Thanksgiving Preparations

During our Thanksgiving preparations today, a package arrived by UPS.  A beautiful cookbook was delivered to my door compliments of The Pioneer Woman.  I found the perfect spot to display it on my coffee table.

Beautiful Book
Gift From Ree

I look forward to trying some of the recipes in the near future, but today I had to focus on Thanksgiving.  Here are a few of the items that I prepared for our big day tomorrow.

Cranberry Sauce
Jell-O Salad
Pumpkin Pie

I also prepped ingredients for stuffing, baked lemon bars, made chocolate chip cookie dough (a dessert request by Sebastian), put together a relish tray, made trail mix and finished cleaning the house.  Tomorrow will start with baking the turkey, making mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, garden salad and setting the table.

Here is the floral centerpiece Mike picked out with a little help from our friend Amy who happened to be at the store.

Pretty Flowers

And one random photo of the cribbage board we gave Mike for his birthday this past August.  I still love looking at it.

Cribbage Anyone?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November Ramblings

Today is my first official day of vacation.  I am taking the week off to begin Thanksgiving preparations.  I don’t actually need the whole week to prepare, but always like to spend a day attending to household projects that get neglected throughout the year – touch up painting, going through closets and giving away clothes that the kids have outgrown, organizing our storage room and working on things that I have put off due to lack of time.  Today is project day, tomorrow is cleaning day and Wednesday is cooking/baking day.  By Thursday, we will be set to host our 19th Annual Sullivan Thanksgiving for 12 people + two dogs.

Before I delve into “project day”, here’s a recap of what’s been going on in our household during the past few weeks.

Thanks to the end of daylight savings time, it is just getting light out when I leave for work in the morning and is dark when I leave work at the end of the day.  Here’s what I see when I leave my office.  I can’t wait until the days begin getting longer even though the sunsets are beautiful.


Sebastian’s basketball season began a week and a half ago.  In his first game, he scored the first six points for his team.  He has the same coach as last year, the mother of one teammate’s and good friend.  We are looking forward to a great season with several returning kids from last year, plus a few new team members.

The Shot Is Up

When Sebastian isn’t busy with basketball practice or games, he has been diligent in his music studies.  This year in band he is learning to play an instrument – the baritone.  His teacher has asked all students to practice with their instrument’s for at least 10 minutes per day.  They haven’t learned how to play the various notes yet, but need concentrate on producing sound and the proper hold on the instrument.  Here’s what happens during practice with our dog, Daphne, in the room.

Daphne has been recovering slowly and continues to take a half tablet of prednisone every other day.  She had her 8th birthday yesterday and celebrated with a new toy – a rubber chicken.

Daphne And The Chicken
Daphne vs. The Chicken
And The Winner Is…Daphne

Sophia continues to take gymnastic classes on Tuesday evenings.  She loves her teacher and enjoys an hour of balance beams, floor mat exercises and parallel bars.  She has also been busy at school with her weekly choir group and a performance for a Veteran’s Day all-school assembly.  She talks about having a bit of stage fright, but really enjoys music.  We are looking forward to watching her class perform The Grinch Who Stole Christmas in a few weeks and the school’s winter music program in mid-December.

We did a quick family photo shoot after church yesterday in preparation for our annual holiday card.  With my remote shutter release in hand, we snapped many, many photos in the hopes that we would end up with a few good pictures.  By the end of the day, the photos had been edited, uploaded, organized in a card and 50 copies were ordered.  With a number of discounts applied, I was able to get 60% off my order and had them shipped for free!  It’s nice to have that project crossed off my list in only mid-November.  We had thought of waiting until we received some snow to make for a more “holiday” card, but if recent years are any indication, we would have been waiting until January.  Here are a few pictures that didn’t make the card.

The Girls
Father And Daughter
Siblings With Their Dog

Our big news this month is that after 14 long years with our old SUV, we purchased a new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder a little more than a week ago.  Sebastian has been awaiting the arrival of the newly designed vehicle for months.  When it finally arrived at the dealership, he was beyond excited.  After test-driving the optioned out model, the whole family was in love.  We decided on a lesser trim level to fit our budget and were able to get one brought in from the Twin Cities that matched all of our requests.  We are in love!

Our New Purchase

We can’t wait to try out the 4WD after the first snow of the season.  Speaking of the weather, although there is no snow in the forecast, the week ahead looks to be spectacular for northern Minnesota in November – highs in the 50’s and no precipitation in sight.  I guess we will have to use the sun roof instead of the 4WD for now.  I’m not complaining.

Thanksgiving Preparations And Other Random Items

With Thanksgiving just a few hours away, I have checked off a number of items to help get us ready for our big family feast.

Thaw Turkey – Our nearly 22 lb. turkey seemed a bit icy when I checked it today.  It has been in the refrigerator since I bought it a week ago.   I soaked it in the sink for a couple of hours this afternoon and am hoping that will do the trick.  I also had a moment of panic when I realized that a 22 lb. turkey can take six hours to roast.  I really don’t want to get up at 6am to stick a turkey in the oven.  Then I remembered that my convection oven can do it in four hours.  Whew!  That was a close call.

Big Bird

Thaw Turkey #2 – We are also thawing a turkey for the Johnson Thanksgiving on Saturday.  I haven’t even checked this one, but am hopeful that in two days it will be ready for the oven.

Two Turkeys

Bake Dinner Rolls – I baked five dozen dinner rolls today.  Mike thought that I should have baked six dozen.  I reminded him that we are only feeding twelve people.  Five dinner rolls per person is probably good.

Make Jell-O Salad – This is not a traditional Thanksgiving food, but I made it a few years ago on a whim and the kids really liked it.  Not the healthiest thing I can make, but it is Thanksgiving after all.  Who cares about healthy food, right?

Prep Ingredients for Stuffing – I sautéed the onions, celery and mushrooms and also cooked the sausage.  Everything will be ready to mix together tomorrow for my “secret recipe” stuffing.

Put Together Relish Tray – I used the tray that was given to us by Mike’s Grandma Alice.  Even though she is no longer with us, we will have a little reminder of her in our day tomorrow.

Make “Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes” – The potatoes are all set for tomorrow.  All I have to do is add milk and bake them in the oven.  Mike’s Grandma Helen always helped with the mashed potatoes and gravy.  She was better at it than me, but Mike’s Mom has done a nice job filling in.  She takes care of the gravy and I mash the potatoes.  I made sure to leave a few lumps in the potatoes because no one could make them as well as Helen.

Steam From The Boiling Potatoes

Make Appetizers – Done!

Clean House – We still need to vacuum tomorrow, but I decided to delegate it to Mike.  I actually started a to-do list for him.  It only has three items on it so far, but I’m sure I will find a few more to add.

Here’s what I wish I could do at the end of the day tomorrow…

Sophia's Hammock

Sophia made this 3D picture of her laying in the hammock in our back yard.  Impressive, isn’t it?  She included the two trees that the hammock hangs from, a grassy yard, a sun in the sky and a mini replica of herself laying in the hammock.  It looks very relaxing and made me think that it would be a very nice way to end the day.  Then I remembered that it is November in Minnesota.  I may need to hold that thought until the spring.

Sophia also made another picture in anticipation of the upcoming outdoor ice skating season.  This is a picture of her and her friends at their elementary school’s ice rink.

Ice Skating

Mike has already went to bed and I need to do the same.  It’s late and we have a long day ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving!!