Friday, November 30, 2012

A Little Pink Thanksgiving

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I invited my side of the family to join us for a fall meal. My sister, brother and I all spend Christmas Day at home with our own little families. And Jennifer and Nathan alternate spending Thanksgiving with our family and their in-laws. This was technically our "off-year," but I just couldn't bear the thought of not seeing each other at all during the holiday season. So I invited my family to come, and everyone seemed as eager as me for the opportunity to be together.

Joe was out of town, but the children agreed to pitch in to help with preparations. By the time company arrived, the house was (sort of) clean, the dining room was decorated for (a pretty pink) fall, and food was prepared for a (deconstructed) Thanksgiving feast.

Bouquets of pink roses and mini pumpkins covered the table and nearby buffet.

We were pleased to welcome my father and his wife; Jennifer and her three children; and Nathan and Shana and their two girls to our little pink Thanksgiving.

A pale-blue matelasse coverlet made an easy tablecloth, topped by pink plates and white covered pumpkin soup bowls.

These white soup bowls sit ready to be filled by a special treat! More details to come on that.

Here is a view of the dining room, ready for dinner. Nathan took all the photos in this post. I always appreciate his willingness to photograph our events!

For our pre-Thanksgiving meal, I wanted to incorporate traditional holiday flavors in new ways. This casual menu hit the spot with a playful take on the usual feast.

Deconstructed Thanksgiving Menu

Caramel Apple Cider
Cranberry Salsa over Cream Cheese with Wheat Thins
Fall Harvest Salad
Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili
Turkey Panini Station
Sweet Potato Chips
Pumpkin Bars, Chess Squares and Chocolate Trifle

I served this cranberry salsa last year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it quickly became a family favorite.

This fall harvest salad was a mix of baby greens, apple chips, dried cranberries, candied pecans, mandarin oranges, feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette.

Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili was a flavorful alternative to a roasted turkey. I discovered this recipe this fall and didn't tell my family the name of the dish the first time I made it. By the time they found out it had pumpkin in it, it was too late. The children had already declared that they loved it!

Alongside the soup tureen, little bowls of fresh cilantro, sour cream and tortilla strips offered guests a variety of toppings.

I set up a panini station on our kitchen counter with fresh-cut deli turkey and a variety of breads, cheeses and toppings. Guests could make their own sandwiches and toast them, if desired, in my Rival Mini-Grill.

A bucket of sweet potato chips made a nice accompaniment to turkey paninis.

I asked Vicki, Jennifer and Shana to bring desserts. We sampled such a nice balance of flavors with the dishes they brought. I will share their recipes in my next post.

Jennifer, Nathan and me framed by new drapes on the dining room windows (and I hung them all by mah-self).

Sister love: Jennifer, me and Shana.

Cousins, cousins everywhere! Caitlin, 4; David, 11; Bailey, 1; Emma, 6; Jonathan, 2; Carson, 13; Kadence, 4; Christian, 10; and Mary Ashley, 8.

The sweetest moment of the evening came after we gathered the children for pictures. My dad has been going through boxes recently and discovered a collection of Pound Puppy stuffed animals my mother used to put under the Christmas tree years ago. He pulled the stuffed animals out, hoping to share them with the grandchildren but certain there would not be enough. To his delight, there were nine Pound Puppies -- one for each of the nine grandchildren. Going from youngest to oldest, D-Dad let each child choose a stuffed animal. They were so thrilled to get this little treasure from Meme!

I appreciate my family for making the effort to come down. Jennifer, in particular, made a big sacrifice to come -- driving 5 hours two days in a row with three children in tow just to have a little time with family. I'm so grateful for each one who was here and hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our little pink Thanksgiving.

Recipes and details to follow in my next post!

Thanksgiving 2012

This week has been lost in a haze of sick days, but I don't want to let November slip away without sharing a few Thanksgiving memories. We spent the holiday at the beach with Joe's family. The weather was beautiful in Panama City Beach, Fla. -- perfect for spending a few leisurely days basking in the sun before the holiday rush begins.

Joe's sister and family were not able to join us, but we enjoyed visiting with Joe's parents and brother's family. Above, 7-year-old cousin Reese enjoys playing in the sand.

Eight-year-old Mary Ashley let's the water lap at her feet.

With the children ranging in age from 6 to 13 and all able to swim, we have entered a pleasant stage where they are able to be a little more independent. There is never a cross word between any of the cousins, so it is so enjoyable to linger together. Not always quiet, I will admit, but always joyful.

We prepared a traditional Thanksgiving meal together to share in the condo on Thanksgiving Day, but indulged in favorite seafood restaurants during the rest of our stay.

After our Thanksgiving meal, we gathered around the table to share what we are thankful for. The children summed it all up: God and Jesus, family, friends, food and the beach!

I still have two more posts to share today, so be sure to pop in again!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Tis the Season

"Christmas weaves a magic wand over the world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I will be sharing a few photos and memories from our family celebration this week, but today I am reminiscing about the lovely Christmas inspiration my best girlfriend, Vonda, and I found at the Country Living Fair. Join me for this final fair peek, and be sure to scrolling to see if Christmas comes early for you. Find all recent A Little Loveliness giveaway winners at the end of this post.

I always hope that each giveaway goes to someone who needs a gift of kindness. All of these winners listed below were chosen by random number generator, but I am pleased to see a few familiar names on this winners list. And I am happy for the friends I have yet to meet and hope this reaches you when you need it most. If you find your name below, please share your contact information with me at Look for more thoughtful gestures soon!

(1) Book Club Winter Selection, Under the Cajun Moon by Mindy Starns Clark: lynnwolter

(2) Air Wick Color-Changing Candle: Sabrina

(3) White Vintage Beaded Bracelet: Pam Tyree

(4) The Little Book of Pies and Tarts signed by Country Living Editor Sarah Gray Miller: Becky Welch

(5) China Plate and Teacup: Sylvia Joyce

(6) Olive Oil Soap: Deborah

Congratulations, Ladies! Thank you for reading A Little Loveliness!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Lester Family!

(Clipart from the Graphics Fairy. Used with permission.)

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