Our Christmas Festivities Lasted an Entire Week

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While I won’t be disassembling the Christmas tree or packing up the holiday decorations until after the first of the year, it seems the Christmas season is officially over. {sad face.}

This year, our Christmas celebration lasted an entire week. Since we both have multiple, separate families to spend holiday time with, it would be impossible for Mr. B and I to spend quality time with everyone in one or two days.

We started the Sunday before Christmas, with a ham dinner at our house with Mr. B’s mom, grandmother, sister, and future brother-in-law. We spent the evening sitting around eating, drinking, and catching up. Even though they all live nearby, we don’t get together often enough, so it was great to see everyone.

Monday night I ventured back to my hometown for dinner with my dad to spend the night at his house. Christmas Eve morning my dad and I woke up before the sun to head to Pittsburgh’s Strip District. This is one of the coolest parts of Christmas, so it’s totally worth getting up at the asscrack of dawn. We got to Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. around 6 am, and joined about 4 million other folks in the pursuit of fresh Italian goodies for our Christmas feast.

This is the line at the bulk cheese  at PennMac at about 6:30 am on Christmas Eve. It looks crowded and miserable, but in reality everyone is in a great, festive mood.

This is the line at the bulk cheese at PennMac at about 6:30 am on Christmas Eve. It looks crowded and miserable, but in reality everyone is in a festive, friendly mood. AND DO YOU SEE ALL THAT CHEESE?! Happiness. Pure happiness.

After purchasing (for 4 people, mind you) no less than 5.5 pounds of cheese, 2 gallons of olive oil, 4 sticks of Margherita pepperoni, I have no idea how much deli meat, plus some stuffed olives and sundried tomatoes for good measure, we figured we should probably find some breakfast.

You know how they say you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? That’s some solid advice.

Maybe we’ll try that next year.

Eh. Doubt it.

Anyway, breakfast was ah-mazing. This pretty much sums it up:

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Afterwards, we meandered to the spice store, the pepperoni roll cart (from Sunseri Brothers, naturally, because I couldn’t settle for one that wasn’t bigger than my head. Duh.), the wine shop, the sausage shop, and of course, the bakery for some fresh Italian bread. If you couldn’t already tell, we like food.

We eventually headed home for naps and to meet up with Mr. B, who had to work that morning and wasn’t able to join us on our little shopping excursion. That night my dad made his famous “dad’s spaghetti” for us. It’s not your typical spaghetti, it’s actually penne in olive oil with banana peppers, hot sausage, sundried tomatoes, and broccoli. IT’S DELICIOUS. But it’s also super spicy, so Mr. B had steak.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking, laughing at Joey, and exchanging gifts. My cousin had planned on visiting with us, but she wasn’t able to squeeze us in to her schedule after all. (No worries, I got to spend the entire weekend with her, which is way better than an hour or two.)

Early Christmas morning, Mr. B and I headed back to our house to exchange our gifts. We bummed around the house watching Christmas movies and swearing we’d never eat ever again. Then we took a little nap and ate some leftovers.

Christmas bums.

Christmas bums, enjoying a little snuggle sesh.

Christmas evening we ventured across the farm for dinner with Mr. B’s dad’s family. We ate more and watched the little kids play games. Some how, Mr. B got pulled into a game. I’m not clear on the objective of this particular game, but it involved putting cookies on his head.

Our final Christmas gathering took place last night, when my cousins came up for dinner.

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Nate was here this summer, and Tyler is going to school nearby so we get to see him all the time these days, but I hadn’t seen their sister, Danielle, in about 5 years. She actually spent the weekend with Mr. B and I, and her brothers joined us yesterday. Before they moved across the country, Dani was my little buddy, and I’ve missed her so much.  It was so nice to see her again and spend some quality time with her. She’s not exactly my mini-me anymore (since she’s as tall as me these days), but she’s even cooler than I remembered. Hopefully, it won’t be another five years before I see her again.

Even though I’m sad that it is over, it was a wonderful Christmas. The entire week was filled with fun, food, and lots of love and laughter. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

How did you spend your holiday? Has anyone else sworn off eating for the rest of forever?

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Christmas Wishlist {12 Days of Blogging}

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “Christmas wishlist”

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Since the prompt today is wishlist, I figured I’d dream big. So Santa, if you are reading this, please know that while I don’t expect to find any of these things under the tree, I also wouldn’t hate it.

ChristmasWishlist2

1// This mixer wouldn’t really match my kitchen, but it’s just so pretty!

2, 3, & 4// I would really like some accessories for my fancypants camera, like these lenses and a tripod.

5// I’m SO over all this winter weather crap. I’d really like to hit the river with this pretty wakeboard, ASAP.

6// This camera bag would be an adorable way to tote around my camera and new accessories.

What’s on your wishlist this Christmas?

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My Favorite Christmas Tradition {12 Days of Blogging}

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “favorite Christmas tradition” (I’m a day behind on this one. Just go with it.)

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Growing up, our Christmas celebration centered more around Christmas Eve than Christmas day. I mean, sure, getting a bunch of presents was cool as hell, but Christmas Eve was when the really awesome stuff happened.

Each year, our extended family would gather at my great-aunt and uncle’s house (and later at my grandparents’) to spend the holiday together. For most of us, this just meant driving across town, but for my mom’s cousin and his wife, it meant making the trip from Buffalo to Pittsburgh with a van-load of children. The Buffalo cousins are close in age to my brother and I, so this was always a blast. Plus, our younger cousins would be there too. They lived nearby at the time, but I still got excited every time I’d get to see them.

I'm not sure when this picture was taken exactly, but it was a while ago. See the little cutie in the polka-dot dress? Yeah, she has a driver's license now.

I’m not sure when this picture was taken exactly, but it was a while ago. See that little cutie in the polka-dot dress? Yeah, she has a driver’s license now.

Each year we spent Christmas Eve the same way. First, we’d get all dressed up and head to church for the Christmas Eve service. I’m not much of a church-goer, but I love Christmas Eve service. The candlelight service and singing the songs of the holiday just warm my heart. After church, we’d head back to the house. I loved this short drive, where we’d see the houses all lit up and the beautiful luminaria lining the streets of the neighborhood.

Back at the house, my grandmother and great-aunt would have a feast waiting for us. Ham, turkey, and all the fixin’s, not to mention enough sweets to give us all diabetes. It was amazing. We’d stuff ourselves until we couldn’t eat any more, all while excitedly bouncing in our seats because we knew that the best part of the entire Christmas celebration was coming up next.

I don’t know who has connections with the jolly man in a red suit (though I suspect it’s my grandmother), but someone managed to talk him into stopping by before he started his night of globe trotting. Each year after dinner, we’d hear the distinct jingle of Santa’s bells, followed by the ringing doorbell. (Clearly, someone had an “in” with him, since it was casual enough for him to use the front door.) He’d waddle through the door, plop himself in a comfy chair, and dig deep into his sack of gifts. Each child (and sometimes a well-behaved grown-up or two), would be called up to sit on Santa’s lap and receive one early gift. He’d bring the rest of the loot when he stopped by again later that night on his usual route, but he always had a present for us to open on Christmas Eve before we snuggled into bed. Wasn’t that just so thoughtful of him?!

I know, I know. There is an awful rumor going around that Santa Claus isn’t real. It’s crap. Don’t believe them. I can assure you, he exists. And if you know someone who knows the right people, he can even be talked into knocking on your front door if you behave yourself in church. (I know there are many, many pictures of this somewhere – I just wasn’t able to dig them up. But I promise, there is proof…somewhere. I’ll find it.)

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

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It’s Not Christmas Without… {12 Days of Blogging}

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “it’s not Christmas without…”

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There are so many things that make Christmas special to me. From new traditions. like the ones Mr. B and I are creating together, to the old traditions that out families have built over decades, each little piece makes the holiday season joyful.

One tradition that I brought to the table was Christmas lights. Mr. B didn’t have much desire to climb on the roof during the coldest months of the year, just to have a higher electric bill. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stand the idea of a naked house in December.  It’s just not Christmas without the glow of the lights prettying things up.

Being the good sport that he is, Mr. B agreed to decorate the exterior of our home for our first Christmas together. After we headed to town for a shopping cart full of string lights, that sweet, sweet man hauled his ladder out of the garage and got to work. And again, the following year, without much protest, he hung the lights once more.

{If I had a picture of our home all lit up with twinkling lights, I would insert it here. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of it. #badblogger.}

Except last year (our second Christmas together), we had a bit of a problem with the lights. See, we checked each strand before putting them up, and yet…they didn’t always work. Not that a strand died and needed replaced – no, that would have been too simple. More like entire strands of lights would go out one night, but work fine the next night (or even a few hours later).

We tried to separate the iffy lights from the good ones, but when we used the “good ones” later in the year to decorate for a party, we realized they were all shit. Rather than taking a chance on the three strands that had yet to be fickle little assholes, we decided to pitch the whole lot and start all over.

Really, it was our own fault. We pretty much bought the cheapest lights we could find since we needed a whole house worth. So when they didn’t last, we were bummed, but not terribly surprised. You get what you pay for, I suppose.

We ended up not getting replacements this year; we simply had other priorities, and that’s okay. (We will probably snag some right after Christmas, when the holiday decorations are dirt cheap.) It’s sad, I miss laying in bed at night and seeing the soft, yellow glow lighting up the yard. I miss coming home after dark and seeing the cheerful sparkle from down the road. It’s not Christmas without the lights. Don’t get me wrong, even though I wish the house was all lit up, I’m certain that this Christmas will be wonderful with or without the lights. And it is heartwarming to remember how willing Mr. B was to do all that work for a holiday tradition that he didn’t give two hoots about. That boy really makes me smile sometimes.

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The Happiest Christmas Tree

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “favorite Christmas music”.

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Each year, Mr. B and I venture out to the local Christmas tree farm to cut down our own pine beauty.

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And every year, as soon as we decide which one is perfect for our home, a certain song starts playing in my head.

Ohhhh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree. Ho ho ho. He he he. Someone came and they found me and took me home with them.

It plays as background music to my thoughts the whole way home, and I hum and dance as we start to decorate the tree.

Ohhhh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree. Ho ho ho. He he he. Look how pretty they dressed me! Oh lucky, lucky me.

ChristmasTree

And through the entire Christmas season, I’ll catch a glimpse of the tree and hear that sweet little ditty start up in my head.

I’ve got shiny bells that jingle and tiny little lights that twinkle. Whenever anyone passes by, I blink my lights and I wink my eye.

Oh, I’m the happiest Christmas tree! Christmas day, wait and see, I’ll be laughing happily with a ho ho ho he he!

Unlike, oh, every other song to ever get stuck in my head, I never get sick of it. I can’t say it has any special meaning for me, it just brings a smile to my face. Maybe it’s just that I have a tendency to give personalities/hopes/dreams to inanimate objects and this particular song lets me know that I’m not the only one to do so. Maybe it just makes me feel a little less crazy. Then again, maybe it’s just a happy-maker.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s Nat King Cole in all his glory:

See, it’s catchy and fabulous isn’t it?!?

Also, it should be noted that I (obviously) had this song playing while I wrote this post. Upon hearing it, Mr. B chimes in, “you know that song basically just justifies you killing a tree, right?” Ahh, that Mr. B. Always so full of Christmas cheer.

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The Train {12 Days of Blogging Christmas}

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I’m joining Amber and Erin as part of the 12 Days of Blogging Christmas linkup. Today’s prompt is “Christmas tree/home decor”.

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I’ve already told you how excited I get about putting up Christmas decorations each year. Growing up it was no different; I was thrilled to pull the old boxes out of the attic, unwrap each festive item, and find it a place in our home. My favorite part of all was setting up the train.

It wasn’t just a train, it was an entire town. Not just any town, actually. Since it’s always a winter wonderland and the Claus’ reside there, I think it’s safe to say it’s the North Pole.

This year, my dad passed the train set down to me, and he helped Mr. B and I set it up at our house. It takes up roughly half of our little living room, but it makes the whole house a tiny bit more magical. Once my dad got it running for us and showed Mr. B how it all works, Mr. B and I finished setting up all of the little details.

My great uncle, Uncle Mike, hand painted all of the houses, buildings, and figurines.

My great uncle, Uncle Mike, hand painted all of the houses, buildings, and figurines.

 

Santa and the Misses have a cozy little home right next to Santa's workshop and the toy store.

Santa and the Misses have a cozy little home right next to Santa’s workshop and the toy store.

 

There are so many pieces to the train that we can't use them all at one time. This is what we've got set up this year.

There are so many pieces to the train that we can’t use them all at one time. This is what we’ve got set up this year.

 

The trolley and the working car are on a separate track in the middle. Mr. B set up this cute coal platform along the train tracks.

The trolley and the working car are on a separate track in the middle. Mr. B set up this cute coal platform along the train tracks.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering how Joey feels about this, check out this video on Instagram.

What Christmas traditions are near and dear to your heart?

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Our House is Decorated Like a Happy Holiday Wonderland

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It’s December!

Thanksgiving is over and I am finally able to decorate the house with twinkling lights and evergreen-scented candles without protest from Mr. B, who believes (strongly) that Christmas should not be celebrated for the entire last quarter of the calendar year. Since I have a very hard time restraining the holiday cheer after Halloween, it means a good number of Scrooge and Grinch jokes get lobbed around our house during most of November.

I couldn’t help myself this year – the Christmas dishes made an appearance about a week before Thanksgiving – but I was able to refrain from fully decorating the house. That being said, I practically ran home after our second turkey dinner and pulled all of the garland, ornaments, and festive knick-knacks out of the attic. Okaaaay, okay, I waddled home, slipped into stretchy pants, took a nap, and decorated the next day, but you catch my drift. I was EXCITED.

The house is almost completely decorated (the train needs finished, my dad is going to come help us with that this weekend), and I love how cozy it feels with Christmas cheer all around us. Here are a few of  my favorite parts:

For most of the year, I'm not big on knick-knacks, but during the holidays, they are everywhere.

I’m not usually big on knick-knacks, but during the holidays, they are everywhere.

DecorationsSnowmen

I love these little guys on the kitchen window sill.

I love these little guys on the kitchen window sill.

Especially this sweet little tree. He's the perfect size to keep my ring safe when I get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Especially this sweet little tree. He’s the perfect size to keep my ring safe when I get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Most of our Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs, like these candles.

Most of our Christmas decorations are hand-me-downs, like these candles from my grandmother.

This nativity scene from my grandmother, sits on my great-grandmother's chest at the foot of our bed.

She also gave us this sweet nativity scene, which now sits on my great-grandmother’s chest at the foot of our bed.

I love seeing the decorations all lit up.

I love seeing the decorations all lit up, so they are almost always turned on.

That candle smells like a Christmas tree. It makes me so happy.

That candle smells like a Christmas tree. It makes me so happy.

I made all of our stockings, which is why they don't match. Joey's is still in the works, so the one with the green strip is his "for now" stocking.

I made all of our stockings, which is why they don’t match. Joey’s is still in the works, so the one with the green stripe is his “for now” stocking.

 

Do you get excited about decorating for the holidays? What are you favorite decorations or traditions?

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Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

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Happy Monday, kids! Welcome back to real life! If you are anything like me, it’s been a real struggle to get back in the swing of things after the long, lazy weekend of gluttonous consumption. (I’m wearing pants with an elastic waistband today, just in case anyone was wondering.) I haven’t really been expected to accomplish anything since last Tuesday, so dealing with “responsibilities” today has been a challenge.

On Wednesday, I spent most of the day baking. I had every intention of doing more than baking, but apparently I am a bad judge of how long it takes me to do things. I honestly believed I would get up early, bake until about lunchtime and then have the rest of the day to do other things. HA. I baked cookies, pies, and pumpkin rolls for a solid twelve hours. TWELVE HOURS. (It would have taken me longer if I hadn’t talked Mr. B and Tyler into icing the cookies for me.) When I was done, I wasn’t up for anything that didn’t involve wine and my couch.

BoysIceCookies

Thursday was spent bouncing around Western Pennsylvania and consuming excessive amounts of turkey, ham, sweets, and wine. Our first stop was Mr. B’s mom’s house for a full feast with her family, followed by a quick visit to Mr. B’s dad’s side of the family. We didn’t have time to eat there, but we wanted to pop in and wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving before heading to my dad’s house for turkey dinner number two. We stuffed ourselves silly for the second time that day, and my dad got to spend some time quality time with his “grandpuppy”.

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Friday and Saturday were spent eating leftovers and putting up Christmas decorations. Friday night, Mr. B and I went to Friendsgiving at Kristin’s house, where we ate and drank just as much as we had the day before, but with friends instead of family. It was a blast.

Late Saturday afternoon, Tyler and I found out that our great aunt had passed away. She played an important role in both of our lives when we were young, so her passing (while not unexpected) was pretty hard on us. To take our minds off of our feelings of grief and helplessness, Mr. B. suggested we try assembling the train set. We’d planned to wait for my dad to help us (since, really, he’s the only one who knows what he’s doing), but we agreed that having a project to keep our hands and minds busy was a good idea.

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Saturday evening and Sunday morning were spent constructing a platform, setting up the tracks, and trying -unsuccessfully – to make the train work. My dad is coming for a visit next weekend to help us figure out what went wrong. Even though we weren’t successful in our endeavors, we did manage to distract ourselves from our pain, if only for a little while.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. B and I took Tyler back to school. On our way home, we stopped at a Christmas tree farm to pick out and cut down our own tree.

RyanCutsTreeCollage

 

We brought her home, covered her in tractors and Christmas cheer, and then enjoyed some popcorn and a cheesy holiday made-for-TV movie.

ChristmasMovieNight

 

How was your holiday weekend? Did you get to spend quality time with your family and friends? Is anyone else feeling a little fluffy today?

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Halloween…or Theme Party?

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Happy Halloween!

Sadly, I’m old and boring. I’m not doing much of anything to celebrate Halloween this year, which means I have no fun stories or photos. So I went digging through boxes of old photos looking for pictures of Halloweens gone by. I love dressing up, so I was pretty confident I’d find lots of goodies to share with you all.

Trouble is…lots of the costumes I’ve worn haven’t been for Halloween. There have been lots and lots of theme parties, too. And I’m not entirely sure which costumes were Halloween costumes and which were theme party costumes. #sororitygirlproblems

Let’s play a fun little game of Halloween or Theme Party. (Sometimes also called Why Did The Drunk Girl Wear That Costume?)

Photo #1:

LingerieParty

 

Was it Halloween or a theme party? Theme party. Lingerie theme, actually.

Numero dos:

SchoolGirlParty

 

Did you guess Halloween? Understandable, since the slutty school girl is a popular All Hallow’s Eve choice. But no, you’d be wrong. It was a school girl themed party. By the end of the night we all had ties on our heads.

SchoolGirlTie

Feel free to judge me. I understand.

The school girl outfit did get worn again as a Halloween costume, but these pictures are from a theme party.

Round 3:

ThemeParty

This one was a theme party. What was the theme? you ask? I have no idea, but there were lots of girls in boas and sunglasses. Bling-bling party, perhaps?

Picture #4:

TopGunFloat

 

Halloween or theme party? Halloween. Sorta. It was Homecoming weekend and we were dressed like this to ride on the Top Gun themed float in the parade. After the parade, those of us dressed as sailors joined the rest of our sisters for a Halloween celebration, so it doubled as a Halloween costume that night.

NewspaperFloat

 

It should also be noted that our float one first place. It was awesome. I really wish I had more photos of it.

I did find one that I’m confident was for Halloween, since it was taken in 1986 – long before I knew about the joys of a good theme party:

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Happy Halloween, everyone!

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P.S.- I’m making an appearance over on Dog Hair Is An Accessory today – go check it out and say hi to Adriana and Lil!