This week I would like to show you pictures of earlier Christmases, but I don't have time to figure out how to make our scanner work (I HATE our printer), and as you may remember, we lost our hard drive this summer, so Christmas pics from years past are few and far between.
That being said, I can offer you this gem from just 3 years ago. I bet I couldn't pay him to wear a plaid robe now...
Yes, Charlie has become quite interested in the Victoria's Secret catalog and holiday commercials, but really, this has nothing to do with the female figure (in all of its wonder and glory).
As you know, I am all about a bargain. Contrarily, I like to have nice things. The two sometimes don't go together.
We made our annual trek to our favorite tree farm http://kruegerschristmastrees.com/ yesterday afternoon. It was a perfect weather day, sunshine and warm enough so that our toes wouldn't fall off. They have a lovely spot in Lake Elmo, acres of gorgeous trees that march up a hill, a lovely little pond behind the barn and house. It's a family run operation, and we have gotten to know them through the years. So kind, so hardworking, and gorgeous trees. You can cut your own (they provide the sleds and saws) or choose from those they have already harvested. There is always a nice fire going, to warm your hands, and hot cider in the adorable warming house.
I have become a fan of the Frasier Fir. Perfect stout needles, yet soft to the touch. A lovely color, pleasing aroma that lasts for weeks, and holds it's needles well. Unfortunately, a pricier type. So we walked the rows of trees, and noted that the Frasier Firs were well out of our budget this year.
And then, I happened upon a tree that didn't look like the others. I noted the price tag, half of what it's neighbor was priced at. And in writing, on the tag, it said "Broken Top". Somehow this poor tree had lost it's top, and was therefore half the price it would have been.
Feeling sorry for the poor tree, and loving that I COULD have a Frasier Fir that now fit into my budget, I promptly claimed it. The kind staff put it in their shaking machine (what a hoot, it dislodges all of the snow and dry needles), bundled it in cheerful red netting, and placed it in the bed of our truck.
It is much fatterr than a tree we normally get (we really don't have room for a fat tree, it means putting furniture away), but this poor tree needed a home. And now we can proudly proclaim we are having a topless Christmas this year. I will post photos once we get it in the house, so you can see how I handle a tree with no top to put the star on.
Our Thanksgiving holiday was like a Hallmark commercial. We ate turkey and all of the fixings. It was beyond delicious (mostly because it was made with lots of love, and that's important. Have you read "Like Water for Chocolate?").
The other forty seven dishes are spread out along the rest of the buffet-we could have used platters instead of regular dinner plates!
I spent a lovely afternoon visiting with my grandmother, whose health has been deteriorating lately. But she was bright and cheerful this day, and happy to be with her family.
Camera girl was busy taking pictures, in addition to monitoring all of the happenings in her kitchen. She gave a beautiful toast before the big meal, and welcomed us all to her new home. There were a lot of moist eyes, thank goodness we had cloth napkins.
She just moved into her house a month ago. Can you believe how much she has unpacked already? Very impressive. Charlie is in love with her new home, and her new kitty, and has asked if he could move in.
My little brother and his family. He built my sister a house. How many people can say THAT? Kaleb and Savanna are absolutely the most delightful, kind, and fun teenagers I know. We had a big poker match with my niece and nephew. They were the last two at the table, and battled it out. Sweet Savanna was the big winner!
It was a rare moment, with our family. We tried to remember where we used to sit at the table when it was just the five of us. My brother is one of those guys who never smiles for pictures, and Heather was getting tired of Mike taking pictures of us...
The guys even went to Gander Mountain, for some Thanksgiving shopping. And the women stayed home!
A lovely day was had by all. And it was just the beginning of a memorable weekend.
It's a frosty morning in Bemidji-the sunrise over the hill was shades of pink and purple and blue. The sun is peeking out, with the promise of a clear cold Thanksgiving day.
If you had told me a year ago, as I was prepping yet another Thanksgiving feast by myself, that I would be here, today, in my sister's brand new home, I would have told you you were dreaming. Here is her take on all of this: www.hansongirl2.blogspot.com.
And here we are. Last night Heather and I laughed in her new kitchen, as we filled celery, and cooked cranberries, and prepared pecan pie under our mother's watchful eye. (She is not 100% sure of our culinary abilities.) I keep pinching myself, as I am sure Heather is doing too.
The guests will be arriving in a few hours. We have side dishes to prepare, a table to set, and kitties to keep out of the goodies. I can't stop smiling.
Thankful, grateful, all of the above.
A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, may your next year be filled with blessings, and unexpected joy in quiet moments.
Today I ask the burning question, what is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? And is it because you like to eat it, or prepare it, or because it brings back a warm memory?
(I am a big fan of the sweet potato, and each year I try a new recipe. I found this photo, along with a recipe I will definitely be trying when it's my turn to cook again, at www.makelifedelicious.com . I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it with you!)
In the rush to get right past Thanksgiving and start Christmas preparations, I feel Thanksgiving is starting to become a secondary holiday. And I don't want that to happen, as Thanksgiving is one of the purest American holidays we have. Is there any other holiday that is all about spending a day eating (okay, Independence Day), but also about one main theme, being GRATEFUL?
I am very thankful for all of my dear readers, who take time out of their busy days to stop by and read what I have to share. Today I would like YOU to share what makes you happy on Thanksgiving day.
I'm off to get the ingredients for my mom's cranberrry sauce...
I am a big fan of tradition. Eating the same green bean casserole each year, crunching on Grandma's crinkle cut carrot sticks, and fighting with my brother over the black olives. Watching my dad spoon Miracle Whip on his favorite green jello (lime, with peas, green olives, celery, and onions....no, I will not be posting the recipe), as he tempts the grandkids into just TRYING it. Seeing my mom whip up the perfect gravy while the sound of the electric knife carving the turkey in the background combines with the tinkle of silverware getting placed on the table. Looking around the table, at all of those faces I love so well (and listening to the grandkids argue over whose turn it is to start the prayer).
For quite a few years, we have been unable to enjoy this wonderful day of Thanksgiving with our families. Retail life makes it hard to travel for the holidays, and when we opened the store at the MOA it was impossible. So the last several Thanksgivings have been spent with me in the kitchen all day, and the boys relaxing. We have shared our meal late in the afternoon, and relished just being together, our own little family. We would watch a classic family movie-Swiss Family Robinson, or the Harry Potter series. I would talk to my mom in the morning, while we were cooking, and we would both end the call choked up, wishing we could be together.
I have been flying high ever since I learned that this year, we could make the trip home. Sales have been slow, and while we don't like that situation, it does allow us to head home. While Charlie and I will be able to spend the entire weekend in Bemidji, Mike will need to be back Friday night to help out at our store. The joys of business ownership.
And to make it all extra special, Heather is hosting the entire family at her new home. It will be more than just Thanksgiving this year, as we will toast my sweet sister's new life. And I get to be her sous chef!
I will be happy in the heart of my family, making Christmas cookies, gathering boughs in the woods for making wreaths, hugging my sweet Grandma, and helping my sister decorate her new home for the holidays, for the very first time.
I rarely wait in line for things. I never waited in line for concert tickets during my college years, stood in the Target parking lot for the Cities 97 sampler, or a bargain early in the morning on Black Friday. But yesterday I waited in line for nearly 4 hours to get a cookbook signed.
And it was so worth the wait. We weren't sure how early to arrive, so we gambled on 10 am, as Ree was to appear at 1 pm. We were 30th in line, and were happy with our planning.
We quickly got to know those in line around us, and heard their stories. Women had driven from South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and all over Minnesota just to have a chance to chat with Ree. There were many bloggers there, who had discovered Ree's blog and love it as we do. Here is a new one I am adding to my list: http://www.iwantaminivan.blogspot.com/
Tracy and I have been planning this day for weeks, ever since the mall stop was announced, and of course sweet baby Astrid came along for the fun (and because we know PW can't resist an infant). I don't know how Tracy managed a baby for that long, but Astrid was a trooper (you can read her take on the day here): http://www.sellabitmum.com/ . Luckily we were outside of Nordstroms, and security let her sneak away as she needed, to nurse in comfort (rather than standing in the corraled lines). And Caribou Coffee was close enough to scurry to, to fill our caffeine needs.
Of course Ree was prompt, and absolutely lovely, and patiently listened to my nervous chatting while she signed our stack of books, and Tracy's red Lucchese cowboy boots. I was so glad my dear hubby showed up, to photograph the whole event. He even got to visit with Marlboro Man (Ree's hubby), who showed up on the outskirts of the crowd with their two boys, who were completely delightful and just as I imagined.
The time went by fairly quickly, and before we knew it we were walking off the stage, and receiving the adorable Pioneer Woman shirts that Ree had brought for everyone (how amazing is that???? She could have sold them, and made a fortune, and instead she GAVE them to us.) Just another reason to love her.
And if for some crazy reason you do not yet know the joy of Ree's wonderful, worldwide blog (recently named one of the top 25 blogs by Time magazine), you can catch up here:
Having been a fan of "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman" (one of the web's most visited blogs) for years, I waited in eager anticipation for the publication of Ree Drummonds first cookbook. She chronicled the joy and agony and long hours of putting it together, and talked about finding just the right cover shot (it was taken by her husband, in just a normal moment-aren't they often our best photos?)
Here is why this cookbook works:
1. Each recipe provides detailed instructions and great step-by-step photos, so whether you are a seasoned cook or just learning how to boil water, you can make these recipes with great success. Her "Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever" has been in my repertoire for the last year, and it is always a hit.
2. There is nothing novel or unusual to be found in the recipes, they are crowd pleasin', tummy fillin' foods that will make you sigh with pleasure. And you can find all of the ingredients in your local grocery store.
3. The photos and bits of life stories interspersed throughout the pages bring Ree's home on a cattle ranch into clear focus, her gorgeous photos of everything from sunrises to horse manes will take your breath away.
4. Devoted followers of her blog will be familiar with the cast of characters in the book, everyone from the cowboys to her four punks, to the important women in her life.
5. Best of all, Ree doesn't take herself too seriously, as evidenced by the photos in the back of her kitchen during cooking, and her doodled portrait.
She is the kind of woman you would love to meet in person, and share a cup of coffee with, share labor stories, and hope that her hubby will walk through the kitchen in his Wranglers.
She is coming to the MOA for a book signing tomorrow at the Nordstrom Court from 1-3. I am reluctant to share this with you, as I don't need anymore people in line in front of me to get my book signed than will already be there. But it will be worth the wait, as some of the fun will be getting to know the other fans waiting patiently in line. Come and join me, won't you?
Tracy M and I plan to wait it out together, I will stick close to her as she is bringing her cute baby and wearing her red Lucheese cowboy boots, so for sure Ree will want to talk to her.
Back to the book-if you have any holes in your gift list, this would make a wonderful present for anyone who loves to eat, or just enjoys beautiful photography. I own a lot of cookbooks, and this one is a little gem.