A New Day

I woke up this morning with that familiar buzz of possibility ringing throughout my body.  The same buzz I feel before the holidays or on a sleepy Sunday morning.  We returned from our 55 hour trip to Florida to visit my husband’s lovely mother, sister, and grandmother late last night, and with the holidays almost behind us (I’ll be celebrating with my family later this week), I sprang from bed with the gusto of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. 

As if it were January 1, I feel like today is the start of a new year.  But the New Year is five whole days away, so today I shall celebrate the privilege of having the day off and enjoy A New Day to tether me back to Earth after nearly coming undone under holiday shopping and traveling stress.  And people, I’m inspired to get some stuff done.  With the little bambino finally kicking up a storm inside my belly, my nesting instincts have kicked-in full-throttle, and we have some big projects ahead.  And I’m going to share with you our plans for the nursery design, transforming our basement into a family room/office/guest bedroom, and tackling a master bedroom redesign. Oh my!!  I think someone needs to go shopping for her own tool belt.  Do they make maternity tool belts…in turquoise?

But first, for all of you egg nog lovers out there (what up?!?), I have just discovered the non-egg, non-dairy version of this magical Christmas beverage:  Silk Nog.  G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S!  I just poured myself a frosty glass and within 2.7 seconds, returned for a second helping.  It’s good.

The holidays are not entirely over for me, though.  My adorable parents and sister are visiting at the end of the week, and my lil bro and bestie are threatening to make an appearance in Cheeseland, so this means only one thing:  MORE TREATS!!!  I mean, technically I’m obligated to keep the holidays going by making some of our traditional family holiday treat favorites, right?  So, this week I shall prepare and share the recipes with all of you, the following delectable delights:

molasses crinkles: a family favorite!

– Lana’s Spiced Nuts

– Hot Fudge Sauce (So unbelievably good. You’ll want this recipe!)

– Christmas cookies

– Cheesy Sausage Bread (I may even make a vegetarian version of this, too.)

– Chex Mix

Some of you still have some time off for the holidays.  Are you feeling the itch of inspiration to tackle some fun projects, or freshen your look, or read a new book, or test a new recipe ?  Share with me!

A Christmas Miracle

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, y’all!   I remember when I was little I would wish people a merry Christmas Eve Eve on December 23.  You see, in our house, Christmas Eve was almost more exciting than Christmas Day, and the anticipation of December 24 was almost too much to bear. 

The day of Christmas Eve would seem to take FOREVER….just waiting for the evening’s festivities to begin.  Trying to stay out of our mom’s way, we would busy ourselves with attempting to wrap gifts for each other and our parents.  Then, by late afternoon, just as the sun was beginning to go down, my dad would put on the Andy Williams Christmas album, and we could put on our special Christmas clothes (containing equal parts of velvet, scratchy wool, lace) and await for our beloved grandparents to pull into the driveway.  Their arrival meant only one thing – PRESENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh, and the eve of the birth of Christ.  But mostly for us…it meant presents.  Plain and simple. 

Both of our grandmas and our grandpa would burst into the door, their arms overflowing with wrapped gifts.  We were instantly swallowed up in smothering hugs and kisses by each, nearly suffocating in a fog of perfume, aftershave, and make-up. We have a small family with no first cousins, so we always got our grandparents to ourselves.  We truly were the apple of their eyes, and we knew it.  My three siblings and I knew how loved we were (and continue to be by our dear grandpa) by our grandparents, and memories of them still make me ache with longing and fondness.  As we’ve grown older and our grandmothers have passed away, our Christmas Eve traditions have changed, and I love them just the same. 

I won’t be celebrating Christmas with my family this year which makes me sad.  But I am comforted knowing that I will be with my new family – the family that is me and my new husband, and our growing baby (read: fetus, alien, Cinco, Baby Booger Bean/Beanette).  The gravity of this change is not lost on me.  I am inspired and excited to embark on creating our own family traditions with our new family the same way my parents did 36 years ago when they celebrated Christmas as a new family with their first child, my brother Bryan. 

On a different note, we are 18 weeks along in our pregnancy and I’m beginning to show!  I have never felt more proud of anything than this bump of mine.  The other night, I felt the baby move for the first time as the little nugget did some sort of back flip or toe-touch in the womb.  I yelped and laughed out loud and prayed for another movement.  It was divine.  But the true Christmas miracle this holiday season was the moment I slipped on my first pair of maternity pants.  LORD HAVE MERCY!  Hallelujah!  I recommend to every one of you, pregnant or not, male or female, to go out right now and buy this pair of maternity pants. Or this pair.  Or these leggings. They are sleek and totally comfortable – like dressy sweatpants.  Joey Tribiani knew exactly what he was doing when he wore Phoebe’s maternity pants to Thanksgiving dinner.  Believe me.

Let it Snow-nema

Even though the first day of winter is still technically 18 days away,  I’d like to officially declare that winter is in fact here.  And after taking one meteorology course in college, I feel confident saying that Winter Solstice has arrived early this year.

I don’t particularly love winter, mostly because I hate being cold and scraping thick ice off  my windshield, and dealing with phenomenally static-y hair.  But I do love all of the wonderful, romantic things that come with winter.  I love the first snow fall, which for us here in Madison, Wisconsin, is only hours away.  There’s nothing like the quiet, muffled sound of the outdoors after a fresh snow fall. God I love that!  Oh and that delightful scent in the evening of fires burning in fireplaces.  Glorious.

I love the holidays, ice-skating, sledding, hot chocolate, sitting by the fire, Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas catalogs, Christmas decorations (okay…i’m starting to see a theme here)… you get the drift.  But if there is one thing that puts me more in the mood for winter and the holidays…it’s Christmas movies.  Lord have mercy, I love me some Christmas movies. 

Christmas movies have been a staple in my home since I can remember.  The four of us kids would watch the same Christmas movies year after year.  The sweet memories of  us snuggled up on the couch under my grandma’s afghan blankets, watching the movies on our old VHS machine, are so precious to me.  I feel like it was yesterday.  I even have a deep affection for the TV commercials that were on those tapes – like the Maxwell House, Pillsbury, Crisco, and Energizer holiday commercials.  I can still picture them.

These are the Christmas movies that have been a part of my life for either 3 years or 32 years, and I love them all. 

Oldies 

  • The Night They Saved Christmas –  BEST. MOVIE. EVER.
  • Christmas Comes to PacLand (Yes, even PacMan had his own Christmas film)
  • A Chipmunk Christmas
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

 Comedic Classics

  • National Lampoon’s ‘Christmas Vacation’
  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone (I’ve decided to remove this. it’s a great film, but I don’t watch it anymore really, so I think I’ll give it a rest.)
  • Elf (Doh!  I cannot believe I forgot this one. This was an after-thought addition…thanks to my friend nancy for reminding me. Umm, I’ve already watched this movie twice this year. There’s something wrong with me.)

Romantic Classics

  • Love Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Home for the Holidays

Super Classics (Super-oldies my mom made me watch and I now love)

  • White Christmas
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • The Bishop’s Wife
  • Miracle on 34th Street

I’ve already watched three Christmas movies since Thanksgiving.  I’m off to a good start this year and look forward to watching many more.  What are your favorite Christmas movies or favorite things about winter?