Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

This Christmas was an especially great one. It was a Christmas of firsts, Rob and I got to spend part of the holiday weekend with both of our families, Santa was very good to us, and it even snowed.

Christmas Eve morning was spent with Ann, John and Tom at Rob's mom's house. We exchanged gifts and had a nice brunch. That afternoon we drove to my parent's house in Summerville, SC, which was about a 4 1/2 hour trip. We arrived a little after 6pm, and had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of party food and appetizers, took pictures by the tree and opened 1 gift.

Christmas morning we all slept in until 9am (even Miss Roxanne who usually gets up at 6/7am!), took our time exchanging gifts, and had a later breakfast afterwards. The rest of the day was spent playing Bananagrams, playing ball in the back yard with Roxanne, and just hanging out with each other. My Mom made a delish dinner of beef tenderloin with a cranberry sauce, and our traditional napa cabbage salad and cheesy potatoes. And we all ate more cookies/mini cheesecakes than we care to remember.

It meant a lot to Rob and I to finally spend our first Christmas together. Waking up with him and opening our stockings and gifts on Christmas morning and eating Christmas dinner together was much better than a "Merry Christmas, Babe" phone call.

It was also Roxanne's first Christmas, so of course we took a lot of pictures, gave her more treats than she should have had, and video taped her 'opening' her stocking. Rob and I both agree she is one of the best things that has happened to us this year. She is such a cute, smart and funny dog, and of course now we can't picture our lives without her!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thanks Mother Nature

While Rob might be thinking..."What the heck is this? I thought we moved to Atlanta for warmer weather?!" I like to think of the recent snow in Georgia/South Carolina as a Christmas gift from Mother Nature, because unlike Rob, I like snow. Last year around this time, my flight home to SC was cancelled and my trip was pushed back a day because of the large amount of snow we got in Boston. So to go from a foot of snow one year to no snow the next would have been a little too much for me to handle. So again I say "thanks" to Mother Nature for making my transition to the South a little easier. And Roxanne wants to say thanks too, because she loves eating the snow!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



This weekend middle sister Lisa graduated from college. It feels like I just graduated from college, how time flies. I had a nice weekend with my family and our good family friends Ted and Wendy in State College, PA, celebrating her achievement. Now she will move on to the next chapter...moving south to South Carolina and searching for a full time middle/high school teaching position.

Lisa attending PSU was really our last tie to PA, so it is bittersweet that she is now an alum and no longer a resident of Happy Valley. But maybe a better way to look at it is that now finally all of our family members are in the same part of the country once again. After all, you can still cheer for the Nittany Lions from the South!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas cookies and peppermint bark

Rob and I have eaten more than enough cookies this past week, but since it's December and Christmas only comes once a year we're not going to feel guilty about it. In fact, we're going to keep eating cookies because right now there are about 50 more cut out cookies in our refrigerator.

Cookie week started out last Saturday at Rob's mom's house, where I experienced my first Smith women cookie baking weekend. Rob's grandma and grandpa, great aunt Sara, and aunt Maureen drove down from Michigan, and Rob's mom's home basically turned into a bakery with cookies taking up all available table space. I was introduced to many cookies that I had never made before, including one of my new favorites- Kiffels- squares of pastry dough folded into a log shape with a nut filling and sprinkled with sugar (the white cookies pictured below on the left).

Every year I say I want to make peppermint bark, because it looks so good in the stores but it's expensive considering it's just chocolate and peppermint candy. Well, my first attempt didn't go as planned, because when I went to break the sheet of chocolate into pieces the dark and white layers of chocolate completely separated from each other. Pretty disappointing after how long it takes to slowly melt the chocolates and then let each layer set. I think the problem was that I didn't let the dark chocolate layer sit out in room temperature long enough before I poured the white chocolate on top. It had been in the refrigerator so long hardening, that when I took it out it was pretty cold, which didn't allow it to melt enough to bind with the white chocolate. Anyway, of course the first thing I did was tell my mom about my problem, and she told me to melt the dark chocolate and drizzle it over the white peppermint pieces. That is what I ended up doing, and it turned out pretty good.

One thing we missed out on at cookie weekend were the cut out cookies, because they made these Sunday night after we had left. So I used my wonderful cinnamon red kitchen aid mixer to mix up enough dough to make at least 6 dozen cut outs. I made snowmen, stockings, candy canes, holly leaves, gingerbread men and stars. Thursday night after puppy class Rob and I decorated 4 of the 6 shapes. Don't get me wrong, I am so happy I have a husband that actually enjoys decorating cookies with me, but we definitely had different takes on the decorating. I wanted the cookies to be "pretty" and he wanted the cookies to be "fun with a lot of stuff on them." Rob knew as soon as I brought out my camera that these pictures were going on the blog, so here they are.

Rob's cookies


I keep telling Rob he has to bring a tray of these into work to share before we eat all of them ourselves. I hope they don't all disappear this weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'll be in Cleopatra's Needle

I just ordered my scopoderm patches from a New Zealand pharmacy discounter online. This can only mean one thing...our cruise is right around the corner!! 24 days away to be exact.

The vacation plan is as follows...
-Friday Dec. 31st (New Years Eve) make the 7 hour drive from Atlanta to Orlando, FL. We'll meet my parents and sisters at the hotel and celebrate NYE together, starting with dinner at the Irish pub so we can also celebrate their new year at 7pm.

-Saturday Jan. 1st (New Years Day) the troops are splitting up. My mom and Michelle are going to spend the day at the Disney parks. I love Disney World, but I also love football. So, I'll be going with my dad and Lisa to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, where Penn State will take on the Florida Gators. Rob was originally going to go to the PSU game with us, until it was announced that his team was also going to be in a Florida bowl game. It's Michigan vs Miss State in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, and Rob and his bro Tom will be there cheering on Michigan.

-Sunday Jan. 2nd we drive to Port Canaveral and board Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas! We'll stop in the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, maybe do some sort of snorkeling excursion, go to the beach, hopefully enjoy hot weather, too much good food at all hours of the day/night, fun drinks, shows, maybe Dad will do karaoke, maybe Rob will lose his shirt off of the top deck, maybe Lisa will use a coupon to do a free shot of tequila in a jewelry store, shopping and relaxing, I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Growing up, I never liked meatloaf. Nothing against my mom's meatloaf, which my Dad and sister Lisa love, but I think there were a few reasons I wasn't a fan of meatloaf night. First, the idea of all that unknown meat (it was probably just ground beef, but at the time I didn't know that) shaped into a loaf did not look appealing. Second, it was always served with gravy instead of the sweet tomato/ketchup topping. I'm not a big gravy fan either. I don't think I have ever made it or eaten it besides on Thanksgiving. And third, I didn't know how many variations of meatloaf recipes there are and that all meatloaf isn't the same.

Once I left for college I was able to avoid meatloaf altogether. Then I started working with the ladies at the group home who loved meatloaf, and I learned how to make one for them. Short on time, spices and interest in the meal, I took the short cut with the McCormick spice pack mixed with ground beef or turkey and some breadcrumbs. It turned out ok, but I still wasn't eating it myself. Then last year after Rob and I moved in together, he asked if we could have meatloaf for dinner some night- one of his favorite meals. Of course I said sure, and that is when I discovered how many different kinds of meatloaf you could make.

Many meatloaf recipes later, I have found another one that I will defintely be keeping in our meatloaf dinner rotation. My brother-in-law's girlfriend, Linnea, gave me the Mary Mac's Tea Room cookbook for my birthday. I have never eaten at the Southern cooking Atlanta restaurant, but Linnea says it is one of her favorites. The first recipe I tried was the Italian Turkey and Vegetable Meatloaf. They also call it the Holiday Meatloaf because of the green and red colors in it.

I will say it was the biggest meatloaf I have ever made, which is why I decided to omit the bag of chopped spinach the recipe called for. Maybe next time I will suck it up and add it to make an even bigger loaf. The picture to the left is only half of the final product. Basically you mix together 1 lb turkey, 1 lb sausage, 1 green & 1 red bell pepper, 1 sweet onion, 1 cup oatmeal, 8 cloves garlic, egg, olive oil, dried basil, dried parsley and oregano, salt and pepper. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees. One of the best parts of this was the tomato sauce topping. Over medium-low heat melt tablespoon of butter, add in 1 cup canned tomato sauce, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and cook for 10 minutes. Rob and I both give it two thumbs up, which says something coming from a once meatloaf-hater.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rob's rebuttal

After being told my last blog entry wasn't very nice towards my new hubby, I decided to keep things fair. While Rob is not about to write a blog entry about his pet peeves or things I do that get on his nerves, I can take a guess at what those things might be.

I would say my driving skills might be his number one pet peeve, but then again I have issues with his driving as well. So while he would probably get a higher score on a drivers ed/road test than I would, I still refuse to tell you I am a horrible driver, and I think he would agree with that statement.

Rob most likely noticed his number one pet peeve with me once we moved in together, or he noticed it before then but it didn't affect him and his living space so he didn't say anything about it. What I didn't realize I have a problem with, until he told me, is that I never close things. The pantry door, closet door, and especially my dresser drawers, are always left partially to completely open. I guess I do this because I am lazy and it is easier to leave things open and easily accessible for the next time. But he is right in that leaving my drawers open just makes the bedroom look unnecessarily messy, so I should work on that.

What else...he doesn't like the scraping sound I sometimes make with my fork in my salad bowl, "the tuck" I do every night before bed with the sheets and comforter instead of just pulling them straight up, how I use a kleenex multiple times before throwing it out and getting a new one, when I leave the shower curtain bunched up after showering, the slightly disturbing murder mystery 48 hour specials I insist on watching, or my obsession with using dryer balls when doing laundry even though they significantly increase the noise level of the dryer. I'm sure there are more, but what couple doesn't have a list of pet peeves or complain about their partner's quirks now and then? I hope I'm still complaining about the way Rob eats his ice cream 50 years from now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The ice cream is too cold

I have a pet peeve, a pet peeve I didn't even know existed until Rob. It is one thing when people occasionally chew with their mouth open. It's annoying, yes, but it normally doesn't last long and I can get over it. What drives me nuts is how my husband eats his ice cream- chewing it with his mouth open.

I wish I was more patient with this habit of his, but I'm not. I can't remember if he always ate his ice cream like this, like back in the day in Warren Towers when we'd get pints of Ben and Jerry's at Late Nite and eat them for a snack (embarrassing). He probably did, but when you are starting out in a relationship you don't tend to notice the little potentially annoying things when you are head over heels for the person. Even if you do notice something, the last thing you are going to do is tell them about it. More than likely you will just push it out of your mind and concentrate on something else. But we've been together for almost 7 years now, and while we might be newlyweds, this is still a different time than when we were 1st year love birds.

This is typically what happens maybe once every month or two: We'll be on the couch some evening watching TV and one of us will dish out the ice cream. Ice cream is not a staple in our freezer, so that is why this is happening occasionally and not every week. I usually finish mine first, and then all I hear is Rob continuing to eat his. I stare at him for a while, before he asks "What?" I say " are eating your ice cream loud, it's bothering me." He replies with the all too clever, "I know but the ice cream is too cold, I can't eat it with my mouth shut." Ahh! Not true, I eat mine with my mouth shut. I say, "I tell you this every time, you know it drives me nuts." "I know but it's cold." And he eats about 2 bites in silence, before it gets loud all over again. This may be one habit I will never be able to break him of, so I guess I just have to get over it already. But, if he goes back for seconds, I will have to leave the room.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Season

First, happy late Thanksgiving to everyone! We had quite a full week, with the first of our visitors arriving last Monday evening (sister Michelle) and the last of them leaving yesterday (Mom and sister Lisa). It was fun extending the holiday throughout a whole week, instead of just celebrating one day. Rob and I felt very fortunate to have all of the ones we love the most together for Thanksgiving. My Mom drove in from South Carolina, Michelle from Clemson, Dad from Alabama and Lisa flew from PA. Rob's Dad, step-mom Kimberly and Grandma Porter flew in from Detroit, John's son Justin and his wife Hilary drove up from Florida, Tom made the 15 minute drive from Atlanta to Norcross and his girlfriend Linnea was in town too. And my Mother-in-law and John graciously hosted everyone for the big Thanksgiving feast at their new home. Family, delicious food, much to be grateful for...what more could we ask for on our 1st Thanksgiving as newlyweds?

And now we're gearing up for the next big holiday. The apartment is decorated, and tonight we went over to Ann and John's to help them decorate their tree...which was especially nice since ours is a mini. It's going to be an extra special one for us, because not only is it our first Christmas as a married couple, it will be our first Christmas spent together period! We have always exchanged gifts early (last year on Dec. 15th), gone to our respective homes for Christmas, and shared the post-Christmas morning "Merry Christmas" phone call around 11am. It is somewhat humorous that the first year we will actually be together on Christmas morning we have decided not to buy each other gifts, but regardless, it will be so nice just to be able to share the day with him. And of course we are also excited for Roxanne's first Christmas :) Lets hope she doesn't destroy my parents' tree.