Friday, November 25, 2016


Hi, and welcome to our Thanksgiving celebration!

Greg invited over a bunch of friends from work, and we ended up being a group of nine.

I planned to have a couple of "traditional" dishes, but I wanted the majority of the feast to be gluten-free and vegan.  Some of our guests are vegetarian, as well, but mostly that was for ME!

Here's a quick overview of what I made . . . 

Look at the beautiful inside of this red cabbage!

I just chopped that up for salads - I didn't actually use it for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday was the day I did almost all the cooking - about 10 hours of it!
But I started on Tuesday, because the beans needed to soak overnight.

Wednesday morning I boiled them for an hour (in new water) and then put them into the crock pot with all sorts of spices (plus molasses, a chopped red bell pepper, and a chopped onion).

Then I started work on the pasta salad.

Gluten free noodles (find them here): 

Added some tahini-lemon dressing, veggies, and a little spice, and the pasta salad was ready to go!
For some reason, I've never been able to find a pasta salad recipe I liked, but this one was definitely a winner in my book!  Though next time I won't be adding raw onion - it's difficult for my sensitive digestive system.

Then I made the cranberry sauce!
Yum yum yum. 
I'm going to have some more with my dinner tonight.
I made a little bit of turkey for people who wanted some tradition, so they could have had this sauce with their turkey, but I had it with my shepherd's pie instead of ketchup and now I might to that every time - it was GOOD!

Then I made little signs for the dishes: 
oops - blurry!

Find the recipe I used here

find the recipe I used here

I can't give you a link to the shepherd's pie recipe because I made it up.

Here are the basics:

I cooked some veggies (sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots) in a little bit of veggie broth until they were tender.  

Then I added about a half a cup of brown rice flour and a bunch more veggie broth (probably around two cups).

While this was going on, I peeled and boiled about six large potatoes.

I simmered the veggie & broth mixture until it was thick and bubbly, then added to a 9x11" casserole dish that I had greased lightly (I used a vegan oil).

When the potatoes were tender, I mashed them up with some rice milk and packed them into the casserole dish on top of the veggie & broth mixture.  I sprinkled salt and pepper on top, covered everything up, and stored it in the fridge until the next day, when I baked it for 90 minutes at 400 F.
Easy peasy!

Then I made all the deserts!

The house smelled REALLY good - and it still does!

After all that cooking, I fell into a bit of a stupor,
but not before I made a list of what needed to happen the following day: 

The next morning, I was able to wake up and get ready slowly, since I just had to put things in the oven about 90 minutes before people were expected to show up at noon.  Greg did some mental figuring and decided that we didn't need the extra things I had planned to cover all eventualities (the zucchini tots and the mashed sweet potatoes).  I was happy to not make them!

I put short table decorations on the dining table instead of the tall vases I normally keep there because I don't like it when people can't see each other over the centerpieces.

We had outdoor seating available, but that table you see is extremely wobbly and unsafe for human use . . . we were glad we didn't need to use this area for actual eating, but it sure looked welcoming!
A slight update of our patio is going on in my brain.

And then Greg's friends showed up and we ate!

Here's Greg's plate:

I see cheesy potatoes, baked beans, shepherd's pie, turkey, and pasta salad!

And then of course, PUMPKIN PIE!!!

Of all the new recipes I tried, I think I was the most impressed with the pie because it didn't have a crust, but it formed its own firm crusty sort of texture.  Came out of the pie plate perfectly, and had a quite delectable flavor.  

Then there was some Foosball, some watching of the dog show, and some Macy's parade viewing.

I was definitely ready for a nap, but I survived!

In fact, after everyone left, Greg and I went to see "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them," and it was MUCH BETTER than I had even expected!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

What's Been Happening Around Here!

What beautiful mornings we've been having here in the Arizona desert lately!

Greg and I went out two nights in a row to watch the Super Moon rise,
and to take photos.

Greg has a better camera than mine, and he's much better at the technological part of photography, so all the moon stuff is his.

He also made this really cool sped-up moon video:

The babies are just as snuggly and cute as ever!



Juvy, Stephen, Allistair
(Wanda, Allistair's "pet" whale is also on the bed!)


Claude, the Princess

I found this helmet at Target in the home decor aisle and thought it was hilarious!

And Cindy had a day off, so we went for a hike.

We found a cholla branch with amazing texture:

It was a warm, breezy day, and the desert smelled clean and fresh.

Eek!  Look at that huge spider!

We tried hard to follow the cairns, but we still got off our path at some point
and had to ramble through scrub to find it again.
I have some memorial scratches.

Oo!  A Phainopepla!
They eat the berries from the mistletoe that grows in the other trees.

Cindy and I went out for pizza after our hike, and the water beaded up on my cup like this!

I thought it was fancy!

My newest recipe is baked beans.
This version (found online here) had me soaking the beans overnight, then simmering them for an hour with the onions and peppers . . .

Then putting them in the slow cooker with tomato sauce and spices for 6-8 hours.
They are definitely tender - and tasty, too!

And here's something I thought might make you smile today . . . 

Our 1:1 Classroom at church just finished the entire four-year sequence of lessons, and the very last lesson is "The Holy Spirit Will Help Me Stay Calm".  It teaches about self-control.
We had the students draw pictures of ways they stay calm, and the results were adorable.

Parker drew himself watching the news:

Ayden drew himself playing with trains.

I like to walk, read, and cook to help myself stay calm. 
What about you?