Sunday, December 21, 2014

'Twas the Weekend Before Christmas

'Twas the weekend before Christmas and all was... crazy.  
I made the horrible mistake of hitting up Barnes and Noble... at the mall... on Friday at 4 pm. 
Bad move.  

Somehow, there were only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and I was sick for two of them.  This is my excuse for being slow with the holiday preparations, and I believe I have learned my lesson. 

Leaving it all to the last minute meant turning my kitchen into an explosive wrapping station all weekend.  Friday, I had the pleasure of wrapping gifts for a kiddo in need.  It was really nice to do something for a little soul who needs a bit of excitement and love.  Although shopping for a little boy did prove difficult.  Neither I nor heather had any clue what to get him, but some nice Target shoppers helped us out, and all was well.  Apparently, Spiderman is very exciting.  Who knew?

Post gift drop-off we explored a new restaurant.  Asheville is such a foodie town, but I seem to stick to my favorites, so it was a nice change to try somewhere new.  I can now highly recommend Nona Mia, and it's in my 'hood!   With the advice of our lovely friends who we ate with, we all tried and shared their chopped salad, Sicilian pizza and some kind of roasted eggplant pasta amazing-ness.  I am a huge fan of thick crust pizza and this did not disappoint!  Clearly, Friday night ended in a food coma on the couch. 

Saturday commenced the wrapping for our families while listening to the last episode of Serial. (I am very unsatisfied with the ending, as is the rest of the world.)  I am actually pretty proud of some of my wrapping...and I discovered washi tape!  Made me feel like a real blogger.  I doubt I'll ever turn into someone who spends hours making their gifts look perfect, but it was actually fun to try and make my gifts look more than just disguised.  Despite wrapping all morning, I am still missing some things and the tracking is unavailable for those items.  Two-day shipping is a lie!  Post wrapping was...surprise...more shopping.  This weekend was full of wrapping, shopping and eating and I didn't hate it.  We also got to catch up with some lovely friends before we all part for the holiday.  

Today was more of the same and ended high, with some delicious local ice cream, and not-so-high, because Heather is currently 30,000 feet in the air on the way to the land of shuffleboard and Disney.

No matter what, I am feeling thankful for all the people I get to love in my life.  
God bless the corny-ness of Christmas!

Hope you have a fabulous holiday and feel the love!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Traditions

When I was a kid, we had epic Christmases.
I am talking about a room full of presents and a house full of people, literally.  My dad's side of the family is big and everyone gathered at my great-grandmother's every year.  Granny was the matriarch of the family, for sure.  Great uncles and third cousins from Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Kentucky, New York, and who knows where would make the journey home for the holiday.

Christmas, for me, always started with the packing of the car.  My sister and I would sit, each of us on our separate row in the minivan, between black trash bags full of presents.  We would poke those bags for the entire 600 mile drive, trying to figure out what was inside.  We would eat at Cracker Barrel (which I called Crackle Barrel for years) to commence our adventure South.  I always ate popcorn shrimp and played checkers by the fire with my dad.  If you can imagine, this was very exciting at the time since the chain hadn't yet made it across the Mason-Dixon line, and my poor mother only got her fried okra a few times a year.

Once we made it to Tennessee, probably after listening to The Bogart on tape, the celebrations began.  We celebrated with three full days of feasting:  On the 23rd it was dinner at my great aunt's house, then a Christmas Eve lunch at my grandmother's and THEN Christmas breakfast at my great-grandmother's house.  There is no Christmas dinner in this family, it is biscuits and gravy all the way.  Affectionately, this meal is still called the "festival of cholesterol" and it takes place at approximately 8 am every year. 

The absurdly early meal has not changed, but a lot has.  Branches of the family have planted roots in different states and many of the pivotal family members have passed on.  Time has shown me how precious my relationships are in my family and each year there is something or someone new to celebrate.  This year is Louisa's first Christmas and I can't wait!  
One day, I am sure I will feel nostalgic for 2014, but for now I'll just be sopping it all up.

This 90s flashback is a pretty accurate visual for ya:
(If you don't know who these people are we cannot be friends.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday: Two weeks until Christmas!

True confession, most of my pictures are from phone.  I do posses a nice camera, but it needs replacing, so my lovely little iPhone 5 has been doing the job.  Except lately it has decided to take lots of blurry photos.  Cool, huh? Anyone else having this issue?

I've been sick about since the time we got back from our Thanksgiving travels, so not a lot has been going on in my neck of the woods.  Essentially, this is my week, as portrayed by Mozey: 

Here are a few little things that have been going on:

If you read any of my other posts about Thanksgiving, you will know why this gets the top spot.  This chocolate pecan pie cheered me up quite a bit when I was feeling like mud.  
Yep, mud. 

My big Saturday night excitement was getting a Christmas tree!  I stayed up until TEN AT NIGHT to decorate it.  Can you believe it?  Then I moved it, with all the ornaments on it, the next day.  I am fickle like that.

I came home to this one night and I found it hysterical.  It's the little things.

Have you ever mixed Porter + Framboise?  It is fruity, fizzy, chocolatey and malty.  YUM.

I enjoy my job more and more as time passes.  
This has got to be one of the highest items on my 2014 thankful list.  We spend so much time at work that it seems so wasteful to not be happy there.

How was your week?

As always, I am linking up with these lovely people below:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Wow, this is late, huh?

I got sick right after the holiday and have been down and out ever since.  Almost every one of my family members received the lovely cold Louisa brought with her from Philly, including me.  So, I blame my lateness on her kind generosity.   My neighbor (who loves his daughter, don't worry) recently called his kid a "disgusting beast" due to all the germs she brings around from crawling and day care and such.  I think that's pretty accurate.

We returned home safely on Sunday night around 12:30 am to a warm house and a happy pup.  Thank goodness for good friends who delivered our dog before we got home and turned the heat up so it was cozy! Leaving the Charlotte airport at 10pm Sunday night was semi-insane and Serial was really the only thing that kept me awake while driving the 2.5 hours back.  Hooray for a second season!

Here's how our holiday went:

I woke up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to a text from my mom that said I needed to leave that morning or we weren't going to make it to her house because of the snow!  But clearly the airline wasn't having it, so we crossed our fingers and made it to Pennsylvania the next day without a hitch.  My dad deserves an award for driving through the snow to come fetch us at the airport.  Personally, I loved arriving to a winter wonderland.  It was the perfect welcome, especially since Heather had never visited my hometown before.
That made it extra special. :)

That night we all gathered for the ritual Beef Burgundy meal that my dad cooks every Thanksgiving-eve.  It was amazing, and as always, accompanied by lots of great wine.  I made a fire in the fire place that night and we all sat around chatting and reading...and it was glorious.

(this man needs a bigger stove)

Thursday morning it was time to preemptively run off our Thanksgiving meal pie.  As I mentioned before, I am pretty wedded to the annual Thanksgiving run on the rail trail.  Even though the trail had about four inches of snow on it and the neighborhood streets were clear, I can't part with the amazing scenery along that route!  We ended up completeing 3.5 wet, cold miles and it was great.

Here's a fun flashback to 2013, when Louisa was but a peanut:

Our 2014 reenactment:

Post run was all about the food.  There isn't much to say other than that we cooked, we ate, we drank, we chatted with new friends and had a great celebration.  

Friday morning was all about How The Grinch Stole Christmas:

The rest of our time in Pennsylvania was spent: Attending a Bucknell basketball game, catching up with friends, belatedly celebrating my dad's birthday with an amazing dinner on Saturday night, and lots of baby snuggling.  If you are ever in central Pennsylvania, which I don't know why you ever would be, you should eat at Reba and Pancho's and order the avocado salad and the spicy fish of the day.  Just do it.

All together, it was a perfect holiday spent enjoying my family.  I ate a ton, made THREE pecan pies, drank much nicer wine than I ever drink in my own house, cleaned up baby puke, wandered the downtown with my love and lounged on the couch with my mom.

Can't beat it :)

How was your Thanksgiving??