Family Matters,  Tis the Season

Thanksgiving re-cap and a free calendar page!

ack! turkey!

I was a little freaked out with the turkey preparation. It’s raw. It’s big and heavy and it still has arms and legs. It sort of weighs about the same as my kid but it has no head. You put stuffing in its neck hole and in its butt. I drew the line there, I’m not stuffing a turkey’s butt. Then there was that bloody neck thing and the giblets! I almost cooked the giblets in the bird in their plastic bag!!

I couldn’t find them. I was digging around inside the bird cavity but all I could feel were bones and slimy turkey. So I went ahead and stuffed the turkey and then I read the package that said giblets were included so I freaked out thinking I had stuffed them in with the stuffing. I wasn’t about to un-stuff the whole turkey. I was feeling more like throwing the whole thing out the window. Then I called my mom and she told me they put the giblets in the butt. What?!!! Sure enough, there they were. Gross. The whole process is enough to convert me into a vegetarian again.

all set and hours to kill

After that was done, everything got a whole lot easier. In fact we had the table set and hours to kill before our guests were to arrive. It was actually a bit boring. So we made name cards and went around the block to pick flowers—something I would usually let the kids do since that used to be my favorite job when I was a kid.

picking flowers for the table

Since I didn’t let Bug stuff the turkey this year (due to a raw-turkey-licking incident that sent us all into a tizzy, freaking out over salmonella poisoning) I figured I might as well let her in on another family tradition: the kids get to decorate the table. I didn’t spend any money on flowers this year. I figured that was an easy way to save $40 and we usually move them off the table anyway to make room for food. Neighborhood flowers are free and I even asked our neighbors first this time instead of stealing them like I usually do.

pouring tea

Bug had a good time setting her own table for her and her cousins. I’m so glad she’s old enough to play with glass dishes now without breaking them. She has the cutest wee Fiestaware set that her grandparents (Toby’s folks) got her for Christmas last year. It was perfect for the kids’ table. And of course invisible tea had to be served over and over which was great later on for keeping the kids occupied while the grownups had four different conversations all going on at once.

Everything pretty much came together after that. Also, my mom got there so of course things went smoothly for her. She was supposed to teach me how to make gravy but I keep finding ways of not learning. I know it’s supposed to be easy and it does seem so until I’m alone in my kitchen trying to do it by myself. I just don’t have cooking common sense. That’s my biggest problem. I also hate reading directions. I skim and skip and leave parts out. I also combine recipes in ways that seem logical to me but then completely illogical to anyone else. Toby says I’m a good cook in spite of myself.

Minus the one melting of a plastic martini shaker (that we were using to make gravy, don’t ask) and my pie that was completely sloopy and not cooked all the way, I think everything turned out great. I know you are probably sick of hearing this since I’m sure everyone has written this on their Thanksgiving posts but really it is true. The food doesn’t matter. It’s just the excuse to sit together for a long period of time and enjoy each other’s company.

not my best angle

I hate this picture of me with my double chin and turning-sideways-neck but it does make me happy to be in a picture next to Toby. He is a really great husband and I don’t think I talk about that much here on this blog. It’s so much more fun to make fun of all his funny quirks than to gush on about him lovingly. I was really happy that he hung out with us so much. He’s always so busy and my family can be a bit loud and noisy—which usually makes him want to run to his cave and hide. But he was a trouper and actually seemed to enjoy himself which made me enjoy myself more.

the kids table

The kids didn’t seem to mind being at the kids table. That was always such a drag for me when I was little. But then we were usually pushed into another room away from the loud laughing group of adults. I thought about putting Rapunzel at the the adult table just for that reason. After all, she is ten now and I personally love sitting and chatting with her. But our table was too small and I couldn’t fit one more chair in between the table legs. (How many times have I heard that excuse? Too many!) I think she actually liked sitting with her sister and Bug where they each got their own personal mini bottle of sparking cider to drink. Of course they drank right out of the bottle like a bunch of winos but we over-looked that.

my plate

We were too busy enjoying that mess of food up there to care about the children having manners. Can I just say that my new favorite food is sweet potatoes cooked with salt, pepper and olive oil instead of sugar? They are soooooooooo good that way. Maybe I’m just a crunchy California girl but I could skip the marshmallows and maple syrup of candied yams any day. I’d rather get my sugar in desert.

best pumpkin cheesecake EVER!!!

Mmmmmmmmmmmm! Pumpkin cheesecake is my favorite! CC is the official cheesecake baker in our family. That’s her job now. She has no choice. I thought I would love her chocolate peppermint cheesecake better since I am a die-hard chocolate fan but this pumpkin cheesecake hit the spot. It was perfect.

On that sweet note, I will wrap up my Thanksgiving post by saying that I am so so so thankful for my family and my friends and my readers. You guys make the world go ’round for me. How about a downloadable pdf for January so we can fill those days in with lots more plans for fun?


  • Camels & Chocolate

    YUM! I thought I was still full from my TWO Thanksgivings, but alas, seeing this food made me hungry all over again! Also, why is it that I love everything pumpkin, yet don’t like pumpkin pie but salivate over pumpkin cheesecake??!?!

  • jacquie

    aaah. I don’t blog everyday but I read your blog every day. My kids and I live vicariously through your blog… hee hee. What a great post. I love the fiesta tea set and that the kids got fancy champagne bottle apple juices…. that’s so cool. I am inspired by one of your recent posts to do a tea party for my 4 year old. I always put way too much pressure on myself to go way out to make things perfect and I was like “where will they all sit”… huge dilemna and then I read your post and I was like “Duh… on the floor! Hello?” Ok, so now I am going to chill and have a laid back floor tea party very soon! Thanks again for always keepin’ it so real and reminding me to find ways to savor being a stay at home mom every day. You really rock Brenda!

    SAJ says: Thanks! While I agree 100% with having tea parties on the floor, I’ll have to pass on the compliment to CC. That was all her idea. She does keep it real and she does rock!

  • Sarah

    I cooked the turkey for the first time this year and I DID cook the gibblets in the plastic bag in the turkey. I did the same thing as you–looking all around the cavity for the baggie but not finding it, but I was not as smart as you and just figured “hey, lucky me, they didn’t include them in this one!” My dad figured it out when he was carving the turkey. Oops. It tasted fine though! And none of us are sick so far…

  • karen

    What a great celebration! Making turkeys freaked me out the first few times I did it but it doesn’t anymore. I love veggies but I’m a committed carnivore.

  • jane

    your day turned out wonderful! i often think of becoming a vegetarian after cooking an entire headless animal but my husband believes a supper is not a super without meat.
    guess what? when we go as a family to my grandmothers for big dinners, i STILL sit at the kids table and i am 35 with kids myself!! i like it because it has better conversation ;-) i am either the oldest of the kids or the youngest of the adults.
    i love your blog btw. makes me feel like i’m not the only one doing the same as what you do during our days at home.
    thank you!

  • Calee

    I absolutely hate candied yams–why mess up a perfectly good sweet potato and a perfectly good marshmallow by jamming them together. I’d much rather have them your way–this summer, try them on the grill instead of regular potatoes. So yummy!

  • Sarah

    Two favourite parts: the beautiful placemark and the photo of your plate of food! I’ve always equated your Thanksgiving meal with our Christmas meal, but it’s actually very different!

  • Kari

    I was 23 and engaged to my now husband and was still sitting at the kids table, tho I think it was more to watch the kids since we were in a different room than the rest of the adults. We were drinking mixed drinks while we helped the kiddos make the table decorations – it was a riot.

    I had no idea they made fiesta ware sets for kids – way too cute!

  • cindy

    Your Thanksgiving table is beautiful! I used my fiestaware. I need to get some of that wee fiestaware you mentioned. How cute!!!
    Thanks for the PDF too, I LOVE hedgehogs!

  • Mela

    …a raw-turkey-licking incident that sent us all into a tizzy…
    You are hilarious!
    Thanks for the Jan. calendar.
    Happy Holidays!

  • Gigi

    I just want to say that I think you are a lovely person. I have been reading your blog for a long time and you continue to impress me with your heart and your creativity. I also think you are a fantastic mother. I am thankful that there are people in the world like you.

  • Jennifer

    You and that turkey. What a kick! Glad you were able to retrieve the butt nuggets before all was lost, hahahaha.

    I have some leftover sweet potatoes that I am going to make with salt, pepper and olive oil tomorrow. That sounds really good. Sweet and salty, yum.

    I hope nobody was seriously hurt in the salmonella incident. I saw a medical mystery show that featured a case of salmonella. That’s a scary illness to go through. Now poultry kind of freaks me out in general.

    I enjoy cooking and can follow most recipes but I’ve yet to master gravy. I have memories of my mom freaking out in the kitchen because she BURNED THE GRAVY. It’s my nemesis.

    OK, I’m done babbling :)

    OH, I’m glad that you were able to enjoy your day with Toby and he enjoyed time with your family. Jeremy doesn’t have a cave but he sometimes likes to withdraw from the busy. He has been sizing up the gingerbread house lately. I think he might make it his new office :P

  • BeachMama

    I just love that photo of you and Toby. That is what Thanksgiving is all about, Love, Family and a day together :). It does help that your meal looks delicious, but it is icing on the cake.

  • Lori

    obviously you kicked butt — that is one rocking thanksgiving. and also, you look great in that picture. i have all these pictures i hid about 8 or 9 yrs ago where i thought i looked horrible – HA. little did i know that later i would only see my youth and shiny hair .. sigh.

  • crunchy domestic goddess (amy)

    omg. thank you for the best laugh i’ve had in weeks. :) your turkey experience sounds sooooo similar to mine, except i DID cook the giblets in the bag in the turkey! i thought they would be in the main body cavity too! wtf? why did they have to put them in the butt?!