Sunday, November 29, 2009


We had a great Thanksgiving at my Mom and Dad's house.

For the past few years my Mom and I have taken turns hostessing, this should have been my year, but back in July when I asked her about Thanksgiving plans she responded with "Why would you want to do that? You have a toddler running around." So she took over, and it was especially wonderful because now I don't just have a toddler running around, I'm also expecting again in early June :)

What you need to understand is that Thanksgiving is serious business for my mom and me. I remember being about 8 years old, my Grandmother had finally allowed my mom to hostess Thanksgiving (I love my Grandma, she was amazing, but she wasn't the world's most amazing hostess) - my mom sat me down for a serious talk and told me that "We are going to out-Martha Martha Stewart, and I am going to need your help." I mixed pumpkin pie and mincemeat fillings,peeled potatoes and set the table.

We out-Martha'd Martha. And I loved it.

We both have our Thanksgiving "Bibles" - three-ring binders full of recipes, notes, and most important - the names of our turkeys (to make a wonderful Turkey, you need to bond with it, and you must name it). The turkey is key, we usually order an Amish turkey (Mom) or one that is locally raised (Me). We set the tables a week in advance, carefully plan the menu and pick appropriate serving pieces, and then work our butts off so that on Thanksgiving it looks effortless. We are exhausted by the end of the day, but so very happy to have served our loved ones.

I'm planning a few posts for Thanksgiving, so today I'll leave you with the meal, it was wonderful. I'm currently hounding Mom for the recipes, I'll share when she starts to co-operate ;)

Clockwise from the top:
Savory Bread Pudding
Mashed Potatoes and Mom's Amazing Gravy
Green Beans with Shallots and Bread Crumbs
Cold Cauliflower Salad
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
The Best Turkey Ever (we named him Thom) with more gravy (I could drink it, really)
center - Brussel Sprouts with Hazelnuts

I neglected to take a picture of the brioche and artisan breads (from Zingerman's) and yummy cranberry relish. I also forgot to take pictures of the pies (pumpkin, apple and pecan) - I blame that on food coma :)

so good

Guess who:

*ate his body weight in mashed potatoes?
*refused to eat crackers/cucumbers unless they were dipped in dill dip?
*loves to build with Duplos (leftover from me and my siblings, of course)?
*has Grandpa completely wrapped around his fingers?
*always has eight thousand kisses for his Grammy?
*is going to be a big brother in early June?

gobble gobble!

We drove back from Troy last night. We were planning on visiting baby Emily (and Stephie and Jay) this morning and then driving back, we were also planning on going out to after-party with Danielle after her (beautiful and delicious) wedding and reception.

This guy had other plans:
see my angry, white gums? it's molar time.
not as fun as miller time :(

After Danielle's reception we headed to my parent's house to check on the little man, change clothes and then meet up with everyone at the hotel.

What we found was the angriest little guy ever.

He actually had a great time (as usual) hanging out with Grammy and Grandpa - he adores them, it's really cute. But then he woke up halfway through his nap and was a complete mess. I could hardly get him to calm down (which is really out of character), he just wanted me to rock with him and sing (someone appreciates my amazing voice!). So we made the parental/executive decision to pack up our bags and head home. JJ just needed a night in his own bed, now he's a happy guy again.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Ours was wonderful :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

fruit from the docket

This might not be super fabulous but...
"A man who appeared to be high while driving on Interstate 75 on Wednesday was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia for having 6.25 grams of marijuana in the car he was driving. He told police he and his friend were returning from a rock concert in Detroit."

Now, you need to understand that there was a Phish concert at Cobo Hall on Wed. night.

I know, who would have guessed that people at a Phish concert would smoke marijuana? Unthinkable!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Ornaments

This is my first tutorial! And it is super-duper easy, hooray!

I wasn't really sure what to call these bites of chocolate and pretzel yumminess, but they are round and festive, so I figured calling them "ornaments" wasn't too far of a stretch.

These are ridiculously easy. So easy that someone taught me how to make them when I lived in the dorms, and I made a whole bunch of them in the shared, dorm kitchenette and proudly handed them out at Christmas.

Here are your ingredients:

a bag of pretzel rounds (sometimes they call them "beer pretzels" and they are generally not manufactured by a national brand, just look for them - I swear they are out there)
a bag of holiday M&M's
a bag of Hugs (because the stripes are more fun than plain old Kisses)

Step 1: unwrap the Hugs - this will be mind numbing and time consuming - I suggest doing this while watching TV.

Step 2: preheat your oven to 150 or 200 degrees (basically, as low as it will allow you to set it) and then turn it off. If you don't turn it off you will burn your Hugs, and no one wants a burnt Hug. Then lay out some pretzels on a foil lined cookie sheet, and slip a hug into the center of each pretzel.

yep, I forgot to use foil - it made ornament removal a little bit difficult

Step 3: put the pretzels and Hugs into the oven for 2 - 3 min. They will become nice and melty.


Step 4: top each Hug with an M&M .I like to place mine upside down so you can't see the logo. I also try to place the M&M exactly over the pointy part of the Hug, just to knock it down.

Step 5: stick you tray of ornaments into the fridge until they are set (10 min. or less), pop them off of the foil (or pry them off with a spatula- seriously - use the foil) and enjoy!

nom, nom, nom!

I'm adding this post to The DIY Show Off's Holiday Highlights Party :)
Come join the fun!
The DIY Show Off

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the Subject of Christmas Gifts

Thanksgiving is almost here!

And you know what comes after that... Christmas!

The season of giving, love, Christ, family and friends, and ridiculous spending. Yep, I said it, it seems that every year, no matter how hard I plan, I will go slightly overboard on gifts for a few people. Now, I've never gone so far as to have massive post-holiday debt (we buy most of our Christmas gifts with cash), but every once in a while I forget about someone, and then in my rush to get them a gift, spend more than I would have if I'd given it a little more thought.

This year we're downsizing our Christmas spending. I'm pretty sure my husband will only find socks and undershirts under the tree this year. We're pretty much in agreement that our $20K foundation repair (oh yeah, that totally happened while I was on hiatus, but I'll elaborate later) was easily our joint Christmas gift... for the next 30 years or so.

I've cut my list down this year, and cut back the amount of money we're spending as well. It was something I've been thinking about for awhile now, and the Advent Conspiracy videos really solidified that for me. I'll be Giving Water to a few of my friends, I know they'll appreciate that much more than another pair of Christmas socks, blank journal, or random set of bath products. And a few other very special people will be receiving goodies from my kitchen.

I'm still trying to decide exactly which goodies to put in my boxes, but I have a few front runners:
Chocolate Ornaments
Spiced Nuts
Christmas Spritz

Have you thought about giving homemade or charitable Christmas gifts this year?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

i promise to do better

I've been super-duper busy lately.

You can read a little bit more here.

But I promise to do better, and to post pictures of my adorable gnome-boy! OK, that might take a while because the adorable-one keeps stealing the USB cords for the camera. But once I dig them out of the registers, toy box, and warming drawer in the oven, I'll try really hard to get a few pictures of gnome-yumminess up :)

Hope you all had a great weekend (the weather was awesome!)!

jumping back in

I've been busy.

Mostly I've been working on a Historic Homes Tour (it was yesterday), which is our bi-annual fundraiser for service league. The homes are decorated for the holidays by local florists, and this year we're pretty sure over 2000 people toured the homes. Our goal is always to raise at least $14,ooo, as that's pretty much our philanthropic budget for two years. The best part is that every single penny we raise goes directly to our community.

In a community this size $14,000 can make a huge difference. For example, our local food pantry is starting a milk money program. They were hoping to raise $1,400 to start the program and be able to give over 800 families a few vouchers for milk every month, unfortunately they were only able to raise $400. So they sent us a request and we were happy to assist them.

So that's why I've been absent from the blog.

And even though I missed doing little projects - and taking the time to take pictures of my food as I am cooking (although I never seem to write those posts!), and missed a bunch of fun blog parties and great posts that all of you have written - I'm happy to be able to give my time to my communtiy. I had a lot of fun working on this project, even though it didn't give me the immediate satisfaction that our service projects do. When I sit back and think about the impact of the money we raised, I have to say that it makes me tear up to think of little ones and pregnant women (who live right where I do) drinking milk instead of water because I was able to donate (sometimes begrudgingly) some of my time.

And now back to blogging :)