Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Hello! My dad tried to make me feel bad about not blogging this week (by which I mean he said, "No blog today?"), so here are some updates on our Christmas. 

Christmas Eve was a busy one and included a couple hours in traffic before celebrating with family in Orange County. 

We all enjoyed the festivities and still made it home at a reasonable hour to put out cookies and milk for Santa and finish Christmas prep. I assembled my mom's famous Christmas morning casserole (it's always fun to make it knowing that my sister-in-law and mom are doing the same in their houses!). This year I kept it simple with frozen chopped spinach and frozen bell peppers, plus cheddar-Gruyere cheese. Delicious!

Then Christmas morning was upon us. We woke up pretty late for us--Marshall slept until at least 6:30--so we enjoyed a slow morning. We did stockings in bed and then meandered out to the tree for gifts. 

Terry got a fire going, and Marshall and Scout both loved the cozy setting. That cat barely moved the entire time that fire was going (not pictured). 

Our little Christmas morning setup.

We followed the same route as last year, where we gave Marshall something he wants, something he needs, something to wear, something to read, but Santa brought some gifts, too. And I sent Marshall and Terry on a scavenger hunt to find their joint gift: swim lessons! (Marshall took swim lessons for several months when we lived at our old place, but we hadn't signed up for new ones since moving.)

We needed a little outdoors time, so we headed to the park for a bit. Lots of kids were there playing with their new toys; Marshall mostly stuck to the swings.

The big gift from us this year was a play kitchen for Marshall. We had fun shopping (online) and checking out all the ridiculous kitchens out there for kids. Like this one. And are you kidding me? Do kids need a stainless steel kitchen? Ours looks downright simple compared to some of the ones out there, but it fits perfectly in our dining room.

While Marshall played (cooked) and Terry tidied up a bit, I got started on our Christmas dinner. We started the tradition several years ago of making this dish every Christmastime, and this year we went for it on Christmas Day itself. 

I usually use the version from Julia's 1989 book, The Way to Cook, but Terry gave me her original cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for my birthday, so we gave that version a go. The big difference: the original includes bacon. Normally, I'd always be for adding bacon to anything, but honestly, we didn't notice a huge difference in flavor. It was still delicious, though!

The last few days have mostly involved family time, walks to the park, 

cooking a bit more,

beginning the sad, sad process of taking down Christmas (and taking photos to remind myself how to decorate next year), 

and relaxing as much as possible. And some workouts thrown in for good measure. I'm also trying to cut back a bit on the sweets and wine, so for tonight's family dinner I offered to bring a lighter dessert:

Apple crisp! I mostly followed my original recipe, but I omitted the honey (I told you I'm sweet-ed out!) and just stuck with a bit of maple syrup. Instead of ice cream on top, we opted for homemade whipped cream (Terry and Marshall made it!). 

Also, here's the workout I did this morning (since I'm failing to post my long-promised workout roundup post):

20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
Squat jumps
Squat jacks
Jumping lunges
Push ups (note: I did 10 push ups each time, and if I had extra time leftover I'd just take more rest)

Cycle through those five exercises, working for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes. 

I thought I'd also mention that I'm a huge fan of adjusting workouts as necessary to make them work in the moment. If I get too tired, I don't want to lose my good form. So in this case, when my jumping lunges were feeling pretty pathetic (as in, I was doing about two within the 20 seconds), I switched to stepping lunges instead. I was still working the same muscles, and my heart rate was still up, but it allowed me to use proper form. There is NOTHING wrong with toning it down mid-workout! It's much better than the alternatives (getting injured, passing out, quitting altogether--which is also okay if things really aren't feeling right), so I always have an idea in mind of what I might do if my planned workout ends up feeling too rough. 

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and joyous. Please enjoy the new year celebrations safely, and get excited about all those resolutions!

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