Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Best Thanksgiving Ever

Let me tell you a little bit about Thanksgiving in my family. We celebrate at my parents’ house with friends and their families. We have turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and Indian food. We always play bingo. I’m looking forward to all of these things tomorrow.

Now, let me tell you about my best Thanksgiving ever. It was not at my parents’ house. In fact, none of my relatives were there. In fact, it wasn’t even in a country that celebrates Thanksgiving.

My best Thanksgiving ever was in Hanham, Bristol, England.

There was no pumpkin pie, because canned pumpkin was not available for purchase at any local stores.

The marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes turned into rock solid sheet because marshmallows have a different consistency in the UK.

But let me tell you why it was the best… Everyone still tried the weird sweet potatoes. They even pretended to like them.

More so, it was the fact that my host parents, Peter and Denise, let me host a Thanksgiving celebration in their home, helped me purchase all of the food for the feast, helped me prepare it all in their kitchen, and invited friends over to join us.

The friends all came, bringing wine and gifts, willing and excited to learn about my holiday.

They let me teach them how to trace their hands to make “thankful turkeys,” and they all made one even if they felt silly doing so.

The rest of the food was not as disastrous as the sweet potatoes, and we all ate delicious turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, and talked and laughed together.
I was and still am so thankful for those people. I don’t know if they remember their American Thanksgiving experience, but I will always remember their hospitality and love, and how at home they made me feel in another country.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Black Day and a New Day

When I think about Thanksgiving approaching this week, my thankfulness for a few days off work is almost tangible. I am so excited for a few days out of the city, relaxing with family, in a warm home filled with our good friends.

In contrast, when I think about Black Friday approaching this week, I feel a little sick. The juxtaposition of a day of appreciation with a day of violent consumerism is sickening.

I know that plenty of people have taken notice. I’ve seen plenty of Black Friday boycotting popping up in my news feed and on blogs. I am not the only one.

But I am going to start with me.

I choose not to participate in the consumerism of Black Friday. I will not nullify the previous day’s thankfulness with lust for more.

But it is not just Black Friday; I am making a choice not to participate in consumerism period. In contrast, I want to simplify.

I don’t mean living without electronics or other modernity.

I mean viewing everything I own as what is truly is. A thing. A gift I was given. Something that can just as easily be given away.

Maybe when I am able to give more and clutch on to less, I can be truly thankful for Him who gave all to me in the first place.

This is a process, and one I am just beginning.

But I am beginning by choosing not to participate this Black Friday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas Light Upgrade!

Hi friends! If you have a string of Christmas lights and ping pong balls lying around, you're in luck; those are the two supplies needed for today's project! Put together, they make a pretty string of soft glowing bulbs!

Okay, so I didn't have ping pong balls just lying around; I ordered them in bulk from Amazon specifically for this. But they're very inexpensive if you look in the right places! I've found that if you search for "beer pong" balls, you can get the cheap ones for, well, cheap! The thinner the material, the easier it is to poke an "x" into the ball with an exacto knife.

I don't think this project needs much explaining, so I'll stop talking and give you the pictures. Here we go!

I love the soft glow these produce, so I leave them up year round. I've even put them out on the patio for special events!

Note: Some commenters have mentioned that ping pong balls are flammable, so you should use LED lights which don't get hot! I, however, have had mine on normal Christmas lights for several years now, and no heat issues yet!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Easy Favorite: Banoffee Pie!

I have a go-to dessert that I like to make, and every time I do I get asked for the recipe.
Now the thing is, I don’t use a recipe. But… you don’t have to either!

Proportions are totally up to your tastes, and you can change it up every time you make it, but here are the basics of my one of my favorites, Banoffee Pie!

I apologize for the pictures. I waited too long, and the majority of the pie was consumed by the time I got out the camera!

2 cups crumbs- classic graham crackers work, digestive biscuits are more commonly used, HobNobs are my absolute favorite if you can get a hold of them.
6 tablespoons melted butter
If you feel inclined, add ½ tsp of cinnamon or nutmeg

2 cans sweetened condensed milk
3(ish) bananas (Sometimes some banana slices end up getting eaten during this process. That’s just a necessary sacrifice.)
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp almond extract
Handful of chocolate chips or shavings. I like to use mini dark chocolate chips.

Let’s start with the sweetened condensed milk. You can do this step a month in advance, or a day, or do it the day of if you have the time. Remove the labels. You are going to place your unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk into a big pot of boiling water and boil for 2.5 hours.

Make sure they stayed covered in water the whole time, or else they will EXPLODE. (Just picture that for a moment.) After 2.5 hours, remove and allow to cool before opening.

Combine crust ingredients well and press into 9 inch pie pan or a 9x13. Bake at 375° F for 10 minutes, and then allow to cool.

Cut your bananas into coins and scatter them in your cooled crust.

Open your cans of sweetened condensed milk, which are (magically!) now toffee. Stir them well and pour over the bananas until they are covered. I usually only use a can and a half, leaving half of a can of toffee for other delicious uses.

Whip your two cups heavy cream and extract with a hand mixer or food processor until cream forms fluffy peaks. Dollop evenly over your pie, or spread with spatula. Sprinkle your chocolate on top.

Voila. =]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas is Coming: Font Roundup!

There are several things that make me feel excited enough to use all caps.
CHRISTMAS TIME is one of them. TYPOGRAPHY is another.
Therefore, FREE CHRISTMAS FONTS make me really excited!!
 I've rounded up some of my favorite new fonts for your downloading pleasure, should you feel so inclined.
(Remember, click the grey Download button on the righthand side of the font preview. other "download" links are ads!)