Sunday, January 7, 2024

Christmas and New Years

While Ryan and the kids were gone, we had some lovely foggy days. It was very atmospheric to walk to get my Thai food in the fog. Have I mentioned how much I love living in a walkable city/neighborhood? We can walk to the doctor, dentist, restaurants, bakeries/cafes, hardware store, library, parks, movie theatre, etc. And of course can walk to the lightrail which takes us even more places. The walkability of our life is a consistent source of joy.

The weekend after they got back, Ryan and I braved the mall because I needed wrapping paper so I could send my niece and nephew their belated birthday gifts as well as Christmas gifts. We managed to score a surface parking spot really close to the stores we needed to go to - even in non-holiday times I don't expect to find one of those - a true Christmas miracle haha! I wished the non-holiday paper options were more varied, but we had a lot of fun picking out what we got, including a couple fancy papers.

Aren't those beautiful? Perhaps another sign of adulthood when you're very excited about fancy wrapping paper. We also did a little shopping for G's Christmas - they love hoodies but don't usually want brand or place names on them, so I was a little worried it would be hard to find. But the first store we tried had several completely plain hoodies in a variety of solid colors! It'll be so exciting for them to be able to rotate their hoodies through the wash more frequently.

Christmas Eve was spent largely in the kitchen. Ryan was inspired by Ted Lasso and wanted to try a mulled wine and finger foods on Christmas day, so we found a recipe for Smoking Bishop and had to get that started. It included roasting oranges and grapefruit that we then poked cloves into before soaking those in wine overnight - the next day we juiced the fruit into the wine and then added ruby port before heating. Then I prepped the filling for stuffed acorn squash and roasted the squash, made a coffee cake since M doesn't like our usual blueberry breakfast bake dish, Ryan made toffee, and by the time all that was done it was about time to start prepping the rest of our dinner. Ryan made a delicious Kung Pao Chicken courtesy of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's wok recipe book and sides were the family favorite Korean lettuce salad, and that stuffed acorn squash I'd prepped earlier in the day (used Canadian bacon instead of sausage in the squash). 

The oranges were as big as grapefruit! But they roasted up nicely and my not thinking to rotate them while roasting didn't seem to negatively impact the end result

With all that going on, dinner was a bit late so then we started A Christmas Carol a bit late, which meant it was midnight before the kids got to bed and 1 am before Ryan and I could get all the gifts set out and get ourselves to bed. I was very grateful that I could anticipate the kids sleeping in late the next day!

And I was right - they didn't wake up until 10, which meant we weren't ready to start our Christmas morning until 11am - a record late start for our family but I was shocked it wasn't later. Our Christmas was quiet. Because we ate breakfast so late I was glad we'd decided on finger foods for dinner. We got our wine heated up and made up some platters with our finger foods that we ate while I tried out the Oregon Trail game Ryan got me. 

Ryan was disturbed by me and G being excited about a book I got (An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good) since it's about an old lady who has no qualms about a little murder. He read it before I got to it and I caught a picture of him looking quite distressed while reading (ignore my finger that got in the way). 

M's D&D club experience at school sadly didn't work out - their entire group was made up of kids who hadn't played D&D before, including the DM, so it was just a mess and he quickly got frustrated. So G's gift to them was a D&D campaign that we'll do as a family with G as the DM! We spent some time the weekend after Christmas creating our characters.

I finally got to some baking after Christmas, including this delicious Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread, which is an absolutely beautiful dough.

Before we knew it, it was New Year's Eve! We chose How to Steal a Million as our movie to watch with my sister's family this year and the kid's all enjoyed it, so that's a win. So many great lines in that movie. We tried our hand at a New York Sour for the first time ever, which requires you to float red wine on top of the rest of the drink. It was a bit tricky and definitely made a bit of a mess trying to slowly pour the wine over the back of a spoon, but I was really pleased that it actually worked!

We got one more day of relaxing at home before we all headed back to work and school on Tuesday. Here's hoping we all have a great 2024!

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Fall 2023

Our fall has been fairly uneventful - work, school, cross-country, and so on. My mom came for a visit just before Halloween and we had fun making a lot of candies. She also got to go to one of my concerts and one of G's concerts. We made chocolate and coconut covered marshmallows, boiled cider caramels, and peanut brittle.

Ryan and M dressed up and went out trick or treating.

And Ryan and the kids carved pumpkins. Gram helped M put up our Halloween decor.

Then Ryan's brother's family came to visit over Thanksgiving. We ended up having 10 people around our table this year since one of my orchestra friends and her husband joined us as well. I was on call over Thanksgiving so it was a little crazy to host, but everyone chipped in helping to make dishes and desserts so that made it much easier.

I tried out a new way of opening pomegranates over Thanksgiving and it actually worked!

When he wasn't chasing around "cousin" (M) with dinosaurs or asking to play, our nephew enjoyed playing foosball.

It was a lot of fun to get to see them all again.

Shortly after Thanksgiving I went with co-workers to a Rage Room - we picked out plates and cups and bottles and got to smash them with hammers, bats, crowbars, etc. It's a good way to get out frustration with insurance companies getting away with not covering the most basic of things.

M had their first band concert - when you force all the 6th graders to take a music class, it's pretty easy to fill the stage with the beginning band. We couldn't see M because they were way in the back as a trombone player.

I got enough of a break in the stream of on-call pages for us to go get a tree - it helps that the tree farm has a stand only ten minutes away! Ended up with quite a character-full one this year, but we like it! The kids enjoy that the new LED lights allow them to easily switch from white to multi-color lights.

M also pulled out a puzzle to start at Thanksgiving and I finished it in mid-December. Sadly, it seems the puzzle is missing a piece. But still a very fun puzzle to complete.

The kids and Ryan started their breaks at the same time while I had a completely packed clinic week before being off the week of Christmas. So I sent Ryan and the kids off on a trip that first week - it started with Ryan joking that they were all going to go somewhere fun without me and then I realized they totally should do just that! So they took the train up to Vancouver, arriving mid-afternoon there and stayed overnight before coming home late the next day. They got a fun trip and I enjoyed a couple nights of having the house all to myself before heading into Christmas week!