We had a wonderful thanksgiving weekend. We celebrated Saturday so Tom could join us, but my folks and sisters came up Thursday night so we’d have a day for fun. Friday we headed downtown for all the Christmas festivities. We unfortunately missed the parade, but we did get to enjoy the huge Macy’s tree, and hear the bands performing downtown in the square. We visited the Festival of Trees and the Gingerbread village, and took in the Train and Village at the Seattle Center Armory, and even got the tail-end of the Highlander’s bagpipe performance.

The Festival of Trees was very fun. While most were too over the top for my preference, I enjoyed getting ideas for ways to spruce up my own tree. One of my particular favorites was the addition of different kinds of every green clippings to add texture. It was freeing to think that “anything goes” in decor!

Tom and I are still using the tiny tinfoil star that I made for our first 3 foot tree for our first Christmas. While I still love its simple charm, I’m ready to get a “real” star. I’d seen stars similar to the one on the large tree Dantzel is standing in front of on Etsy- maybe I’ll try my hand at one of those!

The Teddy Bear Suite, not sure this was worth standing in line for- except the candy canes came very much in handy when we all about passed out from hunger while waiting in line at the Gingerbread village.

Scotter with Grandma and Adee at the Gingerbread Village

This one was my favorite. They used everything from candy, to cereal, to pasta and crackers. It was so elaborate and yet tasteful.

The creativity and attention to detail used on each of these pieces at the Gingerbread Village was astounding. We all had a lot of fun identifying the different candies, and marveling at their usage. This boat was even motorized and rocked back and forth. Scotland loved all the little creatures and people.

After enjoying the sites and sounds downtown we headed to the Seattle Center. We made the mistake of pushing off lunch too long, and we all got a bit ‘hangry.’ But a trip to the food court at the Armory quickly fixed that and we were all much more chipper afterwards and enjoyed taking in the miniature train and village.

Tom even got off super early and came down to join us!

Dantz and add were very keen at picking up all the details of this neat village, even noticing a difference in socio-economic class from one side to the other!

Don’t let Adalee or my Dad’s expression fool you. Adee enjoyed the exhibit, my Dad- well he’s not much into crowded events, but he was a trooper and came along.

We caught the tail-end of the Highlander’s performance. Scotland LOVED it, and was thrilled to get to play the snare drum and touch the bagpipes afterward when we went up to talk to the members of the group. Here he is poising with Collin. If your name is Scotland, you better love bagpipes- am I right?

We ended the night with our version of Black Friday- a visit to Goodwill for their 50% off sale! I scored a gorgeous Willow Tree Nativity, that my Mom generously bought for me for hosting. It’s about a foot tall and just stunning.

Making a mini pumpkin pie with Scotland. (Despite my vanity, I included this “bump” shot so our next little guy will know where he was! )

Saturday brought “Thanksgiving!” I had made quite a few items ahead of time, hoping to make the day as enjoyable and stressless as possible. I’m happy to report I think it worked. We still spent the morning in the kitchen, but only had to make rolls, pies, appetizers, and cook the turkey. Mom and Dantz made some scrumptious Shrimp Blossoms and Adee made Mozarella sticks for our appetizers. I made the rolls and Dantz made the pie crust and the pumpkin pie.

While us female folk cooked, the men stuck to their more stereotypical roles and did construction. (Let it be known that both Tom and my Dad typically cook.) Tom installed pull-out drawers in our pantry, and my Dad finished removing the wall between the living room and kitchen. While the fact that both projects took place in the kitchen added to the chaos and mess, it meant we were all still “together” and I was THRILLED that both projects were being done. The opening to the kitchen looks SO much better. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to have all that additional storage in my pantry now. (Tom also fixed our front door knob, and installed a dimmer in our room, all while entertaining Scotland.)

Making Grandma Foutz’ cherry pie for Daddy!

Culinary Review:
Now since Thanksgiving has a fairly important food component. Here’s my review and summary of the meal. I ended up very happy that I made what I did ahead of time: cranberry sauce, potatoes, stuffing, salad dressing, pie filling, balsamic glazed nuts, grapefruit appetizer and green bean casserole. Not only did it mean that we didn’t have to hassle with all that peeling, chopping, cooking and dishes day off. It also meant, I was able to make the cranberry sauce and pie filling with Scotland in an environment more suitable for teaching a toddler how to cook. I think it was essential considering the size of my kitchen.
I had planned on just picking up a rotisserie chicken from Costco in place of the turkey. While I love turkey on Thanksgiving, I’ve found it usually is the made cause of stress- because it takes up all the oven space, is never done in time, and there is always this uncertainty with whether it’s fully cooked. But my Mom had already bought a turkey breast and said she’d bring it up. We ended up using the pressure cooker to cook it- and it worked our perfectly. It was out of the way, cooked in an hour, was tender, juicy and best of all, easy! I’m not sure I’ll cook a turkey another way again.
In an effort to keep things economical and simple, I stayed very traditional. Things I wanted to note for next year:
– The “basic stuffing” recipe from Joy of Cooking, was too basic. I’d dress it up a bit more next time. (Excuse the pun!)
-The pumpkin pie was better the second day- it would have been great to make that ahead of time.
-The salad was a huge hit for me. I loved the addition of pomegranate seeds. Mixed greens would have been more beautiful than the spinach. Tom would have liked a stronger balsamic presence on the glazed nuts, but I was happy with their crunch!
-I’d make Pioneer Woman’s green bean casserole again. Though I think I would french cut the beans. I’d have stuck with her suggestion of panko crumbs instead of fried onions.
-My attempt at Pam’s Cherry pie finally turned out! (Thanks to Dantzi’s fabulous job on the crust!) We used Ruth Reichl’s recipe for the pie crusts and I was very pleased. I’m glad I bought shortening, even though I’m a bit morally opposed to it! Tom really wished I would have made two cherry pies. And I have to admit, he had a point. (I just need to find a cheaper source of pie cherries!)
-My grapefruit appetizer will forever more contain raspberries, and will be served with Squirt.
-I made the Lion House roll recipe, with half white wheat. They turned out good, but not great. They rose nicely, and were light and moist, but I felt the flavor was lacking in some way. Maybe I needed to be more liberal with the butter, or maybe I’m not a white flour girl.
-Concord Grape Juice- how I love thee!
I’d say the weekend was a success. I always get so nervous about pleasing everyone when I host, especially family. But I tried to mentally prep myself with the realization that people can only please themselves and that I had little control over their enjoyment. I, perhaps selfishly, filled the weekend with things that I love. Naturally, I had a great time. I enjoyed all the new experiences downtown on Friday, appreciated the time in the kitchen with all it’s chaos on Saturday. And was touched by our simple tradition of expressing thanks around a lovely meal. (Scotland instigated the thankfuls in the verbiage “What do you like?” going around the table asking each person to contribute.)
It meant a lot to me to have my family there. There’s something special about turning the tables and hosting your parents for a change.
I had hopes of making garlands, picking and decorating our tree, and singing carols around the piano, but their two day visit was just too brief.
Thanks Mom, Dad, Ad, and Dantz for making the trek over. I love you guys!
 
 
 

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