December 29, 2010

Maryland, My Maryland

We drove to Maryland December 18th. For the record, rather than go across Tennessee and up Virginia we went through Kentucky and West Virginia. If ever you find yourself driving from Memphis to Baltimore, I highly recommend the Kentucky to West Virginia route. The highways were not packed with truckers and the scenery is beautiful. 

Most of the trip, as is typical, was spent visiting family. My sister was in town from California and my brothers were up from South Carolina and Florida. We hung around, did some shopping, attended our traditional holiday parties, and enjoyed our time in Maryland. This was actually the first time Peter had seen some of my family members in two years since we stayed in Memphis last Christmas

My sister turned 23 while at home so a few of her friends organized a surprise party.  They had dinner then suggested that they go downtown. When she arrived at the bar, she was shocked to see 20+ friends and family members! The surprise was enough to be fodder for conversation for the rest of the trip.

 The morning after Kelsey's birthday we went to New York. I love, love, love being able to visit New York for a day. Or Philadelphia. Or the beach. Or DC.  Growing up in the Mid-Atlantic certainly spoiled  me in terms of accessibility to other places. 


Back in Maryland, TJ took care of a varmint problem that mom was having. TJ figured that a few bb pops would scare the squirrels away. I'll go on record saying that I do not know if any squirrels were hit. What I do know, is everyone took their turn. Except for me. I just took pictures. 


Every year, a day or so before Christmas, my dad's folks drive in from Delaware. We celebrate Christmas with Grotto pizza and Cathy's oatmeal cookies. My mom's dad also comes to visit since my grandfathers have been friends for a long, long time. 


Christmas Eve we went to an annual not-quite-family party. You know those people that you call uncle because they're your parent's good friends? Well that would make them not-quite-family. Either way, I've known the hosts my entire life. We had a nice time catching up with friends we do not see very often. 

After the party, Peter and I took my brother Ryan and his amiga to 34th Street. For 62 years, on 34th Street between Keswick and Chestnut, the neighbors have lit up the block with holiday decor. It is certainly a sight to be seen!


On Christmas we followed our traditions just the same as always. We went from my mom's house to my dad's where we ate a breakfast that was way too big and way too good.  After lounging, we headed to my aunts for dinner where all of my mom's immediate family gathered. I know my grandfather loved seeing all of his grandchildren in one city, under one roof no less. I'm not sure of the last time that occurred! We took a bunch of pictures of the cousins and each family. 


We loaded up the car and headed back on the 26th. I'll say it was perfect timing because snow was headed East. We drove back the way we came and were in snow until Nashville. Peter had to get back to work and I needed to warm up. I think spending the last eight winters in the South has decreased my tolerance for cold weather. 

December 28, 2010

Build Me Up Butternut

The holidays make healthy eating a challenge. At least for me. For the last week my body has been pleading with me, begging for healthy food. But, I ignored all demands and enjoyed homemade Championship cookies, mini-pickles, Cinnabon, multi-meat meals, and, while on the road, fast-food. I'm disgusting. Help me!

Last night, I obliged. Finally. And it tasted pretty good.
I made butternut squash soup and a spinach, beet salad with walnuts and goat cheese. Both were crowd pleasers in our crowd of two. The soup was my variation of a Real Simple recipe. I omitted the cheese and croutons, cooked the butternut squash whole, doubled the amount of butter {please don't judge} and used significantly more pepper than recommended. For the salad I tossed walnuts, goat cheese, and a roasted beet onto a bed of 50/50! Peter whipped up a dressing using red wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, and a pinch of sugar.

Everything turned out well and fortunately there was enough for leftovers.

December 25, 2010

December 24, 2010

NYC

Every year around Christmas we load up the car and day trip to New York with my dad.  Each year we come up with different things to do- sometimes ice skating, sometimes shopping. This year we ate pizza and saw the Statue of Liberty. Back in 1993, my dad and I went to Liberty Island and climbed to the crown. This trip we opted just to go to the Pedestal which saved us a pretty good hike.   
For those of you who may not know, this is my sister, Kelsey. She's a cutie. She lived in New York during her college summers so she always makes a great tour guide. 
Dad laid on the ground to make sure we were all in this picture-  if it ends up on a late Christmas card I won't be the least bit surprised. 
Well, I wanted to get a picture of the tree and the Rock- I suppose I sort of succeeded. One day I'll take photography lessons, one day. 

December 14, 2010

I Blog.

The reason I blog is pretty simple: many of our friends and all of our family do not live in Tennessee I'm looking at you West Coast and Germany. My hope is that through this blog I can chronicle events in our lives and keep everyone up to date. Of course, when there are lots of events sometimes I don't have time to blog about them. I just get busy living. Fortunately, because this is a hobby and not a job I'm sure you understand.

That said, since I last posted a few things have occurred. Rather than complete the draft posts I started {which I have, and generally always do} I'll just do a quick run through: 

  • I turned 25. Because it was a Tuesday, I celebrated with my friends in Nashville which was loads of fun. It was basically a day long celebration which made me appreciate, more than I realized at the time, how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends in Nashville, my home away from home.  
  • I completed my first semester of graduate school. Thats right, as of 1:30 yesterday all of my finals are in. I am now officially 25% finished. I feel like the first semester was all about transition and adjustment. 
  •  I came home despite a snow storm that tried to keep me away! I do not have to go back to Nashville until January 6 and, frankly, I don't plan to.  I get the next few weeks off to enjoy my time with Peter and the pups. It's awesome. 
  •  I completed my Christmas shopping. I would like nothing more than to share the awesome gifts I picked out for my family; however, posting them on the blog would do nothing but spoil the surprise. But know this, they are good! There is always such satisfaction in finding a perfect gift and this year, I think we've found a number of winners. 

December 6, 2010

December 5, 2010

A Very Nashville Christmas

Saturday a group of us ventured to Opryland to check out A Very Country Christmas. We were all surprised by the crowd and Opryland in general. Our initial shock came when we had to pay $18 plus tax to park. After overcoming the shock of parking, we enjoyed the lights outside of the hotel. The trees were covered in thousand of white lights making for a very classic Christmas look.  
Photo from themeetingmagazines.com 
Once we ventured inside, we decided that the place was basically a casino (without the gambling) trying to be Disney World meets Rainforest Cafe.  We wandered through the labyrinth of floors and atriums taking in the sites and sounds- which included not one, but two, weddings and receptions. 
 
We were looking forward to the Brightest Star Fountain Show which is set to Christmas music; sadly, due to the weddings the show was cancelled. Still, we enjoyed the interior decorations while we meandered through.  
  
Perhaps it goes without saying that there was no shortage of opportunities to spend money at Opryland. We made our way into the Very Country Christmas Official Store where I spotted a potential gift for Peter, unfortunately it cost $100, you know, give or take, so I opted out of the purchase.  
 
I'm glad I went to Opryland if only to say that I've been there- I don't suppose I could live in Nashville and not visit Opryland at least one time. It made for a lovely Saturday afternoon writing break and helped put us all in the holiday spirit.