Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmastime 2013

The weekend before Christmas I was able to sneak a quick visit to my hometown to see my family.  I was only there a day and a half, but I was really glad to spend time with my family.  Christmas is always pretty big at my grandparents house and I haven't been there for Christmas in probably three years. 

I caught a late flight out Saturday night and we got to Beaufort around midnight. 
Sunday morning we got up and took my dad's dog Doc out for walk down the road.  He gets so excited when everyone is home!
Happy pup!
We then had an early Christmas with just my dad and siblings.  
My dad's Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  It even played the song!
My dad got my sister Caroline and I lovely pearl jewelry sets, plus I got some iTunes and Amazon money.  My brother, Patrick, was smart with his gift and got me a gift card to Fleet Feet Sports.  He noticed I tweet and post about them a lot and figured it would be a good gift, which it was!  Caroline gifted me a cute Dogeared necklace. 
It was such a thoughtful gift.  I have been feeling a little stuck lately and it is a nice reminder to go after what I really want.  I've been wearing it everyday since I got it!

We then walked down to my grandparents house to meet the rest of the family for lunch.  They have a tree full of ornaments in the living room plus a smaller tree in the den. 

My grandfather collects Santa Claus's (which I now realize I didn't take any pictures of...) and they are placed all over the house, there has to be at least 40.  My grandmother also set up the dining room table with her Christmas china. 

After lunch we enjoyed my grandmothers delicious Coconut Cake and Christmas Cookies.  

Our grandmother really wanted to recreate a Christmas photo we took about 19 years ago at Christmas, so we made it happen.  It's funny to see how much we've grown over the years!

Later in the afternoon when it got dark Caroline, Patrick, Dad and I went to check out the Christmas lights.  Patrick and Dad had a 1-10 rating system, but Caroline and I were more laid back with a "good" or "lame" grading scale.  We saw two really great houses with music and  one with a special driveways and tunnel!
Sitting on the back porch enjoying the lovely weather in the Lowcountry. 

I flew back to Chicago Monday afternoon because I had to work the closing shift Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I just kind of lounged around in the morning before going into work both night.  Guests are usually very happy, friendly, and appreciative of us working the holiday, but it is not a fun shift.  It's usually pretty quiet and it's hard not being with family on the holiday. 

My treat to myself for making it through the shift Christmas Eve was curling up on the new couch in the apartment by the tree with some peppermint ice cream with hot fudge and Love Actually.

When I woke up Christmas morning I looked outside and noticed it had snowed!  A White Christmas!  I had a couple of gifts to open from my mom; a nice pair of hanging silver earring and a great Timbuk2 bag that I can use on my bike or when I go to the gym!  Later that morning I Skyped with Mom, Andy, and Caroline.  

It was boring night at work, but afterwards I walked a bit down Michigan Avenue and enjoyed the lovely snow and Christmas lights.  It was a very quiet night.  Being away from my family this time of year is hard, but I am so thankful that I have loving family and friends, my health, a good job (even though I have to work the holiday), and that I was able to enjoy the pretty Christmas night. 

When I got home I snuggled up again under my Christmas fleece blanket, this time with some popcorn and Sparkling Pomegranate Juice, and watched my favorite Christmas movie, The Family Stone.  It was a nice way to end my Christmas day.  

How was your holiday?  What are some of your family traditions this time of year?  Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thanksgiving with the Family at Kiawah Island

I'm a bit late in posting this, but its our busiest season at the Spa and things have been a little crazy.  I wanted to share some of the highlights from Thanksgiving! 

At work we are usually given a holiday off and it worked out that I was able to have Thanksgiving, which is great because my mom's side of the family always makes fun plans for this holiday.  Like last year we met at Kiawah Island, South Carolina where we rented a big house together.  

I flew in Wednesday morning and was picked up at the Charleston airport by my brother, Patrick, mom, and step dad.  

We spent a little time in Charleston running a few errands before heading to the island.  We had some tasty Carolina BBQ, which is the best, picked up our race packets for the Turkey Day Run, and made a pit stop at Cupcake.  

My Aunt Wendy planned a cookie baking contest for Wednesday and it was in full force when we arrived back at the house.  Teams of two bake cookie bars to be judged by two of our uncles later that night.  

We had six different cookie bars this year.  I made Triple Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Bars, which were delicious, but unfortunately did not win the grand prize.  My two cousins Libbie and Emily were smart and played to judges favorite flavor and made Rocky Road Brownies.  Other entries were Peppermint Brownies, Fluffernutter,  and Raspberry Peanut Butter, so there was no shortage of sweets for this trip!

Thanksgiving morning we got up early to drive into Charleston for the 36th Annual Turkey Day Run 5K with 6500 other participants.  

I'm still not running because of my injury so I walked the Turkey Trot this year.  It was a chilly morning, but it was nice to walk around Charleston.  

When we made it back to Kiawah a few of us headed to the beach to see the Sandcastle Contest entries.  There were some impressive designs.  

Throughout the trip we spent time riding bikes along the pretty paths on Kiawah. 

We also spent time playing lots of games: Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Slap Jack, etc.  One game that was a favorite was called Heads Up.  It is from the Ellen Show and has an app you can have on your phone.  All you do is choose a category and place the phone on your head; a song, show, brand, character, book, movie, or person appears and the other people have to give you clues to guess what it is.  SO MUCH FUN!  The song category was particularly funny because you have to either whistle or hum the song.  This lead to lots of laughing. 

Friday afternoon a bunch of us rode our bikes to go play Disc Golf.  Same rules as regular golf except you use different sized frisbees instead a ball and club.  My brother Patrick had his own set of discs (and was clearly the pro of the group) and the rest of us rented some to play the nine hole course.  I wasn't very good, but it was fun!

I was so glad I was able to make it for Thanksgiving this year and spend some time with my family!

Any special Thanksgiving traditions with your family?  What is one of your favorite games?