prepping food & thankfulness

Thanksgiving is one of my all time favorite holidays. I've said that here before and I've given reasons why, so I won't again.
This year, as all the years since we moved to Washington, we will be spending it here, away from our families.
But such is life.

Before moving here 4 years ago, my Mom always cooked Thanksgiving dinner, with the exception of the few side dishes we married daughters brought.
So maybe I'd bring rolls, or green beans, or something for dessert, but Mom always cooked the main meal. And I had no idea how much work went into it until I found myself needing to be the main chef for our Thanksgiving. I also had NO clue how much work and time went into the turkey prep and baking! I'm already not very skilled in the "get everything on the table all at once" when it comes to a simple dinner, so our first Thanksgiving with me cooking everything was... a bit late. I think we ate 2 hours past the time we had planned. The best part was, it was just us, so I didn't really have anyone to impress :)

Fast forward 4 years and I find myself amazed that we invited people over and I'm totally relaxed about it! 4 years ago me would've been a hot mess the days leading up to Thanksgiving, totally wishing I could un-invite everyone.
I owe much thanks to, well, my Mom for doing an amazing job the 29 years of my life that I enjoyed holiday food at her house and watched her prep and serve with such joy and ease.
And I owe a lot of thanks to the Pioneer Woman {who I will later refer to as TPW, just FYI} and her holiday cookbook, where she so gracious lays out her easy to follow recipes {that are also easy to modify!} and gives you step-by-step instructions on what to prep a few days before, what to prep and cook the day before and what to do the day of. Seriously, best cook book ever. 

I also love that she "talks" through her cook books, as if you're in her kitchen and she's just chatting with you as she bakes. I found myself reading through the book the other night, just for fun and I'm not a person who actually reads through cookbooks just for fun! :)

This year I'm trying her pumpkin smoothies. We will have those with our Make-Ahead breakfast casserole, which is a family tradition on my side.
We usually eat a huge, filling breakfast, no lunch and then the big dinner is around 4pm, followed by dessert and we roll ourselves to bed, happy and thankFUL.

For dinner I'm going to use TPW's turkey brine recipe, the turkey recipe {thank you Costco for selling local, organic, hormone/antibiotic free turkeys this year!!}
her dressing recipe, cranberries, green bean and tomato recipe and two of her pie recipes.
I was drooling as I read the pie recipes. The first is one I made last year and its just... wow. So good. It has whisky in it. Need I say more?
Its called Pumpkin Cream Pie and the second is new to me, called Caramel Apple pie.
We invited two other families over, plus my good friend Sharon will be coming with her Dad who's visiting from the East Coast then our friends are bringing their good friend and her son.
Each of those ladies is bringing food/drinks to help with the meal, so its going to be more like a feast!
I can't wait.

I never did join in on the 'thankful' posts that so beautifully fill my Facebook feed this time of year so I wanted to list just a few things I'm thankful for here, before the month ends and the whirlwind of Christmas sets in.
Truly I have millions upon millions of things to be thankful for, but I will keep my list down to 10.

1.) I am always, daily, moment by moment thankful for God; his love and mercy toward me and the ways He takes care of my family and me. Every year that passes I become increasingly more away of how beautiful Christ is and how much I need him, which is something I'm so thankful for. 
My life without Him would be messy, complicated, self centered, hopeless and meaningless. 

2.) SO thankful for my husband and kids! Jason and I are going on 20 years of friendship and 10 years of marriage and we still stop and marvel at God's goodness to us. Like... seriously, even in my best dreams I had no idea it would be this amazing. 
And I'm not being fake or cheesy in saying that. 
Its not anything amazing we've done or do, its all God and He continues to leave us speechless and thankful. 

3.) My parents and In-Laws. I have great hopes in writing a blog post someday, just in honor of these 4 people, but its going to take some time because its going to end up being a post that is very special to me, my husband, our kids and hopefully our parents. 
I have a lot to say on the topic, but here I will just say I am everyday growing in my thankfulness for the parents God gave Jason and me. 
We were insanely blessed to be raised in the families we were raised in and to have very hard working Dads and Moms who sacrificed so much and poured their day-to-day lives into us. 
Sometimes I wish we could give them a physical gift that shows how thankful we are, but I know for our parents, the best gift is for us to be faithful and diligent in raising up a Christ loving, Christ serving generation.... and for Grandbabies ;-) 

4.) our church, our Pastors, our Deacons and the hundreds of people that serve us for Jesus and go so unnoticed to the human eye. 

5.) Our friends. Some we see often, some not so much. But I'm thankful for the ways God has brought each one of you into my life. 

6.) I'm thankful for modern technology. 
Email, cell phones, Skype, social media {mostly}, blogs, the US Postal service {shout out to my Brother-in-Law!} I'm thankful for the ways it allows me to stay in touch with so many and especially for us to feel closer to our families than we physically are. 

7.) It might seem silly, but I'm thankful for seasons. As in, yearly, monthly seasons. 
I'm thankful for the creativity God used when he made the earth and everything in it. 
For amazing rain storms, foggy mornings, snow, sunny days, sunsets that take your breath away - its all completely amazing to me and the variety is something I love. 
I'm so thankful we don't live on an earth that has one thing all year round and nothing more. 

8.) Thankful for every day things that get overlooked until they break. 
our modern day home appliances, my van, Jason's car, the bus he takes to work, traffic lights, 
iced coffees ;-), my comfortable bed and the list could go on. 
We are so pampered and so very spoiled here in America. 

9.) I'm thankful for the school we joined this year. We're not really supposed to call it a 'school' but we're also not really supposed to call it a co-op, so I don't really know what to call it. We joined Classical Conversations and its been 100% amazing for our family. Can't say enough positive things about it. 
I'm also thankful for the home link program we go through up North that allows us to get most of our kid's books for free and provides us with a teacher to check-in with and everything else to be logged through the state, so I don't have to bother with it. We're in year 3 of being with them and I'm SO thankful for our teacher/friend Lisa, and for the ways the program has allowed us to be able to easily afford home schooling and also gives the government the opportunity to give back to US for a change ;-) 

10.) I'm thankful for 2013 and God's protection through it. The year had its very bumpy moments, most of all when Miles fractured his skull just a week before we were supposed to move - I'm thankful for those moments when God taught us such valuable lessons and reminded us that He is in control and that's always a good thing. 
I'm thankful for the babies born, for the marriages we saw restored, for the ways we watched people mourn the passing of loved ones and bring glory back to Christ, and for the ways we got to see loved ones start new chapters and dive into unknown areas, trusting God to carry them through. 
This has been a full, blessed, crazy and intense year. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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