Fast & Tasty Holiday Turkey: Splay, Smoke or Fry

Fast & Tasty Holiday Turkey: Splay, Smoke or Fry

Last year, our two sons hosted Thanksgiving dinner on alternative coasts. Both prepared their holiday turkey using alternative cooking methods with fantastic results!

Hubby and I drove across the state to youngest son D’s home in Philadelphia. His rowhouse is located in the historic and fashionable Fairmont area of the city. Joining us from Washington D.C., were my husband’s brother and his wife. All of us stayed in the three-story rowhouse, along with our Scottie dog, Whiskey and D’s lab-mix, Bentley. It was a full house, and lots of fun!

Meanwhile, oldest son R was in California celebrating the holiday for the first time with his now fiancé’s family.

Both our sons took charge of the Thanksgiving feast, but each used a more modern method to prepare and cook their big birds. Wanting to use his Traeger grill to smoke a turkey, D and his dad plotted out their plan before we even left Pittsburgh. After brining overnight, they splayed or spatchcock the bird before smoking. Spatchcock is to split open a chicken or game bird before cooking. In contrast, R deep-fried a whole turkey outdoors.

It was the first time anyone in our family had ever splayed, smoked or deep-fried a holiday turkey. Come see how well they both turned out!

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Blaze: Jack O’ Lantern Carved Pumpkin Festival

Blaze: Jack O’ Lantern Carved Pumpkin Festival

Recently, while visiting with family in Hoboken, NJ , we attended an illuminated, carved pumpkin festival. Located in the lower Hudson Valley, near Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame, The Great Jack o’ Lantern Blaze is a magical, immersive experience.

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Since 2005, the walk-through experience has drawn more than 2 million visitors. Lighting up the night are thousands of ornately-carved, glowing pumpkins, in elaborate displays and massive light sculptures.

Today, the spooktacular event is held at two different location; both National Historic Landmarks. We visited the site at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, north of NYC. A second site is at Old Bethpage Restoration Village on Long Island.

Featured in the fun fall festival are larger-than-life installations, synchronized lighting, and an original soundtrack of appropriately spooky music. It’s a family-friendly experience for kids of all ages, and is both stroller and handicap accessible.

Join me on a virtual walk through. Think of it as a Halloween card from me to you — boo!

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Spooky Spellbound Halloween Centerpiece & Table

Spooky Spellbound Halloween Centerpiece & Table

I’ve conjured up a Halloween centerpiece replicating a witch’s collection of oddities for casting spells, hexes and curses.

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It’s one of 21 seasonal settings included in this year’s Halloween Tablescape Hop hosted by my blogger friend, Rita of Panoply.

To set the tablescape scene, I’ve styled four theme elements; a spellbound Halloween centerpiece, place settings with holiday tableware, black napkins folded into the shape of a witch’s hat, and the chandelier decorated as an enchanted owl nest.

Most of the Halloween decor pieces — and all of the tableware —came out of attic, basement and kitchen cabinet storage. Additionally, I spent under $16 in total at Michaels and Dollar Tree for a few items to fill in the Halloween centerpiece and embellish the light fixture.

Creating the witch’s vignette was lots of fun, but time consuming! It took awhile (and many trips up and down the stairs) to gather everything together. Then I arranged and rearranged until styling the centerpiece into the finished look I envisioned. Join me for a spell!

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12 Ways to Welcome Spring & Celebrate Easter

12 Ways to Welcome Spring & Celebrate Easter

After over four and a half years of blogging, I’ve shared a wide selection of seasonal tables, napkin folds, decorations, wreaths, crafts, and activities that welcome spring and celebrate Easter.

Here in Pittsburgh, spring seldom really arrives before mid to late April. Even then, we’ve been known to have the occasional snowfall! There’s nothing worse than having to bundle up in a winter coat to go to church on Palm Sunday or Easter. And, since the holiday can occur between March 22 and April 25, there can be years we’ve barely finished enjoying Easy, Hearty Irish Stew for St. Patrick’s Day, before its time to regroup for Easter.

But this year, they are predicting warm weather for Easter, and the forsythia, bulbs, and flowering trees will be in blooming.

Today, I’ve assembled a roundup of 12 ways to celebrate Easter and change of seasons — all in one place! Simply click on a photo or title to see each post or DIY tutorial in their entirety.

Hoping one or more will inspire you!

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Easy, Hearty Irish Stew for St. Patrick’s Day

Easy, Hearty Irish Stew for St. Patrick’s Day

This is the second year in a row that I’ve organized a St. Patrick’s Day theme hop, and I’m delighted to have 13 other talented blogger buddies join me!

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For the When Irish Eyes are Smiling party, I’ve expanded from just holiday tablescapes to include vignettes, crafts, and foods. You’re sure to find plenty of inspiration for celebrating —whether you’re Irish or not! Links to each feature are listed at the end of the rainbow post.

Today, I’m sharing my favorite St. Patrick’s Day dish, a stout-infused Irish stew with herbed dumplings. It’s the ultimate comfort food! And, perfect for the season here in Pittsburgh. On March 17th, we’re usually still experiencing cold, if not winter weather. Rather than seeing the green, it’s not uncommon for a blanket of white snow to cover the ground!

Mr. Buzz loves this flavorful, filling dish, with it’s fork tender meat and rich, deep brown gravy. He wishes I’d make it more than once a year. Happily, there’s usually enough leftovers to enjoy another day.

My approach to making Irish stew offers numerous options, so you can pick and choose the ingredients and cooking method that is sure to please family and friends.

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Traveling Irish Shamrock Cloth Tablescape

Traveling Irish Shamrock Cloth Tablescape

March has arrived and I’ve already set the kitchen table with a “new” Irish shamrock cloth in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.

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I’m actually the 12th Keeper of the Cloth to incorporate and style the Irish linen into a holiday table top.

My blogger friend, Linda of Life and Linda, bestowed me with the honor for 2022. See her Keeper of the Shamrock Cloth post for the origin and complete history of the tradition that began in 2010. There’s also a listing and pictures of all the previous posts as the shamrock cloth passed from one blogger to the next.

Six of those ladies are among a wonderful group of stylists who I regularly join in seasonal and holiday tablescape blog hops. Although I’ve never met any in person, they are all part of a supportive and talented community of acquaintances with shared interests. Sadly, we lost two fellow bloggers and bright lights recently; dear Paula of Virginia Sweet Pea, and Michelle of The Unpainted Hinge.

Lovely Linda sent me the Irish shamrock cloth — and it’s traveling leprechaun companion — all the way across the country from California to Pittsburgh. I’ve waited months for my opportunity to style the St. Patrick’s Day table, and hope you enjoy the results.

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