Massive Christmas Recap, Part the Second

Overnight, Santa Claus came!

Lots of stockings and overflow bags!

Tim and I opened our stockings together (before showering, and makeup, forgive me)

I got lots of fun things–a cookbook, new spatulas, a candle, some lotion, a Starbucks card, lots of chocolate, and a ridiculously cute animal picture calendar.  (I’m so transparent.)  Tim may or may not have gotten some Nutella in his!

We passed out the gifts.  Sorting them between 20 people is a production!  It probably takes half an hour.

Everyone gets a pile!  We go in age order, from youngest to oldest, around and around.  (It always devolves into a free-for-all after about three hours.)  Some of my highlights?

Yay!  Santa listened!  (Or my mom.)  We decided that her name is Sheila.  So, please meet my new running buddy, Sheila.

I got Tim a fancy watch for Christmas, so we both had to be watch models.

And our registries got some more action!

Our toaster oven from my lovely sister!  Now I don’t have to flip our toast to get it toasted on both sides!  (We had to do a little return and re-buying due to its size, but it’s well worth it!)

A nice new hand mixer! We also got the giant fancy crock pot off our registry, but my cousin is shipping it to us because it was too big for the plane trip.

Tim’s present was sadly delayed in shipping, so I haven’t gotten it yet, but he got me a jewelry box and a gift certificate for a manicure!  I spent about an hour and a half untangling my various necklaces a few weeks ago and he took the hint.  I can’t wait for it to come!

I also acquired some awesome new cookbooks:

I literally finished the last little piece of our Halloween candy right before we left for our trip last week.  Our candy pumpkin is full again thanks to Santa, this time with the good stuff–Ghirardelli and my personal favorite, Fannie May.  (Is Fannie May a Chicago thing or nationwide?  Either way, their chocolate is to die for.)

This post is not only going to contain gratuitously cute animals in sweaters photos, but SANTA BABY photos. You’ve been warned.

Towards the end of present opening, Tim called his parents and brother and sister-in-law to check in.  When he came back, we got some great news–we’re going to be Aunt Brie and Uncle Tim in August 2010! This will be our first niece or nephew and we’re so excited.  I plan on buying lots of adorable baby things, most likely hats with various animal ears and onesies with sarcastic phrases, and diverting any baby fever symptoms I’m having in their direction.  We’re so happy!  Talk about a great Christmas surprise.

Later on in the day, we munched on appetizers and Christmas dinner.  We have pork tenderloin and spaetzle, which is kind of a chewy German spaghetti that’s served with gravy and is awesome.  But the star was dessert, crafted by my cousin/bridesmaid Brandy and I–egg rolls stuffed with banana and Nutella, served with dulce de leche sauce.

Ohhh yeah.

Once a year, right?

After dinner, we engaged in a long standing holiday tradition–bingo!  We wrap up household products and use those as prizes.

Yes, we are five.  (We also played numerous games of Uno, Life, and Apples to Apples over the weekend.  Oh, and Tim learned to play Gin.)  I won some toilet bowl cleaner and shower cleaner!  Woo!

We went to bed on Christmas happy and full.

The next morning, we were on a mission–flower girl dress shopping with the adorable Miss Maddie.  We ended up going to three shops before we found something I liked.  (Yes, I’m a prude, but three year olds should not be wearing spaghetti straps…and EVERYTHING had spaghetti straps.  Ugh!)  We picked this dress, but it will be in pink with an ivory sash.

Maddie may or may not have been bribed with candy to stand still to be measured (twice).  She would have been fine without it!  She’s so adorable.

Then we went and had the most delicious lunch–I had pad thai, which I love, but I always forget I love it.   So, remind me next time, okay, Tim?

The snow was starting to fall so we hurried to get on the road back to Chicago.  Our trip took an extra hour, but we made it home to my mom’s house safely.  We ended up meeting my bridesmaid Teresa, her husband Marc, and her sister Melissa for a drink late that night, but we had to be up for an early flight!  My uncle picked us up at 5:25 a.m. for our flight to Kansas City.

Luckily, security and baggage check wasn’t bad at all!  I think we beat the rush flying today.  Of course, we got on the shuttle to the economy parking lot just as it was pulling up with no wait, and Tim made the mistake of saying, “Everything’s going our way!”

Then we discovered this:

That’s our car.  With snow plowed up to the bumper.  With no shovel or ice scraper to speak of in it.  (Tim took mine out of my car and didn’t return.)

We got creative and used two baking dishes/cookie sheets my mom gave me as shovels!  It actually wasn’t too bad and we dug ourselves out in about 15 minutes, but my penny loafers, gloves, and jeans were frozen and wet by the time we got home.  It felt great to get back in my nice warm jammies!

Today’s a catch-up day–grocery shopping, unpacking, and the like.  We can’t pick the animals up until tomorrow morning, unfortunately, but hopefully everything will be in order by the time they come home.  I miss them!  It’s back to work tomorrow for me, too.  I’m hoping I’ll get a nice run with my new Garmin in afterwards!

What was the highlight of your Christmas? I had an awesome year!  I’m so excited about Napa Valley, but I think that a little niece or nephew on the way is my favorite memory.

Massive Christmas Recap, Part the First

PHEW.   Talk about a crazy, but fun, trip!

We left for the Kansas City airport early on Wednesday.  We split a pastry at Starbucks, and I chugged a giant OJ to help ward off plane germies.

After a quick flight, and a not-so-quick snowy/rainy four hour drive, we were at my aunt and uncle’s house!  They live next door to their middle son, so we all crash somewhere between their houses.  In total, we had about 20 people camped out for the holiday!

This was the state of presents when we arrived:

Please note that they are stacked up to the top of the fireplace mantel.  And it only got worse/better as time went on!

Tim and I were so excited to meet my new second cousin, Connor.  He’s our flower girl’s little brother and is perhaps the cutest baby ever.  He has the sweetest disposition and is so happy all the time!  He is blind, but still loves to play and cuddle and is no different from any other baby.  Behold the cuteness.


Oh, and then I got a big surprise.  I wish I had the “reaction shot” pictures, but since it was a surprise, we were obviously not prepared with the camera.   My uncle has a bar in his basement, and we were all sitting around having a cocktail late that night and my sister starts asking for a glass of wine.  Which is weird, because my sister rarely consumes alcohol that isn’t some lurid color or in a drink ending in -tini.  She starts talking about how she only likes sweet wine, and usually she mixes wine and Squirt to create a cocktail to her liking (wine snobs everywhere just died a little)…and then whips out a piece of paper and says, “Or…how about we go get some wine in Napa Valley at your bachelorette party in April?”

I was shocked!  She and my bridesmaids booked a plane ticket and hotel for me for the weekend after my big half marathon.  It will be pretty small–me and my sister, my mom, my bridesmaid Teresa, and her mom and sister, Lynn and Melissa.  (I grew up with their family, so I’m close to all of them.)  I’m super excited and so thankful.  My sister is really incredible, and it was so sweet of her to plan a trip around something she knows I love (wine, food) that she doesn’t.  (She has threatened to bring a flask of Squirt with her to the wineries.  We’ll see.)

The next day was Christmas Eve.  We spent most of the day doing last-minute shopping and wrapping, and also making and consuming pudding shots.  I’m not sure what was in them, but I think they involved instant pudding, Cool Whip, and liquor.  I will e-mail my cousin for the recipe and post it here.  They were dangerously good!  We made Oatmeal Cookie shots, Kahlua chocolate shots, Slippery Nipple shots….good times.

Then, preparation for our traditional Christmas Eve fondue dinner was underway.  Clutch your pearls, ladies–we basically fry beef in canola oil.  But it is delicious!  We also have dirty rice, salad, bread, and assorted veggies.  I end up eating more of the side dishes anyway!

Then, after dinner, we had our tacky sweater competition, which went well until I broke out in bumps from my Goodwill sweatshirt!  Yick.

Even Duncan the doggie got in on it:

Sadly, I did not win.  But it was fun nonetheless!

Be back later with a recap of the rest of the weekend!

Christmas break!

Christmas break!   Christmas break!

Preparations for our big Christmas trip are underway.  We fly out of Kansas City tomorrow morning around 9 and will hopefully be in Chicago by 10:30.  Then we’ll be driving to visit family.  I am crossing my fingers super hard that winter weather doesn’t get in the way!

Today work crept by so slowly.  On my lunch break, I picked up two books for reading on my trip, plus one to slip in my mom’s stocking.

But finally, 5 o’clock rolled around and I left.  FINALLY my laptop was ready to be picked up from the Geek Squad at Best Buy.  I was so excited to get her back!  I brought her home, plugged her in…and guess what?  She’s still broken!

I ate dinner quickly and turned around and went straight back to Best Buy, where they informed me that I needed a new AC adapter, which they did not have and I’d have to order.  Oh, and they knew this two weeks ago, but they didn’t tell me them and were extremely rude.  Screw you, Best Buy!  I have the new adapter ordered and I’m using Tim’s computer for the time being.

I went home and had a small meltdown.  Every once in awhile, I need to yell and swear loudly.  Today was that day.  But, it’s out of my system now, laundry is in the washer/dryer, suitcases are mostly packed, and hopefully I’ll have my computer back next week (ugh).

I will not be blogging again until Sunday.  Between broken computers, and families, and limited luggage space I’m going to take a bit of a break.  But, I will take lots of pictures and do a nice long recap when I get home!  I’ll also be tweeting from my phone.

Because today was a giant clusterfuck, here are some cute animal pictures I took last night to save this post.  (This is a pretty cheap trick of blogging, I know.  Sorry, guys.)

Merry Christmas!  I hope you are able to enjoy time with loved ones, reflect on the last year, and have a peaceful, happy, healthy day.

Christmas Party!

Well, poodles, I’m beat so this will be a quickie!

I slept in and ate a giant breakfast.  Halfway through said giant breakfast I realized, “Crap, I was going to go running.”  I finished said giant breakfast, looked at the weather report feeling sluggish, and decided, “ah, hell, it’s going to be warmer tomorrow with less to do anyway.”  So, I’m running tomorrow instead of today.

Tim and I then went to the bank and I ran a few errands.  Including but not limited to buying my tacky holiday sweatshirt for our family get-together this year:

It’s glittery.  With bears.  (I’d had a few glasses of wine before taking this picture.  Obvi.)

Then I spent the afternoon with these puppies:

55 invitations are totally done and ready to be mailed.  Okay, that’s a lie, because I have to put stamps on the RSVP postcards and slide those in, but mostly almost done.  40ish to go!  I will finish these tomorrow if it KILLS me.

Then we got ready and headed to our first and only holiday party of the year with Tim’s family.  I didn’t photograph dinner, but this is the aftermath:

I consumed many many pita chips with pesto-stuffed Brie, and endured equally many jokes about me being spread on a cracker, taking a bite out of me, et cetera.  Dinner was a delicious green salad, beef tenderloin, potatoes, and bread, and dessert was a delicious Grand Marnier soaked trifle with lots of fruit and pudding.  Yum!  Oh, and I may or may not have had a glass each of chianti, cabernet, and pinot grigio.

I loved the centerpiece!


After dinner, a few presents were opened and I handed out the boxes of baked goods I made for everyone.

I am not sure why my photos turned out so crappy.  Sorry, dudes.

We had a lovely time.  Tim’s family is so much fun!  I wish we got to see them all more often.

Anyway, the agenda for tomorrow is church, run, finish invitations, ironing, and preliminary Crimmus packing.  One or more of those things will probably not happen, but hey, shoot for the moon!

Have a great night!

What’s your go-to wine to bring to parties? I love Kenwood Cabernet–I hope everyone else liked it as much as I did!

Crimmus Preview

Hi friends!

Today was another uneventful day at work, without any romantic French lunches to break up the day.  Sad.

For some reason, I had a teeny tiny nagging headache at my temples all day that was driving me batty.  I took two Advil, but it STILL wouldn’t go away.  Yick.  I was generally feeling sluggish and dehydrated–not a great combination.

Then, at the end of the day, when I was changing into my workout clothes, I realized I had everything I needed for a great workout EXCEPT a hair tie.  Sigh.  I decided today would really be a good day for a weightlifting workout.  I’ve neglected strength training lately, and I want to get in a good solid weight workout at least once a week while I’m training for my half.  So, to the gym I go.

I did the following:

  • 5 minute run warm-up at 6.4 speed
  • Deadlifts, 3 X 12, 70 lbs.  (I wanted to do squats, but the Indian Bicep Curl Team had taken over the squat rack.)
  • Shoulder presses, 3 X 12 at 40 lbs. (alternating with…)
  • Lunges, 3 X 12 (each leg) at 60 lbs.
  • Squats, 3 X 12  at 135 lbs. (alternating with…)
  • Dumbbell prone Cuban snatch, 3 X 12 at 20 lbs.
  • Overhead lat pulldown, 2 X 12 at 60 lbs. (alternating with…)
  • Seated row, 2 X 12 at 60 lbs.

My body is going to KILL tomorrow (or at least I hope so!)  I stood up from my last set of rows and my knees just buckled!  This workout also made me massively hungry–I was dreaming of food the whole long drive home.  I chowed down the minute I got in the door!  Weightlifting will do that to you, I suppose.

You all know I believe in taking full rest weeks now and again where I sit on my butt and do very little and certainly do not exercise.  I took one in early October, when I started my new job, and it’s that time again!  I’m hoping to run outside on Saturday, and then I won’t work out again until the following Sunday or Monday.  I think every once in awhile my body just needs to chill, and Christmas is the perfect excuse!  We’ll be traveling and I rarely see my family now that we’re in KC, so I want to enjoy it and not stress about working out.  If the urge hits me, I will, but I don’t see that happening.

And I just realized I have not told you all about my awesome Crimmus plans yet.  So, here’s the play by play with photos from last year.

  • On the 23rd, we are flying from Kansas City to Chicago.  If all goes well, we will then drive about three hours to Indiana to stay with my aunt and uncle.  They live right next door to my cousin and his wife, so everyone conglomerates in two houses.  Between aunts and uncles and cousins and babies and grandmas it winds up being about 20 people.  On the 23rd, for dinner, we eat a big ham and pineapple casserole, which is the most fantastic use of pineapple ever, and drink lots of wine.
  • On the 24th, we each open one present.  My sister and cousin will inevitably complain and suggest we open two.  I will take the “con” side and we will debate this and I’ll win.  We eat a meat fondue for dinner with dirty rice on the side, and chocolate fondue for dessert.  Then, we put out cookies for Santa.
  • On Christmas morning, we all come downstairs and open our stockings.  We go overboard.  We had to invent something called “overflow bags.”
  • Then we eat breakfast tacos and pastries and we begin drinking coffee spiked with Bailey’s.  We look and see what Santa has brought us.  Again, he goes overboard.
  • Then, we open gifts.  We are a methodical people, so we go in order from oldest to youngest.  For many years, I was the youngest, but now I am only the fourth-youngest since there are babies.  Everyone opens one gift at a time and we ooh and ahh over it.  Last year, I was very much excited to get a Magic Bullet.
  • Once we are done opening gifts, we all make appetizers and munch all afternoon.  Drinking  continues.
  • For Christmas dinner, we have pork loin and German spaetzle.  It is fabulous.
  • Then, we play Christmas bingo.  This is a phenomenon in which we all wrap up a household item like toilet paper or Windex and play bingo to win them.  People are intense about it.  I always lose.
  • On the 26th, we are planning on flower girl dress shopping, and then driving 3 hours home to Chicago.  I hope to meet up with one of my bridesmaids, Teresa, so I can give her her dress!
  • Early on the 27th, we fly back to Kansas City, and it’s back to work the next day.

Phew!  I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be blogging on our trip–it depends largely on whether I can get wireless at my aunt and uncle’s house.  I’m not out of the blogging closet to my family yet, and I don’t know if I want to be, so we’ll see how discreet I can be.

What are your holiday plans?

Don’t forget–Chobani Giveaway ends tomorrow at noon!

Dear Santa…

I’ve been a pretty good girl this year.  I tried my best to keep my body in good shape and to help other people.  I was nice to my mom and sister and Tim, graduated school and studied really hard for the bar exam and passed, and we adopted a poor little doggie with no home!

That said…if you have time…the following things would really be nice!

A Garmin for running.  I’m a terrible pacer, so this is at the top of my list for half marathon training!

A foam roller!  I’m always sore after I work out and I think this would really help!

After my half marathon I want to do P90X.  Working out at home would be perfect with my crazy schedule!

My running socks are getting old and retaining some serious stink.  Balega Women’s Enduros are my favorite (and stocking-sized, too!)

I have to wear dress shoes to work and I’m dying for a pair of these Cole Haans with Nike Air technology in them!  My feets are always exhausted after being crammed into my current cheap old black pumps all day, and I need to keep them in tip-top running shape.  I’d PREFER the black leather to the suede, but I’m not picky!

I hear Milhouse would really like a running leash so my hands are free when I run!

I’d also love a massage gift certificate, some really soft everyday socks (yes, I’m obsessed with footwear), slipper socks (see?), and a necklace from my new Etsy obsession store.

And, last but certainly not least, continued happiness, health, and prosperity for my family and friends, of course!



What do you all want this holiday season?

(Above pictures from

Candy and envelopes and biking (oh my!)

This post is full of random stuff that doesn’t really go together, so bear with me.  Thanks!
Yesterday after my race I went and did MORE shopping, including the envelopes for our invitations.  Yay!  They are a pearlized gold and I got them at Michael’s for 20% off.  Hooray!

They are much prettier in person–a very light, shimmery champagne color that perfectly matches the backing on our pocketfold.

Anyway, today was one of those days where I sat at my desk at 4 o’clock and thought, “Ugggh, I do not want to go to the gym.”  I have no excuse–weather is fine, I’m not sore from my race, I’m not sick, I don’t have a million things to do at home.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  And I KNEW that I SHOULD go because today is likely the only day all week I’ll make it to the gym.  Tomorrow after work I have to rush home and bake for Thanksgiving and get the mac and cheese ready to go and do laundry and pack my clothes and the dog supplies and whatnot.  (We’re leaving for the future in-laws’ house right after work on Wednesday, and it’s about a 4.5 hour drive.  Yuck.)

So, I went to the gym and started running.  And, oddly enough, my shins began to hurt right before I hit a mile?  Weird.  Mama didn’t raise no fool, so I followed a generally good rule: if it hurts, stop.  My legs hurt a lot yesterday after my race, and I don’t want to piss them off again, so I moved to the bike and biked 10 miles instead shin-pain free.  Exercise is exercise! I used to get so mad if I couldn’t run for one day and had to bike or swim because I was injured, but any kind of physical activity is great for you and one isn’t “better” than the other.

I used the super cool video spinner!  I really love this thing.  I want a REAL road bike, but this is pretty okay for now:

I also get to gaze out at a soccer field while I ride/run/whatever.  There is a pretty good view of the city lights, too, but I couldn’t really get it through the window.

My tentative workout schedule for the week is as follows:

  • Sunday: 5K (check!)
  • Today: 1 mile run, 10 mile bike
  • Tuesday: as much of a Jillian Michaels DVD as I can muster up the time for, maybe half an hour?
  • Wednesday: nada
  • Thursday: probably nothing except maybe a long dog walk
  • Friday: I may or may not try to go for a run while at the in-laws’.  I’m not familiar with their area, but they live on pretty deserted country roads so maybe I’ll give it a try.  I’m also a little self-conscious around them.  We’ll see.
  • Saturday: Oh, who knows.

In other news, today I wore my new glasses and a new cardigan to work and felt very smart and Tina Fey-like.  Behold:

Man, that’s an ugly bathroom.  Anyway, I’m not really an accessories girl, but I have to say, I really like glasses.  My initial intent was to wear contacts most days and just use the glasses as a backup, but now I think I might do a 50-50 split.  (I also got lots of compliments, which helps!)

This morning I re-filled my candy dish with seasonally appropriate candies.  I have to say, you all know I don’t get the fall flavor craze like most bloggers do, but if there is a winter flavor craze it is my favorite.  To me, winter and Christmas means pink peppermint ice cream, hot cocoa, slightly smashed Andes mints out of your stocking, sugar cookies with icing,  fondue, spaetzle, red wine, and coffee spiked with Bailey’s on Christmas morning.  (Yes, my family gets toasted while opening presents.  It’s awesome.)  And I like all those things very much.  Anyway, I bought Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses, thinking I wouldn’t like them because I don’t like white chocolate.  But I do.  Of course.  They are delicious and demonic, stupid things.  I also got cherry-flavored candy canes because they are much better than the regular ones.

Happily, today, I was able to practice moderation and only had two Kisses all day (about 50 calories!  Not bad!).  But they are GOOD, so consider yourself warned.

In totally unrelated news (again), do any of you baker folks have suggestions for my cookies?  I love the Cook’s Illustrated chocolate chip cookie recipe with browned butter, but they always flatten out super thin.  These are the only ones that survived–the rest had to be scraped down the disposal they were so thin.  What am I doing wrong?  They still taste great!  Help me out!

Don’t forget to enter my Thankful Tee Giveaway!  I’m cooking up another giveaway for a few weeks from now, this time for the athletes in the crowd…so stay tuned!

What flavors make you think of winter and the holidays?