Ready for the Holidays

Here is a reason to stop fighting the Christmas creep.  By decorating early it helps with motivation to get into the season especially when you have plans celebrating with friends and family! I have been a big procrastinator.  Not this year.  I am embracing what I see every week on the Pilates wall…

DETERMINATION

is doing what

needs to be done

even when you don’t

feel like doing it

I usually do a Christmas photo and letter to family we don’t see often and managed to actually get it done.  Maybe it is slighly easier when the kids are older.  The boardwalk has an enormous tree and it seemed like the perfect place to take our family photo.

towne lake tree

And this year we don’t have storage for our artificial tree so it is the first time we got a real one.  The grocery store sells Christmas trees and we walked over to the grocery store “Christmas tree forest”, selected and walked home with our tree through the parking lot.  This is truly a suburban version of selecting a tree from a tree farm, a traditional all day event that took maybe 15 minutes.  It may not have been the highlight event for the entire family, but it was an event that I think was fun.

For years I have been talking about changing the decorations.  For whatever reason my husband only likes white lights on the tree, so white lights it is to keep the peace.  And I did a silver, gold and white theme.  The tree is topped with sparkly winter branches inclusive of a Harry Potter snowy owl.  My inspiration came from, Pinterest of course!  To duplicate the beads I saw on the Pinterest tree I found these glittery balls that I guess you put in a bowl, but I thought, why not string them like popcorn.  It was a little time consuming, but the outcome was what I was going for and it did bring back memories of strung popcorn we did at my aunt and uncle’s house.

christmas tree

Now for blending shopping, baking and get togethers with friends.  The good stuff.  The first of a few Christmas parties was last night.  It’s fun to see how people theme their parties.  The party last night was one of a friend of mine.  It was also her husband’s work Christmas party.  They did a chili competition and provided sides.  You could either participate in the chili competition or bring a desert or bottle of wine for the chili winner’s gift basket.  The winning chili was a korean chili (go figure in Texas!!!).  What a cool idea!

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Ready for the Holidays

A Day for Thanksgiving

There is so much to be thankful for this year.  Too many reasons to list!  This year we are staying in our tiny apartment instead of traveling to see family so that my son can go to work.   My husband is picky about what and how the traditional dinner is prepared, so there is no culinary modern day enhancements to our turkey day spread.

On the menu, the usual turkey, giblet gravy, cornbread stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, store bought (this is important) pecan and pumpkin pie, canned cranberry sauce, brown and serve rolls and fruit salad.  You can spice up the wording of the menu, however this is your back to the basics turkey day meal.  The main spices are salt, pepper and butter.

I really wanted to rent a table and decorate, but my son’s schedule didn’t come out until 6PM last night.  So it’s a buffet serve your self style and you eat either at the couch or on the small patio table.  This is what my husband prefers anyway.  A plate of food and a front seat in front of the football game…preferrably dressed in PJs.

I put the turkey in at 7:30am thinking a 12 lb turkey would take 3 hours, it took 6.  I think it was because it wasn’t completely defrosted.  I bought a meat thermometer and cooked it to temperature (the only way to make sure).  Overall it was pretty good.  I used my father-in-law’s method which works every time.  You rub butter all over the bird, put on salt and pepper, then put a stick of butter in the cavity, cover it loosely, put water in the bottom of the pan and baste it every 20 minutes or so.  And most importantly, cook to temperature.  It never fails, it’s a moist turkey.  I don’t have any other secrets.  That’s it.  My moto has been “do the best you can with what you have”.   To conserve space,  I used the slow cooker to cook the sweet potatoes and added water to cover them.  I cooked them on high for 4 hours and they came out soupy.  Oh well, they still taste good, but if you are a texture person you wouldn’t like it.

In the end you are always waiting on the turkey to finish so you can throw in your side dishes in the oven for the last 45 minutes before serving while you try to keep everything hot.  The kitchen was a mess.  We improvised everything.  Out the window goes any type of formal meal that looks pretty… are you kidding,?  By 2:30pm we want hot, now and tasting good.

It looks like a mess, but it is really good.   For a very long time this traditional meal has been served.  It’s the best autumn day meal and for the amount of time and preparation you make for this special meal, it’s no wonder it’s once a year!

turkeyday 2017

Here is our table improvison.  The party really is happier than they look I think.  Maybe it’s because of the table?  I really enjoy everybody.  I don’t think it matters how put together or lack there of it is.  The point was to have Thanksgiving together.

thanksgivingguest

 

A Day for Thanksgiving

Christmas Traditions

Sitting around the table at a Christmas party we were asked what were some of our Christmas traditions?  I never really thought about it, but we actually do have Christmas traditions.  Some that have lasted over the years and new ones that are fun to start.

It would seem like the traditional feast and what is served would be a big one!  Turkey or ham?  It was fun to go to a friends house once that served traditional Italian food.  My sister-in-law prepared a nice traditional favorite after Christmas dinner (which was around lunch time).  So around 8pm it was nice to have a little snack.  Being that we are in Texas, it’s no surprise that there is a lot of Mexican influence.  A nacho recipe from my brother-in-law’s mother was the traditional treat my sister-in-law made.  These are not just any nachos though!   You use corn tortillas and cut them in quarters and then fry them in a pan. Then transfer them over to a baking sheet and slather some refried beans (from the can) on them.  Then you place deli thin sliced colby-jack cheese on top and bake them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. To top them, add sour cream a jalapeno (from the can) and sliced avocado.  These were sooooo good!  This was enjoyed while watching a Christmas movie and playing Texas Hold’em.

Needless to say I felt a bit self conscious when an elder person told me to watch and not eat so much.  He’s right, but I’m like really?  I mean o.k., so I did over do it the day before and had a stomach ache.   Then I barely mentioned I was going to go running and kept getting asked when I was going to go?  Seriously?  I did eventually go and dragged some people with me and the dog, which was fun, I’ve never ran with a dog before.  With the weather so damp in south Texas, there hasn’t been much opportunity to get out and do things.

Who doesn’t have the tradition of last minute shopping?  I mean, even if that isn’t a planned decision it always ends up happening.  My daughter and I had so much fun shopping Christmas eve.  You would think there would be massive lines and misery. Luckily this was not the case.  We found some amazing deals on clothes.

Scanning over social media it was really fun looking at other people’s traditions.  Holidays can be stressful.  Not every one has warm moments or memories that are happy around this time of year.  It doesn’t mean you can’t start a new tradition.  My sister-in-law has many sayings displayed throughout her house.  One in particular caught my eye, and that is, “Do something today that makes you happy”.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  Even when you have little, there is something to be grateful for.  I’m grateful for my family and the warmth we celebrated this year.

christmastraditions

 

Christmas Traditions