Different Kind of Merry

How is everyone holding up for the holidays? Has it been rough? Easy? No different than usual holidays?

Our Christmas was ok. Very very low key compared to last year. Last year we hosted a big Christmas in our new house. My parents came down from Seattle and stayed with us for a few days. We hosted Christmas dinner with Michael’s family, too, and I think there were maybe 15 of us? It was crazy and loud and wonderful.

This year? Chill. Lazy.

Christmas Eve some friends dropped off homemade eggnog (it was nuclear LOL) and Michael and I watched Happiest Season after kiddo went to sleep. Then we put all the presents out. 🙂

Christmas morning we got up at 6am (of course!) and opened presents!

Logan was ECSTATIC! He got a bunch of Star Wars, Dinosaur and Baby Yoda themed gifts. We got him a bunch of books, activity books, a spelling puzzle (that he loves).

My parents got him some games, Star Wars sheets. Santa got him a big race track for his cars (which he asked for when he wrote to Santa). My gifts had a theme: self-care. 🙂 Lots of bath stuff, which is amazing. <3

After lunch and a nap for Logan, we went to Michael’s mom’s house to just exchange gifts. Wish we could have stayed and hung out.

By the time we got home and opened the second round of presents, Michael and I did not feel up to doing a big Christmas dinner thing like we’d planned so we decided to do it the next night and instead had grilled cheese sandwiches. 😀 Delicious!

So Saturday night we made the dinner we planned to do for Christmas:

Lamb Chops with Garlic and Herbs

Green Beans with Pickled Shallots and Breadcrumbs

And I made couscous. Everything was delicious, although the couscous was a little bland–even using spices! Next time I will cook it in chicken broth instead of water. And maybe add some nuts and raisins to the couscous, too.

The lamb, however, turned out great. It was the first time we’ve done lamb. I usually just order it if we go to Middle Eastern restaurants. It was melt-in-your mouth tender and I loved the flavor.

The greens beans turned out great, too. I cooked them in the cast iron skillet we used to cook the lamb so it had the extra juices and seasoning in addition to the salt, pepper and butter I used to cook the beans. I loved the pickled shallots on top but Michael thought they were a little strong. I don’t think the green bean recipe needed the breadcrumbs on top at all, so I’d skip that next time.

Saturday I spent the day on and off packing up and organizing Christmas decorations. I usually leave everything up until New Year’s Eve and then take everything down then but I was just kind of over it all. I hope next year we can all be with our families again and have a big celebration!

After Christmas Hike

This post has a bit of jumping around in it! Christmas Eve I got off work a little bit early (thanks to my very awesome boss). I got to my car and realized I had a low tire–on the way of becoming a flat tire. Blasted! Poor timing. I drove to Les Schwab and they were just closing up shop. Damn! But the guy there took one look at my tire and said it was a flat and he fixed it. It took him like 10 minutes, tops, and didn’t charge me anything. When I asked he just shrugged and said “Merry Christmas” and gave me a hug. I was SO grateful that he fixed my tire and I didn’t get stranded somewhere when everything was closed. I have always had fantastic experiences with Les Schwab and will always take my business there.

Look what I came home to!

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Aren’t they gorgeous? Anyways, Michael and I took Bella for a walk, got dumped on by sudden rain, and then had a quick dinner before our friends were coming over for the traditional Christmas movie and popcorn night! Last year we watched Die Hard. This year we watched The Ref and part of Scrooged. 😉

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Our friends Erika and Charles came over. We had some yummy drinks (they had beer, I had eggnog!) and we had popcorn while we watched the movies. I love The Ref. Bella snuggled on the couch with them. It was pretty cute.

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It was great to spend time with them! I wonder what we should watch next year…

The day after Christmas Michael, Bella and I went for a hike in Forest Park. Forest Park/Washington Park is a humongous park in the middle of the city and there are so many trails you could never do them all! I wanted to do something in town as opposed to driving out to the Gorge. I chose Tolinda Ridge Trail Loop. It was out near St. Helens and the trailhead was super easy to find (just off Germantown Road). There was a small parking lot and we got a spot.

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The trail started out with a very steep incline. There was even a spot with “stairs” made out of tree roots.

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The rain lately had sogged the trail pretty badly but it was manageable. It leveled off a little bit while we hiked away from the road.

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The Tolinda trail itself wasn’t very long. It was steep and almost all uphill. We tromped through the mud and the old growth forest, and then came to a fork in the trail. It wasn’t labeled. One way lead to another trail (I’m guessing the Ridge trail) and the other way went to the Leif Erickson parking lot. We decided to go that way because I knew that there would be other trails to pick up at that parking lot. We hiked through the paved (yet still muddy) part of this trail and came across a lot of families out hiking.

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Bella did SO GOOD! I think this is the first hike we’ve done this winter. It was just another reminder that she’s getting grown up. She didn’t seem bothered by any of the strangers we came across, wasn’t scared of the little kids she met and even seemed curious. Most of the dogs we came across didn’t bother her and she didn’t bark (except for one dog that was a little yappy).

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There were a bunch of families hiking, there were a few different trail runners and we came across a few mountain bikers, too. It was a popular stretch of the park. We came across about a dozen Christmas ornaments! It was such a nice, festive surprise.

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We got to the parking lot and found the Cannon Trail. According to the sign, it was a new trail. It was another steep one and we wound through the forest on a nice trail. It was very nice, quiet trail.

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We hiked for a little while longer and came to another parking lot off-shoot and then another steep part of the trail. We decided to turn around and head back. I was doing pretty well, but my left knee had bugged me a little bit on parts of the hike. Not too bad, not enough to not hike, but I didn’t want to get too far away from the car either. My right hip also bugged me a little at one part of the trail–which was weird because I rarely have hip issues. Who knows. Maybe it was the steepness of the trail, maybe I was walking weird, maybe I’m just out of practice hiking.

We hiked back through the forest and got the Tolinda Trail again. It was all downhill from there and we finally made it back to the car. I was covered in mud up to my knees! We did about 3.75 miles in just under 2 hours. I burned 477 calories:

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Bella was absolutely filthy. (She got a bath when we got home!) It felt fantastic to get home, take a warm shower and then get into clean clothes.

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I did a little after-Christmas clearance shopping and then we had spaghetti squash for dinner. I bake the spaghetti squash for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. I season them with grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and the Costco non-salt seasoning. It’s delicious. I love how healthy the spaghetti squash is without the pasta guilt after. I added some turkey meatballs to the sauce, topped with fresh parmesan.

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Good, healthy, filling. Sadly, Michael ended up getting a head cold Friday night and was sick the rest of the weekend. We didn’t end up doing much the rest of the weekend but I did get a lot of stuff done around the house. Let’s hope he’s better by New Year’s!