Monday, November 29, 2010

Mixed Nuts

Did you grow up with that tradition?  Mixed nuts in shells put out on the table along with a couple of nutcrackers and nut picks?  I did and as a child, it was a signal that the holidays had begun!  Besides, I think mixed nuts are a great holiday symbol since that's what so many families are full of.  I have a nutty Aunt/Uncle/Cousin/In-Law, don't you?

Nowadays, the signal has changed to me in the kitchen, making pies and (this year) one spectacular cake.  I got up Wednesday morning and was baking and filling pies by 7 a.m.  At 1:05, I was done.  (That's why I take that day off of work.... can you imagine trying to start all that at 5 p.m.?)  Then I ran around like a mad woman doing a bit of cleaning and adding a blanket to the guest room bed for Little Helen, who is always cold.  Jumped in the shower and got dressed so I could be sitting in my manicurist's chair by 4 p.m.  Treating yourself to a manicure is a really lovely way to reward all the hard work you've completed.  Ahhhh.

Thanksgiving Day itself we got up at the crack because my sister had called and said the Turkey Trot people needed help with setup because they'd had more than the usual number of  pre-registrations and were behind processing everything.  We were greeted by several bulletin boards that had this:

If you click on that you'll see it's there's a photo of my sister's family.  Pretty emotional but we were all so amped up, we were able to hold ourselves in check as there was work to be done! Mr. Helen and I proceeded to cut an entire case of oranges into 1/8ths.  It took us a full hour and 15 minutes to cut those oranges up! The knives we had were so dull that one of the staff members ended up driving home to get sharper knives.  I ended up with a battle scar - one end of the knife was digging into my finger which I didn't even notice until the end when some orange juice ran on it:

I never knew cutting up so many oranges could be fun, until I had precious four year old Gracie standing on a stool inbetween Mr. Helen and me "helping" us.  Funny how the little things like that will be the memories of this Thanksgiving. That and the fact that usually only around 500 people trot.  This year there was a record breaking crowd of 900!

We jumped in here somewhere and took off on the three mile trot.  I have no idea how long it took me - I didn't even wear a watch, let alone my Garmin.  It was COLD here Thanksgiving morning - and overcast - and windy because we were near the water. By the 8:45 start of the trot it was all of around 35 degrees.  But crazy people here?  They trot and DIP.  Not me.  Since the event was being held in Gary's memory, my sister was determined right up until the end... and she just couldn't bring herself to fully do it so here's what she did:

As you can see from the folks running away from the water in the background, there were people who actually did go in, including Gary's two brothers!  Here they are getting their nerve up:

 and here they are after their successful dip!

Remember the mixed nuts I mentioned above?  I'm just saying!

For our actual Thanksgiving celebration, we had 30 people and it ended up being a great time for us all.  The last time these families had been together we were laying Gary to rest.  It was so wonderful to have this time to cherish and honor his memory.  Very healing.

Gracie using her "cell phone" to take a photo of her cousin Samantha

My sister and Little Helen, only four years apart in age

"Uncle, can we please have just a little bite?  Pleeeeease?"

Oh, and that cake? It was THE hit dessert. People do love their pie on Thanksgiving (and four ENTIRE pies were consumed - I made six) but let me tell you this cake not only looked spectacular, it tasted spectacular too. As well it should have with the half a pound of butter involved.

Browned Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

The evening ended with fireworks that Jacob had been given on his birthday
You know the uncles were more than happy to light them up!

Best of all?  He lost a tooth!
We want him to lose the other one so we can sing, 'All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth..."

Funny, I had been dreading this holiday a bit because we have been in mourning for so long,  It turned out to be one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember in recent years.  This year, I can truly say, I


  1. Oh Helen. How wonderful! I felt the same way about last Christmas. Like something was finally healing and I could enjoy the people in front of me without the gaping ache. His memory will live on and on in these wonderful people.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving! Something that you all needed!

  3. What a beautiful post. I'm so glad your Thanksgiving was wonderful this year and that you give thanks. That's a wonderful thing to be able to say... and feel.

  4. Reading that post made my heart happy and after the Thanksgiving I had, I needed it. And yes...I too grew up with the bowl of mixed nuts in their shells, along with the cracker and picks!!

  5. I loved reading every word of this post Helen! So glad you were able to focus on the positive things in your life and hopefully will begin to leave the mourning behind.

    Yep, mixed nuts were indeed the start of holiday season too! I could spend hours getting the tiniest bit of nuts out too!

    Hugs! Here's to both of us having a great week!

  6. Looks like it was a very happy festive occasion. The turkey trot looked like fun - how nice to have such a big crowd. Maybe they were all taking a proactive approach to controlling TG gain!

    That cake looks awesome. I'm going to try and google it to make for Christmas. That kind of thing is right up my alley.

  7. Oh yay - this post made me so happy! I am so glad you had such a wonderful Thanksgiving - from start to finish, it looks like it was just what you all needed. :)

    Love all the pictures, but the brothers warming up to go for the dip? Fuh-nee! And that is just fantastic that the turkey trot was so well attended! What a great day!!!

  8. What a lovely Thanksgiving. I'm glad it was a time of healing for the family.

    That turkey trot is insane. And a dip in that cold weather? Brrrrr.

    That's a lot of oranges to cut up. I bet all of the trotters appreciated it.

    Now please pass a slice of that cake. Yum!

  9. What a wonderful day - and that cake looks soooooo worthy!

    I don't get the crazy dippers. We have that around here in January when the lake is frozen. Frozen! They are nuts.

  10. What a great Thanksgiving and I love it how you all honored Gary.

    The dip is tradition here on New Year's Day. Thousands of people dive into the North Sea, no matter what temperature it is. Not something I would do :lol:

  11. Helen, I loved reading about your Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing all of the photos....and that CAKE - holy cow!! You are a baking machine, girl!
    What a wonderful way to celebrate the life of someone - the run must have been emotional yet inspirational at the same time. So glad you made peace with this holiday.

  12. So many thoughts. Love the sign, just perfect, I am freezing just sitting in my house (had to up the heat) and thinking about those Nuts jumping in the water I get goose bumps. We are known as The Nut House, our answering machine says "Welcome to the Nut House, you know what to do". You should call me anyhow, and then you can see :)
    I am really emotional, and partly just wanted to sob reading this, but also can feel the joy too. I am SURE I have more to say, am I EVER short on words, oh, of course you were done cooking by 1:00, surprised it took you that long, you started at 7, not 4? And smart to get the manicure after cooking, I got one for the Bar Mitzvah and my nails were a mess once I started in the kitchen.
    I think that's it for now. Glad you had so much joy. I've told you before, but Little H is beautiful.

  13. Yup, we were a mixed nut family too...... but I didn't carry on the tradition at my house as I would eat and eat eat until they are all gone.

  14. What a lovely holiday you had! It was joy to read about and that cake, my goodness! Wish you would have saved me a slice!

  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE the mixed nuts of your family, Helen.
    I CANT WAIT for christmas to finally see my cashews and almonds too :)

  16. hello Helen - I have been trundling through your blog. You are amazing :) I love how you just manage stuff [or - better - I love HOW you manage stuff] - lots of difficult things. But you still have a great sense of humour, and of yourself.
    Like this blog babe :)

  17. That is a beautiful post and brought a little tear to my eye (though I know you don't believe me.)

  18. Soooo lovely! Good to see little Helen, and to see your sister too. Funny how that gap narrows sometimes...

    I'm glad it was good.

  19. I am glad you guys had such a good and healing thanksgiving..
    and may I just say that I want to stick my face into the middle of the cake and take a big old bite.
    I love butter.

  20. Awe, Helen. I am late to the party, but so happy to read this. And I have to steal Lori's line "that cake looks soooooo worthy!" Can you send me the recipe or a link or something?

  21. Awwwww, thank you so much for taking photos and letting us peek into your Thanksgiving traditions and families. I feel like I was there, and I didn't even have to stress the calories from eating too much of that awesome cake! ;-D