Monday, December 31, 2012

End of Year Sale

Now that Christmas is done, I have been perusing the sales.  My Habit is a site owned by Nordstrom that I scan frequently.  Like Gilt or One Kings Lane, their sales are for a limited amount of time.  In the US they ship next day for FREE which is always great and right now, if you invite five friends you receive a $25.00 credit towards your purchase (For those of you living internationally, they ship for $15 and it arrives in 6-10 days-- Hello Japan!)

Today, I ran across a great deal...Billowy boots.  These are amazing boots that are made in Spain, they are extremely durable and built to support growing fee.  I found these cute boots for  $53 down from $130!  Boots for little girls are always tricky in my opinion-- they quickly go from cute to trollop.  Never a good look for a nine year old.  This brand is cute and functional-- all at once.

Here are some other good finds I came across
W.A.G  moccasin shoes $76.00  $38


Hippopotamus duffle coat $178.00  $48
 Noa Lily hot pink and navy dress  $138.00  $39
Mack and company Mongolian Vest  $65.00  $13 (No Longer available)
One Kid Belted winter coat  $145.00  $15 (No Longer Avaialble)

Things go quick.  So, be prepared to buy things when you see them.

Happy New Years Eve!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving morning at 8:06.  My stuffing base has been made and I am about to clean my turkey and get it ready to cook.  I hope everyone else is off to a good start this morning!  Get those TV's tuned into the Thanksgiving day parade!

Thanksgiving Day

7:00am
  • Put breakfast casserole into oven
  • Take the turkey out of the refrigerator to return to room temperature.  Work out amount of time it should be in the oven (18 minutes/ lb at 450 degrees or use a meat thermometer) Allow 30 minutes of resting time, covered in foil, before carving
  • Prepare turkey to go into oven (see recipe)
8:00am
  • Prepare stuffing base
  • Pull butter forms from the freezer
8:30am
  • Serve breakfast casserole and breads with a flute of mimosa or champagne
  • Pop turkey into oven, and baste as needed
9:30am
  • Baste Turkey
10:30am
  • Baste Turkey
11:30am
  • Baste Turkey
12:00pm
  • Prepare Brie Bites
  • Make Rice and cranberry salad
12:30pm
  • Baste Turkey
  • Make Broccoli/ cranberry salad
1:00pm
  • Put relishes into serving dishes
  • Begin prepping for mashed potatoes by peeling
1:30pm   
  • Pull Turkey out (if it is done) and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes (Based on a 16 pound turkey)
  • Make Gravy
  • Put Broccoli Cheese casserole in the oven (350 degrees—45 minutes)
  • Put Stuffing in the oven (350 degrees—one hour)
  • Boil Potatoes for mashed potatoes
2:15pm
  • Take Broccoli Cheese casserole out
2:30pm
  • Take Stuffing out
  • Put crescent rolls into oven
  • Make mashed potatoes
2:45pm
  • Take Crescent rolls out
3:00pm
  • Warm plates
  • Bring the turkey to the table for carving (see instruction sheet)
  • Bring remaining hot items to the table

Thanksgiving Day Menu

Here is my never changing menu for Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving Menu

Breakfast
  • Strawberry Bread
  • Banana Bread
  • Breakfast casserole
  • Mimosa or champagne

Appetizers
  • Brie Bites
  • Apple & Goat cheese Brushetta
  • Spinach Dip served with triscuits
  • Smoked salmon or trout with crackers

First Course
  • Corn and wild rice soup with smoked sausage

Main Course
  • Turkey
  • Chestnut stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Wild rice and cranberry salad
  • Broccoli / Cranberry salad
  • Broccoli cheese casserole
  • Mashed potatoes/ scalloped potatoes/ or Make ahead mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes served in orange halves
  • Cranberry orange or cranberry apricot
  • Canned Cranberry
  • Crescent rolls/ Sister Shubert Yeast Rolls

Desert
  • Apple Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Thaksgiving-- Final Grocery List

This is the Final grocery list that I use for Thanksgiving.  When you see the last few items, you will have an idea of how long ago I started using my Planner.  Good Luck!

Final Grocery List
  • Turkey (If a smoked one was not ordered)(Sam Greenberg—Oprah)
  • Fresh Herbs
    • Flat leaf Parsley (1 bunch)
    • Ginger Root ( I good hunk)
  • Cranberries (2 bags)
  • Vegetables:
    • Potatoes (6)
    • Carrots (3)
    • Yams (4-5)
    • Scallions (6)
    • Onions(5)
    • Broccoli flowerets
    • Garlic  (1 head)
    • Celery (1 bunch)
    • Apples (1 ½ lb red delicious & 1 ½ lb golden delicious & 1 lb. Granny Smith)
    • Mushrooms (1 8 ounce package)
    • Blood oranges (4)
  • Bread
    • Baguette (1)
    • Sandwich bread (1 loaf)
  • Butter (as needed)
  • Eggs (1 dozen)
  • Milk (1 gallon)
  • Heavy Cream (12 ounces)
  • Half and Half (12 ounces)
  • Cheese
    • Goat Cheese (snack size + 1 cup)
    • Brie (small triangle)
    • Cheddar (snack size)
    • Stilton (snackSize)
    • Gruyere (if making scalloped poatoes)
  • Orange Juice w/ calcium
  • Bacon (1 pound)
  • Sausage (1 package)
  • Hagan Daaz Vanilla ice cream (1 Quart)
  • Batteries
  • Film
  • Video

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving-- Advanced grocery list

I make a very traditional Thanksgiving.  In fact, my menu is exactly the same every single year.  Some people call it boring, but I love the predictability of this holiday.  Mostly, I love that my kids have favorite thanksgiving foods they talk about in the weeks leading up to the holiday. 

For this reason, my grocery list seldom changes from one year to the next.  To make the whole process easier, I have a trick--I do two grocery shops.  One is typically done in early November and includes all my non-perishables and the other is done right before the holiday for veggies and fresh items.   This helps me to beat the crowds of people and was especially helpful when I lived in NYC and the stores were a madhouse.

Your list will be different from mine, but this is how I have mine laid out. Without my lists, I feel sure I would show up on T-day morning with no ziplocks, no bread for sandwiches, and without options on drinks/ sweeteners for my company.

Advance Grocery list

  • Mango Chutney
  • Peanuts
  • Mustards (hot)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Jelly
  • Cranberry relish-- with berries
  • Cranberry Sauce-- smooth
  • Uncle Bens Long Grain and wild rice (2 boxes)
  • White or brown  rice (1 bag)
  • Crisco (smallest container)
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Corn Starch
  • Bisto
  • Flour (1 Bag)
  • Sugar
    • Brown Sugar (small box)
    • White Sugar (Large bag)
    • Raw Sugar
    • Sweetener
  • Snacks
    • Dried fruit
    • Carrs table water crackers
    • Carrs Croissant crackers 
    • Triscuts
    • Honey roasted peanuts or mixed nuts
    • Figs
    • Cheese straws
    • Olives
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pam
  • Dark corn syrup
  • Vinegars
    • Cider vinegar
    • Sherry Vinegar (for wild rice and cranberry dish)
    • White vinegar
  • Fruits
    • Clementines (1 box)
    • Limes (2)
    • Lemons (2)
    • Oranges (small bag)
    • Bananas (4)
  • Frozen Veggies & Fruit
    • CHOPPED Broccoli (2 packages)
    • Strawberries
    • Red bell pepper
    • Apricots
    • Corn for chowder (2 packages)
    • CHOPPED spinach (1 package)
    • Ice Cream
    • Cool Whip
  • 8 ounces of cornbread stuffing (if not using homemade bread crumbs)
  • 8 ounces of herb stuffing (if not using homemade bread crumbs)
  • Pecans (16 ounces)
  • Eggs (1 dozen)
  • Sour Cream (16 ounce)
  • Butter (3 packages)
  • Pillsbury Pie Crust (2 – 3 packages)
  • Knorr Vegetable soup mix (1 package)
  • Crescent Rolls
  • Velveeta (1/2 pound)
  • Craisons (Plain)
  • 2 cans Libby’s solid pack pumpkin (12 ounces if you are making one pie/ 2 cans if you are making 2 pies)
  • Evaporated milk (13 ounces)
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup ( 1 can)
  • Chicken Broth (7 cans or one canister of cubes)
  • Mini marshmallows (opt—1 bag)
  • Vacuum packed and peeled chestnuts ( 8 ounces)
  • Frozen puff pastry
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Saran wrap
  • Tupperwear
  • Zip lock bags
  • Cheese cloth
  • Candles
  • Table decorations (pears, apples, and dried leaves)
  • I Pound bacon
  • Mandarin Oranges


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Liquor Cabinet essentials


With the holidays coming and lots of people coming over, it's essential to have a stocked bar.  In fact, I feel like I have failed if I can't make someone a particular drink.  I pride myself on having the tonic, lillet, and pims that people request.  So, here is my bar list.  I check it in early November (the 4th according to my calendar) and I restock as needed.  Come on over and try to stump me!


Liquor List

Alcohol Equivalents
One Liter Alcohoal = 33.8 Ounces = twenty two 1 ½ ounce drinks
One 750-millimeter bottle wine = six 4-ounce glasses
One 1 ½-liter bottle wine = twelve 4-ounce glasses
One bottle champagne = six flute or seven saucer glasses
One case champagne = seventy two drinks


Liquor
Bourbon (1 Liter)
Gin (1 Liter)
Vodka (2 liters—one in the freezer)
Scotch (2 Liters)
Blended Whisky (1 Liter)
Light Rum (1Liter)
Dark Rum (1 Fifth)
Dry Sherry (1 Fifth)
Cream Sherry (1 Fifth)
Dry Vermouth (1 Fifth)
Sweet Vermouth (1 Fifth)
Cassis or Framboise (1 Fifth)
Lillet (1 Fifth)
Dubonnet (1 Liter)
Port (1 Fifth)
Cognac (1 Fifth)
Tequila (1 Fifth)
Cointreau (1 Fifth)
Grand Marnier (1 Fifth)
Amaretto (1 Fifth)
Coffee Liquer (1 Fifth) (Kahlua, Baileys Irish cream)

Beer
Light (Six pack)
Dark (six pack)
Imported (six pack)

Wine
White wine (six 1 ½-liter bottles)
Red wine (three 1 ½-liter bottles)

MixersPerrier
Club Soda
Tonic water
Ginger Ale
Coke
Diet Coke
Tomato Juice
Orange Juice

Basic Bar EquipmentIce (3/4 to 1 pound per son)
Ice Bucket
Tongs
Lemons, Limes, Oranges
Green olives
Maraschino cherries
Cocktail onions
Lemon Zester
Sharp Knife
Good Corkscrew
Bottle opener
Pitcher
Jigger measures
Blender
Cocktail napkins

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving Prep

I am late on getting this out...no power will do that to you!  But I promise it is worth the wait-- it's  my Thanksgiving/Christmas Planner.  I created this a number of years ago after my Dad sent me a similar version from the London Times. 

For my house, I have printed the planner and put in a binder which holds all my Thanksgiving/Christmas day recipes.  That way, I have everything that I need in one place.

So, without further adieu, the Thanksgiving Day planner.

Thanksgiving/Christmas day Prep CheckList

November 1   
  • Invite guests to Thanksgiving dinner
November 2
  • Make Pumpkin Pie.  You can make this now and keep it in the refrigerator for up to four weeks, or make the pies and freeze them, unbaked, until Thanksgiving.
  • Order smoked fish to have on Thanksgiving day with crackers.
  • Book Beauty appointments (Hair, nails, waxing)
  • Book extra holiday help: babysitters, a pre-party house cleaner
November 3
  • Clear out the Freezer. Defrost if necessary to create extra room, and eat anything that does not pertain to Christmas
  • Go through the spices and replace any that are old or not immediately fragrant (see Spice list)
  • Re-look at Thanksgiving Menu and decide on any adjustments, additions, or deletions that you want to make
  • Order my smoked turkey or fresh turkey.  Make a note of what you ordered, from whom, and when it will be delivered or needs to be collected. 
  • Find the Turkey trussing needle/ string, fat separator, cheese cloth, mini muffin tin, meat thermometer, and carving fork/ knife now, to save hunting the drawers on Christmas morning
November 4
  • Inventory liquor cabinet.  Use Liquor list to make sure bar is fully stocked
November 6
  • Make Stock.  Having chicken Stock in the Freezer means gravy is halfway there.  You’ll need chicken bones, celery, carrots, bay leaf, cover with water, bring to a boil, skim well, and simmer for two hours.  Strain and freeze.  (I use the remnants from a chicken I have used for chicken salad)
  • Put butter into molds—wrap in foil and freeze. 
  • Pick- up cheese.  Grafton cheddar is always a favorite, a nutty stilton, or an ash covered Humboldt Fog goat cheese is wonderful.  Whichever you choose, make it big and whole, Thanksgiving/ Christmas time is not time to hold back.
November 10
  • Go shopping.  Do a pre Thanksgiving/ ChristmasChristmas shop and stock up on the kitchen before the hordes arrive.  See Advance Grocery List
November 11
  • Make Shortbread or Spritzes
  • Make Strawberry Bread and Banana bread.  Wrap in foil and put into Freezer bag (label with date and description)
  • Last day to ship to Europe
November 12
  • Check plates, sterling and glasses—make sure I have enough
  • Check serving platters and sterling to make sure I have appropriate pieces
  • Check tablecloth and napkins and make sure I have the appropriate pieces
  • Polish all sterling pieces
November 19
  • Make sure all serving pieces are easily accessible.  If not pull them out now.
November 20
  • Make any pat├ęs or terrines, as they need time to mature
  • Make the cranberry/ apricot sauce.  Seal and store in the fridge.
  • Make the cranberry orange sauce.  Seal and store in fridge.
November 21
  • Start delegating within your family as possible.  Give people specific areas of responsibility
    • Arranging the flowers
    • Cleaning any silver
    • Making Drinks
    • Setting the table
  • If you are going to use your own bread for the stuffing—save the daily bread.  You’ll need two stales loaves of two-day-old bread.
November 22
  • Make Ice.  Rally all ice trays into action for cocktails
  • Make Corn and Wild Rice soup with sausage
November 23 (22nd if you are doing dinner on the 24th)
  • Make the breadcrumbs for the stuffing.
  • Pick up Thanksgiving orders.  Remember to confirm the weight of the turkey when you pick it up so you can calculate the cooking time.  If you are using frozen remember that a 15 pound turkey can take up to 32 hours to thaw in a refrigerator 
  • Store food wisely: raw meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge so that it can not drip on other foods, oysters in a wet tea towel in the vegetable drawer
  • Final Shop.  Go early avoid the crowds, and don’t lose your head.  See Final Grocery List. 
November 23rd
  • Make apple pie
  • Make pecan pie
  • Make spinach dip and store in refrigerator
  • Defrost one loaf of strawberry bread and one loaf of banana bread
  • Chill Champagne
  • Defrost Broccoli cheese casserole by moving to the refrigerator
  • Make Pastry leaves for Pumpkin Pie + cheese spread

Sunday, October 21, 2012

KF.. Nine Down-- Eleven to go!


My big girl lost her ninth tooth this weekend.  The only one lost in all of 2012.  The whole process slows down a lot around age 9.  It had been a long time since KF had written a note to the tooth fairy.  So, she pulled out all the stops.. asking the Tooth Fairy to tell Santa that she wanted McKenna (the American Girl) for Christmas and that she would accept donations towards animals (read: hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, etc).  In return the tooth fairy pulled out all the stops.  She left her 2 sparkly dollar bills and took a bath in her water glass, turning the water orange.  This is still such a magical time!


Monday, October 15, 2012

New Canaan Nature Center


For school, each of our kids has two field trips a year.  Because so many moms want to help out with these, it's unheard of that I got two of them.  I was completely psyched!  J's class trip was in October and was held at the New Canann Nature Center.  I'll start by saying that we had the most engaging guide ever.  The kids were in love with him!

In October, they teach the kids about the life cycle of an apple.  So, below you will see some of the things they teach the kids

Our Guide
Showing the kids the apples that the hens are eating
Trying to shake out the apples
teaching about polllination
making apple cider
Drinking the cider! 
class pic!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Carnival 2012


Every Year, my kids look forward the Halloween carnival at their school. There is a tremendous amount of work poured into it, but the entire town comes to enjoy this super fun tradition.

The week of the Carnival, the trucks start arriving in the parking lot of school.  After reading, Water for Elephants, I have to equate this to the suspense that was felt when a Circus train pulled into town.  Parents, teachers and kids watch as the rides are unloaded and assembled.  Each one that gets setup makes everyone even more excited.  The night before the carnival, they light everything up and it is magical.




Each year, I take the earliest volunteer shift I can.  Number one, I get a close parking space and number two, we have the rest of the day to enjoy the carnival with the kids. For the first time this year, Ric and I divided and conquered.  While the boys went on rides, KF and I did some of the girlier things...like face painting, hair feathers, and a little hair color.  Do I need to mention that her scalp will be discolored for weeks?




After hearing the good tunes from the DJ, we headed up only to find a free Zumba class.  KF easily spent an hour or so dancing with friends.



As a family, we went through the haunted house.  One of us decided that he NEVER wanted to go into a haunted house again...


The rides are great.  All the ones you probably remember-- swings, house of mirrors, roller coasters, Water gun fun,



The moms at school put so much work and creativity into this activity.  One of the things I love to peruse is the bake sale.  The ideas and packaging are all so enticing!
These boxes had cookies inside...yum!

How perfect are these?

What a good way to store a cupcake!
Halloween is such a big holiday in the northeast.  Far more than I remember it being in the south.  While the month is chock-o-block with activities, it is truly so much fun for the kids.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkins!

Each year at school, the kids are given a small sugar pumpkin to take home and decorate.  All the kids get ridiculously creative and come up with some pretty amazing ideas.  The pumpkins go home on a Monday and must be returned on a Thursday.  So, it's best to brainstorm in advance so that you can work quickly once you have the pumpkin.

This year we had great fun.  For Kf, we cut the top off the pumpkin and carved doors and windows in the side.  Then, we sunk a glass container down into the pumpkin and filled it with water and a live goldfish.  The kids at school went CRAZY for it.  In fact, they had to remove the pumpkin because too many of the little kids were trying to touch the fish.  Here is a pic of her creation.

Front

back
Chomps loves going through his National Geographic magazine and learning about animals.  As we sat at dinner one night and googled different animals, we can up with this one.  We basically dissected the entire pumpkin and reconfigured it.  His eyes are made from black ball thumbtacks


Jackson's was simple and it was one we had seen at his preschool the year before.  He loved the idea and I loved the simplicity of it.

I am embarrassed to say that we never even carved our big pumpkins.  I guess we used all our creative juices on these little guys!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Darien Deals-- Vineyard Vines Sample Sale


Girls, warm up those credit cards, it's time to shop.  Vineyard Vines is having their annual sample sale in Greenwich and if last year is any indicator, this should be great.  Vineyard Vines is my go-to for the boys and I personally love their use of color and novelty.  I'll be taking this opportunity to STOCK up...even if it is for next year.

Here are some of the things I would like to snag...

The Hub's birthday is on 10/7.  I've been meaning to get him a bow tie (see my father's days post), but alas, have not gotten to it.  This would be a great find and would definitely knock one thing off my my to-do list for next week!
 In a beach town, a girl can never have enough tunics..
Blue is MY color
Love the Eyelet

The Boys love these light weight half zip sweatshirts.  I swear they don't wear out.  We've used our current ones for two two years and I can still pass chomp's sweatshirt down to baby J

Martha's Vineyard 2011
Return from Naples 2012...still wearing them!

Of course, at the right price, I'll take as many lounge pants and boxers as I can manage for myself and the kids.  The boxers are what my boys wear as pajamas through the summer and the lounge pants are what they use in the spring and fall.

So, if you are near Greenwich next weekend, head on over to the sale and get prepped!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yes Sir, that's my baby!

Chomps has started his first season of Flag Football and I think I love it as much as he does.  The boys do such a great job and the our coach is fantastic (go Coach Kelley!).  Age 7 is such the perfect time to get started with this sport.  They all seem to be watching games with their Dads on the weekends and most of them have favorite teams they cheer for.

In our house, college football rules.  Most of Trey's friends don't know much about Georgia Bulldawgs or the Florida Gators, but I am sure he is telling them all about those teams.  On the flip side, we are starting to watch more NFL games than usual and Chomps is definitely getting an opinion about who he likes.

Needless to say I was the proudest mama on the field last week when my baby made his first touchdown.  I just have to share it with you all...






























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