Anyone else still stuffed?
Totally worth it though because I just love Thanksgiving. This time of year holds a lot of new(ish) traditions for us, starting with Thanksgiving itself. Last year we missed Thanksgiving at home because we were in the Bahamas (poor us, huh?), so we were ready to bring it back with a vengeance.
The preps started on Wednesday afternoon. I got off work a little early, so I started with two dishes I knew I could make ahead of time, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
I started by peeling 5 pounds of potatoes, with a side of one of my favorite movies of all time: Gone With the Wind.
Dear AMC: Please play GWTW for 24 straight hours every Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This could be my new favorite tradition. But did anyone else find AMC’s holiday weekend linup odd: 24 hours of GWTW on Wednesday; 24 hours of Godfather on Thursday; 24 hours of Hitchcock films on Friday and then … 24 hours of Steven Seagal movies on Saturday. Um, what? One of these things is not like the others.
I tore myself away from the TV to finish up the potatoes in the kitchen. Every year, I make Giada’s Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese. I make the entire recipe, except for the baking part, and refrigerate them until about an hour or so before Thanksgiving dinner. I also added a new sweet potato dish to the menu this year — Fitnessista’s Clean Eating Sweet Potato Casserole. Don’t let the name fool you. There was butter, a glorious amount of it. And sugar. And vanilla. And I think I removed the “clean eating parts” (the almond meal and milk). And I added marshmallows. Lots of them, per E’s request. Oops! It was a big hit, though! Great recipe, Gina! E and I have been eating it nonstop since Thanksgiving.
Once I finished up the potato dishes, we headed out to the Magic game.
How great are those seats? Someone at my husband’s work gave them to him. Score! Know what else it means when you sit that close to the court? It’s easier for the camera to find you. Every timeout, E hopped out of her seat to dance, desperate to get on the big screen. Her wish came true — three times.
Those Magic cameraman created a monster. She wanted more and more screen time. She’s so shy. I have no idea where she gets it.
On Thursday, we were up bright and early to prepare for our 9 Thanksgiving Day guests. We were in great shape food-wise, but since I’m still in Operation Kill All the Fleas (it’s been a disaster), I had to do my daily vacuuming of all the things.
After I got the house all ready, I prepped the final dish I was making –Tyler Florence’s roasted chestnut sausage dressing, another permanent fixture on our Thanksgiving table. Everyone, including me, always goes crazy for this dish, but I always have one major issue with it — the chestnuts. Most years I buy them, roast them, then shell them. It’s a nightmare. It takes days of work and I hate it. Two years ago was my biggest disaster and after I ruined two batches of chestnuts, I ended up at Williams Sonoma the night before Thanksgiving buying an absurdly expensive jar of roasted and peeled chestnuts.
So you can feel my joy when I share my new discovery this year:
Not only were they already roasted, peeled (the WORST part) and ready to go, they were only $3. God bless you The Fresh Market. You complete me.
All of my soldiers were ready to report for duty.
While I was finishing up inside, DadJovi was manning his Thanksgiving station — the deep fryer.
This is his happy place. And this year, we got smart. After a couple years of little-to-no leftovers, we decided to deep fry TWO TURKEYS this year. It was an amazing call.
The day was great. We were joined by my grandparents and two sets of friends from the neighborhood. We used to eat later but this year, our friends had to go somewhere in the evening, so we moved dinner up to 1. And now I think we have a new tradition. We were done eating and 100 percent cleaned up, including all dishes put away thanks to my grandmother, by 3:30. Then, we just did a whole lot of relaxing for the rest of the day.
Oh, a spur of the moment trip to Old Navy at 6:30 with my husband’s cousin, where we quickly realized a) we knew nothing (we were there before it opened and encountered a huge line of people — neither of which we were expecting) and b) that we aren’t lines people. Once they opened the doors (we waited out that time with a quick trip to Steak and Shake for E. since she was “starving,” poor child) we went in and marveled at the 50% off prices, but balked at the line that was hundreds of people long. So we left empty-handed and somehow it took me 24 hours to think to see if the sale was online. It was. So I still got what I wanted anyway.
And yes, I realize the fact that we went to a store on Thanksgiving, even if we didn’t buy anything, now officially makes us a part of the problem. Do you see what happens when we eat early?
Stick with me, I’m almost done here!
On Friday, we slept in some and DadJovi and I each did our training runs. Then, we headed out for our favorite Black Friday tradition — Christmas tree shopping.
Although I miss chopping down our own tree the way I did growing up in Pa., I do enjoy how fast and easy it is to head to our favorite seller in Orlando, Rangazzi’s. This is our fourth year getting a tree from them and we’ve never had a bad tree yet. We always get it this weekend and it stays nice, fresh and green all the way through New Year’s.
After we got the tree, E and DadJovi headed out to Disney’s Wide World of Sports to catch an Old Spice Classic basketball game while I stayed home to get some work done. We all met up later that afternoon at Hollywood Studios for our very favorite Black Friday tradition — our first visit to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
And just for the fun of it …
And here’s the 2012 edition, in the interest of being thorough.
It’s the best. Just the absolute best.
The rest of the weekend was spent Christmasfying the house, including unwrapping some old friends and special memories.
I now see where I got my habit of writing dates on ornaments. That’s my grandmother’s writing. I gave her a White House ornament every year when I lived in DC and after she died a couple years ago, I got them back. I hate that I have them because she’s gone but I love having her as a part of our tree.
Sunday will probably go down as one of DadJovi’s least favorite days of the year. He had to endure two things he dreads — Christmas card photos and putting up the lights outside.
I’m usually VERY on top of the Christmas card situation but this year, I was at a loss. I floated an idea I had to Katy at work the other day and she very, very graciously agreed to be our photographer. So on the last day of a long weekend, she came out to meet us to take our pictures. That’s a true friend.
And we got to see Audrey!
When did my kid become the big kid? Holy heck. You guys that have second and third children must suddenly think your first-born babies are giants. I can’t believe how old E. seemed next to her. (sobs)
I’ll share the pics after we send out our cards. Guess that means I need to order some now.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, when we got home, DadJovi had to head up the ladder, in the rain.
Things were actually going pretty well until I looked down at my feet where I standing hanging lights to my husband and I noticed my biggest nightmare — a snake, right by my feet. I started screaming when I realized that I must have just stepped on it, nearly causing my husband to fall off the ladder.
After I regained my cool, I realized a couple things. For starters, the snake was very tiny. Then, I realized it wasn’t slithering away. Apparently I had smashed it and injured it when I’d stepped on it.
I posted a picture to Facebook since one of my friends is a bit of a Florida snake expert, and he confirmed that it was a harmless snake. We’d put it in a box until we found out. The markings on it almost looked like a rattlesnake, although there was no rattle on his tail. After we got the word that he was a friendly snake (if such a thing exists), we let him go. Frankly I would have gladly killed it but we’re trying to be good examples to E., blah, blah, blah. Parenting is hard. And so is living in Florida.
Thankfully we have someone guarding the yard:
What’s one dish always on your Thanksgiving menu? What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas traditions. As you can see, we’re always looking for more ideas!