This is the first year that my family has staggered the holidays in such a perfect way that we’ve not only had a chance to see each other in various family settings (baking cookies with my sisters, niece and mom, celebrating Christmas at my dad’s with my sisters and niece, celebrating with M’s family, and finally, hosting Christmas at our house for the first time ever, with my sister Jess and Scott and my mom – sans grandparents who weren’t feeling well, though we did get a ‘virtual’ visit via Skype!), it’s felt busy-ish but not rushed, savored, not blurry, and with the right level of balance I am striving for right now. In a word, this holiday so far has been: perfect.
So I give you an almost wordless Wednesday, the holidays, in pictures. Cheers!
(is that even a word. Wait. Don’t answer that. I kinda like it, even if it isn’t!)
I feel like I don’t have a heck of a lot to say on one given topic right now, but I have enough to say to toss some up here. Take it or leave it ; -)
I was driving home from the studio last night (talk about diving right back into teaching after almost two weeks of travel and not many classes taught or taken in between – total withdrawal – teaching 3 classes yesterday, wheeeee! end side note) and I flipped on ‘Ave Maria’ – the Beyonce remake of that song and wow, the words struck me. I found myself thinking ‘wouldn’t that song be perfect when we get married?’
(like how I completely bypass any other details about said marriage/wedding? doing this ‘my way’ after all…)
I am *totally* embracing being home and in my own routine, with my own food, my own choices, everything. Talk about appreciating more and more my ability to work from home, huh? As much as traveling for work has really expanded my horizons and my confidence, it’s also much more taxing than it may look from the outside looking in. At least I always find it that way. If anyone knows the secret to traveling and not being bone-tired after, please share ;-)
And, after my last trip, I was inspired to put together some of my bigger a-ha moments when it comes to travel and balancing your food choices for the ladies of barre n9ne studio. Check out my guest post on it (I was going to cross-post it here, but figure you can swing on over and take a peek if you are interested!).
For the first year in many, I feel as though the holidays won’t go screaming past me in a blur. While I have a lot of back to back family gatherings next weekend leading into Christmas, I purposely did not overbook weekends leading into it (this past planless weekend? GENIUS.) and I feel ready and excited for the holidays!
AND M and I are hosting Christmas DAY this year at our apartment and I couldn’t be more excited about that (good thing we started new holiday traditions huh?). We’re hosting my sisters (I think both of them can come, but as a matter of fact, that may not be true, BUT I will see them both the days leading into Christmas too – score!), my mom and my grandparents for lunch and another genius move on my part? I’ve decided to make a brunch menu since I think everyone will be nearing ‘food fatigue’ where one big meal too many will cause ‘sick of food-itis’ which ALWAYS happens to me after the holidays. It’s not about overindulging, just about wanting a simple meal vs. a roast, a turkey, a ham, etc. Ya know? (or is it just me?!). Pinterest will be my consultant for all things brunch. Got any good ideas? I’d love to hear them (and pin them!).
Anyhoo, that’s all I got. (and, like so many others, I am silently honoring the victims in the CT shootings…at least here on my blog, but will be keeping top of mind to ‘pay it forward’ as much as possible this holiday season, and always.)
Last Christmas, our first Christmas living together, we cobbled together our decorations from our past (those I’d purchased at random when I lived alone, on my little “Charlie Brown”-esque Christmas tree, his from the first Christmas we were together, that I forced him to buy, so he’d have a tree decorated at his apartment) and put up a half-leaning tree (we discovered we lost one of the legs to the stand of his, in the move, so thus it leaned, half-haphazardly against the wall, so klassy) and a random assortment of decorations. Needless to say, it looked okay, but not well-put together and was just enough to get us through the holiday with a little glitter and festivity.
This year, I decided we needed to start anew. Start from scratch. Buy a bigger, better tree (not the lame tree we accidentally purchased…), buy coordinating ornaments, and a few
personal ones. And, almost most importantly, new stockings that we could hang from our mantle (I ALWAYS wanted to have a mantle to do that, it just looks so pretty!). So, last night, on our mid-week date night in, we put together our newer, bigger, and better tree (that M so kindly got exchanged at Target, despite not having a receipt!), placed our new coordinating ornaments up (silver, white and blue), and a few fun ones, including a glittery ‘2012’ and a couple of martini glasses (I am still on the hunt for a couple of wine glass ornaments, those are a must!), and – begrudgingly – placed the scary looking Nutcracker M insisted on buying, on our countertop.
After, there we sat…we listened to Christmas music, we drank some wine, watched the fire glow from the fireplace, and everything looked so…perfect. Sparkly, glowing, warm, and festive. We talked about our marriage plans, we talked about BEING married. And just sat there….settled.
Holiday traditions anew…and it feels like the culmination of a magical year for me, for him, and for us together. Feeling incredibly blessed.
Awhile ago, I saw some fun blogs (my sister’s included) about 5 things…things you don’t know about me, things I am good at, etc., and I thought I’d do a fun twist on that for the holidays and my awesomer than awesome (awesomer is a word, mmk?) 12 day vacation that is now upon me!! (weekends included. Off from today through Jan 2!!!)
So, without further ado…my twist on ‘5 things’ – 5 favorite holiday memories, 5 things I’ll be doing on my vacation and 5 of my all-time favorite holiday foods.
5 favorite holiday memories:
Waking up in the middle of the night with my sisters to open our stockings from our mom. Seriously, we”d be STOKED and super excited to go to bed, just to hopefully wake up *before* morning to open our stockings together. I distinctly remember falling asleep, hearing my mom wrap gifts (because side-note: we didn’t ever believe in Santa, my mom didn’t want us to believe in it for a number of reasons, but one was the dissapointment when we learned he wasn’t real!), and practically jumping out of my skin excited. So, one of us would naturally wake up when she’d gently place the stockings at the foot of our bed, and we’d (likely) feign sleep for a bit and then wake up and open our stockings together (we shared a room)…and our stockings were legit, STOCKED with awesome stuff. Practically regular-sized gifts in there, not just the little things. Favorite item? The lifesaver ‘book’ that had every flavor in it (even butterscotch, which I’d save for last because I hated it, but would still eat them when all the others were gone!).
Christmas Eve at my Nonna’s house. This time of year, I miss her so very much…but Christmas Eve at her house was a feast. If you are Italian, you know exactly what I mean. EVERYONE would come over, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and it’d be a feast of seafood…stuffed clams and shrimp, and fried fish, and her famous homemade Sicilian pizza. And the obligatory Carlo & Rossi ‘jug’ of wine. She loved with food, and this was her time to shine. She’d watch the mass in Italy (given it was Christmas Day there, by the time the evening rolled around), and spend time with each of us, telling us stories of our childhood and being her loving self. <3 Nonna, now, and forever.
The year my dad decided to ‘go big or go home’ with our Christmas Tree and get one that was probably 10 feet tall. No joke. Our house, which we’d just moved into (ish?) that year, was a post and beam, which high, vaulted ceilings. And he wanted that tree to reach as high as it could. But try getting that sized tree home and into the house. Besides almost ripping the roof off the car with tying it to the top, it had to come in through our sliding glass doors, as it was far too big to get into the regular door. Oy vei, but man, that thing was colossal and beautiful.
The first year I woke up alone, on Christmas Day. It was just a couple months after I was separated from my ex-husband. Waking up alone in my house, the house we shared…was tough, to say the least. But I remember waking up with somewhat of a sense of pride, because I did it. I was home, I was alone, but had so much to look forward to with my family. And it was probably the best Christmas season I’d had since getting married. No horrible in-laws, just me, my family and anything I wanted to do. It was a pivotal time for me.
Waking up on Christmas morning…with M. This is a to-be-had memory for this Christmas :-) I honestly, cannot wait to wake up on Christmas morning, with him, in our first place together. It will be a wonderful feeling. <3
5 of my all-time favorite holiday foods:
Fruitcake. No, seriously. I used to love fruitcake. And if someone put it in front of me now, I might actually have a taste. But I bet it wouldn’t taste as good as childhood memories recall ;)
Sugar cookies!! Seriously, the best. Add some frosting and a few sprinkles, divine with a cuppa coffee. Cue cookie party 2011 please!!
Gingerbread houses. I suck at making these, but I am going to try and make one with M Friday, perhaps, or myself, if I dare attempt it alone ;-) They are fun and they are SO tasty too.
Butternut squash. Okay, this is completely random and probably screams Thanksgiving more, but I cannot get enough butternut squash right now. I love love LOVE it. Honestly ate it as a snack the other day. Yumtastic.
Polar eggnog seltzer water. Seriously, this stuff rocks. I actually don’t like eggnog, at all, but when I heard about this seltzer, I had to try it. And it is freaking awesome. If your stores sell them, please try it. For me?
5 things I will do on my vacation:
Clean. And namely, my closets. Yes, seriously. When M cleared out his apartment at the end of October, he had more shit than I’ve ever seen before. I think even he was surprised by the mass of papers, junk and random stuff he’d accumulated in the year and a half he lived there! Needless to say, it’s all shoved in three of our closets and it just taunts me. I love a clean home, so our place is plenty clean, but just *knowing *what is lurking behind those doors drives me batty. This will make me happy.
Run and barre n9ne to my heart’s content! This is a given, I know. :-)
Help my sister Jen PACK!!! They are moving from NH back home and I could not be more thrilled. To have my sister just 35minutes away (ish?!) vs. 1.25 hours means the world to me. To be able to see each other more regularly and to spend more time with my niece puts the hugest grin on my face. It is truly a blessing and will be a wonderful start to 2012!
Cookie party 2011! Okay, it sounds bigger than it is, but every year for the past few, I have helped my sister Jess bake tons of cookies for the various parties she hosts (they’ve got a big enough place to host a lot of our family gatherings and her in-laws and it’s become an awesome tradition), so Friday, we’ll bake and bake and bake (with our fabulous friend Steph, too!). AND EAT them too. Yep, I definitely plan on having a cookie or two for lunch. And maybe a glass of wine. Rebel, I know.
Have fun, but don’t overschedule myself, either. M doesn’t get any time off for the holidays (and is on call on Christmas weekend, to boot!), so I will eke out whatever time I can with him when he is home, and spend the rest of my time seeing the friends I don’t get to see very often, my family, and honestly, spending some time by myself too. I don’t want this week off to whizz by, because I need it. Mentally.
So, there ya have it. My 5 things, holiday edition! What about you, what are you looking forward to? Share, share! Or better yet, write your own! :-)
So far, it’s been an absolutely perfect weekend. One of those weekends with a good mix of plans and not-so-planned time, so a) it doesn’t feel like the weekend flies by, b) that I am just rushing from thing to thing and not really enjoying it and c) accomplishing one of my goals to have less planned-to-the-brim weekends. Sometimes, you just need to simplify, and I can say that it is really helping me feel more calm, focused and well, happier in the moment cuz I can enjoy it.
One of the other reasons it’s been so great? Disconnecting a bit. As some of you know, Jess was having a completely unplugged weekend (going ‘cold turkey’ so to speak!), which, naturally, meant I would disconnect a bit too. Because honestly, a lot of our ‘plugged in’ time is seriously just texting and emailing and such...to each other! And while it has been actually REALLY hard NOT talking to her all weekend (we did meet up for drinks last night!), it has allowed me to unplug more than usual and see how habitual it really is…and where I can most certainly pare that back, especially on weekends. There’s nothing wrong with anyone’s approach to being ‘online,’ but for me, I think I just need to be more aware of when I am just mindlessly reading tweets or texting Jess, for example, and when I could just put my phone away and enjoy whatever I am doing…FULLY.
So, I definitely think stepping away from my phone a bit has made this weekend feel even more fabulous. A little bit of what I did, you ask? (ok, so you didn’t ask, but I’ll tell ya anyway!)
…Christmas shopping with my beautiful niece Isabel and my sister Jen. We had a great time together and thinking back to last year, when we shopped together around the very same time, Isabel was so small and reliant on all of us for feedings, comfort etc. This year? She was the star of the show! She was making friends with people passing by, waving and chatty. She made friends with two adorable dogs and they licked her face as she giggled. We had our very first trip to Starbucks together and she loved it, I might add (okay, so she may have just liked the raisins I gave her!). We walked around the parking lots, each holding one of her hands as she walked and ran and laughed and giggled. And I got her a shitton of freaking adorable outfits, to boot (including overalls and jeans and skirts!)
…dinner date in Boston with M. We planned to meet up with my sis Jess and Scott beforehand for a drink, and then go to dinner on Beacon Hill (Lala Rokh…SO GOOD!). Everything about the night was perfect. Prosecco to start, a ton of catch-up chatter with my sis (we were babbling a mile a minute hehe, you’d have thought we hadn’t seen each other in a week!), and then off to dinner. It was one of those leisurely 2+ hour dinners where we just talked…and talked…and talked some more. About us, our future, our expectations for that future and…I couldn’t be happier. We are both right where we are meant to be. Together.
…and to round out our weekend? Putting up our tree, decorating our patio and the rest of the evening? Well…that’s to come, but I think the fireplace, some wine, and some music may be in store. Swoon :-)
…there’s something about the holidays that makes me feel euphorically happy…anyone else? Happy weekend friends, enjoy the rest of it!