How I Spent Christmas


Our family loves Christmas. Like for real. 

We have a forest of Christmas trees that are set-up each year.... and each come with their very own theme. Its for real yo.

Christmas for us also means.... sweatpants, snuggling in front of the fire, Netflix, and any other word that emits extreme casual. While I respect people that put on blazers and tights for dinner, I fundamentally don't get it. Why wouldn't you want an elastic waistband? Why wouldn't you want to be gently covered in blankets on the couch? Please note, that if for some reason you ever invite me to your family occasion and you get "dressed up"... I will too and happily. Don't worry.

Christmas this year was pretty awesome. Not to make it all about me, but I got some gifts that were crazy thoughtful slash funny slash true to my character. But since, I already have my gifts packed up for my return to the North End that'll be a whole other post because it's worth it. Instead, I'll share some snaps on how we spent the day cause it was a pretty great day.

Mass with the Family
Note: I got reprimanded by the lady next to me for laughing in church. I'm not making this up. It was like out of the movies. The thing was I wasn't even laughing. I was just perplexed by the whole word changes that seem to have gone down since I was last at church. It's like they want it to be crazy obvious who doesn't go regularly
Traditional Family Breakfast
We always have a family Christmas breakfast ... and since my aunt lives just a few steps away.... Little Brother and I just longboarded over. Never thought I'd be longboarding in December...
 Moccasins, Jeggings, and a big down coat.... seems pretty great.
 Sitting in front of the fire.... with some stellar breakfast food and a mimosa. The traditional menu items? Sausage egg casserole (so good it hurts... probably my heart... but its... worth.... it) and blueberry french toast.
Present time.
This book was the first present I opened. In the event you are distracted my grandfather and brother in the background.... its an Ansel Adams book on Yosemite .... as in where I took part of my epic California adventure. I don't get emotional but for some reason, I literally started to tear up opening it. How's that for honesty? It's the truth. The minute I saw the cover and knew that I had stood in that exact spot (Tunnel View Day 3 and Day 4) it was oddly surreal.
 Dinner.... and leftovers
The next best thing to wearing sweatpants during a formal meal.... is the leftovers the next day. We had ham and potatoes and veggies for dinner. For breakfast today I chopped and crisped up those taters and tossed is some of the ham. Guess what? It was delicious. I didn't add a single thing to it. Not salt. Not pepper. Nothing.

The other highlight that doesn't have any pictures? I had an amazeballs run after dinner. Like amazeballs. I put on my comfy pants. Loaded up a playlist and hit the road. I took a totally different route than I normally do and it was awesome.... plus it was the furthest I've run (thanks Runkeeper for keeping track).
Confession? I'm thinking about registering for the Hyannis Half Marathon in a few months. I think it'd be great for a few reasons:
(1) It'll keep me motivated for winner running
(2) It'll cross something off my bucket list
(3) It's a coastal run. Come on.... we know I love the ocean!

So we'll see. I'm going to noodle on that for a few days.

Luxurious Christmas


I love me some Christmas. I love me some pancakes.

So naturally, that would lead to Red Velvet pancakes.

I've been itching to do some baking and (slightly) adventurous cooking these last few weeks ... and this morning I did a little bit o that. I have no problem making a bigger dinner for one person and having leftovers ... but the feeling doesn't quite transcend to breakfast foods. I like to make breakfast foods for other people. 

Thus, this morning as Baby Sister and I were in the kitchen enjoying a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen, it was determined that Red Velvet Pancakes would be the best option for ringing in Christmas Eve morning.
I had seen the recipe a few times on Pinterest but decided to take a much easier route towards the fluffy delights. That's right. I cheated. Bisquick baby.

Deciding to go the Bisquick route meant the perfect amount of measuring for someone who doesn't like to measure. I just throw things in a bowl and hope it works out .... thankfully it normally does and it did this time.

End result? Delicious pancakes.... that we fondly referred to as "blood cakes" when they were in the pan. But when they were on the plate.... all covered in syrupy goodness? Most definitely were they the slightly luxurious red velvet pancakes.

Here's the easy way out (slash best way):
  • Basic Bisquick recipe
  • 2 tablespoons-ish of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons-ish of red food coloring
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 teaspooon of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
These will be some awesome pancakes. I don't want to say the best because, well... I don't know where you've been eating breakfast. But, they will be great ... and you will feel oh so fancy.

I highly recommend you also eat them sitting in front of the fire on Christmas Eve... but that is really only possible one day a year.

December Beach Runs


Hi Europe! Looking to the East....

Gorg right?

If you don't think so, then you are crazy.

I got home to my parent's house this morning from my beloved North End. As we were driving back from the train station (which was de-sert-ted btw) I noticed it was a crazy high tide.... which meant that by the time I was ready to go for a run.... it would be .... an .... awesome.... low tide. My favorite.

So after a day of conference calls, couch sitting, coffee drinking, and spontaneous macaroni and cheese making .... I put on my favorite warm running pants, mismatched socks, and brightly colored shirt. I seriously can't get socks to match unless its a threat. It wouldn't be so bad if I chose to wear white socks, but I acquired a 5 pack of crazy bright colors in Pennsylvania awhile back... and as a result I've been known to wear any combo of pink, orange, yellow, green, or blue. True story. I think it adds to my charm.

But, the tide was awesome. I was able to run a fair amount on the beach ... and pretty much only stopped because my ears were a bit cold... although I probably could have stopped due to wet feet since I have a tendency to try and run as close to the water as possible. It's like a game and I really like beating the waves.

So, feel free to enjoy the fruits of my labor (or just a 3 mile run) with these snaps. I'm pretty much never going to get tired of taking them .... its much more fun to look at pictures of the beach on my phone than pictures of whiteboards from the ole work week.
Looking South from Well Rock .... just glorious
Looking North ... can't quite see Minot's Light but I promise you it's there.

2 Italians and 1 Oven


 My apartment is crooked. I knew this. You knew this. 

Hell, I tell everyone about it because I think its charming. Plus, in the event I drop anything that rolls... I know where to look for it. How many people can say that is a feature of their apartment?

Well, I didn't think my beloved crooked apartment would be the reason that my oven stopped working.... but according to the two Italians I had banging on it tonight.... that was the reason. Getting my oven fixed is obviously great, now I can bake to my hearts content. Entertain friends and enemies. I might even explore what all those 1950s dials do on the top on my stove. I think they might be helpful if I was learning to fly a plane, there are that many options.

A few highlights about the experience:
  • "Joe" my landlord told me he'd come by at 4. He came by at 7. He brought another "Super Italian" named Michael. Michael seemed thrown off by my initiated handshake. Is this an Italian thing I don't know about?
  • Michael proceeded to use my floral screwdriver to literally bang around inside the oven. I'm not sure what this accomplished.
  • Michael announces that he needs "wood". Joe goes something like this "I don't have any. What? Let me look in my crystal ball!" Then he looks at me for a laugh. I give it to him. I'm a sucker. Michael then suggests Joe go into the alley for wood. (Yes, the alley). He goes and Michael rolls his eyes at me.
  • The wood appears and its too large. Michael breaks it in half with his foot in the hallway. Who needs the hammer I offered anyway?
  • Oven is fixed! Michael tries to teach me how to use an oven because I apparently look like an idiot. Joe makes me show him that I know how to use it. I oblige.
  • All 3 of us stand in the kitchen like its a game to see who talks next. Joe decides to show off the new wood floors he installed*. So I give them a tour of my beloved apartment. Michael decides the threshold is too weak and shows both of us by jumping on it.
  • Michael notices my iPad (otherwise known as Mr. Darcy) and asks "is that one of those.... uh... you know those things?". I proceed to show him that it is in fact one of those things. Joe interjects that Michael's kids are so destructive that they'd break a crowbar. He looks at me for a laugh. I give it to him (again). I'm too nice.
Yep, that was essentially my Thursday night. You can't make these things up and yet, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

I did "recover" from this experience by making myself a bath and playing Angry Birds in the tub. It seemed appropriate.

**Remember when I moved in and the wood floors were not done.... and there was a saw in the livingroom? Well at that time Joe told me that the person he "hired" got hurt on the job.

Self-Control = Zero


This afternoon I was craving chocolate.

To be more specific, I was craving pretzel rods, dipped in chocolate, with seasonal sprinkles. Is that too specific?

Well, due to some work place constraints (read as... really aggressive powerpoint-ing) I was unable to spend any time tracking down my craving. Besides.... where would I have gone? Starbucks? I don't think they had what I was looking for. So instead, I grabbed a Kitkat from the office snack space.

I figured the Kitkat would be better than the other options... and theoretically since it easily broke into pieces I'd be able to "make it last" a little bit longer. Well, I'm not very good at making things last. I have to trick myself into waiting. I hide things from myself, which can be challenging when its chocolate. I've been known to melt some Easter Eggs by the heat of my laptop... not the best approach.

So, this is how long it took for the kitkat to disappear.

3:47 PM.... 25% gone. No sense in telling you when I opened the kitkat... just know that it was moments before this was taken. 

3:49 PM .... I'll just take a nibble of the 2nd one. That will hold me off. FALSE. This segment didn't stand a chance. It was essentially like a wounded animal. I just picked it off.

3:58 PM.... Ah, as you can see from the cables ... I tried to hide the kitkat behind my computer. Fail. I found it.

4:03 PM... Done.

In doing the math.... the kitkat lasted almost 20 minutes. I find this impressive. Someone with more self-control would probably find that time to be child's play. Well, if you are that person.... go ahead, take pictures of your half eaten kitkat and share them.

My (Current) Vices

Oh Boston. You and your gorgeous night lights are my vice currently.

I'm a little confused by the fact that it hasn't snowed yet - but I'm still loving this weather. Last week I invested in some super warm running pants and even cooler gloves from South End Athletic Company... since then I can't get enough of running outside. Despite how chilly it feels walking home from work, I'm totally compelled to put on these fabulous pants and hit the pavement. Monday night I ran a similar route to Sunday's run .... but this time my iPhone battery didn't die ... and I was able to take more pictures of Christmas lights. Win and Win. Feel free to mark running and Christmas lights down as vices ... in the event you are keeping track, which you should be.

Christopher Columbus Park ....
The lights on the delightful tree in Paul Revere Park

Oh, and one more thing. I heard a delicious cooking tip this weekend... that sounds "special" to start but it clearly quite delicious. Wrap your hot dog in bacon. Yes, exactly. It was awesome. I also recommend pairing that with the culinary wonder of Kraft Mac & Cheese. It won't disappoint.

I know you are probably thinking, "Dear God Woman, are you trying to kill your heart?" And the answer would be no ... but thankfully I did just get a full blood workup done and I can say rather definitively that I'm doing just fine despite my impressive intake of bacon related products.

Bits of My Weekend


As I write this I'm tucked into my cozy bed, gazing at my Christmas tree and finishing a glass of red wine. Oh, and I'm interwebing to some Spotify-ied Christmas Jazz music. Can't beat this.

Whenever the weekend approaches, I make a list of all the things I want / need to accomplish before I turn back into a pumpkin and its Monday morning. This weekend, I made the list ... and accomplished very little. It was a perfect weekend of walks / runs / socializing / Netflix.

So here are a few snaps to fill in the gaps....

[1] On Friday, Baby Sister and I grabbed some quick appetizers after work in the North End. The food was "fine" ... but given the amount that we ordered you would think we were feeding more than two people. We ordered fried artichokes, Tomato/Mozzarella, and Bruschetta. Don't worry, we took most of it home.
[2] On Saturday, I found myself in a free hot chocolate line on Newbury Street. Thanks Timberland! Plus, I got a fabulous haircut. Normally, I walk away from haircuts traumatized.... but this was a pretty baller / awesome experience. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Tom Brady also gets his haircut at Pini Swissa.
[3] [4] Relaxing awesome runs. Saturday running by the Constitution. Sunday running to Southie... but seeing all the glorious lights along the way. 
[5] Emptying my candy jar looking for more Mr. Goodbars. Seriously, why can't I buy a whole bag of the mini ones? It's all I want... and I have clearly finished all the ones that I had.
[6] [7] Relaxing daytime activities. Enjoying my Christmas decorations .... and unpacking a box of prized possessions. Sweatpants of course.

My run today was so great, despite the seriously cold weather. In the event there was any doubt about wether or not I'm an ocean lady, I ran along the Harbor for most of my run tonight. It was so great - although my perpensity for thinking that I'm seeing a seal .... is greatly increased at night. Slight downside. I actually even ran up to the Boston Aquarium tonight and thought about checking out that seal / otter / "whatever it is" tank they have out front... but then I realized the water would be dark and I really didn't want to be peering into dark water and have a seal pop at my face. I'd most certainly lose my cool... and since it was already crazy cold, that seemed like a bad idea.

Weekend Discoveries? Vito's Tavern for drinks on Saturday night. North End Nails for relaxation on Sunday afternoon. "Arrested Development" on Netflix... how have I not watched this show before? Seriously.

What Makes You Tick?


 overlooking the Pacific Ocean.... driving Route 1..... gorg.

Have you ever thought about makes you happy?

I was on my flight back from Phoenix last night and had some time to kill. It's not a short flight. I had already watched three episodes of Golden Girls, fought "Angry Birds" for awhile, and watched Friends with Benefits the movie.

I've always been a list maker (um, hi bucket list) and the "who am I?" page is probably the closest I ever came to making a list of what makes me tick. I was thinking that despite how busy I had been recently, I felt really and truly happy. Being the analytical person that I am, I tried to figure out what it was that had changed. I couldn't really ... But that was in part because I decided to make a list of all the things that made me happy. In an effort to keep the list focused and without a lot of thought, I set a 2 minute timer.

Here is my list....

Iced coffee
The water
Text messages
Email history
Landing at airports
Email confirmations
Farmers markets
Taking pictures
Looking at pictures
Cutting the lawn
Rinsing off seashells
Curling up in my bed
Waking up to the sun
Holding a coffee mug with two hands
Linking arms
Walking in sync
Standing at the top of a hill
Fixing something

No real "point" to this .... but I think it was an interesting point of reflection.

I wonder how many of these I do in an average week...

Bath Time


Despite my serious and growing love of the North End, I do not love my bathroom. The fan is loud and the tiles are an unattractive shade of pink. But the real issue is that I seem to only get enough hot water for a quick-ish shower. Which is fine if that's all you need.... but I'm a lady. A lady who would love a longer, hotter shower after a long day or a chilly run. 

SO. Despite the slight inconvenience of coming to Phoenix for what amounts to be like 28 hours, I am taking full advantage of the "better than my apartment" bathtub. If you'd like to do the math, I will have been checked-in to my hotel for about 13 hours .... and taken two bubble baths.

Excessive? No. The word you are looking for is Awesome. 

After a team dinner last night, I made myself a nice hot, bubbly bath. I set up the glorious Spotify "Serenity" mix that my sister made for me. I made myself a cup of Earl Grey tea.... and climbed right into that sucker of a tub. It was awesome.

How awesome? So great, that I did it all again this morning before going to work. Except this time with coffee and a copy of the newspaper. And, yes.... I did fill the tub to the very brim. I like to live on the edge.

Lovin' on Christmas


Last night I fell asleep with my Christmas tree lights on .... on purpose. 

I'm all for saving electricty but I just enjoyed gazing over at my tree from my crazy comfortable bed .... and trying to forget that I had to be up at 4:30 in the morning.

I've been really busy falling in love with the North End recently. As someone who moved here reluctantly, I can't imagine living anywhere else. Yes, its a huge selling point that my sister lives next door... but I just totally love everything that this place has. Including, my apartment. This weekend Baby Sister and I had our first annual Sisterly Christmas Party and it was awesome. There isn't much you can complain about when you get a whole bunch of your friends and family in one room and serve them a festive punch (drink, not a hit to the face).

If the Christmas tree in my bedroom doesn't make your little Christmas heart go pitter patter, then maybe this one will.

I've been running a fair amount in the North End and loving it. Last week the weather was still so great that I could go for a run in the lovely light rain. My main method of precipitation protection? A blaze orange baseball hat. The awesome hat proved detrimental however.... because just as I was starting out on my run I quite literally ran into someone. Not walked. Ran. So, it was clearly of interest to this young fella to point me out to his friend later on in my run. I'm just thankful he wasn't elderly .... otherwise we'd have a broken hip on our hands.

Goal for the rest of the week? Invest in some cool weather running clothes. I'm rather addicted to running in Christmas lights ... and fundamentally I'd rather not get pneumonia.

What? I've been busy.


I haven't blogged in awhile. Don't be mad. I've just been super busy.

It's been a whirlwind of a week.

Remember last week when I posted those great pictures of me walking to work through the park? Well, this week I'm in Phoenix. I can walk to the client for sure (in gorgeous weather no less) but I did have to fly to get here. Boo! Spoiler alert? Phoenix is further than I thought. It was a 6 hr flight. Who knew? Not me.

So what's happened in the last week? I got put on a really great project team at work. I don't like to talk about work here (on the blog) but I'm really excited about this opportunity because what I'm participating in is like the essence of what my new company does. I've wanted to be close to the "source of innovation" and this is pretty much it. 

Other things? We had a really great Thanksgiving at home. I wore elastic banded pants the entire time. Holla for leggings! We took some great walks to the beach, snuggled in front of the fire, and drank endless pots of coffee. I wanted to do some baking but never really got around to it. Driving to the grocery store was much less enticing than watching Friends DVDs on repeat. 

I also made some significant changes to my lovely new apartment. Can I still call it new? I've technically been living there since mid-October. I brought up two new chairs .... and two Christmas trees. That makes sense right? It's a one bedroom apartment with two trees. But seriously, it was great. Is there anything better than having a few friends over for Sunday dinner and decorating a tree? I'll answer that for you. No, there isn't. 
We feasted on some pasta. But not just pasta....I sauteed some garlic, crisped up some prosciutto, and tossed in some big meatballs .... oh and there was fresh bread. One more point for the North End! 

Stay tuned for more tales about my "alive" Christmas tree ... Baby Sister and I fully documented the excursion so perhaps they'll be a post about that this week.
In the meantime, this is what Phoenix looks like (through a dirty hotel window)... tonight we are going to an English pub ... and tomorrow a Blues Bar. This might be the most social I've been at work in years. In the event that doesn't put me into shock, perhaps the fact that this is the first time in forever that I won't have stayed at a Hilton. 

Lovely Start


You know when you walk away from a weekend just feeling hella productive? That's pretty much how I felt falling asleep last night. Maybe I'll write a post on that at some point today. Not having internet at my house yet is proving to be both productive and unproductive at the same time.

This morning I didn't have to be work until 10 am - which was incredible. So instead of wasting my morning in front of The Today Show (sorry Matt Lauer.... but I gain little intellectual knowledge from you), I actually went for a run. Seriously. If you've ever read this blog before, you know that I love to run by the ocean ... and thankfully the North End is on the water. So this is what I ran past today:

A bit chilly but remarkable none the less. I loved it and felt super productive all before 8 am.

Another great part of today? I get to walk to work now. Its about a 2 mile walk from my house to my office - or 30ish minutes. I'm sure there are a lot of people that like to hop on the T but for someone who has spent the last year plus on planes, trains, and lugging suitcases around.... I walked. 

What can you really complain about when you start your day with a cup of coffee, see the water (and some super historical sites) on a morning run, and walk through the public garden on the way to work?
Answer: Not much.

Bonus Picture:
Meghan convinced me last week in a wine haze that I should have a real Christmas tree this year. I've had fake ones for years. So I impulse bought a tree stand via the Amazon app on my phone... in a bar. Part of her selling point went something like this "you live in the North End! Don't you want to buy your Christmas tree from some guy on the corner?!?". I doubted her a bit, but turns out she was right.

Wine, Cheese, and America


Are you tired of seeing pictures of America yet?

I sure hope not. I've really enjoyed Instagram-ing the hell out of this place. Yesterday was my last night in DC and true to form, Meghan did not disappoint. Knowing my love of cheese, white, and the night sky she pulled together an easy and great "night on the town".
We met up for dinner at Sonoma on (or maybe just near?) Capitol Hill. I've gotten really great at navigating the Metro so it was no challenge to get there from Arlington. The Metro is super easy so I can't get too boisterous about my "new skill". Prior to knocking back a glass of delish wine, Meghan took me on a brief tour "of the Hill". I got to see the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court Building.... all light up and illuminated in the chilly night. Just my speed :)

Details on the tasty eats? 
Wine: We elected to "savor" a few glasses of Falanghina "Campi Flegrei" Cantine Farro. A good departure from the sav blancs we tend to enjoy.
The eats: We shared a cheese plate that was the I subsequently dominated the pappardelle pasta - which I chose because it had pancetta.Meghan had the fettuccine ... and the other guests seemed pleased with their burgers. Oh, and the fries that came with the burgers. Ah-maze-ing. 
So, I'm not going to move to DC anytime soon. But, this city is pretty great.... unexpectedly. I really enjoy how easy it is to navigate, the breadth of options for things to do, and fundamentally how historical this place is. If I had to pick a new city to move to, DC would be it.

Nice and Easy


 I love it when life is nice and easy. Even if it comes with a dash of rain.

Doesn’t that dinner look delicious? Well it was.

I’ve always loved a dinner cooked by Meghan and this one was no different. On the menu? Butternut Squash soup with broiled fish and tasty salad. Meghan’s parents have a very productive garden in Vermont …. And that’s where the butternut squash came from. Holla!

So, a few quick details about the meal?
Butternut Squash Soup. Roasted the squash whole in the oven. Added the mooshy goodness to some sautéed onions and assorted spices. Added to a blender with a bit o’ chicken broth.
Halibut Delight. Broiled in the oven. Tossed the fish in a casserole dish with a bit of butter, white wine, dill, and lemon.
Side Salad. Arugula with cucumber, feta, and itty bitty baby tomatoes.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things…. But it was seriously awesome. I can’t wait to make this halibut again soon.

One more day in DC. I’d be super sad if I didn’t already have plans to be back in early December. 

Also, how cute is Dixie the wonder dog? Just looking in on her BFF in the kitchen. 

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