Christmas 2013

I hope everyone had a warm, festive and fabulous Christmas!

I have to admit that this Christmas may have been my favorite, ever, of all time.
Justin and I decided not to travel for the Holidays this year and to spend it at home in Maine, Newlywed Style.


We spent 4 days bundled up against the cold and snow doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We stayed in our pajamas, played board games, cards, ate a ridiculous amounts of sweets and watched endless Christmas movies.



 It was Heaven.

On Christmas Eve we decorated Christmas cookies
(Justin's request and now officially a tradition),



 opened Christmas pajamas and began a new tradition: movie watching!
I actually stole this tradition from my parents...every year on Christmas Eve, my parents get a new movie and watch it after their wild hooligans (my brother and me) go to bed. It keeps them entertained and awake until it's time to play Santa. Justin is currently on a Minions kick, so I gave him Despicable Me and we happily snuggled up to watch it.

And then we ordered Dominos for dinner.
Sorry I'm not sorry!

Of course, we jumped the gun on opening our Christmas Eve presents and activities, so we ended the night in bed, playing a super competitive game of Phase 10. Nothing says holiday fun like threatening each other's lives during a card game!


Christmas Day was easy and low key...more presents, more pajama lounging, Despicable Me 2, calling family and more eating.

One of my absolute favorite gifts this year was the Maine car survival kit that Justin built in my stocking. His survival musts included a jug of kitty litter, a thermal blanket, a flashlight, a snack pack of candy, 10 tubes of various Bert's Bees Chapstick and deep moisturizing hand lotion. Honestly, it was mostly a joke, but also the most handy and thoughtful stocking stuffers of all time. (you know you've assimilated to living in Maine when....)


I promised Justin that I would make him my Dad's famous french toast for Christmas breakfast...and was surprised to find that our bread was super moldy! Justin was served french toast medallions the size of silver dollar pancakes....once the mold and hard parts were picked off, there just wasn't that much bread left! Ooops, guess I'll check my bread before Christmas morning next year!
I pulled it together for Dinner and we had a fabulous home made meal, talked about our fave presents and moments of the last few days and then threatened each other's lives over Phase 10 again.

Honestly, I've never been happier.

We hope that everyone had a fabulous holiday and is gearing up for festive New Year's Eve!
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Survival Strategy 422: Embrace Technology

Morning, ya'll!

I'm in that weird Holiday Limbo where I've selected, paid for and ordered every single Christmas gift...but not one of them has arrived yet. Not. A. One.

So, since I should be wrapping or standing in line at the post office (thanks, Justin), but am going to have wait around for the mail man instead, I thought I'd share with ya'll another Survival Strategy that I've learned in the last few days:

Warning: this is not a glam list. 
Maine is not exactly known to bring out the chic in a girl...and this list is a perfect example. 
If you know a girl who recently moved to Maine, you could definitely use this as a Christmas Wish List...and send her my contact info/apologies.

Embrace the Technology

Windshield Washer Fluid with Anitfreeze


While this may not seem glamorous, it is a life saver.
My dad obviously purchased and installed this for me when he was in town but I'm not sure how I made it through without it. Driving here is crazy on your windshield...everything is frozen to it and salt/slush/new snow is constantly sticking to the frozen stuff as you make your way down the highway. Not fun. This stuff is guaranteed not to freeze until you hit -25 degrees and while we've been close, we haven't made it quite that low (yet).

Our New Humidifier



I picked up this little guy at Target the other day and honestly ya'll, I can already see the difference in my lips. And seeing as they looked like they belonged on a zombie, seeing some progress is really something. We sleep with this guy on all night....and while my nose is still stopped up when I wake up, I'm hoping we'll get there eventually.
Bonus: this humidifier was very cost effective ($29.99 at Target) and is super sleek. I don't mind having it in my room and it certainly doesn't look like the fish tank humidifiers of the 80's.

And best of all,

A Remote Car Starter!!



Tomorrow is the big day!
I am happily dropping off my car at Best Buy for 5 hours so that they will install a little piece of gold....a remote car starter! And why is this such a big deal??, you Southerners ask...because I can start my car from my bedroom, Target or the grocery store literally 15 minutes (or longer, honestly) before I plan to get in it...the car will be toasty warm and anything that collected on the windshield will be defrosted and can be wiped away easily with my windshield wipers...while I sit happily inside of the car!
I know it's hard to imagine why this would be such a big deal, but honestly, shit is cold around here. Peeling yourself out of bed knowing that you need to go scrape snow and ice off of your windshield is a tough mind space. Anything to make that process easier is worth every penny.

So, no one wants to visit?!
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Survival Strategy 346: Adapt to the Elements


So, I'm really trying to learn to love the Winter Wonderland that we now call home.
In all honesty, there really are some amazing highlights to living in Maine during the winter...we are definitely going to have a white Christmas (we should hit almost two feet of snow by Christmas day), nothing shuts down here for a snow storm (want to eat out during a blizzard? Everything's open, just hop in your 4 wheel drive vehicle), flights go out snow or no snow....

But then there are things that I honestly had no idea I needed to be prepared for.
For example, my lips - just like my hair- are shriveled and dried beyond repair.


(real life, no make up, don't judge)

It doesn't seem to matter what products I use, my lips are chapped beyond belief at all times. If the negative temps don't suck the moisture out of everything you've got, the forced hot air through 100 year air ducts will definitely do it.
Today I'm on the hunt for a humidifier for our bedroom to hopefully take the edge off....we noticed yesterday that even Macie the dog has extremely dry skin!

And then there are the parking lots.
I was prepared to really learn to drive in major snow for the first time in my life. In all honesty, the main roads are plowed constantly - and since we chose to live in the city, so are our neighborhood roads. But parking lots are a whole other story. Going to the grocery store is like taking my own life in my hands.
Parking lots are plowed...but not nearly as often or thoroughly as the main roads. Add constant traffic and semi melted snow and you've got a situation. Pushing a full grocery cart over 5 inches of icy slush might be one of the hardest workouts ever. Add that to the fact that the same slush will make the back tires of a car get loose in a serious way, walking through a parking lot somewhat makes me feel like a sitting duck.


All that slush also makes it hard for drivers to see the lines in the parking lot, so parking spots are sorta just based on your best estimate of where the lines are...so, grabbing a good spot becomes a fun game of Parking Lot Roulette.
While you risk your life making a spot for yourself in the name of fresh milk and breakfast bars, you have one last element to contend with:
the snow mountains.


As the plows work their temporary magic around the lot, they push all of the snow into mountains around the edges of the lot. Seeing as it's cold here until May, those mountains do nothing but grow taller and wider for 5 months out of the year. Think you can navigate around a snow slush mountain? Then you're a better Maine driver than I am!

So, who wants to come visit?!

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A Weekend With Mom and Dad

Happy Monday Ya'll!

I hope everyone had a warm, fabulous weekend. We were lucky enough to have my parents in town for the last 4 days. I just love when my parents visit....and this trip, we had a ton of firsts:

First negative temps
(-11 degrees anyone?)


First foot of snow (and then some)
and the first use of our new snowblower


First "Christmas Morning" in Maine




(my Dad loooves Christmas morning)

First trip for Mom, Dad and Mark to go Candlepin Bowling




(Mark and Liz)

My parents loved Candlepin Bowling so much, we went back during the snow storm...

And, best of all, there was a ton of this...



Yep. Same pic, different day.

My parents are up for anything, including laying around watching bad tv...I am truly their kid.

Frist time for Mom and Dad to experience total darkness at 3pm


Other highlights of the weekend included:
Dinner at Mossimo's
Phase 10
and gallons of diet coke consumed.

I miss them already!


And now time to get this house back in shape and grocery shop in preparation for the next snow storm headed our way this week...have mercy.

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Tailgate Cookies: Holiday Gift DIY

Hey Ya'll!

This Holiday Season, Justin asked me to make gifts for his new team in Maine. He was hoping I would come up with something home made and something Southern and/or meaningful to us....I have to admit that I really had to wrack my brain to figure out what to do!

I decide to whip up what we call "Tailgate Cookies": white, milk and semi sweet chocolate covered Oreos and Ritz peanut butter sandwiches.


Side Note: we call them Tailgate Cookies because these cookies are a specialty of one of our Tailgate families...and a highly coveted tailgate item. I think Justin stuffs them in his pocket the second he lays eyes on them.

I didn't have a recipe, so I'm going to share with ya'll what I figured out by trial and error...

Tailgate Cookies
(Chocolate Covered Oreos and Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwiches)

What you'll need:


Wax paper for prep and hardening
Chocolate Chips for melting
(I used one extra large bag of semi sweet chips, two small bags of white chocolate chips -divided- and a small bag of milk chocolate chips)
Water
A box of Ritz Crackers
Smooth Peanut Butter
Oreos
Optional: red or green food coloring

Method
I used my Triple Dipper Tailgate Crock Pot to melt the chocolate chips.


This particular Crock Pot only has a setting for warm so it's perfect for melting chocolate without burning it. You can melt your chips using your preferred method - just ensure that you melt the chocolate in a vessel that you can dunk the cookies in.



I melted three types of chocolate at once - one large semi sweet, two white chocolate divided. Once the chocolates were melted, I added red food coloring to one of the white chocolate pots.


The chocolate will take a bit of time to melt correctly - keep an eye on it, stirring and adding a teensy bit of water at a time if you think it looks too thick to easily coat the cookies.

Note: I found the milk chocolate to be the easiest to melt to the correct consistency.

While your chips are melting, prep your work space:

Lay out wax paper over a fairly large surface
(I used my stove top)

Prep your Ritz Cracker peanut butter sandwiches.
Don't over stuff with peanut butter.


I was making a fairly large batch of 100 cookies so I used 3 sleeves of Ritz Crackers and almost two packs of Oreos.


If you have time, pop the peanut butter sandwiches in the freezer for a few minutes of the fridge for longer....it will keep the peanut butter from softening when it hits the warm chocolate and will prevent your sandwiches from sliding apart.
(I clearly skipped this step because I am impatient)

Once your chocolate is melted, start dipping those cookies
Use a fork to drag the cookies out and scrape off some of the excess chocolate.


I had to try a few test cookies to get the consistency of the chocolate just right...
But once you get it the way you like it, the rest is just dipping and cooling.

(the bottom left would be the correct consistency...)

Once your cookies are dipped, you can be fancy and use a fork to drizzle the colored chocolate over the white and red ones.


Let those babies cool for at least a couple of hours.
You can easily trim off the excess chocolate around the edges, or, if you're a chocolate lover, leave them on and enjoy the bonus calories.

Pack 'em up using either a ziplock bag or lining your container with wax paper...


Remember that these are home made and don't have to look perfect - they taste amazing and it's the thought that counts!
(Plus mine were all going to men, and they don't care one hoot what something looks like if it tastes delicious!)

I found these cute little boxes for half off at Hobby Lobby (.69 each!), so I stuffed them full and sent them off with Justin for his team.


Note: make sure to leave some extra at home or you'll be harassed by the adult men who live in your house!

Happy Holidays!

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Holiday Traditions


Hey ya'll!
Anyone still out there??
I'm back and ready to update ya'll on all of our Holiday Goings On...


This past weekend we finally finished decorating our house (what is it about a new house that makes decorating take so.much.longer?! We had to move the tree three times until we found the right spot for it...and Justin still isn't convinced that we made the right call) and we hit our first Holiday Party of the Season.

(apparently, I left my eyes at home)

On Sunday, we recuperated from all of our hard decorating work and watched my all time favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually.

I was a happy girl all snuggled up and hiding from the snow.

Now that I've wrapped up the weekend, I just have to tell ya'll about my favorite Holiday Tradition: Christmas Ornaments.

Growing up, my brother and I always knew that my mom was collecting Christmas ornaments to give to us when we moved into our first apartments as "grown ups".
When we would travel as a family, my mom would search out just the right Christmas ornament to represent our trip.

The McKinley Explorer, all the way from Alaska

Once she found the perfect one, should would buy 3 ornaments - one for our family tree and one each for my brother and me. When I moved into my very first apartment after college, my mom and brother came down to Charlotte to bring me my ornaments and help me decorate my first tree away from home.


I can't explain how special it is knowing that my Christmas tree is filled with family memories from my childhood...in fact, that box of ornaments is one of my most prized possessions. I make Justin store it in just the right spot that won't get too cold or too hot, despite that fact that the container is water tight (clearly, this irritates him).
Each year, I dig through the box and read the notes she included with each ornament - usually she noted how old I was on the trip and the thing I loved the most about wherever we were.


Justin and I continue this tradition for our own tree and search out just the perfect ornament on every trip we take.
Whether it's close to home, like The Biltmore (used to be)

 
Or far away..


Usually, it has to do with a funny memory and Justin typically knows exactly what he wants.
See this NYC taxi cab?


Justin had.to.have. this ornament to celebrate our engagement weekend and the fact that I demanded to take taxis everywhere "because we are on vacation!" instead of taking the subway.

I just love this tradition -all of the thought and effort my mom has put in for decades makes each one of these ornaments so very special. So, thanks Mom! You're the best!
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