Friendsgiving 2018 Menu

Thanksgiving is a traditional meal — gotta have that green bean casserole, amirite?! But Friendsgiving has become a fun new tradition G and I began last year. This year had to be a much more intimate affair due to all those home improvements and limited amount of time to plan, but it was still a great time. We used the time for enjoying more delicious food and even better community.

Talking about food, I wanted to provide some praise for our menu this year in the form of a post. I could go into detail about how to plan your own Friendsgiving or games/activities to play at your own dinner, but I think those topics are too difficult to cover. I mean, you know what works best with your friends’ group and can Pinterest tons of ideas. Instead, I’m going to focus on the dinner table.

Below is what we had on our Friendsgiving table along with recipes to try on your own. It was more than enough food for a small group of only six diners, but that meant leftovers. I’ll never complain about not having to grocery shop following a holiday!

Drinks

  • Cranberry Apple Moscow Mule Punch from Whitney Bond
  • Red Wine Hot Chocolate from Delish (we used Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon for the wine)
  • Holiday Sherbet Moscato Punch — this was a homemade recipe mixing grape juice and/or Hawaiian punch with lime sherbet and sparkling moscato

Appetizers

Dinner

  • Pumpkin Dinner Rolls from Tastes of Lizzy T
  • Spinach Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette similar to Vegan Daydream
  • Sweet Potato Casserole similar to Crunchy Creamy Sweet
  • Green Beans made with brown sugar and bacon — simply saute frozen or fresh green beans with olive oil, brown sugar, and bacon bits… YUM!
  • Simple Turkey (made in an oven bag) with instructions from Clever House Wife — this was my first-ever turkey so I threw a mix of my own spices inside and on top of the turkey including sage, black pepper, lemon, mustard, and garlic powder.

Dessert

  • Brownie Batter Dip similar to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe with pretzels, vanilla wafers, and marshmallows

We proceeded to play a little Battle of the Sexes and Cards Against Humanity before staying up until 2:00AM with some lively discussions. I’m loving this annual tradition and am excited to see how it will evolve over the next few years.

What sort of dishes do you include in your annual Friendsgiving? I would love to have some new recipes for future years! Please drop a suggestion in the comment section below.

See you all in December, 

Share Blog: Love What Matters

I am blessed to call some amazing women my closest friends. Playing off my last post on what and who is my Tribe, I felt it necessary to share this raw and inspiring story from one of my Pink Ladies, Katie, as it provides a beautiful testimony as to the characters of those in my Tribe.

Katie is one of those rare women who can take the worst situation and find the gem in its midst. Life happens to us all, and I know this girl has had a lot of lemons thrown her way lately. Yet having survived what some may say is the hardest battle of all — the battle for your own life — Katie persists with a smile on her face and overwhelming love in her heart. No matter what she is going through in her personal life, she makes time to check in on those she loves and be available for a chat or hug. For someone who could very easily choose to be selfish and focus on her own struggles, Katie will not allow anyone to feel sadness and pain alone. She is the very definition of a servant heart.

As I read through her inspiring testimony for the 65,245,897th time, I marvel at the determined, persistent, and optimistic woman I have in my Tribe. I could not be more humbled to have Katie call me her friend in return.

Please read her inspiring story here. (This story was originally submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Hess.

I love you, Katie, and all that you symbolize — you are more than my friend, you are a role model.

Savory Sundays: Goat Cheese Holiday Truffles

G and I had a great Thanksgiving break. We traveled down to Indy and spent the day with G’s family. Our brother and sister-in-law also came from Iowa with our four-month-old nephew, and we were both in heaven. We absolutely love that little turkey, and any text/Snapchat/minute we’re able to have with him is a treasure. There is quite a bit to be thankful for this year, but little Z is definitely at the top of our list.

Another big blessing this year is our new home. With all our in-progress improvements, we decided to host an intimate Friendsgiving and game night. I love hosting these kinds of parties, but could only handle a small gathering this year with everything else happening. So we asked four of our friends to join us in a night of great food and better fellowship — and our hopes were over-filled! I’ll share our full menu in a future post, but I have to share this new and awesome recipe with you, friends. It is the perfect holiday appetizer, and makes a great breakfast too — trust me, I’m munching on it right now as G and I enjoy our pre-church coffee. Mmmm…

This original recipe can be found on The Novice Chef, but I tweaked it a bit to my tastes — and I also chose to split the recipe into 12 truffles and a medium-sized cheeseball for our Friendsgiving. They will be a part of our future holiday celebrations for years to come because they are DELISH!

Goat Cheese Holiday Truffles

  • Servings: 16+ Truffles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

These festive truffles take little time and taste like Christmas. Help your taste buds celebrate the holidays with these tasty little treats.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz goat cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp honey (or more, to taste)
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • handful fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Beat goat cheese, cream cheese, cinnamon and honey until light and fluffy.
  2. Fold in 1/2 cup pecans and set aside.
  3. Toss remaining pecans, Craisins, and parsley on parchment paper.
  4. Scoop our cheese filling with a spoon, roll into a ball, and roll through pecan mixture until covered.
  5. OR Roll cheese filling into a large cheese ball, and roll through pecan mixture until covered.
  6. Continue with all truffles.
  7. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

You can serve these truffles with crackers, which also is easy to do as a giant cheeseball. Or you can serve the truffles on a toothpick — they are delicious just on their own!

Enjoy, friends!

Defining My Tribe

A local winery owner I know launched a women’s group back in February called Women Among Women. I’ve attended a few of the monthly meet-ups and have loved participating every single time. The group is more than simply networking, and focuses on topics decided upon by the attendees. Sometimes there may be a guest speaker, but more often the attendees have an open discussion on the specific topic of the evening. Topics have included goal setting, switching careers, and getting over life’s missteps gracefully. The women who attend are students, entrepreneurs, managers, mothers, spouses, volunteers, and so much more. It is a warm and inviting environment where each woman can connect with one another, share their personal experiences, and learn.

I met an awesome hustler a few months ago through this group. This woman began a podcast last year which has become a weekly delight for me to listen to on Wednesdays while I go about my work. The podcast, Hustlin’ In Heels, gets “real about struggles and celebrations of being a modern-day badass babe.” Basically, it’s a podcast Uncorking Peonies can get behind (and I definitely encourage anyone reading to give it a listen!)

Last week’s installment was all about building your tribe. The co-hosts talked about how they define a tribe, who they invite into their tribe, and what being in a tribe means. Their discussion got me thinking about how my tribe is continuously growing and evolving, and how I got to be in the various tribes I now find myself. Thus, I figured I’d focus my “annual Thanksgiving post” on my blessing of friendship and tribe.

To me, tribe is a universal word that is always attempting to be defined on a personal level. In the most basic sense, a tribe is built on similar social and economic ties and within a common culture. Yet a tribe can be so much more. It can be an intimately exclusive group simply built around care and love. Your tribe members have earned your trust, they hold you accountable in your endeavors, and they struggle through Life by your side. I love my husband and I love my parents, but they are not who I consider my tribe — they are family, which is a whole other elevated element of my Life. Instead, my tribe are those girls who are my ride-and-dies.

As a child, I can imagine I tied my identity to my family, similar to any other kid. I am an only child with a small extended family, but most of my memories as a youngster are centered around family holidays, vacations, or outings with my parents. It was not until my preteen years when I began to shift away from my familial tribe and looked to be invited into a friend tribe.

Unfortunately, I am an innate worrier. This means I suffered through my adolescent and teenage years — some of the most difficult years as a girl — in a constant state of worry. Did I fumble my way through that conversation? Am I cool enough to be her friend? That girl is hotter/smarter/cooler than me, so why would she want to hang out with me? I was in my head all the time and had very low self-esteem. With fear of what others thought and loathing of myself, I stepped into several friendships where I struggled to find my groove. There were multiple times I tried to force a relationship to no avail. Be it that personalities collided, trust was lacking, or my own inhibitions got in the way, by the time I reached my senior year in college, I lacked a core tribe.

Typical to human behavior, I played the victim card when friendships failed. “She hurt my feelings. She did me wrong. I was always the only one invested.” were my usual phrases when brushing off the pain of another failed relationship. When I realized I lacked a tribe, though, I began to reassess the past. Yes, those friend-fails may have been due to misunderstandings and crushed feelings, but I was not free from blame. I have difficulty trusting others due to my lack of self-esteem. I’m forever considering alternative motives and asking questions on someone’s intents. My personality is to give my all to a goal (in this reference, a functional friendship,) and sometimes I forget a friend’s personality might not match mine. Or worse, I forget a friend’s life does not center solely on our friendship.

In short, my past friendship fails have been 50/50 when it comes to who is to blame. And due to my own failings and lack of relationships, I found myself alone upon graduating. Right before graduation I had ended my romantic relationship which was truly my one and only core friendship at the time. So I found myself heartbroken, scared of an unknown career path, floundering in student debt, and alone. I lacked that intimate female camaraderie which I had struggled to find for years.

The day came though where I had to place my fears and self-esteem behind me, and throw myself in the hands of the only girls I found near me: my roommates. These two girls had only been my roommates for three months, and we had met on Facebook. I worked an hour away each weekend, studied a lot, and spent most of my free time with my ex, so minutes with these girls were few and far between. Our friendship was very elementary at the time.

Yet when my earth shook, they were there. They listened while my heart broke, held me while I sobbed, and took me for so many cups of FroYo I couldn’t even keep count. And through all the vulnerable moments, I began to heal. Their love made me feel safe and they helped me navigate the following months with grace and dignity. They were my first Tribe, and the perfect founding block on how I learned how to grow my future tribes.

Over the past several years, building my Tribe has become a wonderful hobby. Similar to what Angie says on Hustlin’ in Heels, I find more joy with the people I surround myself with because I trust them. That means going outside my comfort zone to meet new women, listening to their stories, and moving through life with them. Tribe is more than simple friendship; it is the group you do Life with and who does Life with you. Life is amazing and rewarding, but it comes with challenges. I’m not afraid anymore to admit I need help sometimes. As I meet new women and form relationships with them, I place my trust in them — something which I once shuddered at the thought.

The Tribes I have built are my support system. Some may be personal friendships and others professional, but I know they all have my back. I have come to realize that having a tribe is not only something I wanted for so many years, but Tribe is something I needed.

In the all-knowing words of Beyonce Knowles, “I love my husband, but it is nothing like a conversation with a woman that understands you.” There is just something special about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and transparent and raw with a fellow female. Women understand women — we’re all from Venus after all.

Over the past few years, I have worked to cultivate connections with like-minded individuals in various parts of my life. These women help turn my visions into reality and help me achieve ideas too big for me to accomplish on my own. This might be by urging me to have fun and go out, listening and providing advice during a difficult time, or telling me what I don’t want to hear when I’m being stubborn. To me, Tribe consists of those women who will not only listen to me, but will constantly push me to be better.

As I move through my life I know I am no longer alone when it comes to friendship. I have women behind me to uplift me, support me, encourage me, and check in with me periodically. And the reason they do this is not out of obligation or familial ties. No, these women do so because they choose to love me and have my best interests at heart. Their love and care is unconditional, which ultimately makes them family — my Tribes are my sisters. They are with me during my successes, but they also forgive all my failures. They tell me I’m a rock star, even when I’m not. My Tribes allow me to be human — wins, fails, and all the accompanying tears.

Your tribe can’t be there just to pat you on the back when you’re already feeling great. Your tribe has to be able to provide you with that extra energy needed when times are rough. They have to provide tough love sometimes, or a hand off the ground. My Tribes have helped me personally, professionally, and in so many other ways. They are my best friends, my closest confidants, and my hope is to give the love, compassion, and care back to them, as well as spread it to others.

Every woman needs a tribe.

Shout out to mine.

Reblog: Six Questions That Will Radically Change Your Marriage

There is no greater joy than those nights when I get off work, go home, and spend time with my husband. I am relishing being a homebody. I love having empty nights to relax and simply work on making our house a home. I am completely happy having no set schedule to my life. Saying those words out loud is odd. Given who I had been for so many years — that girl with every evening planned, every weekend booked, every second determined — I sometimes feel lost in the simplicity of my life these days. However, as I use some of my free time reading, I am more and more aware that this phase in my life, just as my phase before, will come and go sooner or later. Sometime in the future my schedule will begin to be flagged with children’s events, school outings, and motherly duties. I’m extremely excited for that future, but also very reluctant to let go of my current phase.

G and I have discussed this concept of changing phases a lot lately. Our schedules may not be packed with external events, but our “Home Projects” list grows daily. It seems that no matter the season of Life, we are always busy. Even if that means my busyness is confined to the walls of my house. As G and I continue to prepare our marriage to be the best and happiest possible, we want to intentionally connecting to one another as well as to our Lord. However, that goal is a very difficult thing to measure. Luckily, we ran across this amazing post by Justin Davis of RefineUs on how he and his wife intentionally connect in the chaos of Life, and I didn’t feel I could define “intentional connection” better. Please enjoy what Justin and his wife, Trish, do weekly to better their marriage…


Life is busy. Trish and I used to think that the “next” season of life would be less hectic, less stressful, less busy than our current season. Life doesn’t seem to get less busy with time; it only picks up steam. It is easy to go days, weeks and even months without intentionally connecting with your husband or wife. You live in the same house, but stop sharing life together. It’s gradual. It’s incremental. It happens to the best of marriages. What if you could help your marriage be more about relationship and less about business?  It’s easy to know our spouse’s schedule and forget about their  heart. These six questions will recalibrate your marriage.

1. How can I serve you this week?

You want to capture the heart of your spouse, ask this question on Sunday night. It’s easy to focus on our to-do list. We have plans; we have deadlines; we have obligations. But we open up a new level of intimacy in our marriage when we ask our spouse how we can place their needs ahead of our own.

2. What has you stressed or anxious?

Is there a question that communicates care and concern more than this question? When you ask this question, you are inviting your spouse to be vulnerable with you. You are also communicating to them, “You’re not alone. I’m in this with you.”

3. What is the most important thing you need to accomplish this week?

Unspoken expectations are always unmet expectations. Most of the conflict we experience in marriage derive from unmet expectations. If you know what your spouse needs to get done in a given week, you can be an ally for them in that process. I always appreciate when Trish asks me this question. It let’s me know that she is interested in the details of my week.

4. What can we do to grow closer to God this week?

Busyness is often the biggest obstacle to intimacy with God. When my life gets busy, the first thing I give up is time with God. It is sad, but true. As a husband and wife grow closer to God, they grow closer to one another. Maybe there are spiritual connections you’re not making with one another simply because you’re not asking this question.

5. What are we doing on our next date night?

If you don’t plan a date night then you probably won’t have a date night. For us, Fridays are days we have off and our kids are in school. On Thursday, one of us will ask, “What do you want to do tomorrow?” It helps us be intentional about making one another a priority.

6. How can I pray for you?

Our prayers are the most intimate conversations we have. We share parts of our heart with God that we don’t share with anyone else. When we invite our spouse into this part of our lives, we exponentially grow the intimacy level of our relationship. So often we think it’s something BIG that will give us a great marriage. The truth is, it is a few small things that will make a HUGE difference. Take 30 minutes, ask your spouse these questions and see if you don’t see a few changes in your marriage this week. What questions would you add to the list? 

Written by Justin Davis on September 9, 2018. Find the original post here.


For all my married couples out there, what have you learned throughout your days/months/years of marriage? My readers and I would love to hear your advice as well.

With you and for you,