Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Eats

I love menu planning. I really do.  And here is what's on the burners for this holiday weekend.

New Year’s Eve Menu:
Buffalo Chicken Dip & Crackers
Strawberry Salad
Cherry Glazed Roast Loin of Pork & Mashed Potatoes
Baked Kielbasa and Sauerkraut & Buns
Frosted Sugar Cookies
Champagne for toasting the New Year
New Year’s Day Breakfast:
Orange Juice
Apple Cake
Scrambled Eggs, Bacon and Toast

Amanda, Jerry, Kayla and the little ones are planning on sleeping over.  I've asked my niece and nephew(s) to join us.  Jayme is staying home with his brood.  I'm looking forward to ringing in the New Year.

Hope your Eve is fun and safe!! ENJOY!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Eat for Good Luck?

What are you eating this New Year that may bring you good luck throughout 2012?  When I sat down to plan my New Year’s menu and typed in “foods for New Year’s”, I was led to this.  An excellent little article on traditions and what are believed to be lucky foods.  There are six major categories: grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes.  I also found it interesting that the amount of greens that are eaten may predict one’s fortune.  That could explain why I am so poor.  Our tradition was to eat a spoonful of sauerkraut at midnight.  This year I am eating tons of sauerkraut.  I’ll also be serving pork (it signifies wealth and prosperity) and I’m thinking of trying my hand at baking a dessert from Holland: the ollie bollen, a puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.
There is also a list of What Not to Eat.  “Lobster is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.”
I'm thinking of following with the German custom (or superstition) of leaving a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year.  Nothing wrong with cleaning up in the morning.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Welcome, the Third Day of Christmas ...

... and I'm back at the office.  But, what a wonderful Christmas weekend!! So good, I feel the need to recap and add.  It started Friday afternoon when we got an early reprieve from the office.  Mister filled my tire for me (gotta get that fixed). I picked up Kayla and we set about getting the house ready for our Christmas Eve brunch.  I also let her have all of her presents.  She was a happy girl . . . or so she said.  No, seriously, Mom and I got her everything on her list.  Saturday, Mom came over early and we put out a pretty good feast.  Attendees were Melissa and Brian, Mike and Jolene, Amanda, Jerry, Kayla, Brendan and Jacob, Jayme, Tina and Eddie, Tera, Cammi and Jade, my neighbors, Andrea and Joe (I was so glad they could come) and of course, me and my Mom.  When the guests were gone, I took a nap.  Christmas morning I baked Dad an almond pound cake, gathered a few presents and headed on over to Melissa and Brian’s to join them, Michael and Janet to open gifts.  From there we all drove to Mom and Dad’s for lunch and to open more gifts.  Monday, I made breakfast for Mom and then we shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  After a bowl of creamy carrot and roasted pepper soup, Mom headed home and Mister stopped by for a visit.  The remainder of the evening was keeping the house in order, catching up on the missed episodes of Top Chef and doing laundry. 
Here, a myriad of moments from the Holiday.  
and more
An overabundance of cards to choose from
K's heart in a pocket
The girls in their naughty hats
Brendan and Jacob's snowmen

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

Hosted a brunch today and celebrated a day early with my family and neighbors.  The menu consisted of two new recipes: a red wine cake - delicious! and a Pillsbury Festive Egg and Sausage Bake.  We also had lyonnaise potatoes, baked ham, buns, apple dumplings (Ree Drummond's recipe), a cheese and cracker tray, frosted cut-out sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, mimosas, milk, sodas.  Whew! I think that's about all.  After bellies were full, we handed out the gifts.  Well, most of them. Found a slew of them later hidden behind the t.v.  Poor Cammi, no wonder she asked if there were more presents.  I can't imagine what she thought when I said no, and had only handed her a bag with a few items while her sister had a huge pile in front of her to open.  And Jacob, I don't think he opened anything.  I was so busy, I didn't notice.  But luckily, Mom spied them before Cam left and made her one happy little girl and then Mom drove Jake's and Bren's out to them.  
The big guys watched some of the football game and later, when everyone was gone, I took a little nap.  And now, I am going to bed, but just wanted to say, Merry Christmas!!!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

So busy

Between the office, the home, the migraines, the sorethroats, the viruses, the baking, the planning, the cooking, the cleaning, the wrapping, the ENJOYING.  Will be back soon.  HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ready for the Weekend

The invites went out weeks ago.  Sunday we will host our Annual Ornament Exchange.  Good friends, family, conversation, food.  A lovely way to spend an afternoon.
The tree is up, the house is decorated and Amanda is doing a final clean up right now.  Tomorrow we will begin the food prep and wrap the ornaments and prizes.  It will be so good to see everyone again!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Ugly Sweater?

While idly perusing the internet in the wee early morning hours…what?...isn’t that when everyone does??? I  happened upon this site. Yep, you read that correctly, U-G-L-Y S-W-E-A-T-E-R S-T-O-R-E.  Gee, there really is a shop for everything.  
At first, I thought, an ugly sweater?? Is there such a thing??  Then I looked and I looked some more. Wow! Do people really buy these?  I, um, WAIT! I ran to my closet.

Ah, relief.  This one is cute.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Christmas Countdown - Wk 2

Seven weeks til the big day. Can you believe it??? Today threatens to be the last of our "unseasonal" weather.  It's been reaching the mid-to high 60's here in PA.  Heavenly!!! 

This week: Keep shopping! Check out church and community fairs for handmade decorations. Start picking up nonperishable items for your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  Think about how you will be decorating this year - real tree? are you going with a theme? will you be making decorations?  Amanda and I are going to have a little workshop with the kiddies and have them make toilet paper Santa Clauses, reminiscent of one Amanda made me years ago, which I have and, much to her chagrin, pull out every year.  He is so faded and worn, but he's special!

I've been thinking about a centerpiece for my Thanksgiving table.  I was entertaining the idea of a cornucopia, but Mom and I made these adorable pumpkins for Halloween and I think if I line them up lengthwise down the table, it will be darling.
We had visited a cousin who had taken real pumpkins, scooped out the tops, filled them with dirt and planted mums. It was adorable.  We were going to recreate those, but upon entering the Dollar Store, we spotted these Styrofoam pumpkins, stopped at Michaels for a few flowers, and with wire cutters, shortened the stems and poked them into the tops of the pumpkins. Waalah!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Words Worth Repeating

A co-worker and I were commiserating this morning, you know the old, why not us??? Later I received a very timely e-mail from another friend enclosing this article.  I've read it before but this time I will be printing it out and hanging it on my fridge or the bathroom mirror... or both.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me..
It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It is never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take 'no' for an answer

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

View around 7:45 a.m. this morning from the Smithfield Street Bridge. Stunning!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Christmas Countdown

It's begun.  EIGHT weeks to Christmas.  If I countdown by paychecks . . .uh, let's not.  Here is my countdown to do list for Week 1:
1. Buy postage stamps
2. Create/update master gift list
3. Finalize plans for Thanksgiving (menu, guest list, place settings, centerpiece, shopping list, etc.)
4. If ordering by mail, do it now to allow plenty of time for shipping.
5. Check out Pittsburgh Events and enter those interested in on Holiday Calendar.

This is my favorite time of year and usually my poorest as the real estate taxes and refuse bill are due at this time.  Luckily, Mom and I were in many a right place this past summer/fall and found bargains galore! I have bags and bags piled in a corner of my family room.  The little kiddies are pretty much done. We just have to sort, wrap, and update our master gift list.  
Sunday, we sat down and finalized the Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve Open House menus.  That just leaves our Annual Ornament Exchange to think about.
Saturday, the kiddies came over for a little Halloween lunch.  Sadly, my camera was on night and the photos are poor.  DAGNABIT!  But a good time was had by all.  I mean it.  We really had great fun!

Brendan. He LOVES his dinosaurs!
Amanda, such a pretty ghost
Cammi as Monster High's Laguna Blue
Jade, on leave
Joey a/k/a Pumpkinhead
Kayla, came through WillKillYasBurg (not funny, I know)
The gang - playing Scattergories
Jake, was a dinosaur, too, but that didn't last too long
Caramel Apple Swamp
From the ground comes . . .
Amanda made yummy candy sticks

Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons
Zucchini Casserole
Mummy Dogs
Caramel Apples
Orange Punch
Ice Tea

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Little Halloween ...

On the front porch (looks like Mother Nature is decorating, too)...
In the entryway...
On the mantle.
In a corner...

and Pumpkins, lots of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Three Things

1. Saturday night was Fall Festival at Koenig Field.  The girls colored pumpkin treat bags and took a hayride.
2. It is an absolutely gorgeous day here in Pittsburgh!
3. Warm milk and a new mag!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's Autumn in Pittsburgh

Isn't it pretty?
So, pretty, we knew it was time to take a ride to the pumpkin farm.


We took Kay and Skye

Told the girls the object this year was to find little pumpkins.  They were done in, like, 3 minutes. Wait, uh, where's my photo ops? 
A winner!
Aww, there's my photo op

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zombie Fest 2011 - a Sampling

Took the girls to Zombie Fest on Saturday. The weather was fantastic! The zombies were awesome! This year, Zombie Fest was held in Market Square, downtown Pittsburgh.  
Next year, we will be participating.