Friday, November 29, 2013

Preparing a Meal of Thanks.

I hope this post finds you lazy and resting at your house. I love the day after Thanksgiving almost as much as the day of. It is a time when I let the memories of the holiday play over and simmer in my mind.

This year, Josh and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house, as we have for the past few years. I have come to a place where I can really enjoy preparing the meal for everyone and not stress out about whether everything will turn out. I have my cooking 'to do' list planned out over a couple of days and do things at a slow, enjoyable pace. Josh takes charge of the kids and last minute cleaning so that I can really take the time to savor the process of preparing a meal of thanks. Below is a photo journal of my time and a couple of notes along the way.

I started with my dessert. The recipe was a new one for me and required quite a few steps. So I did it over a a couple of days, freezing my cake ahead of time.

This Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake turned out to be a very easy thing to make and so delicious.

It has a apple cider caramel sauce that you put in between layers and on top to serve.
The frosting (not pictured) has a very loose, fluffy consistency. Rather than frosting the top, I served like whipped cream on the side. In the future, I will probably skip that step because the cake and sauce are so good on their own.

Another new thing I tried was making creamed corn from scratch with corn cut from the cob. The recipe comes from a cookbook my grandmother gave me entitled - The Gift of Southern Cooking. This will definitely be a future staple of my thanksgiving table.

Probably the biggest surprise to me, when I started cooking my own Thanksgiving meals, was how EASY it is too roast a turkey. My dear, dear friend - Leila - guided me through the process a couple of years ago and it has rendered wonderful results each time.

Prep the bird by stuffing with raw carrots, onion, celery, and sage. Slide sage and butter underneath the skin. Coat the outside with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook per the directions on the package and Viola!

Did you know there is such a thing as a Green Pumpkin? There is. I didn't know that until this year.

There was such a feeling of Thanks all around my house. And I loved every minute.

In the afternoon, while the kids were napping, I took a break from cooking and Josh set to his drawing table. I found this a couple of hours later.....

I hope that you had a warm, yummy, restful Thanksgiving 2013. Now. I am off to enjoy my leftovers :)

*As a side note and followup to my last post - Unfortunately, my original plan to do crafts with my little guys was derailed by a double ear infection and upper respiratory infections :( They spent most of the last few days blobbing in front of the TV :) I hope you enjoyed this photo recap in its place.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Does The Turkey Say?

Hello, and happy Friday before Thanksgiving! Yes, as much as it shocks me, turkey day is next week.

This year is the first year, I am purposely introducing Thanksgiving to my little guys. Even though they are only 2 and 1 - I want them to learn about giving thanks as early as possible.

Below are a couple of things I am doing with them this year to teach them about the holiday of Thanksgiving and being thankful.

Hopefully you will find something here you can share with your kids.

First up......The Mayflower Voyagers with Charlie Brown :) This movie is AWESOME! If you have Netflix, you can access it on there. I included a little clip below for those of you who wanted a preview. It is a precious cartoon that teaches about the history of the pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

Next is a little book I found at the library this past week entitled, My Book of Thanks by B.G. Hennessy. 

I have loved reading this book to my kids this week because it is through and through a book about thanks WITHOUT pictures and stories about the Thanksgiving holiday.

My Book of Thanks leads the reader through a step by step prayer on all the things to be thankful for in life.

It only has a few words per page so it is perfect for little toddlers.

And lastly....crafts. I will be completing these over the next few days with my kids and will post results soon after.

[Thankful Hands Card] 

The picture below is from My Paper Crane. I plan on modifying this one a little to include things we are thankful for.

[Fall Collage]

I love this one below from Ideals to Life because the Thanksgiving holiday is so much about the weather outside. [F] loves exploring and will be beyond excited to know that he can collect some things......and then bring them inside.....and then use glue! :)

I leave you with a cute Thanksgiving story from my house....the other day, [F] and I were putting together this 'Thank You' turkey card for our Children's Librarian and I asked [F] "What does a turkey say?"

He said........"Ummmm, the turkey says......Sandwich!" I said, "yea, buddy, I guess it does :)"

I hope you guys have a fun week with your kiddos preparing for your meal of thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.

This post is part of my Diary.

Check out my Kid's Books page for more reading recommendations.

- brook.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making the Best of a Blessing: 6 Tips to Enjoying Leftovers

This post is about leftovers :) I titled it Making the Best of a Blessing because that is what leftover food is.....a blessing.

But, we don't always view them this way. My family has been on a tight budget since we have transitioned to a one income household. The greatest contribution I make to our financial health is to make sure that we are eating at home and enjoying it :) On July 1st of this year, My husband and I committed to abstain from eating out. In addition to that we also committed to throwing away as little food as possible (which means more nights than not, we are eating left overs). I knew from previous times we made this commitment, that in order for it to work, we had to look forward to our meals at home. 

I am not always successful at creating a meal we look forward too :), but I have found a couple of tricks that help to keep meal time a fresh experience (even if you are eating the same thing 3 days in a row).

1. [Take it Outside] We brushed off our much neglected outdoor furniture and take our leftovers out into the evening air. This change of scenery does wonders for making the second time around better than the first.

2. [Cook a New Side Dish] Often if I have a large main course that will last multiple days, I will purchase a couple different vegetables that I will cook fresh each night to spruce up the plate.

3. [Dessert] - I don't cook dessert very often, but when I do, I try to present it on a night we are having leftovers.  My family tends to not worry so much about what is on their dinner plate, if they know they have something sweet coming their way afterwards.

4. [Dinner for Lunch] - Sometimes we have leftovers for lunch (especially on Sundays) and then a lighter meal for dinner. Leftovers some how seem more substantial when they are served as a lunch. 

5. [Make Breakfast Special] - We have had chili the past two nights and I know we are set to have them again tonight. I am already thinking of reasons of why we 'should' go out :) Instead, I cook a hearty breakfast that morning. I have found that preparing a hot breakfast (i.e. muffins or waffles) helps to take our food focus off of dinner and onto another meal.

6. [Meaningful Fellowship] - We try to eat together as a family every night. Some nights, Josh and I look at each other worn out at the effort it takes to get to small children to sit down to a meal, eat and behave :) But a lot of nights, our interaction with the kids is priceless. When rich fellowship accompanies a meal, the food is the vehicle rather than the focus. Ruth Simons wrote a beautiful post about this topic here.

Are there any tricks you use to 'spruce up' extra food? I would love to know.

I hope that with this list, you can enjoy your leftovers (the blessing in disguise :)

Thanks for reading.

This post is part of my Diary.

- brook.

Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY [Wall Art] With Song Lyrics

Hello, there. This is the next DIY Project from my Master Bedroom 'Refresh' Reveal - DIY Wall Art with Song Lyrics.

For our bedroom, I wanted clean personal touches. This one is so special to me. It is the first thing I did for the room and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

This project comes courtesy of A Beautiful Mess blog. If you have followed me long - you know that I [heart] A Beautiful Mess. I have featured them a couple of times already here and will probably continue to see them from time to time because they are AMAZING.

The lyrics on the canvas come from 'Our Song' - Come Away With Me by Nora Jones. We danced to this song at our wedding, we have always loved it.

With those song lyrics, fabric, an old canvas, vinyl letters, and some paint - We have lovely wall art for our Master Bedroom :)
My favorite thing about this piece is that it allows for many colors to peak through without over powering the color scheme of the room.
The fabric is from IKEA. The Letters are 3 inch Vinyl from Hobby Lobby (with the daily 40% off coupon :).
Click here for a full How To Guide on doing this project.
****Below are a couple of things I did differently from their instructions.

1. Instead of using a piece of found artwork. I covered a canvas I had with fabric I picked out.

2. Rather than squirting a bunch of paint on the canvas all at once, I added paint as I went along -  being REALLY carefully around the vinyl lettering so that the edges came out cleanly. I did several light coats to build up the pigment.
I want to know, what song lyrics would you use if you were to do this project?

This post is part of my Diary.

You may also enjoy.....

the other DIY projects for the Master Bedroom.

- brook.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Color - Sky Color

Today we had a very 'fall' day. One of my mama friends had us over to her house and in her front yard was the most fall front yard you have ever seen.

Lots of leaves on the ground and trees that were blindingly yellow. The boys had a blast playing and enjoying the weather.

Fall Leaves

Later tonight, [F] wanted to color so I got out a coloring sheet he got from the library this week. The image so perfectly matched the fun we had earlier.

As he colored, I asked [F] what colors we saw today and you know what......he nailed them perfectly.

Toddler Fall Color Sheet

I stood in awe that someone so young could be so observant. He seemed too busy at the time to pick up on this sort of thing. But he did.

This reminded me of a wonderful book my boys and I read recently that is about this very thing.

It is called Sky Color by Peter Reynolds.
ISBN: 9780763623456

Cover of Sky Color by Peter Reynolds
Illustration from Sky Color by Peter Reynolds

This story is about a little girl who did not have 'blue' to paint the sky in a school project. On the ride home, she finds that 'sky color' may be more than what she thought.

A lovely must read that is a great reminder to pay close attention to the world around you.

Check out my Kid's Books page for more reading recommendations. 

Thanks for reading. Happy Fall.

- brook.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

DIY [Photo Frame] With An Embroidery Hoop

A while back, I mentioned on Facebook that I was doing a Master Bedroom 'Refresh'. Well, I am finally ready to share it with you. Yea!

I am going to start by featuring a few DIY projects that I completed for this room and then I will do a complete room reveal in a later post.

First up - a DIY Photo Frame with an Embroidery Hoop. This project is SOOOOOOOO easy. I mean E-A-S-Y and even

I wanted to display one of our wedding photos in a unique way and got this idea from Country Living Magazine. In one of their latest issues they featured this lovely project from Jessica Martinez and her book Stitched Gifts.

The total cost of this project for me (with the daily 40% of coupon from Hobby Lobby) = Just over $1

Embroidery Hoop - I used an 8" hoop
Black Embroidery thread
Fabric (from my sewing stash) 
Wedding Photo (from my proof album)

The beauty of this project is you can mix it up in so many ways - use a colorful printed fabric or a different color thread. I would love to have a whole wall of these (with much larger hoops). I told this to Josh and he said "Hold on there, crafty....let's start with one" :) So, for now we will stick with this one in a cozy little corner.

Click here for a complete 'How To' Guide to completing this project.

Wedding Photo taken by Rebecca Walker.

This post is from my Diary.

You may also enjoy...

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

September and October 2013

Hello, Hello.
Here is a mini photo journal of the past two months.

First up. Early September.
Family Beach Trip. A Lovely Time Together.

Next. September 27th.
Josh and I celebrated TEN years of marriage :) with a slow-paced day in the city.

One thing of significant note from our day together - was my lunch at Yeah! Burger :)

And Now. October.
My Birthday. Josh's Birthday. But who really cares about that when you have cowboys roaming around the house :)

Do you have a special memory from this past month?

Post a memory you had from this past September or October in the comment section below. It could be anything big or small. Feel free to include a picture by clicking the.....
image icon within the Disqus comment box.
Also, if you wrote blog post about a memory of yours from either month - feel free to include a link within your comment.

I look forward to reading about a memory of yours from this past month :)

This post is part of my Diary.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.