Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Recap

Merry (3 days after) Christmas, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with love, peace, and joy. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you still are filled with love, peace, and joy.

At first, I wasn't even going to do a holiday recap. That's all I find in my blog feed the week following Christmas each year, and I typically roll my eyes, scroll through other bloggers' photos quickly, or just skip the posts altogether. It has always seemed sort of self-indulgent to me. But then I thought, you know what? This is MY blog. This is a way for me to document MY life. And even if no one else in blogland cares what I did on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I want to be able to look back on this year, last year, and the year before that, and reminisce.

So, skip this post if you don't care ;-)

Without further adieu....

Christmas this year was broken into a few different days. Since Sean and I started dating, it's been a struggle trying to figure out how to see all of our family and friends during Christmas and New Year's. I am learning that it just isn't possible to make everyone happy, but we can try our darndest.

On Saturday, December 22nd, Sean and I spontaneously invited my parents over for dinner, drinks, and gifts. We realized that we wouldn't have time to exchange gifts with them Christmas Eve like we did last year, so we changed it up a bit. I didn't mind getting my presents a few days early ;) I quickly threw together a beef stew in the crock pot, and we had a lovely evening.

I won't bore you by bragging about all the gifts I received from my parents, but let me just say I was blown away. Along with the traditional gifts like a calendar and some clothes, I got a few surprises as well. The gem of the evening:

That, my friends, is a Terrell Suggs signed parents were at a Charity Auction, know I love T. Sizzle (I am seen sporting his jersey here), and my mom ended up in an intense bidding war with a woman--and boy, am I glad she won! I was blown away and it is already proudly displayed in my home.

My parents, Sean, and I had a great evening, and it was a wonderful way to kick off the Christmas weekend.

The next day, Sean and I realized we had a LivingSocial deal that needed to be used before it expired! So, into Baltimore City we went to Leinenkugel's Beer Garden, a really cool bar with great appetizers, and of course, an overwhelming array of beers.

Sean and I shared a beer flight and a dip trio, which was just lovely.

After Leinenkugel, Sean and I headed to a party at his aunt's house. It was my first time meeting his Dad's side of the family, so I was too busy meeting people to snap any pictures. We had a great time, though, drinking and eating and watching the Ravens beat the Giants :-)

The next day was Christmas Eve, which is absolutely my favorite day of the year--all the anticipation and excitement. Both of us had (separate) last-minute stocking stuffers and gifts to buy before heading to my mom and dad's, so we both got those done in the morning. And it was good that we did, because by about 4:00 pm, the scene out the window looked like this:

Sean and I trekked to my parents' house, a trip the usually takes 45 minutes...and it took us an hour and a half. It was pretty scary, but totally worth it for some family time:


my mom loves to photobomb

my man and I

Patron shots! We know how to party!

The Christmas Eve party also included a Yankee Gift Swap (White Elephant Gift Exchange), and I ended up with a pretty awesome gift:

Yep. That's a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush AND a Lady Gaga singing toothbrush, along with a Disaronno gift set! Saweeet. I am already loving Biebs singing to me every day.

Once Sean and I got home, it was almost 1:00 am, so we crashed quickly...except that I could NOT sleep and was like a little kid, eager for morning so I could race out to the living room and open my presents.

We finally got out of bed at 8:30am and exchanged gifts, just the two of us, which was lovely. We spoiled each other rotten this's tough to say what my favorite gift was, but these are up there on the list:

A gift certificate to my favorite hair salon, and a Spa Day complete with massage and facial!!!

And here is a shot of some of my gifts....yes, that is a bottle of Patron and 5 mini liquor bottles. My man knows the way to my heart ;-)

Sean enjoyed his gifts, too, of course. I gave him a vintage map of Maryland in a unique frame, some clothes, a Home Depot gift card, and some other odds and ends. All in all, it was a fantastic holiday for both of us.

Then, in the afternoon, we went to spend time with Sean's mom, brother, and brother's girlfriend. We exchanged more gifts, and then hung out before going home to snuggle under our new Ravens blanket (courtesy of Sean's mom) and play Scrabble.

Christmas this year was fantastic, and I am so thankful for everyone in my life who made it possible.

How was your Christmas?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Cheer

The stockings are hung...

The tree is decorated...

The nativity is set up...

And there are random splashes of Christmas cheer throughout...

One more work day stands between me and a full week+ off work!

I am ready to enjoy the Christmas and New Year's holidays with those I love.

See you in 2012 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blogging Day of Silence and Remembrance

By now, we have all heard about the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday.

There are truly no words. This image has been passed around, and I am sharing it in the hopes that we can all come together to pray, heal, and move forward one painful step at a time.

This is a multi-faceted issue: gun control, mental health (I beg you to read this article), safety/security, etc. 

But for now, let's take some time to process (if that is even possible) what has happened, reach out and help, and hold our loved ones close. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Super Special Birthday

This Saturday was the birthday of a very important person in my life....

the boyfriend!

Yay! He turned *cough* (27) *cough*

We had a great weekend that involved some gifts...

...then some hanging of the gifts...

Isn't our new apartment finally coming together?

Then we had some celebratory drinks...

...and got all dolled up for a night on the town!

It was such a fun weekend, and I think the birthday boy had a blast too ;-)

Any December babies out there? Sean said he feels like he gets "jipped" on gifts since his birthday is so close to Christmas. Thoughts?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip “Cake” Muffins

As you all know, I am a big fan of using cake mix in baked goods, mostly because it saves time, money, and energy (I'll be the first to admit I'm a lazy baker).

So, when Thanksgiving rolled around and S and I had two family dinners to attend, I knew I wanted to contribute something festive, but that wouldn't take a lot of effort.

Yellow cake mix and canned pumpkin to the rescue!

Here's what I came up with...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip “Cake” Muffins

1 box yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury)
1 15 ounce canned pumpkin (I used Libby’s)
½ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 whole egg
2 12-cupcake pans

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Stir until batter is mixed completely with no lumps.

Line cupcake pan with liners or spray generously with cooking spray. Fill each about halfway.

Bake at 350* for ~20 minutes or until tops are golden.

Yields approx. 20 tasty cupcakes!

These would also be yummy with cream cheese icing.

Enjoy! And I promise that's the last of the pumpkin recipes you will see on this blog...until my next craving hits! ;-)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Where the hello have I been?!

Ok, ok, so I doubt very many people keep up with my blog anymore since it has been so sporadic and  inconsistent for the past year or so.

I always prooomise that I am going to post X amount of times per week, and I even make a "blogging schedule" for myself...and then life gets in the way.

So, I wanted to at least pop in to say that I haven't been blogging much because I've been going through a LOT of changes in my personal and professional life.

Such as...

-Moving into a new apartment in a new town (but with the same guy, of course--he's here for the long haul)

-Quitting my job (That post was written when I first got the position...but it started to really wear on my emotionally and I was downright unhappy towards the end. I have no ill will for any of my coworkers or supervisors--they were all incredible!--and I learned so much there. However, it was time to move on).

-Instead, I am now a full-time nanny. Wait...what? How is this a "professional" career change, you ask? Well, quite's sort of not. But the right position with a fantastic family fell into my lap, in a gorgeous area and decent pay, and I went for it. Why am I doing this, you ask? Because...

-I applied and have been accepted into Graduate School! Beginning in the Spring 2013 semester, I will be studying at Towson University for my Master of Science in Human Resources Development. I am really excited about it. I will be taking two night classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the great thing about my new nanny job is the flexibility with my hours (generally work 8-4 M-F) which allows me enough time to make it to evening classes, and also allows me to study during the day (while the babies are napping).

That is pretty much the big stuff. I've had a lot of family visits, including to visit my grandparents who are old and sick, and I've been more concerned with real life than with the blog.

However, I really am going to try to blog more...even if no one is reading but myself! Haha. I won't make any promises or force myself to stick to a "schedule", but I will try (at first) to blog once a week. Right now it is naptime for the kids, so I am thinking it will be easier to blog during the afternoon than at my previous job.

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season! I'll be back soon with a couple of recipes to share--some cookies and some crock pot wonders!

And I'll leave you with a photo of Sean and I when we visited the lights on 34th street in Hampden this past Saturday:

What's your favorite holiday?

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