Monday, December 30, 2013

Moving Backward: Thanksgiving Weekend 2013

I just. can't. resist. the urge to go back and capture the unrecorded events of the past. Especially since I have the time during Christmas break and there is absolutely nothing recordable going on right now. (Unless you consider the following things to be noteworthy: 1) Will trying to read 4 books over the break for an English requirement that he procrastinated 2) Kate avoiding her chores like the plague 3) the little girls and their friends tearing up the basement with their Razor RipRider trikes while singing "Let It Go" from Frozen 3) Brandon going back to work today, or 4) me taking a trip to Lowe's for a fridge filter replacement and some weird, circular scale batteries.) 

Yeah. I didn't think so. 

So why not go a little bit back in time and relive the memories of Thanksgiving 2013? (And did anyone else who refuses to celebrate Christmas or listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving notice how rushed the Christmas season felt? It's because Thanksgiving was a week later than usual this year, as in, the 4th Thursday was the 28th instead of the 22nd like it was last year. And just so you know, the same thing will happen again next year, so consider yourself warned!) On with Thanksgiving . . . 

My little Native American Indian and her dog:
Furniture delivery arrived just days before the guests:
As I mentioned in my Christmas Season post (and this post on Power of Moms), I made my turkey in advance this year. Recipe and instructions can be found here on my friend Liesa's blog. Next time I would do what she told me to do (I was being impatient) and start it at NIGHT instead of in the morning so that if I need to cook it a little longer for the meat to be falling off the bone I won't be messing around with it after midnight when I'd like to be in bed. I was thinking that you could probably use the same cooking method (as in the slow cook method) but just use a normal cooking bag instead of a paper grocery bag. It's kind of a bugger to get that big bird in there unless you have an extra big bag, which I didn't:
See? I had to cut up and staple a second bag to the end of my bird to make it fit:
After cooking and taking the meat off the bone in advance, this is how it looked in the warm crockpot (gravy included) on Thanksgiving Day. So much better than the turkey taking up your precious oven space, and so great to finally have warm turkey on your plate for once: 
I also made my mom's cranberry sauce (cook fresh cranberries as directed on the package and add fresh chopped apples, celery, and pecans), the mashed and sweet potatoes, as well as my kids favorite-- Corn Casserole. So this was me on Thanksgiving morning:

And now we have to talk about the kitchen table. I have had three, THREE, lemons in our almost 19 years of marriage. I will spare you the stories and the details, but needless to say, you don't want to know what's underneath this tablecloth:
But look at this lovely, lovely transformation. I'm kind of thrilled with this table (and the setting), and finally feel confident that this one won't warp and bend under the normal wear and tear of a damp cloth and typical family use. I absolutely love it:
Elizabeth did the place cards for me. Cutie:
Other stars in our Thanksgiving feast included these two appetizers--baked brie with Trader Joe's cranberry sauce poured over the top:
And regular candied as well as pumpkin pie spiced almonds from Costco:
Angie brought these melt-in-your-mouth rolls from Shirley's Homemade Bakery in American Fork (there's one in Provo, too):
Yes, I know I already mentioned the sweet potato casserole, but let's just look at it for a moment since it's so pretty:
And pie. Yes, we had pie:
My favorite thing about this picture is that despite having several nice serving spoons, someone found an old, chewed up Clifford spoon and stuck it in the gravy boat. We're all class here at the Reynolds:
We were lucky enough to have a good portion of Brandon's family with us for Thanksgiving dinner. His parents, his brother Brent (his girl Camille is living with her grandmother south of us while she goes to school, but she spent the day with us), and his brother Trenton and family were all here from California (Trent and Laura just had dessert with us after spending the day and eating dinner with her family), and then his brother Damon and his family also came up from Orem with their family. I loved having a full house for Thanksgiving, and even enjoyed decorating for once. This is the first time I've hosted Thanksgiving, so I used it as an excuse to finally put part of the house together and actually set a table for real for once. But you know it was really all about the food:

The kids table: 

The semi and completely grown up table, from youngest to oldest:

Brandon's mom was nice enough to insist I be included in a picture, too:
Minus the green salad (I swear I had some, it was just on a salad plate!), here is a picture of the 3000 plus calories I ingested. (Not really sure of the count, but with the appetizers and pie . . . .) Don't you just love Thanksgiving dinner?
The dogs got a little gourmet doggy food as well:

Which is why we kind of had to go on an after dinner walk around the neighborhood:
The annual holiday puzzle:

 And this year's scrumptious baby, courtesy of Damon and Angie: 
Beautiful girls!
She's not quite sure what to make of the dogs:

Time for dessert. (Who's going to clean up dinner?):

Like I mentioned, Trent and Laura joined us for dessert:

Brandon responding to the luscious pie he is eating:

Cute moms and their cute babies:
And like many things this holiday season that went by the wayside in the name of home improvement projects, we finally got around to doing the Thankful Tree that we usually work on one day at a time throughout the entire month of November. We just did it all together in one fell swoop while Brandon read a picture book about the first Thanksgiving:

Final product (and the super fun game, Bohnanza, that we also played that night):
That night we were lucky enough to have Trent and Laura's family and Damon and Angie's kid over for the night. Here are the kids the next day munching on Pirate Booty:
But all good things must come to an end, and everyone left about the same time the next day:

Except that we had some serious leftovers, so we asked whoever was able to come back a couple of nights later to help us out:
Then we thanked them for relieving us of all those calories with the first impromptu Christmas concert of the season:
That same weekend, per tradition, we went to our local Christmas tree farm in search of this year's trees:

The kids love looking for the best Charlie Brown tree replica:
Elizabeth Twiggyhands:
Who got the reference?
And there she is:
(Rachel cannot make a normal face.)
(Will has a hard time, too.)
Let's cut this tree down! (said the heartless, environmentally insensitive girl):

Turns out this farm is owned and operated by the relatives of an LDS missionary who just got home from a mission in Fairfield, Iowa! He had dinner with my parents three nights before this picture was taken. This nice guy was his 3rd cousin twice removed (or something like that):
Getting their redneck on (redneck is fun):

(I think Brandon has been wearing this jacket to go get our Christmas tree since last century):

A man has to conquer something, even if it's just a tree:
Let the Christmas decorating commence! Beginning with the most adorable Mary there is:
Yes, as you know from the last post, we even "decorated" the dogs:
The real tree next to the Charlie Brown tree (live trees ALWAYS look smaller in the forest):
And there you have it. Another Thanksgiving in the can! It might just be my favorite holiday. I love the  emphasis on gratitude, I love that I don't have to worry about presents, costumes, or candy, and I love how it's the kick-off to the Christmas season but before the craziness sets in (all joyful anticipation and no stress). Yep, Thanksgiving is a keeper.

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