10 Helpful Thanksgiving Tips

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away?!?! This year has flown by!

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I have had the honor of taking over hosting from my grandmother who did it for over 50 years. And I wanted to share a few of things I’ve learned.

  1. Keep it simple! This is not the place to get super high brow on your family. Stick to the faves and if you want to add 1 new dish or 1 new dessert to your repertoire that’s cool, but this probably isn’t the time to test out any new techniques you saw on Iron Chef.
  2. Break up your grocery shopping. A few weeks before buy all of your pantry items like the potatoes, onions, frozen veggies, canned goods, etc. Then the Sunday or Monday before, grab all of your perishables and any last minute items. I promise this will make your life much less stressful. While you might think it’s a hassle to make two trips to the store, trying to get everything on your list in one stop is daunting. I guarantee that you will forget something and inevitably have to make another trip to the store anyways.
  3. On Thanksgiving day, all you should be preparing is the turkey and gravy. I know so many people who wake up at 4 am to start prepping for this gigantic meal. But here’s the thing, potatoes, stuffing and green beans are very sturdy sides and can easily hold up for a day or two in the fridge. I make all of my sides and desserts on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Thanksgiving Day, I am freed up to hang more with the family and I feel less overwhelmed.
  4. When cooking for a large group, use two birds that are a bit smaller than one giant turkey. It will take less time to cook assuming you have a double oven, and since the bird is smaller it is much juicier.
  5. Dust the turkey with sweet paprika right before you toss it into the oven. This gives it a nice brown crust.
  6. Always pat the bird dry and let stand at room temp 30 mins before putting it in the oven for 15 mins/ lb.  (375 is my preferred temperature)
  7. If you make your own whipped cream, which really is a must: sweeten with confectioners sugar: I️t contains cornstarch which will act as a stabilizer.
  8. Do not reinvent the wheel. Coco’s or Marie Calendars can bake way better than me! So do the semi-homemade hack; buy the pie and make the whipped cream.
  9. I found that the little ones are not big fans of pie, so I always have an alternate dessert like ice cream or chocolates for the kiddos.
  10. Remember, at the end of the day this holiday is about and enjoy spending time with your loved ones above all else. Hiccups will happen, but that’s life!

    (A few pics of past Thanksgiving dinners.)

Are there any tried and true tips you have? I would love to hear them!

Have a wonderful holiday friends! xo Betsy

Did You Miss Me?

Hey there! It’s been a minute since I’ve been on my little bloggie. We’ve had a LOT going on around here the past 2 1/2 months. Lots of changes, and thankfully all positive!

The boys are fantastic! The school year flew by, and we are looking forward to lounging by the pool, and of course a little adventure to our happy place!

But the two biggest changes are:

1) I am back to work full time.

I left the classroom exactly a year ago. After 12 years of teaching elementary school, I made the decision to resign. This was not an easy choice but I was no longer being fulfilled with what I was doing. I knew if I didn’t take that leap and walk away, I would continue going through the motions and end up miserable. I am still working with kiddos but in a much different realm.

After I left my job I struggled to find my groove. It was a very uncomfortable time for me. I have always been a person who measures her self-worth by the number of items crossed off my to-do list each day. Without the routine of a regular work schedule, I really began to flounder, and stress eat!

There’s a saying: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

That. Is. Me.

Not that having 2 children didn’t keep me busy, but I needed something that was my own, and I crave routine. It was a very hard transition, and while terribly uncomfortable, it was much needed.

About a month into my new job, I had a sort of a-ha moment.

I immediately called my mom (of course) and shouted into the phone: “I’m back!!!” After a very long hiatus, I finally feel like the old me.

2) The scale is FINALLY moving in the right direction!

I definitely feel that when I started focusing more on what I needed to feel fulfilled, things started falling into place, that including my wellness journey. I am not yet all the way to where I want to be but I am a helluva lot closer than I was six weeks ago. Booyah!

So yea, that’s what I’ve been up to. Any big changes in your life?

Talk to you soon!
Betsy

4 Quarters or 100 Pennies?

Have you seen this quote making the rounds on Facebook recently?

Over the past weekend, it made me think…

My baby Wyatt turned five on Friday. He was so excited and we had a jam-packed weekend of celebrating him. We ate dinner at Corvette Diner, and spent the weekend at Legoland with family.

A few days before his birthday I ran into a momma from our previous nursery school. During the conversation, the topic of Wyatt’s birthday came up. She asked me if I was having one of my “famous” blow out birthday parties.

You see, I have garnered quite the reputation for having over the top parties for my kiddos.

When I told her I just wasn’t up to it this year, she gave me a look of disappointment.

This made me think about whom I was throwing the party for and why I had absolutely zero desire to plan one this year?

Which brings me back to the subject of 4 quarters versus 100 pennies.

This goes to the fact that I have spent way too much time and energy in the past trying to impress others. I was killing myself trying to make everything “perfect.” Details and particulars that my son, the birthday boy, the person who it should all be for, could care less about.

I’m over it.

This was the first year that I focused my energy completely on my son and enjoying him and our little family. Honestly, it was one of the most delightful birthdays we have celebrated together.

This isn’t to say that I will never throw another party, but the focus will not be on whether I have fantastic goody bags and Pinterest-worthy decorations.

This is not an issue of mommy wars or mean girls, this is just ME coming to the realization that I am done doing things for the wrong reasons.

This goes beyond birthday parties. It’s about cutting the fat and not giving into the social expectations put on us.

What I’m saying is, from now on I will do me, and you do you, ok? Cool.

So happy birthday kid, may we all be a little bit wiser this year.

Do ya feel me? Have you had any a-ha moments like this recently?

Talk to you soon!

Betsy

Why We Ditched Gluten

My youngest son Wyatt had quite a health scare when he was 2.

We just assumed that his fussiness with certain foods was age appropriate. He seemed to only want typical kiddo junk food like mac and cheese. He loved milk, yogurt, apple sauce. Basically anything soft and easy to eat.

But one night just two weeks after his second birthday Wyatt was super fussy and refused to eat any dinner. I was frustrated but figured he would eventually get hungry enough to eat.

Continue reading Why We Ditched Gluten

Ready. Set. Clip.

My husband Jeremy likes to keep his hair, lets just say, short. Like, “honey you didn’t tell me you were planning on enlisting” short.

In the past I would give him his haircuts myself with his old set of clippers, but they were always so hard for me to handle and I would inevitably goof up. So every 3 weeks he heads to Supercuts, and let me tell you those $20 buzz cuts add up!

But recently Andis sent me one of their DIY hair kits to try.

Continue reading Ready. Set. Clip.

What you believe? What do you have faith in?

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. We got to spend a lot of time together as a family, which is always my favorite.

 

Kid's Snacks
Kid’s Snacks

Friday night I hosted Mommy Happy Hour. Every month or so during the school year a few of us moms take turns hosting a happy hour where the kiddos run around and play while the mommies sip vino and catch up. It’s glorious, especially when you hit that sweet spot where all of the kiddos get along, and you don’t spend the entire time stopping them from beating each other to a pulp.
Saturday was my niece’s birthday party:

 

Wyatt and Elmo
Wyatt and Elmo

and then we played tourist around Old Town San Diego (one of my favorite spots) and met up with some friends for dinner.

 

Gina and I and Margaritas
Gina and I and Margaritas

And of course, in this house Sunday is for football and brunch no matter how many times the Chargers break our hearts.

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

 

Brunching
Brunching

I wanted to share with you something that’s been on my mind. On Friday took a yoga class. It was a restorative yoga class that focused on stretching and meditation. The instructor led us through a thoughtfulness exercise that I wanted to share with you because it really hit home with me and I can’t stop thinking about it.

 

Yoga
Yoga

She first asked us: “What do you believe in?” and a few minutes later followed it up by asking “What do you have faith in?”

Lying, eyes closed on the mat wracking my brain, I had a very hard time coming up with any sort of answer. I’ve never been a very spiritual person but c’mon! I had nothing! Even as I write this I cannot come up with a solid set of beliefs or faith in something.

I very rarely take the time to stop and be mindful of my life, the past, my experiences. I tend to just keep pushing through, some days just trying to keep my head above water.

A a lot of things have changed in my life over the past 2 years and lately, I think I have been a bit emotionally paralyzed by all of it. I don’t tend to take the time to process the hows or why’s in life. I just go go go. As we wind down on 2016 my goal is to be more mindful of why things came together or undone as they have. What brought me to where I am right now, and why? What do I believe and have faith in? Am I where I need to be?

Maybe I should first look in the mirror and ask if I have enough faith in me?

So I ask you friends: What do you believe in? What do you have faith in?

Until next time. xoxo
Betsy

San Francisco Part 1: What We Ate

It is definitely safe to say that we did not starve in San Francisco. Most times when we travel we pretty much wing it when it comes to food. San Francisco though is a city filled with an incredible culinary scene so it is definitely worth doing a little homework before you head there. our first night we walked to Belden Place, an adorable alley way that is closed off to cars and tables and chairs are set up in the street. We ate at Cafe Tiramisu. It was probably one of the best meals of the trip.

 

IMG_2442
Our Adventurous Little Eater

 

The next morning we had brunch at Cafe Le Presse which had come highly recommended but honestly, it was just meh.

We continued on with our food marathon at an awesome Italian restaurant Original Joe’s in North Beach. It was everything from the dim lighting to the red booths. I need to recreate the chopped salad and artichoke dip. The menu isn’t huge but everything we ate was perfect.

That evening, we were exhausted and had promised our spoiled kiddos we could have room service. Also, as a nice bonus our hotel, an Omni brought the kiddos milk and cookies every night. We also had room service for breakfast the next morning.

 

IMG_2572
Room Service Breakfast

 

Now if you know anything about San Francisco, you would know about their amazing Chinatown. We LOVE Chinatown, and here is a small sampling of the dim sum we ate. I will be dedicating an entire blog post focus on Chinatown later this week!

After out trip to Alcatraz we stopped at Pier 39 and made a rookie mistake. Instead of waiting in line at Boudin we were so hangry we ate at a knock off version and it was not very good at all. The red chowder was awful, and I am still kicking myself. Luckily to make up for that lapse in judgement we walked to Ghiradelli Square and make quick work of these two ice cream sundaes. They were out of this world, and worth every single calorie.

Having walked close to eight miles that day, we were pretty pooped. Thank goodness for Postmates who delivered this awesome takeout from Brandy Ho’s!

Our last meal out was kind of a disappointment. We had spent the morning at the Ferry Building before our flight and ate at MarketBar. The service was NOT good, and the food was definitely nothing to write home about, especially for the price!

Well folks, there’s a look at our gluttony in San Francisco. Did we miss any must eats?

Until next time,

Betsy