Our First Thanksgiving, part 1

Our November plans changed last week when Garrett was hurt in a soccer game. The injury, a deep contusion & large hemotoma to his right thigh, resulted in two nights in the hospital and prevented us from taking our Costa Rica honeymoon as scheduled. The bright side of this (we were both terribly disappointed) is that we’ll be in Jacksonville for Thanksgiving, with our friends.

Thanksgiving is the only holiday that G&I have celebrated together every year since we started dating. The past two years, we’ve done a “family” Thanksgiving dinner with his Navy friends and their girlfriends/wives. This year the families have expanded to include two new babies, so we offered to host the turkey dinner. Secretly I was hoping that one of the guys, who has made turkey the past two years, would do so again this year so I could focus on all the fun stuff (appetizers, sides, etc) instead…but no such luck. He’ll likely help me out if I need, but the entire Thanksgiving dinner will come out of my kitchen for the first time ever. Yikes!

On Sunday I broke out the Food & Wine and Real Simple magazines to start looking for recipes. Tuesday (yesterday), G&I chose the menu and made the shopping list. Today we braved the grocery store to fill the list, on the afternoon before Thanksgiving…novice mistake? I should note that our main supermarket is closed tomorrow, so I wanted to get all/most of my list crossed off a couple days early.

I should have kept better track of the many websites I’ve used this week to research how big of a turkey I need, how to cook a turkey, how to defrost a turkey, how to maximize my kitchen output with one small oven, four gas burners and a crock pot, and easy decorating tips for the house. Lets just say, there were a lot! A couple worth checking out are Butterball.com”s “How To” section, FoodNetwork.com’s Thanksgiving, and Real Simple’s Thanksgiving Prep List (amazing!).

I’m hoping that I’ll remember to take pictures and post updates while cooking, shopping and putting together our first turkey dinner to share…and that the effort will launch me as a semi-regular food & cooking blogger, since I have plenty to write about. I’d love to hear your Thanksgiving & entertaining tips, especially since I have an extra day to put them into action.

Here’s our proposed menu for Friday’s dinner, for 9-10 guests.

Dressed Goat Cheese, served with crackers (from Real Simple, Dec 2010)
Hot Ricotta Dip (RS Dec 2010 recipe calls for endive accompaniment, but my guests are mostly guys so I think crackers here too)
Spinach Dip Bread Bowl  (saw this in a Publix ad, lol)

DINNER:  (set as a buffet, since my table won’t seat 10 people)
Easy Roasted Turkey (12 lbs) with Basic Gravy (adapted from RS Nov 2010)
Sausage & Sage Stuffing (RS Nov 2010)
Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallot (Food & Wine, Nov 2009)
Spiced Veggies with Pomegranate Seeds (F&W Nov 2009)
Nonna’s Peas (top secret family recipe is also a G&L tradition, we’ve made it every year)
Pomegranate Cranberry Relish (from Ashlee at Veggie by Season)
Rolls (something has to be store bought!)

to be determined (I’m hoping our guests bring this part!)
**I have vanilla-cider panna cotta in the fridge, via Food & Wine Nov 2009, that I couldn’t resist trying to make, even though it won’t make it to the Thanksgiving menu. G&I will try it ourselves, or I may take it to our T-Day dinner with our fellow foodie couple tomorrow.

Did I miss anything in the menu planning? Next up, prep work and deciding how I want to decorate. Black Friday shopping for me will likely include table linens & decorations for the Friday dinner!

Our First Thanksgiving, part 1

Universal Kinda Weekend

Last Thursday, Garrett found out some friends from Texas were in Florida for summer vay-cay so we took them up on the offer to meet them in Orlando for the weekend. We drove down Friday night with plans to hit up the Icebar on I-Drive. Let me tell you, it was so cold! (duh) The parka/hooded fleece things they gave kept us somewhat warm, but after 40 mins in Ice my poor toes were very numb!

Saturday we hit up Universal Studios, with the new Wizarding World of l Harry Potter as our main goal. We learned a very important lesson that I will share, but only if you don’t get it my way next time! USE THE SINGLE RIDER LINE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AT UNIVERSAL. Waiting 30-90 minutes to get on a rIde is a thing of the past with this tip. Even at the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey (castle) ride, the 90 minute posted wait was no more than 15 minutes for us using single rider. Oh, and try the Butterbeer (frozen if it’s hot). It’s sweet, yummy and only $4 a glass!

G and I both have annual passes to Universal’s parks through next summer now, and I’m looking forward to our next weekend getaway. Orlando & Universal was our first trip together a couple years ago and it was fun to reminisce with him about the whirlwind that has shaped us both since first started dating.

Universal Kinda Weekend

Pictures Are Worth 1,000 Words (or so I hope)

Want to try a new project that I can share here on the blog and hopefully be more consistent in my postings. My friend E used to take a picture at 5:25 pm every day (or close to it) to share with her world during 2009. This year she’s been collaborating with a friend on a different daily-photo blog (of which I love to follow along!).

I want to try the photo every day approach, as a way to track what I’m doing and where. My hope is that in addition to sharing visual memories, I’ll also be more inclined to share a story or antcedote most days too. I’ll also be posting these to my Flickr account (link on the right) too those who prefer the gallery style.

To get started, here are a few different photos from the past days, weeks & months that can show what I’ve been up to!

Pictures Are Worth 1,000 Words (or so I hope)