Wednesday, November 23, 2011

According to Plan

Despite some setbacks, clogged kitchen sink and cracked garbage disposal that necessitated a visit from the plumber and a turkey that was not as promised, all my Thanksgiving prep is done and I'm even a little ahead of schedule.

All my side dishes are done and sitting in the fridge waiting to be reheated and my turkey is in an ice chest brinning. Because our ice chest is so big, I use a bunch of over-turned bowls to block of some of the cooler and to ensure maximum contact of the brine to the turkey.

I hope you have a happy, stress-free, traffic free Thanksgiving and are able to spend some time reflecting on everything you're thankful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Chuk and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year. It's our first time. The year before last, we hosted Christmas for my family, so we're not completely inexperienced, but this time we're hosting Chuk's family and also I'm "large with child". (I''ve wanted to say that this whole pregnancy. I'm weird.) Somehow, it being my in-laws makes it more intimidating and, well, pregnancy just makes everything more difficult.

To keep myself sane, I've divided everything I need to get done into daily tasks in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. That way I never get overwhelmed and can keep my energy levels up. I think it's the best way to tackle any big project.

Everyone's to-do list is going to look different, but I find the most helpful thing in planning for an event like Thanksgiving is to clean out your fridge first. Toss anything you're not going to eat (I'm looking at you weird olives that came in that gift basket) or that has gone bad (like that bottle of almost empty mustard that was "best by" Oct 2010.) No one likes to waste food, but this is the time to be ruthless.

Once you've cleared it out, wash all the shelves in the fridge so they're sparkling clean. Finally reorganize the remaining food in a way that 1) makes sense to you, and 2) leaves large spaces empty for all the holiday food you're going to be cramming in there over the next week. If you're like me you'll have lots of little bits of food that need to be eaten up before you go shopping again. Point these foods out to everyone in your family and tell the goal is to have them gone by X date.

Another way I keep myself sane when hosting holidays, is I ask the guests to help. I normally don't ask guests to bring things when I'm hosting, but somehow, in my mind, holidays have a different set of rules. There is a lot of food to make and I have a small apartment and an even smaller kitchen.

We've asked Chuk's sister and brother-in-law to bring pumpkin and pecan pies. (I'm praying they make them themselves and don't buy frozen.) And we've asked my father-in-law, who doesn't cook at all, to bring things we don't mind him buying at the store: appetizers, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Chuk and I (and by "Chuk and I" I mean I) will be making the bulk of the meal: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and possibly glazed carrots. Chuk's sister called him last night and told him she was also going to bring apple sauce because their mom always made homemade apple sauce for holiday meals.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year and what are you eating? I think it's so interesting how every family seems to have a pretty rigid Thanksgiving menu, but that it seems to vary from family to family. For instance, Chuk's family always had apple sauce and rolls, but never sweet potatoes. We never had apple sauce and rarely had rolls, but always had sweet potato casserole and brussel sprouts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Autumnal Decorations

Walking home from the dry cleaners, I was struck by the fall leaves all over the ground. Being an East Coast transplant from California, where the seasons are much less dramatic, the changing leaves never fails to amaze me.

I picked up a few colorful leaves from the ground and brought them home determined to do something with them. What I struck upon was decorating some candles and candle holders with the leaves. It only took a few minutes to put together and I already had all the things I needed, so it was really simple and convenient little project.

I simply chose leaves that were the height of the votive holder or candle I was working with and used some tiny pieces of double stick tape to hold a leaf on each side while I used some kitchen string to tie the leaves onto the candle or holder. I knotted the string and cut off the excess "tails".

You could probably get away with not using the tape, but it helped since I didn't have an extra set of hands helping to hold everything in place. I think it probably would be cuter to use twine or bakers' string to hold the leaves on, but all I had was the cotton string I use to truss poultry, so that's what I went with. Finally, I didn't bother to press my leaves before I started working with them, and as they have dried out over the last week or so they've curled a little at the edges, which is evident in the pictures, but that doesn't really bother me. If it bothers you, I suggest you just press the leaves.

This is pretty much the extent of my fall decorating, but I'm happy because it didn't cost me anything and I have pretty leaves to look at.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Good Things About Being Pregnant

So, I realize I've been pretty negative about pregnancy. While, in my limited experience, it does mostly suck, there are some good parts to it too. What I like, in no particular order:

1. No more cleaning the litterbox.
2. Eating cheese is strongly encouraged.
3. People are always offering to bring you glasses of water and pillows.
4. Naps suddenly become much more socially acceptable.
5. Snacks whenever you want.
6. Greater body acceptance...That big tummy isn't my chub; it's the baby.
7. People are more forgiving of your flaws. Everything from grumpiness to forgetfulness is blamed on the pregnancy.
8. Finally, an excuse to browse through those tiny, cute baby clothes.

Edited to add:
9. No more periods!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Promise This Video Will Make You Smile

The song is awesome and the video is even awesome-er. I kind of want to be best friends with this guy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Telling Family I'm Pregnant, Part III

We're lucky that we live close enough to Chuk's family that we were able to tell them we were expecting in person...the only people we told in person. We had already planned on going down to them for a visit because we were participating in a suicide awareness walk.

Because I am the best daughter-in-law in the world, I continued my habit of making Chuk's dad a cheesecake. We all ate dinner as a family and when we had finished Chuk grabbed the cheesecake, which had been covered since we arrived a couple of hours earlier, and put it in front of his dad and said, "We made you a sweet, little treat."

His dad gave us a weird look, probably thinking we made him something gross, and slowly peeked under the cover and saw that we had written "A BABY". Then he got a huge smile on his face and put the cover right back down. Chuk's sister was like, "What? What? What is it?" and then their dad took the cover off really fast with a flourish. My sister-in-law read the cake and screamed and then got all teary eyed and kept saying, "Really? Congratulations!"

There were lots of hugs and questions and my poor little niece was as confused as could be. So I sat her on the chair in front of me and said, "There's a baby in my tummy." Without hesitating, she lifted up my shirt and then gave me a look far beyond her 22 months, a look that said "You're full of $h!t." I don't know how to explain these things to babies, so I simply said, "It's hiding inside so you can't see it until you're two." She spent the rest of the evening kissing my tummy (which we all failed to get a picture of) not because she understood what was happening, but because we would all clap for her after she did it and that is a girl who appreciates applause from her fans. I can only hope our baby is just like her.

It was our least elaborate announcement, unless you count the email we sent to our friends, but it was so special to get to see the reactions with our own eyes. I only wish I could have seen my families' faces, but I have pretty good idea of how they looked.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Hour at Home: Paloma

I first learned about this drink after hearing it mentioned on TV. Apparently, it's also known as a tequila fresca and is very popular in Mexico. Ole!


1 part tequila
6 parts Fresca (or other grapefruit soda

Fill a tall glass with ice and add the tequila and soda. Serve.

Fun fact: Although I hate grapefuit (it is my least favorite food) and I'm not a big soda drinker, if I am going to drink soda, Fresca is one of my favorites. Weird, huh?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy About Little Things

Yesterday, the maternity jeans I ordered online long ago finally arrived and, more significantly, I felt my baby move for the first time. This has been (and continues to be) a difficult pregnancy. While I know I should be thankful I was able to get pregnant easily and the baby and I are both healthy, I have to admit being in physical pain every single day for months on end has taken a psychological toll on me. Even though the jeans are just a little thing, that and quickening, which is a bigger deal, were just the little mood boost I needed to keep on going. I'm working hard on curbing my complaining and keeping my focus on the end goal.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Time Flies

Today my niece, my little love, turns two years old. I would cry except that I fall more in love with her each and every time I see her and I am so excited to see how she changes and grows in the coming year. She truly is the sweetest, funniest, smartest child I have ever met and she just keeps getting sweeter, funnier and smarter every day.

This weekend, we are at my father-in-law's so we can all be together to celebrate this little girl who brings us all so much joy.

(Pictures by my sister-in-law of my niece at birth, on her first birthday and at 23.5 months.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Two friends and I drove up to Pennsylvania on the Day of the Dead to see the architectural masterpiece Fallingwater, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family.

The setting was absolutely beautiful. The house cantilevered out from a rock over a waterfall. Though I didn't love the colors Mr. Wright chose for the house (beige-y pink with maroon trim), I do think I would love to live on a waterfall.

To see the paint colors, check out Cherokee Red and Covered Wagon on this page:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

VIP Halloween Party

Chuk had class on Halloween night so we celebrated a day early by having what we decided to call a VIP Halloween Party. In my world, a VIP party is what I call any party where there are no invited other words, Chuk and I were the only VIPs at the Halloween party.

We prepared a bunch of orange and black snacks (which was our whole dinner that night) and watched the Halloween episodes of The Office and Parks and Recreation and then capped off the evening by watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, all of which we had on our DVR. The party was awesome. I highly recommend throwing yourself a VIP party every once in awhile.

For the curious, we served diet orange soda, diet cola, doritos, oranges, dried apricots, oreos, cheese nips, and a salsa made of orange bell peppers and black beans, which we served with tortilla chips. I wish we had bought blue corn tortilla chips because those look black, but we forgot to get them when we were at the store. We also had a glass pumpkin full of candy corn and the jack o'lantern bucket was full of peanut butter cups and snickers. We also pulled out our ice bucket so we wouldn't have to get up when we needed to refresh our drinks. Other foods we thought of but didn't end up serving were sweet potato fries, black olives, brownies, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, and black licorice.

How did you celebrate Halloween? Did you have lots of trick or treaters? Once again we had NONE. I am always so disappointed by that.