Happy Easter!

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I don’t think this picture of little me was taken on Easter, but the line up of bunnies seems appropriate for an Easter post.  A few weeks ago, Sean went to Target and completely bought out their supply of Cadbury mini eggs for me.  Mini Eggs are my favorite.  He came back with 6-1lb. bags!  It’s pretty glorious.  We’re on bag two.  Correction, I’m on bag two.  Sean maybe has a few here and there but any progress made on the Mini Eggs is my doing.  He also bought a much smaller stash of his favorite, Reese Peanut Butter Cup Eggs.  Anyway, all this to say that given the amount of Easter candy already in our house I did not make baskets for us this year.  So we celebrated with pancakes instead.

Sean and I have never made pancakes together before.  We both remember Bisquick pancakes from our childhood and that’s what we wanted.  But when we got to the pancake section in the grocery store all we could find was Bisquick Shake ‘N Pour.  That wasn’t going to work.  With some reluctance, we picked up a mix for Swedish pancakes instead.Easter 003

They promised thin pancakes, which is what we wanted.  Our pancake preference is not the thick kind of pancake that sucks up all syrup, which we call syrup suckers.  After you covered these Swedish pancakes with butter and syrup, they were just as good as the Bisquick version.  Easter 004

See how that syrup pools?  To me that’s pancake perfection.

After our pancakes we headed to the Cathedral of St. Matthew in DC for mass.  We were in very good company.  We arrive around 9:15 a.m. for 10:00 a.m. mass.  We stood in line to get in and when we finally did it was standing room only!  It was still a lovely service, so I’m glad we stayed.  Now we’ll know for next year.

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Hope you all had a happy Easter filled with your favorite treats and beautiful spring weather!

Dinner with my Valentine

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Our Valentine’s Day plans were originally scheduled for the Saturday after, but those didn’t end up working out quite as expected.  Luckily, our foodie tendencies have made us some restaurant friends, one of which saved us on actual Valentine’s Day.  Completely last minute, Sean emailed the manager at BLT Steak.  Of course everything was booked, but he said he’d save us a seat at the bar and get us a reservation if someone canceled.  We started at the bar, but very briefly because someone did indeed cancel.  We were given a very awesome and cozy little table!  It was so fun.

Valentine Table

Fun, but I have to admit I was a little embarrassed.  We were not dressed to sit at the coziest table at the restaurant.  I did not leave for work on Friday thinking I would end up anywhere but back at home for dinner.  Couples showed up in their heals and fancy bags and full suits (!)…and we were in jeans.  I know this shouldn’t matter, because, honestly, who was even paying attention to me on Valentine’s Day?  But being inappropriately dressed always makes me uncomfortable.  Like I don’t appreciate the place or event enough.  But I really, truly did!

Valentine Popover

These popovers are my favorite part of BLT Steak.  Sure, the rest of the food is good but these popovers are worth the trip.  Popovers are a big deal on my Mom’s side.  We love them for breakfast and there are all kinds of tactics for achieving the prefect popover.  I haven’t perfected the popover, mostly because I haven’t really tried.  And I feel kind of bad that I’m about to write this, but I wish my momma lived closer so that we could spend some quality time in the kitchen and she could tell me all about popovers and we could make them all weekend until they were perfect.  That and her recipe for potato salad.  I should have paid more attention when I was younger.

Jeez, how did we get here?

So Valetine’s Day, despite being last minute in inappropriate clothing and sparking a bit of regret upon reflection for not learning how to make popovers sooner, was a really fantastic time together.  Sean’s the best Valentine I could ever ask for, and for that I’m truly grateful.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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All the way into high school my dad always gave his girls a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  I remember elaborate fabric covers of heart shaped boxes and cardboard ones with Snoopy and sometimes just regular Russel Stover.  My mom always got a big one and Maggie and me smaller.  Despite this fantastic memory, I went through many years of hating Valentine’s Day.  I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn’t have a Valentine very often.  (Although, it was always nice to know that at least I had my dad.)  Being without a Valentine is hard in high school.  Did your high school have the chocolates or carnations for sale that you could send to your sweetheart/friends?  They were delivered in the middle of class making it really obvious who did and did not have someone special on Valentine’s Day.  I hated that experience.  I still didn’t love Valentine’s Day when Sean and I started dating, but oh my goodness Sean wanted to celebrate. We were together and who cares that this holiday was created by a greeting card company because we are in love and we are CELEBRATING!  Perhaps subjected to the same Valentine’s disappointment as myself he wanted to make sure that everyone knew that he was Valentine-less no more!  I love Valentine’s Day now thanks to my husband.  I get that you shouldn’t need a holiday to express your love to your significant other, but at the same time it’s nice to have a special day dedicated to love.  Even though it’s easy to tell someone you love them every day, it’s also easy to get bogged down in the rest of the everyday happenings.  Having a special occasion to express your love is nice.  At least for me.  I think I get bogged down in the every day often and really enjoy the opportunities where I’m dragged out.

Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day!  Whether you love it or hate it, I hope that love finds you today.  Whether you have an official Valentine or not, remember your first love, yourself.  (Gag, sorry, but it’s true!)  And I bet there’s a dad or a mom or a best friend or an aunt or uncle or someone who loves you tremendously and would love to give you an elaborately fabric covered heart shaped box of chocolates if they only knew how channel my dad.  Maybe a call would suffice.

If nothing else, delight in Valentine’s Day through the eyes of a child.  I stumbled upon this video when I was exploring the videos associated with the Small Fry Blog on Vimeo.   Please watch this.  How can you not enjoy children answering questions about love, dates, and babies.  It’s delightful.  There’s a lot of sweet (“I want to marry my daddy!”) and a lot of funny (“Fur coat and high heels” in response to things you love).  It’s sure to make your Valentine’s Day bright.

And again, Happy Valentine’s Day!

New Year’s Eve

It’s unlike us not to have plans, but that’s where we found ourselves on New Year’s Eve.  We talked about maybe having dinner at the pizza place we like so much in our neighborhood.  But we also liked the idea of staying home, being cozy, and cooking something.  I had no idea which direction we were headed until Sean texted mid-afternoon asking me to pick up a few items at the store on my way home from work.  A cozy New Year’s!

I had read on Martha Stewart about lucky New Year’s foods.  I shared a few of the highlights with Sean and he helped us incorporate them into our night. We had braised pork belly for dinner because pork, as a rich piece of meat, symbolizes a rich new year (and I took that to be rich in fortune and experiences).  NYE 005 NYE 006He also made one of his best dishes, creamy baked grits with sun dried tomatoes as a side.  (The link is to a recipe that calls for soft goat cheese, but we usually use aged goat cheese and it’s delicious.)NYE 010 NYE 011

We also ate 12 grapes after the ball dropped, a Spanish tradition.  Per Martha, each sour grape represented a sour month and each sweet grape a sweet month in the new year.  We’re both destined for a majority of sweet months, but four sour for me and three sour for Sean.  Although that doesn’t really matter because according to my colleague, we did it all wrong.photo 2My colleague lived in Spain until she was about nine.  In Spain you eat one grape per second as you count down to 12!  That’s a ton of grapes!  She told me it was hard and I didn’t for a second doubt it.  We laughed about how Sean and I did it wrong and laughed even harder when she told me she showed up at a bar with her ziploc baggie of grapes!  How funny would that have been to witness?  I don’t think we’ll be eating one grape per second next year, but it’s fun to experiment with lucky foods and traditions for the new year.  Martha also said that round foods symbolize the year coming full circle.  She recommended doughnuts.  I kind of like the sound of that for next year.

As I’ve already started to hint in my posts, welcome 2014!  We’re happy you’re here.

The Art of the Christmas Sugar Cookie…Missouri Style

Christmas 2013 066As I mentioned in the Christmas in Missouri post, sugar cookies are a tradition within a tradition.  The first tradition being that cookies are served as snacks in general throughout Christmas but most importantly as part of the snack spread before mass on Christmas Eve.  Then the decorating of the cookies to get them ready for the snack spread is its own thing.  I wish I had captured Allison’s explanation from the beginning.

 

I love Sean’s dad saying “it’s amazing” after being told I was outlining the cookies in a different color.  It’s funny.  I was still getting my feet wet with the process and could only think about how my mom outlines the cookies in white and then colors the insides.  I had a hard time letting go of that even though my mom doesn’t use the star tip.  It’s a different method entirely.Christmas 2013 050We ended up with a very cheery color palette.  I wouldn’t call this super bright though. Christmas 2013 052I had no idea this is the proper way to put a tip on the end of a bag!Christmas 2013 055Christmas 2013 054The classic way to fill a bag in this household is with a cup.  I used this method too and it was nice and easy.Christmas 2013 053But Shelley’s pretty fancy and can do it freehand.Christmas 2013 064Allison’s the best at mustaches, eyebrows, and leaves.  I mean, isn’t that the cutest mustache?!Christmas 2013 070Christmas 2013 068Beautiful!  And fun!

Christmas in Missouri

Christmas 2013 029Well, Christmas was awesome and went by so fast and now here I am back at work and it’s kind of a bummer.  We celebrated Christmas in Missouri with Sean’s family this year.  It was my first Christmas celebration in Missouri and let me tell you, Christmases in Missouri are bursting at the seams with traditions.  There’s so much to get excited about and look forward to.  I remember last year when Sean celebrated with my family for the first time.  At a certain point he said something along the lines of this is great and all, but it’s not my family’s Christmas.  I didn’t know how to take that at the time, but now I get it.  Christmas in Missouri is really something special.Christmas 2013 025Christmas 2013 026Beth made me a stocking!  The night before we arrived I had this terrible dream that Mike, Sean’s sister Allison’s fiance (fiance, as in not officially a family member like I am) had a stocking when we arrived on Christmas Eve and I didn’t.  I barely ever remember my dreams, so I think this shows how much having my own stocking meant to me.Christmas 2013 033Christmas 2013 032It was snowy and cold when we arrived but by the end of the week it warmed and everything melted.  At least we had the snow for a little bit to get us in the spirit.

Once everyone is home and awake there’s the ornament ceremony.  Everyone has two ornaments.  The first is definitely each child’s baby’s first Christmas ornament and I can’t quite remember the second.  Everyone gets to place their ornament on the tree in whatever spot they want.Christmas 2013 040This is Shelley’s.Christmas 2013 048This is Allison’s.Christmas 2013 047THIS IS MINE!  Yes, even I was included in the ornament ceremony with this ornament, a scene of Old Town Alexandria where we got married, and a Home for the Holidays ornament.Christmas 2013 046It’s hard to tell but I placed my Old Town ornament near Sean’s baby ornaments because we’re married.  Christmas 2013 042He wasn’t nearly as excited as I was about this placement, as seen here.Christmas 2013 036There’s party mix, which Rich makes.  It’s delicious and he makes a ton.  Christmas 2013 051This party is reserved only for Christmas.Christmas 2013 072There’s the preparation of Christmas Eve lunch made up of prime rib, green bean casserole, potato casserole, salad, and rolls.Christmas 2013 073Christmas 2013 076Yum!Christmas 2013 034There’s lots of pajama time and plenty of cuddle time with Candy, who’s friendly and happy and so very sweet.photoThere’s snacks and cookies before a late mass.Christmas 2013 082 Christmas 2013 080 Christmas 2013 079The sugar cookies are getting their own post because they’re almost tradition within a tradition.  Stay tuned.

Kind of funny about church this year, we were 20 minutes late.  It’s amusing we were late period, but even more so that Rich is a Deacon at the church.  At least we made it!  And check out these decorations!  What a beautiful church!Christmas 2013 088 Christmas 2013 089

Christmas 2013 084I did a bad job and this is one of the only pictures I took of people.

Christmas 2013 091On Christmas morning Santa visited and filled our stockings!  I also contributed to the stockings.  Christmas 2013 094I found these really cute cardboard people via this blog and knew I had order one for everyone.  They turned out really well and were so fun to order.Christmas 2013 102Presents were followed by egg casserole, which is delicious and I’m now in possession of the recipe.  photo 1 photo 2Then we played with Santa gifts before heading to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for further celebration.  Christmas 2013 103Sadly this is the only picture I took at their house, but how cute are these kissing Clauses?

Just bursting!  Thanks for introducing me and welcoming me to Christmases in Missouri!

Thanksgiving Videos

I went into our trip to Oregon with the idea that I would make a video similar to our San Francisco video, but when I looked at my videos they were all wine swishing in glasses and food and mountains and feet walking in leaves, etc.  The material for something interesting just wasn’t there and luckily I’d also taken pictures (something I didn’t do in San Francisco) because pictures told the better story for our Oregon trip.

That being said, there are two from Thanksgiving that I really enjoy and wanted to share/remember/not lose track of.  I had forgotten about them until I was scrolling through my phone the other night.

Here we have Sean grating cheese into his green bean casserole mix and giving me a fantastic eyebrow raise.  Also, please note my mom’s comment in the background.

My parents are trying to figure something out, could you tell?  Shortly after moving to Eugene my mom started to get invited to all of these Pampered Chef parties.  Among her purchases was a cheese grater.  It’s lovely.  Folds in half to save space and works like a charm…if you can remember how to unfold it, of course.  This took us awhile, and we all took turns trying to figure it out.  We decide to give Sean an old grater so he could keep making progress on his dish while my parents continued to work on Mom’s new grater.  She finally pulls out the instructions….

And my dad finally figures it out before looking at them!  We’re surprised and delighted because you won’t think a cheese grater would be so difficult.  Way to go, Dad!

These make me laugh.  Hope your Christmas is filled with silly moments just like these with family, friends, or whoever you’re with celebrating.  These little, silly moments are kind of the best, aren’t they?

The Nutcracker

Sean wins husband of the year in my book because this year was the third year in a row he went to The Nutcracker with me.  The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker performance at the Warner Theatre makes me so happy.  photo 1

I can’t say it’s the best Nutcracker I’ve ever seen (although, there was a noticeable improvement this year over the last two), but they try to tailor the show to DC which is so fun to me.  Instead of a Land of Sweets we have Springtime Under the Cherry Blossoms, where Anacostia Native Americans and a group of cardinals (the state bird of Virginia), among others entertain Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.  photo 2

The first year we went together the Nationals’ large-head President mascots made an appearance during one dance.  It was great.photo 3We went the first Friday in December and it made me so happy to kick off the Christmas season this way.  Although (and, Favorite, I promise this won’t be our reality), I kind of wish we were seeing it again this weekend right before Christmas Eve.  I can’t help it!  I know it’s the same thing every year but I just love the Christmas magic that happens in this show.  I still love Christmas, but I miss that feeling of Christmas magic that I think really peaks when you’re a child.  Anyway, although I love it, I might be in search of a new Christmas show for next year.  Four years in a row might be too much for my husband.

Pork Belly! & a Party

This past Saturday we attended the annual holiday potluck of one of our friends.  She hosts every year and Sean, being the amazing chef he is, brings the meat.  He always does a wonderful job and considering all the diet needs of the group he always makes sure everyone is included somehow in the protein.  This year Sean cooked up pork belly with a side of red snapper.  Delicious!  (He’s out of town right now, but when he gets back I’ll ask him if we can link the recipe if you’re curious.)Pork Belly 003Pork Belly 007

Yes, we had to break into a Christmas present for this dish.  Sorry we sneaked it in early, Parents, but at least you know we really needed that roasting pan!  It’s awesome!Pork Belly 008

You’re always your harshest critic, aren’t you?  Sean had a little wishlist of things he’d have done differently or things he wanted to work out better, but the diners around the table sure did love it.  Way high praise.  The snapper was good too, but I think the pork stole the show.photo

New this year was a Secret Santa gift exchange, which turned out to be fun.  Sean walked away with a new Christmas bow tie (!) and I with a set of olive oil-based dippers.  And as I write this I realized I missed an opportunity with Sean out of town to eat a dinner of bread and dippers last night.  I love dipping.  Well, I’m confident this opportunity will arise again and I will get my very nutritious dinner of bread and dips.photo 1All in all a very fun night with a great group of people.