Monday, January 6, 2014

life lately: Christmas break edition

I've only been gone for two weeks, but it feels like an eternity! As I write this, I have over 100 posts to catch up in Bloglovin and almost as many blog comments to respond to (Mission since accomplished!). I feel bad because I miss my friends, but not too bad because life away from a computer screen has been lovely! This year, I really let December get the best of me - I got stressed out by work and obligations and didn't get to enjoy the season until it was almost over. And those days of enjoying it? Completely heavenly. So next year, I want to start Christmas shopping October 1st. Wrap gifts weeks in advance so I can enjoy how pretty they look under the tree, rather than wrapping them hours before they are opened. I think getting those knocked off my to-do list will give me lots more time to enjoy the season.

So, since no one wants to read a play-by-play of everything I've done for the past two weeks, how about some (long) bullet points instead?

Burgers at The Shack - Five Napkin Burger, onion strings, and Cooter Jack Burger | Bauer demonstrating how we lounge in this house | Being ridiculous with a bow on Christmas | Christmas Eve breakfast at Pecan Creek Grill

- I saw American Hustle and while I wanted to like it,  I just didn't. Maybe upon second viewing, I would like it more. It's one of those movies that once you know the ending, looking for clues the second time around could make it much better. Jennifer Lawrence's character was great, though.

- Went to my 45th restaurant on the Top 100 in Houston - The Shack Burgers. They opened up a new toll road near my house that is free until February, so it made travel to this part of town really easy. The atmosphere of this place was really cool - it was a series of open-air buildings with a fire pit and probably an area for kids to play. It would probably be great to go to on a pretty spring day, but Andrew and I decided to go on a whim in the middle of a rain storm that blew in a cool front, so we were cold the whole time. The beer list was extensive, and the burgers went beyond the normal offerings. We will definitely go again, but it wasn't so OMG amazing that it will be in the regular rotation due to how out of the way it is.

- Since we travelled on Christmas day, we started our own tradition on Christmas Eve. We opened our stockings on Christmas Eve Eve before bed and then got up Christmas Eve morning and exchanged gifts. Then we went to our favorite breakfast place. It was a fun way to celebrate just the two of us and even if we aren't traveling next year, I would love to keep Christmas Eve Breakfast a tradition!

- Santa was very good to me. A "this is what I got" post doesn't seem interesting to me, but I do want to brag about the creativity of my family. My mom's family (about 20 of us this year) draws names, but those of us who want to usually give a small gift to each couple or individual. Andrew and I made Mexican Chocolate Marshmallows, which were a huge hit. My aunt, who is the craftiest person I know, embossed covers for purse-sized calendars that are completely gorgeous and even made gift bags to put them in (I didn't realize they were homemade at first - they were perfect!). She also gave each couple a handmade ornament. My cousin and her husband are both artists; they made, fired, and glazed pots for each couple and put a tiny cactus from clippings off of their plants in each. Another cousin's wife got glass ball ornaments and wrote each family's last name on them with each person in the house's name and filled them with feathers. It was so simple yet so thoughtful. I need to up my homemade gift game for next year for sure.

The ornament from my aunt | Pot and Plant | Homemade bag with calendar (forgot to take a pic of the other ornament, oops).

- If you follow me via social media, then you already know that I spent the holidays with Andrew's family in Delaware and New York City. Our visit was interesting, to say the least. I think that can all go in its own post.

- We came back home on New Year's Eve. For the first year ever, I wanted to do things but I was tired and the cat missed us so much. Seriously, he didn't leave our sides and was so snuggly and cute. Also, he was terrified of the fireworks sounds. There were a few drunk driving deaths reported in Houston the next morning, so as lame as I felt, it was way better to be safe at home then out on the roads with the crazies!

- Through work, I got to know a woman who hosts a huge New Year's Day Open House every year. I have heard about this and was thrilled to be invited. Her home is in a beautiful neighborhood and our Honda was out of place next to the Bentley at the valet stand (yeah, valet stand in the driveway...). There was a professional photographer taking pics as you walked in and giving them to you as you left (ours was awful), a strolling magician, tarot card reader, caricature artist, life-sized puppets, a band, a coffee bar with latte art, and of course a bar. The food was amazing too: crab claws, a risotto station, bananas foster, qual, ribs, baked potatoes.... it was unlike anything I have ever seen! There was even a party favor of two Godiva chocolates as we walked out. Basically, I think I should rethink my life choices because I would love to host a party like that (and invite all my blog friends, obviously).

- I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street, which I loved! I normally hate long movies, but this one kept me entertained the entire time. The scene at the country club? I'm still laughing. Leo deserves an Oscar nomination for this one!

So, that was it in a nutshell. Going back to work today is going to be rough. Wish me luck!


  1. Your family is such (are such?) creative gift givers, wow!! and umm that New Years Day party? That's insane and awesome, sounded like an awesome time!

  2. If you hosted a blogger party like that I would so be there!

    I'm glad you had a wonderful time, and I can't wait to read your NYC post.

  3. TWOWS was much funnier than I thought it would be.

    Your family has mad skills! It's like all the creativity and artiness settled down into that side's genes.

  4. glad you had a great time!!

    and i'm at home for one more day which is awesome even though i still have to work but at least i don't have to battle traffic! and it was hideous today!

    Vodka and Soda

  5. i think i still need to see american hustle even if it is just to see my girl Jennifer.

  6. Those homemade gifts are so cute! How cool to make and glaze your own pots? Thanks for the tip on American Hustle, you're the second person to say they didn't like it. It's sweet that you had your own private Christmas moments. That sounds like a fun tradition you should carry on :)

  7. So impressed with your family and all their craft gifts! Glad you had a great time on vacation. Glad you are back though!

  8. I love crafty gifts. My sisters and I did it this year for the first time, and I hope we continue! That blue pot with the cactus - Love the color!! That party sounds amazing! What fun on NY day! Glad you're back! Happy 2014!

  9. I definitely feel like I, too took too long to celebrate the season, but once I did, I loved how I checked out. It was needed! I really want to see The Wolf of Wall Street.

  10. Those gifts rock! I love the embossed calendar! So creative! And I am super jealous of your time in NYC! I've always wanted to go there during the Christmas season!

  11. I was exhausted just reading about all the things you've been up to, I can't imagine the kind of relaxation you need after that December, ha! But it seems like you had a blast.


  12. I hated American Hustle. Wanted to walk out of it... which shocked me since it had such great reviews. Go figure. I finally saw Gravity this weekend, it was pretty good but I didn't think it was as awesome as everyone was saying. Geez, critics.

    Love the pic of you with the bow on your head. And glad you had a good Christmas season!

  13. Join the lame NYE old folks crowd :)

    I was planning on seeing American Hustle this weekend. Now i am second guessing…

  14. Glad you're back so we can chat again!! I love the Christmas Eve with just the two of y'all. And wow your family is super creative. I love the cactus! I really really need to get out and see a movie! Haven't gone to the theater since :)

  15. Your break sounds lovely! I heard American Hustle was boring -- I'm guessing you enjoyed it a bit more than that? I'm glad you really liked Wolf on Wall Street because I want to see it too! David and I saw Frozen (a friend's request) and it turned out to be pretty good. Olaf the snowman is so freaking cute. We also saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and David and I enjoyed that one -- quite inspirational!

    That New Year's Day Open House sounds uh-mazing!

  16. Lounging kitty is the best picture I've seen all day, hahaha!
    I want to see American Hustle and I'm not ashamed to tell you that I'm more excited for Jennifer Lawrence being in it than I am for Bradley Cooper. That geri curl... blech!

  17. Sometimes its good to step away from the computer. We had no wifi at our hotel when we went skiing which stressed me out at first but then it became nice to be disconnected.

    You saw 2 movies I've been wanting to see! I've heard good things about American Hustle so bummed you didn't like it. Wolf of Wall St is def on my list too. Need to get to a theater!

    Thanks for linking up and Happy New Year :)

  18. The journal is fantastic!
    I want to see American Hustle but I saw Inside Llewyn Davis and I can't tell if I liked the movie or not but I feel I need to see it again. Either way, I bought the soundtrack from Starbucks so now everyone is annoyed that I like this folk music.
    Good luck with Christmas shopping in October! That sounds fantastic in theory.

  19. A lot happened while you were away!!! I want to see American Hustler...I really like Lawrence! I bet spending Christmas in NY was magical!!!!

  20. oh and PS that picture of Bauer totally has me cracking up lol


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