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My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. For me, it’s all about tradition. After sleeping in, we watch the Thanksgiving parade in our jammies and play Monopoly. I’ll finish up cooking any Thanksgiving side dishes that need completing, and then we take the dogs on a turkey trot (aka walk) around the neighborhood. Later in the afternoon, we pack up the car with food and head to my parent’s house to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

The food is a huge part of the Thanksgiving traditions too. I love making the side dishes, which have become traditions in themselves over the years. I’ve rounded up all my Thanksgiving recipes here if you need a last-minute recipe or want to start a new tradition in your house.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I’m thankful I have this place to write and share stories with you. And I’m forever grateful you visit me here!

Thanksgiving Dishes and Desserts


Traditional Stuffing with Sausage, Apples and Cranberries crockpot stuffing

Matzo Stuffing (my mom’s traditional Jewish stuffing)matzo-stuffing_finished

Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding mushroom leek bread pudding


It feels odd to call these recipes veggies since the way I prepare them for Thanksgiving probably strips them completely of their nutritional value. But hey, if you want something green or orange on your plate, this is your section!

Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Sauce
brussels sprouts with mustard sauce

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta brussels sprouts

Creamed Corn (everyone’s FAVORITE side dish) creamed corn

Butternut Squash Gallette butternut squash gallette

Cranberry Zinfandel Sauce cranberry zinfandel sauce


Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices cranberry crumb bars

Pumpkin Ginger Roulade pumpkin-roulade

Pumpkin Praline Dessert pumpkin praline dessert

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles pumpkin-snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Muffins pumpkin-muffins-frosted

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? What are you making this year?

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Thanksgiving Dishes and Desserts

Snapshots: Thinking, Reading, Doing and Snapping (Fall 2015)

November 12, 2015

The Snapshots post is back! Here’s a look at what’s been happening this fall.


Thinking and Doing …

This fall has been a whirlwind of activity. Sophie started second grade and has been immersed in homework and school activities, as well as soccer and Girl Scouts. I’ve been very busy with my work and teaching. And of course we had fun celebrating Halloween. It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is two weeks away!

The biggest fall activity we did was visit my sister and her family in West Des Moines, Iowa in October. My sister, Ellye, and her family moved to the Midwest four years ago. This is the first time we made the trip out. I loved seeing the beauty of a real fall! Colored leaves on the ground, pumpkins on porches, cold enough weather to wear coats and scarves — it was such a treat!

We visited an amazing apple orchard and pumpkin patch that rivals anything you can find in San Diego. We ate the Cracker Barrel (YUM!). Sophie had fun with her two cousins. And I got to spend some bonding time with my sister seeing my favorite singer, Mary Chapin Carpenter, perform in Des Moines. It was a great visit and the photos in the “Snapping” section of this post highlight our adventures.

halloween 2015

Reading …

I have to admit I’ve been a terrible reader since summer ended. I have a lovely stack of books on my nightstand (two stacks, actually), but I haven’t read nearly as much as I’d like. But I do have two novels I’ve read recently that I’d like to recommend to you.

white collar girl First up is White Collar Girl, by Renée Rosen. Of course I loved this book given my own background as a journalist and writer.

Here’s a description (from Amazon): Every second of every day, something is happening. There’s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it’s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column.

Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley’s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan’s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there’s no guarantee she’ll remain above the fold.

golden stateThe second book I enjoyed is Golden State, by Stephanie Kegan. This is such a fascinating read and I think Stephanie did a great job of making the characters so real. I feel like I’m actually spying on Natalie, the main character. I love the family dynamics aspect and I think so many of us can relate to the subject in some way or another.

Here’s a description (from Amazon): Growing up in the 1960s in one of California’s most prominent political families, Natalie Askedahl worshipped her big brother, Bobby, a sensitive math prodigy who served as her protector and confidante. But after Bobby left home at sixteen on a Princeton scholarship, something changed between them. Now that Natalie is happily married, with a career and two young daughters, her only real regret is losing Bobby.

Then, a bomb explodes in the middle of her seemingly ideal life. Her oldest daughter is on the Stanford campus when one person is killed and another maimed. Other bombings follow across California. Frightened for her family, Natalie grows obsessed with the case until she makes an unthinkable discovery: the bomber’s manifesto reads alarmingly like the last letter she has from Bobby. Unsure of whom to sacrifice and whom to protect, Natalie is confronted with a terrible choice that will send her down a rabbit hole of confusion, lies, and betrayals. As her life splits irrevocably into before and after, she begins to learn that some of the most dangerous things in the world are the stories we tell ourselves.

Snapping …

Here are some shots from our trip to West Des Moines, Iowa.

more leaves

Fun in the corn pitleah and sophie in corn pit

Corn kernel angel

Iowa corn pit

Sophie was so excited to run through the corn maze.

corn maze entrance

corn maze

corn stalk

Children of the corn

sophie and sam corn

Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see!

pumpkin patch

Sisters in the pumpkin patch

sisters in the pumpkin patch

Lugging pumpkins

pumpkin lugging

John Deere tractor time

John Deere tractors

Mini tractor racing

tractor riding

Center Grove Apple Orchard in Iowa

center grove apple orchard

orchard sign

Funky gourds




Beautiful fall leaves in Iowa (no editing needed)

iowa leaves

Thanks for reading! So tell me, how has your fall been? What are you watching, reading, eating, cooking and doing?

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Stay Away Sugar Witch! Why I Don’t Make Halloween Candy Forbidden

October 30, 2015

Halloween is nearly upon us! Soon we’ll be carving pumpkins, dressing up and strolling the neighborhood in full trick-or-treat mode. And with Halloween comes candy. I’m over at Babble sharing a post entitled, “I Don’t Agree With Taking Kids’ Halloween Candy Away From Them.”

Halloween candy2

In the article, I talk about how when I became a parent, I knew I did not want Sophie to have the same relationship with sweets that I had as a child. That is the main catalyst why I’ve chosen not to make candy forbidden in my house. While I certainly understand the need to ration candy to protect teeth and avoid childhood obesity, the reality is that making something forbidden only makes it more desirable, especially in the eyes of kids.

I also wrote about how I grew up with a father who was very strict about not allowing sweets — especially candy — in the house. Halloween night was tainted when we were forced to sell our candy to dad for a few bucks. While I know my dad only wanted to keep his daughters healthy, his “concerns” came with consequences. Instead of thinking of candy as something to avoid, I desired it even more.

Click over to Babble and read more about my childhood relationship with sweets, why I don’t forbid Sophie to eat candy, and how instead I focus on teaching my daughter how to make healthy choices.

I would love to hear from you! What is your opinion on Halloween candy and sweets in your house?

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Monday Musings ~ October 26

October 26, 2015

Happy last Monday of October! I’ve been gone from these parts for a bit. I was visiting my sister and her family in Iowa, working on all the work that needed to be done, and participating in all the October happenings. So let’s get caught up!

Popcorn Factory Ghost Story Box

1. Check out this amazing treat box The Popcorn Factory sent me. All the snacks were inside the cute ghost stories book box! So perfect for me and my love of books. I also tried out this Haunted House Gift Box, which was equally awesome. The contents of both boxes have already been devoured by everyone in my house. I know Halloween is just a week away, but I’m hoping to send a few of these gift boxes to a few people this week.

2. I have been feeling majorly stressed the last few weeks with so much going on, personally and professionally. I don’t like complain about being busy, because we’re all busy. I write this because the lesson I’m learning is that there’s only so much I can do in a day. This may be a simple concept for many people. But for me, it’s a daily struggle and a hard lesson to learn as I feel like I need to do everything, and do it well. I also realized I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to taking on too much. I’m tired of feeling overwhelmed and anxious worrying about everything that needs to be completed. It’s something I need to work on. Maybe I’ll master this during my 40th year (AHHH!).

3. You must check out this snapshot of Severus Snape’s email inbox. I’m loving this so much. It’s brilliant!

4. Fascinating story on NPR entitled, “If Big Food Buys Your Favorite ‘Natural’ Food Brand, Will You Trust It?” The story talks about how so many large companies are buying up smaller, “natural” food brands (e.g. Honest Tea is now owned by Coca-Cola). Will the brands still have integrity? Will the products continue to be natural and organic? What do you think?

5. As a Gen X’er, I completely agree with this article that we’re the generation that’s the glue of the universe. This is so true! “I am really great at taking pictures with my phone and then backing them up on the Cloud for future use. I can also use a slide projector and an overhead projector, and I still have my first camera, a Polaroid.”

6. I really liked these book suggestions for teaching kids about money. This is an issue I’ve struggled with and written about here and here. I hated it when my dad used to say, “Do you think money grows on trees?” Now I find myself saying the same thing to Sophie.

7. Speaking of money, loved this piece about eight ways we overspend. I’ve become pretty good at watching these items, but checking my utility bills was a great reminder. It truly is the little things that add up.

8. Great post by my friend and fellow writer Nina Badzin about when to unfriend on Facebook. I’ve unfriended people on Facebook for various reasons (and have been unfriended as well). I’ve also used the “unfollow” option many times. What’s your opinion?

What’s going on in your life? What are you doing for Halloween? Tell me what you’re musing about this week!

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Monday Musings ~ October 12

October 12, 2015

Happy Monday! It’s Columbus Day, which means no mail. I still dutifully check my mailbox every day, so I dislike mail holidays (especially as a freelancer expecting checks). School is in session and I’m working, of course. Do you get Columbus Day off?

funky gourds

1. I realized over the weekend — when it was 100 degrees outside! — that I actually have a love-hate relationship with October. I love it because it should feel like fall and Halloween is my absolute favorite. But I despise the inevitable hot and dry weather (it wasn’t even this hot over the summer!). Back in October 2003 and 2007 (when I was 9 months pregnant), we were evacuated from our house because of wildfire threats. The fire in 2003 came so close to our house that for three days, we didn’t know if we had a home waiting for us. And we knew many people who lost their houses. I just want an October where I can wear jeans, boots and scarves. I want to be cold again!

2. Remember two weeks ago when I shared my love of all-things pumpkin at Trader Joe’s? Well apparently there are 33 types of pumpkin items at the store and you can read about all of them in this Medium article. Oh! And when I was there last week, I picked up pumpkin panettone, which is really delicious.

3. I published one of my pieces, “Watching ‘The Wonder Years’ Through Different Eyes,” on Club Mid at Scary Mommy. Would love your thoughts. Has that happened to you?

4. This article about daughters with nagging mothers give me hope for my future.

5. One of my favorite people in the world is Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa). I love her recipes, simple approach to good food, and I credit her cookbooks and old Food Network shows as the foundation for my love for cooking. This is one of the best features I’ve read about Ina. And I just learned that the entire first season of her “Back to Basics” show is now on Netflix! As Ina says, “How great is that?”

6. So many great tips in this story, “I Followed My Mom Around Costco and This is What I Learned.” I’ve been doing the same strategy with the 6-pound packs of ground beef for years.

7. This story about the demise of the card catalog is sad, but it’s really a sign of the times. I remember having to learn the Dewey decimal system in elementary school. Crazy to think Sophie will never know the paper system of finding a library book.

8. Finally, let’s talk fall television. I am SO excited Homeland is back on! Other shows on my watch-list include The Good Wife, Shark Tank, Law and Order: SVU and The Affair. We also started Blindspot, which is interesting, albeit a bit predictable. Someone told me their fall television selections are comprised of reality shows, sitcoms and football — totally opposite of my nerve-racking selections. It did get me wondering if she’s a happier person in life than I am (not that I’m unhappy). I do feel badly that I’m neglecting my books though; so there’s that. What are you watching?

What’s going on in your life? Tell me what you’re musing about this week!

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