Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Days Are Merry & Bright

The last week has been a whirlwind of family, friends and holiday festivities...and a lot of eating too, of course. I've loved every minute of it. I had a bunch of vacation days to use up before the end of the year, so I took off a full two weeks of work to spend at home with Riker and Matt, who also has almost two weeks off. I love the end of the year! I feel like the days have been simultaneously relaxing and lazy while packed and busy, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and blog since last weekend, so we have some catching up to do!

In holiday week recap, here we go...


I was on a lox kick all weekend and ate it for multiple meals. My favorite was Sunday's lunch of whole wheat toast with herb cream cheese, lox and fried eggs. Can't get enough of this stuff.

That evening my sister Amanda, her boyfriend Justyn and my grandmother arrived to spend Christmas with us. Since it's rare we get to stay up late for Sunday night games, my grandma offered stayed home with Riker while the rest of us went out to our favorite local hangout, The Spot, to watch the Eagles game.

A fun little night to kick off the vacation/holiday week!


Monday was spent doing a lot of prep cooking for Christmas Eve, running last minute errands and hanging around the house working on puzzles and watching Christmas movies with the fam. 

I got up early and made a quick batch of apple muffins for breakfast before we got started on the day. I hardly ever make muffins, but you gotta have something a little special and home baked when the family comes to stay.

We like to snack in this household, so around mid-afternoon we made a cheese & cracker spread to nibble on before dinner, which was our annual Christmas Eve-Eve dinner of Nana's Tomato & Mushroom Mac & Cheese. I didn't snap a picture before devouring mine, but it was fantastic as always.

Christmas Eve

We host Christmas Eve at our house every year. We usually just have our immediate family of around 10 people, so we're able to do a sit-down dinner. I absolutely love hosting this evening. Cocktails and appetizers start at 5 in the bar, dinner is at 7 in the dining room, and then dessert and after-dinner drinks come sometime around 10 in the living room. 

My friend Heather always gives a hostess gift or favor to all her guests on Christmas Eve, which I thought was a really cute idea, so decided to do the same this year. I ran out of time to order something, so had to make my own. Which, let's be serious, I loved doing. I made everyone Mason jars full of holiday muddy buddies and tied them off with name tags that served double duty as dinner place cards. They were really cute, but almost everyone forgot to take theirs home at the end of the night. Booo.

The details...

The appetizers...

The Main Event...

The Menu:

- Mixed greens salad with glazed walnuts, blue cheese, dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette
- Homemade crab cakes with homemade hollandaise sauce
- Roasted asparagus with citrus fleur de sel
- Lemon, butter and parsley rice


- Chocolate cake with peppermint hot fudge, homemade whipped cream, Oreos and peppermint bark

We ended up staying up until about 2 am putting together a train set for Riker - the one thing he had been asking for for weeks - so by the time I went to bed I was exhausted, but it was all well worth it to see the look on that little boy's face on Christmas morning. The joy was palpable. <3

Christmas Day


And Overnight Blueberry French Toast!

And A Christmas Story, naps, a quick visit with Heather and Kevin at their family's open house, and then a big dinner and party at Matt's parents' house with all the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

It was a really wonderful Christmas. If you celebrate, I hope yours was as well!


A leisurely morning at home, followed by an early dinner and presents with the family at Matt's parents' house. That night we also had Heather, Kevin and their girls over to hang out and try Matt's three new homebrews - a chocolate orange stout, black IPA and pumpkin stout.

The kids all had a blast playing with Riker's new toys, especially the teepee Amanda and Justyn got him. They screamed like wild children in this thing!

Love them.


Matt and I have an annual tradition of going on a day date over Christmas break, which I always look forward to. On Friday morning we dropped Riker off at daycare, then went to see a movie (American Hustle - so good!), out to lunch at an amazing Cuban restaurant on the ocean called Cubacan (which is now our new favorite and I can't wait to go back) and then to the outlets for a little shopping. 

The rest of the weekend we felt like we should be a little productive after a week of fun, so we've been laying low and getting stuff done around the house. And going out with friends last night to celebrate a good friend's Christmas engagement. And working on a new puzzle my grandma got us for Christmas. ;)

I've also been trying to get back to a normal eating schedule after such a crazy week of feasting.

Lots of yogurt, fruit and vegetables. Except for tonight. Amanda and Justyn just got here to spend the night with us and watch the very important Eagles game tonight. None of us feel like cooking, so it's going to be a pizza delivery kind of night. :)

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

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