Thanksgiving Afterglow

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Ahhh…nothing quite like the holiday afterglow.

The past week has been an absolute whirlwind. All of the photos in this post are courtesy of my phone…so bear with me, I think it’s been dropped 100 too many times.

The dogs are basking in the afterglow as well.

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I threw caution to to the wind this year and decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Perk #10,452 of being an adult. I also got a head start on wrapping gifts. I am on the ball!

This is our Woodland themed tree in the family room. This year we’ll have two trees…but more about that in a bit.

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Romeo had surgery last week to remove a tumor from his cheek. We were so thankful to find out that it was benign.

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I would have to say that Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday meal.

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Lots of dairy free better, sea salt, and Bragg's Organic Sprinkle

An organic turkey from Organic Prairie, pricey but worth every penny. Lots of dairy free butter, sea salt, and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle

There are few things better than stuffing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy. Are you pro giblet or anti giblet?

Neck and "parts" simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

Neck and “parts” simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

I admit though, the Thanksgiving meal is my least favorite to prepare. I honestly have no idea how my grandma cooked for so many people for most of my life. Definitely a labor of love. I cooked for 4 people. Only four. By the end of dinner the kitchen looked like I cooked for an army.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi's bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi’s bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. To. Die. For. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth...and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth…and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

It took two days of preparation and cooking, about 45 minutes of eating, and two hours of clean up. Clean up is the point where I think every person who hosts Thanksgiving wishes they had hired kitchen help. Imagine if you had someone there for those two days of prep who did nothing but clean and do dishes. Heavenly!

Organic sweet potatoes or yams...depending on where you're from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then back with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

Organic sweet potatoes or yams…depending on where you’re from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then bake with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

This is Brittany Angel's Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You'll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it's worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

This is Brittany Angel’s Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You’ll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it’s worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

Rolled out like "real" pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

Rolled out like “real” pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It's a basic pumpkin recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It’s a basic pumpkin pie recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk. I would also add coconut sugar to the crust.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

All in all, Thanksgiving turned out very well.

And of course, the absolute best part was being back in our home town and being able to celebrate and visit with family. And for that, we will be forever thankful.

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On Friday we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, hit Starbuck’s and take the dogs for a walk.

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Still so thankful for the wide open spaces here at home.

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New Hampshire has a dense forested beauty all its own, but boy did we miss the mountains and pine trees of Washington.

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Nothing quite like your fur babies peering over the edge of a cliff to wake you from your turkey fog.

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 Yesterday we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to head to Camden Ranch and cut tree number two.

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Perk #10,453 of being an adult…you can have as many Christmas trees as you want. Cutting our tree at Camden Ranch was our tradition for many years until we moved to New Hampshire for the past two years. It’s hard to believe that last year we were 3,000 miles from here cutting our Christmas tree in Maine!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Their property is huge and there are thousands upon thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

Their property is huge and there are thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road...sometimes not an easy feat! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road…sometimes not an easy feat when you’re carrying an 11 foot tree! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don't want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don’t want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing. They were very sweet and helpful with advice on which wreath would look the best with the color of our front door.

Right here in their gorgeous "barn" where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

Right here in their gorgeous “barn” where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

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I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point...ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point…ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

 I may regret having two trees when it comes time to put everything away, but for now, they’re gorgeous and add so much Christmas spirit to the house.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

After getting the tree arranged and the lights on last night we decided we’d made it to the end of our energy and would finish decorating it today.

I made a quick meal to tide us over until morning and we spent the rest of the evening relaxing in front of the fire watching movies.

Chebe Foccacia Mix (Paleo), vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

Chebe Foccacia Mix, vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, Diaya cheddar, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

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And finally, some rest and relaxation. Romeo has made it clear he doesn’t want me getting up and going anywhere.

Lastly, one of the many things I’m thankful for is you! I am thankful you enjoy the blog and are always so kind and supportive!

Hope you have a restful, wonderful, week ahead that is full of blessings and endless reasons to give thanks.

Coconut Chai Shortbread Cookies

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According to our son, we’re old now because Tony evidently drives slower than he used to and I like to keep track of the weather.

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 I actually thought we were getting old because Tony is losing his hair, I can no longer hide my crow’s feet, and now we both have to wear reading glasses to be able to see anything up close.

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Tony bought this weather station for me last Christmas in New Hampshire. It was too cold to go outside and set it up so it was put in a closet for a later date. Once we moved back to Washington I came across it and was very excited when Tony set it up. It now sits on the back of the kitchen sink where we can comment on the weather every day.

One of those comfortable, conversational pieces old people enjoy.

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The “spinny thing” that keeps track of the wind is attached to the fence post outside. I have no idea why, but I love it.

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What does this have to do with shortbread cookies, you might be wondering? Well…

I’ve been looking for excuses not to go outside and walk the dogs all morning. First it was laundry, then it was cookies…and oh look, now it’s almost lunch time!

I took one look at the weather thing early this morning, and thought…17 degrees and 12 mile an hour winds. Maybe we should wait until the weather “calms down” a bit. Truly old people talk. And I said it out loud to the dogs which probably proves that I’m a geriatric now.

Now it’s warmed up to a balmy 27 degrees. Cold weather can cause heart attacks and broken hips for us old folks, ya know.

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I’m thinking now I’ll need lunch before we go and maybe a couple more cookies for extra energy…

Whiz up your unsweetened coconut flakes to make them "shredded" if they aren't already.

Combine the butter, coconut, coconut flour, and salt with lightly with a fork.

Dice the dates. I like to do mine cold, they're easier to handle and less sticky.

Add the Chai Spice Mix and the chopped dates and stir until thoroughly combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and roll dough lightly into 12 small balls.

Give them a little pat with your fingers and then flatten them the rest of the way with a glass dipped in coconut flakes.

Sprinkle with a little more coconut...

Then bake them until they are beautiful and golden.

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Abigail sniffing to decide whether I had made something she needed to taste.

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Nope.

She sat at the edge of the couch while I photographed the food with that tiny little, very persistent growl that says, “I would like you to tuck me in now”. “NOW please. RIGHT now. I NEED to be tucked in NOW please.”

She’s become very fond of my Pottery Barn cable knit throws.

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I also have a thick chocolate brown one our bed that she likes to be wrapped up in every night. An expensive dog with expensive taste.

She is the Queen of the palace after all.

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Romeo is more happy-go-lucky and usually just content with being near wherever you are.

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When I cover him up he gives me a slow, deep, sigh of thanks, but would never go as far as to insist on being covered with cable knit. He’ll stick to a more manly fleece, thank you very much.

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A couple of cookies and a cup of my Coconut Chai Sipping Chocolate and I’ll have plenty of energy to keep me warm.

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Coconut Chai Shortbread Cookies

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees (makes 12)

5 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Flour

6 Tablespoons of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes (whiz in food processor if they aren’t shredded) plus more for dipping

6 Tablespoons of Non Dairy Butter

A Small Pinch of Fine Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon of Chai Mix

2 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup

2 Organic Medjool Dates, pitted and diced

In a medium bowl combine the flour, coconut flakes, butter, and salt with a fork. Add the chai spices, dates, and syrup. Mix with fork until thoroughly combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll dough lightly into 12 small balls. Flatten dough with a glass dipped in shredded coconut. (Rub a little dough on the bottom of the glass to begin). Once flattened, sprinkle with a little more coconut.

Bake in a preheated oven for 9 minutes (I use convection, keep your eye on them) or until edges are golden. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.

Coconut Chai Sipping Chocolate

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Winter has officially arrived in my neck of the woods. It’s 24 degrees with an expected high of only 28 today. The wind is howling. We had a gorgeous, hot summer and a fabulously mild fall, so lets hope that this winter is a true winter and brings lots and lots of snow.

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For the last couple of months I’ve been allowing myself what I consider a very indulgent treat at Starbuck’s. A soy Chai Tea Latte. Indulgent because it has caffeine which my body doesn’t like and non-organic soy which is terrible for pretty much anyone…along with a HEAP of refined sugar and God only knows what else.

*It was brought to my attention by my sweet friend, Megan, after I posted this, that Starbuck’s actually does use non-GMO, organic soy. Ten points for Starbucks!

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But it’s those spices that just make me swoon.  They are so comforting and calming. I don’t know what it is about them, they just speak to me.

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After my last one started to make me feel wired and made my stomach very unhappy, I realized my love affair with Starbuck’s Chai was going to have to end. It was an inevitable breakup, but fun while it lasted.

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Luckily, Chai spices are easy to come by and it’s very easy to whip up your own mix to add to whatever you like. This morning I woke with a headache. The result of Romeo, our 75 pound Vizsla, running right into my head while I was laying on the floor in front of the fire last night. He can often be like a goofy, uncoordinated toddler. My neck cracked and this morning I was greeted with an 80 year old neck rather than my already touchy and grouchy 46 year old neck.  Not a pleasant way to greet the day. It was also freezing, and the first thing to come to my mind was not BenGay, ibuprofen and water…but “oh I wish I had a hot chai tea latte and a robe warmer”…and a personal masseuse.

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Then I remembered what I felt like the last time my lover and I got together and figured that probably wouldn’t be all that fun to add hyper nerves and gut wrenching tummy pain to the headache and neck ache I was already dealing with. Sorry Starbuck’s, but really, it’s not you, it’s me.

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Then came the birth of my Coconut Chai Sipping Chocolate. Right there in bed where some of my best recipe ideas are born. Amazing the clarity you have when you kick those toxic lovers out of your life.

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And I don’t mind telling you that it is amazing. Have you ever had a sipping chocolate? It’s rich, velvety, and fabulous. The chai spices give it that soothing aroma and taste and take something rather ordinary like chocolate and coconut and make it into a very special sipping event.

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For those of you who do not feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin after drinking coffee, I would bet a shot of espresso in this would make you even happier.

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This recipe serves 2. Remember it is very rich. But if you don’t feel like sharing, you can pour the other half into a pretty little jar and take it to work with you for an afternoon pick me up. It can be re-heated and served hot, or chilled and then served over ice.

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Enjoy!

Chai Spice Mix

1 Small Jar

3 teaspoons of Turmeric

4 teaspoons of Cardamom

4 teaspoons of Cloves

4 teaspoons of Allspice

8 teaspoons of Cinnamon

6 teaspoons of Ginger

Measure all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Spoon into a storage jar.

Coconut Chai Sipping Chocolate

1 Can of Full Fat Organic Coconut Milk

3 Ounces of 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Organic Raw Unfiltered Honey

1 teaspoon of Chai Spice Mix, plus more for sprinkling

Measure all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Heat on medium and whisk until chocolate is completely melted and ingredients are combined. Split between two mugs (or save some for later!) and sprinkle with extra Chai Spice Mix.