Our Honest Thanksgiving Menu: Real Food & Otherwise

Update: I highlighted our actual menu in orange where there were choices given. It was a delicious day!

There has been a lot of talk about holiday dining on the blogosphere these days. When it comes to entertaining and guests and being one ourselves, where do we compromise? So I decided to honestly share how we will be handling our Thanksgiving menu. Honestly, I would love to be able to prepare a huge 100% real food meal with sprouted buns, wild turkey, home grown beets – the whole nine yards, not only for my immediate family but as a service to the extended friends and family who will be joining us.

Maybe next year I’ll set a holiday food budget and save in advance (as well as pay a babysitter) so I can do it all, but this year here’s what it will look like. You’ll see that the biggest area in which I’m caving is homemade soaked baked goods. Being over 7 months pregnant and doing all of that on top of normal commitments is one unrealistic expectation I am with-it enough to dodge.

  • Organic Spinach Salad topped with walnuts, organic pears, dried cranberries
    • (Store-bought) Raspberry Vinaigrette or (Homemade) Italian Dressing
  • Rolls (will ask Mother-in-law to pitch in here so ingredients might be organic, definitely not soaked, but she will bring gluten free as my father-in-law in on a GAPS type diet)
  • Main Course Options ( I need to decide on one or two)
    • Turkey – local, free range organic ♥ –
    • Two Chickens – Local, free range – yummy, healthy, but not turkey!
    • Venison/Elk Roast – I read today that the Wampanoag Indians brought five freshly hunted deer to the first thanksgiving. I think it would be plenty festive if we used some of the wild game in our freezer!
  • Trimming – Homemade stuffing from gluten free bread – if I have time to make the bread I will, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not above buying a (hard as a rock I might add) frozen Ezekiel Loaf or other bread (food for life) to make it.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Homemade from homegrown potatoes
  • Gravy – Homemade, thickened with xanthan gum or one of my many GF flours
  • Creamy Corn – canned corn (i know BPA…once in a while I just have to) simmered with organic cream and unprocessed sweetener of choice)
  • Dessert – My husbands grandmother will probably want to bring something, usually an interesting jello number or a boxed pie. (Pumpkin pie…from a box)
    • Also, I will make a homemade pie (either pumpkin or butternut-maple with real maple syrup) my cheat: Gluten Free Mama’s Pie & Pastry Mix
    • My Mother-in-law was kind enough to make both gluten free blueberry pie and apple crisp – not organic, but edible for me which doesn’t happen very often. Woohoo!

Ok, so there’s the bulk of it. As you can see, my normal standards have been lowered. I find fellowship and hospitality more important than being inflexible in our diet. We have chosen to eat natural foods prepared healthily for good reasons. But taking care of the body God gave us is not near as important as showing others love (Isaiah 58, 1 John, the whole life of Christ).

When it comes to large events, do you lower your standards (wherever you’re at in your real food journey)? If so in what ways? If not, how do you manage it all?!

Repurposed Shower Curtain

In my frenzy of nesting this pregnancy (aka the whole second trimester) I have done a lot of artsy things! It all started with knitting projects and migrated to sewing/fabric projects. Since this baby will eventually share room with my son, I had wonderful plans of making my own crib sheet, crib blanket and trendy curtains.

Oh the plans we make! Since none of these have made it past the planning phase (so far), I decided it was time to give in and buy some curtains to replace the ugly tan ones in my son’s room. (They came with the house – yeah that ugly!)

While I browsed the curtain isle in Target, I was disappointed as everything I chose seemed out of stock or the wrong length. Just as I threw in the towel and walked away, I found myself on the endcap looking at the clearance items. While the curtain selection continued to be less than encouraging, my eye was drawn to a geometric orange shower curtain…and the gears started turning!

I bought two (I only ended up needing one) and headed home to start sewing! I simply cut the shower curtain in half and redid the seams on those edges. I then folded over the top and sewed a new space for the curtain rod. No fancy extras, I didn’t even take them up any which I had originally planned on – and tah-dah!

Photo Cred: EliciaJohnson


The whole project was MUCH cheaper than buying curtains OR fabric to make them, and half of the work was already done for me!


What’s your favorite “look what I did” repurposing story?

Pros & Cons: A Food Co-op

Some women just love to shop. They love to shop for clothes, housewares and even groceries! I am not one of those women. I’ll admit that I love the occasional antique shopping trip. (I loooove old things!) But I’ve always labelled the mall as an energy-vampire and I dread walking into most super-markets.

Image by destination360

Meal planning, organized lists and experimenting with new recipes have all made my bimonthly grocery trips slightly more enjoyable. But still…there are so many other things I could be doing! Then I discovered this magical thing called (drum roll please)…a food co-op.

My friend Darcy always has this fruit bowl with unique varieties in it. She was also serving interesting greens in her salads and had such a colorful table of foods when I’ve been over for dinner. Finally one day a group of Bible study attendees were trying to figure out exactly what one of her fruits or veggies was and somebody asked, “Where did you get this?” She responded with two words that have changed my life: “It was in my Bountiful Basket.”

Huh? I thought she had gotten a fruit basket gift from someone, so after a few weeks of more cool fruit I asked her what a Bountiful Basket was. She explained that it was a food co-op.

A food co-op is generally a member owned but definitely member-funded grocery “store”. In the case of Bountiful Baskets however, there’s no actual store-front. You pay for a basket of fruits and vegetables. All of the money you pay goes straight to buying the produce. Because of this there is a (very small) processing fee as well. You reserve a basket at a particular pick up place and time.

The Pros and Cons: 

-Unfortunately, you generally don’t know what will be in your basket until you get it. This makes meal planning difficult (or fun if your a glass half-full type :) and unpredictable.

+On the plus side, you can add on whole grain bread, granola or extra veggies.

+You can upgrade to an organic basket. (I love this feature. This way I don’t have to stand in line with my fingers crossed that I don’t end up with a bin full of dirty dozen produce.)

-Odd distribution places and pick-up times. At least in my county, I can’t really line up a regular grocery trip with my basket pick up. the pick up times are early in the morning (I would have to take my basket home to keep it fresh since I live in a rural community) and at places like a hardware store at the (complete opposite) edge of town or the masonic temple.

+I save my self time, energy and lots of money at the grocery store!!!

-You usually have to bring your own basket, but this doesn’t seem like a big deal to me!

Overall, I  think it’s awesome! Check out bountifulbaskets.org or search for other food co-ops serving your area.

Do you have other local initiatives to save people time and money in your community?

Furninshing Your Home…Without Breaking the Bank!

Have you walked through a big chain furniture store lately? Everything is way over priced and cheaply made. We had a solid wood bedroom set from one of those stores and pieces of the bed frame would fall off now and then. I felt like my mattress was just going to hit the floor one day!

Joking aside, it can be quite costly to furnish and decorate your home. Here is a quick guide to finding items that you like AND you can afford!

Know Your Budget: Going into debt to redecorate doesn’t make a home easier to live in; it does quite the opposite! If you don’t even have some cash to get started with, start setting aside a little each month. Even $20 a paycheck for a few months is enough to get a living room full of furniture if you shop right!

Photo by chictip

Make a Wish List: Shopping for anything can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Make a list of things you like to find and any details. for example. Maybe you need a couch to fit in a small space.  Write down any size requirements or restraints along with color/material preferences. This way, if you walk into a store search the Internet, you will save yourself from considering something that wouldn’t work for your home anyway.

Shop wise: Don’t over pay for something that won’t last! Here are some practical options for where and how to buy

  • Second hand stores: they just don’t make furniture like they used to (at least not for reasonable prices).  In order to find a good deal on something (not hideous) at most second -hand stores, you’ll need to shop frequently. Know your local stores well. Some stores only bring inlarge items on a certain day of the week or have sales on specific things on a certain day. 

*For example Salvation Army and Goodwill have colored tags that go on sale according to the day or one color per week.  If you’re willing to wait you could get a nice sized discount on something you’ve had your eye on.

  • Craigslist/Freecycle: No matter what kind of furniture you’re looking at, you should know your limits and be ok with them. If you’re not comfortable with a free pressboard bookshelf or 20 year old mattress, don’t feel guilty. When using websites, be especially particular. Watch out for scams and don’t be afraid to go look at something before you make a decision.
  • Auctions/Sales: Spend one summer consistently searching garage sales and you can probably check almost everything off your list. Strategically plan the garage sales you want to hit to maximize your efficiency and be sure to carry cash. Auctions (especially if you live near a rural area) can contain a wealth of goodies! When nobody wants the family farm, a literal treasure trove is up for grabs to the highest bidder. This is perfect if you’re looking for small antiques to decorate with or classic, (usually large) solid furniture items.

photo from thestate

  • And finally, Sales at Large Furniture Stores: Every season (spring and fall especially), stores will want to replace a large part of their inventory. This is a good time to pick through and attempt to find some quality stuff for less. Make sure you’re buying something that you think will last sufficiently long and is worth what you’re paying for it. Also check the damaged furniture to see if anything is discretely dented or easily fixable.

When shopping for used furniture, it helps if you’re willing to decorate a room around an “interesting” or unique piece. When I got fed up with fake, cheap couches I had very little money to spend on something new to replace my futon. I knew that if I was going to find something, it was going to have to be something no one else wanted. I had in mind something bright (like orange-which I don’t even like) and floral.What I found was better than I imagined! The St Vincent de Paul was asking $95 for a yellow/green 1974 Ethen Allen couch; I offered them $75. Because it was a good quality couch to begin with, it was still super comfy and in relatively good shape. It definitely required some shifting of accessories and colours in my living room (which was previously red)! So don’t be afraid to try something different if you think you canmake it work!

What have been some of your greatest challenges in affordably making your home comfortable? Do you have a super-find story like my awesome green couch?