Monday, December 31, 2012

The Wonders of the Season

Bridget snuggled under the tree to enjoy the lights. But after a long day of playing with all that Santa brought her, she fell asleep under the tree. So sweet.

Yesterday, we also enjoyed a nice afternoon with my family. Even managed to snap another picture under the Easton Christmas tree. Another wonderful holiday season this year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Overnighter in Detroit

I have passed through Detroit before, but this past Friday was my first time to stay overnight. Greg needed one more night to reach a certain hotel status, so he challenged us to find a location within a 2-hour driving radius that would be interesting, kid-friendly and fun. Enter Detroit. We stayed at the Westin Cadillac Downtown and it was fantastic. Cool, modern vibe. Very clean. Incredible hospitality. We had dinner reservations at Michael Symon's Roast and it did not disappoint. Meg had a wonderful salmon dish. Greg enjoyed the Beast of the Day. I had Pork Shank Confit. Miss Bridget enjoyed their finest buttered plain pasta. We all shared a side of brussel sprouts that were possibly the best I have ever had.

After dinner, and with very full bellies, we had a pajama party while watching Hotel Transylvania. I told Meg I'd love to see this movie again...and this time, I promise to keep my eyes open!

The next morning, we found a great little breakfast spot - the Hudson Cafe. They are famous around downtown Detroit for their red velvet pancakes. Since every year I celebrate with red velvet cupcakes for my birthday, Greg knew this place would make me happy. And let me tell you, those pancakes were delish! Greg had graham cracker crusted french toast (mmm!), Megan had monkey pancakes filled with bananas and caramel, and B had a very special and gigantic Mickey Mouse pancake. We were all thrilled. The food and service was outstanding. A must place to visit if you're ever in Detroit!

The little trips with family make such wonderful memories!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm a Big Girl Now - Can't You See!

Lately, Bridget has been enjoying wearing my coat, scarf and heels. The minute I come in the front door from work, she will change right away into my stuff. I have to say, she wears it well.

Funny story about the coat. I am a loyal Banana Republic and JCrew shopper. I rarely bother with other stores because I know these two have consistent sizing and good quality clothes that I can wear to work and on the weekends. I bought the coat a few years ago and couldn't remember if it was 4, 5 or 6 years ago. Greg and I went out Saturday night with a group of friends and popped into Crop for a drink. A girl came up to me and said, "I have that same coat - Banana Republic 2007!" Yes! Gotta love what a small world it is and this fun stranger answered my question or how old my coat is!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What a Wonderful Day

We had the BEST Christmas so far in our little family. We slept till about 8:00 a.m. (a luxury around here!), woke Bridget up to see if Santa had visited, gave Meg a cup of coffee to get through such an early morning hour, then we each took turns opening gifts from Santa and from each other. We sat in a little drum circle, if you will, just enjoying the peace and quiet and the morning with each other. It was truly wonderfuly.

Bridget got her big item of an Easy Bake Oven, a right of passage for every little girl. Seriously, didn't you have one? She also opened up a Justin Bieber DVD, a One Direction book and an American Girl Doll (the one from Target - shhh!). We laughed that I loved Donny Osmond and Shawn Cassady in kindergarten, Meg loved the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync, and now Bridget is into JB and One Direction. Funny how times change, yet they stay the same.

Megan enjoyed a Michael Kors watch that she had really been loving and hoping Santa would bring to her. She also wrapped herself up in a faux fur vest and pink flamingo slippers - yep, Project Runway here folks!

Greg loved his Moscow Mule started kit, new luggage with a weekend trip (yay!), and a snowglobe from Bridget from the school Christmas fair. It was perfect.

I felt truly blessed. I had my amazing family around me and even received something from my favorite designer - yes, Under Armour! Greg got me the cutest hot pink thermal hoodie. Best of all, all of us, including the dogs, enjoyed a nice little hike today to burn off a small fraction of the calories we've ingested. Christmas Ale, cookies, and holiday baking can seriously damage a girl's willpower!

Hope your Christmas or holiday celebration was surrounded by family and friends.

Friday, December 21, 2012

24 Days of Christmas - Week Two

The girls have enjoyed FaceTime and Skype as they open each other's gifts. We've had to improvise, but it's still been good family fun!

Day 7 - Family Pizza and Movie Night
Day 8 - 8 mini Reese cups for day 8
Day 9 - Color a wooden ornament
Day 10 - Write a letter to Santa
Day 11 - Donate toy and book at Church toy drive
Day 12 - Reese pieces candy cane (to be used as a microphone) so the girls could interview each other.
Day 13 - holiday sparkle headbands (from the dollar store)

And on Day 14, I got to bring Megan home from Miami!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Date Night at Tartines

Tartines is one of our favorite restaurants, primarily because the owner is so attentive and the food really is quite spectacular. This past Monday we enjoyed their first beer pairing dinner and it didn't disappoint! About 18 couples were seated at two long tables while we enjoyed four seasonal/holiday beers paired with four wonderful dishes. To start, we enjoyed beer cheese soup with ginger croutons served in an espresso cup followed by the second course of sweet potato hash with an incredibly succulent scallop on top. Third couse was a porchetta stuffed with a honey crisp applesauce. The last couse was a little brick of brie cheese with fresh blackberries. Yum! My two favorite beers were Thirsty Dog's 12 Days of Christmas and Southern Tier's Old Man Winter. Great evening with my wonderful dinner companion, Greg. Can't wait to try one of Tartine's wine dinners now!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easton - Then and Now

When Meg and I lived in Athens, it was an annual tradition that we park ourselves in front of the giant tree at Easton Town Center in Columbus. After we moved to Cleveland, those trips dwindled, but we were lucky enough to squeeze in a trip last week, with the added bonus of the girls seeing their Aunt Angie.

Just look at what a difference 11 years makes!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Can't Wait to Bake These - And Eat Them, Too!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Place 3/4 cup granulated sugar, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended. Add the honey, vanilla, and egg; beat well. Add the flour mixture, beating at low speed until well-blended. Cover dough and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray; shape the dough into 24 (1-inch) balls. Roll the balls in 1/4 cup granulated sugar; place the balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes on pans. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on wire racks. (Recipe from Cooking Light)

Both my girls and I love love love gingersnap cookies. The house always smells so wonderful after baking a fresh batch and I can't wait to try them out!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Did I Really Agree to This?

And the answer is, "Yes, I did."

My sister-in-law, and partner in 50 states quest, innocently dangled an offer my way. Would I be interested in running a leg of one of the Ragnar Relays. I had heard about these relays. And, if truth be told, had been very very very intrigued by the idea. But I didn't think I could gather THAT many people together to run 200+ miles over 2 days. Enter Kim. And her 10 other friends...rounding out our group to the perfect number of 12. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I have agreed to be "Runner 2" of the Southern California Ragnar Relay. If I understand correctly, I will run 3 legs as Runner 2 for a total of 21.6 miles (5.1 miles, 9.2 miles, and 7.3 miles).

I had been feeling incredibly unmotivated lately and my running had been pretty non-existent. This has been the perfect kick-in-the-pants that I needed. So join me over the next 4 months while I train to run 21 miles with Kim and her friends and enjoy the best girls weekend in Southern California. Oh, and I can't forget, Meg will be one of our drivers!

Sunny Southern California, here we come!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

24 Days of Christmas

Since Megan was very little, I have always done various versions of the 24 Days of Christmas. During the lean years, most days included free activities and one or two Hershey kisses and mini Reese cups. Along the way, I've added little ticket items like a find-a-word puzzle book, magazine, and other little dollar store finds. The first year I included Bridget in the mix, she received a mini Reese cup on day 2 and, from that point forward, she thought Reese cups were called "2s". And each year, I've made sure that we open each day's little gift or activity together as a family or it included a family activity or charitable event.

This year was the most challenging since Megan is away at college. Thank goodness for technology. The deal I made between the girls is that each day they could only open each item if they opened their items together while on FaceTime or Skype. Wow, it's been so much fun. We log on around dinner time. The girls can talk to each other and open their day's activity or gift while I'm fixing dinner. It really is like we're all together.

So here's how the first week has played out:

Day 1 - A mini polar bear that, when put in water, expands up to 600% over 10 days.
Day 2 - One Reese christmas tree.
Day 3 - A washcloth that pops up full-size while in the bathtub.
Day 4 - Make hot chocolate with each other.
Day 5 - Santa bubble gum tape (Meg's all-time favorite)
Day 6 - Make paper snowflakes together.

Tonight's activity was so much fun watching my two wonderful daughters making snowflakes. One is 19 and one is 5 and yet they couldn't seem closer. Love my girls.

I hope your December is just as magical and filled with close friends and family.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

DIY Christmas Gifts

It's that time of the year to start planning for Christmas gifts. If you're wanting to save money, spend time at home, and make some neat Christmas gifts, here's a few good ideas for you!

Paint a wooden picture frame, glue on initial.

Epsom salt, twine and rustic ornament.

Source - Great site for more ideas!

Glass vase, print photos on vellum, and modge podge to vase, add votice candle. Nice personalized gift!

Wishing you a wonderful December!