Monday, December 20, 2010


Here's the lone picture from the Collins party on Friday.  The guys decided to wear turtlenecks.  Nice huh?

On Saturday, we saw The Town, Ben Affleck's new movie.  Very good!


This guy on Warren Road in Augusta has set up his lights to the tune of TransSiberian Orchestra's Christmas music.  You tune your radio to 88.7 and follow along.  I have to say it is pretty cool!

sing off

Ok, I love this show!!  I watched it on a whim and am hooked.  It is already over so I am kinda sad.  But, I am glad it didn't drag on forever.  Tonight is the finale and I will be rooting big-time for one of the Southern groups - Committed from AL or Streetcorner Symphony from Nashville.  

what i'm listening to

So, I did some work on iTunes this weekend.  It has been WAY too long and I am sure some of my choices are outdated but here you go...

1. Florence + the Machine
2. New Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (YAY)
3. Mumford and Sons
4. Cee Lo
5. Eminem
6. Mike Posner
7. Ray LaMontagne
8. Pink and Trey Songz (guilty pleasures)
9. Beatles!
10. Christina Perri

I am looking forward to the release of Norah Jones' 'Featuring' and Adele's '21' - dropping soon.  :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

weekend list

What's on tap for the weekend:

1. Christmas party!
2. wrapping presents (I am done but Brad is not)
3. planning menu for New Year's Day brunch
4. watching football (no, I am not tired of it yet)
5. chilling (last weekend was busy and next will be too)
6. buying more fish!

Hope yours is great!!

pepperoni rolls

We have another party to go to tonight and I am taking some pepperoni rolls.  Well, also some leftover cheese.  :)

Flatten half a biscuit (from canned Pillsbury) and layer mozzarella cheese and pepperoni on it.  Roll it up tight and seal all the seams.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush the tops with an egg wash.  Here's the kicker - sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds!  Cook at 350 until top has crusted and rolls are firm.  These will not brown much and should be done in about 10 minutes.  Serve with a marinara sauce and/or spicy mustard. 

supper club

On Wednesday night, I hosted a supper club/ornament swap for the girls.  Of course, I took NO pictures.  We were having too much fun.  :)

I did a nice cheese tray - one of my faves.  I had tallegio, manchego and smoked gouda.  I also had a cheddar with some crystalization in it - yum!  Served with honey, grapes, marcona almonds and crackers/bread. 

The other girls brought a salad, some bacon/cheese rolls, potstickers, a cheese ball and lots of sweets.  And they contributed the poinsettas - cranberry juice and champagne.  The 10 of us had a blast!  We did miss the 5 girls that couldn't make it.  

I made some spiced cider for them to take with them when they left because it was cold and icy.  I also made some homemade dog treats for the ones that had pups.  Banjo loves them!

1 3/4 c plain flour
3/4 oats
1/4 wheat germ
1/4 peanut butter
1/4 honey
1/2 oil
1 tsp baking powder

This dough is very sticky so you can either chill it for a bit or add more flour.  Roll it out and cut it with fun dog cookie cutters.  I use these - love the hydrant...
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Then turn off the oven and let them sit for an hour.  Your dogs will love them!!

We had some good ornaments too!  Everybody can always use another ornament right??  :)

chinaberry foods

I meant to post this earlier but I let time slip away.  If you are a cheese straw fan, I HIGHLY recommend ordering some of these puppies.  A friend's Dad in Thomson makes them and they are divine.  Definitely the best I have ever had.  If you are in Augusta, New York Butcher Shoppe in Surrey has them or you can stop by their place in Thomson, right off I-20 at the 25 exit.  You can get them shipped from the website too.  They freeze really well so you can stock up!

They make great presents or snacks for holiday parties!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

italian justice system

I just got finished reading The Monster of Florence by Preston and Spezi.  This nonfiction book chronicles the murders of 7 couples in Florence, Italy during the 70s and 80s.    These kinds of books (a whodunit by nonauthorities) are always a little disappointing because they don't offer a true resolution.  Although this one did not either, it was fascinating but in a frightening way.  Basically, the local justice system was on a witch hunt and accused everyone of these murders with false evidence, trumped-up charges, etc.  The reall killer is still loose despite evidence pointing to the one individual who could actually get his hand on the murder weapon. 

The most disturbing fact is the tie-in with the Amanda Knox case.  I have always been interested in this case and it struck me as odd that these two are connected.  Unfortunately, the same prosecutor worked both of these and, it seems, once again he has gone on a witch hunt. 

Wow, just wow...

If you any interest in this material or have followed Amanda's trial, I urge you to read this book.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Ok, here are a few pics of the Christmas decor. 

 Well, this is our aquarium.  Not really a decoration but I have been meaning to post it forever so here you go!  We have rainbows, tetras, swordtails, clown loaches, rainbow sharks and something else I am forgetting.  It is right at 30 gallons and still relatively new.  Need to add more fish soon!  There is a tiny pointsetta on top of it that Brad bought me for our 6-month anniversary.  Can believe it?!?

 Sweet Banj with our tree.  It is not tall because of our tray ceilings but it is very full!  Lowe's - thank you very much!
 As promised, a pic of the cinnamon wreath hanging up.  Love it!
 Centerpiece on the dining room table.  I am getting ready for our supper club so ignore all the stuff...
 My new fave ornament.  I found it randomly at a store here.  Love it!
 Some old faves - a Palmetto tree from Kiawah, the bird from Costa Rica and the plaid.  The plaid is from a set but my favorite 'set' ornament!
 Wreath on the front door.  Mom made this one - so pretty!
 Lenox nativity.  This was a wedding gift. 
 Nativity that Granny made!  Love the straw for authenticity.  Not a great picture though...
 Candle with walnuts and cranberries on the server.  I have to say this is Megan's favorite combo and I copied it.  :)
 Snowbabies!  I collected them when I was younger - too cute.

 Full shot of the tree.  Already overflowing with presents.  Does everyone deserve this many?  Not sure...
More faves - the G (of course!), the moose from Vail.  Oh, the Santa from Mexico and the hand-painted lily.

I love having my house decorated!  And the smell - divine!

towel warmer

This is so random but it makes me really happy!  Our bathroom has a high ceiling and it doesn't ventilate well.  We had some crappy hooks to hang our towels on and they would not dry completely and smell musty.  I don't know about you but I am not washing 14 towels every week.  So, I invested in this towel warmer.  MONEY WELL SPENT!!  Especially this time of year, it is nice to have a dry, toasty towel!


This picture certainly doesn't do it justice but Friday we had a beautiful sunset out in Evans.  I have to get me a better camera!  This is a shot from our golf village towards one of our cottages.  It rivaled the ones at Kiawah!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Check out calliespondence (blogroll on right) for adorable homemade stationery. 

She's in Atlanta and has the cutest, most original designs!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

tortilla soup

Ali G. over at Two Onesies professed her love for this recipe a long time ago and I finally got around to making it.  I have to say, it is amazing and SO simple.  Brad actually grew up with Gena's husband and they have started an amazing company in Fire & Flavor.  So happy for them!  I have a large stack of her recipes to try but this chicken tortilla soup is a great start!

I did add some corn for a little more substance and am going to try black beans too next time.  Which will be soon I am sure.  Enjoy!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

giving thanks

 So, we were in Hilton Head for Thanksgiving with the Shinglers.  It was a great trip!  The weather, company and food were fabulous!  We got there Thursday after dinner at Calvert's with my family for my brother's 30th and the VanSant Thanksgiving on Wednesday. 

View from our porch.  We were right on the beach (obviously) and got to enjoy all the sights and sounds.  We had a bocce tourney on Saturday that was so much fun.  We also played a lot of games - Battle of the Sexes and Wits and Wagers were two favorites.  I have to say, Brad and I held our own.  :)

But, of course, the food was central to the weekend.  Everyone did an amazing job with their meals.  Here are my recipes for treats and brunch:

2 lb frozen hash browns (thawed until loose and not one big chunk.  thanks Ali!)
1/2 c diced onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c sour cream
1 stick melted butter
8 oz grated cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and bake at 375 for one hour. 
*Elizabeth, I didn't use the stick of butter and used onion flake instead of diced onions. 

RUSSIAN TEA MIX (for you non-coffee drinkers)
1 c lemonade mix
2 c Tang
1 c instant tea
1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Mix a couple spoonfuls in hot water.  Yum!

24 oz oyster crackers
1.5 c oil
2 tsp dill weed
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 package ranch dressing powder mix
garlic powder to taste

Stir all together until oil is absorbed. 

8 oz bag of shredded 4-cheese Mexican (I use about half and half cheddar)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 ox sour cream
1 can of Rotel (I use the lime and cilantro)
1/2 packet if taco seasoning

Mix all and chill.  Serve with Tostitos Scoops - needs a hearty chip to cut down on breakage.

1/4 c sugar
3/4 c margarine
1 tbs water
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 c plain flour
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans

Mix together first 5 ingredients.  Slowly add flour.  Once mixed thoroughly, add chips and nuts.  Form 1" balls and cook at 325 for 15-20 until firm.  Let cool.  Dip cookie in mixture of OJ with a splash of orange extract or zest.  Then dip in white granulated sugar.  This are so good after a quick hit in the microwave to melt the chocolate.  *I double this recipe as it doesn't make many!

This one is a pain to retype so...

Your choice of fruit mixed in plain yogurt, with a touch of vanilla extract, coconut and pecans.
I use bananas, kiwis, apples and strawberries. 

4.5-5 lbs of cooked, cut bite-size chicken breast
2 lbs seedless grapes, cut in half
10 oz almonds (salted and toasted)
2 c mayonnaise (add 2 tbs lemon juice if not hamemade)
1 tbs curry powder
2 tbs soy sauce
1 c sliced celery
10 oz sliced water chestnuts, drained
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and serve with Wheat Thins or pita pockets.  A fork works nicely too! :)
I hate celery so that gets left out.  We usually serve with alfafa sprouts as well. 
Melt 9 oz of white chocolate chips.  Mix quickly with 6 cups of Rice Chex, 2 cups of pretzel sticks and one large bag of peanut M&Ms.  Spread out on wax paper to let it dry and break apart large clusters. 

On Sunday, I came back to enjoy the Nutcracker with Mom.  I haven't been to see it since I was in it!  I was an angel in middle school (I think).  You can see the new angels on the left.  On the right is the famous pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  My teacher played this role when I was in it.  Such fun!