Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner

This year we are forgoing the annual Thanksgiving dinner at J's grandmother's house.  Instead we will be hosting dinner.  Now don't worry, it's just for my side of the family which consists of my mom and sister (and new baby).  Yeah, I have a very small family and except for my parents and sister, most of them live out of state.  So it will be a nice intimate dinner.

Now I grew up in a household that never had the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  It just wasn't our style.  Since my dad is Italian, we normally had a pasta dish.  Linguine in clam sauce with shrimp to be exact, yum.  One year I did make duck in garlic sauce, that was pretty good and as close to a traditional bird as I get.  Now J's grandmother is all about the traditional dinner.  We always have a turkey and all the fixins, but it's just not my thing. (Not that I don't enjoy the meal at his grandmother's house, I just don't want to eat it every day).

So this year, since I am making dinner, I decided to do it my way.  J's a vegetarian, so a turkey is out, and well frankly, neither one of use want a Tofurky, blah.  So what am I going to do?  Well here is the menu me and J came up with the other day.  Okay, I made the menu and he approved.  ;-)

First, J hates stuffing.  He absolutely hates the stuff, so the traditional stuffing is out.  So a great substitution, the lovely wild rice mushroom stuffing.

Oh my, that looks delicious.  And J even gave it the thumbs up.  I won't be stuffing a bird with this, but I will be serving this as a side dish.  Wild rice and mushrooms, who could ask for a better combination.

Then as a salad I want to go with this spicy cucumber salad.

It's kinda a twist on the cucumber salad my mom always makes.  It's super simple to make, so I can have J make this.  Mmmmm, cucumbers.

I also wanted to make mashed potatoes with shiitake mushroom gravy, but we decided we would be pushing the mushroom theme too much.  So we decided on roasted potatoes.

Now I don't know if I'll make pesto potatoes, like pictured, above, but I will make roasted potatoes.  Maybe with a butter and herbs or even a sweet vinaigrette sauce.

Then we also want some bread and dipping oils.  And I have plenty of those, so we're covered there.  I also would like to make some homemade cheese.

I normally make ricotta using the recipe from smitten kitchen, but I have everything I need to make mozzarella.  So we might try and make some of that.  Or we might make both.

And you might say, what are you going to make for a main dish since you despise turkey so much? We plan on making stuffed portabellas.  I'd like to make some goat stuffed ones and some feta stuffed ones as well.    

We will be making large stuffed portabellas, not the small ones.  We will also be making some grilled veggies and possibly pasta to go with this.  It will be like the mushrooms we use to make sandwiches with, minus the bread.

And of course we can't forget about dessert.  We plan on making these delicious looking cookie bars I found the other day.

picture from

Just 5 ingredients?  Oh yes please.  J thinks we should make these this weekend to try them out and make sure they are good.  I think he might be right, wouldn't want to serve anything that didn't taste good ;-)    

So do you do the traditional thing for Thanksgiving or do you do something different?  Are you planning on hosting dinner or is that crazy talk?

Click on any of the links or pictures to take you to the recipes.  Or you can find them on my Pinterest boards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Welcome Back

So I took a little break from this blog.  Nothing serious, just a little week long break to collect my thoughts and rest up a bit.  It's not like a lot is going on around here.  J is finishing up this semester of class.  I can't believe another semester is almost over, but I guess that's a good thing.  We only have two and a half years until he's done,  WooHoo!

We may not have been working on any ground shaking projects around here, but we have picked up a few things for here and there.

We picked up this medicine cabinet for the downstairs basement.  It was only $20 at the ReStore.  It needs a lot of love, but a little bit of cleaning and some new paint, and it'll be as good as new.  And it's going to look so nice downstairs.  We can get rid of that boring tiny mirror.  Now to decide what color to go with.  Yay, paint picking time!!!

And yes, I still need to take down that tape after priming the porch.  I should probably do that soon :-)

I also picked up this cute little scent warmer for the bathroom.  It was on clearance in the fall stuff at the hardware store.  It was only $6 and the little scent cubes were on sale for 75 cents a package.  I couldn't pass that up.  I grabbed this guy and a pomegranate and black cherry cubes.  Now the house smells delicious   

We also have been hitting up the Target clearance end caps for all things awesome.

I have had my eye on these green jars all summer.  I knew that the color was perfect for the upstairs bathroom, but I didn't know if I wanted to spend a lot of money on them.  Luckily, my waiting paid off and I got this guy for $10.  Yay!

Here's a close up look of how pretty it is.  I love the color and the shape.  It's perfect for the bathroom.

And because we seemed to be on a large jar kick, we also picked up this one for $10.  Perfect for the shelf in the kitchen.  It replaced our "fancy" bottle of New Glarus Belgian Red cheery beer wine (seriously, this stuff is amazing and it's my favorite wine.  If you are ever in WI you should try all one of there wines or beers).

We picked up a little oak bonsi tree for the study.  We've been eyeing them up, but they were a little bit out of our accessories price range.  But the second we noticed one in the clearance section it was in our cart.

And a side note, we have to have fake plants because Toonces eats every single real plant that is brought into the house.  Granted, she also tries to eat the fake plants, but at least that doesn't end with cat vomit on the carpet.  Sorry for the wonderful thought, but that's what we deal with here.      

We also grabbed this ice bucket for the downstairs bar.  I know, we haven't even started on the downstairs bar, but we couldn't pass it up.  Look at how cool it is.  It is mercury glass and has a great leather handle.  I don't think we will ever use it as an actual ice bucket, but it will look good on a shelf.  

And speaking of the bar, we picked up these excellent tile trim pieces at the ReStore.  We have never seen anything like them before.  They are ceramic tile covered with leather.  We picked them up for $0.50 a tile, which is a steal.  We looked up leather tile when we got home and found most tile priced around $4-$9 a tile, and we couldn't find any rounded trim pieces like these.  We don't have any exact plans for them, but we  knew we had to have them.  Maybe trim on the bar.  See all the cool stuff you can find at stores like the ReStore.

So not a lot of projects, but the start of decorating.  So what has everyone else been up to?  Do you love the Target clearance end caps as much as us?              

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Recap

It's the end of the month again.  Seriously, where are the months going?  They just seem to be flying by.  It will be Christmas before we know it.  If only we could slow down time just a little bit :-)

But since it's the end of the month, it's time for our monthly recap.  A look back of what we were able to accomplish this month.   

Prime Sun Room

My goal before it got too cold was to get the sun room primed.  I wished I could get it painted as well, but I knew that wasn't going to happen until next spring.  That's okay.  I have a little bit to finish up out there (pictures soon), but for the most part this can be crossed off the list.

Finish the upstairs bathroom bathtub

This one turned into a huge project.  We didn't anticipate having to replace the wall above the tub, but we had too.  Once that was done, it was smooth sailing.  We installed the waterproof stuff around the tub and then installed new trim, which I just finished painting!  Then we decided that since we would be caulking the new trim, we should probably re-caulk the whole tub.  If you have ever re-caulked anything, you know how unbelievable awful fun this can be.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

Install the new fan and lights in the bathroom  

The upstairs fan didn't have a exhaust fan, so we added one!  It's so nice to have one upstairs now, hopefully it will take care of the mold problem we had in the bathroom before.  And with the addition of this fan, we got a new overhead light and night light.  Surprisingly, we use the nightlight every day.  It's lovely.

Install new outlets and switches in the bathroom

This was done the same day we installed the fan.  We figured if we were working on it, we might as well do everything.  I love our new rocker switches.  Now if only I could remember what all of them are for.  

Look for furniture for the sun room

Okay, so we haven't found any furniture for this room, but we've been looking and that's what our goal was.  We think we have it narrowed downed and it looks like a trip to Ikea.  I can't wait to have this room done.  It will be so nice to have a little escape from the world.  And J's parents have given us a little infrared heater to try.  If we like it and it keeps the room warm, we'll be investing in a more substantial one for out there (and maybe a fire place).

Paint the cafe table and chairs

Our little $25 table and chair investment is looking good.  We scraped her all down and then added a layer of hammered bronze and a little green.  It looks amazing.  We're currently in the process of finding a piece of round glass for the table.  We figure it will make the table more usable to have a flat surface.  

Decorate for fall

Oh yeah, this was an important one.  I love fall and I was more then happy to bring a little fall into the house.  And I wanted to bring in more then the dead leaves that were tracked in everyday (which the cat then ate and then preceded to vomit everywhere).  So I added some fun things here and there to celebrate autumn.  

Rake leaves and clean the gutters

Okay, this one was an actual important one.  We raked all the leaves to the street and then climbed up on the roof to clean out all the gutters.  We have a lot of trees around us, so this is an all day job.  I guess that's one of the downsides to living among the trees.  It's a dirty job, but one that has to be done.    

Not a bad list.  I'm pretty impressed with what we were able to accomplish this month.  And a big thanks to J's parents for helping us finish up the bathroom work.  
What did everyone else accomplish this month?  Did you have a lot of leaves to take care of every fall?  

*Side note: I'm feeling much better, thanks for all the get wells.  This last bug only seemed to last about 48 hrs, which I'm thankful for.