This year was a little different from previous years since I'm married now. Instead of Elle and I going our separate ways and being apart for four or five days, I split time in Cleveland and Memphis (since she was in Cleveland for Turkey Day). I didn't feel right not going home since my mother's bday is on Christmas day. So, I flew home first thing on the 23rd and spent the day with my mom. A few highlights:
-This is how I started out. We only left 40 minutes late, which makes me very lucky, but it was definitely a bad omen for the rest of the Christmas travelers:
- My sister bought me a Calvin Klein giftcard a year ago not realizing that you could only spend it at the outlets. Well, outlets aren't that convenient without a car living in Chicago. Since I arrived in Cleveland at like 8:30 AM, my mom and I drove straight to Aurora Farms and i used that gift card like SNAP. It was good, I got a bunch of good undershirts and a black skinny tie that I badly needed. It was practically xmas before xmas.
- As you may know, we have a variety of wildlife populating our back yard. Well, it wasn't deer this time, it was gigantic squirrels. These things were HUGE thanks to their winter stashing:
- For my mom's birthday, we gave her the royal treatment on the 23rd. We picked her up in a limo, went out for steaks and drinks for dinner, and topped it off with the Rockettes show downtown. It was AWESOME. Even better, an ice storm moved in during dinner and since we had the limo all night, we didn't have to worry about any of it. I dressed up super fancy since I'll take any excuse to:
- That night I decided to sleep at my sister's place because my brother had been staying there. All us kids got to hang out and drink a little more. I passed out on the couch for the night, but luckily woke up to this:
- Christmas Eve was much more tame. My brother and his kids came over for dinner, which was my mother's amazing lasagna. Highlights of the night? First, my brother brought along Kona, his awesome black lab, who I hung out with all night. Second, Braeden, my nephew. This kid is pretty bright for a two year old. He was placing pieces of lasagna into this water bottle like it was no problem. The kid is two! Should his motor skills be this advanced?
- Christmas Day started out not so great. I got to the airport at 6am for my flight, and it ended up being delayed for about two hours. Sitting in the airport on Christmas morning is not cool. I caught up on some reading and listened to music. Once I got to Memphis it was AWESOME. Elle's whole family gave me the greatest away from home Christmas I could imagine, complete with hot toddy's and lots of presents. I was pretty tired all day, so no pictures from that day.
- Day after Christmas was cool. Went to an NA meeting with Elle's sister, which was pretty powerful. Really gives you good insight into everything addicts go through. Honestly, I don't think I could do it.
- Volunteered to make dinner that night. It turned into an all afternoon/night affair, but went over well. I got a new book from my mom, so I cooked almost straight from it. Here's the hits:
1. Tyler Florence's garlic bread recipe is AWESOME. Take a loaf of bread, cut strips into it without cutting all the way through. Food process a stick of butter, six cloves garlic, half bunch basil, and quarter cup of parmesean cheese until well blended. Spread it through the bread, then bake at 325 for 30 minutes. This stuff was just unreal. And way too easy.
2. Rosemary-Garlic Mozzarella Balls with Roasted Cherry Tomato Dipping Sauce - Like really really really really really good cheese sticks. Alexgood was a lot of help with these.
3. Veal Piccata with Lemon, Capers, and Parsley-Butter Sauce - I overcooked the veal just a little bit, but I thought it was a success overall. The hardest part? Cooking for 8 instead of 2.
4. I also made some amaretto brownies, but the pan I cooked them in wasn't big enough so I ended up with a really dry top that we pretty much picked off in one piece. They were still pretty good, but pictures were not flattering at all. I'll make them again someday.
- Another great part about Memphis: the dogs. I don't have any pictures of Monty, but Moe is pretty much the greatest dog ever. If I had the time and space to properly train one, I'd get a pit bull right away. How can you not love this beautiful sweet dog?
When I show up in Germantown, the first thing this dog wants to do is play rope toy with me. And it does not stop until I leave. This is 10 minutes before we left for the airport ride home. And it's like 6 in the morning. Limitless energy.
All in all, it was a good holiday. Wasn't as relaxing as I might have hoped, but I think that had to do more with the traveling than the people. Getting on a plane every two days is exhausting, but it was all worth it.