Friday, November 26, 2010

Reasons To Wear Stretchy Pants

I've always been grateful for food, but this was my first time making a Thanksgiving Meal to show it! I am tickled to say it turned out well. We had the in-laws over and John's sister, who flew in from Idaho. It was nice to be in our home for its first Thanksgiving, and even more wonderful to share it with family.

The Menu
Slow Cooker Cranberry Turkey
Mashed Creamy Potatoes (Pioneer Woman)
Cauliflower Gratin (Real Simple Magazine)
Craisin Pecan Apple Dressing (Real Simple Magazine)
Turkey Gravy
Mango White Grape Gingerale
Pumpkin Pie (Mom-In-Law)
Cherry Pie (Mom-In-Law)

It actually wasn't that bad to prepare. I set the alarm for 3:50 AM to turn on the slow cooker for the turkey. We decided to do just the turkey breast, which fit nicely in the Cuisinart slow cooker that we got for our wedding. I was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep after being up that early. You know how excited you get at Christmas? I get those same butterflies when I think of a huge feast! Luckily, I crawled back into bed next to a warm man and fell back to sleep. By 7:30 AM, I was up and at 'em again to finish the meal. I first made the Cauliflower Gratin but waited for the breadcrumb topping until just before oven time to prevent it from getting soggy. I then made Pioneer Woman's Mashed Spuds, which I saw her win against Bobby Flay in last week's Throwdown. Who doesn't make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving?! Later, these would be coined the "best potatoes ever" by my husband. Next, I made the Craisin Pecan Apple Dressing, which made my heart go pitter-pat. It was so heavenly. All three of these dishes had to share oven time, but they got along and didn't fight too much. We ate dinner around 1:30 PM after the men folk were done adding doors to my sideboard. Spoiler Alert: yes, my husband is making me a sideboard! I mixed up the Mango White Grape Gingerale concoction that was super yummy and made the dinner even more enjoyable. People got up for seconds and then my self-esteem was boosted while watching loved ones chow down on my food. It was delicious. If I may say so, it was the best Thanksgiving Dinner I've ever made!

Later on, when our stomachs were ready for more abuse, we ate homemade pies for dessert. It was incredible. I was slightly worried that I wasn't allowed to make dessert, since the mother-in-law offered. It happens to be my favorite thing in the world to make! But her pumpkin and cherry pies were heavenly and made even better with vanilla ice cream and homemade vanilla whipped cream on top. I am drooling now just thinking about it!

The evening ended with some losses for me in cribbage. I don't want to talk about it. Then we played Scattergories, in which I totally redeemed myself, and we finished with Kings in the Corner before calling it a night. It was such a nice day! Any day revolving around the gross consumption of food gets my approval!

Perhaps the best thing of all is that I am now officially entitled to play Christmas songs and put out Christmas decorations. I wait eleven months for this glorious day...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Day To Celebrate

My Dad is in town from Mexico for a few days, and we were able to spend all of Saturday with him. That morning began with the entire Phoenix-dwelling family meeting at Crackers Cafe for a delicious breakfast. I've never had anything bad there, and this visit was just as heavenly. After feasting like pigs, Dad hopped in the car with John and I to come see our new house. It was fun to show him around and then open a house-warming present from him. A candy dish, of course. At least we know my addiction to sugar is genetic! Next, Dad and I drove to my sister's house while John stayed behind to complete a project from work. I didn't stay long at Friends since T'liese and I had a wonderful baby shower to attend (congrats, Cassie!). We left early to get back in time to spend the afternoon with family.

I knew I was staying longer to babysit Evan while he slept, and my Dad offered to stay to help. His parents went out for a birthday dinner, as my sister celebrated another year this past weekend! While they were gone, I enjoyed a few hours of conversation with my Dad. Since he lives out of country, it's a rare treat to get so much information passed in just two hours! Before we knew it, they were coming through the door from what sounded like an insane dinner at Mastro's Steakhouse. Yummy! To add to the excitement of the day, T'liese opened presents for her birthday. She got some fun things for her new kitchen. Evan opened his Christmas present from Grandpa a little early but was more entertained by the wrapping paper and cardboard box than the adorable puppy pillow inside. I'm sure it's just a phase! It was a nice, long day with family. I am just glad I made it back in time from Maine!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dropping Off A Baby

After a week spent in maintenance, waiting for a part to arrive from across The Pond, we finally were on our way to the east coast late Thursday evening. Since it was such an unavoidable late start, we only went half-way and stopped for the night in Champaign, Illinois. At least this would get us to Oxford, Maine at a decent time the next morning. We woke up early and continued another two hours to the south-western corner of one of the most northern states in our union. We were blessed to have nice, dry weather. The runway is so short that we couldn't have landed with any moisture on the ground. The usual landing distance for our Beechjet is around 4,000 feet, and this runway was less than 3,000! I've been having nightmares about this approaching day, that's for dang sure. Before we left Phoenix, we stripped the airplane of anything and everything not necessary for flight. It's all in the trunk of my car as I speak, which is now resulting in a different kind of nightmare. I don't know if you know this about me, but I like to be clean and organized. Throwing all unnecessary contents of an eight-passenger jet into my car in the middle of the night doesn't qualify as neat and orderly. It gives me the willies.

Anyway, back to the topic of the post...we landed at Oxford at about 10:30 in the morning on Friday. Just a few minutes later, our company's Pilatus airplane landed (the timing was purely coincidental). It is staying for a week to get warranty work done for paint from last year by the same folks. I have never met any of the Pilatus pilots, so this was a real treat. Our new paint scheme is based loosely on the Pilatus, and it was fun to see it in person and approve the colors! I also picked out the new interior of my airplane, to finally get rid of the old, dirty, used-to-be-blue gray carpet. I am still in shock at the fact that my impossible-to-keep-clean ultra suede sidewalls will soon be a thing for the history books! Actually, it's so ugly that I doubt any books would stoop to such a low level of toleration. The new tans and off-white colors that were selected will be gorgeous and easy to love. Dark tan carpet will hide much more wear and tear. It's going to beautiful and has been a long time coming. I cannot wait to see the finished product.

After a few hours of selecting colors and making final arrangements, we took a taxi for an hour drive to the nearest major airport, Portland, Maine. After a short and painless wait in line for TSA security, I grabbed a hot chocolate and enjoyed some people-watching before boarding a flight to Chicago. I had time to walk from one gate to the next in my first visit to O'Hare, and soon I was on an Airbus 320 on my way home. I landed at 11:04 PM and took a taxi all the way to Willy-Gateway to pick up my car. After a thirty-minute drive home, I finally crawled into bed with my heater husband (who had also just returned from a business trip) around 1:00 AM. What a fun-filled few days! I can't wait to see my new baby.

Perhaps the best news is that, because of the length of time to completely plastic surgery an airplane inside and out, I have at least the next six weeks off from work. I cannot even fathom how wonderful it will feel to know I won't be called any second to jet off to some location three time zones away. I am slightly Type-A and love schedules, so being on-call 24/7 is always a struggle for me. I am sure I will miss work, too, as I always do! However, it couldn't have been better timing to get this retreat from work over the holidays! What a great present.
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