Hope you are having an A-MAZ-ING Thanksgiving! I thought it might be fun today to share some interesting facts about Thanksgiving.

When & where was the first American Thanksgiving Day? December 13th, 1621 at Plymouth.

By whom was it celebrated? The Pilgrims.

For what reason did Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony set apart a day of Thanksgiving? During the first terrible winter of 1620-1621 nearly half of the Mayflower company had died. But the Fall of 1621 had assured them of an abundant harvest.

What did the Pilgrims serve for this Thanksgiving feast? Large bowls of savory broth with clams and oysters, wild turkeys stuffed with beechnuts, dishes of turnips and carrots, bowls of salad, hasty-pudding, thin cakes of bread or manchets, and baskets of wild grapes.

How long did the Thanksgiving feast last? Four days.

When was Thanksgiving Day first observed as a National Holiday? In the first session of the first Congress, President Washington was requested to recommend to the people a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. In accordance with this request, President Washington set apart November 26th, 1789.

When did Thanksgiving become a recurrent National Holiday? In October, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, by proclamation, recommended to the people, to set aside the last Thursday in November for its observance.

Wishing you a day full of joy, laughter, peace, warmth, health and, of course, gratitude because, in the words of Melody Beattie:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.


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I am so glad that many stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. After all, it’s a holiday to spend with family, watch football, and just #behometogether. Get cookin’ and get cozy!

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The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time is a must read book for all families.

If you haven’t already purchased it: Get it. Read it. Gift it.  It’s fantastic!

As we all know, Laurie David is the co-producer of the 2006 Academy Award Winning documentary: An Inconvenient Truth. Laurie has also produced several projects to bring the issue of global warming into mainstream popular culture – including authoring the bestselling Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You! and co-authoring The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming, written for kids of all ages and published in eleven languages.

Laurie is the real deal. And I LOVE her new book!

The Family Dinner is FUN to read.  I’m not one of those people who “reads” cookbooks.  I have friends who do (and I admire them for it), but unless there is purpose (i.e., to cook something!), a cookbook sends me to Snoozerville.  However, I have been pouring over The Family Dinner!

It offers not only fabulous, easy to make, kid-pleasing recipes for meals by Kirstin Uhrenholdt, but step by step chapters on how you can make rituals a part of everyday meals. Rituals have always been important to me, both personally as well as professionally. They are a true expression of a family’s values, attitudes, beliefs and goals.

One of my favorite chapters focuses on Table Talk and Games and other ideas to make mealtime not just more nutritious but also more fun! This chapter resonated with me immediately.  At almost every (grown-up) dinner party, I ask each person at the table to answer a couple of questions, e.g.,What was your first job? What is your special skill? It always evokes a lot of fun dialogue and engages the entire group.  It is just as fun to play with your kids as well (though you ask different questions!).

“Fun for the whole family,” as I always say.

Another favorite chapter is “Grace is Gratitude:  Ways to say thank you and appreciate life’s gifts.”  This chapter demonstrates that you don’t have to be religious to have gratitude and be thankful for the blessings around your table. So cool.

The extras throughout the book are terrific. Tips for creating a non-stressful way that kids can help cook.  Cheat sheets. Quotes. Stories. Interviews.  Random and useful tidbits of information. Using leftovers. Bits of history. Pantry lists. Green tips. The information is very useful and accessible….and FUN (did I already mention that?)!

May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a Shining Moment quote from the gratitude chapter.


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Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. ~ Ernestine Ulmer

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Once a year, on Thanksgiving, I eat Turkey. And boy do I LOVE it. There. I admitted it. Now that I’ve admitted it, I am thrilled to share the instructions for how to cook an amazing, drool-inducing turkey.  This is my mother’s recipe from an old cookbook that I have in my collection, and by golly, it’s a winner.  So, with further ado, here you go and Bon Appétit!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  (But you will reduce the heat to 375 after the first 15 minutes)

Remove plastic from turkey in the sink.  Remove the neck and all organs from inside the turkey cavity.  (You will use the neck and neck skin for the turkey broth you will use to make gravy.)  Rinse the turkey and pat it dry.

Place the turkey in the roasting pan.  Slide your hands between the skin and the breast in order to separate it so you can put large clumps of unsalted butter under the skin.  Place at least three or four clumps on each side.  Then place whole sage leaves under the skin.  (You will not be able to see the sage leaves well when the butter is firm and in there, but when the turkey is roasted they will show through beautifully.

Coat the entire outside skin of the turkey with olive oil and generously coat with kosher salt.  Leave cavity empty and do not stuff so the heat can get inside the turkey and it can cook more quickly.  Also, my personal tip is to untruss the turkey and leave the legs out so that the hot oven air can cook the turkey more quickly.  (I’m not a fan of trussing in chickens or turkeys)

Cook the turkey at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then turn the oven down to 375 (or 350 for smaller ovens).  Every 30 minutes while the turkey is cooking, get a stick of butter and rub it all over the top off the turkey.  Cook for 2 hours for a 15 pound bird and under.  Cook for 2 and a half hours for a 16-20 pound bird and higher.  If the turkey browns too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil.  (You can just lay the foil over the bird, you don’t have to tuck it in or anything like that.)

Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving it.  You can also cover it with foil for up to an hour to keep it warm and then carve it.  Or keep it in the oven on very low temperature 200-225 covered with foil if it is finished before you need to serve it.

Moist and Delicious!  And the leg meat is darker and a bit pink by nature so don’t overcook it worrying that you haven’t cooked it long enough.  There is nothing worse than dry overcooked turkey.

And if you like the taste of stuffing inside the bird, just pour turkey broth or chicken broth over your stuffing to mimic that moist taste that comes from cooking it inside the bird.  But you will have a better tasting turkey if you cook it unstuffed.

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A couple of weeks ago, I has a nice discussion with a girlfriend about the importance of family dinners. It appears we are all so busy and never have time to sit down as a family at the dinner table (besides holiday dinners). My girlfriend told me she is committed to them at least four nights a week. I know that puts her out up to three nights a week, and that sounds like a lot, but there are some weeks with a whole lot going on.  Anyhoo, she has made the conscious commitment to be home with her children for family dinners.

Below are the benefits that we garner from being home. The added Shining Moment is that she can eat dinner in her jammies.

  1. Enhance Communication and Well-Being
  2. More Nutritious
  3. Model Manners and More
  4. Academic Improvement
  5. Great Contributor to Family Stability
  6. Save Money



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This is easier said than done, I know. However, it all goes back to thinking about what you do have, not what you don’t have. I remind myself & the BOTY (Boyfriend of the Year) of this all the time.  Yet another Shining Moment to give us balance and perspective. I hope that it does the same for you!


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Three things in life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. ~ Henry James

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 You know by now that I am a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn’s.  Her philanthropy (she worked for UNICEF for 38 years!), uniqueness, laughter (she believed that it was a calorie burner!), and style never cease to amaze and inspire me. She didn’t go for trends or try to reinvent herself each season.  She was – and somehow continues to be – timeless! One thing that we share in common is the need to be alone.  She once said, “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” I couldn’t agree more.  After my very busy year, I relish each and every moment that I can be Anyhoo, I thought I’d take the time to share one of my favorite Audrey images. Her smile and laugh are utterly and magnificently contagious!

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others. And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”

~ Audrey Hepburn


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Have you ever served Thanksgiving Dinner at a homeless shelter in your local city? I have. It is a tradition that I would like to begin every ThanksgivingI’m a huge believer in cultivating a philanthropic heart, mind and body and now is the perfect time.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to tour a Food Bank in Philadelphia.  Boy oh boy was I ever inspired….so much so that I’m going to do an entire post on it; however in the meantime, I would like to share the most important message from the Food Bank:  please give us what we need. Below is a great list that I found that includes many things needed to fill the shelves – especially this time of the year.

  1. Cash or checks– this one came up the most. Food banks can stretch your dollar as much as three times via government programs. Also, they can use money to buy large quantities of the most needed items, rather than having to rely on volunteers to sort and organize the random items that are donated.
  2. Meals in a can(stew, chili, soup)
  3. Tuna and canned meat
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Bags of individually wrapped silverwarefrom take-out orders. Heaven knows that we have a drawer-full of them. The Shining Moment is that I saved them for some reason, THIS reason!
  6. Canned foods with pop-top lids
  7. Low-sugar cereals
  8. 100% fruit juicesin single serving boxes
  9. Dried fruitsbecause refrigeration is not always possible.
  10. Canned fruit packed in juice
  11. Canned vegetables (low salt)
  12. Allergy-friendly foods– Dairy-, Gluten- and Peanut-free options.
  13. Personal sized toiletries found in hotel rooms.
  14. Toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste. 
  15. Re-usable shopping bagsto transport everything, often via public transportation.

My top suggestion is to call your local Food Bank and ask what they need.  This is the season to give Thanks and there is no better way to say thank you than to pay it forward!


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