Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Tradition, Tips, Tricks and a Recipe

So, Thanksgiving and I have had a secret (or not so secret) love affair going on for the past 6 years or so. Turkey Day and X-mas run a head-to-head constant competition for my affection, and Thanksgiving just might have the edge.

I made my first Thanksgiving dinner the year I moved to Delaware with my (now ex-) husband. It was delicious. I was hooked. I have since continued with successful dinners (with the exception of the infamous oven fire of ’05!! Story in a minute…) and wanted to share some tips and a fave recipe of mine!

When I divorced and moved back to Wisconsin (home), I wanted to make my own dinner, but my family was NOT planning on showing up. They go to Grandmas’ every year and that is just that. Fine. I don’t want to miss out on that either, so I go to Grandma’s on Thursday (and then to the man’s Aunts house in the evening…yep! TWO Dinners…yummy!)

Then FRIDAY after Black Friday shopping, I come home and make “The Day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving!” Some might call me nuts…why go through the work if I don’t have to?? But, I love everything about this holiday. I love the food, the smells, the colors, the time spent with family, the reminder to be thankful for your life…ahhh…Thanksgiving rocks my socks! And I adore our yearly tradition of spending a day with family, and then spending the next day with friends enjoying good food and each other's company!

So, on that note, I am going to share a couple tried and true Thanksgiving recipes, tips and tricks. But first…the oven fire.

November of 2005...I was up early and a cooking fool all day long. I had everything timed out so that our HUGE dinner would be done at of my better “skills” in cooking is timing out my stuff to all get done at the same time, and let me tell ya...I was ON!

We were bringing dinner over to the local church to eat with a bunch of friends. The kids were dressed and ready to go, the ex was bringing food out to the car, and I was finishing up in the kitchen...RIGHT ON TIME.

I pulled the rolls out of the oven...moved the sweet potatoes up to the top rack and set the oven to broil to brown the marshmallow stuff on top. As I'm tossing rolls in a basket, I smell burning marshmallow...ohhhh no!

I open the oven and I kid you not, my entire effing oven was ablaze. I about peed myself. I run out the door and yell for the ex to “COME BACK REALLY FAST" (LOL…I didn't want to scream "FIRE!!!!!!!" across the parking lot…) I remember him saying he could hear the panic in my voice.

He runs up, slams the oven door shut...I'm screaming that I already tried that...Luc's at the gate to the kitchen going "Oooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and pointing …it was bad. Ex grabbed the fire extinguisher, and emptied the WHOLE THING into the oven.

(As a side note, my grandpa would be so disappointed in me...before he retired he worked for Ansul (Tyco) Corp. traveling all over the world teaching businesses how to use different types of fire extinguishers. He taught us what to do when we were little kids, and like a total d-bag, I did nothing. I got a box of baking soda from him for Christmas that year…LMAO!)

So anyway, I later realized what happened…I was using throw away pans...they've oven safe...but they're CARDBOARD!!!!! Broiler lights the cardboard on fire, which lights the sweet potatoes on fire, which must’ve lit the coils on fire…and the rest is history. The oven was destroyed by the way. Super bummer.


TIP #1…if you’re using disposable pans, ONLY USE ALUMINUM! (OR…read the directions and don’t stick the cardboard pans under the broiler…whichever!)

TIP #2…Do you struggle to bake a perfectly golden turkey like you see in movies and on commercials? I am going to describe my turkey baking process to you. It hasn’t failed me yet, and I have yet to have a single Thanksgiving without people raving about my Turkey...both how it looks and how moist it stays.

Clean the turkey (I use a 20+ lb-er, for the record), don’t stuff it, put it in the pan, and brush it with an entire stick of melted butter. Bake per package directions, basting as you go. I KNOW…I know some people say not to baste...that it's "unneccessary". Well, “Some People” have not tried MY turkey. Baste it…often.

When the top starts to brown, tent it with aluminum foil until it’s done. After you take it out of the oven, let it sit a good 15-20 minutes before carving it. You won’t be sorry. :)

TIP #3…Get someone else to do the dishes! ;)

And, as promised, a recipe I LOVE.

I got this from a photographer friend and I make it every year...


1 package Uncle Ben’s Wild & Long Grain Rice (Original…not Quick)
2 Tbsp. Butter
½ cup Chopped Onion
½ lb. Bulk Pork Sausage – Cooked

1. Saute your rice in butter until the white rice turns light brown. Remove from pan.
2. Saute your onion in the pan until soft.
3. Stir in the seasoning packet from the rice, the browned rice and boiling water according to package directions, as well as the cooked sausage.
4. Pour into a baking dish and bake at covered at 350 for 45 minutes. You can then either use it as a stuffing (which I’ve never tried) or serve it as a side dish.

SO yummy! I hope every one of my readers has a beautiful holiday! I'll be back posting Friday or Saturday!!

See you then,


Christmas Wreaths - DIY

I am finally posting the two wreath projects I promised. I have one more in the works...hopefully I can work on it over this long weekend!

This first one I saw on several blogs, but the instructions for most originated from Eddie Ross. I must was harder than I thought. I super glued all the tops on these christmas ball ornaments (all from Dollar Tree). I managed to completely cover myself in glitter...couch too...I looked like Tinkerbell threw up pixie dust all over me. It was lovely.
I bent the hanger into a what LOOKED like a circle (until I had it filled with bulbs and then realized otherwise...meh!), strung the bulbs on, bunched them together and then screamed and (almost) cried and fought with this thing to get it closed at the top.
I finally just did some "creative wrapping" (ha)with some wire edge ribbon. Don't hate me. I was about it throw the wreath...LOL! It will stay this way for this year, but after I take it down, the bow is coming off and I'm gonna let the man close it up with some sort of tool and snip the "hook" part of the hanger off for me. (And for what it's worth, that cluster of silver ornaments on the one side drives me CRAZY but I'm NOT fixing doesn't have to be perfect...or so I keep trying to convince myself!)

Inspiration for my other Christmas wreath came from AnNicole at Our Suburban Cottage. She fell in love with a pretty Pottery Barn wreath, but not so much in love with their price tag. She did a FANTASTIC knock-off, which inspired me to revamp an old wreath I had. I wish I would've taken a before picture of was T-A-C-K-Y!! Seriously.
I put this wreath together in about five minutes, five years ago. I pulled EVERYTHING out of it, used some wire ornament hangers to wire some gold balls nestled into the branches, added in some sparkly berries for "filler" and DONE. SOOOO much have NO idea! (I only wish we would've made the time to paint our front door black over the summer, but...there's always next year!)

I am linking this post up at Kimba's DIY day...there is a TON of crafty goodness going on over there, so make sure you stop on by!!
Coming later today...tried and true Thanksgiving recipes and tips!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

WREATHS coming up!!

I finished TWO of my three wreaths this weekend and I LOVE them. (Ok...honestly, I love one and like one...but whatever...)

Also, have some Thanksgiving recipes to share!!!

Gonna be a good week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exciting! Renovation Decision!

Well, the man and I decided to embark on our biggest reno. project yet!!! (Of course, we've still got to finish the kitchen, put trim up in the living room, redo the laundry room...etc. LOL!) BUT, we've made a decision and I am SO excited about the possibilities.

Up above our garage (which, while "attached" is separate from the house) there are two big, one small. The big room is currently my man's "den"'s smoky and houses a pool table and a small bar. There's not a lot of natural light, and it's generally chilly up there.

Well...we have decided to make the upstairs a MASTER BEDROOM, which will give his daughter and my oldest son their own rooms (the two little guys will continue to share)!!

There is SO much to be done before a move actually takes place. The slate pool table will have to come back DOWN the stairs. (Yikes!) We'll need to clean and clean and clean and SOMEHOW get the smoke smell out...(I seem to remember reading about some kind of primer that can cover that smell?? I'll have to do some googling.) I will want bigger windows than what is up there. There's a possibility we'll need to add that room to our house heating system (right now it's got a separate gas heater) which would mean closing off a doorway I opening up another doorway. The floors would need to be replaced. We'd eventually want to create a bathroom up there (possibly in the smaller room?) much possibility! I get giddy just thinking about it! I said, that is far off in the distance. We will, though, keep you updated on our progress!

I've got a fun project we've been working on to share soon, as well as a SUPER easy donut recipe I found out in blogland! Plus THREE wreath projects! YAY!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Choosing Your Battles

**aaaaahem....clearing throat and stepping up on soapbox**

So I went to my youngest sons Pre-K Parent Teacher conference last week. All is good, for the most part. He won't hold his pencil right...which is causing the difficulty he has with writing legibly...but we're working on it. :) He's friendly...he's quiet...he's a fan of routine...he is good at math and patterns...etc.

But something else she said stuck with me and while I've tried to brush it off, I can't stop thinking about it.

We were discussing his progress report and she mentioned how he has not shown much interest in coloring. I responded that he's never really been one to sit down and color in a coloring book...he finds it "putzy"...he prefers to be outdoors playing, or wrestling with his dogs, or helping me cook dinner. Her reply was "Well, that will change. We'll keep working with him and eventually he'll realize 'Hey! This isn't so bad'. We'll change his mind."

Ok...first of all, I do like his teacher. Don't take this AT ALL as a personal issue with her. And second of all, yes...I want my kids to be well-rounded...of course I do...but you know what?? Maybe he just doesn't like to freakin' COLOR!?!?! SO WHAT?!?!?! It's not like he's flat out refusing to do it...he just doesn't want to spend ten minutes coloring a snowman, when he knows that once he's finished with that he gets to play in the toy kitchen. You know?

Is coloring a life skill? Not so much! Math? YES! He needs math. He even LIKES math! Great! When he's 25 is he going to have a hard time finding a job because he doesn't want to sit down and color in his Madagascar coloring book? I really think he'll be alright.

Like I said...I think it's important to be well rounded. I think it's important for him to spend time doing things at school, even if they may not neccessarily be something he loves. But more than anything, I want him to enjoy his time love enjoy the things he wants to enjoy! I'm not asking for him to be exempt from coloring...I'm asking for him to be allowed to make the choice not to like it. I want to raise well-rounded, open-minded, creative, artistic children. But I don't want to force them to like something. I just can't.

Maybe I'm overprotective because he's my baby...and my most sensitive child. Or maybe, as my kids grow older, I'm finding more confidence in both myself and in my kids to recognize that hey...we don't have to accept every social norm on the planet. One kid doesn't want to color? Fine...sometimes we have to color because our teacher is in charge, but you don't have to like it. Tylenol for a fever? No thank you! No long hair on boys? Says WHO??

You know...maybe some day he WILL change his mind. Maybe someday he'll LOVE to color. I hated mushrooms when I was little. Now I add them to so many meals...we love them. Yummy! I also used to hate the color purple...but you has it's place. :) Or...maybe he won't. But that's his choice to make...not mine.

It's such a fine line, I think, between raising open-minded kids, and making their choices for them. It might seem worlds minded vs. my call...but it's not. Maybe their choice as an open minded child, is not to be so "free" and open-minded. So maybe in "failing", I'm succeeding. (Or maybe I'm just overthinking it alltogether...haha!)

At any rate, I hope I'm doing a good job walking that tight-rope. At least I know that no one can tell me I'm not trying.

**annnnd stepping down**

Monday, November 2, 2009


My middle guy turned 6 today. Six. The big

I remember when he was born, six short years ago...staring at him. I could not stop staring at that sweet little face. I didn't want to put him to bed. I'd just lay with him and watch him sleep, even though I should've been spending that time sleeping myself. He was so...content. So serious. So beautiful.

He's still serious...and still beautiful. He's compassionate. He shares. He's not afraid to tell me he loves me. He wants to be a good helper. He thrives on positive encouragement.

He wanted "big boy" pictures because he's "big" now. Six. So we did just that...took some pictures, and then got ready for our family b-day party...vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and M&M's per his request.

Six Facts about my Six Year Old

1. He likes to use big words that often sound unnatural coming out of his mouth, but he generally uses them correctly. It's cute.
2. He rocks at video games. He loves to play games on the computer, old school NES, or Xbox 360. He loves it and he's good at it. My little tech-savvy guy.
3. He'd live on Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches if I let him.
4. He'll dip anything in ketchup...even broccoli.
5. Luc is SUPER inquisitive. If you're doing something, he's got a million questions about it because he genuinely wants to understand things.
6. His memory is insanely accurate. He remembers things I forgot. It's a cool way. :)

My guy...

My three guys...the "birthday mummy" and his big and little brother. <3

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