Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

It's been a very busy day around Casa de Rayitos Algres (Little Merry Sunshine's house).

The men did manly things: hung the Christmas lights, fixed the storm door for my living room (which promptly broke 3 hours later), built a storm door for my family room, cut a hole in my roof, rearranged my living room, whined they were hungry and there was no food in the house, and watched 97 hours of football. I may have heard some belching too.

I, on the other hand, did woman's work: cooked and cleaned. After that, I cooked and cleaned some more. I never even made it to the shower today. Wait, I never even made it out of my pajamas today. That's how busy I've been.

In the end, however, it was all worth it, when Dave started to carve the turkey and said, "what did you do to this turkey? It smells great!" Then he took a bite and declared it to be the best turkey he'd ever had. Ten minutes later, he tasted the rest of the meal and without hesitation exclaimed it to be best Thanksgiving meal he'd ever had. Suck it, Martha Stewart.

What did I cook? Glad you asked. Keep in mind that everything was made from scratch. I used no prepared foods, mixes, or shortcuts. Let's start with Breakfast.

Thanksgiving Breakfast
Overnight French Toast
Orange Juice

For lunch, it was every man for himself, but I had an abundance of cheese, roast beef, spinach, tomatoes, bread, leftover homemade Thai food from Monday, potato salad, and tortilla chips. Plus, an assortment of cookies, crackers, nuts and other snacks. Why anyone complained that we didn't have enough food, I don't know.

Thanksgiving Dinner
Turkey with a Pomegranate Juice glaze
Pomegranate Gravy
Cornbread Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Christopher's Grandmother's Green Beans
Pumpkin Mousse

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. My family and friends top the list. As a reader of Little Merry Sunshine, whether I know you or not, you're a friend. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Overnight French Toast

My dear friend Debbie, who, by the way, is high on my list of things I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving and everyday, shared this delightful recipe with me last year when I joined her family for a pre-trick or treating Halloween brunch. It's so easy and yummy! I then made it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings for my family and they all loved it. What I love most about Overnight French Toast is that I make it the night before, which saves me work in the morning.

As an aside, Debbie and I both went to Lake Forest College (we overlapped by a year) and she got this recipe from her dear friend Laura, another Forester. I think that proves my theory that all the best things in life come from Foresters.

Overnight French Toast

2 loaves French bread
8 eggs
3 c milk
4 t sugar
1 t cinnamon, or more
1 t vanilla, or more
2 T butter, cut into pieces

Grease 9 x 13" cake pan. Cut bread into 1-inch slices; arrange in layers. Beag eggs with all ingredients except butter; pour over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight (4 to 36 hours). Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Dot with butter. Serve with syrup, berries, and powdered sugar.

Note: I decided to chop pecans and spread them over the top. I'll let you know tomorrow how that turns out.

Debbie recommends serving Overnight French Toast with Mango-mosas, so I share that recipe (from Debbie) below.

Dry sparkling wine
Dole Brand Orange/Peach/Mango juice (or orange juice with a fresh squeezed mango & peach)

Pour equal parts of the fruit juice and sparkling wine in champagne flutes and ideally serve with a raspberry tossed in each glass.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Professional Women's Council: Pairing Wine for the Holidays

Do you feel like you're never quite sure what wine to serve with turkey, duck, salmon, beef or whatever else you're serving during the holiday season?

I'm never certain and always end up pouring exactly the same thing: a Chardonnay I like. It may or may not be the right wine to serve with Nana's Fruitcake, but I like it and so it must be okay, right? Maybe yes and maybe no.

Come to the Professional Women's Council on Wednesday, November 17th from 5-7pm* at Tuscan Market & Wine Shop in downtown Arlington Heights (141 W. Wing St.), where owner Amy Philpott will teach us all about wine pairing for the holidays. Of course, this will be experiential learning with lots of wine to taste and yummy appetizers!

Bring lots of business cards for networking with other members of PWC!

Register online at the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce's website.

When you attend this PWC, your holiday guests will surely rave all year about how you were the hostess with the mostest!

*Please note the time change. We chose to move the time for this month's PWC because we thought an after-work time was more appropriate for a wine tasting than the middle of the day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Have You Seen the Shake Weight?

I was out to dinner last night with my friends Tony and Michael, when all the sudden the Shake Weight commercial appeared on the tv above the bar. Michael and I about wet ourselves from laughing so hard, in our utter disbelief that something so obviously pornographic was appearing on basic cable. Tony's back was to the TV, so he missed it the first time. Fortunately, the commercial appeared in every commercial break of Coal Miner's Daughter and within minutes, Tony was in on the vulgarity as we all laughed until we cried like 13-year old girls.

For your viewing pleasure, here's the commercial we saw.

It turns out that there's a Shake Weight for women too.

Thank goodness Saturday Night Live has also contributed to the hilarity of the Shake Weight.

I don't know if it actually builds arm muscles, but my abs and kegels got a great workout from all of the hysterical laughter.

And, if you receive Little Merry Sunshine via email, trust me you want to visit the site and watch the videos. It may well be the highlight of your day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I FINALLY Understand Economics

I'm pretty smart, but frankly there are a few things in the world I don't understand. Economics is one of them. I struggled through Econ 110 in college, which, for the record, I took for fun. Don't ask. It's the rare day I understand any decisions the Fed makes and their recent decision to do some "quantitative easing" by buying $900 BILLION worth of bonds to kick start some economic growth definitely has me scratching my head as my eyes glaze over.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this fantastic video explaining the whole process. Not only is it educational, it's funny too!

Enjoy! And if you read LMS via email, click here to visit the site and watch the video.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Were They Thinking?

I'm going to just put it out there: I've had a crummy day. By about noon, I was on overwhelm and by 2pm, I had decided that any additional bad news this week would have to wait until December 2011 and it was all I could do to not crawl deep under the sheets, shrieking with my hands over my ears.

Having said that, my day was still better than these two Mensa candidates...

A Tinley Park man was stopped by police on Tuesday night because another driver called 911 saying he saw the man drinking out of a flask. Yes, a flask. When the officer asked if he'd been drinking, the man pulled a flask from his center console and told the officer, "he sometimes drinks vodka while at work and while driving...because of stress." I gotta give the guy points for honesty. But a flask? Really?

While I was contemplating my own meltdown, a Gurnee woman actually had one. First, she dined and dashed at Joe's Crab Shack in Gurnee and, allegedly, it wasn't the first time. When a cop showed up at her front door to investigate the matter, she assaulted the officer with "a rigid feminine pleasure device." First, you NEVER try the dine and dash stunt multiple times at the same restaurant. And second, who is dumb enough to assault a cop with a sex toy? She did realize they'd take it away to use as "evidence" right?

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Kids are so smart. In this case, smarter than most adults. Well, at least this 2-year old is smarter than the ones who think extending Bush's tax cuts are a good idea. And, in all seriousness, who can't get behind unicorns for all?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Goodbye Daylight Saving Time!

Little Merry Sunshine has mixed feelings about the end of Daylight Saving Time at 2am tomorrow (Sunday). On the one hand, we love the extra hour of sleep. On the other hand, we're not really a fan of just a couple of hours of daylight each day.

For the next 45 days, each day will get shorter, culminating with the Shortest Day of the Year on December 22nd, the Winter Solstice, when we will have 9 hours and 6 minutes of daylight
. The good news is that then each day will start to get longer as we move just a little closer to summer.

To help you remember to turn your clocks back tonight, we suggest setting an alarm clock for 2am and getting up to change all the clocks (don't forget your car!). If you don't set an alarm, you may sleep through it and then you'll be late for work or church. Don't say Little Merry Sunshine didn't warn you.

And while you're up at 2am, change the batteries in your smoke detectors. You might also want to practice your family's escape plan in case of fire, while you're up. It could save your life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuesday's To Do List: VOTE!

I've stayed pretty quiet this election season. Frankly, I'm not so pleased with 98% of my choices for all elected offices. And my guess is that, based on polling I've seen, you're not so thrilled either.

The 2010 election season has been filled with nastiness all around. Thanks to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010), untold amounts of anonymous money has bought more tv time than I remember in the past, much of it lies.

Many people believe that President Obama has not lived up to the promises he made 2 years ago. I would argue that he actually has fulfilled many of his promises and that he never promised us change overnight. He never promised that the economy would magically bounce back on January 21, 2009. Health care reform isn't exactly what I wanted it to be, but we're on the right track. DADT is still in place and I don't have an answer for that. Things are getting better. Want proof? Visit the website "What the F(*^ Has Obama Done So Far?" and I think you'll be impressed. Make sure to just keep pressing the big button in the middle of the page to move onto the next page.

Life in Illinois isn't great. Governors Blagojevich and Ryan were corrupt. The state is out of money. A lot of people say the blame for that lies solely with the Democrats. Guess what? In 2002, when Governor Blagojevich took office, we were out of money. The problem is that the government in Illinois, which until Blagojevich won in 2002 had been run by Republicans since 1973, had been kicking the financial problems down the road rather than making tough decisions.

My point is that no party is 100% innocent in any of the problems - federal, state or local - and no party is 100% guilty.

But no matter how disgusted you are with the candidates and the current office holders there is only one thing you can do to make a difference: VOTE.

Don't vote for who you think is going to win. Don't vote for the guy who ran the most or the loudest tv ads or sent you the most mailers. Don't vote for a party because you've always voted for the party, just like your parents and grandparents before you. Vote for the person who shares your values. Your real values. Underneath all the hype and the nastiness, some of these candidates share your values. Sift through the rhetoric and vote.

Decisions are made by those who show up and Tuesday is the one day you get to show up. So take 5 minutes out of your day and take part in the decision making process. Because if you don't, then I really don't want to hear your whining.
"Think government isn't about you? How many of you have student loans to pay? How many of you have credit card debt? How many want clean air and clean water and civil liberties? How many want jobs? How many want kids? How many want their kids to go to good schools and walk on safe streets? Decisions are made by those who show up. You've gotta rock the vote!"

- CJ Cregg, The West Wing, "You Gotta Rock the Vote," Season 4, Episode 3 (emphasis mine)