Tuesday, November 30, 2010

pumpkin pie and tree trimming. (and a giveaway or two)

...about 25 phone calls to my mom, later...

i served my first thanksgiving dinner to my family, my small and important nuclear unit, and a few friends and it was beautiful. all that it should have been and more. with a bunch of amazing things to eat in one evening...i'm pretty sure it couldn't have gone any other way but that's just me.

let's just say that i can attach a deep emotion to just about anything: songs, smells, ambience, and of course...food. it's all about comfort and homemade lovin.'

and, i'm not going to lie, because in writing this blog and in just getting older "growing," adapting... i find it hard not to be or try to be very honest about what i choose to write. being authentic in what i share or not sharing it all if i won't or can't. so this pretty much means you get the good, bad, the ugly, and the ugliest parts. i save the ugliest parts for special occasions!

so, i did shed a few tears over the fact that i wouldn't see my family this year and even though i haven't seen my immediate family thanksgiving in years... this year it hurt a little more and i can't explain why. it's just what it is.

however; even now, i find it pleasing to know that that hurt i felt for the absence of my parents and my siblings just means that i totally adore them lots and lots. i miss them and i am thankful for them and i still need them even though i think i'm all grown-up and cool and independent! i love you crazy family! muah!

so, i was thinking that anyone who reads this post could share a little note or phone call to someone they love. someone who would feel like a million bucks for a little love. i believe that that when we feel like we are lucky to be in someone's life or vice versa, we should tell them as soon as possible, before we get to busy and forget. i, myself, am guilty of that.

think i'll call my gramps tomorrow. love that guy!

and if anything or anyone can take me out of a pre-thanksgiving day funk...it's him and her!

my little bakers...


a bowl of butter can't hurt either...






i loved watching her little fingers confidently cover the uncooked crust with pieces of foil so they wouldn't burn. she worked and worked and saw two pies through to completion!

i'm thankful for the pride she feels in herself!
our thanksgiving was filled with traditions that most of share together: the parade over coffee, a busy kitchen, and finally football!

this is a photo beckham took of peyton and i just slipping her first pumpkin pie into the oven!




i'm also grateful for sticky notes! i post them on the cupboards next to the stove with the name of the dish, the baking time and temp. it makes it easy to keep it all straight when it's ready to get the food on the table. i also use them to label the serving dishes with what i want to serve in them. try it out...saves so much time!!!

shielah's sweet potatoes
6 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, mashed!
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 stick of butter (it's thanksgiving and we are not afraid of butter...apparently!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (optional. i don't use it)

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter

beat eggs. mix together with pots. add butter and sugar and mix together.
pour into greased baking dish and into a 350 degree oven. combine brown sugar, flour, and pecans and sprinkle over pots. pour melted butter over top.

bake 30-40 minutes. serve warm.

these are a once of year kind a treat!

about as good, but healthier...

roasted sweet potatoes with maple syrup. i'll explain later!





orange-cranberry goodness
one bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice ( i used freshly squeezed)
1/4cup-1/2 cup sugar
orange zest

boil until the berries burst. lower heat, simmer a few moments longer. serve warm or cold!



new tradition: michael jackson wii dancing!


it was a perfect evening!

and then,
we dugout, unwrapped, strung lights, and danced. with christmas songs singing in the background and jeff putting in no less than 5 hours into hanging the perfect garland...we decorated our tree. we carefully unwrapped every ornament. we cradled each one, looked it over, and found the perfect spot on the tree!










and peyton twirled!!!




homemade pie crust- makes TWO!
make it! it's worth your time and effort!

i use butter and crisco because that is how i watched my mom do it over the years. however, she has gone away with the butter and uses crisco only. do what you want, but seriously...i'm all about the butter in a pie crust!

8 tablespoons crisco (very cold. stick in freezer for a few minutes)
8 tablespoons butter (very cold " " )
3 cups all-purpose unsifted flour
1 teaspoon salt, kosher
8 tablespoons or less of ice-cold water

keep butter and shortening cold by keeping it in the freezer when not using. first, i dice up the butter and shortening and throw it in the freezer!

in a mixing bowl, combine flour and mix. add the butter and shortening and 'cut' with two butter knives(or a pastry cutter) in a criss-cross pattern until the butter looks pea sized and resembles course corn meal. it's pretty crumbly at this point. work quickly so your butter doesn't become to soft! add ice-cold water one tablespoon at a time. and work with your hands and gently roll it into a dough. if your dough is dry, add another tablespoon of ice water. plan on using between 5 and 8 tablespoons of water! do not overwork your dough. i'm not perfect at this, so practice makes perfect, i guess:)

on a floured surface, roll the dough into a ball and cut in half. wrap in saran wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes. on your floured surface once again...roll out each half into an 11 inch circle to fit a 9 inch pan.

my crust doesn't look perfect, but that's what i like about it. it looks homemade. but, i'm no pro at crust making. i get nervous and weird and start taking to my dough in sweet, soft, almost begging-like tones asking it to turn out! ha. this is an easy recipe!

(for pumpkin pie, you do not need to pre-bake your crust!)

and if your looking for a good appetizer for your next big gathering, ya know, something for the upcoming holidays...

here is my artichoke dip recipe that is easy and amazing!

hot artichoke dip
(without spinach, but i bet you could add some and it would be just as amazing!)
preheat oven to 375

8-ounce package of cream cheese (not cold)
two 14 ounce cans of, drained but not marinated, artichoke hearts.
3/4 cup of hellman's mayo
2 garlic cloves (i ran out, so i used garlic garlic instead)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded colby and mont jack cheese
dash or two of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
green onions or chopped basil-optional!

in a food processor or by hand, combine all ingredients. throw in baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes!

enjoy! it's not right how good this is! AND you can assemble this ahead of time!

okay, on to some very special kids. beautiful, sweet, and just so into each other...
always laughing and finding ways to have fun...these little ones melt my heart!


we spent a beautiful evening out and snapped up some holiday cheer which was easy when you have jenn styling them up as sweet as a peppermint candy cane! she did an amazing job.


one of my faves...
real life!

griff, sophie, and spencer...love you guys!
more sneak peeks to come, but finally...
two giveaways...


stella and dot has some beautiful, really nice pieces! even peyton, my little six year-old became a bit enamored with the silk base necklace and the charms. she spent two weeks circling in the catalog with a red sharpie, her choices. ahem... a heart, a cross, a peace sign, and pink birthstone charm. thats all;) well, she didn't get all that, but it is soft and it can be used as a bracelet too!!!

they have vintage inspired and classic pieces alike. eye candy!
check it!

*my friend, trisha , sells the very trendy and celebrity sought-after Stella & Dot jewelry line. you may have seen it on the today show, rachel ray, the O Magazine, instyle, lucky, redbook, US Weekly or on celebrities like penelope cruz. well, i hosted a trunk show and had a fab time with trisha and a few of my friends. so Trisha is offering one reader (chosen from random.org) and commenter of this post a $75 Stella & Dot gift certificate to use with Trisha on her Stella & Dot E-Boutique which you can find at www.stelladot.com/sites/trishadavidson.

**and just to try something a little different...i have been wanting to offer a little something to the 'followers' of this blog. so, i will do a separate drawing where i will have little peyton randomly select from the list of people who follow this blog. you will receive a $30 Stella & Dot gift certificate as well!

i will choose and post the winners here on sunday!

winners must redeem their gift certificates by dec. 31st!

happy holiday season!
and to keep from getting to stressed out with the 'business' of the holidays...
i'm making lists and saying, 'fah get abot it, when i fail at crossing things off. doing my best...all we can do. that and munching on celery and peanut butter sticks seems to help...ha! maybe it's the crunching. g' night! hysterical laughing is about to follow... and maybe some un-funny jokes that i will think are funny, but aren't. that's never funny!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

santa and snow and all things amazing!

i sit here at the bar in my kitchen (not the kind of bar that shelves the alcoholic treats that i would like to indulge in right about now), but the bar ledge used to set food upon when guests arrive, or where an overflow eater may reside during a large gathering at our comfy and cozy abode. the extra high bar chairs aren't used often, but i find that in the mess that is my house right now...this is the only clutter-free spot i could find! i quite like this little spot and think i may use it more often.

ha. the road less traveled. maybe this is the answer to life's sweet surprises!

i'm a tad excited about this because the clutter otherwise known as holiday cheer is surrounding us. holiday cheer in the form of spray snow, and glitter, bulbs of every color and make, garland, twinkle lights, regular lights. snow globes and nutcrackers. santas and jingly bells. bring on the christmas tunes. it's time!

of course, my favorite kind of ornaments aren't the ones you find at the fancy department stores, but rather, the ones made of popsicle sticks and cheerios!

the extra gobs of elmers glue have dried clear and and it's evidence of young hands and innocent creativity! i love those little treasures and i wish my whole tree was filled with them. pictures and trinkets of years gone by.

we will busy making ornaments and glittered pine cones soon enough...but first we have to give thanks.

and although, i don't think i could be any busier, i can't wait for the cooking to begin and tonight it shall. begin that is!!

i think i will tackle my mom's pumpkin pie so i can freeze it until the big day. we are about out of fridge space, so a plan of attack in needed!

green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. brussel sprouts will make it's debut this year, as will (finger's crossed...pecan pie!) mashed pots with extra butter and an herbed and buttered up bird! stuffing and fresh cranberries (they are so easy to make. almost as easy as opening the can and sliding it out...and way better!)

so much more, but i could go on all day about food and the joy the holiday brings, so i will relent for a bit. but only for a bit!

i am thankful for so many things this year, but after thinking about it for hours and hours...

*i am most thankful for these two beautiful and perfect little people that i get to claim as my children. my babies...forever.

they will never know how much i love and wish for them only the best that this life extends to them the opportunity to live, love, learn, and discover. i guess they will have to wait to have their own little ones...only then will they understand.

a little visit to peyton at school during lunch time!!




*i am thankful for our health and for that of my families. three grandparents still doing well and enjoying the holidays.

*i am thankful for christmas songs playing while i sit alone in the living room and enjoy the soft glow from the lights of our freshly trimmed tree!

*i am thankful for milk in the fridge!

*i am thankful for friends who uplift and are...just there when you need them.

*i am thankful for my clean minivan...or swagger wagon. whatevah you want to call it!

*i am thankful for being able to cook for thansksgiving.

*i am thankful for a husband who chops onions without complaint and even brags that his contacts make it easy.

*i am thankful that peyton learned a bunch of new sight words this week!

*i am thankful for beckham's manners.

*i am thankful for my mom for answering my call every. single. time and explaining a recipe for the fiftieth time this lifetime!

*i am thankful for bleach. it's keeps our whites...white!!! that's big.

*i am thankful for twinkle lights.

*i am thankful for the work i have the privilege of taking on and completing...even if i do complain and feel overwhelmed at times.

*i am thankful for green tea with peppermint!

*i am thankful for beauty rush lipgloss! love it! (can get that at victoria's secret)

*i am thankful for the ability to make new and joyful memories!




*this blog. plain and simple it has brought me nothing but new friends and joy!

this list will have to be continued because i have more. lots more!

our little spidey!



a tree lighting ceremony...that we missed (for the record!), snow in florida, and a guy playing the sax on the corner! we walked along 3rd street with about a thousand other excited people to ring in the holiday season! it was crowded, hot, perfectly naples!

we saw baby jesus, or we would have seen baby jesus at the nativity scene except that jeff didn't want to wait for the next showing so our kids saw a baby lamb instead. the kids tried to pass it off as a baby horse...well, either way...they were thrilled!!! it was a baby of some sort. apparently they didn't care what kind of baby they saw!


the streets were lit up and bustling. it was beautiful!




the real excitement though is...

the snow!!!


it's really just bubble, but it looks like snow and so...it is!!!


i'm off to make a couple of pie crusts, so for now...
leave a comment on what you are thankful for. i would love to hear!!!!

PS the other day i was getting ready for the day. you know brushing teeth, applying some make-up...

peyton was in front of me and i noticed that she was staring at me while she brushed her teeth.

finally, she asks, "mommy, are you getting old?"

i wanted to say that yes i am getting older, but if you knew how sensitive peyton is about this subject (not sure where she picked up the fear that one day i will have gray hair and deep wrinkles, but she has it) so i lied and, "no, honey. i'm not getting old." (white lie. i'm sorry)

anyway, she responded back, "are you sure, mama? because you look like you are getting old."


"i do? i look old today?"

(shaking her head yes) "mmmm hmmm."

(laughing) "well, okay honey. yes, i am getting older. we all are. now, will you pass me the tissues?"


i didn't really ask for tissues, but i did layer on the eyeliner that day!!!

*i am thankful for the honesty of my kids!

i know i keep speaking of a giveaway. i have been so busy that i haven't been able to finalize the details, SO take me out back and kick me if i don't have the details up in a few days! it's a good one!

happy thanksgiving, friends.
i hope it's filled with music and laughter. good food and pumpkin too!