I'm so excited for this weekend and I'm not sure why, exactly.  I've been looking forward to this all week and have been feeling all week like this is THE weekend that I will be super productive and get a lot of things done that I need to do that are unrelated to work... and have some fun in between. :)  There is a list of things I plan to accomplish (in no particular order except the first two):
  • pick up champagne and orange juice for brunch (mimosas!)
  • have brunch with friend Kim and her family (yeah!)
  • get my hair cut (it needs it desperately)
  • hang out with other friends
  • get shoes
  • get a new computer bag (it turns out that slamming the plastic piece on your bag strap in a car door will ruin it... but it's at least 1.5 years old anyway)
  • peruse fun things at the office supply store
  • find a couple of sweaters
  • pick up other necessities for which I currently have low/nonexistent inventory
I'm sure I'll think of some other things, but that's a good start.  What are you planning to accomplish this weekend? 

Wishing you all a safe and happy new year's eve.  I'll talk to you next year.


osso what?

I mentioned that about a week and a half ago was a productive cooking weekend which actually felt good and that I would post these 'tomorrow' - it turns out 'tomorrow' is today.  That Saturday, we made a herb chicken and rice bake thing - clearly not the technical name, but let's go with it.  We had some fresh mixed herbs - a 'poultry blend' -  and some chicken thighs. I took the herbs, chopped a mixture of them, put them in some melted butter (3-4 Tbsp.) and then spread it on the chicken (top and bottom and under the skin [that part was kind of icky]).  Meanwhile, Keith cut up some carrots, celery, and onion and briefly sauteed them.  He added them to this recipe for chicken and rice casserole and put it all in a 9x13 glass pan. I put my chicken on top of it and cooked it for about an hour (maybe 1 hr 15 min) and then took the tinfoil off to let the chicken get a little crispy and we ended up with a nice dinner - it was yummy!

He had also picked up some veal at the grocery store and I've never had it and had no idea what to do with it, but he had a recipe in mind and said he found a recipe for Osso Buco. me: Osso-what?  him: Osso Buco.  me: how do you spell that? 

The end result was that Osso Buco is really yummy and I'm not sure how to descibe it. Maybe veal cooked in a tomato, vegetable, and spice-based sauce?  Whatever it is, it's good.  According to the reviews, it can be made with pork or beef shanks, as well.  I followed the recipe exactly as it was online and we ended up with this:

And it was delightful, served over mashed potatoes and with a side of steamed green beans.



Occassionally when I'm talking to mom, she'll ask me if I want to hear about the 'bonehead move' she made. You know the bonehead move feeling - the one where you do something that is a) the opposite of common sense, b) preventable, typically, and c) just plain dumb. 

So tonight, I called mom to tell her about my latest bonehead move.  I noticed last night that the dishwasher was almost full and, in an effort to be helpful, decided to run it so that by the time Keith got home all of the dishes would be clean. It was dark in the kitchen, and I apparently thought that I knew what I was doing, so didn't bother to turn the lights on (see options A & B above) - I grabbed the soap from the cupboard below the sink, screwed off the top, and started to pour.  Imagine my surprise when the squeeze bottle dish detergent came flowing out.  What the heck?! 

Tip:  This is not dishwasher soap.
 As it turns out, it wasn't my squeeze bottle dish detergent.  It was the similarly shaped bottle of Liquid Plummer (see option C above.)  The first thought through my head is not appropriate to post. After that, it went something like this:

What do I do?  Can I clean it up? No, probably not.  ARGH - it's on my hand! OK, it's ok. Wash it off.  [washes hands and looks back at mess in dishwasher]  Hmm... now what... crap.

I ended up just washing it - mom pointed out that maybe I'll just make the dishwasher drain better, though I didn't think there was a problem with it before.  I called Keith earlier today to warn him not to eat off the dishes in there yet if he gets home before I did from work because I didn't want to accidentally poison him.  It turns out he won't be home until tomorrow and I have plenty of time to get this straightened out.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run the dishwasher (again).  Sigh...


silent night - or not!

I just returned from being home for the holidays and it was a great time - and I'm definitely not ready to go back to work - but I will. :)  There was a lot over the weekend, so I'll keep this as brief as I can.

The nice thing is that we didn't have to dream of a white Christmas because we had it naturally - but the roads were good enough for the festivities to press on.  I got home a couple of days before the holiday and ended up playing darts with Russ' league because they needed a sub; I'm terrible at darts, but it was fun and they didn't get upset so we had a good time.

We spent Friday getting ready for company at mom and dad's house because they were hosting - everyone pitched in so we were able to have some downtime in the afternoon, which was unexpected, but welcome!  We went to church and the kids program was good, as always.  I'm a little disappointed that we don't seem to sing one of my favorite songs (What Child is This?) during the service anymore, but the whole thing is very nicely done and I love when they sing Joy to the World as people recess.  And then it was time for the fam to come over.  By Brian's count, there were 57 people there.  It was a little overwhelming and sometimes a little crowded - not at all a silent night - but overall a lot of fun with great company and I wouldn't ask for it to be any other way. When all was said and done, we were full and exhausted and happy. 

You can find some pictures here (mostly on Christmas eve.)

On Christmas day we finished cleaning up after the party and had dinner with just the 6 of us... and we tried something new this year that we've never made at home: Prime Rib.  After searching online and reading a number of reviews, we settled on a recipe from allrecipes.com for Foolproof Rib Roast.  By we, I mean mom.  She really did most of the work on this, so I won't take credit.

Foolproof Rib Roast1 standing beef rib roast (ours was 7 lbs)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder

Allow roast to stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour; I think mom had it at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the salt, pepper and garlic powder in a small cup. Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan so that the fatty side is up and the rib side is on the bottom. Rub the seasoning onto the roast.

Roast for 1 hour in the preheated oven. Turn the oven off and leave the roast inside. Do not open the door. Leave it in there for 3 hours. 30 to 40 minutes before serving, turn the oven back on at 375 degrees  to reheat the roast. The internal temperature should be at least 145 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving into servings.

Our notes:
  • We were skeptical, too.  Leave it in the oven for 3 hours while it's not even on?  Excuse me?  It works - we ended up with a great prime rib.  But don't open it - serious. We even taped the oven shut (per a review we read) so no one at the house wouldn't open it without thinking.  Laugh if you will, but it works. 
  • Once you turn the oven on after the 3 hours, maybe check the temp at 20-25 minutes and then again if you need to.  Ours ended up done medium, which I was perfectly happy with that, but if you want it medium rare or something, recommend checking it a bit sooner. But NOT during the 3-hour don't touch period!
  • Mom said that next time she would maybe try some other kind of rub on it (vs. the garlic/salt/pepper) - it was great, but you can probably try any kind of rub you want and use this process.
And viola! 

I have mentioned before that we don't really do presents anymore, except Santa still comes and puts things in our stockings.  This year, Santa contracted the present duty out to our mom and she filled our stockings with something really neat - she made table runners and matching potholders for each of us kids and personalized them with something we like. 

Keith got eagles, Brian got lighthouses, and Russ got deer.  And me?  Post-it notes and office supplies.  It's hilarious and awesome how well mom knows me and my love of office supplies.  I'm excited to hang it up at work because my colleagues know it too. :)  Thanks, mom! 

I hope you all had a very, merry, wonderful holiday season - however you celebrated!


back in the saddle

I had mentioned last week that I've been a little lazy when it comes to cooking/baking anything new lately.  No excuses.  But I think that as of this weekend, I'm back in the saddle, again.  I am not even sure where to start. Or if this should be one  post, or two, or three.  It's now the end of the weekend and, with the exception of Friday night, I feel like I've spent a lot of the weekend in the kitchen and doing dishes.  Here's what we ended up with:
  • Nutter Butter Truffles
  • Cake Balls
  • Herb Chicken and Rice Bake
  • Osso Buco
Starting with dessert and moving backwards.  I've been trying to find the best way to make dipped things - i.e. truffles.  I've tried CandiQuick, chocolate chips, chocolate chips with a bit of shortening.  What has seemed to work best for me, though, is chocolate almond bark and I must give a special shout out to Holly for recommending it to me!  I'll get into the ingredients in a second, but first let's talk about the dipping process (there is a backwards theme here, today, apparently...)  I rolled the middles into balls and put them in the freezer.  To dip them, I found it was best to put a toothpick in each one (photo below), dip them in the melted chocolate, shake/wiggle them a bit to get the excess off, and then put them on parchment paper to harden (leaving the toothpicks in.)  Once they are hardened, twist the toothpick out; I found that if you take the toothpicks out right away, it leaves a bigger hole on top. It does leave a little hole the way I did it, but I was planning to drizzle something on top to pretty it up anyway, so that covers them pretty well. 

Now to the good stuff!  The Nutter Butter Truffles were similar to the Oreo Truffles I made a couple of weeks ago, except with Nutter Butter cookies.

Nutter Butter Truffles
1 package Nutter Butter cookies
1 package cream cheese (softened)

Crush the cookies; I understand from the recipe/reviews, that you can use a food processor for this. I do not have one, so I used a gallon-size bag and a rolling pin, which works just fine.  Combine the cookies and cream cheese until well mixed. Roll into small balls (around 1 inch or to your desired size) and place on parchment paper; freeze until hardened.  Then dip in melted chocolate almond bark heated in a small saucepan over the lowest heat setting.  Drizzle with melted white chocolate or colored candy melts.  I used green candy melts for this.  Store in the refrigerator.

The truffles were very good, but I preferred the ones that were made with Oreos, myself.  In addition to the truffles, I made cake balls for the first time - and I think a lot of people have never had them but they are pretty popular in some places.  A friend/colleague of mine in Maryland had a business making them for a while until it got to be too much because they were so popular. Side note: hers are much prettier than mine.  The simple way to make them is to make a cake with a cake mix and use frosting bought at the store.  I was trying to think of what flavor combo I wanted and was really considering red velvet and cream cheese frosting... but then went the homemade route because I was craving this almond cake that mom makes.  So I made the almond cake - called White Texas Sheet Cake - and used it's frosting to mix.  It went like this:

Cake Balls (almond/pecan)

 1 c. butter
1 c. water
1 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 c. sour cream
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil to melt butter.  Remove from heat and stir in flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, almond extract, salt, soda, until smooth.  I put the wet ingredients in first, mixed, and then sifted in the dry ingredients for this step.  Pour into greased 10x15 greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 - 22 minutes. (Mine only took 15, though - my pan might have been a bit bigger - keep a close eye).  Let the cake cool and then make the frosting (below). 

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. milk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 c. chopped pecans (or can use walnuts) 

Once the cake is cool, crumble it into a large mixing bowl and mix in the frosting, a bit at a time, until it gets to a consistency that will roll into balls, well.  Put the mixture in the refrigerator to cool for a couple of hours.  Roll the mixture into little balls (about 1 inch or to your preferred size) and then place in the freezer to harden. Then dip in melted chocolate almond bark heated in a small saucepan over the lowest heat setting.  Drizzle with melted white chocolate or colored candy melts (sound familiar?)  I used red and green candy melts for the drizzle.  Store in the refrigerator.

They look pretty much like the truffles - just different insides.

So, the other thing I did with this was to use just the middle of the cake for the cake balls - and I used the leftover frosting to frost the outsides of the cake so I ended up with some regular cake, as well!  If you're making just the cake, though, the recipe says that you should make the frosting while the cake is in the oven and frost it when it's warm.  Obviously I couldn't do that here. :)

OK, I got to this point and I think I'm going to post the other things tomorrow.  This is getting to be a really long post and you're probably getting bored.  Check back in tomorrow for the chicken rice bake thing and the Osso Buco.

Before I sign off, though, I wanted to share another neat thing I learned through these processes.  The last time I tried to make the drizzle for the top of the truffles, I used white chocolate chips which work when used alone, but every time I tried to add food coloring it would get clumpy and weird.  I tried again with a different color (like that's going to make the difference) and the same thing happened.  It turns out that adding any water or water-based product (i.e. food coloring) to melted chocolate will cause the chocolate to seize and clump... the exact symptoms my failed attempts.

So what's the solution?  Apparently they make oil-based food coloring that you can use (whoever 'they' is).  OR or you can go the route I did and get colored candy melts (I found them at Party City) and they worked swimmingly! 

One of the things I like about doing things like this is that I get to learn things as I go - I've made more truffles (or similar) than I normally would this season because I want to figure out how to do this right.  I'm not 100% there, yet, but they taste pretty good and are starting to look better each time!

If you're my colleague and will be at work tomorrow I will be pawning these off on you.  You've been warned.


xmas movies

I already posted about my favorite Christmas music.  One of my other favorite parts of Christmas are the movies - all of the classics are on, of course, and Hallmark and Lifetime (don't judge me) play a bunch of sappy, feel-good holiday flicks. And because I'm watching one of them right now - Elf - let's talk about favorites.  I'm not sure if I have 10 - but here's my top xmas movies list, in no particular order:

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the claymation one)
  • National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
  • Elf
  • Home Alone & Home Alone 2 (I refuse to watch 3&4 because it's a different kid)
  • The Grinch who Stole Christmas (the cartoon one - not the Jim Carrey one)
  • A Christmas Carol (the Mickey Mouse one - not the Jim Carrey one - there is a theme here)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

I'm sure I'm missing some, but these are the ones I try to watch every Christmas season for sure.  I usually end up seeing A Christmas Story on TV - which is good but for some reason not one of my top ones... even though I do really enjoy the kid in the giant snowsuit and love the leg lamp.  And there are the made-for-tv ones that I can never remember the name of but do enjoy. I must admit, though, that I haven't seen Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life for a very long time... so they would maybe make the list if I watched them again, but right now I don't remember them well enough to say. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person... 

I know I'm missing some here, too.  What are your favorites must-sees during the holiday season?  Let me know!

I'll leave you with this - one on the great scenes from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Love this movie.


lazy and random

My apologies in advance for the randomness of this post. 

I've been lazy - at least when it comes to cooking anything new lately. I feel like a big blog slacker. I had kind of noticed it before last weekend and thought that I would get on it this weekend and get back into the swing of things... but then Keith made chili (yummy chili) and we had that over the weekend.  And I had bought sandwich meat, too.  It turns out that, in addition to not judging precipitation levels well, I also don't really know how much a pound of deli meat is (a lot) and I bought two.  Lesson learned.

[insert awkward topic transition here]

My favorite breakfast diner in the Twin Cities is the Day by Day Cafe in St. Paul and I used to live dangerously close to it.  It's so good, though, that when a friend came to visit from out of town for Labor Day weekend a couple of years ago, we went there for breakfast three days in a row.  Since I moved away from St. Paul, I've only been there a few times but totally worth the hike when I make the effort.  My favorite dish there is the #9 (I think it's the #9, anyway) - scrambled eggs with onions and little bits of cream cheese, hash browns, and toast.  The cream cheese is what makes it awesome for me, but I've never tried it here at home - sometimes you don't want to ruin a good thing and it's hardly ever as good when you try to do it yourself.  This weekend, though, I picked up some onion bagels (which I seldom buy/eat) and cream cheese and used them to make egg sandwiches.  I thought I took a picture with my phone, but it turns out I didn't, so picture this:

Looks delicious, right?  Case in point why I am not an artist. The point is that it was yummy and actually looked a little better real and it gave me the little bit of cream cheese with my eggs without me ruining the original for myself.  I had this on Saturday and Sunday.  I'm OK for a while now - unless you want to go to Day by Day with me.  I could be persuaded.  Oh, and  for the record, my deli meat ham was not purplish like in the image - it was normal ham color.

I don't remember what we had on Monday, but I do remember that I went to the UPS store to mail a package - I was so proud of myself - until I realized I left my wallet at home.  Awesome.  I did get it mailed, though, so that was a plus.  Last night Em and I went out for dinner - and we laughed so hard we were almost crying and a few things were added to our quote book. For example (borrowed from Em's FB status - thanks E:|):

"So left up here?"


"So left?"


"Right? Or correct?"

..."Right. And for future reference I'm very good at using the word correct. So turn right."

Ahhhh good times. 

Tonight was a little late getting home from work so quick and easy was needed.  I made some spaghetti with angel hair pasta (because we don't have any spaghetti right now) and some garlic naan that we had in the fridge.  If you haven't had naan, it's really yummy flat bread that is typically served with Indian food. Apparently it also works well as a substitute for garlic bread. 


 I'll get my act together soon.  Promise.  In the meantime, I had posted wondering if any of you (all 10 of my readers) are interested in doing a guest post.  I'm not going to keep bringing this up, as to not look desperate, but think about it.  It's kinda fun. :) 

In other news, there was a blizzard this weekend, the roof of the metrodome deflated (it's four blocks from my work - it's too cold to go gawk, though), one of my other favorite St. Paul restaurants had a nasty fire, and I've been crabby because of extraordinarily-long-for-no-good-reason commutes the first couple of days this week.  But things are looking up and it's almost Christmas!!!


be my guest

I'm just going to throw this out there - anyone interested in writing a guest post for my blog?  You could write it up and send it (with pics if you want) and I can post - or I think there's a way to grant access to others, too.  With the holiday season coming up, I'm sure there are some good recipes being made or stories to tell... or even anything non-holiday related. Let me know if you're interested.  I think it might be fun!

In the meantime, maybe I'll dig in the cupboards tomorrow and see what we have - sounds like we may be snowed in, anyway.  Woo hoo!


joy to the world

If you haven't caught on, yet, I'm totally in the holiday spirit right now. One of the things I love the most about the season is the music. It's hard to come up with favorites, but I'm going to give it a shot - in no particular order, here is my top 10: 
  • Christmas in Sarajevo - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Joy to the World
  • This Christmas Day - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Baby it's Cold Outside - Dean Martin
  • A Start to Follow - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Oh Come All Ye Faithful
  • The Prince of Peace - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey version
  • Promises to Keep - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Little Drummer Boy - Bob Seger version

Clearly I am a fan of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - this is the CD that is currently in my car and will likely remain until New Years.  Music is great.  It can keep you occupied on long car rides by yourself, make you feel happier, and makes singing sound much nicer (at least mine).  You can also do fun things - like this (below).  Turn on your sound and enjoy.

So, what am I missing? Would love to hear your favorites!


a flaw in the plan...

Now that the Christmas tree is up, you put the presents under it and it looks so great, right? Not here.  We don't have little kids in the immediate family (sorry, Mom) and none of us really need anything for Christmas. If we want it, we'll buy it.  So for the past couple of years we haven't done presents and have decided to donate, instead. It would be nice to say that it's all very selfless and we just want to help others, but that's not completely true.  There are people who need things or don't have the resources to get some of the things they want.  And if we can help make someones holiday a little better, that's great.  But on the other end it's totally awesome for us. 

There it is... the What's in it for me? 

Well, what's in it for me is not having to stress out about what I'm buying for everyone else this year.  And not having to try to drag suggestions out of people or have them try to drag them out of me.  And not be frustrated when they tell me I don't know... or that I have to tell them I don't know... or worry that we're all spending roughly the same amount of money on each other.  And I don't have to wrap they guys' presents (except Brian's - he knows why).  Instead, I can relax and enjoy the season. Maybe bake some cookies. And smile because I don't have to go to the mall. :)  It's totally awesome.

Don't worry, though.  Santa still visits our stockings at Christmas.  He knows that's all we want.

So where is the flaw?  Now we have this big tree and no presents to take up space below it. Maybe I'll take Tim's suggestion and wrap some empty boxes to get the look... is that lame?


cookie monsters

On Saturday we had our monthly girl time scheduled - a newly started tradition with Abby, Shannon, Emily, and myself. We have typically been meeting after work during the week for dinner and drinks, but for December we opted for making Christmas cookie baking and it was a lot of fun - except we were bummed that Emily was sick and couldn't come. We started early and went to lunch, got groceries, and hit up Target and finally got back to Abby's to start mixing and baking.  As we were unpacking the supplies, I asked Abby if she had a rolling pin.  Nope.  We thought briefly about trying to find a rolling pin substitute, but then decided against that.  So they got started mixing and I was off to Target, again. Good thing - we didn't buy enough peanut butter either, so I was able to pick that up while I was out. :)

Amongst some girl talk and catch up, we managed to make four things:
  • Monster cookies - Shannon's choice
  • Sugar cookie cutouts (frosted, of course) - Abby's choice
  • Peanut butter blossoms - In honor of absent Emily
  • Oreo truffles - and my choice
Given how much work we had ahead of us, things went smoothly and quickly over the next few hours.  The monster cookies turned out amazing and as a bonus, they are gluten free!  I think this is the recipe that Shannon used (she was following something off of her iPhone - which reminds me of another topic I'll write about later.)  I think Chelsey has a recipe for these in the church cookbook, too - but I don't know if they are a gluten-free version. 

After the monster cookies, we did Peanut Butter Blossoms.  And although they tasted delicious, they were flat and we're not sure why.  Maybe because the baking soda was a little old?  I'm interested to know if you have thoughts on this because in the pictures on the online recipe, they were puffy and perfect.  But like I said, the most important thing is that they were yummy, so I won't complain. I guess I didn't take pictures during this process, so there's only one - of the end result. 

My choice was Oreo Truffles.  I wanted to try truffles again because when I did this last year before Christmas it ... well, let's just say it wasn't the result I was looking for.  They tasted great, but looked terrible.  This year, however, I got some great advice from Holly to use chocolate almond bark - and it worked like a charm!  In addition to using the almond bark the other key thing was to melt it over the lowest heat setting and leave it there and be patient (something I'm not known for.)  If you haven't had these I highly recommend because they are super easy - just oreos and cream cheese for the inside and then dipped in chocolate.  I used mint oreos and that turned out awesome.  I may try Nutter Butters next time - not sure yet - but I will do this again.  Sorry I don't have a picture of me doing this - Shannon does, so if I get it from her, I'll post it.

We made the sugar cookie dough and stuck it in the fridge to cool for a while when the others were baking.  With her new rolling pin Abby took the lead and did the rolling and thanks to Mom, we had some holiday cookie cutters.  Let me tell you that Abby's first time rolling dough on her own went much more smoothly than mine when I made an apple pie earlier this year.  Ask Mom - it wasn't pretty.  Anyway, I digress.  She did awesome - we let them cool and we frosted (and sprinkled) them.  We ended up using this cookie recipe and the frosting part of this recipe.  Also recommend.  I pretty much recommend everything we made - as long as you can get your PB Blossoms to raise. :) 

And we were happy that Harold (aka Herald - get it?), our Christmas moose from when Abby and I lived together, was there to supervise. :)

All in all, a great day. Shannon called us 'Cookie Monster Baking Machines' - and we were.  It was a great day with even better girls, ending the night watching old Christmas movies - Charlie Brown's Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Classic.

p.s.  E-money, you don't get to punk out next time.  we missed you too much! ;-)



I was walking with a friend/colleague today to grab some lunch.  When we walked outside it went something like this:

Me:  Oh, this isn't bad
Friend:  No, not at all
Me:  Yeah, it's kind of nice, actually

And then we laughed.  We said it's like a joke that begins 'You know you're a Minnesotan when.... it's 14 degrees outside and you still think it's nice out.

That was in my head, so when I was on my way home in the snowy weather I was driving along and then thought this one. 'You know you're a Minnesotan when you think getting behind a snow plow is like winning the lottery.'  Because I did. And it felt like winning the lottery.  Jackpot!

There's a reason I don't do stand-up.  I'm not very good with jokes.  Do you have a better 'You know you're a Minnesotan when...'?  It shouldn't take much because mine are terrible, but I'm interested to hear yours. :)


now it's time...

... to get going on Christmas!  I mentioned before that I have a rule about any Christmas activity prior to Thanksgiving: Don't. But I did cheat a little - a little bit of Elf and I listened to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's christmas CD on my way home for the holiday.  Thanksgiving was great - special thanks to Pam & Jim for hosting!  We, as most, ate entirely too much food and had a good time chatting, etc... Mom braved shopping with me on the dreaded Black Friday to go buy a new Christmas tree - but we only went to the side of town away from the mall so it wasn't terrible. We just went to two places, had lunch, and then went home.  Saturday we went to the craft fair and did a couple of errands.  Saturday night was girls night at the Festival of Trees!  This year's theme was Christmas in New York and it was, as it always is, beautiful.  Friends, christmas, food, dessert, drinks, and fun.  Can you ask for more?  And to those who helped organize and decorate - thank you. I know how much work events can be and you are amazing.  I even bought the t-shirt!  If you haven't gone, please do next year.  It's a 5-star event in my opinion and supports great causes. 

And Sunday I was exhausted so just hung out, relaxed, took in a Hallmark Christmas movie or two.  And then drove back home.  And then it was over.  Or was it?

Remember the new Christmas tree?  We put it up Tuesday night.  The previous tree was a little 4.5 foot tree and we've graduated to a 7 foot tree.  A real grown up tree.  Because it was boys' night, the guys were here to supervise and let me know that it was a little slanted (it was) and then it was less slanted (it was) and then it was perfect (it is).  The secret?  There may or may not be a Glamour magazine under the stand on one side hidden beneath the tree skirt. 

It turns out that when your tree gets bigger, the number of decorations needed increases as well.  Fortunately, we have almost enough decorations - the front is good, the sides are almost there... and who looks at the back anyway, right?

It ended up being an easy 3-step process:

Are you getting in the holiday spirit?  I am!

p.s. happy birthday to all of the recent/upcoming birthdays since Thanksgiving - next week: Nov. 27-Keith; Nov. 28-Grandma; Nov. 29 Tammy; Nov. 30 Ryan, Joan & Matt; Dec. 1 Michelle; Dec. 2 Katie; Dec. 6 Belva & Julie.  Whew!