Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tailgating in Style

So it turns out our neighbor owns lower-level seasons tickets for the Redskins.  A few weeks ago he approached my husband after seeing us fly our team flags one Sunday and offered to sell us his tickets for the Redskins-Vikings game.  Being such huge fans, we definitely jumped at the opportunity.  Husband's brother is just as much a fan, so he and his wife (unfortunately an Eagles fan) joined us for the game.

The view of the stadium from my car

Since it was a 1 o'clock game, the tailgating started before noon.  Our tailgating grill has not been the most reliable in the past, so we decided beforehand to make it a brunch tailgate!  So, Saturday turned into a massive cooking and prep day as I assembled sausage and egg biscuits, ham and swiss croissants and chocolate dipped pretzels.

When we got tho the stadium and got parked, I quickly put everything together in the back of my Pilot.  Using a sheet as a backdrop and a tablecloth actually helped make sure that the clean up went fairly quickly as well.  The biscuits and croissants were baked before we left and kept warm in a stoneware bowl inside an insulated carrier.  (There were originally more, but everyone was hungry so some items were snagged while I was taking pictures)

In addition to the breakfast goods and pretzels I put out kettle chips and brownies for post-breakfast munchies.  Needless to say, the four of us were quite stuffed when the game began.  Despite the team's loss, we had a fantastic time and hope to be going to more games in the future!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Cards!

It’s nearing that time of year again.  It’s time to break out your writing hand, pick out a design and mail your Christmas cards.  I both love and hate this part of Christmas.  I love looking through everything and choosing my favorite design.  I hate..and I mean HATE the cramps that come with signing and addressing every single one of those cards.

You see, the Husband and I both come from large families.  Not that our immediate families are that large.  We just both have large extended families-and not the kind where you can ‘accidentally’ forget one or two people.  And for some reason, the card writing always ends up on my to-do list instead of his; in addition to the baking and the shopping and the wrapping and the decorating.

Typically we buy our cards from the Knights of Columbus.  We love supporting our church organizations and we also like to support the KoC’s “Keeping the Christ in Christmas” campaign.  But last year-even while on maternity leave-I barely had time to get all the cards out on time.  So we made an agreement back then that we would get photo cards this year.  It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

In addition to the KoC cards last year, we ordered some framed photo prints to slip into our actual Christmas cards from a certain large photo site.  I took a couple hours to crop and align everything just so...and they looked horrible!  The cropping was off and the printing was misaligned.  It was a total nightmare.  

Knowing that the other website was out of the running, I happened by to use Shutterfly for T’s birthday invitation.  Not only were they affordable, but they fit the theme and were perfectly adorable!

Baby Bloom Birthday Card
So getting back to the point - the other day I went looking through Shutterfly for a Christmas card. Oh.My.Goodness.  Shutterfly has literally hundreds of options to choose from.  My first pass through the card options left me with more than twenty top choices!  Have I ever mentioned that I’m extremely indecisive?  This is going to be SO HARD!
My one requirement is that the card actually say “Christmas” somewhere.  We don’t want to lose the spiritual side of the holiday, so this is something that we both insist upon.  Initially, I thought this would knock out most of the cards, since so many organizations are just using “Happy Holidays”.  Not the case.  Shutterfly has tons of cards that still actually mention Christmas-imagine that!

I have narrowed my selections down to three different categories: Religious, Traditional and Whimsical.  For the reasons stated above, I love the idea of still having a religious card; and here are my favorites:
From Top to Bottom: Navity Blessing, Blessed Elegance, Goodwill to All, Faith and Family
Then again, sometimes I just want something that’s pretty.  I like pretty things:
From Top to Bottom: Pine Cone Toile, Peppermint Gift WrapHolly Frame, Burst of Snowflakes, Pretty Poinsetta Print
Of course, Christmas makes me feel like a kid again.  And it would be totally fitting to have a more whimsical design, since our one-year-old would actually be the one shown on the card:

From Top to Bottom: Woodblock Joy, Holly and Jolly, Giggles and Grins, Most Wonderful Time, With Glee

All I know is that we're going to have to pick out a card fast...and we still don't have our Christmas card picture...where is all the time going?!?!

Disclaimer:  Everything said above is 100% true and comes completely from my heart.  That said, this post is part of Shutterfly’s Holiday Card Promotion.  Bloggers can get up to 50 holiday cards for free through this promotion just by clicking here.  Spread the love and the Christmas joy!

Mama Monday - Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

First off, I want to apologize for the short post on Thanksgiving day.  Things were crazy busy with my Brother-in-law and his wife coming to stay with us, baking desserts for Thanksgiving dinner, going to visit my husband's cousin, and going to the Redskin's game on Sunday.  I'm exhausted all over again just thinking about it!

Thanksgiving this year was with the Husband's family; and it was a lot of fun.  I helped out in the kitchen while T played with her cousins and aunts and uncles.  The funniest thing that happened was when she saw the stuffed turkey on the dining table and immediately started shouting "Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!".  I know she just had a blast being the only child and therefore the complete center of everyone's attention!

Friday we went to visit the Husband's cousin-who recently just had her second little boy.  The little one is just an absolute angel, and definitely made me look forward to having our next child...someday!  Her oldest was thrilled to have T visiting.  It was so sweet to see them 'sharing' toys and running around together.  While the kids played, the Husband's cousin and I walked through their recently renovated house and discussed her mother's birthday party.  I'm so excited to be involved in this!  She was very open to my suggestions, and I feel as though we have a solid concept for a lovely birthday party for her mother.

We didn't get the chance to download pictures from our camera, so I'll have to update with those later.  I'm so thankful for our entire family, friends and for all of you who read my silly stories.  Thank you for stopping by my (very) little piece of the web and supporting this crazy endeavor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Foodie Friday: Thanksgiving Leftovers - Eggs in Purgatory

Every year, families make tons of food for Thanksgiving, just be left feeling over-stuffed and lethargic.  Inevitably there is more than a fridge-full of leftovers and not enough people willing to take food home.  It’s easy enough to find recipes to use up leftover turkey; but what about all the other food?  Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing and more!

Image from A Taste of Home Cooking Blog
Well, several years ago I happened upon Giada De Laurentis’ recipe for Eggs in Purgatory.  Ever since then they have been my favorite post-Thanksgiving breakfast.  Yes, most people eat so much on Thanksgiving day that they can’t stand the thought of a hearty breakfast the next morning.  Not me.  Put spaghetti sauce on anything and I’m likely to gobble it up like I haven’t eaten in a month.  These are no exception.  It seems like an odd combination, but trust me.  The creaminess of the egg yolk is a nice combination with the mashed potatoes.  Add the punch of flavor from spaghetti sauce and then the natural saltiness of Parmesan cheese and you have a true winner!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day to everyone!  Taking a break today to enjoy time with family and friends, and to be thankful for all the wonderful things this last year has brought.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Third time's the Charm...Yet Another Silhouette Giveaway!

Can you believe it?  Silhouette has teamed up with the TomKat Studio to do yet another giveaway this week!  Don't forget, they're also selling the Silhouette for $199 on Cyber Monday with a roll of vinyl, a roll of transfer paper and a home decor CD.  Just check back at TomKat or any of the other Silhouette Giveaways for the promo code.

TomKat Studio Button I LOVE

Fall and Thanksgiving Recap

Just a quick post recapping some of the best fall and Thanksgiving finds of the season:

Acorn Treats by Celebrate Today the Superchick Way

A Whoot of Thanks by the Savvy Moms Guide
DIY Thanksgiving Napkin Ring by Create My Event
Cornucopia Cones via Design Dazzle
Blue Thanksgiving Tables via Swanky::Chic::Fete
Autumn Apple Engagement via Hostess With The Mostess

French Country Fall Tablescape via Pepper Design Blog
Whoopie Pies by 100 Layer Cake

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Tablescapes

There have been some great Thanksgiving tablescapes out over the last few weeks.  Seriously.  I don’t know how many times I've just been completely awed over the creativity that is out there.
The first tablescape that caught my attention was this vintage inspired table from Shindig Parties.  It is so well layered.  It also has all the gorgeous details of a vintage-inspired event with tons of rustic elements.  (Seriously, I swoon every time I see that burlap runner with the corn husk fringe-gorgeous!) 

Then, of course, there is the mod Thanksgiving tablescape by Hostess with the Mostess.  I don’t know if you could find something more different-but just as showstopping-as the table above.  Instead of vintage and rustic, this table is all about bright colors and mod design.


And just when I thought I'd seen the full spectrum of pretty Thanksgiving tables, Hostess with the Mostess did it again.  Even though I love rustic and vintage design, modern really is more my style.  This grey and orange combination is soft and festive at the same time. I love how the texture in the linens adds dimension to the whole table in addition to the leaves and the candlelight.  This has to be my favorite of the whole season!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holy Cutting Batman...Another Silhouette Giveaway!

Yet another Silhouette giveaway over at Kara's Party Ideas...I think that the Cricut may be hearing crickets if this keeps up!

Head on over for your shot!


Silhouette Giveaway over at Tatertots and Jello!

So I've been looking at getting a Silhouette for months now.  My hands were so cramped after all that cutting to make paper flowers for T's birthday party; I knew that I needed a machine like this.  I really like the idea of being able to make my own designs for events, so a Cricut is just not going to work for me!

Head on over and make my chances of winning more difficult!

Mama Monday - Thankful

Giving thanks today for my family and all the wonderful things that come along with it:

  • Baby giggles...there's really nothing better
  • Baby bear hugs (nearly a tie with baby giggles)
  • Large boxes that provide hours of fun
  • The very first time T said "Mommy" and "Daddy"
  • The first time T slept through the night
  • The second time T slept through the night
  • The huge smile on T's face when I walk through the door at school
  • The last cuddle of the day

Thanksgiving 2009

Friday, November 19, 2010

Foodie Friday: The Alternative Thanksgiving Dinner

It seems like Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without turkey and pumpkin pie; and typically I'm not one to mess with tradition.  But I believe there is at least one dish that most people could do without.  For me, it's green bean casserole.  It wasn't a staple when I was growing up, and I just don't get the appeal of the gloppy mess.  I've heard other family members who insist that they could do without even the best prepared turkey.  Others dislike cranberry sauce or potatoes.  

After hearing these comments over the last several years, the husband and I have often talked about what we would prepare if we were going to do a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  That said, I've pulled together a few ideas that sound interesting at the very least:

There’s no better way to warm up on a chilly fall day than a warm bowl of soup.  Nothing will impress your guests more than a bowl of this side-by-side Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Roasted Parsnip Soup.  I’m a total sucker for tasty food in a surprising presentation, and I just love this.  This combination is a sure-fire way to start your meal off right!
One of our favorite ideas is to prepare duck for Thanksgiving.  Duck is high in fat, which means it stays moist and is incredibly flavorful.  Duck also doesn’t need to be served well-done, keeping the meat nice and tender.  This Fennel-Scented Duck Breast with Pinot-Noir Sauce from Food & Wine would be a great Thanksgiving main dish with the a slightly-sweet sauce and the hints of licorice offered by the fennel seed.  (Hint: As a compliment to this dish get some fresh fennel bulbs, which are in season right around Thanksgiving.  Grill the bulbs with some other root vegetables and use the delicate fronds as garnish)
What better to accompany the rich flavor of duck than a creamy risotto.  This Wild Mushroom Risotto recipe from Allrecipes.com would be a tasty and impressive dish to serve any dinner guests.  The earthy flavor of the mushrooms and the saltiness of the parmesan cheese would balance nicely with the sweetness of the duck sauce in the recipe above.
I’m usually the first person to go for a rich, sugary dessert.  But after having a rich meal, sometimes a heavy dessert just sounds like an unpleasant gut-buster.  So after feasting on creamy soups, duck breast and risotto the idea of Country Living’s Poached Pears with Fresh Ginger sounds perfect.  Cooking the pears will just increase the natural sweetness and the ginger is a natural stomach soother-the perfect way to finish off a tasty and filling dinner!

In the end, I know we’ll be doing the traditional Thanksgiving thing...but sometimes you can dream.  These would still be great recipes for any other Fall or Winter dinner party.  Are you going all-traditional or will you be changing things up somehow?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Kids Tables

One of the biggest holidays I remember growing up was Thanksgiving.  For several years, we packed up the family and made the day-long drive to our extended family out in Ohio.  I remember running around my aunt and uncle’s house with our three cousins (just like T, I also have a cousin who is about six months older than me.  We spent a lot of family vacations getting in trouble together!).  

The only time I ever remember having a kids table was at Thanksgiving.  The five of us had our own little fold-up table either in the living room or family room, with regular old plates and plastic cups.  Meanwhile the adults ate off of their china and drank wine from crystal glasses.  

Back then, the idea of putting together something special for the children’s table was foreign.  Now, there are dozens of ideas, including centerpieces, activities and even separate kid-friendly menus.  I love that people are thinking about how to make the day special for kids as well as adults.  Below are a few of my favorite ideas for putting together a kid-friendly Thanksgiving. 

As always, Loralee at No Fuss Fabulous has some creative and fun ways to keep the kids active and involved.  I love the idea of using the kids handprints as “tree” decorations, and as a way to get them thinking about how they are thankful.  The acorn maze is also a great way to keep the kiddos busy during a long dinner.

This table setting from Fiscars has some adorable projects that might just make the adults want to sit at the kids table too!  
This turkey trivia project from Martha Stewart is a great way to help educate as well as entertain the kids.
I’ve seen a lot of butcher paper linen ideas for kids tables lately.  I really like this particular setting from La La Linen with the mini bunting place setting and wooden cutlery. 


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Blue and Gold Thanksgiving Table

 I have a confession to make.  The whole reason I actually even got started with yesterday’s post was because I loved Paper and Cake’s printables.  When I first saw those two designs, I fell in love with the Elegant Table design.  It really made me wish I was hosting Thanksgiving this year (well, sort of).  Then I realized, why not just put together a mock tablescape.  Using mostly items I already have on hand, and inexpensive fill-ins, I was able to put together a pretty fall table:

 I used the Elegant Table menu card, napkin rings and wine glass tags.  I had intended to use the place cards, but I accidentally printed everything out incorrectly...and on my last page of cardstock!

 Instead of punching holes in the wine tags, I tucked them in to the tablescape to accent the centerpiece.
 If you’re like us and you have no china on hand, these glass plates from Dollar Tree look very pretty over simple, inexpensive chargers.

 Our dining and living rooms are decorated with lots of red and gold tones, which makes holiday decorating fairly simple.  But, since I’ve already used those tones for a Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted something a little different.  Since we already have so many gold toned items on hand, I knew that I wanted to include them in the tablescape.  In order to change things up a bit, I decided that I wanted to include a deep blue hue as well.  The only problem is that I don’t have any blue table linens or decorations.  And as I searched stores I still couldn’t find anything-until I randomly ended up at Pier One and saw their scarves.  And as luck would have it, buried deep within the red and green scarves on the rack was one lonesome blue scarf.  It was perfect.  I love the simplicity of the design and the ruffled edge against the rustic elements of the gourds, pine cones and berries.  

I hope you see now that it doesn't take much to have a pretty table.  I know that there will be a number of beautiful Thanksgiving tables showing up in the next couple of weeks, and I can't wait to see how everyone celebrates the holiday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Free Thanksgiving Printables Roundup

There is some serious generosity going around blogland these days.  Several amazing designers have put together free Thanksgiving printables for your turkey day.  Use one, none or several, but show your thanks and stop by these incredible blogs:

Paper & Cake is sharing not one, but two free printables.  Choose between casual or elegant; either of these will be a fantastic compliment to your table!

Paper Glitter has put together a complete collection of printables, with everything from invitations and bottle labels to kids activity sheets and a mini “Thanks Giving” banner.

TomKat Give Thanks Collection  TomKat has done it again.  These adorable polka dot and owl printables are sure to add that special touch to your family feast.  Although these printables are free, they are part of Operation Give Thanks.  If you choose to use them, please be kind enough to offer a small donation to Operation Shower.

The iconic Hostess with The Mostess has done it again with an amazing set of mod printables.  These are perfect for everyone, with bright colors for the kiddos and sophisticated touches for the adults.  These are also part of Operation Give Thanks, so please remember to make a donation, large or small, if you decide to use these printables.

Inkspot’s Tom Says Thank You collection is perfect for the eclectic designer.  With four different mix and match designs, all of your guests are likely to appreciate this whimsical collection.

With its simple, hand drawn motif, Anna and Blue is offering a warm, modern design to accent your table.

Bird Crafts is offering a versatile set of Thanksgiving tags.  Customize your wine or water bottles, add them to favors or use them for table tents and place cards!  

It Is What It Is is offering another set of tags.  The beautiful damasks accented by festive tones of green, orange and blues will be as classic as they are pretty!

Looking for something fun and funky?  Check out these owl tags made by Sweet Craft Cakes.  I can just imaging T looking at them and repeating “Whoo, whoo” all throughout dinner.

Don’t forget to get the family stories flowing with these conversation starters by Skip to My Lou. After all, Thanksgiving is about spending time and sharing with loved ones!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Etsy Love: Dainty Delights

While I typically bake dozens upon dozens of cookies over the Holidays, I have decided to find a vendor to supplement the cookies I'll be baking for the party.  My waistline and my Husband both think this is in the best interest for everyone!  As I was checking out various Etsy bakers, I found Dainty Delights, and just fell in love!

The detail in these cookies is incredible!  They would make fabulous favors or stocking stuffers.  She even has some gorgeous cookies that would be fantastic for a Thanksgiving table:

Renee has hinted to me that some amazing designs are coming up shortly, so head on over to her shop and check it all out!