Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year in Review...

A lot of people are talking about 2010, and how they didn't have a great year, are ready for it to be over, and are putting a lot of hope that 2011 will be better.  For me, I feel lucky to have had an amazing year.  From the very first second, to hopefully the last, it was a great year for me. 

The very first second of 2010, Gimpy told me he loved me for the first time.  How could you have a more perfect start to a year?  I was with all of my friends, and a man I loved (but was too scared to tell him that back yet!)  It was a truely wonderful start to the year.  Plus, look how skinny I was - can you believe that arm??  (I'm on the right of Mike doing the cheek kissing)
January was a great month of fun, relaxing, and just being with my friends, while still training for my half marathons with Kitty.  We had a ski trip to Mt Snow with one group of our friends that we don't hang out with a lot, and learned that if you put 10 people in a hot tub, there won't be a lot of water left when you get out!

February kicked off with Melissa's birthday, and a Jersey Shore party.  How Jersey do Gimpy and I look?

We had an awesome Valentine's Day - both out with all of our single friends, and then when we went to dinner together.  We had more birthdays, more nights out, and more fun than we can handle.  March kicked off with a trip to Orlando with Kitty and MM, one of my favorite people in the world who was living in SC, but moving to Alaska with her husband.  The three of us girls were running the Disney Princess half marathon.  We were up at 3am, started the race as the sun came up, and while I didn't finish with my best time (2h 8m), I was able to have an unbeliveable experience with two of my best friends.
March fun continued with my birthday where half of the City lost power, and we were able to party for basically three days straight.  We had St Patrick's Day, and a little bit of an odd moment for me when I got the call from a friend that my ex was getting married to a girl he hadn't even been dating for 6 months.  It was a call that brought up some mixed emotions for me... I was sad for the girl (biggest mistake she'll ever make), sad to remember all the hell he put me through, and relieved that I got out of things stronger, and ready to find someone who would show me what being in love, and in a relationship, really felt like.  Also in March, a trip to Texas to help my friend Blair pick out her wedding dress.  A little bittersweet, considering she won't get to wear it as soon as we'd hoped

April marked Gimpy and my first Easter together, a tangerine maple glazed ham, and 19 bottles of wine for 12 people.  Oops.  My volleyball team won our league and playoffs, so I got to take home two huge trophys.  It was also Gimpy's birthday month, and the first time I went to VA with him to meet his whole family.  I threw a "Nothing Suits You Like a Suit" party for my friend Mike, and closed down the month.

May was the Long Branch Half Marathon with Kitty - the most epic hot day.  May also was home to the Preppy Pub Crawl, and a visit from my fabulous friend V.  We finished up the month with a massive tailgate and DMB concert, and were ready for boating season. 

June is Birthday Month for us.  We had B's birthday, Kitty's birthday, and if you can believe, we had 6 other birthdays.  It was also the beginning of Alive at 5, our outdoor summer concert series, and the end to productive Fridays! 
July kicked off with a fantastic trip to Nantucket, and a creepy underware thief.  We threw a jewlery party for a friend who started a new business, and spent more time on a boat than you can even imagine....

August was filled with weddings, more boating, and my historic icing.  While there have been some good ones, I think I am still unmatched in this area!  We had more birthdays, housewarmings, more and more boating, and my youngest nephew turning one. 

September kicked off with a Labor Day BBQ, Gimpy further convincing me that I'm the luckiest girl on the planet, a Yankees game, a Hurricane party, and more boating.  October was here before we knew it.  My sister's best friend got married to a guy who told her 8 years ago he didn't believe in marriage, I took 23 people on a tour of 5 vineyards, and I threw a Coming to America party for my friend's 2nd anniversary here.  We went apple picking, I got to visit my friends in Texas, and Gimpy's childhood friend had HIS heart broken.  We also had Halloween, several nights of it! 

November marked our scavenger hunt, the throwing out of my back, and the first time I had my dad's whole family over for Thanksgiving dinner.  I also threw my 10 year high school reunion, and got to feel a little old as I met everyone's pregnant wives!  Now it was my favorite time of year... the holidays!

We had some more birthdays, a cookie swap party, of course the 12 Bars of Christmas, Festivus, family time, and the sadness of losing Flip.  Tonight marks the end of an amazing 2010, and for me holds a lot of promise that 2011 will be even better. 

So, to you and yours, have a Happy and Safe New Year, and may 2011 be filled with amazing times! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Italian Sandwich

One work day I was bored and chatting with my friend Glenn (ladies, if you like athletic, funny, awesome guys with an MBA who are just a little short, let me know and I'll hook you up), and he was trying to figure out what he could make for dinner.
I suggested that he make an Italian sandwich, and he loved it so much that he reported back that he makes it all the time!  Of course, that made me think I needed to make it a blog post for you guys.

Italian Sandwich
Take a cibatta roll, slice in half, and layer with pesto
Add roasted red peppers

Layer with prosciutto and mozzarella
Top and enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Skinny Chicken Corn Chowder

We have been having a massive two day blizzard rocking through the North East, which makes me crave soup, but of course my favorite soups are loaded with cream and other nonsense.  I set out on a mission to make a healthy corn chowder.  I found a recipe, and decided I need to plump it up!  I wanted to add more veggies, garlic, and add some chicken - protein takes it up a notch.

Skinny Chicken Corn Chowder
4 cups of corn
2 cups skim milk
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup assorted peppers diced
1 chicken breast, diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 cups veggie stock
3 garlic cloves, put through the garlic press
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine 2 cups of corn and milk in a bowl, cream using an immersion blender.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in the bottom of your large stock pot with the diced chicken, and diced veggies - with the exception of the tomatoes.  Cook until the chicken is cooked through and veggies are soft.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.

After boiling, turn the heat down slightly and add the creamed corn mixture and tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper, and heat through.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cookie Swap Party!

Last week we had a cookie swap party!  It was 13 girls, and we each made 5 dozen cookies of one type of cookie and got to take 5 of each flavor.  It ended up being a perfect assortment, but a TON of cookies!

We had some of the traditional cookies - sugar cookies, Italian wedding cookies, rum balls, gingerbread, kiss cookies and then we had some unique cookies.  B made marshmallows covered with chocolate and peppermint, and we had haystacks, cranberry pistachio biscotti, pumpkin cookies, and I made peppermint whoopie pies!  

It was great because I was able to make three plates like above!  One for my sister, one for my dad's family, and one to send with Gimpy to VA.  

Peppermint Whoopie Pies 
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
6 cups flour
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 1/2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt 
3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350.  In mixer, mix butter, sugar, and eggs until well blended.  Add oil and vanilla and mix again.  Meanwhile, mix all dry ingredients together.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixer, and blend.  Add 1 1/2 cups of milk, mix.  Add the remaining dry ingredients, mix, add remaining milk, and blend.  

Scoop tiny (size of a large marble) spoonfuls of dough on ungreased cookie sheets, an inch apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool, stuff, and serve!  

1 1/2 cups shortening 
3 cups confectioners sugar 
1 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff 
Dash of salt 
1 tsp of peppermint extract 
1/2 cup crushed candy canes 
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk

Combine all ingredients in your mixer except the milk.  Add just enough milk to make the filling creamy.    Spread over cookie halves, and put together.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Man Down - Flamingo Lost

Well, tonight was an interesting Wednesday.  I'm not sure if I've ever told the blogosphere about my pet flamingo.... or our pet chimpanzee for that matter.  Flip, my flamingo, used to sing and dance, and have a blast, and one very, very drunk night (8pm), B and I decided to make him a facebook page, some music videos, and do a photo montage.  It basically sealed his cult status around town.

Flip was the perfect buffer!  When we met random people who wanted to come on our pub crawls, we'd have them friend Flip, not us (who wants creepy stalkers??), and he could send out the invites, without us having to worry about sending them to randoms.  He usually will come to the first two or three bars, and then pass out drunk in the car so we don't have to worry about him all night.

This year, the girls brought him out.  I knew I couldn't watch him - I was managing 120 people through 12 bars, it's kind of a lot of work!  We got our family photo....

And then I proceeded to move people through 9 more bars.  Soooo.... basically, someone left Flip behind.  I was told at one point he was left at a particular bar, and called over.  They told me they had him, so I was relieved!  Little did I know they were about to earn a lifetime ban for lying to me....

Sunday morning we got up and did the pub crawl in reverse, in new outfits, or versions of our outfits from the night before!

When we got to the lying bar, we were crushed to hear that they didn't have Flip.  We checked back another few bars, and I became extremely upset!  We started a facebook group to Find Flip, and began our hunt.

My awesome friend Danielle made posters, and she and I posted them all around town.  Hopefully we'll find him soon....

With that being said - if you find a random pink flamingo dressed like a present, please send him home!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Third Annual 12 Bars of Christmas - a Smashing Success!

This past Saturday marked the Third Annual 12 Bars of Christmas in Stamford.  It was a HUGE success!  We met at 5 at Butterfield and just before 6 we held the first ever costume contest.  I was so pleased with the spirited costumes and the great attitudes that everyone had. 

We had lots of creative costumes - some of the most unique were
  • The grinch and his dog Max
  • A stocking stuffer
  • A Christmas tree
  • Christmas Bleeker
  • A Jewish Ice in a Box (see here for icing)
  • Reindeer Games
  • And of course, Gimpy's Gingerbread man

I sold out of the 100 koozies we had by 10 minutes into the second bar, making this officially our biggest pub crawl ever!  We hit at least 115 people, so very much a successful night.  We had two small glitches, because of time we ended up cutting Buffalo Wild Wings off of our line-up.  We figured if we had to cut one, it was better to cut one that wasn't offering specials.  10 of us did still run in to take a shot though!  We also had to skip Grand... turns out they had a private party, and couldn't fit us in!  Here again though, about 10 of us ran in to take a shot, so I did make it to all 12 bars! 

Adding to another success, is that we were written up in one of Stamford's online news sources, the Stamford Patch.  I am so pleased to be able to throw these types of events, and am really lucky to live in a City that supports fun! 

Special thanks to the following bars:
Butterfield 8, Tigin, SBC, Rack and Roll, Hula Hanks, Black Bear, Tiernan's, Bobby V's, and Riviera Maya!  Thanks for your support and help in making this our best pub crawl to date!

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Bars of Christmas Crunch Time

Tomorrow marks the 3rd Annual 12 Bars of Christmas!  I am excited and nervous.  Excited because we have 95 people who have RSVP'd that they will be coming, and nervous because of three things.

1.  That's a lot of people to move between bars
2.  I lost last week because of a business trip in San Francisco, so I am way behind in costume prep
3.  From losing last week, I've been up all hours of the night sewing, and have gotten sick :(

My costume is a little bit of a nightmare!  I'm going as a gingerbread girl, and sewing a dress.  Problem is, the pattern left off directions to make the pleats in the skirt, and to attach it to the bodice!  So I'm trying to figure that out. 

Gimpy's costume is almost done.  I need him to try it on before I can hem the sleeves and the legs, and then put the frosting on it.  He's going to be Gingy from Shrek
And... this is what I have done so far
I have to make his head, put in the zipper, and do the frosting.  Should be fairly easy! 

We have a housewarming party tonight, so I want to try and finish my costume before we go, and then only stay a short time and finish Gimpy's when we get home!  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fun Party Display from San Francisco

This week I'm in San Francisco for a work conference.  It's been a loooong week, and I did a little bit of Christmas shopping while I've been here.  I wandered into Crate and Barrel to send Gimpy some ideas for holiday gifts for me, and saw the cutest idea. 

They used their place card holders to label bottles of wine! 
I wouldn't use my place card holders to label wine, I mean, let's be serious, it's on the labels!  I do love this idea though for labeling my appetizers that I put out.  I have some really cute ones at home that are super Christmas-y, so I think I'll try it for my next party or brunch. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simple, Make Ahead Party Appetizers!

This one's for you V....

A few days ago I got an email from my good friend asking for easy party appetizers that can be made ahead for a holiday party that she's having next weekend.  Of course she asked me the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so here's her answer!

Baked Brie
1 Brie Round
3 Tbsp Raspberry Preserves
1/4 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
Crescent Roll Dough

Preheat oven to 375.  Take 4 triangles of the crescent roll dough, and make a square, pinching the seams tightly to avoid leaking brie.  Place the brie on top, followed by the raspberry preserves and chocolate chips .  Take the other 4 triangles of dough, and make them a square.  Lay over the top of the brie, sealing the crescent roll dough together on both sides.  Make sure that all of the seams are sealed tightly!
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the brie is golden.  Serve with crackers, apple, and pear slices.

Tomato Basil Bruschetta 
Loaf of French Bread
2 Tomatoes
1 Ball Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

Thinly slice the bread, and toast the slices.  In the meantime, chop into tiny chunks the tomatoes and cheese, and julienne the basil.  Mix all together in a bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the bread slices on a plate and top each with a scoop of the bruschetta topping.  Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar, and serve.

You can't go wrong with a fruit platter with a simple low-fat yogurt dip as dessert.  People are consuming so many calories with alcohol this time of year, go with a slightly healthier dessert!  

Chicken Pesto Cheese Bread 
1 Loaf Raw Bread Dough
1/4 Cup Pesto
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Grilled Chicken Breast

Spread out the bread dough, and smear pesto in the middle.  Chop the chicken breast, and spread that with the cheese.  Seal the dough, and bake the loaf on a greased pan for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Slice, and serve!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner for 18, oh wait, 15!

Today is going to be a busy day!  I am hosting Thanksgiving for 15 tomorrow and I hurt my back pretty badly at the end of last week (still not sure what I did), so I have to give myself plenty of time for prepping!  This is my first time actually hosting my biological family for any type of event, so I'm a little nervous. 

My dad is the second oldest of 6 boys, though the oldest passed away when I was about 6, and while he and my mom were married for 25 years, she never hosted his family for a holiday.  My youngest uncle's wife has been doing both Thanksgiving and Christmas for at least four years now, and my grandmother and I thought she could use a break. 

On Sunday after church, Gimpy came with me to the grocery store to buy everything.  I was cooking for 18, and so wanted to get a 24lb turkey.  Problem was, they sold out of the 20-25lb in the kind I wanted, and were trying to get me to pay close to $3/lb for a 24lb in another type!  So Gimpy had the brilliant idea that I should get the 28lb, and just save myself $20.  Check, and check.  My aunt and uncle who always flake on holidays called me yesterday to let me know they weren't coming, so down a few people, but still enough food for 18.  Good thing I have a dad and a sister to send leftovers home with! 

I have to map out everything I'm making, and figure out the timing over the next two days, giving myself extra time for my back :(

So this morning, I woke up and made the brine for my turkey!

Turkey Brine
1 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 gallon low sodium chicken stock
Rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, parsley, scallions

I put all the ingredients together, brought to a boil, making sure to dissolve the salt and sugar completely.  I then put it in an easy pour pitcher, and left it in the mini fridge to cool while I'm at work.  When I get home, I'll pull out Mr Turkey, give him a good rinse down, clean out his insides, and put him in a brining bag with the above mixture and another gallon of water.  I'll then put him in a cooler on the balcony filled with more ice water to keep him chilled.  Tomorrow morning, he'll come out of the oven, get a rinse, and put in my roasting pan! 

After my turkey is taken care of this afternoon, I'll chunk up my butternut squash and sweet potatoes, get them roasting in the oven, and roast some garlic at the same time.  I'll then prep my corn casserole, broccoli casserole, my green beans (not in cheese or cream thank you very much!), make my pecan pie, cube my bread for whisky sausage stuffing, prep my baked brie.....  Lots of work to be done! 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guess What Arrived Today....

The koozies for the 3rd Annual 12 Bars of Christmas!  I am so excited, because now we can really start to get people in the holiday spirit.  We have 52 people who've RSVP'd for the pub crawl so far, but with over 100 who haven't yet responded, I am confident we'll hit at least 70 this year.

Three years ago we launched the first 12 Bars of Christmas, and didn't like the idea of everyone wearing Santa Suits, or matching tee shirts.  Call me crazy, but I love to let people tap into their individuality, and go nuts with their costumes.

The rules of 12 Bars is simple.  Pick 12 bar locations, and keep in mind you need to be able to walk between them, or at least the last 10.  Tell your guests that they have to wear their finest holiday gear - tacky Christmas sweater, santa suit, antlers, slutty elf costume, whatever they want!  They then bring money for the koozie, I charge $3 each, and then they'd better be prepared to drink their way through the day and night!

Determine your approximate number of attendees, and then approach the bar owners or managers, and let them know the date, the approximate time you'll be there, and how many people.  If you can get drink specials, that's even better for your crew!  

I always let the managers and owners know that all the people on my pub crawl will have matching koozies, and show them what they look like.  That way, everyone can just show their koozie to get the drink special, and the bar doesn't have to print up bracelets or anything.  We stay at the first bar for an hour and a half, and then try to limit to an hour each bar after that.  

Next step!  The invitation.  I like to send it out at least 5-6 weeks in advance because the holidays get a little busy for everyone.  We also always make sure our pub crawls are the same weekend every year!  Always the Saturday before Christmas.  Let the guests know the order of the bars, the drink special at each one, and how to join if they're late.

Then sing this little jingle....

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, A frosty beer just for me.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Two friends a laughing
On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Three stout ales 
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Four full glasses 
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Fiiiiive Jaaaaaager bombs
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Six straws a sipping
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Seven drinks a spilling
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Eight drunks a singing
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Nine dudes a stumbling 
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Ten shots a downing
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Eleven pints guzzling
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Twelve bars of crawling 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drunken Scavenger Hunt around Town! - Now with pictures!

Tomorrow night I am organizing what can only be called a drunken night around town.  I've decided we need to mix it up a bit, and get out to some new places, as well as break up the group of 40+ of us into smaller groups!  I've organized a scavenger hunt!

Gimpy and I are having people meet at Gingerman at 8 to have the first beer.  We'll give everyone to about 8:30, and we'll announce the rules and pass out the lists.  They'll have from 8:30 to 12:30 to gather as many points from the list as they can.

Here's my list!

5 Pts - Picture with a person in a band tee shirt (5 bonus points for their fave song  
10 Pts - Business cards with handwritten cell phone numbers on them (we will check them...)
15 Pts - Chug a drink against another person (photo evidence required)          
5 Pts - Picture with a person who has a musical instrument
20 Pts - Photo evidence of someone serenading you, or you serenading them

6 Pts - 6 different beer bottle caps
Unlimited - 1 Point for every matchbook from a bar or restaurant
25 Pts - Photo with someone in a uniform, any uniform
50 Pts - 6 person human pyramid (photo evidence)

10 Pts - Take out menu
15 Pts - Photo of one team member working behind the bar
75 Pts - Find Julie at Match, and figure out her favorite shot.  One team mate has to take shots until you get the right one - you don't both have to take them, but Julie will initial off when you get the right one!
     a. Sex on the Beach
     b. Slippery Nipple
     c. Buttery Nipple
     d. Blow Job
     e. Red Headed Slut
25 Pts - An empty nip bottle
10 Pts - Photo of the worst hair you can find
20 Pts - Cocktail umbrella
Unlimited - Wine corks, 1 point for each
5 Pts per person - How many people can you fit in a bathroom stall? (Photo evidence required)

75 Pts - A Zima
15 Pts - Picture with the preppiest person at the bar
25 Pts - 5 cocktail napkins with phone numbers and lipstick kisses

Gimpy and I will also include some clues where they have to figure out what bar we are at to end the night.  They have to report in at 12:30, and then we'll judge them, and announce the winners!

It was a really, really good time!  We had a blast, and I think that everyone around town also enjoyed my friends darting in and out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Year's Eve Nightmare...

Right now I'm in the middle of a New Year's Eve nightmare.  We've been talking about booking a ski house for weeks, and got everyone on board.  This isn't an event I am planning, I've just been serving as a consultant....

So the idea was, get all our friends together and have a big dinner on NYE, and then all hang out at the house and drink and have fun together.  More of a grown-up night than most of us have been having lately.  We'd have about 20 people (ideally 22), ski a few days, roast some marshmallows, and just have a good time in general. 

It's recently come to my attention that about half of our group, plans on going out to a bar on New Year's!  It's not something I can swing, the weekend alone is going to be close to $600 per person, and Gimpy and I are even skipping Hawaii in January for it (don't even get me started on how bummed I am).  I kind of feel that if we have a big group traveling 3 hours away, we should ALL do the same thing New Year's Eve - the whole point of it is to be together, not all go up to VT to do things on our own. 

This is when we need more friends in couples.... Luckily we have brunch Sunday to all talk and get on the same page - we need to get this straightened out ASAP! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Halloween Celebration!

This Saturday, since we are no longer going to VA for the wedding, we're celebrating Halloween in style!  B and I are doing a pre-game, and so I am ready for a celebration!

The first essential to a killer Halloween party is to have an inflatable beer pool!  You add ice, pumpkin beer, seasonal ales, and get ready to serve them up!

The next step is to have a killer seasonal cocktail.  I am making Cinnamon Snaps - a large pitcher of them!  

Cinnamon Snaps
1.5 cups vodka 
1 cup apple schnapps 
1 cup apple cider 
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1. Mix the vodka, schnapps, and cider in a pitcher.  Add ice cubes and stir.  
2. On a plate, mix the sugar and cinnamon.  Moisten the rims of champagne glasses, and dip in the mixture.
3. Pour the cocktail into your glass, serve, and enjoy!  

I'm making some delicious treats too!  The traditional piggies in a blanket, with turkey little smokies, Halloween cupcakes, mushrooms stuffed with boursin cheese, and a chicken with roasted red pepper pesto bread...  

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Bread 
1 Package of raw bread dough
1/3 cup roasted red pepper pesto
6 oz grilled chicken breast, sliced thin
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 

1. Grease a cookie sheet with a little olive oil
2. Spread out the bread dough, put the roasted red pepper pesto down in the middle
3. Layer the chicken on top of the pesto, top with cheese 
4. Roll up the edges of the dough, and pinch the seams tightly
5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until browned on top.  Slice and serve!  

Stay tuned for Halloween brunch...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Believe in Forever...

A lot of people don't believe in forever anymore, but I really do.  I guess I am old fashioned in the sense that I think when you are dating someone, the second that you feel like you can't see your future being with them, you should end things, but if you make a committment to love, honor, and cherish someone forever, you stick with it, no matter how difficult things get. 

Lately we've been busy with weddings.  We had three in August, and then another in October.  You may remember me saying about a month ago that my friend had her engagement called off, and I thought the guy was a big jerk. 

Well, Gimpy and I were supposed to drive to VA for a Halloween wedding on October 30th, and last night after kickball I went to his place.  He was looking at something on his computer, and asked if girls often get cold feet before their weddings. 

It turned out that the girl his friend was supposed to marry packed all of her things in the house that they shared while he was in Vegas for his bachelor party this past weekend.  When he got home, all traces of her were gone, and she'd moved back in with her mom. 

I think what really bugs me about both situations, is that clearly they've been having these feelings for a while.  Why wouldn't they feel comfortable talking about them with someone they loved so much that they asked/promised to marry them?  Does anyone have any thoughts? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Super Exciting Party Announcements!

The joke with my friends is that I'm like Brett Farve.  A few weeks ago in frustration, I retired from party planning, but added the addendum that it didn't include pub crawls, and was really mostly limited to events that required tickets or money. Everyone knew it wouldn't last long.

Now, here's one thing, for my friends in CT who read my blog, and speak to my friends here, stop reading if you can't keep this strictly confidential.  Just go on and read the next post about making a fabulous mushroom pasta.  If you can keep a secret, go ahead and read on.

So, last night after volleyball, I was sitting with my friend BG and discussing the frustration that while I am blissfully, perfectly, amazingly happy to have the hands down best boyfriend on the planet in Gimpy, all I want is for my friends to find that same happiness with their perfect person.  He's 30, and is in the same boat as a lot of my huge group of single friends - he wants to find someone special to share his life with.  We discussed that while it's amazing to have such a huge group of friends, it really hurts you when it comes to meeting new people.  As does going to the same bars, over, and over, and over again, where you've met all of the regulars. 

That's when it hit me.  I turned to him, and said "BG!  I have an idea.  I'm planning an event.  It will be a bar scavenger hunt, played as individuals, at the bars in SoNo.  I'm going to make all sorts of challenges for everyone, and it will be the perfect icebreaker to meet new people at the bar, and a great way to force everyone to talk to people they normally wouldn't approach, but might be super cool." 

The questions will be fun, and for some you'll have to get photo evidence on the phone, and others, people will have to write down parts.  The end will come at 12:30, and they'll have to follow the clues to where Gimpy and I are waiting to determine the winner.  Some examples will be "Identify someone wearing the shirt to a band.  Find out their favorite song."  "Get 2 people to send Flip a facebook friend request asking to be invited to The 12 Bars of Christmas".  I'm really excited for it, and I think it will be really good and fun for my friends.

Second piece of exciting news... I'm going as a gingerbread girl for the 12 Bars of Christmas this year, and Gimpy wants to go as the gingerbread man from Shrek!  Not matching, but coordinating for sure...  I've got to start making them both! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meatless Mushroom Pasta

Last week I was visiting my friends in Texas after a 3 day work conference in Austin.  On Saturday, I went to stay with my friend Jena, who is partially responsible for my love of cooking.  Jena and I lived together right out of college, and we'd cook our meals together.  When you're cooking for 2 instead of 1, you can really experiment and try new things. 

Jena and I went to my favorite place - Central Market - to pick up some things to cook for dinner.  It was during their Hail to the Cheese festival, so there were lots of yummy samples to try.  We decided to do a very mushroom pasta dish, and picked up 4 kinds of mushrooms. 

Mushroom Pasta
2 bunches fresh fettucini
Fresh thyme
Handful shiitake mushrooms
Handful chanterelle mushrooms
Handful hen of the woods mushrooms
Handful of matsutake mushrooms
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
3 TBSP half and half - or light cream, whatever you have
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup each shredded asiago, manchego, and parmesean cheeses

Bring water to a boil with salt and three springs of thyme - this will impart the flavor into your pasta.  In a wok, melt the butter, and add all of the chopped mushrooms.  Sautee until tender, add salt and pepper, the leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme, and the cream.  Add in 1/4 cup of the assorted cheeses. 

Drain your pasta, remove the thyme sprigs, and add to the wok.  Mix together the mushrooms and pasta, and top with remaining cheese.  Serve with wine, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Start a Wine Tour...

Some of you may remember me telling you that I was taking a group of people wine tasting this Fall, and last weekend was the big Saturday! 

This was one of my most challenging events to organize, but one that paid off big time.  I created a facebook event asking people in the subject line to read all of the details before responding.  No brainer, right?  Not so much.  So I had my 24 people committed, most paid in the timely manner that I asked, and then a few who I got so mad at (3 weeks delinquent with their money) so I sold away their spots. 
  • Step 1 - Determine pricing, and availability of the minibus.  I used Bus Bank, and would highly recommend them!  I found out it would be $775 for the bus, 8 hours, unlimited stops, and seat 24.  They are nationwide!
  • Step 2 - Find 23 people who will commit and pay upfront by a deadline
  • Step 3 - Book the bus, collect the money
  • Step 4 - Notify the wineries!  We went to 5, and I mapped out ahead of time how long it would take to drive between each locations, and got an idea of how long it would take to have 24 people taste and pay for their wares.  I then called each winery to let them know approximately when we would be there.
  • Step 5 - I traveled with my friend Michelle to Christmas Tree Shops to buy 24 white shirt boxes and a few bunches of tissue paper
  • Step 6 - Have amazing friends, and a boyfriend who is basically perfect...
So the night before wine tasting, I went out and bought 15 bottles of Andre, and my amazing friends Betsey and Chelsea made a ton of sandwiches. 
The next morning everyone met at our local high school at 9:45, and we boarded the bus to take off at 10am!  I was making pitchers of mimosas - 3 bottles of champagne, and a splash of oj.  Gimpy loaded the bus first with stuff, and then with people.  Seriously, I have an awesome boyfriend.  Later that day when I was beyond the point where I could any more, he took over my role of shephearding people onto the bus and keeping us on track. 
When everyone was on the bus, I explained how things would work.  Everyone had a box and some tissue paper, as every winery we went to would be providing them with a tasting glass that they would then take home with them.  They should write their names on the boxes, and keep track of their glasses so that everything made it home.  I then poured everyone their first mimosa of the day, and we did a toast!
We were on our way!  We finished up 18 bottles of andre (Michelle brought a few) before we hit the second vineyard, and began to instruct people to buy a few bottles to share with the bus.  It was an amazing day!  The CT Wine Trail does these neat passports where all 23 wineries have a page that they will stamp and date for you.  I collected all of them and passed them out at the end of the trip.  I had some reservations because of how much work it was, but it was totally worth it in the end!
See?  Wine to Share...

Lessons learned for next time:
1. There's tax on the bus.... Find out how much, and add that into the cost...
2. Don't stress so much about filling the seats, we had a waiting list for this trip, and it will definately fill
3. Add in $5 per person for the bus drivers' tip, and $10 for the beverages.  I lost a ton of money on the champagne and mimosa materials

Next Spring... we're going to hit the Eastern half!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Grains & Chicken Sausage

Last Week I wanted to introduce Gimpy to one of my favorite Fall vegetables - acorn squash.  I started with one acorn squash, cut in half, with the inside (seeds, strings) scraped out and baked in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.  When you put it in the oven, bake it with the cut size up.

In the meantime, I put 1 3/4 cup chicken stock in a sauce pan with 1 1/4 cup of mixed grains - wild rice, quinoa, and couscous.  Bring that to a boil and cook for 15 minutes until tender.  On another burner, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, and chop up 2 jalapeno mango chicken sausages and sautĂ©.

Steam a cup of peas, and then mix the grains, sausage, and peas together.  Place them in the acorn squash and serve!  You can either have them just fill the cavity...

Or you could have it overflowing the edges and cascading down!  Gimpy loved it :)