On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six geese-a-laying...or was it 6 mini-bottles of Gray Goose Vodka arranged into a container made to look like a nest...
On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Seven Swans-a-Swimming...actually it was 7 bags of different flavored goldfish and packages of bubble bath...
The tale of woe and misery that I promised? Well, it is coming...Friday.
The week before Christmas, most of my family got together for our annual Vegas trip...it was great...it was wonderful...we all had a great time. It was special this year because it was the first year my sister Esther and her husband Brock were able to go...They loved it!
Anyway, so many stories, so little time, so I thought I could just toss up some pics of everyone and if you like, you like...if you don't, well, don't look no-mo...
December 29. Usually Christmas is over by now. Many of you are already getting rid of your tree, putting away the decorations and finishing the left-overs...not me.
My tree is still proudly standing.
My decorations are still up.
The leftovers will be part of my diet for the better part of the next couple weeks.
And Christmas is STILL going on.
Why? Because my beautiful, bride-to-be is giving me the 12-days of Christmas...you know the 12-days of Christmas right? It goes something like this:
On Christmas morning, the first day of Christmas, I got a box of Harry and David pears!
On December 26, the second day of Christmas, I got 2 bags of Dove Chocolate and a Turtle candy bar.
On Saturday, the third day of Christmas, I was taken out to a great French dinner with 3 courses.
On Sunday, the fourth day of Christmas, I got the Black Crows greatest hits...get it, Calling Birds.
Today, Claire went really crazy...she apparently got up at 5:30am, drove 10-miles over to Virginia Beach and got 5 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, drove back to P-Towne, got ready for work, then came over, presented me with 5 "golden-ring" doughnuts and had breakfast with me...
I don't know what else is in store, but the next week will be fun!!!
So I have a story of mortification and amazingly huge embarrassment...it is one of those moments that everyone has in their lives where they would like to just crawl in a hole and die...it is like one of those Southwest commercials (Wanna get a way?)...but since I don't have permission to share it, I can't. I am hoping to procure that permission this week.
"...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7
Please take a moment to reflect on this day...why we celebrate it and what it means to you...if you don't know about Christmas and what it is to know who this guy Jesus was, feel free to drop me a line and I can tell you all about him...One of the coolest things I can tell you about Him is that He IS NOT mad at you...He loves you...He longs to have a relationship with you...and this day is about Him...Merry Christmas!
I walked through the mall on Friday afternoon and was amazed.
No, not at the crowds...It really was not all that bad.
No, not the sales...I actually was shocked that more things were not on bigger discounts.
It was the pushy sales people.
I was accosted no less than 9 times walking from Nordstroms to the front door.
"Sir, can I ask you a question." No you may not.
"Sir, c'mere a second, I would like to show you something." I bet you would missy, but I don't think Claire would appreciate it very much (what? I looked good. What else could she be asking me about?)
"Sir, can you spare a moment? I want to show you this body lotion." Oh my goodness. When did the mall become the den of Hussies?
"Sir, do you live in Virginia? You do? Well, do I have a deal for you! All you have to do is take off your shirt and flex"
I might have made that last part up.
Claire and I got a Christmas card from some friends and it was a very nice picture of the two of them and their dog. It was a very nice picture and it prompted Claire to decide it would be good for us to send out our first card. So, we spend a couple hours Saturday night (I know, we party like rock stars) picking out the best pictures to put on the card, design it on Costco.com (I heart Costco) and ordering...On Sunday, we picked up the cards and Claire was so excited. The pictures look great and we spent 2 hours addressing and stamping cards last night.
So, Bogart and Claire are sending out our very first Christmas cards together.
Exciting Thursday 'round here...first, I got calls from most of Claire's family in the morning because South Louisiana looked like this:
Pretty cool, huh?!
The last time they had snow (Christmas 2004) Claire was in Iraq...the time before that? Claire was 12 years old.
This snow thing does not happen down there very often...guess Global Warming is finally taking hold.
The other Big Thing that happened on Thursday? Claire and I went to see the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert in Virginia Beach. It was a "Thank You" from the United Way for Claire serving on their board...
We had a blast. The music was great. The United Way even provided food before hand.
I am a San Diego boy...this whole thing about "weather" I just don't get.
For today, I ordered 70 degrees AND sunny. I did not order 70 degrees OR sunny, but for some reason that is what I keep getting. Today it is 70 with rain and thunder. This past weekend, it was Sunny, but 36 degrees and windy.
It is time that he get it right. Sheesh.
Last night, Claire made a sweet dinner that I thought I would pass along for those of you struggling with the last bits of Turkey or dreading the Christmas leftovers...
She took turkey, a green apple, 1/2 an onion, pepper, salt, olive oil, mayo, shredded cheese and a clove of garlic, threw it into the food processor and ground it all together...After letting that mixture rest for an hour, wrapped the mix into tortillas and baked at 375 for 12-15 mins.
With a little garlic ranch and hot sauce...wowee.
Wedding planning is hard. Just had to get that out there.
So, it has come to my attention that I owe a few people a heartfelt and hearty "I AM SORRY"...so, in no particular order, here are my apologies:
1. Claire's mom...I am sorry that I did not mention that YOU made the wonderful egg and sausage dish last week. Your cooking inspires much of how Claire and I eat and it was poor form for me to suggest that anyone other than you made that egg dish. I look forward to eating it again at the wedding!
2. Claire...I am sorry that I did not mention in this post that you actually made the Chicken Pot Pie and that it was wonderful. I should also mention that it fed both of us lunch AND dinner the next day. Your cooking is heaven sent and I always love the home style that you bring to your lovingly prepared meals.
3. French People...I am sorry that I have made fun of you all my life. I was taught that you were nothing but "cheese eating surrender monkey's", but as I learn more about how you helped us become a nation and the gift of General Lafayette, I realize that you taught us about good timing and how to win a war. If it were not for your sacrifice and dedication to helping the Americans become, well, Americans, I would probably have really bad teeth, drink tea, eat spotted dick and talk with a cockney accent.
4. My friend and commenter Nashville?!?...I am sorry that I am going to spank you with your own ping-pong paddle during the wedding celebrations. I know it will be hard for you to go home to your wife after I leave STIGA emblazoned on your posterior, but you will just have to suck it up because you can't stay in VA after the beating I will lay on you.
That was Teddy's response to my question "Why the heck did you go for a ride in an industrial strength dryer?"
Yes, there are a lot of amazing things you do when you are a poor college student. Some people become a street performer...some become street walkers. Some students sell blood or become a mover...some even get a job....but not Teddy. He got in a dryer at the laundromat and bounced around for a minute...it got hot and he got dizzy, but "hey, ten bucks is TEN BUCKS!!!"
So there have been many questions about this mysterious "Yifties" thing that I put on the Thanksgiving menu...they are also found on my family's Christmas menu.
So what are they? Well, I don't know for sure, but the story is that a family from Northern Europe befriended my grandparents...Yifties was a dish that they brought from the "Old Country".
My grandparents loved them so much, they insisted on getting the family recipe and they became a family holiday staple.
They are very easy to make, very pretty to present and taste fantastic...even for someone like me who is not the biggest Cranberry fan.
So, at the risk of exposing all the family secrets, here is the way to make Yifities....
Home whipped whip cream Cranberry sauce (canned is fine, jarred is better, homemade is best...but no orange!) Ritz Crackers
Take the Ritz Crackers, put them in a ziplock and crush them up. It will probably take 2 full rolls of Ritz. Make the whipped cream by taking heavy whipping cream, beating it to stiff peaks, adding in vanilla and sugar. You want to make sure it is not too sweet as that turns the Yifties into a dessert as opposed to a cranberry sauce substitute.
Now, layer the ingredients in a clear bowl...Ritz Crackers, Cranberry Sauce, Whipped Cream. You should have at least 2 layers of each, but the bigger the bowl, the more layers you will have.
They are sort of a parfait, but not.
They are best if made the night before (store in the fridge)...this allows the flavors to fully come together. Serve chilled and with the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, not with dessert.
Let me know what you think? Those of you who have tried them, thoughts?
Just in case you are still fighting the turkey left-overs, here are some ideas for finishing them off:
Turkey Pot-Pie: 1 pie crust 1 can of corn 1 can of peas 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup 1/2 cup creme 1/2 onion Turkey until you think there is enough in there...then throw in 1 more handful Salt, Pepper and Garlic to taste
Put a pat of butter and the diced up onion in a medium to large sauce pan...sweat them for 3-5 mins...pour in the corn and add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 3 mins...put in the Cream of Chicken soup, 1 can of milk, 1/2 cup of creme and turkey...warm through. Add the peas, mix them in, then pour the mix into the pie crust...bake at 375 for 15 mins...enjoy.
Turkey Quesadilla Take a tortilla and butter one side...put turkey, fresh thinly sliced pear and brie cheese on the unbuttered side. Cook in a fry pan until cheese is soft and turkey is warm...enjoy.
Turkey Omelet This one is easy...saute some onions in butter....add a handful to turkey...warm through. Pour 2-4 beaten eggs over the top...salt, pepper, garlic and any other seasoning to taste.
Turkey Nachos 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted 3/4 cup salsa 1 cup cubed cooked turkey or chicken Tortilla chips Combine soup and salsa in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Stir in turkey; cook until heated through. Pour over bed of tortilla chips and serve hot.
I have had company since November 20th and now that everyone has gone home, it is quiet.
I loved the visitors (Claire's parents and my buddy Teddy) and had a wonderful time so it is strange to be back home alone.
Bird day was wonderful! We ate some toast and had some coffee to start the day, then off to our 5k Turkey Trot. While it was not the best organized race I have been to, we had fun and all 3 of us (Teddy, Claire and me) put up our best times.
We headed home and ate another breakfast...this time it was quiche. Well, I don't want to call it quiche because Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, so I will say we ate an egg and sausage dish.
We rested from our eating and began to eat again.
A turkey, a spiral cut ham, green been casserole, Yifties, garlic mashed potatoes, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin creme brulee, homemade egg-nog, buttermilk biscuits, sausage/cheese biscuit bites, wine, Irish whisky and milk were all consumed at some point.
Claire and I were able to reserve the housewe are going to get married in. 11 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 3 stories...the kitchen has 2 fridges, 2 ovens, 2 stoves, 2 dishwashers and more counter space than I know what to do with.
It also has ping-pong, pool, flat screens in almost every room, a spa and basketball hoop.
Did I mention it is on the sand at the beach?
Better bring your A-game Nashville?!?...I will not be beaten at Ping-Pong!!!
Claire and I are looking forward to a little bit of downtime, but we are worried that there won't be much of it...why you ask? Well, here is what the calendar looks like over the next 6 weeks...
This weekend, Claire flies to Denver for 3 days. We have 16 miles to run on Saturday morning before her lunchtime flight.
The following weekend, Claire has her Navy Reserve Drill weekend and we need to squeeze in an 18 mile run.
The weekend of the 20th brings us to Vegas for my family's annual trip and a 20-mile run.
We have Christmas weekend open...we are even thinking of just going to the movies on Christmas day and seeing 3 or 4 flicks.
New Year's weekend we are driving up to Philadelphia for some sight seeing.
The weekend after that, we have a marathon and 1/2.
The weekend after that, we are chaperoning a high school ski trip for my volleyball girls.
Whew...did I mention we have wedding planning to do? And that we are getting married on February 28?
We still don't have a caterer...we have not ordered invites...and we have not put together the music that we are going to be playing all night.
So little to do, so much time....wait, reverse that...so much to do, so little time.