Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because there are no presents, no glitz to get in the way. Just family, friends and gratitude for everything you have in life. Its a time for everyone to gather around a table of really yummy food and just be thankful for each other and all life's many blessings.

So, from my family to yours, I wish you the Happiest of Thanksgivings.

Cookie Turkeys

I saw this on Pinterest and I couldn't wait for Thanksgiving to make them!!

Here is the original post:

Mine didn't come out quite as cute as the originals, but I think they are still pretty good. The differences I did: I used Mike N Ikes instead of Jelly Bellys and I used regular M&Ms instead of mini's, although, for this one I would recommend using the mini's because I think the regular sized M&Ms made their eyes too big. Also, she said to use regular Reese's PB Cups, but I used the big ones because they were more stable and provided more room to add the candy corn at the top.

Oh, and also, I just used chocolate graham crackers as the base. The blog says you can order the circle wafers online, but I thought that was a lot to go through just to get a cookie. Plus, the graham cracker gave me room to add letters so I could use them as the place cards for seating arrangements around the dinner table!

I would also recommend putting them in the fridge for a bit to set the frosting right after adding the face on the cookie. It will make things much easier. I didn't take too many pictures because putting it together is pretty self explanatory.

And here is the one from the website above. See, much better. Just need some practice I guess!

So Easy Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce

If I haven't said it yet, I'll say it again: I love this time of year!! I love Thanksgiving. I love what the season means and the time spent with loved ones around a table of yummy goodness.

In honor of tomorrow's festivities and the fact that tables everywhere will be filled with food and kitchens busy with cooking, today's recipe is one of my own.  It is a very simple, yet delicious recipe for cranberry sauce, a Thanksgiving staple. You'll never buy canned again (except to use in a yummy roast, but that is another recipe for another time!) I always make this the day before, one less thing to do the day of so you can enjoy your time with your family.

All you need is:

3 cups fresh cranberries (one bag usually contains 3 cups)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
zest of one orange
ground cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks (optional)

Mix water, sugar, cranberries and cinnamon sticks (if using) together in a pot. Bring to a boil. While the mixture is coming to a boil, add the zest of one orange and a couple shakes of cinnamon. (Sorry for the lack of measurement on this one. If you are using cinnamon sticks too, just a couple shakes will work, about 1/4 teaspoon if I had to guess. If you are not using cinnamon sticks, probably doubling the ground cinnamon would work, about 1/2 teaspoon.)

Let the entire mixture boil for a few minutes. The cranberries will pop; that is just their skins bursting open and letting their yumminess out. After boiling for about 5 minutes or so, bring it down to a simmer. Stir occasionally. The mixture will thicken slightly.

Take it off the heat and let it cool a bit before putting it in the fridge.


Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Wreath

My goodness, it has been a whole month since I posted something! I have lots of pictures of the things I do to share here, but apparently I've been doing a lot of "doing" and not a lot of "sharing"!!!

This is the wreath currently hanging on my door. It is perfect for the holidays and it couldn't be any easier!! It is even easier than the yarn wreath and less time consuming too because you don't have to spend the time wrapping the yarn around anything.  It really only takes the amount of time you need to lay out your design.

For this wreath, I bought the plain branch wreath form instead of the Styrofoam.  I also just browsed through the silk flower section of the craft store and picked out the flowers that were the most Fall like to me. I also found a cute fall ribbon to use. 

I got married in the fall and made use of a lot of fake fall leaves because, lets face it, I couldn't depend on nature in Southern California!  I still have a ton left over so I included some of those too.

1. Just lay your bare wreath on your workspace. Start laying out your flowers. I took the stems off of mine because I didn't need them, but if you need them, keep 'em on!

2. Using your hot glue gun, start gluing everything down. This is a bit tricky because there is a lot of open space in the wreath that wasn't there in the yarn wreath, just try to finagle the flowers and the glue in the spaces. It is easier than it sounds.

3. Tie your bow. If you  have your own tips and tricks for this, please use them (and share!!) but I just did my version of this video tutorial I found on YouTube:

(I saw this little accent at the store and thought it was the cutest thing!! A nice little vintage accessory for my wreath!)

I hope you like this wreath and I can't wait to see what you create!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Today I am Thankful for... Friends

(Side note: These are some pretty random photos! If you don't see yourself... then we need to get together soon and catch up! :0) )

I have always felt that I have been pretty blessed by the people that have been in my life. Some I've known since we were kids others I've only known a few years. Some people I've been close with for a long time, some I was close with a long time ago, but not so much now. Some I know from elementary school through high school, some I met in college, some at work, and some through other friends. Some are similar to me in my likes and beliefs while others couldn't be more different, but we've perhaps bonded over something else.

A quick look at my Facebook friend's list shows me a list of people from my past and present. All of whom have had some impact on my life, whether it be fingerprint or a footprint. I have memories of great times and strong bonds and I am thankful for each and every one of you for helping shape who I am today.

Today I am thankful for..... Family

I am so fortunate to have all my family so close. JJ gets to grow up knowing his grandparents and his uncles and aunts and cousins. We get to have lots of family gatherings throughout the year. (It is also great for babysitting and Grandma Daycare!) My family and I are pretty close, and it is great to see that Gary's family is just about the same. Whether it's Gary's family or my brother's fantastic new wife, I feel like I lucked out in the in-law department. Just this year (a month apart) I got two new sisters-in-law and I love them both.

So whether I'm with my little family of four (including Dakota of course!), the Webers (born or married into), Craigs (born or married into) or any combo of the bunch, I know I am surrounded by love.

Today I am Thankful for... My Husband

I have the greatest husband. Sure, he makes me mad sometimes, like when he doesn't put the dishes in the dishwasher or just leaves stuff lying around. But those are little nothings.

When we first met, I was done with the random dating and was ready for a long-term relationship. He was done putting in the effort of a long relationship only to have it go nowhere and was just looking to hang out. The problem was, neither of us told each other our plans and for that I am thankful. It was the best result from a lack of communication ever! :0)

He loves me and our son and never takes us for granted. He is smarter than he gives himself credit for and he is extremely handy around the house. He is my biggest supporter no matter what I want to do. Marrying him was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I have a lifetime with him ahead to be thankful for.

Today I am Thankful for.... My Son

This is an easy one!! I am so beyond thankful my little JJ! (The pictures below speak for themselves!) He has been the biggest blessing I could have ever imagined. I didn't even know it was possible to love someone so much and to experience the unadulterated, unconditional love of a child is just overwhelming in the best way possible. He is so smart and funny and so sweet and is growing up so fast. He has the entire world and all its possibilities in front of him. He can do anything he wants and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for him!

Today I am Thankful for....My Job

When I was in college, I worked for a coffeehouse for 4 years (three years at It's A Grind, one at Starbucks). By the time I graduated I was done slinging lattes and making coffee. I met some pretty great people and I met some pretty terrible people and it was all a great experience, but I was ready to move on and get a grown up job. After graduation, I started sending out resumes. A lot of resumes. I went on a few interviews that lead to nothing. It seems silly now, but I was worried I wouldn't get a job at all! It was only two months that I was searching, so I was definitely being over dramatic. In July I got called in to an interview with Business Wire. Then I got called into a second interview. Then I got the job. I was so excited. I didn't really have a full grasp on what the company did, but I was happy anyway.

That was almost five and half years ago and I've never looked back. I'm now a Senior Editor for the Global leader in the industry. I work for a company that is owned by the man himself, the Oracle of Omaha, Mr. Warren Buffett.

I am thankful for the flexiblity of my job. My bosses are great and understanding and are willing to work with you to figure out the unexpected or arrange time off when needed. In 2007 I broke my foot and I couldn't drive. My husband (boyfriend at the time) had to drive me to work on his schedule, which was not even close to mine. It was no problem for me to work a different shift.

As a working mom, I am also extremely grateful for the hours I work. We are a 24-hour office, so there is always someone here. I work from 5am to 1:30 pm. The early hours sometimes suck when I want to sleep more, but it is always worth it to get home early enough to spend most of the day with my son. It'll be even better when he is in school because my husband can get him off to school in the morning and I'll be home when he gets out.

I have a job I enjoy, co-workers who are fantastic, and benefits that are hard to beat. We saw the recession in 2008 and we pushed on through. Sometimes the customer service aspect of the job is tough. People can be mean and rude and just angry for no reason at all. This job has definitely made me jaded in respect to how I view other people, but for every cringe-worthy client, there are a handful of great ones and that balances out nicely.

In this unsure time in the financial and job markets, I'm so thankful for my job and my husband's job and that we've never really had to worry about security. And we are doing what we enjoy, which is all the better.

Today I am Thankful for... Health

Today I woke up with a sore throat and a little bit of congestion in my sinuses. I felt pretty yucky most of the day, but that got me thinking. Overall, I have been very lucky when it comes to my health.
I had a pretty severe case of the chicken pox when I was a child (back before there was a vaccine); a Thyroglossal Duct Cyst remnant removed when I was 5; I had shingles and pneumonia when I was 11; I was diagnosed with G.E.R.D. when I was in college. None of that was great, in fact it was pretty awful (not that I remember having Chicken Pox). But when all is said and done, those health issues aren't really issues at all.
My husband is healthy, my son is healthy (I think he's been sick twice since he was born!), and I'm healthy. We have a history of hypo- and hyper-thyroidism, heart disease and cancer on both sides of our family, but it seems like everyone these days has a history of that or something so much worse.
There's the old cliche "At least you have your health." Well, to me, that's a lot. We wake up every morning, breathe easy and live our full and happy days. And I'm thankful for that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today I'm Thankful for.... Dirty Dishes

Dirty Dishes? What the...?? :0) I found this sign on Pinterest and I'm going to let it do the talking...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today I am Thankful... to live in America

On this day, The Marine Corps' birthday, I think it is appropriate to say how much I am thankful that I live in this country. We experience great freedoms that we take for granted everyday. The fact that people can protest the very thing that allows them to protest is a testament to that. We have the freedom to live how we want, believe in what we want, say what we want. As F.D.R. once said, the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

Not everyone in the world can say that:

- 79 per cent of the indigenous people in Peru are poor, and more than half live in extreme poverty.
Some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are currently working, according to the International Labour Office (ILO). Of this total, some 120 million children are working full-time. Some 61% of child workers (153 million) are found in Asia; 32% in Africa and 7% in Latin America.
2 million girls each year are at risk of genital mutilation - approximately 6,000 per day.
Many people in many countries live under the extreme control of their government. The government controls everything from the news they hear to the shows they watch on television.
- Dirty water kills 5000 children a day in sub-Saharan Africa. According to The Guardian, "
Many sub-Saharan Africans get less than 20 litres of water a day and two-thirds have no proper toilets. By contrast, the average Briton uses 150 litres a day while Americans are the world's most profligate, using 600 litres a day. Phoenix, Arizona, uses 1,000 litres per person on average - 100 times as much as Mozambique."

We have it more than great here in the good Ol' USA and I hope that, no matter how
much that is taken for granted, it is something that is never forgotten.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Today I am Thankful for... My House

This is an easy one. I am so thankful for my house. I have roof over my head, a place I call home. I have no delusions about the fact that not many people my age in Los Angeles own a home. The market is tough, so I am so grateful that we have been able to have this house.

I am also thankful that we are really starting to make it our own home. We have been here for 3 years now and we are slowly but surely changing things into what we want. I am thankful that we are able to do that and really put our touches on it.

This is going to be the house our children grow up in. Maybe even the house our grandkids come to visit. Sometimes all the work gets me down and I wish we had bought something a bit more finished, but I actually love getting creative and turning something "alright" into something GREAT. I can't wait to make a lifetime of memories in this house. We've already got a pretty good start.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Today I am Thankful for.... Dakota

Yep, that's my puppy! He is crazy. We are talking insane. Devil dog. Drives me up a wall. He definitely has no idea he was the runt of his litter. (He holds his own with my parents' big ol' labs!)

We got him right after we got married. He was 3 when we got him and pretty well trained. His owner got prostate cancer and was unable to take care of him. We brought him into our home and he quickly made it his own. When JJ was born, he was the ultimate protector. A great big brother.
As much as he drives us up the wall with his craziness sometimes, we love him. That much was evident last year when we almost lost him. Just before Christmas, we noticed he was not being crazy. In fact, he wasn't doing much of anything. He was having trouble going down the porch steps, he was slipping on the tiles and wood floor. He wasn't eating. Something was wrong. We took him to the vet and found out he had Pancreatitis. That was the easy fix. We also found out he was having problems with his eyes. We had to take him to a veterinary ophthalmologist (I didn't even know that exisited!) They had to do a number of tests and he was on some meds for a while, but $1000 (just before Christmas??) later, he was back to normal. I didn't know what we were going to do if he didn't get better. We honestly couldn't afford anymore tests, so I am thankful that we didn't need them, but to be faced with the choice of what to do with a beloved pet who is pretty much a member of the family, that's tough. I'm so thankful that we didn't have to make any drastic decisions. We did learn that Husky's are prone to eye problems, so that is something we can keep an eye on (no pun intended) in the future. And we met a great Veterinary Opthalmologist!

Dakota is nutso, but he reminds me of innocence and love and fun and I am so thankful he came into our lives.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Today I am Thankful for.... Daddy and JJ time

(I missed a day, so you get two today :0) )

I have the best husband, but that Thankful post will come later. He is such a great dad. He loves our son and will do anything for him. My favorite, though, is on nights like tonight, when they play together and he gets JJ going into fits of giggles.

Today I am Thankful for.... Cooking Abilities

There aren't really too many things I will admit to be very good at. I'm sure I'm good at things, I just don't like to say so because I'm afraid people will think I'm bragging. Or worse, people will ask me to do something and it won't be as good as I said it was.

I don't feel this way about cooking. I love food. Everything about food from the way it smells to the taste to the way it makes you feel. Food brings people together. Food is universal. What you eat may differ from region to region, country to country, but the idea behind food, the emotions, the familial table, that is universal.

I love cooking and baking and I'm good at it. I can create my own recipes when I want and 90% of the time, they turn out really yummy. I'm thankful I was blessed with this ability (and I'm sure my husband is too!). I love that I can create something that brings people together. I'm thankful that when I am craving Chinese food, I can rummage my cupboards and throw something together. Most of all, I'm thankful for the food and other cooking items in my cupboards. Kitchens are the new heart of the home and I definitely feel blessed to have my heart in my kitchen.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Today I am Thankful for... Waffles and Cartoons

My husband and I spent this morning having a yummy homemade waffle breakfast and watching Disney Jr. with our son. JJ loves Mickey Mouse, Handy Manny, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so he was a happy boy and that makes this mamma very happy too. It was a wonderful morning; one I wish we could do every morning :0)