Thanks(Friends)giving Week Adventures

What?! No cookbooks this year?! This is what my dear mother said at Costco on Black Friday when she realized there were no cookbooks to be passed out this year. Honestly Costco you could have announced it to all your members before Thanksgiving. So another Thanksgiving tradition has come to an end after a few years. RIP Costco Holiday Cookbook, RIP. And that is just be beginning of the Thanksgiving week of disappointments. Yep after only having a laptop for three months before the dark screen of death happened,and the laptop gave out. Now into the final two weeks of classes, what a suck this is. Then again you get what you paid for, if it is a $200 Chrome book, then yes it is going to be a piece of crap! So I bought myself a proper laptop this Black Friday, and it is a Christmas gift to myself (also can write it off for taxes since it is a school expense). The third thing as the cherry on top of the above happenings, the FDA has stopped all shipments of English fruit cake from Australia. WHY?! It was the only fruit cake worth eating! Not the American disgusting, radio active cherries on top and what the heck filling type cake! Seriously why? No go on the only fruit cake worth eating during the holiday season. Such a disappointing realization.

But the weekend was not all gloomy and depressing…..

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Beautiful Thanksgiving Day!

I don’t know what compelled me to do this, but I blame it on Pinterest and reading a post off of Anderson Ever After. I decided to propose the idea of Friends-giving for our church’s young adult group get together. This meant rounding up people to bring stuff for the dinner and to make sure we had a feast at the end. It was. We ended up with sweet potato casserole, turkey, cranberry sauce, rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, mash potatoes, stuffing, and all the other fixings. By the end the night we all where stuffed and ready to go home happy-full. Next year there will be another Friends-giving, and it will be epic (do they still use this word?).

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the whole group

Thanksgiving was a small affair since my Nana came up from Oregon to visit. Thanksgiving was at my parent’s house which meant we all chipped in to help with the small feast. Ham, turkey breast, cheese scalloped potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, rolls, and sparkling cranberry juice for a feast. But…. we celebrate Thanksgiving with English Christmas crackers! Yep during desert we open or more like pop, crackers full of paper crowns, cheesey jokes and some surprise gift inside. I love wackiness of wearing a brightly colored paper crown and eating chocolate! Not the typical American Thanksgiving at all.

I have posted before I do not do the Black Friday thing at all. After spending three Christmas seasons in retail, I no longer partake in this crazy tradition. Black Friday is spent going to Costco for their free cookbook (which as you can tell didn’t happen this year), hunting for the famous European fruit cake (another disappointment) and relaxing. I did shop for a new laptop in the comfort of home, and will be getting a Surface 4 Pro tablet for Christmas.

Saturday morning I rounded up the gang and went to decorate the Church for the Christmas season. Like the two years before, our group was assigned front lobby tree decorating duty. This time we out do ourselves again with the trees.

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Church Lobby Trees

After tree decorating, I decided to make a huge batch of Butter Shortbread Cookies from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Oh my goodness the best homemade shortbread I have made and tasted! I will be using this recipe from now on.

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Homemade Shortbread Cookies

Later in the evening we all hopped into the car to stand in the cold to Edmonds Tree Lighting Ceremony to see the tree in the town square light up. I froze my butt off standing there waiting, and wishing I had stopped at the Starbucks on my way to the event. Oh well next time I will stop. Nice clear crisp day and evening made for a beautiful display for the lighting of the Christmas tree.

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone! Now on to Christmas and seeing what the end of the year brings. Two weeks until finals, and three and half weeks until Christmas!! Time has flown by!

First Time Host of Thanksgiving-Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Begins!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Happy happiest season of all! There will be party for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the rain! There’ll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing when love ones are near! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

The holidays are here again! Where has the year gone? This year I decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment.  I kept telling my family that when I moved out again I wanted to host the next Thanksgiving dinner at my place. Well I got my wish, and I admit it was no easy task to prepare for. I decide to go simple instead of all out feast for a complete newbie.  Here is the menu for my first dinner:

As you can tell, I don’t do turkey. I never had a liking for roast turkey around Thanksgiving or even turkey that was not lunch meat (weird thing really). I never was into green bean casserole either. I think the thought of green beans in anything baked just grosses me out, along with the cranberry salad with jello chunks in it, or maybe it just the fact that my family growing up never did the whole Norman Rockwell American Thanksgiving. I remembered there was roast beef instead of turkey with all the trimmings like you would have a Christmas time during the Victorian era. But there is one tradition I have never understood, waiting in the cold on Thanksgiving day in line to be the first one through the door on Black Friday. Those people are just plain out of their minds!

Ok back to the dinner part. My table setting this year was my Fiesta wear Mom had bought me long ago. Using the two different colors Cobalt Blue and Sunflower Yellow made for a striking dinner scape. Inside the smaller bowl on top of the play setting were red and green M&Ms and two Dove chocolate pieces for each person to enjoy. Nana who is diabetic just was tickled by having chocolate she can indulge in. I’m very happy the whole play setting turned out so well.

Dinner turned out really well for my first attempt at hosting Thanksgiving. I started on preparation the night before in gathering up all the ingredients I needed. The big main event was the ham. A few months back I came across a recipe on Pintrest for Pineapple Crockpot Ham. I had to try this out for myself. I will say it is the easiest recipe I had to do for the dinner. It only has four ingredients: ham, brown sugar, pineapple juice and maple syrup (I substituted the maple syrup for Blue Agave). Oh my! The ham turned out perfect. I would repeat this recipe next year if I am hosting again. The green salad I out did myself. Ever since I can remember my Mom would make these elaborate looking salads by being creative with the veggies. One thing she had taught me is presentation 9/10ths of the points. Does not matter if the dish tastes nasty, as long as it looks good people will eat it. Salad was a hit for everyone, and there was everything in it that people liked. I also tried my hand at making the Olive Garden Salad Dressing. This turned out ok in my opinion, but I could really taste the vinegar in it. I think I will have to figure out how to make it less vinegary and more like the one at Olive Garden. People liked it, was not overly sweet dressing like the ones some people have. I did put a new twist into the dinner! I made cheesy corn cakes! Now I did not follow the recipe to the full extent because I looked at this dish to be a base for everything else and did not need to compete with the ham. The corn cakes turned out great, and were a hit. I will keep in mind to make these in the future for Thanksgiving or any fall celebration. The recipe is a great base for making corn cakes. I spent my summers growing up in Rouge Valley Oregon. This area is the home of Harry and David Fruit Company. As a tradition every Thanksgiving and Christmas Nana brings up two bottles of pear or peach sparkling cider to enjoy with our dinner. This year was no exception.

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After dinner the family and I went for a walk to walk off our ham dinner (also to bring our blood sugar down a bit) before dessert. Was a lovely stroll with the fall sunshine, and seeing other people out and about walking off their turkey dinner.  After a nice walk, we came back and relaxed until it was time for dessert. I setup my Christmas tree and started decorating it with the help of the family. For dessert Mom and Nana made the famous family Apple Crisp. In the past I have made this for a church party and received great reviews. While eating our apple crisp, we did another family tradition, Christmas Crackers. Christmas crackers are an English thing done around Christmas, but the family does them also during Thanksgiving. Real Christmas crackers have the really good stuff inside them, not the cheap plastic stuff. One item out of the crackers is the funny crown hats. Tradition states we must wear ours through the desserts and during the game of Pit.

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Oh Pit! This game becomes very competitive in my family. The point of the game is to collect all the cards for one commodity before the other players do. The more players there are the more chaos there will be in playing. Playing with us is not for the faint at heart.

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My win: rice!

After a few rounds of playing pit, it was time to pack up the leftovers and the family head home for tomorrow where we have to be up bright and early for the Costco Cookbook we get every year. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving Costco hands out a cookbook with recipes compiled using ingredients Costco sells. Mom has to have one every year. So instead of braving the huge crowds at the malls, we brave the crowds at Costco. This time I made out with an external hard drive for all my pictures I take and real Toblerone Swiss chocolate. Not bad!

IMG_0534[1]Now for the most wonderful season of all to begin with snow in the forecast this Monday. I guess the Seattle snow storm has a planned appearance for us all now. Lets see how long it will stick around.