Friday, December 26, 2014

joyous, magical and busy

Well, it's over for another year. All the planning and preparing and then the holidays go
by in a flash. I said a few days before Christmas that I couldn't wait for it to be over, and
 that day is here. But truly ~ I had a wonderful Christmas and loved the time spent with family.
Christmas Eve, we met Brian's father and two of his sisters for dinner at a restaurant. The
 place was packed and service was a little slow due to the busyness, but everyone was in 
such a good mood that it didn't matter.  

 My sisters-in-law surprised me with a Le Creuset dutch oven! My mouth actually
dropped open when I opened this. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that
I love to cook. And since I cook a lot, I appreciate quality cookware. Le Creuset is my
favorite, but let's face it, who can afford it? Not me. The only piece I had before this is
a saute pan - which I won in a blog contest over a year ago. I use the saute pan all
the time and it cooks food beautifully and cleans up so easily. And the pan still looks
barely worn. I can see why this cookware lasts "forever" and can be handed down
generations. This gift - to me - is more precious than gems. Forgive the poor quality
photo...I took it with my phone the minute we got home. As you can see by the clock
in the background, it was almost midnight. Yes, I was excited.

After dinner, we then went on to my aunt and uncle's house. They host Christmas
Eve festivities at their house every other year when their son (my cousin) and his 
wife fly in from Washington. I had forgotten my camera and only took a couple
of photos with my phone, so no pics to post of the goings-on that night. I don't
 think you would be interested in seeing photos of my aunt demonstrating
 how to use squat toilets in China or us sitting around a dining room table discussing
the stock market and Sweet Brown videos.  

Tim had to work on Christmas Eve until Christmas morning at 1:00 a.m., so he didn't
get home until 3:30 a.m. He immediately headed to the kitchen and started heating up
food in the microwave, so that's what woke me up. I got out of bed and went into the
kitchen to give my boy a hug and talk to him for a bit. Between that and waking up
numerous times to use the bathroom and shoo the cats out of our room, I was thankful
that we could all sleep in on Christmas day. I made a breakfast casserole and the
three of us relaxed in the living room with our food and coffee, opening gifts and
talking and laughing at the cats playing in the wrapping paper and gift bags.

In the afternoon, we went to my sister's house for more festivities.

 What is with teenagers and not wanting to have their picture taken? My boys
did the hands-over-their-face thing too, when they were teens. We had a ton of
wonderful food...appetizers of smoked salmon dip and crackers, guacamole and
tortilla chips, spiced nuts, and party roll-ups, and then Italian beef sandwiches, 
ham, tamales, smoked rib tips and three-layer Christmas jello salad for the meal.
The jello concoction was made by my second cousin, Greg in memory of his mother and
 her sister (which would be Greg's aunt and my grandma) : they used to take turns making
 this dish for family Christmas dinners. Homemade Christmas cookies and my
 mom's homemade French Silk Chocolate pie were on the dessert table. 

With Tim being away at school now, he doesn't get to see his cousins often. And now
that they're older (Tim just turned 24; my nieces are 18 and 16), they all seem to be
much closer. I think when they were younger, the age difference was that Tim thought
of them as pesty little girls (even though he loved them). I love seeing their relationship
evolve, much like mine did with my cousin, Greg.

 Today I actually de-Christmased the entire house! I do this every year on the 26th.
 For me, Christmas is over and 3-1/2 weeks was plenty of time to enjoy the decorations.
I just kept filling up the laundry basket with decorations and Brian made several trips
downstairs to pile everything all over the bar. The hard part will be packing everything
away properly. We ran to Target in the afternoon in hope of scoring gift bags at 50%
off, but we were too late. There was nary a one. We decided on not using traditional
wrapping paper anymore and starting next year, will use brown kraft paper.We found out 
that wrapping paper isn't recyclable! Did you know that? But the brown kraft paper is.
 And it can be decorated in many ways with rubber stamps, doodles and drawings,
 stickers, ribbons, and other embellishments.

However you chose to spend your holiday, I hope it was filled with lots of love.
The best gift of all.


  1. I have the very same white afghan that is in that blue chair! Same color as well. I have lost count of how many I have made with that pattern, and in many colors, but the off white one is my first and favorite.

    I like to de-Christmas shortly after Christmas Day so that I can start the new year with a clean house.

    1. Interesting about the afghan, Lorita! We've had this afghan for almost 30 years - we got it as a wedding shower gift from a lady at church. It's still one of my favorite throws. I love starting the new year with a clean house, too.

  2. I have the same idea to use brown paper as soon as my gift wrap stash runs out. I saw on another blog where she used the brown packing paper from package deliveries for gift wrap. That is really green, right?

    You know Sweet Brown is an Okie? She is doing tv ads for a bail bond company now.
    Ain't nobody got time for that I love her.

    1. An even better idea for recycling and living "green"! Great re-purposing idea. No, I didn't know that Sweet Brown was an Okie - amazing how that one little news clip made her famous.

  3. Hi Melanie;
    It sounds as tho you had a lovely Christmas, I was so glad to hear that. Ours was beautiful too, so much fun with grand kids. 2 of mine still believe and it makes for such fun. I am so ready to take decorations down, but we still have a few more entertaining to do and a New Years party to go to. So we will wait until the New Year. Love your new cook ware. And please tell your sister her tree is beautiful! Love and Hugs, Nana

    1. Glad to hear you had a wonderful Christmas as well, Nana. My sister reads my blog so she will probably see your comment about her tree. ;-)

  4. It looks like you had a wonderful Christmas.

    We celebrated Christmas last night with our son's future in-laws - they took us all around the harbor in their electric boat and we spent the entire night telling embarrassing stories about our kids. We are having fun getting to know them.

    I laugh as I sit here blogging when I should be putting away Christmas decorations. I am glad that there is no "Blog Police" that pops in to take pictures of houses randomly. The dining room table is covered in decorations, the beds are piled with clothes that need to be folded and dishes need to be done.

    1. I'm glad that you're getting to know your future in-laws...and how cool to be out on a boat on Christmas! My basement was covered in Christmas decor until last night when me and Brian finally just dug in and got it all put away.

  5. Mel..I really enjoyed reading about your Christmas. What a whirlwind! The best part, the Le Creuset pot! Yay! I have a few pieces and the best part is they heat up so well and keep a really hot consistency. Al found mine at an outlet store.

    Loved seeing your family pictures. Mine are much the same about getting pictures taken...they don't duck out of sight but my sons say I shouldn't do random pics and others say they don't like ti pose. Oh well...

    I'm going to follow some advice I heard and put my rooms in bins of their own...that will make decorating more easier next year. I will keep my tree up until after New Years. We have the shower on the 10th so I need the bare bones look! Ha!

    Jane xx

    1. Yes, it was a whirlwind Christmas, but a lot of fun. My sisters-in-law got my Le Creuset pot at one of the outlets, too. I haven't used the pot yet, but plan to later this week. You will be one busy lady with taking the tree down, getting everything put away, and then re-decorating for a baby shower.

  6. Looks like you had a lovely Christmas. I don't do much decorating anymore and don't put up a tree. Just a few little holidays touches here and there. I actually wanted to do a twig tree this year with all crocheted ornaments but do you think I've done it yet? Nope! I will eventually and would like to change up the ornaments for each month. All the best for the new year, Tammy

    1. I think a lot of us do less and less decorating as we get older. It's a lot of work! And really not as much fun as when the kids were little. The only tree we put up now is a tabletop one that already has lights on it. So easy - you don't even have to take it apart! The twig tree idea with your crocheted ornaments sounds really pretty.

  7. You're going to love cooking in a Le Creuset cocotte! There's nothing like it according to me!

  8. Sounds like your Christmas turned out to be delightful and wonderful, Melanie! We have a Le Creuset outlet store and I found a couple of small casserole dishes on an amazing sale that I scooped up for my daughter.
    Mary Alice

    1. My sisters-in-law did indeed get the Le Creuset piece at an outlet store. I might have to visit that store myself in the neat future. ;-)

  9. How wonderful you received that Le Creuset! I have one and love it. It looks like you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Wishing you all the best in 2015.

  10. If you don't mind, I'd like to come and live at your house...(I'll bring a Vitamix.)

  11. It sounds and looks like a wonderful Christmas and I had to laugh at the cats and wrapping paper...mine is the same way! :)

  12. Looks and sounds like a great Christmas, and what a lovely tree. Happy 2015. :)


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