the little den + thanksgiving

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It shouldn’t come as a shock that Shannon and I love children as we daily wrangle our combined eleven kids, some days (secretly and perhaps a little crazily) dreaming of adding to the bunch. But aren’t we called to extend our hearts beyond our own families and into a starving world? The recent tragedies in Paris and across the globe have made the truth more clear than ever… we are citizens of the world and together we can make a difference.

Much of our clothing line is crafted in India, so we have a special fondness for the country and its people. Sadly, many orphaned Indian children live on the streets where food is scarce and adult protection even more so… Their reality is so far removed from my daily life that unless I FORCE myself to see it, I can go right along with my day: fretting over fabric swatches, shipping delays, children who pick the carrots from their beef stew, laundry that never seems to end… Meanwhile, a precious little girl (no different than one of my own!) sleeps under a palm tree, longing for broth, a bed, and a roof over her head.

For years we have been called to do something without knowing where to start. So it seemed like fate to discover, through personal friends, a program that will help us build a home for orphaned children in India. After a lot of back and forth, a plan is now in motion. In June, 25 children will be given a second chance. “The Little Den” will become their new home– a new beginning with real meals, cozy beds, responsible caretakers, and fresh water. To say we are excited is an understatement.

We can’t change the whole world overnight, but with your help we are changing the world for twenty five little people and that is a great start.

Join us on Thursday for the sale of our commemorative Little Den dresses (Wildling Club Members, a portion of the proceeds from your November “Little Den” dress was already set aside for this, so thank you!). With Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, what a perfect time to express our gratitude to all of you! Without our amazing customers, none of this would be possible so thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

On that note, what are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? We’ve asked each WDW team member to share a favorite holiday recipe and tradition with you. We hope you enjoy!

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Sally (shipping)

Broccoli Artichoke Soup

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can artichokes
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 box frozen broccoli
  • 1 can chicken broth

Saute onions in butter. Add broth and broccoli. Cook over medium heat until simmering. Add chopped and drained artichokes. Cook until warmed. Add soup and sour cream and stir to combine. Heat to a simmer and serve with toasty french bread.

“My favorite memory of Thanksgiving was having the whole family together and stuffing ourselves until we felt sick at lunch– then doing it again at dinner!”


Sandy (shipping)

Corn and Greenbean Casserole

  • 1 can white shoepeg corn (drained)
  • 1 can french style green beans (drained)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1- 8 oz container of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (colby or cheddar)

Topping

  • 1 roll of crushed ritz crackers
  • 1 stick of melted butter

Mix filling in a baking dish. In a separate bowl combine crackers and butter. Sprinkle cracker/butter combo on top of corn and green bean mixture. Bake at 350 until bubbling.

“Ok this is my favorite Thanksgiving memory… Thanksgiving has always been a little stressful for me because there’s so much preparation involved. When I got a new daughter-in-law, she rolled up her sleeves & pitched in with the cooking, the cleaning, and the decorating. What a help it was to me & my daughter that there was another helpful sweet hand!”


Laurie (shipping)

Thanksgiving Dressing

  • 3 lbs ground round
  • 1 bag frozen seasoning mix (onions, peppers, celery)
  • salt, pepper, garlic
  • 2 loaves of toasted french bread
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • Italian bread crumbs to put on top

Soak toasted french bread in enough water or milk to cover it. Brown ground beef in a large pan. Add seasoning mix to browned beef and cook through. Drain and squeeze liquid from soaked toast and add to meat and seasoning pan. Cook until all is mixed together well. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic salt) to your taste. Add chopped fresh parsley and top with Italian bread crumbs. Bake at 350 until heated through.

Side note: Dressing is better if you do it ahead of time and freeze it.On Turkey Day just add bread crumbs and bake.

“I think my most memorable thanksgiving was when we all celebrated together at our camp in Folsom. My mother, my mother in law and father in law, all of my brothers and sisters and Donald’s brothers and sister and families. It was such a wonderful time and it was the last thanksgiving that we celebrated with our beloved Mac.”


Lisa (shipping)

Cheese Dollars

  • 1/2 lb. Oleo
  • 1- 10 oz package sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • hot pepper sauce to taste
  • pecans or other favorite nut
  • 2 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients well. Roll into long roll in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate at least 24 hours, but will keep well for about two weeks.

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and cut thin immediately. Place pecan half (your favorite nut can be substituted) in center.

Bake at 350 in preheated oven until the underside is brown (lift slightly with a spatula to check).

Place on waxed paper immediately upon removal from oven or on flat plate in a single layer to cool.


Andrea (shipping)

Greenbean & Artichoke Casserole

  • 6 cans of french style greenbeans
  • 3-4 cans of artichokes, chopped
  • 16 oz olive oil
  • 16 oz Italian bread crumbs
  • 12 oz parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole lemon, strained
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • 1 large can of Durkee / French’s dried onion

Mix all ingredients together except for the onions. Pour into a 9×13 baking pan. Sprinkle bread crumbs and parm cheese on top and distribute pats of butter over that. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle onions over the casserole and bake for an additional 5 minutes. The onions should be crispy.

“The Thanksgiving memory that stands out the most is when I almost choked to death on a turkey bone…”


Darlene (shipping)

Spinach Madeline

  • 2 packages chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 6 ounces jalapeno jack cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cook spinach according to directions.
Drain and keep liquid.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.
Add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown.
Add flour, stirring while blending.
Add 1/2 cup reserved spinach liquid and evaporated milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
Cook until smooth and thick.
Continue stirring.
Add pepper, celery salt and cheese.
Stir some more till melted.
Combine with cooked spinach.
Top with buttered bread crumbs if desired.


Raquel (customer service / shipping)

Holiday Rolls

  • 2 ½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast
  • ½ cup very warm water (120-130 degrees F)
  • ½ cup very warm milk (120-130 degrees F)
  • 1 egg
  • Butter or margarine. Melted

Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, shortening, salt and yeast in medium bowl. Add warm water, warm milk and egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl and turn greased side up.

Cover and let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Grease bottoms and sides of 2 round pans, 9×1 ½ inches. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Punch down dough. Cut dough in half; cut each half into 24 pieces. Shape into balls. Place close together in pans. Brush with butter. Cover and let rise in warm place about 30 min or until doubled.

Bake 12 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

“Most of my favorite Thanksgiving memories growing up involved helping out in the kitchen, especially when we were at my grandma’s house. She would let my cousins and I help make the cranberry sauce, bake desserts and my favorite, her rolls! I remember feeling proud when everyone said how great everything tasted. I always thought my grandmother decorated the table so “fancy” and it was nice seeing our “work” displayed for everyone to see… and taste! Thanksgiving always brings out the best of feelings and I will always remember the smells, smiles and love that filled the room!”


Beverly (customer service)

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks melted unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • Deep dish frozen pie shell
  • Dash of nutmeg

Cream sugar & eggs together. Add sweet potatoes, vanilla & butter. Mix well & add milk last.

Pour into deep dish frozen pie shell. Dust top with nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. *this recipe makes 2 deep dish pies or 4 regular pies*

“I love how we say a Thanksgiving blessing & thank our family for joining us(we usually host). Then each person around the table says one thing they are grateful for. It’s sweet to hear what everyone says. The remarks are profound, simple or funny, but we all love the tradition!”


Jacqueline (marketing)

Southern Cheesy Potato Casserole

  • 2 lbs Ore-Ida frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups crushed corn flakes, mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter

Defrost potatoes. Combine in large mixing bowl with 1/2 cup melted butter; add salt, pepper, onion, soup, sour cream, and cheese. Blend thoroughly. Pour into greased 9×13” dish. Cover with crushed corn flakes mixed with melted butter. Bake 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Serves 16.

“Thanksgiving dinner at my Grandparents house will forever be one of my most fond memories. My Grandmother had a beloved set of pilgrim figurines that she would use when setting the dinner table, which paired nicely with her vintage wax turkeys. My sister and I would play with them for hours: hosting everything from weddings to hunting trips to serving Thanksgiving dinner. Now those same pilgrims and turkeys make an annual appearance on our Thanksgiving table for my children to enjoy.”


Sarah 

Basic Pecan Pie

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1.5 cups pecans crushed
  • 2 frozen pie shells

Beat first four ingredients together then add crushed pecans. Pour evenly into two pie crusts. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

OPTIONAL (My sister-in-law Skye took this recipe to the next level! See below):

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch or two of salt
  • a swig of GOOD whisky or bourbon
  • 1.5 cups pecans crushed
  • a couple handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 deep dish pie crust

Beat first six ingredients together then add crushed pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into one deep dish pie shell. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

“My fondest Thanksgiving memory was in 2008. Seth was in Iraq and I was missing him like crazy. I live 2 hours from my siblings and parents but with a newborn and two other small children, traveling would’ve been a nightmare for me. Instead they came to me! My three sisters, my brother, their children, and my parents drove to my small house on Wednesday night to prepare a feast. We stayed up all night cooking a turkey (you’ll notice we did NOT share that recipe here!), sharing wine and lots of laughter. On Thanksgiving morning we skyped with Seth… It was a bittersweet time, but looking back I am so thankful for it! That holiday was a great reminder of my many blessings. Family, love, support, togetherness, good food, great memories… What more can I ask for?”


Shannon

Apple Pie A La Magic

  • Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • 3 – 4 Large Golden Delicious Apples sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Flour
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 Box Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 Stick Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll pie crust and press in to pie plate. Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Slice apples very thin (mandolin recommended) and toss in the mixture of sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour the apple/sugar mixture into unbaked pie crust and place 5 “pats”/slices of butter on top. Cover the apples with the yellow cake mix. Slice the remaining stick of butter into small pieces and place on top of the cake mix. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour and golden brown on top. Enjoy with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Seven Layer Salad

  • Head of iceberg lettuce (chopped)
  • Artichoke hearts and hearts of palm cut up
  • 5 hard boiled eggs (chopped)
  • Frozen peas (run under water to thaw slightly)
  • 1 cup mayo and 2 tablespoon sugar
  • Shredded cheese
  • 1 lb Bacon cooked hard and chopped

Layer first 4 ingredients in a glass bowl, cover with mayo dressing then put cheese layer and bacon on top! Put in fridge until you serve!

“Thanksgiving, to me, has always marked the beginning of the Christmas season, so that alone has made it a special time. A season filled with thankfulness and appreciation- I’ve always loved this time of year! The sights and smells of thanksgiving stand out to me- sweet potato casserole, turkey and cranberry, apple and pecan pie- but beyond that, the gathering of family is so prominent in my mind. Family coming together to fellowship, standing before our meal, holding hands and thanking God for all of our many blessings before we sit down together and enjoy all of the amazing foods that everyone worked so hard to prepare. I am so thankful for the family that God has given me- my husband and children- and feel so blessed to be a part of both the family I was born into and the family that I married into!”


LEAVES OF THANKS

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Here’s a simple family activity! It works beautifully with real leaves, but on this rainy day an old grocery bag was the best we could do. Cut leaves from paper (or use the real thing) and ask the children to write the things they are most thankful for this year. Collect the leaves in a bowl as a dining table centerpiece or string them with twine and hang as a sweet reminder of your blessings.


We would love to see your favorite holiday recipes, memories and traditions! Feel free to share them here.

18 thoughts on “the little den + thanksgiving

  1. The Little Den makes my heart throb! I just love this dream and would love to help in any way I could! Please post details for opportuunities(aside from purchasing the dresses, which of course I will!)

  2. I absolutely love the idea of “The Little Den”. What a special thing to be able to do. Any way we can help more children struggling with poverty and lack of attention/love is wonderful! I work in an elementary school and see every single student as the librarian. Those students are as much my family as the two sweet girls who belong to me and my husband.

    For us, Thanksgiving ushers in the start of Christmas, our favorite time of year. We cut down a fresh white pine the Saturday after Thanksgiving and start decorating soon after. Christmas Eve is spent prepping for Santa’s arrival by placing stockings in their traditional spots around the living room, attending a church service and putting my girls, in their Christmas jjs, to bed. I love that it’s the same activities year after year, started when I was little and still happening now with my two.

  3. I always make chocolate gravy as a special breakfast for my family for the holidays.

    1 c sugar
    3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 tbsp flour
    2 c milk

    Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan. Then add milk and cook over Med-high heat, stirring continuously. Remove from heat once gravy has reached preferred consistency. Serve over buttered biscuits.

  4. I love reading all of your recipes and memories! Thanksgiving, to me, is about spending time with family and loved ones. Laughing while cooking and watching football. Talking for hours with people I only “see” and “speak with” on Facebook the majority of the year. Sometimes it’s hard living away from the family I grew up with, but the holidays make everything better. 🙂

    Here’s my mil’s dressing recipe that everyone loves:

    2 bags Gladiola cornbread mix, prepared (NOT sweet cornbread-yuck!)
    1 box stove top dressing
    6 boiled eggs, chopped
    1 cup onion
    1 cup celery
    Rotisserie chicken, chopped
    Chicken broth (or better yet, Turkey drippings)
    1 tsp sage

    Prepare the cornbread & let it cool
    Mix everything.
    Add turkey drippings &/or chicken broth until moist, but not sopping wet
    Heat 350 degrees until it’s browned on top

  5. We’ve tried for years to find a cranberry sauce recipe that everyone loves. This year we’re having a cranberry sauce-off! We’ve decided to have a dish-off every year from now on. The winner gets to display a cute little turkey trophy in their kitchen year round. (We are somewhat competitive, lol) We will also gather all the winning recipes and keep an on-going recipe book that our kids can all enjoy one day.

    Also, each year all the kids do handprints on a plain burlap table runner that we continue to use and add to.

  6. I absolutely love what you’ve shared, from Little Den and selfless contributions to recipes and kid-friendly ideas to help teach our little ones what the holidays are all about. May God continue to bless each of you, your families, and your plans in India!

  7. Love this! Our little seven-year-old spent two days on a campaign to sponsor a child (on his own–primarily with birthday, Christmas and money he is paid for chores) through Compassion International. He now sponsors little Samuel from Togo, Africa who was born on the exact date, 11/8/08. He writes to him and sends small gifts. He prays for his friend who lives across the Atlantic ocean daily. Love that giving back affords us a way to help save children of the world from poverty AND from plenty.

  8. I love that you are helping children. My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is cooking for all of our families. We host each year and there is always a place for each person. My favorite recipie is Cranberry Salad

    1 bag whole cranberries, washed and sorted
    1 cup sugar
    1 can crushed pineapple drained
    1.5 cups chopped pecans
    1 quart whipping cream.
    1 bag miniature marshmallows

    Chop cranberries and place in a large bowl with 1/2 cup sugar, mix and add pecans. Let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add drained crushed pineapple and stir.

    While waiting, mix up whipping cream with 1/2 to a little more if needed sugar and beat until peaks and becomes stiff.

    Gently Fold marshmallows and whipping cream into cranberry mixture. Let sit overnight for best results. Serve and enjoy.

  9. I love “The little Den” project!!..but to me, when I hear those words..I think about my father, who was killed in a hunting accident (when I was only 4 weeks old)…his name was Denise, and my girls have some of his features. 💗
    I’m told I act a lot like him, so my girls would be MY “little Dens”
    Thank you for all you ALL do!! 😘

  10. What a wonderful thing you all are doing with The Little Den. Those children will be dry, fed, happy and healthy because of you!! How amazing.

    A family tradition Id like to share is that we have gathered our close family, extended family, and friends who may not have somewhere else to go for thanksgiving for a sort of family reunion on Thanksgiving. We host it at our church fellowship hall and we all just enjoy each other’s company and the food ofcourse, but most of all just happy that we can all see each other atleast once a year.

    Happy Thanksgiving WDW! 💗

  11. We love spending Thanksgiving with family. We use this day as a special teaching tool to show our daughter how important it is to give back to the community & to give to others who may be suffering or having a hard time right now. This year, she will decorate placemats for a family the size of ours & write them a little note. We then make donations to feed those people on Thanksgiving Day. It’s just a small thing, but it’s something in which she can participate. We are so thankful to support many companies like yours that give back to others. Thank you for letting us as your customers be a small part of it. May The Lord continue to bless your company, & may He heal the hearts of those suffering from pain & loss.

  12. The generosity, faith, and inspiration of this company (no, of these sisters) continues to blow me away. God is blessing you in mighty ways to allow you to impact others. Not only are you impacting women who follow you, but women and gitls in India! Thank you for everything that you do, and I, personally, feel blessed to support you through something as simple as little girls clothing. May God continue to pour out his blessings on your family through the holidays.

    Favorite tradition- We enjoy going to our small town Christmas parade the day before Thanksgiving. We watch as high school bands, tiny racing cars, and sports teams walk through. Its such a nostalgic feel for me because when the parade goes on, it feels like nothing has changed. Im seven years old again. ❤ Then on Thanksgiving Day, we watch the Macys parade while baking in preparation for a night of feasting. We laugh, play with kids, and go home late. This year we are hosting and I couldn't be more excited!

  13. We’ve always woke up and watched Macy’s Parade while finishing and soaking in the aroma of tasty treats! We (and now my girls) go down to the local Church in the Community Kitchen to help serve a warm meal to the homeless! Sharing stories with them and listening ever so intently to theirs, it really fills and warms the heart to start the Holiday season!!

  14. Thank you for your inspiration in making a difference in the world. What a beautiful idea on how to change 25 little lives. I’m blessed with three littles who will be spending Thanksgiving around family and the usual very “American” traditions of Macy’s parade, too much turkey, and Grandma Ginny’s “famous” canned cranberries. And I’m afraid they are famous in an unfortunate way. She opens the can, dumps it on a plate (can ripples still intact–no heat or stirring necessary), and voila!! you have Grandma Ginny’s contribution to our Thanksgiving supper (and has been for 85 years). And we love her all the more for it. Happy Thanksgiving.

  15. How wonderful! India has a special place in my heart as well, and earlier this year, I was blessed with the opportunity to go there and team up with a pastor and bring the hope of Christ to the people there. I spent time with a community of people, including 30 children, who literally live in cardboard boxes. I held little orphans in my lap and told them Bible stories, and my heart broke when many of them begged me to bring them home with me. You have no idea what a blessing it will be to those precious children to have a roof over their heads and someone to take care of them. 🙂

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