"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." Roald Dahl

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flying without an ID

It is possible to fly nowadays without a picture ID.  I learned this one the hard way.  Yesterday, about three hours before I was set to leave for the airport, I discovered that my license was missing.  The last time I could remember having it was on my flight to Chicago 4 days prior.  I looked through everything.  We tore apart my already packed suitcase, checked every pocket I had, scoured both cars, and had everyone in the house helping with no luck.

So, off we went to the airport.  Like I said before, it is possible to fly without an ID, you just have to be willing to undergo a very thorough security check.  I'm not really sure I understand why the lack of photo ID ups the likelihood that you will have explosives on you, but it seems that is all they were concerned about.  I not only did a full body scan, but I was also patted down and my clothes, as well as carry on items and some of the things inside of them were wiped with the little cloth and checked for chemicals.  Luckily, the lady helping me was very nice and as soon as they realized I was no threat to security, they sent me on my merry way.

Anyway, moral of the story - don't lose your photo ID before you fly.

In case you were wondering...I went to check the mail today and found this weird envelope without a return address.  I thought it was some sort of weird small, thick Christmas card, but it was not.  Lo and behold...there, was my ID, with a sticky note attached...


The note reads "Found this in the Jewel/Osco parking lot in South Elgin, IL."  You see, after picking me up from the airport last week, my father and I had stopped at the grocery store to get some last minute Christmas dinner preparations and I must have dropped it.

I am very thankful that there is a good person out there who was nice enough to help me out and return my lost ID.  I will be much more careful in the future.

Tis the Season to be Merry!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad gets to share his birthday with Jesus each year, and I think that makes it one special day. It also means that we are all always together to celebrate.

I am a lot like my dad in many ways and I love to talk with him, contemplate the world, changes we would make if we were in charge, and scheme for our future endeavors. He is one of the most business savvy people I have ever met and I admire his wisdom.

Dad, I hope you have a wonderful day! 





Happy Birthday Dad!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Lights

Over the past few years, it has become a tradition for Derek and I to go see the Christmas light shows in North Carlina for the holidays. Two years ago we went on a date to see the Lake Myra Christmas Lights. Then last year we went again with his family and it was so much fun! 

This year, we mixed things up and headed out to see the Meadow Lights. Meadow is a town in North Carolina where people who go all out for Christmas. I had heard about it for years and was so excited to go see them! I am like a five year old around lights - or maybe it's all holidays - but I really was so excited, I could barely stand it.

We headed to see the lights with Derek's parents after a nice dinner and it was amazing.





I'm pretty sure that these lights were all on one property, or at least they were mostly done by one family.  Jan said that they have been doing it so long that now the one who runs it all is the granddaughter of the original man that started it.  These lights not only document the whole story of Jesus' life, but they also go on for several acres!  There is a train you can ride around the property to see it all.  We opted out of that because the line was crazy!  But we did get to see a ton!



We even got to go in the candy store that they have next to the house.  It was really cute and so crowded!  I think that if you have specific preferences on what type of candy you want, you should go in early December because it was picked over, but we still found a bit of candy to take home. :)



How cute is that?!

I thought we were done after that, but on the way home we stopped in a neighborhood to look at another house that goes all out for Christmas.  WOW!  This was pretty impressive as well!




I wish I had made a video, because what you can't see are the elves, in the workshop, that actually move, the santa that was waving, and the helicopter that was flying.  There were so many moving lights!

It was such a fun night and a great tradition for the Christmas season.  If you live in North Carolina and haven't checked out the Lake Myra or Meadow Lights, I highly recommend it!





Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

I tried another recipe in the crockpot the other day. Broccoli cheese soup was perfect for our chilly day.

6 cups of broccoli
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of large onion (chopped)
2 cups chicken broth
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk or half and half
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese

First I put the broccoli right in the crockpot. Then I browned the onions for about a minute then threw the carrots in the pan with them to cook a bit.



After that I put the, all in the crock pot with the garlic and the chicken broth. I added a little bit of pepper and cooked it on high for an hour and a half.


When this was done, I took about half of the veggies out and put them in the blender to get rid of some of the chunks, then added the blended mixture right back to the crockpot.  When that was done, in a separate bowl,I mixed the flour and milk and whisked it together with the nutmeg. I added that to the crockpot and let it cook for another 45 minutes on low.




During the last 45 minutes I slowly added the cheddar cheese and mixed it up, letting it melt.


After that it was good to go.  I made so much I actually froze a bunch of it.  As for the taste, I liked it, but I'm not sure that I loved it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Exciting Game

This Saturday Derek and I got to go watch the Wolfpack play number one ranked Syracuse here in Raleigh. Derek has season tickets, but it was the first game I've gotten to go to this season because of work. I was pretty pumped!




NC State didn't end up winning, but they did give them a run for their money for parts of the game.  And we had a blast!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

This past weekend Derek and I made our gingerbread house.  In my family, we have always done the homemade ones, out of graham crackers frosting, and whatever candy we could find.  Derek's family has used the kits.  His parents gave us a kit to use this year and I was so excited. I though that would be perfect for Derek because he is quite particular about some things.   Homemade projects being some of them.  I am of the "whatever happens, happens" mentality.  Derek likes everything to be perfect.  As you can probably suggest, his projects turn out looking much more professional than mine.  And I am ok with that. I am no perfectionist.

There is also a joke in his family that your relationship is not totally solid until you have been able to build a gingerbread house together and survive it.  (Hmmmm, this personality trait of D's might just run in the family...)  Lucky for me, I'm pretty laid back and I had no doubts.

We opened up the box and unfortunately the gingerbread in the kit had cracked and the frosting was hard as a rock.  My fool proof plan to get Derek a "perfect" ginger bread house faded fast.  The kit was out.  I offered to head out to the store for some more frosting, the graham crackers, and a few spice drops.  Derek seemed skeptical, but played along. 

After about 20 minutes of hard work and some creative decorations, here is the final product...



I'm probably pretty biased, but I think it's adorable.  
Hopefully it won't be raining sprinkles again anytime soon, because that roof is not very rainproof.


Make sure you take a look at the front door, the bushes, and the snow on the ground (some really stale marshmallows) and just for fun, Derek added some dog poop in the yard (chocolate covered coffee beans he had in the fridge).   And that pile of candies on the right is a flower garden, in case you couldn't tell. 

I was pretty proud of our little project.  We had a lot of fun making it and as you can see, Derek even got the creative juices flowing to help add to the decor.  I am also happy to report that the relationship is still in tact :)

In other news, we got this in the mail the other day. I'm fairly certain that Corey made them!  They are so adorable.  Excellent work, Corey! 


The arrival of the first Christmas cards of the season was a major kick in the butt for me to get moving.  It's a good thing too, because now my Christmas cards are all now in the mail on the way to you!


Have I mentioned lately that Christmas is my favorite?!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pulled Pork and Ginger Ale

I made pulled pork a few weeks ago and I actually left my crockpot at home and on (!) while I went to work.  I was convinced that I was going to burn the house down, but I didn't.  Thank goodness.

I got the recipe from a friend and it was super easy.

Put pork in the crockpot and add about a 1/2 liter of ginger ale or enough to cover it.  I used about 1.8 lbs of pork.  Chop up 1/2 of an onion and put in on top of and around the pork (I only used about a 1/4 of the onion).  Cook on low all day.  I left in in there for about 10 hours.



Take the pork out and shred it.  It was so tender it practically fell apart.  Drain the juice.



Put it back in the crockpot and add about 1/2 a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.  I used the "orginial recipe", but they said you could try any of them.  I let it cook for about another hour.


The pulled pork was pretty good!  You could definitely taste the onions and the ginger ale.  I think I liked it, but it was one of those tastes that were great on some bites and on others, a bit strong.  It added a little bit of an unexpected kick.  Pizaz, if you will.  Either way, it was super easy.

I just got another recipe for pulled pork this week and I can't wait to try it.  This one was good, but the verdict is still out.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Decorating

Thursday night Derek and I trimmed the tree and put up the rest of my decorations (all three of them! ha).  It was something I've been excited about doing for a while now and it was so nice to have a night at home for it.  It actually only took us about 20 minutes...I think I need to invest in some more decorations or a bigger tree.

This morning, I'm sitting in my living room looking at this... it doesn't get much better.  :)


Afterwards decorating we had some fun posing in front of the camera.  And we even figured out how to use the timer.




I love how cozy the house looks when I turn the tree lights on.  I could sit here all day.






Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Plates

While I was at home, my mom and sister showed me how to make plain plates into unique colorful gifts using fabric and modge-podge.  They had done it before for a bachelorette party of one of Paula's friends.  That was back while I was in college and couldn't care less about DIY craft projects, so clearly, I did not take part, nor pay attention.  I should have.

Thankfully, they decided to do it again.  And I got to watch and help.  My mom wanted to make some holiday plates, so we picked out some holiday fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  My mom works a lot, but somehow finds time to back cookies each year and send them off to our neighbors and friends with cute little cards and always in some crafty little package.   These plates are her cute little packages for this year.

The materials...

Clear plates (we found them at Meijer for cheap, but Walmart would possibly work as well)


We mixed it up and got both circular and square plates to try.

Modge Podge for Fabric

Fabric in 9 inch squares (our plates were 9 inches wide)


Paint brushes and Rubber or latex gloves

How we did it....

Make sure you wash the plates first.  You don't want any dust or sticky residue on them.


Then, trace the plate about a 1/4 inch larger than the actual plate and cut out the fabric.



Then, paint the modge podge on the good side of the fabric, just to coat it.


Place the modged-podged side of the fabric onto the bottom of the plate and paint another layer of modge-podge on the other side of the fabric.  When you're done painting, use your gloved hands to rub out all of the air bubbles and make sure the fabric is smooth.


It takes a while to make sure all of the air bubbles are gone.  Every time I thought I was done I would flip it over and find more.  We put it on a soup can to keep it elevated while we worked.

After that, we left the plates on the soup cans and put them in the basement to dry for 24 hours.

They turned out great!!


We used razor blades to clean up the edges of the fabric that wear hanging off the plate.  When it was dry, they scraped off easily.  They aren't dishwasher safe, but I would love a few of these to have at the holidays!

Kudos to my mom and sister for having the idea and teaching me how to do it.  We had a blast making them.

What do you think?  Do you have any holiday crafts I can try?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving this year was at my cousins house and it was so fun!  It was so nice to get everyone back together again.  I love my family :)

My Aunt Janet and our lovely hostess, Emily.


My parents

Cath and I

Myself, my mom, and Cath

All three sisters.

The whole family!!!

Ahhh sisters.  They're the best.