Sunday, November 27, 2016

Martin / Kuch Thanksgiving!

 Last year was our first year having Thanksgiving at our house and it just downright stunk. We decided to do things a little differently since we knew the kids wouldn't eat turkey. We got a pork loin roast and tried a new recipe. It was so awful I ended up having cereal for Thanksgiving dinner. Now I LOVE cereal, but on thank you! On top of the awful dinner I did the worst thing I could possibly do....I checked Facebook. Seeing all those lovely meals and families getting together just made my heart hurt and put me in a really sour mood. It's not like we weren't invited to spend time with family we just couldn't go because Michael was on-call and I didn't want to go with the kids and leave him home by himself. 

This year I decided that I really wanted to give it another try and do the whole Thanksgiving thing again. I am 36 years old and have never cooked a turkey so I thought it was high time that I tackle that challenge. I did invite our friends the Kuch's to join us, but even if they weren't able to come I was going to go all out and we were having a traditional Thanksgiving...even if the kids hated the turkey. Thankfully they were able to come and join us and make it that much more memorable!

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I went over the Kuch's house to plan our menu. Christina was amazing and offered to bring the sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish and a veggie tray. She really made it much easier on me for sure! My main obstacle was going to be the turkey. I knew I didn't want to deal with thawing out a big bird. I wanted to purchase a bird that was only refrigerated. From what I had heard those turkeys are always more expensive so I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I ended up going to Sam's Club to pick up our Christmas Cards and I found a Jenny O refrigerated turkey for only .99 a lb. I got an almost 13 lb turkey for under $13! Score! 

On Thanksgiving morning I pulled the turkey out to let it come closer to room temperature. I read that you should do that! I had planned all along to cook the turkey in one of those bags. I did get a little nervous and had to call my mom when the bag instructions said it would only take 2-2.5 hours to cook, but then the instructions on the turkey said it would take 4-4.5 hours. We talked about it and decided that the bag must cook it faster since it really holds in the heat. So I followed the bag instructions. After figuring that out I got the turkey out of the bag and found the neck...ewww! I could not for the life of me find the gibbets though. Michael ended up having to come in and find them. They were under some flap of skin! I rinsed the turkey and then patted it dry. I decided since this was my first attempt I didn't want to go all crazy with spices so I stuck with the basics. I used salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. I brushed on melted butter and then rubbed the seasoning all over the turkey. Michael helped me load the turkey into the bag, I used the tie that came with the bag and then cut a few slits in the bag. 

In the oven ready to go! The most confusing part of this whole part was figuring out where exactly to stick the thermometer. All the instructions say to stick it in the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. Well evidently I'm really bad at this because after an hour the temperature was at 200 degrees....that was so not right! 

I wanted the table to be really pretty so I used my autumn tablecloth, colonial dishes, gold flatware, crystal glasses and I borrowed green napkins from my parents. I also used some autumn decorations that I had around the house to make a cute centerpiece. Of course Charlie loved that centerpiece and wanted to lay right next to it. I took him off the table at least 5 times and Michael took him off a few times as well. He finally got sequestered to the garage until after dinner. 

The kiddos did not get to use the crystal glasses so they used the glass cups that go to my punch bowl. A couple days before Thanksgiving I had some time on my hands so I made napkin rings with everyone's name on them. 

 Here's a close up look at the centerpiece. It was actually a swag that I bent into an S shape. I had these two pumpkin candle holders that I put into the curved sections of the S shape. 

The Kuch's were at the house before 1pm and I believe we were eating right around 2pm.  Since the table was full with 11 people I knew that we couldn't have all the food on it. We did have the salt, pepper, butter, gravy, rolls, olives and pickles at the table. Everything else was on the kitchen counter.

 We gathered everyone at the table, thanked God for all our blessings and then dished up the food for the kids and ourselves.  

The turkey was awesome! Since I knew I wasn't getting an accurate reading with the thermometer I went ahead and cooked it for 3 hours. The pop up thermometer that was in the turkey had popped up....although I read those aren't really I figured that it was done. We let it sit for 30 minutes to make sure the juices distributed throughout the bird. Then it was time to cut into it. This was when I knew it was going to be just fine. I went to removed the turkey leg and the entire bone just came right out. It was so juicy and wonderful! I was feeling pretty proud of myself. 


 After we let Charlie back in from the garage he was being quite feisty while playing with his ball toy. 

He wasn't sure what to think of the camera so he tried to smell it while I was talking a picture. 


After the kids ate their food they ran off to play and us adults got to sit and visit. We had a nice time chatting. 


Me and my man!!! 


Owen decided to be really creative and spell his name with dominoes.

Just like the 4th of July I thought it would be fun to do a craft with the kids. I always feel like a don't get good quality time with my kids during holidays because they are playing with the other kids and we are visiting with the adults. Not that those are bad things, but I do like to make memories with my kids. Doing a craft with them helps to do that. We get some quality time together making a fun memory and then they can go play and us adults can talk and I don't feel like an absentee parent. The day Christina and I met to talk about the menu I found this idea on Pinterest and the very next day I went out and bought most of the materials we needed for it. 

It did involve some prep work on my end. I had to cut the burlap and then sew the edges so they wouldn't completely fall apart. It really wasn't that big of a deal since I spread it out over a few days. 


 The day before Thanksgiving I got all the paints at Joann's since they were on sale for .99 a piece. 

Just like the craft on the 4th of July this one involved hand prints. 


 I didn't think to borrow one of my Dad's tables so we only had my small craft table to work on. That meant that we could only work with two kids at a time. Christina and I helped with the painting while Michael and Bill helped the kids rinse the paint off their hands and wash the paint off the stencils. 

At first we were just going to have the kids do the craft, but then I thought it would be silly if the parents didn't make some too! 


Finally once everyone was finished with their craft we had dessert. I think the kids were more excited about the dessert than the craft! 


I thought that some of the kids wouldn't want pumpkin pie so I made vanilla ice cream and brownies as an alternative. On Tuesday my plan was to go to Costco to buy the pumpkin pie, but then I woke up feeling not so hot. Thankfully my parents were coming up that night to go to Owen's school play so they were awesome and stopped on there way here and grabbed the pie for me. Of course they said it was a mad house! 

I honestly have no idea why he's posed like this! 


Some of the kids wanted to have a little bit of everything! 


The best part of Thanksgiving!!! 




Cute girls!!! 


After waiting for our place mats to dry we were able to do the finishing touches and then it was picture time with our creations.  

I love making a craft that is actually the t-shirts on the 4th of July. I hope these place mats are something that get used a lot over the years. Here's a close up shot of a few of them. 

Zeke and I actually made this one as an example the day before Thanksgiving. My hands are the two outer hands and his are the inner hands. 


All of the kids decided to have their names on them. Ella was the only one that put hers on the bottom instead of the top. 


Even though we got Bill to participate Michael wasn't really into it so I went ahead and made his. I thought it would be fun to use Seahawk colors and then put his name in brown like a football. 

Overall this Thanksgiving was hands down....pup intended....WAY better than last year. It was great to have friends over and share this time together. Loved eating, crafting and chatting with them. We are so blessed to have great friends that we really consider family in our lives!