Friday, December 14, 2012

♪ 'Tis the Season to be Busy... ♪

I've been chompin' at the bit to get back on here, so with today's half-day, I can! I'm super stoked this Christmas (and every Christmas, really), and not just because I like to shop! (I know that's what you were thinking) Christmas is spiritual, and festive, and cooler, and joyful, and just plain wonderful! I love: Christmas Mass, days off of work, being with my little family, singing carols, hot chocolate, decorating the house, spiked egg nog, Christmas concerts, movies and plays. I DO NOT like: the air conditioning on or rain on Christmas Day, but that's pretty much it.
So, to recapitulate (isn't that a great word?! An elderly gentleman I spoke to last week used it, and I'm going to use it every chance I get. I AM using it correctly, right?!) the last two weeks, here we go:
Our first year with a second tree. Of course my photography is totally lacking since the white is all washed out, but its theme is silver and red.

I continued the silver and red, along with white and black, on the big tree. We walked into the tree tent on the lot at church, and took the second tree Jack pulled out. Easy peasy! It's beautiful ♥
Last Saturday we did something new, and got tickets to watch the Christmas parade from the front porch of the historic Pritchard House. It has been painstakingly restored, and is stunning inside!

An AHS choir sang carols, which we later joined in on. I'm not gonna lie; I sounded pretty darn good! (I'm sure those fabulous kids had nothing to do with it ; )

House tours weren't given that night, but we did get to look around the parlor. They said we were only allowed to take a picture of the Christmas tree, so I just captured a bit "extra" (I would've loved to take hundreds all over the house, but I behaved myself!) We were served delicious sandwiches and finger foods, sweet treats, wine, and champagne punch. Fabulous! All that, plus a front-seat view for the parade! We're already signed up for next year ☺
I was dying to see the whole house, so I headed back with some of the work buds yesterday on our lunch. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and gave us a fantastic tour, as she had been in on all of the renovations from the start. We're going back for a Women's Vintage Clothing Exhibit in February!
On a different note, I'm still trying new recipes weekly; this week's gem was Crispy Oven Toasted Ravioli, YUMMO!
Crunchy Oven-Fried Cheese Ravioli
From How Sweet It Is (for original recipe, click here)
serves 2
1- 9 oz package fresh, 4 cheese (or whatever you prefer) ravioli (the brand I used has 12 large ravioli in the pack)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/8 cup flour
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated romano or parmesan cheese (or more, if you like! I do!)
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
marinara or chunky spaghetti sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray. Add egg whites to one bowl, and in a larger bowl mix flour, bread crumbs, panko, romano, salt and pepper.
Bring water to a boil and cook ravioli for half of the recommended time. I let mine boil for a little over 2 minutes, then drained them and quickly spray through them with nonstick spray to help them not stick together. Once cool to the touch, dip each ravioli in egg whites then coat thoroughly with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Place on the wire rack and repeat until finished. Spray each with a quick hit of nonstick spray. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until crispy and golden.
Serve hot with marinara for dipping.

So, that's what I've been doing, and I'm sure you're doing much of the same. I've also shopped (a lot!) and wrapped what feels like 4,362 gifts! (but that's OK!) Time to sign off, and start on Sara's Famous Christmas Chex mix, along with some raisin and nut candies.
It IS the most wonderful time of the year!
Oh...and recapitulate! (just throwin' it in there) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let the Season Begin!

Friday, November 30: the house is decorated inside (for the most part), Jack surprised me by putting up the outside lights (which I failed to notice, shame on me!), and it's already time for Christmas party #1! Let's get this party started!

My favorite guys, at Jack's precinct party at the FOP in Melbourne. He couldn't ask for a better partner and bosses ☺
Brenda, the "Precinct Mom & Work Wife", keeps them in line and puts together one fine party every year. What a blast! Don't even ask about the Gangnam Style...
Then Saturday arrived with more fun in store...Food Truck Wars!!!
The trucks officially "opened" at 4, but we got there a little early to look around, and ran into Becky and Jeff. There were about 40 trucks of every variety (including one with gourmet pet food!) in little downtown Titusville; we didn't have to go out of town to do something different for a change! It was a good thing I took these pics early, because by 5:00 the street was packed!

Cupcake Truck!
This looked interesting! Jeff was eyeing this bad boy up for a lobster roll.

TJ's Seafood Shack had me at "shrimp and grits". The cute kid in the blue shirt promised it was as good as any I'd find in Charleston, and he was right!

Creamy grits, red-eye ham gravy with some 'heat', cheese, scallions and lightly fried (which was different) shrimp. Fantastic!
Jack got pulled pork at the Gator Country truck (which specialized in...gator, of course!).

Dessert for me was a rich tiramisu gelato, while Jack enjoyed a decadent chocolate one. Heaven!

The judges look like they're struggling already, and they had just begun. Move over, I'll do it! I think the guy on the left is trying the gelato!

We sat and enjoyed the cool breeze, listening to Tony Wynn play some smoooooth jazz!
Please do this all again, Titusville.
Sunday's entertainment was a fabulous holiday concert, courtesy of the 70 piece Community Band of Brevard...

with these three lovely ladies as my dates! Aunt Rose and her gal pals stay way busier than I do, and know of all the best events in the area. And no going straight home either; we grabbed burgers and shakes afterward!
Lookout December, we've got a lot more to do!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We Need More 5 Day Weekends!

Going back to work after a normal two day weekend is no fun, but going back to work after a long holiday weekend is the pits! Don't get me wrong; I'm extremely blessed and thankful for my job, but c'mon, don't you agree? I dream of the day when the days are reversed...two work days and five day weekends! Yeah!
I had to good fortune to be off on Wednesday to prepare most of my dishes ahead of time, which worked out great. I wanted to get as much as possible done before our girl got home later that day, because she and I planned to just sit and snuggle and visit, as we both desperately needed it! She pulled up right on time, with one stinky cat along for the ride (and I mean STINKY! He pooped in his cage about 5 minutes into the 2 hour drive) Hilarity ensued as Linds gave him his second bath in two days (betcha didn't know cats hate water)....

HE WAS NOT HAPPY! This picture makes me laugh every time. Doesn't he look like one of those hairless cats?! Poor Harrison...
(please ignore the stained grout)
She got him all cleaned up, and he went about his business scoping out the house again. He really does like it here ☺
See? He's fine. He made himself right at home later in the evening, helping himself to our Scrabble game (he kept laying on my letters, trying to make me lose my train of thought. No way, buddy, but good try!).
I don't know if everyone has appetizers on such an already 'big eating day', but it's a good thing we do, because I told Patti & Dave to be here an hour too early. Sigh. I was guess I was just excited, and anyway, we had a great visit. I love the fresh cranberry salsa (I actually think I'm the only one who does) and everyone loves Patti's deviled eggs. They were gone in a flash!

Here's our hard-working guys. In all the years I've made turkeys, I've never carved (whew)! And see? The egg platter's empty!

Dave makin' the taters. I love all this help, guys! And I am truly blessed, because Jack always does all the after-dinner dishes! (thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Thankful for these folks right here ♥ And that big pan of Patti's cornbread stuffing.
('Scuse Al, he was still a little sleepy)
One of many poses for the Christmas card photo. How did I get so small?! (I'm thinking this particular line-up didn't help)
We had a wonderful, wonderful day! We ended the day with our traditonal get-in-the-Christmas-mood-movie, Elf, our all-time favorite!
Linds and I swore we were gonna stay home in our jammies all day Black Friday, but that didn't quite work out. Our shopping hormones completely took over, and we were at Kohl's by 10:30 am. It was actually quite fun; we got in, scored our deals, and got out. This line was nothing compared to how it looked just a few minutes later. Boy, did we get lucky!
Friday night brought a "campfire" and more movies.
On Saturday, we enjoyed breakfast out, Deb came to visit, and we watched another movie!
Ahhhh, What a Wonderful Life!
Hope yours was just as great!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Not a Great Day to be a Duck...

Ahhhh, Opening Day. Jack waits for this day all year; from the close of the season in January, through Early Teal Weekend in September, to the Official Opening Day the weekend before Thanksgiving, anticipation mounts (even though he just returned last weekend from a two and a half week hunt in North Dakota, this apparently is just as exciting). Packing peanut butter sandwiches, Pop Tarts and a few (adult) beverages, he now heads out to the refuge the night before, and secures his place in line. In the God-forsaken-middle-of-the-night, the gate opens, and out they go to their secret spot; a box of shells later, it's all over.

Today was a good day, they shot their limit! I'm actually really happy, because nothing makes me sadder than to see them return with one (or zero) birds after all that preparation!

Look at that beautiful creature! (a green-winged teal drake)
 I can't look when it's time know...(making slashing motion across throat)
Anyway, Jack shot a "banded" bird, which must be a good thing since he was so excited about it. I learned today that there's info on the band that helps track the bird (where it was tagged, its age, etc), so Jack called the number provided. They'll send him a certificate about this particular one, and we'll find out where he came from, only to know...(insert same motion across throat here) 

Al was able to go again this year, and will be enjoying duck stir fry for dinner tonight (LOTS of it, cuz Momma don't make no duck!) I actually made it for him once, but now he does it ☺
I do, however, make turkey, so Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lil' Terry Homemaker

I definitely like to cook, but cookie baking isn't nearly as successful for me. I used to bake birthday cakes when the kids were little, and those were fine, but I've never, ever, had success with cookies. I'm talking every cookie: chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, sugar cakes, snickerdoodles, you name it...always hard as a rock. I take that back; I bought the Mrs. Fields Cookie Book years ago, and the peanut butter ones turned out nicely, but Jack doesn't like peanut butter cookies. Figures. Jack is, 99.9% of the time, a grateful, gracious consumer of my cooking, but he does like to make little snipes regarding the "crisp" consistency of my cookies. So I set out to find the magic ingredient that would turn my crunchy cookies into soft, chewy, more palatable ones (that don't need dunked in milk or coffee to get them down!)

Hours of Pinterest scouring later (not really, but I did check out a number of blogs, which was fun), I found the recipe for THESE! Could I have finally gotten it right?!

I don't know who to give credit to, because this "secret" recipe is all over Pinterest. However, I found this on
Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch (a/k/a "magic ingredient")
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
chocolate chips, as many as you like! I used 1/2 bag each of dark chocolate and semi-sweet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and add to wet ingredients. Mix to combine and stir in the chocolate chips (don't worry if the dough is a bit crumbly, it comes together). Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Use a small cookie scoop and drop dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until barely golden around the edges. The key is to NOT overbake. 
(we'll see if they're still soft tomorrow...)
   Then I made dinner !
This is 'Lighter Sesame Chicken' from Iowa Girl Eats (love her). We put ours on lo-mein noodles rather than rice, and it was fab. Her photos are beautiful, and I'm ashamed to even put this on here, but I snapped it in the dark dining room after I had taken two bites. Sheesh. Amateur.
Here's the pro's link:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Keep It Weird, Vermont! I'll Be Back!

("Keep it Weird" is another t-shirt slogan, I'm not being cheeky ☺)
For my own memory's sake, I have to finish this trip. Our last full day was very cool & misty, but it was still heaven to us. We rolled outta bed and walked next door to Mass (isn't that cool?! St. Alphonsus was literally two doors away), where the priest invited us to the church dinner since he "bagged" a 50 pound turkey for it! Then we put on our "extra" shoes and sweatpants, and set out on a hunt for blue rocks!

Peg took us on a 15 minute walk to the creek where her kids and now grandkids love to play. I know why!
 Kinda like the "Where's Waldo" of blue rocks; the rocks are blue from iron (I think) from a furnace factory upstream. Do you see one?

After we loaded up with rocks, dried off and had some warm snacks, Peg drove us all around Pittsford. That little town is packed with cool things to see, one of them being a huge haunted house and hayride during Halloween week. Dang, we're gonna miss it! Here's a stop at Hammond Bridge, #2 of four covered bridges in town. 

Depot Bridge...that makes three that we've seen!

Laura and I ventured to the Maple Museum ourselves while Peg attended a speaking engagement. We were so looking forward to getting our syrup on...after all, that's Vermont's #1 souvenir!
A syrup tasting! How fun is that?! If they only made maple flavored wine...
A little exploring found us a huge pumpkin patch! (because it was on the main road) Pumpkins as far as the eye can see! Well, almost. It felt very fall-ish! And Halloween-y! And "northern"!

Why not?! Look at that misty sky ☺
Ok. Laura felt bad for just taking pictures here; she had to buy something, and it was gonna be a pumpkin! And it had to fit in the suitcase. This lil pumpkin did NOT get her busted at the airport, but her blueberry pancake mix (white powder) and maple syrup did (more than 3 fluid ounces)! She's a nut! A fun one!

After another lovely homecooked meal, courtesy of our hostess, and a mad dash to find the elusive maple cremee (which we unfortunately didn't find), we settled in in our favorite spot in the house. Over five nights in here, we chatted, watched a debate, a movie, drank lots of tea, coffee and hot chocolate, and chatted some more. Thank you, Peg! We don't wanna go home!!! 
But alas, we must. On the way to the airport in the morning, we stopped by the Shelburne Museum and snapped a pic of the Ticonderoga through the fence. Then we stopped in a local bagel shop for one last Green Mountain Pumpkin coffee and a cider donut! We don't wanna go home!!!
Good fortune smiled on us before our trip home; we took a "bump" and came home a few hours later. Hmmm, $400 each in free airfare, and $60 for food while we waited? Sure!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Eat, Drink & Be Scary, Part 3

These girls are fun. We like any excuse to party, and Halloween delivers! Sweets, costumes, booze, sweets...

We're all Pinterest crazy (see, it's not just me!). Linda's "earwax" laden "Q-tips" were a riot, as well as Bobbi Jo's mummy weenies!  

 Nicole did her Harry Potter thing with Reesey-cup broomsticks : ) But we actually had real food, too. You know...chicken wings, meatballs, spinach dip...real food! ; )
 This was fun: a "Poison Apple" (guess where I found the recipe?)
1 oz cabernet
1 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
1/2 oz triple sec
1 oz cranberry juice
dash of allspice
1/2 tsp brown sugar
Shake 'em all up over ice and strain. Garnish with apple peel. Enjoy!
Ready for this year's costume-ers?!

 Laura is the Morton Salt girl! How dang cute is that?!

 Linda is the Tooth Fairy, with a bucket full o' chocolate and teeth. Too funny!

 Nicole is St. Joan of Arc (and it's not even all Saint's Day yet!)

 Becky lovesss her evil villains, but she doesn't scare us! (anymore) Those shoes were straight from the Wizard of Oz, no kidding!
 Carolyn apparently likes to stick with the boozey category (and you thought I was bad!) Last year she was a bunch of grapes, and this year a Red Solo Cup!
Bobbi Jo is the cutest Beanie Baby ever! Clever!

Debbie is the world's best 'Nora Desmond' (thank you, Carol Burnett!), she cracked us up with her "close-up" shot! (and the boobs)

Marcy & Tina were rolling (hardy har) as fuzzy dice! They were even attached with a string! So creative!

I rounded out the bunch with my Carol Burnett fave, 'Starlett O'hara' from "Went With the Wind"! (Deb and I planned these costumes last year)
Anyway...I saw it in the window, and I just couldn't resist! ; )
See ya next year for party #4!
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