Monday, November 30, 2009

Not just a banana!

It's Bananagram! Or as I like to call it, bunches of fun :) Hahahaha!!! Go ahead and know you want to. I discovered this awesome game at a garden center in DC. Why it was at a garden center I don't know, but that is beside the point. Let me explain how Bananagram works:

1. Think Scrabble but played individually
2. Players draw wooden tiles with letters on them face-down from the pile of tiles - "the bunch" - and when someone yells "split" everyone turns their tiles face-up... the terminology in this game is half the fun :)
3. Players then proceed to make a crossword puzzle from their tiles; they can trade a letter back into the bunch but they have to take 3 in it's place
4. When a player runs out of tiles, they yell "peel" and everyone takes a new tile from the bunch. This repeats until there are fewer tiles in the bunch than there are players. When that happens, the bunch becomes "rotten" (I actually just added that term because I think it's appropriate and adds a little something extra to the game) and the first player to use all their tiles wins the game! The fun is in having to rearrange words or letters just to use them all.

Oh and did I mention the tiles are kept in an adorable banana-shaped bag?!?! So cute!

So, now that you know what Bananagrams is and you know that I HIGHLY recommend it, I suggest everyone run out to their nearest garden center - or search on - and make Christmas shopping easy this year.

Go bananas :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Let the games begin! Thanksgiving traditions continued with the annual family BINGO dinner Friday after Thanksgiving at Brookside Golf and Country Club. It promised to be a successful game based on the past couple years, but alas, our winning streak ended and we all walked out with empty pockets. It's still under investigation as to whether it was the extra people at our tables this year that made everyone unlucky, or if it was the missing people usually at our table that made us lucky....hmmm..... Just kidding Megan and Lauren :-) It was fun having Craig's WIFE Megan and Curt's girlfriend Lauren join us for the festivities.

CJ had a grand time using the golf club drink stirrer as a BINGO-number-coverer....perhaps it was CJ forgetting his Santa hat and flashing Rudolph nose that took our luck!

At any rate, it was a great time for all even though I had practiced yelling BINGO for weeks and never got to use it :-(

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A little bling bling, baby!

Now this is a tree! Each year my cousin and I decorate this 6' tree at my grandparent's house the day after Thanksgiving, and each year it gets a little more ornament-heavy and little more gaudy looking. It's become our "Black Friday tree" because instead of shopping, we bake cookies and put up this extraordinarily fantabulous specimen of Christmas cheer. Curious as to what this year's new adornment is?? A book propping up one leg of the tree stand because it started tipping precariously to the side, and we can't chance the whole tree crashing down and ruining our masterpiece :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey, pilgrims, and crafts oh my!

Thanksgiving took on a new meaning for me this year, having moved to Washington, DC almost 3 months ago. Being far from home and family makes me grateful for the time I am able to spend with them. This thanksgiving was spent at my aunt and uncle's house for the main dinner and my parents house for dessert, crafts, and games. What a fabulous table arrangement and delicious meal!! I don't need to eat for a week - seriously. I'm hitting the Guatemala diet until Christmas - black beans, rice, and some veggies thrown in for color :) There are some foods we only have at holidays, which I think makes them taste even better. My favorite dish is hot spiced apples and cranberries. So good!

Dessert was courtesy of my mom and me this year. We made 2 pumpkin pies, apple dumplings, pecan/pumpkin pie, cherry pie, and chocolate silk pie. Wow! It's tradition to do Christmas crafts on Thanksgiving, so this year we made gift bows, and chocolate covered pretzels and drink stirring spoons. Very festive! Most years it is only the girls that get involved in crafts, but as I'm sure everyone can imagine, where there is chocolate involved, the boys will also be there! Chocolate covered pretzels and spoons soon turned into seeing how many different items could be dipped in chocolate - this included a peppermint round candy and a stick of gum among other things!

A wonderful day filled with good food, great family time, and new memories. Oh, and of course a special appearance by CJ the pilgrim :)

Feliz dia de gracias a mi familia in Guatemala, tambien!

Kicking off the Christmas season with ...

...the Radio City Rockettes! It was the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit the day before Thanksgiving. My two cousins, sister, and I went to the Christmas Spectacular show at Nationwide Arena and enjoyed the excitement of the show from the front row! The Rockettes have been part of my Christmas traditions since I was a little girl...I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television for the sole purpose of studying the Rockettes dance routine and performing it with my own tap shoes. At one point in time - a very looooong time ago - my kick was as high as theirs! LOL! After 8 years of tap dance classes, I guess my love of dancing will never go away ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh yea!

Thanksgiving has begun! What better holiday is there than one filled with pies, food, games, crafts, family, and friends, all while spending the day giving thanks for our many blessings!?! I got a little creative this year and decided to spice up the pumpkin pie with leaf and pumpkin pastry cutouts around the crust. I'll let you know how it tastes tomorrow! :-)

In the meantime, I'd like to list everything that I am thankful for this year - in no particular order:

God, my awesome family, great friends in Ohio, the new friends I've made in DC, pumpkin pie, a job so I can pay off my student loans and save money to buy a cupcake car, my new apartment in DC void of crunchy snails clinging to my door and hopping bugs that are NOT crickets, IHOP's pancakes and hash browns, my legs cause I almost lost one this summer, being healthy, my cats even though they are in Ohio and I am not, the cartographer that made all the critical maps I use to get around DC, the Waffle House's waffles and coffee, being able to live in our nation's capital and see the monuments every day on the way to and from work, Christmas trees and pretty ornaments, pizza, the Today Show because it is where I first learned about cupcake cars ....and I'm thankful for lots of other things but this post is getting long!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ho Ho Ho!

'Tis the season to be jolly, falalalalalalalalaaaaa! I moved into a new apartment this weekend and decided it was silly to keep my Christmas tree packed away, so even though it is technically by calendar standards not quite December yet, I went ahead and decorated my tree and apartment. Ta da! A beautiful addition to my living room with just the right amount of "wow factor" mixed in with sparkly goodness and holiday fever. I add something different to my tree each year, and this year, for the first time ever, I hung candy canes - not the yucky peppermint kind, but the delicious Gobstopper and Sour Patch Kids ones. Mmmmm! Oh, and 2 of the 3 strands of lights blink....I was skeptical at first, but the random twinkle adds a little something extra and I think it's actually quite nice. Twinkling lights will now be a Christmas tree standard.

To one and all, Merry Christmas a little early and let the festivities begin!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Virginia Beach!!

It's been a while since a blog post, but work and life have been crazy busy!! So, to catch up, I left off with my last post right before going to Virginia Beach. Yes, that's right - middle of November and I was sicking my toes in the ocean....well, more like frolicking in the ocean, as you can see from the first photo. Ha! Andrew preferred to scare the pigeons on the beach...his affinity for pigeons I can only surmise comes from living in NY ;-)

The previous week wrecked havoc on Virginia Beach and the surrounding area from Hurricane Ida, and the waves were still really crashing in and stirring up debris on the beach. The water was very murky and I couldn't even see my feet in water up to my ankles, yet insane people were surfing - no joke!

But, it was fun to be in a vacation town without all the craziness of tourist-season....and I still found salt water taffy :) Yum!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall foliage

I would be remiss if I let the fall slip away without posting pictures of the gorgeous color change that happened in DC. Some refer to this as "fall foliage"....I prefer "fall leaves" because it leaves nothing to question as to what foliage really is. I mean really, what changes color?? Leaves. When do they change color? Fall. Making "fall leaves" a more exact term. But for those who like to say "fall foliage" be my guest....and be prepared to then answer the inevitable followup question - "You mean fall leaves??"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Best Soup EVER!!!

Paging through the myriad of cookbooks currently occupying my bookshelf, I decided this would be a good week to try some new recipes and fix a "real" dinner instead of my usual yogurt and fruit, which is what I have most nights when work runs more than 9 hours because quite frankly it's no fun cooking for one person. So, tonight was suppose to be grilled ham with pineapple/cranberry chutney, green beans (*gasp!*), and mashed potatoes. However, after not getting home from work until 8pm, I decided to forgo the ham and be creative - totally worked in my favor this time!! Pretty much tooting my own horn because the soup I created tonight is out of this world...thanks in part to my secret weapon in the spice cabinet - Tajin! Gracias Mother Maria!

Here's the recipe for what I like to call:

"Colleen's Super Spectacular Bowl of Guatemalan Goodness Featuring Tajin"
Serves 3....or 4 if you're stingy and on a diet

1 can seasoned black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1/2 a jar of salsa
3/4 a can of chicken broth
1 lime
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
a small handful of fresh cut green onions
1 tablespoon or 4 shakes of Tajin (whatever looks good to you)
tortilla chips

1. Drain the beans and corn.
2. Combine beans, corn, salsa, chicken broth, lime juice, 1/2 a cup of cheese, green onions, and Tajin in a saucepan on the stove. Cook until hot.
3. Dish soup into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
4. Crush tortilla chips and sprinkle over cheese.
5. Shake a little more Tajin in each bowl.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Being lost is not always bad :)

You know you're in Chinatown when... see a sign for an Irish pub that is translated into Chinese! Another "adventure" that came with me (once again) being lost in DC.

I woke up early this morning to allow plenty of time to find this new church I was suppose to meet a couple of friends at for mass - St. Aloysius. The church is suppose to have a vibrant social justice ministry and I thought it would be cool to check out a new church since I had people to go with. Anyways, I set out this morning at 9am (mass is at 9:30am) with a "straightforward" map from Google in hand that states I should arrive in 11 minutes. Again, plenty of time for possible wrong turns. Exactly 1 hour and 40 minutes after leaving my house, I am sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial trying to figure out how exactly I managed to go from Georgetown, to Chinatown, to circling the Capitol building 2 times (yes, hitting NE, NW, SE, and SW quadrants all in a matter of minutes), to then finding myself in Virginia at the airport, at which point I realized that I had definitely missed ALL of mass, so I found my way back to DC, passed the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial, and finally settled on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where I sat overlooking the Reflecting Pool and contemplated my horrendous sense of direction. *sigh*

Oh, and I now have to find an evening mass to attend....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

DC Weather

If someone asked me today why I like living in DC, my immediate response would be the weather. Really, it's November 7th and 67 degrees outside, reaching 70 on Monday! Fabulous! Mentally I am preparing for winter Ohio style, but physically I'm walking around outside sans jacket. A point for DC when it comes to weather!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wedding Weekend!!

Congratulations to Craig and Megan! This was a whirlwind weekend at home celebrating Craig and Megan's wedding on Saturday October 31st. Beautiful rehearsal dinner, marriage ceremony and reception. And, I have to acknowledge Meemee's standout moment at the rehearsal dinner....awesome! Dad was a little choked up getting through his speech, so as he paused to collect himself, Meemee decided to help him along and yelled, "Dammit Dave! Pull it together!" Everyone who knows Meemee burst out laughing because it's just so classic :-) We love you, Meemee!