Thanks Giving Tips From The Salvation Army: Serve a Wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner — and Save Money!

Our friend, Nike Chillemi, was kind enough to share this money saving article. It might be June but it’s never too early to start planning for the holidays! 🙂

3 Tips for Keeping Costs Under Control

The Salvation Army works hard to ensure that every dollar you donate is used as efficiently and effectively as possible — Doing the Most Good, for the most people, in the most need. In that spirit, we offer these money-saving tips to help you stretch your own budget this Thanksgiving.

Tip #1: Keep It Simple. Instead of five kinds of pies and a dozen side dishes, trim your Thanksgiving menu down to those favorites everyone loves. Also, choose simpler recipes rather than those requiring the purchase of spices and other ingredients you won’t be likely to use again.

Tip #2: Start Shopping Now. The earlier you shop, the more time you have to take advantage of weekly sale prices and coupons. You can also save money by comparison shopping — visiting different stores, and scooping up the best buys at each.

Tip #3: Use Natural Decor. Look to nature, and save on store-bought Thanksgiving decorations. Bring the beauty of the season indoors with your own display of autumn leaves, pine cones, acorns, and other natural elements.

For more information on the Salvation Army:
120 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 337-7339

Nike Chillemi

Like so many writers, I started writing at a very young age. I still have the Crayola, fully illustrated book I penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about my then totally off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call me a crime fictionista. My passion is crime fiction. I like my bad guys really bad and my good guys smarter and better.

I write hard-boiled detective novels with a soul. My detectives, both male and female, are jump into the fray, tough, shoot it up types. Yet, they’re all vulnerable. They’re not so hard-boiled they couldn’t be actual people.

I’m the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. I writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. I was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category, a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories, and a judge in the Eric Hoffer Awards in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

My four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s, has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. My new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released in the spring of 2014 under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press became a best seller in Amazon’s private investigator category, won the Grace Award 2014,  and has also garnered critical acclaim.

I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN).


An Alabama-Inspired Thanksgiving

img_20141012_173651690By Jennifer Hallmark

Thanksgiving Day will soon arrive. I’ll wake early, eat a bowl of Cheerios and savor my morning cup of tea. As I hold the steaming mug, I’ll find comfort in its warmth and the sweetness of the honey-laced liquid inside. But only for a moment. Soon, thirty to forty people will crowd inside our home and there’s still much to do.

I’ll prepare part of the food on Wednesday. It releases some of the stress and flurry from this day and gives me more time to relax, be thankful, and maybe watch part of the early football game. But this morning, we’ll finish cooking. The savory smell of baked turkey permeates the air. It will soon be joined by cornbread dressing, pinto beans, sweet potato casserole, and yeast rolls. My husband, Danny, always makes the dressing, a recipe passed down from his mother. I scurry and pour the sweet tea in our three-gallon beverage dispenser. I’ll make a gallon of unsweetened tea but hardly anyone will drink it with the well-sugared kind around. We work as a team, making sure everything is just right.

thanksgiving-231781_960_720Around noon, we usually finish the last-second tasks and sit for a moment to eat a turkey sandwich. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, my husband and I will open our home to a hodgepodge of family, friends, and a few others who have nowhere to go. Everyone is welcome at our annual Thanksgiving feast.

By one o’clock, a few of the family has already arrived. Danny’s sister will open the front door and shout, “knock-knock” and I know the fun has begun. Each person arrives with different delectable dishes of food and we arrange them the best we can on the kitchen counters and stove top.

Football is still on the television but no one’s really watching as people drift from room to room. Handshakes and hugs abound as many catch up on old times. The garage doors have been shut and the space has been transformed into a dining room/fellowship hall. Large tables are set up for the adults. A special kids table, complete with coloring books and crayons sits by its side.

Mamaw Avon’s Pink StuffAt the appointed time, we all squeeze into the kitchen where my son or daughter will welcome everyone. One of the grandchildren will say “grace” before the long line forms to tackle the cafeteria-style selection of meats, vegetables, and casseroles that take up every inch of available space on the counters. Everyone loads their Chinet plates to the brim, grabs the plastic flatware and napkins and hunts a place to sit.

In the garage, large tables of sweet delights line one wall and hold twenty or more desserts, many new recipes that someone wanted to test on the crowd. Last year, I tried two pie recipes but neither turned out. I was teased over my pie “soup”. This year, I’ll stick with a cake and maybe some cookies. 🙂


Not my pie…

Before the afternoon is over, everyone will have eaten more than enough and recipes will have been swapped. Some will be scouring the day’s newspaper, planning to brave the crowds and start their Christmas shopping later in the evening. As a few linger behind to help me and Danny clean up, my heart swells with gratitude. I wouldn’t trade our Thanksgiving for anything.

For the next few days, we’ll munch on leftovers and when we warm our plate in the microwave, the fragrance of Thanksgiving will return. I’ll sit in the recliner and sip another cup of tea, content.

And thankful.

Someone usually makes a macaroni casserole at Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe for you to try…

Macaroni Casserole

8 oz. package elbow noodles
1 jar chopped pimentos, drained and dried
1 jar sliced mushrooms, drained and dried
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. Kraft American Cheese, grated (set one cup aside)
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped onion

Cook noodles; drain and place in large bowl. Grate cheese and set aside 1 cup. Stir together noodles, pimentos, mushrooms, soup, cheese (minus the cup), mayonnaise and onion. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top. Bake 10 more minutes.

Writing Prompt: I pulled the spice cake from the oven. The aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon flowed through the house and set my stomach to rumbling. As I started to carry the heavenly confection across the kitchen…


Jennifer Hallmark writes southern fiction and fantasy. Jennifer’s website and blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.


Thankful on so Many Levels

By Holly Michael

This Thanksgiving, I didn’t have roast turkey. No stuffing, either. No ham. No mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, or pumpkin pie, either. When we booked flights to India for a follow-up mission trip, the cheapest way to travel back to the US was to leave the day after Thanksgiving.

We went to India again because…

…Ten years ago, on Christmas Day evening, my husband (a pastor) and I relaxed after a long day at church.

Then the phone rang.

A call from South India. My brother-in-law DeCruze urged us to turn on the news. A tsunami had hit the shores of the Indian Ocean and many were feared dead. Thankfully, all family members lived inland and were okay, but my husband had worked and lived in the affected coastal region for years. Friends and children he’d cared for would have been swept out to sea in the early hours of December 26th (our 25th evening).

Just days later, after a major fundraising event, I stood on the shore of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by rows of tiny coconut trees. My husband approached and touched my arm. “Honey, you’re standing in a graveyard.”

I had no idea that the trees marked the graves of the children who died at sea. Tears fell from my eyes. We’d spent a week fundraising before flying to India. In the rush of it all, I’d handled everything well, even arriving in Nagatttinam to find smoldering piles of bodies still burning–more than five thousand died in this region. I took a deep breath. I’d come to help,  take pictures, and write a story for a Guideposts magazine assignment. I walked with my husband toward the men weeping in a smashed up fishing boat. In Tamil, my husband counseled them on the loss of their wives and children, the ones whose bodies were planted under those saplings.


Situations like that make me very thankful on so many levels.

Thanksgiving 2014, flying back from India, we visited those same villages and spoke with the people we helped, young children and teens, many now married. I’ve gathered stories of thanksgiving; hearts thankful to Americans for their help a decade ago and hopeful hearts through the struggles they still face living in a third world country. On the day after Christmas, I’ll be releasing a book: Tsunami 2004: Still Wading Through Waves of Hope.


The children from the Nagapattinam region have grown and are ready to begin new lives with money and interest from a CD deposited in accounts for them ten years ago. Hope is alive, but some stories were surprising and a common theme prevailed among the girls, now women, struggling with being female in villages steeped in old traditions. Wounds, never fully healed reopened and fresh tears flowed. Rupees won’t bring back the lost, but these young adults featured in my book have hope. They want to move forward with their lives.

Those in the remote fishing villages of Nagapattanim, South India expressed deep gratitude to America–to the school kids from Illinois who emptied their piggybanks and to adults from all over (especially in Northwest Arkansas) who generously opened their wallets on the heels of a major giving holiday.

Today, with the internet and news plastered with troubles in other parts of the world, we’ve become a global world, caring about those in distant troubled lands, praying for them, helping when we can. We also become thankful people, grateful to God for His protection and care.

On Thanksgiving, this year, as we thank God for our lives, our families, and our freedom, let’s look beyond our borders to those less fortunate and say a prayer for them.

And as we look forward to the Christmas and the topic of Christmas Traditions, let’s consider where our family traditions came from. Do you have ancestors from another country? What traditions can you trace to other parts of the world? Here’s my recipe for Turkey Curry, India style.


Ingredients Chicken/Turkey – 1 lb (cut into pieces) Onion – 1 (sliced) Kuskus – 2 tbsp Cashews – 4 Corriander seeds – 1 tbsp Green chilly – 5-7 Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp Coconut – 1/2 cup (grated) Yogurt (Curd) – 1/2 cup Ginger-Garlic paste- 2 tsp Cardimon – 3 Fennel seeds – ¼ tsp  Bay leaf – 1 Cloves – 2  Cinnamon sticks – 1 Oil – 2 tbsp Salt – to taste Cilantro – for garnish

Method 1. Soak kuskus in 1 cup warm water for 10 minutes and then grind it with green chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cashews, cardamom and coconut. Keep it aside. 2. Heat oil in a deep pan. Splutter fennel seeds.Add the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon. 3. Add sliced onions and fry them till they are translucent. Next add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell vanishes.  3. Add the chicken/turkey pieces and saute for 2 minutes. Next add 1 cup water, yogurt and salt to it. Cover and cook till the chicken is almost done. 4. At this stage add the ground paste and add the water required. Check for salt and let the kurma simmer for 5 minutes. 5. Garnish with cilantro. This goes very well with barottaaapam and idiyappam.


Happy Thanksgiving!