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.

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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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A Florken Giveaway

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As if we didn’t have enough reasons to love fall. And Fridays. And The “Florkens”.

Here’s one more…

Nikki @ Rural Rookie / Laura @ Mrs. Laura Beth / Sarah @ A Girl Smitten / Reba @ Reba K Writes
Karly Kim@Karly Kim / Kate @Another Clean Slate / Jenn @Bad Luck Jenn / Kalyn @Geez, Louise

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

So go – enter to win awesome fall goodies and get to know Kate and Adam if you aren’t already acquainted. Spoiler alert: they’re awesome.

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Thankful Thursday

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It’s been a good week so far, and I’m feeling like a lucky girl. Life isn’t perfect, obviously, but I’ve got a lot to be grateful for.

I’m thankful for…

…an evening of wine and friendship and tapas on the patio.

…strong coffee the next morning.

…my beyond-generous best friend, who brought me a present when we went out to celebrate her birthday last night. Who does that? PresentsFromJess

…my parents, who always have a bed ready for me to crash in so that I don’t have to drive back to Timbuktu after a late night out with the BFF. They even puppy-sit while I’m out on the town.

…my pups, who are kind enough to take a nap instead of being their boisterous, batshit crazy selves when I’m hungover.

…my brother, for being so completely unable to cook for only two people. When he cooks dinner for his girlfriend, I get several containers full of yummy leftovers.

…horseback rides with my mom on a beautiful fall day. MomSally

 

…Mr. B, who works so ridiculously hard. No matter how often I tell him, I really don’t think he understands just how much I appreciate all that he does for us. I love that boy.

Ryan driving

 

What or who are you thankful for?

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Chef Chris, The Culinary Rockstar

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My weekend started on Thursday. It was an accident (oops!), but whatever. It was supposed to be a long weekend anyway, right? Happy Labor Day, yo!

Remember how I was all kinds of excited about Savor Pittsburgh because it was going to be an awesome night?

My brother, the Executive Chef/General Manager at Table, was competing in the charity culinary competition. Chris is an amazing chef, who always creates the most ah-mazing dishes, so I was confident there’d be fabulous food. Plus, I love watching him cook. He’s so creative and confident, and he always looks like he’s having a ball. And since my brother used the phrase “all you can drink” when telling me about the event, I was certain it would be a blast.

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I was SO right.

My parents, our buddy Ryan, my BFF Jess and I got all dolled up and headed downtown early Thursday evening. When we arrived, we grabbed a glass of champagne and made a bee-line for Table’s booth.

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Chris and his crew were buzzing away, preparing plates for judging.

 

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This was Chris’s creation:

 

Seared scallops glazed with bourbon-infused teryaki over a wasabi-dusted wonton and fried rice

Seared scallops glazed with bourbon-infused teryaki over a wasabi-dusted wonton and fried rice

After checking in on the little bro, and realizing he was crazy-busy, we set out to explore the rest of the event.

We ate and ate and drank and drank:

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1// Corn custard with shrimp and mango* – delish! Who knew corn custard was a thing?

2// Pico de gallo from Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina – the freshest-tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth!

3// Grape leaves and hummus and something pickled that was sooo tasty!*

4// My dad getting a drink at the Tito’s Homemade Vodka display

*I’d love to give the creators of these dishes credit, but my parents just handed me plates, so I have no idea where they came from, or what the pickled goodness was. 

A good time was had by all, but that was just beginning. The real party started when this happened:

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The scallop dish that this kid…

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…and the Table team served won the award for Best Entree!!

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So naturally my dad, aided by his good friends Excitement and Vodka, stole made sure Chris didn’t forget to take the sign from the display table home with him. Obviously, everyone had to pose together with the stolen remembered sign, lest they forget where they work.

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Then we danced,

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and laughed,

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and celebrated,

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and danced some more.

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Then we moved the celebration to the bar, where even more ridiculousness happened.

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But, hey, at least Mom now has some good photos of the kids for this year’s Christmas card.

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Congratulations, Bud! All of your hard work paid off and we couldn’t be prouder!!

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Sami's Shenanigans

Let’s Try Again Tomorrow

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I’m like a little kid on Christmas Eve today.

In just a few hours, I’m making my way downtown for Savor Pittsburgh, an outdoor charity event in the Southside area of the ‘Burgh. There, chefs (including my brother!!) will be competing for “Dish of the Year” while raising money for Magee-Women’s Research Instititute and Foundation.

Sadly, Mr. B isn’t able to join me tonight, but I will be in attendance with my parents and our friend Ryan. Adding to this excitement, I just found out that my BFF, Jess, is joining us. YAY!!!

So, let’s recap: I get to dress up, eat great food, drink yummy booze, spend time with friends and family, help raise money for a great cause and cheer on the little bro while he does his rockstar-chef thing. See why I couldn’t get my head straight long enough to come up with a decent post topic? Sorry about that.

I knew this would be the case, which is why I had every intention of writing a post last night… but then I started messing with my blog design and then, well, the post writing didn’t happen. But look! My post titles are now a color that doesn’t hurt your eyes! That gross brown menu bar is a thing of the past! And I managed to figure out image-mapping enough to make a pretty new – functioning! – header. I was on a such roll last night, that I never did stop and write today’s post. Content, schmontent. I made pretties.

The header was one of the goals on my Thing To Learn list, so I’m stoked I was able to check off my first item so soon. I promise to post all about how I did it very soon, but right now, I have to go get pretty for this evening’s festivities.

Peace out, homies.

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Dear Blog, You Rock. Love, Me

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Oh, hey.

Hi.

Sorry, blog, I was MIA yesterday. My bad. Mr. B is suddenly working a new schedule and naturally it effed up my whole schedule too. So, yeah, I didn’t get a chance to stop by. Sorry about that. No, really – I am! It’s not a bunch of excuses, I truly wanted to be here!

Don’t believe me that I love blogging so much that I was super bummed to miss a day? Well here, let me explain why I love you so much, dear blog o’mine.

Mooooom! Put the computer away and play with me!

Mooooom! Put the computer away and play with me!

You are my outlet. My brain is on the run non-stop. Not always in any particular direction, but it’s always going. This little space gives me a chance to spew it all out there. It’s my chance to think things over, process all the junk that’s flowing through my head, and put it into coherent (and often run-on) sentences. Which is nice, because that ish ping-ponging around in there endlessly is enough to drive a girl insane.

Shit changed in my world. And I’d like to talk about it. And you give me a chance to do just that. I moved into a world pretty foreign from what I’d previously known. I didn’t even leave the state, and everyone still speaks my native language (well, except the Amish) but it is still very different than the world I knew. Do I love it? Hell, yeah! Is it new to me? Totally! (DUDE. I have a horse.) But I am also in a world filled with people who know only this, so I have a hard time relating to the people around me when I talk about change and differences. But in blogland? I’ve found other people who get it. It’s comforting.

You give me a chance to be creative. I never considered myself to be a creative person until I started this blog. As it turns out, I really kind of am. I love this newly-discovered side of myself.

You challenged me to learn new skills. When I first started you, little blog, I knew nothing about blogging. Or website design. Or social media. Or photography. Or any of it, really. I’m still pretty clueless, but I’ve come a long way. You’ve given me a reason to learn new things, and I kinda love you for it.

You’ve pushed me wayyy out of my social comfort zone. I’m now reaching out and talking to strangers! Me! Painfully shy and awkward me! Talking to people whom I’ve never met, and who did not initiate conversation with me! Craziness, I know. But I’m doing it. All because of you, blog.

And you’ve given me reason to keep stepping out of that comfort zone. Am I totally comfortable with talking to strangers or people I barely know (or, let’s be honest, anyone who didn’t strike up conversations with me first) now? Oh, hell no. It’s still so hard for me. But you know what, it’s getting a little, tiny bit easier every day. There are amazing people out there, and I want to keep getting to know them. Again, all because of you, blog.

You’ve helped me remember that some people actually get me. I often feel like a fish-out-of-water in this small town. I just feel…different. Sometimes that is a wondrous feeling, but it can also be lonely. I love our town and our home, but sometimes I feel very far away from the people who understand me and relate to me best. It’s nice to know that I can hop into blogland for a few moments and connect with people who love to write, read, travel, try new craft beers, reminisce about our sorority days, cheer on their favorite college football team and discuss the more intellectual topics, like our dogs, glitter and N’Sync reunions.

You’ve helped me find people who are in the same boat as me. There are a lot of people around my age in my new town. But very, very few of them are at the same life stage as me. Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to relate to people who are (or have been, or are headed to) where you are.

You’ve introduced me to people who can teach me new (non-bloggy) things. I love to learn, and (even though I didn’t realize this until Lisa pointed it out) I’ve learned so much from reading other blogs! Blogs that I would have never discovered without you, little blog.

Basically, you’ve helped me find new friends. There are some amazingly sweet, hilarious and inspiring women out there, and I never would have found them without you.

I keep finding new things to love about you. The more time I spend with you, blog, the more reasons I find to love you and this whole blogging thing that I’ve gotten myself into.

And since I’m learning new things and making an effort to connect with other bloggers, I’m linking up with Whitney for my first #backthatazzup Friday. Here’s a little ridiculous little jam to help everyone kick off the weekend.


 

 

What’s everyone getting into this weekend?

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6 Things I Love About Fall

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I am, first and foremost, a summer girl. I like my flip flops, sundresses, tan skin, cool summer drinks, being near the water, warm sunshine, long days and the casual freedom that summer offers. But fall…fall holds a special place in my heart, even if it does mean that the dreaded winter is coming. *shudder* (Spoiler alert: you will never, ever read an “I love winter” post around these parts. It’s just not my thing.)

I’ll admit, I was very reluctant to write this post, even though it’s been lingering in the back of my head the entire month of August. Don’t wish it away! I kept telling myself. Summer is fabulous, but so short. Revel in it while it is here! Mother Nature didn’t seem to agree though, what with the cooler temperatures and the leaves already starting to change(!!).

So, for as much as I resisted it, I’m giving in.

Fall is coming here! Yay!…I guess. Here are a few of the reasons why I love it:

College football. Let’s gooooo Mountaineers!

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Warm apple cider. Bonus points if it has a little Captain in it.

Fall fashion. I don’t mean just the current, new looks of the season (though I do love those!), but also the timeless cozy sweaters that are perfect for snuggling in or the Ugg boots that I live in (I don’t care how how much I get made fun of for them, they are they are soooo comfy!) I love pulling my fall/winter clothes out of the attic and switching over my wardrobe at the end of every summer.

Knitting. About two years ago I taught myself how to knit, and it has become one of my favorite pastimes. It’s mostly something I do in the winter though, when it’s cool out and I’m snuggled by the fire and not nearly as busy with other things as I am in the summer.

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More time with Sally. Summer can be way too hot for horseback riding, and the bugs are just awful. When the cool fall starts to set in (and the bugs start to die off or hide or do whatever they do), it makes for perfect riding weather.

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A fresh start. Back-to-school time has always felt like a fresh start to me. New school supplies, new books, new clothes, new classes, new opportunities, new “year”. It has always felt like more of a fresh start than New Years. Maybe that’s just the school-loving nerd in me, but that feeling has stuck, even though I’m not in school anymore.

What do you love about fall? What is your favorite season?

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Best Summer Ever…And Then He Left Us

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You know what was awesome about this summer? Well, a lot of things actually, but one big really fabulous thing…that ended today.

My cousin Nate visited. For the whole summer. And he left today, which means (A) no more hanging out with Nate and (B) summer is over. BOOO.

See, when we were younger, Nate and his brother (Tyler), sister (Dani)(my mini-me) and their parents lived a happy 10 minutes away. Then, 5 years ago, as Nate (the oldest) was entering high school, they moved. To the other side of the country. Also known as Utah. And we haven’t seen much of them since which, frankly, sucks.

This summer though, after his freshman year at ASU, Nate came back to the ‘Burgh for three whole months. We got to see him all the time and it was fabulous. But today, he left to go pursue something ridiculous like a “college degree”. Pfft.

So in honor of Nateman leaving us, I’m going to stop crying and blubbering about how life isn’t fair and show you all some photos of our summer with the bearded wonder:

He's the brilliant-looking one in black.

He’s the brilliant-looking one in black.

 

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I love handing my camera over to him. He does cool ish like this.

I love handing my camera over to him. He does cool ish like this.

 

That's him, flying through the air.

That’s him, flying through the air.

 

Clearly he spent most of the summer hard at work.

Clearly, he spent most of the summer hard at work.

 

Clearly.

Clearly.

 

He participated in the water activities.

He participated in the water activities.

 

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But he didn't show off or anything.

But he didn’t show off or anything.

 

He spent quality time with his cousin.

He spent quality time with his cousin.

 

And his aunt and uncle.

And his aunt and uncle.

 

He practiced his "mean mugging".

He practiced his “mean mugging”.

 

He showed off his good looks...

And he even showed off his good looks…

 

 

...and incredible fashion sense.

…and incredible fashion sense.

We already miss you so much, Nate! Thank you so much for spending the summer with us, it was amazing! Good luck at school, we know you will kick some academic ass!

NateRope

 

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