Posts Tagged With: Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

That is one beautiful bird…and it was delicious too!

Matt and I have integrated ourselves back into the Dallas scene lately with a couple nights out to watch the Stars, to celebrate at baby showers, and to spend time with friends and family over the holidays. There never seems to be a very dull moment, which is a nice way to start off our time back in the States.

Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday since it is the trifecta of festivities: food, family and football. We got to celebrate not one, not two, but three Thanksgiving bashes this year! The first kicked-off with our friends, Brittain and Aaron, when they hosted Friendsgiving in their home. This would be my first Friendsgiving and I certainly hope it is not my last. Aaron smoked the turkey on the grill and we all brought something to contribute to the potluck dinner. What a fun night!

Our other Thanksgiving celebrations occurred with our respective families, all festive and fun. There is nothing quite like a home-cooked holiday meal to put this girl into good spirits. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing…yum. And with Christmas right around the corner, the good food and time spent with family are just going to keep on coming.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Awesome seats to catch my first professional hockey game!

Other than holiday festivities, Matt and I have attended a couple professional hockey games. Now would you believe that as much as I love sports, I’ve never been to a live, professional hockey game? When I watched hockey on TV in the past I thought it was a pretty boring sport, but after going in person, I am hooked! It is so fast-paced, there is constant action and when the Stars score a goal, mayhem! We are very thankful to our good friend who helped us gain tickets to both games we’ve gotten to see so far (thanks Dallas!).

And of course, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten to attend a couple baby showers for my sweet friend Taylor. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to celebrate my friends, in person instead of from afar, when big things happen in their lives. I was lucky enough to attend her couples shower in the Dallas area with Matt, and then to tag along to Oklahoma to see her one more time at her other shower before baby Blake arrives.

There is much more to come in the month of December – a Beyoncé concert, Melissa’s company Christmas party (I’m her date!), more holiday festivities – so stay tuned!

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

The beautiful table at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Getting to hang out with my sissypoo all the time for the first time in years!

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

This little guy is adjusting well. He’s even starting to go outside – with my supervision of course.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Our Friendsgiving assembly line. That is our beautiful hostess leading the way.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

A pre-hockey cocktail and dinner. Oh how I missed a good dirty martini!

Categories: Food, Musings, Nightlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

100 Posts and Counting!

Chocolate, Waffels, Beer

This historic post marks a milestone in my blogging experiences since starting in July 2010. You are reading my 100th post in Top of the Morning to You! And to make matters even better, we recently turned this blog into my very own, dropping the “wordpress” and turning it into To mark my centennial celebration, I am going to take a break from my French Riviera review to share some of my favorite posts since the beginning of the blog. Be sure to check out the poll and vote for your favorite!

  • First and foremost, I have to go back to the beginning to Chocolate, Waffels, and Beer, Oh My! It was my very first official blog following my first European travel experience with Matt. We had such a fantastic time in Bruges, and it still ranks at the top of my list of best vacations I’ve had with Matt. Minus the unruly train ticket-taker, we loved the waffels, the beer, the quaint restaurants, canals, sunshine, etc. And, the writing was so raw for my first post.

  • August was a busy month of writing, so I have a couple from here. Firstly, my Driving Differently post conveyed my true and real European experiences in this foreign land. Matt and I thought the post was pretty funny, and it seemed as though many of you agreed. I’ve even had a friend refer to my “walk of shame” – aka, the walk around the car to pay the attendant at a toll booth.

  • Next from August was my Reflections piece. It was just a simple day visiting home in Texas after moving and I couldn’t help but notice how the change was not just in the move, but in me as a person, as well.Hiking

  • I have to talk about Make Your Feet Your Friend, because it was my first hiking experience in the mountains of Dublin. I felt so alive and a part of life in Ireland, seeing what Irish natives love so much about their country: the beauty. I really enjoyed writing about it. And, of course, I loved the picture with the mountain behind me.

  • I’m going to bundle up all of my book reviews as one favorite, because I’ve come to enjoy reading more through getting to talk about the good and the bad of each book.

  • I can’t talk about my favorite posts of all time and not mention one about my favorite holiday. In Gobble, Gobble, I tackled my first “cooking for company” experience, preparing a meal that is not historically easy to make. The preparation behind Thanksgiving easily made it the most rewarding evening as I watched our friends enjoy food and a holiday not celebrated in Ireland.White Turf Horse Racing

  • Next up, and nearly my favorite, is Ice Cold Paradise. In this  travel piece, Matt and I went on his favorite vacation so far to St. Moritz for the White Turf Horse Races. It was truly a magical vacation and we loved every second. We came away with fantastic pictures, videos, and experiences from our time in the Alps. Not to mention, I ate my weight in the most expensive fondue EVER. 🙂

  • Last, and certainly not least, was Time with Family – Both Old and Present. My parents finally got to visit me in Ireland. My Mom researched and visited her ancestors, I showed them my life in Dublin, and it was one of the best weeks since I’ve been here. I chose this post, because we did a little bit of everything, from seeing Saint Oliver Plunkett, to eating the best crab claws this side of the island. Add to that a fantastic evening at our favorite Dublin restaurant and my recently published article, and it will always stick out as a great post!

And for some fun, I’d like to share a couple of blog statistics. At this point, my blog has received 8,801 views of all time. My busiest viewing day was July 28th, 2010, with the post An American in Dublin. I’ve had 184 comments total from you, my readers, so thank you! This blog has been a great way to jump start my writing career, as well as keeping you posted about life abroad. I won’t be slowing down any time soon, though, so 200 here we come!


Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gobble, Gobble

The ceremonious carving of the turkey amidst all of the amazing food - mmm, gobble gobble!

Well, I did it! Thanksgiving was a complete and amazing success, though we did have to hurdle some obstacles along the way. The whole process of preparing the food, making sure it tasted good, and having it all come out at the same time seemed a little daunting. I was afraid something wouldn’t come out right or that it would get cold, but like magic, everything found their way to the table at the same time and temperature.

When Matt left for work yesterday, I immediately got up to clean the apartment, the new dishes, and to make the white salad, since it would need to sit in the refrigerator all day cooling. The white salad was the first of my worries, since the custard is cooked on a low heat and the egg yolks will start to scramble if you’re not careful. I stood at the stove, stirring and stirring for quite awhile, lifting the pot off the heat whenever the egg yolks looked they wanted to scramble. Eventually, the sauce thickened and with a few more preparations, it was added to the marshmallows and pineapple. I hoped that people would like it since it’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes (and easily Melissa’s favorite!).

I thought it would all be smooth sailing from there until I turned the cold water facet handle in the kitchen and nothing came out. The hot water was working just fine, but I couldn’t get cold. Much to my dismay, I realized that this problem could eventually lead to a complete water cut-off, causing me to completely freak out. I called the apartment company, the caretaker, and probably some random numbers in between, hoping to get someone who could help me. Matt even left work early to get jugs of water to cook with in case the problem wasn’t fixed. Of course, the minute he got home, the caretaker called, saying that kids had gotten into the basement and turned off the water to our building and that it would be up and running in no time. Though we were beyond relieved, we now have about 12 humongous water bottles.

Finishing off what's left of the turkey to move to storage for leftovers.

The 18 pound turkey should be a blog post on its own. That thing was so massive and heavy and I had never dressed a turkey before…talk about pressure! While my Mom, Dad, Aunt Jen, Uncle Phil, and cousins Maggie and Jack looked on, Matt and I attempted to tie up the legs of the turkey. They were laughing so hard I swear I could see tears coming out of their eyes. The thighs on this turkey were like nothing they’ve ever seen! And to make matters worse, it meant tricky skills were needed to get the legs tied up. I think Matt may have used half a roll of twine. Needless to say, we were already exhausted just after preparing the turkey and providing such entertainment for my family.

Matt’s co-workers started arriving around 7:15 or a little later, so we made sure to have some appetizers ready for them. Being the Texas-loving American that I am, I made sure to make queso, which I am happy to say, was devoured! Most of our guests were Irish or European and had never had queso, and they were loving it. We also put out a creamy, baked spinach casserole and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. At this point, the turkey was done and sitting on the island under foil, absorbing all of its juices.

Matt got to work entertaining our guests, while I made the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. The mashed potatoes were quite easy, and I sure made a lot of them – about 5 pounds worth of potatoes. I moved those to a serving dish to set aside while I got to work on the gravy. This was the part I was most nervous about. My mother instructed me on exactly how to use the drippings, make my roo, and combine it just-so to make a perfect, and thick, gravy. I was still quite nervous, though, because it was all about improvising as the concoction simmered. I even called my Mom halfway through to ask, “should it look like this at this point?” The stuffing was a bit easier, as I pre-made it the night before, and it would just need to heat up in the oven before serving. I stuck my mashed potatoes in with my stuffing to heat up, Matt microwaved the corn, I transferred the gravy to our gravy boat, and all at once it was taken out to the table. And now I will quote my first statement: “I did it!”

Matt ceremoniously carved the turkey at the table while our 10 guests watched on and then the chow-down began. I was so pleased when everyone went back for seconds and thirds, saying it was all delicious. Even better, the white salad was a huge hit. It was a complete success and I smiled all night. I realized I really do have so much to be thankful for; my amazing and very handsome boyfriend ;-); my loving and supportive family; all of the great friends in my life; this incredible experience abroad; and all of my every day blessings – including this scrumptious meal! And I am especially thankful for our generous, thoughtful, and polite dinner guests, who all brought alcohol in thanks for the meal, leaving me and Matt with a few weeks worth of “booze.” Happy Thanksgiving!


Yes, those are smiles of success - Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gluttony – My Patriotic Duty

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In college, Cinco de Mayo came in a notoriously close second, thanks to the sombreros, Mexican beer, bright colors, and all-around good fun. Yet, even all of that combined cannot compare to Thanksgiving. I absolutely love the food, especially my mom’s menu growing up: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cream spinach, corn, white salad, cranberry, etc. Then there’s the football, and being from Dallas, you can always count on the Cowboys game. With football comes beer, something I grew to appreciate on Thanksgiving more and more after attending college. Add colorful leaves outside, sweatshirts, and the especially tired feeling you get after the food has been devoured, and you have the most wonderful holiday EVER.

I will say, my mother spoiled us all, because she would do all of the cooking (she’s amazing), and Melissa and I would watch football with our Dad and our beer. Then, magically, all at the same time, the hot food would be set out and ready to serve. Unfortunately, this means that I will be cooking my very first Thanksgiving dinner, on my own, here in Dublin, where turkey is not popular and I’ve never practiced. Plus, Matt invited coworkers over, so I’m now on center stage. Yikes!

European refrigerators are rather small, so ours is currently packed - check out the turkey!

In preparation for the best holiday, I decided to do a few things the night before while Matt cleaned the apartment. It was my mother’s advice to do this, as it would eliminate much of the work the next day when I had bigger things to worry about – like an 18 pound turkey! So, tonight, I made the cream spinach, browned the meat for the queso dip appetizer, cleaned all of my dishes, and made my chicken stock. You might be wondering why I didn’t just buy that pre-made, but chicken stock is just another thing that I’ve learned does not come easily here. Our main grocery stores close by do not carry pre-made chicken stock – I’ve only seen vegetable and beef – so we make ours from scratch. Easy, but not something I wanted to worry about the day of.

At this very moment, everything is secure in the refrigerator. In the morning, I’ll make the white salad and stick it in the fridge to cool all day. At around 2, I’ll get my mom and Aunt Jen on video chat to walk me through the turkey preparations. 🙂 And then from there, it’ll just be about timing. Wish me luck! I’m hoping to emulate the amazing Thanksgivings of my past and give Matt his first proper Thanksgiving since his relocation here over a year ago. Trust me, you’ll hear all about it the next day!

“I give thanks to the Indians and Pilgrams for creating this most wonderful and gluttonous holiday!” ~ Me

Mmmmmm...cream spinach casserole ready to go!

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cultures and Customs

There are two things missing here in Ireland that are quite popular back in the States: Mexican food and Thanksgiving. Now, the first is something that Matt and I have had to learn to live without. I’m not the biggest fan of Mexican food, so it hasn’t been a huge adjustment for me. However, I do miss chips and salsa from time to time and don’t even get me started on chili con queso. For Matt’s born and bred Texas taste buds, it has been a huge adjustment. As for Thanksgiving, it may not be a fixture in this country for obvious reasons, but it’s definitely something I can recreate when the holiday rolls around. However, its absence begs the question: what marks the start of the Christmas season in Ireland? The answer to this question was blatantly answered today in conjunction with our first Mexican restaurant experience.

Recently, an American friend of mine and Matt’s recommended a Mexican restaurant to us, but until today we hadn’t checked it out. I woke up this morning after a rather late evening out, craving chips and salsa like I’ve never craved them before. I could not get the idea of the salty and crunchy goodness out of my head, so I basically demanded we try this restaurant recommendation. We made our way over to the Town Centre in the gloomy rain, on foot I might add, with a determined focus to satisfy our craving.

Cortina’s was everything we could have hoped for, minus the cost. Since it is the only decent Mexican restaurant around, their prices were not cheap. It was easy to ignore, though, when a basket of tortilla chips and salsa were placed right next to my Corona and Matt’s margarita. The ambience of the restaurant was fun, with bright colored cushions on the seats and a huge U-shaped bar. Our tacos were on the upscale side, with fancy sauces and cheese, which ironically was a bit of a bummer, as I was hoping for greasy, traditional cuisine. How can I complain, though, when it was all so tasty and about as close as I’m going to get to Tex-Mex? We declared the meal a success and decided it would definitely be worth our while to return in the near future. Did I mention their advertisement for a Chipotle-style burrito? Yeah, awesome.

Moving locomotives in the mall.

Cortina’s is situated in a courtyard just outside of the mall, so we decided to do a little shopping/browsing before making our way home. On our way up to the mall entrance, the answer to my original Christmas question slowly took form. We first passed a temporary ice-skating rink, housed in a small building, with large windows to watch the skaters. I didn’t think too much of it, though, because it’s already cold here and it seemed an appropriate setup for the season. It wasn’t until a Christmas tree mascot (yes, a person inside of a Christmas tree costume dancing around) stepped in front of Matt and started to do a little jig. Flanked on either side were his polar bear friends, taking pictures with little kids. Matt and I stopped walking, looked at each other, and burst into laughter. I’m kicking myself now for not having my picture taken with one of them.

The inside of the mall was its very own spectacle. A humongous Christmas tree stood at the entrance, with smaller trees placed at the front of all the stores. In the largest, most open part of the mall, a display from floor to ceiling of dancing polar bears and reindeer stole my attention for the entire escalator ride. To top it all off, a mini choo-choo train transported children from one end of the mall to the other. Everywhere I looked, Christmas stared back. Without  Thanksgiving to mark the start of the holiday season, our Irish friends obviously choose November 1st as their kick-off day. I was in a bit of shock and awe, because it all seems so over the top! Plus, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so for me, it feels unnatural to start thinking about Christmas before our blessed day of food and football.

It was altogether a fulfilling and strange day. I think it’s a bit soon to be sitting on Santa’s knee asking for a pony, but since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I can understand the haste to put a little cheer into a season riddled with cold, gloom, and rain. In the meantime, I now know I’ve got good Mexican food nearby to remind me, and more importantly, Matt, of home.

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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