Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting Closer...


Well, here we are with one week to go.  Elizabeth still has one unclaimed turkey if you need one.  I have about a million things on my mind today and I’m sure you do, too.  So I thought I’d herd that chaos into bullet points in no particular order. 
-In case you missed this post last year, make yourself some cranberry relish first thing so you can sip my most beloved cocktail.  So good, so fresh, so easy, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Or if your feet are planted firmly in your kitchen for the entirety of the day, all three! What do you like to sip on while you’re in holiday mode cooking?
-I have a little wrench thrown into my schedule this year.  Not a wrench so much as a pleasant scheduling conflict.  I have friends who will be in Columbus for 24 hours and those 24 hours are Thanksgiving.  So I’m having them over for breakfast.  I have to tie my hands and keep it simple.  The good news is that it’s a Holiday so I don’t have to pretend it’s healthy like we usually do with breakfast. I’m going to make individual little sausage pies tonight and freeze them unbaked (though the filling will be cooked already), my favorite muffins, and sliced citrus.   They suggested a restaurant buuuut I have moral opposition to that. If you serve multiple meals on the big day, what do you do? 

I'm sorry if you're sick of these sunrises! I'm not...

-I won’t make my whole case but I think anything non-essential should be closed on Thanksgiving.  Maybe you disagree, that’s fine.  Every year my mom and I argue this because she sees it as an affront to capitalism. People don’t need Big Macs, tennis shoes, dildos, or god knows what else on Thanksgiving.  Grocery employees work so hard in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, it should end with a day off.  I don’t need to tell you that every dollar you spend is tracked and analyzed.  I do not patronize any business on Thanksgiving Day.  Not even Tim Horton’s in the morning.  I figure any dollar I spend makes the case for being open next year on Thanksgiving and any dollar I don’t leads the case against.  I’ll drink my shitty homemade coffee on Thanksgiving and eagerly await the good stuff the next day. 
-Last year I literally remembered everything except the fucking mayonnaise for the day after.  What is the quintessential Thanksgiving sandwich without mayonnaise?  Stock up now.   Also, get some cheap plastic containers for your guests’ leftovers.  Don’t get caught with your pants down and send guests off with your good Tupperware. 

Have been hoping to get his photo all season!

I asked him to come a little closer...

Deer are not usually aggressive, save for mothers with fawns and bucks in mating season

A littttttttle worried he might charge the car.  I was willing to risk a dent

He smiled and waved his tail as to say "I'm just fucking with you" 

More pressing matters at hand...

She doesn't seem interested

...no luck, back to breakfast

-Thanksgiving music is kinda hard.  What do you play?  I am working on a mix that’s about 70% jazz, 20% 60s and 70s, 5% classical, and 5% Christmas. I like a little Christmas music peppered in. 
-I wrote about my scheduling last year, but here is my schedule for this year.  If you don’t have a written schedule, I urge you to make one.  There are so many little things you forget about, and you always think you have more time than you do.  I try to think about what time I want to start and end on each day.  Maybe your peak productive hours are late into the night, early in the morning like me, or all the time like FF.  Schedule accordingly.  What’s joyous at 7AM can be daunting at midnight or later. 




-Thanksgiving pushes any kitchen to its limits, I find it helpful to have an out of the way zone to keep dishes until I’m ready to wash them.  It’s hard to serve dessert with dinner regalia on every square inch of counterspace. 


83 comments:

  1. My anal self, LOVES YOUR SCHEDULE!! Now, I have to go redo mine. I have my "stuff to get done before Thanksgiving" list done...the one I have everyday. But this is heaven sent!! I did just find out that my cousin is bringing cranberry relish. I am hearing it is good; it better be! I also put my family on notice that there better not be any faux mashed potatoes. I delegated that to a cousin who thankfully knows better as opposed to the ones who bring store-bought pies to Thanksgiving. So, all that is left out of my control is whether or not the dishwasher repairman shows up on Monday afternoon. Otherwise, all the little folks who come to Thanksgiving are going to get a crash course in drying dishes while their mama's wash them! Isn't that what you are supposed to do...pass along family traditions?

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    1. The appliance odds are in our favor! My main refrigerator was giving me quite a worry as parts for it take about six weeks. So even though I got the guy out yesterday I was worried it wouldn't be fixed for a while. It was a tiny issue and he fixed it in an hour! Hoping the same for your dishwasher! Thank you! Haha I like relish so much more than sauce/jelly. It is so tart and crisp among all the heavier things.

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    2. Oh, and my mother...MY MOTHER...had the nerve to ask me if I was using paper plates for Thanksgiving dinner.

      Um, HELL NO, thankyouverymuch. To which I promptly got told to watch my mouth. I guess it is okay to eat like trailer trash as long as I don't say anything offensive.

      Pray for me, the local liquor store, and my bank account, please.

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  2. I hereby admire you for the following reasons:
    1. I like a good list maker and that is a kick-ass list.
    2. All toasts should be short but effective. How can we impart this wisdom on the rest of the world?
    3. Excellent photos of that buck and I'm loving the sunrises.
    4. Was that a "yep" to the question Would you still bang Matt Lauer? If so I admire your ability to get over his shabby and annoying Movember ridiculousness half man beard.
    5. I have nothing but the most sincere admiration for people who, like me, go out of their way to avoid patronizing any business that makes their employees work on Thanksgiving.

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha yes it is a yep I just don't think Matt Lauer will lose his appeal! I'm so glad to hear you're also a firm believer in avoiding businesses on Thanksgiving. I think it seems the tide is turning away from it more and more, I hope so!

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  3. well i'm just laughing so hard bc all i'm gonna do besides my stuffed portobellos is pick up the phone and order the whole thing from our local gourmet grocer. swear to God. my vases are already filled with dried/dead branches and with good weather predicted i'll serve everything outside. i soooooooo admire your commitment to this holiday. i used to be a lot like you but now i'm old and tired. i absolutely adore your lists, humor and most of all you. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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    1. You won't be stressed and will be a wonderful hostess! I wouldn't do it all if I didn't love it! There are about a million ways I could simplify it but I just don't want to! Thank you so much!! So glad to hear the weather should cooperate for an outdoor meal!

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  4. I NEED to make this kind of schedule; perhaps I will put that on my schedule tomorrow! (seriously) Most everything for our dinner will happen next week, a little bit each day. Visiting the grocery store will be done when the amateur shoppers and their families are not all strolling the aisles in holiday togetherness as they do the day or two before Thanksgiving. It's more than I can bear. As for music, I like Autumn Jazz on Pandora. And a couple of years ago (or maybe it was last year) the first night of Hanukah was also on Thanksgiving and so.....Klezmer music! Really, Klezmer music is appropriate for any chaotic family gathering, and my family is unable to gather without chaos so it's perfect.

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    1. I have no idea what Klezmer is but I will research! And thank you, autumn jazz sounds perfect! Avoiding the novice shoppers is essential! I like a BIT of it because it's festive but only to run in for one or two things! What will the wine be??

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    2. We'll be doing some bubbles early, then a nice Grenache with the turkey. A good Grenache generally has lovely cranberry and spice notes and therefore is the perfect pairing with a stronger-flavored poultry like turkey, if you want a red and not a white. And in fall and winter, I tend to veer away from any white wines, as they just feel "summery." Perhaps a heavy chardonnay would be OK, but I just love my reds too much to experiment much. Have you chosen your wines yet?

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    3. Oh and to add to my previous reply about Grenache, here is a classic example of Klezmer music. Usually dancing in the kitchen if this is playing, but after about 10 minutes it usually just feels too crazy to have it on so we switch to something else lol.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htF0DPsy6oA&list=PLmogBlvtk6ooEwOuCEIoXhJeLSihV1sFg&index=21

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  5. You and I are so alike, Stephen. Check on the cheapo Tupperware--check on the timeline schedule--check and check on food prep and countdown. I am like you- I don't shop on Thanksgiving either. Enough already. love ya, kiddo-xo Diana

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    1. You see that's why you don't think I'm crazy! We have the same diagnosis :) since the Packers aren't playing are you guys off the hook for football?

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  6. Can I just say that your nature photos are really getting to a national Geographic Standard? So impressive. I'd be scared that the deer would eat my plants.

    Love your list.

    I don't really make lists I have it all in my head! Thanks for the shout out about High Productivity 24/7. I'm not going to lie- I'm getting really tired. Probably didn't help that Mr FF and I stayed up til midnight watching til the End of Making a Murderer. Holy. Toledo. You kids really run trials differently over there. And I'm not just talking about the lack of wigs and gowns.

    I support your commitment to having a stash of el cheapo imitation Tupperware on hand. There is nothing sadder than having to lose the Good Gear in a quest to rid the house of post party food.

    Love your work and I will serve a Thanksgiving meal in your honour with a turkey when I find out what date it is. xxx

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    1. Haha! I am sure you are kidding but it is Thurs the 24th! Thank you so much!! My lists must be written down or they end up scattered all about in the wrong places! Haven't watched making a murderer. So not my cup of tea! I wish we had the wigs and robes. I might consider it. I've always wished powdered wigs were in fashion in my day.

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  7. You deserve a prize. So, if it could be anything, what would it be (and not, ahem, ML)? The host with the most conviction, to Thanksgiving, to elegance, to family, to love! I love that you allow a 30-minute window for football. You take care of everybody! That is what makes for an exceptional host. I feel I must thank you, and I'm not even going to be there! :) I will in spirit, marveling. Grand Theft Floral - a HOOT! ~Nicole

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    1. Haha! Thank you so so much! I've really been trying to loosen up a little and include things for everyone on the holidays instead of my program entirely. Baby steps.

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  8. I haven't seen many deers lately. Almost came close to hitting one about a month ago though

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    1. I'm glad you didn't! One is always, always at risk of hitting a deer in Ohio!

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  9. I found my way over here from Faux Fushsia and let me say, I am loving your blog.

    Drinks during cooking? Champagne after breakfast, a crisp white in one glass and mineral water in another for active cooking. The later to balance out the former to maintain some sense of order.

    Thanksgiving commerce? Solidly against unless it's a cozy and/or dive bar for the stragglers to find a literal or figurative port in the storm.

    Music? Always classical until family members break out in song, there are a few actors and music professors in the family. My husband can't pass by a broke down horn at an auction and my family has taken that up as a challenge to play these sad old things as the day progresses.

    Your post about your grandparents brought me to happy tears. I was also blessed with such wonderful grandparents. My grandmother loved handing over thanksgiving to me and enjoying the day without the work, sitting in a place of honor by the kitchen fireplace watching us prep.. I miss them so much it hurts.

    Your Barbie is lovely, just gorgeous. And I am a Siamese cat person.....

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    1. Thank you so much! Welcome! Oh my gosh how amazing to have so many musicians! And brass! How beautiful. I have a gorgeous old French horn that I bought just to put on a wreath. Thank you so much for saying that about that post, it's one of my very favorites! I'm so sorry you're missing your grandparents. What a wonderful gift grandparents are. Such vivid memories and that feeling they give you really never leaves. Love that your grandmother lived to enjoy the changing of the guard. I'm sure she was so proud! I love Siamese cats, too!

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    2. A French horn to put on a wreath? How big was that wreath?!?

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  10. Your lists are amazing!
    When I was younger I did way more prep for these festive family feasts...I still make most things from scratch but would opt to buy the bread...polishing the silver a few weeks ahead and making sure that there is enough TP and fresh flowers on the day.
    We have a lot of deer here too...

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    1. Thank you! I absolutely love to make bread so any excuse to make it en masse is good enough for me!

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  11. Are the deer in your yard? You have two complete kitchens? I'd love to see your house.... As for these lists! You are out of control!!!!!!!!!!!! or you have a lot of time on your hands to print them up for us.
    When do you fit in time at the salon? I know, I know! That's the reason your Thanksgiving posts are always so incredible.

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    1. This buck and his harem are around often. I've seen him a few times in my yard but this was a few miles from me. He's so handsome! Yes I do have another kitchen that is very bare bones. It's more of a bar and there is not ventilation so I don't use the stovetop. Occasionally my food photos are on a wood counter and that's it. You are not the first person to think I'm pathetic for my organizing! I take the week of Thanksgiving off! I send out a message to all my clients on Nov 1 who aren't already scheduled so no one finds themselves in need when I'm off.

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  12. Your list is like Marthas, only I know you're actually actioning it, rather than outsourcing to your minions. Such a lot of work. But so satisfying I am sure to host a successful, meticulously planned meal. I'd never thought of Thanksgiving not having its own soundtrack... I would have thought in the land of Capitalism and Consumerism that would have been ticked off years ago? Where are the catchy tunes about being thankful, and pilgrims and stuff?
    I'm with you on the whole no shops open thing. We have that here as our big Christmas thing. Back in the Olden Days when I worked in retail during my University years, the shops were closed three days for Christmas, and the big sale was on from the 2nd January (1st being a public holiday). Post Christmas was very relaxed. Now they have their big boxing day sales that start at 5am the day after Christmas, and it's become a shopping day for the nation. I prefer a lazy day at home reading my Christmas books but I would have resented bitterly being a retail worker and having to be there at that time.
    Oh, and Australia has embraced the Black Friday sales here. Something to be thankful about maybe??!! Good luck with the prep. x

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    1. Oh I'm so sorry Black Friday has made it to you! It's an awful phenomenon. Though I'll admit I've done it a few times and kind of enjoyed it. But not on Thanksgiving! How sad it's no longer a three day respite.
      Thank you so much! Martha's Month was always my favorite part of the magazine! I loved imagining someone's life being that simple and domestic.
      It is funny how under commercialized Thanksgiving is. No pilgrim songs! I kinda wish there were.

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  13. You are the Superman of Thanksgiving! My list is much simpler since I am just contributing to the dinner. But I do have to add packing for Boston (leaving day after Thanksgiving for a week) and babysitting grandkiddies overnight this weekend so Mom can get the house ready for the big day. Except for a couple of pies, picking up the rolls and some wine, my chief role is to keep daughter-in-law from freaking out as she hosts Thanksgiving for her large family for the first time. I don't envy her.

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    1. Thank you so much! Massachusetts in November is such a dream. I spent one Thanksgiving at a house in Massachusetts that was out in the country among cranberry bogs! It was so perfectly picturesque.
      You have a very very important job! Keeping the cook calm is key! Enjoy your time with the kids!

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  14. I don't get the part about decorating for Christmas during Thanksgiving?

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    1. Do you mean the Christmas lights or the wreaths? The wreaths are Thanksgiving wreaths and not Christmas wreaths. As for the lights, it's wise to get them up in a cold climate earlier than later. Though it seems increasingly unlikely with the way our weather has been, December can be snowy and icy so you might as well have your outdoor lights up before that. My tree doesn't go up until about Dec 15.

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  15. Mister Jones!
    Long-time lurker/reader of your musings, lists, Barbie diaries and all-round fabulousness. Since you are in full-gear for Thanksgiving, it seemed an appropriate time to tell you a simple, but heart-felt "thank you".

    You make me both laugh and scream. For gawd's sake, make your own mayo - it's super easy - and no comparison to store-bought. Seriously. And you need to get a French press and some decent ground coffee --that will blow your Timmie's away. (No need to drink shitty coffee EVER and I say that as a Canadian!)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Barbie, and all those you love.

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    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate that!!
      Okay I am so so sorry to admit I have made my own mayonnaise so many times--I had a whole winter where I was obsessed with emulsion sauces--and I just think Hellmans is better! I know I really should get a French Press. I will pick one up. What ground coffee do you like best? Do I have to grind it myself? I can't be bothered to do that!

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    2. I agree that Hellmans is better in certain circumstances - egg salad sandwich? - but there's something (for me) about homemade mayo that really peps up a cold turkey sandwich. And in my book, turkey needs all the help it can get...

      Heaven knows, I can't be pfaffed to grind my own coffee either. (I long ago repurposed the grinder Mister Darling, a non-coffee drinker, gave me -- to pummel spices.) Find you get the best result from a finer grind coffee - espresso-type? - but then again, I like/need my coffee strong of a morning. Bizarrely I am loving an inexpensive brand I picked up in both our local organic food market and...Walmart. (I know, but the latter sells the best value bags of avocados and organic lemons.) Now don't laugh: the brand is called "Tchibo"...it's German. It comes in various blends but I opt for "Intensity - Strong and Invigorating". And it's true to its label's description.

      Wishing you smooth cooking, table-setting and serving.

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  16. This Thanksgiving schedule sounds like a battle plan drawn up by a general. ;)

    I agree with you about stores or restaurants being open on Thanksgiving. The more people show up, the more the owners will demand employees work on Thanksgiving Day. This is not necessary in life.

    Only restaurants in hotels were the guests have no choice should be open.

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    1. Thank you so much! You're right about hotels. And I think in the hospitality business one expects to work holidays from time to time.

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  17. I honestly don't have much to add beyond general unfocused gushing! You are...as Ellie would have said...Amazeballs. As I won't be celebrating this year, I will still harp on Naomi's brilliant idea from last year that you do a Live Pay Per View Feed from your kitchen. How I would love that.
    xo
    PS. Photos are fabulous. I really want to get down on that carpet with Barbie to cuddle.

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    1. Haha thank you! Yes that is her favorite spot to catch the midday sun! Oh the thought of a love stream from my kitchen sounds so awful. Maybe if there was no audio. I'd get in trouble for things overheard I think!

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  18. I sign useless petitions to stop shops opening on holidays to no avail so like you I just won't shop either. I don't even use uber bc of ideological objections I have with their business model. How sweet is that deer? Your list is nuts. in a nice way of course. I think POTUS has lists like that too hehe but I am thinking you have thanksgiving prep muscle memory so you only have a list for the others to catch up with you not to ask you what you are doing. am i right?

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    1. Haha you can imagine the deluge of useless petitions bombarding the inboxes of Americans right now! I have one friend who has sent me probably 17 different petitions to "elect Hillary instead of Trump". I don't use uber either! Oh he's so adorable. I'm not sure how well his little smile translates to the photo but he really was smirking! I pretty much have it down to intuition now but it helps me put things in their best sequence and it's nice to have an idea of where I should be.

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  19. Your lists are wonderful. 9:15A Imbibe. Do you need help? I'm a good sous chef!
    Your guests are a lucky bunch.
    Of course, Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in France, but I am with you as far as not shopping. On the one hand, when you really need stuff, it's nice to have an option. On the other hand, what are all these people doing in Wal-Mart on a holiday??? They're clearly not on in-and-out emergency runs. France still remains closed for business on Sundays and holidays (restaurants, bakeries and florists excepted). But some chains are pushing to open on certain holidays, usually 9-noon. The last bits of civilization are falling.

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    1. Haha you are so right! I like it that things are closed on Sunday! Oh yes stop by any time after 9:15 haha it gets weirder the later it gets! I would love a souls chef with real skills!

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  20. I die about your gift cards for the grand theft floral list item. I keep clippers in my car for the pretty flowers I see when I'm driving around and I'm always so terrified I will get caught. I would be ashamed haha but now I'll just keep a few Starbucks gift cards in my car and not lose any more sleep over it!

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    1. Haha yes! Although I recommend a local small business because 1) a lot of people have feelings about Starbucks and 2) it makes you seem nicer and more like an odd free spirit not a criminal and 3) good chance to spread the word about somewhere local and get new people in the door! My strategy when going unnoticed is not an option is to act like I'm supposed to be there and give big waves and "hey! How ya doin??! Hope you and the kids have a happy Thanksgiving!" Because most people are so desperate not to talk to a chatty stranger they'll just leave you alone and assume you're too annoying to cause any harm

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  21. Thank you for the honest to goodness belly laugh, how very true; people do not need to be shopping for dildos on Thanksgiving. Your Thanksgiving list is completely captivating and exhausting; you face the holiday with a Plan! I do the same thing in the spring when it comes to prepping this garden for tour season, but the big difference is only a fraction of the items on my list actually get accomplished. I know that won't be the case with yours. How I could use your skill and boundless energy in turning out a truly magnificent feast sans Stovetop stuffing and Brown 'n Serve rolls. (But I do make real mashed potatoes, gravy and whipped cream...) And two kitchens to clean?? Good grief; I haven't cleaned this one since, well, a lady doesn't divulge all her dirty secrets. I will be dreaming of The Perfect SAJ Thanksgiving from my perch in Wisconsin.

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen! I can promise you that your garden takes waaaaaay more work than my Thanksgiving! And you shouldn't be too hard on yourself with all that you've been through medically and how much energy you share for helping others!

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  22. I love Cafe Britt Costa Rican light roast which can be ordered online and usually arrives in a day or two. Otherwise I'll use Starbucks Veranda Blonde roast. I have a grinder but have found that both are still good already ground. The smell of freshly ground coffee is divine! I brew it in a Cuisinart with a thermal carafe--keeps it hot without that hideous burnt flavor from a glass carafe being left on. Love your timeline. What a labor of love!
    Teresa

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    1. Thank you so much! When I make coffee at home I always go with Dunkin because that's what I make in vacation and always think it's so good down there. But I think it's that thing where everything tastes good on vacation!

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  23. The mayonnaise! I literally palm-smacked my forehead and stopped reading your post at that point to take care of it. Thank you so much! I'm having groceries delivered to my son's miniscule NYC apartment so we can make the meal together, and I thought I had done a pretty good job of remembering and ordering everything we need ... except the Hellmann's! Now I'm back, and have laughed my way through the rest of your writing. Your schedule is perfect, and I still love how you spell out f-e-t-c-h. Since I'm not having Thanksgiving here in MN, I have no schedule for the first time in forever, and I am lazily sitting watching rain turn to snow as my own dogs snooze by the fire. I do kinda miss it though -- the silver polishing, the table design, etc. Nice to live vicariously through you this year.

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    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! I know a bit what you mean. There have been Thanksgivings for me that were out of sorts and while fun to do something different there is a bit of longing for the old way. I admire you for forging on and celebrating in a new way. You will have a fabulous time. Especially now that you've got the mayo secured!

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  24. Love this so much. I also make lists but this is the best ever. I like that you have Imbibe on the schedule. This is a stupid question but how do you make your cranberry relish? I checked the linked post but I don't see it but it could easily be me being stunned. Stunned as me arse is how I've been rolling this week.
    I don't drink gin but I would like to, your cranberry cocktail sounds so good. Plus, as FF would say, all those antioxidants. XX

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    1. Thank you! I am so sorry I've never included the relish recipe! I really should post it it is so easy! 1 bag cranberries washed, 1 cup sugar, 1 whole orange (skin and all) cut into a few sections, put it all into the food processor! It starts out red and white and then as it sits it becomes the most beautiful jewel red!

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    2. Thank you Darling SAJ. My gosh it's so easy and it has an entire orange in it, upping the antioxidant factor, this makes for a health-food cocktail. I can't wait to make this. I'm going to try it and my gin-loving friends will go mad for it. Thank you and enjoy your weekend prep xx

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    3. Thank you! You are exactly right. It's downright medicinal!

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  25. OMG
    that little Barbie puppy just grows more beautiful. the other day I needed a pick me up.
    I went back to went you first got her at 6 weeks old. that face Stephen Andrew. how could anyone not rescue that wee face! never heard whether you ever got her used to the crate when necessary. your famous last words on that were ... "she sleeps so much better in my lap."
    and with that I fell in love with you both!
    and now I just laughed all the way through your lists! OMG again!
    reading your blog is like reading a novel. I always read every comment and every reply.
    it's a 'can't put it down!' kind of novel!!! love and thankfulness that you're on the planet. xoxo♥

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    1. Thank you so much! Barbie never did take to the crate! She had been kept in a crate with other dogs before being rescued and it triggered a switch in her. She is so so sweet and docile but would chew the crate and destroy anything left in the crate with her. So I left her out and she has done so so well ever since. I swear she has never chewed anything left out! She is so good and still a lap dog!

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  26. I loved your lists so much! My cleaning schedule is mostly aspirational but I do make a list to cook from, since it calms me down to see how much I can make ahead and how to orchestrate the meal prep so it all goes on the table hot! (Not that I don't have to hop up from the table to get something I've forgotten, or round up stragglers who went to check the score when I announced I'm dishing up).
    Mary

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    1. Thank you so much! It is so hard to keep it all warm and get it all out! I swear I could have six ovens and still "need" more! Haha

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  27. Stephen--You make me laugh and laugh! Barbie is at her most regal laying(lying)? on that beautiful rug. She reminds us so much of our dear departed Toby lab/dobie mix. We have an unusual Thanksgiving this year as my father-in-law had a stroke in late October. Not quite sure how we're doing it since he's not home yet. Those buck pics are priceless--we have a whole herd of them just in our backyard here in NE Ohio. We once had an "almost showdown" between three bucks over a doe. I am not a cook, but luckily my husband loves it. I am in charge of color and decorating(retired art teacher)and that's exactly how I like it! Have a wonderful holiday--I'm sure it will have all your special touches.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm so sorry about Toby! We never stop missing them when they're gone! Also sorry about your FIL. I hope his recovery takes a strong turn and he is able to come home. I absolutely love to watch the deer!

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  28. How many hours a night do you sleep?
    That STAG........DEER is GORGEOUS!Did you notice his antler's had been damaged?I LOVED HOW CLOSE HE CAME................he knows a good person when he see's one!
    YOUR LISTS are DOWN to the MINUTE.............Do you check off as you GO?
    I made my shopping list TODAY!Feeling pretty good about it.The PANIC is starting to disappear.
    Nice to see you have some WORK tucked in TOO!
    HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS.............

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    1. Thank you! I know, I just love him!! He is so charming. I did notice his antler damage. I wonder how that happened?!
      I sleep about five hours. Sometimes six. I would so love to sleep more but I just can't! I think I do sleep very soundly so I guess I get the rest I need. I just wish I could sleep in! My mornings are so long and I rarely work before 10 so I have time! Oh well. Glad you got your shopping list done! Makes such a difference!

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  29. Thank you for the inspiration! I'll be hosting my first Thanksgiving, and have been polishing my silver and copper pots, cleaning every square inch of the house, as well as prepping the outside. Looking forward to a lovely holiday!

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    1. Thank you! Oh how exciting! How many are you expecting? I hope you'll post on your blog about it!

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  30. OH, how do I tell you this... the only list I make before a Holiday here at This Old House is the grocery list. I make the desserts the day before and the main meal the day of ... the cleaning happens all week before and the bathrooms and vacuuming once more that morning. I hope I get the timing right for the dish prep and cook and I have out plenty of pick-ons and drinks so people can wander around and chat with each other while I put it all together. So, I sorta wing it. But.. after 25 years of winging it...not too much to "F" up.

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    1. Haha everyone thinks I expect them to do Thanksgiving my way! No! I love allllllll thanksgiving. From impromptu to painstakingly planned. I'm sure you have just the right intuitive guidance for managing Thanksgiving!

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  31. Oh my goodness, Stephen Andrew, you need to add bourbon and chopped, toasted pecans to your cranberry sauce! I love your lists; my fav is "short but effective toast, and "football break, 30 minutes - set timer" Hahaha! I do the whole shebang myself, not because I'm dying to do it but because I'm an only child, my beloved Mom is deceased, and my daughter-in-law can't manage to get a meal on the table on any average weekday. I actually feel all warm and fuzzy when I think of folks all over the country doing just what I'm doing and preparing virtually the same menu at practically the same time. And goodness knows that after this election season we all could use a bit of warm and fuzzy. I was touched today to see the post on Ellie's blog - she's been much on my mind lately. Well, have a marvelous Thanksgiving. With all of your fabulous SAJ touches its sure to be a winner. Emily

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    1. Emily! Thank you so much. I feel the exact same way! I love what a rare moment of unity it is for everyone. Did you see that NYT article that highlighted different Thanksgivings and how people fold their culture into the American Thanksgiving. Oh my it made me so happy. I have been thinking of Ellie so much. The more I learn about ALS the more I realize what magic she holds considering just how long she physically lived. A true force of nature! I'm so glad you host Thanksgiving--and you never know, your son or daughter in law might surprise you with a sudden interest in cooking. It can happen quickly! No pun intended: I love nuts. But they never come into my kitchen because my brother and sister have life threatening peanut allergies and while technically not allergic to tree nuts like pecans, the chance they were processed along any peanuts, peanut oil, or peanut flour is too great a risk. As for bourbon, I'm on board with that but my mother hates the taste of alcohol and loves cranberry relish just as it is, so I would hear about that until next Thanksgiving :)

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  32. SAJ!!!!!!! Love love love your thanksgiving posts. next year, I am hosting turkey day and can wait to employ all of your tricks. Esp. The cranberry/gin cocktail. Hell- who am I kidding- I'm drinking that this year! Do you all play games after your dinner? I'd love to know!! -Cari

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    1. Thank you so much! Oh how exciting that you are hosting next year! The best part, a whole year to plan! I happen to hate games for the most part so we're not big game players. From time to time there will be a card game of some game I can't understand like euchre. I don't mind poker though. I love trivia so I wish there was an easy round the table trivia game. If anyone knows of one, please share. Maybe I should just have jeopardy questions printed on notecards! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  33. I love your lists, SAJ. So concise, nothing left off. I have never done duck, although I like it, and often order a duck ragu with pasta {anatra}, when eating out. And I do have truffles {Umbrian black ones}. I am back to thinking about a large free range chicken. We are 2. This would be the first time making Thanksgiving, after living 16 years in Europe!?! I am thinking of making a version of the stuffing Ellie had when she had Thanksgiving at Ralph's 2 years ago- Pork Sausage with chestnuts, sage, and rosemary. I am going to attempt your roasted vegetable gravy- actually, probably the darling Husband, as he is The Saucier in the family, I will roast and puree the veg. I am thinking a squash soup, as a starter ( I do not know what kind of squash we have- they are dark green}. I googled this, and they are called acorn squash. Ever heard of? I hope to find Brussel Sprouts. Sadly, cannot find parsnips here. Any other suggestions?
    I will make some type of apple dessert.
    Barbie looks so pretty with her red collar.
    Are you using the gorgeous orange table cloth also this year?
    Best to you, Robin

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm soooo happy you're preparing Thanksgiving in Italy! Acorn squash is very common here. The nice thing about it is the skin is edible and not super tough like some squash skins. Some people slice the skin off just the ridges to break it up a little. You could roast fennel along with carrots instead of parsnips! Then add some fresh orange slices to the platter after the carrots and fennel is roasted. It would be a fabulous Italian roasted salad combo.

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    2. Thanks bunches. My husband bought the chicken today- 3 1/2 kilos. Also 2 fennel bulbs, as I am following Ina's roast chicken recipe. Fingers crossed. Made chicken stock today.
      Seriously Stephen, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond to me, and the others. It means so much to me.

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  34. I just came back from Costco. What a dngerous place during the holiday season. Usually I am very disciplined when I shop there, but they had some wonderful holiday foods - salted nuts, holiday beers, chocolates. Tis the season. Now I need to search for a recipe for bread dressing. Any ideas?

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    1. Oh it is so dangerous! I don't have a recipe for mine, I'm sorry! I just kinda go for it. Mine has a lot of celery, some carrot, onion, leek, lots of Sauvignon blanc, herb butter, and some garlic.

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  35. Love your recent posts, all of them! My immediate family, gone now, had many capital C Characters, and my mother made every holiday beautiful. Your posts bring this all back to me in the best possible way! I am more of the quiet type, but I do hope to pass on to my ten year old a finely honed appreciation for both fine china and hijinks of all sorts! Wishing you and yours a very heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for your funny and lovely stories. And your platters! I thought I garnished a mean platter, but believe me I am taking notes! All best, J

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  36. Just popping in again because I am in total agreement that grocery workers should have the day off on Thanksgiving! I was reminded when I saw the signs at the entrance to the local shops that show their Holiday schedule and of course, there are Thanksgiving hours. Ugh. The only silver lining is that once when I sympathized with somebody who waited on me last year (I needed something!) they responded that the time and half (or double time) was not bad at all. Still, all should have the opportunity for the work momentum to take a pause. And for what it's worth, Thanksgiving is another Memorial Day for me. Time to be thankful for what we have, yes, and also to offer -what's the right word?- for the sacrifices of the Native Americans who lost so much so that we could have plenty. Still forming the thought to go with the feeling. Hope your schedule is proceedings smoothly. Got my mayo! ~Nicole

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  37. I fully appreciate your moral convictions about not patronizing retailers that are open on the holiday. The grueling hours and pressure are enough to suck the holiday joy out of anyone. Especially in the build up to the big day. I think I hit 50 hours in 3 days last week. Ugh.
    I ended up buying core ingredients to make our Thanksgiving meal with no real plan and intend on winging it tomorrow. I dream of the year when my job is no longer a time suck and I can enjoy the holidays like normal people. Intending on making that happen ASAP.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    xoxo

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  38. Another great post SAJ! I too make lists of everything when I'm hosting. This year, my daughter has decided to host at her house but I will be going early to teach her how to do everything. She's never hosted a large holiday before OR cooked a turkey. I am in total agreement with you about shopping on the holiday. I find it sad that people making minimum wage are made to work on a holiday when they should be allowed to spend the time with their families. I was excited to see Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Marshall's advertising that they will remain closed so that their employees can enjoy the day with their families. I am showing my age here, but as a child, all stores were closed on holidays and Sundays. We always made sure to have what we needed beforehand. The cars were gassed, food and gifts purchased, and the holiday was spent with family. Have a wonderful holiday! Everything sounds wonderful!

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  39. I love all your lists!!! You can't plan enough as far as I'm concerned. I use an Excel spreadsheet, and my post-mortem is sometimes more detailed than the actual planning. It's always hilarious to pull it out from year to year and laugh about cryptic notes that must have made sense when I made them.

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