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Thanksgiving Holiday – Make it Memorable

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I am planning my Thanksgiving dinner menu.  I have been hosting Thanksgiving for my family for over 20 years.  We have hosted in different locations and states due to our moving around a bit, but each one is special.  I still remember my first turkey in our first home 27 years ago.

The day takes so much planning and work, and before you know it, the day is gone and we are pouring over the Black Friday ads.  What I wanted to share with you are a few things that I have found that can make Thanksgiving dinner a little more memorable.

  • Thankgsgiving Leaves – Have each family member write or say what they are thankful for this year on a leaf.  Be sure you add the year to the leaf and use the leaves to decorate your holiday table.  You can laminate the leaves and bring them out each year.   The number will grow each year, but it is nice to see that happen.  I recommend using cardstock as it does not fade as easily as construction paper.

  • Photos – Be sure to take a photo of the table and the people that are at your dinner.  I know that if your family is like mine, they may groan a bit, but trust me, later you will be glad you did.  I keep a scrapbook of holidays with the photos from over the years.
  • Decorations – Get the kids involved in decorating placemats, making decorations and place cards.  I still have some decorations that the kids made years ago.
  • Activities – Play games or go on a walk together, or better yet do both.  Make a tournament and get the kids involved in the preparation.  Our family plays Bingo every year and the winner gets a scratch off lottery ticket.  No one has ever won anything substantial, but that does not really matter.  It is a great time to have some fun and play!

What are your family’s Thanksgiving Traditions?

Checking Out the New Store In Town

I had the opportunity to investigate a new store in Laguna Hills, California the other day.  I want to share it with you because with the holidays coming up, I think Total Wine is a great place to buy beverages, gifts and bar accessories.  If you are preparing for the holidays and want to make one visit to stock up on beverages, this is the place.

Now with a name like Total Wine, you might think they only sell wine, but this is not true.  Total Wine sells wine, beer, sodas, gifts and snacks. In fact, there is an entire aisle devoted to craft beer.

If you do not know a lot about wines, you can ask the wine associates for some assistance.  The associates can help you pick a wine to go with your holiday menu.  Generally, the lighter the meal, the lighter the wine.  That is why white wine typically goes well with fish and poultry and reds go great with beef and game.  That is not a hard and fast rule, just a guideline.

If you want to embrace your inner sommelier,  you can sign up for one of their classes.

The times of the classes and private wine tastings vary by location and price.  It was a wonderful session that I attended and Sue, our wine associate, was very knowledgable.   In addition to wine classes, they have beer classes and spirit classes.

The store also offers public tastings in their store for 10 cents.  Not 10 cents each glass, but that fee covers the entire tasting.  Check the store for times that this is offered.  The tasting center has a TV and is located towards the middle of the store.

Check the store for the tasting schedule.

The wines are nicely organized by country and domestic wines are organized by type.  Being a lover of all things organized, I found this especially helpful.  This makes it very easy when shopping with a list.

At the tasting, I especially loved the Radius red wine blend which is described as aromas of juicy rich black fruit, ripe cherry and hints of toasted vanilla oak.  It’s the bottle on the left in the picture above.  The best part is it sells for about $10 a bottle.

They also have a nice selection of soft drinks available.

Also for their grand opening, they were featuring some olive oils as well.

So there is something for everyone here at Total Wine.  I recommend you check them out if you are in the area.  Total Wine is in 13 states across the country, so you may have one near you.  The Laguna Hills store is located at 24001 El Toro Road, in Laguna Hills, California.

I was not compensated for this post, but did receive a store tour and wine tasting.

What is your favorite beverage?

Tailgate Food (from a cake mix)

If you follow my blog, you know I love to watch Bruin football.  While they are my team,  I enjoy just about about any football game as long as there is food involved, because  after all, good is half of the fun of a tailgate party.   I wanted to share a quick  and simple recipe that I use when I want to take a festive tailgate item, but do not have a lot of time.

These cookies are super easy.  All you need is a box of cake mix, eggs and butter.

Here is the recipe:

Cake Mix Cookies

1 box cake mix (chocolate or spice works best, but you could do white with food coloring too)

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened

Mix together cake mix, butter and eggs until thoroughly combined.   Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease a plain cookie sheet.

Now, the tricky part is instead of forming your dough into balls, you have to make them into oblong shapes.  They do not look very attractive now, but they will.

Before you bake them you have to press them down on the pan so that they spread in the shape you want them to, they should resemble a leaf shape.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes and let cool before moving.  Once cookies have cooled, decorate them with white frosting.  First make the strings.

Then do the side line stripes. The cookies are nice and soft and will keep well.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes about 2 dozen.

My recipe for simple butter cream frosting is below, but if you are really wanting to simplify you can use canned frosting, with a little  powdered sugar added to make it harden.

Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons milk

3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter with an electric mixer on low speed.  Add sugar and milk slowly, by alternating.  Whip on medium – high speed until desired consistency is reached.  Use a decorating bag cut at the end to decorate your cookies.  Let cool completely before stacking.

Do you have a favorite football team (collegiate or pro)?  Which team is it?

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