Connecticut Celebrations.

Whew!  Remember me?  I think this is the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without even turning on my laptop – four days!  Casey and I had a really low key weekend, and I was hoping to do lots of cooking and writing.  I did end up working on a new stuffing recipe…

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Which was delicious, but my photographs were so terrible.  I am a good cook, but a mediocre food photographer, and so I decided I would remake it and photograph it again the next day in better light.  Sunday morning, I woke up with body aches and chills, and my fourth round of mastitis.  We are in the midst of weaning, so I feared this might happen.  I spent most of the day glued to the couch, not packing for my upcoming trip, and definitely not remaking stuffing.

Luckily this bout with mastitis was more mild than my last, and I was able to rebound pretty well by the next morning.  Good thing, because we were up early for a long day of travel across the country.  We had all sorts of delays that almost made us miss our connecting flight, but we were blessed by a Thanksgiving miracle, and the second plane actually sat at the gate and waited for us (and a few other passengers in the same boat).  Totally amazing.  So here we are in Connecticut – many hours and miles later!

Cullen jumped onto Eastern time on our first day, which meant a painfully early wakeup time for mom.  We played for a while at the house, and then the cousins headed out for some fun at the playground.  Don’t they look pumped?

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Luckily their spirits improved after they ran around for a bit.  It is always so fun to get to see my nephew – I can’t believe how much more he is talking since I saw him in September.

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Cullen discovered the joys of going down the slide on his belly.  Best part was dad catching him and tossing him into the air at the end!

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We hung out for a while at this great playground that is just a short walk from my sister’s house.  The best part?  NO MULCH!  Cullen is a mulch eater, so playgrounds can be a struggle.  This one had really soft turf-like flooring – great for wobbly toddlers.  We also took my sister’s gorgeous dog, Milo.  So pretty!

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The boys are all sorts of adorable together – I can barely stand it.  They are the perfect age to finally interact and have fun together, and I know it will only get better from here.

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Beyond the playground, the rest of the day was spent napping (babies), cooking (me and Casey), and just hanging out together at the house. 

Many many months ago, way back in the summer, my sisters and I started talking about our Thanksgiving plans.  My mom is actually celebrating a BIG birthday (today!), and since her birthday happened to line up with Thanksgiving so well this year, we wanted to do something special for her. 

My family will all be together again (in Seattle!) for Christmas, but we wanted to surprise her with a birthday week together as a family.  So we headed out a bit earlier than usual to help celebrate my mom’s big day. 

While the babies slept, I hung streamers, made chili, baked cornbread, and texted my little sister constantly to find out when they would be here.  And after a veeeery long drive from Ohio, the rest of our family arrived ready to celebrate!

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My mom is so amazing and adorable, and I am so happy to be able to celebrate this milestone birthday with her!  Happy Birthday, Mom!

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I can’t believe Thanksgiving is two days away.  I was actually laughing re-reading some of my recipes from last year, realizing that I managed to cook and post so many more recipes with a four week old baby, than with a one year old.  Who keeps perpetuating the myth that the newborn days are so rough?  Toddlers are exhausting.

But many of you have asked what we will be cooking this year for Thanksgiving, and I’m sorry I didn’t do one of those big recipe review posts for you weeks ago.  I saw a lot of other good ones out there though, so I know there is no shortage of options.  For other last minute planners (like me!), here is a bit of what we’ll be eating this year…

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Sourdough Stuffing with Fennel and Capers – one of my favorite recipes EVER.  This year I’m adding a few tablespoons of miso to the veggie broth, and also adding some lentils!

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Butternut Squash and Cranberry Maple Millet – this is an oldie but a goodie, and a really great blend of flavors and textures.  Easy to make ahead of time too, so less cooking to do on the big day. 

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Vegan White Gravy – don’t know what type of potatoes we will eat this year (I’m winging it!), but we will most definitely be having this gravy.  My little sister remembers it from last year, and already lectured me on making sure I make enough to last through leftovers. 

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Cranberry Orange Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts – we just talked about this one last week!  I made it while Casey was out of town, so I ended up eating every serving myself.  I’m excited to make it again for family!

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie & Coconut Whipped Cream – and last but not least – pie!  Many pies.  Want to make sure there are ample leftovers.

I’ll probably make a few additional dishes too – not recipes, just off the top of my head.  I’m thinking about honey-glazed whole-roasted carrots, another green dish (green beans, maybe?), cranberry sauce, and as a hearty protein – a variation on this quinoa lentil loaf.  We’ll see.  Flexibility is key this year, and rather than trying a lot of new things, I’m sticking with what has already been taste-tested and approved.  Casey and I are doing all the cooking, while Grandma and Aunties keep Cullen happy.

Tomorrow’s mission?  Grocery shopping for all our Thanksgiving ingredients.  Nothing like the last minute for an extra holiday challenge, right?  Safe travels to any of you headed out of town tomorrow.  I’ll be back to share our holiday spread!