Happy Thanksgiving!

Pilgrim reenactor at Plimoth Plantation. (Photo taken several years ago.)
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

Know that the Lord is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His flock, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why! the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

- Psalm 100
(Genevan Psalter, 1551)

Quick Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming holiday to the novice and the experienced hostess alike. There are so many separate dishes to cook...new recipes to try...food allergies to work around...linens to purchase or iron...a centerpiece...gravy...and a heart full of gratitude to cultivate. While not meant to be an exhaustive guide to Thanksgiving, here are some quick tips I've learned through the years.

- Plain white plates work for every occasion. Add a few seasonally appropriate plates and platters, and presto!...instant Thanksgiving look!

- Grocery shop TWO days ahead of time with a thorough list, but don't be surprised if you have to run back for one or two things. It happens to all of us. 

- If you're having guests, ask them to bring something to contribute. I like to ask guests to bring an appetizer and/or something that meets their dietary restrictions.

- The simplest centerpiece is a pile of pumpkins down the center of your table...all sizes and shapes...mixed colors or a single color. We just pull the pumpkins from all corners of the house, and even from outside, and use them afresh as our centerpiece.

- After grocery shopping TWO days ahead, make everything that can stay cold...cranberry sauce, pies, etc. And also, cube and dry your bread for stuffing.

- Need a great, classic stuffing recipe? Click here for the one I love. I substitute focaccia bread for the white bread and decrease the onions just a bit.

- ONE day ahead of time: clean your house, set the table, and make everything else you can cook ahead of time.

- The morning of: get your turkey started, and then find all your serving pieces and their utensils and set them at the ready on the counter.

- My favorite way to roast a turkey:
1. Rinse the bird and clean everything out of its cavities.
2. Stuff the main cavity with one onion (quartered), several cloves of garlic (peeled), and some fresh herbs.
3. In a small bowl blend softened butter with chopped, fresh herbs (sage, flat leaf parsley, thyme), and freshly cracked pepper...no quantities specified...use your best judgement!
4. With your hand, loosen the skin on the turkey breast and smoosh (yes, that's a word...I'm sure of it!) the butter-herb mixture on the meat of the breast underneath the skin.
5. Brush turkey with olive oil, and sprinkle with a smoked salt and freshly ground pepper.
6. Roast on a roasting rack at 325 degrees, basting every 30 mins., until thermometer registers 170 degrees.

- Give yourself some grace to not make everything from scratch. I do this with gravy. It's very low on my priority list for homemade musts. 

- Green beans can be blanched, blotted dried, wrapped in paper towels and place in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerated until the final 10 mins. before dinner. Then finish them off on the stove by sauteing in melted butter. (We like them with bacon and onion OR with dried cranberries and slice almonds.)

- Pair turkey with Gewurztraminer. Remember to have a sparkling apple or pear juice on hand for non-drinkers.

- Don't forget the butter dish and the salt and pepper on the table.

- Extend an invitation to people who have no place to go or might be alone...young married couples, military servicemen and servicewomen, the elderly, the newcomers to the area, the widow, the bachelor.

- In our family, the women cook and the men clean up. What a blessing that is!

- Count your blessings! Lots of food to cook means the Lord has blessed you abundantly with wealth and food for your table. Lots of people to cook for means the Lord has blessed you with friends and family. Be thankful!

These photos are from one or two Thanksgivings ago. I hope you enjoyed them! It seems like I have a dreadfully difficult time blogging in November. We actually all gathered last Saturday to celebrate Thanksgiving, because we were ALL able to be together that day. Table surrounded by our dear family and full of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. This Thursday, the three of us are hosting friends for a simpler, more non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. I'd like to promise I'll share those pictures soon, but my track record on November blogging is very poor indeed. But you'll see them eventually!

Invite Nature Indoors

Autumn leaves are too pretty to relegate solely to outdoors. Invite a few branches inside. No need to offer them a cup of tea...a simple drink of water will do.

A Rainy Day at the Head of the Charles

A couple of weeks ago, Colette and her dear friend and I spent a rainy Saturday in Boston attending the Head of the Charles Regatta. Rowers from all over the U.S. compete in solo, pairs, and team rowing competitions along the scenic banks of the Charles River as it snakes through Boston and past the colleges and city skyline.

Competitors are of all ages from community teams, and many college teams from all over the country.

Spectators, like ourselves, line the banks of the river and congregate on the bridges to watch the boats and cheer on favorite teams. Others (with connections, I presume) watch from some of the many boathouses that line the river. These two belong to Harvard University.

The Cambridge Boat Club is in the heart of the action at the Head of the Charles.

The crowd was a fun and convivial mix of families, aging rowers and college rowers, dogs, and preppy college students. This vendor was giving away samples of the most delicious apple-almond herbal tea, and we stopped in and purchased canisters to take home and/or a cup to warm us on the damp day.

Colette was happy to do a little shopping at the Brooks Brothers tent...a hopping place!

Happy faces despite the cold and rain! Love these cheerful girls!

Day made even more fun with kettle corn!

Never let it be said that Colette leaves any dog unpetted!

The award for best dressed dog of the day was this little fellow, Henry, in his Barbour coat. Too adorable!

It was a super fun day, despite the rain, and we hope to go again next year.

Hammock Days

Hammock days are coming to an end. Soon it will be time to pack it away for the winter. But for now...what a view!

Halloween Happenings

Halloween has come and gone, and I hope you had a great one! I've been saving up a stockpile of photos to share with you of scenes that captured Halloween in New England, and photos of our Halloween happenings.

First, around New England..pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere.

I love how these enterprising Yankees have turned their front lawn into a beautiful farmstand. We chose a couple of squash and a gourd and dropped our money in the box.

Autumn was just so, SO gorgeous this year!

Tiny pumpkins all in a row on a doorstep in Vermont...and giant, fierce, munching pumpkin at our local Whole Foods.

And at our house, there was jack-o-lantern carving with the little ones. They were troopers and didn't even mind (too much) about pulling the goop out.

When your household is comprised entirely of adults...you buy the good Halloween candy!

And with that, Halloween is over for another year. Welcome November!
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