NoBo Christmas Tree Lighting

p1060267 Isn’t she a beauty??? Our annual town Christmas Tree Lighting…the girls and I made it down to the events by 4:30…ended at 5. So a little bit of a low-key event-no horse drawn wagon ride, we missed Santa, no hot chocolate, no voting on gingerbread houses…Yeah…
BUT we did sing lots of carols and we did see friends and we did see the Christmas tree lights get turned on. And thankfully, the girls didn’t seem to mind at all. And Molly stayed especially warm in her “new” IOWA sweatshirt! Thanks NC Roes! So cute…
After the big/short event…we tumbled over to the Lamberts for a yummy and warm dinner. Sure did miss Steve but a good night!

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A perfect Holiday…

yeah—I know—he is cute.
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On our walk…
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Sri and Steve
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Ahhhh-Molly
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Icy!
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Our attempt at a Christmas Pic…
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Us Nasons and Thumatis
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Might be one of my most favorite pictures…something about it hits my heart just right.
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Mmmmmmmmm

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I can get lost in little things. Swamped by them. Focusing all my attention on a look someone gave me or the phone call I took too long to return until I drive myself crazy. But today-this morning…this small thing brought me back. I WISH I could take a picture of the smell of fresh-squeezed straight from Florida oranges, brewing local NoBo coffee, and homemade cinnamon rolls baking, but I am sure if you all take a second to think about it—you can get there. The picture above was the best I could do.

Make-Ahead Gravy

All I have to say is if the gravy tastes anything like the turkey meat that came out of this recipe….I am in love.
And the best part is…the gravy will be done tonight so no fear of or imminent failure for Beth tomorrow.
Happy Turkey Day!

MAKE-AHEAD TURKEY GRAVY

“For more flavor, after roasting the turkey you can skim the drippings from the pan and add them to the gravy just before serving. It’s best to discard the strong-tasting liver before using the giblets. This recipe makes enough to accompany a large turkey and still have plenty for leftovers.”

6 turkey drumsticks, thighs, or wings
reserved turkey giblets
reserved turkey neck
2 carrots, chopped coarse
1 head garlic, halved
2 ribs celery, chopped coarse
2 onions, chopped coarse
Vegetable oil spray
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups dry white wine
12 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Table salt and ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place giblets, neck, drumsticks, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in roasting pan, spray with vegetable oil, and toss well. Roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer contents of roasting pan to Dutch oven. Add broth, wine, and thyme and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Pour through fine-mesh strainer into large container (discard solids), cover stock with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until fat congeals, at least 2 hours.

Using soup spoon, skim fat and reserve. Heat 1/2 cup fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until bubbling. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until honey colored, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Gravy can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

TO SERVE:
Reheat gravy in saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.

Makes about 2 quarts
Source: Cook’s Country magazine

Beef Stew, a quilt, and friends…oh my!

Good weekend here at the Barn! Despite a mild temper tantrum thrown by me SOMEONE…at my eye doctor’s receptionist-it was a shiny and sparkly weekend. I cleaned on Saturday- in prep for friends coming over for dinner and the impending Turkey Day. I cleaned and made an incredible beef stew. I am fixated on this stew. Probably because I only had one serving so that everyone else had plenty. I wanted leftovers! Good sign that the pot was scraped clean, though probably.

I have realized that it REALLY doesn’t take much to entertain. We had two families over last night. I made the stew in the morning and all it had to do was cook. I bought an amazing loaf of Fougasse bread from the Beach Pea Bakery in Kittery and for dessert I had a frozen tollhouse pie that I thawed. Brilliant. So easy so i had so much fun. There were a cast of kids from 4 months to 6 years. And 6 adults happily ignoring the goings on of the munchkins around them ( except for the 4 month old, of course). I am always amazed at how well the kids play together-I don’t know why it amazes me, but it does.

I also get this giddiness about the times they are having-It is hard to explain but watching the secret but not-so secret world of little kids is hysterically wonderful and innocent and adventurous.

We had new friends and old friends over—and the wife of our new friends is old, old, old friends with the husband of our old friends. So it was a good group-but I must say I was pleasantly taken aback when Beau commented on the playing-saying well our kids have been together now for three years! Friendships, I hope that will last.

My eyelids are closing-4:30 a.m. morning and gym are haunting me. BUT I am sewing again! I started Ella’s quilt today. Grandpa and Meme want some grandkid time this week—I am on a sewing tear!!!! Looking forward to your arrival!

Night!

What I have been doing rather than blogging…

A friend once told me that when all else fails…make a list. Well, maybe not exactly that but he really likes lists and I have to say I am being won over by their charm. So as it seems that I have been in a blog funk lately…here it goes…

1. Listening to a lot of Kings of Leon. Like at addiction level listening. And it isn’t just this song or this album it is all the songs all the albums…but this one especially.

2. Thinking things right into the ground…driving them right down until I am exhausted and crazy.

3. Facebook. Sadly it is true. I can not get just the right tone to my status…a constant stress. 😉

4. Work…I can not even begin to talk about work. My emotional self is a sponge that is soaking up all that is around me but has now reached saturation level and I can not soak up anything else. Someone wring me out…please.

5. My birthday. I had my birthday this week. I turned 37. The thing that was amazing about this birthday-I had probably my two worst work days of the school year so far on my “not my birthday” birthday and my actual birthday. This was not the amazing part…in fact the suck-y part. The amazing part was how much love I received from old and new friends alike and, of course, my family. Awful day + reminder of the fact that people like me=saving me from miserableness.

6. Working out. It’s true.

7. Sleeping.

WHAT I WISH I WAS DOING RATHER THAN BLOGGING…

A. Still exercising.

B. Reading my new book…Julie and Julia. I have gotten to page 17. Big stall.

C. Cooking delicious food!

D. Sewing.

E. Planning superior crafty projects for my chillins.

And with those things would come spectacular blog posts for your reading enjoyment. Let’s all dare to dream…