Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We Are

Well, we pulled it off.  Thanksgiving dinner for 30.  28 actually, two people were missing; my cousin who pulled her back that morning and my father-in-law who was in the hospital.  

We knew, unfortunately, that my FIL would not join us.  His diagnosis-to-surgery timeline was mind-spinning fast, but it was the unknowns that cropped up that turned everything sideways.  He is home, recovering, now. It will likely be a slow recovery - mostly because he doesn't know how to be still - but we are truly grateful.

There were lighter times to our pre-Thanksgiving week, though, and we are grateful for them as well.

  • My hubby and son took a quick trip out to Maryland to visit the Naval Academy.  Our son's top pick to attend, after graduating this May.  
  • This is what it looks like to travel with your dad.
  • Crunching the numbers at various nursing schools - application time is approaching.
  • And so the prep begins
  • She cooks with rum, too.
  • I have no idea why now.
  • It only took 24 hours and four dishwasher loads to clear all the dishes from Thanksgiving.  It took several days longer to deal with linens, chairs, tables, smokers and roasters.
  • As a former worker in the customer service industry myself, the Girlie and I have decided that it should be a requirement that at some point in your life you have to work in some sort of customer service field (retail, food service, etc.) - just once and only for a few weeks - just to understand how to treat people (or perhaps how not to treat people) and not be a complete ass; people need to get a glimpse of being on the other side.
  • AHA Mite Tournament - first ever for this one.  (NOTE:  Never been much of a fan of tournaments, and I don't believe that is going to change much with hockey, who plan all their tournies over the holiday weekends.  Which wouldn't be so bad if it were a summer sport, but hockey is a winter sport, thus Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. weekends are now (or will soon be) required travel time.)
  • Two days.  Six games.  Six losses.  Played well.  That fourth game on the first day, though, he was, shall we say, less enthusiastic.  Played sick on the second day.
  • He left all he had on the ice
  • Thanks to grandma he has a tournament shirt.  Has his first tourney pin for his bag
  • And then there was indoor soccer. . .
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Sketch on Tuesday

I know scrapbooking is probably nowhere on your radar at the moment.  Your brain is likely filled with stuffing, centerpieces and to-do lists as long as the grocery store check-out lines.  However, a break for yourself, in the midst of frantic activity, is always time well spent.  Even if you don't get a layout, or card, fully finished, jut the process of laying things out, is calming and peace-giving.

I'm mid-prep myself, so today, it's as simple as grabbing yourself an Apron Strings kit and applying the sketch below, from PageMaps.

It's nothing but simplicity today.  Single page.  Three photos.  The biggest embellishment is a variety of strips running vertically.  The strips can be various patterned paper, ticket strips, ribbons, pre-cut borders, etc.  A couple mats under the basic layout and boom, done.  If you want more photos, create another line of photos beneath the current three - shift the lines up a bit and go longer on your vertical strips.  If you have more time this is an easy one - mirror the layout so that the diagonal strip mat, runs on the left side, and drag extra photos to the left.

Done.  Now you can get back to your pies.

Go. Create.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Food for Thought

Food is on my mind at the moment.  Searching for recipes, or at least one or two, that are new that I can add to our Thanksgiving meal.

I'll have plenty of time this weekend to round out Thursday's meal.  Hubby and the 18 y.o. boy are headed to the east coast to tour a couple of the military academies that our son is hoping to attend.  He's had his interviews with our Senators, his paperwork (I expect) is complete.  I think we are at the "wait and see" portion of the application process.  The 16 y.o. is working, as is the 19 y.o.  Even the 8 y.o. has weekend plans - a birthday party, followed by a sleep over.  Dang, it's almost like having the house to myself.

If you're looking for meals for the coming week - after the big day that don't involve leftovers, check out these, or my I Cooked That board.

None of my kids do Birthday Cakes.  They all have their version of a Birthday Dessert.  The 18 y.o. likes cheesecake, or almost anything with pumpkin.  So I dug out these Oreo Pumpkin Mini Cheesecakes for him on his actual birthday.  They were good.  Next time I'll either make more Oreo base (I could have gone for a slightly thicker base) or cook them for half the time (they smelled burned, but it's hard to tell given that they are already black.)

This Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole was a huge hit.  It's probably on the opposite side of healthy, but it's probably healthier than the cheeseburger I was craving when I picked the recipe.  I opted to not mix in the entire bag of tots, and put some on top.  After the initial bake time, I sprinkled a bit more cheese and the bacon over the top and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes.  The crunchy tots were perfect.

The kids were amazed at how filling these Easy Pizza Sliders were.  I made the recipe as is, which meant they'd get two each, but I had two leftover.  I cooked it for 10 minutes more than stated because the cheese hadn't melted much.  I also pulled the foil off with two minutes left, so the tops toasted up - a good call.

On an In-Law Dinner night we had hockey, so I needed something I could throw together ahead of time.  Maple Bourbon BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Apple Slaw was that something.  The chicken was done in the slow cooker and the slaw needed a couple hours to meld flavors.  I liked the flavor of the BBQ, but the bourbon was lost in the long cook time.  Next time I may add it about half way through.  The slaw was a great touch, and bonus, nobody knew it was broccoli!  I also toasted the buns because I'm not a fan of soggy buns.

This White Chicken Enchilada Pasta has been pinned for a while.  It was a quick weeknight fix, that held up well for those not at home at dinner time.  The only disappointment was that the title is Enchilada - the flavor, not so much.  It had nice seasoning and heat from the Cajun spice, but next time I'll do a taco seasoning.

I wanted something quick for dessert, but didn't need it necessarily for school lunches.  Pumpkin Crumb Cake seemed to fit the bill.  Plus I had pumpkin in the 'fridge that needed using.  It's a nice moist cake, and the seasoning isn't over-powering, which is nice.  The crumb top adds a nice crunch and buttery flavor.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

I made the ill thought out decision to host Thanksgiving this year.  The current headcount is at 30.  I can only say I made my decision on a day in late August when the temps in my house were under 90.  I clearly was thinking ahead to when the temps would cool, the kitchen would be tolerable which made doing what I enjoy more fun - cooking.  Little did I know that on the 16th of November those temps I was so looking forward to - the 50's and 60's - would still be out of reach, because it was 81 yesterday!  81.  In Colorado.  In mid-November.

I've hosted both sides of the family for various holidays, and actually, no matter what the event, if both sides are included the numbers are rarely below 20.  But somehow adding 10 more - 30! - seems, well . . . crowded.  Especially when you consider this is a sit down meal, so tables, pulled to their maximum seating, will leave little room for those 30 bodies to mingle.  It never fails, people congregate in my kitchen and nook.  I don't think that'll be possible this time around, but, frankly I'm not sure where else they can go.  Watch, the one time it would be great to have those temps in the 70's so people could wander, and actually eat, on the back porch, and it'll be snowing and 30 degrees.

Anyway, all that said, it'll be nice to have the weekend to ourselves.  We usually start decorating.  If the weather is nice, we may get lights up outside.  But I also turn to creative pursuits during this weekend.  Making holiday cards and tags is a simple, and quick way to get a creative fix. 

If you've never picked up an Apron Strings Card Kit, here's a couple peeks at what you can create, and you'll even get instructions on just how to make them.  They are also good examples of what to do with scraps from your traditional kits.

The two examples above are from the 2015 kit, of which there are still a couple available if you'd like to try it and save a couple bucks.  Actually, besides that, there's one 2016 kit available.

The card and tag here are from the 2014 Card Kit, which is no longer available, but you could easily pull something similar together from scraps and stash you have on hand.  Frames, hand-cut figures and the odd embellishment.  You can even create your own tags using a diecutting system if you  have one, or simply cut a rectangle size and trim off, or round the corners.  Easy-peasy.

The card and tags above are from 2012.  Two more easy to create examples.  The card holds a small envelope (which I know I have several in my stash) that would be great for a gift card.  The tags are quick and easy and the perfect, handmade touch to add to Teacher Gifts, Neighbors Treat Plates, even Christmas Packages.

The above examples are from 2011.  Both are actually created from leftovers from the Traditional kits.  The tags were hand-cut, but if you have punches, or diecuts you can use those.  Shoot do an internet search for patterns to trace and cut.

Finally, the last two are from 2009.  How simple, yet adorable is the top card?  If you're looking to make more than one or two for special people, this is an easy to replicate card.  Use stickers, stamps or diecut words for the "Joy".  Punch or stamp the snowflake.  Mat it all up and boom.  The card below isn't much more difficult to replicate.  Border punch a strip, cut a circle, trim out a triangle, a button, some ribbon and done.

If you're looking for some down time, some creative time, then consider picking up a Card Kit and enjoying the coming holiday weekend.  

Go.  Create. (Or make plans to next weekend ;D)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

We Are

We are sick.  The boys brought it home, and gave it to me just in time to plan a Thanksgiving dinner for 30.  Thanks guys.  I don't often get sick, but when I do, it's usually not a pretty thing.  Such is the case now.  

  • Christmas music is her salve  #tooearlyforme
  • She's hooked him on the Christmas music, too
  • Having a military helicopter land on a college campus, the day after a contentious election, might have been to honor to our veterans, but surely caused pause for more than just a few
  • Thankfully, the god of the gas oven shined on me the day I made a cake for my 18 y.o.'s birthday
  • Happy 18th, my boy, your future is as bright as those candles
  • He may be getting some presents, but that paper is a gift the dog can't wait to get her mouth on
  • My companion at hockey practices.  I read all the books during first season's mid-season break and have been contemplating listening to them for some time, since re-reading them would take considerable time and I have other books to read.  I started with the third book, since I'd watched the first two seasons, which were based on the first two books.
  • The cold-sweat that breaks out when it slowly dawns on you that something isn't right.  Why is he the only kid in red?  Because, mother-of-the-year-candidate, the practice times were changed and you're now at the wrong practice.  He's with the same age kids, they are just a whole level of skill above him.  #badmothering  #checkthescheduledaily
  • He's still the only one in red, but this is the right practice.  #newjersey  He's talked of nothing but being a goalie.  Coincidence that his jersey number is 1?  Which is the same number as Varlomov's - the Av's goalie.
  • I miss watching him play.  #soccerwithfriends
  • Yes.  November 14th (and 15th and 16th) shorts and tees were more than comfortable in the mid-70's temps.  In Colorado.  A week before Thanksgiving.  #WTH  

Happy Wednesday,

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Are

It was quite a mash-up this past week.  We didn't seem to be dominated by any one thing.  Which made it lively.

  • We had studying for mid-terms
  • We had watching in disbelief when they pulled it off
  • We had people officially tagged and released back to the ice
  • We had braces off.  Finally!
  • We had time in the company of friends
  • We had thought this "open mic" night was karaoke, but it was comedy (shrug)
  • We continue counting down to Ho, Ho, Ho
  • We are wondering where the years went. . .
  • . . .and are celebrating this goofball's 18th birthday
  • We had lessons in freedoms and how that doesn't mean they don't come with pain, confusion and frustration
  • We had disappointments in watching them lose, but he's still hot
Happy Wednesday,