Tips For an Easier and Tastier Thanksgiving

I’m going to come right out and say it: planning and cooking a traditional Thanksgiving feast is not easy. It’s a challenge, to say the least. Few people have the sort of kitchens that can store and cook all the food required in one go, let alone sufficient helping hands. There are things in that traditional menu that very, very few of us cook at any point in the rest of the year. After all, when else do most people roast a turkey or make a pie? Yes, I do make pie pretty regularly, but that turkey? Not so much. That’s a big honking bird to cook for two people, which is how many eat here in one go maximum most of the year. Heck, my mother had a husband, three hungry kids, and usually at least one friend of someone in the family at that dinner table most nights, and turkey was still a once a year thing.

So let’s talk about a few ways you can make your life easier if you choose to take on making a more or less standard, traditional Thanksgiving meal for you and yours. After all, you want the energy to enjoy what you have wrought when you sit down to eat. Landing face first in the mashed potatoes from exhaustion and frustration does not make for a fun holiday for anyone.

So what can you do to make sure you’re in good shape to celebrate? What can you do to make unfamiliar dishes taste like you’re a pro at cooking them?

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Take Care of Your Emotional Health on Thanksgiving

It’s a fact. Not all families are created equal. Some of us are lucky enough to have families that welcome and embrace us during the holidays… and others of us spend this time of year being emotionally beaten up by our nearest and dearest.

Over the years, I’ve read harrowing tales on this site from awesome Big Girls who are expected to cook the Thanksgiving feast and then berated for every bite they dare to eat. I’ve read of others who spend the holidays in a constant round of being given diet tips by all their relatives, their spouses, and their closest friends. I’ve read about the folks who wheedle invitations to dinner and then complain about the cooking, the choice of menu, and the decor. I’ve read about families grimly sitting down to a traditional meal that took days and huge amounts of money to create, but that nobody actually enjoys eating. And I’ve read about families who take this holiday dedicated to gratitude and turn it into a chance to object vociferously to the size, body art, hair color, clothing choices, sexuality, relationships, child-rearing plans and/or skills, careers, and literary taste of everyone else at the table.

If this in any way describes your Thanksgiving guest list (or the Thanksgiving you’ve been invited to partake in), it’s time to rethink your holiday plans.

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Holy Grail Top for All Big Bodies?

I’m not a clothes sharing sort of person. I will, on occasion, loan out a pair of shoes or an accessory –always documented and signed for– when a friend in need has a special event and I need to burn off a few hours of purgatory. I’ve even been known to let a job-hunting girlfriend borrow the Birkin for interviews.

The one exception is my best friend.

Although we are just about the same size and height, our looks couldn’t be more different:

She’s delicately featured with subtle coloring, cascading bambi-colored hair and an enviable sprinkling of freckles across her nose (I’m sadly sans angel kisses, and used to draw them on my face as a child with a Sharpie.) Her legs are long and trim, uninterrupted by waist, hips, or butt and it is a testament to the magnificence of her rack that she is the single most terrifying creature to have ever perched behind the wheel of a midsize sedan and yet her driving record is cleaner than a pig on Sunday.

I, on the other hand, have dramatic coloring, a nearly black Eton crop/pixie combo and a pear-shaped figure with all the dips and swells that body shape entails. Understandably, what suits one of us rarely works on the other. I look like a sack of wet feed in the sheaths she wear so well, and my beloved sternum-revealing necklines would get her arrested or at least gently escorted back to the nearest red light district.

It is with great interest, then, that we discovered how fantastic we both look in the Hazel Hi-Lo Peplum Top from Kiyonna.

I knew the neckline and emphasis on the waist would be heaven on me (not to mention the lalalanothingtoseehere effect of the peplum treatment over my stomach), but I wasn’t prepared for it to look just as amazing on my best pal.

I wear it styled in the traditional manner while she wears it with a camisole. The deep V is supposed to lie flat and is lined with some serious interfacing to make sure it stays that way, but on my busty friend they flip out to look like little lapels, which honestly is just as cute.

Kiyonna makes plus-size clothing the way they ought to be made: thoughtfully and with attention to detail in both construction and design. They’re also all made in America, so you can be smug at dinner parties, which is always fun.

Stay tuned for more reviews, and take a word of advice: if you’re going to take the Hazel top on vacation, buy two. I have a feeling the one I bought might not make its way into my suitcase ever again.

Hey Mr Policeman

A little Election Day music from the late, great and virtually unheard of outside of Texas, Blaze Foley. Foley was overshadowed both in life and death by his best friend Townes Van Zandt, and was shot on his front porch at 40 years old.

It’s a great bluesy song, and I’m sure the “stuff” he’s asking the police not to take is shoes. Definitely shoes.

Picture Picture on the Wall

“It takes a certain type of person to have a painting of themselves above the mantel” said my friend Kirk, who at the time was admiring the same great room I was, the walls packed floor to ceiling with minor Picassos, major Modiglianis and candid portraits of our genteel host as a younger, freer man in Paris which would have been beautiful even if they hadn’t been taken by Man Ray.

“Hey! I have a painting of myself on my mantel!” I protested.

“Exactly.”

If I’m being honest, it’s not a terribly good portrait and I can’t even remember who painted it. It’s a little Liechtenstein by way of early Byzantium for me, but although I have a painting, I don’t think I have a single photo of myself displayed anywhere in the house.

Is that weird? That’s probably weird.

It’s not the dreaded Fat Girl Shame, and it’s certainly not out of modesty. I don’t have many photos of myself from my younger days and most of my grand adventures were either solo, or else photo documentation would’ve been an unwise choice. I do have several photos from last year’s trip to Ireland, but most of them are from the budding hours of our last night in town and feature a good-hearted but misguided and exceedingly ungroomed gentleman of our recent acquaintance trying to forcibly tongue bathe me on the dance floor while I shot pleading looks to my BFF who, in the tradition of all BFFs everywhere, laughed at me mercilessly and kept the shutter snapping.

Other than that, no photos.

I have a girlfriend, Penelope (obv not her real name) on the other hand, who is a normal person.

Like normal people, she has photo documentation of her life scattered in little Ikea frames all over her living space. The odd thing to me is that almost all the photos are from her teens and early twenties…a hundred pounds ago. Especially the ones on the refrigerator. I know she’s uncomfortable with her weight. She’s been uncomfortable with it since she was nine, but it’s like size 22 Penelope doesn’t exist, just size 12 who could still fit in her cheerleader uniform.

I just don’t know what to think. It makes me unusually uncomfortable, like the friend who still uses a head shot from when she was 19 as her internet dating profile, even though she’s in her mid-thirties with a totally different body shape. It’s frustrating, because she’s just exactly as beautiful now as she was then. Same thing with my skinny photo girl.

Maybe I don’t know what it’s like since I’ve always been a big girl.

I’ve never had this slender past to look upon with a combination of pride and shame. Sometimes I’m larger and sometimes I’m smaller, but I don’t harbor any belief I could still pass for 19. The last time I passed for 19 I was probably twelve and a half. Still, if I had photos of myself from that period, I’d probably stick them up.

Just not exclusively. It’s the exclusivity that’s weird.

Is it diet motivation? Coincidence? Blanket self-delusion? Intellectual dishonesty in adorable Swedish frames?

Someone help me understand.

How To Compose a Thanksgiving Menu

This is a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, cranberries, pie, gravy, seasonal vegetable medley… it’s a meal that many people look forward to every year.

It’s also one that many people dread every year. In this case, I’m not talking about the company, because that will be another article. As per usual, I’ll spend the weekends leading up to Thanksgiving (here in USAnia, anyway) talking about different aspects of Thanksgiving, very much including the emotional ones. But today, I’m just talking menu planning.

You see, no matter how traditional or un you plan to be, the meal needs planning in advance. So let’s break it down and figure out how to figure out what to serve your nearest and dearest for the holiday.

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The Terrifying Truths About Twistie

As some of our more intrepid readers may recall, last week I posted three truths about me and one bald-faced lie, and then asked you all to guess which was the nose-growing statement in the garden of my prose. What? I can mix metaphors that don’t even exist if I like. But remember, I’m a professional blogger. Do not try this at home.

Anyway.

Six of you waded in and gave it a go… and somebody did get it right.

To find out the sordid truth about the three truths and the yet more sordid truth behind the one lie, join me after the cut.

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