I didn't take any pictures of our Thanksgiving holiday, but I sure was pleased with how it all turned out! Shannon had been sick since Monday so I started cleaning then, a room at a time, letting him rest as much as possible. Wednesday I worked a half-day so I could stop at Jerry's Fruit and Garden market in Niles on the way home for the rest of the veggies, thinking it wouldn't be too crazy at 1PM.
WRONG!! It was insane!!!
I know most Chicagoans swear by Stanley's Fruit and Vegetables, but in my opinion, Jerry's is the best place to go for your fruits and veggies, hands down. Everything is fresh, and talk about cheap! 8 oranges for a buck?!? Lettuce at 29 cents a pound?!? I have never spent more than $15 at Jerry's, and that was for 6 bags full of beautiful, fresh produce.
If I had expected to have the place to myself, though, I was sorely mistaken. It was PACKED, and not a basket to be found, only carts, which only added to the chaos. Turns out Wednesdays are "senior citizens days" where seniors get discounts off of the already reduced prices. Let's just say, nobody but me was moving through an aisle (in the market or outside in the parking lot) at a speed greater than 4 minutes a foot. Turns out I can maneuver around carts and crumblies with amazing dexterity! I should go to Jerry's every Wednesday as a part of my workout routine!
I was out of Jerry's in record time - just under 25 minutes. Despite the ridiculous number of shoppers, there are always enough check out clerks with lightning quick ringer fingers who know at a glance a fennel/anise from a celery, so you never have to wait very long to pay and go - it's just getting through the clogged aisles and chaotic parking lot that'll really test your patience. After I emerged from Aisle 4 with 3 full bags that had cost me less than 7 dollars, I wasn't even bothered by the well-fed mouse I saw scurry across the doorway. Mice don't have pockets (it's a fact!) and they have very tiny paws, so they can't carry much money at any given time. They have to stretch their dollars as much as the next guy.
One of the many many things I love about Thanksgiving is how motivated I get to clean, organize, and declutter. I finally got rid of all of those half-used notebooks left over from Shimer so I could open up more space in the dining room for places to put FOOD!!! I also rid my makeup box of tons of outdated powders and pencils; lipsticks and liners. Hey! When I organize, I organize indiscriminately. That's why I had to start on Monday. If I'd wanted to get to the back porch, I would have had to start the previous July.
By Wednesday night we were in really good shape. We had all the food parts we needed for to combine to make food wholes; my allergy-prone brother would have to literally rub his face in a cat to provoke a reaction; and all of the serving dishes were located and ready to be filled.
On Thursday I started cooking at 7AM. I "X"-d all of the chestnuts and popped 'em in the oven for 25 minutes to toast for the stuffing while I made the spinach lasagne. Shannon was still recovering but he did an amazing job of baking chocolate chocolate chip cookies and making his Mexican bean pie, mashed potatoes, home-made biscuits, and black bean salad - all of which were hits (though nobody had room left for the cookies after the meal! We had to send them home with them!) At 11 I prepped the turkey with garlic, butter, and ginger ale and popped it in the oven then started chopping fennel, chestnuts, parsley, dried bread and onion for the stuffing. We didn't have the poultry seasoning the recipe called for, but it turns out McCormick's Italian Seasoning has many of the same ingredients, so I used that instead with some extra sage and black pepper.
My parents and brothers arrived just before 1:30. My little brother brought beer, my older brother brought champagne and red wine, my mom made her AWESOME!!! Caesar salad and had cut up tons of veggies for dipping which she'd brought with two homemade dips as well as potato chips, and my dad baked two apple pies - one with raisins (EEW!!) and one without - for me (THANK YOU!!!). He also brought his wonderful homemade cranberry sauce.
We pulled out the turkey at 3PM thinking it was done. WRONG!! It needed at least another 45 minutes, which we didn't realize until Papa Schuetter started carving it. Everything else was ready and served, so I figured we'd have it for, I don't know, dessert.
Turns out we already had dessert - pie and cookies - and we could barely make a dent in either of those, so
Let me point out, however, that though I do love how motivated I become in the cleaning department when hosting a holiday dinner, the thing I love most about hosting Thanksgiving is...
the leftover turkey sammiches.
I had a whole turkey. To myself. For leftover turkey sammiches. I would have shared some with the kitties, but seeing as they're Maine Coons, they only eat seafood, apparently. More for me! *urp!*
I had alot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. My family had a wonderful time at our home, and we loved having them there. Shannon, though he wasn't feeling 100% and had to take a couple of breaks throughout the evening, was well on his way to recovering from his nasty cold. Aethelred recovered from his stigmata surgery beautifully and no longer resembles Padre Pio. Bou has been super snuggly - with the onset of colder weather she's been cuddling up with us whenever we lounge or sleep. We got to enjoy 2 wonderful holidays - one to Maine with my parents and many of our dearest friends, and one to Ireland with my parents - vacations that were both so awesome my mom and I couldn't decide yesterday which one was more fabulous, though we think Ireland eked out not only over Maine, but our trip 4 years ago to Oxford as well.
The thing I'm most thankful for this year, though, as I was last year, is being married to Shannon. Without Shannon there would have been no Bou, no Aethelred, no vacations to Maine or Ireland. As I've told him before, I was pretty happy on my own before falling for him on the spot about 4 years ago, but now I can't imagine life without him.