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The holidays are here

When Halloween comes around here in Augusta, it always seems too early. The weather has only barely cooled off, and the leaves haven’t really changed. A few weeks into November it finally, belatedly feels like Halloween, with crisp morning air, bright colorful leaves, fog rolling in across the river and Canal, and a few ghostly bare branches. But then it’s already time for Thanksgiving.

This year’s Thanksgiving was quite late in the month, making the transition a little easier. By the time it got here, I was ready for it.

Like last year, I decided to host. This time, I cooked everything. Cheryl is now living in Augusta again and was able to come, but she just had neck surgery and couldn’t move much. I told her to just come and not worry about anything else…not even to worry about being able to eat. I didn’t want her to feel guilty or obligated to do anything.

I worked out my menu well in advance. I studied Better Homes & Gardens’ turkey roasting guide for the bird. The side dishes all came from my 501 Delicious Heart Healthy Recipes cookbook. I made Green Beans with Caramelized Onions, which was said to be a good substitute for green bean casserole; Broccoli with Caraway Cheese Sauce; and Garlic Roasted Potatoes, a recipe I’ve used before. I also got my dessert from that book: Pear Almond Crumble, served with frozen yogurt and caramel sauce.

I started cooking at around 2 o’clock, getting all my ingredients out and arranging them by recipe and prepping and stuffing the turkey ad getting it into the oven. While I cooked I watched a couple Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, which was a great way to get into the mood. I also set up my laptop in the kitchen and did AIM video chat with Mom, so I could see everyone arriving in Kentucky and ask Mom for cooking tips. It was really neat, but it seemed to lock up the computer a lot, and I’m not really sure why.

As dinnertime neared, I realized I was running a little behind, but Cheryl and Reid ended up arriving an hour late, so it worked out. I held off on the cheese sauce and carving the turkey until they arrived; everything else was ready to go.

I’m pretty sure this was my first time roasting a turkey. Mom was really helpful with advice about the pan and setting the bird on onions since I didn’t have a rack. And I think it turned out great! I am pretty proud of myself.

I am also really happy with the side dishes. The green beans and broccoli were delicious, and the potatoes turned out fine too. The only thing I was unhappy with were the rolls; they didn’t rise properly. But they still tasted all right.

After dinner we relaxed in the living room for awhile, and I cleaned up a bit, until we were ready for dessert. I had put the pan in the oven right when we started dinner, but we ended up letting it stand for awhile while the food settled. Finally I spooned proper portions into bowls and added a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and a drizzle of caramel. It was delicious–and only 4 points!

By using heart healthy recipes and only eating a small breakfast and lunch, I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving within my points range. I am pretty proud of that accomplishment, too.

While we ate dessert, Reid and I played Wii Sports. He ended up getting really good at bowling! Unfortunately his shoulder started hurting, so we had to quit. At that point we went ahead and made Miis for Reid and Cheryl so they can both play when they come over. It’s near to see them in the games when I play now :)

Finally the evening was over. We all hugged and they headed home. I felt very happy with how the day had gone.

I was pretty worn out, and my lower back was sore, but I worked away at the kitchen little by little until everything was cleaned up and put away. It was such a good feeling to get up the next morning and walk into a spotless kitchen.

The day after Thanksgiving wasn’t traditional for me. Usually I spend that day eating leftovers and decorating for Christmas. This year, I relaxed, played the Wii, went out to lunch at Mi Rancho with Sean, stopped by Best Buy with Sean to get him a new mouse, went home and ordered some Ethernet cable, and finally got all dressed up and went to see the Nutcracker at the Imperial.

It was a really good performance, with gorgeous sets and costumes. I think this was my first time seeing ballet in Augusta. I was pretty impressed, especially by the special effects, though I feel the Lexington Ballet dancers are somewhat more precise in their movements. There were a few really talented dancers, though, especially towards the end.

A day later, I’ve still got the music in my head :)

Even though I had intended the Nutcracker performance to get me in the mood for Christmas, I’m still not quite there yet. Part of the reason is that I’m going to a Thanksgiving lunch with people from work tomorrow. Once that’s over with, I’ll be free to transition into the next holiday. Projects will be decorating my apartment and my office at work.

I originally wasn’t planning to to home to Kentucky for Christmas since I don’t have much time off, but I’ve been thinking about it and I would really be sad if I didn’t get to see my family. So what I think I’ll do is drive up after work in Christmas Eve, and drive back Sunday afternoon. I had thought about flying, but there is no direct flight from Augusta to Lexington, and hardly any direct flights from and to other airports. It’s just not worth the hassle. Plus, if I drive, I can easily bring all the presents :) This year, Sean will stay home, as he has plans to do some gaming the day after Christmas.

With that decision, I’m feeling more and more ready for my favorite holiday.

I’m also going to have a Christmas party. This year, I’ve been trying to observe all the end-of-year holidays more. I dressed up for Halloween, I roasted a Thanksgiving turkey for the first time, and now I’m going to host a Christmas cookie and gingerbread house decorating party. I’m going to invite dozens of people and let them bring their kids, and I’m going to set up decorating stations all over the apartment. It’s going to be a blast!

I’m glad I’m taking the time to really enjoy the holidays. It’s a lot of fun :)

7 replies on “The holidays are here”

Sounds like you did lots of good cooking. The only thing I made was rolls, but they turned out pretty well, and it was my first time baking with yeast, so I was happy.

haha, true enough. My rolls weren’t particularly healthy–they were bread, after all. But they didn’t have any sugar, and I used low-fat margarine.

I did substitute honey for sugar in mine, and I used salted butter so I didn’t add any extra salt. However, I used regular white flour, and there was lots of regular, full fat butter…half a pound of it I think (although I ended up getting 33 rolls out of the batch.) There is probably a butter mix that does well in baking also, but I think for taste, regular butter is hard to beat. And I promise, no more roll comments. :)

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