Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Want Wednesday: November 30, 2011

**Ever since that really rainy round of Food & Wine Fest, I have craved a good raincoat. After some careful consideration, I WantThree-Quarter Length Mesh-Lined Rain Coat from LL Bean. In "deep red," of course. It's a good length, lightweight (since I rarely have cause for a wool lining during the Florida rainy season), and it has a hood.


**A cool front moved in Monday evening, leaving me craving cozy beverages. I Want a steaming mug of this hot chocolate from Williams-Sonoma. Any of those flavors sound delicious, but the peppermint is really calling my name at the moment. I don't know what it is about that packaging too, but I am so drawn to it!


**I actually need some new makeup brushes. My old ones are several years old and they are ready to be replaced. I know some people will insist I should be more picky about purchasing better quality brushes, but I just can't justify a pricey set from Sephora. I would feel too guilty if I didn't get many years out of them! And then I saw this Sonia Kashuk set for sale at Target. I Want them! They are so silvery and sparkly and pretty! What a cheerful way to start each day!


**I have this great, comfortable zip-up red sweater that I wear like a jacket for most of the winter. There are some days that it isn't cold enough for me to break out my actual winter coat (let's face it, in Florida, those days are rare), but I need just a little something more than the sweater. I think that "something" is a scarf. Nothing too heavy. I Want just a bit of softness to wrap around my neck. I bet this Featherweight Gauze Wrap from Land's End would do the job nicely. And the navy blue would pair well with the bright red of my sweater. It could be my winter tribute to the Red Sox colors!


**I Want to break into my stash of winter Yankee Candle scents. These are the new ones I decided to try out this year (in addition to all the old favorites, of course). I am especially excited about Mountain Berries and Cherries on Snow.


**I am the first to admit that the last thing I need is another votive holder. I have so many to choose from already, for every single season. But I cannot help myself. I adore the crackled glass votive holders Yankee Candle comes out with. The Autumn and Winter ones are my weakness. I Want one of each of these!

(top, left to right: Nature's CracklePinecone CrackleAmber Leaves Crackle. bottom, left to right: Berry CrackleAutumn Leaves CrackleWinter Bird Crackle)

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.**

I was born in October. I lived my first twenty-five years in New England. My favorite season, without a doubt, is Autumn. I don't get much in the way of Autumn, following my relocation to The Sunshine State nearly a decade ago. (Seriously. A *decade*. My Lord, where does the time go...?)

All that is a preface to share that I cannot--truly, I am physically unable--pass a dried leaf on the ground without stomping on it. My opportunities are too few and far between. And there is nothing quite so satisfying as the crunch of a dried leaf under your shoe. (You may take this for granted. You don't realize its value until you don't have piles of leaves around you. You're probably consumed with raking them up. If you moved away from Autumn, you would miss them. Trust me on this.)

Nearly four weeks ago now, I got to play at Disney World with two very dear friends. We may have been at Food & Wine Fest, but I can assure, the following took place without any adult beverages contributing to this uninhibited moment of joy. When a carefully constructed pile of this nature presents itself, there is but one thing to do.





**I didn't have a wet sucker, but I also can't resist dropping quotes from classic Charlie Brown holiday specials either.

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Menu Plan Monday: November 28, 2011



Monday: We have some potatoes to use up from the ten-pound bag T bought last week and there are still some fresh green beans in the veggie drawer, so I will be making Shepherd's Pie for dinner tonight. We have some salad in the refrigerator too.
Tuesday: Time for something completely different to wake up the taste buds! Sausage, Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells with a salad and some garlic bread. (We'll actually use up some of the brown-and-serve rolls from Thanksgiving to make the garlic bread!)
Wednesday: Mid-week Advent services start tonight, so I need something quick and easy. (I originally had the stuffed shells here but then realized that wouldn't be a good plan with church starting at 6:30. Nowhere near enough time to prep, bake and eat that dish before church, and *no* chance I was waiting til I got home!) T will marinate some chicken breasts and then grill them to make grilled chicken sandwiches. Probably a quick, lazy noodle side dish and I'll be refueled and ready to head back out by 6:10.
Thursday: We decided to take a vacation day to play at WDW. The crowd should be a little lighter during the week and I am ready for some Disney after taking the last several weeks away from it after so much time there over Food & Wine Fest. I'm not sure what we'll have for dinner, but it will be somewhere in the parks.
Friday: T has been talking about making this soup he had at Olive Garden a while back. He finally found a recipe for it and the weather here is supposed to be "unseasonably cool" most of the week, so we'll be trying a new recipe. Hopefully, we'll use up the last of the rolls with some butter as well.
Saturday: We have some kielbasa in the freezer that's been shoved around for a while. Time to use it. We'll have some pierogies and sauerkraut with it. A good hearty meal.
Sunday: We'll have to see what leftovers are still kicking around from earlier in the week. If we've already cleaned them up, Sunday dinner will be a surprise!

Notes from last week's menu: I really have to say, the whole week, including Thanksgiving dinner, went perfectly. Any leftovers from earlier in the week were cleaned up for lunches--including the most enormous baked potatoes I have *ever* seen in my life, big enough for one potato to cover two meals! I tried three new recipes, all successfully and all keepers! The Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans were rather easy to assemble, but the best part of this dish is, believe it or not, *not* the bacon but the sauce! Also, at T's request, I made my first ever Classic Pumpkin Pie (I've made plenty of no-bake pies, but I've never actually baked one--in any flavor!--all on my own!) and it was really good! I guess a baked pumpkin pie is another one of those dishes to go on the "I hated it as a kid, but my tastes have expanded since then" list of surprises. The Leftover Turkey Pot Pie wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever made, but it was a great way to use up some leftovers from the meal and have it taste different enough.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: November 21, 2011



Monday: T has a couple of steaks calling out to him from the freezer. We'll have baked potatoes and grill up some Summer squash in a balsamic marinade.
Tuesday: Something easy = grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips and a pickle on the side.
Wednesday: Attempt number two at pizza..
Thursday: Thanksgiving! We'll be having roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, (new recipe!) Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans, cranberry sauce, and, for dessert, (new recipe!) Classic Pumpkin Pie.
Friday: Hahahahaha. Did you see how much food we're making for Thanksgiving? For TWO PEOPLE? We'll be eating leftovers.
Saturday: Time to break up the monotony: (new recipe!) Leftover Turkey Pot Pie.
Sunday: More leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: Monday and Tuesday went off without a hitch. Monkey wrench! (imagine the sound of tires screeching) I ended up with a cold/weird virus of some sort that arrived out of nowhere and kicked my rear with some odd symptoms. I didn't want anything for dinner on Wednesday. Thursday, I felt better, so we had Wednesday's tuna cakes. Friday, I felt like poo, so I doped up on DayQuil, T grabbed dinner from Zaxby's and we bumped the pizza to the following week. I ate a lot of chowder the rest of the weekend while I recovered.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Down for the count.

I have no idea what form of virus I am battling, but I feel yuck. It started Tuesday with a throat that wasn't even enough to call sore, just a little scratchy feeling that would come and go, so I started Zicam-ing myself. On Wednesday, it was mostly gone, and I felt fine--I thought my immune system had won! go me!--until about three in the afternoon, at which point I hit a wall. I was sleepy driving home but I made myself walk with T, as per our usual routine, hoping it would perk me up. It had the opposite effect. I was so wiped out by the time we finished that I sat on the couch and stared on my shoes, trying to will myself the energy to untie them. I sat on the couch, staring vacantly at the television. I had zero appetite and couldn't imagine even summoning the ambition to move a fork from a plate to my mouth and then chewing anyway. I was nauseated for about twenty minutes, but nothing happened and it went away. Then a spiked a mid-grade fever for about a half hour. I felt it break with a giant shiver. My energy came back slightly but no appetite. I went to bed early. On Thursday, I blew my nose a couple of times and my throat felt like I had been yelling at a sporting event for hours--raspy but it didn't hurt. I thought I was going to get away with a couple of mild symptoms. Until today. At roughly 10am, all heck broke loose in my head. I went through an entire box of Puffs in five hours. My head never hurt but I felt like poo. So, on my way home, I stopped at the drugstore for a DayQuil/NyQuil pack (liqui-gels...no liquid death flavor for me!). I plan to DayQuil myself until an appropriate bedtime, at which point I will dose myself up with NyQuil and see you in a couple of days.


::sigh::

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Want Wednesday: November 16, 2011

**I Want to try growing my own potted herbs, once I have a home that gets a little more sunlight, and I thought these reusable plant tags would be a great idea for marking the pots!


**I lack the skill to wrap cords neatly, meaning my various chargers, cords and earbuds are left "open" and messy or they end up in a tangled jumble (especially when I travel), so I am intrigued by these bobino Cord Wraps. I Want neatly wrapped cords!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: November 14, 2011



Monday: I have a craving for honey mustard, so grilled chicken wraps it is!
Tuesday: We have some pork steaks in the freezer that need to be used. T will grill them and we'll have some corn and a salad to round out the meal.
Wednesday: I wanted something a little lighter, so we went with Tuna Cakes. A little bit of broccoli with butter on the side.
Thursday: We decided to get some takeout this week (rare for us)--some chicken from Zaxby's sounds good!
Friday: Can't remember the last time we had pizza.
Saturday: T makes a great New England Clam Chowder.
Sunday: We'll shoot for leftovers. There are *always* leftovers from the chowder.

Notes from last week's menu: Things were crazy the past couple of weeks. I wasn't home several days (friends vacationing at WDW!) and the menu was all over the place. I felt a little break was in order. Time to get back on track though!

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Food & Wine Festival 2011: Top 5

I'm pretty certain no one is shocked that I am not picking just one straight-up favorite Food & Wine Fest dish. I mean, this is *me* we're talking about. And I tried dozens of dishes. You should just be impressed I managed to narrow it down to a "Top Five."

5. Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie (Ireland)


4. Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork & Kimchi Slaw (South Korea)


3. Pumpkin Mousse with Craisins & Orange Sauce (Hops & Barley)


2. Crispy Shrimp Taco with Chipotle Lime Mayo & Cabbage on a Flour Tortilla (Mexico)


1. Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet & Sour Pineapple Chutney & Spicy Mayonnaise (Hawaii)


and...

...because you *knew* I couldn't stick to my self-imposed limits...

...go ahead, I'll wait while you laugh...

...two Honorable Mentions, that were so close, but ultimately had to be eliminated.

Seared Mahi Mahi with Steamed Rice, Hearts of Palm & Coconut-Lime Sauce (Brazil)


Parisian Cosmo Slush (France)

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

People Pics

In the weeks leading up to Nichole and Daniel's Disney vacation, Nichole and I texted back and forth making various plans, and one of the things we agreed most heartily upon was that we never take enough photos of *us*. There are plenty of photos of sights and foods, but not the people. It was time to remedy this. We weren't sure what this would entail, exactly, but we did decide that there would be some silly photos. Because, really, what's better than photos that make you laugh every time you revisit them, right?

There were the "say cheese" photos...



and the random candids...



and the silly ones...




And then we decided to stage our runs through Test Track (since we've ridden so many times, we know right where the camera is, and often we just look distracted). Here's where things started getting priceless. Here you have dead people in the front seat...


...which evolved into Angry Darumas in the back seat...


...and finally, a car full of people preparing to crash--the best part was, sitting in the front seat, we had no idea our entire car was in on it until we saw the photo come up on  the screen at the Test Track exit!


And then, Nichole had a brilliant idea. If you go to Disney, each of the parks has designated "Kodak photo spots," otherwise known as those touristy spots that everyone stops to take their photo. Nichole decided that we should locate each of them (thanks to our handy park map--first time I've needed one of those in more than eight years!) and take our photo. Things started off pretty tame...




...with a hint of silliness...

(Not as easy as you might think to make yourself part of a totem pole.)

...until inspiration struck. And then we were cooking. See, each of these Kodak photo spots has a little marker. And on that marker is a staged photo, with the basic idea of showing you which background you're looking for, something like this:

Except most of them are super cheesy. And that was when we decided to re-create them.

Oh. Yes. We. Did.






And now we have a new mission the next time they come to visit: three more Disney parks full of Kodak photo spot inspiration! Because this? Was a success. I am unable to scroll through these photos without giggling.

It's photos like these, the way the make me feel, that keeps me toting my camera along.





Those last two? I love that we're laughing. The Disney photographer had my camera. He told Daniel to cross his arms over his chest. We weren't sure what he was cooking up for a pose...until he told us it was just because he hates the Patriots.

Get out your cameras. Make some memories. It's how we bottle moments of time while we have the chance.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Food & Wine Festival 2011: The Final Round

With just one more trip to make around this oh-so-delicious world, I had a very specific plan of action. It started with a replay at Hawaii of the Kaluha Pork Slider, before embarking for...

SINGAPORE
Shrimp Cake on a Sugarcane Skewer with Singapore Noodles.

I wasn't sure what I was going to get from Singapore. I knew it wasn't going to be a Singapore Sling, and I'd had the Beef Randang last year, so I knew it was too spicy for my taste. I am very picky about the ways I will eat shrimp, so I was taking a risk on the shrimp cake, being the only other option on the menu, and I ended up surprised! The shrimp cake had a great flavor and the texture was not at all what I feared. The noodles were actually cold, like a salad. I couldn't believe I had been so skeptical!



I had to chase that with another Pumpkin Mousse from Hops & Barley, followed by yet another favorite: the Lettuce Wrap from South Korea, before a new dish from...

ARGENTINA
Beef Empanada.


I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by this one. Last year, they served a cheese and corn empanada that was quite good, but the beef filling in this year's was dry and, well, kinda boring. I had much higher expectations for this one and it just fell flat. Thankfully, though, I had one last destination...



DESSERTS & CHAMPAGNE
Lemon Chiffon. Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial.

What a perfect way to end the 2011 Food & Wine Festival. Some bubbles and a light refreshing lemony cloud.



As always, I am sad to see Food & Wine Fest draw to a close. However, for the first time ever, I managed to try every single dish on my list! I completed my passport ("What's that?" you say. Oh yes, my passport. We'll be discussing this soon!) and now it is time to contemplate my Food & Wine Festival 2011 Top Five! Stay tuned...

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