A Winter Wonderland Shower <3 & Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi!

Merry almost Christmas! Wow, the holidays seem to come quicker every year and with the baby due so close to the new year this Christmas has really snuck up on me! We’ve officially got less than 4 weeks til baby and I am not so sure I feel prepared yet. I have yet to pack a hospital bag or get the carseat out of the box but thanks to two fabulous baby showers, we have got a beautiful (almost done!) nursery and plenty of baby gear!

My sister threw me a darling baby shower in TN over Thanksgiving and just a few weeks later I was lucky enough to be treated to a second shower at home in HHI by my sweet Aunt Vanessa. The theme was Winter Wonderland and it could not have been more beautiful.

I aspire to entertain as well as Vanessa does someday as she truly outdoes herself with each event! The food was to die for, a beautiful brunch spread complete with a low country shrimp and grits station and egg cups with caviar!

The decor was beautiful and the little details, like this sweet Christmas tree and the elephants tucked away everywhere were absolutely precious!

Tree

I knew with Vanessa at the helm that the shower would be wonderful, but it truly couldn’t have been more perfect.

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A Thanksgiving Shower and Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Happy bi-week! I think that’s a football term for an off-week which is pretty much what this week is right? The week between Thanksgiving and December. AKA time to shop til you drop, get all of your Christmas decorations up and get so sick of leftover turkey sandwiches that you vow not to eat it again for another year, or at least until Christmas.

For once my family avoided turkey overload and didn’t eat a single leftover. Why you may ask?

Ren

This guy….

My parents and sister both own small dogs and therefore aren’t accustomed to “counter surfing”. Unfortunately for Renly, his efforts proved to be for naught and he didn’t actually consume any leftover turkey either.

Robert, Renly and I traveled to Tennessee for Thanksgiving this year. My grandparents were also attending and it was our last trip before baby (hallelujah because riding in the car for long periods of time is getting less comfortable for me by the day). After we ate our Thanksgiving meal at my parents house we went over to a friends home to visit and have dessert. Upon returning we discovered that my mother had inadvertently left the lid off of the tupper-wear container she had put the leftover turkey in. She also left it sitting too close to the edge of the counter. The tupper-wear container was now flipped over onto the ground and pushed into the corner of the cabinets. I didn’t take a picture at the time but it looked something like this…

Turkey Tupperware

My theory is that Renly, at the urging of the little dogs no doubt, flipped the open container onto the floor with his head and it landed perfectly upside down, with all of the turkey still trapped inside. They then probably all took turns pushing it around the floor, trying to get to the meat inside until they pushed it into the corner and it became stuck.

Turkey that has been used to sweep the kitchen floor isn’t high on my list of things I’m willing to consume so thus, no leftover turkey for any of us…or the dogs, although it is likely that my father the notorious dog feeder snuck them some without my knowledge.

The rest of our Thanksgiving was lovely; we did lots of relaxing, watched a few movies, I got all of my Christmas shopping done (hooray), spent wonderful time with family and friends

and to cap it all off my sister threw me an adorable baby shower!

Gifts

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Easy Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers

Do you ever have a morning when your bed is literally just TOO comfortable to leave? When your room is slightly too chilly, your blankets are perfectly warm and your pillows are positioned perfectly?

Renly in chair
Renly says this chair is too comfy to get out of…

I had one of those this morning and when I DID actually get up and drag myself to the gym, it was no small feat. I didn’t go to bed particularly late last night so I’m going to attribute my difficult rising to the weather. Yesterday the weather decided that it was officially time for fall. I wore a jacket to work and for the first time in months my car windows weren’t fogged due to the heat. I don’t particularly love the cold but I DO welcome hearty, comforting (easy!) crockpot meals!

peppers and onions Browned Links

When you work all day and have limited time to prepare dinner at night the crockpot is a godsend. My grandmother gave me my first crock pot when I started college and it was one of the first things I ever cooked with. When Robert and I got married I retired my original slow cooker and registered for one with a timer. It’s pretty difficult to ruin anything in a crock pot, but we lost a few meals my first year of work because neither of us got home in time and they simply cooked too long. We still have crazy long days sometimes so the crockpot with the timer was a game changer. You set your cook time, and once it has lapsed the crockpot automatically switches itself to the warm setting, so your food is warm and ready without being overdone. They are more expensive than the base models but very worth it.

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A “Different” Date Night & Tips From a Chef

Happy Thanksgiving! I woke up this morning thankful for the smell of breakfast casserole wafting upstairs and even more so to have my husband in Chattanooga finally! Poor Robert had 3 or 4 flight delays to deal with yesterday before he finally made it to Tennessee. We held dinner for him so we were equally as hungry as we were happy to see him when he finally arrived around 9:00 pm. Renly most of all Smile One of the best parts of having a dog has got to be how excited they are to see you after an absence. In Renly’s case an absence can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 weeks. Sometimes I get the full “You’re home!I love you!Pet me!Pick me up!please please please” jumping barrage after a trip to the mailbox. Sweet (simple) boy.

 Renly

Despite Renly’s doggy daddy withdrawals, we have had a great few days at home. Renly has had a ball playing with my parents dogs, and running laps around their huge yard. I have enjoyed catching up with friends over lunch, eating cheap tacos at my favorite local Mexican restaurant, doing a little shopping and spending time with my sweet grandparents.  I also got to spend most of Tuesday with my mama who treated me to a great mother-daughter date night. Last year my sister bought my mom and dad a gift certificate to Mia Cucina, a gourmet kitchen retail store who also hosts weekly cooking classes. As so often happens with gift certificates, my parents didn’t use it right away and therefore promptly forgot about it. When it was recently discovered (and about to expire!) my mom signed us up for Tuesday’s class. Classes are offered nightly, each with a different theme. Our class was titled “Recipes From Restaurants We Love” and consisted of four courses, each from a different local restaurant.

Corn Chowder 2
Poblano Corn Chowder

 

Spare Ribs and Shrimp and Grits
Molasses Braised Beef Short Ribs and Shrimp and Jack Cheese Grits with Tomato Ragout

 

Lava Cake
Dark Chocolate Lava Cake

 

Classes are BYOB and are either “hands on” or “demonstration”. In a hands on class, you actually make your own meal under instruction from a chef. A demonstration class, which is what ours was, consists more of watching and learning. I think a hands on class would be a blast but the demonstration was a lot of fun. We sat around the kitchen and sipped wine and beer while watching our chef, Hannah, prepare the meal. Hannah talked through each step and answered questions and offered helpful cooking tips along the way. Two assistants served each course to the crowd as it was ready.  The food was delicious and plentiful, one round was enough to have me feeling stuffed but seconds of each course were offered to those with larger appetites. You are also provided with a copy of each recipe and pens before the class begins so you can take notes and later prepare the dishes at home. I noticed that everyone dutifully took notes at the beginning of the class but after a few courses (and glasses of wine) the eating took center stage and the note taking became less diligent Smile Continue reading

Slow Saturday Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Happy Monday! I had hoped to get this up yesterday but I got busy trying a yummy new appetizer recipe to take over to a friend’s house (I’ll share soon!). Then I got busy eating said recipe, stuffing my face with my friends delicious turkey chili, and doing plenty of wine drinking and laughing with the girls while the boys watched football. Somewhere in the midst of all that Robert and I found the time to take Renly to the park where he lifted his leg to potty for the first time ever! Robert literally whooped with joy which in turn got Renly very excited which in turn convinced Robert that Renly knew what he had just done. I’m pretty sure he was just feeding off of Robert’s excitement but it was pretty cute to watch the two of them jumping up and down and having their own personal potty party right there on the path. Talk about a Sunday Funday.

Renly and Robert
Proud Papa!

Hope everyone had a fun Halloween! How cute is Renly in his Halloween tie? It had candy corn all over it…precious. We had a blast at my sister in law’s and my cornbread was a hit! Neither Robert or I ate any Halloween candy Friday night (I know, who are we?) but sure enough my sweet tooth kicked in about the time we got home so we treated ourselves to ice cream and a scary movie on our couch. Pretty wild Friday night, huh? Don’t threaten us with a good time!

                    Renly Halloween Tie  Renly Tie

We woke up Saturday morning to a temperature that had dropped about 40 degrees over night! What! I knew that it was coming, but I think I still shed a tear or two when pulling out my gloves and hat to walk Renly, especially when I remembered that just the day before I walked him in a workout tank! Goodbye Summer, I’ll miss you until we meet again!

Chilly temperatures and midnight ice cream binges definitely called for a recovery breakfast on Saturday. I wanted something warm and hearty while still healthy. Breakfast also needed to have some staying power because Robert’s sister had quite the terrifying fun adventure planned for Saturday afternoon: Ziplining!

ziplining 2 ziplining 3

It was VERY cold, and extremely windy…not the most ideal conditions for being on a swaying platform 75 feet in the air. gulp. Despite the cold and the wind, we all survived had a great time, and the views were pretty incredible. The tallest platform is actually the highest point on all of Hilton Head Island! If you are ever in the area and into extreme entertainment, I would highly recommend it. If you aren’t into extreme entertainment but are into delicious breakfast, I would highly recommend my Apple Cinnamon Pecan Baked Oatmeal. See what I did there?

Baked Apple Cinn Pecan Oatmeal Continue reading