Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful at Thanksgiving

Get ready this is a doozie (long)... but so was Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving is a time when most slow down and remember what they have in their lives to be thankful for. This year was no different for me, except for the "slowing down" part. It was a super busy week but I'm so happy I ended up spending it with almost everyone I care about the most.

We started a new tradition this Thanksgiving. Since we're now a [cough] running family [cough] we thought we'd do a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. We even convinced Jill to join in the fun. 

And you would think that since a 5K is the shortest distance race I've done so far that I would have come out unscathed - not hardly. I hurt worse after this race than I think I have any of the half marathons. Maybe I didn't stretch or maybe I ate too much just mere hours later. I'm not sure, but I was able to justify my "marathon eating" later that day with my 3.1 mile run. 

And so it began... here's the highlights from lunch at my Grandma Peggy's house. 

These are turnips for you folks not from around here.

And this is my grandmother's dressing. Yes, we know its not in a casserole dish or stuffed in a bird, but I swear its so much better. It's like individual mini-dressings that you can dip in gravy or put in your pocket for later. It's amazing and my most favorite. She used to call it dressing but since Kris married Amber its official name is now "Amber's Dressing". I think it's why she married him and why she likes my family. 

And this is her amazing cranberry salad. No sauce at this house. It's Jello based and has pineapples and nuts. I'll share her recipe one day. Until then, I'll continue to bring this with me to other dinners and impress people with my cooking skills.

The bird - not a turkey, but a chicken. My Papa always complained that turkey was too dry and not so good. He was right. Baked chicken is so much juicier than turkey and has the same coma-inducing effects. 

And these... well if you've seen the title to this blog and still don't know what these are then we've got a problem. I'm about to digress...

Deviled eggs originated in Rome. Click here for more than you ever cared to know about deviled eggs. 

The only thing you need to know is that it doesn't get much more southern than a deviled egg - no matter where they originated. They're the staple at every home cooked meal, every church pot-luck and at a lot of weddings I've been to recently. 

Never fear. I've been planning a post dedicated to these delicious necessities and will report back my research on one of my most favorite southern isms soon. 

This was John's attempt at making us health conscious. He's gotten on this running kick, lost 10 lbs and decided we all need fruit salad at Thanksgiving. It was good! 

Jill, on the other hand, is perfectly happy trying to put those 10 lbs. on all of us and brought her famous chocolate pie. (aka - heaven in tin foil)

You would think after a meal like that for lunch you would rush to the nearest bed and not get up until the next day. Not hardly. 

Soon after we finished it was time to head over to Mt. Olive (home of the pickles) and have dinner with my dad's side of the family. 

Again, more food, family and fun, but with a slightly different menu. I always swear I'm too full to eat another bite and yet, somehow I find a way. 

This side of the family fries a turkey. If you have to eat one, its the only way to do it in my humble opinion. It keeps its moisture. 

We also do a ham, which is my personal favorite of all of the meats. (Shout out to the NC Pork Council - "they bring alot to the table")

I made the Pioneer Woman's Nantucket Cranberry Pie. I have yet to be disappointed in any recipe of her's that I've tried. This was awesome, but tart. Don't make it if you don't like cranberries. It's pretty in a pie plate and looks like you had to work hard. Trust me, you don't. 

I thought I was really doing something with my Pioneer Woman Pie, but then my Grandma Hilda had to go and pull out the big guns. She made a homemade banana pudding. I'm not talking instant pudding... I'm talking about the kind you have to cook on the stove top. It was amazing. I don't know how they do it but Grandma's can totally show you who's smarter when it comes to the kitchen. Bobby Flay doesn't have anything on Hilda.

And there she is... The Princess of Pudding. My grandma and one of the few women I hope to be just like when I grow up.

I realized sitting there with all of my family after dinner was over on Thursday night that I'm the most thankful for the people in my life like my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and all of the others that make me complete. I'm thankful for those who are no longer with me and for those who I am about to meet. I've been dealt a pretty great hand and for that, I'm thankful. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dressing Up My Camera

My friend Becca had a fancy camera complete with a fancy camera strap. I had camera envy.

I finally got my camera, but it felt incomplete without a fancy camera strap. I have seen a dozen or more on Etsy for sale, but I'm cheap and have this issue with things homemade. If someone else has done it I have this aversion to paying money for it. I have this need to try to do it for myself.

Case in point - my camera strap.

I found a tutorial on Edie's blog - Life in Grace. She has this amazing blog on her life with her family, crafting, God, and on and on. She was a doctor but now is a stay at home mom who home schools her kids and has a thing for turquoise kitchen cabinets. (just browse her blog)

Anyway, I broke out my sewing machine, knocked off the dust and got to work.

When starting on a project be sure you have the essentials - sewing machine and glass of wine. Wine is very important to the success of any of my projects. It keeps me sane. And serves as a good excuse if someone wants to criticize my ability to sew straight lines. 

And here were my directions. Edie has tutorials for 12 Days of Handmade Christmas Gifts. I'm going to work on some more of these for gifts for friends and family. I promised my girlfriend Alison that I'd make her a camera strap. 

First, I measured the strips of fabric and the fusible interfacing to fit my camera strap. I did interfacing instead of fleece or batting. That wasn't on purpose. I thought I picked up batting but grabbed interfacing at the fabric store. Just grab whatever feels good. 

After you iron on your batting or interfacing fold the edges of the fabric and iron flat. My grandmother once told me ironing was the key to good sewing. These things continue to remind me how smart grandparents are.

Then I sewed the edges to hem. I did it twice to give it a more finished look. 

Pin the strips of fabric right sides together.

And sew down both sides.

Remove the pins, turn right side out and iron flat. I did a top stitch down both sides for a more finished look.

Pull your camera strap through the fabric. Voila. Done.

It's fairly easy. I didn't even have time to finish my glass of wine. That's how I determine how easy a project is. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who Doesn't Love a Sale?

Date: Thursday, Nov. 11
Time: Lunch'ish
Place: Ann Taylor, Tanger Outlet, Myrtle Beach, SC

These pictures don't really do them justice. 

After an additional 40% off everything in the store sale those $45 earrings came home with me for $5. 

Some things are just too good not to share - or show off. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

OBX Running

This past weekend was our 2nd Annual OBX Running Trip. This idea of running for fun started last year. Who would have thought we would actually enjoy running enough to keep doing it?

My cousin, Kris and I ran in the OBX 1/2 Marathon at Nag's Head last year. It was so much fun and a great course for a beginner (code word - FLAT). I wanted to do the 1/2 marathon again but after the Nashville 1/2 I had to have knee surgery and so 13.1 miles wasn't an option this time. 

But, I was able to still run the 8k and run we did.

My uncle, John and I started training a few months ago - running a few nights each week. He had completed a 5k previously but that was his longest distance. I was so proud of him for beating his goal of finishing in less than 1:30.

Those medals are your ticket to walk around town all day and act like a rock star. He's already planning his training to run the 1/2 marathon next year. I can't explain it either, but after you do one you're hooked. 

Kris, his wife Amber and our friend Katie all ran in the 1/2 marathon on Sunday.  Amber and Katie ran their first race with us in Nashville back in April and were hooked also. The three of them all had goals of beating their previous times. 

These are the crazy things that running makes you do. Like waking up at 5:30 AM, stuffing carbs in your mouth, and stretching. Amber is multi-talented and can do all at once. 

The supporting cast (my parents, my grandmother, aunt, uncle, my boyfriend and I) all gathered at the 1st mile marker to watch them come by once the race got under way. 

There's Katie getting started. She was the first to come by and the first to cross the finish line (1:54:23). She was shooting for under 2 hours. That's what being a distance swimmer in college will do for you. That and the fact that she actually starts her training program and sticks to it. 

This picture really makes me laugh. Amber was pumped up. Kris acted like he was quitting at mile 1. He was kidding of course, but you should have seen the looks on the faces of the runners behind him. 

Here's the final shot after they crossed. Kris came in at 2:06:45 - beating his previous time by almost 10 minutes. Amber came in at 2:27:11 - beating her previous time by almost 5 minutes. In our running group beating your time is your only goal. That and not being carried off by the EMS guys before you cross the line. 

There's another very important component to a successful race that's not often pictured. 

The support crew

Aunt Sherry's decided that the supporters deserve their own medal. They get up earlier to get the runners up, cook breakfast, pack and carry the extra gear, stand by the road just to watch and scream, drive like crazy to get to the finish line in time to stand there again...and wait, then cheer some more. I couldn't agree more. 

I let her borrow my medal for the picture. :)

We finished up our trip in Manteo at the after-party. There were runners everywhere, drinks flowing, music and a lot of great food. 

I think I almost have Whitney convinced to run with me next year! (fingers crossed)

The runners

It was a perfect trip with some of my favorite people. 

The crew

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November Showers....

...bring January babies!!!

Megan's due date is getting closer so some of our girlfriends and I threw her a shower last weekend. The food was good and she got some really great gifts, but the best part was getting to spend some time with some of my favorite people.

Holly opened up her new house for the party. Megan's sister-in-law and friend Chrystie, and our friends Kristin and Melissa also helped host the party.

There wasn't a lack of food and good stuff.

Chrystie (pictured) made this super cute carriage for the fruit. It matched the invitations. Only at baby showers can you get away with stuff like this. 

Kristin pulled a Martha Stewart on the cupcakes. They were so good! And Melissa brought the lilies - in honor of Miss Lily James, of course. 

I tried my hand at Bakerella's cake pops. I'd give them a 6 out of 10. The tasted great and looked ok. But, I've got a little way to go on piping letters. Definitely not a professional on that one yet.  

Here are some shots from the party...

Kristin's having a little girl in February! 

My girlfriend Karla brought her new baby girl Parker. She never got put down the entire party. We played pass the baby. 

Becky made Megan super cute burp cloths - one thing you can never have enough of. 

Holly's dog Ozzie watched over the gifts. He's part dog, part human. 

It was a great party. I can't wait to see Lily James in all of her cute things. 

It was also a good time for me. I found myself watching all of my girlfriends talk about their relationships, their husbands and now babies. It's a very surreal experience watching the girls you used to go out to bars with during college transition into motherhood. I'm so thankful we've all remained so close through the years and that I get to watch us have daughters of our own.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I want for Christmas...

I don't really want much and I promise I've been good. I'll simply take a kitchen that looks like this!!!

Please take note of that back splash and those hardwood floors.

And of that gorgeous light fixture. And that fabric.

I'd almost be happy sitting at this desk to pay the bills that would come after I got this kitchen.

Her name is Toby Fairley. She's an interior designer with a blog that makes me drool a little bit. She detailed all of the before and after of this little project here. And I hope Santa Claus can fit her down my non-existent chimney.


Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm a "Lobbyist"

Yes. For a living I am a registered lobbyist and work at the legislature on issues important to my organization. But, we've talked enough about politics lately and this isn't the place to open that can of worms.

In my free time I'm a really big fan of the other "lobby" - Hobby Lobby. I'm not happy about the fact that there isn't a Hobby Lobby in Raleigh. However, my pocketbook is very happy. 

Luckily, there is one in Greensboro and I was there visiting Megan this weekend. We were working on a little project that I can NOT wait to tell you all about. But, for now I'm only authorized to give you sneak peak.

That would be a crib skirt for Lily James!

We were out picking up some last minute items and returning some ribbon we didn't need. We may or may not have been distracted once we got there. They had their Christmas stuff out and we couldn't get enough!

It's Megan's fault that I'm addicted to Christmas ornaments. She loves giving them and receiving them. Her mom collected Christopher Radko's and got me into starting my own collection. You can read all about that in one of my very first posts

They had tons of cute ornaments like this little Santa. 

Wouldn't these make great gifts for someone? I think these frames would really dress up a tree. 

What you didn't see is that all of the ornaments were an additional 50% off. That would have only been $2. Not bad. 

They also have the best selection of wrapping paper that I have ever seen. Better than Target, TJ Maxx or the neighborhood school kids. The were so cute and frame worthy, plus you get 100 yards on every roll for just $7.99. That's enough paper for me to wrap every gift I give this season. They were organized by colors. 

After we dropped a little bit of the other kind of green paper we ventured on to do some more shopping. 

There's a great store called Fleet Plummer. More cute ornaments and decorative stuff for the holidays. 

I have no idea why, but these elf's made me laugh. They are too funny!

So did this! If you can read the text it says - "Three Wise Women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stables, brought practical gifts and there would be Peace on Earth."  So very true. 

Then I found these sock monkey ornaments for kids trees. They are super cute and may be the inspiration for my next batch of sock monkeys.

This was the only one that came home with me from Fleet Plummer. My boyfriend loves duck hunting maybe more than he loves me. He promised we could put a tree up at his house and I could decorate it however I wanted to. I figured he deserved a duck ornament in return. ;)

I can't wait for the holidays... 46 days and counting!

I'm not getting paid $$ or getting good things in return for my enthusiastic endorsement of Hobby Lobby. Just spreading the word about one of my favorite stores.