Quick and Delicious Cranberry Sauce

November 26, 2014

I am a reformed cranberry sauce lover. You see, shamefully, I admit that for years and years I loved the canned cranberry crap stuff, much to the dismay of my mother. As I've gotten older, and cooking - especially whole cooking - has become a hobby and love of mine, things have changed.

I perused about no less than 10 different cranberry sauce recipes this year online, and decided to mix bits and pieces of all of them and I've created my best cranberry sauce yet.


Ingredients

4 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light, pick your poison - I use dark)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider (not juice, but cider - I used honeycrisp cider)
1 small orange or cutie - juice and grated peel
1/3 large lemon - juice and grated peel

Directions

Bring the brown sugar, water and cider to a boil. 
While heating, add rind and juice of both citruses.
Add in cranberries.
Cook for about 15 minutes, or until desired consistency (I tend to cook mine on a lower heat for longer, to get a thick sauce).

Thanksgiving Week - Birthday Week - Best Week

November 25, 2014

I'll be out of commission this week.

I've planned a week-of-Thanksgiving-fun for myself, and my family. Yesterday? We hit up a nearly empty Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at the Arboretum, ate some Torchy's for lunch and Ellie enjoyed a 2+ hour nap (a rarity around here).


Today? Welp, today I'm 33. I actually don't mind getting older... at this moment.

So today I'm going to celebrate with my family - first off, a trip to the Math Alive! Exhibit at the Perot Museum, followed by lunch with the U. Then, tonight, my parents and our little fam of four are hitting up my favorite local restaurant for a (very) early dinner - as is the norm when you have two small children who are in bed by 7pm.

And the rest of the week I hope to fill with adventure, celebration, good food and good times with our friends and family.

Oh - and next week it's our annual first of December trip! We're headed to Cali to visit family, take some holiday photos and, most excitingly, DISNEYLAND!

So - I'll catch you all on the flip side. In a week, or two, once our lives have calmed a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!




Hits & Misses

November 21, 2014

HIT - Grandparents' Day at HUT's School

Which means, no driving for drop-off or pick-up for me today! I'm still in my jams drinking coffee (letting the U watch Ellie) while I type this. It's like a mini vacation for this SAHM.

MISS - Holiday Giving

We opted to adopt a family from an organization this year, and the list was... interesting. Some items on there are things that I consider major treats in my life and won't even buy myself, or my kids. I've emailed them in hopes that similar alternatives can be purchased. Made of money, we are not, but we have enough wiggle room to be able to give a little to those who are less fortunate. But when you're asking me for a $50 makeup item? I don't know what to think.

Here's to hoping that next week I can turn this one around into a HIT.

HIT - Thanksgiving week!

Which also means, my birthday week, my favorite holiday meal and we're going to the Arboretum to see their 12 Days of Christmas exhibit all lit up in the evening. Then we'll be decorating the house and putting up our tree in our new-to-us holiday tradition of "tequila, tamales and tree trimming!"

NYC Trip Recap

November 18, 2014

Oh, sure, it's been almost a month and a half since my mom and I took our girls' trip to NYC. But I want to write this post for posterity, if anything. I want to look back in four or five years to see where we went, like I did this past time when I revisited my old blog post.


Side note: I've been blogging for far too long.

This trip was a gift from my mom, so we ate at some nice places. Please keep that in mind when you look at pricing...

Lunch - Landmarc at Times Warner Center

Since we knew that we were going to have a big dinner that evening, my mom and I split a panini and a salad. And some wine. Had to kick off the trip right. The atmosphere was good, our waitress was super personal and it was fun to walk off our little wine buzz in the shops after our lunch.

Dinner - Spice Market

We did the chef's menu and it was insane. In a good way. But by the last three courses (there were 10 total, I think?) we could barely find room to fit it in our bellies. And they courses just got better and better - except for the dessert. Dessert was pretty gross, in my opinion. Probably fitting for the cuisine, but just not my cup of tea.


Lunch - Cull and Pistol in the Chelsea Market

Mom and I went to the Chelsea Market on a recommendation from my friend here in Dallas. It was awesome - tons of great little shops and various markets with all kinds of foods. Since we love to cook, it was probably one of the highlights of the trip, after the 9/11 Museum. This restaurant is owned and connected to the most impressive seafood market that I've ever been to (which isn't many, but still). We had a platter of cold seafood that we selected, followed by a split lobster roll and, of course, wine. Sit at the bar, if you can. It makes for a fun atmosphere.

Dinner - Locanda Verde

Our last dinner - it was super chilly outside and this restaurant was everything you want in NYC. Paned windows, great atmosphere, decor for the Fall. The food was fantastic (we ordered the night's specials) and nothing disappointed. I would go here again in a heartbeat. This one was recommended to me by nearly everyone I asked for recs from.

Brunch - Sarabeth's 

This was also another fan favorite when I asked for restaurant recs. The portions were huge, the place was packed, which made it a bit cozy, but it hit the spot right before I hopped on a plane to head home. Definitely make a reservation for this one - I did for a Friday morning and thank goodness, because the line was out of the door.


It was truly a whirlwind trip, so there wasn't much time to do a lot. We ate, visited the Chelsea Market (which was so awesome), toured the 9/11 Museum (seriously, you must do this, and don't be embarrassed to join the old folks on a tour - I did and I learned so much that you'd never know by just walking through it alone... but prepare yourself for the emotions. so. many. emotions.), and, of course, shopping.


We stayed at the Warwick Hotel, which is small, clean, has a good bar for cocktails and is in a great location. A block away from shopping on 5th, quick walk to Rockefeller, and a block from Central Park.

I have pictures, but none of them that I'm actually in. Just scenery and tons of museum pics.

It was a great trip - and nice to get away from the kiddos for a couple of days, but I was so ready to see them after 48 hours that I hopped on an earlier flight to get home to my family. If anyone had told me ten years ago that I'd leave NYC early to get back to Texas? I would have laughed in their face.

I can't wait to go back again with my mom... and hopefully have Ellie in tow for our first girls' trip as a trio!

DIY Mouse Raglan Holiday Shirt

November 17, 2014


Let me preface this tutorial by saying this...

I feel a bit guilty posting this tutorial, because I found the idea on Etsy - so there is someone who sells shirts nearly identical to these. But, at $30 + shipping per shirt, I couldn't justify the cost. I could, however, attempt to DIY them myself. So I did. With a bit added detail in the sewing.

Thankfully my mom is good at sewing, something at which I will never excel. Also, the sewing part is the detail I was looking for that ultimately made up my mind about DIY'ing over purchasing from Etsy.

So - let's get started...

Materials:

Raglan Shirts 
(I purchased these from Old Navy, but I also found these on Amazon for the kiddos. For the adults we went with these from Amazon)

Red Cotton Fabric

Black Cotton Fabric 
(I used fleece because I liked the idea for a Christmas shirt. It's much thicker to work with, so black cotton would be much more practical.)

Sewing Machine

Red Thread to match material

Black Thread to match material

Green Thick Thread 
(crochet thread works best) & appropriate needle

Wonder-under 
(NOT the heavy duty kind - apparently that will gum up your sewing machine)

Iron

Silhouette w/ Fabric Blade 
(if you have it - if not, you can make it easily with a stencil)

Instead of finding a mouse stencil online, I created my own in Illustrator. It was much easier for me to do so to make sure that the larger stencil and smaller stencils would match up. I can also export it to my Silhouette program, which I did to make exact cuts for my shirts. More on that later...

Directions:

To begin, I cut the length and width of fabric that would fit onto my Silhouette board (12"x12" or 12"x24" - I used both mats at different times). I also cut the same size piece of Wonder-under. I adhered the Wonder-under to the fabric on one side with an iron. Then, I placed the fabric onto my Silhouette board and sent it through to cut the mouse shapes. If you don't have a Silhouette, you could easily make a stencil and then cut it out of your fabric. I would still adhere the bonding to the fabric before making your cuts.

For the cotton fabric, I set my Silhouette to cut thin fabric and set my blade (a brand new fabric blade) at a 4. For the fleece, I set it to heavy fabric and put the blade on an 8 and it nearly cut through the mat. So probably around a 6 would work best. You might need to use a blade to help finish out the cuts all of the way through, but it should be relatively easy.

I then ironed the red mouse onto the shirts first (since it's the larger one).


My mom sewed around the inside with matching thread (see the picture below for better detail). This is the part that was not included on Etsy - and something that I really wanted so that the shirt would have a finished look to it. A lot of tutorials recommend using a backing when sewing to avoid puckering of the fabric - we didn't use a backing and it was just fine. Now, once we wash them, I'm not so sure. But we prewashed the shirts so we won't be washing them until after our visit, at which point I don't care if they get distorted.

Repeat the same process and iron the black fabric, then stitch around the inside in coordinating black thread. If you are using fleece, like I did, this will take a while to adhere. It's best to just lay the iron on the fabric for a couple of minutes and check on it to see when it's fully adhered. If you are using cotton, it should be much easier.


My mom then hand stitched the green thread onto each shirt. We highly recommend purchasing a white pencil that can be erased on fabric to mark out the stitches first. Otherwise you might end up making a lot of holes in your first attempt.


And that's it!

I asked my BFF to whip up a few bows, which I then hot glued to a pin, to pin onto the girls' shirts - totally optional, but I love the idea of having both male and female mouse shirts, plus Christmas ribbon makes it all the more festive.

Any questions? Feel free to ask below. I'm also happy to share my patterns for both the youth shirts and adults - the mouse on the adult shirts is a bit larger.