Our simple and beautiful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is by far one of my most favourite holidays.  I love everything about it from the food, to the weather, to the cozy sweaters and boots.  But most importantly Thanksgiving for us means time spent with our family enjoying great company, delicious food, Halloween candy and lots of card games!  This years Thanksgiving was all that and more…it was fantastic!

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This year we spent Thanksgiving weekend out at my parents place with my parents and my sister and her family, and it was fantastic.  I left on the Monday still full from all the food we ate over the weekend.  I honestly think I’ve never been so full…like it hurt.  But it was goooood!  Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, the works!  Is there anything better than a good old fashioned turkey dinner?!  I think not.

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It was a gorgeous weekend which left me feeling so inspired…I’m always so inspired when I spend time at my parents lake.  Every season is so beautiful there, but the fall.  Oh the fall.  It is stunning!  My mom always tells us we miss the best part of the leaves by about one week, but I don’t know.  Every year it’s so gorgeous when we’re there.  And the weather this year was beyond spectacular with blue skies and sunny warm air, it was so lovely.

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The mornings were the best though.  Everything was quiet except for all the quacking ducks and honking geese which is the nicest kind of noise.

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The leaves, grasses and cattails were all lightly covered in frost…it was still and stunning.  I love to sneak out when everyone is still waking up…I grabbed my camera and headed down to the lake to capture some of the morning.

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And am I ever glad I did.  The way the sun came up made all the trees look like they were on fire.  I did not edit these photos at all…this is what I saw.  In fact, in real life I swear the colours were even brighter.  So stunning no?

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And to see the lake so smooth and still…the reflections are as incredible as the trees themselves.

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These are the moments that make life feel so full, and when I feel so thankful for everything in my life.  It’s in this quiet I really have the chance to feel.  And I feel so grateful.  Thanksgiving really is a wonderful and inspiring time isn’t it?

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You know what I loved and learned most about Thanksgiving this year?  It’s so important to take moments to absorb your surroundings.  Quiet moments to really appreciate what is around you…they’re important for soul recharging.  And of course, when you’re surrounded by family or friend families, the holidays truly are a special time.

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I feel too like the key to making the holidays fun and enjoyable for everyone, is to share the responsibilities of feeding the family.  I like to help and be a part of the food…it makes for less stress for everyone when we all contribute.  Between myself, my sister and my mom we can pull off the the most amazing weekend menu from pumpkin loaves, to baked Brie, to snacks and the finale of the turkey dinner.  This year one of my most favourite items on the menu was a Pumpkin Tart with a Gingersnap Cookie Crust.  I made this tart this year as a twist to the pumpkin pie.  It’s as satisfying as a pumpkin pie, but without the work of the traditional pie crust.  So delicious.  I’m sharing this recipe on the Kendall Jackson website today!  Go check it out here…you won’t want to miss it…it’s so easy to make!

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So as many of you go in to your Thanksgiving in November, remember to keep it simple…it’s those you are surrounded by that make the holiday!  And if you can team up to feed the masses and thus share the responsibilities, holidays can be relatively stress free!

Here are some tips to have an amazing Thanksgiving!  (these work for Christmas too!)

  • Come up with a menu in advance and split the responsibilities with other members of your family or friend families.  Who’s bringing lunch?  Who’s making the turkey?  What about breakfast?
  • Keep the food simple and only make what you and your family love.  You don’t need to get fancy and try new dishes for the holidays.  Everyone loves the tried and true Thanksgiving dishes!
  • Make your side dishes ahead of time.  Things like pies and desserts, mashed potatoes, or squash puffs and stuffing can be made a day ahead of time!  This also saves oven space on the big day!
  • Do a lot of your prep work ahead of time.  For example, dice the celery and onions for the stuffing.
  • Don’t forget about your BBQ on the big turkey dinner day!  Use it to roast vegetables and thus save much needed oven space.
  • Make sure to have plenty of drinks available for everyone – grown up drinks and ones for the kids too!
  • Don’t forget about snacks and food for lunches.  During big holidays it’s easy to overlook the meals in between all the big dinners!  People need to eat throughout the day, especially the kids!
  • Don’t be afraid to use store bought goodies!  Buy your buns from the grocery store…you can even buy pies and the dessert!  You don’t have to make everything yourself!
  • Keep your table setting simple!
  • Turn on some music and have fun!  Holidays should be fun!
  • Enjoy the view.  Take a quite moment to snap some pictures of the outdoors, or the kids, or anything that makes you feel inspired.
  • And don’t forget to be thankful!  🙂

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So my hope for you all is that your Thanksgiving was (or is for my US friends), full of great food, great company and that your hearts and bellies are full.
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This post was generously sponsored by Kendall-Jackson wines.  But as always the voice, all content, and opinions are mine alone.  🙂

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9 Comments

  • Reply Barb October 24, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    I am so touched by your words today … a beautiful post … with lots of gorgeous images and great advice too. It made me uber-thankful once again.

    • Reply Jo-Anna@APrettyLife October 24, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Thank you Mom! We really had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!

  • Reply Cheri | KitchenSimplicity.com October 24, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    I love the decor! So simple yet so stylish. And, those trees + that still lake water is perfection. I also love your tip about the using the barbecue for sides. I would never have thought of that – brilliant! 🙂

    • Reply Jo-Anna@APrettyLife October 24, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      Thank you Cheri! When I go to my parents I just feel so good – there’s nothing like the water to feel inspired!

      I love the BBQ tip too! My mom actually gave me this tip…she used it this year to cook roasted vegetables, and they were delicious!

  • Reply Heather @ New House New Home October 24, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    It’s my favourite holiday of all! This year, we had a quiet one – just hubby and I – but we spent it doing things we wanted to do, walking in the woods the best part.

    Your pictures are glorious!!

    • Reply Jo-Anna@APrettyLife October 24, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Thank you Heather! The trees were so stunning that I think I took almost 100 pictures! Your Thanksgiving sounds lovely…sometimes quiet holidays are really the best, there’s no pressure!

  • Reply Dannyelle @ www.lifeisaparty.ca October 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Your pictures are amazing! l love the fall too, and you’ve done a great job of capturing it’s beauty. Great advice for a happy holiday too. 😉

  • Reply heather meads October 27, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    Your Thanksgiving looked great, thanks for the lovely photos! We had good weather too – perfect for walking off all that wonderful food!

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