Dec 102013
 

While my weekend started off not so great, with Bella getting injured, some of the weekend was actually great! Saturday I got up early to go to this kettlebell gym I’ve been trying out (more on that later), then came home to make my potluck dish and we headed out for my family Christmas party. It was at my aunt’s house in Troutdale this year. It was also my grandmother’s 92nd birthday!

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As usual there was a TON of food there. Someone had made my grandpa’s awesome garlic dip, I made a brussels sprout salad, and Michael made his famous mac n’ cheese. There were so many things to snack on it was hard not to just graze all afternoon long.

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There was also plenty to drink too! Lots of wine to choose from. I stuck with water for most of the afternoon and then finally had some. My aunt also brought out a bottle of her AMAZING eggnog, affectionately named Gregnog after my cousin who had way too much of it a long long time ago. My aunt keeps her recipe secret and I would LOVE to have it! It’s the best eggnog I’ve ever had, and it is potent! One small glass is usually enough for most people.

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Yum yum yum! Gregnog! Lots of family came from all over –a bunch from Washington, Texas, Oregon and Wyoming. It was so good to see family I hadn’t seen since this summer (and a few since last Christmas). There was also a lot of shenanigans and photo-bombing this year.

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The group was a little smaller this year as many family members couldn’t make it. (One cousin is graduating from medical school next weekend, the other is in the Army and my brother and his wife are too far away to visit.) It would have been nice if we could all be together. After it got dark we had a visitor.

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A friend of the family that has always played Santa paid us a visit and especially came for Grandma! She got an extra special present for her birthday:

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I love that picture of grandma! Haha! And I also love that even though all the little kids are old enough now to know the truth, they all still play along. Everyone is a good sport. It’s kind of my favorite part of the Christmas party. The kids sang a Christmas song with Santa and then he was on his way. A little while later, mysteriously our friend Randy showed up just in time for dinner. ;)

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Dinner was GOOD. It’s always good, but my uncle Pete is the master of the BBQ. He grilled and cooked a prime rib and a pork for three hours out in the frigid air and created an amazing dinner. I had the pork and it was perfect; couldn’t have been better. There was the mac n’ cheese, my salad, a caesar salad, crusty french bread and two different kinds of potato casseroles. My aunt also brought some of her homemade pickled beans which were so spicy and delicious. She said the secret to pickling beans is to add grape leaves in the jar because it makes them crunchy instead of mushy. Good tip.

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My plate was packed with a little bit of everything:

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Melt in your mouth soft meat and full of flavor. Of course there was also dessert–my aunt made cupcakes from scratch. The mini cupcakes were vanilla with marshmallow in the center–kind of like a twinkie. She also made some larger once with caramel in the center but I was way too full to even try it. There was a German Chocolate cake and some Christmas cookies, too. As you can imagine, temptation was all around.

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After everyone ate and was in a proper food coma, we did the white elephant gift exchange. My uncle Mike is usually the one that coordinates it but he wasn’t here this year. My cousin Greg did the honors. I brought a super awesome gift–a handmade artsy flask with a cool looking octopus on it. It was very popular and stolen a few times.  My cousin Anna got it (then it was stolen a few times and ended up going home with my uncle).

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Pretty cool looking, huh? Well my cousin Adam outdid me. The gift Michael picked under the tree ended up being a flask as well. Check it out:

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Yes that flask is three times the size of a normal flask AND it’s furry. The outside is made of some kind of animal skin!! It was a pretty funny moment. I was first to pick and got a zombie survival kit–complete with a guide, a Swiss Army knife, a lighter, a mini bottle of whiskey and a box of twinkies. But since I was first I got to pick something else at the very end. I went home with a gift pack of gourmet hot cocoa mix, cookies, a bottle of nice Oregon wine and a jar of Nutella. I’ll be honest, it was the Nutella that made me pick that gift. :)

After the gift exchange Michael and I left. We had to get home to let Bella out of her crate and give her the puppy medicine for the night. While we were gone our dog walker came over and let her out, played with her a bit and fed her dinner. It was nice because we were gone so long and I worried about her since she wasn’t feeling well. I’m really grateful that our dog walker lives so close and really loves Bella! I wish we could have stayed longer at the party but, you know how it is! Got to get the kids to bed!  ;)

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Dec 022013
 

I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Of course, because of the FOOD. My favorite Thanksgiving staple is the stuffing. That’s the best part for me and honestly, the rest of the meal is just okay–I could happily just eat stuffing. ;)

I slept in this year, instead of setting an alarm and racing to the gym to beat the massive crowds–so many people that there is no where to workout and no where to park…in the past it’s been more of an annoyance than anything. This year I got up when I felt like it and I think I missed the crowd! I got to the gym around 10:30 and while it was still busy, it wasn’t bad. I did a modified weight lifting routine–my lower back has been bothering me lately (I think it’s our mattress) and then did .75 miles on the elliptical and .75 miles on the treadmill. That was all the cardio I really wanted to do.

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My calorie burn was pretty good! I was happy that that would counter-act some of the calories I was going to eat later. ;) But honestly, as the years go by and I maintain my weight loss, the pressure to not gain weight from Thanksgiving has gone away. I eat whatever I want and I don’t really gain weight (that is, I don’t gain back 100 pounds) in one meal and I enjoy the food. So why stress?

This year was a little different because we had Bella. I didn’t really want to bring Bella to Michael’s mom’s house because there wasn’t really a place to put her, but the idea of having her sit in her crate all day long sucked too. So we brought her over and set her up on the deck with some toys and her dog bed. She would have been okay but she didn’t really get a chance to settle down.She was barking a little due to some separation anxiety but was starting to calm down when a neighbor complained that she was barking so we put her in the car. Not ideal. Poor Bella. :(

Michael’s mom asked us to come over early to help her set up her Christmas tree decorations in preparation for the charity event she hosts the next day. She does this every year and as such, she’s not a fan of doing Thanksgiving. I don’t blame her. The amount of work that goes into that one meals is enough to make anyone dread it! That’s why I like potluck style!

Anyways, this year Michael’s stepbrother ordered the complete meal from Zupan’s, a nice grocery store here in Portland–kind of like a Whole Foods. He picked it all up and everything was cooked, it just needed to be reheated. While we waited for Doug to arrive, we decorated the tree and admired the new kitchen remodel which is gorgeous! 

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They had some really tasty local wines. When Doug arrived the turkey took about an hour to reheat in the oven. While that was happening, the Brussels sprouts were warmed up on the stove, Michael’s stepsister chopped up sweet potatoes and baked those and also heated up Michael’s mom’s homemade cornbread stuffing.

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The complete meal also came with rolls and mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing. The stuffing was AWESOME–so good!!! The mashed potatoes were ok. I like my mom’s better. :)

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The turkey was gorgeous and perfectly cooked. It was golden on the outside, juicy on the inside. It was really impressive. Michael said the only thing he wished was different was salt and pepper seasoning on the outside skin would have been nice. The cranberry sauce and gravy that came with it all was outstanding. Seriously, this meal couldn’t have been better. Everything was so tasty. I was impressed by Zupan’s!

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I had a little bit of everything and A LOT of stuffing. YUM! I started out practicing moderation and ended up eating way more than I usually do. To the point of having a bit of a stomach ache. But man everything was so tasty!

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After pie Michael and I headed home and Bella was happy to be reunited with us. The three of us cuddled on the couch and watched a movie. Then Bella fell asleep on the floor by our feet and Fat Kitty came out! Into the living room! I saw him sneak into the living room and look for Bella, walk around cautiously to see if he could make it to the couch without her seeing him. He realized she was asleep and made a bee-line to the couch. He cuddled with us on the couch for the first time in almost two months! It was a Thanksgiving MIRACLE! :)

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