Sunday, December 12

A Note from an Elf

Here is our real, live tree!! His name is Douglas.

This Wednesday, I will be taking my very first picture with Santa Claus. Ever. We've selected our outfits and checked the schedule for my favorite of the 4 Santas at my mall. This will be the third time Rush and I have planned on taking this picture but something always seems to go wrong. I think it's because I want everything to be perfect. We refer to it as "our first picture as a Christmas couple" but truthfully, I think of it as "my first picture as a Christmas child."

I thought this holiday season would be lonely and depressing. We get very little time with our families because I work all but 6 days of the month, which is a lot when you're used to being finished by the third week of December until February... My days as one of Santa's helpers make it up completely. Helping hundreds of children find their smile and laughter is the most satisfying job in the world!

Also, this is the first year in the past 12 that I will not be participating in The Living Christmas Tree. I miss it terribly but I could not be more excited to sit in the congregation like I did so long ago, this time with my new husband. So I guess it's a bitter sweet Christmas but from all I can tell, that's how life becomes the more you grow up. I just hope to always focus on the sweet.

Wednesday, December 8

From Rush on His Birthday

Hello all.  I have always viewed my birthday as a kind of strange day.  I don't like being the focus of attention, but it is nice for everyone to treat you better than normal.  Emily and I are trying to finish decorating our first Christmas tree as a married couple.  It is a challenge.  Our dog doesn't like anything receiving more attention than him, while our cat is taking down any ornament we hang lower than our knees.  But back to my birthday.  We ate at Surin, our favorite restaurant in town, for dinner.  Angel (a girl I work with, not a celestial servant of God) made me an egg custard pie (my choice) and brought it to work today.  She does this for everyone at work, so don't get any ideas.  Considering she had never even tasted an egg custard pie, she did a good job making one.  Emily and I are now going to cuddle up and watch Lie to Me on Netflix.  I have done nothing with my friends today, which is strangely satisfying.  I think I have lost the desire to socialize on special occasions.  I couldn't remember how old I was turning.  Maybe it's because age doesn't matter anymore.  All in all, this has been a decent birthday.

Tuesday, November 30

FINAL DAY: Crème Brulée!!!!


We don't have a torch so I had to use the broil setting on the oven and we don't have ramekins so I had to make one big dish. Rush, however, is quiiiiite pleased. Several expletives were involved and my husband is not a swearing man. Imma go ahead and call this project a success :D

Recipe - Beat 6 egg yolks, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in mixing bowl. Over low heat, bring 2 and 1/2 cups of heavy cream to boil and remove immediately. Stir cream into egg mixture and beat until combined. Pour that mixture into the top of a double boiler and stir over simmering water for about five minutes. Put mixture in shallow dish and bake in oven at 300. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. Combine 2 tablespoons of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl. Cover custard with sugar mixture and bake under broiler until it melts. Serve immediately.

Now it's time to clean our apartment...

Monday, November 29

Day 29: Cake Balls (or blobs, as the case may be)!!

Well, I was supposed to make creme brulee tonight but I forgot that it has to refrigerate overnight. So, instead I went ahead and mixed that up and then made m'cake balls. What. A. Disaster. Leading up to this, several people have expressed trepidation where baking my husband's favorite dessert is concerned, but that (the creme brulee) was so easy. I mean, true, it took a little while but it was still pretty simple. Those cake balls, on the other hand, almost ended my life. Our kitchen looks like a war zone. According to everyone who has tasted them, the end product was nonetheless successful (though some of them look like poo)

Recipe - Bake a cake according to the box instructions (I used red velvet). Allow to cool (I did not - many burned fingertips) and then crumble and combine with icing (I used cream cheese that had been in the fridge so it could not have been more difficult to manipulate into the cake - avoid that). Once thoroughly mixed (just use your hands but remember to take off your rings, especially if you have an antique-style emerald engagement ring that you don't feel like scrubbing for hours...), form into balls and place on plate to freeze for about 20 minutes (or longer - seriously, this part is important). Melt chocolate chips (I used dark) in a glass bowl in the microwave (DO NOT try to be hardcore and use a double boiler unless you KNOW you're capable of being patient enough to completely melt them and then get your cake in and out quickly enough that they don't fall apart). Dip cake in chocolate until fully coated and remove with toothpick (doesn't that sound easy? it's not).

Sunday, November 28

Day 28: Sausage Pinwheels!!

Mmmmmmm these were sososo GOOD! Like, seriously, make these. Now.

Had to get up early to make them for my family for breakfast before Rush and I high-tailed it back home for my shift at the mall as Santa's helper. Such fun :) There are no pictures because as soon as I got them out of the oven, I went back to bed for a little while and we had to scramble around getting our stuff together to leave in time.

Recipe - lightly brown one pound of Jimmy Dean Sage sausage. Remove skillet from heat and instantly add one 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese in melted and mixture is creamy. Set in fridge to chill. Roll out 2 cans of crescent rolls onto separate baking sheets and pinch the perforations to make a solid layer of dough. Half the sausage/cream cheese and spread evenly on both sheets within an inch of the edge. Roll dough length-wise and cook in oven for about 15 minutes at 350. Cut into discs about an inch thick.

These are our sad we-didn't-get-a-sausage-picture-and-we-don't-have-a-Christmas-tree faces

Saturday, November 27

Day 27: Sweet Potato Casserole!!

Finally had Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family today! After we had digested enough to move again, half of us went on our usual shopping day at local boutique and my aunt got me the CUTEST little boots :D

We brought the Corgis with us and they've had a good time being alternately friendly and terrified of their cousin Doberman...

Friday, November 26

Day 25 & Day 26: Carrot Casserole and Green Bean Casserole!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As I mentioned earlier, the lovely cabin has no internet (or TV or cell service which is quite a beautiful thing for a couple days) so I couldn't post yesterday but I made Rush's favorite dish :)

Schnitzel is very interested in the food... Also, I know I owe you guys a few recipes and I'll definitely get on that when we're back home after the weekend.

Wednesday, November 24

Day 24: Spinach Quiche!!

I did cook today. And it was yummy. I made it before I went to work and when I got home, Rush had eaten almost an entire quiche... In other news, we're off to the cabin! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Oh, by the way, I won't be able to blog from the cabin because there's no internet but I promise I'll still make my recipe :)

Tuesday, November 23

Day 23: Corn Souffle!!

I start working as one of Santa's helpers tomorrow at Brookwood Mall! Come visit me :) I haven't feeling the best today so I'm gonna keep this short and go to bed soon. Rush loved the corn souffle but it actually wasn't my favorite. I just felt like it was missing something.

Recipe - In a large bowl, stir together the 1 can of whole kernel corn, 1 can of creamed corn, 1 small box of corn muffin mix, 1 cup of sour cream, and 1/2 cup of melted butter. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. I topped mine with cheese but Rush did not.

Monday, November 22

Day 22: Potato Casserole!!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what our food looked like before we cooked it, after I dropped it, all because I burned my tummy on the oven. We saved most of it but it was all pretty dramatic. Rush burned his thumb.

Recipe - Mix 2 cans of potatoes (diced), 1 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese, a tablespoon of garlic, and a little Worcestershire sauce. Place in lightly buttered casserole dish and cover top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 425.

Sunday, November 21

Day 21: Dudley's Knickerbocker Glories!!

Happy 25th Birthday to my sister! We had her special dinner yesterday at Olive Garden (so delicious) and we got to see her a bit this afternoon before we rushed back to Birmingham. I was a little late but happy to announce that I FINALLY got to see Samford's Spelling Bee today and was very, very entertained. Everyone did such a good job :)

Today is the final day of HP week and we've topped it off with a non-magical treat from the very first book. As delicious as the past few days have been, I'm ready to get back into real food.

Recipe - Mix a couple fruits (we used peaches and blueberries) in a bowl with a little sugar and mash slightly. Place one scoop of vanilla ice cream in dish, top with fruit. Place one scoop of strawberry ice cream in dish, top with chocolate sauce. Repeat until dish is full and then top with whipped cream and a berry. Traditionally, you would also add a fancy cookie but we didn't get any of those.

Saturday, November 20

Day 20: Mrs. Weasley's Peanut Butter Fudge!!

A (not so) little update about Hairspray: There were only 2 other girls called back for Tracy and I. Was. Pumped. We danced for about 2 hours and were then given 4 scenes and 3 bits of song to have ready. After singing and reading (but mostly waiting around) for another 2 hours, everyone was dismissed. Except the three of us. We were then told that this was just the beginning. We now have to make a video and write a little essay and do all sorts of things in their state-wide search for Tracy. They'll narrow all of THOSE girls back down to 6 or 7 and have another callback session just for them. 

I'll be really honest here... When they first told us, I felt like I'd just been punched in the stomach. I don't think I have to tell my regular readers how long and hard I worked on these auditions or how ecstatic I was for my callback. Hearing that we basically had to start all over again (and this time with MORE to prepare), I was crushed. Beyond. I've had time now, though, to put myself back together and I'm excited. I have big plans for my video and truly, I wasn't all that pleased with every aspect of my callback. When is a third chance ever a bad thing?? It'll be a charm :)

Now. Onto food! In keeping with Harry Potter week, I've attributed this day to my favorite HP Mama but I want to let it be known that this is actually my very own Nana's recipe. Love and miss her always.

Please don't judge me for wearing this little dress so much! I just really love it.

Friday, November 19

Day 19: Chicken Salad Sandwiches?

Well. I've departed from my menu. Technically, I do not think this counts as me failing. I only ever promised to "make something new in the kitchen" and indeed I have. There was just no time to make pumpkin pasties. Plus, I really, really, really wanted some chicken salad. So, voilà:

Recipe - In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups diced chicken, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 cup sliced red grapes, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 stalk chopped celery, 1/2 cup walnut pieces, 1/4 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of honey. For sandwich, toast two pieces of bread and then melt a slice of provolone cheese onto on (via microwave) add some lettuce and the chicken salad.

I need to leave for callbacks in 30 minutes and I still have to fix my hair! Later!!

Harry Potter and the Devoted Fan

Now that my post-audition high has worn off a little bit, I'm sad to have missed out on a Harry Potter midnight, the first time I've not been there since the very first one they ever did. To console myself, I've decided to write out my addiction for all the world to see.

My experience begins in the 6th grade with my fabulous English teacher Sherri Ryan. She came into our class and said Scholastic had just sent this new book to the school and she was going to read it aloud to us. Being an amazingly theatrical person, every character had its own voice and that book came to life more effectively in our classroom than I think even the movies have been able to achieve. It was truly magical. As we neared the end (I’d say it took about a month to get through), people began borrowing the book and taking it home to finish because we were so impatient! I was one of those. The ending shocked and thrilled me and I couldn’t wait to hear Mrs. Ryan depict such a climax. She did not disappoint.

From that point on, there was this small cult of students at my little school who were as obsessed with Harry Potter as the rest of the world would be years later. As for Chamber of Secrets, however, we didn’t really realize they were going to be an entire series. When my mom came home from a trip to Minnesota with the 2nd Harry Potter book she had found in a local children’s bookstore, I was ecstatic. I read it slowly and savored every word (which is funny because it’s probably my least favorite of the series).

By the time we got to the Prisoner of Azkaban, the hype was beginning but hadn’t quite settled in, so there was no midnight release but we still stood in a pretty long line the day it came out. It came out on a school night and I was in 7th grade. We got it around 8pm and I read the entire book that night except for the last chapter because I knew my parents would be mad if they knew I stayed up to read the whole thing.

Goblet of Fire brought the first midnight release! It came out over the summer so we were on our family trip to the beach. My dad took me to the Gulf Shores Walmart and I didn’t put the book down the rest of our vacation (despite being severely judged by everyone else). I finished it in the car ride home and only then realized I had missed most of our beach trip.

I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember too many specifics about Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince releases. By the time those came out, Harry Potter had exploded into full-blown mania and my sister had started reading them as well. We went to the big Barnes and Noble midnight parties for both of these and up until last year’s getting-married-so-I-have-to-simplify cleaning, I still had the little plastic wands and whatnot that I had made at these.

I got Deathly Hallows in Kansas when a group of us took a trip to see my friend Tater. I had warned them that a HP release was not conducive to time for us to be together but they said they could handle it and thought I could too. Wrong. I never put it down. I got ahead of the rest of them and was banned from the room when I would get emotional over a part nobody else had yet read. Not to say that I didn’t sit in the room and contribute to conversations. I even still went out whenever we had something to do (and would actually leave the book in the car – go me!) but I had almost finished the final installment before we even got in the car to go home. Sorry guys.

As much as I adore the movies (and have loved growing up with Daniel Radcliffe), they haven't attached themselves to my soul quite like Rowling's books managed to do. I am quite looking forward to seeing this latest installment on Saturday with my family but until then, I'll continue with the origin of my love - Chapter: The Wedding.

Thursday, November 18

Day 18: Hagrid's Rock Cakes!!

I GOT A CALLBACK FOR HAIRSPRAY!!!! Oh I'm so happy. That's all I wanted. A second chance. I think the main thing we have to do tomorrow is dance so that'll be interesting... They asked how good of a dancer I am and I told them "once I know the steps, I'm a solid 8." They laughed and said that was a good answer. So we'll see but regardless of the outcome in casting, I achieved my goal. I get to go back tomorrow.

Now, onto my very authentic Rock Cakes. What I mean by that is I burned them. So like Hagrid. Note Rush's face. Also, check out my awesome Tracy audition haircut and outfit :D

I'm on my way out the door but I wanted to get this out before midnight. I'll upload the recipe later!

Wednesday, November 17

Day 17: Treacle Tarts!!

Disclaimer: This is probably not at all authentic. But it was still delicious.

For those of you who don't know, this is Harry Potter's FAVORITE dessert! On a completely unrelated note, Rush has informed me that if I'm ever going to fail in making my daily dish, tomorrow will be it. He may very well be correct. Be thinking of me around 5:30ish :)

Recipe - I used pre-made pie crusts. De-crust and tear up 5 pieces of white bread. Put them in a small mixing bowl and add enough golden syrup to coat it all. Stir in some lemon juice and mix until it's smooth. Put filling into your pies and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then bake at 200 for 10 minutes.

This is the face Rush always makes when I take back the food he's holding in his photo.

Tuesday, November 16

Day 16: Cauldron Cakes!!

I actually made two things today! Since pretty much all of my Harry Potter recipes are desserts, I had to make dinner. So I re-made the potato soup and it is still scrumptious. Probably my favorite so far. As for my little chocolate creations, they didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped. The cakes themselves are awesome but I couldn't accomplish the handles. Ah well. The one Rush is eating looks like a crazy mess because it actually does have the chocolate chips on it.

 Recipe - Betty Crocker actually has a new line of boxed desserts called Decadent Supreme and I got the chocolate molten lava. The idea for the handles was to stack chocolate chips using chocolate icing as an adhesive. This might actually work if you let the cakes cool completely but then it wouldn't taste as good.

Monday, November 15

Day 15: Butterbeer!!

IT'S HARRY POTTER WEEK! I know you're all sooooooooo excited :D Even more exciting (if that's possible) is that LYDIA IS STAYING WITH US THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!! So today is a short blog because I'm about to go see my Li'l Dog :) :) :) :)

I made a hot version of this drink and it is delicious.

Recipe - Heat 2 and 1/2 cups of milk on the stove. Add a bit of vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips. Bring to boil and immediately turn down heat. Pour and top with marshmallows.


Sunday, November 14

Day 14: Curry Chicken!!

Down to the wire today! No time for funny anecdotes!!

Recipe to come, I promise!

Saturday, November 13

Day 13: Fish Tacos!!

Eating a late lunch before we head out to print and copy headshots and resumes and all that fun stuff. It's looking like Blue Hair is going to be my piece of choice, if I can just find a good 16-24 bar cut... Hmmmm. I also still have to make sausage balls. We're going over to a friend's house to watch the Alabama game tonight! Anyway, here's our table :)

Recipe - For the salsa, de-seed and cut up 4 small tomatoes. Chop 1 small white onion and some cilantro. Combine all three ingredients in a large bowl, coat in lime juice, and chill in fridge for at least an hour. For the fish, sprinkle salt and pepper on tilapia fillets in a large baking dish and squirt lime juice over them. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Grate a block of colby jack cheese into large bowl. Warm tortillas in a non-stick skillet and place on large plate with paper towels in between each one. We also bought pre-made guacamole and sour cream and put the remaining cilantro on the table to add to tacos.

Rush says he wishes he could put a thought bubble on each picture. Apparently, it would usually say "Hurry up and take the freaking picture so I can eat" but today it would say "IT'S DRIPPING!"

Hairspray Auditions Song - I need your vote!

Okay! So I've been working on this other song called Blue Hair (thanks to Alex K. Jenkins :D) because I couldn't find my Taylor, the Latte Boy music and I didn't want to shell out $10 for it... Cue Randall Richardson to the rescue!! Now I have two song options and I can't figure out which one to do. Please tell me which you would choose and why... I'm conflicted.

Taylor, the Latte Boy
  • Very like Tracy in that she pines for a boy after a seemingly insignificant encounter
  • Showcases the singer's ability to tell a story and has a lower range like Hairspray
  • I've sung this song for years and know it like the back of my hand - and where I'll cut it (24 bars)

Blue hair
  • Very like Tracy in that she wants to be extraordinary and follows her own heart
  • Showcases the singer's ability to get words out fast, a quality Hairspray has
  • Way less mainstream so I may be the only one that sings it for auditions 

Friday, November 12

Day 12: Shepherd's Pie!!

Well, technically it's cottage pie but in America we don't distinguish between lamb and beef so very much. This is the dish that had a little * by it this week, meaning it was Rush's personal favorite. He was so excited, in fact, that he forgot to let me get my photo! I was on the phone with my mom when the timer went off so my sweet husband took it out... and immediately dug in. I said "I know you're not messing up my dish before I take a picture!" Silence. When I hung up and went to the kitchen, he had tried to fix it. Check out the bottom left corner :)

Recipe - Make some mashed potatoes (confession: we used a box of potato flakes - 4 servings). Melt half a stick of butter in a frying pan and add 1/4 freshly chopped onion. When onion is browned, add ground beef and cook until all the pink is gone. Add Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, pepper, and a drained can of mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, and corn). Simmer for about 5 minutes then pour mixture into clear casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and a fine layer of freshly grated cheese. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

I was not excited about today. I actually saved just enough Brunswick stew so I could eat that for dinner instead, but I have to say that I really loved the shepherd's pie! I'm pleasantly surprised. It was a special treat to pair it with a cup of Twining's English Breakfast Tea!! Mmmmmm

Thursday, November 11

Day 11: Apple Baked Pork Chops!!

First and foremost, I just want to tell the world how proud I am of my sister for this: Her Brave New Blog. She has taken an important step in her painful journey and it's time for those of us who care about her to become pillars of support. Please join me in praying for, lifting up, and loving Katie and Noah.

As for my new recipe, I barely made it! Rush and I had a weird evening so we kinda grabbed leftovers for dinner separately. Still had to cook though :) Thirty minutes before the end of the day, I present the 11th dish of November.

Recipe - Brush 3 pork chops with olive oil and then add salt, pepper, and parsley. De-seed and peel red apple, then chop into 6 pieces. Place apple peel on bottom of a baking dish, sprinkle sugar over them, and put down pork chops. Place apples and sprinkle sugar on top.

Wednesday, November 10

Day 10: Seafood Fettuccine Alfredo!!

This dish is brought to you by an extremely loving and self-less wife. I shall never put another bite of it into my mouth. If this sounds yummy to you, we will never like the same things. Ever. The following pictures are before either of us tasted it. Reverse the faces we're making, and you'll know how we looked post-consumption.

Recipe - Boil fettuccine noodles until al dente. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan and pour in a jar of Alfredo sauce. Add 1/4 cup of half-and-half, marjoram, parsley, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Now here's the part that makes me gag (and fills my husband with joy): add 1 can of smoked oysters and 1 can of de-spined, chopped up sardines. Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

Alright. So I'm off to drink the coffee Rush just made for me to wash out the taste of today's recipe.

Tuesday, November 9

Day 9: Chicken Pot Pie!!

I'm going to be one of Santa's Helpers at Brookwood Village! WOOHOO I'm excited :) Haven't heard yet if I get a full elf costume or not, but I'm sure it will be fun regardless. Dinner's a little late today. Without further ado:

Recipe - Boil 2 chicken breasts then cut into bite-size pieces. Put chicken in a mixing bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon of margarine, 1/2 cup of milk, a 10.5-ounce can of cream of chicken soup, 2 cans of drained vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, and green beans). Squeeze one lemon into the mix. I also threw in some salt, pepper, rosemary, and parsley. Pour mixture into pie crust and cover top with second crust. Brush with olive oil and cut X in the middle. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Let it cool for a least 30 minutes.

Monday, November 8

Day 8: Steak Tips!!

Not much to update other than sharing my new dish, and even that's not too exciting. I still need to officially decide what song to do for Hairspray auditions! Suggestions and/or votes would be greatly appreciated :)

Recipe - Seal sirloin steak tips in container with Worcestershire sauce, and a sprinkle of ginger. Marinate for approximately half an hour. Heat frying pan and pour in red wine. Cook steak to desired temperature. We plated ours with scrambled eggs.

Sunday, November 7

Day 7: Pumpkin Stew!!

Well, I pretty much made this one up as I went along and it was quite successful! Beef stew isn't my favorite, but this was pretty yummy. Sad to be leaving Huntsville soon but we'll be back in two weeks for my mom's big concert and my sister's birthday :D

Recipe - Cut the tops off of 6 medium pumpkins and get out all seeds and guts. Brush outside of them with olive oil. In large pot, use 2 packages of McCormick's beef stew seasoning and follow the directions on the back (I added celery, potato, onion, carrot, and corn). Add Pumpkin Pie spice and garlic to the pot and boil. Reduce heat, then spoon soup into pumpkins. Cut 6 pieces of tin foil, poke holes in the tops with a toothpick, and cover each pumpkin. Place pumpkins in heavy baking pan and cook in oven at 325 for about 45 minutes or until tender. As you're eating, scrape the sides to get some pumpkin meat with each bite.