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Thanksgiving Dinner: The Perfect Recipes to Bring With You

Quick! You've been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a someone else's house and you want to bring something delicious that doesn't involve you crowding into the host's kitchen to use their precious stove burners or oven space. What do you do?!

First: calm down. You've got this. Second: chat with the host and offer to bring something. Then check out these easy recipes that can be made before you go and need little more than a quick warm-up before dinner.


Mulled Wine:

A few of the spices I like to use in mulled wine.

A few of the spices I like to use in mulled wine.

I'm a huge fan of mulled wine during the holidays. It's warm, it smells amazing and everyone seems to enjoy it. That said, who has extra space on their stove to simmer a pot of wine on Thanksgiving? Not this girl. My stove top is usually full of pots and pans for various side dishes. If you've been invited to Thanksgiving at someone else's house, why not offer to bring mulled wine...in your crockpot? I know. It sounds crazy, but it works. 

Here's what you do:

I like to use this recipe as a guide, but I usually just add what I have (see: vanilla bean, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, oranges, etc.). You can make it ahead of time on the stove, and either transport it in the crockpot (if you're lucky enough to have those snazzy lid clamps on your crockpot) or you can bring it in a large container (like a giant mason jar) along with your crockpot to keep the mulled wine simmering on an appetizer table or drink station.


The Cheese Plate

So many choices! Ask your grocer to help you create the perfect cheese plate.

So many choices! Ask your grocer to help you create the perfect cheese plate.

This is my go-to option for pretty much any party. On Thanksgiving, hosts always appreciate a way to keep guests entertained while they're tucked away in the kitchen cooking a ridiculously large bird.

Here's what you do:

Simply go to your nearest grocery store and head to the cheese section. I always chat up the staff member working in that section because 1.) they tend know more about cheese than I do and 2.) there's a very good chance they'll let me try a cheese before buying it and I'm not one to turn down free cheese. EVER.

If you grab a varied selection, you should be on the right path. Again, talk to your grocer! They know stuff. I always add sliced salami (like these) and crackers (like these) to the mix because our family loves it. You could easily garnish yours with fruit, fruit spread or honey instead (like Eden does here).


Turkey Stock Gravy:

The beginnings of good turkey stock -- the perfect base for gravy.

The beginnings of good turkey stock -- the perfect base for gravy.

Prepare yourself. I'm about to tell you that it's okay to have someone bring the gravy to Thanksgiving. I know there will be Thanksgiving purists out there who will scoff at this, but who cares?! After spending all day prepping and cooking dinner, sometimes it's nice not to have to wait for fat to separate and deal with giblets. My mom always brings gravy when I host Thanksgiving dinner and I've never had any complaints. I'm returning the favor for my sister-in-law this year.

Here's what I'm doing:

We cooked a turkey last weekend (when we don't host the big day, we still like to get our turkey fix) and I made a variation of this crock pot turkey stock from the caracas. The day before Thanksgiving (this can also be done day of), I'll be using this recipe to make gravy (full disclosure: I haven't tried the recipe yet. Wish me luck.) and refrigerating it. Then I'll just bring it to the party in a huge container and we'll warm it up with in the turkey pan, along with the drippings. Done and done.


Dinner Rolls:

The easiest and most delicious dinner rolls to bring to Thanksgiving.

The easiest and most delicious dinner rolls to bring to Thanksgiving.

Dinner rolls always seem to be an afterthought in our family. I've attempted to make rolls for Thanksgiving in the past and failed miserably. I actually swore off making bread products because of those failed attempts. All that waiting and rising business...no thanks. So, we've always opted for store bought rolls that we could just warm up right before dinner.

Since I'm also bringing the rolls this year, I decided to start looking around for a recipe just in case I could find something worth trying. I came across this recipe for fluffy dinner rolls and thought I'd give homemade rolls another chance. Before I made the turkey last weekend, I tested out the recipe and THE. ROLLS. WERE. AMAZING. The recipe is incredibly easy and it requires very little waiting and rising time. We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen. 

Here's what I'm doing:

I'll be making these rolls right before we leave for Thanksgiving dinner and they'll still be warm when we get to our destination. Depending on the timing for dinner, we may need to warm them for a few minutes before serving. Easy peasy.


Now I want to know: how does your family make Thanksgiving work? Do people bring dishes with them or does the host like to make the majority of the meal? I'd love to hear about your favorite side dishes or pre-dinner goodies to bring to the party! 



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Mint + Og Mandino + Happy Links

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{"Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later." - Og Mandino}

Happy Links:

  • Since I spent much of Tuesday morning on an organic farm with rows of kale, I thought I'd share a link to this handy post. The recipes call for baby kale, but I'm all for using what you've got.
  • I came across Lyle Krahn's photography thanks to a kind comment he left on one of my posts. His wildlife photography is absolutely amazing.
  • I finished reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker a few weeks ago for the book group I belong to and have to recommend it. It's a work of fiction, but it strikes a too-close-to-home chord if you're paying any attention to the climate change discussion. You can also watch the Walker's Ted Talk if you're interested.

Wrap it Up:

  • I gave a big shout out on Monday to everyone who continually supports my efforts to become a full-time content creator. Small victories and baby steps, ya'll...
  • On Wednesday, I shared a bit about my trip to Feeding Crane Farms. They have been incredibly generous with their time as I try to finish my map design project.

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I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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Tall Trees + Thoreau + Happy Links

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Well, we've made it to Friday and I'm back with a snap, a quote and a handful of happy links for you. I'm also adding links to all of my posts for the week... you know... just in case you missed anything. ;)

{"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." // Henry David Thoreau}

Happy Links:

  • Can we just talk about the visually stunning recipes over on The Forest Feast for a moment? So lovely.
  • This post by Megan of The Fresh Exchange about her experience at Alt Summit is so incredibly honest. After seeing all of the "hustle, hustle, primp, wear polka dots, sell, sell, sell" recaps about Alt, I had questioned whether or not I'd ever go. This is a great reminder that not every blog is the same and we don't all have the same goals.
  • I've been following Patti Murphy's Project 365 and am loving her "things to think, believe and do."
  • This video. So hilarious. So ridiculous. So true. {Warning: this is the explicit version. Bust out those headphones if you're living the cubical/coffee shop/co-working life today.}
  • It's been tough for me to stop admiring the work of Nicole Franzen after finding her work in the latest edition of Wayfare Magazine. Just look at her photos of the English Countryside.... {sigh}....

Wrap it Up:

If you missed any posts from this week, just follow the links!

  • Catch my latest GoPro video edit + dirt bike shenanigans + black lab cuteness right here.
  • Read a review of the new Wayfare Magazine here. {spoiler alert: it's incredible}.
  • Remember summer with me in a fun guest post I put together for my friends over at the California State Parks Foundation over here.

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Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend, all!

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Inspiration + Goal Refinement

I have to tell you all, I've spent the first 9 days of this year completely inspired. How, you ask? By whom? Well, mostly by people just like you. I'm inspired by the community that comes along with blogging and {some} social media interaction. I'm inspired by so many of you who reach out in the comment section or through various other channels to say thanks or share your experiences. My friends and family members are also incredibly inspiring. I'm surrounded by creative people and that can only lead to good things.

I've also recently stumbled upon several different indie publications, of both the online and print variety, that take my breath away. I'm not being dramatic here folks. I get goose bumps while devouring the delicious articles, interviews, essays, videos, recipes, photography, short stories and more. We have some seriously talented people on this here planet.

Seeing the world through the artwork of others -- through their perspective -- makes me so excited to go out and create more, collaborate more and share more high-quality work. I desperately want to create as much beautiful, helpful and engaging content as possible this year. I'm on track so far thanks to my pledge to explore my creative side at least a tiny bit each day. You've all been holding me accountable and offer up regular encouragement, which keeps me both motivated and humble at the same time. Thank you for that.

My small daily exercises have resulted in a few beautiful moments, including the making of the photos below:

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I looked out my front window a few mornings ago and saw droplets on our tree out front. The sky was a bit hazy with low clouds, which led to nice, post-sunrise light. Not caring what my neighbors might think, I bundled up, went out front and started snapping away. I'm so glad I took the time to notice the tiny droplets and seize the photo opportunity. If I hadn't, I may have missed out on much-needed practice time and photos that make me happy.

Thanks to the focus on small moments of creative time, I've even been motivated to organize my thoughts a bit. It's tough to truly visualize success through a vague lens, so I've refined my creative goals based on different types of content:

  • Write and submit at least 10 articles and/or essays to publications both near and far
  • Take more thoughtful and well-composed photos specifically for my Society6 Shop
  • Create at least 5 well-shot and edited videos for various outlets {and, let's face it, for practice!}
  • Blog more about the region I know and love: the Sacramento Valley

That's a good start, right? I hope? Just writing these goals so close to a button that screams "Publish!" is making me nervous. However, I know that putting it out there in the universe will help me see my goals through.

Thanks again to all of you who have continued to read and participate. I'm thrilled to be doing this and you all make it so worthwhile.

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If you have any tips on nurturing your creativity, finding inspiration and refining your goals, please feel free to share in the comment section below.

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