I hope everyone is relaxing today. A belated Merry Christmas to many of you who I missed visiting or responding to in comments on my last post. I was totally away from my laptop for three full days. That's a record! We had three days of celebrating and seeing family members, both those that are close by, some that flew in.
Papa went back to hosting Christmas for the O'Hara side of the family. His daughter took it on a few years ago and this year Papa reclaimed it. It was very happy yet bittersweet to spend Christmas in his home again. We miss Nana, but the tradition goes on. My kids were tiny, tiny, tiny when we began celebrating Christmas here almost 30 years ago. And as always, his house is packed with fabulous food and fun!
Christmas Eve's celebration was held at my son Jeff's house. It's pretty central to The Husband's side of the family. I had a good excuse to take some pictures of his and Deirdre's home. A lot of fun was had with the White Elephant gift exchange. The B's are noted for their never ending bantering and friendly arguing, and every year there are a new set of rules it seems. It really turned into a free for all with 4 rounds. Have you ever heard of such a thing? We won a Magic Bullet and The Husband wants to start on a major smoothie diet ASAP. Have fun, Mister!
I snapped a picture of the dining area, there is no formal dining room. The way Jeff has knocked down walls, it could the current office or weight room. I absolutely love the windows and woodwork, the gorgeous table Emily found for them at her store and the light fixtures. Deirdre did a great job creating a warm holiday feeling. Just love her.
I baked my brains out. Usually I make a few things to bring as part of the desserts everywhere we go. Now that my kids have partners with families we are close to, I like to give them boxes and tins of the cookies, fudge, cupcakes and bars that I make. Everything has quadrupled. And believe me, I was never a big baker at all until about the last five years. I enjoy my freedom in cooking...just throwing a bit of this and that here and there. This year I got frightfully behind on the baking. Christmas Eve day I had to make the choice...finish wrapping gifts or do the remainder of baking I planned. Without question, I wrapped my eyeballs out. I felt bad for awhile and then I pulled on my big girl pants and said, "Now I know where I went wrong and I can do it right next year." Lesson learned.
It looks like I was overindulgent but I was super happy I stuck to my budget...these gifts are for ten people, ladies! I hardly ever have gifts right under the tree so that I can keep it watered. Anyway, I'm a pretty savvy shopper, I rarely buy anything that's not on sale and I always find the neatest things at stores like Marshall's and TJ Maxx. High end stores have unbelievable sales...I got all four guys ties, $56,00 each, marked down and with a coupon at Macy's for a whopping $16.00 each. ;-))) Once the kids arrived Christmas morning with their gifts for everyone, we had to move the coffee table into another room. Small living room or generous hearts? Both I think!
I was seriously behind on a lot of things. The one thing I hosted was our traditional Christmas morning brunch. "The best laid plans..." We got home from Jeff's about 11:00 p.m. the night before. I baked scones and blueberry muffins. I made an overnight egg casserole and a batch of Reindeer Chow (much like Puppy Chow if you've ever done it for the kiddies). I pulled out the Winterberry dishes that we only use from Christmas to New Years, and I was almost surprised to see the soft burlap/velvet lined napkins I got on sale last January at Pier 1 (79 cents each!). And wow, another surprise. I had picked up a tablecloth from HomeGoods for this table and when I opened it up, there was a coordinating runner inside the package as well. Merry Christmas, Blondie! :) That done, I got to bed at 2:00 a.m. and was wide awake at 7:00, excitement waking me up like when I was a little girl!
This was a fun little thing to make so that everyone got their fruit fix (besides the champagne and orange juice). These are called Grinch Kabobs. On toothpicks you slide on a mini-marshmallow, a strawberry (or piece of one), a banana slice and a green grape. The picture is upside down but if you turn your head completely around you can see a replica of the Santa hat and the Grinch, These were a hit.
Tulo, my granddog spent his very first Christmas on earth with us, Milo did a great job of herding him in and being a good example of staying out of our way. When we were finished opening gifts, daughter in law MC plopped on the floor and by God, Tulo, tried to climb on her lap. I thought it was incredibly ironic...Tulo eight months old, and MC eight months pregnant! And she's a dog lover so she didn't mind a bit! That big guy has hit 90 pounds!!
And speaking of MC, for the past 4 years, The Husband and I have been guests for dinner at her mother's home (my partner in crime). We always feel so at home there; there are no pretenses and it's just so warm and lovely. MC's sister, Katie (who is the Katie who does my hair if you remember and just had baby Margot), made fillets, and after only having turkey on Christmas my whole life, this has been such a great new treat (and being with this close and fun family as well). Sister Nora and Peggy (MC's Mom) make a great salad, mashed potatoes, asparagus and rolls. I made a sweet potato casserole this year. It was all so good. Lots of wine and a good many toasts,
They set a beautiful table. I love when all of the platters of food can be set on the table to be passed. And it was all delicious. A wonderful way to end days of festivities.
I think about the past few days; the time with family, the giving and receiving, the true meaning of Christmas, and I'm enveloped in a warm cocoon. A tired one of course, too. I slept very late this morning and woke up to dishes, empty champagne bottles, gift wrap and that crazy confetti type of tissue (never again!). But for the first time in days I tackled the mess with a sense of nesting, not preparing for company. It was a balmy 50 degrees (Yes! Here in the Midwest!) and I opened up a few windows and the front door and let the sun and fresh air in. No snow so far but I'm sure it will come soon. I was glad to take a break from the pine and cinnamon scented candles, the woody smoke from the fireplace. Everything was in it's place and I laid down on the couch and perused two of the cookbooks I received as gifts. Not much longer after, I jumped up totally energized again and started this beef shank recipe. It only simmers for five hours, so The Husband, Abby, Tom and I ordered Mexican. This pot of deliciousness will be done in about three hours and we will have it tomorrow night with mashed potatoes and a nice salad. Things are somewhat normal again.
I'm working on a Year In Review post. I had good intentions last year and then succumbed to tiredness (laziness?). A bit of hard work but so worth it for ourselves. And I have a few day of delightful nothing!!
I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas!