Posted by John on December 2nd, 2013
It’s that time of the year again around here. Lisa is digging through our Christmas decor bins and dressing up the house. While holiday decor isn’t really my thing, I do enjoy laughing at some of our older ornaments as we pull them out of the bins. It’s a fun tradition.
Since we could use a break from the whole cabinet construction thing, we’re going to do something fun this holiday season. We’re kicking off an Instagram Christmas Ornament Hashtag Party. Here’s the theme: Weird or Funny Christmas Ornaments.
If you’re not sure what that is, there’s nothing wrong with you. I promise. It’s Captain Kathryn Janeway from the TV series Star Trek Voyager. My folks bought it for me back in Christmas of 1998. Why I’ve kept it this long is the real question here.
So here’s how this Instagram party will work. Take an instagram photo (or Twitter) of the weirdest, oddest or funniest Christmas ornament you own. Use the hashtag #WeirdestOrnament2013 or #FunniestOrnament2013 when you post it. You can also post it on our Facebook wall.
In a week or so, I’ll share the photos in a post. Let’s keep it lighthearted and safe for work, if you know what I mean. Okay? Cool, have fun.
Posted by John on June 12th, 2013
Well, it’s that time of the year again, time to buy gifts for all the dads in your life. Since I really don’t have to lift a finger on this particular holiday and most of our readers are women, I thought I’d dispense some gift giving advice and offer some suggestions. If you’re looking for some last minute Father’s Day gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place.
The Safe Choices:
1. Neck ties, dress shirts, button down shirts, belts, sunglasses and watches. You really can’t go wrong with these options as long as they’ll be worn on a regular basis. Not great options for guys that only wear jeans and t-shirts to work, obviously.
2. If the dad in your life enjoys a glass of whiskey or scotch every now and again, get him a bottle of something good. My personal favorite is Redbreast 12yr. It’s delicious and at around $50 a bottle, it’s probably at a good Father’s Day gift price point. I’m not a big whiskey drinker, but it’s really a smooth, tasty choice and is the perfect whiskey for the occasional drinker. Other options include a high quality beer like a Chimay, which comes in larger bottles. A six pack of the month club is also a worthy gift and even though it’s a mail order service, you can kick off the gift by handing him a six pack of something you know he likes. Trust me, guys like this sort of gift.
If you’re intimidated by buying or even pronouncing Scotch, there are around 45 8-second long videos of the actor Brian Cox pronouncing each one for you on YouTube. You’re welcome.
3. Concert tickets or game tickets make for great gifts. It’s June, so your major league sports are pretty much limited to baseball until the Fall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy tickets for the other major sports ahead of time. Movie tickets are also a welcome idea. Did you know that the new Superman movie opens this weekend? Do you know how ridiculously awesome it looks?
4. Here goes…. telescope, binoculars, leather bag, R/C car, plane or helicopter, die cast cars, ride in an actual helicopter, cooking class, power tools, hand tools, carpentry lessons, a round of golf at an expensive local country club, rifles or guns, golf clubs, high quality shaving gear..
Hope this helps! We’ll be back next week with some garage work updates. Enjoy your weekend!
Posted in Holiday. Tagged in ,father's day, gift ideas
Posted by Lisa on March 17th, 2013
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We hope you had a good weekend! We were busy with “second baby preparations,” which we will be sharing in the next few weeks, btw. We did get a chance to have a low key, but tasty St. Patty’s day dinner!
First off, I made homemade honey butter at John’s request. I’ve never had it, but it sounded good to me. I used Alton Brown’s recipe for the ingredients, but just eyeballed the measurements. I used my Cuisinart hand mixer with the whisk attachment to cream the butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Then I placed the mixture in a small ramekin and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. The honey butter was a great compliment to the store bought Irish soda bread.
For dinner, I made Martha Stewart’s Irish Beef and Stout Stew. I halved the recipe and still had left overs for this week! This was a great tasting recipe and was very simple to make. John loves any kind of stew and this one was definitely a notch above my standard go-to stew recipe I make in the crock pot. This recipe is a keeper for sure.
For dessert we had chocolate cake with green frosting. Pretty straightforward so no pictures here. My personal preference would have been for a few shamrock shakes from MickyD’s, but no one felt like running out of the house to fetch them, so I will have to wait until tomorrow! I don’t know about you guys, but I love shamrock shakes. I have been drinking them since February and will continue to order them until all the McDonald’s near me run out.
So that was our low key St. Patty’s day celebration – what are your traditions?
Posted by John on December 18th, 2012
Hey guys! Christmas is nearly upon us and I haven’t bought a single gift yet. This is pretty much par for the course with me though. I’m always a late shopper. Although, not like Christmas Eve late, just Week Before Christmas kinda late. I’ve got a lot of shopping to do. One thing we were able to knock out though was our Christmas mantel. Lisa didn’t change up too much from last year, at least I don’t think she did.
The stockings are hung by our gas fireplace with care, in hopes that they don’t spontaneously combust. The larger white stockings are new for us this year. Last year we had a couple smaller blue ones. This year we’re going back to the full-sized adult Christmas stockings.
The stockings are hanging from these chrome weights…
and we’re marking the stockings with the initials of our first name (except for the dog, but his stocking will be loaded with treats so he won’t mind).
As far as our fireplace goes, we don’t use it that much. It’s completely automatic though, which is pretty sweet. We have a switch on the wall right next to it that turns it off and on. When I was a kid, my parents had a real wood burning fireplace and it was amazing… until I had to clean it. Then it was a giant PIA. Oh, and we got a bat in there once or twice. Yeah, loads of fun. So this automatic version is awesome.
We keep our daughter and dog away from it with a simple metal guard that folds up and can be repositioned.
So now I have to go out and buy small gifts to stuff in these.
Are you done your shopping and decorating or do you still have some left to do?
Posted by Lisa on December 13th, 2012
Every year I make Christmas cookies with my mom. We’ve been making them together since I was a little kid with my grandmom. Since we’ve been married, I’ve also been putting together a cookie tray for John to take to his office Christmas party. We always make certain traditional Italian cookies and every year try out one or two new cookie recipes. Here’s what we baked up this year…
1. Peanut Butter Blossoms. These are peanut butter cookies that are rolled into a ball, then rolled in suger, baked and while hot out of the oven, they are pressed down with a Hershey kiss. This isn’t a family recipe or anything. You can see the actual recipe on Hershey’s website.
2. Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are a thin, buttery, crispy, chocolate chip cookies that are my “go-to” chocolate chip cookies. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes I’ve seen make thicker, chewier cookies. That’s fine if you like that, but I really like this crispy version. The recipe is Martha Stewart’s daughter’s and can be found here. This recipe makes 30 4-inch cookies, which are HUGE. I typically halve the recipe and make smaller sized cookies, say 2 or 3 inches in diameter.
3. Crescent Cookies. This is a traditional Italian cookie that my grandmother taught my mom to make way back in the day. She has been making them ever since. They are made with Pecans and are rolled in powdered sugar. Enuff said. Nom nom. I’m not sharing this recipe. Sorry!! Ancient family secret. I’m sure you can find something delicious online.
4. Spritzer Cookies. These are a cookie that was made by my grandmother. They are a lovely, light, buttery cookie that are decorated with sprinkles. You’ll need a cookie press and various dies to make these. We always use the wreath and the Christmas tree and this year we tried the snowflake shape.
5. Raspberry Filled Linzer Sandwich Cookies. This is a new cookie we made this year and it’s delicious! The only drawback is the recipe doesn’t make a lot of cookies. We used the Wilton recipe that came with the Linzer cookie set. If you don’t bake regularly, these cookies may be more challenging. They also take a lot of time. It’s hard because you have to roll the dough out really thin, which makes transferring the dough to your cookie pan hard without cracking them. They’re definitely worth the effort though! Here’s a tip: Refrigerate them overnight for an even better taste.
6. Raspberry and Apricot Filled Thumbprint Cookies. These are my favorite Christmas cookies of all time. Period. It’s not Christmas without me inhaling 2 dozen of these little gems. Once again, this is a family recipe, so I’m not sharing. There are plenty of thumbprint cookie recipes floating out there. They can be filled with just about any type of jam or dried fruit, but my personal favorite is seeded raspberry preserves dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Ridic.
7. Sugar Cookies. These are basic sugar cookies that are rolled out and cut with Christmas themed cookie cutters. They are what we’ll be leaving out for Santa and Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Any basic sugar cookie recipe will probably do fine.
So, this may be my favorite Christmas tradition and I’m still making some yet. If I do, I’ll share those as well.
What are your Christmas culinary traditions? Do you bake something every year or do you cook?