Through the wonders of mid-week holidays combining with regular days off, I lucked out with a very short work week last week. In the office Monday and Tuesday and then home until the following Monday. Awwww, so lovely. :)
This random stayacation coincided perfectly with my mom's plans to come for a visit and do our normal early Thanksgiving dinner. This started years ago when Jim and I first started dating - I would head home a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, sometimes with Jim, sometimes alone - and celebrate the holiday early with my family. Then for Thanksgiving, I'd head to his family's huge gathering in LA and then on to San Diego to hit up the sales on Black Friday with my bff, and shopping buddy extrodinaire, Blondie. Now that we're married and my mom is coming to LA for holidays (my brother lives here now, too), she prefers to only have to travel during the height of holiday traffic for Christmas and to still do our Thanksgiving celebration early. It seems to work out the best for everyone.
After last year's debacle (more reflections on that in a subsequent post), I think all of us were hoping for a smoother and more uplifting visit with my mom. I'm happy to say that the time she spent here was so much fun and the complete opposite from her time here last year.
Wednesday and Thursday we spent shopping and just hanging out. I talked her into getting some more updated sweaters to add to her wardrobe and she talked me into buying some stuff that I probably didn't need, but was fun to buy anyways. We also got matching leather tote bags from BR (mine in silver, hers in purple) that I'm sure we'll wind up sporting at the same time. ;)
We just about bought out Williams-Sonoma - I needed a roaster for the turkey and some food stuff for the dinner. The store clerks just laughed at us adding more and more stuff to our pile at the register. I think we both felt like pack mules walking back out to the car.
I also took her to Michael Levine in downtown. I needed some fabric for Christmas gifts and she was hoping to get some stuff for her good friend that makes quilts. We made a small purchase there, but then headed across the street to Michael Levine Loft. I'd never been, but really wanted to poke my head in to see what it was all about. OMG! People! That place is so fun!!! They sell all the fabric for $2/pound and will cut pieces to smaller yardages if you ask. We had the best time poking through the huge cardboard boxes, pulling out huge cuts of fabric and making a big pile of stuff to take home with us. I'm really not about sewing for folks unless it's a gift, but when your mommy pulls out fabric and informs you that you'll make her some scarves out of said fabric, well, you just smile and say yes. ;) At the end of the day, I left with a HUGE bag of stuff - 3 sweater knits, some polar fleece, gauzy prints for scarves, suiting fabric for skirts and a chocolate brown rayon modal blend. Total cost - $20!! Such a deal!
Thursday night we took her out to a fun, very LA restaurant, The Bazaar. I had recently had dinner there with some of my friends and thought it was great. I liked that while the decor was wacky and the food was different, it wasn't so out there as to be unpalatable for my mom. And Jim was all excited to go as Esquire has recently named it best new restaurant of 2009. I was pretty bummed to see they had done away with their Chef's tasting menu and replaced it with a seasonal tasting menu ... to the tune of almost double the cost. Boooo! We ordered a bunch of dishes to share though and it worked out fine. I was impressed to see my mom eat a foie gras lollipop and raw tuna and then exclaim that they were some of her favorite things of the meal. This, from the lady that proudly states that she "doesn't eat raw fish." Way to go mom!
By the time Friday rolled around I was in full Thanksgiving dinner shopping and cooking mode. Everything except for the gravy and cranberry sauce was going to be homemade, so I had a lot of work ahead of me. The menu I planned was as follows:
Brined Roast Turkey
Mashed Potatoes and Turkey Gravy
Sausage and Chesnut Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
I finished the desserts and brining the turkey on Friday. That night my brother came over to hang out and I got to relax a little with everyone. We gorged ourselves on pizza and watched Taken and The Hangover. The second movie was a repeat for all of us except my mom. Surprisingly, she thought it was hilarious. :)
Saturday started off pretty strong. As I worked my way through the prep work, I kept the kitchen clean and orderly. My mom would poke her head in ocassionally to say how smoothly everything was going and that I was doing a great job. And smooth it was... until the last hour. That whole "5 dishes needing to be finished off at the same time and I don't have a double oven" thing threw me into a bit of a tailspin. Suddenly, the kitchen looked like a bomb had exploded and I was darting back and forth like a crazy person. Because everyone knows me, they all stayed far far away during this part. Ha! Ultimately, it all turned out okay though. I think my timing has room for improvement, but overall, it worked out well.
I was all set to take a bunch of pictures of the food, but it didn't happen. The only one I got was the pie and that was before the meltdown started. But, look how pretty she was. And it tasted even better than it looked, if I do say so myself.
While the food was delicious, I think the best part was the company. Aside from my mom and brother, we also had my in-laws and my youngest brother in law and his longtime girlfriend, whom I adore. The youngins' particularly impressed us as they came over all dressed up, bearing a bouquet of flowers for me and a bottle of wine for dinner. They're like, all grown up and stuff. Sniff sniff. The conversation flowed so well as we sat there for over 2 hours enjoying dinner and then dessert. My brother impressed me with his intelligent and well-articulated explanation of electronic gadgetry to my in-laws, while they entertained us with their latest ballroom dance moves. I remember at one point just looking around and feeling so happy - being surrounded by people I love in our house, enjoying a holiday dinner I made from scratch. These are the kinds of scenes I had hoped for when we bought the house and it's really awesome to have them coming to fruition.
Sadly, my mom's visit ended far too quickly and she was back home the next morning. We really had a such a great time and I can't wait for her to come back next month for Christmas. This was a really welcomed mid-month break and I'm so happy that she got to come and enjoy it with me.