"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy will." ~ Luke 1:38

Thursday, November 29, 2012

~ Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
round button chicken
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

I have had this candelabrum for about 10+ years and I still love to look at it.  It makes our fireplace mantel look pretty.

A Happy smile on my Happy Birthday:o)
These faux phones gave me a chuckle...remember these?  I explained to my children how they functioned; the original ones you would use your finger to dial...these were push button.
I was almost as excited as when I saw a *phone booth* when we were walking through our downtown one evening...I never thought I would be explaining about *pay telephones*.  When did those disappear!?  We actually used the pay phone to call our cell phones to show our kids how they worked.  LOL.
Too Funny.
Do you remember operators?  Or, for that matter,  *popcorn*? 
It's OK that I'm aging myself...I just celebrated another b-day.  Deo gratias!
*The real McCoy*
Speaking of real...

the book parade...out to dry

We experienced a little plumbing problem...
...and to top it off, it happened just as we were walking out the door
to a reception we were coordinating

Dear husband handled it.  (He's my hero).

I looks as though we were setting up to play dominoes (with the books)...thankfully only one shelf was affected.

These are just little trials and inconveniences of everyday life...we are reminded to pray for those whose homes were devastated by the recent hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Go to Like Mother, Like Daughter to find more contentment!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

~ Another Reason... ~

Why I home school...

This morning, I discovered this on the inside cover of one of Little Lamb's workbooks.
:o)  Made my day!

So, on those challenging days (when I'm pulling my hair out)...I need to remember these moments.

Monday, November 26, 2012

~ Birthday Blessings ~

My wonderful husband and loving children treated me to a beautiful birthday celebration, this month.

They took me to one of my favorite places...

"It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of nature I was ever permitted to enter."
~  John Muir

I was treated to a lovely breakfast at the magnificent Ahwahnee Hotel. 

A little surprise...
...such delightful hospitality.

I love all the little nooks and rustic furnishings, just perfect for sitting and reading...and enjoying the stunning views.

This corner reminds me of a gnomes hat...but this particular *hat* reaches up to about 15 feet.

Spring in Yosemite is spectacular with all the waterfalls at full flow...and Winter is truly an amazing wonderland with everything covered in a blanket of shimmering crystal white.
But the Autumn is my favorite with the color...Oh - the color.  All the colors against the blue sky...


"Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space."
~ Ansel Adams

And for the cherry on top...as if it wasn't enough that they treated me like royalty all day long...they gifted me with a reminder of the day.  A Fleur de lys glass with my birthstone and a chocolate truffle to enjoy at the end of my day...so sweet.  I felt like a queen.  And to show me how much they love and need me...they let me cook dinner for them.  It was my honor.  :o)

Birthday gifts...

Friday, November 23, 2012

~ The Thankful Feast ~

We had my husband's extended family, my family and some of our friends from our church for dinner.  Our home was full!  :o)  Nice!!

I cooked for my little family of five.  So I had the luxury of snapping photos; no worries about time constraints and walking around in my pj's all day.  :o)  Nice!!

My husband and I try different recipes for our Thanksgiving Turkey.

Traditionally, we always cook a turkey, but we don't use the same recipe every year.
We may tweak some, but I can't remember ever cooking a turkey using the same recipe twice...not in the 22 years that we have been married.

We came up with the idea of using bacon as a self-baster.  We covered the skin of the turkey with bacon; skewering the bacon to the entire oustside of the turkey.  Don't laugh.  It was delicious (but fattening).

I took on A Challenge of making one thing useful/beautiful in the Master Bedroom, and just last week I decided to take a NEW CHALLENGE...to try this new recipe and change my turkey-baking-ways.  I took Stephanie (over at Sweet Boutique), up on her challenge...and then some...I tried (basically) her entire Fabulous Menu.

Words cannot describe and my pictures do not do it justice...
But, Hands down, this was the all time favorite and BEST tasting bird (and Thanksgiving Dinner) in our family history.

I think we have found our tradition.  :o)

I have posted (3 sub-posts) on each of the dishes that I tried, so as not to have such a terribly long post...Here is the Menu:  (click on dish to find pictured posts)

~ Roasted Turkey ~

~ Apple Pie ~

~ Egg Nog & Hot Apple Cider ~

The calm, after the storm
My table decorations were very simple this year.  I used fresh Cuties California Mandarins surrounding a 3-wick candle (which I actually removed to make way for all the food) and placed it on the Lazy Susan.  My topaz harvest linen with burgandy napkins.  Super simple.

~ Thanksgiving Menu: Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes & Harvest Stuffing ~

~ Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes ~

This Recipe *whipped* up so easily...Butterfly gets all the credit for putting this delicious dish together.

Ingredients:  New Red Potatoes, Skins On!, cut in half (yes, that easy!!) ~ 3lbs.,
Sour Cream (1/2 - 3/4 cup), Blue Cheese (6 ounces), Butter (3 Tbs.)

Drain, then mash those potatoes (50 calories burned)  :o)

Adding the blue cheese, sour cream and butter.  Salt and pepper to taste.


~ Harvest Stuffing ~

Besides the incredibly flavorful and succulent turkey, this was another top favorite.

Ingredients:  Shredded Carrots (1 cup), Chopped Celery (1 cup), Chopped Onion (1/2 cup), Butter (1/2 cup), Salt (1/4 tsp.), Nutmeg (1/4 tsp.), Pepper (1/4 tsp.), Bread Cubes, dry (8 cups), Apples, Chopped & Peeled (2 cups), Chopped Walnuts (1/2 cup), Toasted Wheat Germ (1/4 cup), Chicken Broth (1/2 - 1 cup).

Be prepared for delicious smells to take over your kitchen.

Butter.  We love butter...but don't use it all that often. 

Let the aromas begin...

Cooking the carrots, celery, and onion just until tender.  Then, stir in salt, nutmeg, and pepper.

Adding the Apples...

Adding the carrot mixture...

Drizzle with the broth...I used the full cup.

Ready for the oven...Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 325. 

I have enjoyed so many different types of stuffings:
With sausage, or black olives, with....the list goes on and on.  But this recipe really complimented the turkey...no distractions.  It was very enjoyable on it's own, but lends a freshness and was not too overbearing in substance and flavor.

Another incredible addition to the Thanksgiving Table...

 For the Full Menu and Thanksgiving Feast...go Here.

Thank you to the gracious Stephanie over at Sweet Boutique for sharing her Thanksgiving Menu.

~ Thanksgiving Menu: Roasted Asparagus & Cranberry Sauce ~

Wash asparagus and trim off the white bottoms.  Toss with all three ingredients and roast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  Very easy, VERY tasty.
Note:  I did blanch them (out of habit) for a couple minutes before tossing & roasting...they were perfect.

 Ingredients: Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar & Sea Salt (I used Kosher Salt - it's what I had). 
At my daughter's request - I also added some roasted sliced almonds. 

I will continue to make these throughout the year...not just on Thanksgiving!

 ~ Cranberry Sauce ~

I love fresh cranberry sauce!
I will buy extra and freeze so that I can use throughout the year.

Ingredients:  Sugar (1 cup), Fresh Cranberries (2 cups), Water (1 cup).

Combine sugar and water in saucepan, bringing to boil.  Boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Add cranberries...

Return to boiling...Reduce heat.

Boil gently until skins pop (about 4 minutes), stirring occasionally.

So easy and delicious. 

Butterfly was really helpful this year...first the Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and then the Cranberry Sauce.  She really helps out in so many ways.  I am so thankful for her help and her company.  My sous-chef.  :o)

Note to file:  Next year, double the batch!!

After Dinner Drink - Eggnog with splash of brandy.  Relaxing.

For the Full Menu & Thanksgiving Feast...go Here.

Thank you to the gracious Stephanie over at Sweet Boutique for sharing her Thanksgiving Menu.

~ Thanksgiving Menu: Roasted Turkey ~

Starting with the defrosting process...a day earlier.
Using a frozen young turkey (14 - 16 lbs...this turkey was just under 17 lbs.)

Getting the brine ingredients together:

~ The Brine ~

Ingredients:  Kosher Salt (1 cup), Light Brown Sugar (1/2 cup), Vegetable Stock (1 gallon), Black Peppercorns (1 tablespoon), Allspice Berries (1 1/2 teaspoons - couldn't find, so I omitted), Candied Ginger, chopped (1 1/2 teaspoons)

In a large stockpot, combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger.  Bring to boil.

Remove the brine from heat and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate.

~ The Night Before ~

In a 5 gallon bucket or stockpot, place thawed turkey (innards removed) into the brine; make sure the turkey is fully immersed.

Cover and refrigerate 8 - 16 hours.  If not fully immersed, turn half way through brining.

~ On Thanksgiving ~
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  Remove turkey from brine, rinse inside and out with cold water.  Discard the brine. 

Pat dry the turkey with paper towels.  Place on roasting rack.

~ The Aromatics ~

Ingredients:  One Red Apple, Half Onion, sliced, One Cinnamon Stick, One Cup Water, Four Sprigs Rosemary, Six Leaves Sage, Canola Oil.

In a microwave safe dish, combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water.  (I added all the ingredients - accidentally) Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage.

Tuck the wings and drumsticks underneath the bird.  Coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

At 500 degrees F, roast the turkey on the lowest setting/rack of the oven for 30 minutes.

Doing the dishes as I go along...makes for a less overwhelming clean up after the meal.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Cook for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours...but check bird after about 1 1/2 - 2 hours or before the max time depending on size/weight of turkey.  A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting...my bird (at just under 17 lbs. was perfectly cooked at 2 1/2 hours).

~ Browning Nicely ~

Tip:  I didn't pin down the wings, so they *popped out*.  Remedy:  I covered the tips of the wings with some foil.  Quick easy fix.

Once the turkey is removed from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let sit for half hour (or until you finish up with the other side dishes:

Mashed Potatoes & Stuffing

Roasted Asparagus & Cranberry Sauce

Happy Carving!!!


For the Full Menu and Thanksgiving Feast...go Here.

Thank you to the gracious Stephanie over at Sweet Boutique for sharing her Thanksgiving Menu.