Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Dolce Girls' Christmas

We're relentless partiers. Any excuse to hang out, drink a little, eat a lot, play some games and let our hair down. Our roster changes, but the fellowship and fun is always the same. Here was this month's group of girls : )

Cathy was setting up her camera, so I snapped this one while we waited. See the "Ugly Sweater" participants? Yeah. Me neither! I think we all looked pretty darn cute! Becky's necklace lit up (along with her cut-off sleeves), Nicole had a McDonald's holiday t-shirt on under that other lovely plaid shirt, and Linda's was just plain, ummm, "festive"! Carolyn (again!) was the big winner!

Isn't she SO creative?! I loveee that she matched her bottle koozie! We're 100% class, aren't we? Ps. The reindeer on her sweater lit up AND played music! Winning!

Ok, here's my ugly sweater. The fur collar really gave it a polished look. ; ) In case you don't follow my facebook posts, this is actually my sweatshirt, that I donated to St. Teresa a few years ago, and just bought back! Hahaha, joke's on me! Debbie looks all cute because she told Cathy they didn't have to participate because they were the hosts. Way to get out of it, Debbie!

Bottle contest participants. Now, Laura may not have participated in the sweater portion of the evening, but she rocked the bottle contest! In case you can't see it, her "cougar" bottle has a New Year's hat on, earrings, eyelashes, and Play-doh lips with a cigarette! Linda's was hand-painted and really pretty! Nic's bottle sweater would've won for most out-of-season, since it featured an Easter motif. I'm hoping that sweater belonged to a teddy bear, and wasn't really a beer koozie!

So, we played a foodie board game (which was way too hard for a relaxing night), then moved on to a music trivia DVD game, that was a ton of fun! So Happy New Year! (and who's hosting next month's party?!)

New Year's Eve Decos

God bless my hubby. I drug him to Michael's Crafts on our date night Thursday before heading to dinner. I said, "Hon, with all the stuff I'm seeing on Pinterest, I think I wanna start crafting!" His sheepish response? "Again?!" I've crafted my whole life; so much so in PA in the '90's, that Rob made me my own "Treasures by Terry" labels for my stuff. I've painted gajillions of wooden items (in the "country" days), made beaded jewelry, scrapbooked, made hundreds of things with the kids, blah, blah, blah. I'd taken a crafting break for a few years, but now I have a hundred (at least) new ideas, and this one seemed appropriate for New Year's. The Dolce Girls met last night, and held a wine bottle decorating contest for prizes. (I was sure hoping it was a full bottle of wine!) So here's what I did!

I spray painted empty (of course!) bottles with silver metallic paint.

I chose this one because it had more surface area to glitz and glam up! After applying paper, glue and sticker decos, I "mod podged" to keep everything in place. The paint scratches really easily without it, too.

Uh oh. I hope this dries clear...

YaY, it did! I finished it off with a purpley bow...

And a sparkley tree pic. New Year's in a bottle! (excuse the dark photo)

I also made more of these funnnn marshmallows, which I'm hoping to turn into a multi-million dollar gourmet marshmallow business. Nah. I just like to make them, and Jack likes to eat them. These candy beads made them look "bubbly"!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Food!

I was feeling really run down and out of sorts this month, so I took a break from the gym. Bad idea. Cuz I've been eating stuff like this...

Fun homemade candy gift bags for the buds. Thanks again for the makins' and the cute lil wrappings, Sara! Aunt Rose donated the lovely dish : )

Quick and easy night-before-Christmas-Eve-dinner: Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden copy-cat recipe) adapted from Pioneer Woman; she cleverly calls it "Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup", but we know what she's reallyyy saying.. It was yummy, and way better on day two, after I mashed up some of the potatoes and the milks had time to thicken.

Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup ; )
12 red potatoes, cooked, cooled and sliced thin
1 whole onion, chopped
1 Tbls butter
1 bag (9.6 oz) Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage crumbles (great taste, no mess!)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
3 cups half-and-half (I used fat free)
Fresh or dried oregano
Red pepper flakes (I only use one "shake" of the container, but would love to use more!)
 and black pepper to taste
Splash of heavy cream
Half bag of Glory (or the like) ready to use kale

In a large pot, lightly brown onion in butter. Stir in sausage, chicken broth, milk, half-and-half, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and oregano. Simmer 20 minutes. Add potatoes (I'd suggest mashing up 2 of the potatoes now to help thicken), splash of cream & kale. Stir and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.
Great with fresh bread and a salad!

Cheese tree for Christmas-Eve-after-Mass-grubbins that I found it on Pinterest. I'm spending alot of time on there...

My personal favorite, Crock Pot Sausage & Egg Casserole, that literally took 5 minutes to put in the crockpot Christmas Eve night before going to bed. It was ready by 6 am Christmas morning, and so were we! Not as good as Mary's traditional Christmas egg strata, but darn good for just a little work.

Crockpot Egg Casserole
1 32-oz bag frozen hash browns
1 bag (9.6 oz) Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage crumbles (again!)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk (I used fat free and it was fine)
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano, or to taste

Spray crockpot with non-stick spray. Layer 1/3 of the hashbrowns, sausage, onion and cheese. Repeat layers, ending with cheese. In large bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper and oregano. Pour over ingredients in crock pot, cover and turn on low for 8 hours. When done, thermometer in center should read 160°. 
I put mine on at around 11 pm Christmas Eve, and by 4 am the house was smelling good! We ate before 7, and it was wonderful : ) 

If I've messed anything up or forgotten something in the recipes, please let me know. I'm "writing out" my recipes now (instead of posting the hyperlinks) that I get from blogs, websites, etc, since I change them so much from the original recipes. I've added a print friendly button at the bottom of this page; you'll have to click "remove images" before printing to save ink. I'm looking for a different "print friendly" widget, so hang in there with me!

Happy eating, it's almost the New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Ehrig Christmas

What a great Christmas! We had one of the nicest ever, really. It started off a little rocky; Jack got paged for a work issue at 5:48 am, exactly 12 minutes before he would have been "off call".  And since his voice isn't exactly what you'd call an "indoor voice", Alex, Linds and I were up at the crack of dawn too. Luckily, though, he didn't have to go out, and it actually made for a nice, long day. We ate a hot breakfast right out of the crockpot (recipe coming soon!), and enjoyed our coffee by the tree. After a little napping, Jax came over around 10, and we imbibed in a little Christmas cheer while opening gifts...only the Ehrigs! Here was the start of gift #1 on Friday:

This guy can literally do anything! We barely had any water pressure in the kitchen, so it was time for new valves, faucet, etc. While we were at it, we decided a larger, deep sink would be lovely, because we've never liked the setup we had. Viola! Merry Christmas to me, thanks to that cute elf ; ) 

Christmas Eve, and our traditional family photo. This picture makes me laugh, because Linds says "Dad crowded me out". LOL! Just looks to me like she likes to pose (college girls apparently loveee to do this), and the only other pic has Jax in an odd pose. So this one's it, sorry girl!

Christmas morning. Alex knows I may pick up the package and feel around; it's what Pap always did with "prizes" and it rubbed off on me! I was good, though, I waited! So here's what it was...

One of those industrial, soft, squishy, easy-on-the-feet-and-legs kitchen mat, to use at my new sink! How thoughtful! It'll make it so much easier for me to stand and cook and clean. Hey...wait a minute! Just kiddin', I've really wanted one of these forever, and Al saw me admiring Becky's the other week. Good job, Al! ♥

Jax went with what every Mom (and woman, for that matter!) loves! This set is perfect, he knows what I like! ♥

Lindsay crafted this year, and she is amazing! All homemade, and so appreciated! It's perfectly my style as well! ♥ (I even posted it on Pinterest, so now she's famous)

Our traditional outdoor photo after opening gifts. Praise the Lord for this beautiful day, it was 80° and fabulous! The only reason I was wearing a sweatshirt was to be funny, it's one of the "ugly" ones I bought for an ugly sweater party later this week with the Dolce Girls.

We spent the afternoon with Mom & Dad Ehrig and Bill, with platters of yummy Publix goodies. In the evening, we settled in for a movie and a visit from our favorite Democrat, Mayet ; )
Santa, ya done good this year! We're so blessed!

Friday, December 23, 2011

ICE! Advice

It's been ICE! time at the Gaylord Palms for weeks, and I was kinda thinkin' we may not make it this year; time slips by so quickly during December! The theme is "Shrek the Halls", and we reallyyyyy wanted to see it, as we're Shrek fanatics (as in, we know every line from the original Shrek, and have compared Jack to him on many occasions). Linds has never ICE!'d, so we pulled out our winter gear and set out to have some fun with her while she's home for Christmas. (For my family up north, ICE! is a themed display of ice carvings at an enormous convention center in Orlando...the temp inside is 9°, so it's the closest we get to a "wintery" Christmas!) I bought tickets on the 'net for the 7-7:30 entry, and we figured it would be really busy. Nope! We got inside about 20 minutes early, and they let us right in. Sweet! The pictures were all taken on my phone, so they're not great, but you'll get the idea : ) It takes about 30 minutes to walk through, and when we came out, it was PACKED! Note to self: go at the same time on the same day next year!

Shrek! Fiona! Our heroes! Ehrigs love talking animals. And ogres.

Isn't this amazing?! How do they get the ice so green?! This sculpture was really big.

Dragon, Donkey's love. She was just playin', we weren't in any real danger ; ) 

Mike Myers narrated Shrek's voice, reading "Christmas for Village Idiots", and a Shrek-styled "Twas the Night Before Christmas in the Swamp". So clever!

The Nativity scene at the end is breathtaking. Kinda literally! We were so cold our fingers felt like they were going to fall off! As we exited the display, we laughed as we watched folks going in without the recommended complimentary parka; a couple guys were in just shirts and slacks. They'll know what 9° feels like without a coat in about 30 seconds!

Now...on to look at the hotel, which is unbelievably huge. It boasts several restaurants in its Florida themed wings. There was a live show under the Majestic Christmas tree, featuring singers and a performance by a cirque-inspired acrobatics team. Fantastic!

The St. Augustine area, built to look like the castillo. It's so amazing you forget that you're inside! I really felt like we were walking around St. Auggie!

The light show in the Atrium is incredible!

The tree changes color, and the hanging lights flash to the music being performed onstage. Wow!

Sunset Sam's Fish Camp Restaurant, with a 60' long boat named the Gaylord, naturally. There's a regular restaurant as well as the eat-onboard boat. And don't forget...this is all INSIDE the hotel!

A view across the water of the Key West themed area. We didn't even get to see the Everglades or Emerald Bay!

Our beautiful girl outshines this tree! ♥

Awwww! Coats in hand, ready to go back out and brave the temp....75°!
 Merry Florida Christmas!

Here's the link if you're interested in checking out some cool (hahaha) stuff about the hotel:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Sugar, Sugar!

I bonded with my sisters today. We were nearly 1,000 miles apart, but there was a little part of us that was together. See, Sara, Ann, Con and Robin get together to make candy every year, and I've never gotten to be there for the fun. So this year, Sara sent me 15 pounds of candy makin' supplies! YESSS! (I just CANNOT get the good "melty" chocolate down here; I tried last year with different kinds, to no avail) Their most famous yearly candies are: peanut butter balls covered in chocolate, raisin clusters, peanut clusters and chocolate-mint Ritz crackers. So I got to work yesterday and today, shook it up a bit with some stuff I found on Pinterest, channeled my sisters, and this is what I made. A few of Alex's friends came over for dinner, then later sampled them all : ) I love making people happy with food! ♥ (apparently Al does too, since he made their stir fry!)

White chocolate covered Santa hats! Aren't they cute?! The Bob's peppermint sticks are covered in white chocolate also, to dip in hot chocolate. Yummm! That was yesterday's batch.

Today I made dark chocolate dipped marshmallows (some with sprinkles, some with peppermint) milk chocolate cashew clusters and dark chocolate raisin clusters. I forgot to get the daggone little candy papers at Michael's on Friday, but luckily Alex knew they had some at Publix, so I got the last two packs of mini liners in the baking aisle! Whew!

Ok, on the advise of Cliff and Bailly, I posted duplicate pics in hopes for a vote as to which is more appealing to the eye. (I have my nice Fuji, but love this simple little Kodak. I know my pictures are not good, since I see beautiful, bright pictures on Pinterest and Foodgawker, but it's all I'm willing to do right now!) The first one of course is with flash, this second is without. I'm always taking photos in the evening, too, which is definitely a minus.

I still plan to make chocolate covered mini pretzels sticks (Snyder's, of course! It's the Pennsylvania girl in me!) later this week. Can ya tell I love the salty/sweet thing? Christmas week, here we come! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Sangria

♪Oh Sangria, you are a friend of mine ♫...I know, I know...the song says "Jose Cuervo", but this stuff is way better. Here's the recipe for the Sangria I made for Mitch and Laura's party on Saturday, originally from Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, but skewed a bit here and there to make it mine. I thought it was pretty "boozy" (I KNOW! IMAGINE THAT!), but my taster was a bit off this weekend with a head cold. I wanted to add lemon-lime soda, but Becky said, "Uh uh. No way. This stuff is perfect like it is." Sooooo, it was left alone, and was actually darn good.

These may not look like sangria ingredients to you, but to me, they were perfect! Why use only wine?!

Lots and lots and lots of fruit: oranges, pears, Granny Smith apples, lemon and lime.

Ahhhhh! Liquid gold! Just like the Beverly Hillbillies ; ) All that fruit soaked for hours, and made the concoction very merry!

Terry's Christmas Sangria
1~ 1.5 liter bottle of Pinot Noir, chilled
2~ 1.5 bottles of Pinot Grigio, chilled
1~ cup orange vodka
1~ cup lemon rum
1/2~ cup of triple sec (even tho the lady at Walgreen's liquor called it "triple sex")
1/2~ 1 cup sugar
1~ cup water
1~ quart sparkling mineral water
2~ navel oranges, sliced thin 
2~ lemons, sliced thin
2~ limes, sliced thin
2~ Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
2~ Bartlett pears, sliced thin

In a small pan, bring the water to a boil and add sugar (you've just made "simple syrup"!). Stir till melted. Let cool. In a LARGE glass jar (I bought this one at Walmart in the kitchen aisle; it's called a glass canister, is the largest one, and cost $9.97), add the fruit to the chilled wines and liquor. Add cooled sugar water. Let it get friendly in the fridge for a few hours, and serve ice cold. Ohmygosh! This should serve approximately...I dunno. We just drank it until it was almost gone. Could be 10 people, could be 30, I'm not really sure. There was a little left, and I'm finishing it now. I'll be taking the fruit in to work for our Christmas breakfast. That's ok, right?! ; )

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saying "See You Soon" to the Bestest of Friends ♥

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”   ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

*SIGH* Here goes our FooZer, off to new adventures. Oops, and Mitch, too! ; ) Becky and I couldn't let our wonderful friends head up their new home without a sendoff. So along with some dear friends, a lotta food, and some homemade sangria...we say...definitely not goodbye! Actually, just "see you next month!" Really! Jack and I are going to visit in mid-January. I hope they were expecting to see alot of us...Goose Creek/Charleston, here we all come!

A very FooZer-like cake, thanks to my favorite baker (not Mitch and Laura Baker; Alex the baker!) and Carla at Publix. Our resident cake maker, Tina, took a well deserved day off!

Isn't this cute? Don't they look happy? They are : ) Mitch only stayed still long enough for one snap of the flash, then headed back outside to the guys' table! Somewhere in the course of the evening, the fellas discussed Jack getting a new boat, going shrimping way more often (while we girls have wine at Brenda's), and that decoys were 60% off at The Man Store. Yeesh. Men. We gals played with Tina's beautiful grandbaby, Aubrey, inside!

The Troublesome Trio. Wait. We don't actually make trouble, we just make a lot of noise and have tons of fun! We're definitely the three loudest people I know, so when ya put us together, you need earplugs!

Two of the three purveyors of fine foods for the day. Jeff made THE best pulled pork and homemade sauce that any of us had ever tasted. And see that potato salad? We'll all be getting the recipe for that, Becky!

Jane and Becky. Old friends are the best friends! See the sign on the fridge? She means it!

The lovely Cav ladies! FooZer with her flippin' phone in her hand, and Lisa with a beer! Hahaha, some things never change! (just kiddin' Lisa, but I'll always remember when Christy was a baby, it's my favorite story. Ever.)

Mitch's besties from work. See Mitch's shirt? Yeah, I see it alot too. You know you have great friends when you even know when and where they bought their favorite shirt! (at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Pooler, GA, for criminy sake!)

And just for fun...Becky's house looked beautiful, and I loved, loved, loved her self-proclaimed Dr. Suess tree! How fun is this?!

I wish I would've gotten pictures of everyone! (Tina took most of these) What a great day with great friends. Anyway, I'm only the tiniest bit sad (mostly because they won't be right around the corner like they've been for the nearly 12 years we've been in this house), because I'm soo excited for them to have their brand new home, so many new things to see and do, new friends to make...HEY! WAIT A MINUTE! Oh well, at least we get a free "hotel" room! Love you Bakes, we're gonna miss ya ♥

“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”    


Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth!

Mark, a very nice fellow at my work, gets a large number of free passes every year to the taping of the Disney Christmas parade (sadly, no, it's not live!). This year, I had the good fortune to get a number of them and go, and what a funtastic day it was! You could almost say it was MAGICAL! (this word was used many times throughout the day) Foozer was able to go, so we got our little selves off to any early start, and hit the park by a few minutes after 8 am. I ended up with a few extra passes (they were actually hard to give away on short notice, as Mark received them later than usual), so Foozer offered them to a family waiting in line to buy tickets. After repeatedly saying, "This isn't a scam, they're real tickets!", we left the passes with them, and really hope they were used. (would you trust a stranger that hands you $500 worth of free tickets?!)
I hadn't been to the Magic Kingdom in 8 or 9 years; the last time was to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party with none other than Miss Disney Magic herself, and Mitch. But this time was extra fun; a girls' day out, a last magical hurrah before the Baker's move to SC. We wandered around and did stuff you don't normally get to do with little ones in tow. Fun, magical fun! (yeah, she really said it alot)

Main Street, all decked out for Christmas. Yippee, so were we! Let the magic begin!

Look who we ran into, (ok, we knew they were there, but still) Meg, Ken, Kenny & Reese! The kids are little bundles of Disney wonder, which made me miss those days with our kids. But trust me, I still enjoyed myself!

Various performers are taped in front of Cinderella's castle all day. A lead guy with a mike gives lots of instructions, like "Ok, when so-and-so comes out, you all go crazy! And don't chew gum! And look really excited! And you all go crazy! And clap and shout! And go crazy!" Sheesh, if the performers are good, won't I be doing those things already?! (except for the gum, I'm not a chewer ; ) Justin Bieber, Scotty McCreery, Cee Lo Green & Jennifer Hudson were scheduled; we saw Cee Lo and Jennifer as we passed by numerous times during the day, but we had no desire to be an audience member for the tv cameras. We're at DISNEY for cryin' out loud! There's rides to be ridden, Mickey food to eat, and shops to spend all of our money in!

Haunted Mansion. The carriage and empty horse's harness reminded me of Harry Potter's thestrals. Anywho, the Mansion now has an interactive "haunted graveyard" to walk through before entering the ride (it's probably been there for years, but it's new to me), which was really fun. Pirates of the Caribbean had things I'd never seen, Space Mountain was done up differently, and we went to a new Monster's Inc. show called the Laugh Floor. I felt like a kid! 

Jack was telling me that of all the times we'd been to Disney, he had only been to the Hall of Presidents once (which if you know Jack, you know he would've gone there every visit, but I guess we didn't because of the kids). So of course we had to be smart alecs and take our picture there ; )

Jennifer Hudson, performing with a choir for the finale. She is lovely, as is her voice, but... we swear she made a little mistake in her medley...but let's get back to running the park!

Plans for the new Fantasyland with all the princess' castles! Now I definitely want to go back : ) The restaurant will be called "Be Our Guest", from Linds and my alllll time Disney favorite, Beauty and the Beast!

See? We got to do stuff like this...listen to the Dapper Dans quartet! For all their songs. Without having to take a kid to the bathroom. Or hear a kid say, "Do we HAVE to watch this?!" They were great, singing and telling silly jokes. For their final song, they sang "Christmas in Killarney" and played those bell things. So cool!

In and out of the shops we went. This original Thomas Kincaid of the Princess and the Frog was in the theatre gallery on Main, and I was smitten! I'm not a Kincaid fan, but this was so....magical! There. I said it again. See the other princesses on the left beside the tree?! Darn clever.

My day came to an end by 3:30, since I had to be home to get ready for Jack's Christmas party. But that was ok, I was tired! (no wonder all those kids are napping in their strollers!) Thanks for a great day Mickey!

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