TBT Lesson #78

In the ’90s, we started a tradition of the whole family, my brother’s family, my sister’s family, our parents and John’s mom and husband all loading up and driving from Florida to north Georgia to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’d rent two or three houses in Helen, Georgia and spend the weekend cooking, eating, hiking, playing and bonding. While we no longer celebrate out of state, Thanksgiving is still cousin catch up time.


TBT Lesson #78: Be thankful for the time you spend with cousins.

TBT Lesson #77

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but I can’t think of any other reason I’d have two turkeys in my freezer. In fact, the cupboards are full on the ingredients necessary for the annual feast. The only thing missing are the guests, but by this time next week we’ll have a full house.image

TBT Lesson #77: Only the first grandchild can take attention away from a perfectly cooked turkey.

A Dessert for Every Person

On Rachel Ray’s two day Thanksgiving show, she provided tips on everything relating to preparing the feast. Can you believe that one of the tips was to prepare just enough dessert for one piece per person? And to fix only one, maybe two desserts. The suggestion…two pies…one pumpkin and one apple.


That doesn’t work in our family! If we were to make a dessert preparation guide, I think it would be make one dessert per person. Not one piece per person, one whole dessert per person!

Pumpkin pie

IMG_4410.JPGCherry pie

IMG_4412.JPGLemon meringue pie


Cheese cake

IMG_4414.JPGOrange cranberry pound cake

IMG_4390.JPGPraline pound cake

IMG_4388.JPG Brownies, cookies, candied pecans, and Rice Krispie treats

And an apology from my mom that she didn’t bring and fudge or sweet treatsthis year. I don’t think we needed them!


TBT Lesson #28

For years the Turkey Trot’s been a Thanksgiving Day tradition. I can hardly remember a year when at least one member of the family didn’t participate in the annual 5K run through the neighborhoods of Ocala.

On more than one occasion our Thanksgiving table’s been decorated by a trophy awarded after the race, but on Thanksgiving Day in 2000 the girls brought home two first-place trophies and a third-place turkey.

IMG_5281.JPGThrowback Thursday Lesson #28: Run a 5K before eating Thanksgiving Dinner so you can eat an extra piece of pie.

Thanksgiving’s Going to the Dogs

After we abandoned the family last year for a getaway to New York, we assured all that we would be home this year and that everyone should plan on spending Thanksgiving at our house. With the exception of one daughter and one nephew our invitation has been accepted.

We’ll spend the day making final preparations for a family gathering of 26…parents, siblings, daughters and their husbands, nieces, nephews, their significant others and one grand nephew. It’ll be a full house.

A homesick Willis on day 1.

But in addition to the crowd of people, we have three dogs that have accepted the invite as well. Sarah and Daniel won’t be joining us as they travel to D.C. to spend the holiday with Daniel’s brother, but they sent their dog Willis so they’ll be represented at the table. In fact, Willis will be staying for eight days and has been a house guest since last Sunday.

He’s a little skittish around John preferring to sit on my feet or hang by my side. Funny…I’m not the dog person in the family. Of course, a little cheese goes a long way to building a relationship with a dog.

Later today Willis’ buddy Luna arrives so they can play and compete for attention.

luna These two know how to spend a holiday!

And this year they’ll meet the newest member of their canine family, Matt’s dog, Willie.


Thanksgiving has definitely gone to the dogs!

November Pound Cake of the Month: Orange Cranberry

Lemon, blueberry, coconut, chocolate, pecans, the ingredients used to spice up the first ten pound cakes baked in 2014. What better than cranberries for November? I’m sure some would say pumpkin, but pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and even pumpkin pie aren’t family favorites, so cranberry it is, and when combined with orange, well that made it irresistible.


You’d think after baking ten pound cakes this year, this would be a “piece of cake”, but I’m still baking challenged and it takes me forever to whip up one of these desserts. The recipe indicates a 15 minute prep time, but I’m sure I invested at least 30 minutes in gathering and measuring ingredients and cake preparation. Fortunately, it was worth it!


I located the recipe used this month on That’s My Home, a website devoted to cooking and baking, and made only a couple of modifications, using turbinado sugar instead of white granulated sugar and adding butter to the icing which I thought was needed for a little more flavor.

Ingredients for cake:


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of one orange – about 1 tablespoon
  • juice of an orange
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


Ingredients for glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (softened)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of sugar on the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cranberries on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar at medium speed on mixer.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.
  • Add orange juice and zest.
  • Add sour cream until incorporated.
  • Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Finally, stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups cranberries.
  • Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  • Let pan set for 5 minutes after you take the cake out of the oven.
  • Turn over cake unto a wire rack to cool.


Prepare glaze and drizzle on top and sides of cake.

I baked the Orange Cranberry Pound Cake in the smaller 6-cup pan and three smaller 1-cup cakes because I wanted to serve this cake for Thanksgiving next week. Of course, we ate the smaller cakes since we needed to do a little taste test, but I stored the larger cake in an inverted mixing  with a clip on lid and placed it in the freezer.

Thanksgiving baking has begun!





TBT Lesson #27

Over the river and through the woods to north Georgia we’d go every year in the ’90s to spend Thanksgiving. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all together in cabins watching football, hiking, playing games, eating, and making special memories.
Three sisters enjoying spending time together on Thanksgiving.

TBT Lesson #27: Be thankful for your sisters everyday.

Do Something Unexpected

All creative people want to do the unexpected.
Hedy Lamarr

Reliable, predictable, dependable, well-planned, organized, a real “steady Eddie”. Words that describe me and qualities I’ve tried to encourage you to develop.

So it may come as a surprise that today I’m encouraging you to do something unexpected, but since that’s what we did by flying to New York instead of hosting a weekend of Thanksgiving feasting and fun this year, I want to encourage you to step out of your dependable, predictable life occasionally and do the unexpected.

I don’t want to eliminate our family Thanksgiving traditions; however, spending the weekend in New York City proved refreshing, exciting, and at times unpredictable – of course, riding the subway is always unpredictable!

You travel with the hope that something unexpected will happen. It has to do with enjoying being lost and figuring it out and the satisfaction. I always get a little disappointed when I know too well where I’m going, or when I’ve lived in a place so long that there’s no chance I could possibly get lost.
Andrew Bird

And not only did this unexpected get-away reinvigorate us, it also proved Thanksgiving stills happens without our participation. I’m proud to say all three of my daughters have prepared a full Thanksgiving meal. Well done!

There will be no unexpected Thanksgiving trip in 2014. I hope family will make plans to join us on November 27, 2014 for a traditional turkey dinner and plan to stay Friday for round two with games, fun, and a ham feast. Of course, if you decide to do something unexpected next year and can’t make it, I’ll understand!


Black Thursday Killing Thanksgiving

Last year I received a petition from Change.org asking me to help employees at Target. Since Target decided to push ahead their traditional Black Friday shopping, the stores plan to open at 8:00pm on Thanksgiving Day. The employee who started the petition asked for public support so she and other Target employees could spend the holiday with family.

Of course, if the store opens at 8:00, employees will report at least an hour or two earlier so if Thanksgiving dinner isn’t eaten by 3:00 or 4:00 an employee couldn’t possibly celebrate with family and going out of town is not be realistic. Wal-Mart made a similar announcement last year and their employees threatened to walk out.  Several other major retailers joined suit and as a result Thanksgiving changed from family holiday to just another shopping day.

Certainly some people must work on Thanksgiving. Hospitals and nursing homes can’t close for the holiday. Police officers, firefighters, and others charged with public safety need to be available. However, do grocery stores, malls, or other retail stores need to open on Thanksgiving? Isn’t 6:00am or 4:00am on Friday early enough for consumers to begin Christmas shopping?

Black Friday may be replaced by Black Thursday, but the word Black has a new meaning. Originally, Black referred the day retailers began to turn a profit and therefore get “in the black”. The new meaning signifies the death of Thanksgiving. My suggestion to those required to work in retail on Thanksgiving is to wear black to work that day or accessorize their uniform with black.

As for me, signing the petition last year was just the start. I avoided stores that were open on Thanksgiving Day throughout the holiday season, and I’m committed to not making holiday purchases at stores opened on Thanksgiving this year as well. It’s going to be quite a challenge though since so few stores are remaining closed this year.

Stores to avoid:

  • Walmart
  • Kmart
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Old Navy
  • Office Max
  • Staples
  • Toys “R” Us
  • Michael’s
  • Macy’s
  • J.C. Penney
  • Kohl’s
  • Best Buy

I’d like to think I can avoid these stores year round, but with so many on the list that will be difficult. I need to spend some time getting to know local small businesses. I don’t want to be responsible for the demise of an American holiday.

Time to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Day, a time to reflect thankfulness, also reminds me of the lame answer I gave Sarah last year at Thanksgiving when she asked me what I was thankful for. I said something like family, friends, a job, and good health…not very specific, but absolutely true. So, here’s my more thoughtful answer.

I’m thankful for my parents. To begin, I’m thankful they have been married for over 50 years, an accomplishment in which they take great pride. I believe their strong marriage has had a positive effect on my marriage as well. I’m also thankful both enjoy good health and independence. So few people my age are lucky enough to have both parents well and together…truly something to be thankful for.

Next, I’m thankful to be married to my best friend. There’s nothing better than traveling, talking, eating, and just hanging out with the person I most enjoy being with every day. Now that doesn’t mean every minute of every day is perfect, but being with someone who always makes me number one is pretty special. How many people have a partner who is thoughtful, considerate, funny, and a hard worker? And to think he’s spent his entire adult life surrounded by “girls”! That’s no easy task, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world. And finally, few women are fortunate enough to have a husband who loves HER family as much as she does – parents, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, as well as extended family. How thankful I am that my family is his family!IMG_0706

Of course, that brings me to the three of you. I’m thankful for each of you and for more reasons than I can count, but let me start by explaining what I’m thankful you’re not.

I’m thankful you just watch “Sixteen and Pregnant” instead of actually being sixteen and pregnant.

I’m thankful that you aren’t rude, obnoxious, or mean-spirited like Snookie or others on “The Jersey Shore”.

I’m thankful that you are Meghan, Emily, and Sarah instead of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney. You may never make as much money as the Kardashians, but I’d much prefer daughters who are not self-centered, sleazy, backstabbing, spoiled brats.

I’m thankful you don’t wear clothing made of meat like Lady Gaga.

I’m thankful you’re not in and out of rehab like Britney or Lindsey or Paris.

I’m thankful you’re not suffering from eating disorders like the Olsen twins.

I am thankful you’ve avoided the desire to emulate the behavior of celebrities seen on television, movies, and featured in tabloids. Sure it would be great to have loads of money and everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but family and friends and good health…those are the things to dream of and to be thankful for.

I’m thankful you are healthy and have good sense, and the ability to avoid the crazy behavior popular in today’s society.

I’m thankful you want to spend time with family. It must be miserable to have a family that dreads holidays and spending time together, but that seems to be a common theme in many families.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to ask yourself, what are you thankful for?



Originally published Thanksgiving, 2012 before I began sharing Mom’s Monday Memo so this may explain why some of the references seem a bit dated.