2012 Ups and Downs

2012 is over and done.  It wasn’t a bad year.  Lots of good things happened with the bad and I’m thankful for all of it.

Probably the biggest thing that happened was figuring out my soy allergy/sensitivity.  Call it what you will, but I’ve been doing fantastically since cutting out every last little bit of the nasty substance.  Only once in a blue moon (I’m talking really only once every 2-3 months) will I have an episode and only after eating things that I know I shouldn’t eat!   I’m really glad that Darling Hubby was able to figure it out and that it wasn’t milk.  Despite the friendships I lost during the whole brouhaha, I feel I’m better for having the whole thing happen.  I’m feeling better overall.  I don’t wake up feeling like crap every morning and don’t go to sleep in pain every night.  And, it was all because I simply changed my diet.  Who’d have thunk it?

Another good thing that happened was that I learned how to knit socks.  I’ve made 14 pairs of socks since the start of March.  They are all pretty simple socks, but I love them simple. I’m not a real fancy lace and pattern girl.  I even challenged myself to do some unusually constructed socks like the carousel socks and the sideways socks.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the Owlie socks my friend Barbara and I started as a knit along.  I just had a bunch of other projects come up that took precedence.   I wear a knitted pair of socks practically every day and most members of my family have received a pair of socks at some point.  The only one who hasn’t is Fidget…

Another good (and bad) thing was that I opened my own shop on Etsy.  It’s been open since April and I’ve only had one online sale and that was a custom order for a friend…but, the recipient of that custom order Cthulhu hat is delighted with it, so that’s what really matters.  I will admit that most of my sales have been off etsy to friends or at the craft fair I did in September with some of the girls from the library knitting group.  I made 3 blankets for a friend from back home for her to give for Christmas gifts.  I also made another blanket for someone at the knitting group at the public library after she fell in love with one of the 3 that I made.  I haven’t had much time to do my own knitting lately because I’ve been doing projects for the shop.  I’m still excited to have the shop open…I’m just a little disappointed that it hasn’t done as well as I’d hoped.

Another good thing is that I went to Rhinebeck for the first time for the Sheep and Wool Festival.  It’s where I got bitten by the spinning bug.  I came home with a drop spindle and taught myself to spin yarn on it.  Of course I couldn’t just stop with that.  I’ve fallen in love with wheel spinning.  I’ve been getting better by leaps and bounds and just learned how to Navajo ply and I might even list this most recent yarn in my etsy shop (if I can talk myself out of keeping it!)  I’m hoping to save up enough money to buy my own wheel at some point.  I’ve tried a Kromski Sonota and an Ashford Kiwi and so far I really like the Kiwi, despite the nasty creak that it has in one of the treadles.  But, I’ve heard that Ashfords have a tendency to creak…lol

The bad was, thankfully, few and far between.  Things didn’t really start to get bad until November, which seems to be a pretty crappy month for many people.  Darling Hubby was off for the week of Thanksgiving and we woke up that Monday to a very cold house.  Despite the fact that the furnace was running all the radiators were stone cold.  Turns out the circulator pump blew and a day of waiting for the technician to come to fix it and $700 later we had a warm house.  Thankfully we have the wood fireplace for back-up warmth…then, Darling Hubby had to have his car inspected and that needed $400 worth of work…so in 2 days we’d spent over $1100…and we hadn’t even started to buy Christmas presents.

Probably the worst and absolute last thing that happened in 2012 was that on New Years Eve around 9:30 pm, our little dog Spiral passed away peacefully in her box.  It’s something that we’ve been expecting could happen at any time due to her age and health, but it was pretty sudden how it happened.  Literally it was she was alive one minute and gone the next.

We came home early from a New Years party, Darling Hubby walked the dogs and I started ushering the kids upstairs.  I filled the dogs water bowl (both dogs were happy and dancing around) and headed upstairs to do the bedtime routine while Darling Hubby went out to plow out the bottom of the driveway, thanks to not 1, but 2 plows coming through right after we got home.  Anyway, Fidget left his new Buzz Lightyear downstairs and wanted to sleep with it, so I went down to get it.  I noticed Spiral was laying with her nose down in the blanket and not on her paws like normal and I got no response when I called her name.  I’d seriously only been upstairs 10 minutes.

It came as a complete shock to both me and Darling Hubby as to how sudden it was, but like I said it was expected.  We’d had her for over 9 years and she was estimated to be around 2 when we adopted her.  She had bad teeth and a severe heart murmur that had progressed into congestive heart failure where she was constantly coughing, but she was still active, ate well and seemed happy.  I’m thankful that she seemed to go peacefully and that she’s in a better place and has hopefully been reunited with her best friend, Grace, who passed away nearly 2 years ago.

So, the bulk of 2012 was good (oh, and I should add that we didn’t die in the apocalypse that didn’t happen!)  I can only hope that 2013 is even better!

I’m Thankful For…

This week was spent mostly with my little family of 4.  Darling Hubby had the week off from work and Bug had Wednesday through Friday off from school.  Darling Hubby, Fidget and I did a little Christmas and clothes shopping on Tuesday and on Wednesday I went to Bug’s Parent Teacher Conference.  I’m thankful for my sweet, sensitive, and super smart six year old.

Thursday we made the 2.5 hour drive to visit with our parents and Darling Hubby’s Grandpa and various Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins.  It was actually a relatively quiet (compared to past meals with 30+ people) and was enjoyable.  I even tried a new food – orange jello with carrots and pineapple.  It was interesting and good.  Fidget was eating it by the handful!  There was some drama brewing, things not meant for the public, but everyone managed to get through the day without saying something they’d regret.  Despite all the ups and downs and the drama, I’m thankful for my family.

Grandma M & The Boys

Grandma M, Bug and Fidget

Bug, Fidget and Great Grandpa

Great Grandpa, Bug and Fidget

We also visited my parents.  By the end of the day Fidget was tired and cranky from not having a decent nap, so he was pretty cranky.  I tried to get pictures of him with his brother and grandma, but he wouldn’t cooperate.  I did snap this picture of Bug with my mom.

Grandma R & Bug
We came home late Thursday night.  Fidget was exhausted despite sleeping for at least an hour in the car.  He went right to sleep.  Bug insisted on a chapter from Harry Potter and ended up not going to bed til 9.  I was thankful for some quiet time with Darling Hubby.

We stayed home Friday and Darling Hubby and Bug hung the Christmas lights up outside.  Darling Hubby followed Bug’s orders for light placement and it actually came out looking pretty good.   Saturday, we decided, was going to be our own Thanksgiving.    Early afternoon we ran out to get some more outdoor Christmas lights and the fixin’s for dessert.  Around 3, Darling Hubby and I cooked a 13lb turkey (using Alton Brown’s recipe – you must do this with your next turkey!  It’s so darn good!), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, crescent rolls, cranberry sauce and french cut green beans.  I also made a peanut butter cup pie for dessert.

Sunday we decorated inside for Christmas with a Christmas candle burning and some Christmas music playing on the tv.  The tree is up, the stockings are hung, the wreath is up and the garland is on the stairs…the only thing I need to get out is my winter Eeyore collection to go on the stairs.

Fidget helping decorate

Fidget Helping Decorate

My only task between now and Christmas is to keep an 18 month old Fidget from destroying or breaking any ornaments!  At least I don’t have to contend with the cat in the tree…she prefers to sleep under it or on the radiator behind it.  And yes, we did decorate while still wearing out PJ’s!  I just wish I could put some presents under the tree…we just know they’ve never survive til Christmas.

Bug putting the Santa on the tree

The Two Best Presents!

The Two Best Presents!

Food for Friday! 11/21-12/4

Monday – Pork Chops, rice and veggies
Tuesday – Craft Night – my turn to cook – tacos
Wednesday – Pizza
Thursday – Thanksgiving – dinner with the family
Friday – Alfredo
Saturday – Brined turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies & crescent rolls
Sunday -leftovers

Monday – Turkey pot pie
Tuesday – Craft Night – Leana’s turn (Sirloin Steak for the boys at home)
Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday – Game Night – macaroni and cheese with ham
Friday – Fend for yourself/leftovers
Saturday – Fend for yourself/leftovers
Sunday – Fend for yourself/leftovers

Thanksgiving Dinner Meatloaf

When someone mentions comfort food, I usually think of Thanksgiving dinner, and with Thanksgiving in 2 weeks I’m already drooling for the roast turkey (check out Alton Brown’s Roast Turkey – it’s the best, ever!), mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes with toasted mini marshmallows (or baked since Darling Hubby doesn’t care for the marshmallows), green beans and who could forget cranberry sauce.  Mmm…makes my tummy rumble just thinking about it…But, in today’s busy world, who has time to cook a turkey with all the fixin’s for dinner during the work week when you are craving that comfort food?  Well, aside from me, being a stay at home mom, not many people do.

I don’t know if this recipe exists in the world already, but it’s something that I made up based on another meatloaf recipe.  I like to call it Thanksgiving Dinner Meatloaf.  It’s nice served with mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes and marshmallows if you desire) and veggies to round out your weeknight meal.

Ingredients:

2lbs ground turkey
1 6oz package of your favorite stuffing mix (turkey flavored)
1 cup water
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, divided
1/4 cup of dried cranberries (optional)
2 eggs, beaten

Mix the turkey, dried stuffing mix, water, 1/4 cup of the cranberry sauce, dried cranberries and the eggs together until well combined.  I do this in a bowl with my hands, but you can also put everything in a large zip top bag and mix it that way.  Shape into a loaf and place on a rack on a sheet pan (or on another pan that will allow for drainage of any grease).  Top with remaining cranberry sauce.  Bake for 1 – 1.5 hours at 375*F until internal temperature reaches 165*F.

Slice and serve with your desired fixin’s and enjoy!

Very Overdue Update

Once again it’s been weeks since I’ve written anything other than a menu planning post…it’s sad because I’ve had so much to say, but couldn’t really say anything.

Let’s see…Bug is doing very well in school.  I had his first Parent Teacher conference at the beginning of November.  His teachers love having him in class and his one teacher says he’s very witty and funny.  I was worried that he was going to be the class clown when he got comfortable with the group, but he’s actually been keeping it together and the teacher uses him as a calming influence.  She once told me in the hall that she calls him her “euphoric little bug” since he’s so happy and just flits from one thing to another.  He’s very good in class and is focused and pays attention.

Bug was also invited and attended his very first classmate birthday party.  It was at Chuck E Cheese and he had a good time, ate some pizza, played some games and got freaked out by the giant rat…lol

What else…Oh, I started working on Christmas presents in September.  So far I’ve made a stegosaurus for one of my nephews, a blanket for my MIL and SFIL, mini stocking ornaments for 3 people, a thread crocheted angel ornament for my mom and 2 scarves (one for each of Bug’s Pre-K teachers).  I have yet to make/finish a brontosaurus for my other nephew (I made one, but Bug stole it and named it and I couldn’t very well take it away…) and a unicorn.  Our plan is to buy a book for each child to go along with the stuffed animal.   I still have to make at least 4 more mini stockings.  One for each of the 3 kids and one for my SIL.  Now I just have to wrap everything and get it under the tree…I may hold off on that for a bit since the cat seems to love hanging out under the tree and I don’t want her to tear anything accidentally.

I bought Darling Hubby’s Christmas present this morning.  We agreed to spend only around $50 plus stocking stuffers, but since I was having so much trouble thinking of the perfect present for him and when I finally found something it was nearly double our agreed-upon price, he gave me the go-ahead to spend the extra and he’ll spend a little more on me.  I’m ok with not getting more under the tree…my present is something I know he’s really going to like and enjoy.  We can afford it, so I’m not too worried.  We are done with Bug’s presents, aside from stocking stuffers and we’ll probably get some books, cars, candy and little things for that.

In other news, I’ve been baking.  For the last 16 weeks (give or take) I’ve been baking the newest edition to the Sarandipity family.  That’s right!  I’m pregnant!  We finally broke the news (well, we let Bug do the dirty work) to family over Thanksgiving, so I’m ok with posting for the world to know. I made Bug an “I’m the Big Brother” t-shirt and he was so happy to wear it and surprisingly, everyone caught onto it quickly so I didn’t have to explain.  That’s one of the reasons I haven’t been doing The 30 Day Shred dvd or dieting anymore.

So, I’ve had 2 doctors appointments so far.  The first was a confirmation and blood work and the second I got to hear the heartbeat.  It was 158 beats per min.  Bug’s was 156 around the same time.  I have another appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning.  I’m hoping to be able to schedule the ultrasound for before Christmas, if the doctors will let me.  I should be between 18 and 19 weeks at that point.  It would be nice to know the gender so we could tell everyone at Christmas.

As for the pregnancy, things have been going pretty well.  I had a bit of morning sickness during the first 13 or so weeks.  Luckily it was just first thing in the morning and I wasn’t nauseous all day long like I was with Bug.  I haven’t started feeling movement yet, which makes me kinda nervous since I don’t have the throwing up to keep reminding me that I’ve got a baby growing inside my tummy.  That’s silly, I know.  I’m sure everything is fine, but I just hate feeling in sort of a limbo.  I didn’t feel Bug for the first time until I was 20 weeks…I hope it doesn’t take that long this time around, esp since I know what to look for…Emotionally, I haven’t been as weepy this time around, but my grumpy mood swings have been through the roof.  I feel like I’m angry for long stretches for no apparent reason.  I hate feeling like that and I hate that I take out my frustrations on Darling Hubby and Bug.  Hopefully that will go away soon…fingers crossed for me.

So, that’s about it.  I’ll probably update tomorrow after my drs appointment.  I figure if I blog about everything here I’ll have a running record of everything for when I want to look back on it later.  Blogs can be a wonderful thing!

Most Delicious Turkey EVER!

I usually only have turkey when I go visit family for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I decided this year I was going take on the task of cooking my own turkey for my family.  Today was that day.

I started yesterday making up a brine using Alton Brown’s Good Eats Turkey recipe.  I altered the recipe a bit to use what I had on hand.

Here’s what I did.  In a large stock pot I added:

1 gallon water
8 chicken boullion cubes
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 Tbsp ground allspice

Bring to boiling and then allow to cool to room temperature.  I rinsed my 11 lb turkey in cold water and immersed it into the brine, breast side down.  I poured 1 gallon of chilled water over the turkey covering it completely and placed in the fridge overnight, turning it over once this morning.

When it was time to cook it, set my over to 500 degrees F., I took the turkey out of the brine, rinsed it inside and out with cold water and placed it in the pan to cook (tucking the wings back and securing the legs).  I patted it dry with paper towels and rubbed it down liberally with vegetable oil.  I stuck the temperature probe into the breast meat and put the pan in the oven for half an hour.  When the time was up, I covered the breast meat with a double triangle of foil and put it back in at 350 degrees F until the thermometer registered 161 degrees (don’t open the oven to peek at it) and then I took it out of the oven and covered it with foil to rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

OMG!  This is the absolute best turkey ever.  We made it once before for Thanksgiving (I think 2006) and it was just as delicious.  The brine makes the turkey so moist and cooking it at 500 degrees crisps up the skin and helps hold in the juice.  I know it sounds bad to cook a turkey to 161, but the meat is done and it’s oh so juicy and delicious.

I bow down to Alton Brown and his delicious recipe!  And next time you need to make a turkey, take the time to follow this recipe, you won’t be sorry!

Rearranging

Today was going to be a lazy day for us, but ended up being a pretty productive day.  After getting laundry started and Bug some breakfast, I went on a mad search for one of the knitting needles I’ve been using for the cream colored scarf…It was no where to be found in my house and I haven’t taken them anywhere (I opted not to deal with them in the car yesterday).  We ended up moving the couch to look behind it without any luck.  Turns out my couch has an appetite for knitting needles.  (Don’t worry Leana, your knitting needle is fine!)  Looking for the needle I found several potato chips (ick!) and a big need to vacuum under the couch cushions.

Since we’d pulled the couch out from in front of the radiator we decided to rearrange the furniture and clean the radiator…it was covered in dust and Bug has lost several little bits to some of his toys back there.  We had decided a couple weeks ago where to set up the Christmas tree, but we weren’t going to set it up today.  Since we moved everything and made space, we ended up setting it up anyway.  We decorated it after dinner (pizza!) and Bug had a grand time.

We also went through a couple trunks that I had stuff stored in and combined some of the stuff into one, tossed some stuff in the trash or decided to put it into the pile for the garage sale we plan to have in May next year.  The bigger one we filled with the various blankets that we had been storing on the radiator behind the couch.  Since the couch isn’t there anymore it was sorta a bad place to keep them.

I do have a bunch of pictures from yesterday, but haven’t had time to edit them between rearranging furniture, decorating for Christmas and various other things I’ve had to do today.  Bug did have a grand time playing with his cousins and he really enjoyed playing in the snow at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  He didn’t want to come in, even though he was obviously cold.

Off to watch Real Genius with Darling Hubby and maybe get some more knitting done.  I’m almost done with it…then to make a hat…Only 20 something days left until Christmas.  Better get a move on.