Friday, November 30, 2007

Pampered Chef Party

For a while, a few of us around here have mentioned that we have wanted someone to host a Pampered Chef party. So I finally bit the bullet and hosted one. I didn't think it was possible in my apartment at first, but with a little imagination, and rearranging, it worked out pretty well. KC and I moved everything except the couch into the bedroom the night before. We lined up chairs like a classroom and easily fit about 13 fun ladies, consisting of church friends, neighbors, and a sister, two of which had babies with them, in this small space. Everyone was very kind about being so tightly fitted together, and I think we all had a great time. Stacy, the consultant and I got to know each other pretty well. She came an hour before the party began to set up and prepare some food. She made delicious caramel pecan cakes and a microwave barbecue pork tenderloin. It was very delicious and it only took 15 minutes for 2 lbs. of meat. I made some whole wheat rolls to go with the pork for sandwiches, along with mini pumpkin tarts, beet and sweet potato chips with a roasted onion dip, and a lemon curd fruit dip with pears and grapes. There was wassail on the stove, but it was little warm so only a few wanted it. So there was plenty of food to be had, and lots of fun stuff to buy. Now, I was expecting a little bit of a discount for hosting, but not nearly the deal I got. A lot of free, 60% off, 50% off, and 25% off items. I still haven't made my decisions on exactly what to order, but I think I'll have fun doing it. Also, two of my girls booked parties, so I get a deal of two 60% off items at their parties as well. They really hook you coming out with new products all the time. Now, I'll just have to find room for all my new gadgets, whatever they may be. Thanks for coming ladies. I enjoyed having you. It was definitely worth the rearranging, and it helped us discover a better way to layout our living room. It feels a lot bigger and more opened up. I like this no restrictions rule I've given myself. It's very liberating.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We've been Christmasified

The longer we live in this tiny space, the more we like to stretch the boundaries we thought were so tight when we moved in. We seriously thought there was hardly space for a couch and I have managed to add a bookshelf or two, a keyboard, an elliptical, and some other odds and ends. And we have somehow managed to squeeze yet another relatively large item. When Christmas came last year, we faced the facts thata sizable Christmas tree was out of the question since there really seemed like no possible place to put one. We ended up getting a 3 foot tree or something, and I didn't want to buy ornaments since we wouldn't be home for the actual holiday, so I used candy canes and ribbons and called it good. Well this year is different. I am tired of restrictions and so I'm breaking away from our pre-conceived notions of our little space. We have successfully placed a great smelling, 6 foot Balsam Fir tree in our apartment and I am so proud. I thought I was crazy thinking we could fit a real tree in here, but I'm so glad we did it anyway. I stocked up on some fun ornaments courtesy IKEA, and voila! It's officially Christmas! KC is in charge of the lights, and I place the ornaments. It makes me feel like a real grown up when I do grown up things like buying and decorating our very own tree.
Now I might actually be crazy thinking I can fit 15 or so ladies here for a Pampered Chef party I'm having on Thursday. There will be some major rearranging involved.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


If you, like me, are already tired of the same old Christmas music that is now thoroughly played on the usual stations, here is something that might help. I have recently been listening to Christian rock stations. Now just hear me out before you judge. I think it started when I was scanning the radio in the car to set my pre-set stations. I stopped for a while on one of these stations and liked the tunes. When I realized what they were singing, I was reluctant to stay since it just seemed a little hokey. But I was pretty impressed since I thought this kind of music had a stereotype that wasn't really my style at all. So I started to listen on Sundays. They are all about family values and God's love, so I liked the change for my drive to church. However, I could immediately tell who were the popular singers, and what songs got played over and over which is how it is with any genre. It's funny to think that there are so many types of music out there that I have no idea about. There are fan clubs for this music that I have just discovered, and it just makes me laugh.

Anyway, to my point. Even if you are not a fan of five different versions Amazing Grace, you can still appreciate a little variation in the Christmas songs we all know and love. Sometimes the variations are a little much for me, but I'll take anything over hearing Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, or Christmas Shoes again. If you are here in Maryland and you dare, try 91.9, or 105.1 I think.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm thankful for water, and KC, and the turkey...

That was part of Jefferson's prayer at Thanksgiving and it keeps making me giggle when I think about it. It was nice low-key Thanksgiving at the Turpin's and I have to say it's always a relief when it is over even though we look forward to it so much. Cami gave a few details so I'll just add on to what she said. I already told about my unfortunate croissant experience, but the food was very delicious despite any imperfections. We had the regulars, including yummy cheese ball, ham asparagas wrap appetizers. We also added spiced, roasted acorn squash, fried onions, rosemary mashed potatoes, and everything else Cami has mentioned. I said before I liked to add a twist to old favorites, so instead of making plain pumpkin pie, I made pumpkin mascarpone tarts with a gingerbread crust and pistachio brittle. I had more gingerbread crust left, so I went ahead and made a pumpkin ice cream pie with the rest. The recipe will be in the sidebar very soon. If you've never made it, you will want to soon. It was a nice change, but still had the traditional flavors. We were stuffed until we couldn't eat another bite, after the three rounds of eating thoughout the day. We also watched Evan Almighty which was very entertaining. It was funny to see how the little boys fought over who got to sit by KC. But Jeffy also had to sit as far as possible from the strawberry pretzel jello since he didn't like strawberries. So he eventually sat in the spot that suited him. He all had a good laugh about that. We got home pretty early, and did a little cleaning, but mostly just wanted to fall into bed.

I had to wake up early for various appointments, and didn't feel quite right, and was pretty shaky, but knew I couldn't just skip out of work and my appointment, so I went anyway. But the time I got to work at about 8:30, I was feeling the nausea pretty bad, but thought it would pass and started taking baby pictures anyway. Not smart. I knew the only other photograpers were out of town, so my work ethic must have been stronger than the sick feeling, but it soon took over. I called KC to come pick me up and I was about to call and apologize to the new moms giving them an option of coming back another time. Even that seemed like a task big enough to make me heave. Soon enough they started coming making a line at the studio. I took the pictures, talking to them in a quiet and pretty trembly voice hoping they wouldn't expect anything even though I could feel the waves of nausea every second. There was a time that I said excuse me, with a smile, and ran to the bathroom thinking that was it. After a few moments it passed and I was able to finish the appointment, write a note to the next moms that were to arrive, and leave as soon as KC came. He was so sweet to be there for me so quickly, and boy did he come at the right time. Good thing I told him to bring bags for the car because that is precisely where I needed them. But I sure felt better for a while. I took an anti-nausea pill given to me at my last Utah flu episode. It took a while to kick in, but I slept, or was at least lying down the rest of the day. But I did feel better when I woke up and was able to carry on as normal today and even eat some leftovers. KC took wonderful care of me though it all, and I am just glad it wasn't on Thanksgiving day itself. I'm pretty sure it was due to some medication I was taking so, whew, it wasn't the food. Don't you love when holiday memories are mixed with sick memories.

Hooray, it is now Christmas time and the decorations are coming out today! If I get around to it, that is.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Well since I was paying too much attention to the fried onions and turkey, I let the croissants rise too long, and mixed with the 75 degree weather, the butter decided to melt out of the ever loving rolls resulting in a flat buttery, bread-like substance. Still tasty, but not up to my standards. I'm trying to get past it, but the only way is to make them again, correctly, very soon. I guess I have to give them my undivided attention. Pitiful. Luckily I'm with a crowd that is easy to please.n This is a picture of what they looked like in school. Quite a difference, eh?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Check this out. It might make you feel a little better about having an extra piece of pie tomorrow You can just take a picture and photoshop out the weight you just gained. Go to the portfolio link and click on the celebrities to see the before and after. I found it very entertaining, and a little sad that they can't just be themselves. Go's to show that no one looks like a magazine cover portrays... and more people have freckles than you think.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving prep

I said it last year, and I'll say it again. Thanksgiving is an out-of-work chef's favorite holiday. Well, in my opinion anyway. An excuse to cook and bake to your hearts content, and it's not for anyone else but the one's you love. At the bakeries, I was baking dozens of pies and roulades for people I didn't know, and it just wasn't the same.

I always like to try new things at Thanksgiving. It's all about tradition with a twist for me. Last year we started a new tradition, fried turkey. The twist--Cajun fried Turkey. I think we'll throw a bloomin' onion in the gallons of oil while we're at it. I'm going to like that tradition.
So, rolls of course are a main staple at the table at almost every holiday meal. The twist--Croissants. I know, nothing special, but this pastry holds a special place in my heart. I don't think I've made this since I was in school, but since I took such avid notes, it was like it was yesterday I was rolling up that dough exactly 3 1/2- 4 turns for the first time. Yep, they were that strict about the authenticity of how we made them. You see, Croissants are as French as pastries come, and they have a way of doing things over there that can't be messed with. My school specialized in French cuisine, and being that the founder was from that very country, we were taught strictly in the way. Croissants are truly an art. They are the classic French pastry and if done properly they take many steps, requiring many timers, precise temperatures, and even have to be placed a certain way on the baking sheet. And they require two different temperatures. Sometimes, when I am trying something new, or bringing out an old recipe, I'll bypass what I think are minute details, only to wish I'd followed the instructions. Of course some recipes have room for creativity which I gladly use, but not these babies. I have made my fair share of bad croissants, and don't plan on doing it again. I like to make them exactly as I was taught. These will be frozen, to be thawed, egg washed, and baked on turkey day. I have been wanting to have a reason to make these, and this was the perfect occasion. I was a little rusty, but I think the technique will always stay with me. The reason why these are so special to me is not only that it takes me back to school when my whole life changed, but I always remember how proud my chef was of me when we saw my tray of croissants. He told me they would be a good advertisement for the school and what we learn. Remember when I told you how picky they are about technique? This is a huge compliment, and I was honored to have it given to me. It just made me even more confident in my decision to pursue this career--which has now turned into a lifelong hobby I suppose. I love my friend, the croissant. Oh, and they are completely delicious. Especially with chocolate or frangipane inside. Next time. Oh how I love getting elbow deep in flour and dough. It won't be long until I get the itch again.

That was weird that I went on a long rant about a flimsy piece of dough, but that's my life for you, and I can't help it. With this Thursday being the big day, my mind is racing trying to keep everything together despite lists, and conversations with Cami (the Thanksgiving host), as I'm sure every one's is. I have a few new twists in mind, so we'll see how everything turns out. Some say not to try new recipes for a big occasion, but I like the challenge.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cheverly farmer's market

On Saturday I made plans to go to the Cheverly farmers market. It is only a short walk away, and I heard that last time they had it, they very quickly sold out of all vegetables, cheeses, soaps, and everything else they were selling. I agreed to babysit one of the girls I normally do for that day, so she kept me company as we walked to the city building. It was quite delightful and very crowded. I bought a few things including graham flour, buckwheat pancake mix, a couple delicious pastries, and some amazing orange, passion fruit jam. All are locally made and so fresh ( I guess that is what defines a farmer's market). The two of us really enjoyed the crisp morning air and I couldn't resist getting a picture of this great tree. By the way Tracie, if you are reading this, I was really wanting to call you and tell you to come with me. (she used to be my neighbor until she picked up and moved.) The little one isn't much for adult conversation. Oh and for those who don't know, my maiden name is Graham, and my 5th great uncle, Sylvester Graham came up with the graham flour to promote healthy lifestyles or something like that. Nope, I didn't get a discount, nor have I ever been able to take a box of Graham Crackers without paying, even though he is responsible for those too. I get that question a lot when I tell people we are related.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Leave it to KC to harmonize to the hum of my Sonicare toothbrush. This has happened on many occasions and I don't think he thinks I am paying attention. But I totally am, and I love it every time he does it. He kind of does it subconsciously while he's doing whatever he is doing. He does a different combination of notes each time, all very in tune. He has very good pitch. He really likes odd harmonizations. This is one of the many quirks I love about my guy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vacation Plans!!

Well, thanks to Cami and Jake, we are now booked for a Disney Cruise in January!! We are so excited. We could really use a vacation right now, so the timing is impeccable. We are really looking forward to spending some quality time with the Turpins-young and old-er. I think the little one's are looking forward to it too. See Cami's blog. We are so blessed to have family here and have the opportunity to do such fun family things together. So,we have to get down to business and book excursions and things. Is it okay if I start packing today?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Late birthday present.

It's funny how birthdays sometimes seem to go on and on. This week I was still getting gifts. My generous husband told me on the actual day that something else was coming in the mail. After a while, there was a cancellation from the first order, and then a re-order, but I finally received my stainless steel mixing bowl set with lids. I had actually guessed that is what the mysterious gift would be. I love them, and who doesn't love a late birthday gift. Funny how I am so excited about these, but they are certainly a good purchase. Durable, attractive, and very funtional with the tight pitting lids. These will get put to good use. Thanks honey. He knows me so well (or he was just listening the 20 times I mentioned that I wanted them.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Making a list, and checking it twice

The chill that is obviously in the air now makes me a little giddy as I have mentioned before. I am excited so finally be able to pull out the pea coats, sweaters, and boots, a very welcomed change. And I think the holiday season has a way of making us all a little chipper. But there is something that is taking that feeling down a notch. I always get into this anxiety near October about Christmas shopping. The list making beings and I can't stop. I've seriously made dozens of lists with names, gift ideas, places to possibly get those gifts, websites to try. I can't stop. I like to get the shopping done before December even starts so I can actually enjoy the season. It's silly to keep making lists that all pretty much say the same thing. But if I can't, at the moment I have another idea, see the list I have previously made, I feel like I have to write another just to make sure I had it all down on the first one. I feel a little coo-coo sometimes. I don't know why I get so worked up so early. It's not what the season is about after all, but I suppose that's why it's good to get it done before the season begins. So that we can really concentrate on the true meaning behind this beloved holiday. I said it here first. I'll be done Christmas shopping by December 1.

Monday, November 05, 2007


KC and I both have automatic cameras that we can't seem to let go of. Even though, to me, there is no better way to take pictures besides digital. We just think they are going to be cool to show our kids someday. Everyone is digital now and I am a fan for sure. You see, we have been trying to finish a roll of film that was in KC's camera for a while to get it developed. He wasn't sure what was on it so we were excited to see. We took some here and there, until we finally heard that winding sound that used to be so familiar. We excitedly took it to get developed. I haven't dropped a roll of film in one of those envelopes for a long time. I went back a few days later pick it up. What a process it used to be. And all to see pictures not even knowing how they turned out. I would've taken 50 % of them again on a digital. How funny that this is how we used to photograph. Another inconvenience is all the space they take up. If I had to developed all the pictures I wanted to take, I'd not only be spending a fortune on film and developing, but it would take over my house. Now we have to use up the film in my camera. I'm pretty sure I used it a lot right when I moved here. Weird that only three and a half years ago, that was pretty normal to still be using an automatic camera. I'm always interested to see what they will come up with next in the world or technology. I am a fan of the new age technology, but I'm not saying that we should forget all about film. It's an art and the pictures are very good quality. Some people have a talent and should keep using the old, or I should just say, different way. I'll stick to what's convenient.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What? November!?

I can't believe it. The year goes by so much faster as an adult. Last holiday season seems like yesterday. Well, I'm not complaining. Bring on Christmas is what I say. But before we do that I'd better blog our Halloween fun. We started celebrating this holiday a couple weeks ago with a party with our friends, so this week seemed a little anticlimactic, but we managed to be festive. Last Saturday our friends Ben and Nikki invited us to a How to Host a Murder party. We got our character descriptions in advance so we could look the part. I was a spoiled and stuck up perfume company heiress, and KC was a war bomber pilot,. The setting was on a train in the 1940s. There were three other couples filling the other parts. We had a wonderful dinner and met some great people. We had fun finding out who the murderer was and occasionally getting into our given characters and accents. I tried to do my hair in the 1940's style. Man, no wonder the styles have changed. It's pretty tricky. I had never been to this kind of party before, so it was quite entertaining.

During the week sometime I was browsing the channels for something Halloweenish to watch. I came across The Blair Witch Project on Fox (edited) and couldn't help but watch a few minutes. I remember the buzz this movie made when it came out and the closest I ever came to watching it was The Blair Thumb:

That is just a clip of the greatness. Thanks to Lili, we have learned about all these ridiculous yet hilarious parodies of movies (there are many Thumb movies), made with thumbs as the faces of the characters. Before I knew anything about the Blair Witch, I had seen and quoted the Blair Thumb for years. Seeing clips of the Blair Witch Project, which was supposed to be crazy scary when it came out, only made me laugh like crazy. The thumbs were spot on the actual characters. It didn't have time to watch it all, but I am really needing to go to Cami's so I can see it on her Clear Play. It was quite amusing.

I also made some Halloween cookies with my little baking buddy. He is quite an artist. I was happy to put the cutters to good use. We had a lot sugary fun.

To finish out the fun, We went downtown for dinner and a Capital Hauntings ghost walk. We picked up some previously ordered Ruben and Pastrami sandwiches at Old Ebbitt Grill, a local favorite. There you go Cami and Mel. They were so greasy, but so delicious. We ate on a bench by the street. Much better than sitting in a loud crowded restaurant. Then we went on our walking tour that started in McPherson Square, near the White house. A guide took the 65 of us that showed up on a short walk, but long tour (a little over 2 hours) around Lafayette Square. She animatedly told stories about ghosts and spirits that have been seen, felt, or smelled (she said sometimes that how you can tell they are present) and the stories that led to their deaths. There were stories of affairs, missing heads, piano music coming from houses with no pianos, and on. I'm not really a ghost believer, but it was still cool to hear about the stories about the people in that very spot so long ago. It was eerie to think that they lived and died right there. I
t made me think about the past and how there were horses and carriages right where I stood. It was amazing to hear a little history about the area, and get bonus ghost stories. We ended with the White House and heard about many sightings of Abraham Lincoln's ghost. I would recommend it to anyone. It seemed like a lot of people were on first dates. It was funny to hear a little of their conversations, talking about general likes and dislikes, majors, and a lot of awkward silences. I think I even witnessed a little first pda for one of the couples. It is a good place to hold hands. I think the guy planned that. Clever. It was such a beautiful night and I was happy that the kids trick-or-treating didn't have to cover up their cute costumes with bulky coats.

Anyway, I am happy to say that we made the most out of Halloween. At least compared to last year. Now we can at least start dusting off the Christmas stuff, right?