Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Fragments - November is Over

So it's the last day of November but I'm still joining up with Mrs. 4444 for Friday Fragments. The end of the month doesn't mean we can't frag!

Mommy's Idea

Here in Oklahoma, you know it is getting ready to be Christmas time when you hear the BC Clark Anniversary jingle. Whitney is doing her part to introduce it to all of her college friends who aren't here. It is just so darn catchy that I end up singing along every single time.

Thursday on my way to work there were a gaggle of geese at the park in the neighborhood park. It was a great way to start the day.

I'm starting to get impatient waiting for my autographed copy of "Cooking with Love". It better get here soon or the love will be leaving.

I had to learn some new software at work this week. There is a reason why I do everything in Excel. I like it. I was never meant to be a graphic artist. I've been working on the advertisement about a symposium we are co-hosting. But the good thing is I get to go to the China!

I also have to do some major studying this weekend. My certification exam is Tuesday and while I know a lot, it is the nitty gritty specifics that always get me. I just have to know that stuff for the test so some cramming is in order.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hodgepodge - Beginning to Look Like Christmas

Yes it is another edition of hodgepodge. Thank you Joyce for this week's questions.

1. With that being said I think I need to dive right in to some Christmas related questions, don't you? Which do you prefer-pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag with/without a bow? What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion?
I like shiny paper. It doesn't need to have a bow. But I like to coordinate my paper. This year everything will be in shiny blue and silver (bought last year on clearance). I have nothing wrapped because I have nothing in the house to wrap. I ordered a few things over the weekend but they aren't here yet.

2. What is one item on your Christmas list this year?
I just made a list up Monday and I put an iron on it. Practical and not exactly exciting but the iron I have I got in the 80's so I think it is time to replace it.

3. What makes a home?

4. Motown founder Berry Gordy celebrates his birthday on Hodgepodge Day-November 28th. Are you a fan of the Motown sound? If so, who's your favorite Motown artist and/or song? Here's a list in case you're stuck.
I always wanted to be be a backup singer. Not sure I have a favorite artist.

5. Red or green-which one is more prevalent in your closet?
Much more red. I like both colors but I look really good in red.

6. True or false-bacon makes it better? If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon?
Good bacon is delicious. I've posted a recipe for cinnamon bacon pasta that is super tasty.

7. Share a favorite holiday memory.
When I was young (aka before the mall) we would go visit Santa Claus in a little trailer parked on a side street. We always got a little candy cane from him.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Our building is slowly being decorated for Christmas. Four 12 foot trees, multiple hanging ornaments, four balconies covered in icicle lights. It truly is a wonderful sight when finished.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

For thanksgiving morning I wanted to try something different so I found a recipe for pumpkin cranberry bread. This was a nice change to our normal pumpkin bread. The texture was moist and not too dense.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
Recipe adapted from

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup picked-over fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° F. and butter a loaf pan, 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 3/4 inches.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together pumpkin, sugar, water, eggs, and oil. Sift in flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices and stir just until batter is smooth. Stir in cranberries and spoon batter into loaf pan, spreading evenly.

Bake bread in middle of oven 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack and cool completely. Bread may be made 4 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday fragments - Post Holiday Stuff

I'm joining up with Mrs. 4444 for another edition of fragments.

Mommy's Idea

Can it really be called Black Friday if it starts on Thursday?

For all the Walmart employees thinking of striking today because you have to work...think about it. You work for Walmart...of course you have to work. You always have to work busy holiday seasons. That's what Walmart does.

Can you tell that I'm not going to do the crazy shopping today? Although by the afternoon most place have calmed down and it can be compared to a busy Saturday.

We planned on seeing Skyfall last night but the theater was sold out. So we are going today.

Good thing about that was Glee ran late because of football. If we hadn't been here we would have missed it because we didn't have the DVR set to go that late.

Today is leftover turkey day. We have lots of turkey left and I made extra mashed potatoes yesterday so we've got plenty to sustain ourselves.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Brine Recipe

Do you brine your turkey? I had never heard of it until years ago watching Alton Brown on Good Eats. We've done it ever since and it always is a moist bird.

This is the bird after it brined for 12 hours.

We tried a new recipe this year. What I liked about it was the we had everything for it already. That's the best kind of recipe.

Turkey Brine
Recipe courtesy

2 gallons water
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 T black peppercorns
3-4 T chopped garlic
2T Worcestershire sauce

Warm the water enough so all the salt and sugar dissolves. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Cool this mixture completely.

Rinse your turkey after it has thawed. Place your turkey in some kind of device that will hold the brine and be able to keep cool for 12-24 hours. We put ours in a big trash bag with the brine, then put that bag in a big ice chest. Then we put 2-3 bags of ice in the ice chest.

The next day take your turkey out of the brine. Completely rinse the bird and pat it dry. Then prepare the bird however you normally prepare it. This year we cooked ours with a butter soaked cheese cloth on top.

This was one moist bird.

Doesn't it look beautiful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hodgepodge - Happy Thanksgiving!

Another week of Hodgepodge with Joyce. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Turkey-love it or leave it? White meat or dark? What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?
I like white meat on turkey day and the dark meat in turkey noodle soup.

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do-run a 10K or climb a mountain?
This is a loaded question. I choose none of the above and maybe I'll work up the energy to WATCH someone else doing either of those activities. :)

3. Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse? Explain.
I think in many cases it is better. I have several co-workers as Facebook friends and I find out all sorts of stuff about them that I never would normally. They are pretty funny people!

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in your life?
Understand that the hard things in life make the good things seem that much sweeter.

5. In the US, the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed 'Black Friday'. Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person, or is it done more through the magic of the Internet? How do you feel about stores opening at midnight Thanksgiving night? Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday?
I avoid the stores like a plague. I've never understood the logic behind waiting in line to save some money. I never seem to want to buy anything that is on sale, plus we've never spent huge amounts of money on holidays. So the day has always seemed a waste. I spend the day usually decorating for Christmas. And I LOVE internet shopping.

6. Speaking of the color black-which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?
I love black clothes. I gravitate to black tops/sweaters every time I'm in the store. I'm wearing a black shirt as I type this. But my favorite would have to be a super soft black sweater I bought years ago.

7. What do you appreciate about your life today?
That overall we are healthy.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will be on both Wednesday and Thursday nights. How many people want to go have dinner with Snoopy serving toast, jelly beans, popcorn and pretzels?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Benjamin Moore Aura paint - Product Review

I'm a Bzzagent and was asked to join a campaign about Benjamin Moore's Aura paint. I had never heard of this paint before I started so I learned about it before accepting. Benjamin Moore has the Green Promise with Eco friendly products. It claims to have low odor and low VOCs. So I signed up and got a coupon for a free gallon of paint and several coupons. They sent a big color sample book but it comes in over 3,000 colors so I'm sure I could find something.

After much discussion I decided to paint my utility room. We built our house 19 years ago and have never changed its color. Let me tell you the room looked dingy and dirty. It was quite an embarrassment.

That's the wall behind where my trash can sits. Yucky! I went to the local store that carried Benjamin Moore paints and got several samples. I settled on Melted Ice Cream for the color. The paint store people were super nice; I had never been to that store. I was asked where I got the coupon and I explained the program. Come to find out that the paint costs $63.50 a gallon. That's twice what I normally pay for paint. Sure glad I got that for free.

Since the room was so small I decided to paint by myself. Normally I tape and paint the edges and Dan does the roller. So it took me twice as long as normal to paint the room. Plus we had to move the washer and dryer around a couple of times.

Five hours later I had a fully painted room that I am no longer ashamed of.

Yes, that's the same wall. Minus the dirt!

So here's my product review. There were plenty of colors to choose from. It was easy to use. I had closed the door so I could paint so I was in a low ventilated space and I wasn't knocked over by paint fumes. It dried really fast and true to the color sample. I was able to do just one coat even over my nasty walls. The paint has a built in primer. The only negative was the cost.

Would I buy it if I didn't have a coupon? I don't know. I would really think about the cost benefit compared to the normal paint + primer I get from a big box store.

Disclaimer: I did receive a coupon for a free gallon of paint from bzzagent in exchange for my opinion, as you know I'm more than free with my opinions!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Fragments - It's Almost the Weekend!

Joining up with Mrs. 4444 for the weekly Friday Fragment segment.

Mommy's Idea

Last night at church we had a comedian named Michael Jr. perform. He was really funny and we had 2,500 people show up for the free show. I ushered and I knew within 5 minutes that it was going to be insane. We set up all the extra chairs and then sent people to one of the side theaters. He did two 45 minute sets. Most people came back after intermission. Best part was that over 50 people raised their hands to accept Jesus. I counted 16 in my sections. Totally amazed at that.

Youtube video

I got my oil changed this week. I had to wait extra long. The dealership recently built a new building and moved down the street. It has a cafe and this:
Yes that is a wall of Chihuly glass. Not what I expect at the Honda place. It also had free wifi.

My job finally got reclassified after 10 months of paperwork. I didn't get the exact title that I wanted but I did get a higher one than I have now. Of course it really doesn't matter since we can call ourselves whatever we want and I already got the salary increase. But it is the principal of the matter.

I keep breaking my nails halfway down and then they rip. I've gone such pretty nails to a hand of stubs. I'm not happy about this and hope that it is not a sign of the upcoming winter. I keep them full of lotion.

Super proud of Whitney. She is the social chair for Relay for Life at OCU. Last night they had a rally and she was live tweeting during it. I love her enthusiasm and commitment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - More Bond!

Joyce survived a hurricane, loss of power and passing the 100 mark (well hodgepodge not her). So here we are with the beginning of a new century of questions!

1. What rule of life should never be broken?
Being kind to others. Let's hope that everyone remembers this one next Friday. (I will not be at the stores)

2. What's your favorite family recipe?
If you mean something that has been passed down from generations, I would say watergate salad. Simple to make and very tasty.

3. Is the media manipulative?
I think the media has an agenda (some liberal, some conservative) and they show news that is slanted their way. We've gone back to watching nightly news after years of not watching but we know what angle they come from and we critique what we are seeing based on that.

4. Hubs and I saw Skyfall last weekend...are you a fan of the Bond films? If so, who's your favorite Bond?
I'm jealous. I won't get to see the movie until Thanksgiving weekend. I used to watch them religiously (I still watch Goldfinger whenever it is on tv). But after those cheesy Roger Moore ones I sort of gave up after one Timothy Dalton and one Pierce Brosnan one. But Daniel Craig, wow that man is eye candy. He shows a flawed Bond in a debonair way. I vote for him over Sean Connery (just slightly) as favorite.

5. What is one thing you hope people never say about you?
Well I've had people say I'm mean and have no feelings. Which is never something you want to hear. But I know that they didn't like me and it was business. So the one thing I would never want to have someone say is that I didn't love my child. Whitney means the world to me and I would do anything I possibly could for her.

6. What's a nearby tourist attraction you'd like to see, but haven't gotten around to visiting?
This is the tough one. I know we have tourist attractions and I've been to a lot of them. But I'm not really into Native American stuff and that seems to be mostly what I haven't been to. So I'll have to go out a little farther and say the Blue Whale on Route 66. Its in Catoosa which is a couple of hours away.

7. Where's your favorite tree?
Does the Christmas tree in my living room every December count?

8. Insert your own random thought here.
We are close to finalizing our Christmas vacation plans. A week at the beach. Of course it will be too cold to get into the Gulf but that's ok. It is a week outside of Oklahoma.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Quiz About Me

Decided to give my brain a break and just participate in a new quiz.

Thanks to Acting Balanced and Touristic for this one.

Acting Balanced

1. What is your favorite kind of soup?
Dan's homemade turkey noodle soup. That will be coming up shortly after Thanksgiving thanks to the turkey carcass.

2. When was the last time you saw snow?
This summer on our Alaska trip. Lots and lots of snow.

3. What is a must have trait if someone is going to live with you?
No snoring allowed. Believe me I had to quiz Dan on that one before we got married.

4. Who was your favorite James Bond? 
Daniel Craig. Have you been reading my posts? LOL

And don't forget to add a 5th Question on your own blog so we can answer as we hop around!

5. Is it dressing or stuffing?
Stuffing goes in the bird and dressing is cooked outside the bird. Lucky us, we make both!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Embassy Row

I usually try to do something new every time I go to Washington, D.C. This year I did go to the cooking expo but wanted to add one other thing. My hotel was near Embassy Row so I took a short walk over after the sessions were over. The homes in DC are spectacular and these were no different.

This is outside the Indonesian embassy.

There are two of these on the bridge just off to the side of Massachusetts Avenue.

This is the most unusual flag I saw. It is from Turkmenistan. I had never heard of that country but figure it was part of the former Soviet Union.

I'm glad I walked around while in DC.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bargain shopping

I'm sure most of you like a good bargain. Sale and free are two of my favorite words, just ask my family. So as I walked through Walmart today for the weekly grocery shopping, I stopped at the clothing. I really need a new OU shirt. I didn't like any of them so I kept going towards the dog food. But that took me right by the clearance clothing. I normally wouldn't stop but I caught a glimpse of Greek letters. Who knew Walmart had sorority letters? And they had two shirts for Whitney's sorority for three bucks each. I bought them figuring she can sleep in them or give them away if she didn't like them. Then they had their Halloween tshirts. I wasn't going to get any but then I glimpsed the price tag. I ended up buying two of them. One was 1.32 and the other was 2.39. Can you believe that? I figure even if I wear them only once I got my money's worth.

Then i was passing the row that had the fall decorations. I figured they would only clearance the Halloween stuff but it was all half off. So I got a little basket of fake mums for 2.50. I almost bought a gravy boat for two dollars but I passed.

So for twelve dollars I bought all of this. The purple tshirt is long sleeve.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Fragments - James Bond is BACK!!!

I'm joining up with Mrs. 4444 for Friday Fragments.

  Mommy's Idea

The new James Bond movie comes out today. It is getting great reviews. Whitney and I are going to go see it during Thanksgiving break. Yes I can last that long. After all I have a photo of Skyfall on my ipad as my backdrop. I even wrote about the movie in January 2011. That's how excited I was.

I had a blog post all typed up about walking around Embassy Row in Washington DC and then I lost it when I was at the airport. I'm going to recreate it and post over the weekend hopefully.

Top Chef started this week along with The Next Iron Chef. I do believe my cooking competition show fix will be taken care of. Add that to my daily watching of The Chew and I should be ok. I hope everyone got to read my post over the weekend about seeing Carla Hall and Michael Symon at the Metro DC Cooking Show. I'm still telling people about it here. People must think I'm a stalker.

I can't believe in two weeks it is Thanksgiving. I have no room in the freezer to buy any turkey yet and I saw that Target had Butterball's at a decent price. Guess I'll have to wait another week and hopefully be able to either clear it out or get it close enough so it can thaw in the fridge and then we will brine it.

I still have to buy a Christmas tree too. Last year we threw away our old one and I need to replace it. Nothing has looked good and we always put it up the day after Thanksgiving. Just another thing to get done quickly.

I also need to get my oil changed (I love that my car tells me it is time) and I need to pick a paint color and paint a room so I can blog about it in the next two weeks. I would like to get my carpets cleaned before I decorate too. 

My conference provided me with lots of good information (it is nice when that happens) and I also got a lot of good information to study for my certification test which is scheduled for December 4.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

This month's Crazy Cooking Challenge was for stuffing/dressing.


As many of you have experienced, the stuffing/dressing debate is probably one of the most hotly contested one early in a marriage. Both parties want what they grew up with (as long as their family made a good one). Lucky for us, we both came from a heavy sage/white bread stuffing legacy. There were some differences but we've melded together to create the best stuffing ever. Literally we could stand and eat the raw dressing (we don't use eggs) before we stuff the turkey.

But for the challenge I wanted to try something new. Since we normally make white bread stuffing, I thought I'd go the other way and try a cornbread recipe. So after hours of searching and weeding, I presented Dan with about 5 versions. He picked this one.

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing
Recipe courtesy of

1 (12 ounce) package corn bread mix
1 pound sausage, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable broth


1. One to two days ahead, make one pan of cornbread according to the box instructions. Let this sit out overnight and get a firm (almost hard) crust.
2. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Crumble, drain and set aside.
3. In a skillet, cook onion and celery in butter until soft. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
4. In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, sausage, onions and celery. Add sage, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.
5. In 1/4 cup increments, add chicken or vegetable broth to stuffing mixture. Toss gently until evenly moist. Loosely stuff in fowl or casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until heated to 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

We halved the recipe and it made a lot for just the two of us. My first thought was it seemed so loose compared to our normal dressing. But it was moist when I added all the broth so I didn't add anymore. The photo on the original recipe looked loose so I went with it. It didn't firm up any while cooking (as you can see from my photo). If I were to make it again, I would cut back on the sausage. I thought that it overpowered everything else. I also would add more seasoning. You have to understand that when we make our normal stuffing, we probably triple the amount of sage it originally called for. We just love that.

Final verdict - I'm glad I tried something new with just Dan and I. But we'll be serving our normal stuffing on Thanksgiving.

Check out what everyone else made below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Date with Chefs

I'm in Washington, D.C. for a work conference. I got here early to go to a test review course and saw on my twitter feed that said my favorite celebrity chefs, Carla Hall and Michael Symon were going to be at a food convention here on Sunday. On a lark I checked out the tickets and when I found one in row eight I jumped and bought a ticket. I also go an autographed copy of either of their books plus admission to the convention center.

I got there early and started sampling all the food that was there. I saw where Michael Symon was autographing books. I went over just to take his picture (I know very geeky) and then I found out if you bought any of his books you could get an autograph and photo. Woohoo. I was sold. So I bought The Chew cookbook and got in line which wasn't long at all.

He was very nice.

Later I went to the cooking demo. I've loved Carla from her first season on Top Chef and I watch The Chew every day. The camaraderie you see on tv is really true. The two of them were so great together.

Sorry for the quality but it was no flash photography and I had the camera guy right in front.

Needless to say I loved my day. My autographed copy of Carla Hall's book is going to ship to me. They got held up in NYC from Sandy and since they don't come out until Tuesday they just couldn't just go to a store to get them.

So two autograph books and photo with a chef. Not bad for a work trip!