How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Boneless Turkey Breast

I have been looking for some new basic recipes.  Since being on the Wahl’s Program I am eating more fruits, veggies and meat (organic, grass fed) and I am bored with the basics.  LOL.  With hubby working swing shift, I only cook twice a week so I want to make things I can freeze for him but I can also have for me during the week.  Having things I can add to my salad is a big help.  This recipe makes having lots of meals quick and easy.  I found it on Facebook and can’t remember who shared it but thank you!
Prep:  10 minutes     Cook:  8 hours

 

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 pound) boneless turkey breast
  • 2 (1 ounce) packages dry onion soup mix
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt 
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Directions

  1. Place turkey breast into a large slow cooker. Whisk onion soup mix and water in a bowl and pour the mixture over the turkey breast, spreading it out to evenly cover the meat.
  2. Stir garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, seasoned salt, basil, and oregano in a bowl until thoroughly combined; sprinkle the seasonings over the turkey breast.
  3. Cook on Low until turkey is very tender and the seasonings have flavored the meat, 8 to 9 hours. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read at least 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).

Tip:  Try using a Reynolds® slow cooker liner in your slow cooker for easier cleanup.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 468 calories; 2.6  5.5  99.7  273  815  Full nutrition
 

 

Lots of leftovers?  Isn’t that the reason we cook in the crockpot when there is only two people?  LOL.  Thirty One’s Lunch Buddy Thermal is a perfect size for the light luncher or the kids.  This roomy, insulated cooler bag is perfectly sized and styled for packing lunch and snacks for you or the kids, with a water-resistant thermal lining, zipper closure, large front pocket and mesh side bottle pocket. Personalize your lunch bag with an embroidered name, monogram or Icon-It design for school, work or travel. Just a heads up too…. this is on the retirement list which means it will be gone at the end of August.  Be sure to grab yours now!

Have a blessed day!

Tasty Tuesday: Pigs Can Fly


I’m sure you are tired of the turkey leftovers by now, right?  I mean you can only eat so much turkey, so many different ways…..

Last week was the first Saturday in a LONG time I didn’t have a vendor event.  Crazy, right?  But sometimes a girl just needs to take a break.  I did stop by a few of them and was excited to run into my friends from “Wicked Good Spices“.  I shop with them all summer long when they are at the Brick Farmer’s Market so it was nice to get to catch up with them.  They shared this yummy recipe with me

Ingredients:

1 – 10 lb Boston Shoulder Pork Butt (rinsed and patted dry)

1 head of garlic (peeled and crushed)

1 large onion (peeled and cut into wedges)

4 TBSP of “pigs can fly” Wicked Good Spice Blend

1/3 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar

 

Directions:

  1.  Place all ingredients in a 6 quart crock pot
  2. Set crock pot to High for 30 minutes, then turn down to Low for 8 hours
  3. Pork is done when it falls away from the bone
  4. Remove pork from crock pot and reserve 1 cup of juice
  5. Shred pork with two forks
  6. Add any BBQ say you prefer and add juice back into the pork
  7. Serve on rolls with coleslaw, red onion and ranch dressing.

Thinking ahead to Super Bowl parties, this would make a great party dish.  Take it along to a covered dish party as well.  How will you travel with it?  Use ThirtyOne’s Fresh Market Thermal to carry your crockpot.  The Fresh Market Thermal is a stylish, portable thermal large enough to hold two 9″x13″ casserole dishes . A must-have for family picnics, tailgating, trips to the beach, days on the boat, potlucks, grocery shopping or weekend camping. Its water-resistant Leak Lock® thermal lining means you can add ice to this cooler bag to keep food and drinks cold. Need more room? The sides unsnap and expand to give you more space inside. Long handles allow you to carry it over your shoulder when you need to be hands-free. The Fresh Market Thermal also features a zipper closure for securing contents and an exterior front pocket to hold other important items.

Have a favorite recipe? Share it with me and if I put it in my blog, you will receive a free gift from me!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Fall Frenzy

No, I have  not lost my mind (well, maybe but this is happening)!  For those who follow me on Facebook or are part of my VIP Customer group you already know the Fall kicked off on July 24th.  See why it is important to be a part of my VIP group?

Are you a fan of purple?  Check out these GORGEOUS purple products. Yes, there is more purple with two purple prints.

I am flippin’ excited about this month’s customer special.  When you spend $35, you can pick ONE of these: a cinch sac, a slingback bag or an essential storage tote!

Yes, I love the products offered at an amazing price BUT check out these special edition icons:

want the little monster and the turkey! Of course, bones on the cinch sac it pretty awesome too.

August is still a crazy busy time for people – back to school shopping, vacations and the list goes on, right?  Look at this NEW limited edition product available to hostesses for a minimum of a $200 party! But the best part is, if your party jumps to $600 or more, you get this for FREE!  Two bags for the price of one.

I get it.  I have been the crazy momma  but I will make it quick and easy!  I will be happy to come to the baseball field.  At the pool – I will come there. No big presentation, just a party on the go – complete in about 1 hour. OR how about an online party? We can do a Facebook party for 31 minutes LIVE or a theme party over 4 days. Lots of themes to pick from with fun and games.

Maybe you are thinking…. I can do what she does. I could use an extra $300 per month to help with bills or have for the kids activities or save (whatever your reason), then join my team, the Rays of Hope. Join us before the holiday shopping season starts.  You get to make some money so you could have a CASH holiday season.  Wouldn’t it be nice?

Pick either enrollment kit for $99.  I will help you set-up your launch party either via Facebook or an in home party.  You start earning commission with your very first order!

When you submit $600 in orders in the first 30 days and not only will you earn a $150 commission check but you will also earn $150 in FREE products of your choice. I will be there to help you every step of the way.

Have questions, feel free to call/text me at 609-457-4249.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Kitchen Chaos to Calm

 

It is the holiday time of year which means lots of parties, family gatherings, and holiday events.  Spending time with the people we love – family and extended family.

Growing up, my mom  was the ultimate “hostess with the mostest.”  Our house was always a gathering place.

I was always amazed at how well things came together.  She planned the meal, the decorations and made sure everything came together in an attractive range of colors. When she said, “dinner will be served at 5:00 PM,” dinner was served at 5:00 PM, give or take ten seconds. Hot foods hot, cold foods cold. She always seemed to pull it all off effortlessly, never breaking a sweat or allowing anyone in the kitchen to help.  Okay, maybe a little help but not much.

I didn’t inherit this gene.  There have been periods in my life when things may have come together but then there were those times when I was just moments from a melt-down. And by the time my guests arrived, the last thing I wanted to do was eat. All I wanted to do was hide in my bedroom until they were gone!  I can even remember cooking my first turkey and forgetting to take out the “bag with the gizzards and stuff out”.  Yup, we found it when we cut the turkey.  I was horrified!

 

Do you get caught up in kitchen chaos when you’re trying to practice hospitality?  Do gatherings make you excited, nervous and down right sick?  Here are five steps to create kitchen calm I found in a recent blog:

1. Take breaks

Breaks are vital to self-soothing when chaos starts creeping in.  They aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity.  Taking a break simply means getting out of the kitchen for a few minutes and …

…sitting in a favorite chair with a good book.
…reclining on the couch (with or without a purring cat!)
…listening to quiet (or upbeat) music.
…taking a brisk walk.
…whatever else works for you!

The goal is a mind set change. Think of it as “cleansing the palate” of your head and heart before you move on to the next step of meal preparation.

2. Make a written plan

I have always written the menu and gotten all of the ingredients together.  My problem always seems to be I get them in the oven okay but then I end up with some dishes done too early while other still need to cook.  It took awhile but now I work backwards. I figure out how long each dish needs to bake, cook, set, or chill. Then I do the math to calculate when I need to begin.  Calculations are far more realistic than gut feels or guilt-filled “shoulds” will ever be. Instead of beating ourselves up, we can assure ourselves—It takes as much time as it takes.

3. Prepare ahead

Chaos always seemed to result when planning a gathering because I waited too long to start or didn’t allow anyone to help.  Now, part of my plan includes figuring out everything I can do ahead of time and what I can delegate.

House cleaning.  Not a strong point so I now start cleaning days prior and do strategic touch-ups on the day of.  Additional advance preparation includes:

  • buying pre-made ingredients rather than making everything home-made.
  • doing all the chopping, slicing, and dicing a day or two ahead.
  • taking the first step of a recipe (such as cooking the rice for a casserole) the night before.

Fixing a meal feels so much less daunting when everything is ready to “throw and go”!

4. Accept help

This was a hard lesson to learn.  I still struggle with shooing everyone out of the kitchen mainly because I never want to admit I need help.

Now, when someone says, “How can I help?” I refer to my plan and give them a specific answer.  “Could you peel and slice the carrots? ” “Would you put those rolls in the basket?”  “If you could pour the drink—it’s on the top shelf of the frig.”

5. Clean as you go

This is one is easy for me.  I quickly scrub and rinse everything in the sink and set it all in the dish drainer to air dry.  I use a towel as necessary and put everything back where it belongs.  It makes clean up so much easier and is a smart step toward sanity. Starting the next stage of meal preparation in a clean kitchen automatically creates a sense of calm.

So who is ready to host Thanksgiving or other holiday gatherings?  What steps do you take calm kitchen chaos?  Thank you Cheri Gregory for sharing your tips.  

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!