It’s easy to be discouraged. Especially in this day and age, when I feel as though comparisons exist on every level for every aspect of life. Especially today, when a tragedy like Sandy Hook hangs in the air, asking all of us to question … well, everything.
It is easy to be discouraged. It is much, much harder to stay encouraged.
This year has been a tough year for me. Tougher than most, and it definitely tested my character, and who I felt I was as a human. Which is hilarious, because I was so convinced that 2012 would be my year. God has a sense of humor, I suppose.
This December, however, has been a bright spot, and I am grateful for all that I have enjoyed. At the beginning of the month, the man and I headed up to his hometown, and while he and his dad headed out to hunt (not my thing, but it’s part of his family tradition) his mom and I journeyed to “Dickens of a Christmas” in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Wellsboro is a cute little town still sporting gas street lamps, and dozens upon dozens of vendors lined the main street, everyone dressed in period costumes, and selling their wares. It was a really good time (I even had funnel cake!) and I was two pairs of recycled sweater mittens richer when we left.
This Santa was fantastic. Seriously. My picture does his suit’s details no justice at all.
And a choir!
December is one of those months where every weekend feels booked up, and ours are no exception. After another week of work (bleh), we headed down to DC for a birthday party ~ the man’s oldest friend from high school”s (well, birth if we’re getting specific) son turned three, and we made the trek to celebrate. Then back to my parents house, to pick up Lucy, and spend some time with the fam.
On Sunday, after a delicious breakfast, we headed home to unwind and relax. Unfortunately, (please read with sarcasm) the Steelers trouncing by the Chargers was not televised but we were able to watch the Giants domination of the Saints. Since the weather had been iffy all day, we decided to take a drive and enjoy some Christmas lights (alright, the truth is, the man thought the lights would look cool in the fog). We discovered a legitimate Candy Cane Lane right near our house, but the true highlight were the mansions on the man’s drive to work, which were decked to the nines. And then, as Bing Crosby crooned “White Christmas” to us (my favorite Christmas voice, and movie) John very sweetly asked me to marry him.
We were able to celebrate all week, as my birthday fell on Wednesday (which I spent in NYC and got to see my bro!), and we threw our Second Annual Holiday Party (successful!) the following Saturday. It has been a very exciting, happy week, despite the horrific and incomprehensible tragedy of Sandy Hook.
I even made my very first roast chicken! I used a Martha Stewart recipe (which I normally would eschew for various, valid reasons) and it was amazing. In case you are feeling up for a hearty, cold weather meal, check this out:
1 whole chicken
S & P
Red bliss potatoes
Crumbled feta (although Martha used blue)
What to do:
Okay, so here’s the deal. About a year and a half ago, I caught this episode of Martha Stewart, and she was interviewing a woman from Glamor magazine. They were discussing a new list of recipes being published “100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know.” I wrote down some sketchy instructions of what to do, and then never got around to making it for – as previously stated – a year and a half. I’m going to share what I did, and I have to say, it turned out pretty well.
First, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.
Then, I emptied out the chicken, rinsed it off, and patted it dry. I stuffed the interior with two full lemons (which I rolled on the counter to soften up), and using the remaining lemon, covered the exterior with lemon juice and a generous coating of salt & pepper.
Next up, I dropped the oven temp to 350, and put the bird in upside down for 15 minutes. During that time, I lined two cookie sheets with tin foil, and cut up the baby red bliss potatoes and the cherry (or grape ~ I’m not particular) tomatoes and spread them (separately) on each sheet.
After the chicken had cooked for 15 minutes, I flipped it, and cooked it another 1 hour and 45 minutes (despite Martha saying it would be 1 hr 15 mins max … oh well!).
After I flipped the chicken, I returned my concentration to the rest of the meal. I seasoned both potatoes and tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper but used rosemary on the potatoes and thyme on the tomatoes. I popped the potatoes into the oven when I thought that I had about 45 minutes left on the chicken (I wanted to make sure the potatoes were cooked, and the edges crispy.
Then I prepared the salad ~ which was pretty easy. I crumbled up some feta, and tossed it with the baby spinach (and mixed greens ~ the man likes variety). The tomatoes I added last (after the potatoes finished cooking, I put them in the oven for about 10-15 mins). And while I was figuring out timing on everything, I made a little mustard vinaigrette ~ whisking together 1 tbsp mustard, 1/3 cup olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and a finely diced shallot.
When the thermometer finally popped in the chicken, the man and I pulled it out and allowed it to rest for ten (ish) minutes ~ probably longer. It helps maintain the moisture.
And we served our potatoes with a small side of sour cream (because that’s how we like it!).
All in all, it was a pretty impressive meal (to me at least!) of roast chicken, roasted rosemary potatoes, and a roasted thyme tomato salad with a mustard vinaigrette. The funniest part of it all? The recipe for the chicken was called “Engagement Chicken” and I made mine the Friday before the man proposed. Pretty hilarious (and, upon hearing this, he told me to stop using voodoo on him!).
I redeemed myself with dessert ~ really simple, and I promise, it will be a hit.
Apple Crescents (or, Individual Apple Pie Bites)
What you need:
1 pkg Crescent Rolls
1 apple, cut into thin slices and tossed in lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
What to do:
1. I made a mixture of the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves.
2. I spread 1 tbsp of the mixture in each of the opened crescent rolls, topped with an apple slice and rolled up.
3. I cooked the rolls according to the package directions. (PS. Be prepared for clean up ~ cooked sugar is not anyone’s friend in that regard).
I guess you could top each with a little dollop of Cool Whip, or add some ice cream. We enjoyed them plain, and they were delish.
And now, I must get to bed. My eyelids are heavy, and it’s not even halfway through the week. If I don’t get back to this space before 2013, the man, Lucy Lou and I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons, & lots of love and good wishes for the new year. Oh, and of course, happy experimenting in the kitchen. :)