Monday, November 30, 2015

Crazy busy holiday weekend recap

Happy Monday, all!

I hope you all had a great holiday weekend.

Ours was busy as all get out and while I enjoyed the time spent with people I love, I'm also glad that I won't be that busy again until crunch time at Christmas.  Thanksgiving Day, we were late because I had the assembly line for the sweet potatoes going and because I made so much, it took 10 minutes longer than it should have.  But they were so good, I didn't care...

My cousin, the one who says "if Anele makes it, you eat it!" ate these, looked me dead in the eye and said "I f**kig love you."  I guess you can't get better than that!  Bwaaahahaha!  We did have a lot left over though.  Actually there seemed to be a lot of everything left over.  The paper plates used are so small that you really only had room for a small spoonful of this or that and by the time you put the turkey/ham and a roll on there, the room was gone.  We all had to go vertical or go back for seconds.  My mom never said if she liked them or not (she's the one who usually does them) so I guess I'll wait until next year to see if I have requests for them and if not, I'll invite my cousin over and we'll gorge on them ourselves.  My pies went over well.  I did make a boo boo though.  I forgot to refrigerate my pumpkin pies and while I know some people say you can still eat them if they've just sat overnight, I'll just say there are some litigious people in the group and all they'd need is a reason.  So the Mr was kind enough to make a grocery run so I could redo them and they baked while we worked out.  No biggie thankfully since they're easy to make.

For those wondering about Grandma, she's about the same.  She had small outbursts here and there, one of them directed at me while I was talking to my mom.  It startled me because she kind of yelled for a second and my mom is like "we're used to it, she doesn't mean anything by it, just smile and nod."  Um, it's not my first rodeo, you don't need to constantly remind me every time she does that how I should react.  It's kind of the same way my grandpa used to feel the need to tell everyone her diagnosis when she was still well aware of what he was saying about her.  I don't know, it's just weird like I was never in on how she acted or something.  Doesn't everyone jump when someone yells their direction?

The look on my uncles's face when I brought out the 2nd apple crumb pie was priceless.  This is a man who doesn't get excited about much but seeing his jaw drop, eyes light up and a smile come across his face when he knew he was getting more pie later was my happy moment for the day.

So all in all it was good, I would say better than last year though I can't pinpoint why.  When a branch of the tree and the grandparents left, we broke out the ads and the dirty talk and probably stayed later than they hoped but it was fun.  Too bad we still had stuff to do.

While most of the house was clean, I was hosting an afternoon tea to send off my friend before she moves out of state this weekend.  I made as much ahead as I could but I still needed to stew my apples for mini apple tarts and set the table and then the Mr needed to clean up the kitchen.  But I managed to get everything done I needed to in time.

I'll do a post about our afternoon tea and some recipes probably after the holidays because I doubt with all of the regular entertaining y'all would want to try to cram this in on top of it!  HA!  But it was a lovely time even though she showed up 30 minutes early and threw off my whole time table.  (Don't do that to a Virgo)  She brought our Christmas gifts and I suggested we just have our Christmas so we did.  She liked what we got her and I'm glad she got the glasses I asked for so I can replace our wine glasses we never use.  We also got her some housewarming gifts including a local grocery store gift card that made her cry and she said I was the most thoughtful person she knew because I always think of things like that.  I love doing stuff like that for people.  It doesn't take much to go a little above and beyond and it's usually appreciated.  So we cried like asshats while the Mr laughed at us and took a blurry pic of us which makes me think he was crying too.  We talked and held hands and when it came time to pack her up I gave her a hug and held it together and as soon as I got in the house, I lost it.  I'm happy for her but it's hard knowing she'll be 16 hours away instead of three.

Saturday it was time to spend all day watching rivalry games and do our traditional appetizer spread.  People, the graze gene was so activated it's not funny.  I wish I could say we exhibited any kind of self control over the past four days but I'd be lying.  Then Sunday was refuel day for the grocery store and that meant grazing on leftovers to make room for "real" groceries.  (That was the justification.)

I was soooo friggin' exhausted, I could barely walk.  My back and ankles hurt and I felt like I could've fallen asleep in Target's frozen food section standing up.  It wasn't pretty.  I think a week full of worry then execution finally caught up to me.  Working out was not in the cards if I didn't get a little shut eye.  I took a 30 minute nap and felt much better (even though I'd say I only slept for about 10 minutes of the 30 with the other 20 being "rest.")  We did a circuit and I felt better about doing it instead of skipping.  I grabbed a shower while the Mr cut my veggies for the week.  We made our Sunday night hot cocoa and decided it was time to watch our first Christmas movie of the season, Scrooged(affiliate link) 

That about covers it!  I'm so glad the house is fully decorated and we can hopefully enjoy the next week or two without too much entertaining.  I don't think my neck and shoulders can take the stress right now!

How about you guys?  How was your holiday weekend?

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Black Friday and What I'm Reading This Week

Good day all!

I hope your holiday was wonderful and for those of you braving the throngs...God speed.  I'll sit back and watch the coverage on TV on the parking lots full of land sharks and what fights break out over stuff people don't care about 364 days of the year.  Good times.  :-)

But enough of that, let's get to...

10 Things You Need to Do Around the House This Fall  (Gotta do #5 right now)

The "One Size Fits All" Diet Plan Is a Myth  (Word)

20 Common Phrases You're Probably Using Incorrectly  (How many are you surprised by?)

7 Ways to Make Picking a Health Insurance Plan Less Stressful  (Don't forget!)

This Year's Hot New Toy Wreaks Havoc on Kids Hair  (Oh my Lord!  I'd just shave it and tell them to pick out some fun wigs for a few months)

9 Things People With Sparkling Clean Homes Do Every Sunday  (Or do it today to clean up from yesterday's festivities)

Maybe Don’t Shop on Black Friday  (You couldn't pay me enough anyway)

Man posts inspirational list of everything that makes his wife cry  (I don't know about inspirational but pretty funny!)

The Origins of 15 Holiday Foods and Drinks  (Interesting stuff!)

Jennifer Lawrence Shares Two Most Embarrassing Stories Ever on The Tonight Show and Neither Involves Falling  (Pretty hilarious!)

23 Genius Ways to Use Baking Soda in Your Everyday Life  (Good tidbits!)

Why You Won't Regret Taking a Big Risk (So Stop Waiting!)  (This!)

7 Foods That Make You Bloated  (and foods that help you de-bloat too)

5 Proven Health Benefits of Gratitude  (Good to remember this or any time of year)

The Best Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List  (Fun ideas)

17 Sneaky Ways to Stay Energized During the Holiday Season  (Gonna put some of these into practice, I'm already feeling some burnout and we're not even in the thick of it yet!)

Today my best friend is coming over for afternoon tea.  Me being me, I went overboard.  I'll post pics I'm sure.  She's moving down south so no more meeting halfway for Christmas merriment.  I'm bummed about it but I know she'll come back to visit family so I'll probably still see her once a year like usual.  It'll still be bittersweet.  I'm sure a tear or two will be shed.

Anyone tackling Black Friday crowds?  Plans for the weekend?

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

We're getting our workout done this morning and then I'll warm up my stuffing and make my sweet potatoes and bacon for the masses.

We hope everyone has a blessed day and even if you're unable to celebrate with family or friends, take a moment to be thankful for the little things we take for granted like a roof over your head, a job, people who love you or heck, even being alive to read this.

I'm thankful for you all!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

DIY gone awry

For over a year, I've had some perfectly patina'd picket fence slats in the garage.  I was going to make shabby chic type signs with them, got unmotivated and there they sat.  I was getting the feeling the Mr was going to chuck them if I didn't do something with them and with a self imposed Christmas decorating deadline looming, I decided to hop into an idea I had last year.  Funnily enough, this idea failed last year too as a pencil tracing technique on a stained piece of wood didn't work and I said screw it.  I was determined to make it work this time!

I took the pickets and arranged every other board facing the same way so it didn't look like I ripped a fence out of someone's yard and ran.

I had scrap board that I cut to screw into the back of each slat.

But before that, I had to see if our shortest screws would work with the scrap wood and slats...

As you can see, that would've poked through so I had the Mr pick up 3/4" screws instead of the 1" ones we had on hand.

I installed another scrap piece in the back and screwed in a D ring that holds 60 lbs on the back.

I sealed the back with clear primer in case there were any buggers that tried to take up residence in there.

Since I don't have one of those fancy pants Cricut (affiliate link) thingys, I had to go old school and print out my saying and then use an exacto knife to cut it out.

I used a pencil to trace it onto the boards and got to painting.

After I was done with my first coat, I saw it...

Did you catch it?

Tannenbaum is misspelled.


This project is doomed.

I refused to let it get to me.  I painted a few coats of Pure White Annie Sloan paint over it after I sanded it down and put a light coat over the other slats to try to save the natural distressing.

I won't lie...I died a little inside losing all of that beautiful natural patina.

I reprinted and after checking the spelling 60x, repeated the process.

I put a coat of wax on it to seal everything in and keep the paint from chipping off.

Now it's hanging up on the wall to greet everyone as they come in!

The lesson, be persistent even when the crafting Gods are pissing in your Cheerios!

Have you ever bombed a DIY project?  Were you able to save it or did you scrap it?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holiday Recipe Round Up 2015

It's crunch time!

If you are getting ready to head out to get groceries for the big feast, don't forget these awesome recipes courtesy of moi just for you and your family to enjoy!  Just click the link under the pic to see the recipe.

Main Dish

How to Cook the Perfect Holiday Turkey


My Favorite Thanksgiving Stuffing

Rosemary Honey Glazed Roasted Root Veggies

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Millionaire's Bacon

Sweet Figgy Potatoes

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions & Bacon


Bacon Date Jam

Herb & Roasted Garlic Turkey Gravy


Figgy Sweet Potato Pie

Maple Pumpkin Puff Cookies

Light Pumpkin Pie Cups

Pecan Date Bites

Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf

Now get to making that grocery list!  I know I'm making mine!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Stocking stuffers, bad lighting and Quasimoto

Christmas exploded this weekend.

We went on a little road trip and went to this store that usually has pretty good deals on items for stocking stuffers.  I wasn't overly impressed this year but still managed to drop $75 anyway.  We looked all over town for a newly opened restaurant and by the time we got there it was super crowded and a wait.  No thanks.  So we went to this other place the Mr went with co-workers and it wasn't bad.  We stopped at an antique shop but it wasn't the one I thought it was so I was really bummed because I know a few dealers in that place always have some good vintage Christmas stuff in there this time of year.  But we had no time to waste since there was football to be watched so we couldn't go to the other place right behind it.

After the hoopla was over with, we stopped by World Market,Michael's and Lowes to grab a few things and grabbed dinner on the way home.  We started watching the Muppets Christmas Carol and fell asleep on each other and woke up at 1am with a kink in my neck.

Sunday I woke up at 6:45am as usual.  I seriously hate it when I can't sleep in despite being able to and getting to bed later.  Grrr.  It was time to clean the table of all of the craft crap on it and the Mr got the dishes going.   I made brunch of pumpkin pancakes, eggs and bacon.

I love brunch...brunchy, brunch, brunch.

Then it was time to bring up the tree and get that crap going.  I made the mistake of buying a storage bag for the tree branches and it made the whole thing stink and I'm highly allergic to the stench it gives off.  I was sneezing and itching all friggin' day.  Then of course we were having light issues and I just wanted to say forget it this year.  The Mr ran to Home Depot and got a Light Keeper PRO (affiliate link) to see if it would fix the strand and I'll be damned if it didn't!  Let the decorating begin!

We took the tree from bare to fully dressed...

We still have some more to go but the majority of it is done.  When it came time to workout, I was so NOT into it.  I was laying on the ground with my head on the foam roller and closed my eyes.  If the Mr can't see me, we can't workout.  Apparently when I close my eyes, I can't see him but he can still see me.  He stood up and I inflicted 25 minutes of Shaun T Focus Cardio on us.  I was glad we did it and we high fived in celebration.  Then I broke my back wiring the skis.  I had to re-roll to crack my spine back into place.  If I am not Quasimoto after all of that and my DIY project I finally finished this week, it'll be a miracle.

I have SOOOO much to do this week.  I'm sure you guys do as well.  Speaking of which...

What did you get into this weekend?

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Friday, November 20, 2015

DIY blow up and what I'm reading this week

This has been the longest week ever.

I had a DIY project blow up on me yesterday.  Instead of turning it into kindling, I made and took pics of a recipe.  I'm trying to salvage it but trust me, I'll blog about what some would call a pinterest fail but it's my own idea so it's my own fail.  Beh.

But enough about my craptastic project gone awry, let's get to...

Studies Reveal Health Benefits of Vacations, Parks  (I could've told you that!)

Read This Woman's Perfect Response After Being Fat-Shamed at the Gym   (Here's what pisses me off the most.  People say something because you're fat and then you try to change that by going to the gym and they say something because you're fat but obviously trying to do something about it.  How about minding your own damn treadmill)

Then & Now: The Cast of "Home Alone"  (Can't believe it's been 25 years!)

Why Using a Heart Rate Monitor Is Totally Worth It  (Love mine!)

Older man gives heartwarming necktie lesson in train station  (Courtesy of the Mr)

15 Ways to Motivate Yourself That Actually Work  (Good tips!)

Our Favorite Trivia From 'Home Alone'—Which Came Out 25 Years Ago  (The pizza story is interesting, so was the original intended Uncle Frank)

Your Holiday Angst Is America’s Oldest Tradition  (Yay?)

Your iPhone Keeps a List of Everywhere You’ve Ever Been. Here’s How to Delete It  (Mr...check your work phone asap!  Seriously, get up off the couch)

11 Spellbinding Facts About 'The Witches'  (I used to love this movie as a kid.  Angelica was amazing in it)

22 Classic Country Ideas for Outdoor Christmas Decorations  (LOVE the soda crate idea!)

14 Foods You're Probably Pronouncing Wrong (Oh, so that's how you pronounce that)

7 Easy Thanksgiving Breakfasts to Feed the Crowd  (I eat a hard boiled egg, then bring on the feast!)

The Force of Star Wars Collectibles  (For the Mr and other wookie lovers)

We're decorating for Christmas this weekend.  I know, some may think it's jumping the gun but there is far too much going on every weekend after for me to do it with any kind of genuine holiday cheer.

What are you guys getting into this weekend?

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

This is my jam, yo!

I cannot even begin to tell you the magic that is this recipe.  It's one of the few things that will stop the Mr in his tracks.  Like given the choice between seeing the Force Awakens on opening day in an empty theater and never having this recipe again, he may actually struggle.  It's THAT good.  Have a foodie friend and you're wanting to make an awesome gift, this is the gift they will be raving about.  Everyone that has tasted this when I've made it (and not told them what it was ahead of time) has absolutely loved it.

Why didn't I put the name in the title?  Because I know it would get skipped if you saw the middle word in the recipe...

Wait!  Wait!  Where were you going!  I saw that nose crinkle.  Mine used to until I tried dates and they taste like pecan pie when you stuff a pecan in the middle.  Dates are used to sweeten all kinds of things and the sweetness isn't overwhelming.  You pair this sweet, creamy powerhouse with smoky pepper bacon and yummy, buttery caramelized onions and you have the best thing to go in your pie hole since...well, pie.

Here's what you'll need for about a 10-12 oz jars worth.

8 pieces of thick sliced pepper bacon
15 medjool dates, pitted
1 medium onion

One of our local health stores sells some awesome thick cut pepper bacon, if you can't find thick cut like that, you can get similar pre-packaged bacon at the grocery store.

Time to get the fat rendering in the skillet.  Cook on medium heat.

While the bacon is cooking, time to cut the onion.

Cut in 1/2" rings.

When the bacon reaches this stage, turn the heat down to simmer and move any fattier pieces (the the one on the far right) to the middle so the fat isn't under done.

Time to focus on the dates.

If your dates aren't pre-pitted, it takes 3 seconds per date to slice down the middle and pop the pit out.

When the dates are pitted, put them in a small saucepan and fill with water until the dates are just covered and cook over medium heat.

Grab the bacon from the skillet and put it on paper towels to drain.

Discard half the oil left and do NOT scrape out the brown bits left over.  Those are going to become part of the awesome.

Separate your onion rings and put in skillet over medium heat.

After about 10 minutes, flip the onions over.  See that delicious pepper stuck to the onions?  That's what makes it so much better than regular bacon.  Keep an eye on the onions and flip them about every 5 minutes and put a cover over it to seal in the moisture and help speed along caramelization.

Let's chop the bacon, shall we?

Add about 1-2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and it will loosen the brown bits of awesome on the pan and stir the onions to incorporate it.

When the dates are really boiling away, you'll see the skins starting to pull away from the date.  That means they're done.

Put the dates on a plate or cutting board but make sure you save the "date water."  You're gonna need that.

See how the date skins are peeling back?  That's what you want.

If the dates are straight out of the pan, use two forks to pull the skins off.

If you give them a few minutes to cool down to handle (but still be warm), you can pull the skin off with your fingers easily.

Put the date 'meat' into a bowl and give a quick stir.

Add the bacon to the onions over low heat.

Most onions will fall apart with a stir but if you have some longer pieces, break it up into a small dice with a fork or spatula.

Like so.

Add the dates to the party and fold together.

The mixture can be thick so add date water a tablespoon at a time and stir after each addition.  (I did about 4-5 tablespoons)

This is the consistency you're shooting for.

I like to sterilize old honey jars for just such occasions.

Not only can you keep this for yourself but if you have a true foodie friend that is hard to shop for, this gift (kept cold in transit) will be one that is raved about for years to come!

Put a pretty label on the front with the "made on" date
 This freezes beautifully and that's what I did with mine.  I'm doing one bag for an afternoon tea to make bacon date jam phyllo cups and the other will be to slather on leftover turkey sandwiches.  It's also amazing on burgers, stir a spoonful or two into your stuffing, with veggies and pretty much anything!

Makes 10 two tablespoon servings.

The nutrition data provided with each recipe are estimates and cannot be guaranteed. It should not be used in the treatment of medical conditions and you assume all risk should you choose to prepare the recipe.  

Linked up with The Heathered Nest, French Country Cottage, Home Stories A to Z, Sand and Sisal, The Crafty Blog Stalker

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