Monday, January 25

gratuitous kitten post..

I take a lot of cat pictures. I can't help it. I'm just trying to keep the internet alive.

That's what runs the internet.. cat pictures.

I'm just doing my civic duty.  Enjoy.



#kittencuddles

feeling festive.. part three

It's Christmas Eve, and we've been up cooking since 7:30am ET. 

And it's been raining all night.

And there's flooding.. and thunder.. and the weatherman is telling everyone to stay home.

So instead of feeding six over at my mom's house for Christmas Eve, our meal fed just the two of us..

I insisted we sit at the table.  Yay Christmas dishes!

Always save room for dessert!

And maybe have a coke or two on the back porch, while we watch our mini rapids flowing in the back yard, as it continues to rain.  And rain.  And rain!
As the night went on, we got a sweet gift from family and shared some leftovers with them.  It's hard to see, but in the center of this picture is the Swarovski ornament they gave us to commemorate our new home and the year we got married (2013).
The next day was Christmas! And it was time to head over to my in-laws for lunch and exchanging gifts.  I wasn't in charge of much of the cooking this go round, so I just made a quick corn dip for us to munch on while lunch was being prepared and a sweet smore's cake for dessert.

It's become a bit of a tradition with my sister and brother in-law to do interesting gifts.  In my family when I was younger, my Dad would always do "prank" gifts -  wrapping gifts in duct tape, adding a can of beans to the present, or random car parts.  We even used to do scavenger hunts.

I've been nice to my in-laws so far.. maybe a few box within a box within a box, or a pinata with money inside, or a ball of crepe paper with money.. well, this year, my sister-in-law owned it..

I present to you, twenty five individually wrapped dollar bills.  I loved it!  And the paper she used was so pretty!

After an afternoon of festivities, the Man and I packed up and headed home.  It was nice to spend some time just the two of us.  Overall, I would say it's been a pretty good start to celebrating the Holidays in our new home.


Here's to many more years of Christmas Cheer!


Friday, January 15

feeling festive.. part2D2

As any good nerd knows, the latest installment in the Star Wars septology(?) is finally in theaters.  We made specific plans to see it on Wednesday, December 23rd, a date selected carefully in hopes to avoid the crowds of opening weekend and the inevitable spoilers that would start to emerge.

Before we made it to the theater for our late matinee (and stale nachos and overly buttered popcorn) I had some baking to do:
I love my kitchen island.  Chocolate dipped marshmallows, white trash, and popcorn crunch, and there's still room!
Popcorn crunch is a new favorite.. just take popcorn, pretzels, and vanilla almond bark -  toss in some M&M's.. delicious!

Everything getting pretty-fied

A few chocolate dipped rice krispy treats, some pretzels, and lots of popcorn crunch!

We can't forget the fudge and divinity.  I just adored those little polka-dot bags!

My first attempt at using a chocolate mold for making cute pretzels.  In my opinion, it was way too time consuming and messed up the chocolate/pretzel ratio.  I'll stick to just dipping and sprinkles, thanks!

With our gifts all assembled, off to the movies we went!

Ya'll... it was soo good!  I was not a fan of the JarJar versions, but this one.. I can totally get behind.
I'll hop on the bandwagon.. I'm a Star Wars nerd.
bleep-bloop-beep-bip
or Merry Christmas from these nerdy nesters!

Sunday, January 10

feeling festive...

This Christmas was one for the books.  We had multiple opportunities to celebrate with friends and family, plenty of sweets and treats, and generally just basked in the joy and love of our new home.

Before we get too deep in the red and green, we had to take care of some of the fall decor that was still lingering:
Piled up and ready for transport to our makeshift shooting range..
Some of the damage from our target practice..
I think this is the Man's favorite part of decorating..
UN-decorating!
 Onto one of my favorite traditions, a sweet way to kick off the Christmas season.. the annual Cookie Walk!
It's a fundraiser for our local Habitat for Humanity, where local folks donate cookies, you take your pick and pay by the pound.  It's usually the first Saturday in December, and for the past few years has been hosted at Grace United Church in Auburn.  I think I've been going to it for at least 7 years now, possibly longer. 
I can always count on having one kitten or another to supervise me.
This year I attempted making divinity for the first time.  It wasn't the best (it was still a little sticky and dense) but I blame the weather instead of my lack of skills..
I was later getting my Christmas cards out than normal.  I plan to remedy that next year! But how could I not send some out with stamps like these? 
I tried getting Loki into the Christmas spirit with a sweater..

He wasn't feeling it.  At. All.
At this point, things kicked into high gear!  It was the last weekend before Christmas and the Man was smoking Boston butts for my (finally returned) annual GNO/Ugly Chrimma Sweater Party:
Mm.. meat!

Adding in the injection.. it only took about 18 hours this time.

I came home to a lovely surprise of some cheery flowers to brighten up a dreary winter day, and just in time to have a pretty decoration for the party!

We laughed, and ate, and talked, and laughed, and ate some more..

Showing off our classy Christmas style!

And of course, Loki had to steal the spotlight.  Thanks to my friend at Birds on a Wire Photography for the awesome kitten picture!  She always makes my home, cooking, and kitties look so fancy!
We always have so much fun, and I'm so glad to keep the tradition going!  After the party died down, the Man and I tidied up the next day, and started counting down to Wednesday.. 12/23. 

Why Wednesday?

(I'll give you a hint.  We're big nerds.)

Saturday, January 9

deck the halls.. in hyperdrive

 Sometimes, in my excitement.. I don't think things through.

For example, the time I decided to host a Holiday dinner for my team (18 people) the first Thursday in December.

A week after Thanksgiving.

I was so excited about being able to cook dinner for my team that works so hard.. and to have the house all festive and Christmas-y.  I didn't think about the fact that I had only left myself a weekend to get the whole house flipped from Fall to Festive.. and get all the dishes washed, cook a huge meal (again), and in the meantime host our first house guest, AND it's the Iron Bowl.

Yeahhhh... 

Next time, I'll try to keep that in mind. Still -  I think everyone had a lovely time, and it made me get the house decorated in super speed..which means more time to enjoy it.  Right?

We actually rested and digested (and did some online shopping) on Black Friday.  But bright and early Saturday morning.. it was time to decorate!

Twas a month before Christmas and strewn all over the house..
This was only three bins of decorations, and it covered the whole dining room table..

It only took about 7 hours.. I had to find my groove.. but the first tree is finished!
This is a 7.5 foot tree, but for my short-self, a stepladder was still involved.  We placed it in the foyer and I love that it's the first thing people see when they come into the house.
For our main tree, I kept it classic with our sentimental ornaments, and lots of red, green, silver, and gold. I just love how the lights glow and everything twinkles!
The next day, Sunday, I tackled trees number two and three:

Our second tree is in the bedroom, and I love all the sparkly ornaments.  I used ornaments in blue, white, gold, silver, and clear.. with lots of glitter to catch the light.
It's hard to get the lighting right, but a fuzzy sequined tree skirt and white velvet ribbon made it feel a little more glam.  This is where our breakable ornaments go -  since the kitties aren't allowed in this room.
This one has some serious twinkle-power at night.. I couldn't resist and left it on a few nights when I went to bed.  It's just so pretty!!

One of our favorite Mickey ornaments tucked in the branches..
In the center, a blown glass ornament we picked up from the Germany pavilion in Epcot on our last WDW trip.

 And our last tree, little number three in the kitchen:
This tree has all my Hallmark baking and cupcake ornaments that my MIL gets for me every year.  It's just a small tabletop tree for now, but I've got my eyes on a bigger one for the future.
Add one big red bow and some garland to the mailbox, and we were set!
As for the team dinner, I think everyone enjoyed themselves.. I forgot to take pictures until after the fact, but this was the aftermath:

Lots of dishes, but worth every wash... and what a way to kick off the Christmas Season!


Tuesday, December 29

hosting our first thanksgiving

The past two months have been a whirlwind.  I've loved a lot of it... we've had some great times in the new house and really celebrated with friends and family.  

This was our first year hosting Thanksgiving.. and boy was it a wild one.  We had about 13 people over, and cooked enough for a small army.  This was also my first time making a few dishes from scratch.  Overall I would say it was a success!  And I didn't burn anything!
I started with fresh cranberry sauce the weekend before, 11/21/15

Knocked out two pecan pies that weekend as well...

And then the Wednesday before, I started on my Oreo turkeys.. a little creepy at this point.

The Man got the turkey ready for the smoker.. lots of butter, brine, and seasoning happening here.

Our oreo turkeys were a-dor-able! I loved my little flock.  These were so easy to make and were a perfect break from all the cooking I had going on that required concentration.

Like my first ever from scratch cheesecake!  

We had the buffet setup and ready for everyone to dig in!

It's just not a Southern Holiday table without deviled eggs and pear salad.

Our menu included:  two turkeys, fresh cranberry sauce, two styles of dressing (my MIL and my grandma's recipe), gravy, fresh creamed corn, green beans, two sweet potato souffles (one with pecans, one with marshmallows), rolls, a cheese ball, a multitude of desserts, watergate salad, and the previously pictured deviled eggs and pear salad.

We had both smoked and fried turkey.. it was so good!
A few hours later, I finally had room for some cheesecake.  I'm so glad it turned out as well as it did!

 We had bought a bean bag toss game on a whim when we moved into the new house, and though I don't have the photos to document it -  it turned out to be a HIT!  We set it up on the front lawn and there were some serious competitions going on. It worked out well since the day was sunny and warm (we are in the South) and I think it gave everyone a break from their food coma. 

I hope everyone had a good time.  It definitely made me feel like we've got a good chance at hosting again in the future.  I mean, could you turn down this little cutie?
I didn't think so!