Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Friday

Cassie, Aunt Candy, Grammie, Me, Lindsey (mom is taking the picture)
I LOVE, LOVE Black Friday shopping for so many reasons. My family is heavy on traditions, which I believe is what makes our extended family so close. 

Black Friday Shopping is a tradition that has been in the family for a long time. I am sure my mom has memories of shopping the day after Thanksgiving with Grammie and her siblings. What makes Black Friday shopping so much fun is finding the best deals. My crazy family buys Christmas presents for everyone is the family (another great tradition and story for another time). Before Black Friday we all make lists of what we are getting everyone in the family and set out on Friday to find the best deals. For those family members that are hard to shop for we keep our eyes open for that gift that speaks to us. It's really is fun shopping for others and finding that one gift that you know if just perfect for them. 

Friday is also about spending time with each other enjoying our traditional top of the morning Starbucks coffee, Christmas music and candy canes. It really is a blessing to be able to spend time with Grammie and looking back this will be a tradition that we will all remember and carry on and have fond memories of.
This year mom, Lindsey and I decided to be a part of the crazy 3am crowd and stand in line at Target hoping to get one of the Door Buster items. We literally froze- finger tips, toes, legs, nose. Every part of our body was frozen by the time the store opened. To make the expereince even worse, we didn't get the item. I was literally one step away from it, when a man stepped in and swiftly grabbed it. Damn hesitation! If you ask Lindsey she will probably rave about the experience. Me, I'm not so sure the experience was worth the frozen bones and major disappointment!


Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Brine a Turkey

This year I decided to "brine" my Thanksgiving Turkey. Yes, I too had no idea what "brine" meant until I found this fabulous recipe by The Pioneer Woman.

I admit I was a little hesitant to try a new turkey-cooking-technique since my parents were coming over for Thanksgiving and eating my turkey for the first time. On the other hand I didn't really have a good go to turkey recipe so really I didn't have much to lose.  
You MUST try this recipe the next time you cook a turkey! It was actually pretty easy and makes your house smell of Holiday cheer.









  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 3 oranges, peeled, white pith removed, skin roughly chopped
  • 1 (20-pound) fresh turkey
  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped orange zest


Combine the water, apple juice, salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, dried rosemary, and orange peel in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you're ready.
To brine the turkey, remove the turkey from wrapper, remove interior bags (set aside; refrigerate), and rinse turkey thoroughly under cool water.

Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag or a very large pot.

Pour the cooled brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to completely cover the turkey. Seal the bag or cover the pot and allow the turkey to brine in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours before roasting.

Before roasting, remove the turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Then soak in a sink full of fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat dry. Discard brine. (This soaking process will decrease the likelihood of too-salty gravy).

Preheat the oven 275 degrees F.

Truss the bird and place it breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover the turkey tightly with heavy-duty foil. Make sure it's entirely covered (cover over the bottom edges of the pan). Place in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes per pound (a 20 pound turkey will roast for about 3 1/2 hours).

Remove the turkey from the oven and increase the temperature to 375 degrees F. Remove the aluminum foil and set aside. Mix the softened butter with the rosemary and orange peel and rub all over the skin of the turkey, covering every single inch of the skin. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, near the hip joint. Place the turkey, uncovered, back into the oven. Continue roasting the turkey, basting with butter every 30 minutes, until the thermometer registers 170 degrees F and until the juices are no longer pink.

Remove from the oven and cover with foil until you are ready to carve and serve. Reserve pan juices to make gravy.

Cook's Note: This is enough for a 20 pound fresh turkey. You can decrease the quantity for a smaller bird.

You can find this recipe on the Food Network website.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thank You Pioneer Woman...

for making me look like a professional! 

The Hustler and I, a couple of years back, decided to start our own Thanksgiving tradition. Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving at one of our families houses, The Hustler and I stay in and make a grandiose meal for just the two of us. We thought it would be nice and useful to know how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for when we grow up and potentially have a family other than dogs. 

Over the years we have made some monumental mistakes in the kitchen. The first year I under estimated how long it actually took to cook a turkey- like 2 hours underestimated. This same Thanksgiving The Hustler didn't realize he had to cook his pumpkin pie, which we didn't realize until his dad went to take the first bite. To add to the disaster our TV bulb went out in the middle of football. Yes this happened all in one year! 

Another year I swear we slept right through Thanksgiving! I don't even remember how the food turned out or if we even ate. 

And last year I was so determined to thaw that damn turkey I let it sit in the sink for multiple days without refrigerating it. This really freaked people out and they convinced me the night before Thanksgiving to throw it out and buy a fresh one.

This year was a little different. We invited my parents over for Thanksgiving. Talk about some added pressure! This is the first time in Hollis history that everything tasted amazing!! Everyone even said the turkey was the best they ever had!!!!!!!! This was music to my ears. I will be bragging about this for probably the rest of my life. 

I got my amazing turkey recipe from the Pioneer Woman. The secret is brining the Turkey. I'll be posting pictures and the secret recipe soon! Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I haven't talked much about the Work Weight Loss Challenge this go round. I think mostly because I haven't intensely focused on eating clean or exercising. 

To be completely honest I haven't worked out since I stopped Insanity a couple months ago. I have had good intentions to work out, but I haven't been able to put my good intentions into action. Almost every night, while I lie in bed, I think about the gym and how fun rewarding it would be to run on the treadmill or swim. Most nights I even dream that I am swimming. But the next day I can't make myself go. Does this ever happen to anyone else? You want to workout, you dream about working out, you almost crave working out, but you can't get your lazy self to go to the gym or push play. Talk about frustrating! 

And to make matters worse, this one ate my only pair of shoes!! 

So naturally all I can think about is how bad I want to work out. And if I only had shoes I would go to the gym right this very second. Maybe I can find a new pair of shoes on Black Friday. Then I won't have any more excuses.

So I guess because I have felt a little guilty for not working out I haven't wanted to talk about the Challenge at work. Today was the final weigh-in. In order for me to win I had to weigh 130.6. I can't tell you the last times I weighed 130.anything. I know I have gotten down to this weight, but I haven't been able to stay at it for very long. In fact just a month or so ago I was having a hard time getting below 132. It was to my great surprise this morning that I weighed 129.2!!!!! 


I cannot tell you how good it feels to be below 130. My goal weight is actually within reach. Just think what will happen if I add exercise to the mix. 

Another co-worker and I split the pot and now I have a little extra spending money for Black Friday shopping! I think my first purchase better be shoes.

Great things are on the horizon, I can feel it!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wii Madness

My Sista and her Mr. came over and played Wii tennis with The Hustler and I. I forgot just how much I love Wii tennis! Is is my favorite Wii game.

The Hustler and I also tested our Wii age. Usually the Wii says your age is 80 or something crazy like that. To my surprise my Wii age was 33- not bad at all!  The Hustler was in the 50's or 60's. Ha take that Hustler!!

There is a tragic story however to this night. The Hustler and I where in a close game of tennis and I was serving. The Hustler has a wicked return that results in a point every-single-time. The only way to combat is to bring the heat with the serve. I knew that if I wanted to win I had to send a rocket fire. I got so into it on my down swing I hit Augusta on the head with the remote which flew out of my hand and hit the wall making a dent. The sad story is Augusta's lump on her head. For the remainder of the night she would not come into the living room and hid upstairs. So so sad!  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Undeveloped Wino

It's amazing how driven and specific my life becomes when I make a list. It shouldn't surprise you that I have already completed something off of my 30 Before Thirty list just a couple of days after I came up with this great idea!

The Hustler and I stayed in and finally opened the bottle of wine my Aunt and Uncle gave us last Christmas. The wine was great! I wish I could tell you what it tasted like, but my lack of experience in the wine department leaves me with no idea how to successfully describe it. Therefore I have made it my main goal to drink more wine. This is by far the best goal I have set for myself yet. 

I was finally able to add a wine cork to my decorate collection.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Need a Little Coffe Cup SIZZLE?

Each year (okay only since last year) Ashley and I look for a fun creative gift to make for the holiday season. Last season Ashley knitted kitchen wash cloths and I etched on glass baking dishes. We also made layered recipe jars with brownie mix inside.

This year I came across this craft project. I immediately fell in love. Knitting runs deep in my family. It's something that all of us "Pieper" women know how to do and it's a wonderful tradition that has been passed down and will continue to be passed down to all of the women in the family. I am very blessed to have had an amazing great aunt who loved to knit. It is in her spirit and in remembrance of her that we all learn to knit and pass it onto anyone who is eager to learn.

So I knew that this project was just what I was looking for! I also loved the idea of making a cup holder to replace the wasteful cardboard that I always grab at Starbucks- mostly out of habit. I thought how cool would it be to pull my crafty cup warmer out of my purse and add a little decorative earth friendly sizzle to my coffee cup! And better yet, maybe I can make this for other people! Win-Win-Win.    

I immediately emailed Ashley my great idea and started looking for patterns. I couldn't find one as cute as this picture so I thought I would recreate it. I found some yarn in my stash and started on the project with this picture in mind.

I should have reminded myself that even though I know how to knit, I'm not an expert! I ended up having to start over more times than I can count and I had to switch to a more workable yarn. Well here is my finished project (try not to laugh).
Notice how my recreation doesn't look as put together as the picture above! My ends didn't match up, I dropped a couple of stitches, I made it too big, and I didn't really think through how I was going to connect the two ends with buttons.

This morning The Hustler had a good laugh at me and my coffee warmer. He didn't quiet see the brilliantly hand crafted warmer that I saw! But I'm not letting his obvious lack of creative view stop me from making one of these for everyone that I know! Watch out- YOU might get one of these for Christmas!! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

30 Before Thirty

I recently turned 28. People have asked me if I feel different- older. The answer is no. Honestly before my 28th birthday I couldn't remember if I was 27 or 28. I think half of the time I thought I was already 28. The only difference I can see is I am only 2 years away from 30. Now 30 sounds old! No more twenty something who can get away with anything.  At 30 people expect you to be responsible and have your shit together.

The Hustler truly believes most women go through a semi mid-life crisis at age 30. He says he is already preparing for my crisis!? I have no idea what he is talking about, but he says he knows people whose wives went through the 30 crisis. Does anyone else know what he is talking about? I get the feeling he is not looking forward to me turning 30 either.

Lately I have come across blogs that talk about a 30 Before Thirty list- something like a Bucket List, but the items must be checked off by your 30th birthday. Since I love lists I thought this was right up my alley!

30 Before Thirty
01.  Finish wedding scrapbook
02.  Complete Rosetta Stone Spanish program
03.  Compete in a race longer than a 5k
04.  Make homemade noodles
05.  Climb Pikes Peak or other 14teener
06.  Take a family photo (Cheese)
07.  Start to furnish house (Furnishings)
08.  Aggressively fund retirement and savings accounts ($$)
09.  Go on 2 vacations not including Las Vegas
10.  Get in the best shape of my life
11.  Go snowboarding (Snowboarding)
12.  Sing Karaoke
13.  Attempt to surf
14.  Dinner at the Penrose Room at The Broadmoor
15.  Drinks at The Golden Bee
16.  Get a tattoo (TATTOO)
17.  Do the stairs at Air Force Academy
18.  Do something fun for 10 year reunion (10 Year Reunion)
19.  Put together a puzzle
20.  Spend a night in, drinking wine with The Hustler (Undeveloped Wino)
21.  Get a picture of Harley playing in the water at the lake (Harley Swimming)
22.  Take pictures of Grammie and Poppie (Grammie & Poppy)
23.  Host a dinner party
24.  Get eyebrows waxed
25.  Play Wii Tennis  (Wii Madness)
26.  Recreate Boulder Creek trip with Ashley, Lindsey and Brea
27.  BFF Night Out
28.  Try rollers in hair
29.  Go to a bar specifically to play pool
30.  Create photo mural from Photocraft book

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Must See

I recently watched the movie Due Date with Robert Downing Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. I promise you, if you loved The Hangover as much as I did you will laugh your ass off in Due Date. It is one of the best comedies I have seen in a long time. Check out the trailer. 

Speaking of movies here is a count down of my all time favorites.

11. Mona Lisa Smile
10. The Hangover
09. Sleepless In Seattle  
08. Pretty Women
07. My Best Friend's Wedding
06. Little Women
05. Finding Neverland
04. The Blind Side
03. Dirty Dancing
02. The Hours
01. Grease 1 & 2   

What is your all time favorite movie?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The Hustler

10 facts about The Hustler
1. He does not like to have his picture taken.
2. He does not take naps.
3. His word is golden. 
4. People always assume he is in the military.
5. He's very sarcastic.
6. He bets on everything.
7. If he could, he would get his truck washed everyday.
8. He can't swim.
9. He once worked 3 jobs. 
10. He lives for Vegas.

Thanks everyone for voting!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Points

Tonight a friend from work and I met for our monthly points dinner at Salsa Brava. Each month we meet and go over our points list and add "to do" items to it.

For this month we decided we have to reach 27 points by the 29th. Most months we add a twist to the game to make it more exciting. Last month we identified a couple of must do items that had to be completed by today. My items were schedule a vet appointment for Harley and clean the two ceiling fans. This time around we decided that half of the 27 points must come from specific identified items on our list that we view as a must do.

I selected the following for a total of 15 points:
- Clean TV entertainment area (3 points)
- Dust blinds and wash window by TV (5 points)
- Clean bathtub in Master (2 points)
- Clean trash out of window wells (3 points)
- Put together Craft Room (2 points)

The remaining 12 points can come from any other categories on my list. I break my list down into 5 categories: Clean, To Do, To Buy, Fitness and Reoccurring. Here are some of the items I have on my points list.

- Storage Room (5 points)
- Doors (1 point per door)
- Junk Drawer (3 points)
- Base boards (2 points per room)

To Do
- Organize recipes (4 points)
- Go to Pawn Shops with the husband (2 points)
- Recycle plastic bags (1 point)
- Watch Sound of Music (3 points)
- Sent out Christmas Cards (5)
- Make Bucket List (1)
- Get a tattoo (5)
- Touch up paint around the house (5)
- Scrapbook (1 point per page)
- Hang shelves in Dinning Room (5)
- Schedule dentist appointment (5)
- Go sledding (5)

To Buy
- Water can (1)
- New plant (1)
- ShoDazzle (5)
- Dog collar (1)
- Brown dress pants (5)
- Earrings (2)

- Donation or hot yoga (5)
- Take Zumba class (5)
- Complete Turbo Jam (5)
- Eat clean for 10 days (2)

Reoccurring (only allowed to get 1 point)
- Mop main floor
- Clean vanity and mirror in Master
- Clean Fridge
- Clean toilet
- Organize pantry
- Iron cloths
- Vacuum couch

This game is a great way to motivate you to do things that you know need to be done, but that you keep putting off. Try it!