Hello, my friends and Happy Friday! I'm popping in with a quick post on this bright and brisk day-after the big Thanksgiving feast! I wanted to share some pics from our family's gathering and I also wanted to share a couple of links with you all since Sunday not only brings us December - it also begins the much anticipated season of Advent!
Goodness - where has the year gone, I ask you?!
Now before I get started on sharing a bajillion or so family photos, here's what I'm also working on today - as I sip my tea and put up my feet - a little Advent planning!
These special pages are part of my December 2019 planning sheets, but if you'd like just the holiday planning section, here is the separate PDF:
Also, if you are looking for some family-friendly Advent ideas, here are a couple of activity guides:
These were created over the past couple of years so their timeliness (re ~ Advent weeks and dates) might be a bit off, but since I myself am looking over these guides as I work on our December plans, I thought you might find them helpful, too!
Today however, we are in "recoup" mode - recharging our batteries you might say - and tomorrow we will be getting our tree before a storm hits Sunday night! I've been poring over the pictures taken yesterday and feeling such gratitude for another holiday spent with our loved ones. It was a truly enjoyable day and possibly the largest gathering we've had in recent memory! We spent the day cooking, eating, laughing, eating some more - and cleaning up over eggnog and coffee!
People often comment that it must be an awful lot of work to pull together a holiday gathering of such a large size - and it is, certainly. But we are blessed to be surrounded by many helpful hands and so this is all very much a team effort. Bill and I ready the house - but everybody cooks (especially my Mum) and several folks pitch in to help clean up. I am also thankful for our son Crackerjack who took these lovely pictures!
First a little look at the set up:
I like to spread the food and drinks around the house so people move around and mingle. For most gatherings, Bill's desk gets turned into a pretty spot for serving punch and special seasonal drinks ...
We enjoy serving a "signature cocktail" at our parties and this year we had not one, but two! First we had these delicious fruit wines purchased from a favorite local orchard, and then across the room, where desserts were served, I set up a smaller punch bowl next to the coffee urn. I filled it with a couple of bottles of delicious (yet potent!) Trader Joe's Egg Nog, courtesy of my brother, Matt who works for the chain!
Now, if you're a long time reader then you know how I feel about punch - if it's a party there must be punch! Usually I follow a particular recipe but this one was literally thrown together at the last minute. I just mixed some fruit punch with sparkling cider and tossed in some sliced apples and oranges ... and it was quite refreshing! I think I will serve something like this at Christmas, perhaps with a bit more citrus and a pretty ice ring filled with cranberries and herb sprigs ...
I must admit, I really enjoy all the cleaning and prep before a holiday ... well, maybe not the cleaning as much, but I do love decorating my home with the little knickknacks we've gathered through the years ...
In this particular bookcase, messy piles of homeschool books made room for a cozy seasonal display!
And here is our gratitude tree for the family's blessings - branches gathered by my boys and leaves organized by my cousin Caitlin. As a family we enjoy sharing our thankful thoughts after dinner each year, but here's a little shocking confession ...
We forgot to do them this year!! 😳
And here I thought I was begin so clever with that vase full of branches, lol. Usually I place a leaf and a crayon by each place setting and then gather them up after dinner to be read over coffee, but I guess out of sight equaled out of mind!
So alas - our gratitude will have to be carried silently in our hearts, while these leaves will go into a little storage bag and we will be ALL SET for Thanksgiving 2020!
Now as you can imagine, seating for 26 can be a little tricky ...
But we managed it!
The kitchen table got an extra leaf and was also pressed into service for eight.
(Tip: Flowers can be expensive so I like to use candles and other items I might have on hand for centerpieces when I can. On this table we filled a cornucopia basket with shiny red apples!)
We also set up three small rented tables in the family room - I didn't get a good pic of this set up - and these provided seating for 12 people. In the center of each of those tables I placed a mason jar with a couple of sunflowers, as well as a small tea light candle.
Now for some food shots - but first, here is our head chef, the woman without whom none of this would be possible - my mum.
(We didn't even plan the coordinating tops, I swear!)
So yes, Mum does most of the cooking - with my Dad handy for temperature-testing and carving - while I run around and help where I can!
Oh, and by the way, my ovens died - momentarily - just after we took out the 22 lb. turkey to rest!
(My ovens are OLD and badly need replacing. Maybe I should speak to Santa about that?)
Thankfully though, after a brief rest, the ovens rallied and we were able to heat all the side dishes ...
There's my Dad getting the carving underway! As you can see, we combined a ham with that large turkey this year, and my mother-in-law also cooked and brought up an eight lb. roasted and stuffed turkey breast!
Bookworm also does a lot of the cooking - in addition to a fabulous sweet potato dish (topped with ricotta cheese, pecans and dried cranberries) and a scrumptious peanut butter pie, he also made this cute and quirky dish ...
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark!
So if you're familiar with the beloved holiday special, you might remember that Snoopy serves the gang - spoiler alert! - a Thanksgiving dinner of buttered toast, popcorn and jelly beans. You might also remember that Peppermint Patty balks rather ungraciously at this admittedly, untraditional meal - thus providing the dramatic tension that leads to a thoughtful lesson from Linus - meant for us all - in tradition, history and respect.
(You might also recall I take my Charlie Brown special very seriously!)
Ok, moving on - we were very blessed this year to have a house-full of youngins and as you can imagine, Little Bear was in his glories!
(Always in motion, these two peas in a pod!)
You know, I remember when these two (below) were the "younger kids" and now look at them!
Crackerjack (20) home from college and Earlybird, 18 in two weeks ... this is a little sneak peek corner of our Christmas photo! (Full reveal at Tea on the 20th!)
Now for some more family photos ... 🧡
And last but not least, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Mum!
(Spice cake decorated with spice drops, served with maple-walnut ice cream - her favorite!)
And so that was our Thanksgiving! And now ... we're on to Christmas!
Well, Advent to start of course, but before we know it, December 25th will be here and we'll be gathering together once again, to rejoice and reconnect before 2019 comes to an end.
Now, before I go I want to remind everyone that I have a Giveaway going on through December 22nd! Please read this post for all the details - and please note - a comment here will be considered another contest entry! :-)
A week from today (12/6) will brings my next Tea @ Dawn's post and my themes will be Heaven & Earth, Holiday Greenery & Christmas Trees. I'm so looking forward to it!
Well my friends, thanks so much for joining me here today, and I wish you all a happy end to November ... enjoy the weekend and I will see you here again late next week!