Elf on the Shelf, Life, NaBloPoMo

Blog month wrap up, a cancerversary and the return of an old friend.

Well, I made it. 30 posts in 30 days. AND, I didn’t even drive Mr. KK crazy this year.

A few people have asked if I would continue to post every day through December, too. I’m flattered that there are people who want to continue reading for another month! And I love the idea of continuing to write for another month (and lord knows with all of the craziness of December there will be stories!).

However, I feel I should give you a sneak peek into what blogging every day for a month really looks like, in this ridiculously unflattering photo of me, lovingly taken by Mr. KK:

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This photo was likely taken around 10:30pm, me in my well-worn decades-old fleece, literally asleep at the computer while trying to write one of my blog posts. (I do think I should get bonus points for keeping my fingers on the right keys even while sleeping.)

Writing every day for a month is stressful. And exhausting, apparently.

But November 30 not only marks the last day of NaBloPoMo, it’s also my cancer-versary! Today it’s 15 years since I said buh-bye to cancer! I remember that cold November morning, driving to the hospital for my surgery like it was yesterday. In my week-long recovery in the hospital I alternated between napping, reading actual physical books, and binge watching HGTV and the Food Network (we didn’t have smartphones 15 years ago, or any devices for that matter…in fact, there isn’t one photo of me at the hospital or recovering from my surgery).

Fast forward 15 years, and here I am: Mom to the Little Mister and our four-legged fur baby, Rocco. This sweet photo was taken just this morning of Rocco watching the sun come up, apparently one hour before he threw up all over our living room sofa. Ah, kids.

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Being the official start of the holiday season, I spent the day Christmas shopping today. And tonight, I gave Mr. KK an early Christmas present: I drank brown liquor.

I know.

Technically, it was a mixed drink (as requested by me, one that would slightly mask the flavor of the bourbon enough so I could get it down). After converting me to an IPA drinker, I know it’s Mr. KK’s life mission to get me to drink bourbon. I cannot drink it straight (the smell alone turns me off), and I’m not yet cool enough to drink a manhattan, though how I dream of the day I could order one!

Instead, we went the Grapefruit and Thyme Bourbon Smash Recipe, courtesy of The Tipsy Giraffe.

And I have to say, it tasted pretty good – and it was so pretty it looked even better!

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And heaven knows I needed a cocktail because look who made his re-appearance tonight for the month of December:

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He’s baaaaaack! Little Mister was so excited to see him! Let the threatening holiday spirit commence!

In fact, my nightly alarm to move the elf just went off!

Thanks for reading along this month!

Christmas, Decorating, NaBloPoMo

Trading Turkeys for Trees

(Second to last day of NaBloPoMo)

FINALLY!

I can stop shame-listening to Christmas music in the car along and blast Burl Ives and Mariah Carey proudly in the house!

The Thanksgiving decorations are down, and I’m ready for the 47 bins of Christmas decor to make their way up from the basement! Today we got our trees, and those will go up in the stands either today or tomorrow. One full day getting acclimated to the house and they can be decorated!

Today on the way to get our trees, Little Mister asked me why I like Christmas so much.

“Is it because Santa comes and you get lots of presents?” he asked me.

“No,” I told him. “It’s because Christmas is magical and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And we get to have lots of people over our house all season long to visit us. We make cookies and have parties and stay up late and eat yummy foods.”  And because I get to buy lots of presents for people!

December is by far the busiest and craziest month of the year. Between work and family, there is so much to cram into those 24 precious days: Santa visits, shopping, family parties, work parties, cookie making, Christmas Light spectaculars, decorating, wrapping and…whew!

But I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

In our house, Christmas means the music is always playing, the bar’s always stocked, and we have snacks at the ready – because you never know when someone is going to stop by to say hello and have a cup of cheer.

And that includes a drop-in visit from Santa!

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Is there anything more magical for a child than seeing Santa?

Growing up, I remember many years with our artificial out-of-the-box Christmas tree, and bending the branches into shape and trying to cover up the green pole that held the tree together (my how artificial trees have come a long way!). We’d set up our tree in the basement where my playroom was. I have always been an early riser, and I distinctly remember waking up before the sun had come up, begging my parents to get out of bed in the dark to see if Santa came. (Now that I’m a parent, and we tend to go to bed rather late after our Christmas Eve dinner and putting out all of the gifts and filling stockings, I realized that my parents were likely exhausted and hung over when I wanted them to get up. Somehow, I was blessed with a child who prefers sleeping in no matter what day of the year it is).

At some point we started getting real trees, and I remember going to cut down a Christmas tree one year. I feel like that’s someone you feel you need to do once – bundling up and trekking out into a field where every tree literally looks the same and you have no concept of how big of a tree you need (every tree looks small in the forest…and then you bring it into your living room!). And after that year you realize you’re just as happy going to a place that has already cut the trees for you and you can simply browse them like winter coats on the rack at the mall.

As an adult, we are a ‘real tree’ and an artificial tree family. Each year we get two real trees – one for the family room and one for the kitchen – and we have a small white artificial tree that goes in the Little Mister’s playroom.

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There’s decor throughout our main living space, and there’s always a ‘Christmas Cookie’ or ‘Sugared Plums’ candle burning.

I hope the Little Mister continues to love the traditions we’ve started: getting our trees as a family, decorating, ginger bread houses, cooking making with my mom (he’s mostly a cookie taster!) and having family and friends over throughout the month.

No one loves a party more than our Little Mister, who can work a snacks table like it’s his job!

Time to get decorating! Only one more day of NaBloPoMo!

Uncategorized

The best Thanksgiving stuffing ever.

The night before Thanksgiving used to mean heading out to the local bar, catching up with old high school friends you haven’t seen in years, swapping stories and trying to outdo one another.

Um, no thank you.

Now the night before Thanksgivings look like this: drinking at home while cooking and preparing for the big meal the next day.

The day usually starts with a very long list and a trip to the grocery store (the order of the items mimicking the layout of the aisles). Then after a short day at work, the cooking and preparation begins!

One of the dishes I make ahead of time is my Sausage, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing. You can prepare the entire dish ahead of time and then just bake it on Thanksgiving day (once the bird comes out of the oven and frees up some prime real estate).

I made this recipe up, but I make it every year because it’s a delicious hit! Sorry vegetarians, it’s made with sausage. Though I imagine it could be made without.

Sausage, Apple and Cornbread Stuffing

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Ingredients:

1 cornbread cut into cubes (I use the Jiffy packed cornbread and combine 2 packages and make 1 Johnny cake; 3/4 of the cake goes into the stuffing, the other 1/4 goes into my mouth)

1 lb sweet sausage (casings removed)

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 granny smith apple, chopped (skin on)

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2 Tablespoons thyme, chopped

Chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare cornbread according to directions on package; bake both packages as one Johnnycake. Let cool. Cut into small squares.

Cook sausage in a dutch oven in a little olive oil over medium heat until browned and crumbly (I use a potato masher to break up sausage when cooking it).

Remove browned sausage into a bowl. Add onion, carrot and celery to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften. Add the chopped apple. Stir until apple starts to soften. Add thyme and cook 1-2 more minutes. Add a splash of chicken stock to deglaze the dutch oven. Add the cornbread cubes and remove from heat. Stir in cornbread pieces. It will break apart, but that’s ok. Once combined – don’t over mix!– empty pan into a greased casserole dish. Add a splash of chicken stock to moisten.

Bake stuffing at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes uncovered, or until the top is nicely browned.

Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kids will be kids

Funny things 5 year olds say.

Part of being a parent is watching in awe as your little person learns and grows, and discovers the world around them. Also part of being a parent is cursing the day your child learns to spell and you can no longer talk in C-O-D-E. (Lucky for us, we can still spell out entire conversations to each other.)

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Us being silly with Snapchat (aka: “the button with the ghost on it”

These little sponges pick up on everything around them, even when you think they are engrossed in an episode of Paw Patrol. And out of nowhere they will say the funniest things to you, based on conversations you never knew they were listening to.

In our house, that looks something like this:

Little Mister: “Mom! Come and see this fort me and Daddy built out of blankets!”
Me: “I’ll be right there!”
Little Mister: “It’s so cool! It has an adult area where you can get lots of different beers! You’ll love it!”

And like this:

Mr. kk (to me): “Do you want to share a frosty?”
Little Mister: “Mom, I think Dad is asking you if you want half his beer.”

And this (has nothing to do with beer, thankfully. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of us):

Little Mister: “Let’s walk down the hallway in order from oldest to youngest. Dad, you go first, then Mom, then me.”
Me: “You heard him, Dad, oldest in the front!”
((Let it be known for the record that Mr. kk is two years my junior))

On talking about The Lion King:

Me: “Was there a bad guy in that movie?”
Little Mister: “Yes! His name was Scarf!”
Me: “You mean Scar?”
Little Mister: “Yes, Scarf.”

On asking him to do anything:

Little Mister: “RELAX, Dad. Jeesh.”

or

Little Mister: “Just calm down, everyone!”

In between telling us yet another food that is now ‘yucky’ and fighting bedtime like it’s his job, the Little Mister is a funny, smart and sweet boy, who keeps us on our toes and keeps us laughing.

Christmas, favorite things, Gifts

Best gifts for 2019: kk’s favorite things

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it a good time to unveil my favorite gifts of 2019!

So here they are, kk’s top 10 favorite items for the kitchen, closet and home.

kk’s best gifts of 2019

1. Go-anywhere insulated wine tote

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Mr. kk and I recently went out to eat at a BYOB restaurant, and as we were getting ready to leave – wine bottles in hand – we realized that we had nothing to carry them in. Not wanting to brown bag it, we had to borrow my in-laws wine bag for the night. I never want to be caught traveling with wine – and without a chic tote to carry it in – again.
Insulated wine tote, Amazon. $22

2. Thermopop Digital Thermometer

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Now that the weather is cooler, we’ve started cooking more and more indoors (even though we DO grill in all weather). These meals usually consist of a hearty meat of some sort, and what better way to ensure everything is cooked to perfection than a stylish thermometer. Bonus: this one is the same color as my stove!
Thermopop thermometer, Thermoworks, $34

3. Ann Taylor Velvet Feather Slides

I think every woman needs a pair of shoes in her closet that are pure froufrou. And this is that shoe. First off, they are a soft velvet. Second, they come in two soft colors that complement any outfit (they are both so beautiful it’s hard to choose!). Third, they have feathers. I’m not sure if I should wear them with my pajamas and robe, or out for a night on the town. Either way, they are gorgeous!
Ann Taylor Verena Feather Flats, $98

4. Silicone lids for pots, dishes and everything else

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These are the kitchen item everyone should have. Cover a saucepan and your sauce or soup can go right in the fridge. Use them to keep foods covered while heating in the oven (they are oven safe!). Or, toss them on a bowl and you’ll have no need for plastic Tupperware. The website says, “They sub in for saucepan lids, store leftovers, keep dinner warm from oven to table, and yes, there’s much more.”
Food 52 Airtight Silicone lids, $40

5. Ninja blender

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I use a blender about 10 times a year (5 of those times when I’m making Ina’s penne vodka sauce). The blender I received for my wedding shower is past its prime, even though it didn’t get a lot of use. We’ve already replaced one cracked plastic piece and now the base is cracked so that when I turn the blender on, the liquid just oozes out the bottom onto the countertop; not exactly a quality you look for in a blender. I don’t need the fanciest blender in the west, but I’d like one that kept the liquid in the glass jar!
Ninja Professional Countertop Blender, Amazon, $69

6. Mer Sea Catalina Travel Sweater

The ultimate travel accessory is not only cozy, but comes in a ton of amazing colors (this is the pink which is gorgeous and the coral is the perfect accent to a tan). Part sweater and part poncho, this goes-with-anything sweater is the perfect travel companion. Lightweight AND warm, drapey AND flattering…it even comes with a cute little bag for easy packing.
Mer Sea Catalina Travel Sweater, $98

7. Camouflage Neoprene Cross Body Bag

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I love me some camo, especially when it’s a stylish accent piece such as sneakers or this chic bag. The subtle camo juxaposed with the black and red stripe make for a striking design and perfect weekend bag that will go with just about anything. Bonus: comes with a small camo wristlet.
Lori’s Shoes Camo Bag, $78

8. Camel Poncho – the perfect layering piece

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I should preface this by saying that I already own this poncho in gray, and I absolutely love it so much I want the camel. And the best part? This poncho is from my favorite place on earth, Target, so you know it’s priced right. A girl can’t have too many ponchos!
A New Day Poncho, Target, $28

9. Ultrasoft comfy pullover

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It’s time to snuggle up for winter! This sweatshirt is perfect for a snow day, or for weekend errands. And because it’s from LL Bean, you know it’s made to last. Comes in 3 neutral colors: gray, black and navy. This top even comes in Petite for us shortys.
LL Bean Ultrasoft Funnelneck Pullover, $54

10. A gorgeous platter for every occasion

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Mr. kk told me I’m not allowed to have any more cheese boards, or else I would have put this on the list. So instead, I’ll share this beautiful serving piece. We do quite a bit of entertaining and this pretty platter will be perfect for Mother’s Day, the Kentucky Derby and a impromptu brunch.
Eres Platter, Anthropologie, $42

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

cocktails, kk special

I’m down with the 2-1-2 cocktail.

While I love trying different types of IPA beers, when it comes to cocktail, I’m a little bit of a fraidy cat. I don’t have a “signature” drink, andI often find myself in bars and restaurants where I don’t want beer or wine and I’m in a bit of a pickle.

At home, however, I have a go-to cocktail that has been my favorite for quite some time. It’s aptly named the “kk special” because I basically made it up based on ingredients I like. And even though every time we have cocktails I swear I’m going to find something else I like or to try, I always come back to my old faithful.

I have had this drink for every occasion that has come up in the last decade.

The “kk special” cocktail recipe

This cocktail was born out of my weird mindset that I only liked vodka (besides tequila in margaritas) and my favorite flavor was grapefruit. And that I didn’t like anything sweet. Thus, Mr. KK worked his magic and the kk special was born. And the 2-1-2 cocktail recipe.

Ingredients

2 parts vodka

1 part Aperol

2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice

Garnish of thin-sliced grapefruit wedge optional

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until ice cold. Pour into a coup glass. Garnish with a thin sliced grapefruit

I’ve asked for these drinks at bars, and 9 times out of 10, then mess it up. They either get the ingredients/balance wrong, or they don’t have fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Those small cans of grapefruit juice just aren’t going to cut it. Or they don’t have Aperol.

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You can’t go wrong with the 2-1-2 cocktail combo. This drink goes down smoothly and is the perfect “starter” for any occasion.