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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Favorite Thanksgiving Memory

Thanksgiving dinner for the family... married only one month and I invited my parents, his parents, plus two of his aunts. Dinner for eight, what was I thinking? Turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, veggies, jello salad, rolls, pumpkin pie. Had I ever roasted a turkey? No. Which meant I had never made stuffing. Pumpkin pie? Nope, but watched my Mom. Real mashed potatoes with gravy not made from a packet. Cheated on the rolls, but what the heck, I was a blushing bride.

T-day, I poked and prodded and basted the turkey. By noon I had a golden, delicious looking bird. Whew! DH's job was to carve that sucker. All the sides came out great and I could probably have used some Ben-Gay from patting myself on the back for not burning, undercooking, or dropping any of the above-mentioned menu items.

I was proud that I could serve a meal to be enjoyed by all. But the understatement of the day came from my mother-in-law. The dear lady said "Well, hon - you didn't do too bad for your first time." Danged with faint praise, coming from a woman who had a history of poor cooking techniques, least of which was the infamous inviting me and my folks over for dinner and not taking the duck out of the freezer until that morning and leaving it on top of the freezer to defrost. Since the duck obviously wasn't completely thawed and just couldn't get done in the oven, she proceeded to nuke the living heck out of it in the microwave. Upon serving, the duck wasn't tender, so she blamed it on the grocer for selling her an old, tough duck. Yeah, right.

Thanks for stopping in. Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and remember--Respect the Bird!

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I am not compensated for my work with Respectthebird.com. Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on my blog, Just a Few Thoughts. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Lora (a/k/a Magnolia Blossom).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Who's Respecting the Bird this year?

It seems that last year, for the first time, quite a few of us put up a big stink about stores opening on Thanksgiving day. The one day each year that we're supposed to spend with friends and family being thankful for what we have, is slowly turning into a day of, eat-a-quick-lunch, stand-in-line and buy-more-things! 

Sadly, if you like to shop and get good deals, Thanksgiving may be the best day for you to do it this year. Even worse, it means many of the people who work the at the stores open on Thanksgiving, whether or not they want to be there, have to be there too.

This really bums us out and according to the newest Change.org Petition, we're not the only ones!

According to today's report in Reuters http://www.pangealoan.com, there are quite a number of stores on Tom Turkey's naughty list, but we wanted to highlight the stores that are taking a stand! So...when you're thinking of places to shop AFTER Thanksgiving, maybe you can start here:
  • Nordstrom
  • Costco
  • RadioShack
  • Cabela's
  • L.L. Bean
  • REI

Does this list seem a little short to you? If you have a store to add to this list - that is opening at a reasonable time on Black Friday (not so early that employees have to sleep/be in store on Thanksgiving day), please feel free to include it in the comments and we'll keep adding to this post as we hear from you!

A big THANK YOU to the stores that are Respecting the Bird this year!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 Is Upon Us! Keep Calm and Respect the Bird!


Hello faithful Respect the Bird followers! It seems like it was only yesterday we were fighting to preserve the integrity of Thanksgiving 2011 and now here we are again in November 2012! How time flies when you hop from season to season a month too soon!

Our fearless Thanksgiving ambassador and Respect the Bird leader Doug Matthews has kicked off the season of giving thanks with a great post on Respectthebird.com that has already racked up nearly 50 comments! The post is below so check it out and let us know how you feel...Deal or No Deal??

Black Friday: Deal or No Deal?
By: Doug Matthews

As the fall days continue to slide by on the calendar, I have begun to notice something in the air other than falling leaves, morning frost and a passing hurricane. I first started to feel it when I noticed that the lawn mowers at the garden store had been replaced by lawn ornaments that weren’t skeletons, witches, pilgrims or turkeys. I felt it again when I saw the Holiday Boutique Stores being built in Bryant Park here in NYC. It got stronger when I started to notice more ads for free layaway plans than for the presidential election. It was almost eerie when I saw the twinkling lights on the back wall of the Big Box Store reflected in the plastic bags of Halloween candy across the aisle. But I think it really hit home when I saw a Santa with a sadistic smile much too happily carving a pumpkin. Yes, Christmas Creep is in the air and that means his partner in crime, Black Friday, can’t be far behind.

But is Black Friday really all that it is cracked up to be ? Is Black Friday really worth choking down your turkey leg, three sides & pumpkin pie in order for you to rush out to stand in line for hours in the cold & dark with other bargain hunters who treat the opening witching hour like it’s the opening moments of The Hunger Games ? The Wall Street Journal earlier this month explored “The Myth of the Black Friday Deal” (October 8, 2012) and it made me wonder, Black Friday: Deal or No Deal ?

As many of you already know, I am not a Black Friday shopper. I stay away from the mall like it’s the Plague or a One Direction Concert. I would rather be the subject of a Taylor Swift song or a guest judge on CHOPPED when one of the mystery ingredients is Haggis than go toe to toe with a Midnight Holiday Madness sale. I have always thought that it was silly to jam the doors and trample people all for the one of two items actually discounted to the price in the paper (* supplies limited). Now it seems I may actually have some data to back my thoughts up. According to a study conducted by Decide, Inc. (a consumer price research firm), a lot of items that we think are being deeply discounted on Black Friday and its less evil sibling, Cyber Monday, are actually cheaper to buy at other times of the year. Decide tracked prices for several different popular consumer items online for a two year period and some of their findings were surprising and some were very predictable. It was no surprise to me that UGG Boots were cheapest in June & July when most people are wearing flip flops & sandals or that items like blenders & mixers got cheaper as Christmas Day approached. What did surprise me was how many items (jewelry, watches, etc) get pricier as Black Friday approaches so that those deals, while still below the suggested retail price, are nowhere near what you could have done if you had kept your eyes open earlier in the year. It’s actually good that I am writing this and reinforcing it in my mind because I am one of those shoppers who waits for the last minute most of the time and pays what I pay, high or low. Procrastination may not kill the cat (or was that curiosity ?) but it can & has been known to put a serious hurting on my wallet.

Now I will admit that when you begin to think like a retailer, there is a method to all this madness. The deeply discounted items (*supplies limited) do get crowds of people in the door with the expectation that once people are in the doors, they will buy something to justify the trip even if they don’t get the feature sale item (*supplies limited). In a lot of those cases, those other items are priced closer to their retail price than they were just a month earlier. You still get a deal but not quite the deal that you thought you were getting. It’s tricky path that retailers must tread in these economic times so making the sale at the end of the day is more important than anything else when it comes to their bottom line.

But is Black Friday really worth it ? I guess that is in the minds & pockets of the consumers. As long as they keep lining up, the stores will keep pushing to open their doors earlier & earlier. I just know that I won’t be choking down my turkey at a breakneck pace or out there fighting the crowds like I am in a WWE Battle Royale. I will be at home with my family on Thanksgiving & Black Friday because in my house, Black Friday is No Deal and we...RESPECT THE BIRD.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Respect the Bird Thanks YOU!


Doug Matthews Respecting the Bird
Even after Thanksgiving we’re still giving
thanks! We’re thankful for all 4,380+ of you who pledged to Respect the Bird. Thankful for everyone who shared the Respect the Bird blog, liked Respect the Bird’s Facebook page, commented about Respect the Bird in your own blog, changed your Allrecipes or Facebook profile picture to Respect the Bird, and shared what you were thankful to have in your lives with your family on Thanksgiving Day. And you didn’t rush out to grab a holiday deal until after Thanksgiving was complete (and the dishes washed). Your support and participation made the first year of Respect the Bird a huge success!

Not only did Respect the Bird receive news coverage coast-to-coast, the campaign inspired thousands of people to stop and savor Thanksgiving, taking the day to enjoy existing treasures big and small in their lives during this season of gratitude. That’s just what Doug Matthews had in mind a year ago with his original blog post that launched Respect the Bird.

With Thanksgiving 2011 now a delicious memory and Jingle Bells rightfully playing on the radio, may you continue to acknowledge what’s good and true in our lives throughout the coming year!

Happy Holidays,

Respect the Bird Team

P.S. We're hoping to come back and do this again next year and would love to hear your ideas for how we can continue to grow this movement! Please share them in the comments section or email them to us at respectthebird@gmail.com. Thanks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Give Thanks for “Bake Friday”


Give Thanks for “Bake Friday”
By Jan Hazard

Last year Doug Mathews, an Allrecipes blogger, wrote that we should put more thanks back in Thanksgiving with his post Respect the Bird! We agree. Nan and I look to this holiday when family and friends gather—many for the long weekend—as a way to create new bonds and memories. We jump-start for the busy December ahead with a “Bake Friday” group activity. Making cookies and breads together on Friday or through the weekend generates oodles of fun and laughter. We make enough cookies so that everyone can divvy up some to take home. To ensure that the assembly-fashion event goes off without a hitch, we gather all the ingredients and equipment needed ahead of time. What you don’t have, you can ask others to bring with them. Here are 10 tools we love because they help make baking holiday cookies just that much easier. (You can find out about lots of other kitchen gadgets we adore on our blog: KitchenGadgetGals.)

1. Cookie sheets, at least 2 or 3. Shiny, durable pans without edges are best for even baking. A large classic (16x14 inch) aluminum pan by Nordic Ware, suggested retail $12.50 (www.buynordicware.com), or a Regal Ware American Kitchen (12x15 inch) stainless steel cookie sheet, suggested retail $18 @ biz.regalware.com will hold a dozen medium-sized cookies.

2. Silicone spatula: The joy of  high-heat-resistant silicone is that it can be used for a variety of kitchen tasks. Available in variety of sizes and shapes and whimsical designs. Williams Sonoma, $10 to $30 @ williamssonoma.com

3. BeaterBlade: If you have a KitchenAid or Cuisinart stand mixer, replace your beater with this unique blade that is made for all KitchenAid and Cuisinart models. The spatula-like edge on the beater helps scrape the bowl as it mixes. Retails for $25. Available at amazon.com

4. Kuhn-Rikon Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set:  Five squeeze bottles, two tall and three small with 5 stainless steel decorating tips plus frosting spatula are easy to fill and use to decorate all those holiday cookies. Dishwasher safe- upper level. Retails for $20 available at factorydirect2you.com or amazon.com

5. Ice Cream Scoops, 2 or 3 sizes. For drop cookies, use a scoop that measures 1 tablespoon for speedily scooping even-sized balls of dough onto cookie sheets. OXO ice cream and cookie scoops have ergonomic handles for easy squeezing. Retail for $20 each. Available at oxo.com or amazon.com

6. Parchment Paper: Great nonstick solution for lining cookie sheets when baking delicate cookies, such as lace cookies, or lining baking pans for cakes. Available in supermarkets. Reynolds parchment $3 to $4 a box.

7. CDN Touch Screen Timer and Clock (TSM2): Always good to have a a timer handy for keeping track of all the cookie chilling and baking. The touch screen timer by CDN for those who embrace the touch screen technology counts 100 hours up or down. Retails for $15. Available at www.chefsresource.com

8. Oxo Oven Thermometer: For perfectly browned cookies, be sure your oven temp is on target. A round glass face on this thermometer lets light shine through for easy reading even  in the back of the oven. It has large numbers with a non-slip silicone frame or ring for easy handling. It hangs or stands on the oven rack and is calibrated for both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Retails for $15; available at oxo.com or amazon.com

9. Microplane Classic Zester/Grater: For zesting citrus peel, grating fresh ginger or chocolate, this ultrasharp, rasp-looking tool is the way to go. Retails for $13. Available at amazon.com 

10. Cookie cutters: Wilton offers a large variety of shapes and sizes of cookie cutters. The comfort grip metal cutters are ideal for young hands to help stamp out cookies in  many of the iconic holiday shapes: snowflake, candy cane, gingerbread boy, star, snowman, tree to name some shapes. Retail for $3.20 each at wilton.com