Monday, November 30, 2009

left overs and chores

Leftovers are gone. I didn't have enough turkey to make the lasagna so tonight I am making it with chicken. Last night I made a pot roast and potatoes dauphene (mashed potatoes mixed with butter and ground almonds and baked). I thought they might enjoy beef for a change and hubby's Justin was coming for dinner. So, a batch of double chocolate pecan cookies were baked for dessert.

This morning I downloaded and ordered pictures from youngest's field trip. I made a trip to the store and purchased picture frames for the family photos. I also bought my new food processor. Mine is ancient and I can no longer replace the shredding blade that broke once again. I've been waiting for the right price and finally at 50% off I made the splurge.

The thanksgiving decorations are all packed away. I'm enjoying a day free of decorations. Tomorrow I will put up the tree (scrooge here was out ruled - I wanted to skip a tree) and a few other festive decorations. I also plan on wrapping, wrapping, wrapping. A solid hour and that chore should be done.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Napkin Rings

I don't picture myself as crafty. I don't knit or crochet like my mom. I don't sew (that is what safety pins and duck tape are for). Well, there was that one time, in Girl Scouts... I made a reversible patchwork apron. That convinced me that a good tailor is worth their weight in gold. Hence the reason I proposed to my hubby when I found out he sewed. He thought I was joking. But, my "craft" room is filled with paint, buttons, beads, ribbons and all sorts of things. I have never had to buy anything for the kid's school projects.

I think sometimes I'm just cheap - well, frugal. I love going to craft fairs but the prices sometimes.... I often come home and recreate something I saw. So, when I decided I wanted matching napkin rings for Thanksgiving I decided to make them. I fell in love with some at my favorite kitchen store and $3.00 each doesn't sound like a lot until you multiply it by 25 and add tax. So, a trip to Michael's during their big half off flower sale and $5.00 and 26 napkin rings later here are the results. I had the wire and floral tape at home.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

new look

I couldn't take the pink any longer. I love cooking and saw this cute design and couldn't resist.

What's cooking?

So far the leftovers have morphed into turkey croquettes. I used turkey and the left over wild mushroom and cornbread stuffing. Ground those together with some egg and cream and formed them into patties. A little breading and I fried them up and served them with gravy. Yum! Today I tackle the turkey soup. The kids have all been asking for the soup. It's really easy. I just simmer the carcass for hours. I strain the broth for the soup. Pick through the bones and add the meat back. I chop up carrots, celery, parsnips, onion, potato and sweet potato and anything else I can chop along with a few herbs and let simmer. For dinner tomorrow I'm thinking turkey alfredo lasagna with spinach and feta.

Last night I went to a poetry reading of a friend. It was wonderful. She had a friend host it with tea and cookies. The cookies were out of this world. I asked for recipes. She is going to e-mail me. But, two of the recipes come from The Spice House. My favorite was the curry and cardamom cookie and you can find it on there website.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Thanksgiving

Everything is cleaned up and put away. It is cleaner now than a week ago as I cleaned oddball things in preparation of the holiday. I spent the morning having breakfast with a friend, the afternoon with my hubby and tonight I am going to a poetry reading.

Thanksgiving went well. I say that with some hesitation. MIL told me she was bringing the creamed onions (among all the other dishes she insisted upon bringing). Creamed onions are a staple in my family for the holiday. I must of had a look of horror on my face as I set up the buffet and opened the cover to the onions because she quickly explained that they were boiled onions like Dad likes. Oh, I said, if I had known I would have made creamed onions. We can add cream to them if you want. No, that's OK. (Yuk, I thought!) She also brought an extra dish as she always does. An olive and celery tray. Hmm, I never would have thought to have an olive tray. Oh wait, it was already on the table.

And the looks MIL and SIL and BIL gave me whenever I talked. OK, I'm brutally honest and sometimes say things a little odd but hey, that is me. The big no no was when they were debating which was easier to raise boys or girls? I said they both sucked. Jaws dropped and the conversation was over. What I meant is they are both difficult and challenging in their own ways and it depends on any given moment which is easier. And they don't like that my family jokes and teases each other. I guess we are supposed to be freaking nice nice all the time. Hey, we are real. So, our affectionate greeting to one another is hi, uglier than me. The appropriate answer to this by the way is, ain't nobody.

Cooking for 25 is fun for me. Cooking and hosting the in-laws - not so much. I think next time it will be 25 friends.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm awake before everyone else. I'm sipping a cinnamon laced coffee (decaf of course). I'm enjoying the quiet peace of the morning. Everything is prepped. Times are set for putting dishes in and out of the oven. I am on vacation until December 8. Life is good. I have so much to be thankful for - my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends, my health. I love and am loved.

So to all my dear bloggie friends - I am thankful for you and your support. I wish you a safe, happy, healthy Thanksgiving full of love and laughter!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Surviving Thanksgiving

I am an organizational freak - I get that from my Dad. We are two annal peas in a pod (I say this with love). 24 people (25 now - oldest's boyfriend is coming too) for a sit down dinner is a joy for me but I know it strikes fear in the hearts of many.

First make a menu. It can be very simple. I've found most people like simple good food. Determine the quantities needed - about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person if you want leftovers, 1 potato per person with an extra 1 thrown in for good measure (unless they are really small potatoes then add a few more). One batch (or dare I say can) of cranberry sauce is enough. Write out a list of ingredients needed for each recipe. Check your pantry and then make a grocery list. If you haven't done so already get your turkey NOW! It takes a while for it to defrost in the fridge. Make room in the fridge for your turkey. If you are really panicked have family members contribute a dish to the meal. Or find a good bakery and buy some of the menu items. I prefer they just bring the wine but, hey that's me. I also make a list of what needs to go in the oven or on top. What can be done on the grill or in the microwave. I only have one oven and it can be a juggling act. Not enough fridge space - if you live where it is cold try utilizing the hatchway or porch. Get creative.

Determine the seating - do you have enough? do you have tables and chairs? Do you have plates and cups for everyone? If not you need to get these. I'm lucky and have access to tables and chairs. I've been collecting plates and now have enough for 30 people. You can use paper (I think I am the only one who really cares). You can mix and match - hey pull out your Christmas dishes or the stuff you received at your wedding. Go for it. I have my mom bring extra silverware.

Look at your menu and see what you can prep ahead. I have a three day list. Cranberry sauce and batch one of ice cream on Monday. Peel and chop root vegetables these I roast on the grill. Tuesday I make the second batch of ice cream and the cornbread for the stuffing. Wednesday night is the big prep night. I make my pie(s), the stuffing, the scalloped sweet potatoes and prep the turkey. Take a deep breath, relax and get a good night's sleep.

Thursday I put the turkey in the oven. When that comes out I heat all of the sides. The root veggies are on the grill. With the oven and grill full I can concentrate on the stove top dishes - mashes potatoes and my creamy Brussels sprouts. Mashed potatoes will keep really well in a bowl placed over simmering water for hours. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water below (double boiler idea). I was told that they also stay well on low in a crock pot. I am going to try that this year.

I also utilize my hubby and kids. They each get jobs - cleaning, setting the table, lugging chairs, helping cook - whatever needs to be done. I try and have all prep dishes washed and put away before guests arrive. That way I can sit back, eat a good meal and enjoy my company. Dirty dishes will wait and I have no problems piling them up once the dish washer is full. I have Friday to clean. Luckily when I host someone (usually my MIL or my hubby) does the dishes and I just have to put them away.

I love Thanksgiving because it is about family, food, comfort and giving thanks. My stress comes a month prior when my MIL tries to take this away from me but hey, that is another post.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Horseradish Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
pinch thyme or lemon thyme
2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in cranberries. Turn the heat down and simmer until berries pop, liquid reduces and the sauce thickens. This takes about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. At this point stir in the thyme and horseradish.

I make my own horseradish. Peel the root. Chop up and put in the food processor. Grind until it is the size you like. Mine is chunkier than what you buy in the store. Put it in a jar and pour organic cider vinegar over to cover. This will keep in the fridge for.... Not sure we use about a quart every two months.

Count Down is On

I thought when youngest was done with soccer there would be more free time in our schedules. Not! Two more "work" days until Thanksgiving/vacation. Yeah!

Spread sheets and time lines are filled out for the next few days. I only have 24 for dinner this year. I was at the grocery store when it opened this morning to avoid the crowds. I came home to a house full (hubby and kids) waiting to help unload. I asked that they unload and bring to the appropriate parts of the house and leave it for me to unpack. I wanted to rotate stock and group things by recipes for the next week. That was a huge help. While I was gone hubby had the kids clean their rooms and bathroom. He vacuumed up and downstairs. Ah!

The kids all have friends over now. Mexican brownies are cooling for dessert. Chicken pot pie for dinner.

I'm ahead of schedule and actually have been relaxing this afternoon. Christmas cards are addressed and the Christmas letter is written. Sugar scrub is made for a special order. I have four gift bags of my products to make for a Christmas order. Most of the product is made. I need to make a batch of toner this afternoon. I need to make more lotion but I'm waiting for the ingredients I ordered to arrive. Oldest even asked for a refill on the lotion. I'm not actively selling but I make things for people through word of mouth.

Oldest's car is insured and registered. Hubby and I brought it to our mechanic to check it over completely before she drives it. Not long now until she has her license.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Catching Up

What a busy week - again.

Board of Ed meeting due to the bus contract bids. The vote went with what the parents wanted.

Fire explorer's meeting. This is the third month in a row that only oldest has shown along with the advisers. The captain can't be bothered. Nice example coming from the assistant chief's son. They wanted a discussion about a Christmas party. Too many explorers turned 18 this year and the membership has taken a nose dive. I'm sure it will come back up (it always does). With so few members and none coming to the meeting I believe a Christmas party is out. I did joke that we should tell the others we voted to fly to Key West for a week end and oops they're too late to come. LOL

Thursday I went with youngest and the sixth grade class to the Tsongas center in Lowell, MA. It was a great field trip. The kids learned all about mill workers with hands on activities.

This morning I took son shopping. He needed new shirts as his were too small. He HATES shopping. I explained that if he wanted to pick out his clothes he had to come. Five long sleeve henleys, three t-shirts and we were back in the car in 11 minutes. He is now off on army maneuvers with his friends.

Youngest asked for bio's phone number this morning. I was curious what she wanted to tell her. None of the kids ask to call her. Well, she was playing her DS and was stuck on a level and wanted input from big brother on how to get to the next level.

It is a rainy gray day. I've paid the bills, read my e-mail and completed most of my holiday shopping.

Oldest is off to a birthday party tonight.

I am counting down the days until Thanksgiving. One to prepare the meal and two that means I'm on vacation. I work two days the week of Thanksgiving (I usually work three). My boss seems to think that means I have free time on my hands. I'll be jamming to get everything done before I leave and scrambling when I return. But that week and a half off will be oh so good.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

soup review

The bacon cheeseburger soup was pretty good. Oldest thought son should have added more vegetables. The soup could use them but then it would not be a bacon cheeseburger soup but a beef and vegetable soup. It had hamburg, onion, garlic, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese soup, relish and Worcestershire sauce. The hamburg, onion and garlic were cooked in the bacon fat from the bacon cooked and reserved for garnish. The toasts were slathered with a mix of melted butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Then they were topped with swiss cheese and broil until starting to brown. The toast was really good.

Oldest is off to breakfast with her boyfriend (and family). It is for a fund raiser for the ambulance. He is then spending the day here. Son is trying to arrange going to the movies with a friend.

I'll be doing laundry, balancing hubby's check book and hanging out. It's a nice relaxing week end.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Computer to do list

It's been a day spent on the computer. Well, first I walked three miles on the treadmill. But, aside from harvesting my crop on Farmville I have paid the bills, made up fliers for the fire department fund raiser, sold some product and ordered pictures.

We had family portraits done in September. After picking up the disc I needed to decide what to order. Bio sent money for us to send her an 8x10 of each of the kids. We were to send the best picture. Wait, then she said to have the kids pick out the pictures to send. Oldest picked hers. The other two said they didn't care. So, her pictures are in the mail. Our pictures are ordered and so our are Christmas cards. Here's the family photo I went with.

I read through all of my e-mail. Now, I just have some cd's to copy.

Son is making supper tonight - bacon cheeseburger soup and hamburger bun toasts. The recipes are in the latest edition of Paula Deen's magazine. I'll let you know how it is. Son loves soup and easy recipes. This fit both criteria.

Once I finally get off this thing (I want to catch up on my blog friends too) I'm making banana bread and something with apples.

Oh, and last night the whole family watched the latest Ice Age movie together (even son). Wohoo!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Today people every where are blogging for peace. I yearn for peace on earth. I also yearn for something brilliant to write and a solution to bring it about. If we each do our part it is possible. May you bring peace to your corner of the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And so it goes

Wicked step mommy makes them clean and Daddy takes them to the bike trail today. Who's the hero?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cleaning as Promised

When I heard of the four day week end for my kids I told them to buckle up for some cleaning. There idea of clean and mine are two different things. They think if you see no clutter that it's clean. Wrong. I printed out there list of chores for there rooms and gave them their assigned areas in their bathroom. I found the list for them to check off saves me a lot of time checking and rechecking their rooms.

I started on my bathroom from ceiling to floor. This included cleaning out the linen closet and medicine cabinet. Laundry was started. The first floor dusted and vacuumed. The kitchen and bathroom mopped. When the kids finished upstairs they thought they were done. No! If I'm still cleaning so are you. The kids pitched in and the stairwells were vacuumed as well as the play room. Window frames, door frames and ceiling fan blades were washed. Plants were watered, compost bucket emptied, trash and recycling buckets emptied.

As soon as the floors dry I will start on the kitchen counters. And with hubby just arriving home I see a dump run in the near future.

It feels so good. Now that the really heavy stuff is cleaned, closets hoed out and refrigerators cleaned I can concentrate on cooking for Thanksgiving and leave the spot cleaning to the family.