The Excellent Adventures of Kim and Kev

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

My parents rang in the New Year in the Magic Kingdom.....

(I've never seen anyone blow horns like they do)

Bethany and her roommate Laura rang in the New Year in Epcot....

We couldn't let them show us up.... so, being the exciting people that we are - we chose to celebrate New Year's Eve in..... Gaston.

Where there are no restrictions on fireworks. There is no curfew on how loud and obnoxious you can be.

And "Insane Bob's Fireworks Brothel" is right down the street.

It can't get any better than that.

But it was just too much excitement for just the two of us to handle.... so, we invited the kiddos....

First of all, let me tell you that it was freezing cold. Second of all, let's just discuss this picture. Ashlynn is wearing my hoodie backwards WITH shorts. Michael is wearing Kev's jacket because he only has a short sleeved shirt on. Austin seems to be the only one prepared because he is wearing his Snuggie, flannel pajamas, and has a panda bear and turtle to keep him warm. Mason is just wearing his pjs- but seems to always fall asleep when I take pictures. It is his "thing" that he does.

I can't be responsible for their attire... because I am too busy worrying about my own. Which means that I had on a t-shirt and jeans. And flip flops.
Kev is exhausted from trying to keep me dressed appropriately.
Anyway, I apparently thought we were feeding a group of wild bears that had been hibernating all winter.... because I made chicken fingers, steak, biscuits, mac n cheese and french fries. And served it all with a box of individual bags of potato chips. Just in case someone needed an extra snack before and after eating.
New Year's Eve is NOT about being healthy. ( New Year's Day isn't either, by the way. It technically doesn't have to start until half way in to January - or so says the rule of Kim)
I also do NOT claim to be the responsible, coat wearing, vegetable serving Aunt. That is why I'm considered fun. And am not responsible for any other human and creature other than myself.
I'm sure Kev will tell you that some times I shouldn't even be responsible for myself. But that is a story for another time.
So, after we (me) over indulged ourselves in food..... We headed out to do fireworks....

In the rain....

And they were amazing. NOT! Because I seriously bought the lamest fireworks ever! In my fear of some one blowing a finger off on my watch... I literally stood at the window of Insane Bob's Fireworks Brothel and made the lady show me the SAFEST fireworks of all time. While my 16 yr old nephew and 14 yr old niece rolled their eyes and let out sighs.
Aunt Kim loses her "fun" when it comes to fire.
Even so, there was a lot of screaming and clapping... (unfortunately, Ashlynn informed me that it all came from me.)
But we saved the best for last.... Sparklers!
At least Austin was excited about it...

This is pretty much what it looked like when all six of us were doing sparklers. In the rain....

All of that excitement summed up about 10 minutes of our evening.
There was nothing left to do but return inside for Wii championships and board games....

At midnight, we ran outside for the Gaston fireworks extravaganza only to discover that due to the RAIN... Screaming and yelling had taken the place of the light show. There was nothing else we could do but join in.
"Happy Freakin' New Year Everybody!"

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas With The Switzers....

I'm a Switzer. Did you know that?

It's my claim to fame.

And the people that I spend Christmas Day with.

It starts late on Christmas Eve. We arrive at my parents in the still of the night. And go to sleep dreaming of what Santa will bring us.

We awake with the kids very early in the morning.

And our Christmas traditions begin.

We start by lining up in order of age. (Which gives me and Kev a napping time of one hour seeing as we are the oldest)

We enter in to "Santa's room". The room where Santa leaves all of his surprises. And one by one find our gifts. Get our picture taken. Get our excited expressions filmed. Then run out and show off our gift to the rest of the family.

Usually a fight ensues. Over who got the best gift.

That is a normal part of being a family. Right?

Then we take our seats. Kev, Bethany, and I have sat on the same couch together for as long as I can remember. Every one gets a laundry basket to put their gifts in. And then the stocking hand out begins.

Dad is in charge of the stockings and gifts. He gives them out in order of age. ( Once again, I get a chance to nap) We get our pictures taken with our stockings. And then we are filmed.

We scream. We yell. We laugh. And we open every thing in our stockings and place them in our baskets.

Up next... Breakfast. We dine on pumpkin bread, breakfast casserole, fruit, juice, and croissants.

We burp. We spill our drinks. We tell jokes.

We are a hyper bunch. And a little rowdy. And we love Christmas celebrating.

Then we re group back in our seats around the Christmas tree. And Dad begins the handing out of gifts.

We used to savor it. Take our time. Open gifts one at a time. But due to the impatientness of kids, it has become a frantic rush of opening presents. It seems to be over in the blink of an eye.

And then exhausted from all of the festivities, every one takes a nap. Except for my parents who are getting Christmas dinner ready.

We eat a delicious Christmas dinner complete with the good china and fancy table cloth.

And then the day is done. The holiday that we have been waiting for all year. In a matter of seconds.

But it was a great day!! A day full of wonderful memories and incredible family time. And once again my Mom went all out to ensure a fabulous Christmas day.

And unfortunately, I have NO pictures to show you any of this. Except for this one.....

Princess ( my Mom's dog) got a Minnie princess hat and shirt. So, of course, we had to dress her up and take a pic. Kiara got jealous and had to jump in the picture at the last minute. Too cute!!

Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well. Because of a multitude of reasons. One being lack of sleep. So, we left early because I had to work the next morning. And I vowed then and there that one of my New Year's resolutions was going to be to savor the holidays in 2010. To be more organized. To get more sleep. To have more family time.

Because these moments are priceless. And important. And fun.

But ultimately I had a wonderful Christmas. Especially because every one of my family members was in The States. And not in some ridiculous country that they were foreign to.

I am looking forward to an AMAZING 2010!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve With The Snyders

Christmas Eve. The Snyder celebration.

It is tradition. And has been held at our home for the last couple of years.

And I love every second of it.

And here is your one chance to actually see a picture of one of our Christmas trees. The Lodge tree....

For the Snyders' Christmas, every adult brings a gift. Then we draw numbers and choose gifts in order.

And some times fight for gifts. Because it is allowed. And makes for a fun game.

Kev's cousin Bill and his wife Phyllis.....

Kev's Aunt Kim and Bill's daughter Courtney....

Kev's sister Jenn and girlfriend Mona...
(with sweet Jayden talking to Glenn in the background)

Bill opening a gift....

Kev's Aunt Heidi opening a gift....

We gave Mary and Glenn (Kev's parents) a Wii.....

There were MANY more family members at this celebration.... but apparently unless you got up in front of every one to open a gift.... you weren't photographed. It is the way I roll. Not to mention that throughout the holiday season I seemed to "forget" to take pictures.

Just wait until you see my family's Christmas recap.

Anyway.... I had a blast making food for this event. I happened to be off of work on Christmas Eve and was able to cook and bake the day away. And it was one of the best Christmas gifts I received.

Time in the kitchen.

Just in case you were wondering..... I made sugar cookies, wedding cookies, oreo/white chocolate bark, spinach dip, Aunt Kay's tomato basil sandwiches (yes, they are my favorites and I make them for EVERYTHING -thanks Angela), pimento cheese, orange marmalade muffins with ham, and "Moonshine" Sangria.

Oh... and sausage balls. Except for Kev made the sausage balls because I ran out of time. And may or may not have had a melt down. (Which is normal for me when planning a party) And let me just tell you that they were the best darn sausage balls I've ever had. I just threw the ingredients in a bowl and let Kev do the rest.

And he should change his profession to "Sausage Ball King". Seriously.

I believe part of the secret is to add EXTRA cheese because you don't feel like measuring and then they are more like cheese biscuits with a touch of sausage instead of the other way around. The other part of the secret is to have Kev make them.

Every one else brought delicious treats too. Which made for a great food experience. My favorite kind of experience.

Aunt Kim even made a collard dip. Which is almost like spinach dip but with collards and Worcestershire sauce. It was so different and divine. And I've never had collards before.

Ultimately, we had SO much fun!! And it was definitely a great way to start the celebration of Christmas!

And to think just hours before this amazing event... my kitchen looked like this.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Melissa's Housewarming / My Only Christmas Party

My good friend Melissa bought a house! Her first house. And she did it all on her own. Because she is cool like that.

Girl power!

And I helped throw a Housewarming party for her.

Don't you just love the front porch! Her house is adorable. And so cute. And awesome. And perfect!!

And I'm so happy for her!

Unfortunately, I missed taking pics of the interior. Because I was so focused on the food. I made a new recipe of cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon. And my belly is dreaming of them as I write this. However, due to the "jalapeno pepper arm burning incident of June 2009", Kev made me wear protective goggles and special gloves.

And he swears that I looked really cute.

I also did "Aunt Kay's" tomato basil sandwiches and spinach dip.

Christen and her mom, Faye, did ALL KINDS of other delicious delights.

Including all of the desserts.....

And an amazingly delicious peppermint cake. YUM!

On a side note, I must tell you that my FAVORITE cookie of all time is a wedding cookie. I am not joking around here. I LOVE them. And I have spent the last three years making them for Christmas. And thought they were pretty good. UNTIL... I ate Faye's wedding cookies. And then I passed out and kicked my legs up in the air which may or may not have ripped my jeans.

They were JUST. THAT. GOOD!!

So, Faye gave me her special secret. And then packed some in a ziploc bag for Kev. Because you know that even though he was invited... he didn't go. He had to wash his hair.

I took them home to Kev.

He will never be the same. They were so melt-in-your-mouth delicious that he called them "donuts". And refused to let them out of his sight.

And calls out for them in his sleep.

I knew that I had a challenge on my hands. ( Story to come later.)

But seriously.... I had so much fun at this party!! Melissa's house is amazing! She had such a good turn out. And received many incredible gifts.

And it was the closest thing I've seen in years to a Christmas party!

Not to mention that I got to catch up with old friends. And the old crew from LOFT was able to reconnect......

From left.... Shirley, Chelsea, ME, Julianne, Melissa ( the proud home owner), and Christen.

Congrats Melissa on your new home!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Becoming A Switzer

My brother is getting married in like 3 1/2 months! And I cannot believe that the day is almost here!

I am beside myself with excitement!

And I just couldn't finish out 2009 without documenting Laura's first wedding shower.

It was a monogram shower thrown by Laura's best friends - her bridesmaids. And it was a SURPRISE.

I'm horrible with surprises. I have made it abundantly clear that I am impatient and therefore cannot wait for anything. I also have a big mouth. And things come out of it without me wanting them to.

For example: I discovered the "Santa closet" at a young age. And made sure that I looked inside it regularly and told all of my siblings what they were getting.

I may or may not STILL peek inside the "Santa room" at my parent's house and figure out what every one is getting.

It is a disease.

Plus J.C. dared me one year. And I love a good dare.

And now that I think about it... I should charge my siblings for giving them information. I could make a fortune.

Anyhoo..... I received a secret message on Facebook inviting me and my Mom/sisters to this SURPRISE shower for Laura. I was thrilled beyond belief. And quickly made sure they all knew about it.

That same night I just happened to be going to dinner with Laura. And she preceded to tell me that she HATES surprises. And made sure that she told Dave that early on.

I immediately grew three gray hairs.

Because I too hate surprises. And the "hating surprises" person in me felt the need to tell Laura about the shower. Cause it was the right thing to do.

But this was NOT my shower. And therefore I felt obligated to keep it a secret. And decided right then and there that we should not tell Dave. I knew that Dave (just like Kev) would tell Laura immediately of the plans. In order to not be blamed for the secret later.

It kept me awake at night. And made me eat gallons of ice cream.

I couldn't even enjoy dinner with Laura that week because I was so nervous over keeping a secret from her.

She is VERY tall... you know.

But luckily, before I had to be committed, the day of the shower came. It was a monogram shower. I just LOVE monogrammed things. Especially things with an S on it. In fact, Kev's response to the shower was "don't we already have something with an S that we can give them". It's called being practical. Plus I'm sure it would be considered an antique because we are so much older than them.

I chose to get her an ornament. #1 Laura loves Christmas. #2 They did not have any decorations yet. #3 Getting silver engraved is fun.

I got a silver snowflake. With their wedding date on one side. And their married initials on the other..... LSD.

Hmmmmmm. Now that I see it all together.. it doesn't seem very appropriate.

Or... (if I didn't want to acknowledge the #1 drug of the 1970's) I could have done DSL. Which would be a shout out to a slow-ER way of connecting to the internet.

I guess I should just stick with "S" from now on.


We arrived early at the restaurant- The Villa. Laura thought she was having her "once a month" get together with her closest friends. Little did she know that all kinds of family members were there as well.

We definitely surprised her! And I was able to snap a pic on my phone the minute she walked around the corner. I emailed it to Dave. He thanked me later for not telling him about it and giving him the burden of should he tell/not tell Laura about the shower. Which means he would have told her.

I'm smarter than I look.

We had such a great time. And Laura received many amazing things. And I really couldn't ask for a better sister in law!

This pic is of Laura plus the girls in her family and the girls in my family (well, some of them).

I'm counting the days until April 10th!

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Little Christmas Helper.... and a Surprise!

(Folks! You are going to have to bear with me as I finish telling my stories of 2009. This year has been the most hectic year - by far - but I still managed to have some amazing moments that I want to share. And then I will get started on 2010)

I made a pact with Kev this year that I would wait to decorate. Until after Thanksgiving. (I usually put my decorations up around the first week of November) Well, the week after Thanksgiving turned in to the second week of December. And all I had managed to do was to get the trees set up. Meaning un-boxing them and putting them in their stands. We (I) decided to have FIVE trees this year. And realized too late in the season that FIVE trees can turn in to a chore and not an enjoyment. Add to the fact that I did not have ornaments for two of the trees and tree toppers for three of them.... and you pretty much have a disaster on your hands.

My initial plan was to buy up a bunch of stuff last year after Christmas for super cheap and then be ready to go this year. It didn't happen.

Then my plan was to spend a day shopping for great bargains on ornaments and put together some pretty creative trees. I'm talking home made tree toppers. Vintage ornaments. You get the idea. I had such great visions of magazine worthy trees. Trees that I had decorated with my own craftiness with minimal cost.

It was going to be amazing.

So thank goodness that there is always next year.

I did manage to pick color themes for my new trees. And I was able to purchase ball ornaments in those colors. (Wal mart did an amazing job this year with color selection)

And then this sweet boy came over to help me decorate......

His birthday was December 11th. So, we made his "spend the night visit" part birthday celebration/part Christmas decorating. And he was amazing! It just so happens that he loves to decorate. He actually volunteered after hearing me whine to my Mother that I couldn't find the time to get my house ready for Christmas.

It worked out perfectly. I checked him out of school early. He helped me pick a wreath for the front door. Ribbon for the trees. And then we got to work.

Unfortunately, I took NO pics of our trees. I planned to. And then I just spent two hours taking it all down and storing it away and realized that I have nothing to show for it. The good news is that I will be more prepared and organized next year ( I hope) to put my creative touch on each tree.

But since I'm sure you are dying to know.... The trees were as follows....

#1 The Lodge Tree. Located in the Lodge room. My favorite tree ever! Full of pine cones, holly berry and home made wilderness looking ornaments. I even have little woodland creatures hiding among the branches. I wish I could keep this one up all year. But the boss needs to maintain some type of order around here... and if he gave me an inch.. I would take a mile.. and our decorations would stay up forever.

#2 The Disney Tree. Located in the Kid's room. Mickey tree topper. All Disney ornaments. Bright colorful lights.

#3 The Fancy Tree? Located in the Dining Room. This tree has very little on it and I really wanted to class it up a little more. It is mainly for me to showcase my fancy ornaments. Especially the ones that my Grandmother sends me each year for Christmas. I put a lot of red ribbon bows on it - on Christmas Eve - to make it look a little more festive. Nothing like finishing a tree at the last minute.

#4 The Gamecock Tree. Located in the Gamecock Room. Red ball ornaments. Black ball ornaments. Red and Black polka dot ribbon. And a home made black ribbon with a USC hand painted ornament in the center. It was not as great as it sounds. The topper could use some work. It also didn't light up in the middle of the tree. At first I was upset... but decided that it represented a Gamecock season. Starting off good. Sucking in the middle. Ending good. But considering we just lost the bowl game.... I guess my reasoning doesn't really work.

#5 The Sun room Tree. Located in the Sun room (duh). I went with lime green and pink for this tree. Again... only ball ornaments. And a lopsided hand made bow. But it looked good from the outside of the house when you could only see the tree lit up.

I also wanted to add that Kev had the ENTIRE yard lit up - trees, bushes, and more trees by the first week in December. Just as he had planned. He is crazy organized that way. So, at least our neighbors were able to enjoy our decor from the outside.

Not that they would ever enjoy it from the inside. Because country folk don't mingle and pretty much keep to themselves. It is the Gaston law.

Austin had brought his elf, Rudy. Rudy is dropped off by Santa every December for Austin to "baby sit" and then is picked up on Christmas Eve to help deliver packages. Rudy is known to be mischievous. So, you never know where he will end up in the night.

After eating his midnight snack of a jelly bean and a small glass of water. He jumped inside my pantry and buddied up to my elf cookie jar......

It took Austin a while to find him the next morning.

And now for the surprise.....

I have been wanting a Dutch Oven for a while now. And just casually mentioned it to Kev recently. I thought it would be perfect for making soups and stews. Not to mention that The Pioneer Woman uses one in almost every recipe.

And wouldn't you know that waiting for me as an early Christmas present was this.....

In my most favorite color....

So, Austin and I did what any one would do. We made a homemade beef stew. DELICIOUS! It simmered for three hours. And lasted for four days. Of lunches and dinners.

Kev said that he should have gotten me the smaller one as I always tend to fill up every dish when I'm cooking.
Now if I could only learn to pronounce the name brand in the correct French accent. Because telling the lady at Williams Sonoma that I got a LEE CREW-SET was a little embarrassing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aging Gracefully

It is extremely hard to grow older without gaining a wrinkle. Without growing a gray hair. Without any part of your body sagging.

So hard that I gave up years ago. So long ago that if you were to see me right now you would think that I was the evil Stepmother in the movie Snow White. When she turned in to an old hag and tried to give Snow White the apple.

If you don't know who/what I am talking about. Then go to Disney World for goodness sake. It is the only way that we can be friends. And um.......... communicate.

And it will make you a happier person.

At the least... you can watch the movie. And then you will see my one claim to fame. Where they designed the evil stepmother/old witch hag after me.

And then your life will be complete.

And you will understand me a little better. And know what I look like in person.

Anyway..... my point is this...

This guy had a birthday.....

On December 7th.

And he doesn't look a day older that 26. In fact... he looks the exact same as the day I met him. Except for the missing rat tail. And trench coat. And driving gloves.

He works out. He eats healthy. He takes care of himself.

But ultimately... it is in his genes. His Norwegian genes. You should see his Mom.

I could be her Grandmother.

So, on December 7th....

Squirrels danced. Our plants sang.

And all was right with the world. Because we celebrated the day that Kev was born.

My happiness would not be complete without this wonderful man. My best friend. My partner in crime.

The Beauty to my Beast.

So to celebrate my incredible husband's birthday.... I made a special meal.

And by special... I mean that I pulled out all the stops. Tested my cooking skills. Went to the ends of the Earth.... The Fresh Market.

For those of you who don't know.... The Fresh Market is the ultimate in grocery stores. The classiest place I know. My heart jumps out of my chest when I go in there. The cook in me sings with delight. I smile from ear to ear.

And then my wallet cringes. And sighs.

Which is why I only go there for very special occasions.

I decided to make beef tenderloin. And according to the price tag - this meat was pretty special. So, I bought two filets and not the whole tenderloin. And then I did something that I have never done before...... I seasoned it with bacon fat that I had been saving for weeks. And that means that I have completely crossed over to the dark side. The side that is bacon obsessed. I have wrapped so many appetizers in bacon lately that it has become a weekly item on my grocery list. This coming from a couple who went years without eating bacon.

Good Grief! Enough about bacon already.

I believe that this piece of meat was cooked to perfection. The best I have ever made. You could literally cut it with a fork. And I'm sure a large part of it's deliciousness was due to buying such a good cut of meat.

And now that the vegetarians in my family are thoroughly grossed out.... on to the sides....

I simmered fresh mushrooms in a red wine mixture for most of the day. Like 9 hours. And made green bean bundles. Which is basically green beans wrapped in BACON with a brown sugar "dressing" poured over the top.

Kev chose Funfetti cupcakes as his birthday "cake". Those truly turn out delicious every single time. Especially considering my bad luck in baking cakes lately.

We also celebrated his birthday at my parent's house. Kev's parent's house. And Kev's parents took him to lunch on the actual day.

A great birthday celebration for a great guy..... Happy Birthday Kev!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Check out this gorgeous turkey......

Have you ever seen such a sight?

This is the turkey that welcomed us to our first Thanksgiving meal on .... Thanksgiving Day, of course.

Thanksgiving. Probably one of my favorites. When it comes to holidays. It may or may not be because there is lots of food involved. And also because of the color brown. That color looks good on me. Or so I'm told. And for some reason I associate brown with Thanksgiving. And strongly brewed tea. And pudding.

Oh. And also because Kev told me once that his favorite color was brown because he liked brown pants.

Even though he doesn't own a pair.

At this point, I'm not sure if I am writing about the color brown or Turkey Day.

Thanks for sticking with me any way. And reading this.

Assuming that you still are....


Kev's cousin's wife, Krystal, did almost the entire meal by herself. Including the turkey. Her very first one. And it looked amazing. Tasted amazing. Smelled amazing.

It even had caramelized pecans on the top.

It should have been in a magazine. It should have been famous. It should have followed me home.

It was gorgeous. And delicious.

And it was almost too fancy for me to eat. I'm part red neck ... you know.

I'm too afraid to cook a turkey. And she deserved some "mad props" for pulling it off. Successfully.

(I can't believe I just said "mad props" - It is just wrong coming out of some one's thoughts when they are pushing 40)

Anyway.... our holidays are always jam packed. Busy. Crazy. And busy.

Add in the fact that I work in retail. And you've got a schedule that gives you reflux.

Or maybe that was just the ridiculous amount of caffeine that I had to get me through the week.

Regardless. It all starts on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving....

It is a tradition that Bethany, Michael, and Ashlynn all come over to spend the night. To help me cook. Or something like that.

And we stay up all night making casseroles. And cakes. And obnoxiousness.

It is just the right thing to do.

And I will make them keep this tradition until they are 100 years old. Spouses, kids, and what- not are all invited.

As long as they help with the dishes.

So, fast forward to Thanksgiving day....

It starts early.

It involves the "must do" tradition of watching the Macy's parade. ( I went to the Macy's in New York once. And I stood in front of the store. Right where the parade passes by. And it made me all tingly inside.)

( I also happened to be stranded in New York during a snow storm. With clogs on and thin socks. Snow was up to my ankles. So, the tingly feeling may have been frostbite)

( But does it really matter?)

I finish cooking. I watch the parade. I wake every one else up around noon.

We head out to our first meal.

The Snyder Thanksgiving.

This year it was held at Krystal and Josh's new home.

And Krystal did such an incredible job!

And Michael and Ashlynn pretty much sat by themselves. Quietly. And scarfed down some food.

Next up... The Switzer Thanksgiving.

And yes, it was just 1 hour and a half later.

It required me opening my second stomach. The one that I reserve for Thanksgiving and Saturdays. When I seem to eat the most.

The Switzer Thanksgiving is a little more formal. We are even allowed to use the good china....

And eat indoors.

Glad I finally was promoted to the adult table because the kid's table didn't look like much fun....

Maybe it was the Indian sitting at the table that was making Mason nervous.

Or maybe it was the ridiculousness that was going on at the adult table that made the kids embarrassed to be a part of the family. I cannot even begin to explain the expressions/faces/mannerisms going on in the following pictures....

We followed up dinner with Pictionary. Just me, Bethany, Mom and Dad. The rest of my family had other Thanksgivings to attend. And as for Kev..... you must be crazy if you think he would play games with us.
It would hurt his reputation.
And now on to Thankfulness.....
This year was an interesting and different year. I have taken many many things for granted for a long time. Like health. Having a job. Having a family. Having a home.
Let's just say that I experienced some things this year that really opened my eyes. Opened my heart. And made me so very very thankful for what I have been given.
Life is short folks. Cherish every moment. Make sure your loved ones know they are loved. And don't forget to laugh.
It is truly the best medicine.
And on a lighter note......
Meet my families' two new additions.... acquired Thanksgiving week...
Princess (my parent's new puppy)....
And Kia-RA! (Bethany's new puppy)....

They are the cutest fluff balls you will ever meet.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Not-So-Scary Halloween

Considering that we only removed the "hay bale/pumpkin display" off of our porch just two weeks ago.... I feel that it is still appropriate for me to be talking about Fall adventures.

And also to wrap up our October Disney trip.

You remember.... the trip where we celebrated my Mom's birthday. Where I ate lots of food from different countries. When I took Mason on Star Wars. It is basically all I have written about in two months.

But I saved the best for last......

The "Not So Scary Halloween Party". A true highlight of the year!

I have become such a fan of Halloween now that I live in a neighborhood. ( If you can call it that) And for the past couple of years I have gone all out for the kiddos. I decorate the front of the house, spray Fall smelling Febreze, light a candle... and then eagerly await the trick-or-treaters.

Not to mention the Halloween party I throw for Kev. It is usually an unnecessary amount of appetizer food all with a spooky theme. Hot wings are "bat wings".... Meatballs are "eyeballs"... Cheese dip is "witches brew"... or something like that. You get the idea.

And we have a pumpkin carving contest. I usually win for cutest pumpkin and Kev usually wins for scariest.

It is just the way we do things around here.

Except for this year.

We (my family) decided to actually be in the Magic Kingdom on Halloween. To experience the party at it's finest.

And it did not disappoint!

Tinkerbell (Mom) and Peter pan (Austin)....

Jack Skellington (Michael)

Mickey (Shannon) and Minnie (me)
(I'm not sure why I thought I was a matador. I am posing this way with my dress in EVERY. SINGLE. PICTURE)

Peter with Captain Hook

Alice (Bethany) with Tweedle Dee (Ashlynn) and Tweedle Dum (Sam)

And the hit of the night.....
Gepetto (Dad) and Pinocchio (Mason)

Going to the Magic Kingdom just to see the costumes is totally worth it. People go all out - even more so on Halloween - and it is amazing to see what they come up with. ( At one point, I thought I must be in a dream sequence with all of the Captain Jack Sparrows walking around.)
But then add in an incredible Halloween parade, fireworks, shows, and candy... and you have got yourself an amazing experience!
It is also incredibly fun to get to ride Splash Mountain. Over and over and over. Without having to get off the ride. Because we were the only ones who didn't seem to mind getting their costumes wet.
Except for Mason (Pinocchio) who had to wear a poncho because he "can't get wet because he is famous". And he was right. My Dad and Mason posed for more pictures than you could ever imagine. It was like they had their own paparazzi following them around.
As for Kev..... he stayed home to "man the Halloween experience". And he did this by dressing up as a recluse, turning off all the lights, and hiding in the den while he watched Halloween.
Basically what he does every Saturday night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Drowning In A Sea of Retail.... and Cinnamon Sugar.

What a crazy holiday season it has been. A weird, crazy, bizarre holiday season. I feel like a hamster running on a wheel. Getting no where by the end of the day. But having extra wrinkles, gray hair, and extremely exhausted short stubby legs.

Thank goodness that I work with some incredible people. People that make me laugh. People that keep me sane.

People that remind me to take a deep breath, relax, and eat another brownie.

Except for the people that keep telling me to eat another brownie. They should have to go to jail. Because unfortunately for my health... I always do what I'm told. At least when it comes to food. And my body is pretty pissed off about it.

Today is my last day off before Christmas. My last day to get my mind and house prepared for the holiday that will be over in a blink of an eye. My former "Most Favorite Holiday" has now become the "Hopefully I Will Survive" holiday.

And my new favorite holiday is the day that I can sit back, relax, not worry, and bake a perfect dessert.

Speaking of baking..... I've learned this month that I am NO good at it. Like pretty awful and embarrassing actually.

And it makes me want to eat worms. ( Or wormes - if you are my neighbor that lives a couple of houses down and sells them for $3.00 a styrofoam cup)

You all know how much I love to cook. Like "love it so much that I would want to marry it" cook.

But baking. It takes patience. And that ain't somethin' I got.

The past couple of things I have tried have turned out disasters.

Caramel Cake - I dreamed of this all year. And yet couldn't quite seem to make the frosting taste like anything more than pure sugar. Not to mention that the cake was dry.

It went in the trash.

Buttermilk Biscuits - dry hard bricks of flour with a cardboard and dirt taste. ( I threw in the description of "dirt taste" for added drama)

Kev ate most of them. Because he is awesome like that. But I yelled in their faces and banished them to the woods.

And then there is today. I've been waiting all year to make these.....

Cinnamon Rolls from the Pioneer Woman. I tried to follow the recipe perfectly. I really did. I patiently let it rise for an hour. I rolled out the dough as best I could. And then things got sloppy and the cinnamon/butter/sugar/maple mixture may or may not be all over the floor... my apron... my counters... and my kitchen bar stools.
I was going to take a picture. But decided that it is in my best interest to not have proof of the mess I speak of. You know... In case Kev reads this post. And bans me from the kitchen.
I was making these homemade rolls as gifts. For friends and family. And maybe myself. And they turned out ok. But they definitely don't look like the picture. And my whole house does not smell like fresh baked Cinnamon rolls like the recipe promised.
But I do know that they were made with love. And a little bit of patience. And lots of butter, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. And a little more butter.
And then I realized that I should just stick to blogging. And cooking meat. And shaving. And applying anti-wrinkle cream every hour.
And stop trying to spend my last peaceful day until January making every single holiday treat that I find a recipe for.
Not to mention that Kev heard through the Gaston Gazette that there was quite a ruckus coming from our kitchen. And immediately sent over security to restrain me.
I'm typing this post by holding a pencil in my mouth and carefully hitting the keyboard.
You have no idea how much I have to tell you. How many adventures we have had over the past two months.
Well... it's really only about three. But they will be coming soon. And you are just going to have to deal with the fact that I may still be telling stories from Halloween and Thanksgiving when it is THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS!
Bless my heart!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Food and Wine Festival

Food and Wine.

Yes, please!

Except for it was really all about the food for me. I'll save the wine for another time.

Because I WILL be going back. And I WILL be going back with an empty stomach. And a well planned out strategy. And hopefully a Kevin.

Because he would truly love the experience.

In case you haven't heard me talking about it.... I was fortunate enough to go to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot in October. Now we all know how much I love food. And especially how much I love all different kinds of food. In small portions. Appetizer style.

It makes my skirt fly up.

This festival was truly made for me.

Last year, I was in Epcot during the festival .... but was too overwhelmed to even try anything. I just visited my favorite place. Mexico. The outside place. Not the inside... because my experience on the inside was documented in detail in March and I choose not to go through that again.

Anyway... Food is precious to me. And takes a lot of planning and thought. And I can't just walk up to any ole place and choose what to eat. I just can't.

So, this year I studied the map of food. Yes, the MAP OF FOOD. Because you can go online and see the 25 kiosks. What country they are from. What food they are serving. And where they are located in Epcot.

I dipped the map in gold. And slept with it under my pillow every night.

And dreamed of the incredible food that I would eat.

( And how much money I could get from the pawn shop for a gold map)

And wondered why I didn't go to cooking school. Because I REALLY want to be a chef. Or a cook. Or something where I could cook all day. Like a stay at home wife.

Anyway... I had it all planned out. I was overwhelmed. But decided that I would eat at Greece. Because I loved just about everything on their menu.

And the lady that rang me up said "WOW! you just ordered just about every thing off of our menu. Are you sure you don't want baklava?"

I yelled... "No speak English". And grabbed my food and ran.

It makes me uncomfortable for people to comment on how much food I order/eat. I knew that I would have to wear a disguise if I was going to go back.

Luckily I had packed one in my bag.

So, from Greece I had the spanakopita, greek salad, and chicken souvlaki. HELLO! Nothing gets better than that.

At least that is what I thought. I mean it was out of this world delicious.

But then I had been bit by the bug. The bug of eating. And I had the whole world in front of me to try. Literally.

So, my Dad got us each a Fisherman's pie from Ireland.


Because it was truly out of this world. Um..... like out of this UNIVERSE! Lobster and scallops in a pot pie. Topped with potatoes. Did Santa Claus think this up... because it was like a surprise on Christmas morning.

I high fived my Dad. Belly bumped him. And rubbed whiskers with him. Because it was just that good.

And then I swore to get the recipe. Which I did. And it is a little out of my league. It involved crushing a lobster shell and boiling it for a broth.

And that is just the beginning.

I've decided that we will have to save the Fisherman's Pie for an Epcot treat.

At this point we are getting pretty full. But it is almost 9pm. And the Food and Wine Festival is only an October event. And this is our last chance to eat these scrumptious bites of food.

So, we put on our running shoes and headed to the next place we could find.

Which was... South Africa.

Hello South Africa!! I will never visit you. But I sure do love your food. My Dad got the Mealie soup. Spicy, shrimpy, and incredible. And I got the seared beef tenderloin.

I made a stranger punch me in the face. To make sure that I wasn't dreaming.

And then our time was up. It was over. The park was closed. And I had to leave the rest of the world behind.

Until next year!! Because I will be back. And I will be armed with my fork. And teeth. And tongue.

( That sounds a little gross... )

But the Festival is truly an experience. Especially if you are a foodie. And you appreciate different flavors.

And just in case you are thinking about visiting this wonderful festival. There is more than just food and wine. There are guest chefs. Like the Paula Deen boys. And incredible 80's music concerts. Like Billy Ocean, John Waite, and Corey Hart.

Except for most of you probably don't know who those singers are. Because you are young. That's ok though. That means there is more of them for me.

If I can break away from the food long enough to listen to them sing.