Life Lately: December 2014

Last week I blasted you with my November life update, and today I’m here to share scenes from December and the holidays.

Life Lately

The month kicked off with two girls nights in a row, and both were on school nights too! The first was a midweek fitness date with my gym friends Liz, Ashley, and Mary. We took a class at The Studio Empower and then treated Liz to a belated birthday dinner at Farmstead Table in Newton. It was so cute in there, and our farm to table food was perfect.

Studio EmpowerFarmstead Table

The following night, I met up with my friend Erin downtown for dinner at Rustic Kitchen before we saw The Nutcracker! <–Recap post here.

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker

Tim and I spent the first weekend in December enjoying some quality time together. Friday night was spent at home before heading up to Portsmouth on Saturday for our annual overnight. We typically go in the fall, but this year we didn’t have a weekend to use our free Marriott night until December. It was really nice being up there at Christmas time for a change. Everything was decorated, and we were able to get a lot of Christmas shopping done during the day on Saturday.

Portsmouth NH 2014

We ate dinner out on Saturday night at Cava, and it was one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in my life. We sat at the bar downstairs, drank a bottle of wine (oops!), and left happy and full from all the delicious small plates we sampled. Crazy new try of the night? Octopus ink! Ever had it?

Cava Tapas and Wine Bar

Finally, on Sunday we grabbed coffee and a quick breakfast at Popovers on the Square before hitting up the Kittery outlets for some more shopping. Neither one of us wanted to head back to Boston that night!

Popovers on the Square

The following week we decorated and got our Christmas tree. Every year we get it from McKay’s trees, which isn’t anything special, but it’s close by, and the people there are so nice. Our tree this year almost didn’t even fit in the house. Tim had to get his saw from the basement. I didn’t even know we owned a saw? Good to know.

Christmas Tree 2014Christmas

Despite turning down a few invites, the rest of the month was one holiday gathering after another. Luckily, since we did most of our shopping in Portsmouth, the weekdays weren’t too crazy, which made the busy weekends more manageable. The weekend of the 12-14th kicked off with Christmas dinner and a slumber party at Katrina and Geoff’s new house on Friday night. I almost had a mental breakdown in the amount of traffic we hit getting there, but once we got there and started cooking all together, drinking wine (confession: I have completely turned into a wine-o if you couldn’t tell from my life lately posts the last couple of months), and laughing, I was fine. I’m still mad I forgot my cranberry and pistachio bark though!

Wally World Christmas 2014Wally World Christmas 2014 Wally World Christmas 2014Wally World Christmas 2014

On Saturday we celebrated Christmas with my dad’s side of the family at my grandfather’s house in New Bedford. We did a Yankee swap instead of a secret Santa this year, and since it was my uncle’s birthday, we also had a cake for him.

New Bedford Christmas 2014New Bedford Christmas 2014New Bedford Christmas 2014

Finally, on Sunday after a really hard workout from all the food we ate on Friday and Saturday, we headed to my godfather’s for a holiday luncheon with all my second cousins. The following weekend we had my work Christmas party at Julia’s house on Friday night, and on Saturday night we had the 15th annual Christmas party with my home friends at Shannon’s apartment. I can’t believe she’s hosted this party for 15 years straight (or that we’ve all been friends for so long!).

Shannon's Christmas Party 2014Food for Shannon's 2014Shannon's Christmas Party 2014Shannons Christmas Party 2014

This brings us into Christmas week. On Christmas Eve Eve, I went to Liz’s last kickboxing class (end of an era!), then Tim and I met some of my home friends at Rudy’s in Somerville to celebrate Shannon’s new job and Esk getting into medical school.

Liz's last kickboxing class

This year was the first year that we had Christmas Eve off from work, and it was so nice to spend the day at home together before heading to Tim’s cousin’s house like we do every year.

Pesto Stuffed TomatoesChristmas Eve 2014

Tim and I also have two Christmas Eve traditions of our own. The first is to do a random act of kindness for someone. This year we gave a ten-dollar bill to the person working the tolls on the mass pike, and we asked him to please pay the toll for however many cars it would cover after us. We also always exchange an ornament before going to bed. My ornament was my favorite gift that I received during the entire holiday season this year. Tim had a custom one created with a picture of the lighthouse where we got engaged this summer. Love!

Christmas Eve ornament

On Christmas Day, we woke up and exchanged our other presents for each other and opened our stockings before cooking a festive breakfast (our other holiday tradition together!). We each got each other a new winter jacket and winter hat. Does that make us lame? Tim also got me a kettlebell, a couple of new workout tops, and a cozy infinity scarf, and I also got Tim tickets to a beer and cheese festival in February.

Stockings on Christmas 2014Healthy french toast casserole

The rest of the day was spent at my parents’ house with my mom’s side of the family! Seemed like it went by in a flash.

Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014Christmas 2014 Christmas 2014 Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

The weekend immediately following Christmas was our 8th and final wedding of 2014, which we have officially dubbed the year of weddings. Tim was a groomsman in this one, so we spent Friday night at the rehearsal dinner at Smith and Wollensky’s, and Saturday was the wedding itself at the Boston Public Library. Holy fancy! We had such a fun time, and I enjoyed getting to know some of these friends a little bit better.

Doug and Carolyn's Rehearsal DinnerDoug and Carolyn's Wedding Doug and Carolyn's Wedding: GirlsDoug and Carolyn's Wedding Doug and Carolyn's Wedding

Finally, we finished out our month (and year) with dinner out at Solea on Moody Street and meeting up with friends at Hopsters to count down at midnight.

NYE 2014

I have no idea how we survived the last two months, but somehow we did!

Readers, let’s chat! What was the best part of your holiday season? Tell me about your favorite traditions, the best party you went to, or your favorite relaxing day at home.

I just love sitting on the couch with Tim with our tree lit up, a cup of tea, and a Christmas candle lit! I am looking forward to more of this (sans tree) in January now that our weekends are no longer jam-packed. I know I haven’t written about my 2015 intentions yet, but one of them definitely is to create more space. I need to be more mindful of living in the moment so I’m not always thinking about the next place we have to go. This is something I struggle with! Tim and I are both social butterflies despite still turning down more things than we ever have this year.

Hope you guys are having a great week so far. ❤

{Lots of} Scenes From Christmas 2013

It’s back to work and teaching for me today, but I’m happy I only have two days of “being back at it” before the weekend. I figured today would be a good day to recap all our Christmas adventures from this year. There’s a lot to catch up on!

Early Family Christmas Party

My dad’s side of the family celebrated Christmas early this year. We went to my uncle’s house on 12/14, and the day was full of festive food, a Secret Santa exchange, a delicious fish dinner, trivia, birthday cake, and a LOT of wine.

Christmas 2013: Uncle Chris's Decorated Table

The food we ate included my festive cucumber appetizers, avgolemono soup, salad, ravioli, fish, Brussels sprouts, Greek green beans, and tons of dessert even though I only snapped a photo of the white chocolate cranberry bars that I baked.

Christmas Food 2013

Some other scenes from the day:

Christmas 2013: Dad's Side of the Fam

Christmas 2013: Me & Tim

Christmas 2013: Siblings

Christmas 2013 Collage

Wally World Christmas

If you’re wondering what the heck “Wally World” is, my roommates and I used to live on a street called Wallingford. Clearly that turned our apartment name into Wally World, and Wally World Christmas is when we all reunite for festive fun and a little Yankee swap with our men.

Christmas 2013 at Trinas

This year Katrina and Geoff hosted. Dinner consisted of homemade chicken parm with ziti, salad, and a green bean and mushroom casserole. Tim and I brought a white bean dip with bread and green peppers as an appetizer, and there were plenty of desserts too.

Christmas 2013: Food at Katrinas

We also made a fun champagne sangria punch from this recipe.

Christmas 2013 Champagne Sangria Punch

The rest of the night can be summed up with one word: silly.

Christmas 2013 at Trinas 2

I love my friends.

Christmas 2013: Trina's House

And I may or may not have had a champagne headache at work the next day. Worth it.

Roommate Christmas Night

Home Friends Christmas

Every year my friend Shannon hosts a party for all of our friends from home. She has been hosting since we were 14 years old, and it’s one of my favorite Christmas traditions. There’s always a ton of food, a signature cocktail, and a horrible Yankee swap where a chia pet recirculates every year. I say it’s horrible because while there ARE a few of us who try to bring a nice gift, the majority of the guys involved in the swap bring something, well, horrible.

Christmas 2013 at Shans

Here are some other pics from the night:

Christmas 2013 at Shans 2

For past Shannon party recaps, click here and here!

Christmas Eve

For the past couple of years, I’ve always worked a half day on Christmas Eve, attended our company’s holiday luncheon, and then gone to John Harvard’s for a couple of Christmas Eve beers. This year we continued this tradition with some of my co-workers. After John Harvard’s, Tim and I came home and quickly prepped all the food we still needed to prep. We also made a stop at the liquor store, where I paid for the couple in front of us as a “random act of kindness” for Jingle Well Time. This couple being so happy made me so happy that Tim and I decided we are going to do a random act of kindness every year on Christmas Eve. I also want to be better at “paying it forward” throughout the rest of the year too.

At night we headed to Tim’s cousin Kelly’s house for the night. Can you believe I didn’t snap any pictures? I’ll have to sum it up with another Yankee swap, the annual clam chowder, tons of other food (especially desserts), and a lot of laughs. Next year I’ll have to remember to be better about picture-taking there.

When we got home, Tim and I did our annual ornament exchange before heading to bed.

Christmas 2013: Xmas Eve Ornaments

A pomegranate for me (how fun!), and an Irish flag shamrock for Tim.

Christmas Day

On Christmas morning, Tim and I woke up early to exchange our presents.

Christmas 2013 Xmas Morning

For me: Ugg slippers, a springform baking pan, a new set of resistance bands, and a 6 month subscription to Birchbox

For him: A Kitchen Aid mixer

Christmas 2013: Kitchen Aid

We also exchanged stockings, which sometimes is my favorite part. I just love stocking stuffers. I feel like you can really tell a lot about a person based on what’s in their stocking. 🙂

Christmas 2013: Stocking Stuffers

After our present exchange, we cooked ourselves a fun Christmas breakfast.

Christmas 2013 Breakfast

We don’t have kids, but this would be a perfect breakfast for those of you who do. We just like to have fun. After breakfast we headed to my parents’ house, where we spent the rest of Christmas Day. My immediate family exchanged gifts first before company came over.

Christmas 2013 Gift Exchange

We also feasted on the festive muffins I brought over.

Christmas 2013 Festive Muffins

My mom’s side of the family came over later for dinner. Dinner included ham (the holiday gift from my company), pastitsio, soutzoukakia, and some festive Brussels sprouts. Lots of Greek dishes!

Christmas 2013 Dinner

There were also lots of desserts:

Christmas 2013: Desserts

Here are some other pics from the day:

Christmas 2013 - Christmas DayChristmas Day 2013Christmas Day 2013

All in all, a very Merry Christmas 2013.

Christmas 2013

How was your holiday season? How many Christmas events did you have this year? What was the best present you received and/or best present you gave? What are your favorite traditions? Have you ever done a random act of kindness?

See you tomorrow for another round of Friday Favorites!