Archives for November 2015

This is How We Do It: Our Thanksgiving Menu

Luke and Lyla TammeI’m so thankful for my two little turkeys!

Thanksgiving is one  of my favorite holidays of the year… I love to cook; I love to eat; I have SO many things to be thankful for! We are among the few that don’t put up any Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. We simply don’t like to rush things and prefer to take it one holiday at a time. We also LOVE the Christmas season, and I don’t find fault in those that put their Christmas tree the day after Halloween (seriously though, who is that on top of things?), but we are traditionalists to the core and don’t want to skip over Thanksgiving.

We are having three Thanksgiving dinners this year. Yup, THREE! After this week, I may never cook again. Hah! In all seriousness, the kitchen is my happy place and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Last weekend, we had Thanksgiving with Jacob’s immediate family and his aunt and uncle from Arizona. Tomorrow, it will just be my little family of four plus a few of Jacob’s teammates that don’t have family to celebrate with. We are not having a traditional meal though, I couldn’t bring myself to cook three turkeys, so we are having steaks. I know my oven is silently thanking me! Then, on Friday, I will be hosting my family and it will be the first time in eight years that I’ve had Thanksgiving with my family. To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’m pretty much doing a repeat of last weekend’s menu for our Friday meal. Below is our menu and links to the recipes.

The Tamme’s Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Turkey and Gravy
Broccoli Casserole (This is a family recipe that I can’t share)
Baked Pineapple Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Bundt Pan Stuffing
Yeast Rolls & Honey Butter
Corn Souffle Pumpkin Pie with homemade whipped cream

After typing out this menu, I realized I don’t always follow recipes. I pretty much wing it (pun intended) on the turkey and gravy, as well as the mashed potatoes. Below are some side notes about the menu above.

For our turkey, I stuff it with carrots, onions, celery, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Then, I butter underneath and on top of the skin and pop it in the oven under a foil tent. I baste it every 20-30 minutes with chicken stock and butter.
As for the mashed potatoes, ours are nothing special… potatoes, butter, milk, and salt.

To make honey butter, soften a stick of butter (not in the microwave, just let it sit on the counter) and stir in honey to taste. Place in an air tight container for storage

Y’all, please, please, please don’t put Reddi Whip on your pumpkin pie this year. If you buy that red aerosol can, your taste buds will die and Thanksgiving will be ruined. We don’t want that to happen, right? Follow the instructions below to make your own whipped cream. Your taste buds will be singing praise songs and you will save yourself from ingesting chemicals

Whipped Cream
1. Chill your mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Pour 2 Cups of heavy whipping cream in bowl and whip on medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.
3. Add 1/2 Cup of sugar slowly and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until combined.
4. Use immediately and enjoy your homemade goodness!

I promise you will never buy store bought whipped cream again

I would love to hear what your go-to recipes are for Thanksgiving! Please share in the comments below!

What’s in an OCC Shoebox?

So, yesterday I challenged you to get a shoebox to pack for Operation Christmas Child. Well, today I’m going to show you a few suggestions of what to pack in your box. We ended up packing four boxes this year and I let Luke have pretty much full control over what went in the boxes. I love that he is old enough now to understand what we can and can’t pack in the boxes, what will fit and what won’t,and what children NEED in the boxes. It is precious to see his little heart react when he understands that some children have literally nothing. Prior to our shopping trip this year, I went over the list below so he could learn what he needed to look for in the store. He helped me make a list and of course, I added some items to the list as well. Packing the boxes is always a great reminder for me of how quickly we take for granted the things that some people have waited their whole lives to receive… a baby doll, a pair of flip flops, a toothbrush.

Packing a shoebox doesn’t have to be expensive. We got most all of our items at the Dollar Tree and supplemented with a few things from Walmart and Hobby Lobby. Our boxes averaged around $15 to fill.

gift_ideasThe first box we packed was for a 10-14 year old boy. This category traditionally has the fewest boxes packed, so we always try to pack at least one box for this age range. Below you can see the items we packed. Full disclosure: we didn’t pack the items in the box shown below. Luke was adamant that we get a big hammer, and it was 1 inch too long to fit in the standard OCC boxes. Thankfully, we live with a guy with some pretty large shoeboxes, which fit the hammer perfectly! We always include tools in the older boy boxes. The sad reality is that most of these boys work to make money for their families and they need tools to be able to do so.

OCC10-14Boy1. Toothbrush with case and toothpaste – be sure to include a case! These children don’t have a toothbrush holder sitting on their counter… because they usually don’t even have a sink.
2. Notebook, pencils, pencil sharpener and pens – in order to go to school, these items are necessities.
3. Durable waterproof bag – We made ours by covering a ziploc bag with duct tape. This keeps their soap and washcloth clean and takes up less space in the box than a soap dish.
4. Washcloth and bar soap
5. Work gloves
6. Nails and screws
7. Handheld air pump with ball needle
8. Screwdriver
9. Soccer ball – Basically, every boy around the world desires to have a soccer ball. We found ours at Walmart for $5.46 and deflated it and wrapped it with a rubber band so it would fit in a box. This is the most expensive item in our box, but dozens of children will get to enjoy it! Well worth it in my opinion!
10. Scissors
11. Fork and Spoon
12. Rope
13. Cup – It broke my heart when I heard that a relief organization brought food into a village and some children were only fed a spoonful because they didn’t have anything to put their food in to take back to their homes. I always pack a cup or bowl in our boxes for this very reason.
14. Socks
15. Flashlight and batteries. I found this flashlight at Walmart for $1.
16. T-shirt. This shirt came from Hobby Lobby and after a 40% off coupon was only $1.50.
17. Candy Canes.

The items below were packed for a 10-14 year old girl.


1. Manicure set
2. Notebook and pens
3. Scissors
4. Washcloth and soap
5. Durable waterproof bag
6. Flip flops
7. 1 1/2 yards of fabric. Girls can use this fabric to make or patch clothing.
8. Toothbrush with case and toothpaste
9. Sewing kit.
10. Bowl. Luke insisted we get a bowl with a straw so they can drink their milk after they eat their cereal. I would NOT recommend packing these. They were a pain to fit in the boxes, but I’m sure the sweet babies that receive them will love the straw bowls!
11. Fork and spoon
12. Elastic headbands – because all girls in every country love glitter!
13. Jump rope
14. Wet wipes
15. Cup
16. Rope and clothespins – to make a clothes line
17. Socks
18. Flashlight with extra batteries
19. Suckers

These items were packed for a 2-4 year old girl.

OCC2-4Girl1. Crayons
2. Notebook
3. Fun washcloth and bar of soap
4. Durable waterproof bag
5. Toothbrush with case and toothpaste
6. Bowl and spoons
7. Wet wipes
8. Toy – Luke picked out a rattle and even though its probably too juvenile for a toddler, we packed it in the box. Hopefully, it will be given to a younger sibling who didn’t receive a box.
9. Watering can – again, Luke said that Lyla loves to play with hers, so he thought this little girl would love it too!
10. Socks
11. T-shirt.12. Sippy Cup
13. Doll. I read online to not send blonde haired, blue eyed dolls. Most girls around the globe want a doll that looks like them, not a blonde haired, blue eyed one. We found this cute doll at the Dollar Tree.
14. Candy

The last box we packed was for a 5-9 year old boy, but I failed to get a picture of the items. In every shoebox, we make sure to send the child a letter and some people even send a self addressed stamped envelope so the child can write back if possible. We’ve never done this, but I want to next year! Here is the letter we sent in our boxes. If you want to include this letter too, you can download yours here.

IMG_1596I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how we fit everything into the box. It’s a challenge for me to make it all fit. I use every square inch and pack and re-pack until we find a way to make it all fit! My biggest tip is to put all of the hard, flat items in the bottoms and anything that can “squish” washcloths, stuffed animals, tshirts, etc. on top. Also, be sure to stuff the cups and bowls full of items too!

I hope this gave you some great ideas for what to pack in your box! If you’ve already packed your boxes, what items did you include? We are always looking for new ideas!

Have you packed a shoebox?

OCC LogoOne of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions is packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Yes, it is for Christmas, but the boxes must be prepped in advance, so  it has become a Thanksgiving tradition for our family. In fact, this week is the National Collection Week for the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. I would love to challenge you to pack a shoebox if you haven’t already. These boxes go to children all over the world. Most have NEVER received a gift before and they are receiving an entire box full of goodies just for them. They are not just getting a box of “stuff”; they are receiving the love of Christ. Isn’t that amazing?

If you aren’t convinced that you should pack a box, watch the video below! I promise it will bring tears to your eyes to see the joy that a simple box can bring a child, a family, a village.

We packed our shoe boxes and delivered them to our church this morning.


Luke and Lyla with their OCC boxes


Lyla was very interested in what was in the box!

So, your challenge today is: Go get a box! Any shoebox will do. Then, come back tomorrow and I will show you exactly what we packed in our shoeboxes and why we packed those items.

Sunday Scriptures + I’m Back!

Well, it’s official! I’m the worst blogger. Ok, so hopefully not the worst, but definitely the most inconsistent. It’s been seven weeks since I last blogged and truth be told, I didn’t really miss it until this weekend. The week I stopped blogging, Jacob got a concussion during his game in Dallas, Lyla got hand, foot and mouth disease (y’all… miserable), and Luke had a terrible cold and cough. I was not getting any sleep (read: zombie) and was living on a prayer and daily venti lattes. The Tamme family was a mess. But, as always, nothing lasts forever and everyone is now healthy again.

However, it was in that week of my entire family being sick, I realized that no matter what is written in your planner, no matter what deadlines you have to meet, jobs you have to do, trips you have planned, or people who rely on you, when your family isn’t healthy everything stops. Especially, when when a brain injury is concerned. So, I decided to stop blogging. It just wasn’t important. That week turned into weeks and eventually, I just forgot about it altogether.

Honestly, I realized this morning while listening to the sermon at church that God used that break to help me realize I was being prideful about this little ole blog. The sermon was, of course, on pride and although the preacher didn’t call me out by name, I knew he was speaking to me. Several of my posts in September had been shared dozens of times (which makes me laugh in hindsight because it was so incredibly paltry compared to the big bloggers I read), some local media members had mentioned my blog on twitter and I received praise for what I had written. I had become prideful.

Pride is a weird thing. The Bible makes it clear that pride is a sin, but after leaving the service, what was the very first thing I said to Luke when I picked him up from his class? “Baby, look at your Bible verse! I’m so proud of you!” Face.palm. It was then I came to the conclusion that this whole pride thing was a tough one. One I needed to work on. I am so proud of Luke and his work. I’m proud of Jacob when he steps out on the field each Sunday. I’m proud of Lyla when she sits down in her chair after I tell her 1.5 million times that “chairs are for sitting not standing.” I’m proud of myself when I drive by Starbucks and don’t pull in the drive-thru. Pride is hard, it’s everywhere, but it is also the doorway in which the devil enters our hearts.

The seven week break from the blog taught me that no one really cares that much about this silly blog. Not a single person asked why I wasn’t blogging. Not one. And, no this is not a cry for y’all to tell me you’ve missed me (even though I know you have, hah!), but rather a lesson learned. God used that break to teach me something and for that I am thankful. He taught me that I needed to be writing to talk about Him, for enjoyment, for the sharing of ideas, not for the amount of shares, likes and media mentions it receives.

So, that’s the long and short of my absence and return. I hope you’ll come back and read every now and then because I have a few posts I’m excited about! (See? Is that pride? Y’all, help me!)

Proverbs 11:2