A Very Merry Christmas 2018

What does it mean if you’re sitting in your office on the morning after Christmas, thinking back on all that happened and trying not to cry over all the gifts and delicious meals and gatherings and mostly, the people who put all those things together?

I was standing in the doorway between my hallway and kitchen on Tuesday night, looking at all the presents I’d been given, our little pup asleep in his bed, Joey cleaning the last of the dishes and felt this wave of happiness and gratitude wash over me.

This holiday season felt too good to be true! ♥

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Saturday

I was about to reheat oatmeal (boring!) when Joey suggested, then made, whole grain gingerbread pancakes (not boring!).  I walked in the cold to get my nails done and we got our grocery shopping out of the way, including a trip to WF for our 22 pound turkey (!!!) but the main event was our annual holiday show with Lori.  We went to Rhein Haus first for dinner and feasted Bavarian-style on a giant pretzel and many sausages, then saw Cirque Éloize Hotel at The Buell.  I was blown away by the crazy talent of the performers and the quirkiness of the show, so the hour and a half it lasted seriously FLEW by.  What a wonderful night!

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Sunday

We packed up the turkey and a few other things and headed to my father-in-law’s, where we dry-brined the bird — she was so glittery looking and I maybe called her Lady Gobble Gobble and Joey didn’t think it was funny… — before heading up to Loveland to see my brother, sis-in-law, niece and nephew.  There were presents (Mom thought giving two kids kazoos was a good idea…), there was lunch, there were boys playing video games and football and girls drawings pictures and chatting away.  My niece braided my hair for me ♥  It was all so much fun and so so nice to see everyone for Christmas!

Back at home, I maybe made two pans of cinnamon rolls that took me until almost 11 PM and made me burn my arm on the oven rack but whatever because we also watched Love Actually and got to spend the night at home in our pajamas and that felt perfect.

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Christmas Eve!

I know I say it every year, but I really really love our Christmas Eve breakfast and a movie tradition ♥  We met up at Steuben’s for breakfast before seeing Mary Poppins Returns and look, I was fully prepared to find it just okay, but then I ended up LOVING it.  It’s technically a sequel but really, it’s a re-make because it’s a scene-for-scene copy of the original, just new takes of those scenes.  Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins flew down from the sky and I was just barely holding it together.  I think they’ve done such an amazing job capturing and re-creating what makes the original film so beloved.  Also, please don’t listen to any of the reviews, I thought the plot was fine and the music better than fine!

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Back at home, a round of presents for everyone!  We got Andi a bacon treat that he has shown zero interest in and a raccoon toy that he’s been starting to play with.  Lori got us both a bunch of wonderful things but I was really excited about this Harry Potter Sorting Hat mug that called me a Ravenclaw and though I won’t agree, I’ll take it as a compliment 🙂  We also prepped a few things for Christmas Day lunch before heading out to our Christmas Eve celebration.  Can I just take a moment to tell you Joey’s aunt Cathy had an accident at work, had surgery, is in a wheelchair and still had Christmas Eve at her house?  That is some dedication and serious family teamwork!  Soups were eaten, a new gift swap game — in which I was Rudolph and Joey was Bushy Evergreen the elf — was played and then we headed home to exchange our own gifts.

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I got Joey some snowboard/ski (he hasn’t decided which) gear that I’ve requested he also wear while shoveling snow this winter 😛  He spoiled me with too many things that I don’t deserve, including Heart coffee, a clutch that actually fits my phone and a diffuser that I’m already loving!  He’s too good to me ♥

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Christmas Part I

So this is the third year we’ve cooked the Christmas meal and it was our smoothest by far!  We pre-packed a bunch of stuff so we wouldn’t be rushing around Christmas morning (duh, why hadn’t we done that before??) plus we didn’t have to lug the turkey over to Steve’s since it was already over there brining.  What can I say except that being in the kitchen of my father-in-law’s beautiful home with Joey, a mug of coffee and a warm cinnamon roll, while White Christmas plays in the background is the best!  Joey was nervous about the bird burning since we usually cover it in foil but it turned out great and though we were worried the gravy was going to be a huge disaster, it also turned out fine.  I thought everything tasted great!

We all exchanged gifts afterward and every year, I’m impressed by all the lovely things everyone gets each other 🙂  We got to relax for a bit afterward and Joey even had time to try out the virtual reality game his cousin got for Christmas before we headed over to my parents’.

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Christmas Part II

Every year, I ask Santa to bring me a second stomach for Christmas and I guess he delivered this year because I was hungry for this prime rib meal!  We opened stockings and gifts when we got there and though I distinctly recall telling my mom NOT to buy ALL the jackets I sent her photos of, she didn’t listen.  I’ll forgive her because I love them (and her) ♥  My dad got me a super cushy yoga mat that I’m so excited to use and my sister and Wayne made our lives so much better by gifting me a mini food processor, because sometimes you need to blend a small amount of something 🙂

Lori joined us and I told Joey when we got home “I love that your mom comes over and eats with us, she’s such a good one.”  It’s true!  Forced Andi back into his elf costume one last time to take a family photo then went home and crashed into bed, feeling so lucky and loved.  I hope you all had a truly wonderful Christmas!

Christmas 2017

There are no words to describe Christmas 2017.  Except for, you know, all these words 🙂

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I talked to so many people about Christmas falling on a Monday and consensus was that it kind of rocked.  We got to have our normal Friday and Saturday before Christmas activities commenced on Sunday, which meant Friday night fettuccine & The Holiday.  Every year when we watch this movie and it gets to the part where Jack Black and Kate Winslet make “Christmas Eve Fettuccine” I’m struck with a strong feeling of jealousy.  I needa be eating a bowl full of creamy noodles too!  We tried out this Bon Appétit version that claims fettuccine should NEVER EVER be made with cream and it was good but I think I prefer the tried and true recipe of my childhood that absolutely uses heavy cream.

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Saturday started with Whole Grain Gingerbread Waffles, then a manicure for me.  I think this might be my favorite color I’ve ever gotten!  It’s called “Demi” and it’s lovely.  Also thankful for a moment of peaceful self indulgence because the rest of the day was sort of nuts.

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Back at home: Christmas Day prep!  Joey and I tag-teamed a giant bowl of Puppy Chow, I mixed a giant bowl of roll dough, we made a giant trip to the grocery store then broke for lunch of a giant salad for me and giant sandwich for him.  Do I sense a theme?

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With renewed energy, I set out to make Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, which rose like a dream.  I don’t know if you can fully tell from the photo just how tall they were but Joey and I found it really amusing.  We also wrapped all our presents and I wanted them to be all cute and classy looking so I ordered red wrapping paper and Baker’s Twine on Amazon last week.  I loved how they all looked under the tree!  By this point, we had finished watching Love Actually (our very last Christmas movie on the list!) and I felt like this had been a marathon day, so I was ready to pass out but Joey insisted on putting together a gingerbread house.  I saw the finished product the next morning and almost cried over how cute that gumdrop fence and candy snowman were!

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Christmas Go Time means keeping your wits about you by fully taking in the beauty of a quiet snowy morning and a little morning time Child’s Pose.  Please don’t ask how I took that photo though 🙂

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Lori fell sick on Christmas Eve Eve and wasn’t able to join us for our breakfast and movie tradition.  I was seriously so sad that our fearless Christmas Eve leader wasn’t with us 😦  We forged on without her and had breakfast at The Pig & the Sprout — we were seriously the only party there, just like last year! — walked around the Tattered Cover for a bit, then saw Lady Bird at the Sie.  Yes, I saw it again and I had forgotten just how many funny parts there are!  I think I appreciated it even more the second time around.

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We had a few hours between the movie and Christmas Eve dinner so we did a little bit of food prep — including a corn casserole that I seriously scaled back on in the cream cheese/shredded cheese/butter department — and picked up our turkey from a very crowded Union Station Whole Foods and hey, I even gave myself some introvert time, reading in our room before we left for the evening.

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What can I say about Christmas Eve except that the butterball soup was as delicious as ever, the gift exchange was interesting as ever — I brought a Bob Ross mug that paints itself when you add hot liquid — and there was an actual fluffy puppy in our midst.  I think there was a collective moment when we all thought “I want a puppy for Christmas!”  I particularly enjoyed when he walked around on the table between dinner and game time 🙂

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Look, I know I can be sort of a control freak/over-planner sometimes but obsessive plotting and list-making all paid off Christmas Day when our kitchen time felt easy and breezy and fun.  The sky-high cinnamon rolls were a hit and I was honestly so happy with how all the food turned out!  Last year we made way too much but we’re learning year by year and I think we nailed portions/amount of dishes this year.  Joey rocked the turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes and I think the rolls, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprout salad and cranberry sauce all turned out great.  Spending the day in the kitchen with Joey, watching Steve iron napkins into Christmas trees and listening to Christmas Vacation in the background made my heart so happy ♥

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We all got to hang out and exchange gifts before Joey and I had to head out.  Made it to my parents’ and proceeded to open presents and cheers margaritas before dinner.  Mom made the best spread of beef tenderloin, stuffing (!!!), pureed parsnips and Brussels sprouts.  Felt so nice and cozy and relaxed and it was just the best way to end the best day.  I went to bed feeling positively smitten with life.  P.S. We missed you, Chad and Lori!

Unpictured: Gifts galore — including, but not limited to, a Kate Spade purse, a Vitamix, a “Grow Your Own Therapist” toy that I can’t stop laughing about, a Snitch fidget spinner, tickets to The King and I, beautiful bamboo kitchen utensils, an “I am freaking cold” sweatshirt and many other things that I feel so unworthy of.  All you gift givers are the absolute best.  I cannot thank you enough for spoiling me so!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, remembered to put BOTH your contacts in the morning (I sure didn’t…) and are feeling ready to end this year on a good note 🙂