Monthly Archives: November 2009

Our McChristmas Fight 2009

It was epic.

The McChristmas (Tree) fight of 2009.

A battle of traditions. And a quirky couple who had to merge two very different traditions. Specifically ornament traditions.

You don’t mess with me when it comes to ornaments.

<—- just look at those beady red eyes. I’m holding last year’s ornament.

THE ornament given to me by my mother each year.

Thematically gifted for each year that passes.

See? That ornament has a picture of the Country Club Plaza on it. Which is where I moved after my divorce. (Because I had always wanted to live near there. And because I could. And why wouldn’t I?)

Isn’t my mom clever? (Truth be told: she had to regift that ornament from her own tree because she looked high and low for a Plaza ornament but couldn’t find one. But STILL. It’s the tradition that counts.)

Every year. I own an ornament symbolizing every year of my life since seventh grade.

The moose playing volleyball? Eighth grade. Only I didn’t play volleyball. I um, didn’t quite make the team. But I was the manager and that is a VERY important roll….

Backpack? No, not Kindergarten. It was my senior year in high school. (Because every high school senior caries a backpack with a bear and a pencil in it.)

Corvette with gifts? I think even my mom will admit that one was a stretch. But it was meant to symbolize 2000. The year I graduated from college and struck out on my own as a reporter in Rocky Mount, NC.

But let’s not be selfish here. It’s not like my mom won’t give one to the fiance each year. This is the tradition that keeps giving.

And so, I had visions of our first Christmas tree. Decked with white lights (the only acceptable lighting in my opinion) and the lot of my sentimental ornaments.

It would be so sweet. And as the years passed, we would add to it with the ornaments collected together.

My vision was brought to a screeching halt.

Someone else had an ornament tradition. 10 years ago, a young 20 year-old bachelor decided he would enlist his buddies to help him deck out his Christmas tree.  So he did what he did best: he threw a party.

And invited all of his friends to bring him an ornament for his tree.

Oh, they brought ornaments. Every year. (hmmm….notice anything familiar?)   Some more “appropriate” than others. Most very funny and light-hearted in nature. Many hand-made, including the beloved McRib ornament. Crafted so cleverly from several boxes of the elusive McRib.

It was time to set a date for the 10th annual ornament party and we had a big problem.

How could we put my sweet little moose playing volleyball on the same tree with McRib boxes? These two traditions just weren’t going to work. We needed a solution.

Him: Well, why don’t we pick from the best of my ornaments and then put yours on too?

Me: OR, we could have a special tree for the “adult” ornaments and then have a family ornament tree?

Oh, that didn’t go over well at all.

He heard: Your ornaments are crap and need to be separated.

And so the fight began. Somehow, I missed his first offer to compromise. (I’m a little silly about listening at times.)

All I could think of was how could we manage years and years of both traditions? And what about when we have kids? Some of his ornaments might not be child-friendly. And I wanted to be sure there was room (in our lives) on the tree for children.

He persisted.

I persisted.

He threw up his hands and said we’d cancel the party.

But that’s not what I wanted. I just wanted a compromise (remember, I didn’t quite catch that first offer.)

Tears were shed.

I told him not to cry.

I’m just kidding. It was me.

And finally, in a moment of clarity, I suggested that we take the best of his ornaments and all of mine (because there are many more of his than mine.) And he laughed because it’s exactly what he had suggested in the first place.

And I ate a little crow, but it’s ok.

Because we figured out how to merge two very different traditions. And, at the same time, offering a hard-core challenge to our friends (because mine are invited too.) May the best ornaments win a permanent place on our tree.

So bring on the McRibs this year. I’ll be happy to place the best of the best right next to my little moose.

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Who’s the turkey now?

Can you spot the turkey in this picture?

I’m pretty sure she’s wearing a red polka dot apron.

But come on, folks. Give me a break. I had just finished brining, preparing and cooking my very first turkey. (Plus 22 lbs is HEAVY! “Take the picture, Babe!”)

And you know what?

It was phenomenal.

Honestly, and I’m not really bragging here because the only reason it was so good was I followed the step-by-step instructions provided by my new bloggy friend, chef and now ridiculously admired turkey hero, Chris Perrin.

Brining is the way to go. So thank you to all those who helped convince me that spending 3 hours making 5 gallons of brine was worth it.

Really, it was.

I might have even impressed my future in-laws.

Until the fiance told them that we couldn’t find the giblets anywhere. And my future mother-in-law reached in and pulled them out as she was carving the turkey. It turns out they were at the top of the bird, not in the butt.

Oops.

I think this whole turkey thing kind of consumed me for a few days. Last night, as I washed it off for the brine, I found myself  gobbling at the turkey. And  this morning  I was pretending to be a massage therapist with the butter.

I have issues and they are fowl.

Like I’m actually kind of sad it’s over. I’m going to miss that big fat bird. (Until tomorrow at 10 a.m. when I start thinking about the leftover deliciousness that is in my fridge.)

RIP my little big friend.

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Turkeylurkey

So many things could go wrong in the next 24 hours.

But so many things could also go right. 

Last night I made five gallons of chicken broth. Five gallons. Who does that?

And today I will make 10 pounds of mashed potatoes and put a turkey outside to brine and just pray, I mean PRAY no wild animal decides to have itself a little Thanksgiving treat.

Speaking of an animal having a Thanksgiving treat…

I’m reminded of a Thanksgiving years ago in Rocky Mount, NC. My friend and then sports editor at the Rocky Mount Telegram , Patrick invited his displaced reporter friends to celebrate together. We all came bearing food, and lots of it.

The friends who brought the turkey (God bless them) had a bit of turkey crisis on the way over, resulting in most of the turkey juices all over Steve’s pants (crotch).

After we were stuffed and settling into our turkey comas, Steve decided to take a nap before going into work to finish Friday’s paper. He was out fast.

What happened next would forever be burned in my memory.

Patrick’s miniature schnauzer sniffed his way over to Steve’s turkey crotch and, well, let’s just say he was going to town. Steve was still out cold.

Nom.Nom.Nom.

I think it was the best Thanksgiving that dog ever had. Steve might think otherwise.

Good times. Good times.

So as my bird continues to thaw and I rush home at noon to get started on peeling and preparing a gazillion potatoes , I need to keep in mind what this feast tomorrow is really all about.

Thankfulness. And Family. And Friends — new and old.

Not to mention those quirky memories in the making, whether they be whipped cream explosions or turkey crotch violations.

So from QoQ, the fiance and our  turkeylurkey, have a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving, and of course, keep it quirky.

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The 22 pound turkey in the fridge

You.

Thawing in my fridge with godspeed I hope.

It dawned on me that our relationship so far has been all about me. me. me.

My big fat Thanksgiving dinner for 15 people.

My need for you to thaw.

My need to find the perfect recipe for you.

My need for you to taste really good.

And I haven’t taken the time to get to know you.

In fact, other than the fact that you were a wee bit hefty, I know absolutely nothing about your life.

Are you are Hen or a Tom? See, I didn’t even bother to check or research that.

Were you cage free or…well, sorry, I just don’t want to think about the other. Please don’t tell me.

Do you like baths? I do (again, all about me.) When my fiance and I moved into our new house, the biggest selling point was the jacuzzi bathtub. I take a bath almost every evening. 

And guess what? I got a special tub for you too. I mean, it’s no jacuzzi, but it’s pretty nice…

I’m borrowing it from the fiance’s mom.

Don’t worry, I’ll clean it out for you. 

Bubble bath?

No, how about brine bath.

It will be like a total girly night for us. (If you weren’t a girl turkey, could you tap into your feminine side for one evening?)

You’ll soak in the brine outside. (I’ve even checked the weather; it should be just chilly enough…)

I’ll make mashed potatoes and snap green beans.

Then I’ll come out to check on you and we can tell each other secrets.

And play truth or dare.

you: Truth or Dare?

me: Dare.

you: Ok, I totally double dog dare you to use my innards in the stuffing tomorrow.

me: No. No. Ew. Ew. Can’t do it.

you: You lose!

me: I always lose…

Ok, maybe we’ll just play truth or truth. But, it will be great fun. You’ll see.

So I want to talk to you about one last thing. This is usually 100% against my convictions, but I really, really need you to be the popular kid on Thursday.

See, I know you might not have been the hippest fowl on the block back in turkey land, but now is your chance to be a shining star.  And I will enable you with whatever you need to get the job done.  Do I need to buy you Miley Cyrus tickets? Or, the latest Uggs and some skinny jeans?  Maybe you are more of the i-phone and mac book kind of bird? Ok, fine but no sexting. I have my limits.

I think we are good, you and me. I’ve so enjoyed this little time of getting to know you better. You’re going to make my Thanksgiving so enjoyable.

And as one dear reader pointed out, Turkey rhymes with Quirky. Keep it quirky, turkey.

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Whipped cream shot gone terribly wrong

<—- This is my future father-in-law.

After he tried to use my future mother-in-law’s new fancy whipped cream dispenser fraternity-style right into his daughter’s mouth.

Clearly, it went horribly wrong, as no one really read the directions on the thing. And, of course, her mouth was the test run for said device. Because, um, that’s where normal people test whipped cream dispensers?

You should have seen the table.

And the floor.

And half of us at the table, including his daughter, who got more than she bargained for. (So many really awful jokes about a mouthful could have been were told.)

I almost peed my pants.

Ok, I did a little, but I had a lot of margaritas that afternoon with my naughty bridesmaids who FORCED me to drink like half a pitcher because they are wusses and couldn’t be bothered to help me. And the fiance’s sister was the instigator, so getting covered in whipped cream after her father tried to spray a shot in her mouth probably serves her right.

I love them.

And that was Thanksgiving meal part I. I can’t wait until Thursday…

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Have lasso. Will love again. Part IV

Part I

Part II

Part III

Sidebar

Boyfriend. Was I really ready for this?

Our worlds could not have been any different.

I lived in a gated community on the Plaza with a pool and fitness center. My apartment was small, but tidy. I prided myself in stuffing a few of my antiques into the living room and keeping dog hair off the couch. It was cozy.

He lived in a sprawling mansion with two boys. I would later refer to the house as the Man House. Because that’s what it was – a giant house filled with boy things and usually the opposite of tidy. And holy cow you did NOT want to use the bathroom there.

As someone who had been domesticated for nearly the past six years of her life, the man house was crazy foreign to my previous life.  And so were the inhabitants – both living and well… 

Not living.

Yes. Action figures.(Do NOT call them Action Men.) Hundreds of them.

They stared at me from the bookshelves they stood on. Their little beady eyes penetrated my skin. Was I woman enough to share this new boyfriend with them?

I said yes.

Yes, to wanting to see where this would go. Yes to juggling strange sleep schedules. Yes to meeting new  and often unique friends (living). Yes to table top game cards, action figures and comic books. Even yes to that freaking gross bathroom.

But mostly,  yes to this guy I was starting to fall for.

So a summer of sleep deprivation, bar-hopping in Westport, Rock Band playing, movie-watching and road tripping began. I couldn’t have been happier.

But my life wasn’t completely clean of the divorce. Around July the little bits of communication that I still had with my ex-husband got really ugly. Things were said that upset me. Then I got upset for getting upset.

But I’m so happy, I’d say. Why is this bothering me?

It bothered me because it should. Because as much as I was starting to fall in love with the boyfriend, there were still some messy emotional issues I had to face. I didn’t want to. I wanted to dive into this new thing with my whole heart and soul.

But was that fair to the boyfriend?

Whatever. I loved him. He loved me. We told each other that on the night of July 3, 2008.

The next morning on my way home from the man house, I wrecked, totalled my car.  The boyfriend was amazing. He arrived at the scene in minutes. He went to Winsteads and picked me up a butterscotch milkshake.  He held my hand through the process of dealing with insurance and the decision to get my old car that was sitting in my old garage running again instead of buying something new.

It was starting to feel like a relationship. I could depend on him. He could depend on me. We were a team.

And then, without warning, I hit the panic button.

We were at a concert with friends. Suddenly I started to feel like I wanted to cry.

For no reason. Like I was about to have a complete and total meltdown.

I left. I told the boyfriend I needed to home. To my home. Not the man house where I had planned to stay. But my tidy little apartment with my nice furniture and cute candles and snuggly pajamas. He was supportive, a little worried but not concerned. It was probably just PMS, I had told him.

By the time I got home, I was in the throws of an anxiety attack. But why?

Was I not just 20 minutes ago out with friends having fun?

I called Dawn. She was down the street at another friend’s condo. Come over, they said.

I put it all on the table. My doubts, insecurities, the pain of the divorce, the recent harsh things that had been said, this fast-moving, free-falling relationship I had embarked in.

They listened.

And then they asked me another question that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer: Are you ready for this?

I thought I was, but…

To be completed.

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T-minus 1 week to Turkey Day

I’m scurred.

Because  for some reason I had a temporary lapse in sanity and offered to host Thanksgiving.

For my future in-laws.

<— Have you seen my turkeys?

Those are cupcakes* .  I know it’s a little hard to tell exactly what they are. And yes, their tail feathers were put in upside down.

I probably have no business trying to cook the real thing.

Well, to be fair, I had never made cupcakes – any kind of cupcake – before.

Oh crap. I’ve never been in charge of making a turkey before either.

I’m so in over my head.

Is Papa Johns open on Thanksgiving?

*Disclaimer – the turkey cupcake recipe is posted on a Web site owned and operated by my employer. The recipe was provided by a client of my employer. This post is not in any way endorsed or sponsored by my employer. The cupcakes were just too cute not to attempt. Just don’t put the candy corns in upside down and get an icing tube applicator for the eyes so they don’t turn out so cattywompus.

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Walk, no run away from middle winter weight gain…

Nobody puts gym bag in the corner!

It’s that time of year.

The cold, damp, dark evenings in Kansas City come early. And my spring/summer/fall routine of running with Gertie after work dies a slow death.

There is nothing more appealing on these chilly nights than my couch, a blanket, some pasta (with heavy cream somewhere in the sauce) and a glass of wine.  Preferably after I swing by our work break room and snag a few of the ever abundant treats that magically appear at this time of year for my drive home.

But wait folks. This is not the year for a five-pound winter weight gain. I have a wedding dress to wear in February. And regardless, I’m not getting any younger. The weight doesn’t come off as easily as it once did. I don’t want to be a short lady with a big middle and skinny bird legs. (Because that is exactly what happens when I gain weight.)

Last month I started pushing myself to go to the gym (aka, my old apartment complex where Roomie still lives and I have gym privileges from the management) to run on the treadmill at least three times a week. On top of my regular Saturday or Sunday long run, that seemed pretty good.

I’m not going to lie. It’s a hard turn to make.

The couch, pasta and glass of wine call my name.

But once the rickety old treadmill rumbles its regular start-up regime, I’m always glad I kicked myself to get there.

But then my newest bloggy friend posed an interesting challenge. Then Heather Said: Join the whittlers.

The whatlers?

Apparently it’s a new movement sweeping the blogosphere…or a few of us bloggers who want a fitness challenge.

So I said sure. I’m game.

And Monday evening, I found myself laying on a yoga mat in our office flailing my legs around, trying to hold my body in awkward poses and probably making a real mess of a respectable ab work out.

Gertie thought I was laying there for the sole purpose of getting licked on the face, mouth and nose. Not quite, sweet pea…

On Tuesday it hurt.

Bad.

But I got through 9 minutes of a routine. There were some serious uggggghs as I let down my legs and felt my hamburger meat abs contract.

And tonight there will be round three. (After a treadmill run)

So bring on that wedding dress in February. Maybe, just maybe they’ll have to synch that corset  just a little bit tighter come February.

Don’t worry – I won’t be posting before/during/after photos here. No one wants to see that… But I will keep you updated on my progress.

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Attending The Pioneer Woman’s book signing with my future-mother-in-law along with “My Friend Jenny” and “DD Girl” in spirit

I’ve never been much of a groupie.

Until last night. Yeah, I’m a Pioneer Woman groupie, and I’m okay with that. How do you know you are a groupie?

When you drag your future-mother-in-law and four copies of someone’s cookbook to a book signing and then wait for hours for two (wonderful) minutes with said blogger.

I mean, it’s not like I haven’t seen her, or even met her before. I don’t understand why on earth I can be so star struck by another blogger. I get it. She’s just a real person like you and me.

But then, she gets up in front of a HUGE crowd of Kansas Citians and charms us with her wit, her spontaneity and her outlook on life.

Of course, if that isn’t enough, she brings her handsome hubby and two of her “punks” to send us all overboard in our love fest of this amazing blogger.

I had to crack up when about 30 minutes before Ree went on stage, The Marlboro Man showed up to drop off some goodies that were handed out during the signing. The crowd went NUTS. Poor guy, practically knocked him off his boots, I would imagine.

This family probably never envisioned the fame and opportunities that have come as a result of Ree’s little ole blog.

But that just goes to show you, that this blogging thing we do can be a very powerful thing.

So last night, as I hauled three copies (my future-mother-in-law stayed seated with her copy) of the cookbook up to the stage to have them signed, I felt pretty privileged to be a part of this blogging community. Yet, once again.

I’m so excited to give DD Girl her birthday present tonight (don’t worry, she hardly ever reads my blog) which is of course, a copy of  The Pioneer Woman Cooks  autographed to Christi, AKA DD Girl.

And my friend Jenny will be recieving her copy of the book shipped straight to North Carolina, autographed along with a very special addition and one of the “goodies” I mentioned from the bag that MM brought in. I’m sure she’ll be writing about the cookbook in her blog, Charm Chicks.

And a little bit of news for you: Black Heels will be published into a book with additional chapters.

Speaking of love stories, I still have to finish mine. Look for Part IV this week!

 

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F&W: Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff and hellooo officer

IMG_1083

Fire & Wine night is back to “no boys allowed.” Or, rather Dungeons & Dragons has been moved to Thursday night so the fiancé won’t be around.

Oh well. Girls are cooler than boys. We knew that.

What a perfect week to cook up another meatless dinner. And trust me – you won’t be asking “where’s the beef” in this Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff recipe. In fact DD Girl ranked it her favorite F&W night so far.

I knew it was going to be a great girly night when “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” started playing on my I-pod when I was on the treadmill.

And it was. We learned that Roomie recently joined Match.com. In part because she has been reading my Have lasso. Will love again series. We had a blast giving her dating advice and hearing about all her new suitors (Already! Seriously, the girl has only been a member for 24 hours. Way to go!)

And then DD Girl and I filled Roomie in on how she missed the hot police officer who came by before Roomie arrived to let us know about a crime in our neighborhood. Crime shrime, he was so smoking hot, he could made the fire in fire & wine night.

Back to the food. I modified this Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff from All Recipes. 

Queen of Quirky’s Smoking Hot Police Officer & Wine Night Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 large onion chopped length-wise
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 oz of Portobello mushrooms chopped and then halfed
  • 4 oz of mixed mushrooms (cremini, oyster and baby bellas)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh diced thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of port wine*
  • 2 teaspoons of  Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 12 oz package of egg noodles boiled and drained
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat butter in a large skillet until melted. Add onions and cook on medium low heat for about 20 minutes. The onions will caramelize and lightly brown. They will be delicious. Do not skimp on the onions. After about 20 minutes, add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Then add all the mushrooms, mixing them into the onions and garlic well. Add the thyme and salt & pepper to your liking. Cook on medium-high for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms are browned. Remove all of the mushrooms and most of the onions from the pan and set aside. In the skillet, pour in the broth, wine and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil and reduce half the liquid. Stir in the flour to thicken the sauce. Return the mushrooms and onions to the skillet and mix them into the sauce. Add the cup of sour cream and mix well. Serve over egg noodles. And do lick the spoon.

Invite hot officer to join you. Or, just imagine that he did.

  * Hey babe, thanks for sharing your birthday port wine with me for this recipe. I only used 1/4 cup. I love you!

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