Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday, and I've got Christmas fever.

I'm happy to report that Thanksgiving was amazing!  The food was wonderful and we had a great time with our families.  I pulled off cooking everything without a hitch... well except for one minor hitch (though at the moment I thought it was a HUGE deal).

I cooked the bird upside down. 

When I put the bird in the oven initially, I obviously wasn't awake.  I set it on the roasting pan breast side down. 

When I pulled out the bird after 2.5 hours I realized my error... and almost passed the hell out.

So what did I do?  I googled that ish faster than you can say "thanksgiving pizza."  Turns out, it's FINE to cook it that way. In fact, many chefs recommend cooking the bird breast down side for the first few hours, because it makes for juicer white meat!

So, I flipped the bird back upright, based him with butter, and cooked him for another hour on a higher temp.

Let me just say... best. turkey. EVER.  Best error/fail ever!  I'll always do it that way from now on.  I wish I had pictures, but I was too busy to take any.  I'll make it up to you below... I'm warning you now, the rest of this post is Christmas overload.

I'm in FULL Christmas mode over here!  Black Friday really set me in gear; my friend L and I went out at midnight Friday morning and shopped til around 6:30 AM.  I know it sounds (completely) crazy, but I got almost all of my Christmas shopping done!  Listen, I don't stand in lines for hours outside of stores... so I'm not over the edge - YET. 

This weekend was also pretty eventful in that we got a lot of decorating done.  I was all about it on Friday (obvi, I didn't waste any time). 

Ok, Ok, so the tree was already up.  We put it up last weekend.  Before Thanksgiving.  Shameful, I know.  Now that I have that off my chest, how about taking a peek at my favorite Christmas ornament?

Why yes, that is a Fraggle Rock ornament from 1985.  My parents bought it for me when I was born.  How awesome, right?!
Our "First Christmas" ornament.  It's a s'more, if you couldn't tell.

While we're at it...

In other news, I did manage to be crafty this weekend.

Yes... me!  Crafty!

I had been looking everywhere for a new Christmas wreath.  No such luck.  Couldn't find one for under $40 that I actually liked.  So I made one.

It was so easy.  All I did was buy a plain (fake) wreath for $4 at Michael's,  along with some little holiday bulbs from their $1 bin, berries, and some ting-ting type stuff for a couple bucks a pop, and voila!  Wreath magic.

I decorated everywhere in our house.  I even decorated in our downstairs bathroom.

Speaking of my bathroom, is this weird?

See that picture?  I had nowhere to put it in our house.  So into the bathroom it went.  Now, if you "use the facilities" you get a smiling picture of my bridesmaids and I.  I find it amusing :)

K and I worked all day yesterday to get the outside of the house done.  I'm not going to show you the whole outside of the house though... because it's sadly not done yet.  We still have some things to replace and finish.  However, I will say that I was VERY happy this evening when I went outside and saw this:

THIS just happens to be my favorite decoration EVER.  This is my ice cube frosty, and we bought him for the first Christmas K and I shared together.  Sadly, when I plugged him in yesterday he didn't light up all the way.  I had a mini-frosty meltdown (pun intended).  I hoped that he would magically come back to life... and guess what?  Well you already know because you just looked at that picture.  FROSTY LIVES.

I'm back to school this week (booo) so posting may be light this week.  I hope you guys had an awesome Thanksgiving!  Anyone else already preparing for the holidays?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks and Cooking the Bird

Life can change for people in an instant, and unfortunately I was reminded of that today.  My dad's best friend, who was also a close family friend, passed away.  It's heartbreaking, not only for my dad who lost his long time friend, but more importantly -- his family.  I felt the need to preface this post about Thanksgiving with this: give thanks for the people you love, and let them know you love them, because like the song says... "life is short but sweet for certain."

Have I mentioned I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people this year?   This will be the third year in a row, and I swear I've got this whole process down to a science.  I LOVE to cook, and Thanksgiving is the ultimate in cooking adventures. 

Excuse the mess on my kitchen table; this was a picture from my first year of Thanksgiving cooking (2007) -- and my kitchen was a disaster area!  I'm much more professional now (I even have a schedule of tasks -- I'm type A, duh), and I have time to clean up after myself and even watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I LOVE.

I get the majority of my recipes from the Food Network.  I freaking love the Food Network; I could watch that channel until my nose starts leaking butter (Paula Deen, anyone?)  Here's my menu:
  • Brined Roast Turkey - I've used Alton's recipe and method for brine for the past couple of years and I've NEVER had such delicious, juicy turkey!  It's so easy, and it seriously makes ALL the difference in the world.  We also buy a fresh farm raised turkey every year from a local orchard.  Definitely worth it!
  • Southern Cornbread Stuffing - I made this for the first time last year and it is amazzzing.  Notice in that picture above that I used STOVE TOP for the first year?  Blasphemy! (said my co-workers).  Now, I make it the old fashioned way.  You know, with an entire stick of butter. 
  • Homemade Mashed Potatoes - I have my own recipe.  Basically, golden potatoes, roasted garlic (processed into a paste) and tons of cream.  Oh, and you have to use a potato ricer or a food mill if you want good mashed taters.  TRUST.
  • Green Bean Casserole - The traditional kind -- although I may add some fresh mushrooms for a little extra somethin'.
  • Corn - With herbs and butter.
  • Cranberry Sauce - In the can.  Ocean Spray.  Yeah, I know... but we love it!
  • Biscuits
  • Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie - K's family makes these - not me.
I'm also thinking about making a cherry crisp, just because it sounds delicious. 

A couple of weeks ago K and I bought a new dining room table.  This is amazingly awesome for us, because we've had the same table and chairs that I bought from Wal-Mart when I was 19.  They were hammered, as you can imagine.  More importantly, the table only fit 4 people max. 

So, we bought a new set and I'm in loveee.  It's all decked out for Thanksgiving.  When I say "decked out" I mean borderline tacky.  That's how I roll with the holidays though -- go big or go home!

Tomorrow will consist of shopping. cleaning the rest of the house, brining the turkey and prepping food for Thursday.  If I don't post before then, have a fantastic Thanksgiving!  I'll report back with my Black Friday purchases (yes I'm a crazy person, and I go out at like 3:30 AM). 

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's been awhile (again!).

I'm not going to make (a lot of) excuses for being MIA recently.  School and work were keeping me busy, as well as various mini-getaways and such with K. 

I'm also kind of weird in that if I feel pressured to do something, I sometimes pull away and avoid doing it.  I felt like I was pressuring myself to write, even if I didn't feel like it.  So I stopped updating for awhile.  Now I feel like it again, so here I am.  Amazing story, right?!  Anyway, on to the updates.

I've been to a couple of Steelers games lately.  Oh, how I love tailgating for Steelers games!  We had a lot of fun last week, even though we lost.  Boo.  Can I also say I'm glad Jeff Reed is gone?  I know a lot of people think he's the world's most amazing kicker EVER, but I was never impressed.  Watching him blow a 26 yard field goal sealed the deal for me last week.  Not to mention that he manages to get himself into all kinds of trouble off-field... which annoys me.  I digress.

I love Pittsburgh.  It has a special place in my heart.  Steelers games are a celebration of our awesome city and team, and celebrate we do! 

No words for this.  Yes, that dog is wearing a dress.

As my friend M dubbed this... the Yinzer taxi.  Not our ride, unfortunately.

A few weeks ago, K and I went to a bed and breakfast north of here for his birthday.  It was pretty fun, and totally different from anything we've ever done before!  It's a huge, old fashioned mansion.  The rooms are huge, and each one has a different theme.  You dress up and go to a really formal dinner there, and you also get a large buffet breakfast in the morning.  Despite being the youngest people there, we had a pretty fun time!

There was a complementary fruit/snack tray in the room when we got there...

As well as a bottle of champagne!

Well that's all I have for tonight!  K and I are going to grab some sushi, and put up our Christmas tree!  I KNOW it's not even Thanksgiving yet.... but I have the Christmas fever.  Seriously,  I can't wait to decorate this year!  I almost bypassed decorating for Thanksgiving, but since we always have the family over here for dinner, I figured that might be kinda weird for people who aren't me. 

Any fun weekend plans?  I'll be sure to post a picture of our Thanksgiving/Christmas decor fusion sometime this weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween and Other Things

For Halloween, I went as Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood (K and I LOVE this show!).

My friends C and J went as Snooki and JWOWW from Jersey Shore

And K... K went as his favorite animal EVER.

Yeah.  He's a frickin' cat.  Ohhh husband of mine. You are a unique one!  His costume was outrageous.  There was spandex, a tail and a v-neck t-shirt.

A good time was had by all!  We danced, drank amazing spiked apple cider (One gallon apple cider, 1/2 - 1 cup of butterscotch Schnapps and Captain Morgan to taste.  You'll thank me later), and laughed a lot.

Yesterday night, I decided to make Haluski.  My boss gave me a super easy recipe, and I was so excited to make K one of his favorite meals.

All you need is two cabbages, two onions, one cup of water, a stick of butter and salt & pepper.  Slice up and combine everything in a stock pot.  Cover and cook for 90 minutes on medium.  Once caramelized, add in cooked egg noodles, some more butter and there ya go!

Don't ask me for a picture.  I can't post it. 

You see... later that night, I woke up at about 3 AM.  SICK.  As in hugging the toilet bowl sick.  You get the picture.  I don't know why!  Maybe it was the haluski.  I know when I woke up I felt like I could still smell cabbage in the air... which made me bolt for the bathroom.  I'm sorry, is this TMI?  I can't even tell anymore, I just ramble stuff off to anyone who will listen.

Anyways, I was so sick, I didn't get to sleep until 5 AM.  Still have no idea why.  After I FINALLY fell asleep K and I awoke to this at 6 AM:

Rihanna's "Disturbia" BLASTING full volume from our spare bedroom/computer room.

We both awoke in a panic.  K jumped out of bed and staggered into the other room to find this:

Sitting by the computer keyboard, staring at K like "What?  So I turned on the jams.  Get over it."

Don't even ASK me how Bad Kitty figured out how to turn on the music.  Just don't.  I don't even recall having iTunes open.  All I know is that he was hungry, and apparently eager to get us to wake up.   My poor neighbors probably really appreciated his attempt at an early morning dance party. 

Oh, and after all of this, I managed to vote this afternoon.  I swear, I vote every election... and I still get grilled by the little old election ladies like I'm a 15 year old trying to sneak in a vote.  I know I'm small, but I swear I'm old enough to vote.  I also get carded every time I order a beer in a restaurant, but I don't get carded buying a handle of Captain Morgan and wine at the liquor store.  Hmmm....

Did anyone else vote today?  Who is excited for all of the political TV ads to be OVER?  This girl is!