Thursday, November 28, 2013

Final Day of Thanksgiving & One Chick Doing It All

Thursday, Game Day of Thanksgiving: My day began at 7:30 a.m. As I write this, it is 11:30, and the kitchen is still piled high with food and dirty dishes. "Why did I start this silly series on Thanksgiving," I ask myself as I type when I should be cleaning.

We were  missing some key players from the celebration this year but were thankful for the friends and family who shared this day with Hillcrest Cottage. Thanks so much because without you, all the work is meaningless.

Every Southern woman has at least one piece of silver which had been buried during the Civil War. This spoon is mine. It is worthless and flimsy but reminds me of the link I feel to my past when I pull out the china and special serving pieces... knowing that the women who passed them down to me, also had wild and crazy days filled with much work making holidays special for their loved ones.

Every person at our table always has a special name card which I hope says to them, "You are important, and we are so glad you could share this meal with us."

And, some help did arrive at last. Jeff always carves the turkey for me. Last year he cut his hand; this year we were injury-free. And the sons pitched in to help with last minute vegetable dishes. 

And we ate. And I cleaned. My kitchen was spotless. Then round two happened as the cousins arrived for their second meal of the day. It always happens that way...everyone talks about how full they are and soon we are filling our plates once again. Hence, the mess in the kitchen behind me as I type. The clock is ticking away and I am tired.

The Cousins (Minus Military Cousin & Wife and New York Creative Cousin)

"This one chick did it again," I say as I pat myself on the back, "It was a lot of work, but I live to tell the story."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day Three of Thanksgiving & One Chick Doing It All

Wednesday, Day Three: Wow. I'm not gonna lie... I am soooo tired. My day started very early with this pie crust creativity.

My finished products of the day were two chocolate pies...

Two buttermilk cream pies with pecans on top....

And two pumpkin which will be served with whipped cream... ( Oh, glad I wrote that bc I forgot to add "whip the cream" to my morning list.)

I had planned on setting the table, but I'm just too beat. Going now to prepare my turkeys so that they can be popped into the oven at 7:30 a.m. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day Two of Thanksgiving & One Chick Doing It All

Tuesday, Day Two: This will be the most boring post ever. I am in the thick of the preparation battle. I am tired. My feet and back hurt. It is late, and the kitchen is finally cleaned. I am facing a long day tomorrow... pie day.

My mom and college-age niece spent the afternoon cooking with me. Mom rooted us on from her stool. I taught my niece a few things about how to make a sweet potato casserole and homemade yeast rolls. We caught up, told funny stories, and I threw in a family history lesson (My favorite!) 

Time well spent.

Things left undone on todays list will roll over onto tomorrow's... but that's okay. If I am too busy for family, then why am I even doing this thing? Right?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day One of Thanksgiving & One Chick Doing It All

Monday, Day One:
Today is my day to do a bit of dusting (where it counts only) and a lot of vacuuming (Thank you, Mac the Labradoodle, Lucy the Goldendoodle-less, & my 90- year- old house).

Time to iron all the linens. Sometimes I use my white linen tablecloth, but I also enjoy this yellow tablecloth because I like the yellow with the blue antique Bavarian china passed down from my grandmother.

If I had anything shiny, I would use this cream today. (Special note: I do have two very large dogs, an alarm system, and a house full of manly men with a variety of weapons.)

And, I pulled out the calligraphy supplies to make personalized place cards for the table. I will share the results when I show the finished table all set and ready to go.

I also organized my recipes for the first day of cooking which will begin Tuesday.

Cornbread was made for the dressing I will put together on Tuesday. Hard- boiled eggs are for the gravy to be made on Thursday.

Looking forward to Tuesday as I begin to cook anything that will safely keep for two and a half days.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Four Days of Thanksgiving & How One Chick Truly Can Do It Alone

Follow me for four days of Thanksgiving feast prep, and I will show you how one chick (me!) can do it all! 

"Why would you want to fly solo?" you ask. My mom is 84 and gave up helping several years ago. Both my parents were only children. Although I once had many greats, I grew up with zero aunts. My husband's family is in South Carolina. I have three sons. (Special note: My adult son who enjoys cooking will be preparing his Thanksgiving dinner miles away in El Paso, even though his wife is perfectly capable.) Lastly, it is the "off" year for my siblings and their families which translates to no sister-in-laws or nieces to contribute.

I am really not into being a martyr, it's just the way my Hillcrest Cottage life is.

For the next few days, I will demonstrate how, with organization, proper planning, and hard work (no lie...hard work). One chick really can do it all.

Grocery shopping and menu planning done. And, yes, my frozen turkeys are already thawing in the basement fridge.

Come back tomorrow to see how Hillcrest Cottage begins a fun-filled week.

P.S. Everything on my menu is made from scratch... even my pie crusts.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Not Your Typical Country Outing

Come with me on a beautiful fall excursion to the incredible Garden Home of P. Allen Smith. You should know his work from Southern Living, his incredible books, television shows, and his YouTube videos series. In a few short years, he has created an unbelievable "garden home" (his trademark) at the Moss Mountain Farm in Roland, Arkansas.

I had the awesome opportunity to join a tour of the house and garden. I also enjoyed an elegant country luncheon inside the barn. 

Best grits I have ever put into my mouth! 

Consumed with great delight was the pecan buttermilk pie. I have never had luck with the traditional "karo nut" pie (Mainly because I only attempt the pie once a year. At this rate, I figure it could take a decade of Thanksgivings to perfect.) Therefore, this year I will be adding the buttermilk delight to my Thanksgiving menu. 

I expect this pecan buttermilk pie will make me very popular.

Back to the farm.... Imagine a place where every material thing I love in life can be found in one location.

A Shady 350 Year Old Tree.

A Wide, Welcoming Front Porch.

Garden Gates.

Places to Day Dream.

Enjoying the Sunny Warmth on a Crisp Autumn Afternoon.

Bicycles on Country Roads.

Interesting Chickens.

Bright Pink Roses.

Pastoral Views Which Seem Endless.

Barn Doors with Surprises Inside.

 Strong Coffee in Fun Mugs... Added This Baby to My Collection.

The Perfect Blend of Antiques & Modern Comfort.

I Can Imagine My Vintage '72 Black Raleigh Bicycle with Wicker Basket Parked Here.

Go Ahead & Ring the Bell... I've Arrived in Heaven.

And... I Really Do Not Want to Leave.

Please be sure and check out all the P. Allen Smith "Garden Home" resources. I love all the ways this farm is giving back to the local community and also teaching people rural skills which are quickly fading like chintz on a sun-filled veranda.

The Moss Mountain Staff were hospitable and welcoming. They work tirelessly to make the guests feel at home... and I did. 

Many thanks!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Glamping Gipsy-Style

Sorry to introduce Gipsy the Teardrop to Hillcrest Cottage Life in such an abrupt way, but I must. 

I had planned on a showing her make-over which has been happening since she came to Hillcrest Cottage last July. Her 1946 vintage self still has a long way to go before she is finished... but, fall in Arkansas is prime camping season, so... ready or not... she took to the very winding Ozark back roads for her inaugural "glamp" out.

There's so much to tell, it is best for the words to be few.

Say "hello" to Gipsy the Teardrop.

Green tea time... even in the forest.

My commercial for Mexican Coke with real cane sugar... bottles only.

It's all about the company...

... and the food (juicy, tender steaks and grilled veggies)...

...And the peaceful fire... s'mores, too...

...Also, the hot coffee and the bacon. (Okay... so we ate a lot.)

On the way home, there was a quick stop at my forefathers' hometown... Clarksville, Arkansas.

You know it's a small town when pumpkins on the courthouse steps survive.

One of my relations planted all the trees which surround the courthouse.

The long and winding road back to civilization.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How much sleeping space does Gipsy have inside?
Answer: More leg room than our antique double bed at home. Also has a handy shelf for storage and lots of head room.

Question: Was it cold inside since it was 33 degrees that night?
Answer: No, with two comforters, and the little window was even open, the temperature was very toasty.

Question: How much "work" has Gipsy had since you acquired her?
Answer: Tons. We are doing the work ourselves, with initial help by awesome brother-in-law. There are many more work days ahead. I didn't realize how much time her restoration would take.

Question: Could she be towed by a car smaller than your Expedition?
Answer: Absolutely. Gipsy is very light.

Question: Where did you get the name "Gipsy"?
Answer: Glad you asked! "Gipsy" by the Ink Spots was the number one hit in 1946. Also, taken from nickname of English evangelist Rodney "Gipsy" Smith who said:
"There are five gospels of Jesus Christ—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you, the Christian.  Many people will never read the first four."