If you’re in the mood for a bit of a tear-jerker, listen to Same Auld Lang Syne, by Dan Fogelburg. This time of year it always gets to me, it’s a beautiful song.

Merry belated Christmas =)

The holiday season treated us well this year. For the first time in three years I got to spend Christmas even with family I don’t get to see that often, so that was pretty fantastic.

alternate text On the 16th Justin took me to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra, which was beyond phenomenal! There is honestly no way to describe this show unless you have seen it. It’s a rock concert, complete with electric guitars, drums, and even an electric violin. The show’s first part is Christmas-related, all classic Christmas and holiday songs set to a hard rocking beat. There’s lasers and lights and pyrotechnics that will blow your mind. Even Justin admitted that he wasn’t sure he would like it (the word orchestra had him running in the other direction) but after the show we’re already planning going back every year. It is worth the price and the fight through evil Pittsburgh (or any city) traffic to see this show. It is an excellent way to kick off the holiday season!

alternate text On Wednesday before Christmas we went to have dinner with Justin’s family. I still don’t know everyone terribly well, but we’re getting there. After dinner we headed to Justin’s parents house to open up gifts with them as well as John and Lori. Aren’t they cute? Poor John and Lori, I’m pretty sure Justin’s mom got the baby bug from all his cousin’s babies, and she knows she would be barking up the wrong tree with me just yet, so now we’re just waiting on them! It would be pretty wonderful to have a little niece of nephew, but I won’t push it…much 😉

Christmas eve was a lot of fun, My parents, brother, Justin and I went to church. Christmas Eve is my favorite church service out of the year, and I’m so glad I was able to make it this year and bring my shiny new husband 😉 haha. alternate text After church we went to my aunt and uncle’s, caught up with them for the first time in forever. My brother and I are the youngest of my cousins, so growing up we were never really all that close. Now I notice it is a lot easier to talk to them simply because we have more in common now. I guess the older you get the smaller the age gap appears. It was also nice to finally fully introduce Justin to this part of the family besides the hi, hello, congrats at the wedding.
After the party we went back to my parents house where we were spending the night. Justin and I stayed up with my mom and had a couple more drinks and had a good time, and then went to bed to wait for Santa, haha.
alternate text All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better first Christmas with my new husband 🙂 Hopefully our second Christmas together will have us in our first house, the place may be torn apart at that point with all the remodeling we have planned, but it would certainly be amazing! I was grateful to not have to do a ton of driving this year in trying to squeeze in all our family time in one day. We got to spend time with each family each day and then had Christmas day fully to ourselves.

All in all, I could ask for a better family, new and old 🙂 I’m a lucky girl!

My to-do list is never-ending lately! I can’t wait for the holidays, but I also can’t wait for them to be over too, isn’t that bad? haha.

Just a taste of what is on it:

  • Finalize Guest list (which is becoming a slight nightmare)
  • 10 page paper for crim class
  • Get copies of engagement pictures for Christmas cards
  • Write out and mail Christmas cards
  • Decide on and order my wedding dress (because I’m tall they need to special-order it, and that takes 18 weeks…I won’t have it until around March!!)
  • Price wine at our favorite neighborhood winery, Rustic Acres Winery. We’re looking at around 3 cases of the most amazing wine in the world!
  • Price kegs. Justin has really, really, really expensive taste in beer. Damn his good taste! haha
  • Apply for a liquor license. We’re having the wedding/reception in a dry county (I didn’t even think those existed anymore!)
  • Book appointment for bridal party for hair/makeup on wedding day.
  • Square away an officiant to marry us.
  • find bridesmaid dresses that work for everyone.
  • Find a florist/decide on flowers
  • Finish Christmas shopping!!

    Yeah, just a little taste of all the craziness to come. Along with all that, our last day of school before our little Thanksgiving break is tomorrow, and then only a week after that before finals. I can’t wait for a nice Christmas break, however, next semester is going to be so horrible words can’t even cover it. I’d like to get a lot of wedding stuff done before then, all the stuff that requires Justin and I to be somewhere at the same time together, because after break that available time is doing to diminish greatly. I’m enjoying it all though. I thrive on being busy, I love having a full schedule. But I also love that elusive down time of being a wino with my fiance at home, and that doesn’t happen much.

    I’m actually really looking forward to Christmas Eve. I get out of work at 8 and Justin is done at 5:30. We’re going to cook a huge Christmas dinner for the two of us (leftovers!) and watch a Charlie Brown Christmas with lots of wine. We started this little tradition last year because it was right after we moved in. we didn’t really have the time to put a tree up and it was before the cable/internet was installed, so we just enjoyed each others company with wine and a movie with a million candles. It was very romantic and relaxing. The next day consisted of running around like mad, but it’s family and so worth it.

    We had Thanksgiving dinner this past Saturday at my parents house. This was the first time my parents met any of his family, and I think it went over very well. My parents German Shepard (Panzer, named appropriately as the German word meaning “tank”) did not knock anyone over like I really thought he would. He’s almost 100 pounds, but only a year old and thinks he still weighs under 20. Everyone got along and there were not awkward silences, which are pretty much hthe worst possible thing ever. Our cooking was great, and everyone had a good time. Granted I was maybe a little half tipsy, if it weren’t for the wine I probably would have been on edge all night. I’m a professional worrier. Thank you, Lambrusco.

    These next few months are going to be so amazingly exciting, I really do feel like the luckiest woman in the entire world.

  • Just another manic Monday.  Ugh.  So freaking busy today.
    Anyway, I have another delicious recipe that I promised I would share. This went over well with Justin. Brian, and Brittany. I made this shortly after Justin and I got together and I’m pretty sure this is one of the reason’s he proposed. That and my lasagna, but that’s another story all together.
    This recipe is for cashew-encrusted pork, otherwise known as bound-to-get-lucky-and-proposed-to pork. It’s based off of this recipe from Kraftfoods.com, although like most things I cook, I pretty much do whatever the hell I want. First you have your pork tenderloin, although if you are starving to death and want a quick meal I would not suggest tenderloin- it takes nearly two hours to cook, and we have a hardcore hot-as-hell oven. Go with pork chops, they work very well too. If you do go for the tenderloin, stab the little bugger to death and cut it in half, like you see here. Trust me, better to wait two hours than four. the first variation I make from the original recipe from Kraft is that I don’t use pecans, I use cashews. Honestly the first time I made it I just picked up cashews by mistake, but I think it would taste better anyway, we both love cashews, and I’m really not a fan of pecans. Take them or leave them. To crunch them up into itty-bitty pieces I put some in between two pieces of wax paper and use a jar (any glass jar) to beat the crap out of them. This part would probably be best if we had a meat mallet, but that will go on our registry. haha. I also usually use a whole can, or as much of the can as I get after Justin attacks it. next is the ingredients! da da dum. It also leads into the super-messy part. You need: dried tarragon leaves, honey, minced garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil (or any oil, whatever). I also add Italian seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder, and sage. I’m kind of a seasoning freak. Add as much or as little as you like. I really like experimenting with the sweet/salty combo. I also think the honey/tarragon mix is pure genius. Unfortunately I cannot take credit for that, but what can you do. This is usually my favorite part. Although the mixture doesn’t taste very good uncooked it smells amazing. I just use the smell test until I get it right. heh.
    After you do get it right, cover the pork pieces in the mixture and rub it in good. Then roll the pork with the mixture on it in the cashew pieces untill you have a nice even coating. Sprinkle the remaining cashews on top. I find that any smallish glass dish works best for this recipe. Add peaches and a couple chopped onions around the pork. I know, it sounds weird, but it is so amazing I can’t even tell you. Cover dish with foil and cook until pork is cooked through. Like I said, the pork can take forever and a day to cook, but it’s so worth it. After your toiling you should end up with something like this. I have to say, it’s not as colorful as I would like it, but maybe I can amend it a little to add some color…red strawberries? and something green…maybe green onions, I’m not sure. This is seriously one of our favorite recipes. I asked Justin the other day what he liked best out of everything I cooked. The first thing he said was the ham I posted about a month ago….but let’s face it, you don’t have to be a culinary genius to cook a ham. Seriously, unless you’re butchering the pig yourself there is absolutely no skill needed to unwrap ham, put in pan, and turn on oven. Not exactly impressive. So then I asked him what his next favorite thing was, and he said the lasagna/this recipe. Sooooo, I guess we have a winner here, because I’ve cooked a lot.
    This weekend is the big weekend. Justin’s family (parents, brother, sis-in-law) and my family (parents, brother) are….meeting! haha. We figured it’s probably about time considering we’re all going to be family here in 284 days! EEP! I’m excited/nervous though. I’m sure everything will be fine, but damned if I’m not having a glass (or 5) of wine before the actual event. So Friday We’re hitting up the local (amazing) winery and will probably have a good old time with my parents Friday night. I’m sure I’ll obsess over this some more in the next few days, but it will be great to finally have everyone meet.

    The holidays are coming!

    This usually isn’t a time of too much stress, but this Thanksgiving is going to be very, very different.  Justin’s family is meeting mine!

    Ok, it’s not going to be a huge blowout.  It’s going to cinsist of my family, my mom, dad, and 17 year old brother, and Justin’s mom, dad, brother and sister in law.  you know those two as John and Lori. haha.  this will all take place at my parents house.  I think my mom had a mini-panic attack at the thought of hosting dinner, but we simply just have the most room for nine people.  I know it has to be weird for all our parents, They have never met before, so technically they are strangers, although they are this close to being family.  My mom is a people pleaser too, so she’s a little worried about making a good impression…kind of like I was come to think of it 🙂  my brother and my dad are a lot more laid back.  My dad will keep my mom sane and Andrew will play video games. haha.

    So now I’m looking up something new to make this year.  I’m not coming up with anything good unfortunetly.  Justin, my mom and I will be the cooks this year.  Justin and I are going to spend the night at my parents the night before Thanksgiving so we can wake up with my mom and start cooking so she isn’t too stressed.  I think it’s probably about time that they all met, considering we’re getting married and all that now. haha.

    In any case, I will continue the search for the perfect recipe to impress all my family and hopefully we won’t burn the turkey!