This is our kitty's first Christmas and he has had so much fun climbing the Christmas tree. Some days he climbs it multiple times, other days he doesn't even look at it. We have also discovered his love of white bread products, finding bite marks through plastic bags into rolls and tortillas. So strange (and annoying). Every evening he curls up on the floor of the kitchen while I make dinner and try not to step on him. Dean made him a last minute stocking this year, complete with a drawing of him on it.
Every year my mom makes ornaments to give to everyone. Last year her ornaments were pieced out of paper, the year before she collected seed pods, painted them and added ribbon, a few years before that she repurposed cat food can lids (the funniest!), and this year she used buttons and pins. They're all unique and so beautiful.
For Christmas Eve I made Cornish Game Hens, mashed potatoes, and roasted brussels sprouts. Even with all of my earlier planning, I was still overwhelmed and in tears on Christmas Eve morning, staring at a huge list of things still to do. The previous day I had listened to a podcast from The Lazy Genius titled "A Christmas Pep Talk" and I totally needed it. As I was feeling overwhelmed I remember her saying something like, 'remember what matters and put your energy toward that.' I told my family I needed help. My husband smiled, said this happens every year, and asked how he could help. I scrapped the plans to bake and frost cookies (sorry kids), and sent my husband to the store for rolls and cinnamon rolls in a can. I just couldn't do it all from scratch this year. I still had to do some cooking, yes, but also enjoy the day which is the whole point of it.
We wouldn't have had mashed potatoes that night if I hadn't already made them in advance. Also, I learned that if russet potatoes are gently boiled with their skins on, the skins can be easily peeled off once they're cooked and cooled a bit. My least favorite aspect of making mashed potatoes is peeling them, and now I don't ever have to do it again. Hooray for small wins!
After dinner we watched "Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas," our family tradition and drank hot chocolate. The kids reluctantly went to bed. I put on Love Actually, sadly one of the only Christmas movies we managed to watch this year, and started getting everything ready. I loaded the dishwasher and finished wrapping gifts in the garage. My mom always spends the night on Christmas Eve so she can be with us Christmas morning. I missed many parts of the movie but got to see Hugh Grant do his dance, which is my favorite part. It's so awkward and funny!
Christmas Day was busy and great. We thoroughly enjoyed the cinnamon rolls from a can. Dean got lots of craft projects and started putting them together as soon as possible. Gianna got a polaroid camera and had a lot of fun documenting the day. In the late afternoon some friends and family joined us for lasagna (freezer to oven!), kale/brussels sprouts slaw (more about that in an upcoming post), and rolls. Dean's gift from Santa was a beyblade arena and a bunch of beyblades. They're basically spinning tops that battle each other. Kids and adults were taking turns with the tops in the arena and having a great time. For dessert I made a Baked Alaska Tree. I chose it mainly because I could make and freeze it three days ahead and then apply the meringue and torch it right before serving it. Because I didn't do a trial run, it came out lopsided. We joked that it was a crooked santa hat, a tipping tree, or the sorting hat from Harry Potter. It was hard to slice into but it was delicious. It was filled with peppermint ice cream (vanilla ice cream that I added crushed candy canes and peppermint extract to) and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. My husband had gotten some very nice tequila as a gift and after dinner we all had a taste. It was a wonderful, gluttonous couple of days, as it should be.
In the days since Christmas we have mainly been at home. We took a hike and grilled some pork chops. I finished a book and started another. Today is New Year's Eve and we are going to a party tonight. The family hosting it has a wood fired pizza oven and I'm excited! Usually we do a First Day of the Year Hike the morning of Januray 1st. We'll see if any of us have the energy for that tomorrow. Happy New Year Friends!