Family Thanksgiving Gathering

What a blessed day. Our children, two of our grandchildren, and Greg and I enjoyed a family Thanksgiving gathering. The event was hosted this year by daughter Adriel and her husband Nate in their home.

My five gratitudes were easy to identify.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Family

I love when my adult children and their families can gather together. It’s not a simple task, with work schedules. I appreciate the effort each person makes.

Today everyone was present except for grandsons Jonathan, Joey and Oliver. Conversations flowed, laughter rolled, smiles and hugs were easily given. I sat back during dinner and watched my children, who have grown into phenomenal adults. They’ve had their share of challenges and yet they continually rise above and grow through the experiences. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

I am grateful for…FAMILY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Good Food

Adriel and Nate prepared a traditional turkey dinner, with family favorites such as Settler Baked Beans, cheesy peas, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Megan made a cheese ball, buffalo wing dip, and cheesecake brownies. It was a feast, indeed!

Greg and I are plant based. We brought along stuffed acorn squash to serve as our main dish. And we contributed black bean & corn salsa, raw cranberry relish, a big chopped salad, vegan pumpkin bread and vegan wacky cupcakes. Coconut cream whip and walnuts were available as toppings.

It was such a pleasant and enjoyable meal. I was full, without feeling uncomfortably stuffed, satisfied with good, healthy food.

I am grateful for…GOOD FOOD.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Mimi’s Olive Dish

I used a vintage dish at the family Thanksgiving gathering, that belonged to Greg’s mother Leta. Mimi Leta served up olives in the dish, during special gatherings or Sunday meals.

I thought it would be fun to use the dish in memory of this sweet lady, especially since yesterday was Bob and Leta’s wedding anniversary. They would have been married 77 years. We piled black olives in the dish and the sight brought back happy memories. I totally failed to get a photo while the dish held olives. Sometimes I take off the blogger hat.

I am grateful for…VINTAGE ITEMS AND THEIR STORIES.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Happy Birthday Nate

Tomorrow my son-in-law Nate turns 37 years old. We celebrated him today, which is perfect as we are so thankful for him. Adriel made a spice birthday cake.

Our family is blessed to have Nate. This sincere and kind young man has a generous and loving heart. He and Adriel have built a wonderful life together and I’m excited to see what they accomplish as they journey.

I am grateful for…NATE AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO CELEBRATE HIM TODAY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

MiliLou Styles

Daughter-in-law Megan and her sister Tara have started a side business, making and selling earrings, hair bows and t-shirts. These hard working girls get together a couple of times a week and create.

Megan brought some of her inventory to our family Thanksgiving gathering. Elissa and I purchased earrings. I love the bar earrings with silver trim that I bought. And I found a set of earrings with feathers on them…a perfect representation of my symbol for 2018.

Check out the MiliLou Styles Facebook Page.

I am grateful for…MEGAN AND TARA AND THEIR CREATIVITY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Blessings

Thanksgiving is a day set aside for expressing thanks and counting blessings and gathering with friends and family. I love Thanksgiving. And I’m mindful that every day is a good day to express thanks and feel grateful for the rich blessings in my life.

I am grateful…

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Gratitude, Celebration & Fun

What a beautiful day, spent with a few members of my family. We enjoyed a casual meal together and celebrated my son-in-law Nate, whose birthday was today. And we tried out a new game, a birthday gift to Nate from his sweet wife.

Today’s gratitude overflowed…and included celebration and rowdy family fun.

I love the ease of meals where everyone contributes. We kept it easy, picking up smoked turkey and brisket from the Billy Sims restaurant yesterday. And we tried new recipes. Elissa supplied apple pie and pumpkin pie and drinks. Dayan made his first batch of brownies. I was told they were very good!

Adriel had dinner rolls on hand and prepared a hash brown casserole, deviled eggs, and a relish tray. She roasted asparagus for the first time, and it was excellent! She also made Nate’s favorite spice cake for his birthday. And I carried in the food I prepared last night: raw cranberry relish, mixed veggies and brown rice, and sweet potato casserole.

Everyone had plenty to eat!

My Thanksgiving meal. Good food! I am grateful.

Today was my son-in-law’s 36th birthday. We celebrated by singing to him and spending a good part of the day with him. Lucky Nate! I am so grateful for this young man. He and Adriel are such a sweet couple. Nate is a kind, good hearted man. We are privileged to have him as a member of our family.

Adriel and Nate have fur babies, and they love attention. Watching how Nate cares for these pets, I know he will be an excellent daddy someday.

Adriel bought Nate this game as a birthday present. Our family enjoys playing board games. This one, which is definitely for adults only, uses cards with photos from memes on them. Each player looks through the seven cards he or she is holding, and selects a phrase that seems most appropriate for the meme. They are handed to a judge, face down, who shuffles the cards and then reads them aloud and chooses a winner. The person whose phrase is selected wins the meme card. The person with the most meme cards at the end of the game wins.

We played this game all afternoon, until well after sunset, and I laughed until my face hurt. Desserts were sampled, and stories told, while we played round after round. Elissa was the ultimate winner!

I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with family today, share a meal, laugh and chat, and play a game together. The holiday season is officially launched, and in the past five days I have expressed gratitude and celebrated with all of my children and their families. I will begin unboxing Christmas decorations tomorrow and spread joy and merriment throughout my home…an outer reflection of my joyful heart.

Life is good.

An Abundance of Goodness

Day 4 of Gratitude Week falls on Thanksgiving Eve. I am doing what I usually do on this night before Thanksgiving…I am preparing food for tomorrow’s meal. We had our big family Thanksgiving Sunday, while my son was off work. Tomorrow is a more casual meal with my two daughters and their husbands, Greg, and grandson Dayan.

We are all contributing to the meal, which will include smoked turkey and brisket, for the carnivores in the family, and an abundance of veggie side dishes, for the plant based eaters.

My gratitude today is for the delightful fact that holiday meals and a plant based lifestyle are not exclusive of each other. I will dine well tomorrow and enjoy spending an afternoon with family. We will share food, talk, laugh, play games and celebrate a birthday.

I am grateful for a wealth of healthy recipes to try out. Tonight I made three dishes for tomorrow, trying out two new recipes and recreating a favorite from last year.

The foundation of the recipes was plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here is a peek at what I am contributing tomorrow:

I made Raw Cranberry Relish, from Life Changing Foods, last year for the first time. I like cranberry sauce, even the blob of stuff from the can. This relish, made from fresh cranberries, apples and oranges is amazing. And it is so easy to make, using a food processor. The recipe calls for coconut sugar, which is a natural, unrefined sugar. Last year I substituted raw honey. Tonight I had coconut sugar on hand. This is seriously so delicious, that even people who think they don’t like cranberries might be surprised.

Cranberries are full of antioxidants. They not only aid in healing urinary tract infections, they reverse gallbladder disease, cleanse the liver and help with kidney stones. They also help heal cardiovascular disease and draw radiation out of the body.

I wonder why I only make this around Thanksgiving? While cranberries are plentiful, I should be making this relish once a week!

I am super excited about this Sweet Potato Casserole. I found the recipe on Pinterest, posted by Nutritional Foodie. I made a sweet potato casserole for years. That one was full of butter and brown sugar and used canned yams. This one started with fresh sweet potatoes that I cooked myself and then mashed with coconut oil, spices, coconut sugar and unsweetened almond coconut milk. The topping, which I’ll add in the morning before baking, has pecans, coconut sugar, coconut oil and garbanzo bean flour.

After I poured the sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish, I tried a bite, from the bit left in the pan. It is so wonderful! And this version is good for me. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and promote productive bacteria in the stomach while starving out unproductive bacteria and fungi. They help regulate hormones and promote sleep.

Look at this colorful dish! The Mixed Veggies with Brown Rice features fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini, along with organic peas and red kidney beans. Combined with the brown rice, this will be a wholesome, protein rich dish that will be the main part of my meal tomorrow. This recipe comes from a little cookbook called Slow Cooker 100% Vegan.

I have the raw brown rice in the slow cooker and the veggies prepped and seasoned with mixed Italian herbs, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and fresh garlic. I’ll stumble into the kitchen at 3:00 am to add the veggies to the slow cooker, along with two cups of water, and turn it on low. It will finish cooking just in time to cart it to Adriel’s house. I’ll bet it will smell wonderful as it simmers.

I am so full of gratitude as I sip on my turmeric milk, all my food preparations completed. During my healing journey I have realized this truth, and accept it wholeheartedly…

What I eat becomes the fuel that my body uses to live and thrive…or exist and struggle.

EVERYTHING I eat and drink matters. Poor nutrition results in poor health, illness and pain. Good nutrition results in good health and an immune system that can fight off invaders and heal itself, maintaining well being.

I choose carefully what I nourish myself with. During celebrations or the holidays, I am not missing a thing by holding to my plant based lifestyle. What I gain is continued health, not extra pounds or an upset digestive system.

Here’s to a healthy and abundant Thanksgiving!

First Thanksgiving

I have a pictorial post to share, of the first Thanksgiving. Not the one back in 1621, but the first one within my family this year. Because my son will work on Thanksgiving Day, and children will be with their other parents, Nate and Megan hosted an early celebration at their home today, when everyone could be present.

Members from Megan’s family and ours came together in a big, happy group to kick off this week that focuses on gratitude.

Lots of cooks in the kitchen…and one hopeful pug. Nate and Megan provided turkey and the fixings, and everyone else contributed side dishes, desserts, plastic ware and whatever else was needed. I brought plant food based options.

I love that Megan’s sign decor identifies what’s going on in several pics. There is a large KITCHEN sign in the photo above.

Adriel, Nate and Dayan. Our family has two Nates!

The very appropriate sign behind Nate says, Thank you for the food before us, the family and friends beside us, and the love between us.

Football crowd! Kansas City was playing.

The sign in this pic says it well. Eat. There was more food atop the adjacent counter.

Greg gave me a “What are you doing?” look just as I took the photo! He’s standing with child one and child two, also known as Elissa and Nate.

After our shared meal, it was outside into the sunshine, and slightly chilly air, for an annual tradition…the family kickball match.

Team One takes the field.

I caught a pic of the ball after it was kicked.

Team Two preparing to kick. Aubrey gets a bit of coaching from Megan.

Not all of us play…because someone needs to yell and cheer from the sidelines!

Although my family sometimes cringes or scatters, these photo opportunities are precious to me. All five of my grandkids were present. From the left, Joey, Aubrey, Jonathan, Oliver, and Dayan. I love these kids so much!

And the adult kids. I am grateful for each one, and I love and appreciate them. Back row…Josh, Elissa, Adriel. Front row…Megan, Nate, and Nate.

Family photo. What a beautiful group of people.

Big group family photo. What a wonderful blended family.

It was a fun day and it set the tone for the week. The love of family truly is one of life’s greatest blessings. When I list the things I am thankful for, family is always at the top.

Thursday will be Thanksgiving Two. It will be a more quiet day, with food and conversation and games. And it will be full of gratitude as well. May I be especially mindful this week, of all of my blessings, and pause each day to express my thanks.