Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I'm reading: December

In the midst of all the holiday craziness, I read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). My lovely cousin gave it me and I finished it in about 2 days. Such a quick read and so funny. Loved it! 

And that was it for this month. I'm gonna hole up this long weekend and just read, nap and relax. Happy new year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas movie you've never heard of

Ok, so there's this old Christmas movie from the 80s, Babes in Toyland. If you and I are not related, chances are you haven't heard of it. For some reason, this is the movie I remember watching most at my grandparents' house. Not really sure how my grandma found this gem (probably in the drugstore bargain bin, if I'm being honest). But it stars Keanu Reeves, Drew Barrymore and Mr. Miyagi. I don't remember too many of the details, other than there is a song about Cincinnati, the villain lives in a huge bowling ball, and the giant toy soldiers come to life. Clearly, a winner. I tried to make my mom watch it a few years ago and she quit after the Cincinnati song. The reason why I'm writing a whole post about a silly childhood movie is because it is on netflix insta-queue. Now I can watch it anytime I want! I texted this very exciting news to my parents, who then told me they were busy. Forever. 

When I brought up Babes in Toyland again at dinner today, my dad said "you mean the movie we watch every year?" (dad translation = he means A Christmas Story). I was actually offended that he compared the two. A Christmas Story wins. Hands down. Don't even bother with Babes in Toyland. I can assure you it's not even on Keanu Reeves's resume anymore. 

(Also, this post is pretty much just for my cousin Jessie, cause she's the only one who has any idea what Babes in Toyland is, although I don't think she remembers much of it.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Countdown to hibernation

So this whole being an adult thing kinda stinks sometimes. I really miss those 2 week Christmas vacations. Even though my break is considerably shorter this year (3 days), I'm still really excited. I'm preparing myself for what I call my "hibernation." It's going to be 3 days chock full of:

-sweatpants (real pants? please.)
-Christmasy movies, including but not limited to: Elf, The Santa Clause, Love Actually, The Holiday, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Home Alone and It's A Wonderful Life
-a big stack of unread magazines
-no healthy food at all

(Actually, this may read like a lot of my weekends at home)

Also, this fruit compote will definitely be involved:

8 oz mixed dried fruit (chopped)
16 oz cherry pie filling
11 oz can mandarin oranges (drained)
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup bourbon (or apple juice)

Combine 1st 3 ingredients in 1 1/2 quart dish and set aside. Combine other ingredients and pour over mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. 

We've never used bourbon in this before, but it sounds delicious. This is amazing over homemade waffles, which is how we have our Christmas breakfast every single year. I'm drooling a little bit just thinking of it. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Work party

So even though I started Christmas shopping early this year, I couldn't seem to figure out what to get my co-workers. I went back and forth for a while, then eventually decided on the following: I'd get everyone a personalized mug, fill it with some peppermint bark, and bring some hot cocoa fixins. I brought a few different flavors of hot cocoa, candy canes, and gingerbread marshmallows. It went over really well - homemade peppermint bark is amazing, and it is so easy. This is the recipe I used, but here are my steps:

Melt dark chocolate in the microwave. Stir at 30 second intervals. I used a Pyrex casserole dish, since a sheet pan wouldn't fit in my fridge/freezer. I lined it with parchment and poured the chocolate. The good thing about this recipe is it doesn't have to look perfect, so while a sheet pan probably would have been easier and looked cleaner, the dish seemed to work fine too. Put in the fridge. Watch Hawaii Five-0 while you wait for it to firm up. Drool over this guy. Ok, back to that bark, don't get distracted. Crush candy canes. I put it in a ziploc bag and smashed them with a can, which was pretty fun. Take your dish out of the fridge (I'd say it takes about an hour to cool it in the fridge). Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, remember to stir often. Once melted, stir in crushed candy canes. Pour the mixture over the hardened dark chocolate and stick the dish back into the fridge. Now go watch Glee and the New Girl. The bark should be hard enough to break up by now. You can choose to share with friends and family, or keep a stash for yourself, up to you. It's so good, I may have to hide it from myself. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happiness is...

J. Crew boy's sweater, signet ring, and red ballet flats. 

All for about $80. Oh Cyber Monday, you really got me this year.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gettin' crafty with it

How was your first weekend of December? I spent mine cleaning out the garage, trimming the tree and eating copious amounts of muddy buddies (so addicting). 

I'm not sure what it is about the holidays, but it makes me have crafty fever. Today, I took on the task of making a wreath. I bought a plain fake wreath along with ornaments, glittery picks and some ribbon. First, I had to make a bow. Turns out, I don't really know how to make one. After wrestling with it, I finally did the smart thing and googled how to do it. Using these instructions, I created a simple bow. Then I sprinkled some ornaments and pinecones to create a basic structure. I snipped apart the picks and interspersed them throughout to add even more sparkle (because go big or go home right?) All in all, I think it only cost about $20 and took about an hour (although let's be honest, most of that time was spent trying to figure out the bow situation). 

I think this would be a totally fun project for a party with the girls! Wreath-making, ugly Christmas sweaters, spiked cider...I'm down! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cooking with Sydney

So it's time for another cooking adventure with Sydney! (And it's always an adventure when I cook). Tonight, I made Pasta alla Formiana. I saw this on Giada's show a few weeks ago, and decided it would a perfect, comforting meal for a blustery day like today. Pasta is a speciality of mine, and I decided this would be a welcome change. Taking the advice of many of the reviews, I cut down the amount of oregano in the recipe (it calls for 1/4 cup, I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons) and added another garlic clove for added flavor. I kept taste-testing to make sure it didn't get mushy (and taste-testing is the best part of cooking). I pulled it out at 53 minutes and let it cool to just below lava hotness before popping it in my mouth. Yummy! Really flavorful and really easy. The sauce ended up tasting really similar to a pasta sauce, so I'm wondering if it would be possible to just use that in a pinch. Oh Giada, your recipes never fail me. 

In other news, happy December! I'm cracking open my advent calendar today!