What’s on the Table at Your #ThanksgivingDinner?

#ThanksgivingDinner is a traditional meal with all kinds of various dishes Americans eat at the same time all over the country. Turkey or ham can be the main course, however, turkey is the overwhelming favorite. Those who eat ham usually don’t like turkey or want to try something new. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, and corn also abounds on Thanksgiving. You might find some candied yams and green bean casserole on the table, followed by some cranberry sauce and green and black olives. Perhaps crusty rolls, Brussels sprouts, or green salad make an appearance. For sure we can’t forget the gravy, and what about the apple cider? Do you drink wine or beer with dinner?

What about dessert? Tradition calls for pumpkin pie at the very least. You might find sweet potato pie on some tables. Pecan pie is another holiday favorite, and some people bake fresh apple pies as well.

But what are some dishes from around the country that you might not have heard of gracing a Thanksgiving Day spread? Let’s take a look at some of the stranger dishes that some families have made a tradition of for their #ThanksgivingDinner.

Macaroni and cheese is one such dish. While some people might scoff and think it’s everyone’s favorite, not every family in America includes Mac’n’cheese. Some folks prefer homemade cranberry sauce while others delight in canned jelly.

Ambrosia salad still graces the tables of some in the South, but many don’t even know what it is. It is a sweet dish, usually made with some kind of canned fruit and mini marshmallows mixed with Jell-O or Cool Whip.

Some folks throw out the green bean casserole in favor of collard greens. This is more popular in the South than it is anywhere else in the country. While most of us throw away the gizzards when preparing our bird, many folks save them, bread them, and fry them for serving.

Cornbread dressing is another favorite. Literally, it is cornbread dried out over a few days to make it crusty for stuffing. You can mix it with various ingredients and stuff your bird or cook it as a casserole.

For dessert, pumpkin cheesecake is an alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie. If you don’t like cheesecake, perhaps pumpkin crumb pie is to your liking, or perhaps a layered pumpkin cake. Even if you don’t like pumpkin spice, something made with pumpkin is traditionally served as part of Thanksgiving Dinner.

Regardless of what’s on your table, the traditional time to eat your holiday feast is between the hours of 2 pm to 4 pm. For some reason, the early afternoon has become the popular time to serve Thanksgiving dinner. Many believe it is to give the family time to come together and also for your dinner to digest before digging into the pies. Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain. Your table’s a mess, your kitchen is a mess, and you’ll probably need all evening for that dreaded and dreary clean-up.

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What is #Friendsgiving and Are You Holding One?

By now, you’ve surely heard of #friendsgiving. If not, maybe you’re wondering what it is. From the name, it’s self-explanatory; it is a second Thanksgiving dinner held with friends. Thanksgiving is usually a family gathering, where close family, extended family, and in-laws come to spend the holiday. But what about our friends? Aren’t we thankful for them too? If we have a special day that celebrates with family, can we likewise have a special day that celebrates our friends as well?

Some folks don’t have any family with which to spend the holiday. Friendsgiving is exactly what the doctor ordered so they are not alone. Perhaps they celebrate with a friend’s family, or a group of friends, but no one should be alone on Thanksgiving. Opening the door to your home for your friends is an amazing way for everyone to be thankful during the traditional meal.

Other people hold their Friendsgiving on some other day than the actual day of Thanksgiving. They might set Thanksgiving aside for family but choose Friday or Saturday to be their Friendsgiving. The meal might include another turkey, or perhaps a ham.

The word “Friendsgiving” has been in the vernacular in the recent past and was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in January of 2020. Even though the word seems to have been around forever, it is a relatively new word, first coined in written literature in 2007. It seems to have begun as a second option to the stressful family affair, but over the years has evolved to become, essentially, Thanksgiving number two. Rather than hold a Friendsgiving instead of your traditional family gathering, Friendsgiving is now a separate thing to be held on any different day you choose.

It wasn’t until 2011 that the word began to circulate in common vernacular when Bailey’s Irish Cream launched an ad campaign using the word. Even The Real Housewives of New Jersey hopped on the bandwagon that year by tying “Friendsgiving” into one of their plotlines.

It would seem now that the term has grown legs, it’s not going anywhere. People around the country want to celebrate with friends as well as family and realize that sometimes it can’t be at the same gathering. Perhaps your family is too big. Perhaps you know too many friends. Maybe you don’t want one group to meet the other. Whatever your reasoning, Friendsgiving is the answer to the dilemma.

However, this informal “holiday” creates a whole new ball of stress, as you are now spending twice as much money and doing twice as much baking in order to visit both friends and family for the holiday. But maybe that’s the draw, as the dinner with family might be full of anxiety while your Friendsgiving is more laid back with more of a party atmosphere. Whatever you do for Friendsgiving, don’t forget the purpose of the holiday. Be thankful for those you love, what you have, and all that delicious food.  

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Let Us #GiveThanks

So many people get excited about Thanksgiving because of the huge, delicious dinner. The banquet of traditional food isn’t something we eat every day, or at all unless it’s on Thanksgiving, and so we look forward to the feast with eyes that are bigger than our stomachs. However, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, and we want to celebrate thankfulness, especially on these days of Covid-19.

Give thanks there is food on the table. Some folks have lost jobs or are struggling and might not have enough for an enormous Thanksgiving Day meal. Even though you’re stressed from baking for two days straight and fine-tuning your cooking so that everything is done right at the same time, give thanks for the ability to enjoy and eat your holiday spread.

Give thanks for your family. We are thankfully no longer quarantined by the pandemic, and this Thanksgiving can be spent in the presence of your beloved family. Do you have overseas family? The Covid Travel Ban has finally been lifted by President Biden and you are now able to come together and celebrate with your International loved ones.

Give thanks for your job. If you are employed, give thanks, as more and more people seem to be leaving the office and working from home these days. Remote work has become all the rage as fewer and fewer people want to go back to the old standard of driving into the office. It has been a crazy ride for those who’ve scrambled to remain employed while employers had to send everyone home due to Covid. If you have a job, be thankful.

Give thanks for your home. Wherever you happen to call home, give thanks, as many lost their homes due to being unemployed for so long. Being able to have a place of shelter is a wonderful privilege, and often one we take for granted.

Give thanks for your health. Many have been impacted by the pandemic and have even lost those they love. If you have your health, whether you’ve escaped exposure to Covid-19 or recovered from it, give thanks that you’re able to see another Thanksgiving come along. Be thankful also for the vaccine that has allowed us to come out from our homes and return to normal life.

Give thanks for everything you have. It has been said that somewhere in the world, someone wishes they had your bad days. Even on our bad days, we can find something good to be thankful for, our kids, our possessions, our friends, and all of those we love. The more we give thanks, the more we’ll be joyful in life as we focus on the good and not the bad.

Being grateful isn’t something we do one day a year, it is a way of life, and those who learn how to embrace this kind of living know the true spirit of Thanksgiving. If we’re content with what we have, we will not grumble at what we don’t. This Thanksgiving holiday, cultivate your joy through gratefulness.

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Why Do We Eat Turkey on #TurkeyDay?

Did you know it’s likely the Pilgrims didn’t eat turkey on what is traditionally recognized as “The First Thanksgiving”? It’s more likely they brought “wildfowl”, which was probably geese or ducks. However, turkey isn’t out of the realm of possibilities here, rather, it’s simply unlikely.

It wasn’t until the 19th century when turkey had become somewhat popular to serve for meals, especially larger gatherings since the birds were so large and could feed so many. While people raised livestock on farms, they often did not slaughter cows or chickens as long as they kept producing eggs and milk. Turkeys, however, were plentiful and mainly raised to eat.

Charles Dickens wrote of a turkey being eaten at a holiday meal in his masterpiece, A Christmas Carol, however, Sarah Josepha Hale, a female writer in 1827, published a work known as Northwood which features a turkey being served at a New England Thanksgiving meal. This same woman also began petitioning the day to become a national holiday and doubled her efforts during the Civil War. She wanted a holiday where the whole country could come together and be thankful, and this was the perfect day.

Abraham Lincoln must have agreed, for in 1863, he made a presidential proclamation that made the day a national holiday. Once it became a day celebrated by Americans every year, certain mythology sprung up regarding it. In a collection of writings from the Pilgrims, a man known as William Bradford had written in his journal that Plymouth had a “great store of wild turkeys” in the fall of 1621, and thus the legend was born.

Turkey has always been somewhat easy on the pocketbook, which makes for the perfect meat to serve in American households year after year. Turkeys number in the millions all throughout the country, and are bred for the generous amounts of meat we are so used to in modern times. It is certain turkeys in 1621 Plymouth were not the size of your average Butterball in stores today.

Even so, there are plenty of ways to cook your turkey and plenty of ways to argue about it too. Traditionally, roasting and basting seem to be the preferred method, but it involves tin foil tents and basting every half an hour. That alone lengthens roasting time as the oven is constantly letting out heat when it’s opened over and over again.

Some are adamant about frying their turkeys and are willing to brave the threat of an oil fire in their backyard in order to do it. There’s a certain science behind judging the amount of oil to put in your fryer versus the size of your bird. There is such a thing as displacement, and the last thing you want to do is ease your turkey into the vat only to realize your grass and surrounding bushes are now on fire from the overflow of superheated oil.

Believe it or not, others sous-vide their turkeys on #TurkeyDay, but the bird will have to be butchered first. However you slice it, turkey is firmly established as the main course of the Thanksgiving dinner tradition.

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#Thanksgiving, the Forgotten, and Often Unloved Holiday

#Thanksgiving seems to be the hidden holiday tucked between Christmas and Halloween. We all know about it, but no one really decorates for it or gets excited for it months in advance as they do for Halloween and Christmas. Those two holidays get the lion’s share of decorations as houses all throughout the neighborhood put up creepy spider webs for the one or the inflatable Santas for the other.

When’s the last time you saw an inflatable turkey on someone’s lawn? Or a pilgrim diorama on their roof? You’ve certainly never seen a Nativity-like scene with wooden pilgrim figurines around a long table.

The fact of the matter is we have generic “fall” décor, such as fall-colored leaves, orange and yellow wreaths, even pumpkins and scarecrows and hay bales. But the holiday of Thanksgiving, if we’re honest, is nothing more than a huge dinner where you invite all your family, and more often than not, are more thankful when it’s over than before it’s begun.

The preparation for Thanksgiving only needs to involve the grocery store, not Target or the craft store. Meal planning is the only planning unless you’re planning to travel. The draw of Thanksgiving seems to be more toward food we never eat throughout the year rather than reconnecting with your crazy Uncle Larry.

Let’s face it, who eats green bean casserole on a normal Thursday in March? Who busts out the candied yams in June? No one actually roasts a turkey on the regular. This holiday seems to be somewhat of an anomaly, where we prepare traditional foods rather than decorate, or even want to celebrate in the first place. Does anyone actually like turkey?

The best part about Thanksgiving, obviously, is the pie. But even here, we make traditional pies rather than what we really like. If you can choke down pumpkin pie without a mountain of whipped cream, more power to you. Some people love it, others hate it, but there’s rarely the person who really doesn’t care. Pecan pie is another favorite for the day and happens to be one of the most delicious pies known to man. Apple is also served, which is acceptable, being that it’s straight-up American. Believe it or not, however, some people serve strange pies on Thanksgiving, such as cherry or… any berry pie, actually. These are not traditional Thanksgiving Day fare, and as such, do not belong on the traditional Thanksgiving Day table.

At the end of the day, there’ll be a heated debate about who’ll win the football game this year, the kids will be wondering what’s for dinner because you ate at 2 pm, and the clean-up will be a nightmare. But amid all the hassle of meal prep, housework, headaches, and two solid days of baking, your family is together, your bellies are full, and your crazy Uncle Larry will be snoring on the couch in a turkey coma. Perhaps there’s something to be thankful for after all.

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Best Places to Visit for your #FallTravel

Where are the best places to go if you’re interested in #FallTravel? We have some ideas for you that are sure to help you make that all-important decision. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular locales for vacationing in the Fall.

Go Somewhere Warm

First of all, we recommend going somewhere warm, such as Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas. These locations remain mostly warm year-round and will offer you a lovely respite away from colder climates up North or back East. If you live in colder weather, taking a trip where it’s warmer will help to make summer feel like it hasn’t left, and you can continue to bask by the poolside. Take the kids and go to a theme park! You won’t be sorry you went.

Go Back East

There are some fantastic locations in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Rhode Island that boast some of the most fantastic forest of deciduous trees. These are the trees that change color during the fall, and entire hillsides are painted with them. These are the vistas often used as backdrops for calendars and puzzles, those rolling mountain forests that set the landscape on fire with reds, oranges, and yellows. You do not want to miss these glorious scenic views.

Go Up North

Chances are if you go to the northern states, maybe all the way to Alaska, you’ll be able to find some snow. If you simply cannot wait for snow in winter, traveling up North will do the trick. Even taking a day trip up the mountain will get you in the snow with the kids. If winter is your vibe and snowmen are your tribe, you do not want to pass up the opportunity to see it firsthand and frolic in the powder to your heart’s content.

Check Out Some Small Towns

This time of year is the best time to take a road trip and visit those small coastal towns you’ve always meant to see. Fall is the time of the harvest, so you’re likely able to grab yourself plenty of fresh produce from local growers and farmers. Small towns also have fall festivals such as parades and craft fairs, which are both quaint and lovely at the same time. Small town folk will make you feel part of the family and having yourself a visit will calm your mind and soothe your soul.

Treat Yourself with a Trip to the Beach

It might be cold at the beach this time of year, but if the weather is nice, or even if it isn’t, visiting the beach will bring you peace and remind you why you love nature. Unless you’re the adventurous type, visiting the beach in the fall is not for swimming, rather, for walking the sands and for a little self-therapy. Some R&R might just be what the doctor ordered, and if you find yourself jonesing for some time away at the oceanside, give yourself a treat and go visit for a spell.

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Why Don’t We Have Some #HalloweenFun With Food?

Let’s have some #HalloweenFun this holiday! By doing what, you ask? By making creepy sweets and treats that will gross out your whole family, that’s what! Let’s take a look at some nasty and amazing finger foods the whole family will enjoy this Halloween season.

Mummies – It’s a Wrap!

Do you have some hotdogs and a can of crescent roll dough? Then you have what it takes to make mummies for Halloween. Take your weenie and wrap it with the dough, but leave just enough of the weenie to peek through the dough for a face. Then bake according to the crescent roll directions. Once your mummies are out of the oven, you’ll want to give them eyes – we recommend a couple of dabs of mustard. The kids will love this for a fun and frightening dinner.

Witch Fingers – A Fabulous Finger Food

If you have some long pretzel sticks and some white yogurt chips and green food coloring lying around, you have what it takes to make witch fingers. Simply melt your white yogurt chips and stir in a few drops of green food coloring to make it a witch’s skin tone. Then, take your pretzel stick and dip it into the mixture, completing the look with a black licorice jellybean at the end of the pretzel as a fingernail. This finger food is gross, but also amazing at the same time. 

Flying Bats – It’s Where it’s At!

Buy some chocolate sandwich cookies, some chocolate chips, and decorations for candy eyes. Then melt your chocolate chips and dip one side of your sandwich cookie into it. Remove a chocolate wafer from the back of another cookie and break it in half. Then wedge the two halves into the crème of your dipped cookie to resemble “wings”. Before your dipped chocolate hardens, add small candy eyes to complete the look. You’ll have cookies that look like bats!

Deviled Eggs & Spiders Sliders

You’ll need eggs, black olives, mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper. Hard boil your eggs, peel, then slice in half longwise. Scoop out the yolks, mash them with a fork, and mix with mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper. Spoon the mashed yolks back into the whites of your eggs. Then, cut your pitted olive in half. Place one half on the top of your deviled egg to form the spider’s “body”. Then, cut the other half of your olive into eight segments and arrange around the “body” to form the legs of your spider. Serve your deviled eggs and spiders sliders!

Used Bandages – Gross but Fantastic

Get yourself some graham crackers, cream cheese frosting, and strawberry jam. Cut the graham crackers into wedges that look like the size of a bandage. Take some cream cheese frosting and frost only the center section of the graham cracker so it has the appearance of a small bandage pad. Take a tiny dollop of jam and lay it on top of the cream cheese for that “used bandage” look. Serve.

If you’re looking for ideas for Halloween food that’s a little different, shocking, but also absolutely fantastic, look no further than our list. You’ll be sure to be the hit of the Halloween party!

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#Spooktober Activities to Have Yourself a Haunted Halloween

What are some fun things to do during the month of #Spooktober that might get the whole family in the mood for Halloween? We have some ideas for you to take advantage of the season and perhaps start a few new traditions. Let’s take a look.

Visit a Haunted House

T’is the season of hauntings galore; why not find yourself a local haunted house? You’ll have loads of fun in the dark, being chased by actors in costume, and generally scared out of your mind. If you and the squad want to have a roaring good time, find yourself a “haunted house” and have a Spooktacular evening. If you’re more adventurous, you might explore a house that’s actually rumored to be haunted. You might not want to bring the kids, however.

Go to the Pumpkin Patch!

What Halloween is complete without pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns? Round up the whole family and enjoy the hayride at the local pumpkin patch. Pick out your pumpkin (or pumpkins) and take them home to carve and enjoy. The charm of the pumpkin patch is the country store, the corn maze, and of course, the hayride. Find a really good patch and you’ll be able to have fun the whole day long!

Decorate the house

We’re always in awe of the houses who go all out for Halloween. Why not make your house one of them? Giant spiders, monsters, graveyards, black lights, fog machines, the possibilities are endless! Be the talk of the town (at least the neighborhood) and go all out this year. The kids will have fun and so will your neighbors. 

Watch Spooky Movies

Make the entire month spooky by watching scary movies every night. Doesn’t matter if they’re truly scary or truly cringy, that’s part of the fun! From Freddy to Mike Myers, and from Chucky to the American Werewolf in London, pop some popcorn, grab the caramel apples, and have movie time together. You might even add in some classic horror films, such as The Birds and The Blob. Have some fun and don’t take yourselves so seriously this Halloween season. The kids will have a blast!

Design a costume

Why buy a ready-made costume at the store when you can peruse the discount rack and make one yourself? Go as a zombie, a vampire, a werewolf, but make it your own and don’t forget the props! You’ll have fun doing your make-up and applying fake blood, and even if you don’t, the kids sure will. Make some effort this Halloween and plan out the perfect costume, not only for your kids, but yourself as well!

The point of it all is to make the most of #Spooktober and have fun doing it. Make it a new tradition to go all out, dress it up, and do it right. Why should Christmas have all the fun? Put up a Halloween tree, decorate the house, and buy the full-size candy bars. Be the best house on the block!

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The Best Legit #HauntedHotels in the Country

Are you one of those thrill-seekers who wants to stay in a literal #HauntedHotel one of these Halloweens? You’re in luck, as we’ve found some of the most famously haunted hotels throughout the country that you can actually stay the night in. If you’re brave enough, that is. You’ve probably heard of a few of these yourself. Let’s take a look and see if you’ve got the guts to stay overnight!

RMS Queen Mary

Whether you’ve been there or not, chances are you’ve heard of the Queen Mary permanently docked in Long Beach, California. This ship used to be a luxury liner until it was commissioned in World War II as a war ship. She returned from the war with thousands of soldiers and just about as many stories of hauntings throughout her hull. Nowadays, the Queen Mary is a hotel and you can book a room and judge for yourself whether or not the stories are true. She’s touted as the “most haunted hotel in the country”. Perhaps you’ll see a little something on, or below, her decks.

The Stanley Hotel

This hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado, became famous after Stephen King was inspired by this structure to write his famous work, “The Shining”. The Overlook Hotel from his book is based off this hotel. Rumor has it the man who built it, Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora have never left the hotel. You might just see them wandering the halls during your stay. Certain rooms are “more haunted” than others, and if you’ve got the courage, you might be able to book one of them. Be careful, however. There’s a chance that once you check in, you might not check out.

The Hollywood Roosevelt

If you’re in Los Angeles and looking for a hotel to haunt, try the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Famous for the rich and famous who’ve stayed here from Marilyn Monroe to Shirley Temple, this hotel is also famous for its ghost stories. Some people have claimed to see Marilyn’s reflection in the mirror of room 1200, the room she lived in for two years. It’s worth a stay for the history alone, but if you see a ghost, it might just be a famous one.

Omni Parker House

Boston Massachusetts is home to the Omni Parker House, one of the oldest hotels still in operation in the United States. Some believe the hotel’s founder, Harvey Parker, is very much present in the halls, as well as Charles Dickens, who stayed in the hotel at one time. Booking is open and you can stay here to your heart’s content. Perhaps you’ll come face to face with a ghost.

Wherever you live, there’s bound to be a hotel that’s rumored to be haunted in your area. Book a room if you’re feeling adventurous! Don’t just watch Ghost Hunters on TV, get in the action and become a ghost hunter yourself! There’s no time like Halloween to give yourself a spooky staycation.

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The Best #FallFestivals in the United States

Are you looking for something different to do during October and November rather than haunted houses, hayrides, and pumpkin patches? We have compiled a list of #FallFestivals around the United States that might just interest you enough to round up the kids and step out into the chill breeze. Let’s take a look at some of the well-known festivals held around the country.

Harvest on the Harbor

Do you live near Portland, Maine? Then come on down to the annual festival known as “Harvest on the Harbor”, which brings to light the best of the best of local fare, including bars and restaurants in the area. Booths are set up from farmers, brewers, restaurants and more. This event is a great way to sample some of the best foods of Portland while also getting to see the city as well. Whether you’re a local yourself or someone who happens to be in town at the right time, check out Harvest on the Harbor November 4th through the 7th.

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Planning on being somewhere in upstate New York this Halloween season? Why not come on out to the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze? Set in Croton-on-Hudson, this festival is held throughout the month of October until the 31st, and again November 3-7, 10-14, and 18-21. This festival places thousands of carved pumpkins on display in various different and exciting ways, including a tunnel you can walk through! If you and the kids want some extra inspiration for carving pumpkins, this festival is definitely where you want to be!

Austin Food and Wine Festival

If you’re in Austin, TX November 5th through the 7th, you’re just in time for the Austin Food and Wine Festival. This event showcases Austin’s local restaurant scene by offering their famous dishes during the festival to all patrons. Demonstrations on cooking, as well as enjoying beer, wine, and other spirits is the draw of the festival. It’s set at Town Lake Metropolitan Park at Auditorium Shores. Come on in hungry. Guaranteed you won’t leave that way!

North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival

How much do you like pecan pie? Whether you love it or leave it, the North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival is held in Whiteville, NC on November 5th through the 6th. This festival features various dishes showcasing pecans as well as the famed Pecan Parade. You will also enjoy a fantastic car show as well as live bands. Take a 5K walk, and let your kids play in the designated kids’ area. Come and see what all the fuss is about. The locals love their pecans. Might as well get in on that!

No matter where you live throughout the country, there are countless Fall Festivals held all over the United States that don’t have any connection to Halloween at all. If you’re not one to celebrate the spooky holiday, or just over it, check out a Fall Festival and have fun for the whole family.

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