Work Chic: Staying Out of a Fashion Rut at the Office

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Work Chic: Staying Out of a Fashion Rut at the Office

When you’re dressing for work, there are ups and downs of having a casual dress code. The up is that you can dress much more casually than you could in many other situations, so you can be more comfortable during the day. The down is that because you can dress more comfortably (and who doesn’t want to be comfortable at work?), you find yourself easily falling into a too-casual habit of dressing and (dare I say) fashion rut.

I admit it…I’m a victim. I used to work in an environment so formal, we could barely wear peep toe shoes and couldn’t even wear denim or cropped pants! The strict dress code had me a little less cozy than I wanted, but it kept me looking nice. But now, I wear jeans almost every day and my typical top is some sort of simple sweater. Sometimes I wear khakis. Usually, I stick with denim. A skirt is a rarity and a button down shirt, which I used to wear a few times a week, is now more a memory than a staple item.

But, every once in awhile, I catch a second wind and decide to dress up!

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Lookie at me! I wore a skirt AND heels!

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So, how do you keep business casual from putting you in a fashion rut? Here are my tips:

  • Remember, you’re at work. If you want to be treated professionally, you need to dress professionally.
  • Try to purchase work clothes that are both dressy enough AND comfortable. If you actually like wearing something that looks nice, you’re more likely to wear it.
  • If you can afford it, go shopping. Purchase a new staple item to throw into your usual rotation. If you’re short on cash, try adding just a new accessory. Or shop your closet and find something you haven’t worn in awhile that you want to wear again.
  • Have fun getting ready for work. Turn some music on, dance around, and primp yourself.
  • Consider planning your outfits in advance. Choose your outfit the night before work. Or if you want, go ahead and select a week’s worth of work outfits. You may have more fun when you have more time putting different looks together.

Reader Question: What are your tips for staying out of a fashion rut at work?

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I had fun dressing up today, but boy was I ready to get out of these heels when I got home!

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You would too if you were wearing these! lol

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For tonight’s dinner, our star ingredient was brussels sprouts!

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I recently saw a brussels sprouts and cous cous dish in my Martha Stewart from November and decided to do a play on it.

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I made warm brussels sprouts and quinoa salad with lemon and garlic.

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I needed two sizes of garlic for dinner: sliced and minced.

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The sliced was for my chicken. I did a quick chicken in garlic, lemon, and white wine.

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Dinner was pretty tasty, but I’d have to tweak the recipes before sharing them.

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I did love the combo of veggie, quinoa, and chicken!

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I love how quinoa is a nice change of pace from my usual carb-ish side – rice!

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Hubby and I enjoyed dinner whilst catching the latest Glee.

Not trying to spoil anything for my West cost friends, but did you see Emma’s “bling”!? Whoa! I didn’t see that coming!

I was trying to finish dinner and blogging early enough so I’d have time to either read or do some crochet, but most importantly, get to bed at a reasonable hour. I decided baking cookies > crochet, so I threw a quick batch together. They’re cooling on the stove now…can’t wait to try them!

Anywho, I’m finishing blogging at a record early (yes…late for most, but early for me!) time for me – 10:25 pm and I’m about to hit publish! Woohoo! :)

Remember to weigh in on my question about fashion rut above! I’d love to hear your tips!

Long Mondays

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I think Mondays may be the busiest day of the week for me, because I usually have:

  • work 9 to 5 (ok, usually 6pm-ish)
  • zumba
  • dinner
  • blog

I usually stay a little later at work and stay late at Zumba on Mondays, so my whole day ends a little later. I usually end up eating dinner around 9 or 9:30pm on Mondays…eeks! It’s almost midnight now, so I’m going to keep this short.

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I was running a little later than expected today, so I packed not only lunch, but breakfast, too.

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I brought some Oikos (*), which I enjoyed with some homemade maple-cinnamon granola. For lunch, I had some of yesterday’s lentil soup, along with a piece of lightly-real-buttered-toast.

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Luckily, I always have Starbucks Monday to look forward to. And for Starbucks Monday, I got a grande gingerbread soy latte. I accidentally have left my re-chargeable Starbucks card at home for the last two weeks and it’s really costing me! I’m supposed to get the upgrades (syrup/soy) for free, so I feel like I’m pouring money down a drain. Luckily, I remembered tonight and have already returned the card to my wallet. :)

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Zumba was extra fun tonight because I’ve been reunited with my new Zumba shoes! Ok, so they’re not the official Zumba shoes (they do have their own tennis shoes), but these are the shoes I’ve gotten to wear to Zumba class.

I’ve been meaning to do a post about them. May-haps I’ll have time later this week?

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Anywho, class was fab! I love starting my week off with a happy workout!

How do your Mondays usually go?

Guglhupf + Quick Tomato Lentil Soup

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I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

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I have a new soup recipe to share with you guys, but first…

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Hubby and I are now home, but I have some more photos from my weekend away to share.

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Including this pretty plant at hubby’s mom’s house.

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We lucked out with more bright blue skies today.

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The weather was perfect for brunch with bloggie friends – Sarah, Josh, and Anne!

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We headed out to one of my fave places in Durham – Guglhupf.

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I love the funky-chic interior there – especially those glowing orbs of light.

Guglhupf has a casual brunch on the weekends with self-seating and ordering at the counter, which I really liked. More places should do this.

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I got a cappuccino to drink.

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I love how so many places in Durham do such pretty coffee art. I don’t know of anywhere back home that does this.

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I thought I was just going to miss this chick due to traveling schedules, but we juuust had enough time to meet up. :)

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Hubby even had a guy friend to chit chat with. Boy power!

Us girls had a totally different conversation going on at our end of the table, and it was so great to catch up with Sarah and Anne.

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Hubby got the Eggs Arnold – from the menu – “spinach, artichoke, and tomato topped with poached eggs & hollandaise served on brioche with seasonal fruit

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I tried the Farmer’s Omelette – “with house made country sausage, emmenthaler cheese & caramelized onions, served with seasonal fruit and sliced baguette

I don’t normally like sausage, but I seem to be on a bit of a kick with it lately. I blame the delicious sausage at The Flying Biscuit. lol. Anywho, the omelette was very tasty – especially with the gooey cheese and sweet onions. I wish I would have ordered a little extra veg or something, though. I don’t think I’ve been getting enough this weekend.

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Girl photo – Anne, moi, and Sarah. Hope to see these fab girls again soon!

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Hubby and I swung by the bakery on our way home to pick up goodies to take home, including a loaf of ciabatta to go with soup for dinner. We didn’t have any soup prepared, but I really wanted to bring some bread home and I just love soup with good, crusty bread. So, I figured I’d whip some up later.

I also picked up an almond croissant, which didn’t make it past the car ride home.

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I enjoyed the croissant with some Zen tea we picked up from Starbucks.

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The traffic was pretty busy, but I was thankful to not see any accidents. Maybe the slow-driving kept people safer?

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As we neared home, the sky opened up with the most gorgeous lighting.

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I took a ton of photos.

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And I even caught a couple planes landing.

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Bailey was pretty tuckered out and ready to be home.

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Once home, I got started in the kitchen. I started some soup and some new granola – maple cinnamon.

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I was really excited about the bread going with the soup. We ended up toasting the yummy ciabatta slices and adding a wee bit of real butter.

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As for the soup, I made up a tomato-lentil soup. I like making big batches of soup so I can freeze leftovers for quick meals later. I like how lentil soups are generally pretty filling, and I also prefer doing vegetarian soups because I think they freeze better (though Giada does have a bad-a$$ beef lentil soup).

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Quick Tomato Lentil Soup

Vegetarian/Vegan if you use the appropriate broth/soup

Most lentil soups seem to have directions requiring hours of cook-time. This affordable soup can be done in under 45 minutes (or less if you’re quick). The soup also doesn’t use fancy ingredients or even that many, making it an easy go-to soup for even busy weeknights.

Also, you can use the leftover broth/soup from this pot roast recipe to make this one…at least that’s what I did. ;) You may have more than 2 cups of broth/soup left, but you can just add it to the soup as long as you don’t mind if it’s a little more brothy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups beef broth (or vegan/vegetarian broth)
  • 2 cups french onion soup (broth version in carton, not can) (use vegan/vegetarian version if you prefer)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup french lentils, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10 baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, washed, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat a medium/large pot over medium heat. Add EVOO. When oil is warm enough, add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook till onions turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 60 seconds.
  2. Add broth, soup, tomatoes, and lentils to the pot. Add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 25-40 minutes depending on how pressed for time you are or how tender you like your lentils. Taste the soup frequently past the 25 minute mark to check the texture. Add extra salt/pepper to taste.
  3. Serve with nice, hearty bread and enjoy!

Tip: Freeze leftovers for easy meals when you’re pressed for time later

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After the soup, I was eyeing my homemade granola.

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I enjoyed a mini parfait over some vanilla Oikos (*).

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The granola is not bad, but it needs work. I’m going to tweak the recipe before sharing with you guys.

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Oh and lookie at what Sarah gave me – an adorable note pad.

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I love the note – “For CHIC recipe ideas!” Yes…this will be perfect for new recipe development…thank you Sarah!

***

By the way, I updated my Recipe page (click to view)! Be sure to take a looksie!

***

I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite ready for my vacation to end. Luckily, I have more holiday vacation time ahead! How many days off work are you taking for December holidays? I think I’m going to have 7 hard-earned and carefully saved up days this year.

Wontons + Turkey Soup

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Finally, the beautiful fall weather has returned!

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It was quite brisk outside, but the brilliant (almost Duke) blue sky was gorgeous against the fire-colored leaves sparsely covering the trees.

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I hit up my favorite Durham coffee shop, Copa Vida, to get some blog work done. IMG_0756 (640x427)

I love Copa Vida because they use many local products and their coffee is awesome. If you get the right person as your barista, they even do coffee-art in the foam.

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Today I got a hazelnut latte with whole milk from a local creamery. If you come here, and you drink dairy-milk, you MUST go full-fat milk. It’s worth it, trust me!

I didn’t get all the blog work done I wanted to, but I was very productive.

I also found a TON of blog posts you guys did where you made my dough balls…I’ve never felt so special! Having so many of you enjoy my recipe has been bringing me so much happiness. I’m so glad to hear so many of you like the dough balls!

Here’s a list of some of the dough ball posts I’ve found (including some people who made dough balls for their special Thanksgiving meal!):

Thank you to everyone who blogged about my dough ball recipe and to those who made them sans blog post. I’ve loved reading your posts and comments about the recipe!  :)

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So loving this beautiful weather!

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I got caught in the Duke football game traffic after leaving the coffee shop. IMG_0769 (640x427)

Luckily, it wasn’t too bad.  IMG_0777 (640x427)

The roads were pretty gorgeous near by. Tall trees with orange leaves, easy shadows, gently curved roads. IMG_0782 (640x427)

Around 4pm, we headed back to hubby’s aunt and uncle’s house to watch the Duke vs Oregon basketball game. Thanks to having a lot of history with the school, they are HUGE Duke fans, so Duke basketball is very important. I love how passionate they are about Duke. My family didn’t really have any specific teams they followed (unless you count Michelle Kwan…hehe), so it’s neat to join in on the fun.

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We enjoyed snacks that hubby’s cousin’s girlfriend put together – wontons. IMG_0794 (640x427)

They were first boiled… IMG_0798 (640x427)

…then pan-fried for a crispy texture. IMG_0804 (640x427)

I ended up helping make sweet potato chips. Too bad I forgot to take a photo of those. Whoops!

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The dumplings were a big hit and gone in no time flat. IMG_0809 (640x427)

Nothing like beer and basketball.  IMG_0812 (640x427) IMG_0810 (640x427)

After the game was over (Duke won…yay!), we enjoyed a homemade turkey soup that hubby’s aunt made with turkey from Thanksgiving dinner.

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The soup was wonderful – perfect for this chilly day.

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We even had leftover dessert – pumpkin/gingerbread pie and pecan pie. IMG_0880 (640x427)

I’m off to enjoy my last night of vacation this round and get some good cuddle time in with this little guy.

What are you making with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Not So Black Friday Shopping

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Do you do Black Friday shopping? I’m not the biggest fan of crazy, sale-fanatic crowds, so I usually avoid Black Friday at all costs. I have ventured out a couple times, and I admit there have been some good sales, but it’s generally not my thing.

This year I had zero plans to go Black Friday shopping and neither did hubby. Last year, hubby went to Best Buy at around 2am to wait in line because I desperately wanted a Mac laptop and we heard that if you purchased a Mac laptop on Black Friday, you’d get a $100 Best Buy gift card. While he was in line, he tried to figure out if they’d have enough Mac laptops for him to get one, but the employees wouldn’t tell him one way or the other. After waiting for the store to open in 25 degree (F) weather, he went into the store to find that they were already sold out. Needless to say, it left a bad taste in hubby’s mouth for day-after-Thanksgiving shopping.

Fast forward to this year. We stayed up late last night after Thanksgiving dinner with hubby’s brother and his son to watch Scott Pilgrim vs the World. The movie was really weird at first, but also strangely fascinating. I stayed up to watch the whole thing…way past my bedtime till about 1:30am.

I ended up sleeping in about 10:30 am. I was a little disappointed with sleeping most of the day away since I don’t get many days off from work, but I also like to use my vacation days to catch up on sleep. When you work more than 40 hours per week and spend most of your day running from home to work to exercise to the grocery store back home to cook dinner then check email and blog till sometimes 1am, you tend to get a little sleep-deprived. So, sometimes vacay days require a little…or in some cases a lot…or sleeping in.

Though we had already missed the best deals for Black Friday, hubby suggested we head out to get coffee and stop by Best Buy. He had me at coffee. We got Starbucks – a peppermint mocha for me to be festive.

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We swung by Best Buy. Any guesses if this year went better than last year?

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In my grogginess, I agreed to get coffee and go Black Friday shopping before eating breakfast. Luckily, we literally 0nly went out to get coffee and visit Best Buy. We didn’t visit any other stores. Guess we didn’t really maximize our Black Friday shopping. lol

Hubby and I came home for breakfast that hubby’s mom put together – bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits with hash browns.

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We spent most of the morning lounging around. IMG_0712 (640x427)

I worked on a couple blog articles I’ve been meaning to put up. art (640x480)

I went shopping again in the afternoon with hubby’s brother. We hit up a neat art gallery. books (640x480)

And then we visited a local used book store, called Nice Price Books. They had books galore! I decided to try to find In Defense of Food since I lost it on that US Airways flight home from Chicago and the terrible customer service from US Airways has NEVER responded to my email (yo, US Airways…I want my freakin book back!). :(

It was really cool being in the used book store. I’d forgotten what a great selection used book stores can have. When I was a kid, my dad (who has read more books than anyone I know), used to take me and my sister to his favorite used book stores. I had a weird obsession with horror books, so I’d find some obscure scary books to take home (not the best idea for someone as paranoid and imaginative as me…lol). I also sought out any Christopher Pike books that I could add to my collection. Did anyone else read Christopher Pike? His books were the shiznit! So much better than R.L. Stine IMO, though I did read and enjoy those books, too. I thought Christopher Pike had more interesting plots.

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I ended up coming home with two new books. Though they didn’t have In Defense of Food, they did have Omnivore’s Dilemma in hardback.

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Not bad for only $4.98. IMG_0702 (640x427)

I also picked up The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley. IMG_0704 (640x427)

This one was only $7.98.

I dug into one of my new books when we got back to hubby’s mom’s house for a bit.

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Meanwhile, hubby’s mom finished up dinner. IMG_0678 (640x427)

We started with a salad with plenty of veg. IMG_0683 (640x427)

Dinner rolls.

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Plus a roast beef with potatoes, carrots, and onions. IMG_0695 (640x427)

I had leftover pecan pie from yesterday.

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And hubby dug into the leftover cookies.

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Hubby and I are relaxing now. I’m doing my best to stay off the computer a bit more than usual (I’m usually on it all day for work and then after work for all my blog work). IMG_0711 (640x427)

Though, I am using it now to check email and put together this blog post. IMG_0716 (640x427)

By the way, I’m reunited with my luggage from Foodbuzz…finally! I actually flew out of Raleigh for Foodbuzz, connecting through Charlotte because it was so much cheaper and basically got me a one-way ticket home since I could just ditch the last leg of the trip. Unfortunately, I hadn’t factored in that I would check my bag on the way home because of all the Foodbuzz swag. Needless to say, I got off in Charlotte, but my bag did not and flew to Raleigh instead. Thank goodness hubby has family nearby who were able to pick up my bag!

I’m off to go through my luggage, read, and relax.

Did you go Black Friday shopping today? Did you get anything good?

Thanksgiving Feast 2010

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Hubby and I spent this year’s Thanksgiving with his family.

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My mom’s family is on the other side of the world (and doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving) and hubby’s family is mostly up north, so growing up, we always had small celebrations (unless our cousins came for a visit). At my family’s Thanksgiving table, it was usually just me, my mom and dad, and my sister.

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Hubby’s family celebrations are more the traditional, large-family get-together type. There are usually about 14 people in the mix…a much larger group than our usual 4. I love my family get-togethers…but I really love hubby’s family get-togethers, too. It’s fun to celebrate a holiday in another style and with lots of people around. :)

Either way, it’s always a happy-time when you’re celebrating the holidays. And guess who was excited for Thanksgiving this year?

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I was!!!

Hubby and I headed to his family’s place around 5pm.

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We started with their traditional veggie tray. I snacked on this quite a bit before the main event got underway.IMG_0511 (640x427)

Plus, we had vino, beer, and crackers.

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I snapped a quick photo of my place setting before dinner got started. I love all the antique and heirloom pieces.

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Meanwhile, things were wrapping up the kitchen. The turkey was carved, potatoes were mashed, and gravy was created.

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I enjoyed looking at some of the family’s antique silverware. Hubby’s aunt had no idea what this little tool was for, so I made it my mission to figure it out before the end of the night. I took a picture and sent a request out to my twitter friends.

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These antique serving spoons made it into the mashed potatoes. There were two bowls – one for each spoon.

We had a lot of eats on the table….here are some photos….

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Green bean casserole

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Hubby’s mom’s famous “dry dressing”

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Rolls, including some homemade by hubby’s uncle.

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Turkey with hubby’s uncles famous beer gravy and cranberry sauce. IMG_0583 (640x427)

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It was a real Thanksgiving feast and I filled up my plate with a little bit of everything. Everything was delicious. I savored every bite. I ended up only going with one plate this year. I wanted to save room for dessert without feeling overstuffed before the end of the night.

And there were definitely plenty of desserts…

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A family recipe pecan pie from hubby’s aunt’s mom, baked by hubby’s aunt’s daughter. I had first had this pie a couple years ago at a holiday celebration and have been looking forward to more ever since. I was really excited to see it tonight!

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I brought butterscotch dough balls (I doubled the batch and somehow they flattened out! Whoops! :( ) and some of my latest creation – lemon rosemary thumbprint cookies with strawberry preserves.

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Sugar cookies

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Raspberry cobbler

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Many other pies, including hubby’s mom’s gingerbread pumpkin pie, two apple pies, and the pecan one I mentioned earlier.

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As much as I wanted to, I knew I couldn’t have a bit of everything. So, I had some of the pecan pie, apple pie, cobbler, and gingerbread pumpkin pie. Everything was wonderful!

Plus, it was fun to catch up with hubby’s family. Those guys always have such interesting things going on!

***

By the way, I figured out, with my most-awesome google-skills, that the strange antique silverware piece is a “baby food pusher”, which apparently is supposed to be used by children too small to use knives to push food onto their forks. Who knew?

***

The older I get, the more thankful I become. I feel like I appreciate things more and more every day that I never did before, especially things I used to take for granted.

I’m thankful for:

  • hubby
  • family
  • Bailey
  • friends
  • my health
  • my job
  • our house
  • the ability to teach Zumba
  • my blog readers – that’s YOU reading right now.  Thank you for helping keep TCL going. :)

***

And I leave you with a cute video. Check out these turkeys:

Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends!

What are you thankful for?

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