Hosting Friendsgiving

We did it you guys! Josh and I successfully hosted friendsgiving this past weekend. We had such a great time with our friends, and praise the Lord, the turkey turned out wonderfully! 

Today I just want to share a few of my thoughts and tips on our friendsgiving and what we did to prepare, etc. 

For starters, I deep cleaned our house on Thursday, so that Friday I could concentrate on getting the table set and making sure I had everything to prepare food for the next day. This really worked out well and on Friday I just tidied up a bit but didn't have to get crazy with my cleaning because it was already done! We turned our living room into the dining room for the evening. I set the entire table on Friday night. I was able to really take my time while setting the table since I wasn't in a huge rush to get anything else done on Friday. Josh and I even went out to eat for date night that evening :) I also made sure to have my linens, napkins, glasses, plates, etc. purchased (or taken down from the cabinets) a few days before I set the table. 

I ran a full dishwasher load on Friday evening and unloaded it first thing on Saturday morning. This allowed my dishwasher to be completely free to catch the dishes we were going to use that evening. Probably one of the best tips I read while prepping! Also during the day on Saturday, anything that I used, cutting boards, pans, etc. I washed and put away right after I was done using it. This gave me tons of open counter space to work throughout the day and left my counters nice and clean when my guests arrived. I only ended up with a ladle, spatula and my small cutting board in the sink when our guests arrived, and that's all! I'd also suggest taking out the trash before you start the bulk of your cooking.

Cooking my first turkey was really not as intimidating as I thought it was going to be. Was I a bit freaked out taking out the giblet bag and neck? You bet I was. But after that, it was pretty smooth sailing . Although, the turkey was 11 lbs and I had it in the fridge for over 2 1/2 days to thaw, it still had ice inside the cavity when I put it out on Saturday. It wasn't a ton and I just chiseled my way through. I told Josh I felt like a pioneer woman with all this turkey wrangling and ice chiseling haha! I used this recipe and instructions to cook the bird and it turned out beautifully. My total cooking time was only around 2 hours, a few minutes over maybe. Josh had the honor of carving our first turkey. I just left the oven on once the turkey came out and put the dressing in after the turkey had sat for about 30 minutes and Josh started to carve. 

I made the Pioneer Woman's Thanksgiving dressing and thought it turned out well. Something I'd do different the next time I make it is to not use as much bread as the recipe calls for. I ended up with two dishes of bread, but only enough broth to cover one dish. I think I'll half the amount of each loaf of bread I use the next time I make it. Other than that, the dressing was delicious. 

We used our actual dining room table to put all the food on, and on our bar I put out a little tray with cheese, pepperonis and crackers for people to munch on before and after dinner.

I mentioned before that we had napkin ribbons with questions of thankfulness on them, and we had so much fun going around the table as each person answered the question on their ribbon. For name cards I picked up little gift tags from WalMart and wrote each persons name on it and tied it to their napkin ribbon. I also put a little note on the back of each persons place card letting them know how thankful Josh and I were for them.

After dinner, we loaded up the dishwasher, broke out the dessert plates and played a few rounds of Catch Phrase. We are really coming to love that game! I'm so thankful for our community of friends and am glad we carved out time from each of other busy schedules to celebrate with each other!

I took pictures on my "big" camera and had all intentions of getting them on my computer and edited before I published this post, but it has been one crazy week and that just didn't happen. BUT, I'll edit this post with those pictures just as soon as I get the time!


Friendsgiving Inspiration

Hello, friends! Can you believe we're well into the second week on November? My head has been spinning a bit lately as I look at our calendar each day and realize just how much we have going on this month. Busy, busy, busy. As I mentioned in my last post, I am bound and determined to host Friendsgiving this year. I realized that the last weekend we had open was this one, so I knew I had to act fast. Thankfully my girlfriends were available and we're going to make it happen! Do I have tons of time to plan? Nope. I have I ever cooked a turkey before? Nope. Have I ever cooked ANYTHING for 6 people before? Nope. Is our dining room big enough to hold 6 people? Nope.

I know that sounds like quite a lot "nopes", but all of those things are true. However, I'm not letting that hold me down. Our living room will be transformed into the dining room for the evening, and I'll be sitting around a table with friends I cherish. For me, that is a perfect friendsgiving.

Yesterday I picked up the rest of the plates and chargers I needed. Last night I spent the evening wrapping our napkins in these beautiful napkin ribbons a co-worker gave me. Each ribbon has a question about thankfulness on it, and during dinner we'll go around the table and each answer the question off of our ribbon. I absolutely love this idea and am thankful to my co-worker who gifted me this very thoughtful present. Today I'm going hunting for a table cloth, runner, bed risers (I'll explain :) and a turkey pan. I suppose I should also go ahead and buy my turkey since everything I'm reading says I should have been thawing it out...since yesterday...here goes nothing with this turkey friends!

So, about the bed risers. We have a pub height table in our kitchen, therefore our chairs are a little taller. The table we're going to set up in the living room to act as the dining room table is not pub height, insert bed risers. I'm hoping this ingenious idea is the perfect solution so that we can use our dining room chairs...and not have to haul all of my parents chairs from their house!

I'll be making turkey, bread, dressing and possibly a pie, while my friends will be bringing sides and another dessert. The only thing I'm still not set on is our tablescape. I'm hoping once I'm in the store I'll gather some inspiration and will come up with something beautiful. I love the photo above and may try to recreate it.

Victoria at Victoria Strader has a fantastic series that started this week called A Young Wife's Guide to Thanksgiving. I've loved reading her tips, tricks, and advice so far this week and will definitely be implementing a few in my kitchen as we prepare for Saturday.

As much as I labor over ,and quite frankly freak out, about having everything just so when I host anyone over for dinner, I hope and pray that starting this tradition of friendsgiving will carry through the years and that on Saturday we are able to enjoy good food and even better company. While I know myself, and know I will go to great lengths to make sure everything is as perfect as possible, I don't want that to get in the way of the joy of opening my home to others.

Have you ever hosted Friendsgiving? Any last minute advice you can give this newbie? I hope that you are enjoying this holiday season thus far and pray that in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving you have many things and people to give thanks for!


Hello, November.

Welcome November! I think I'm still a bit in shock that there are only two months left in this year, but I love November and December so I'm happy to have November arrive! Although, the start to this month here in SC is far too mild for me. Weather man, bring me the cold temps please. There's not much more that I love than running my fireplace on a cold fall day. 

Josh and I didn't dress up for Halloween this year, but we did have a free weekend so we scooted up to the foothills and went hiking at Table Rock. We took Murphy and had a great time. I loved all the foliage and to me, there is something so magical about fall and all of the leaves changing colors. Murphy was an angel on this trip and I was so proud of him and his listening. We hiked a 2 mile loop around the lake at Table Rock, stopped for our peanut butter sandwich lunch at a picnic table right on the water and watched Murphy be memorized by the ducks that were quaking SO loud at him. He gave them a little bark and just stared at them. After our hike at Table Rock, we wanted to stop in  downtown Greenville on our way back to go to a puppy store mom and I had been in on our trip back in September. We found a parking spot and headed to the  store to pick up a few treats for Murphy. We weren't going to take him in the store, Josh was going to stand outside with him, but the owner insisted he come in. So, Josh nervously walked Murphy into the store, the store is pretty small with a lot of displays, so I was just waiting for something to go flying. And as I've mentioned before, Murphy is a rescue and is pretty afraid of anyone he doesn't know, and goes into a bit of attack mode if he feels the least bit uncomfortable. We've been working really hard on this by trying to get him out in social settings more. Wouldn't you know he walked right up to the lady at the counter, took a treat from her AND let her pet him! I was in shock and awe, and was certainly having a proud dog owner moment. That little guy really has come so far since we adopted him, and I'm so proud of him. 

We decided since we were already in Greenville that we wanted to take Murph to Falls Park and let him run around a bit. Josh and I love downtown Greenville and don't get to make our way up there near as often as we'd like. It holds a special place in our heart, as it was one of our stops our engagement weekend (which is almost 3 years ago now, crazy!) It was so much fun taking Murphy to Falls Park and he did such a good job handling the large crowds and a ton of other dogs walking around. He stopped at all of the crosswalks and didn't seem a bit bothered by all the people walking around, which he would normally cower at. Also, he got a lot of looks, smiles, and points because he had on his Halloween bandanna :) We really had a great day trip to the mountains, and I'm glad we were able to squeeze it in this weekend.

Looking forward to this month, I'm thinking it's going to be a busy one.
Here's a few things we have going on: 

-Vista Lights in downtown Columbia 
-Black Friday shopping 
-Day trip to Greenville with my mom and Granny for, you guessed it, shopping :) 
-Fall Retreat with our Youth group to Asbury Hills
-Put up our Christmas tree and decorations

I'm really on top of my game and our Christmas cards are sitting on the desk in our office, waiting for me to address and mail them. I went with Vistaprint this year and am really impressed with the quality of our cards, not to mention we got an awesome deal of them. I'd like to send those out at the very beginning of December. I'm also determined to buy an address book and as I'm addressing our cards, write the address in the book so that I've got them all in one place...rather than me spending too much time chasing down everyone's addresses that are in about 6 different notebooks in our office. We've also got to sit down and really work on a Christmas gift list for everyone so that we can get most of our gifts purchased this month. I really wanted to get a few gifts purchased in October, but that just didn't happen. I need to start thinking about what I want to ask for this year too, because I'm really not sure!

Another event I'd really like to accomplish this month is a friendsgiving dinner. I'm honestly not sure when we can/will fit it in, but I'm going to look over our calendar very closely and see if there's a night we can make it happen. 

Josh and I have been talking for a while now about putting a subway tile backsplash in our kitchen this winter. We're thinking sometime in January probably. This month I'd like to go look at some tile options and price it out in preparation for this project. It's one I'm really excited about and know it will enhance the look of our kitchen tremendously. 

A lot of great things coming down the pipe this month and I'm excited for all of them!