Posts Tagged With: Thanksgiving

Random 5 for October – 665, pies and Free Fallin’

It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world.  Ready?  Set?  Go ->

1 )  665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day.  I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health.   Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis.   It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it.  I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick.  Amazing!   10 days became a lifestyle.

2 )  Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad.  He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice.   Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances.   Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.”   And there it is.   But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby.   Fathers come in many forms.

3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer.   Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns.  Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert.    You know what keeps me going?   Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~  I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world.      It’s good to have goals 🙂

My sister-in-law’s homemade Saskatoon berry pie.

5 )  Tom Petty.  RIP.   So many great songs, all sing-along-able.  This was and is a favorite.   “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.”   ~ Sigh

And how was your week?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Growth, Life Lessons, Men, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Stress, horizons and pie

Vacation is on the horizon!

vacation next exitStarting Monday ~ 5 glorious days off with Thanksgiving tossed in for good measure.

Emails will pile up, phone calls will continue, conference calls will be scheduled even though others know I’m away.

“Take the time before you lose the days.”

I now have more vacation time “in the bank” than I have time to use.

Emails continue to come in, fast and furious, hundreds every day.

Calls, meetings, schedules.

Lately I feel like I’m scaling the Grand Canyon on a daily basis…. blindfolded.   I can feel the tension in my shoulders, which now approach my ears. I can feel stress in my heart rate when I lie down at night and can’t quieten my thoughts.

1,000+ miles in the past 10 days, 150 yesterday and another 400 tomorrow – and all the while project calls get scheduled and scheduled and scheduled. “Could you take the lead on this?”  “But you and your team know so much about X” “We want you on this task force…”  Flattering but cup runneth over.

I hear my mother’s voice whispering in my year, “You can’t be everything to everyone, dear.”

My weariness reminds me to shut it down, shut it up and shut them out.

So – vacation is on the horizon … and there shall be pie!

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

*Note: no pies were consumed in the writing of this post.  Pies shall be made for 1) Grandpa (apple), 2) oldest boy (blueberry) and 3) youngest boy (pumpkin).  Will I have any? Not likely. See, the joy is in the creating ~ the cutting, the simmering, the kneading of the dough, Al Green on the stereo and happiness in my kitchen.

Oh so true!

Oh so true!


*Are you taking some time off over the Thanksgiving Holiday? What are you looking forward to most?  Is there a pie in your future? 😀

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

A Flapper pie I baked in Mom’s kitchen ~ an Emjayandthem (C) photo



Categories: Determination, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Happy Franksgiving

* Originally posted 11/22/11

Thanksgiving is only 2 days away!

I’d like to pass on some hard-learned lessons gleaned from old dog, Frankie, who had 13 years of living in a busy holiday-filled home:

C'mon Grampa, drop something!  Thanksgiving 2012

C’mon Grampa, drop something! Thanksgiving 2012

  1. Be nice; greet your guests with gusto. (Everyone gets an enthusiastic sniff hello!)
  2. Take naps and stretch before rising.   (Being well rested = a happier experience for all concerned, trust me on this)
  3. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. (When Frankie had enough of the company and confusion, he simply disappeared.  No feigned interest here. No drama either,  just slip away …. this works for people to people contact, too).
  4. On relatives: avoid biting when a simple growl will do. Come to think of it, he never growled. He stayed close to those he loved and, when he had his fill, he went back to step # 2 or 3 above.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope that you are able to “go where you’re celebrated, not just where you’re tolerated” and, if a situation you don’t care for finds its way to you,  remember Frankie and simply slip away!

# # #

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Family, Growth, Holidays, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Who’s the Turkey?

*originally posted  10/18/10 by  Emjayandthem

Mom was visiting us for the Thanksgiving holiday and we had no less than 17 guests in attendance. I’d been cooking for three days already so the fridge was stocked to the rafters, the garage fridge was jammed, and every spare counter-top seemed to hold a pie or appetizer.

Afterwards, while packing up the leftovers, Mom started to cover what was left of the 26 lb turkey.  I began to explain that I wasn’t keeping it when I saw a look of abject horror cross her face.  She tried to suppress it but there it was. Guiltily, I scraped the last of the turkey bones into the garbage. Later I tried to dodge the issue by explaining that we just didn’t have room to which she softly replied, “No turkey soup? That makes the most wonderful turkey soup you know.”

Of course I knew that. I grew up knowing that.  On the farm, mom made soup all the time; hearty hamburger soups during harvest, ham soup after Easter dinner, creamy potato soup, chicken noodle soup, you name it soup.  Soup was a staple in our home. Soup was a bowlful of loving care and not saved just for head colds or cold wintry days.


A few days later, after many hugs and tears, I put her on the plane back to her prairie home and reflected on what I’d nearly missed.  That week I bought a rotisserie chicken, cooked it down and made homemade soup, for the first time in years. Hubby thought he’d hit Nirvana! Next came beef & rice soup, beef vegetable soup,  chicken tortilla soup, ham & bean soup, you name it soup. More soup than you can ever eat! Guilt begets soup? In my case, yes, yes it did.

Flash forward to the next Thanksgiving: we were all gathered at a relative’s home and, for once, I wasn’t in charge of the meal.  Later, as we cleaned up, there it was:  what remained of the turkey.   As I started to cover it with foil, our hostess commented, “Oh we’re not keeping that.”  A look of abject horror crossed my face that I tried, but failed, to suppress.  “No turkey soup? That makes the most wonderful turkey soup you know.”

It was at that moment that I knew. I knew that all Mom wanted me to do was to look and really see what I was doing.  Slow down.  Re-examine. See the value in what’s before you.

I get it. Thanks Mom.

Me & Mom. an emjayandthem photo

MJ’s Turkey Soup:

Place all leftover bones and meat into a large stockpot, fill with water about 1/2 full. Add chopped onion & celery, seasonings (I use Mrs. Dash and a bit of garlic, salt & pepper).  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for about 2  hours, or until all meat has fallen from the bone.  Remove from heat and carefully spoon out bones and discard.  When the broth and remaining meat has cooled, shred turkey into bite sized pieces and place back into the stock.

Add 1 chicken bouillon cube and whatever chopped vegetables or noodles you like. I add:  peas & carrots, shredded cabbage, more celery and onions, canned (chopped) tomatoes, corn, diced potatoes, rice or egg noodles (not usually all 3).  Bring to a boil until vegetables are cooked.  Season to taste.

Wonderful, economical and tastes like home.


Categories: Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Holidays, Home | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

A lighter load to bear & a little bigger piece of the pie

Driving the other day, I found a country station with this song on it.

The words fit the times, I think.  If only it were that simple.

If everybody everywhere
Had a lighter load to bear
And a little bigger piece of the pie
We’d be livin’ us a pretty good life
And that’d be alright

Go heavy on the good and light on the bad
A hair more happy and shade less sad
Turn all that negative down just a tad
That’d be alright

If my dear old dog never got old
If the family farm never got sold
Another bad joke never got told
That’d be alright

more than enough pie;

Psalm 72:16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Attitude, Charity, Family, Food, Forgiveness, Home, Joy, Opinion, Patriotic, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The After Glow

The pies have all been sampled, the turkey’s put away.

The corn, asparagus and stuffing nearly gone.

Ham calls us for breakfast; rolls have long since vanished.

It’s the after glow that remains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Categories: Attitude, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Personal | Tags: | 32 Comments

Happy Franksgiving

Thanksgiving is only 2 days away!

Old Dog, Frankie, would like to share what he’s learned in his 11 years of living in a busy holiday-filled home:

our dog, Frankie

  1. Be nice; greet your guests with gusto. (Everyone gets an enthusiastic sniff hello!)
  2. Take naps and stretch before rising.  (done with flair!)
  3. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. (When he’s had enough of the company and confusion, he simply disappears.  No feigned interest here).
  4. On relatives: avoid biting when a simple growl will do. Come to think of it, he’s never growled. He stays close to those he loves and, when he’s had enough, see # 3 above.
  5. Take naps and stretch before rising.  (also done with flair!)

 Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m thankful for each and every one of you!

  * * *

May you always be blessed

With walls for the wind.

A roof for the rain.

A warm cup o’ tea by the fire.

Laughter to cheer you.

Those you love near you.

And all that your heart might desire.

~Irish Blessing

image from

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Food, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Personal | Tags: , | 21 Comments

Holiday Hosts & Holy Crap!

Being the Holiday Host takes time & practice.  I’ve had my share of distractions & disasters on the day of — power outages, waylaid guests, defective ovens and birds that refused to defrost.  Over the years, the holiday meal and the preparation thereof, has evolved. How? I’ve added new traditions, stripped away some old, but held onto just enough for good measure.

Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away and my goal this year, and every year, is to have more fun and less stress!

If you've got something pretty .. use it. What are you waiting for?

Here are my 5 Survival Steps to keep sanity in check as a Holiday Host:

1. Make it your own.  Just because Mom served turkey & turnips doesn’t mean you have to.  If your family prefers pizza or meatballs, by all means have them!  I choose to serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal – you know roast turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, dressing, etc.  But it’s the “etc” that I’ve changed up over the years. I steam sweet peas and fresh carrots because that’s what Grandpa and I like. Hubbs and son#1 get their beloved asparagus and we round it off with a tossed salad for our daughter in law and son #2. I’ve stopped serving rolls, yams and jellied salads. Why? No one ate them.  D’uh!   There’s no law written that mandates what we should load up on … just have what you like and enjoy being together.

Don't be a turkey; let others help!

2. Let others help.  This was a hard one for me to learn. For years, I insisted on doing it all and ended up exhausted.  I’ve learned that letting others help lets them feel like they’re part of it all and isn’t that the feeling we’re aiming for anyways?

3. Make ahead/do ahead.  In the days leading up to any big Holiday get-together, I do as much ahead of time as I can.   I tidy up the house, clear the counters, and wash & dry my favorite “pretty” platters (a few heirlooms but most are from yard sales).  I empty the dishwasher and assemble place mats and decorations. I cut up all fresh vegetables and make my world famous cheese balls *see recipe below. Lastly, I write out the menu in a timeline format – pick your meal time and count backwards.   I.E. If you’re planning to serve the meal at 4:00 pm and the turkey (size) you picked takes 4 hours to cook, put it in the oven at 11:30 am (allowing ~30 min for the bird to sit before carving).  Potatoes should be peeled and boiling by 2:30 and so on.

.. so funny, so good. Image from

4.  Be kind to yourself.  Get your rest, drink water, take a stroll through the neighborhood and for goodness sakes, eat something – No one wants a faintly, cranky cook snarling at them from the kitchen.  My favorite go-to snack?  1 cup of Greek Yoghurt with 2 tbsp of Holy Crap stirred in – this is a high protein, high fiber and energy inducing treat!  (for more about the world’s most amazing breakfast cereal please visit

5.  Have fun.Hubbs insists on taking me out the night before a major holiday and I never protest.  We visit with friends, have a few drinks, and enjoy getting waited on.  It makes for a relaxed and happy cook (me!) and he’s just a darn hero for coming up with the idea … every year. Hee hee.

Duh duh duh!! It's SuperHubby!! Underdog image from

It’s my privilege to have loved ones to host and I don’t often find cooking to be a chore.  It’s a gift I give, with my whole heart, to those I adore most.  It’s creative, meaningful and the effort feeds my soul. And that, to me, is what hosting a Holiday meal is all about anyways.

MJ’s Marvelous Cheese Ball

  • 2 blocks of cream cheese
  • 2 packets of Carl Buddig Smoked Ham, chopped (sold in the deli meats section)
  • 1 envelope of dry ranch dressing seasoning
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped with some green, too
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of curry (I don’t measure, I just give it a liberal shake)
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash regular or onion (I don’t measure, I just give it a liberal shake)
  • About 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • If you want to “fancy  it up” you can roll the cheese ball in chopped pecans or walnuts before wrapping.


Bring cream cheese to room temperature OR microwave until soft. Stir in seasonings: ranch dressing, curry, and Mrs. Dash.

Stir in chopped onion & ham. Lastly, stir in shredded cheddar.

Divide into 3 cheese balls and wrap in Plastic Wrap; wrap in 2 layers. Refrigerate immediately.

Best if made ahead of time and these can be frozen although they will be crumbly vs. creamy when defrosted.

Serve with your favorite crackers & stand back (I prefer to take it the cheese ball out of the fridge about 15 min before serving so it has time to soften).

How about you? Are you a Holiday Host or a Holiday Guest? Any tips to share?

Categories: Family, Food, Holidays, Life, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments


I’m so thankful to not be flying for Thanksgiving. 

Between the pat downs, cramped quarters and scheduling delays, I’d rather … not.

So if you find yourself stranded or delayed, take a deep breath, and try your best to have Dell Griffith’s *(John Candy) outlook.

  Happy Trails  🙂

Categories: Attitude, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Random observations, Rants, Seasons, Traditions, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Flying solo on Thanksgiving

source: johnnycupcakes

It was Thanksgiving Day, 2004 and we had just buried my Dad. My lovely, sweet, kind and wonderful Dad. Gone from us.

I had been home to see him about month before, when we knew things weren’t going well, and I had tried to say my good-byes. Sort of.  Because you’re never really able to say all that you want to say.   I told him I loved him, tried my best to thank him for being the best Dad ever, and clung to him until it was time to leave for the airport.

I hugged my mom and sisters, boarded the plane and headed back to the United States; away from the family farm in rural Saskatchewan.

It was Thanksgiving day and I never realized until then what a gift a light travel day could be.  What I had always imagined would be such a lonesome, awful thing to do turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The plane was nearly empty. I didn’t have to make small talk with anyone.

I sat alone.

I ate alone.

I read.

I slept.

I cried softly into the darkness.

It was on that plane, on Thanksgiving Day, that I was, once again, overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of a kind and loving father.  For 80+ years. Who gets that? I did. Lucky.

my Dad, Lloyd; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

You didn’t know my Dad, so let me tell you a little about him.  His name was Lloyd. He stashed cookies in his pocket & licorice in his truck.  He didn’t travel without his newest favorite cap or a little grin on his face. He loved people, but he had a soft spot for children.  He taught me where to find Saskatoon berries, to love and care for animals & appreciate the land we farmed, to be fearless, to drive a stick shift, to read the sky, and to dance while standing on his shoes. He taught me that real men cry, adore their wives, tickle their children, and are playful, gentle and loyal.  My Dad was a man of few words. He didn’t need them I suppose. His actions spoke volumes.  My Dad .. showed up.

6 years have passed since he left us and it never gets easier.

You never get over it. Time does not heal; that, my friends, is a lie.

We. Just. Get. Through. It.

I Miss you Dad, on this day and every day.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

*Pumpkin Pie Cake* (an ooey gooey plate of pumpkinny goodness)

Tonight I baked.  I don’t bake often because I live with men (hubbs and teenage son). They like: meat, potatoes, salad and cookies.  Not cake. Not pastries. Meat. Potatoes. Cookies. Ok throw in corn or the odd green bean, but that’s pretty much it.

I love to bake because it offers me a creative outlet. I put on some Elvis, get my pots & measuring spoons out and “zone” out in my kitchen. It takes me back to times spent with my Mom, my Grandmother, and my Aunt Irene: the three greatest cooks I know.  So, tonight, I baked.

Here’s the thing: My office buddies benefit because while my guys would never touch this delicious little scamp of a cake, my co-workers will be right in there tomorrow morning. Sleeves up. Spoons in hand. There may even be fights. Just saying.

This recipe has been in my vault for 20+ years; the paper’s yellow and has 2 grease spots on it. That’s the sign of a good recipe. Ready? Here we go:

Pumpkin Pie Cake


  • 1 box yellow cake mix (set 1 cup of mix aside for topping)
  • 1 stick margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Mix the above 3 ingredients and, with fork, press into a well greased 9 x 13 pan.

Next, mix up the filling:

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie filling, pumpkin)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spices

Mix the above and spread over the cake crust batter.

Lastly, assemble the coup de gras .. the topping:


  • 1 cup reserved cake mix
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick margarine or butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix these last 4 ingredients together to form a crumbly gooey topping. Drop glumps of topping onto the top of the pumpkin mixture.  The topping won’t be consistent OR pretty but pay it no mind, it will be so good you won’t care… trust me on this!

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60-65 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

(because of the eggs, refrigerate after.. not that there will be many leftovers)

This little beauty bakes up to be the most carmelly, pumpkinny, autumny plate of goodness this side of a Missisippi mud pie. Hey it’s my blog I can make up words if I want to!

Dietary information? Ha! That’s funny. Serve with coffee and stand back.

Categories: Confidence at any age, Food, Humor, Mom, Relationships, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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