Home for the Holiday!

I hope that you all are having a wonderful Christmas weekend!  I thought I’d share some of the happenings around my family with you.  Also, I’m sorta taking a cheat week to just post photos!

 

When you get home, and have to finish presents still!

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Where are the chestnuts when you need them!?

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When the haul is looking good!

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When Snapchat gets a little too festive!

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All hail the popcorn ball tree!

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When you never know what’s gonna end up under the tree!

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When you pack your whole closet and then make pointless wardrobe changes for Christmas mass…..

 

When Christmas mornings are the best mornings!

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When you bought almost all the eyeshadows, but none of them are quite right….so you shop some more!

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When you have a new member of the family, and you love him dearly!

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I would like to introduce everyone to my new Italian baby….Maximus!  He comes in at a happy and healthy 5 liters, and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome him home!

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

HAPPY MONTH OF CHRISTMAS!!!!

Every year when December hits I get a little bit…..

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……partly because it’s Christmas time and that’s amazeballs, and partly because it’s Christmas time and I have so much to do!

I maybe got a bit overexcited about having finally bought a tree for the house this year…..and I maybe put up my tree early.  Like maybe too early?!  How early is too early, does anyone really know that answer to that question?  I put mine up before Thanksgiving, but I didn’t decorate it or the garlands until after…..so I think that makes it ok!?  Let’s face it, houses just feel way more cozy and homey when they are decorated for Christmas, and you really only get to experience that feeling for a month….ish.  So, I feel like you should really extend it as long as possible to get the maximum effect!

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The face you make when you maybe decorated early, and you’re worried the neighbors are judging you.

December is also the month of my birthday, and tradition dictates that I do certain things…..namely work as little as possible, workout, and get my nails done!!  I’m happy to report that Friday was a great success in all those categories, except that I did end up work sightly more than originally intended.

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(Insert overly posed picture of manicure and Christmas ornaments)

I also got some sweet birthday presents this year.  Momma Mishappenings got me a blender and some ornaments for the new tree.  Now I just need warmer weather so I can whip up some smoothies and margaritas!!  Lil Sis got me some of my new favorite lotion and some flowers!

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I spent the weekend doing laundry and Christmas prep……exciting I know.  But, crafts and knitting aren’t gonna do themselves, so Netflix, tea, and knitting was my weekend to do list.  I did go to dinner and drinks with the BFB and the Hubby in Law last night so that was always a good time.  We intended to try a fun place downtown, but there was a construction accident there the other day and we weren’t sure we could get to our intended location.  Instead, we hit up the Irish pub, and I discovered they had Shiner Cheer on tap…..which is also a symbol that the best time of the year is upon us.  If you haven’t tried it, you need to….and it’s seasonal…..SO GET ON IT SOON!

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Brewed with peaches and pecans….it’ tastes like the holidays!

The other weekend activity I had to start was Christmas baking.  I only make poppy seed bread for the holidays, but since I can only do 4 loaves at a time, I have to start early!  I’ll link the recipe, it’s a family favorite and definitely worth a try.  Embrace the messy within you, and don’t be afraid of oozing poppy seeds!  I ripped small holes in all the loaves last night and had no explosions in the oven!!  #victory

Pro Tip:  If you have a hole or some oozing….just flip that part into the bottom of the pan…..that will sometimes….usually…..keep the explosion for occurring.  No explosion means a clean oven!

Well, that about wraps up my week of excitement.  Now it’s just onto crafting and knitting like a crazy person to get everyone’s presents done on time!  I know I should work on these things all year, or start earlier at least, but who wants a big pile of knitting in their lap when it’s hot outside?!?  Not this girl, I can tell you that!

Things to be Thankful For

As we wrap up the Thanksgiving festivities and rev up for the holiday season, I think it’s important to spend some time reflecting on friends and family.  In an unfortunate turn of events, my Dad’s whole family had to gather together and bury my Grandpa.  Maybe he had it all planned out that way, because traditionally we wouldn’t all be together as a family for Thanksgiving, especially since everyone has gotten older and most of the grandkids have started families of their own.

We have always been fortunate to be able to take family vacations.  We’ve been to Alaska, Europe, Disney World, and San Francisco.  However, one vacation destination that has always been the go to has been Williamsburg Virginia.  I’m not sure why we ever started going there, I just know that now when we “need” to go on vacation, if no where else is decided, Williamsburg is really the answer.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, and being thankful for family, and because Williamsburg always feels particularly festive….I present to you:

Williamsburg Through the Decades

There are no photos of infant Mishappenings enjoying the colonial capital of 18th century Virginia.  The camera or the film didn’t cooperate and all the pictures came out black.  My very first vacation, and there’s no evidence I was even there!

These photos were from a trip we made in 1992.  There are still plenty of overly friendly and carefree squirrels and gingerbread cookies to be had, and it’s good to know that sometimes things don’t change.  Somethings, like traveling with our baby blankets, have changed.  Also, luckily for me, my fashion choices have changed….some…..

 

1997 was the trip of hats and bonnets.  When enjoying the capital city, it’s important to be fashionable and on trend.

 

2000:  Someone was still trying to embrace colonial fashions, I had maybe outgrown that need by now.

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We went in December of 2004 shortly after my birthday and were there for the start of the Christmas season.  I had just been given this sweater for my birthday and as you can see I was quite please with it.  This was also my phase where I was pretty convinced that my green hi-top Converse All-Stars went perfectly with any and all outfits!

Sadly, the gentlemen in the photo passed away a few years ago, but he had been a familiar presence on all our previous trips.

 

2009 was the last time we all travelled to the colonial city as a whole family.  I believe it was in the spring.  It was the first time that I had to fly separately and meet my family there because I was away at college.  I also recall that I had to fly with several text books in my suitcase because lab reports don’t stop being due because you’re on vacation!

 

 

2016: Our first big family trip without Dad.  We decided that something familiar might be nice, so we headed back to Williamsburg.

 

Other things that never change are my love of the apothecary shop, and the need for my parents to take slightly posed photos of me in the shop.  I present to you the difference that 16 years can make!  I think it’s important to note that that jacket still fits me….so I’ve been basically this same size my entire life!

 

Another change is they now have beer….and I’m old enough to have it!  

Colonial Williamsburg now offers a selection of beers that you can purchase throughout the historic area.  We also tried out a modern restaurant right on the edge of the Historic District that had one of the largest beer menus I’ve ever seen!  If you’re ever in town I would recommend the DoG Street Pub.  It’s loud but the building is a nice blend of colonial and modern, and the food was delicious and huge in portion.  Easy to find right on the corner of Duke of Gloucester street between the Historic District and the campus of William and Mary.

If you aren’t into beer and American fare, then Sal’s by Victor needs to by on your to do list.  Again, I’m not sure how we ever found it, but it was a favorite of Daddy Mishappenings and we ate there often.  In fact, we ate there twice on our most recent trip….because why mess with a good thing!?

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Yes….I ate the whole thing……TWICE….on our trip!

 

We don’t always get along, but when we do…we take snapchat pictures and embarrass my mother in public.  The face swap photo is probably hands down the worst picture of both of us that has ever….and probably will ever exist!

 

 

These are just some pictures of my favorite places and spaces around the Historic District for your viewing pleasure.

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Christmas Prepping: Poppy Seed Bread

I’ve had a couple requests to post a blog about all the crafting I’m doing for Christmas presents this year.  This blog will come, but it’s going to have to wait.  I can’t really post about the presents I’m giving to people next week!  To get you in the Christmas spirit though, I thought I’d share a recipe I make for Christmas every year.

I’m not generally much of a baker.  Honestly, I almost never, ever bake.  It’s just so time consuming, it generates a huge amount of dishes, and you have to be so accurate with the measurements.  It does seem odd that I don’t like to be analytical in the kitchen, because being analytical is one of the traits that got me through school and it helps me excel at my job.  Maybe I just need the kitchen to be a place where I can just relax with wine and cook by feel?!?

Whatever the reason, baking just isn’t my forte.  When I do bake, I tend to make bread.  Which is odd because bread generally isn’t considered like “Intro to Baking” level activity.  I always seem to have a huge collection of bananas in the freezer, and every now and again I’ll get a wild hair to whip up several loaves of banana bread.  The other thing I bake “regularly” is my Grandma’s recipe for poppy seed bread.  It isn’t a traditional poppy seed bread.  Forget the visions of lemon poppy seed bread currently dancing through your brain.  This bread involves making some poppy seed goo and then rolling it all up a la jelly roll.

There’s nothing  particularly “Christmas-y” about this recipe, and I don’t remember that Grandma ever made it specifically for Christmas.  However, once she got sick and stopped cooking, I started making the recipe, because someone needed to be making it.  I was in college then, so I always ended up making it over Christmas break.  Now I try and make batches every Christmas and give them out for part of Christmas gifts.  No one else really makes it, so it’s my little attempt to keep a family recipe alive.

 

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These two though…..they hang in my closet and I see them everyday.  Their memory reminds me to stay humble and work hard.

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A little Nutcracker action, to keep you in the holiday spirit!

The problem with this recipe is that it’s not really much to go on.  My Grandma, and her mother, were that old school breed of women who could cook for days without a recipe at all and everything just ended up perfect.  They used specific bowls to measure thing, and the phrases, “mix till it feels right” and “just throw some in” are what come to mind when I remember cooking with my Grandma at the farm.  I remember calling Grandma one of the first times I decided to bake the poppy seed bread because my goo wasn’t becoming goo.  I had already added way more cornstarch than she had originally told me, and like I often do when things are going astray….I started to panic!  We sat on the phone for a while and chatted while I stood and stirred my goo in hopes that something would start to happen.  She just kept telling me to add more…….few minutes later, “Is it getting thick?”  Nope……”well just add some more!”  So, I guess if you try this, and things don’t seem to be working out, just remember to add more cornstarch!!

Recipe: Makes 2 Loaves

Dough

  • 1 Package Yeast
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Margarine
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 4-41/2 cups Flour

Filling–The Goo

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 oz Poppy Seeds
  • 2-4 heaping tbs Corn Starch mixed in small amount of water

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Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.  Warm the milk and margarine in the microwave until just melted, and add to the yeast mixture.  Add in the salt, sugar, and egg and whisk well to combine.  Whisk in the first 2 cups of flour.  The last two cups need to be stirred in.  Don’t worry if you can’t get the whole last cup of flour to mix in.  Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.  Place in a large bowl, cover, and place in a warm space.  Let raise to double and then punch the dough back down and let it raise again.

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This is a double batch, it will raise enough to totally fill this huge bowl.  I only use this bowl for poppy seed bread.  Maybe I’m more like my Grandma than I thought!

While the dough is raising, prep the filling.  Place the milk, sugar, and seeds in a saucepan on the stove.  Heat until just before boiling while stirring to prevent scalding.  Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water, I just do this in a coffee mug.  While stirring the seed mixture, pour in the cornstarch slurry.  Continue stirring to avoid lumps and heat to boiling.  The mixture will thicken as it cools some, but it’s better if the mixture is too thick.  Runny goo will make your life a struggle later.  Don’t be afraid to add more cornstarch!  I made two batches of bread this weekend.  Yesterday’s batch had goo that was slightly on the runny side, today’s was maybe too thick.  Trust me, thick is definitely easier.  It stays where you put it and doesn’t come oozing out the ends before you can crimp them up!

Once your dough is ready, divide in half.  Roll out half on a floured surface to about 1 foot long and 6 inches wide.  Place a small line of goo about 2 inches from the end of the dough.  Flip the dough over to make a pocket around the goo.  Press down all around the edge to seal in the goo, make sure the get the ends well sealed.  Add another line of goo on the crimp line, and flip the original pocket over to make another pocket.  You’ll keep doing this until you get to the end of the dough.  The goo probably oozed out of the ends slightly , and you might be feeling a bit sticky at this point.  It’s all fine, and I promise it will taste just fine.  Carefully, place the loaf final seam side down in a loaf pan.  I sometimes don’t get my dough sized right, if it’s too big for the pan just squish the ends in a little…..no one will know!

Under the advice of a boy I attempted to spread the filling across the dough and roll it like a jelly roll.  Let’s just say that Grandma’s know how to do these things best.  I have to admit I had always been curious about why it wouldn’t work.  It ended up being much harder to seal, it totally burst open in the oven, and it is definitely the saddest of the 4 loaves I made yesterday.  Live, learn, and trust Grandma on that one I guess!

Cover the pans and let rise slightly before baking at 350 for 45 mins.  Once baked and cooled slightly, tip out of pans and place in bags to freeze or let cool on a cooling rack.  If you didn’t get all the ends and seams sealed up, some of the goo might have burst out of the bread.  Again, this is all fine and won’t effect much other than maybe the floor of your oven. Let cool before cutting so that the goo can reset.  I like mine with butter, but its equally good plain.

 

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You might get some air pockets and you might get some oozing filling, but trust me…..your mouth doesn’t care at all!

The dough can also be used as Long John dough.  I’ve never done this, but Grandma always used the same recipe.  After the dough has raised, roll and divide into equal portions, shape, and deep fry.  In traditional Peterson style, your Long Johns should be topped with vanilla frosting and chopped peanuts.

Happy baking!  If I don’t write again before Christmas, here’s hoping that you and your families have a very Merry Christmas!

❤ MisHappenings