What’s Up November
It’s What’s Up Wednesday! You may have noticed that it has been a little quiet here on the blog this past month, but I couldn’t let another week go by without sharing a peek at what I’ve been up to this past month. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t that life in November was any busier than usual, I just found myself continuing to put other things ahead of sitting down at my computer. I’m not sure what Parker Posts will look like in 2021, but I’m enjoying just being in the moment right now and figuring out how everything will fall into place later.
What We’re Eating This Month
I brought back many of our cold weather favorites this month and tried something new as well. This recipe for Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon has become a fall tradition for our family. Risotto isn’t difficult to make, but it does call for a little extra time spent standing over the pot slowly adding broth and stirring continually in order to achieve the perfect creamy consistency. The result is worth the effort and enjoying a good glass of wine while you stir helps.
Note: I adjusted the amount of Arborio rice to 1 1/2 cups instead of two and it still provided our family of four with leftovers. The recipe listed 2 quarts of chicken stock in the ingredient, but then said I would need 4 quarts of chicken stock in the instructions. I found that 2 was sufficient.
I picked up a ham earlier in the month with the intention that it could provide us with several meals over the course of the week. The first night we enjoyed it sliced with a side of Lemon Butter Green Beans with Cranberries Walnuts and Feta. The next day I used the leftover ham bone to make my very first batch of ham broth. I used the broth in this hearty Ham Bean Soup that my family slurped up. My plan was to make Denver omelettes the third night, but I underestimated the amount of ham we would need for all three. I’m planning to buy a bigger ham next month to make these meals again. Using a ham throughout the week definitely made meal planning a little easier. This casserole is another of our go-to recipes for leftover ham.
What I’m Reminiscing About
This time last year we celebrated our first white Thanksgiving in Tahoe. We were hoping for a repeat this year. A few flakes fell earlier in the week, but we didn’t have any major snowfall. Luckily, there was enough snow left on the ground from prior storms to allow for sledding.
What I’m Loving
I am finding new uses for Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser Liquid on the daily. Back in September I shared that I had become hooked on watching @gocleanco cleaning videos on Instagram. They are BIG fans of Bar Keepers Friend. I took their cue and used it on my farmhouse sink and silver serving pieces. This month I became an even bigger fan when the saleswoman at Williams Sonoma suggested I use it to clean my Le Crueset dutch oven that I thought was permanently stained. Just this week, a friend told me I could also use it to remove rust stains from the front of my stainless steel refrigerator. I had searched the internet high and low for a solution prior and had only come across using white vinegar (which did not entirely work). Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser Liquid is pretty miraculous. Did you already know about all of its super powers?
What We’ve Been Up To
My two main focuses this month were celebrating my son’s 14th birthday and a week away in Tahoe for Thanksgiving.
Bicycle Scavenger Hunt Birthday Celebration
My husband and I created a bicycle scavenger hunt for my son and the few buddies he has spent time with these past 6 months. It was the perfect solution for celebrating during COVID-19 because the boys were outside and doing one of the activities my son loves most. We created clues using Canva and texted them to the group. Once they would reach their destination we would text them a challenge to complete. They would send a photo or video of themselves completing the challenge before receiving their next clue. It was great to be able to oversee the entire scavenger hunt from home by tracking them virtually with Find My Friends and being able to send digital clues. We had them riding all over town trying to figure out the clues to local landmarks. The photos and videos of the boys completing silly tasks made for great mementos of the day. Here are some of my favorite clues and challenges from the scavenger hunt…
If you are local, did you figure out any of the clues? The boys all seemed to have a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend a scavenger hunt to anyone looking for an idea on how to celebrate their tween or teens birthday.
Our Thanksgiving was memorable. I didn’t hear the timer and overcooked the appetizers. Then somehow the oven shut off while braising short ribs and dinner was delayed for two hours! Not my finest meal. Thankfully, dessert went off without a hitch and everyone had fun (when they weren’t hangry, fighting, crying and accusing each other of cheating at Guess Who?). The rest of the week was pretty close to perfect. I packed my camera after being inspired by The Way I see It documentary and rediscovered how to take pictures in manual mode on something other than my iPhone. The week also included long walks, sledding, board games, good books and introducing the kids to the movies Crimson Tide and Executive Decision. Now that our kids are teens it is so fun to watch the movies my husband and I watched on repeat in college.
What I’m Working On
Our new dining room furniture arrived this month. I love the transformation so far! Next up is the addition of wallpaper and then the room will be complete. Here are the 3 samples I have been debating between. I have always adored toile because of the stories you can create from the figures depicted on the print. When it comes to home decor I try to always follow my heart rather than the trends. Thankfully, my family has faith in my (sometimes) unconventional choices. I’m so pleased that I took a little extra time to order samples and actually see them in the space. The sample I thought I would like best ended up being my least favorite. Any guesses which one I am going to go with?
What I’m Excited About
Trimming the tree, decorating gingerbread houses, evenings in front of the fire, flannel sheets and driving around looking at Christmas lights. I LOVE this time of year!
What I’m Watching
Dash & Lily was an adorable series to kick off the holiday movie watching season. It is such a sweet story that left me yearning to visit New York again during the holidays. I eagerly anticipated the return of The Crown this season and the introduction of Princess Dianna to the series. As someone who carved out time in our London itinerary just to see her gowns displayed at Kensington Palace, this is a series I look forward to stretching out over several weeks and just relishing every moment.
What I’m listening To
I started curating my holiday playlist in mid November so that it would be ready to go on the day after Thanksgiving. Here are my current favorites:
- You Make It Feel Like Christmas Gwen Stefani
- Little Drummer Boy Josh Groban
- Shake Up Christmas Train
- Run Run Rudolph Kelly Clarson
- Children Go Where I Send Thee Neil Diamond
- I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas LeAnn Rimes
- Heaven Everywhere Francesca Battistelli
- Mary Did You Know Pentatonix
- Christmas in New York Lea Michele
- Christmas Tree Farm Taylor Swift
What I’m Reading
I curled up with Little Fires Everywhere by CelesteNg and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell this month. I liked them both. Little Fires Everywhere gives the reader plenty of food for thought. I haven’t read a Lisa Jewell book that I didn’t like. She does a great job at drawing the reader in with a search for answers.
I just started Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner yesterday and I can already tell I’m going to LOVE it. What are you reading right now?
What I’m Wearing
I’ve been having so much fun putting together cold weather outfits this month. I find myself alternating between denim and leggings most days. I picked up these Spanx leggings during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and I’m glad I did. They are a step up from typical leggings when it comes to style, but just as comfortable. I like them best with layers…a flannel over a tee or a cute sweatshirt layered under a vest. These sneakers have been my go-to shoe this month.
Tip: Spanx run small and have a long inseam. I sized up and ordered a petite. Even with the petite length I had to have them shortened to be the right length on my 5’4 figure.
What I’m Doing This Weekend
We are taking family photos this weekend. Our outfits have been picked out, my roots are getting touched up on Thursday and the weather forecast is clear. Trying to coordinate clothing for teens with strong style opinions is no easy feat. I can’t wait to see the finished results!
What I’m looking Forward to Next Month
I hope you have a happy holiday season my friends. I am forever grateful for the support you have given me since I started this blogging adventure. Every comment, e-mail text, double click and like has encouraged me along the way. THANK YOU 😘
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