Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Great Devotions for Young and Old

Today is a 2-for-1 review just in time for Christmas! 

Have you been trying to find that perfect gift for the busy woman or young lady in your life?  Something they can use to breathe the Word of God into their day and grow them in faith?  I found it in these 2 great books:

The One Year Home & Garden Devotions by Sandra Byrd is a wonderful daily devotion perfect for any Home & Garden-minded woman.  I used it along side my regular Bible study for that little extra personal tid-bit in my day.  I loved pondering the scripture passages in relation to the regular hum-drum of daily life in home and family.  Each month is introduced by an inviting "recipe" for either something tasty to eat or something spiffy to do and spice up the decor and/or care in your home.  The month then proceeds with dated devotions.  This book is not year specific so it can be used again and again (if you miss a few days of the devotions) and would also make a great guest-bedroom bedside book for weary travelers to soak in some Peace!

The More for Girls Only Devotions by Carolyn Larsen has been a wonderful experience for my almost 13 year old.  She has enjoyed this devotion so much we purchased extras for her to give to friends.  (One, she delivered as a baptism gift!)  This devotion is set up in an easy-to-follow format with self quizzes to assess where a young lady is in her Journey.  It then shares a scripture lesson and encouraging quotes to get girls thinking more about God's plans for their lives and how they can think of others verses the more age-typical default setting of thinking of self.  My daughter's only disappointment is that she will soon be done with the book and there is not another one to follow!!

So, whether you are looking for Spiritual gifts for young or old, these two books are sure-winners and fairly priced for all ladies on your list!


*I received a complimentary copy of these books from Tyndale House for my review. This review is my opinion alone.

Pondering Christmas

As crisp December air pushes at the car windows and we take in the lights of houses sliding by, I am often reminded of an article I wrote a few years ago about what I call the Parable of St. Nicholas.  This year it is especially poignant as the first year in 21 where no anxious children will be spending a sleepless Christmas eve listening for sleigh bells.  Brooke, our last, found out the hard truth this year, though I delivered it, as always, in a classic Yes, Virginia, form. 

What does it all mean?  To suddenly switch views of the man in red from anticipation to remembrance?  My grandmother often says Christmas isn't the same without children around.  While her faith is strong, I believe the hardships of life have given her a certain measure of Christmas cynicism.  While a Child is at the heart of Christmas, we don't have to be children, wide-eyed in wonder expecting a jolly man with a white beard, to see the wonder that makes Christmas magical.

  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
- Luke 2:19

As all the glorious events culminated at the birth of Christ; the shepherds, the star, the angels; one line is slipped in their midst... Mary treasured.... pondering them in her heart.  She couldn't return to those moments again.  There was no magic re-wind button or instant replay.  It happened.... and then it was done.  Decades would pass before the full scope and significance would come into view.  Before all would truly understand what it meant that the Christ child had been born.  Yet Mary treasured and pondered.  

I wonder; did she look on her son, thirty-some-odd years later, hanging battered and torn on the cross and still ponder that one magnificent, significant day so many years before in meager beginnings when shepherds carried news of angels and stars?  Or kings and wise men came with gifts of great value?  Did her mind cast to a chili night in a stable and celebrate the culmination of something truly magnificent and wonderful?  Thirty-some-odd years later there are no gifts, no child any longer...  simply the gravity of the great gift of salvation for the world.

We don't know.

But there is more.  

17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them
 Luke 2:17-18,20

The shepherds response.

They made known what the angels told them about Jesus.  And people wondered.  They visited Mary and Joseph and Jesus and when they returned they glorified and praised God for it all.  How long did this 'magic' last?  How long were their Spirits lifted and the glory and wonder of it all?  Did they, too, stand in the crowd and watch this baby-grown-to-man hang in disgrace?  Did they feel the earth tremble and see the tombs open that fateful day?  Were they some who Jesus visited in his 40 days before ascension?  Where they in the crowds at Pentecost, remembering and praising and marveling how they saw it all at the start?

We don't know.

I still believe Santa is a modern day parable.  But just like Jesus' parables in each of the Gospels, he isn't the story.  He is merely symbolic of something greater we can't fathom or understand.  He isn't where our faith and joy rest, he is simply the model of faith and joy to man. And like those whom Jesus shared parables with then... many simply can't grasp the significance of faith and giving without a parable now.

Santa will still come down my chimney this Christmas while my brood nestles cozy in their beds.  Milk and cookies will still set out and gift tags may bare his name... but not because we worship him.  Not because he is why we celebrate.  Simply because he reminds us what giving selflessly, like Christ did, is all about.  He makes us children at heart, even if no children abound, so that we might treasure, ponder, make known and glorify and praise God for all He has done in Christmases and years past to hope for all God might do through the years and Christmases future.  

The only child I need around at Christmas is the child CHRISTmas is all about.  I pray your Christmas is CHRIST filled too!


*To understand how and where we place Santa at Christmas, read my blog article from December 2011, Parable in Modern Form

Monday, December 14, 2015

Menu Monday: Week of December 14th

I sure missed posting last week, but, the extra time with the kids in an already crazy week was nice. 

We kicked off our busiest week of the season with our first ever attendance to a live performance of Handle's Messiah on Sunday.  Friend Nathan and his mom made the trip into town to join us (pictured at end of row of my kids)

 Daily rehearsals to prepare for the weekend's performances were a lot of fun.  Waiting was the hardest part!

We all had a bit of opening night jitters.  Everything went well though and, with much prayer, our hearts hoped many found peace and Hope for this Christmas season through the message we were blessed to be a part of.  (Love came down at Christmas ... Jesus is the reason for the Season!)  ((In-text links are some songs we sang)) Some highlights:

The Angles were my favorite (bottom) and a wonderful climax to the Story.  Mary and Joseph's song, The Prayer, was beautiful. (Hubby had wing seats so pictures are fuzzy)
In the midst of rehearsals, homeschool, and the kids prepping for their annual Christmas video, we were still more than ready to welcome our house guest for half the week (Wednesday - Saturday).

Nathan was the first non-family member to stay in our new hospitality/guest house!  He is a young man we met a few years ago working with Christian Youth in Action.  He was in town this past week to do some recruiting for CYIA's summer 2016 outreach.  I offered cookie baking his first day here and he chose sugar cookies so he and the kids had fun with cut-outs, frosting and sprinkles! 

We also decorated the guest house Christmas tree with ornaments the kids have been given over the years.  Nathan had fun helping since our oldest, Zach, couldn't be here, he took over Zach's ornaments for the day.  Ashely, being a senior this year, got to put the angel on top of the tree.  Yes, I teared up a bit as I took the picture!

You can watch for a Bible study series coming soon from Nathan which he wrote and I offered to share here on the blog in the new year.  He is a very Holy Spirit inspired young man preparing to head to Bible College to become a youth pastor.

I couldn't help sharing this picture, taken when a friend stopped for a visit Friday with her brood which included a newborn baby (I got to hold!!!) and a toddler.  Her toddler was playing with baby dolls in this high chair but when she walked away for a few minutes, our fluff-ball Aslan took over.  He seriously put himself in this chair like that and he thinks it is his seat, though he is getting much to big for it.  The kids thought the hat would make him cute, however, Santa gives toys, he doesn't take them!

This week will seem dull compared to last week's business!  We are expecting a snowstorm any minute now... literally!  If it hits with all the force predicted then we won't be doing both youth groups this week... which will devastate the kids since they missed a lot last week due to our involvement in the church production.  Ashley has some last minute Christmas shopping to do for friends which I need to run her to tonight if weather permits. Youth groups Tuesday, Wednesday and then Friday is a Christmas party get-together for the Middle School youth group kids (Brooke will attend).  I'm hoping to do my grocery shopping during the day Friday to beat the crowds so my menu for Friday/Saturday is hopeful!

Saturday evening my husband's boss graciously offered to take his department to see the new Star Wars movie.  Each employee and their spouse.  My husband is super excited though I must confess I am sort of Star Wars-ed out!  He desperately wants me by his side though so I will go and we will be bringing Brenden since he absolutely can't wait to see it!  Buying just one ticket is much more cost effective and we appreciate the generous gift his boss is providing for the rest.

Brooke and I are working on mug rugs for a few Christmas gifts.  hopefully the studio stays warm enough to get them finished!

Menu for this week...


- oatmeal
- cereal
- pancakes

hubby: leftover Pork Fried Rice
me and kids: leftovers, Ham or Bologna sandwiches


Pork Steaks, Green Beans, Baked Yellow Squash
We have been trying to make healthy tweeks to our dinners.  I switched fried Squash to baked and breaded it with bread crumbs and Parmesan and it was delicious (even the kids loved it!).  I am still perfecting the process and can share more details when I get them done!


Chicken Pot Pie
I think I will use small Christmas tree cookie cutters to cut the vent holes!

Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry
I have a small amount of steak left over from a package I got on bargain and split for two meals.  Stir Fry is always a great way to stretch small amounts of meat for a larger family!

Ground Turkey Sloppy Jo, Mac N Cheese and Potato Bake

Costco Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas

Burgers and Home Fries


What are you cooking this week?


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Counting Down Christmas

The Christmas season is finally here.  No one looks at me strange anymore when they walk into a room I'm busy in and the air is filled with the familiar tunes of Christmastime!  Our tree was up within a couple days of Thanksgiving and preparations began for the bustling month of December.

One tradition we have in our family is the advent calendar.  Most years we have done it as a Christmas Paper chain... but with a twist.  When my children were still very young I wanted to instill in them the understanding that Christmas wasn't just the gift getting season, as Lucy would say in the Peanuts Classic.  I wanted them to grow with compassion and an eye to help others, big and small. 

Our Christmas chain was set up to have one link tore off each day and on that link would be a task.  I intertwine goodwill tasks with family fun so there is an even balance of both throughout the season. Some goodwill projects: buying a gift for another in need or sending a 'thinking of you' message to someone far away.  Even the animals around the yard were blessed by my children's pre-Christmas activity when the chain told us to make them a special treat (pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed, so easy!).  Some of the chain-links were simple Christmas fun as a family.  My favorite was to go for a walk or drive to look at Christmas lights... preferably while singing carols!  The kids' fave is pizza picnic in front of the Christmas tree!

No matter the activity, it has provided TWO essential elements to every Christmas season: they don't just think of themselves in what could be a very me-centered holiday AND I rarely hear "I'm bored... how much longer till Christmas?"!  Waiting for Christmas is FUN and I am almost bummed when it actually gets here!

Here is a PDF of the count-down calendar we are using this year.  The 'directions' are on page 2 of the document. The chain has become more difficult in recent years because we are not always able to do said activities ON the day and then they pile up and become difficult to enjoy when en-mass.  This year I made a calendar with a list at the bottom so we can pick and choose what works best that day.  The kids (ages 12-17 [still at home]) are having a blast with it! 
Click image to go to PDF

It isn't too late to use the above calendar or make your own on paper-chain OR list form. For a complete list of ideas, click on the image below.  this is the general list I have collected over the years and draw from each November as I make our Christmas Count-down.

To make your own paper chain:
  • start a list of days till Christmas
  • note any events on each of those days which might affect what you can do for advent.  For example, if I know we will be out-and-about late, I will schedule a look at Christmas lights activity that day.
  • begin to filter in the activities you think your family would enjoy on the given days.
  • Cut strips of red and green construction paper across the width about 1" thick
  • in the center of the paper strip, write the day on one side in marker
  • in the center of the opposite side, write the activity in pen
  • attach links with tape or glue stick and re-enforce with a Christmas sticker (optional)  (you can use a stapler but the other method is 'prettier!)
  • hang your chain in a central location
  • take turns each day taking off a link
One year my youngest (age 10 at the time) asked if our count-down chain could be the story of baby Jesus in stead!  We were traveling a lot through Christmas that year for missions work so we were already outward thinking and it was especially perfect since all other typical advent happenings just weren't possible.  This special count-down inspired a advent study on our ministry website you can see by visiting here

click image to go to study

To make this chain, follow the directions for the advent chain above, however, instead of writing the activity, write the scripture passage reference (not the WHOLE passage, just write, for example, Luke 1:26-27) and when that link is pulled, everyone opens their Bibles together and shares the passage.

I pray your Christmas season is filled with joy!

How do you spend the advent season?


Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu Monday: Week of November 30th

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you get stuffed like a .... you know! We certainly did.  Here are some pictures from last week... with evidence of our Turkey-day delights...

My Thanksgiving Mantel-scape

Turkeys in disguise to avoid being the main course

Our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Brooke did the Pumpkin Pie completely by herself!  Even used the idea of mini-pumpkin pies she saw on Pinterest.  Brenden "frosted" the cookies with melted Chocolate

The Turkey cookies before "frosting"...

... and after!  The chocolate hardens.  Aren't Brooke's little pies cute?  They and the big one were delicious.

The rest of the dessert buffet.  I put out fudge and toffee as well.

Appetizers which we use for lunch while waiting on the turkey.

They were goofing around and I caught them trying to act like they weren't!  Brooke's face is the give-away though!

Wrapped up the weekend with a decorated tree!

As I mentioned above, I tried a last-minute easy-toffee recipe I found through a link up and it was amazingly easy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Check it out here.

This week is a pretty basic week and a bit of a calm before the proverbial storm.  (Next week we have daily rehearsals before the curtain call of our church's big Christmas production next Friday).  I am doing some final little Christmas decor touches and cleaning up the aftermath of Thanksgiving and decorating.  Feeling weary with your daily to-dos?  Check out this article I found last week about What it Really Means to our Husbands When We Manage Our Homes.  I shared it on Facebook today.  It encouraged me a great deal.  Oh, and one other awesomely excitable note: we get to go see Handel's Messiah performed LIVE on Sunday afternoon.  I have never seen it live and the whole family is looking forward to this amazing experience.

Menu for this week...

- eggs and potato cakes
- oatmeal
- cereal
- pancakes

hubby: leftover Pork Fried Rice, Chicken Salad
me and kids: leftovers, Ham or Bologna sandwiches


Turkey Casserole
It may sound weird but it is the easiest and best way to make use of your Thanksgiving leftovers.   Butter a 13x9 dish (I use margarine), cut bite-size pieces of leftover turkey and place along bottom, sprinkle a tad of leftover gravy, smear a layer of left-over stuffing, thin layer of gravy, layer of leftover mashed potatoes, thin layer of gravy.  Bake at 350-375 for about 30-45 minutes.  Basically, until good and warm all the way through.  Serve with any other left-over tidbits like Green Bean Casserole, Corn, Salad, and/or rolls.

Chicken Salad and Fresh Bread


Pork Fried Rice

Chicken Fettuccine with fresh Salad and Garlic Bread Sticks

Home-made Beef and Bean Burritos
I simply love this recipe for tortillas.  So easy and delicious.

Burgers and Home Fries


What are you cooking this week?


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude Reflections: Week 4

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:5-6

My gratitude... I grew up in a family where Athiesm was praised.  Agnostic, you are their buddy too.  Christians?  Well, you better have guts of iron because they will put you through the wringer.  They will take the Lord's name in vain more than usual in your presence... just to watch you squirm.  They will ridicule every.last.move because if you aren't the perfect picture of Jesus then, in their mind, you are a poser and they are ready to throw the punches.

Some days it would be subtle.  Others, it was down-right war.  They (and I at the time) don't/didn't understand the concept Paul often references as spiritual babies.  1 John even seems to be written to this group of new believers... trying to learn how best to glorify God and screweing up pretty consistently along the way until one day, those mature steps start being taken.  But I can't give my family a hard time for that... even many Christians don't realize this about the walk we are called to when we accept Christ as our LORD and savior. 

Lord: He is in charge.  He is what it is all about.

Coming into this understanding after rededicating my life in my early 20s, I had a richer belief after falling away.  I had a deeper understanding because of my broken family and my unbelieving relatives.  I have written many times how my biological dad is an atheist... of how we didn't talk for years because of the persecution.  Yet, when I started praying and asking God WHY, why did he give me such a challenge for a dad, a quickly received my answer:  his unbelief has helped grow my belief.  His steadfastness in the un-realness of God has created a deeper and more seasoned trust in the realness of my Faith.

No, it hasn't been easy.  But through it all, God has taught me so much.  He has taught me, most of all, how to pray in Thanksgiving through all things and to trust Him, seeking Him for the words I need, when I need them... especially with my family but also with all those I encounter on any given day.  I am grateful for this.  For how God has grown me and for how He never stops giving the words I need to be seasoned with salt.

What are you thankful for as the result of your reflections on Colossians 4 this week?


Post your own Gratitude Reflections this week, share the button and share your post in comments below and/or on my Facebook page!  Let us encourage each other this week.

It's not to late... you can gather around the thanksgiving table and share gratitude.  You can even still print the page below for adults and children alike to do something fun during your dinner gathering. (click on image to go to the pdf.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

*Mid-Week Message: Week 4

How is your study going?  How has God's Word been speaking to you this week?  Today I will share what I saw as I walked through this passage.  For time's sake, there will be no video this week...

Scripture this week is from Colossians 4:2-6

We have learned such deep truths to living a life which radiates gratitude, no matter our circumstances.  Where do we go from here?  How do we bow out of this study in a way which resonates? More directly:

How can we pray steadfastly in thanksgiving and, as the result of our prayers, seek open doors where we might be salt and light?

As is typical with most Epistles, and especially Paul's, he closes his letter with greetings and/or a call to pray and some prayer requests.  Here, in keeping with the thankful message, Paul adds a measure of gratitude to the mix:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

In case you are wondering, be watchful is a common exhortation in Paul's closings, reminding believers that someday Jesus will return and we ought to be ready at every moment.  Steadfastly is also a regular theme which reminded believers to not give up, not cease.  It is also seems to be a reflection of Paul's do everything statement in Colosisans 3:17.  But most importantly in this little verse is HOW the believers were to pray.  Not just steadfastly, not just being watchful but with Thanksgiving.  

Imagine the life of these first century believers, which we have discussed extensively for the past 3 weeks.  If you remember, it is quite reflective of our own: a licentious society given over to idol worship and condemnation of those who aren't.  How do you walk thankfully in an oppressive society where different is... well... different and not well accepted.  Our Salvation, our growth and being rooted in Christ, our New being as a result, create the groundwork of our gratitude.  Paul seems to point out here that all these things are wrapped up and tied together through our steadfast prayers being made in thanksgiving.

What do we thank God for?  Well, all the afore mentioned blessings in our weeks of study... and anything else we just might have left out.  Whether it is the air in your lungs or the weather on your way to work or errands.  Thankful things aren't worse (because they always could be) or that things are better.  Thankful that Jesus will someday be coming back and that all of this life is temporary and passing.  Thankful to realize that even the best day here pales in comparison to what heaven holds when we eventually meet up with Jesus.

Some days, before my husband accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, I couldn't imagine life being any worse.  Thankfully, my husband never hit me... but some days I wished he had and just got it over with... that is how bad it was.  I have lived in physically abusive relationships, I endured many years of verbal abuse as well from hubby B.C. (before he accepted Christ) but still... I was able to be thankful.  Thankful for hope and knowing life wouldn't always be that way.  Thankful it would pass and thankful for the little things I did have in the mean time.... like my children, my home, food and adventure.  

There is always something to be thankful for if you stop and pay attention to HOW God is using your situation.

As a result of praying in thankfulness, Paul shows the believers what comes next:

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-- that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
 Colossians 4:3-4

Pray for others and, as a precursor to his next statement, he shows how he is looking for opportunities to share about Christ, even from prison, that God would give him Words and he trusts the concerted prayers of believers will help.  Then... he calls them to do the same:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 
Colossians 4:5-6

If he can sit in prison, praying with gratitude, encouraging and teaching believers and looking for even more opportunities to do so.... then surely so can the rest of the believers.... so can we.

  • Be wise toward outsiders - unbelievers
  • Make good use of the time - literally buy up the time like people buying up a product at a good price.  Christians are to buy yup ever opportunity God gives to share the good news and serve others.
  • Practice gracious speech - re-consider Colossians 3:12-14.
  • Seasoned with Salt - a sub-heading to gracious speech (see Monday's historical note) Rabbis of the time would also use the term salt to refer to wisdom

WHY does Paul tell them to do these things?  So that the believers would know how they ought to answer each person.  Without consistent prayer, in thanksgiving, focusing their hearts on the goodness of God and eternity vs. the deprivation of man and the broken lostness of the temporal, an ability to respond wisely was difficult at best.

Is it not the same for us now?

Measuring gratitude, practice thanksgiving each and every day of our lives is not only critical to our personal walk with Jesus Christ, but it is also imperative to reflecting Him and hearing His guidance as we seek to speak truth to others in a way which is uplifting and draws the lost to being found in Christ.

I pray you will find these truths planted deep in your heart as the Thanksgiving season passes and all other days follow behind.  To make a habit of counting blessings and expressing gratitude... especially when it is hardest to do so!


Also, take time today and for the remainder of this week to reflect on how you you can be thankful through prayer and in what ways you can be prayerful in sharing your faith and your hope with others.  

If you want, you can print the leaf document below and fill them out with gratitude reflections.

I pray you will carry this spirit of gratitude beyond this Thanksgiving season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Preparing Home and Heart: Week 4

It is our last Preparing Home and Heart message in the  How to be Thankful study.  Is your heart ready for true Thanksgiving?  This week we wrap up our study by considering prayer and sharing so this is the inspiration for the....

Home and Heart challenge this week:
Thanksgiving is in a few short days.  Hard to believe it is almost upon us.  I don't know about you, but even with no company coming there is a lot to be done before Thursday.  Whether dusting or cooking or plotting out the order of events.... it is all coming down the line and even with my little family, I find it helpful to remember that joy Jesus has placed in my heart and stay centered on doing these things for the right reasons.

It isn't about impressing anyone.  It isn't about tradition (even though we do have them).  In the midst of the holiday madness it boils down to one thing: gratitude. 

So my challenge for you and for me this week is to do each task, whether cleaning or cooking or... whatever else... with prayer in my heart.  To be thankful for those Christian brothers and sisters (and blood related family) God has put in my life and prayerful for those who haven't accepted Christ yet.  Each spec of dust, each freshly cooked dish, each moment praying for open doors and opportunities to share my hope in Jesus and prepare lost hearts to receive it.

I pray this challenge will help you to enjoy the prep time more AND the big event just as much.  To see those around you (even the challenging ones) as a great blessing and a great opportunity to share your hope and faith with!


Feel free to grab the button and share!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Menu Monday: Thanksgiving Week Edition

The big week is here!!!  Thanksgiving prep will go into full-swing in my house.  Next year I hope to be starting sooner (we will have been settled for a full year by then!)  No company is expected this year, but that is ok.  We make our own style of fun.  If you want details on how I plan our Thanksgiving dinner, check out last week's Menu Monday post here.

Growing up, my mom and I always watched Macy's together.  "It isn't officially Christmastime until you have seen Santa coming down the street in the Macy's Parade" she use to say.  However, no longer having any network t.v. and the last decade or so Macy's just hasn't been the same sweet parade it once was... I decided to start a new tradition: Watch Miracle on 34th Street!  If my mom were still alive today, I believe she would heartily agree. It starts with a very old Macy's parade and ends with some Christmas miracles.  With that said, a typical no-company Thanksgiving day schedule looks something like this:
  • Rise and review my list of to-do for the day while I take in coffee and sweet bread.
  • Put bird in (depending on dinner time depends on the order of the bird going in)
  • Watch Miracle on 34th Street while I do odds and ends jobs like cut potatoes for the mashed potatoes, iron buffet and table clothes and set-up platters with appetizers.
  • Clear ALL unnecessary counter-top tidbits to the pantry so there is plenty of prep space for turkey and other dishes.  This is when I pull out my roaster as well and get it ready to warm.
  • Arrange table with cloth and table scape, set up buffet and serving platters (even for just us, I treat it like a special occasion with all the bells and whistles!)
  • Pre-measure ingredients and get pots placed on stove for all the various dishes.  This makes actual dinner prep go faster.
  • Make calls to extend holiday greetings to family far away 
  • Play a family game
  • Work on side dishes and begin the final dinner run where turkey comes out and all the host stuff goes on
  • Have dinner
  • Watch The Santa Claus to kick off the Christmas season as a family
  • Clean up and start to take down Thanksgiving Decorations, making piles ready to pack first thing (I start Christmas decorating in the morning!!!)
Even for just us I buy the biggest bird I can get my hands on.  We have multiple nights of planned leftovers which is especially helpful as I start the Christmas decorating. 

This week...
In the midst of Thanksgiving prep we are taking the week off from school.  Ashley starts her first job, which is super exciting.  However, it will be just me and Brooke on a lot of the prep (Brenden is sick). I also need to use this time to help the girls finish painting their room, hanging shelves and getting the remainder of their boxes unpacked (Brooke is desperate to have friends over but her still 1/4 packed room prohibits it).  I also want to use some down-time to work on our Christmas newsletter since I plan to get cards mailed over the next week or so.... hopefully!


Monday... Typical daily chores, make fudge and possibly pre-mix Turkey cookie dough and refrigerate.  If my ambitions hold out I will also tackle at least one of the sweet breads. (I typically make Cranberry, Pumpkin and Zucchini) I will also work on sit-downs like newsletter (I have a toe injury I need to baby for a day or so). After dinner we are doing turkey disguises (see Friday's post).
DINNER: Leftover stew from our roast on Sunday and Fresh Bread

Tuesday... Make turkey cookies (see Friday's post), put together a Thanksgiving greeting to share with neighbors along with some of our turkey cookies and sweet bread. I may also get veggies, cheeses and summer sausage cut for the appetizer platters.  All these things will hold well in the fridge.  We will probably do our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving since this is the only day before Thanksgiving that Ashley doesn't work.  Kids have youth group this night if the predicted winter storm doesn't sweep through the area.  I will probably hang out in the coffee shop near the church and work on Christmas cards.
DINNER: Stir-fry Chicken

All pies will get baked today.  Any prep-work not finished so far this week will get done as well.  I will also make my cheese ball/pine cone and the cranberry salad I mentioned Friday and I will plot and plan my buffet arrangement.  Dinner will be quick, low-mess and stress free after a busy day of baking...
DINNER: Costco frozen Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas and fresh salad

The rest of the week will be leftovers!


What are your Thanksgiving plans and what are you cooking this week?