So Very Thankful

This Thanksgiving was one for the books! We had 19 people at our house (including two adorable babies) and a TON of food! My cousins, who I haven’t seen in years, took the long drive from NJ, with all of their adorable kids, to celebrate with us.

I spent the week prepping and getting the table set. I spray painted some of my mini pumpkins from Halloween with a winter white and then a top coat of silver sparkle. I was so over the orange by Thanksgiving. I decided to incorporate more silvers and whites as a nice segue to Christmas! Having the table set early gets it out of the way and lets me just focus on the food the days before Thanksgiving!


The food was a big hit! I made the most delicious turkey! Here is the recipe. I will DEFINITELY be using this every year! Each person was in charge of a few dishes so it wasn’t all ME! This post had our basic meal outline. Splitting it up definitely lowers the stress level for everyone! It left plenty of time for morning PJ playing and snuggles!



Once everyone arrived, it was non-stop eating and playing! We had a BLAST! Turner got to meet his second cousin, who is just a few months younger, and they hit it off great!


We even managed to get a family picture!

It was a Thanksgiving to remember. We have so much to be thankful for! Stew is healing super speedy and we have the most amazing baby! We are definitely blessed!

Melt In Your Mouth Turkey

I have a foolproof recipe for the BEST turkey you will EVER taste! I promise! Follow this step-by-step recipe and your guests will be talking about your turkey for years to come! It will go down in history! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good “Cooked and plated shot” because it was such a mad rush for food, and the sun had already gone down, so I had to use the dreaded FLASH. But here’s a picture of the spread.

Melt In Your Mouth Turkey

15 lb. fresh Turkey
1 1/2 sticks room temp salted butter
2 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic paste
Brine recipe here
3 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 carots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
Foil breastplate (funny sounding, I know)
Digital Thermometer
canola oil
salt & pepper
Big roasting pan

Gravy:
Turkey drippings
2 envelopes Knorr Gravy mix
2 boxes your favorite chicken broth

Monday:
1. Place butter, herbs, and garlic in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix until well combined. Put in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tuesday Morning:
2. Make the brine. Cool in fridge COMPLETELY. Once cool, remove turkey neck, giblets, etc. and put turkey into the brine, breast side first. Cover with foil and put in the fridge.
3. Cut celery, carrots, onion, lemon and put into a gallon sized ziplock bag in the fridge.

Wednesday Night:
4. Take herb butter out of the fridge and leave on the counter overnight to come to room temperature.

Turkey Day!
5. Preheat oven to 500F. Remove turkey from the brine. Discard brine. Rinse turkey with cold water and dry COMPLETELY with paper towels. Place on roasting pan.
6. Stuff cavity with the lemon and half the bag of carrots, celery, and onions. Place the rest of the veggies in the bottom of the roasting pan.
7. Carefully separate skin from the breasts and rub the butter under the skin on each breast. Use the skin to move the butter around to get it into all the nooks and crannies. Then, rub butter on top of the legs.

8. Fit foil “breastplate”. This foil will protect the breast from burning. Once the foil is fitted, set aside.

9. Use a paper towel to rub a thin layer of canola oil on the outside of the whole turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
10. Bake turkey for exactly 30 minutes at 500F to brown the skin.
11. Lower temperature to 350F.
12. Take turkey out, insert digital thermometer into the thickest part of the BREAST (smack in the middle between wish bone and outside of breast) and set thermometer to 155F (about another 2 hours). Place foil breastplate on and put back in the oven. NO BASTING! You want a crispy skin.
13. When thermometer beeps, take turkey out and cover with a foil tent. Let rest for AT LEAST an hour before cutting. Keep thermometer in. The temp should come to 160F while resting. That is your goal temperature for a DONE bird!
14. Cut both breasts off and set aside under foil tent.
15. Stick thermometer into thickest part of the thigh and put carcass and thighs back into the oven at 350F until thermometer beeps. This ensures that the dark meat cooks without overcooking the white meat.
16. To make the gravy, place the roasting pan, full of the delicious drippings, on the stove over medium-low heat. Whisk in 2 cartons of chicken broth and two envelopes of Knorr Gravy mix. Simmer and whisk until it thickens. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Run through a strainer. Keep warm in a pot on the stove or pour into serving dish if eating immediately.

**Keep turkey under foil until the last second to keep warm. To reheat when guests arrive, place in a shallow baking dish and moisten with HOT chicken broth. Carve and plate with beautiful garnishes like pomegranates, citrus fruit, kale, or grapes. ENJOY!

Countdown To Thanksgiving

We started hosting Thanksgiving in 2011. We LOVE entertaining. We go all out. Just ask the people in our Supper Club! Last Thanksgiving, I was planning on hosting, but Turner decided to show up almost two weeks early! He was only 5 days old last Thanksgiving. So we went to my mom’s instead. My, how life has changed in a year!

This year, we’re back in action! Here is my game plan! Having a timeline makes it completely stress-free! I just do a little bit each day.

I do a lot in advance. That way, all I do Thanksgiving morning is bake the turkey! We always have different veggies each year, but we have the staples too! We ALWAYS start with Nanny’s Italian Wedding Soup. Sorry, I’d share that recipe, but you know how that ends…

I use something similar to this recipe for the Turkey. I make a few changes and sort of do a combination of recipes. But that’s the basic idea! I make the herb butter in advance and just take it out the night before so it’s nice and spreadable by Thanksgiving morning. I use this Food Network Digital Thermometer for the turkey too. This is a MUST! It ensures that the turkey isn’t overcooked and dry! And, if you order it withAmazon Prime , it will be here in time for the big day!

I also make buttermilk biscuits (minus the cheese), cranberry relish, Harvest Pie (I use store bought dough and omit the nuts), and cornbread pudding. Considering we will have 19 people, I’m also having everyone bring a dish too! We’ll have a sweet potato dish, broccoli rabe, mashed potatoes, green beans, and few others!

Today is cleaning, laundry, set the table, and decorate the house day. Typically, we decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. BUT, in my defense, Thanksgiving is a week later this year!! That means we would have less time to enjoy the Christmas decorations! So pump up the Nat King Cole, and let the fun begin!! Happy Thanksgiving prep week!!

12 Month Favorites

I can’t believe I just typed that title! Every month, when I make these boards, I’m shocked at how fast Turner is growing. I can’t believe he’s actually ONE! We have a TODDLER! This is what we’ve been into the past month.

1 Munchkin Snack Catchers This is the best invention ever! This kid loves to eat! I have to give him one piece of food at a time, or he’ll shove it all into his mouth at once! This cup slows him down. I put his Barley Puffs or Happy Puffs in there so he can only get a few out at a time.

2 Tiny Diner We picked this up a few weeks ago and fell in love! It has suction cups that stick to the table. Usually, I wipe the surface in front of him when we go out to eat. But with this, I don’t have to. It even has a pocket to catch the food that falls off the table. Genius!

3 Puffed Barley Cereal I got these as an experiment. I put a few puffs on his high-chair table while I got his oatmeal ready, and he LOVED them! What a better idea than the Happy Puffs (or whatever puffs you use). You get a whole box for the same price as a little jar of those other puffs. And it’s just one ingredient! They have puffed rice, millet, and kamut too. Such a healthy alternative.

4 Long Jane Pajamas The next few are for Momma. I fell in love with these PJs from Victorias Secret! They’re so cute and comfy. PLUS Turner and I can match when we change into our PJs. How fun!

5 Dark Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream- OH MY GOSH. This ice cream is from Whole Foods. It’s the 365 brand, and it’s only out for a limited time! So go get it now! Unfortunately, there was no picture on their website, so I put the pumpkin up so you can see what the packaging looks like (only it’s pink). Stew and I are OBSESSED with this ice cream. We have a little bit every night. My guilty pleasure.

6. Sparkle Nail PolishDefinitely not for Turner. I am addicted to my sparkly nails these days. I put it over any color, and it looks awesome. Last week was gray. The week before was dark purple. It makes any color more festive! Just in time for the holidays.

Healthy Birthday Cupcake

Our little Turner is ONE! It’s hard to believe it. I feel like he was just born yesterday! He has made this the best year of our lives! I planned a construction party to celebrate and made him his very own “healthy cupcake” (I’m not quite ready to give him sugar). He absolutely LOVED it! He didn’t miss the sugar at all!

Cupcake
Makes 3 cupcakes

1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Avocado Icing
1 ripe avocado at room temperature
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all cupcake ingredients in standing mixer and mix until combined. Line three cupcake molds with paper liners. Use an ice-cream scoop to drop the batter into each cup. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely. Either store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or leave at room temperature to eat the day of.

In the meantime, add the avocado flesh, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil to a high speed blender (or food processor). Blend until well combined. Add to piping bag and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Take out the morning of to soften. Once the cupcake is cooled, decorate with icing. Enjoy!

Turner’s First Birthday

It’s been a while since I’ve written. But I knew I’d make up for it with this post. It’s a big one!

Our little Turner is ONE!!! Our baby is growing up so fast! I feel like he was born yesterday! Kinda makes me want another to go on a vacation! I made his “chalkboard” using a 20×30 Foam Board and Metallic Markers.

I planned a construction theme to celebrate. We had a huge turnout! There were at least 30 people here. It was so much fun!



Pinterest was a HUGE help in this! I came up with the invitations, menu, decorations, and signs for the food. Black and Yellow were my main colors. I tried to make food that would match the theme too.

This is what I came up with for the menu:

*Open Faced BLTs
*Turkey Sandwiches (some with tomato and some with bacon) on “VERY THIN” Whole Wheat Pepperidge Farm bread.
*Veggies and Dip
*Rice Crispy Treats
*”Drill Bits” – Pirouline Cookies
*Build Your Own Trail Mix
1)”Screws”-pretzel sticks
2)”Rocks”-Raisinets
3)”Bricks”-Corn Chex
4)”Pebbles”-Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal
*Birthday Cake (made by my incredibly talented mom a.k.a Gigi)

For drinks I made a “Fuel Station”
*Iced Green Tea
*Iced Passion Tea
*Lemonade
*Citrus Cucumber Water (not very construction-ey I know)

For party favors, I made sugar cookies cut into wrenches and hammers. I found the cookie cutters at a local kitchen store (similar here). My amazing sister-in-law wrapped them in bags and tied them with ribbon. I stacked them up in one of Turner’s dump trucks.

And my proudest creation was his birthday cupcake! My friends were shocked that Turner was eating a cupcake! It made more sense when I told them it was an “Emily Cupcake”. Let’s just say the icing was made out of avocado 😮 Here is the recipe!

But he loved it nonetheless! He cried hysterically when the cupcake was gone!


All in all, it was an amazing party! Turner had so much fun. He was such a trooper! He didn’t cry once (except for when we took his cupcake away), even though he was passed around like a hot potato! We ended the festivities by opening ONE of his many presents. My brother, Uncle Jesse, bought him his very first drum set! It was a perfect way to end the night.

Happy birthday to our sweet little angel!!

These Thighs

Turner seems to be getting chunkier by the second. It could quite possibly be because he will not stop eating! He starts rocking back and forth in his high chair, with his hands in the air, like he’s casting a spell on us….FEED ME OR I’LL TURN YOU INTO A FROG! His thighs, a.k.a. chunks, are my favorite part to squeeze!

Last night was our very romantic cloth-diaper-washing-night, so we had to put a disposable diaper on him this morning. His chunks look extra chunky sticking out of a tiny disposable diaper. I took this perfect opportunity to snap some pictures of him in action!



I love this kid! Hope you enjoyed the thigh action!

Fearless

Yesterday was Stew’s 4th chemo treatment. Eight more to go! I’m amazed at how positive and strong he is. I feel like I would be a big cry baby if I was in his shoes.

Being thrown into this cancer world has been frightening and inspiring at the same time. We’re surrounded by people who are in such different positions, but at the root, they all have the same struggles and fears.

Yesterday, a woman named Elizabeth, came into our room to talk to us. She just finished her 12th treatment. She came in to ask us about our laptop. She’s been thinking about getting a Mac laptop. Her daughter has been telling her she needs to invest in one. We agreed. After a few minutes of computer talk, we addressed the elephant in the room…what are you in here for? She had stage 3 colon cancer (hopefully gone after her 12th treatment!). She asked if she could pray for us. We said sure! I thought this just meant she’d add us to her prayers, but she started praying right then and there…fearless.

When we finished up Stew’s treatment, we sat in the waiting room so I could talk to one of the nurses. A young woman, probably our age, came in with her boyfriend. Her head fuzzy from hair starting to grow back. I recognized her from Starbucks a few weeks ago. I had wanted to talk to her in Starbucks, but didn’t. Her bald head gave her away. What would I say? “My husband has cancer too!!” She strutted her stuff like she just got her hair styled like that purposely. She was so bubbly and had the biggest smile on her face. I was in awe! She was back in the waiting room yesterday, smiling as big as ever, for round 2. It came back…fearless.

Through this journey, we have relied on the amazing blessings in our lives to keep us lifted. The main one being Turner. He constantly reaffirms the truth that everything is ok! He is strong and brave. He doesn’t let anything hold him back. He is at the stage where he will stand up on anything he can get his little hands on and cruise…fearless.



God put Turner in our lives at the perfect time! He makes US fearless. He has a way of teaching us, daily, not to take life too seriously! Lesson learned.

Trick or Treat!

It was Turner’s first Halloween! You may have guessed from my previous post, but he was Clark Kent (thanks for the idea Allison)!

It was bloody hot out, so I couldn’t put his costume on until the afternoon. We got dressed around 4 so I could get some good pictures before the sun started going down! He looked ADORABLE, but wouldn’t keep his glasses on worth a darn. That didn’t stop me from trying with all of my might (hence the blurry pictures)!



Then, we loaded him up in the stroller for our big outing! My mom and stepdad came over to “trick or treat”. By trick-or-treat I mean stopping at our neighbor’s house and then walking around the block. But it was still fun! Turner was captivated by the kids running around screaming! It was awesome seeing all of the decorations and kids dressed up! We never are out while kids are trick-or-treating. We usually stay home the whole time to give out candy!


Once we got home and put Turner to bed, Luke and Suzy (Stew’s brother and his wife) came over to join the festivities. It’s a tradition in our house to make dinner and drink wine on the porch with friends while we give out candy. It sure makes trick-or-treating fun! Each year it’s a different crew on the porch, but it’s just as fun!

This was the best Halloween yet! Turner made it extra special. Maybe next year Stew and I will have time to plan a costume!! One holiday down. Now onto birthday party planning!!