Toasting Thanksgiving!

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Our family tradition is to go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving.  I was greeted yesterday morning by my adorable nephew screaming at me that it was time for the Thanksgiving party, followed by hugs and kisses.  It was a fantastic way to start my day.  We toasted the start of the party with orange juice for the kiddos and a mimosa for Aunt Shanny.  

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The turkey was moist and delicious!

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My sister and I took selfies shamelessly while drinking mimosas and cooking.  

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My plate overflowed with deliciousness and I attacked it.  Notice I was drinking sweet tea and a cabernet?  That’s what we call a holiday.

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Kelly’s pumpkin cheesecake came next.  Yummy.  I had a bit more before going to bed last night.  Shameless, I tell ya’.

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And our sweet dogs had to go outside for misbehaving.  Not for long though.  It was a wonderful day.  I hope everyone had an amazing holiday.  

Now on to surviving Black Friday.  The parking lot was full before we opened today.  Eeek.
 
PS-and I almost forgot-when we were sharing what we were thankful for this year, my niece is thankful for unicorns and my nephew for dinosaurs. Hahahaha

 

Macaroni & Cheese Cook-Off

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In order to prep our tummies for the upcoming Thanksgiving meals, we decided to have a Macaroni and Cheese cook-off last night.  It’s a great way to spend a Tuesday evening.  Step 1-email your foodie friends and let them know about your plan.  Step 2-tell them it’s your sister’s birthday so that they know they will be expected to drink. Step 3-Decide on what you are going to make Step 4-Make your macaroni and cheese Step 5-Taste lots of Macaroni and Cheese Step 6-Toast your friends!

I decided to try making prosciutto cups and fill them with goodness.Image

How about stuffing those cups with a honey and goats cheese macaroni with a balsamic and fig sauce? Done.Image

That was our appetizer.

Next up-A Parmesan, Fontina, Mozzarella, Cubed Prosciutto and Italian Parsley version!!!Image

And how about a goats cheese Macaroni with fried Pancetta and truffle oil!!Image

Or maybe a Hot and Spicy Pimento Cheese and Bacon version in a crock pot!Image

 

Or maybe you didn’t have your veggies today?  Image

Last but not least, a dessert version with Mascarpone Cheese and chocolate!Image

And the sign of a great gathering with friends…

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This post was inspired by Laura’s Macaroni and cheese night that she blogged about.  Check it out at http://lauralynnblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/the-great-macaroni-and-cheese-cook-off/  She is writing a great story on her blog right now that has me wanting for more each day.  

Sparkling Shiraz Success

shiraz
Yummy! I love learning something new about wine. One of my favorite wine blogs wrote about a sparkling shiraz recently and I was immediately intrigued. A what? A sparkling shiraz? Hmmmm. Here’s the link http://thewinewankers.com.au/2013/11/12/sparkling-shiraz-the-perfect-pizza-wine/ So after running around for the past two weeks, I finally got lucky and bumped into one of my favorite wine store owners, Michelle, from Cork and Cow and mentioned to her my quest. Of course she had one in the store, so I told her I would be in on Saturday. It was chilled and ready upon my arrival. That’s right. You have to love your local stores! They will love you back! Anyway, the wine wankers tasted their’s with a pizza and my lovely friend Michelle told me she enjoyed it with barbecue. hmmm again. I ordered a proscuitto and manchego flat bread with mine. It’s fabulous. It’s not a wine I would drink everyday, but it’s definitely one I am glad to know. I will know her again. In my dreams, I would serve it with a barbecued duck spring roll. Just sayin’. So let me tell you the Sparkling Shiraz was a success. Try one.

Woo Hoo-It’s Time for Part III of Sully!!

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Please follow this link to Cameron Garriepy’s site to read the third installment of Sully.  I wrote Part I, my awesome friend, Michael Carnell wrote part II and the lovely and talented Amanda Holling has written today’s installment!  It’s perfect!  I am waiting on pins and needles for the conclusion next week!  Please read part I and II first.  Enjoy!

http://camerondgarriepy.com/2013/11/20/the-story-circle-sully-part-three/

 

Rooted in North Carolina

Rooted in North Carolina

I was born in North Carolina and I have made the choice to stay here. Maybe if I didn’t have so much family living here I might make another choice. My mom and dad bought a home one block away from me a couple of years ago. They spend most of their time living in this home so they can be near their children and grandchildren. My sister lives two miles away. It’s a choice we all made together. My sister and I made the choice in our thirties that we needed to be closer to share more of our lives together. I am now forty-one and couldn’t be more thankful for that decision. Besides my husband, my sister is my best friend. Who knew? Who knew that the curly headed, little monster of a sister would be this person to me? Who knew she’d ever like me after the way I brutalized her as a child? Did I say how thankful I am? Thankful for forgiveness. Thankful for sisters and thankful for family. Thankful that my husband was on-board for the transition. Everyone has a right to happiness. It’s finding what works for you…for your family. For me, I need my family close by and not just my immediate family. I need to have hugs and kisses from my nieces and nephews. I need them to know my kitchen pantry always has treats they want in there and that they feel comfortable enough to help themselves.
My grandparents lived five blocks away from me growing up and I made many a bike ride trek over there to see them. My grandfather would always give me the nod to grab the icecream out of the outside freezer so we could make our special milkshakes before talking about our days together. Grandmother was always dieting-like me now-and would quietly sit next to us while we sugared ourselves up.
Having my dad close by has been a surprise blessing for both son-in-laws. They both appreciate the novelty of my dad. They broke the mold after he was born. He’s the man you call when you have a question…when you have a problem. He will find the answer. He will bring a truck or a tool. I love looking out into my backyard on a Saturday morning and seeing my husband and dad working on a project together. Besides, somebodies got to help that husband of mine. 🙂
I am now reliving my childhood with my parents so close. My mother has every sweet imaginable available to her grandchildren and always a special treat for her girls, also. My sister and I like to treat ourselves to a Diet Dr. Pepper at mom’s house or if we are feeling especially rotten, we ask her to make us a grilled cheese sandwich. Yep, My life is full. For me, I needed my family living close to me. It makes me a better person. It makes me a better friend to my friends. It makes me thankful. I am rooted in North Carolina.
PS-I am hosting my husbands side of the family for Christmas this year! Almost everyone from both sides will be with us for Christmas this year! So thankful, for real.

Why You shouldn’t Fall Asleep Watching The Real Housewives of Miami.

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I was not feeling my best after work last night, so I picked up a yummy white pizza with tomatoes and spinach and headed towards the house with thoughts of cuddling with my dog, Mr. Sugarbears and carbing it up for the evening.  The hubs was out of town and I couldn’t wait to put on my yoga pants (not to do yoga) but to just chill out in comfort.   Once I arrived home, I immediately fed and hugged Mr. Sugarbears and started some laundry.  I cuddled up in my favorite chair with my pizza and while I was channel surfing, it ended up on Bravo TV.  I was fascinated for a few minutes by the “over-the-top” dresses and makeup.  Then, maybe due to the plate of pizza I ate, I felt guilty and started randomly cleaning around the house, while all the while the TV was on in the background.  For hours the voices from the ladies of The Real Housewives of Miami were echoing through my house.  Every once in a while I would stop and gawk at my television set and then continue on about my evening.  Later in the evening I finally sat back in my chair and after hearing their voices over the evening I was caught up in it.  Dang it.  I ended up watching the re-cap with Andy Cohen, where all of them took evil jabs at each other.  I sat there and sadly allowed myself to absorb the craziness.  I truly was uncomfortable and slightly appalled that I was watching it, but I couldn’t stop.  I just wanted so badly for any of them to do something nice or say something nice. I went to sleep very tired last night and I awoke at three am this morning with a nightmare.  I had somehow become a cast member of the show and was a part of these ladies lives.  I was stricken with feelings of insecurities that I have not felt since middle school.  It’s amazing what that kind of negativity can do to your brain.   From what I remember of the nightmare I was just so anxious from being around all of the gossiping and trying to keep up with their lifestyles.  So tonight I will go back to my regular routine of falling asleep to a really good book. And that’s why you shouldn’t fall asleep watching The Real Housewives of Miami. 

Part 2 -Sully

For those of you who are kind enough to stop by my blog regularly, you know that I was jumping for glee last week when Cameron Garriepy featured my story starter on her story circle section.  Today, I am pleased to announce that fellow blogger, Michael Carnell of http://www.michaelcarnell.com has continued my story on her blog.  To read the first part that I wrote, please follow this link
http://camerondgarriepy.com/2013/11/06/the-story-circle-november-2013-sully/
and then please read today’s post by Michael Carnell… continuation of the story at
http://camerondgarriepy.com/2013/11/13/the-story-circle-sully-part-two/
Be warned that you will feel the shivers go up your spine as you read his part.  It’s fantastic.  He’s a great writer and I think at this point I can probably get away with calling him friend.  

And Three Became One

And Three Became One

Please read this previous post about this wonderful couple.

https://mrsugarbears.com/2013/08/29/did-you-just-say-that-i-inspire-you/

I just spent the past three days celebrating with a lot of my dear friends. It’s been party after party attended by so many wonderful people. Two of my best friends got hitched on Saturday and it was incredible. The ceremony was the most emotional I have ever been to…including my own. Yes, I just wrote that and not because I wasn’t head over heels in love with my husband, but because we were young and we had no so-called baggage when we married.
As we get older, life can throw us curve balls here and there. Some of those curve balls bring us great, unexpected joy and others bring us great pain. In the case of Tim…I think we all just assumed he would always be the cool bachelor in the neighborhood. He didn’t seem unhappy at all and I don’t think he was, but then one of those curve balls struck him hard. That curve ball was Dee. He’s different now. He’s even better. Tim found his missing link…a link none of us knew was missing.
Dee’s life was in a very different place when the two of them met. Dee had just suffered through losing her marriage and her lower legs. That marriage had given her a beautiful daughter, so meeting someone was at the bottom of her list. She was focusing on being a good mom and learning to walk again. Her second curve ball was falling for Tim. She never saw him coming. Dee is one of those rare breeds that has not only survived her pain…but has grown from it. She even added another medical degree while learning to walk on prosthetics. Tim was with her for so many of those steps.
While neither of them were looking for love, it found them. It was no surprise that Tim fell so hard for Dee and that Dee fell for Tim. They are both incredibly giving and loving people. I have watched the two of them fall hard for each other. I have also watched Tim become a father to her little girl. When Tim decided that he could no longer live without Dee as his wife, he asked her daughter for permission. Her answer, “That would be perfect.” Yeah…are you crying yet? The ceremony was to unite the three of them together as a family. The three of them stood together throughout the ceremony with hands held while the birds chirped softly in the background. The sun slowly set and the twinkle lights turned on and we all wept tears of joy as we watched the three become one.

Mussel Mania

Mussel Mania

Last night I met some friends at Print Works Bistro in Greensboro. Chef Leigh Hesling prepares the menu there. He prides himself on locally sourcing his products, which in turn provides the diner with an even better experience. I took one of his cooking classes two years ago and was impressed with his skill and personality, as well as his commitment to the environment. On Wednesday nights the restaurant provides live entertainment, 10-15 dollar wine options and a large plate of Mussels for 15 dollars. Guess what I ordered? Yep…the mussels and they were delicious. I rarely cook mussels at home since it requires having a safe source, but when I find such a source, I make a similar version to the ones I had last night. It’s a basic french version in a white wine sauce. If you are attempting to make these yourself, let me provide you with a few tips.
1-always make sure that your mussels are coming from a reliable source.
2-Discard any mussels with an open shell-they should be tightly closed.
3-If they have not been cleaned properly before-soak them in a half gallon of water with one third of a cup of flour. This will help draw out the sand in them.
4-Scrub the outside of the shells with a brush. I use a cheap dollar store toothbrush for this. After they have been soaked it is really easy to remove any beards on the outside with your fingers.

Ingredients- for 2 servings (perfect date night food)
*3 pounds mussels-cleaned
*3 tbsp. unsalted butter
*3 tbsp. olive oil
*2 tbsp. minced garlic
*1 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
*1 cup Chardonnay
*3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
*1/4 cup chopped parsley

Use a large stock pot to saute the garlic in the olive oil and butter for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, parsley, red pepper flakes and Chardonnay to the pot and bring to a boil.
Add in your cleaned mussels to the pot and stir once. Cover with lid for about ten minutes over medium heat. All of the mussels should be open at this point. Discard any that refuse to open. Serve immediately in a nice bowl with crusty bread and a good white wine.
Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris would be nice. I hope you enjoy!

If you are in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, check out Print Works Bistro in Greensboro on Wednesday nights for their mussels!
http://www.printworksbistro.com/