Friday Faves-ish

Better late than never on this post!

Whew, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind…which is just kind of par for the course given the holidays are officially upon us, right? ūüôā Filled with family fun, friends, jokes, laughter and definitely some memories, here’s the latest of my adventures. Hope your holidays have kicked off with flair, flavor and a lot of fun!

xo!

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For maybe the first time ever, I saw snow in November, and it was amazing! Visiting my family for our yearly outdoor extravaganza in Upstate NY, I was thrilled to see snow coming down like crazy the first day I was there. Unlike here in Atlanta, the city does not shut down, people drive without losing their sense of lawfulness,¬†and the grocery stores stay fully stocked (even the bread and milk sections). It was a whole new wintry world! (I must confess, I also tried to catch some flakes on my tongue. No judgment. ūüôā I felt like a kid!)

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One thing that is kind of understated¬†about visiting my family of farmers is… local, organic, farm-fresh veggies! It was an incredible surprise to find this wheelbarrow full of acorn squash, yellow squash, butternut squash and¬†colorful peppers in my uncle’s barn. I scooped up as much as I could to bring home with me, and then cooked a little up for a snack later that day. Fresh veggies, GF rotini, olive oil, salt & pepper made for a delightfully colorful¬†nom!

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Enjoying our time off during the Thanskgiving week, Jessica and I tried out Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall on the beltline. “Campfire-and-lodge themed,” it offered some lovely wintry cocktails and down-home¬†favorites, like Chicken & Dumplings and a S’mores Pie. It was a blast and should definitely be on your tour if you’re sampling¬†seasonal cocktails or looking for a hip take on comfort foods this winter!

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When our usual, traditional Thanksgiving plans changed last minute, we ended up at a good friend’s house in Grant Park instead, and it was a marvelous turn of events! It was just so much fun to spend the holiday with him, his large family and a few friends. A first-time Holiday host, he did not have extensive fall decor for his tablescape. Leave it to my mom to ¬†throw together the perfect holiday centerpiece: a Paul Revere bowl full of clementines with sprigs of holly from her own holly bush for¬†a touch of color.

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Part of the fun and privilege of being guests for Thanksgiving Dinner is contributing to the meal! We brought the desserts, among others were¬†a gluten-full apple pie and a gluten free apple crisp. What does that mean for the bakers? Lots of apple peeling. This Thanksgiving was probably the first in a few years that we have done it all from scratch, and I honed my apple peeling and slicing skills like never before. The fruit of our labor (see what I did there? ;)) was this delicious apple crisp – tangy, buttery and with just the right amount of topping to delight the¬†tastebuds. A little dollop of whipped topping didn’t hurt either ūüôā Mmmm!

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In post-holiday recovery, my mom and I took to Whole Foods. Her first trip after hearing about this mecca for years! I was beyond thrilled to finally show her the wonderland that is the hot bar and salad bar section! She had a great time and made quite the smorgasbord, but my joy in watching her whip up her own creation paled in comparison to¬†my glee in seeing her take a picture of her meal, which she has never done before! I think having a food blogging daughter is finally wearing off ūüėČ It was so much fun to share that afternoon with her! Seeing her have as much fun as I was having was just icing on the cake!

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As we get catapulted even further into the holidays, it can be¬†far too easy to get caught up in the hubbub, in the “I have to go to _____,” “we have to do ______,” etc. ¬†Have to, have to, have to.¬†The holidays are a magical time, but they are also a time when we can get a little frustrated or feel overwhelmed. Family dynamics can become¬†more pronounced, the pressure for the perfect holiday/gift/dinner is on, the rush to get it all done can eclipse the joy of the season and the¬†experience¬†itself. We need to remember to take it all in, which is why this quote really grabbed my attention this week. It just clicked when I read it that the holiday season comes once a year, and next year’s Thanksgiving, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas will never be exactly the same as the one upon us in 2014. Take the time to enjoy the moments. Turn up the Christmas carols while sitting in that less-than-stellar holiday traffic. Laugh when the dessert goes a little awry because your crazy aunt or overambitious cousin didn’t get the recipe just right. Just be present and find the joy in it all. No matter how small ūüôā ‘Tis the season!