Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Decorating Early

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Ahhhh…yes…..I love the holidays! It’s early…and I’m owning it. Its time to crack out the decorations! 😉 Hope you decorate early too!

BaconUrkey: You Know You NEED It! (And Can it Make You Smarter???)

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Bacon wrapped turkeyIt’s one week before Thanksgiving and thousands of free range turkeys are blissfully running around barnyards. Donning buffed out legs and chests, they are well oiled, gluten-free machines. High on endorphins, life couldn’t get any better. Even “fresh” sounds good until, well…”their” holiday rolls around.

In fact, many of them must think they’re safe.  I mean seriously, every store is decked out for Christmas and Thanksgiving seems to be forgotten.  I truly believe these fair feathered friends are jogging side by side, planning their New Year’s celebration when they will toast with “grain” alcohol cocktails and drumsticks (ice cream, not…).  With all that said, I’m sure one or two will be able to outrun the Whole Foods and Trader Joes trucks, spinning their legs like egg beaters to help get them over to the bushes.  As for the others? Well, Thanksgiving, here you come.

So you’ve ordered your turkey either fresh, frozen, brined or Butterballed. Either way, you’ve got a week to figure out how to set this Thanksgiving apart from the rest. And that’s where I come in (along with my bacon obsession). Today I am going to help you wow and amaze your friends and family – while keeping them healthy at the same time.  It’s all about “Baconurkey”, and yes, this will change your world.

Last year I shared my bacon-wrapped turkey recipe along with a few factoids.  First, did you know that in a “lighthearted” survey 23% of men ranked bacon as their favorite fragrance? They didn’t qualify this but I’m fairly certain it’s cooked vs. raw so thought it was important to add that disclaimer.  That factoid makes total sense. But in my heart I knew there MUST be something healthy about bacon. I’m sure you’re thinking, how could adding bacon ever be healthy??? Well I’m glad you inquired because I believe it’s my responsibility to find a way to help relieve any guilt you might have, every time you reach for that perfect strip.

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After weeks of research I was finally able to find one healthy fact about bacon. And you know, just as in bad dates, it only takes one 😉  Here’s the one healthy fact I could find about bacon – “Pregnant women should eat bacon because it contains choline which helps fetal brain development.”  What’s confusing is that if it helps fetal brains, why can’t it help ours? I’m sure it’s quite intuitive to take a flying leap, allowing us to assume you’re smarter, if you eat more bacon. (If that’s the case, I swear I must be a genius) So get ready to host a table full of brilliant people. To test them, see if they know what this means before and after dinner: Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum. (translation below)

So how to start…Today, I want to take you into my kitchen where people become smarter. Yes, I am here to introduce you to Baconurkey (“bacon wrapped turkey” – if you were unsure what that word meant, please have 2-3 helpings) I will add a disclaimer – By no means am I licensed to provide cooking instructions, but I’m willing to “chance” it.

So this idea came to me 2 years ago. The thing about turkey is that we really only cook them once a year. Because of this, every November we find ourselves hovered over our computer keyboard typing out the words “how to cook a turkey”. Last time I looked, this search brought over 580 million results! Well, no more. This blog is going to solve any anxiety you may have about next week’s Thanksgiving dinner and make you a superhero at the same time. Out with the plain old browned up turkey. It’s time to put a little sass on your table!  I’ll keep this simple and use photos to describe how you can make a bird like this.

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How to Cook a BaconUrkey (Bacon Wrapped Turkey), 101

  • Defrost or use fresh – typically it takes 5 hours per pound to defrost
  • Scrub that poor bird inside and out
  • Dry the old bird off
  • Stuff your bird with cut apple, onions, celery, parsley, rosemary, garlic (a great time to clean out your fridge)
  • Open a 1 -2 pound package of good bacon (feel the love wash over you)
  • Carefully lay the bacon on top of the bird – note, you can use 2 pounds if you want to completely suffocate it (legs, wings, oven, et al)

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  • Dump a few cans of chicken broth over everything
  • Add and drink 1-2 cups of white wine
  • Cover with a large piece of foil
  • Follow standard cooking instructions
  • Once your sassy bird hits the correct temp ( ~180⁰, take or give a few), pull the foil off and let that bacon brown up
  • When the bacon is golden brown –  get-ur out of the oven
  • Let your beautiful, amazing bird stand for 30 minutes
  • During this time you’ll need to protect the bacon. I’ve lost a few strips during the waiting period.
  • Secret tip: Remove the bacon (and hide it), pop the turkey back in to brown the skin. Then place the bacon back on top for your family photo.
  • A quick note on the gravy – drain off the fat and make it like you usually do. The bacon will give it a divine flavor.
Baconurkey!

Baconurkey!

Good luck and let me know if you’re going to try it! And if you do, and you love it please post a comment. If it doesn’t work out for you, I’ll just remind you of something my Momma used to say… “If you don’t have something nice to say…don’t say anything at all.”  Happy early Thanksgiving everyone!  PS: Mark your calendars!  Bacon Day is less than a year away – August 31, 2014 (the Saturday before Labor Day)! That’s right, even bacon has its own day.

PS – What does “Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum” mean?  Translation: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” I mean, just because we’re all baconurkey-smart, doesn’t mean we can’t be fun…

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Me – pre-bacon wrapped turkey …. No more boring – Today, I’m living the life of bacon! Are you?????

If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful bird, cooked or not cooked, please click on “Contact”.  My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors / saturation of the bacon and bird are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

Biltmore Estate Decked Out

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People who know me know I LOVE the holidays. It starts with Halloween and my giddiness extends through Christmas. Yes, my house is the one decorated for Halloween in September and Christmas in November. Unlike many if you I gasp in delight when the Christmas decorations are decked out in the stores in September. So when I was looking into a trip location in November I was thrilled to find out one of my favorite places would be decorated for the holidays: The Biltmore Estate. The photos below are ones from my visit. The first one is of the tree in the dining room. Here’s a close up.

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The tree is a 40 foot fresh cut tree a and the smell is incredible. They said that they decorate so early that on December 3rd they will take this one down and put a fresh on up overnight. They would decorate the tree hanging the presents on the branches so the estate keeps the same tradition which you see in the above photo. It you’re lucky they will be playing Silent Night on the organ and the music will float throughout the house. Here are some more photos.

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Above are the trees across the room from the 40 foot tree by a massive fireplace. You have to stop and imagine what the room was like with the fires a blaze and the lighted and decorated trees glowing on Christmas Eve….

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The library.

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Many of the rooms have period dress which is very interesting to see. The women must have been no taller than 5 feet tall. The dresses are tiny!

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After your tour, head over to the area with the shops and order a hot chocolate and stroll through the gardens and shops. Me, by my favorite lion.

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The first day photo with my lion.

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Actually during the first photo I got photo bombed by the cutest kid 😉

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Second day… Yes I am obsessed with this handsome guy.

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And the last day the put a bow on him!❤️❤️❤️

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If you are able to tour the Biltmore Estate over the next two months I hope you do!!! You will not regret it. Also, now they are doing evening candle light tours who’s must be incredible. We will your the grounds in my next blog and also take a walk out to bass pond throughout the wooded forest. Sending everyone early holiday cheer!

Some links for more information:  http://www.biltmore.com/ and http://www.biltmore.com/visit

 

Happy 4th of July!!!

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Hang a Flag Outside!

Hang a Flag Outside!

I love the 4th of July – it always feels like summer has finally arrived.  Hanging a flag outside your home has been a tradition and one that I celebrate every year.  If you don’t have yours out yet, I hope you take a moment and find it today!   Stay safe and have fun!

Here are some fun 4th facts!

*More than an estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on July 4th. That’s roughly one hot dog for every two people in the United States.

*More than 74 million Americans will BBQ on July 4th.

*The first Fourth of July party was held at the White House in 1801.

*The Fourth of July was not declared a national holiday until 1941.

*The stars on the original American flag were arranged in a circle to ensure that all colonies were represented equally.

*Three U.S. presidents have died on July 4th: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Five years later, James Monroe died on July 4, 1831.

*Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. president born on the 4th of July, in 1872.

Single?? You May Have a Valentine You Don’t Even Know About!

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329893_10150616072166489_2031253443_oI wanted to be the first to wish my readers a Happy Valentine’s Day!  For those of you planning something fun today my advice is to keep it simple.  Time is the most important gift you can give someone you care about.

As for the day itself, I chuckle as I remember Valentine’s Day as a child.  First, I was NOT that super-cute girl that all the guys were googly eyed over. Oh no… I was the shy girl with the curly hair that always seemed to have a snarl that would not brush out.  (I think people just thought the back of my hair had extra body…or “lift”) Next, let’s ice this cake and add glasses and legs that were as long as kids were tall.  So when the “big day” came around it was always a bit stressful. Would anyone want me as their Valentine? Thankfully, our teachers insisted that everyone give everyone a Valentine’s card so my carefully decorated lunch bag that was taped to the chalk board was packed full of cards and those horrible chalky candy hearts (which thankfully became sweet and sour in their later life).

Flash forward many years. Today, my life is full of Valentines as I am blessed with incredible friends and the most amazing family.  To find the Valentines in your life, all you need to do is take a moment and look around. I promise… they are everywhere.

I hope everyone has a fabulous day!

PS: On a very important note, I’ve finally managed to get that big-ol snarl out of my hair – in case you were wondering why there are never any photos of me walking away from the camera.

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Perfect Holiday Gift

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These drawings were a Christmas gift from my nieces Hannah and Ally – they are both so talented!  (Hannah drew the Photo Girl Travels image and Ally drew the Christmas card for her Nana and me) They were the perfect gift!  I hope everyone had a nice holiday!

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Pecan Dream Cookies…Stop Living in Fear!

You’re invited to a party and the host asks you to “bring a dish” – words that ignite horror, even in the bravest of men. You face your fears and make something. Sure you won’t eat it at the party, you carefully load it into your car. You arrive just a…

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