Friday, November 30, 2012

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to All!

If you know us, then you know that we just celebrated the most important holiday in our house. And we celebrate Thanksgiving 3 times! We celebrate Friends-giving, Reese-giving, and Thanksgiving.

So we celebrated our anniversary early with our friends. But can I tell you a quick story? Well, we know me, and it won't be quick! I know that I like to talk. Focus. Two weeks before Friends-giving, I called the grocery store and asked them to order a 25 pound turkey. It was now a week before,  and they had not called me to tell me that the turkey was going to happen. So I went in and asked. And they said they would call me on Monday... such a long weekend. Monday happened, and they couldn't get me a turkey that big. There wasn't a problem last year. And I wasn't pregnant and crying then either. So I tried another grocery store. Same results. They could get me two 14 pound turkeys, but nothing bigger. Because they were stock piling for Thanksgiving. And couldn't sell them to a customer. Crazy talk right?

In the end? I went for the two 14 pound turkeys because I didn't have a choice at all. And then I got to thinking? Two turkeys? One oven? Same cooking time? It is the same amount of turkey. But more surface area. But less thick. So I went for it and started cooking around the same time as if it was only the 1 huge monster. Turned out? Of course it did! It was me cooking turkey. DUH!

So the turkeys (remember I made two) were done about an hour and a half early. Thank goodness I checked them because had I left them alone, we would have been SCREWED! So the turkeys came out and got to rest. The best part? I was able to cook the gravy and dressing in peace. In the past, I have had a million friends in the kitchen once the turkey was out and I couldn't make the rest of the meal in peace. For the first time in 4 years, the gravy came out PERFECTLY! Sorry to all the people who have "helped" in the past. I officially don't want help at all.
Sorry. Don't hate me.

Because I had so much time and I was able to cook everything myself with minimal interference, I decided to repeat the double turkeys again for Reese Thanksgiving. It was wonderful again! I couldn't believe that my supposed misfortune turned into a wonderful surprise! I was so upset for nothing.

And this year, I only cooked two turkeys twice. For actual Thanksgiving, we traveled North to celebrate with my family. We have two weddings down here that my parents are coming for, so they were not going to make that journey 3 times in 3 weeks. So we went to them and enjoyed Thanksgiving with my parents, siblings, and grandparents.

We have been blessed this year, and we are thankful for so much.
  • all the love we experience every day
  • for the friendship we have in one another
  • for the friends we have both near and far who are willing to help us
  • for the friends who love our dogs enough to dog-sit when we are away for a weekend
  • vacations
  • the beach
  • a strong margarita (clearly not now for me)
  • a delicious Octoberfest beer
  • the ability to donate time and money to those less fortunate 
  • the ability to eat and keep our house warm
  • fried food and chocolate milk
  • jobs we love, or at least enjoy most of the time
  • video chats with family and friends
  • friends who visit
  • family we love to spend time with, siblings, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles & cousins
  • and for the little nugget on the way. We cannot wait to meet you in March!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turkey Time!

Turkey Time! (Thanksgiving)

I made Thanksgiving Turkey for the first time in 2008. I have made it every year since at one time or another.  Thanksgiving is Matt's favorite holiday because it centers on family and EATING!  So in 2009, when we missed Thanksgiving because we were on our honeymoon, I made Thanksgiving when we got back for the two of us.

Normally we celebrate Thanksgiving 3 times in  November:
  1. First Thanksgiving - to celebrate our anniversary (beginning of the month)
  2. Reese Thanksgiving - all of my husband's extended family celebrates the Sunday before so that on the day of Thanksgiving, they can be with their in-laws without any problems
  3. Day of Thanksgiving - duh on Thursday!

Here are some of the things I found useful and learned through this process.

Good Rules of Thumb
  1. Don't stuff the turkey. When you do this, you run the risk of not cooking anything fully. The turkey will dry out before the stuffing is cooked. Instead, bake them separately and add the stuffing later.
    • inside the cavity (after you remove the bag of nastiness and pull the neck out - GROSS)
    • under the skin of the breasts
    • around the thighs and wings
    • outside of the skin
    Make your own seasoning. Include salt and pepper (duh) but also honey (or coke) for sweetness.
  3. Make it compact (right like that's possible)
    • tie the legs together
    • cover wing tips with foil to avoid burning
    • build a breast plate out of foil to protect
  4. Fill the roasting pan. Make it a hot tub of yummy smells to absorb into the meat. I used carrots, celery, onions, and chicken stock. I added the vegetables ahead of time and poured the liquid once it was in the oven so I wouldn't have to move the liquid and the bird at the same time.
  5. Once your bird is cooked - let it rest. It worked very hard. Don't slice it for at least 20 minutes.


Here's how I cooked it. I did consult all my friends' mothers before I decided on Karen's recipe in 2008.  I have had only compliments with this recipe. 

  1. Put the bird in the oven at 500 for 30 minutes. This will brown it on top.
  2. Then add a breast plate to protect the breast meat (you have to make this ahead of time or burn your hands badly by molding foil to fit the breasts snugly. And add a thermometer to the breast.
  3. Reduce heat to 350 and cook until the breasts read a cool 161 degrees.
    Time will obviously vary by the size of the bird. And since I am no expert - you google it.
I am not a Thanksgiving fan or a turkey fan by any stretch of the imagination. But this was one of the best turkeys I ever ate.

  • 2010 - Honey, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, sage
  • 2010 - Honey, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, celery seeds, sesame seeds
  • 2011 - Honey, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, parsley, basil, CINNAMON  
  • 2012 - Marvin - Honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder
  • 2012 - Tony - Honey, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, cumin

Monday, November 26, 2012

Congrats to Peter & Roxanne!

You know how every family has a group of family friends that you grew up with, who aren't actually family because you share no blood, but they are family? This is one of those families. So let's start from the beginning.

When I was 9, we moved from Texas to Connecticut. Let's avoid the traumatizing part. On the first day of 4th grade, we were asked to bring in something that represents ourselves. I brought in the pillowcase that my friends from Dallas had decorated (that I still have by the way, even though I only talk to one of those girls now). One of the boys in the class brought in an entire large brown bag of Legos. And that is my first memory of Dan.

And then things got weird. Did you know? Well of course you don't! I haven't told you yet. Duh. Dan's family lived in Dallas too. Right down the street from my elementary school. But they moved much earlier than we did. Dan & I were in 4th through 12th grades together. Classes together all through middle school and 9th & 10th grades. Then I think our classes changed, he went for science classes, and I went anywhere else.

And Dan had two younger brothers; Peter is a year older than my sister Sarah, and Matt is my brother Dan's age. So long story, somewhat shorter, the 6 of us spent a lot of time together growing up.

Fast forward....17 years? More of less. Peter is about to graduate from GW (where he went with Sarah) and he begins dating a lovely Roxanne. And fast forward again.

We spent the weekend before Thanksgiving celebrating their wedding!

It was a beautiful ceremony and wonderful party. 

One of my favorite parts? Dancing with my hubs! But you know what? Our little baby kept getting in between us! It was the first time we went out dancing and it was different. But she had a wonderful time. And so did we.

 Who doesn't love family like this?
The only problem? I was too busy eating to take a million pictures. Weird right?

Lots of love to Peter & Roxanne! We wish you years of happiness and love!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week 21

Pregnancy: 21 weeks

Weight Gain: 13 pounds. At some point, this information will stop being shared.

Measurements: My pants are getting tight again. I have been in maternity pants for a few weeks now, because they are stretchy and comfortable. But they have been the pants with the low elastic band. That just happens to be where Baby Girl is currently residing. By the end of the day, it is no longer comfortable. She is growing. And taking up space in my pants. I don't want to buy more pants, again.
Sleep: If I stop drinking water with dinner, I can sleep through the night. But then I am thirsty. Win some, lose some. 

Cravings: For the last two weeks? It's really been Thanksgiving. But that's because we have been celebrating Thanksgiving for the last few weeks. So I want more mashed potatoes - that must be a little better than french fries.

Feeling: Apparently, my sense of humor has become very inappropriate. I laugh at things that are not funny at all. Like really upset babies.

Movement: I talked to the Dr. this week, well a nurse. And she said I probably wasn't feeling a baby in there. I was ready to get off the phone, so I went with it. But there is no way that is not a baby. And if it isn't, I want to know EXACTLY what it is.
What's going on inside the belly:  
Week 21: This felt like an overshare when I read it, but I have told you everything else. She is growing her vagina this week. She also has eyelids and eyebrows. She is the length of a carrot and almost a full pound.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Food & Wine

This past weekend we went to the 17th Annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Last year, Colleen and I went to visit Leela, a friend, in Orlando to see Sugarland. I know it was very far to see a concert, but I had been trying to see them for over a year. And it was just a happy coincidence to be able to go to the Food & Wine festival.

So when we started looking at the calendar for Fall 2012, we knew we had to find a time to make that work and get back to Orlando. So we found two weekends, and picked one. And we invited our boys this time. So Matt & John came with us and we made a long weekend out of a professional day (to finish 1st quarter grades and plan for 2nd quarter) and election day.

We left Friday night and got into our condo (Colleen's parents' timeshare) between Friday night and Saturday morning. And went straight to bed.

Saturday morning the ladies got up and went to the grocery store to get food for breakfast and snacks at the park. John is one picky eater (because he eats very healthy) so we wanted to make sure there would be food for him. Then Leela met us and we were off to Epcot!

This year I (we) ate:
  • Argentina - beef empanada & Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée
  • Austrailia - Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies
  • Caribbean Islands - Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumstick with Mango Chutney (I ate two - one was supposed to be for Matt, but I ate it)
  • China - Mongolian Beef with Chinese Steamed Bun 
  • Hops & Barley (New England) - Perfect Maine Lobster Roll
  • Ireland - Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie & Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Bailey’s Ganache
  • Japan - California Roll
  • Mexico - Crispy Shrimp Taco with Chipotle Lime Mayo and Cabbage Served on a Flour Tortilla & Taco de Filete with Cascabel Pepper Sauce and Scallions Served on a Flour Tortilla
  • Poland - Kielbasa & Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream & Zapiekanki-Toasted Mushroom, Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread with House Made Ketchup
Now Matt & Colleen obviously drank their fair share, but I did not. So I have no idea what they drank. In fact, aside from what Matt ate (because I ordered it) I have no idea what Colleen & John ate either. But here are some foods I wish I ate:
  • Belguim - Steamed Mussels in Hoegaarden Beer Broth and Baguette
  • Canada - Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup & “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce
  • France - Coq au Vin sur Gratin de Macaroni & Créme Brûlée au Chocolat au Lait
  • Greece - Greek Salad with Pita Bread, Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey, Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki, &, Spanakopita
  • Italy - Ravioli di Formaggio All’emiliana (Baked Cheese Ravioli, Creamy Beef Bolognese, Parmesan, Mozzarella)
  • Japan - Sukiyaki Beef Pan (Marinated Thinly Sliced Rib Eye with Sauteed Onions and Teriyaki Sauce Served in a Bun)
  • Morocco - Kefta Pocket (Ground Seasoned Beef in a Pita Pocket) - Matt ate that, but the smell bothered me
  • South Africa - Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce & Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket
Crazy right? There was so much food to choose from that I was overwhelmed! Best part is? That isn't even all of the food they offered, just what I wanted to eat!

Let's see here... we did more than just eat... we rode two rides (there aren't many at Epcot). The one about food production at Disney and the one where you feel like you are hang-gliding over California. They also rode Space Mountain, but alas, I cannot.

Sunday, we slept in and then spent an hour at the pool. Followed by an hour looking for the football games. Epic fail. Went to Chili's for lunch. Saw Leela's new house. Met Colleen's cousin for dinner. Then we went to Downtown Disney and walked around.

Monday, we got up early (8am) and went to Animal Kingdom.

And we went on the Safari again and saw lots of animals.

Monday night we had to come back home - because some cop had to work on Tuesday. BOOO! Until next year Epcot. And then we will bringing our little monkey! But she isn't so little anymore....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Half Baked

Please forgive me for not posting this one sooner. We are officially HALF BAKED! 20 weeks and so happy! And sorry. But there is no belly shot from me today. Just from the baby.

Pregnancy: 20 weeks

Weight Gain: 12 pounds. At some point, this information will stop being shared.

Measurements: The baby is measuring right on target. At our last ultrasound, the head was measuring normal (THANK GOODNESS!!!! ~ I still love my husband!). But the legs... they measured a full TWO WEEKS longer than we are. Crazy talk!
Sleep: It's still uncomfortable, but I'm getting used to it. Unfortunately, I learned this week that I sleep better alone. But then I miss my husband. You win some, you lose some. I think I will keep my husband (for now).

Cravings: I have nothing. I just like to eat. No surprise there.   

Feeling: This week has been mostly good. And then I cried over turkey. Nothing crazy... just crazy because it was turkey.

Movement: I think I am definitely feeling someone in there. I feel the same thing over and over again. And all in the same spot. Right under my belly button. There is a little push. There are not butterfly feelings in this belly. There is a solid push, especially after I eat.

What's going on inside the belly:  
Week 20: We start measuring from head to feet starting now and baby is the length of a banana. And baby is working on the digestive tract.

Big News:I know what you are actually here to read. You want to know what kind of baby we have deep in my belly. Right? Well.... our baby is a .....


And the best part? Matt was thrilled to find our our baby is a girl. In fact, he said he wanted a girl more than a boy. Happy News for us!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A happy engagement shower

Where does this story start? It starts a while back. It starts with two people who are very good for each other. And that is the most important part of this story.

In a few weeks I am getting another sister. Legally. My husband has a wonderful brother. His brother is marrying a terrific girl.

Well, a few weeks ago, her bridesmaids hosted a bridal shower. We played a game and got to spend time with family. It was a lovely afternoon. 

I don't want to be rude to all the already married couples out there, or even our friends in relationships, but Lauren & Phil complement each other in ways that astound me. They are amazing together. I am very happy for them. And very happy for the new sister I am getting as a by product.