Black Friday Success

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving, I know that mine was wonderful. I got to talk to Chris for 20 minutes or so, which was amazing. The feast was just that, a feast. I don't expect anything less from my family. One of the biggest parts of yesterday was looking at the ads for the next day's Black Friday. I think my mom was the most excited about the ads. All week she talked about it and she even went online the day before Thanksgiving looking for pirated versions of them. We looked at them at least twice yesterday, once before dinner and once after. The "after" was the most important. My mom, dad, gramma and I sat around the kitchen table and looked through each ad carefully making detailed notes of what was on sale and store/sale hours. After that we labeled each of the places we found items we needed/wanted so that we could make a big loop in the proper order. This is what we ended up with...

Woke up - 4:15am
Gramma came over - 4:45am
Started our shopping - 5:00am
Returned home - 2:30pm

Here's a list of the stores we hit (in this order roughly)...
  1. Macy's (multiple purchases)
  2. Michael's (multiple purchases)
  3. Joann (multiple x2 purchases)
  4. Pier 1 (purchase)
  5. Bath and Body Works (purchase)
  6. Old Navy (no purchase)
  7. J.Crew Outlet (multiple purchases)
  8. Gap Outlet (no purchase)
  9. Nike Outlet (multiple purchases)
  10. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (purchase)
  11. Ann Taylor Outlet (no purchase)
  12. Reebok Outlet (purchase)
  13. Luggage Store (no purchase)
  14. Sports Chalet (purchase)
  15. CHIPOTLE ...finally a food break!
  16. A different Macy's (purchase)
  17. Express (no purchase)
  18. Papaya (purchase)
  19. JC Penny (no purchase)
At this point we came home and dropped all the stuff off. I went back to my house and my mom called again and said that she was coming down to the mall by my house to look for something. I met her at the mall where I had to return something at Forever 21 so I also went there and then to return something at Target. So overall, we hit up 20+ stores. My dad also helped us out a little bit by going to Wal-Mart and Tuesday Morning. I can't believe everything we bought. Here's a few photos of what my mom's car looked life after our 9 1/2 hours of shopping!!!!
My mom's SUV with the third row folded down!

We even had some Santas in the back seat with my gramma!

Here we all mom, me and my gramma after a hard shopping day!


Pumpkin Creme Pies

Tonight is the night before Thanksgiving and I've been hard at work since leaving the office around noon today. The one thing I needed to make before tomorrow was the second dessert, pumpkin creme pies. I came across this recipe on a wedding blog of all places. The purpose of the post was to say they would make a great midnight snack at a wedding or as a dessert at a bridal shower, but since I wasn't having either of those, I really didn't have a reason to make them. That is until Thanksgiving came around, and since no one coming this year is a huge pumpkin pie eater except my dad (sorry dad, but you know it will be around at Christmas), I decided that our dose of pumpkin would come through these.

The recipe seemed easy but complicated at the same time. Most of the complicated-ness came from how you made the cookie part, using a frosting tip. I was unsure how this would work out, and with little room for error, I decided to just go for it. Actually, I cheated a little. A co-worker of mine made them last night after I mentioned the recipe and she brought a few into work today. Hers looked nothing like the recipe, she said that the cookie "dough" was really thick and therefore was hard to spread. I'm not sure how she made her circles, but mine turned out just like the picture. Her story did however make me think long and hard about how to make the circles work out. Here's my tip if you are planning on making these...cut individual parchment paper squares and turn the paper as you are squeezing the pastry bag. It really works great that way. Here are a few pictures from my endeavors. PS these pictures will make you realize why I want a new digital camera for Christmas (hint hint mom, I know you will read this!)

Here's the cookie on it's individual parchment square. I know it doesn't look that appealing, but it's tasty I promise!
The finished cookies before they were frosted and sandwiched.

The finished product!

You can find the original blog post here with the recipe. And like I said before, the only thing I suggest is using the parchment squares. It really made it so easy to make the circles. Enjoy!


What's On Your Table???

Now that Thanksgiving is only 2 days away, I am finally getting into the whole holiday spirit. It's been so warm here that I still feel like it's September or early October. Today is the first day it feels like fall---it's cloudy for once and it's only in the 60's at the moment. We are actually supposed to be getting rain on Turkey Day, which is fine with me, except for the family turkey trot we are supposed to do in the morning. I will really need to exercise so I can eat whatever I want!
So my question is...what are you in charge of for this year's Thanksgiving? We are having a small gathering for our family, only 9 this year, but somehow our menu didn't shrink at all! I am in charge of the following

- Mashed potatoes
- Pumpkin creme pies
- Apple pie
- Dinner rolls

The last two are with the help of my mom, and we already made the apple pie. I will hopefully remember to take pictures of everything so I can post them and the recipes after the big day. For now, check out the photos of our apple pie. We actually made the pie last Thursday and put it in the freezer until Turkey Day. The recipe is the same one from the Apple Pie Party I posted about earlier. The best thing about this pie is that you can bake it from frozen and it tastes exactly the same! It saves time on the actual day of festivities, but you still have a great homemade pie.


The making of a Marine

Today is officially 3 weeks until Chris' graduation ceremony. I am more than excited to see him again. It's crazy to think that I haven't seen the person I've lived with for over 2 years in 2 1/2 months. I've been blessed to be able to talk to him the past few weekends and I can't believe everything he has been doing. Here are a few reasons I am so incredibly proud of him.
  1. He managed to get through the first few weeks with a horrible chest cold and cough.
  2. He was chosen to lecture to the rest of his platoon when his platoon commander couldn't be there.
  3. He passed both the land navigation and night land navigation tests with a %100 score.
  4. The commanding officer of OCS told him that during his team lead exercise, he did nothing wrong.
  5. He has yet to fail any academic test (you can fail 4 and still pass, other candidates have already failed 5).

Here's a proof of a photo that was taken during the past few weeks. I just hope he didn't forget how to smile!


Recap #1

So I know that I've been meaning to keep everyone updated, and I haven't even posted pics from Halloween! I am officially a month behind, but I'm going to try my darnedest to catch up. Since I have my Halloween photos on a different computer, I'll start with a little recap of the Apple Pie Party. I had a lot of fun, as always, and my mom and her friend Barb did an excellent job of setting everything up. I also have to report that my pie making skills have definitely increased over the past few years. The first year, and probably the first time I'd ever made a pie from complete scratch (no pre-made pie shells this time around), I needed a lot of help from my mom and gramma. I couldn't roll the pie crust out correctly, etc, etc. This year, I did it all by myself! The only thing my mom helped me with was peeling the apples, and only because I was getting lazy and she wasn't making a pie herself.

Unfortunately I didn't get any good photos. Wait, I didn't get any photos at all. See what I mean about being the worst photo taker ever?!? Check out our friend Jessica's blog for some good photos and some more about the party.


Back to Baking

After trying to curb my sweet tooth by eliminating sweets from the house (considering I'm currently the only one home to eat them), I am officially back on the wagon...I have officially started my fall baking! I'd say Friday kicked off my desire to have something baking 24/7 due to the Apple Pie Party. I haven't baked my pie yet, but I'd say it turned out pretty well. I'll be sure to post a photo of it (unbaked) shortly. I also started making my portion of the Christmas cookies my family hands out every year. We usually make between 30 and 40 kinds, and I think we end up with somewhere around 3,500 cookies each December. The only way we can make that many is to start in October/November and freeze them as we go. It always works out great, you can't tell they've been frozen and everyone raves about them year after year. Yesterday I baked chocolate crinkles and I have to finish them tonight.

I also want to try a bunch of new recipes I've found. So far I'll be debuting something new at Thanksgiving, but that's about it. Maybe I'll try some things just for fun. My stomach will be happy, but my scale won't be :( Either way, I'll be posting more photos and recipes (if they aren't too secret) in the coming weeks!


Bringing back memories

This weekend, as bizarre as it seems, is bringing out a lot of memories and reminding me of the differences between this year and last year. I think it's kind of a fluke that these two events are happening again this year, just as they did last year. This weekend is quite busy for my family. We have my mom's annual Apple Pie Party and my dad's deer hunt. Last year, this was considered an extremely successful and happy weekend for my family. Last year my dad, grandparents and Chris headed down to Southern Arizona for the big deer hunt. In Arizona you are considered extremely lucky if you get a deer permit because of our limited herd numbers. They were all so excited to get drawn, especially Chris, because that was his first hunt ever. Today (Friday) was the first day of their hunt last year, and it's the first day this year. This day last year, Chris called me, so excited with the news that both he and my dad had gotten their deer on opening morning. I remember the excitement in his voice and how proud he was of himself.

When he called I was at the pie party. My mom has been doing this for the last few years, and it's always a hit. Friends and family gather and each person actually makes an apple pie to take home and bake at your leisure. We eat mac & cheese and drink caramel apple martinis and just have an all around great time.

But this year I won't be getting that happy phone call from him. In fact, I won't be getting a phone call at all. We are limited to talking on weekends, and only during that 24-36 hour period that he is on leave. That was certainly not the case last year. This isn't meant to seem sad, just a reminder of how much has changed. I will still have fun making pie tonight, and my dad and grandparents are still hunting in Southern Arizona. But someone is missing from that equation, and that someone that is missing is the someone I miss the most.

*I'll be sure to post photos from the party and from my trip to California later this weekend. I'm still working my red eye magic on most of the photos. Darn my blue eyes.