Thanksgiving is a holiday full of traditions. Some families eat early, fall asleep in lazy boys with the game on for those few not affected by Tryptophan, and wake up in time for a second dinner. Others play football outside all day, and fill up on turkey and the fixings after hours of friendly family competition. My family's traditions take place at my Aunt Beth and Uncle Tom's house in Hudson, WI. Regardless of the temperature outside, their house is full of warmth. You are greeted by hellos and hugs as you walk into the entryway, and given plenty of time to catch up over plates of cheese and crackers as Beth puts the final touches on her flawless feast. If you go into the kitchen to refill your glass or check on the status of the meal, you might find Beth referring to her carefully devised schedule to make sure nothing has been forgotten. I have always been in awe of the organization needed to prepare the meal that we look forward to all year; turkeys in the oven before the sun rises and burner space negotiated for the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn. Usually upon arrival my Grandma Carter gives me a container of pie crust cookies that she made for me while baking the pumpkin pies for dessert. She has used the same cookie cutters since I was little, and always puts the perfect amount of cinnamon and sugar on top of the flakey, buttery treats. I sneak few cookies before the announcement is made that dinner is ready. We laugh and tell stories as we devour our first and second plates of food, and then I usually make my exit to take a quick cat nap cuddled up in a throw blanket until the pies are cut. Coffee is served, desserts are enjoyed, and farewells are given before driving back to the cities with full bellies and happy hearts.

I have a special place in my heart for my family's Thanksgiving, and it has always been one of my favorite holidays. But, since moving across the country from my family and their yearly Hudson gathering, I have started to make my own new Thanksgiving traditions in New York City. For the past two years, I have spent my holiday with Brian and Emily. Last year, Emily and I watched the parade on TV and played salon while Brian worked a quick morning shift at the restaurant. After he finished work, we watched movies and hung out as the meal was prepared. It was very special to get to spend our first holiday together last year, and we savored every moment of it.

This year, we were thankful to get to spend the entire day together, work-free. Brian and Emily woke up bright and early and were watching cartoons as I stumbled into the kitchen to pour myself my first of many cups of coffee for the day. I was happy to see the mug Brian set out for me and carried it around as I got ready for our first activity of the day- the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
We quickly drank our breakfast smoothies and headed out to get some donuts and hop on the subway. We enjoyed our treats as we rode into Manhattan.
When we got off the train and out of the station, we walked into a crowd of hundreds of people trying to find the perfect place to stand to watch the parade go down Seventh Avenue. We scooted our way down 57th Street and found a place several people back from the curb that had a good view of 7th. And then we waited, excited for what was to come. There are lots of people that don't like parades, but I am not one of them. I love parades. I love the floats, I love the marching bands, and heck, I even love the clowns. And the Macy's parade takes my love of parades to a whole new level. So, I was especially giddy as we waited.
After about a half an hour, we heard the first roar of applause break out about a block up from us. The parade had finally made it down to us!
There was rejuvenated excitement as each balloon came into view between the tall buildings lining 7th Avenue. And each time I saw one, I exclaimed what it was like a five year old, sometimes clapping my hands and jumping up and down. Look, it's Snoopy! Oh, look at Kermit! Here comes Hello Kitty!  Like I said, I love parades.
Obviously, we had no idea what these balloons were. No excited exclamations from me, but they still got their pictures taken.  
After watching for about an hour, we decided to head back to Astoria to start cooking. As we made our way to the subway station, we were able to look uptown towards Columbus Circle and see the first part of the parade route. It was really fun to look up the street and see Spider Man flying towards us. He followed us an avenue away our entire walk back to the train.
We stopped on our way home home to pick some flowers and have a little impromptu photo shoot near Brian's house.
When we got home, Brian went to work in the kitchen while Emily and I relaxed. I tried to offer my help as much as possible, but my lack of cooking skills made it tricky. I am just really good at relaxing.
We colored as we watched the end of the parade.
Brian made some snacks to hold us over until dinner; first we had guacamole.
I did do one helpful thing in the kitchen; I peeled potatoes.
As Brian continued to cook dinner, he made our second snack- dates wrapped in bacon. If you have never had dates wrapped in bacon, please do so immediately. They are that good.
Stage one of the most delicious stuffing...
Mashed squash, and yes that is butter. Yum. 
Yum. After Brian made the first batch, he quickly realized a second tray would be necessary. 
After the majority of the work was done in the kitchen, Brian joined Emily and I for a game of Sorry. Emily had a hard time understanding the revenge component of the game at first, but she slowly got the hang of it and ended up winning the game. I think we have many games of Sorry in our future...
We also got to listen to Emily practice her violin. She is practicing 100 days in a row for her music school and she is doing so well! It is amazing to see a five year old play songs on a violin with no music.
It was wonderful to get to spend the day together relaxing, eating good food, playing games, and watching movies. I am thankful for so many things in my life and feel so fortunate to not only have a great family at home in Minnesota, but also a family here in New York that I can make new traditions with.
We all know that after the turkey, the football, the stuffing, and the pies comes... the best day of shopping. Black Friday.

For the first time since moving to New York seven years ago, I decided to set my alarm extra early and shop on Black Friday. I stayed up late on Thanksgiving night planning my purchases as I perused the adds on tgiblackfriday.com. I woke up to the trill of my Iphone alarm at 5 am, snoozed for a solid forty-five minutes, and finally pulled myself out of bed and into the shower. I was a little discouraged as I listened to the forecast of am rain and dropping temperatures, but knew that with my Hunters and umbrella I would be a-okay. My first stop was Target. Correction, my first stop was Starbucks, then Target. I walked down the subway station stairs just as the R train was arriving, and slowly sipped my coffee and listened to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals as I rode the four stops to Grand Avenue. Target was less of a zoo than I expected, and because I was not buying any big electronics I did not have to wait in any lines. That's right folks, no lines! I found a ton of deals, bought several Christmas presents, and was happy to see You saved $137.40 on my receipt. I am really excited to watch Seasons 3-5 of Weeds, which I got for $9.99 each. What a deal!

The tricky part about shopping in the city without a car is that you have no trunk to go throw stuff into mid-shopping day. Instead, you have to take the subway back to your apartment, drop off your bags, and then walk back to the subway to commute to your next store. Is it ideal? No. It kind of sucks. But, it is a nice way to refuel in between the sometimes stressful shopping excursions. After I dropped off my bags from Target, I looked online and decided that I needed to get to Macy's before their early morning deals ended at 1 pm. I went to 34th Street and went straight to Holiday Lane on the top floor of Macy's. It was packed, but worth it. I stocked up on new ornaments for my tree, all 60% off.

Are you wondering what the third picture in my Black Friday collage is? That is the shopping cart escalator. A lot of stores that are usually one level in the suburbs are two or three levels here in the city, so as you ride up the escalator your cart travels on its own right next to you. 

The majority of the pictures in the collage were taken at Macy's on 34th Street in Herald Square. I love Macy's during the holidays. The store is beautifully decorated and Holiday Lane rocks my world. As I shopped for new ornaments for my tree this morning, I was greeted by Mrs. Claus. I mean, how cute. I rode the original wooden escalators down to the Cellar where I found the most adorable cupcake apron made my Kitchen Glam- possible Christmas gift? Snapping pictures as I shopped made my Black Friday a blast! 
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a super-saving Black Friday!


  1. What a perfect day! I LOVE all your photos :))))

    I've been meaning to ask...who is Emily?

  2. Thanks! It was such a fun day.

    Emily is Brian's daughter from his first marriage, she lives with her mom in Connecticut during the week and stays with Brian on the weekends. She is an amazing little girl!

  3. Beautiful photos! Glad to read you had a good one! Props for braving the parade!!

  4. Love your blog and your pictures are amazing.


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