feeling thankful

feeling thankful | the merry gourmet

Last night, I roasted some turkey thighs and wings along with some aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, and garlic). The next step was to make stock from the roasted turkey and vegetables. I was tempted to make the turkey stock last night, but I didn’t have the energy and I had a banging headache starting up.

This morning, I woke up with that same headache. After a trip to the gym and a bowl of cereal, I swallowed some ibuprofen and started cooking.

I started with turkey stock. Those roasted turkey parts simmered gently in a pot of more aromatics, some thyme, chicken broth, and white wine. Slow bubbles rose to the surface before breaking and releasing the most heavenly aromas. As the house filled with scents of Thanksgiving over the next two hours, my headache slowly disappeared.

Later, I rolled out the pie crust dough and fitted two pie plates with blankets of buttery pastry. After blind baking the crusts, I poured in the pumpkin pie filling, carefully transferred them to the oven, and an hour or so later, the pies were done. The bread making came next. Last year, or maybe the year before, I started making cloverleaf rolls from scratch. A couple of bad experiences with frozen, store-bought Parker House rolls convinced me that I just needed to make the bread myself. After discovering this Cook’s Country recipe, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store-bought.

The cornbread and biscuits that I baked yesterday afternoon were put to use today in the cornbread dressing. I have eaten this dressing at every Thanksgiving and Christmas since I’ve celebrated the holiday with my husband. And thinking back, that’s a very long time – we started having Thanksgivings together in 1989, back when I was in high school. It just wouldn’t be a proper Thanksgiving without this dressing on the table.

I have been on my feet for hours today, and most of those hours were spent in the kitchen. My hands are raw from washing dishes (I’m a clean-as-you-go kind of girl). My upper back aches and my legs are tired.

This was one of my favorite days. I love Thanksgiving.

It’s been a tough year, and so many times, I’ve wished that I could go back in time or fast forward, anything to move beyond the hurt that this year brought. Not having Dad here is devastating. But this Thanksgiving, I’m looking at the positives.

I am thankful to have a career that I love, one that I have a hard time calling a “job,” because it is so much more than that. It is a calling.

I am thankful for my friends and mentors who constantly support me and lift me up. They make me want to be a better person.

I am thankful my father is no longer suffering. I so wish he was still alive, but I know that his life was not what he would have wanted in the end. I am thankful to have so many good memories of him, before he fell ill, when he was just Dad.

I am thankful to have found the gift of cooking. Teaching myself how to cook empowered me to feed my family and my friends, and it gave me the joy that comes from creating something amazing and nourishing out of simple ingredients.

I am thankful for my wonderful, beautiful family. They are my life.

And I am thankful for you, Reader. You make me want to keep writing, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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24 Responses to “paring down”

  1. Paula — December 19, 2013 @ 11:34 am

    I don’t believe in the adage that a cluttered desk is a busy desk. I have to have things organized, a place for everything and everything in it’s place. May be a bit OCD on my part but I function much better when things are neat and tidy.
    I’m glad that you were able to clear the clutter from your home and your office, it really does help clear the mind and enable productivity. Less mess is less stress for sure.
    I love your new blog look and your charming logo.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

      I am definitely a bit OCD, Paula. I have several friends who would agree to this fact. 🙂

  2. Katie Workman — December 19, 2013 @ 11:42 am

    blog looks gorgeous. matches the writing.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

      Oh, thank you, Katie.

  3. DessertForTwo — December 19, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    First, I love the new look!
    Second, I am so inspired to pare down, too. Did you read the book 7? It’s a bit like reading someone’s journal, but the gist is eliminating clutter and reorganizing your life.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

      Thanks! I haven’t read that, but I’m going to go search for it. (I love book recommendations!)

  4. Gail — December 19, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    Beautifully done, MJ. I’m going to my paper shredder right now.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

      Thank you, Gail.

  5. tami — December 19, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

    first of all, congrats on the new look – it’s lovely! secondly, i can’t co-sign this enough. after we went to Tulum – and I spent a perfectly content week in a one room hut on the beach with minimal STUFF – I’ve come back home and i feel overwhelmed by the amount of crap we accumulate. with the pending move, i can’t wait to just throw away – or give away – so much of the “things”. i’m a minimalist at heart, in the end. happy holidays, love! xo

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

      Thanks, Tami. Happy holidays to you and Mike, too!

  6. Carol Sacks — December 19, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

    The site looks lovely and now I’m feeling inspired to attack the various piles in my life, too. All the best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Carol! And good luck with those piles.

  7. Macaroni Mama — December 19, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    I love the new look. Paring down takes determination. Bit by bit, clean spaces appear. I agree with Gail. Time to shred.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

      Thanks, Mom. 🙂

  8. Winnie — December 19, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    Love the new site, MJ! So simple and perfect.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

      I just love simple, Winnie. I’m so glad you like it!

  9. Laura — December 19, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

    What a beautiful new site design! I’m a bit envious of your organizing… I keep trying, but my efforts don’t seem to produce much results, haha. If your organizing bug continues, you’re always welcome to come help with mine 🙂

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

      I just wish I had more time for organizing. That’s the eternal problem, isn’t it, Laura? ps – Happy holidays to you!

  10. Maria Raynal — December 19, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

    Love the clean, fresh design. And love that post-decluttering feeling, too. Lightens up the mind.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 19th, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

      My mind definitely feels lighter with this redo. Hope you’re well, Maria!

  11. Eileen — December 19, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

    If my desk is clutter I feel out of control. And that goes for pretty much everything else that gets cluttered too. Just call me a control freak – lol!

  12. Kathryn — December 20, 2013 @ 6:15 am

    The site looks wonderful, I love how clean and bright and fresh. You’re so right – it makes such a different to my mood and focus if I’m not living in my usual state of chaos. Happy holidays to you and your family : )

  13. Denise — December 20, 2013 @ 11:19 am

    I am really looking forward to January, when I organize the house, so much so that I already have a good idea of what is getting the boot! I always feel so liberated when purging things that we do not need or use any longer.

    Love the new look as well, it is so cheery and bright. We are feeling the same way about Chez Us. We changed it once this year but still have not gotten it right or the way we see it in our minds. I have a feeling there will be a “new and improved” coming soon as well. After all, cleaning and organizing all areas of our lives is a good thing.

    Happy Holidays!

  14. Sara Emmanuel — December 20, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

    I can relate to every paragraph you’ve written. I don’t do well with clutter and I feel the mental heaviness that goes with it. My favorite line is ” I wanted less clutter, more empty space…more room for my thoughts”.

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