Friday, November 28, 2008

Photoless T'Giving Recap

So I kind of am an idiot and didn't really take any photos of our Thanksgiving festivities. I had these grand schemes of taking lots of pictures and posting them along with all the recipes. Oops.

I am going on about 20 hours awake after two hours of sleep last night. I woke up at 6 a.m., realized I was a little over-prepared, but still managed to run myself ragged all morning.

Overall, it was a success. We actually started eating at 1 p.m. on.the.dot. I'm so proud. I figure that I had the meal ready -- including the turkey carved -- at exactly our mealtime on my first time out deserves some kind of recognition.

Grading my Thanksgiving:

• Decor — A-
I'm pretty damn proud of my place cards (Alex called them name tags), and I got a lot of compliments on my table arrangement.
• Turkey — C+ for execution, B for taste
Prepping this turkey was a pain in my ass and I made it harder on myself by making a mess every step of the way. I also did not anticipate that the breast would cook faster than the thighs and wings, though after some quick googling I see this is fairly common. It kind of threw me for a loop, though, and caused the bird to be overdone. I'm kind of disappointed that I screwed up the turkey a bit because I hear such good things about brining, but I think my mistakes might have limited the turkey's potential.
• Challah stuffing — B- for execution, B+ for taste
I was probably not the best person to make the stuffing because I've never had stuffing before. I also stick to the safe-looking things on the Thanksgiving menu. I made a few mistakes, and I think it was soggier than it should have been, but not a bad dish all around.
• Cranberry relish — B
I'm giving this a B because only one person bothered to eat it (and it wasn't me). I knew it wasn't a favorite in the South, but I mostly made it as an homage to my grandparents.
• Sweet Potato biscuits — B
I got this recipe from a friend, and they didn't measure up to her incarnation of them. Maybe I overcooked them a tad? They were the last thing into the oven and by that point I was mostly winging it.
• Pumpkin Pie — A
This pie was so good. I found the recipe online and it uses ice cream instead of evaporated milk. I don't think I'll ever eat a regular pumpkin pie again.
• Appetizer Trays — A-
I made a cheese/cracker tray and a veggie tray. My only complaint is that perhaps I put too much out at first.

So that's that. Overall, I think everyone had a good time. I still have to put away the flatware and finish cleaning the stove and roasting pan in the morning. I might make it out to BBB for Black Friday, but it's just as likely I'll skip it and sleep in. Finally.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's out of my hands now.

The turkey is in the oven -- about 30 minutes before I really wanted to put it in, but once it was stuffed I figured it was better safe than sorry.

Last night was a struggle -- literally. I dumped water all over the kitchen floor about three times. For future reference, I will no longer brine a turkey and expect to carry it, plus the gallons of water it is submerged in, across the kitchen.

I have to say, nothing quite prepares you for pulling the neck out of your first turkey -- especially when you kind of forgot it was in there. I remembered to pull the baggie out and put it in the fridge last night when I was brining the turkey, but the neck completely escaped my mind. So when I was about to stuff the turkey and I reached in and felt a block of ice around the neck I was not amused. Let's just say I'm one step closer to being a vegetarian and Ryan will be disposing of the neck that sits in my sink when he gets home in a few hours. Gross.gross.gross.

Now that the bird is a-roasting (and I've come to grips with the fact that my stuffing will suck), it's time to think about what I'm thankful for:

• My husband. I think we have the most stable (and silly) relationship I know.
• My job and our house. As much as I complain about both my job and our house, I'm so grateful we have them.
• Our wedding. I STILL would have rather eloped, but I'm glad we had our wedding because it made Ryan happy. (And I have something to hold over his head for years. Hehe.)
• My family (both biological and of the in-law variety). I've been through some trying times this year, and I'm thankful for the support system of our families.
• Our pooch. Olivia is simply the best.dog.ever.
• My best friend. Marissa single-handedly was pretty much my entire cheering section for the duration of the wedding and she did it all the way from Brooklyn.
• My friends Anna and Jennifer. Though one is in Costa Rica, these two girls make living here a bit more bearable.

Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping (check)
3. Make seating assignments (check)

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey (check)
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients for stuffing and refrigerate (check — after a struggle)
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place (check)
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate (check)
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate (check)
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle (check!)

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house (check)
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven (check)
2. Try not to screw it up (tbd)
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

A break from our regularly scheduled T'giving programming...

What the feck, GWB?

(OK, not really Bush, but the First Lady's handlers.)

In other news, Happy Thanksgiving! I'll have my full report later.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Must.Learn.To.Read.Directions.

The latest installment in what I'll now call the "What the feck was I thinking?!?!" series.

I always hear you're supposed to actually READ the recipe before beginning to cook. And I swear, I think I read it. But truth-be-told, I probably only skim it to make sure I can, in fact, tackle it.

Sure enough, about halfway into preparing the stuffing this afternoon, I realized I missed a crucial step and proceeded to hurriedly un-mix my stuffing. (Yea, this is not really possible. Humor me.)

Also, I totally mis-read (probably didn't read) the brining directions. So that set me back a few hours (and I was late to work).

I swear I'm a good cook. I just get ahead of myself (all the time) sometimes.

Anyway, I'm about to head home and finish up the brining of the turkey and prep the sweet potato biscuits for baking tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping (check)
3. Make seating assignments (check)

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey (kinda/sorta check)
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients for stuffing and refrigerate (check — after a struggle)
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place (check)
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate (check)
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate (almost)
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle (check!)

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven
2. Try not to screw it up
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What do you get when you combine a pinecone sale and a newlywed with lots of leftover paper?


Complete and utter over-the-top-ness.

In my defense, I have some picky friends who would like to sit next to so-and-so and not next to another so-and-so. And since my table is a tight squeeze, I wanted to make sure the guys were on the corners and had plenty of elbow-room. I figured it was nicer to do this instead of being bossy. (Now I'm just covertly bossy.)

Besides it took about five minutes and the leftover pine cones went into my trifle bowl to make an excellent (and yummy smelling) centerpiece on the coffee table where I'm serving the appetizers.

See what you folks are missing in Arkansas?

Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping (check)
3. Make seating assignments (check)

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients and refrigerate
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven
2. Try not to screw it up
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

Thanksgiving To-Dos


Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping
3. Make seating assignments

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients and refrigerate
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven
2. Try not to screw it up
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Clothing Ban?

I'm thinking of banning myself from purchasing clothing for... I don't know how long.

My friend says I wouldn't last two hours.

The thing is -- I never need to do laundry. I've finally gotten to a place where I can reasonably wear whatever is in my closet. I'm no longer trendy and I have a wardrobe from skinny to roomy. I can where whatever I want to work -- including sweats on Sundays. So why would I need to purchase clothes except for a pick-me-up?

Shopping for clothes drains my bank account. I earned Luxe status at Banana Republic this year, and I'm too embarrassed to tell you what that means.

So, dear readers, how long do you think I could make it? And should this include all shoes and accessories?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu

We're within a week of Thanksgiving. Ryan and I did the bulk of our shopping last night (what a great way to start off date night, eh?) and I'm proud of announce our menu.

Turkey
Cranberry Relish
Challah Stuffing
Salad with homemade dressing
Egg Salad
Butternut squash side
Mashed potatoes with turkey gravy
Turkey gravy
Green Beans
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Mystery Pie #1
Ice Cream and Cool whip for garnish

Many thanks to Dustin, Patty and my grandma for lending recipes. Also thanks in advance to our eight guests who are helping make this feast happen. I am spending the afternoon laundering our linens in preparation.

I'm most excited to try my hand at the turkey (my first one), the sweet potato biscuits and the pumpkin pie (instead of using evaporated milk I'm using vanilla ice cream). It could all go very, very well, or we could end up ordering pizza.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random Thoughts from Arkansas

• This scares the shit out of me every time I open my garage door after dark:



It's not simply the SIZE of the Bethelhem star, nor is it the ugliness of the Nativity set. It's not even the fact that Thanksgiving is still more than a week away. It's just the fact that I always think there's a car with headlights on right behind me as I'm about to pull out into the road. This display has been up for at least a week, and I'm still not used to its garishness.

• I hate the holiday season. I hate gift-giving at this time. It's so expected, so coerced, so not what I need right now. I've ranted about this before, and I'm afraid my feelings have only grown more bah humbug on the topic. My poor kids are going to have miserable holidays, I know.

• On Friday, Ryan and I have a date. Now to most of the world, this isn't a big time. BUT Friday night will be the first night Ryan and I both have off that we're spending by ourselves since our wedding. The only other mutual nights off were our trip to Omaha and this past Saturday when we went to the Texas game. I think we're going to stay in and rent some movies so we can save enough money to buy Christmas/Hanukkah presents. We're so exciting.

• P.S. -- S. Of course I wouldn't have a nativity scene in front of my house. Silly girl.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you claim to be a literature lover (not just chick lit, romance or crime novels), then you MUST read this book.

This is not a book that will leave you feeling all warm and cuddly inside, but it is a novel that will make you wish you were reading it along with your college literature class. The book is so rich in symbolism, allusion and metaphor that I highly recommend reading it with a like-minded group. You will enjoy it without delving into all of that, but I think having reading partners to bounce your ideas off of will really enhance your reading experience. (I immediately felt like calling Mrs. Stanfield after reading this book and asking her what she thought was the significance of the family surname.)

There is a Shakespearean tie-in throughout the book. If I told you which play it was, it would give the ending away, but it would definitely enrich the book and make the ending more satisfying.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this book much more than The Kite Runner. I loved the wa Hosseini established each character individually before bringing them together. The author did a really good job of dropping hints throughout the book and waited a long time before tying up loose ends.

View all my reviews.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Layoffs.

I don't write much about my employment or my industry because -- well -- frankly, it's depressing.

I'm a journalist. I paid lots of money to the University of Kansas and have worked for a newspaper non-stop since I was 16 in order to hone my skills. For someone my age, I have lots of experience.

But I have no experience compared to the 16 people laid off at The Kansas City Star today. I love The Star. I learned so much there when I served as a intern three times and a staffer for about a year in the Johnson County bureau. I was able to do great things, because I worked with and for great people.

But The Star is now a shadow of its former self. Many of my mentors have been given their walking papers. Several of my former co-workers, people I've shared beers and bylines with, are also out the door. The remaining people I know are just lucky to survive the FOURTH round of terminations this year.

It's happening at smaller papers, too. The Joplin Globe laid off several members of the newsroom staff recently. And my current employer is reportedly getting ready to drop the ax for the second time since August. My co-workers are taking stock of their importance to the company and filling out applications on the side, talking about going back to school and saving what little money they can.

The talk starts to turn co-workers against each other. You start internally betting who among you will be eliminated. You make mental notes, notice when the bosses are huddling, try to figure this all out. You make lists of people who surely will be "let go" before you, then you damn yourself for thinking that maybe you'll be spared.

Because, really, what this all boils down to is this: None of us will be spared. Newspapers are on their way out. It's just a matter of time before everyone gets their daily news consumption on their BlackBerrys and iPhones. All newspapers are left to do is survive until their time has come, pick up the pieces and retrofit themselves as something new.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mr. President

For some unknown reason, I spent hours on the Newseum site to create this slideshow for posterity. This slideshow includes some of my favorite (and one not-so-favorite...let's see if you can pick it!) front pages from around the country and around the world. Enjoy!

Review: American Wife

American Wife: A Novel American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a GREAT book. Sittenfeld took a figure that is very public, but still relatively unknown, and crafted a tale so shocking, yet so believable. I especially enjoyed the first part but I also enjoyed the section on her life in the White House.

View all my reviews.


Stolen from my Internet buddy Chris Tackett who stole it from Waxy.org Links.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

What happens in the photo booth...


...doesn't stay in the photo booth.

All of the pictures from our photo booth guest book are available online on our Web site for download.

We had so much fun at our reception in Omaha, and we hope everyone did, too!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Waving the Wheat!

I'm on my couch waving the wheat for KU as the Jayhawks trounce the KSU Wildcats 31-0 in the first half. It's the first game this season I elected not to attend. Ryan asked if I was disappointed, but I chose expanding my social life and attending a party instead.

We went to a Halloween party last night in Fayetteville. I went as Sarah Palin and Ryan went as a blind referee. My costume was a hit, though I was not intoxicated enough or comfortable enough to throw out my Alaskan accent at whim. I was mostly met with boos throughout the night, but what was most interesting was the reaction from my fellow male guests. Even though I was probably the most covered-up women there, guys still found my costume attractive. I guess now I understand the GOP appeal.

I really wish my friend JT was here right now because I bet I could convince her to go with me to a certain political candidate's rally in Springfield tonight. Part of me wants to get in my car by myself and go. I know it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I also know I promised my husband dinner and a movie tonight -- which we both know is a rare event. Hopefully I'll have another chance to see this certain political candidate in person another time. He's truly changed my outlook on life and may have inspired Ryan and I to finally take the plunge in another direction.