“American” Thanksgiving, where pilgrims ate marshmallows

Happy early Thanksgiving!

Dinner was sooo good!  I wrote about all the recipes I was prepping a couple nights ago, and let me tell you the prep work made tonight so easy!  I woke up early this morning to stuff the herb paste into the turkey skin, let it stay wrapped up in the fridge all day, and had hardly any work to do tonight.  My consultant friends showed up, we chatted in the kitchen, they commented on how lovely the dining room looked, and they helped make the fire.  AND, maybe most importantly I can cross off “Make s’mores in a fireplace” off my List of Things to do Before I Die!

This girl loves "dat cat" maybe more than I do. I think she Instagrammed about 3 pictures of him and I saw him on Facebook too.

This girl loves “dat cat” maybe more than I do. I think she Instagrammed about 3 pictures of him and I saw him on Facebook too.

I put CB to work on making fire.  He taught me a much better log placement to start the fire than I had been doing.

I put CB to work on making fire. He taught me a much better log placement to start the fire than I had been doing.

My turkey!  Doing just turkey breasts was awesome and the platter came out lovely.

My turkey! Doing just turkey breasts was awesome and the platter came out lovely.

This picture does not even do these bad boys justice.  The brown butter, hazelnut green beans were delicious!

This picture does not even do these bad boys justice. The brown butter, hazelnut green beans were delicious!

Finished cheesecake - pronounced a hit by all.

Finished cheesecake – pronounced a hit by all.

...and then all had a good night... watching Elf.

…and then all had a good night… watching Elf…

...and making s'mores.

…and making s’mores.

I’m sitting here very happy this evening.  I love a lovely table, delicious food, happy guests, and s’mores.  I’m so fortunate I’ve met this group.  I’m reminded of something I heard at the OD Conference in my Mindfulness in the Organization session.  Dr. Brendel said something along the lines of – Imagine all the things that had to happen to get you in this room.  When you think about how many things had to happen so that this group of people are together in this time and space – it’s really too much to wrap your mind around.  How many choices made, roads not taken, missed connections, dreams chased, hopes dashed… This group of five people from all over the country all in my house enjoying a very comfortable evening – what are the chances?

Good night, dear friends.

 

Being a local

I nearly called this post “Big OH Weekend”, indicating that I spent a weekend full of Ohio fun.  Then I thought that seemed dirty, and quite frankly, misleading.  So, I renamed.  Carry on…

Friday was happy hour at a relatively new place, Cray Eatery & Drinkery.  In the interest of full disclosure, that was the second time I was there last week.  Fair to say I was a fan.  They make these infused whiskeys and vodkas.  They are delicious, and dangerous.  The vanilla bean whiskey is quickly becoming my favorite beverage in town.  I was home relatively early and after three pretty exhausting weeks, I crashed early and didn’t wake up until about 10:30am the next morning.

Saturday afternoon I went on a tour of the Ohio State House and Court House.  One of my new favorite friends in Columbus is a volunteer tour guide there and I wanted to take the opportunity to visit her AND get a Columbus history lesson.  I learned a lot about the building and how Columbus was founded.  It was a well spent hour.  Our capitol building is fine, but our court house is really gorgeous.  Some of the most beautiful lighting fixtures, and back in the day it was the first fully electric building in Ohio.  People came from hundreds of miles to see the lightbulb in action.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn't have a Rotunda, exactly.  It has a cylinder.  From the inside, though, there is a rotunda.  And it's pretty.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn’t have a Rotunda, exactly. It has a cylinder. From the inside, though, there is a rotunda. And it’s pretty.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

My favorite light fixture.  The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

My favorite light fixture. The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

I ran a few errands after that, including a visit to a couple consignment stores looking for some holiday decorations.  I didn’t find anything.  I took some colleagues up on an offer to join them at a sports bar for the OSU game.  It was a rowdy group and a great game.  OSU wins!  Go Bucks!

Sunday I headed up to a local state park to go for a hike/walk.  I participated in a trail run at High Banks park last fall and it was the first place that popped into my head when I decided I needed a good long walk.  I want to be serious about this mindfulness business and I find myself better suited to clear my head outside than inside.  I didn’t bring my ipod, no music – just a walk out in the fresh air.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.00.43 PM

I took the Overlook Trail (light purple) and added the Wetland Spur for another .8 mile (dark purple).  It was a great morning, nice walk, and great for being present and in the moment.  Next time I’ll do Dripping Rock Trail.

I took the road less traveled by...

I took the road less traveled by…

I went from the hike to the grocery store.  I’m hosting my consultant friends for a Thanksgiving dinner party this Tuesday.  I spent this morning building the menu and making the monster grocery list that goes along with that.  On my trip to Des Moines, IA last week I bought three food magazines and wanted to try all new to me Thanksgiving recipes.  I warned the team they were a guinea pig group.  They have no problem with this.  I wanted to do as much prep as possible tonight and tomorrow night so I can make Thanksgiving happen after work.  I took a few shortcuts, but not that many.  Here’s the menu:

Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts courtesy of Rachel Ray

This is one of the shortcuts I’ll be taking – not doing a full turkey, but doing boneless (but skin on) turkey breasts.  They’ll cook faster.  I bought a few turkey legs to roast as well.  I’ll prep them tomorrow night and have them ready to pop in the oven.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Kale Pesto courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens magazine

I made these tonight.  I didn’t combine them yet.  The potatoes are out of this world.  I don’t usually peel my potatoes for mashed potatoes.  But since I was trying new to me recipes, I followed instructions.  I had a test bite (or four).  These potatoes are amazing.  They’re chilling in the fridge and I’ll just warm them up.  I did halve this recipe.

Pesto prep!

Pesto prep!

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Cherries and Chestnuts courtesy of Rachel Ray Magazine

Stepping way outside my comfort zone with this recipe.  I don’t typically use cornbread in my stuffing.  Or sausage, for that matter.  In my life I’ve never had a chestnut.  I made this tonight and it’s all ready, just needs to be baked.  My test bites lead me to believe it is also going to be awesome.  My shortcut was buying ready made cornbread stuffing mix.  I did not have it in me to bake cornbread, cut it up, dry it out, toast it up… Just no.  I mean, I like this group and all, but no.

Stuffing prep!

Stuffing prep!

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Brown Butter Haricots Vert courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I will do anything to avoid the dreaded green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  I’ll trim these up tomorrow, but do most of the work for these Tuesday.

Pear-Gingersnap Cheesecake courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I’m breaking the pumpkin mold!  There are so many delicious pumpkin recipes, and I was tempted to do a pumpkin cheesecake, but I’ve done one of those before.  Another ingredient I’ve never bought before is molasses.  Aaaaaand… I’m not sure I’d ever need to again.  Molasses has a very distinct taste, and I don’t know that I love it.  I mean, I think this cheesecake is going to be fine, but I have supplemental dessert planned as well – a S’mores bar.  I’ll post more about that Tuesday night.  Spoiler Alert… it does mean crossing something off The List!  

Cheesecake prep!

Cheesecake prep!

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Pre-baked cheesecake.  My pear placement wasn't perfect.  A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Pre-baked cheesecake. My pear placement wasn’t perfect. A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Post baked.  I'll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving.  Then it will look more like the picture.  I like when my food looks like the picture.

Post baked. I’ll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving. Then it will look more like the picture. I like when my food looks like the picture.

My reward for knocking out all that prep work tonight was lighting another fire!  Mmmm, Sunday night fires are totally going to become a thing.  I should look into chopping down the mostly dead tree in my backyard so I get my own firewood supply.  Continuing to buy it is going to get pricey.  I’m not the only fan of the fire:

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend here.  I have a less busy week coming up and I’m happy about that too.  The temperature is supposed to drop, so I see more fires in my future!  Mmm, so quickly becoming the best part of my house.

Inspired by Friday Night Lights, I embrace hot chicken

I’ve been binge watching Friday Night Lights over the last couple of weeks.  It’s soooo good.  If you haven’t watched it, remedy that as soon as possible.  I love so many things about it: Coach and Tami’s marriage, the way Tami says “hon”, Tim Riggins, Julie’s real struggle to get what being an adult is all about…

I finished the last couple episodes earlier today while reading the paper.  I’m not afraid, and surely  not alone, to admit I cried several times throughout the series and these last few episodes were no different this morning.

The last few episodes also made me really pumped about the idea of community.  You watch what Coach Taylor does to East Dillon, the way he creates something to rally around and support, they way they come out and root for the Lions and tell me you don’t want to be a part of something.  Inspired by that feeling I took a little lunchtime field trip to Hot Chicken Takeover.

This place has had a bit of press – when they first launched and then with their kickstarter campaign.  Jeni of Jeni’s Ice Cream has tweeted about them even.  I watched their Kickstarter video a couple weeks ago and put it on my list of things to get around to.  That time came once I was all riled up by the last episode of Friday Night Lights – I wanted to go out and be part of the community.  So I got Hot Chicken for lunch.

The place is exactly as described in the articles and Kickstarter video.  It is a walk up window with a long line  and a few tents with community picnic tables.

I waited about 20 minutes until I got to the window - then another 10 after I ordered.  Not bad.

I waited about 20 minutes until I got to the window – then another 10 after I ordered. Not bad.

I love that the window sign is partly made of tape.  A true start up on a budget.

I love that the window sign is partly made of tape. A true start up on a budget.

Their entire menu.  Free sweet tea and ranch dressing.  Community.

Their entire menu. Free sweet tea and ranch dressing. Community.

I was cautioned by reviews that they are not messing around when they say “hot.”  I started off with “cold” which just means no heat from spice, it’s still hot, fresh fried chicken.  People in line are chatting, the owner comes around asking if anyone is there the first time and thanking people who are wearing Hot Chicken Takeover shirts that indicated they’ve donated to the Kickstarter.  The neighborhood this is in is very “transitional”.  One of my favorite breakfast places is just down the street, but there’s not much else here yet.  The two houses across the street from HCT are boarded up.  One of their hallmarks is that they hire the “harder to employ” individuals.  Everyone there was awesome.  And I got the dose of community I wanted.

My carb-tastic lunch.  I'm glad I went with the "cold".  I'm not sure I could even handle Medium.

My carb-tastic lunch. I’m glad I went with the “cold”. I’m not sure I could even handle Medium.

It was really, really good.  It’s a perfect meal, even the way pickle juice soaks into a bit of the chicken breading, the ranch dressing that came from no bottle, and yes, really good mac and cheese.  I also happen to love non-mayo based cole slaws, so this light and vinegar-y one was perfect – and I can tell myself that was the right amount of vegetables for lunch.  So, thanks Hot Chicken Takeover for giving me what I needed today.

A: Ladies 80′s night & Bachelorette Parties

Q: Where to not take pictures so there is no proof later?

I’m on a roll, friends.  A Birthday Month, no holds barred, maybe more events than I can handle roll.

This group of 6 consultants that I hang out with occasionally (and have over for dinner and Wii dancing) found out about “Ladies 80′s” night at a local bar.  It is exactly what it sounds like – a ladies night with all 80′s music for dancing the night away.  They invited the whole program team, and since I enjoy the group and have a tiny, little, innocent crush on one of them, I was sure to go.  I invited my favorite co-worker, three or four other project team members showed up and we had an absolute blast last Thursday night.  I drank a tad too much vodka (read: much too much. Luckily, the worst thing I did that night is lose my glasses.  I’m sure I was a dance floor maniac, but no one seems to care.  We had a super fun time.

So much fun that I missed my flight the next morning… I was headed to Florida for a bachelorette weekend.  I had a 7:10am flight.  I got home at 3am from Ladies 80′s night.  One could probably see this coming.  I had two alarms set for that morning, was all packed…to no avail.  I bolted up in bed at 7am, looked at the clock, texted the bride telling her I’d be on a later flight due to “flight issues” (I told her the truth once I was there in person) and called the airline to see what my options were.  Luckily, Southwest Airlines rules all and as long as I got to the airport within 2 hours of my original departure time they would put me on standby flights to get there.  I missed the beautiful non-stop from Columbus to Orlando, so I don’t land in Florida until 2pm.  But, the only thing I missed out on was going to the new Harry Potter World which will be there next time.  And, it might have been worth it to party the night before with the gang.

We had a big beach house in New Smyrna, FL for the weekend and had a really nice weekend.  Again, I have no pictures of this.  10 girls, so many bottles of liquor, wine and beer, dance parties, laying on the beach, Cards Against Humanity, dancing at a townie bar and ice cream sundaes.  There is the weekend in a nutshell.  I got home late Sunday evening and charged into the week ahead.  I had a happy hour with a woman I’m becoming friendly with Monday night.  She and her husband are some of my new favorite Columbus-ites and it was nice to hang out with her for a while.  It was beautiful Monday night here so I went for a walk in the Short North neighborhood after that.  (Amazing how functional I am after an actual happy “hour” with one drink.)

This afternoon I got home a little early (I start early on Tuesday mornings because of my calls with India.  Yup – I’m international.)  I went for a run and then whipped up a new Sweet Potato recipe for a Pinterest Party!  I have gotten into Meetup.com lately and joined a home cooks/bakers group.  Tonight was my first event with them and the theme was to bring a dish that you’ve had pinned but have never made.  It was such a good idea!  I thought I’d take the opportunity to test out a potential Thanksgiving Side dish recipe – Mashed sweet potatoes with kale and boursin cheese.

Photo from A Family Feast blog

Photo from A Family Feast blog

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I was happy to see so many savory dishes – including an awesome roasted zucchini pasta salad, cuban sliders and a watermelon mint salad. Dessert highlight was the creme brulee cheesecake!

This is the best potluck in town!

There were about 18 people and everyone was super nice.  It was a really nice evening.

Non stop fun continues this week with an alumni event on Thursday, the Craft Beer Festival on Friday night, my friend Kristy coming to visit Saturday for this vintage flea market and an early birthday dinner, and a Soup Cooking Class/demo on Sunday!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

Columbus Restaurant Week

I love a restaurant week.  My sisters and I always made “sistah” dates during the St. Louis ones.  It is such a good way to try a new place.

Columbus restaurant week is this week and last night I arranged a night at Lindey’s – one of the restaurants on my must visit lists pretty much since I moved here.  The restaurant is fine dining in the German Village neighborhood.

Lindey's.  Photo courtesy of their website.

Lindey’s. Photo courtesy of their website.

Friends Rex, Andre & Peter and I decided to take a table out on the patio.  It was warm, but not miserable, and the Lindey’s patio is really lovely.

Lindey's Patio

Lindey’s Patio

There were delicious cocktails, amazing food and really fun conversation.  This particular group of gentlemen are so smart and diverse that I never know exactly where the conversation may go.  Last night included topics such as a lively discussion about how many big cities a state had to have to be considered an urban state (i.e. Ohio has 3 larger cities and 2 medium sized cities and is a smaller state – we are urban.  Missouri has two larger cities and 1, maybe 2, medium sized cities – they are not an urban state.)  and what terrible movie you tolerated watching just to make out with the person you were watching the movie with.  (Idiocracy.  That’s the movie I suffered through just because I wanted to make out with the the guy.)

Additionally, we came up with the topic that may very well be the research topic I pursue.  We were doing some word association with corporate buzzwords at one point and hit a combination that is probably a really good idea.  I’m sure the idea currently exists in pieces so I need to explore it more – but it might just be genius.

The food was just really fantastic as well.  I had a chilled asparagus and crab soup, shrimp and grits, and root beer creme brulee.  I got a taste of everyone’s dishes and I have to say I made great ordering choices.

After dinner we walked a couple blocks to a little bar to play darts, where this happened…

I managed to do this three times.  I'm good at darts after some drinks.

I managed to do this three times. I’m good at darts after some drinks.

And then home.

Not a remarkable night.  Probably even an ordinary night from the outside.  Even as I write this, I know it’s not that exciting.  Except to me.  It was nice to get out, be out and to have a nice time.  Time heals all wounds.  Time…and laughing.

Ode to the sister who just had a baby

I intended this to be a post about my attempt to grill pizza.  It’s going to be about a little more than that.

Before I got to dinner, my sister – the one who recently had a baby girl – and I spent some time on Facetime.  Her husband was out helping his dad so Em had my baby niece Avery on her lap the whole time.  I got to make faces at her and watch her giggle and wiggle and even squeak a few times.  Em and I chatted about alllll the upcoming family wedding and baptisms and baby showers and I got to see her be a mom for a little bit.  She mentioned a few events she had to pass on because of aforementioned baby niece.  As we were getting ready to go – her to put Avery to bed and me to make dinner and drink wine – we talked about what we were having for dinner.  She said she was probably having scrambled eggs because she needed to get grocery shopping.

Now, I love scrambled eggs.  Love ‘em.  But as I started to prepare for the pizza grilling adventure, I felt a slight twinge of wishing I could be there to have Em over for dinner also.  I know she occasionally reads this blog (Hey sistah!) and I felt bad that I’d be posting about all the leisure time I have to make pizza and drink wine on the patio.  I thought maybe I should keep the pictures to myself.

Except…the grass is always greener.

To my dear sister, I think you’re amazing!  You have this marriage that you have worked at making work.  You and Al play sports together and have couple friends and you know his email password and you have that photo frame full of the wedding photo booth photo strips.  Every time I pass it I think about how many times I’ve started some kind of photo tradition with an ex and how they don’t matter anymore…  Now you have this crazy adorable baby girl who you get to teach things to (hopefully a second language – I just really want some toddler in our family to be able to speak a couple languages) and you get to experience this thing that I never will.  I know I never wanted to have kids, and I’m okay with my choice, but it does close the door to a whole world of experiences and emotions.

So, tonight, while you dealt with your giggling, yet fuss face of a daughter, I made pizza on the grill.  I promise you, your night was more fulfilling.  Doing whatever you want when you want can be very dull.  If there is no one there to eat the pizza, did it even exist?  (Well, it did, because I took pictures…)  I’m so ready to have my person, to build a life, to be helpful and supportive to someone else.  But tonight, the fact that I figured out how to grill pizza is all I’ve got.

So, let’s talk about that.

Start with a really hot grill.

Start with a really hot grill.

I prepped a plate full of potential pizza toppings.  Prosciutto, mozzarella, peso, tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese and Sarah's Farm Fresh tomatoes.

I prepped a plate full of potential pizza toppings. Prosciutto, mozzarella, pesto, tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese and Sarah’s Farm Fresh tomatoes.

I had a hunk of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough.  I wanted to test the process before I loaded up a pizza with all the delicious ingredients.  I made a mini margherita pizza.  The dough puffed up more than I expected, but other than that it worked great.  The dough didn’t stick to the grates at all.

Baby test pizza

Baby test pizza

The process was to take a section of dough and work it until it was fairly thin.  I sprayed one side of it with some olive oil spray and then tossed it right on the grates.  I closed the grill lid for about 2 minutes and then flipped the dough over.  I then topped the dough with the chosen ingredients and closed the lid for another minute.  I moved the pizzas to the top rack of the grill while I cooked the next one so the cheese kept melting, but the crust didn’t burn.  They cook pretty quickly.  And they all tasted pretty delicious.

The pesto, prosciutto & goat cheese

The pesto, prosciutto & goat cheese

The margherita deluxe

The margherita deluxe

The everything.  Pesto, marinara, prosciutto, mozzarella and goat cheese

The everything. Pesto, marinara, prosciutto, mozzarella and goat cheese

The empty wine glass.

The empty wine glass. 

 

 

Miracle

First, watch this little clip from HIMYM:

My turn…

Miracle – my sister scheduling my niece’s (and soon to be goddaughter’s!!) baptism for the first weekend of August despite me trying to persuade her to reschedule it for reasons that are fairly ridiculous.  I got a second wind slap in the face from the recent break up today and came home to listen to some Cowboy Mouth, the official soundtrack of break ups.  Then I decided this was a serious enough break up situation that I need them in concert and was willing to drive to a nearby city to make this happen if need be.  Cowboy Mouth will be in St. Louis the weekend of the baptism!  Woo!  Ticket procured.  I’m ready.  I can’t even remember the last concert of theirs I went to, which means it’s been waaaay too long.  Some have religion, I have Cowboy Mouth.  Appropriate for baptism weekend, really.

Now that I think about, this week (outside of the above mentioned break up nonsense relapse) has been full of things that went my way.  I got an unexpected extension on this project that had become the monkey on my back.  I have been struggling with a work assignment for months.  It’s a smaller assignment, I could have knocked it out if I had put the attention on it, I had reached the point where I thought if I avoided it – maybe it would be forgotten about.  No such luck, but an unexpected shift in the deadline and a push by me to get it done means I can stop dreading this thing!

I got a second chance to fill my house with some good entertaining moments.  I had a housewarming/Tres de Mayo party (Cinco was a Monday) that ended with some drunken shenanigans (not my own) that have always left a bad taste in my mouth about the evening.  This past Tuesday I invited the 6 consultants that travel to Columbus each week to my house for dinner to give them a break from hotels and restaurants.  It ended up being a great night – but any night that ends in people playing Just Dance on the Wii is a good night!

I recently gave a presentation on Org Change Management to an IT group at Nationwide during their annual meeting.  It went well, and I received good feedback from the leaders on it.  That’s good news because I want to be very successful at NW, but the most exciting part of that is the random email I got a few days later from a woman who attended saying, “You were funny.  I know you’re still kind of new here – want to get lunch?”  Umm, yeah I do!  To top that off, I got an email from someone else who was there saying they are arranging a large all team meeting (about 250 ppl) and want me to speak to that group also.

There comes a time in the post break up/dealing with stuff phase that I stop looking backwards and switch gears to what lies ahead.  Today is that day.

I’m looking at a four day weekend ahead (I took off Monday too) where I will finally begin work on the kitchen!  I pushed it back a couple days for the following reasons:

1. Didn’t want the wall torn up with people coming over for dinner Tuesday night.

2. I need to buy a crow bar to pull this dang backsplash down.

3. And I need to understand what joint compound is and how to use it.

I may walk to my little neighborhood’s 4th of July parade tomorrow morning.  I may go see a showing of 1776 at the local theatre this weekend (Mr. Feeney as John Adams!).  I’ll take a break from the kitchen Saturday night to go to this supposedly awesome brewery in a town about an hour away with some friends.  I’ll say yes to the BBQ invite I got from a newer co-worker for Sunday afternoon.  And I’m taking Rex on his first trip to Ikea/Jungle Jim’s on Monday.  That is a BIG day for him, I don’t even think he realizes!

When the hermit is ready, the social life appears!