Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On the menu tomorrow!

So, I am a HUGE Food Network fan.  Especially of Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa and Giada DeLaurentis).  Most of their recipes have become big favorites of Mr Fix It and Little Miss.  So of course I hit the Food Network web site for ideas for my Thanksgiving Day menu.  (Oh, and I also have a subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and Food & Wine magazine which has some great recipes in them as well!)

For the 20 aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, inlaws, etc that are heading to my place tomorrow morning, this is what we have on the menu:

*  Turkey: For the first time ever, our family will be having a FRESH (not frozen) BRINED turkey.  I have heard great things about how brining helps make a turkey moister and also infuses great flavor into it.  Tonight as soon as I get home from work, I am sticking our 21 pound turkey into a 5 gallon bucket filled with a brine including molasses, honey, garlic, soy sauce, lemon, thyme, safe and of course, salt!  We'll see how this thing works.

*  Citrus Marinated Green Olives (appetizer):  Along with traditional chips, salsa and onion dip that my family munches on before the big meal, I decided to try this new recipe instead of just sitting out plain black olives and pickles.  I made it Monday night and it marinates for 2 to 3 days...smelled yummy.  The marinade included olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, curry, tarragon, lemon zest and juice and red pepper flakes.

*  Wine Simmered Fruit Dressing:  Did you know the difference between a stuffing and a dressing is that one gets put in the turkey and the other gets put in a casserole dish?  That's the only difference!  :)  And I've read that putting stuffings in turkey make the turkey dry out because you have to cook them longer plus it is not the safest way to cook veggies and such.  So I am making a homemade dressing this year instead of Stove Top stuffing (which is what I think we always had at Grandma's house).  My dressing includes toasted oat & honey bread cubes, white wine, apples, golden raisins, butter, onion, celery, pecans and chicken broth.  I never eat the stuffing at Thanksgiving (don't like it) but I am thinking I may enjoy my own dressing concoction :)

*  Traditional things:
        Mashed Potatoes (gotta have 'em)
        Corn (I would opt out of this but the guys in my family like plain old canned corn)
        Carrots (this is a simple new recipe I am making for the family which is baby carrots in a honey glaze with butter, lemon juice and parsley)

*  Green Bean Casserole:  We used to have the traditional canned Campbell soup green bean casserole...and again, I never ate it.  It was gross to me and I LOVE green beans.  So last year I made a simpler green bean dish with homemade onion rings and marinated in a mushroom brandy sauce.  This year I am returning to the traditional casserole dish but making a homemade version with onion rings coated in panko crumbs and flour, and a sauce made up of mushrooms, half and half, butter, chicken broth, nutmeg and garlic. 

*  Whipped Sweet Potatoes & Bananas:  This is also a new dish for the family that seemed surprisingly easy to make.  You just roast the potatoes and bananas and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.  Mix them up with some butter, dark brown sugar, butter, honey and pecans and bake with a crumbly topping.  Hoping this is a family hit :)

*  Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Sauce:  Again, not a fan of the cranberry sauce but decided I am going to make something worthy of being served along with the turkey this year.  The guys again insist on that can of crap that you think is sauce so this year I am making more of a relish with sweetened dried cranberries, gala apples, cinnamon, and sugar.  I made this last night and stuck it in the fridge since it will keep for a day or two so I don't have to worry about making it the day of. 

*  And for dessert, I made a couple of my famous Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tarts from the amazing Ina Garten:  These things have replaced pumpkin pies as a homemade favorite of our family since I brought one to Thanksgiving about 2 years ago.  Super yummy!

Ok, so I have taken on a huge task!  But I have an organized to-do list with time schedule and mom is spending the night to help me prep vegetables, peel potatoes, and set everything up tonight.

Can't wait to snap some shots and share with everyone this weekend.  Have a great Thanksgiving and please do share your favorite dish item from Turkey Day or your favorite ingredients! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All by Thanksgiving!

Well, not really.  Sort of. 

As you may remember, this past July, my wonderful 95 year old grandmother went home to be with our Lord.  Thanksgiving has *ALWAYS* been a tradition that took place with our entire extended family at my grandma's house in Hemet every year for as many decades as I can remember.  We have anywhere from 20 to 40 people each year and it has been a solid family get together forever.

But with Grandma now gone and most of the family traveling about 90 minutes to get to Hemet where my Aunt (who took care of her) still lives, we decided there's no need for all of us to make that drive each Turkey Day.  So we are starting a new tradition...and it's at *MY* house!

Yep, I will be making my first Thanksgiving Day feast this week for 20 people at the Beever household.  It is bitter sweet for several reasons:

1)  The cooking:  I love to cook - especially for parties - but I've never done a Thanksgiving feast for this many people so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.  I have already finished all the shopping last night and even made my first appetizer yesterday:  Citrus Marinated Green Olives that sit in the fridge for 3 days.

2)  The traveling:  We won't have to drive far...almost all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, mom and sister live in Orange County so most of them will only have to drive about 30 minutes to get to my place.  But it is going to be super tough this year being without Grandma and in a house other than hers where I grew up.  And it may be a bit chaotic with our new puppy jumping all over the place.

3)  The cost!  Oh my gosh, I never realized how expensive it is to feed this many people!  We are going to have each family pitch in $5 for kids and $10 per adult to help me pay for the expenses but even after that contribution, I am still paying about $100 - $150 out of my own pocket.  If I do this again next year, I may need to up the ante by either having people bring a dish or pay more like $15 each :)

4)  The preparation...oh wow.  I started shopping for non-perishables two weeks ago then bought cold items on Saturday and the produce and turkey yesterday.  I cleaned the house all weekend and tonight I am making pumpkin banana mousse tarts and the cranberry sauce/relish.  Tomorrow and Thursday will be busy days for sure but I am actually excited (and a bit nervous) to see how it will all come out.

But the unfortunate thing about all of this is that Mr Fix It will not be with me this year on our first Turkey Day as a married couple.  We have always spent Turkey Day apart each year since he goes up to his parents house in Northern California and I have always been at Grandma's house.  So after we got married, his family assumed we would go up there together.  But Mr Fix It understood how important it was to me to have this year with my family since we just lost our grandmother. 

He asked if I wanted him to stay here with me so I wouldn't have to be alone but I told him to go ahead and go up to his family's house and next year we will start the alternating of holidays between the two families.  A lot of people think it's weird that we won't be together, but honestly, as much as I love him, I know that he would probably stress me out pretty bad while I am cooking all day Thursday.  Mr Fix It tends to be one of those guys who sits over your shoulder in the kitchen thinking he knows everything better than you do.  So silly...he always talks about what a good cook I am but when we have people over to our place, he just has to have his hands in everything. 

So I told him that I loved him and I would miss him and I would make a plate of leftovers for him to try when he gets back, but to go enjoy his thanksgiving with his family and not to worry about me.

So, ladies.  What are your big holiday plans this week?  Any of you having to deal with changes for your holidays now that you are married?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A loveless marriage vs. an unloved child

Today a 'sort of' co-worker asked me how I liked married life.  I told him it was great (neglecting to tell him about the little argument Mr Fix It and I got into this morning before I left for work).  Now don't get me wrong, what is great about *my* marriage is that within 15 minutes of that little spat, Mr Fix It had humbled himself to see my side of the story and why I was frustrated and we had calmed down and lovingly kissed each other goodbye.

But what made me sad was the next thing this co-worker said after he asked me the question.  He said "Yeah, you know."  So I knew there was hesitation there and I asked him what he meant. 

He responded by saying this: "Well, it's just hard to keep the love alive in a marriage when you have kids to take care of and work and you're tired at the end of the day.  My wife and I have been married for almost 20 years now and it's just...I don't know."

The way he said it made me so sad.  It made me feel like he found no joy or pleasure or happiness in his least not today.  I answered back by saying, "Yes, I know what you mean.  Mr Fix It and I have only been married for 7 months now and I already feel like we have a lot of mundane days.  When you work all day and are trying to keep up a house, a pet and kids, it's just really important that you work hard to keep romance in your relationship.  You have to be very 'intentional' about each other and trying to surprise one another."

I went on to tell him how different married life is from dating someone because when you're dating, you put everything else out of your mind when you are out with the other person because you know that is *your* time together.  But married life is seeing each other day in and day out...paying bills and cleaning and all that unromantic stuff.  He said that's exactly what it is.

Ladies, many of you are either newly married or soon to be married.  And at 38 years old after having spent 6 years with Mr Fix It before we married and moved in, I can tell you that marriage is WORK.  Relationships are work.  There's no getting around it.  Whether it's with your boss, your mom, your sibling or your husband/ have to work to be respectful of each other, to please each other, to comfort one another and to keep the spice in your life. 

What truly makes me mad though is how easy it is for people to just walk away from marriages nowadays.  We take divorce so casually or we decide to just live with someone without 'putting a ring on it.'  That way, we always have an 'out' if we need it*.

Well, guess what?  I don't have an out when it comes to my daughter, Little Miss anymore than I have an out with Mr Fix It in our marriage.  We would *NEVER* talk about our children the way we talk about our spouses.  We would never say it's hard to 'keep the love alive' for our son or daughter.  We make just as much of a choice (if you want to even call it that) to love our child as we do to love our spouse.  Could you imagine a mother telling her daughter "You know, I just feel like there is nothing between us anymore.  I mean I'll always love you, but I'm just not *IN* love with you anymore.  I think it's best we just part ways"?

We would think all sorts of unpleasant thoughts about that mother.  Unfortunately, parents do indeed abandon their child.  Our world is full of unloved children.  But a loveless marriage is just as ridiculous as an unloved child for those of us who profess to be somewhat healthy and responsible.  As much as Little Miss frustrates the holy heck out of me sometimes, I would absolutely NEVER imagine waking up one day and not feeling pure, unconditional love for her even if she felt like she couldn't stand me. 

So why do we think it's okay to let ourselves 'feel' like we don't have the marriage we once did or want anymore?  I'm telling you now, ladies and gents, if you want a romantic, passionate, loving relationship filled with all the joy and happiness that you felt on your wedding day or in your courting days, then you better be prepared to have mundane, boring, frustrating days with that person that you will not be able to get away from.  Because marriage is indeed work.  I have to forcibly remind myself to walk into the house and go give Mr Fix It a kiss before I pick up all the crap he and Little Miss left all over the place.  And even then, after a day at work, I'd much prefer to just grab a bag of Cheetos and plop down in front of the tv than have a conversation with Mr Fix It.

But last week, as it was a super chilly night, while Little Miss was away at her father's house, Mr Fix It and I started a fire, made some root beer floats, turned the soft rock radio channel on our television and just snuggled up with our new puppy on our sofa sitting in the dimly lit living room.  We didn't make love that night and we didn't watch tv.  We just sat and listened to the music and talked about whatever came to our minds. 

And in the morning when we woke up, Mr Fix It hugged me and said "I had so much fun with you last night just doing nothing.  We need to do that more often."  And it reminded me all over again that while our lives may sometimes be boring or busy, our marriage will always have love as long as we remember to value each other as a family member that we cannot get away from. 

An infant who cannot offer you anything in the way of reciprocated affection, entertainment or conversation and is quite possibly just demanding of your time as their parent would never be unloved any more than your spouse/significant other should be once you have chosen to commit to them as their one and only. 

*Let me clarify that I do believe there are times when divorce is unavoidable (abuse, etc).  I am referring to those who simply say they 'have lost that lovin' feeling' without any rhyme or reason or real effort.
Blessings to you all and I hope you are excited about the upcoming holiday season.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wed Recap: Great expectations...

I never did a full recap about our experience with our DJ.  I think of all of our vendors, the DJ was one the one that we really put a lot of expectations on.  So much so, that we even had like 3 or 4 meetings with him and the owner of the company to confirm all that we were hoping to accomplish for our guests at our wedding.

The best thing I can say is that they were super organized and attentive and extremely accommodating.  I think for all we got from them (a custom GOBO light of our names, uplighting for around the reception room, audio system and wireless microphones for the ceremony and reception, dance floor lights, about 8 hours of coverage, emcee services, etc) we got a really good deal from a quality company.  They were a pleasure to work with.  But unfortunately, no matter how much we communicated everything to them, things didn't come off the way we had envisioned them in our heads.

He did play a good mix of music and there were definitely people dancing, but it didn't seem like a lot of the songs Mr Fix It and I had specifically hoped for were played much.  It could have just been that I didn't hear half of them while I was chatting with guests or that we simply ran out of time, which TOTALLY happens at wedding receptions!

I had put trivia questions on the guests' tables asking them to answer the question in order to get the bride and groom to kiss.  About 3 or 4 people came up with their answers immediately after the grand entrance but that was it.  The DJ didn't really walk around encouraging the guests to answer the questions while dinner was being served and people were hanging out.
Probably our biggest let down though was in the way the grand entrance came off.  Mr Fix It and I are HUGE UFC/MMA fans (mixed martial arts/ultimate fighting championship).  We love to watch the fights and host fight nights with friends and such.  So I suggested a creative grand entrance that incorporated this idea by coming up with little introductions and nicknames for each member of the bridal party to be introduced with.

We spent a lot of time coming up with personal introductions and corresponding songs for each bridesmaid or groomsmen to come into.  We even played videos of the fights for our DJ's in one meeting and specifically told them how we wanted the introductions to be pulled off.  I even specifically noted parts of each song that we wanted played while each bridal party member was introduced so they would have something to dance to and get the crowd laughing and such.

Well, unfortunately, our DJ didn't nail the grand entrance voice as well as Mr Fix It hoped he would. And I guess the old addage "If you want something done right, do it yourself," really would have played out here because Mr Fix It even suggested that he record the intros himself for the DJ to play for us.  But I thought it would be better to have the live version rather than a recording. 

And the DJ didn't pick the best parts of each song for each party member either.  For example, for our friend, Jerry, we wanted Britney Spears's Womanizer to be played...but only the chorus.  Because Mr Fix It always jokes about what a player he is with the ladies.  But when he was introduced, the DJ played the very beginning of the song where there are no real words and a very slow didn't come off well at all. 

We also wanted the intros to be real quick, one right after the other, because we had a large party and we also wanted to keep the energy flowing and fast.  But our DJ took too much time and waited too long for each party member to get all the way into the reception room.  We had specifically told him when and how to begin each intro, but it didn't come off the way we had wanted.  Oh well. 

Regardless of the let down, it was still unique, different and fun and a lot of our guests mentioned they thought it was funny and creative.  So you can see for yourself here:

Though it didn't come out quite the way he hoped, we did get some wonderful shots of our bridal party from the photographer:

 By Roseanne Rivoli

By Gemma Bourke

My best suggestion to you is to remember that when you are meeting with vendors, you can NEVER OVER communicate!  And when you have something you are asking a vendor for that is not typical of what they provide, be sure to test it out! Make them do a demo or audition to prove that you are all on the same page.  :)

Share Time:  Did any of you have a vendor really let you down?  Or did you have something that you thought you communicated well to your vendors to have handled only to have them not meet your expectations?

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by Robert Mullins

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Beevers are not dead

Hi, everyone!

I noticed a few of you have left some comments lately wondering where I am.  Yes, I am still around and yes I am still married...very happily!

I feel horrible that I have not been blogging for the past couple of months.  I even have about 4 more posts that I never finished up from wedding recaps I'd still like to complete and blog for you soon.  And eventually, I'd like to start blogging more about our married life...the ups and downs and adjustment phases we've been encountering.

But all is, indeed, very well.  We are happy and living together for almost 7 months now just feels 'normal.' 

I asked Mr. Beever if it was weird for him to suddenly be leaving with a wife and a teenage daughter and he said "No, it just feels we've lived together forever."  I just adore him.  He has been saying some really sweet things lately...waking me up in the middle of the night to let me know that he loves me and is really happy.  He has told me several times this past month what a 'good woman' I am.  And he is just as good to me.

We just had my birthday last month and we're hoping to hit Vegas soon to celebrate a post b-day getaway.  I am also planning and hosting my very first family Thanksgiving this year at our place.  There will be about 20 to 25 of us and I am so nervous but really excited.

And of course, we just got a puppy about 2 months ago and so when I am home I try to focus on him and the family since we're at work all day away from each other. 

Work is slowing down a bit again so hopefully I will get back to all of your blogs.  I know some of you have recently married and I have lots of recaps to catch up on.

For now, I will leave you with the two Christmas cards we just ordered today.  We couldn't choose one of the two so we opted to get two and send out half and half to the 100 family and friends on our card list.

Hope you are all well!!!  Take care and I will most definitely be around.  :)

My baby sister designed both of these cards for us.  And of course we included the new puppy, Brody in our family photo card this year. 

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