It never fails that this time of year I start to get a little home sick. I miss my family back in Wisconsin and all the holiday traditions we celebrated this time of year, beginning with Thanksgiving. 

My Mom and I were always in charge of the Thanksgiving menu and meal.  We would spend weeks prior looking up fun and exciting recipes to test out.  Unfortunately a family full of picky eaters always led us back to the family favorites time and again.  We would however, modify the recipes ever so slightly.  We would jazz them up a bit just to satisfy our creative desires.  But of course have to lie through our teeth to rest of the family when we’d do so.  It was our little secret.

The morning of Thanksgiving I would head over to Mom’s, chef cap on with an extra large cup of coffee ready to cook up a feast!  We would start by prepping a spread of appetizers fit to feed an army! Cheese, Sausage and Crackers, Veggies and Dip, Deviled Eggs, Rumaki, Veggie Pizza, Chips and Salsa, a Relish Tray, Taco Salad, you name it we probably had it.  An ample amount of appetizers kept the others satisfied and out of the kitchen while we would dive into making the main course.

Appetizers – Friendsgiving 2019

Green Bean Casserole, Corn Bread Pudding, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Applesauce, Cranberry Sauce, Corn, Dinner Rolls and of course the Turkey. The turkey was our pride and joy.  We expanded on the basic recipe year after year mastering the final creation…Upside Down Butter Rubbed Bacon Wrapped Turkey.  The title alone is a mouthful but it does not do justice to how incredible this turkey tastes.

Upside Down Butter Rubbed Bacon Wrapped Turkey – Friendsgiving 2019

And to think, it all came about by accident one year when we realized half way through cooking that we had accidentally placed the bird in the roasting pan upside down!  Now there may or may not have been a bottle or two of Moscato involved but I plead the fifth on that one.  I’m sure we’ve all seen the meme of how to cook a Thanksgiving meal when wine is involved.  Well folks, when I say that pure panic ensued I ain’t kidding.  We had the whole family Googling a solution at the same time.  Low and behold it was a “thing” and the turkey wasn’t a total loss.  We wouldn’t be serving the bird a la National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Cooking the turkey upside down after having rubbed it down with so much butter even Paula Dean would choke led to the most juicy turkey breast of all time.  Then to finish it off, after flipping the bird, we added some woven thick cut bacon.  Oh man! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

That was the year we officially called it quits on tweaking the turkey recipe.  It was magnificent! It was truly spectacular!  It was an experience! That was also the year that we may or may not have forgotten the turkey carcass on the grill until it was found by Dad in Spring. Again, Moscato might have been just a wee bit involved. In our defense, the refrigerator was at it’s max and we had no where to go with the turkey.  It was cold and snowing so we decided to stick it in the grill on the deck and we could just clean the bones and prep it for making stock after the meal was cleaned up.  But shortly after the meal was cleaned up the turkey comas kicked in and planning for Black Friday shopping began and we completely forgot about that year’s turkey.

But we learned from our mistakes and yet again we prevailed.  The whole incident led to us starting the stock while the turkey baked in the oven so we couldn’t forget another bird even if we tried because the simmering pot on the stove stood as a reminder to go get the turkey from the grill.

After I moved to Arizona it was extremely important to me to keep as many family traditions as possible while also creating some new ones.  Enter Friendsgiving.  That first year I was a mess.  I had all my notes, recipes and checklists ready.  I had all the ingredients organized to the max and everything was laid out ready to go for the big day.  Yet the pit in my stomach that I had from the very second I woke up was enormous! The excitement of the day disappeared as the realization and fear that I had never ever done this alone crept in.  I called my Mom more times than I could count that day.  She never not once got annoyed even when my questions were straight up stupid. And I’m a firm believer that no question is a stupid question. 

My Mom was my savior that day even from across the country she was there for me and helped support me in hosting my first ever Friendsgiving.  That day would not have been successful if it weren’t for her help, her love and her support.  It would not have been successful if it weren’t from the time we spent side by side in her kitchen back in Wisconsin year after year.

Now here we are three years later and I look forward to Friendsgiving more than ever before.  It’s become a new tradition with a nod to the old ones. Including serving the turkey on a platter that has been passed down from my Grandparents. It has grown each year ever so slightly as we befriend more people here in Arizona.  And as each year passes I am more confident in my cooking abilities. 

Friendsgiving doesn’t replace the memories and traditions I had with my Mom each Thanksgiving prior but it definitely helps a little when I get home sick.  It helps make her feel just a little bit closer. And you better believe I keep her on speed dial every single time!  I love you Mom!

Grandpa and Grandma Tucholka’s Serving Platter

What Thanksgiving holiday traditions does your family celebrate?  What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe or dish? Let me know in the comments below!

Gobble Til You Wobble

Mother Nature is a Trickster

The magic a random Arizona hail storm can create is truly an incredible thing to witness. Children acting like children. Adults acting like children. Neighbors all gathering together to say hello and discuss the rarity. Strangers becoming acquaintances. Couples having “snowball” fights down the sidewalks. Lots of fun, awe and laughter. Mother Nature is powerful and amazing.

Hunter asked for a white Christmas but got a white Thanksgiving instead! He loved every minute of this crazy weather phenomenon and couldn’t wait to get outside. I made sure he partook in all the midwestern winter classics his Daddy and I grew up with…throwing “snowballs”, making “snow” angels, jumping in muddy puddles and just simply having a good old time. And after he was cold and wet we warmed up with a nice bath and a cup of hot cocoa.

Get to Know Me

I always enjoy reading those fill in the blank/Q&A type posts that pop up on my news feed. It’s a quick glimpse into the lives of others that is both unique and fun. It never fails that I learn more about those I don’t know well and something new about those I do know well. So here goes…50 things most people don’t ever think to ask…

  1. What is the color of your toothbrush? White
  2. Name someone who made you smile today. My son Hunter
  3. What were you doing at 8am this morning? Sleeping! I am a night owl. Not an ealry bird.
  4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Reading time with Hunter
  5. Ever been to a strip club? Yeppers
  6. What is your favorite candy bar? Nestle Crunch Bar
  7. What is the last thing you said out loud? “Stop barking!”
  8. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? I prefer Gelato but for ice cream it’s a tie between Blue Moon and Bubble Gum
  9. What was the last thing you had to drink? Cherry Hint Water
  10. Do you like your wallet? I don’t use one
  11. What was the last thing you ate? Carrots with Hummus
  12. Did you buy any new clothes this weekend? Does a Halloween costume count?
  13. What was the last sporting event you’ve been to? Monster Jam
  14. What is your favorite popcorn flavor or topping(s)? Butter and Parmesan Cheese
  15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? My husband Justin
  16. Have you ever been camping? Yes indeedy
  17. Do you take vitamins daily? Yes
  18. Do you go to church every Sunday? No but I am a proud Christian
  19. Do you have a tan? My husband would say no but I do have tan lines
  20. Do you prefer Chinese food over Pizza? Chinese
  21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? I drink EVERYTHING with a straw
  22. What did your last text say? “Morning babe! I love you!!!”
  23. What are you doing tomorrow? Laundry…boooooo
  24. What terrifies you? Small spaces
  25. Look to your left, what do you see? My husband and son
  26. What color is your watch? Rose Gold
  27. What do you think of when you hear, Italy? Parmesan Cheese, Wine and Prosciutto
  28. Favorite soda? Dr. Pepper
  29. Do you go into fast food restaurants or use the drive-thru? Neither…Postmates for the win!
  30. Who is the last person you spoke to on the phone? The insurance company
  31. Any plans for today? Relax the rest of the evening
  32. How many states have you lived in? Two
  33. What is your favorite number? 3
  34. Biggest annoyance? Having to repeat myself (laughable as a Mom I know).
  35. Last song you listened to? “Started” by Iggy Azalea
  36. Can you say the alphabet backwards? Yes
  37. Do you have a maid service when you clean the house? Hell no! I AM the maid service!
  38. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? Puma slides or sneakers
  39. Are you jealous of anyone? Nope
  40. Is anyone jealous of you? Doubt it
  41. What is your enneagram type? 2w1
  42. What do you usually do during the day? EVERYTHING! I’m a SAHM. What don’t I do would be easier to answer.
  43. Coffee or Tea? Coffee is preferred but I do enjoy tea also.
  44. Usual Starbucks order? Iced Venti Americano with two EXTRA shots of espresso and toffee nut flavor with a Marshmallow Dream bar.
  45. Do you use the word hello daily? En español si. ¡Hola!
  46. What color is your car? Blue
  47. How many tattoos? 4
  48. How many piercings? 6
  49. Have you been to six flags? Yes in Illinois
  50. How did you get your worst scar? ACL surgery

Play along with me! Just copy and paste this in the comments below and change the answers. I’d love to learn more about my readers.

Recipe Time – Chicken and Trees

“Cooking with kids is about harnessing imagination, empowerment and creativity.” – Guy Fieri

I am a firm believer that cooking with your kids is a must. Aside from the skills it instills in them to be able to “adult” later in life, you’re teaching them things like math and reading, practice and patience and let’s not forget about creativity and imagination. You’re making learning fun and creating memories that will last a lifetime. We are starting to introduce safe knife handling skills to Hunter via a serrated butter knife. He was very excited and full of pride as he carefully maneuvered that butter knife slowly chopping the steamed and cooled broccoli florets. Then when it came time to mix everything together into the baking dish all bets were off as he quickly stirred the ingredients together splashing food everywhere. It gave us a good giggle and also provided a learning opportunity as he then had to help clean up the mess he made.

Tonight’s master piece…”Chicken and Trees” as Hunter so appropriately named it. There is so much veg shoved in this casserole it’s insane! I’m a make it up as I go type cook but the rough recipe is as follows:

Stir together some Grilled Chicken Breast, one box of Banaza Noodles (cooked per the directions on the box), Steamed Broccoli Florets, Riced Broccoli and Cauliflower and Shredded Carrots, Chopped and Sautéed Onion and Garlic, Mix together with one can of Cream of Chicken Soup and half a can of Whole Milk, pour into a large baking dish and top with Cheddar Cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. 

“Chicken and Trees” a la Hunter

Happy Wife Happy Life

“A perfect marriage is two imperfect people who simply refuse to give up on each other.” Throwback Thursday to one of the happiest days of my life. Can I share a secret with you? The photo below is only a snapshot of our lives. Literally! A moment in time when our lives were “perfect”. But by no means has every single day since that day been as “perfect”. Successful marriages take work folks!

“Our Wedding Day”

Often times we scroll thru social media wishing for the “perfect” lives of others instead of focusing on how we can make our own lives “perfect”. Can I tell you another secret? The word perfect is subjective and varies from person to person. What’s perceived as perfect to one is not as perfect to another.

Some days come easier than others. Some days you just don’t like the person you are married to. Other days you are reminded of what an incredible spouse you have. My husband told me from day one that I was stuck with him. We both come from divorced families and discussed very early on that divorce was not an option for either of us. 

Communication is key. Transparency is vital. Letting go of unrealistic expectations is crucial. Love yourself, love your spouse. Treat each other with kindness, patience and respect. Make your own lives your own kind of perfect. 

Recipe Time – Beef and Rice

My all time favorite go to meal…Beef and Rice!!! It is so quick and easy and can be made so many different ways. The possibilities are endless. This version you see here has red bell pepper and onion and is flavored with the absolutely amazing Northwoods Seasoning blend from Penzeys Spices and just a smidge of smoked paprika. I’ve also swapped some to all of the rice out with cauliflower rice on many occasions and have had it turn out just as tasty if not better! This meal hits the spot time and again that’s for sure!!! It just never gets old! Try it out for yourselves and let me know how it turned out. Share your own variation in the comments below.

Pour one TBS oil of your choice (olive, canola, vegetable) into sauté pan and sweat the onion and bell pepper. Add ground beef (typically 3/4 – 1lb.) and cook through. If the ground beef yields a lot of grease, remove as much as possible so it’s not swimming but leave enough to coat the pan. Then I add rice (typically x3 cups). Stir dry rice and meat/veggie mixture thoroughly and often until the rice is coated and begins to brown ever so slightly (similar to what you would do when following the instructions on a Rice A Roni package). The rice may begin to stick to the pan and that’s ok once you add the liquid it will be easier to stir without sticking. Add liquids. I usually replace one cup of water with a beef or chicken broth for added flavor. So one cup broth and x2 cups water. Season at this point with your favorite seasoning(s). I also add any additional veggies at this point too (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, whatever you wish). Cover the pan and let simmer stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Add a couple pats of butter and viola!

“Beef and Rice” a la Ang

R.I.P my Sweet Fur Baby

Hands down probably one of the most meaningful and memorable moments of my life next to marrying the most amazing man ever and giving birth to his son…

For those of you who do not know…last night we lost my longtime cuddle bug and first fur baby of 15 years Benji. Justin was BEYOND supportive and literally held my hand as Benji took his very last breath. And while I in complete hysteria was calling a handful of our friends and family back with the outcome, Justin was in turn googling handmade playdoh recipes so we could take Benji’s paw prints as a memento.

Fast forward to just now as I was finishing up the laziest date night dinner and my normal go to of beef and rice on the stove as Justin tries to converse with me enough to distract me from Hunter who hasn’t quite yet fallen asleep and then the most incredible thing ever happens…

I bend down to feed Athena and hear a super loud noise and jump at the sound in complete disbelief immediately asking Justin what the sound was. He in turn asked if I had turned the lights on and off but then quicker than I, realized what was actually happening. It was thunder and lightning!!! 

For those of you who know me well, you know that I LOVE thunderstorms! And they’re probably one of, if not THE very thing I miss the most of back home in Wisconsin aside from family and friends. And any form of inclement weather is so far and few between down here in Arizona. The even better part of this extremely short burst of rare weather was Justin’s comment…”Ang that’s just Benji sharing with you what you love and miss the most besides him.” My heart is still broken yet so full all at the same time!!! 

Thank you Boo Boo for the rain! I love you too!!! And thank you Justin for being sooo incredibly supportive during this very difficult time. It means more to me than I can ever express in words. 


The Joys of City Living…NOT!!!

We spent a good majority of the day at a friend’s house soaking up the rays and hanging out by the pool. When we finally arrive home absolutely exhausted we are immediately “welcomed” by the sights and sounds of the neighbors throwing a HUGE house party. Super explicit rap crap blaring at a volume out of this world, bounce house, people trying to talk (yell actually) over the insane music volume, the whole bit. It’s 9:00pm and I’m trying to put our severely over tired son to bed. Oh, and did I mention he’s also cutting bottom molars? My husband is beyond beat from the insane work week on top of getting up much too early for the first available tee time at a new to him golf course that was well over a 45 minute drive to get to. Justin’s Dad, who is in town visiting is beyond his limit for the day. Both of them are irritated but neither care enough to want to do anything about it.

Can’t find the number to the darn HOA to call in the noise complaint. Probably never even got the number from the property management company to begin with. Stupid property management company. I could go on and on about that headache too but I will save it for another day. And at any rate, between this HOA business and the property management company we have a snow ball’s chance in hell of getting any positive results in this or any other situation for that matter anyway. So here I am tired as hell, sweating profusely (per usual but I still can’t stand it), trying to unload the truck and unpack the cooler all the while trying to get Hunter’s cranky pants down for bed. As if my plate wasn’t already full I am also trying to get the dog calmed down. Between not being let out for a couple of hours on top of the chaos going on next door, Athena is wound up like a top. Poor puppers has probably been dealing with the chaos next door for quite some time now for that matter too. And I know it’s going to be up to me to try and hunt down a number for either the HOA or the local police department in the event this party doesn’t quiet down soon. All this while trying not to flip the “you know what” out at my dearest husband for plopping himself on the couch to relax completely oblivious to the fact that this rapid boiling pot of “I have had enough not only for the day but for the entire week” and am about to blow situation.

Semi-resolution to the insanity…make a STIFF cocktail, say goodnight to my dearest husband and father-in-law and setup my favorite chair by the pool, in the dark and write this stuff down because it will make a great blog post. So here I am, poolside, in the not so peace and quiet of my own backyard, “sippin’ on gin and juice, laid back…” DAMNIT!!! That super explicit rap crap blaring at a volume out of this world is some good stuff when you’re in the right mood. Brings back some pretty good memories from way way way back in the day. Solid Gold McDonald’s, classic car shows, Highway 100, crusin’ the strip and blasting super explicit rap crap the entire time. Ahhh! I’ll just kick back, relax, continue to sing along and take my own little trip down memory lane. Those stories for another time. Suffice to say that good times were had and forever friendships were made that’s for sure. Y’all know who you are. Smooches to each and every one of you!!!

For those of you who were along for the ride at that time in my life feel free to comment below with your favorite memory. For those of you whom I didn’t or don’t know feel free to share your favorite memory from back in the day or a noisy neighbor experience you’ve had.

The Shitpocolypse

My dear cat of 13 years, Benji, is very ill and has been since we relocated to AZ. This cat is my ride or die companion. He’s been with me through it all. He’s also had a rough go of it himself. Between being beaten by his previous owner, a severely botched declaw surgery, emergency surgery to remove a full blockage from his urethra and thousands of dollars later he has exhausted darn near all of his nine lives. Old age aside, the worst of his symptoms has been the constipation. He hasn’t eaten in over two weeks and is not drinking either. His weight is down so much he is just skin and bones and too weak to move. We’ve been trying to force fluids by way of an infant medicine dropper. Between his inability to control his bowels and our wild and crazy cat Taz not leaving him alone, we’ve moved Benji to the bathroom and have tried to make him as comfortable as possible. Knowing his time is coming to end and the outrageous cost involved in going to a vet, let alone not even knowing where in a new city and state to even begin the search for reliable care. I turned, as I usually do, to the World Wide Web for homeopathic remedies to ease his discomfort as he transitions on to a better place. But deep deep down I’m hoping and praying for a miracle. While my husband in turn, starts looking up area vet hospitals and the cost involved in simply putting him down. Neither of us want Benji to suffer any longer but we have very very different views on how to handle things. With my husband’s seeming lack of support and having just moved over 1,500 miles away from the close knit support system of family and friends back home, to say I am a mess would be an understatement. My son Hunter has even started fake crying that’s how much of a mess I’ve been. Continue reading “The Shitpocolypse”

The Alien Inside of Me

Those who know me well can attest that prior to meeting and subsequently marrying the man of my dreams, I had sworn off having children for many reasons. Reason #3,358 – the thought of feeling a baby growing inside of me freaked me out royally. So much so that I had additionally swore that if ever the time came that I were to become pregnant and felt the baby move that I would rush to the hospital that very instant and insist that they remove the alien from my belly immediately! Furthermore, to this very day I have never (intentionally) felt, touched, rubbed or patted a pregnant woman’s belly unless tricked or forced to do so. As for all those photos and videos of pregnant women’s bellies where you can see an appendage sticking out or see the baby move. Uh uh, not for me. I’ll pass thanks! Continue reading “The Alien Inside of Me”