Wednesday, December 24, 2008

another 15 feet of pure white snow

life has been pretty crazy lately. my new project at work has started to go full swing (well, not really, but it is still taking up all my time), plus my previous project isn't complete, and there's normal day to day stuff as well. we always seem to fill up our weekends with running here and there. all in all it's been good, just very busy.

i've been wondering lately if life would be easier if i wasn't so smart. i don't mean that in a conceited way; sometimes it would just be easier, i think, to have blind faith and trust in things without needing to learn the truth for myself, and that it may be easier to toil away in mediocrity rather than feel the need to excel at everything. my job would be so very much easier if i didn't try to be better at it. couldn't i just stay mid level forever? that's not me, though. i as myself could not be happy doing that. sometimes i just wonder if life isn't easier that way, though. i think i've just been feeling drained lately, which i blame partially on the weather making my drives home from work very, very long.

enough of the heavy stuff! i'll get right to everything else, since we have a lot to catch up on. i'll try not to bore you with the last month's worth of stuff.

way back on sunday november 23rd, we had mom and dad over for pork souvlaki. bryan marinated the pork in a red wine marinade for 24 hours, imbuing it with the most wonderful flavor. we served that with tzatziki (of course), beans, warm fluffy pita bread, and squash fries. oh and red wine. the pork just begged for it.

tuesday november 25th, we had large, bone in pork chops, grilled on the cast iron grill pan. we made celery root and squash gratin with walnut-thyme streusel, because it is so easy and delicious, and homemade macaroni and cheese, for the same reason.

the following night, we had a lovely beef roast with some kind of sauce (i don't recall what kind), which bryan topped with one of my favorites - fried leeks. roasted potatoes and peas rounded out the meal. the fried leeks were a hit with oliver as well.

that thursday was thanksgiving. shannon spent most of the afternoon over at our house cooking with bryan. she brought oliver a birthday gift - a fisher price phone. phones are his favorite thing, so he was pretty pleased.

bryan and shannon did a great job with the food, as to be expected. everyone had a great time. it was nice to see shannon, katie, and kevin, and for oliver to get to play with them. they were shocked at how big he'd gotten just since august. kevin brought his sister, corrine, and it was really nice to extend the family and have her there.

shannon made a classic waldorf salad, which was one of my favorite dishes of the meal. she served it on whole romaine leaves. (the lettuce looks a little wilted, because my camera sucks, but i assure you it was not.)

bryan made brussel sprouts with plenty of bacon. oliver gobbled up the bacon!

instead of a standard stuffing, bryan made a mushroom bread pudding, which i thought was WAY better than stuffing.

bryan made corn budin, a must at our thanksgiving meals regardless of the rest of the menu.

we also had a green bean casserole of sorts, with fresh green beans, a wine sauce instead of a cream sauce, and plenty of fried red onions (which mom and i taste tested many times, just to be sure).

dad carved our salted roast turkey with herbs, which was incredibly moist and flavorful. bryan made a shallot-dijon gravy for it, which was a little sweet for my tastes, but a big hit with everyone else.

we also had cranberries with port, but of course.

mom made her delicious yeast rolls (both white and whole wheat), shannon made mashed potatoes, and aunt debbie brought a cheesy potato dish. aunt debbie also brought a few pies, my cousin andy and his wife marissa brought an scrumptious apple cake with cream cheese frosting, shannon made a pecan pie, and i made my apple and fennel pie. we had plenty of dessert. everyone left stuffed.

the next day, we made use of some of our leftovers, and served brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes with a pork roast. pork roasts are an ultimate comfort food to me: i remember my gram making them when we'd come over for dinner.

that weekend, we realized that we needed to get a move on making corned beef if we were going to have it for new year's day dinner. mom took us to sam's club so we could pick up a brisket, and i made my brine. it has been resting comfortably in the basement fridge since then, getting most delicious. we'll have that with greens and black eyed peas on new year's day.

tuesday december 2nd, we again hit up the leftovers, and had the green beans and mashed potatoes along with a bacon mushroom swiss meatloaf (based on this recipe, with a few changes). we all love meatloaf (it's one of oliver's favorites), so this was a great dinner.

saturday december 6th, i made a pork loin in a normandy style, with a brandy cream sauce with apples. some potatoes and sauteed cabbage completed the meal.

that weekend, i put up our christmas decorations. we decided this year to forego the full size tree, since oliver would be far too interested in it, and it seems he is a climber. bryan has been wanting a silver christmas tree for a very long time, so we found a miniature one at target, replete with fiber optic lights (which thrilled him, as you can imagine). oliver has been fascinated with both the tree and the stockings. i can't wait for christmas morning with him!

the following friday, the 12th, was my birthday. oliver bought me a purple coach cashmere scarf (he has great taste). i went to work, though bryan took the day off. for dinner, he made me salmon cakes with a dill shallot white wine cream sauce (my new favorite sauce), artichokes with a balsamic reduction, homemade potato chips, and a caesar salad. he even made me red velvet cake for dessert, and the man does not bake. everything was delicious.

that monday, we had veal and spinach patties for dinner. we used a recipe from marcella says, and served it with cauliflower and buttered noodles (with parmesan). very good, and very easy. oliver was pretty happy with the veal. who doesn't love a tasty baby cow?

the next day, as part of my continuing effort to use the crock pot a lot this winter, i made a bbq chicken with cornbread topping dish. i picked up a bottle of speed queen bbq sauce, which turned out to be a little spicy. however, it was so delicious oliver had stuffed nearly all of his dinner down his gullet before he realized it.

last wednesday, we had one of our favorites - leonora's chicken tostadas. fried corn tortilla, sour cream, avocado, shredded roast chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and pickled red onions. deeply satisfying. another food memory, this one from mexico.

friday for dinner, we had cod with braised kale and potatoes. bryan has never liked kale (a holdover from it being simply a garnish in the food industry), but he liked this.

saturday, we went to the milwaukee public museum. mom gave me a family membership for christmas. they have a live butterfly exhibit right now. oliver was very entranced by all the live butterflies! he was so excited we couldn't get him to move. he stood in one place staring. every once in awhile he would smile at us, point at the butterflies, and yell excitedly. we ended up having to carry him around. we had a lot of fun exploring the museum; oliver was pretty excited by all the stuffed animals. some additional pictures:

that night for dinner, i made my new favorite lasagna recipe - winter greens lasagne. this was insanely delicious. i used lacinto kale and swiss chard, and added some mozzarella to the layers, because i like cheese. that along with garlic bread was enough to fill us up. i wasn't sure how oliver would like the greens, but he had no problems scarfing them down.

today i worked from home. bryan is off today, and adrianne is hanging out with us as well. bryan made beef & butternut squash stew with rosemary and balsamic vinegar for lunch, which was absolutely delicious. i'm not a huge fan of butternut squash, but i think the balsamic tempered the squashiness of it. tonight for dinner, we'll be making our traditional christmas eve dinner: shrimp and grits. pretty excited for that. i have a lovely bottle of wine from portland, or to try with it.
we have been getting a LOT of snow. the last count i heard was 36" so far this month, and it snowed more yesterday and it currently dumping on us as i type. I AM SO SICK OF SNOW. hannah wanted to have a white christmas while she is here, and she will definitely get it. we took oliver out into the snow, and he wasn't too sure what to do with it. he looked pretty cute all bundled up in snow pants and his boots, though. hannah is dying to make a snow man, so assuming the weather stays relatively warm (it's up to 30 today, which positively balmy compared to the -30 it was here on saturday), we'll be able to take oliver out as well. that should make for some very cute pictures. my only fear is that the snow in front of the house is actually too deep to build a snowman in - it comes up to the bottom of the bay window (3, 3 1/2 feet?).

oliver can sum up how i am feeling about the snow:

we have been getting more and more presents in the mail (mostly for oliver). we got him a BUNCH of stuff, and i know my family has as well (my dad went to target today to get him MORE, just because he couldn't resist). he hasn't shown much interest in the gifts yet (save for one really cool bow, which i moved). tomorrow morning will be very interesting. christmas is my favorite holiday. we bought him a large stuffed blue (from blues clues), which he is surely going to pee his pants over. we'll be sure to catch his reaction upon seeing that one. i got bryan some neat stuff, including a subscription to martha stewart living magazine (his "other" woman), which showed up yesterday, much to his glee. we'll be hanging out inside most of the day, trying to stay out of the snow, then we'll head over to mom and dad's house for an early christmas dinner and gifts with the family.

hannah shows up friday. we are all SO EXCITED! it's going to be great having her around. she can't wait to play in all the snow, and to see oliver. we don't have many plans, so we'll try to keep it low key, but i'm sure we'll find things to do to fill the time (i'm sure she'll love the live butterfly exhibit as well!).

sunday is the christmas party for my mom's whole family, which is always a lot of fun. hannah usually misses this, but it's a week earlier this year, so she'll be here, and she is thrilled.

oliver has been doing pretty good. his walking has turned into kamikaze style running, and he has definitely been learning new words. he understands more than he can say, which is still pretty cool. he's what they call "spirited". he's definitely clever, mischievous, and loving. i thought we had another year before we hit the sassy toddler years, but apparently not. he's a handful but oh man, is he a blast. he is quite the goofy character, and can be such a sweet little doll when he wants to.

well, if you made it through all that, there's a prize waiting for you somewhere. i'm off work all next week so i'll have to be sure to get off my lazy butt and post pictures from christmas/hannah.

i'll leave you with some random cute oliver pictures:

(he did actually try to put all the bags back in the box and the box back in the cabinet when he was done... hmm, i wonder where he gets his ocd from??)

good lord, he is a cute baby, even with that silly cheesy grin.

additional pictures in the november 2008 and december 2008 galleries.

merry christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008