Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap..

I had the best time for my holiday!  I got out of work early on Wednesday..which got me to the airport early.  Then, United bumped me up to a direct flight, and got me home 4 hours early!  My guy picked me up at the airport, and we had a chance to have a nice dinner, and go to bed to get ready for Thanksgiving!

We spent the day with his family and had a wonderful Polish/American meal.  I got to meet more of his extended family.  And here is where the funny story happens.  I say funny, because I can laugh at just about anything. 

We had just sat down at a table for 10, when we ordered a round of drinks at the restaurant.  The server set down my Miller Lite, and then she dropped the tray of the remaining 9 drinks on me and my guy.  I just cracked up.  He was a bit peeved, and I just laughed.  I think his family thought I was crazy until I told them about my oldest brothers wedding.  He got married on a lake, and we had the reception dinner at a lake front restaurant.  The waitress dumped a tray of 17 drinks on my sister in law (still in her wedding dress).  So lets just say I figured...a couple of Miller Lites on Thanksgiving is nothing compared to multiple Miller Lites, and 1 Pink Lady on your wedding day! 

We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, watching movies, having a date night, meeting up with friends, family.  It was a whirlwind, and a great time.  I don't remember a time where I was not stressed, and just enjoyed being home.

I can't wait to go home for Christmas.  There is something about Chicago..well anytime, and especially at Christmastime.  Plus, I get to snuggle with my new niece again!

How was your holiday?!

Plenty to Be Thankful For..Reveal!

Today is the reveal for the Blog swap!  I was paired up with Faison!

She sent me the cutest box!  Full of goodies from Mississippi.  I have to say the floral kleenex came in handy for class. Allergies are awful!  Included was two awesome coffee mugs, bananagrams (will come in use for a study break tonight I am sure!), magazines, ice cubes, sticky notes, and kleenex.

So glad I met you!  Hope you enjoy your box from "Rhody!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Brunch Menu

When I hosted a brunch earlier this month, I used the following menu.  Recipes, etc included!

Delicious Breakfast Casserole
Potato Casserole
Sweet Fruit Pizzas
Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Mimosa Bar (different juices like OJ, Peach, etc)
Bloody Mary Bar (different olives, etc)

Plenty To Be Thankful For-Special People in My Life

This is a tough subject!  I have many special people in my life. 

First  I am the youngest of a clan..and I wouldn't trade my siblings for anything.  Even though some days I may want to.


Next up...Friends..I have so many cherished friends.  Whether I met them in grammar school, high school, college, or with the Navy..I am truly blessed to have them around!


 Shipmates.  Shipmate is a word of endearment (not a slam) for you Navy friends/family.  I love having my friends that I can call shipmate.  These are people I learn with/learn from, deploy with, and have special bonds with.  The friends I have deployed with, we have a bond that no one else has.  We know, no matter what, we have each others back.

Last, but not guy.  He is the greatest thing that has happened to me.  I am lucky to have him, especially sticking with me through the tough times.  I hope I get to spend the rest of my life with him!
**I love him so much, I sent him the card below last week..ah..true love**

via Paper Source Store

Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plenty To Be Thankful For-Thanksgiving Traditions

You can read about Thanksgiving traditions I have had in the past .here .   Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is truly about everyone, giving thanks, and spending time together.  I usually spend Thanksgiving with the Navy, but the past 3 years, I spent it with my family.  This year, I will spend it with my guy and his family.  I may visit my family, too..but I still have to figure that out!  I know next year I will be far far it makes this Thanksgiving that much more special! 

As kids, I would help my mom make her world famous stuffing, while dad cleaned the house, made the pies, and entertained grandma, and my aunts and uncles.  My brothers would come in the back door of the house, dragging mud everywhere from their annual "mud football" game at the park a few blocks away.  My sister usually had to work the night before, so we would have to drag her out of bed eventually to eat with us.  Football, amazing food (especially the German food from my Aunt), and family time.  After dinner, my brothers and sisters friends usually came over for a bit, and we would play board games before they went bar hopping.    

Now I just have to get through class on Wednesday, and get myself in gear for a flight back home!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-My favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Since I won't be cooking this year, I will have to put in what I made last year for Thanksgiving.  I made a recipe for dinner with my family.  It disappeared in minutes, maybe even seconds. I might make this just for fun this year, or get some ideas from you ladies!

You can find my stuffed mushrooms recipe here.  Or if you want more Thanksgiving party ideas, check out my post from "Friendsgiving" last year.  Awesome time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Fruit Pizzas

This is quite possibly the easiest brunch addition you can make, and one of the best! 

Sweet Fruit Pizzas
Level: Super Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cool time: 30 minutes
Frost time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Premade sugar cookies.  I used premade, presliced in the refrigerator section.  24 worked!
1 pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
berries/fruit for topping.  I used blueberries

I baked the cookies per the package instructions, and set the frosting ingredients to the side.  I made the frosting once the cream cheese softened.  It may look like a LOT of sugar, but really, it isn't.  It needs a lot of sugar and vanilla to "lose" the cream cheese taste.  I mixed the frosting, and set aside.  After the cookies cooled, I frosted them and added a few blue berries to the top.  Voila, sweet fruit pizza!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-21st Century!

Our country, and our world has come a long way in the past 11 years. 

I am thankful for Independence.  I am thrilled that we are a society that is starting to fight genocide, and other atrocities world wide.  I am glad that countries in Europe and Africa still fight to gain independence from oppressive regimes.

I am thankful for technology and medical advances.  I appreciate that so many of my friends are in professions that make this stuff happen! 

I am thankful that the US Navy has allowed women to serve on submarines.  Women have made advances since 1994, and are continuing to do so!

I am hopeful to an end to the Global War on Terror (GWOT).  I have been in the military for a while, and I have seen a great deal.  I have deployed to places I never thought I would go before 9/11.  I have seen countries, people, and cultures that have taught me many things.  I hope that more people in the 21st century become educated, and NOT always listen to the media.  I have deployed with the media 3 times, and I see what they write and give back to CNN, Fox News, etc.  It is usually 15% of the truth.  I hope that the 21st century does not repeat past history, and our society can move forward.

via US Navy

What are you thankful for in the 21st century?  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-The Blogoverse!

I am thankful for the Blogoverse because:

I get to meet awesome people like you every day!  I learn so much and find a new appreciation for people, places, things, and professions every day when I read what is out there.  It is amazing!

I love discovering new blogs each day, finding and trying recipes (I try to post one new recipe a week). 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-Hometown!

I love my hometown, sweet home Chicago.  I was born and raised on the South Side, Beverly to be exact.  I then had the opportunity to move back for the Navy for 3 years.  I opted to live in Lakeview, and I loved every minute of it.  I hope to move back after my commitment to the Navy. 

Why I love Chicago:

It is a city with rich history.  I love the fact that our city has survived a major fire, rebuilt, and has thrived.  Chicago is the home of the skyscraper, railroad hubs, etc.  Every time I talk about Chicago to people, I get so excited.  It is my kind of town. 

Michigan Ave Bridge
Chicago has some amazing architecture.  I worked as an apprentice architect at Gallery 37 for a few summers, creating many great pieces of art, sold in galleries.  This was one of the most rewarding and amazing summer jobs I could have ever had!

The food.  Oh my goodness.  The food.  Pizza, hot dogs, steak, Italian Beef, you name it, I can tell you "my fav" places to go.
Pizza: Lou Malnatis pizza, although Barracos has a special place in my heart.
Hot Dogs: Pops hot dogs and Hot Dougs...both are amazing.
Steak: Wildfire. 
Italian Beef : Als or at Pops, both are awesome!
Burger.  Everyone needs a Billy Goat experience.  Just once.

Ahhh..Billy Goat Burger+312=heaven.  And heartburn.

Da Bears.  Sports.  Chicago fans love their teams, whether they are good or not.  I will always be a Cubs fan.  Always.

At Wrigley before I re-enlisted one of my Sailors at home plate!

What is your hometown?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Potato Casserole

Here is another amazing brunch recipe.  The guys ate it up. Seriously.  I made two batches, and they were promptly eaten.  (I doubled this recipe, and made two separate trays (disposable 9x13 baking pans...  less dishes to do...yay!)

Potato Casserole
Level: Easy
Time: Prep 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 16 oz tater tots (frozen tater tots thawed)
 10 oz cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup bacon (bit)
2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
1 cup corn flakes (crushed)
1/2 cup melted butter
 2 tbsp onions (minced)
  1. Cut each tater tot in half.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine tots, soup, onion, bacon, and 1 cup cheese.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Spread in a 9×13" baking pan.
  5. Cover with remaining cup cheese, then cornflakes, then pour butter evenly over all.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
This recipe was simply amazing.  Who doesn't love potatoes and bacon?  I used "real" bacon bits as opposed to the fake ones you put on salad.  I think it made a definite difference in the recipe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-Guilty Pleasures

This is going to be an awesome blog swap and challenge! 

I am thankful for so many things, especially my guilty pleasures!

I have to say that Meghan's idea of Chicago prints is up my alley.  I have an awesome Chicago print found at this store that I have framed along with my favorite shots of the city.  They are sitting in storage now:(

Wine.  Good wine.  Preferably in a bottle, but I don't discriminate against box wine either.

Coffee.  I don't know what I would do every morning with out my Keurig. 

Hot baths.  I love me a good soak in the tub especially after a long run, or a bad day at work. 

NCIS.  I love this show, but haven't watched tv in a month.  Yes..that is true, over a month!

What are some of your guilty pleasures?!?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a day near to my heart.  A day I remember those who have gone before me, and who are still with me, serving every day.

My family is a large military family, and I am proud of that heritage.  I am proud to be in the Navy, and continue the mission for the Global Force for Good.  As cheesy as that sounds, people would be amazed if they heard the stories of what Sailors do each and every day.  Humanitarian missions, anti-piracy operations, you name it. 

How you can make a difference for a Vet

Wounded Warrior Project

Faces of our Fallen
This Veterans day, remember why you have a day off of work.  Remember who those men and women are who fight for freedom and democracy to reign in this great country of ours.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Delicious Breakfast Casserole

I decided to host a brunch for one of my friend's birthdays this weekend.  I get a slew of new recipes together and went to town.  I am used to making breakfast for a crowd (with Chicago Cares), but not a brunch with..lets say..mimosas? 

I made this casserole, and loved it.  Here is my version below:

Level: Easy to Medium
Time: Prep 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
  • pound Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté sausage in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of fork into small pieces, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Spread sausage mixture in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, half and half, whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese in large bowl to blend well. Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture in dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over. Bake until top of casserole is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I omitted the sundried tomatoes and salt because (I had a sundried tomato accident in the kitchen..I bought the wrong ones!).  I omitted the salt bc I don't usually ever cook with salt, especially if other ingredients in the recipe have a high salt content.  It definitely did not need the salt with the sausage and the cheese.  Definitely amazing.  It does serve about 8-10 people, so this is a recipe for a crowd!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What a Weekend!

I had an awesome weekend in Newport, RI.  It was a whirlwind, but in an awesome way!

  • Went shopping.  Desperately needed some new fall shirts for the wardrobe.  Got great deals at Banana Republic!
  • Walked around Thames
  • Went to Hotel Viking for Restaurant Week.  Amazing!
  • Took Bella for some nice walks.  She enjoyed the sun and fall weather!
  • Worked on my project for "Do Something Day".  Will post about that next week! 
  • Cleaned the house
  • Went grocery shopping, ran more errands for brunch.
  • Got a hair cut.  Holy 2 inches gone!
  • Enjoyed a nice evening dancing at Christies and the Boom Boom Room
  • Made brunch for my girl's birthday!
  • Recovered on couch from a helluva time!

    Yay new hair cut!
    I am shocked as much as you are.  It is in a ritzy restaurant.  So confused..and they had a great DJ!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Buy American this Christmas..

So I saw something on Facebook today.  It sparked my interest, because my family celebrates Christmas in a different way.  We only buy for the kids, not each other.  I have 4 nieces and nephews, so we buy for them, and I wouldn't have it any other way. (Although I did buy the bf one thing, and yes, it is made in America).  One thing I did not really consider when I was purchasing gifts for the kiddos was whether or not it was made in America.  With the "occupy" movement, unemployment rates, etc going on, that should be important.  It should be important to support jobs in America, and hire Vets.  These things are important to me, and when I continue my Christmas shopping, I am definitely taking all of that into consideration. 

**I did change a lot of this, because I am not into discussing major politics here**

This year Americans will give the gift of genuine
concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift
giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in
a shirt box, wrapped in foreign  produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates
from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some
health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned
detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a
book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down
the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift
receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or
driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift
certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about
a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this
isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town
Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a
local cleaning lady for a day. (** I would love a cleaning lady...hint hint**)

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy
who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin
their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery
and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at
your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that
other countries can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about
US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow
their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our
communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.
THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

As I peruse the shops of the NorthEast, I will be sure to look at the "made in America" tags.  I will be supporting the local shop owners, ETSY, and probably will be making my own cards.  With unemployment as high as it is, I want to support these folks because I am fortunate enough to have a job.  I would love a haircut at my fav salon, maybe even an oil change for Christmas.  Why?  Because these are things I need.  I want a few things, sure..who doesn't? 

The following are websites that will direct you to made in America companies, etc.  It is amazing how much stuff I found just searching the internet. 

Friday, November 4, 2011


I love this month.  Things that remind me of fall are:
  • Yankee candles in autumn leaves and pumpkin
  • Long walks watching the leaves change
  • Hoodie weather!
  • Making apple and pumpkin pies
  • Family
  • Thanksgiving
This month I get to travel a bit, see some great friends and spend time with the family.  I get to meet my new niece for the first time, too!  I am excited about new adventures, and learning more in school. 

What do you love about November?