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!


Alanna said...

I always think I'm a pretty good cook until I see the stuff you make in your kitchen! I'm so impressed (and intimidated!)!

I've never lived somewhere walkable-- I sort of think I'd hate it, but it's silly to assume that. I'm glad, for your sakes, that it doesn't really rain as much in Seattle as they're always telling people! That would make for a miserable walk.

Where in the world do you buy pretty wrapping paper??? Those were gorgeous, and definitely not what I'm finding at Target and Costco!!!

Erin said...

Aw, thanks! It's been a lot of fun to have Ryan get into wok cooking. As for walking, I think it helps that I grew up with a semi-walkable life. I walked to/from school for grades 3-12, we could easily walk to Main Street and walk or bike to friends houses or the community pool as we got older. But there was still a lot of driving. I've never enjoyed driving myself and when we lived in Indiana it felt like everything was at least a 20 minute drive away and that was annoying. Living here I've gradually realized that walkability is near the top of my priority list - there's something really empowering in being able to walk to everyday needs and not have to worry about parking or other crazy drivers on the way and I think it helps me feel more connected to my community as well. Downside is most of the US isn't built with walkability in mind, so we're pretty limited in the places we could ever move to. Even our current neighborhood I worry that as they push to add more housing they'll add *just* housing, even on streets that really should be street level shops/restaurants with housing above them. And if they do that then eventually the walkability of the neighborhood will decline.

We went to Paper Source for the paper! The fancy ones definitely won't be something we get often because they're pricey, but it's fun to splurge once in a while just for the fun of it or for a more special gift.

Myrna said...

I loved "An elderly lady is up to no good!" Great book!! Hope you enjoyed it, too! Nice holiday post!

Momof8 said...

I just realized today that I hadn't checked your blog for awhile. What a reward to read about the interesting things you've done and made. I love that you share them with us. I especially love the photos. The foggy one was cool. We get fog once or twice a year, but I'm not usually out in it while it's dark and mysterious. I grew up walking or biking most places, and I enjoy walking with my friends each weekday morning for a couple of miles. I need that nervous energy release and time to express feelings with my women friends.

I'm glad we got a phone call with you on New Year's Day. It was really nice connecting and hearing about some of these things I'm just now reading about.

I totally get the "alone" time, too. I think we cherish it when we get it because it is rare.