My Gratitude Journal

“Thankful November” Gratitude List 2020

Being in a constant state of gratitude is a great way to celebrate your blessings. Everyday is Thanksgiving, especially when there is so much to be thankful for, the big things and the little things. So for this thankful November, here is my gratitude list:

  1. A Friday the 13th night dinner: I took my aunt out for dinner to celebrate her birthday. I picked a restaurant close to us called The Odyssey in Granada Hills. The atmosphere and ambience there is great. They did a good job setting up their tables out on the patio and following L.A. County restrictions. There is a firepit and lights strung about. You get a wonderful view of the San Fernando Valley. There is also a skyline boardwalk. The waiter gives you a list of how to practice social distancing while eating out such as wearing your mask when leaving the table. In addition, the waiters are wearing gloves, a mask and a plastic shield around their face. Talk about extra protection. I was very excited to go out and it was my second time this year (since the pandemic started) to go to a restaurant. The first time was on my birthday. The first order of business was to order drinks (or as I like to call them “dranks”). I had a glass of white wine and my aunt ordered a Mai Tai. We also ordered crab cakes for an appetizer. It was delicious, especially with the mustard sauce. This was all on the Happy Hour menu. I love Happy Hour at this restaurant. I noticed on the menu that there was a mini winter squash chicken pot pie. I wanted to get that, but I had already had in my mind to order a burger and fries, which I ended up ordering. I was not disappointed. The burger was delicious and the fries were amazing! It had a little bit of garlic and rosemary on it. Yum. My aunt ordered the roasted chicken and it came with the mini winter squash chicken pot pie. Instead of a pie crust, the chicken pot pie was in a mini pumpkin. It was a beautiful presentation. I was happy that I got to try a little bit of it. Our waiter was great and the staff was so friendly. It was a really fun night.
Thank you, Odyssey. We had fun!

2. A loving and kind grandmother: Unfortunately, the next day around midnight, my grandmother passed away. She was 98 years old. I am grateful to have her as my grandmother. She was a loving, happy, kind, compassionate and strong woman. My favorite memory of her is that every time I saw her, the first thing she would say to me was “I love you”. I will miss her.

3. A Sunday Funday tea and painting party with two of my favorite friends: The next day, I went over to a friend’s house (backyard) to hang out, catch up, drink tea, eat snacks and desserts and paint. It was great seeing them and catching up. We hung out in the backyard (which was beautiful, peaceful and serene), with social distancing and masks in place. It was a little hard to talk with my mask on, it kept falling down as I talked, but it was worth it because I had such a great time catching up with my friends. I made pumpkin muffins with streusel on top Lovable Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping and my friend made food for the gods Food for the Gods, A Filipino Heavenly Treat. We did a paint-a-long together. We painted a very colorful elephant.

My painting is the one on the top right, very bold and bright…

4. I started a book club with my friends: We decided that instead of voting for a book each month to read, we would take turns picking a book. I picked the first book which was “Where’d you go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple. I picked it because my daughter bought the book and read it in one night because it was so good. I also picked it because I’ve been watching “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix and on a few episodes, they plugged that book. I was hoping it was worth the hype. It was published in 2012 so it’s been around for 7 years. Here’s how Goodreads described this book: “When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.” I struggled with the first half, mostly because I had a hard time following the correspondence between people. But once I got to the 2nd half, I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. Lots of plot twists and I just had to know what happened to Bernadette! New York Times describes this book as “Divinely funny” and it’s true, it’s insanely hilarious. Bernadette is crazy.

I’d tell you, but then I’d be spoiling the end…

5. Getting ready for Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving will look a little different this year for some people. But as long as everyone is safe and healthy, that’s all that matters. I decided to go non-traditional this year (it’s 2020 after all) and we are having tamales, ribs and rotisserie chicken instead of turkey or ham. But I will still make my usual Thanksgiving sides of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green bean casserole. We will also have pumpkin pie for dessert. It’s a lot of food, but what’s Thanksgiving dinner without leftovers? The whole point of Thanksgiving is to have a week’s worth of leftovers. I am always thankful for that! Cook all day for one day and not have to cook the rest of the week, that’s a plus. Something different this year is that I set up our family Thanksgiving zoom meeting so that we can all still see each other.

6. And finally, Thanksgiving day: I am grateful for a fun and family filled Thanksgiving day. Yes, the family filled part was done virtually but it was one of the best parts and made it all the more memorable. I made the sides the night before, so all I had to do was heat it up in the oven. At the same time, I also heated up the ribs, rotisserie chicken and tamales. Did we miss the turkey? No. Did we miss the ham? Kind of. But the non-traditional main courses were delicious. The family Thanksgiving zoom meeting with my parents, sister and brother was fun. Everybody had a great time saying hi to one another and catching up. It was also fun showing off our puppies and taking a Thanksgiving family picture zoom style.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” —”

― William Arthur Ward

I am grateful for Friday the 13th night dinners, mini pumpkins pretending to be pot pies, elephant painting parties, masks that fall down when I talk, boring books turned good, Thanksgivings 2020 style, Thanksgiving zoom family pictures and most of all, kind and loving grandmothers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

baking

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Got a lot of ripe bananas and tired of making banana bread? Got leftover pumpkin puree and want to make something other than pumpkin bars? Those were my dilemmas, so I decided to make pumpkin banana muffins. Just in time for Thanksgiving. Hence the name, Thanksgiving Pumpkin Banana Muffins.

I took my go-to banana muffin recipe and I adapted it to make these delicious pumpkin banana muffins. I thought about mixing in either crushed macadamias or dried cranberries or dried blueberries (I chose those mix ins because it’s what I currently have in my pantry) or adding streusel on top for another layer of sweetness and added crunch, but decided to keep it simple and stick to just pumpkin and banana.

I adapted my go-to banana muffin recipe by adding one 14.5 can of pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Banana Muffins

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • one 14.5 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, mash the ripe bananas. Add the pumpkin puree and mix. Add egg, oil and vanilla. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together which is the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until moistened. Fill the mixture into baking cups in a muffin pan until 3/4 to almost full. Bake at 375° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I like to fill the baking cups until almost full so I had to bake the muffins a little longer at 25 minutes. I took the muffins out at 22 minutes to test with a toothpick and since it was still not ready, I put it in for another 3 minutes and it was perfect!

Happy Thanksgiving, pumpkin and banana!

The muffins tasted great. A little bit of pumpkin flavor and a little bit of banana flavor. Also because of the bananas, pumpkin puree and oil, the muffins came out moist, not dry at all. Try a little bit of butter or jam on top. Don’t forget your cup of coffee or tea.

These muffins are perfect for Thanksgiving morning. Or in our case, the week before Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving baking!