Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The year Ben and I got married we decided that the best way to celebrate holidays with our respective families was to alternate holidays and years.  This year it was Thanksgiving with Ben's family and Christmas will be with mine.  (Although we do celebrate Christmas with both families every year ... just not necessarily on the actual holiday)

The tradition has (at least since I've been around) always been to go to Ben's aunt and uncle's home in Knoxville.  It is always a jolly time, enjoyed with copious amounts of family, food, laughter, wine, and Black Friday Shopping.  Oh, and The Christmas Story is usually playing on a continuous loop on the television.

We arrived in Knoxville on Wednesday evening and relaxed with Ben's aunt and uncle and brother after we got Wyatt to sleep.

Thursday morning started bright and early with a pancake and bacon breakfast - Wyatt's favorite!  Then I stupidly got him dressed in his Thanksgiving outfit.  He looked adorable.

Not five minutes later he was completely dirty.  Oh well.

Once Lolly and Pops arrived, he ran to the truck to greet them.  And also to get his toys out!  And, just in case you were wondering that is dirt on his bottom. 

Trailer trucks, or anything that hooks together is a big, huge deal right now.  So immediately he asked his Pops to rig this ride-on and wagon together. 

He was in hog heaven.  And yes, we watched him VERY closely in the street.  Didn't actually let him ride there very long.

We then went inside for a quick lunch and wardrobe change.

While Wyatt was napping, we all got busy with the meal preparations.  And by 'we all' I mean Ben's mother and his aunt.  Ben, did carve the turkey though!

After a very scary oven incident, we finally got the whole meal prepared and came together for a pre-dinner toast!

It was a lovely afternoon and evening! 

We started out early the next morning, as is Longmire tradition.  We hit up breakfast at Hardee's, and then the outlets for some Black Friday Shopping. 

Here is my shopping buddy helping me out at Loft!

We wore ourselves out, and headed home for lunch and naps.  Only the wild monkey fell asleep on the way home from the outlets which meant no nap for anyone that afternoon :)

That evening, we headed out for a fabulous dinner with friends.  And thanks to Lolly, Pops, Great Aunt Susan, and Great Uncle Alfredo this was a dinner sans-babies!!

 We had a lovely evening! 

Unfortunately, the fun ends there as I was awakened at 3am to hear "Katie!  Wyatt is throwing up".  As it turned out W was the only sickie ... Ben, his mom, his dad, his brother, and his aunt had all picked up the same terrible bug.  Somehow his uncle and I did not get it.  (Awesome immune systems, I guess?)

So to sum it up -- the first half of Thanksgiving was perfect.  The second half reeked of vomit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I have this love-hate relationship with cooking.  I absolutely love discovering a new recipe and figuring out and occasion to try it out.  I adore meal-planning and grocery shopping.  I enjoy quiet evenings after Wyatt has gone to bed and I go downstairs to finish cooking and eat dinner.  We rarely eat when W is awake.  I also love when W 'helps' me in the kitchen -- he loves to get out bowls and measuring cups and act like he's making his own meal.  One day our picky son will actually eat and enjoy my creations.   (Currently unless that creation is PLAIN noodles, Greek yogurt and fruit it won't be touched.)

The same can be said for Ben.  He does a lot of grilling and smoking, but we really do most of that on the weekends.  Especially in winter, its not much fun standing out by a grill when its freezing cold and dark outside.  And although I do 99% of our meal planning, he very much enjoys researching the best grilling/smoking technique for a particular item and then whomping up the perfect marinade or rub.  We don't host dinners often enough, but when we do I always rely on him for the entree portion of the meal.  And its always a hit.

I like to bake too, but that is much messier so I generally just stick to cooking.

What I don't love is the cleanup.  Although I rarely make anything complicated or requiring many dishes, I am not a 'neat' cook.  I try to clean as I go, but somehow I always end up with a redonkulus amount of dishes, pots, and pans to clean.  But the payoff when you make something tasty is so worth it. 

I also don't love my recipe organization.  Or lack of organization, I should say.  I tear recipes out of magazines, or print them off Pinterest but then after I cook said item I throw the recipe in a pile of papers.  I've got to figure out a system.

Anyway, enough talking.  Here are some of my recent creations.  None of these are my own recipe or idea.  I'm not that creative!  I'm also not a food photographer by any means.  My pictures are crappy but I promise you each one of these dishes are worth trying!  (Except the stuffed peppers ... but don't worry b/c I didn't link a recipe)

Skillet Chicken Parm w/ roasted broccoli.   This was an excellent healthier take on your traditional chicken parm.  The chicken is simply sauteed with a little olive oil, no breading or butter involved.  The mozzarella cheese part isn't healthful, but you don't use that much.  My intentions were to use whole-wheat pasta, but then I opened my pantry and saw those rigatoni just calling my name.  Soooo .... all-in-all ... a not healthy but not all that un-healthy meal that I 'll definitely make again.  And I must confess that while I only used 2 slices of cheese for that chicken, I opened the package and promptly ate 3. Maybe four?  I just can't resist fresh mozzarella!

Hummus Crusted Chicken roasted over squash, zucchini, and onions with a side of Israeli couscous.  This meal is a winner.  It has definitely earned its keep in my rotation.  Its easy, requires little prep and is healthy (except the couscous).  That said, it does NOT re-heat well at all, so don't make this if you want leftovers.

Skillet Mac' n' Cheese.  This was delicious.  I think I ate about 2 servings the night I made it and then at least 1-2 more throughout the week.  It re-heats fantastically, is a substantial meal, and is just plain old comforting. 

Stuffed Bell Pepper with a grilled avocado on the side.  The stuffed pepper was fine.  Nothing to write home about, but the avocado ..... killer.  I actually make them quite often, because they are easy and healthy-ish. 

Chicken Francese and roasted brussels sprouts.   I don't have a real recipe for this, but it is an all-time favorite.  And, yes, I did eat every single bite on that plate!

Chocolate Cookies w/ Candy Cane Buttercream.  I made these as a trial run for a Christmas cookie swap.  They actually weren't all that difficult, but I did have a zillion dishes to clean up at the end.  Only thing I'll change next time is I'd make them smaller as they are very very rich. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Santa Claus Visit

I always plan Wyatt's Santa visit early, but this year I scheduled it extra-early.  So early that it really didn't feel like Christmas but that's okay.  I've heard a rumor that there might be a fire truck, truck, and train shortage so I had to make sure Wyatt got his order in early :)

Wyatt didn't smile (as per usual), but he also didn't cry and wasn't afraid of Santa.  My boy is all grown up now ...

When he woke up on Tuesday morning, he told me he was going to ask Santa for a "regular truck and a fire truck"  But, by the time he got there he was asking for a fire truck and a train.  (We prompted him a little with the train ... but he really does want one)

Santa said that Wyatt was on his good boy list this year and that he would see him on Christmas! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Halloween 2012

I'm late on this post mostly because my little model didn't want to pose for pictures when we got him all dressed for trick or treating.  I've been meaning to put his costume back on and take more but that hasn't happened yet so what I have will have to do.

We've dressed Wyatt up the last two years and actually taken him to our next door neighbor's house both years just for photo purposes.  But this year, he actually understood that he was getting dressed up as a cowboy and going out "treating" (as he calls it).  He knew that "treating" meant getting candy so he was certainly excited.

I felt so fortunate to get a hearty dinner in his belly before he went out to get all sugared up.  After dinner I got him dressed and worked on taking a few pictures.

We went with Wyatt's little girlfriend, Leah, and her parents. Aren't these two sweet??

We just hit a handful of houses, mostly those of our dinner club friends.  The kids loved every second of it! 

Isn't this the life?  Riding around the neighborhood eating candy.  I'd love this.  Except replace that candy with wine :)

 It takes longer than you would think to trick-or-treat with a 2 year old, but definitely a fun night!  (Wyatt asked me the next day if we were going "treating" again!)