Every New Year, I hit the pause button and take some time for myself to put my pen to paper and write down my goals for the upcoming year. They're my life goals and much more than New Year's resolutions. I don't believe in keeping bad habits that need to be broken, I believe in focusing on the positive and staying productive with my thoughts.Change is powerful. The first step for me is taking a look inside, even in those dark rooms you try to keep shut! Self-reflection isn't always easy, but I know it's necessary. My girlfriend just send me this list of questions to ask yourself to motivate a positive New Year.Happy house cleaning.....1. What am I most proud of this year?2. How can I become a better _____________?3. Where am I feeling stuck?4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?5. Am I passionate about my career?6. What lessons have I learned?7. What did I my finances look like?8. How did I spend my free time?9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?10. How have I been open-minded?11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?12. What projects have I completed?13. How have I procrastinated?14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?16. Where has self-doubt taken over?17. When have I felt the most alive?18. How have I taught others to respect me?19. How can I improve my relationships?20. Have I been unfair to anyone?21. Who do I need to forgive?22. Where is it time to let go?23. What old habits would I like to release?24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?25. How can I be kind to myself?(Questions via MindBodyGreen)
Having just returned from New England with my family, I have a new-found love for frosty weather, bare trees and chaos. It was a meaningful week watching my children and my little brother navigate the loving traditions of my Burke roots. Getting the seven of us to the east coast on a red eye flight was ambitious, especially at this time of year, but oh-so-worth it.Props to me, if I do say so myself, for being the strict mom and shutting down all electronics so we could experience each other in a true, connected way. I have tried to tell my children stories of what the Burkes are like, but to experience them all together in one house for the holidays was like walking into an episode of Ryan’s Hope - without all the drama. Having left Connecticut when I was only 3 with my parents, I lost physical touch with most of my family. Geography kept us apart, but love and common characteristics kept allowing us to pick our spots and find each other as much as possible. Now that all my cousins are grown with families of their own, we’re lucky to find the chance to gather together. But when we do, it’s a motley crew and some of the best of times I know. It fascinates me to see common characteristics woven throughout my family, including the members who were meeting for the first time. The bloodline is strong enough to live even though we’re oceans apart. It was a full house all week, as we hopped from home to home to enjoy a meal at everyone’s sacred place. We skipped Thanksgiving on Thursday so we could travel and re-enacted it on Saturday, where no traditions were overlooked.We baked two turkeys (which meant a carve-off between my husband and Uncle John), cauliflower mash - my Aunty Margo’s specialty, mashed sweet potatoes, sausage stuffing and all the usual holiday dishes. Every candle was lit, every glass was full (too many times) and every child had a new friend. I even got to hold my brand new niece Mikenna, who brought me back to 13 years ago when Neriah was also 5 weeks early and 4.5 lbs. What warmed my heart the most was knowing that we were all family, separated by life, but reunited by a connection that we knew ran deep. My brother Fatcat has been staying with me, but will soon return to his own brood so we have been ringing out every precious day together.My husband made a toast to honor my aunt and uncle who raised four children, who married and have multiple children of their own. David said, “As a French man, I look around this table and know that you all represent the American dream.” We were so grateful that day to have that time together. Our kids played Monopoly on the floor, my older girls entertained everyone with their songs and hours later when karaoke broke out, Club Z was on fire! Z is my cousin and just look at this bar! I felt like I was at Cheers. My cousin Kellie hosted us all, and I know it's not easy to have seven guests for a week, especially when one of them is Fatcat. Every room was taken, every heart full, and before the night was over, a contract was being drawn up. A Burke agreement signed by all... a promise that next Thanksgiving everyone will join me in Malibu for a beach-side holiday. I’m not sure the 'Bu is ready for the Burkes :)Much of my extended family was celebrating in their own homes across the country. It's hard for all of us to be together, but we've learned mix it up, sacrifice the norm and be flexible.Chanukah came too soon and many lights were missed in the Christian house, but we will make up for it by spending the last two nights with David’s family and my mom. What I’ve learned is that we don’t get to choose our family. But if we can learn to accept them in the many different walks of life, and find them wherever they may be, there is so much to learn. We learn from our families about ourselves. We hear stories that can teach us and enlighten us, stories that we can pass on to our own children and they can continue to share with theirs. Traditions are as meaningful as you chose to make them. For us, we will travel the country and know those memories will last until we meet again.
Are you in charge of cooking the turkey this Thanksgiving? If so, you HAVE to try this family recipe for a super delicious, juicy, moist turkey. The secret ingredient is Dry Brine. You need to plan ahead three days, so keep this in mind when prepping.IngredientsOlive oilDry brine (I use this one from Williams-Sonoma)TurkeyChopped Garlic1 Whole Onion, ChoppedDirections Three days before Thanksgiving, rub turkey with a little olive oil and then the dry brine. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a cooler on ice. Yep, get a big ice chest, put that turkey in, surround it with ice and let it marinade for 3 days. On the day of, unwrap the turkey and give it a quick rinse, because the brine is super salty.Stuff the cavity with chopped garlic and onion. I also sprinkle some onion pieces around the turkey.Pour on some olive oil and massage it into the turkey skin. Cover with tin foil.Then, simply bake it in the oven like you typically would. (About 4 hours at 350 degrees, basting as you go) And, presto, the most delicious, incredibly tasty and moist turkey dinner! Want to see Brooke take you through this recipe step by step? Watch the video below and don't forget to check out more great recipes on ModernMom's Thanksgiving Playlist!