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Thanksgiving is always the most stressful time of the year for me. Wanting to mimic “Martha Stewart style,” I always attempt to do too much in too short of time. This year was no exception; although, I firmly decided not to create an ornate annual holiday letter, to be included with holidays cards, which I would then write a personal note in each, affix a printed label, and send by the first week of December.

Instead, I spent the time scrambling to bake 12 batches cookies 10 types of candies… purchase and wrap gifts for people I’d be seeing at Thanksgiving, make a couple of side dishes for the holiday dinner, and figure out what to bring for the two days we planned to camp in our motor home.

My plan for the latter was 50% success with my baking a ham and bringing what was left in the refrigerator. I pack a variety of vegetables to make salads, but forgot the dressing. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower made it into the motor home, but not margarine. The potatoes and bacon we brought for breakfast lacked eggs. And while I managed to pack five trays of cookies to give away, the only baked goods that managed to find their way into the motor home was a sad, small container of reject cookies and candy we’d been nibbling on since we baked a few weeks prior.

We did have plenty of peppermint mocha creamer and coffee… which in retrospect was essential for camping in the damp, rainy Pacific Northwest!

Prior to slurping peppermint-infused coffee while meandering on forested trails, we left Kirkland at 4:45 on Thanksgiving morning. The three cats we took, Lila, Zephyra, and Jujube, alternated between sleeping on Rich’s and my laps, and lounging on the bed over the cab. Safely stowed under pillows on the bed in the back were the cookies, candies, and gifts. This year, we made:

  • Chocolate chip (made with peppermint chips)
  • Chocolate with peanut butter chips
  • Oatmeal with butterscotch chips
  • Oatmeal with white chocolate chips and dried strawberries
  • Exotic spice (made with cardamom, ginger, ground pepper, and other spices, plus rose water)
  • Peanut butter thumbprint with jelly (some were filled with melted chocolate chips)
  • Sugar
  • Cappuccino thins
  • Ginger coins
  • Peppermint slices (white dough, rolled in crushed candy canes… a last minute inspiration)
  • Biscotti with almonds
  • Biscotti with dried mango (very tasty)
  • Seven layer bars
  • Fudge with cashew
  • Fudge with dried cherries
  • Rum balls
  • Coconut macaroons
  • Peanut brittle
  • Mint bark
  • Tillamook toffee (like Almond Roca)
  • Cappuccino caramels
  • Candied orange, grapefruit, and lemon peels (hands down the best thing I made this year)

We arrived in Camas, Washington (the Columbia River away from Portland, Oregon) around 9 a.m. for the start of an AMAZING Thanksgiving at Rich’s son’s (Chris) house.

Shawnie, Chris’ wife, was expecting their first child in early December. Stacey, Rich’s daughter was visiting from Long Beach, California. Chris’ and Stacey’s mother, June, was visiting from Hawaii. Their sister Casey along with her husband Bryan, was visiting from Colorado. And later in the afternoon, Shawnie’s parents, and two brothers arrived.

Throughout the day, people cooking the holiday meal, nibbled on appetizers and my cookies, caught up on news, and of course, discussed politics. We enjoyed turkey roasted in a propane cooker, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, paella, cranberry jello salad, cranberry relished (prepared with ginger ale), poke (amazing ahi tuna June shipped overnight from Hawaii), sautéed greens with nuts and cranberries, red cabbage salad with apples, gravy… green beans with almonds, and dressing.

For dessert there were several pies, and a pumpkin upside-down cake.

After a very filling meal, we sat in the living room, talking, giggled, and looked at pictures of Shawnie’s ultrasound.


Late breaking new!

Today, Wednesday, November 28th, at 3:30 pm, Chris and Shawnie had Coen Lavelle Lary. He was 7 pounds, 4 ounces with a full-head of black hair. Rich is a grandfather. Please refer to him as “Gramp” from this day forth!


After sleeping in the motor home, parked on the street, we had a traditional Hawaiian breakfast at Chris and Shawnie’s house, consisting of rice, fried eggs, and sausage… and of course, cups of coffee.

I’m very lucky to not only have married Rich, but married into a fabulous, fun family! Stay tuned for more about our Thanksgiving trip.

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