Archive for the 'Tips' Category

Published by Kelly Wilson on 14 Nov 2021

Thanksgiving Tips 2021

If you are alive to read this post, you have something to be thankful for!

As we approach the 2021 Thanksgiving Holiday, I am reminded of the tumultuous year that we have lived through. I won’t list anything other than the word covid – which I know is usually spelled with a capital c – but it makes me feel like we take away some of the “ominous-ness” by using a lower case c.

I love the Thanksgiving holiday because it brings together so many of my favorites things… I get to cook, eat, and prayerfully host some of my family and friends. I get to be a little lazy and lounge the day of and day after, if I choose to.  For many of you, there is a weekend of celebrating with extended friends and family who are in town. And best of all – we take time to tell God how grateful we are for blessing us.

Psalm 111:1 captures this sentiment beautifully…

I will thank the Lord with all my heart, as I meet with his godly people.

Isn’t this a great passage to describe Thanksgiving!

To help you get ready, here is my 2021 list of Thanksgiving tips and ideas…

12.    If you haven’t done so yet, now is a good moment think about the people you can safely celebrate with this year. Try to confirm whether these people are available and willing to gather. And if yes, determine how and where. Is it dinner in person, or a Zoom meeting after dining with the people you can eat with? Or is it a gathering on a different day?

11.    Once you know this, those who are hosting/cooking can plan the menu. I usually type my plan on a spreadsheet. (See the screen shot below.) I list the dish, the person who is making it, and if it’s me, when I will cook it. Some things get cooked well in advance and they go into the freezer. Most are cooked the day before. My list helps me not forget things people are looking forward to and also to pace myself and to help from other people.

10. I have noticed that turkeys might not be as plentiful this year. Rather than fret, this could be a chance to try a new protein. One year my mom made fried chicken to go with the turkey. From that point on our family demanded friend chicken and most only eat turkey when the chicken runs out. Or you could roast a whole chicken and have a similar look as a traditional turkey. What ever you have – it will be delicious – if you cook it with love and thanksgiving like the first celebrants did.

9.    I find that the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are a perfect time to clean out your refrigerator and freezer. You are going to need that space for the feast and leftovers. I typically plan to cook and eat whatever is currently in the frig/freezer. I candidly have more this year because of covid. I trust we will be eating some creative combinations…

8.      If you are making a dish for the first time, or one you haven’t made in a long time, consider making a small sample as a practice dry run. That way you will be confident when the big dinner arrives.

7.      If you are hosting the dinner, layout the serving dishes that you plan to use a few days in advance. That way you will know what you have and what you might want to borrow from friends or family.

7.      Take pictures of the preparation and throughout the big day. Don’t worry about posting them anywhere. Just keep them, the good, the bad, the ugly, like the dozen uncooked yeast rolls that my dog pulled from the table before I got a chance to bake them, to savor during future holidays. (And if you must share just do a quick air drop to people in the house.) These photos may become precious mementos like the one below of my mom, who is now celebrating in heaven.

5.      If you are a house guest staying at someone else’s abode, ask how you can help. Men folk, maybe you can keep an eye on all the garage cans in the house and be the emptier/bag replacer. My favorite guests help clean the mountain of dishes from dinner. That is one of the best gifts that can be given.

4.      If we have a large crowd, our dining room table isn’t big enough for all our guests to sit there. So we dress-up the kitchen table and add a cute table in the family room, so the football heads can watch the game while they enjoy the meal after we say grace. Each is decorated and set with plates and utensils that guests can carry through the buffet line. This can be a great strategy to help manage create social distancing spaces.

3.      Consider setting up the food buffet style. We sit our dishes around our kitchen countertops so folks can serve and get seconds easily. I try to make it attractive while self-sustaining once the eating begins. Keep plenty of hand sanitizing handy so people can be safe. And wear masks while fixing plates, especially if guests have not taken the vaccine.

2.      Make it a priority to enjoy the process of cooking, cleaning, visiting. Make sure you laugh. Play encouraging music or listen to books on tape/CD while you cook and clean or pack if you are traveling. (Check out this playlist of music written by Vince Guaraldi – for inspiration. And definitely watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. Make popcorn and toast as your show-watching snack if you dare. Gather up some board games to play when Thanksgiving dinner is over.

1.      As you finish reading this post please take a moment to tell God how grateful you are for His grace and mercy in your life. Be thankful this Thanksgiving holiday and don’t stop. (Just like Psalm 103:1-5 says…

Published by Kelly Wilson on 24 Nov 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

This is a different kind of Thanksgiving – because this is a different kind of year. I am writing this post to be your pep squad and hopefully idea provider, as you get ready. Even though it will be different, it can be really good.
May I encourage you to look at Psalm 136 NLT for inspiration to be grateful.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

The Hebrew word for “good” in this passage is tobe, which means good, pleasant, agreeable, excellent, rich, valuable in estimation, kind, right, glad, happy, prosperous. Sometimes I think of God as Holy – which of course He is. But as when I think of Him as this type of good, it makes my heart feel gratitude.
So even though things around the earth are really challenging – God is still good. He worthy to be the One we say thank You to.

This year because of the CDC guideline that it is safer for all of us to celebrate with the people, who live in our households, you might not have all of your loved ones at the table with you. So you can approach things differently.

You can turn up the fancy or turn down the fancy.

This could be year to break out the china you never use. Drink from the goblets your grandmother passed down to you. Get dressed up. But it could be a year to eat less formally. Make it easy. Change up the menu – my family prefers fried chicken so we have that with a small turkey breast.

I print these on card stock. They remind us to thank God for His blessings.
  • If you are cooking and this is not usually your thing, plan what you are going to have before heading to the grocery store. Once you write down your menu, think about what you will cook and what you will need to buy to make it. Many barbecue joints and local restaurants have great mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole and corn bread. Local bakeries might be thrilled to supply the dessert.
  • This is a great year to get the family involved with the cooking. My children (25, 23 and 14) play music on our speakers and bring lots of good energy to chopping, stirring, baking and cleaning.
  • In my planning I try to think about when I should cook the things so they come out about the right time. This year there’s less pressure because we’ll eat when the food is done.

I print these on card stock. They help remind us to thank God.

Make time to proactively spend time being thankful. Before, during or after dinner take some time to speak to God and one another about the reasons we are thankful this year.

  • After dinner, get help from all hands to cleanup before playing board games, making Zoom calls, watching football and napping.
  • Think about how you want to spend the balance of the weekend. For many of us, the COVID wise choice is chill-laxing around the house. But whatever we do – let’s try to carry the spirit of gratefulness wherever we go.

Published by Kelly Wilson on 14 Jun 2017

Make ’em feel loved: How to bake a cake from butter, sugar and flour…

A few days after coming home from the grocery store my younger son, Kyler, said “I feel so loved when I see cranberry juice in the refrigerator.”

I smiled. Kyler loves cranberry juice. But he is the only one in our house who drinks it. When he is home from college, I buy it. I was good to hear that it shows love.

I think my husband feels loved when he smells homemade baked goods in our oven. That’s how his mom showed love. She regularly baked cakes from scratch.

After we got married, when I would take a box cake out of the cabinet he would ask me what was about to do with that. Then he would call his mom to make him a cake. This actually made me jealous, so I set out to learn. She tried to teach me, but she was a cook who didn’t write recipes down and since I didn’t grow up baking from scratch, I didn’t learn well that way.

I was determined to master this skill and I tried dozens of recipes and made lots of cakes that smelled like cake, but they were NOT cake. They were like corn bread  and only smelled like cake. Then eureka! I finally found a recipe that worked.


That was over 27 years ago. I found my go-to recipe in Woman’s Day Magazine. It was a winner! The first cake that was really a great cake. It has been a staple over the years. I bet I typically bake this cake every other month or so. It gives me (and now you) a way to celebrate and show love. Please make it for “Father’s Day” to show your appreciation! Cooking from your heart is a great way to show kindness.


2 cups all purpose flour

(You can make half the flour whole wheat to make a healthier cake)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

A pinch of salt

1 cup water

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Two sticks of butter

Two large eggs

1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake post 3


Grease (with butter) and flour a large Bundt pan. Set your oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the water ad cocoa powder into a small saucepan. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to the water/cocoa. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a gentle boil and the butter melts.

Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl.

Carefully pour the water/butter/cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients and stir. (The whole  mixture usually cools down enough so that the eggs don’t cook when added. But if it is still really warm, let it cool down.)

Crack the eggs and mix them into the batter until incorporated well. Next stir in the yogurt and vanilla.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes.  (Test for doneness after 32 minutes, by inserting a toothpick near the center of the cake. If it comes out wet like batter, cook for another 5-7 minutes. If it comes out like the cake is baked, remove from the oven.)

For the icing, I place a half a bag of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. (I use the Domino Confectioners 2-Pound Bag)  Then I mix 2 teaspoons of cocoa power with 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer I begin to blend to sugar with the chocolate milk a tablespoon at a time. Once this starts to come together as a thick icing, I add a pat (1 tablespoon) of butter for creaminess. This is some what of a delicious art, because you may have to add more milk or sugar to get the consistency you prefer. But the tasting makes it worth every iteration. Once the cake cools, spread on the icing and hope your people don’t cut the cake, before you can take a picture and post it on social media.

When you bake this cake, I hope you will feel like a particular person from the New Testament. Her name was Tabitha, which means “gazelle.” She was known for doing simple things that greatly blessed the people around her.

“There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas.) She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.” Acts of the Apostles 9:36 NLT

Happy Father’s Day




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