked at Scott and said, ” I’m giving birth on the same day that my meme did” I didn’t think of this ahead of time, It was the strangest thing that all of a sudden I thought of this.

You see, my Uncle Ricky was born on April 8th and at 12:24 am, Ryan entered the world.

He was tiny, yet perfect.

 

and I had just had the pain meds kick in. and let me tell you, I thought I was beautiful. Like unbelievably beautiful. And i told everyone. I men EVERYONE .. “look at me, I’m sooo beautiful! I just gave birth and I’m sooo beautiful!

Let me tell you, I saw pictures later.. and I was anything but beautiful.

 

My mom and sister were at the hospital, they brought us Dunkin donuts. I ate a glazed munchkin.

Scott never called his parents back because he was afraid he’d wake them. What he found out later was that my Mother in law spent the night awake waiting for a phone call.

Silly boy.

Scott went home in the morning and picked Jason up from our neighbor to bring him up to see us. My neighbor later told me that he slapped the Polaroid of Ryan on the table as proud as can be, stating, ” he’s a beautiful, healthy baby boy”

 

( yeah, no cell phone, no instant camera, no digital.. good ol fashioned Polaroid.)

newborn ryan

 

6 perfect pounds.

Big brotherIMG_3934so proud!

 

Ryan and jasonwe went home the Friday before Easter, Good friday. I remember panicking that Jason would wonder why the Easter bunny wouldn’t have had a basket for his new baby brother.

 

The bunny ended up coming up with a great idea of filling a baby bottle with jelly beans 😉

I remember my mother in law telling me the story of my sister-in-law,Karen  going to her house the Friday morning and when my mother-in-law stated, ” Ryan has arrived” My sister-in-law said, ” Ryan who? ”

It had all happened so fast that family members didn’t know he had arrived until he was already here.

 

Now I mentioned that my sister was at the hospital with my mom. That’s because even though Jodie and Scott’s younger sister , Kristin were away at college, they were both home for easter weekend, so everyone got to meet Ryan 🙂

 

and Scott made his study group AND aced his final 😉

michelle and Ryan

see… I told you I wasn’t as beautiful as I thought!

 

but Ryan was all of that and more.

newborn Ryan

 

21 years ago today, this little boy became my soul mate ❤

 

 

flashback…. Ali’s graduation party

Hello friends 🙂

Our youngest daughter, Alison graduated from high school just 2 weeks ago.. And since we were sooo busy I’m just not getting around to posting about it.

It was a very special time. Both my boys and my daughter in law, Amanda, flew In for this special event.

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And of course, Scott

It all went by so fast..

We had her party the day after graduation simply because everyone was in town. I spent many hours thinking about the kind of party that I wanted to have for her. ( which was really good for me because it helped to keep my mind focused on that versus my life changes right in front of me)

The weather was less than desirable. In fact, downright miserable. Scott had wanted to have the party at a hall, but Ali and I really wanted a big white tent in the backyard.

Having it at home was also important to us as we knew that only 5 short days after the party we would be completely moved out and that this would be the last time that we would get together with our friends and families in this home.

I ended up calling and having sides to the tent added once I saw the forecast.. And the morning of the party I called and ordered a heater.. ( it was in the 40s, damp, windy and cold)

The heater was the best decision EVER!!

Everyone seemed to have fun ! It was so nice to have the majority of our families there and so many of Ali’s friends and a few of mine

Here are some random pics..

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Yes.. Flat Dave was the first party guest… With my family, I’m not surprised at all

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Ali with a few of her friends

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My adorable niece, Kalli

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Lots of family, including Scott’s 102 year old grandmother!!!

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A lot of the food I was able to make ahead

I served

Baked ziti
Chicken broccoli Alfredo
Sweet and sour meatballs
Lemon orzo salad
Anniversary chicken ( chicken with bacon and cheddar cheese)
Homemade pickles
Southwestern bean salad

Lots of snacks and drinks including homemade sangria!

I have all of the recipes that I used in case you are interested. Everything was easy to make a head of time and came out great ( I think)

Of course, I have zero pics of the food, except for the cake and cupcakes 😉

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It was everything that I envisioned her party to be.. We are all so proud of her!!

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It may have been cold and raw outside but it didn’t matter… The love inside that tent was awesome… ( not to mention the fabulous heater 😉 )

Oxox

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taking a bath..

here we are friends… Thanksgiving week.  For some it is exciting, for some it is a difficult time of the year.

 

I have been on both sides if that coin throughout the years…I wish that I had advice for friends of mine having a tough time this year.. just know that I am thinking of you 🙂

 

If you have been following me for a while, or happen to know me personally, then you know that cooking  Thanksgiving dinner is my FAVORITE thing to do in the world!  To me it’s not a chore, it’s a privilege. The days leading up to Turkey day are just as much of a holiday for me as the actual day, You can read more about that  HERE..

 

Today is the Tuesday before, which I have dubbed ‘ big shopping day’…. NO not he day where everyone comes out at 1 am in their pajamas and runs over fellow human beings also in the holiday ‘spirit’ in order to save a buck on GI joe…. I;m talking about the day that I get up very early, go shopping for all of the food that I will need to prepare my meal.

 

Being organized is key. If you know me then you know that organization … yeah… not so much for me, *I* am a multi-tasker. A multi tasker of epic proportions…

 

in fact, while I am typing this, I am doing laundry, wrapping Christmas presents ( the 2 that I have) talking to Ali, listening to some pretty music and bandaging up my finger.

 

All at once.   So to calm my self to a place where I focus on *JUST* shopping for this one meal… it’s a challenge.  But I work myself up for it… and each year I succeed.

 

early in the morning, the grocery store employees are really nice… not that they aren’t nice later in the day, but they are tired..  really tired.  And who could blame them?

You also met other nice ‘early morning’ people… I met a lady this morning who went out of her way to tell me what a great buy the sweet potatoes were.  And where to find them.  I told her about the nutritional benefits of them, next thing you know, we were having coffee and we booked a trip to the Bahamas for a weekend retreat together.

 

just kidding.   everything beyond the coffee part was silly….  but people can be so nice sometimes that it makes you remember why you are thankful.

 

*****  she’s a- rambling again*****…….  ok.. down to business.

on big shopping day, I don’t really do a lot of cooking.. a lot of it is prep….

 

I do make my CRANBERRY SAUCE….. ( which by the way the recipe was from my old friend Mr.s M  who NEVER steered me wrong with a recipe.

A few years back, Scott and I decided  to try to brine our bird.  Brining does a lot of things…. the salt brings out the impurities, the flavor of what you brine with gets taken into the bird, and the salt helps hole the moisture , making for a very moist, delicious bird… But there is one extra benefit that we discovered after a few years of trial and error.

 

stick with me here….here is what is in my basic brine

Kosher salt ( very important to not use baking salt) I use Morton’s in the big blue box

Sugar…  I used brown sugar

peppercorns

citrus…  assorted.. have fun with it!

I onion, peeled & chopped

 

fresh thyme, parsley,  sage, and Rosemary

 

In the past we have tried to mix the brine in a large bowl and keep in in the fridge….   one year we brined in the sink, taking turns to get up and add ice al night long ( to keep the temp cold enough.

 

then somewhere along the way, we learned about this….

 

to you it may look like a cooler, but for our turkey of the year, it is a deluxe bathtub…..

I start by boiling about a cup of water…  add the salt and the sugar to the *clean* cooler then add the boiling water and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.

 

cut the citrus in wedges and squeeze the juice in with the mix & drop the rinds right in there.  Rough chop the herbs, dump the peppercorns and fill the cooler halfway with ice.

Next, rinse the bird ( by now you should have named him…..  our bird this year is Theodore ) and careful submerge him in his custom made bath.

 

The only thing that is REALLY important here  you need to keep the temp 38 degrees or lower…  this is easy to do by adding ice cubes along the way…  just use a thermometer .. because you are using a cooler, the temp stays more regulated than if you used a bowl or bucket… Just make sure that you put the cover on tightly…

 

 

Now here Teddy is, all soaking…and you may be wondering.. what are the cranberries doing in there????  Truth is…  I ran out of ice and the temp wasn’t low enough…. but I did have an extra bag of frozen cranberries in the freezer……. so I added them, and presto, temp right where I wanted it to be 🙂

 

I usally brine for close to 48 hours.  anything for 24 on is fine.

 

the other cool thing about using a cooler, is that it frees up space in your fridge!  Teddy cam right from the store to his bath.. leaving my fridge open for all of the veggies that I look forward to preparing tomorrow!

 

sadly, after I got Teddy Bathing, I cut my finger pretty bad on broken glass in the basement.. timing couldn’t  be worse..  So I’m slacking on a little bit of the prep work this afternoon and taking it easy…..  but I have  all of the necessary things to wrap and protect it, so I’ll be ok.. and  full steam ahead in the morning!!

 

If you are cooking, have fun with it…. it you are a guest, have fun with that…. and if you are looking for a crazy after dinner tradition, come over to my house….  things get a little wierd Thanksgiving afternoon.

 

I can’t wait to share it all with you 🙂

 

be thankful <31

 

 

PST*****   Happy Birthday to my litte sister, Jodie!!!!!! whoo hoot!!!

 

 

 

My most prized possession….

Other than my family, of course… I have one favorite item in my home. If my house was on fire, I would run back in for this item.

 I had wanted the Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding/ shower gift, but I did not receive it. When I was married for about a year, my grandparents, my memere and  pepere, (who btw~ absolutely ROCKED) gave me the cookbook for Christmas. We lived about 3 hours away from them.

After spending Christmas at their house I had returned home and my grandmother had called me;  She  asked me to plan a visit  in the near future for me to bring back the cookbook. She was upset that she did not write in it. I thought this was the silliest thing ever,  but a month later, I made the drive to go visit, and she wrote in my book.

She passed away the following year just a few days before Christmas. That had been my last Christmas with her.

I treasure this book. I miss my grandparents each and every day…….

they were two very special, selfless, loving people

from that beloved cookbook comes this recipe.. a recipe that I make every year, chocolate crinkles….

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
4 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled ( I use bakers’ chocolate)
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix granulated sugar, oil, vanilla, and chocolate. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour , baking powder & salt. Cover and refrigerate at least  3 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoonful into powdered sugar ; roll around to coat . Shape into balls. Place about 2 inches on greased cookie sheet. Bake until almost no indentation remains when touched… 10-12 minutes.

now, I have to be honest and let you know that despite the fact that I make these annually, I’ve never had them come out correctly. Until this year 🙂
Last year the looked beautiful, but could break a tooth. I used it as my centerpiece for my cookie party because they looked pretty, but we had to put up a sign that said
‘for display only’

thank you for letting me share my memory with you….. I think that this story has much to do with my passion for cooking….
on another note….. I am SO excited for tomorrow’s cookie!!!!
I am practically bursting at the seams!!!!!!
thanks for reading!
oxox ~michelle

And so December has begun

Many years ago, when my children, now 14, 16 & 22 were little, I took the month of December and baked a different cookie recipe each day. I would freeze a good portion of the cookies… On Christmas Eve I pulled from my freezer a wonderful array of cookies!!   I had the kids in the kitchen helping me all the time.

Remembering that year with fond memories, I have decided to do that again this year, and I will share my recipes & experiences with you!!

oxox ~michelle

P.S… that adorable little Elf in the corner up there, is Farkle.. our elf on a shelf…. He is very good to us….

He surprised us with a lovely Advent Calendar on Monday..

 He magically fills it with all sorts of surprises!!!!!  

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