thanksgiving 2014


thanksgiving. sigh. i just love it. it has the best feel to it, doesn’t it? you know what i mean? the day has a feeling all its own. and this year, since we hosted the grand occasion, it was extra amazing because that thanksgiving feeling in the air was met with the aroma of turkey filling every nook and cranny of our home. that’s the best.

ben and i woke up early so that he could prep the turkey and she could get the stuffing all ready for the bird. p.s. we had way too much stuffing. a good problem to have. hello, leftovers! after the turkey was in and working its magic, we took some time to get some exercise in. you gotta work up an appetite for the carbfest to come. ben was festive and did a “planksgiving” yoga which i thought was pretty great. and i got in some cardio resistance and mat work. you know, muscular structure meets interval training. i figured muscles would burn more stuffing than running alone… we’ll see.

and then, it was time for the holiday staples: the parade and dog show. we don’t have a television around these parts but when we decided to host the big day, we knew we needed to have something. you gotta see santa come to town! and the boys need a little football. we figured that we wouldn’t be the hostesses with the mostestess if we didn’t have a tv. and so, we hooked ourselves up with a smart tv plus digital antenna. perfect. easy to pull out for special occasions such as this. and who knows? maybe we will get to host an oscar’s party this year… just think of the fun!

so, with our new toy hooked up in the corner, we gathered around and cozied up in our comfy clothes and slippers (and elinor stayed in her pjs) and watched the parade. there is something about the parade that gets me every time. and this year was a bajillion times better because elinor really got it. she pointed and yelled at the balloons and clapped at the cheesy broadway performances and danced along. too much fun.

after all that excitement, we put elinor down for a morning nap to try to squeeze in a bit of rest for her before the family arrived and festivities began. people started arriving around 12:30 and we all chatted and chilled while the final foods were finished. by 2:00, everyone was here and we did all the last minute things required to get a dozen dishes on the table. those last ten minutes before the meal are all hustle and bustle. and so much fun.

twelve seats were filled and we stopped for a moment to consider thanks. to consider gratitude. to consider the meaning of the day. the food was blessed and we passed all the yumminess. turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and two types of stuffing and cranberries and green beans and brussels sprouts and sweet potato bake and pomegranate slaw. with festive punch to wash it down. family and conversation and so much food. and in a blink, the meal was over. we all sighed and leaned back and moved the belt buckle a notch… you gotta make room for pie. my mom made her amazing pies – apple and pumpkin and pecan – and after cleaning up the dishes and getting some coffee started, we once again gathered at the table for some slices paired with fresh whipped cream and/or ice cream. thanksgiving is really something. and it is made extra fantastic by a family filled with creative and talented cooks and bakers. we love to prepare food and eat food and share food. so this is a good day for us.

i hope that you had a fantastic day with friends and family. i am so grateful to God for this life that He has given me. i am overwhelmed by His goodness. and thanksgiving is such a tremendous reminder of all He has done. His provision and mercy and grace and abundance.

and now, for some pictures from the day.

IMG_0422 IMG_0429 IMG_0427 IMG_0428 IMG_0426 IMG_0425 IMG_0424

and, for a walk down memory lane…

thanksgiving 2013 and thanksgiving 2012



thanksgiving is a moment to express profound, deep, sincere and genuine gratitude to the providence of God for a year’s worth of tender mercies that we have received from the hand of His benevolence. from His care, from His comfort, from His guidance, from His government of our lives, we are take time to be grateful.

from our family to you, happy thanksgiving! if you need us, we will be spending the morning watching the parade and dog show and miracle on 34th street and football while the turkey gets all golden and delicious. and then, a festive feast and some fabulous fellowship with the whole family!

we leave you with a blessing for your thanksgiving day and meal.


O My God,
You fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
My heart admires, adores, loves You,
For my little vessel is as full as it can be,
And I would pour out all that fullness before You in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with You
Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
Crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless You for the soul You have created,
For adorning it, for sanctifying it,
Though it is fixed in barren soil;
For the body You have given me,
For preserving its strength and vigor,
For providing senses to enjoy delights,
For the ease and freedom of limbs,
For hands, eyes, ears that do Your bidding;
For Your royal bounty providing my daily support,
For a full table and overflowing cup,
For appetite, taste, sweetness,
For social joys of relatives and friends,
For ability to serve others,
For a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
For a mind to care for my fellow-men,
For opportunities of spreading happiness around,
For loved ones in the joys of heaven,
For my own expectation of seeing You clearly.
I love You above the powers of language to express,
For what You are to Your creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

the valley of vision

holiday season essentials

holiday essentials



seasons greetings! today, i am excited to partner with MAN CRATES to share my list of holiday season essentials. things that i always have on hand this time of year that make things easier, cozier, or holly-jollier. whether it is something to help my skin stay moisturized during the dry arizona winter or a Christmas tradition that our family just couldn’t go without…these are a few of my favorite things!

1 | l’occitane shea butter hand cream. this is my very favorite. and i like to buy the three pack of the smaller size so i can have one on hand no matter where i am – one by my bed, one in my purse, one in the car. but, they also make great stocking stuffers.

2 | tea from teavana. we drink a lot of this all year round but especially when it is chilly. they have this peppermint chocolate one that is amazing. it is rich and satisfying and a great way to get that hot chocolate fix minus all that hot chocolate. not that i am opposed to hot cholocate…but, it is nice to mix things up.

3 | tata harper be true lip treatment. my favorite. it just melts into your lips and keeps things all soft and ready for that bright lip color that i love to don during the holidays. it also comes in handy for meeting under the mistletoe…wink, wink.

4 | moleskin notebooks. yes, i love my iPhone. but, there is something so nice about jotting down ideas and thoughts and shopping lists in a crisp notebook. pen and paper. i might have a couple of these in my purse at all times.

5 | quinn popcorn. my favorite snack. and a total must for movie night. and we watch a lot of movies during the holiday season. a movie just isn’t the same without popcorn.

6 | love actually. speaking of movies, this is the movie that ben and i watch every year to kick off the season. we usually watch it around the five weeks until Christmas mark because that is precisely when the movie is set, so, no brainer. this is definitely not one for the kids. but, it is my favorite. a dash of irreverent British humor with lots of heart. i am always tearing up by the end. and sometimes, even in the first few moments.

7 | ciao bella gelato. and this year, specifically, the seasonal mistletoe chocolate peppermint flavor. it is the very best. ben and i grab two spoons (and sometimes, bowls) and dig in. we like to eat the entire container in one sitting. ’tis the season and all that.

8 | ben’s homemade chex mix. this is a dangerous, dangerous tradition. every year, while i am busy trimming the tree or doing other elf work, ben grabs his ingredients and whips up a big batch of this stuff. he uses extra butter and spices (plus, a secret addition that really takes it over the top) to make it crazy addictive. so good. we munch on this throughout the season and sometimes, get generous and share with others. but with elinor in the mix now, there may not be much left to share. she loves her snack time with papa.

9 | Bing Crosby Christmas album. that crooner gets me feeling all warm and fuzzy and festive every time. he is a favorite and always in heavy rotation.

10 | veuve clicquot champagne. you gotta have some bubbly, right? come on. we love to pop the cork and fill our special celebration flutes with something sparkling. Christmas day is a busy and full and special day for us. since all of our family lives nearby, we do it all! the day starts with our own little family celebration then it is off to ben’s family’s place for presents and breakfast (usually eggs benedict which is my absolute fave) then we hop in the sleigh and are off and away for an afternoon with my family followed by dinner to close things out. we love our time with all our family. it is the bestest. but, one of the sweetest times of the day is the early-early morning, just us. ben and i wake up extra early and get some music playing. then, we pour ourselves some “Christmas morning mimosas” and clink before opening gifts together. we have done this since the first year of marriage. and i love it. it is time for us to connect and celebrate and enjoy some calm. and presents. so fun. and then, we wake elinor together and really get the party started*.

*to clarify, elinor’s partying does not include veuve. we are only wannabe french…

11 | scotch gift wrap tape. we go through a ton of this. well, ben goes through a ton of this. he gets a little wild with the tape. and i have learned to just buy in bulk. and you gotta get the purple package. the green one just doesn’t do the trick. you want the invisible stuff.

12 | wood wick holiday candle from restoration hardware. this is the ultimate candle. it crackles when it burns. and then smell is perfectly Christmas without being overwhelming and heavy-handed with the pine. a lovely balance and a total must for us.

13 | fuzzy slippers from restoration hardware. ben bought these for me last Christmas and i am obsessed. they are warm and practical and almost chic, as slippers go. the first slipper-wearing of the season is a bit of an event for us. and it usually goes hand-in-hand with the first flannel-pj-pant-wearing of the season. a grand occasion. we are very fancy.

14 | Charlie Brown Christmas. another movie favorite for us. for me, for ben, for the whole family. it is short and sweet and gets to the heart of things. the perfect way to get your heart in the right spot for Christmas.

well, that’s my list. i would love to hear some of your traditions and musts for the season. isn’t this a magical time of the year?

and a big thank you to our affiliate, MAN CRATES! if you are looking for a gift for a man in your life, check them out! they make some really awesome stuff. jerky and spicy stuff and sports stuff. anything that a man could want, all packed into a manly crate that must be opened with a crow bar. how rad is that? and their company manifesto is great: 

We say ‘no’ to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets. We don’t save wrapping paper, we don’t do ribbons.

We ship bragworthy gifts for guys. Gifts that you can’t wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.

Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.

We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men.

seriously though, good stuff. head over to their site and take a look. they have something for every man. and you can even build your own! now, all i need to do is buy a crow bar for ben… and then i can stock up on these crates of goodies for him! 

giving thanks

thanksgiving is such a lovely time of year. isn’t it great to have an entire day – and season – devoted to giving thanks? an opportunity to refocus our hearts…which is especially beneficial heading into the Advent season.

often, on thanksgiving, families gather around the table and take turns mentioning what they are thankful for. we list the things in our life. some possessions. others, circumstances. life’s blessings: good heath, our home, our family, our jobs, friends, food. you know, the things that we post pictures of on our social media accounts with a hashtag. #blessed

but these things, the stuff we are often thankful for, those are not the blessings. not really. yes, we can be grateful for them, but life’s blessings are much richer and complex. in Christ’s sermon on the mount, He gave us a list of blessings. He told us the actions and spirits and behaviors and hearts that will receive blessing:

matthew 5:2-11

and He opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

how ’bout them apples? i wonder if our families would think us strange if, this time next week, we started listing our gratitude for the times when we were persecuted for righteousness’ sake or for that person who despises us and does evil against us? but these are the things that bring blessing. when we are meek and hungry and thirsty and mournful and poor in spirit. God chose what is low and despised in the world to bring to nothing things that are lofty. the low will be lifted high. the poor will be rich. the crazy dynamics and economics of heaven. up is down and down is up.

and furthermore, instead of just offering up a list of things that we are thankful for. let us focus on the preposition, to. we are to be thankful to God. we cannot give thanks to nothing for something. we give thanks to someone. we don’t cavalierly say, “i am thankful for…this and this and this”. we give thanks to. we offer up our gift of thanks to the One who provides richly – above and beyond all that we ask or imagine. after all, thanksgiving means “the giving of thanks” and when you give something, you give it to someone identifiable. we give thanks to God for His bountiful blessings. so when you take time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for, take time – more importantly – to reflect on the One to whom you owe thanks. all good things come down from above.

praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; praise Him, all creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. amen.