Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Recap

Jeremy and I had a nice, relaxing Christmas this year as we stayed at home and didn't have to worry about traveling. It started Friday night with our Christmas Eve dinner. My family always had our "big" Christmas meal on Christmas Eve, as is the Ukrainian tradition. We don't follow all of those traditions listed in the link, but we always eat fish for the meal and no meat. The fish and the meal change every year - this year Jeremy and I had tuna steaks, pierogies, steamed asparagus, and ginger glazed carrots. I was happy to find the pierogies at the store - I didn't really want to go through all the work of making them for just the two of us.

After dinner we played dominoes until it was time to get ready for church. We went to the candle light service and Jeremy was the assistant minister. He was nervous since he's never done it before, but did a good job. (He also got to acolyte, another first!)

We came home and eventually went to bed. Since it was a late night, we slept in on Christmas day. When we finally woke up we opened presents and then lounged around until it was time to go to our friends' house for dinner. A couple from church invited us over and we had a good time getting to know them better. A third couple was supposed to come too but ended up not being able to make it. After the dinner we came home and played dominoes.

Our church was in charge of a free, weekly, community meal in a nearby town on Sunday so after church we headed up there to help. We knew that since it was the day after Christmas there probably wouldn't be that many people attending, but we still had fun and met some new people. After a group of us played dominoes (sensing a pattern? It's our latest addiction and it's more fun with more than two people).

After the dinner we headed home and prepared for the incoming "blizzard." We really didn't end up with too much snow, but it was relaxing to spend the day at home Monday because "we couldn't go out in the snow."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our First Nor'easter

Jeremy and I are currently snowed in, kinda.

The "blizzard" started last night and is expected to last through today. We're expecting, so I've heard, anywhere from 6 to 14 inches of snow with winds up to 35-55 mph.

Work emailed, and then called, at 9pm last night to tell me not to work today. They don't want us out driving, and since almost everyone has to travel to get to clients' houses, it means we can't work.

Fine by me. I'll sit at home and enjoy another day of vacation!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

University Towns

I never realized how fortunate I was to be affiliated with a university for the past 8 years. I think I took it for granted. Now that I'm not going to or working for a university I realize all the great perks I had. The biggest perk that I took for granted was being able to use a state-of-the-art gym for free (as a student) or for a nominal fee (as staff). I didn't always take advantage of that, but man it was nice to have it there was an option. Baylor had a great indoor pool that I occasionally used. I don't have that available anymore. UT had free classes at the gym. I used to do yoga once or twice a week and I really enjoyed that. Now, nada. I take that back. I do actually have access to the gym at the lab where Jeremy works, but it's 35-45 minutes away so I don't think it's worth it to drive all that way to work out.

Also, I miss have access to cheap, smoke-free, entertainment. The University Center at UT charged $.06/minute for pool and also had good rates on bowling. It was great. Jeremy and I frequently went there to play pool on the weekends when we had nothing better to do. It was also a great place to people watch because undergrads are funny, especially when they're on awkward first dates. Not only did they have cheap pool and bowling, but there was a big screen TV with cable! Since we didn't have cable most of the time we lived in Knoxville, we sometimes went to the UC to watch Baylor games.

In addition, universities always have a wide variety of shows, concerts, plays, lectures, games, etc. Not that we necessarily went to a lot of those, but we did occasionally and it was nice to know we had the option.

Man, I miss living in a university town.

Monday, December 20, 2010


After learning all about wreaths, Jeremy was planning on making one. He even bought a ring and some decorations for it. Then he came home from church with this one:

Our church decorates and sells wreaths every year as a fundraiser for different non-profits and charities in the area. It's pretty fun - everyone stays after church a couple Sundays and we have a potluck before we get to work. I was a "ribbon fluffer" and Jeremy trimmed the wreaths and "supervised" a small child who helped trim. Someone in the area made the actual wreath part. Wreaths are big business up here - people sell them out of their homes even.

So, if you want an authentic Maine wreath for your door next year, let us know! Ours are MUCH cheaper than LL Bean's and we'll ship them to you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pretzel Hugs

I love sweet and salty food combinations including, but not limited to, Payday candy bars, salted caramels, and chocolate covered pretzels, which is why I love these fun little Christmas snacks. I'm not sure what their official name is, but pretzel hugs sounds good to me.

I first made these last year for an event at church. I was wanting to make them again this year, but needed a reason. There is no way Jeremy and I can, or should, eat all of them! Finally, I had a reason - we were having a luncheon of sorts after church yesterday. Perfect!

They're really easy to make. Line up pretzel waffles (or pretzel rounds if you can find them) on a cookie sheet, lined with wax paper. While you're doing that, get your husband (or someone else) to unwrap all the hugs and set those on top of the pretzels.

Cook at about 275 for 2-3 minutes. These were in for 3 minutes, but probably should have come up a bit earlier.

Place an m&m on top and smash down. Put in the fridge to cool and harden. Eat and enjoy.

(Note, I didn't line my cookie sheet with wax paper and it was hard to get them off. Once I found my pastry scraper it was a lot easier, but I'd recommend using the wax paper for less headaches.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homemade Eggnog

One of the reasons I love this time of year is simply put, eggnog. The only problem is that Golda will never let me buy any. This is probably good, cause I'd drink gallons of it and have a heart attack before Christmas. So, what's a guy to do? Easy - make it myself!

Recipes are pretty easy to find, I used one in Golda's copy of Joy of Cooking that actually cooks the eggs. I also swapped in less heavy cream and 2% milk to try to make it a little bit healthier. Topped it off with some Captain Morgan and a little nutmeg, and I'm in heaven.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 06, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Revisited

I made two Resolutions for 2010:

1) Make a new recipe every week
2) Eat more pizza

I stopped keeping track of the first one in about March-April, but I still tried to cook something new every week. I didn't accomplish this always, especially with moving half way through the year, but I did find some new recipes I really enjoy and have now worked into our meal rotation.

The pizza resolution, I must say, was my best resolution ever. I enjoyed trying to keep this all year. I've had some memorable pizzas this year.

Best New Homemade Pizza:
Beet Pizza

Worst New Homemade Pizza:
Scallop Pizza

Most Unique New Homemade Pizza:
(Tie) Jambalaya Pizza (My half only had shrimp)
(Tie) Breakfast Pizza with Pesto Sauce, Scrambled Eggs, and Monterey Jack Cheese

Most Commonly Made Homemade Pizza (non-CSA box):
BBQ Pizza with Assorted Veggies

Most Commonly Made Homemade Pizza (CSA box):
Pesto Pizza with Assorted Veggies (We got a TON of basil every week)

Best New Pizza Joint We Visited (Knoxville):
Hard Knox Pizza, hands down. So sad we can't eat there anymore!

Best New Pizza Joint We Visited (Ellsworth):
(Tie) Finelli's (NY Style)
(Tie) Charlie's (Greasy, Comforting, and Cheap)

Saddest Pizza
(Tie) Goodbye Hard Knox pizza with Mary Beth and Steve
(Tie) Last pizza from Red Onion in our house in Knoxville the night before we left, eaten on the floor because everything was packed

Most Exciting Pizza:
Hard Knox Buffalo Chicken Pizza (minus the chicken) while watching my Baylor Bears in the NCAA basketball tournament. Delicious, plus we won!

Best Date Night Pizza:
Pizza from Orono House of Pizza while listening to the Baylor Bears beat K-State to become bowl eligible for the first time in 14 years. Eaten in Jeremy's office on campus, followed by a UMaine v. North Dakota Hockey game.

I still have about three weeks left of the year to get some more pizza in. All I have on my schedule is the Pizza Hut lunch buffet and at least one more homemade pizza. The lunch buffet takes me back every time. It reminds me of when my dad would take us to Pizza Hut for lunch when we didn't have school in middle/high school.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Decision Matrices

For a while now I've been trying to decide between getting a toaster oven or a stand mixer. I've been going back and forth on this. Finally, I put it up on facebook and got a bunch of responses from people who were either pro-toaster oven or pro-stand mixer. It was pretty entertaining actually. I still wasn't able to decide after asking my friends since people were about evenly divided on the subject. I figured it was time to make a decision matrix.

Decision matrices are awesome. I first learned about them in my econ class in high school. Basically, they are a chart that helps you make a decision between two or more options. I talked about them in a couple of my undergrad classes as a method for making decisions. No one knew what I was talking about but my Econ professor got REALLY excited and asked me all about them. I think everyone else just thought I was a nerd. I don't care, they're very useful.

Here is my decision matrix about toaster ovens and stand mixers:

Amount I'll Use It Time Saved Electricity Saved Versatility Storage Space Taste of Results Total
Toaster Oven 2 2 2 1 1 2 10
Stand Mixer 1 1 1 2 2 1 8

You put your choices on one side and all the factors on the other, basically, then decide which option "wins" that category. Add up the numbers to get the total and you have what your decision should be. Here, I have decided that I should get the toaster oven. I didn't add some other important factors like "ability to cook pizza" or "ability to cook two cookies at a time" but I thought about it.