December 2011


Seven days. Two nonstop flights and a third with a layover. This Christmas was a whirlwind, but I got to spend the holidays with my family, and the boy, and his family. Top highlights include:

  • My mom’s homemade Bailey’s. This year, she added dark chocolate to the mix, and it tasted exactly like a decadent, boozy milkshake.

  • Reuniting with the rest of the Tatem ladies. I just love them so much.

  • Feeling like a kid again when waking up to endless gifts under the tree.

  • Opening the first present of the morning; it’s one of my favorite traditions.

  • Eating my dad’s traditional Christmas Day dinner. We always have prime rib, mashed potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. This year, he added brussel sprouts with bacon and figs to the menu. I’m already counting down the days until I can enjoy this meal again! Picture the Yorkshire pudding times 5 though…and I still wish I could have managed just one more piece.

  • Showing the boy what New Jersey is really like.

  • Combining two Christmases into one. I was sad to leave my family so soon, but it was more important that both the boy and I spend time with all the people we love.

  • Hitting the ice for some winter recreation. I haven’t ice skated since I was a kid, but I didn’t fall once! Living in LA, I don’t have many cold weather clothes, so I bundled up in all kinds of layers — including a tank top, a long underwear top, a fleece, a sweatshirt, a jacket, long underwear bottoms, yoga pants, and wool socks. Kind of like a marshmallow come to life, no?

  • Doting on Griffin. Our family’s big cat is so large that we carry him around like a koala bear. He loves to be pet and must have been in heaven having so many people around at once. His absolute favorite thing though is shoes; not eating them per say, but laying on them (rule of thumb, if you’re missing a flip flop, check under the cat).

This year has been a great one. I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store!

I can hardly believe that it’s already Christmas week! My weekend was holiday packed; first, the boy and I exchanged gifts (I scored some awesome goodies from Sur la Table and Anthropologie), then I spent the rest of Saturday baking peanut blossoms, reindeer cookies and peanut butter Snickers bar bites.

Just about every kitchen surface was covered in cookies!

I boxed some up for Rachel and her roommates, for the boy’s out of town job, and for my own office. The rest came to the annual holiday singalong party in Laguna Beach on Sunday.

Kate and Becky’s family home there is totally decked out for the holidays. Their mom leads all 50 guests in song after song. Friends play the piano and the guitar, and we each get music sheets with all the words. It’s such a lovely tradition — caroling without the cold — and this party always feels like a very official holiday kickoff to me.

I even wore a totally ridiculous snowman Santa hat, complete with little dangling snowmen faces. It’s hard to see in this picture, but Winston is wearing reindeer ears on her head. Our over-the-top look might not normally fly, but is absolutely encouraged on this night. I think everyone was secretly a bit jealous of the headgear.

Almost time to head home…squeal! I can’t wait.

It’s starting to get colder outside. I’m craving warm foods, but slowly getting tired of tomato soup…guess that’s bound to happen with anything you eat twice a week. An old friend from high school recently posted a recipe for a Thai-spiced pumpkin soup, and I’ve had it mentally flagged. Last night, I roasted two small acorn squashes while baking homemade fries. Since I usually get home from work hungry and don’t want to wait too long to eat, prepping the squash the night before made making soup the next day so easy. I changed E’s recipe a bit…plus, I took a few shortcuts!

Ingredients:

2 small roasted squashes, flesh only

1 can light coconut milk + 1 can refilled with water

1 tbsp. red curry paste

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

salt to taste

I literally dumped all these ingredients in a pot and stirred. I don’t have a blender or an immersion blender, although I do have a food processor and a handheld mixer. I could have used either, but the squash was very cooked down and I didn’t need more than some strong stirring to get everything real smooth. I only let it simmer for about 15 minutes because remember, I’m always hungry when I get home. Dinner and waiting are not synonymous!

I ate my bowl with a side of naan. Crossing cultures, but it sounded better to me than crackers or bread…and what’s soup without something carb-y on the side?

In less comforting news, the apartment has suffered a minor leak and repairs have been underway all week. I’ve emptied the dehumidifier so many times, I’m surprised I haven’t been swimming through the room…that’s how much water soaked into the carpet! Luckily, nothing got damaged and it should all be cleared up soon. Gross, right?

Today was a good day at work. I had a client meeting and they passed along some goodies…my mom and sisters’ stockings just got a whole lot better!

Speaking of Christmas, I went ahead last month and ordered A Very She & Him Christmas from Amazon. This duo features Zooey Deschanel, who I feel obliged to resent (she’s the boy’s celebrity crush), but really think is very cute. I love her singing in Elf, and her show The New Girl is getting funnier every week.

My verdict? The album is really sweet! I love the rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” where they switch vocal parts. I have the same CDs, with the same songs, which I play every year. It’s great to have traditional music, but it’s nice to add something new to the mix.

In other news, I am most definitely getting sick. I woke up the other day with a slightly sore throat and now it’s got that furry feeling. I went out and bought Cold-EEZE, which claims to reduce the length of a cold if you begin taking it within a day after you start feeling symptoms. I swear it works, but only if you hit that narrow time window. Fingers crossed.

I also have a great excuse for making the world’s laziest dinners, i.e. bowls of soup. Amy’s now officially has me hooked.

I think people say to avoid calcium-rich foods when you have a sore throat, but I cannot get enough Greek yogurt right now. I ate a huge bowl after lunch (which was soup, obviously) and am very glad to have more in my fridge to get me through this week.

Okay, I’m off to round up the essentials — blanket, hot cocoa with marshmallows, cat — and watch last night’s TV.

Oh! The New Girl recorded yesterday! I love when everything all ties together like that.

My Christmas tree has been up for a week now, and the second thing I do when I walk in the door every night is turn on the lights (the first is pet my yowling cat). The tree looks so beautiful and instantly puts me in the holiday spirit. I’ve been slowly but surely collecting ornaments since college, when I got my first fake tree as a freshman. That tree traveled all the way across the country and is now at Rachel’s apartment, but the decorations have stayed with me! Here are a few of my favorites:

This adorable bird feeder ornament came from the boy’s little nieces last year!

I have a set of eight beautiful figurines that I got along with my first tree in college…and all are still intact!

I got this ornament for the boy last year to celebrate his move from Hollywood.

I just got this ornament a few weeks ago while visiting D.C. How adorable is the mini Santa in Lincoln’s lap?!

If the last ornament was the newest, this one is my oldest. This rocking horse was a gift from my second grade teacher!

I scored dozens of old, classic glass Christmas balls at a flea market last year. The vendor didn’t want to bring them back home and ended up giving me a whole box for free. The packages inside were original and priced at only 15 cents. I love to think about where these ornaments have been before they landed on my tree.

All together now! I read an article in Whole Living today that said it’s  greener to cut down a fresh tree than reuse an artificial one. Good to know…my place is too small for a real tree now, but one day I’m determined to have that clean pine scent (endless needle vacuuming and all!).

I’ve been pinning in waves. Some days, I’m tagging things left and right, while others I’m just too busy to give Pinterest a second thought. I’ve discovered I’m a very cautious pinner.* Everything on my boards is something I genuinely want to make or buy!

*Side note, how long before Pinterest terms become part of everyday vocabulary, and I can stop making up words like “pinner?”

I saw a recipe on Iowa Girl Eats for pumpkin gingersnap cheesecake and immediately pinned it. I ended up making this dessert for a special holiday meal last week and it was beyond good. The entire thing, from crust to filling, came together in the food processor; having just one dish to wash is always a plus. I’ve been savoring a piece every night since. It’s a must make recipe!

I’m sure I’ll be making this dessert again in the near future, but first I have to make some of the other sweet treats on my boards…

Yum! I think the peanut butter reindeer cookies would be great to bring to holiday parties, and I cannot wait to have a stash of chocolate and peppermint-dipped marshmallows. Hot cocoa with marshmallows is one of my favorite bedtime winter snacks.

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