The Table/s and the Turkey

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Hoping everyone enjoyed as blessed of a Thanksgiving as we did. With friends and kids visiting from Florida, our big boy home from CSU, along with local family members, we joined our kitchen table and dining table together in the dining room. (Little people had to sit at the island in the kitchen). Such a blessing to set my table with my moms lovely china. There is always something to be thankful for.

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And the turkey I baked in the oven turned out great. Each year I attempt to recreate my sweet mothers most delicious and moist turkey. My 14 pound bird was both juicy and tasty……..yippee!

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And now I need to get busy decorating our super tall tree. Thanksgiving is complete and here comes Christmas…………didn’t we just do the whole Christmas thing? Feels like it. Happy shopping everyone!!!!!

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O’ Christmas tree, O’ Christmas tree……..our hunt for the perfect tree

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Yesterday, we enjoyed our 2nd annual Christmas tree chopping experience. We have usually been the ‘fake’ tree kind of people, give or take a few different years, where we would purchase one at a tree lot/sale. However, after moving to Colorado several years ago, we decided to try our hand/s at chopping down our own tree. Last year was the first time that we have experienced this. If you live in an area where this is possible, it should be on your list of things to do as a family. So much fun.
We drove up to Winter Park and purchased our permit…….a whopping $10 at the local chamber of commerce………gotta love the price. Then we drove into the area where you can legally cut down your own tree. After hiking through some fairly deep snow and into the woods for quite some time, there she was, just waiting to be tied to the top of our vehicle………the perfect tree.
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The area where our tree sits is very tall, almost 20 ft. ceilings, but it is also narrow, so this tree couldn’t have been any better.

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I cannot wait to get it all decorated………..

We bring along a sled to lay the tree on and drag it back to our car……….but until then, our youngest gets a good ride with daddy pulling him.

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Paper O’ Plenty

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More paper you ask? I know, but these pages of sheet music are not ripped out of a book. I scrolled the internet for some sheet music. There are tons of options out there and a bazillion of them that you can print for free. So I did. Then, I ever so carefully, ripped the page to fit my candle length. Soaked the print in some coffee and dried them in the oven for a few minutes. It makes the paper even more aged looking and a little crisp. Wrapped the candles with the aged paper and finished it off with some twine.

I have a sweet little decorative looking bird cage that I had in mind to use. So my candles, which were hanging out in a drawer forever, have been brought back into the picture and now have a nice place on our coffee table. Pines cones are from my yard…….they are sort of taking over out there.

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Paper Craze ~ Decorating with Book Pages

After creating the wreath out of an old book, I decided to decorate a few more items……well, just several candles. One of the books I picked up at ‘Savers’ was a spiritual book. It is filled with wonderful, inspirational and spiritual quotes, stories, and biblical passages written by multiple different authors. While I am going to create a few more paper wreaths, after reading through this book I decided that many of these pages should be framed, used, displayed……to make reading the passages possible. My favorite……..this one, wrapped around the candle that is sitting on my seasonal entry table.

So very fitting for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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These candles also sit within my entry way. With these pages however, I stained them with some coffee to give them an antique look. (You can also do this with tea. I just happened to have some leftover coffee in my brewer, so I used the coffee). I soaked them for just a few minutes, placed them on a baking sheet and baked them in the oven for about 10 minutes to dry them out. Wrapped them around the candles and added a little twine. Would love to see any of your ‘paper’ ideas!

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Paper Book Wreath

Elegant and antique looking paper book wreath

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With Christmas literally right around the corner, I’ve decided that I really need to get crack-a-lackn’ on some of the crafty ideas (possible gifts) that continue to overflow within my brain. I’ve seen a gazillion different versions of these all over the place, antique stores, flea market fairs, Pinterest….they are all beautiful. So now I must tackle one of these precious wreaths for myself.

First things first, I wanted to locate some books that looked a bit aged……..you know, those yellowing pages? Our front room is the library/piano room, but I’m not actually interested in ripping apart any of our books. So my daughter and I headed to ‘Savers’, it’s sort of like Goodwill. I found 3 different books to rip apart and she actually found 2 books in the series that she is reading, so we won’t be ripping those apart.

Then we headed to Hobby Lobby, my happy place……..aaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! We grabbed 2 different sized ‘squared edge’ wreath forms. I’m sure you can use the rounded ones as well, they just felt a bit more firm to me. Grabbed some straight pins and headed to the checkout.

Later, I began ripping out the pages in one of the books and then folded and ripped each page in half. I used a pencil and wrapped up the half page all around the eraser tip and then firmly poked it into the wreath form. Decades ago, in one of my kids classrooms, we did a version of this using material remnants that were cut into small squares and poked them into a small hay type of wreath form as a classroom Christmas craft. This is the same idea, just more delicate.

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You have to be somewhat careful doing this as several times I jammed the pencil in there so firm that the eraser part went right through the paper. I’m sure you could use a glue gun to secure each piece, I just didn’t want to mess with the ‘stringy’ glue bits getting all over the papers, so I pinned them. It’s a bit easier if you work with the inside of the frame first. As you move along it gets more tricky as to where you can actually hold onto the frame to apply enough pressure with the pencil.

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Depending on the size of the wreath form you choose, this is not a speedy process…….start to finish I probably spent 3 1/2 hours total on this sized wreath. It’s a good workout for your fingers, holy cow. But the end result is really darling.

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Now I will need to find the perfect place to hang it……..

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Southwestern Pork Chili

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So, my family loves chili and Mexican food…..and anytime I can change things up a bit I’m all in. Typically, I make our chili with organic ground turkey or chicken. However, I found some great looking organic pork ‘stew’ meat. So, I thought I would cut the pieces much smaller and make a hearty chili. This turned out fantastic and can certainly be made using whatever meat your family prefers……or go totally vegetarian with it and add a bunch of multi colored prefers to it at the end. Here is what I did, and so you know, I don’t really measure anything unless I’m baking. I believe majority of people cook this way……..who knows?

Chop one medium onion and sauté in a bit of olive oil. Once the onions are transparent, add 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Add the stew meat and brown lightly. To this mixture, I added a few shakes of pepper, red pepper chipotle flakes, chili powder, cumin, taco seasoning (MSG free), probably 2 tsp of sugar and dried cilantro. (I prefer fresh but was all out). After all of those flavors combined I transferred everything to my crockpot. I wanted to cook the pork for quite a while so the meat would get super tender.

Once in the crockpot, I added 2 cans of low sodium, petite diced tomatoes in their own juices, 1 cup of medium heat picante sauce and about a cup of organic vegetable broth. (beans go in much later so they do not become mush). Set my crockpot on high and let the magic happen. After about 3 hrs I turned the crockpot to low. An hour after that I added 1 can of kidney beans, drained, and 2 cans of black beans, drained. I let everything warm and come together for an additional hour and then it was good to go.

We enjoyed this delicious Tex Mex Pork Chili over a bit of quinoa. Topped it off with some cheese, a dollup of sour cream and sliced avocados. Nice big salad on the side and it’s ‘dinner done’. So yummy. Let me know what you think, or what you come up with.