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how to host your first thanksgiving

How To Host Your First Thanksgiving (And Love It)

Stressful. Overwhelming. Visions of flour everywhere and turkey served frozen. If you’ve never hosted Thanksgiving before there’s an implicit amount of stress that can come with this food centered gathering. We’ve put together this post to show you the essentials for all things turkey day and share tips for making it the best thanksgiving yet! Because you’re gathering some amazing people around you and it should be fun. Below you’ll find a sample menu, (Find our 2015 and 2016 Friendsgiving celebrations here.) week of prep list, and tips and tricks for making the day simple and enjoyable as you gather friends and family members around the table.

Keep reading for the full post after the jump!

Talk Turkey to Me. (Turkey Cooking 101.)

As you prep for the big day, it’s time to do the math. Estimate that each guest at your Thanksgiving table will eat around 1/2 lb of turkey (as most Thanksgiving dinners are somewhat side heavy.) Depending on the weight of your turkey, you can estimate that each pound of turkey will take 10 minutes to cook at 325 degrees roasting in the oven. When a turkey is fully cooked, the poultry should read 180 degrees F in the thigh or 165 in the breast. For a smaller crowd, a turkey breast is perfect, particularly if those in attendance prefer white meat over dark meat. You can even get a turkey broken down into pieces making cooking easier and more efficient. Based on your cooking method of choice, the way you prepare a turkey will differ. Most turkeys are sold in the frozen section and take days of being in the refrigerator to thaw. For a 10-18 lb turkey, estimate 3 days to thaw. Our preferred method of seasoning a turkey is with a simple brine and then roast. In order for a brine to work, a cooking liquid is created and the turkey remains in this juice overnight prior to roasting or smoking the meat. Factor this into your week of prep, leading up to the big day. Most Whole Foods or organic groceries will carry fresh organic turkeys. Based on the size needed, you might need to place an order for the size of your turkey. (They usually handle smaller sizes in stock, so it’s always wise to call ahead.)

If you’re roasting your turkey, make sure to have it in a roasting pan with a rack elevating the turkey allowing air to circulate beneath the cavity of the bird. If this feels like too much of a splurge you can buy an aluminum disposable roasting pan. Place on a cookie sheet to reinforce the weight of the bird and fill the bottom of the pan with root veggies and fresh herbs to compliment the flavors in your recipe. We love this one for brining and roasting the perfect bird.

Give us all the Sides.

As the host for Thanksgiving, don’t hesitate to have others bring their favorite thanksgiving side to contribute to the meal. This is a modern take on a potluck and the perfect way to allow ownership from others. If you want to handle the full meal, ask a friend to bring dinner rolls, pies, or drinks. If cocktails are your jam, just let them know the alcohol needed and they can bring this as a great addition. For early arrivals, we love having a charcuterie tray available for people to snack on throughout the day.

Know thyself.

Know your comfort level and what you’re able to take on. Use recipes you love and know rather than tackling ones for the first time. Maybe hosting is your thing but everything else feels overwhelming. Designate and delegate to others, making the process fun and less pressure to create an amazing day. Maybe you have a friend who has amazing style and loves to decorate. Let her own decorating the table. Maybe you have a friend who is a brilliant chef. Give them the ability to help you cook and learn from them in the kitchen throughout the day.

The Table.

Thanksgiving is a dish heavy meal. Decide whether or not you like dishes to be passed around the table or have the counter space to offer buffet style service. This will largely determine how much you are able to add to the table. Choose a simple and cohesive palette. We love using neutrals and white dishes to allow the food presentation to steal the show. (We only think it’s appropriate for Thanksgiving.) Make it personal by including place cards that are also notecards, sharing gratitude for each person who is coming to your table. Head to the dollar store and grab a roll of kraft paper. This can serve as a simple and timeless runner. (Also perfect for kids who love to color, craft, and make hand turkeys on their end of the table.) For flowers and additional color we line some of our favorite gourds, mini pumpkins, and taper candles in a row. To add additional color, we add foraged greenery and sweet gum leaves adding that perfect element of fall decor. Additional touches go a long way. Choose a few elements, and set the table the night before so you can focus on cooking and enjoying others throughout the day.

Week of Prep.

Review recipes and develop shopping list.
Complete any DIY or decor items.
Clean house (for any overnight guests) and catch up kitchen linen laundry.
Pull Thanksgiving outfit.
Buy groceries 3-4 days prior.
Pull dishes and servingware making sure you have all essential elements/pots/pans needed.

The Day Before.

Forage greenery.
Set the table. (Figure out if you need to set a kids table as well. Adjust accordingly.)
Prep the bar.
Buy ice.
Brine turkey.
Make timeline for recipes, oven temperatures, and completion leading up to guests arrival.
Make desserts and wash produce ahead of time.

Day of Prep.

Watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Get ready minus your outfit for dinner.
Eat a great and filling breakfast. We love to start the day out with Pumpkin protein pancakes. (Simply add a scoop of vanilla pea protein powder to our Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancakes recipe.)
Prep charcuterie platter and store in the fridge.
Make any simple syrups for cocktails and set up the bar with instructions for your mixologist.
Follow your timeline for cooking, adjusting timelines accordingly to the turkey.

Additional tips

Have water throughout the day and put on a favorite playlist.

Tidy up the house, 1 hour prior to guests arrival.

Clean up the kitchen as you go. Pots and pans will be in high demand throughout your day.

Save cash by repurposing pumpkins and gourds from earlier in the season to decorate your table.

Use other heat sources than the oven so your turkey receives consistent heating temperatures. This could mean keeping things warm on the grill, stove, or crockpot.

This Year’s Menu

Smashed Cranberry Gin Fizz

Charcuterie Tray

Braised Turkey with Burnt Orange, Cranberries, and Aromatics

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Autumn Kale Salad

Garlic Herb Slow Cooker Potatoes

Gluten-Free Mini Chai Bundt Cakes








love and influence

An Honest Talk about Love and Influence

Over the years through the Internet, we’ve found celebrity and significance in the feeds and scrolling that fill our days. As I look to inspiration, pattern, and creativity that fills our days, there’s a necessary purpose and meaning that comes to the surface. For many creatives, we quickly realized focusing on impact is the best solution. With this comes algorithms, a need to increase following, raise a tribe, and boost engagement. As our networks increase, so does our influence. It’s all done in the name of impact.

However, have we become more worried about crafting a voice, a message, and a brand, perpetuating the idea of building influence than we have love. Influencer by nature has an identity and significance tied to it. This idea of celebrity, where people care about what I buy and what I wear. It is definitely marketing in all of it’s forms. The truth behind many blogs is they are costly to run and are fueled by affiliate and digital products.

Have we become more occupied with influence and a persona than we have the hearts in front of us? I remember one day meeting someone for the first time. Due to the nature of my life and business, I choose to downplay and avoid what I do for a living when first meeting someone. I’d rather be interested in someone than dominate a conversation. I realize at the fast-pace and high-capacity nature of my life, I’ve created and built something that far exceeds my years. It’s normal for me and something I’ve experienced most of my adult life. However, usually while standing there some wants to engage with my social media, comment on my feed, and while filled with kind hearted comments, it usually stops a conversation quickly. “Wow, you shoot this yourself? Who are your clients? You’re so cool, I’m inspired when I’m around you.” Then there’s a moment. A moment where the comments stop and the other individual slows down the questions. I was never concerned about what I do for a living, I rather wanted to connect to the humanity of another during a conversation. Influence rises to the surface and conversation reaches to a standstill.

But what about love? More than my name and what I do for a living, are people drawn toward me because of who I am? Have I found myself to be the fullest embodiment of love they find? When someone is in my presence do they feel safe, known, and at home? Do they feel that more than a pretty table or delicious meal, their hearts are hosted well.

As morbid as it sounds, I’m someone that thinks about legacy often. Maybe it’s that I’m quickly approaching my 30th year or that the time of year where reflection and process is quickly approaching, but the decisions I make and how they affect others impacts me often. I think about the messages I craft and write. While I love creating things that matter, more than anything I want people to say of me, “She was someone who loved much.”

While there are gray areas, there are also moments that love and influence feel deeply juxtaposed. I’m someone that doesn’t get overly impressed by the status of people. I’ve been raised and surrounded by innovators and thinkers most of my life, regardless of where I found myself. However, what never ceases to amaze me are those who use their positions, their influence, to love those around them more. They hold their families close, honor sacrifice, and carry themselves with grace and dignity. More than influence, what strikes me is their ability to watch compassion and legacy rise to the surface. They are ones who love, mothering and fathering many in this world.

Today, how will you prioritize love over influence?

Join in on the conversation. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

you are enough

Monday Words: You Are Enough

As the holiday season is already in full swing, it’s already feeling somewhat crazed. (This is a super common feeling  for bloggers in Quarter 4.) I’m reminded of the beauty of self-worth. This Monday, remember you are worth more than what you get done, what you are able to do, or accomplish for others. May you receive and give love for who you are first and foremost than anything you might do for others. Your value is determined by the beauty of your humanity, the graciousness of your movement, and the gratitude of heart you carry. You are more than the crossed off lines on your to-do list, the clients you’ve booked, or the change you bring to the world.

May you have the courage to show up, grow, develop, and live as one who is enough this week.

In this Season

In This Season

Happy Friday everyone!

I’m currently writing in a favorite coffee shop, looking out the window as the rain pours down. Where I live rain days are few and far between. Over the past few months, I’ve been functioning at a crazy pace. I come home after long days and often crash in bed. But at the same time, I’m realizing I’m living my dream, the thing I’ve wanted for years. My spirit is often full, but my body becomes so tired at the same time. Maybe you’ve been there? As I look to this season, I know it will be full on. My shooting calendar is full, the collaboration list is long, and a site launch is on it’s way. Life is packed, however there’s unexpected joy, excitement, and beauty in it all. I get to see dreams come to life, watch people be impacted around every corner, and know the projects are getting done. (Needless to say, my entire house is sourced for Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, and Christmas shoots at the moment. Our Target haul was super big.)

To my fellow dream chasers, allow your heart to delight in the creative process. Enjoy the people you collaborate with and provide yourself breathing room. Today this means wrapping a meeting and heading back to my beloved desk and creating in my dream space. It keeps me incredibly productive and I love every bit of that space. (We’re working on wrapping up our site launch at the moment.)

In this season, give yourself margin and breathing room. May you find peace, joy, and abundance around every corner. Whether it’s comfort in a still small voice or the creature comforts that you delight in. Embrace peace unlike ever before.

Here are a few things I’ve been loving on the Internet lately:

Perfect for a cold, rainy day, this vegan cheddar soup from Love and Lemons is perfect for dinner tonight.

We love this mustard sweater from Piper and Scout. With a cozy style, we love the versatility and might just rock this look on Thanksgiving Day.

Looking for ways to do the holiday season on a budget? This article from Camille Styles includes great tips.

We’re in the middle of planning our Friendsgiving and this beautiful guide from Half Baked Harvest is serving as our inspiration.

Just in case you missed it, here are this week’s posts:

Gratitude. From Holiday to Habit. | Gluten-Free Chicken Osso Bucco | Cozy Up: Fall Home Edit

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we’re headed to a cabin getaway in Bend, OR. Have any recommendations for Bend?

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

fall home edit

Cozy Up: Fall Home Edit

Our fall nights are long, seriously long. With daylight savings in full force and surrounded by the mountains, it gets dark at 4 o’clock in the evening. It’s the perfect time for all those home projects that you’ve been putting off as we played outside during the summer. Keep reading for 5 ways to make your home fall ready after the jump!

fall home edit

Cozy Up: Fall Home Edit

Embrace texture. 

White walls, green plants, and wooden textures are common and the norm as far as texture goes. Our house is full of these beloved textures. However, take it a step further and add faux furs, woven rugs, velvets, and chunky knit throws. These will add variation and mix up your decor for the seasons.

Candlelight and firelight is the best.

We love soft cozy light for warmth and a golden hue. Embrace a mantle (or shelf where your TV lives) and make it the focus by surrounding it with lanterns, trimmed firewood, and taper candles. We must admit we’re obsessed with the smell of all things Anthropologie and love their signature Volcano scent. By investing in this one scented candle, we keep all other tapers unscented keeping the scent to a single note and avoiding overwhelming guests with the odor. Take the time to light the candle, put a record on, and read a fantastic book as the night goes on.

Bring the outdoors in.

Pine sprigs, eucalyptus, berries, sweet gum leaves, or fresh herbs. Transition notes of the outdoors in keeping things visually interesting and filled with life as the cloudy and rainy days of winter roll in.

Find ways to say seasonal while skipping traditional colors.

If vivid red, green, or bright orange aren’t your jam, make a point to skip traditional colors and find what works for your seasonal decor. This year for autumn we opted for guards with greens, creams, and a super light orange, perfectly working with the palettes within our home. It doesn’t scream seasonal and over the top which we love. For the Christmas season, we’ve playing with mixed metals, deep colors, and jewel tones. We literally can’t wait to share our Christmas roll out and turn all things into the North Pole.

Choose pieces you love and tell your story. 

Over the years, decor has become far more about following the trends rather than building a home. I must admit as much as I love modern decor and dream of constructing my own home one day, I love the eclectic vibe our home has. Every piece has been found, thrifted, refinished or repurposed. From Craigslist finds to Goodwill candlesticks, dishes and stoneware, to antique shops, and curbside freebies, we love the pieces that fill our home. They tell our story and are perfectly eclectic.

Dress yourself for cozy nights. 

Now that your house is ready, it’s only necessary to have a pair of your favorite slippers by the door and a house coat to keep you warm. Paired with our favorite cashmere sweats, you’re good to go for a cozy night in.

Shop the Post:
Cozy throw from Hearth and Hand
Capri Blue Volcano Candle
Wooden Candlesticks
Washed Linen Table Cloth
Cashmere Sweatpants
Velvet Pillow
Cashmere Hoodie
The Magnolia Story
Record Player
JohnnySwim Vinyl
Tea Kettle

What are some of the ways you prep your home for fall? (Or are you already decorating for Christmas?)

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

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