Category Archives: Holidays

A Valentine’s Day Story

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! Last year, I shared the story about Chip and I’s first date. I know, having a first date on Valentine’s Day is some serious pressure. It didn’t faze Chip at all as he tried to play it cool when he asked me out eight years ago (eight years, what?!) with a simple “what are you doing Wednesday evening?” So smooth. I was recently telling some friends about another Valentine’s Day story Chip and I share. They got a good laugh out of it, so I thought I would share it here on the ol’ blog…

It was five years ago, Chip and I had been dating for three years and had graduated from Trinity that previous spring. We were at the point in our relationship where we were talking about our future together and starting to use the big m word… marriage. So when Chip started talking about Valentine’s Day plans weeks in advance, I totally read into it and thought he was dropping hints about getting engaged. Chip made reservations for us at the Grey Moss Inn, something that was definitely out of our budget. Why else would we have such a fancy dinner date on the anniversary of our first date if not to get engaged, amiright? I can’t tell you how I agonized over what to wear. Like Elle Woods said, I needed to look bridal but not like I was expecting anything. In the end, I remember picking out something simple – a fitted white long sleeve shirt, grey/silver skirt that had a bit of a sheen to it, black tights, and boots. And yes, I had my nails painted because I was totally anticipating taking pictures of my hand with an engagement ring.

We got to the Grey Moss Inn and I had jitters like it was our first date all over again. Would he do it before dinner? Nope. Maybe during the meal? Nope. Alright, surely after dinner somewhere on the grounds? Three strikes. We left dinner and Chip was acting totally normal, so I assumed he was trying to fake me out and propose when I wasn’t expecting it. For those of you that know, we got engaged a few months later in May (and I totally wasn’t expecting it, it was such a great surprise, didn’t even have my nails painted! ;)). We left dinner that Valentine’s Day, stopped by HEB to get some chocolate covered strawberries (dessert was a little too expensive at dinner), went back to Chip’s duplex that he shared with three other guys and watched The Count of Monte Cristo. I tried so hard not to be disappointed or angry at Chip for unintentionally leading me on and then not proposing, so I’m pretty sure I ate most of those strawberries myself and paid little to no attention to the (super long) movie.

I asked Chip the other day if he knew I had those expectations for that Valentine’s Day years ago… he was absolutely clueless. Bless his heart. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!!

After our actual engagement in May 2010

After our actual engagement in May 2010

With my parents after Chip and I got engaged

With my parents after Chip and I got engaged

Little puppy Wrigs was with us when we got engaged

Little puppy Wrigs was with us when we got engaged

Christmas 2014

Eleven days into January is the right time to post pictures from Christmas, right? Right.

We had a great Christmas in Tucson. We started the drive once Chip got off of work on the 23rd, spent the night in Van Horn, and got to Tucson Christmas Eve afternoon. The dogs did great on the drive with plenty of “are we there yet” faces from Wrigley.

Not sharing my Whataburger dinner with Wrigley

Not sharing my Whataburger dinner with Wrigley

Are we there yet...

Are we there yet…

Leaving Van Horn Christmas Eve morning

Leaving Van Horn Christmas Eve morning

And now for a special presentation, Molly and Wrigley singing along to “Blue Christmas.”

Overall, it was a really relaxing time at home. After a busy December, it was nice to get time to sleep in, take it easy around the house, walk the dogs, and just spend time together. I’m a sucker for being sentimental, and looking back, I love the little moments throughout the trip that reminded me of some of my favorite memories growing up. Whenever I can go home for Christmas, my parents always save Santa’s Marching Band as my decoration to put up in the house. I was obsessed with Santa’s Marching Band as a kid and would slowly put each little soldier on the snow blanket and do my best to hide the electric chords. Some of these little guys have taken a beating over the years and will occasionally get stuck, but they still work great. I secretly love seeing how long I can have these guys play before my dad tries to turn them off.

We were able to take Chip up to Mount Lemmon for the first time and were pleasantly surprised to see some snow at the end of our drive. I hadn’t been up to Mount Lemmon in over seven years, so it was fun going back up. Molly and Penny weren’t too sure about the snow, but Wrigley loved it, even when Chip kept throwing snowballs at his face. Later that day, we got to see some of my old high school friends, most of whom Chip was meeting for the first time. It was a highlight of the trip getting to catch up with them, some I literally hadn’t seen since graduation almost 10 years ago. And to my surprise, while we were eating at Le Buzz our last morning in Tucson, I ran into my third grade teacher. It was so nice to see her again and funny to think about how she used to seem so incredibly tall to me.

They're adorbs.

They’re adorbs.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Wrigley's serious about Christmas

Wrigley’s serious about Christmas

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

One of the best parts of our Christmas Eve dinner: prosciutto wrapped asparagus

One of the best parts of our Christmas Eve dinner: prosciutto wrapped asparagus

Love my goofy dad

Love my goofy dad

We found one of my childhood Christmas lists... and laughed for a long time after reading it

We found one of my childhood Christmas lists… and laughed for a long time after reading it

Looking at on old card Alex made. You're an artist, bud.

Looking at on old card Alex made. You’re an artist, bud.

Wrigley wanted to help unwrap gifts Christmas morning

Wrigley wanted to help unwrap gifts Christmas morning

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

The Nances Christmas morning

The Nances on Christmas morning

Wrigley was much happier with just me in the picture

Wrigley was much happier with just me in the picture

Quick stop on the drive up to Mount Lemmon

Quick stop on the drive up to Mount Lemmon

Molly wasn't too sure about the snow

Molly wasn’t too sure about the snow

Quick stop on the drive to Mount Lemmon

Quick stop on the drive to Mount Lemmon

Penny is my dad's loyal sidekick

Penny is my dad’s loyal sidekick

Our view of Tucson

Our view of Tucson

Yes, Wrigley. It's all yours.

Yes, Wrigley. It’s all yours.

Sweet Molly

Sweet Molly

The snow was too cold for Penny

The snow was too cold for Penny

Love these pups

Love these pups

Enjoying Mt. Lemmon

Enjoying Mt. Lemmon

Molly ate some snow

Molly ate some snow

Wrigley liked eating snowballs

Wrigley liked eating snowballs

Chip loved smashing snowballs on Wrigley's head

Chip loved smashing snowballs on Wrigley’s head

The little snowman Chip and my dad built

The little snowman Chip and my dad built

I am so thankful we were able to spend some more time in Tucson, we really do love that city. Chip was back to work that Monday after Christmas while I had a few extra days off. We spent New Years Eve with some of our great Trinity friends out in Fredericksburg. It was so great ending 2014 with some of the friends we love most. Hope 2015 is off to a great start for all of you!

New Year's Eve dinner

New Year’s Eve dinner

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve

Getting our grapes ready for midnight... it's good luck to eat 12 grapes for the new year!

Getting our grapes ready for midnight… it’s good luck to eat 12 grapes for the new year!

Our own kickline to "New York, New York"

Our own kickline to “New York, New York”

Cheers to 2015!

Cheers to 2015!

‘Tis the Season

This year’s holiday season is looking very different from last year. This time last year, I had just left my job at Bromley and didn’t know what to do next. I spent the holidays resting while trying to figure out what kind of job I felt I was right for, and also feeling a little guilty that at 25, I had left my job without a plan as to what would happen next. This year, I’m in a job that has been such a good change for me. I’ve now been at the Southwest School of Art as their Executive Assistant for a little over six months. I work with some really amazing people and am inspired by the creativity of this place. I may not be done with our Christmas shopping or have our Christmas cards out in the mail like I did by this point last year, but I am so grateful for all that has happened in the last 12 months.

December has been a whirlwind and I find myself needing to take time to savor this season and remind myself of the huge purpose of Christmas: the birth of our Savior. It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercial side of Christmas (hello, previous paragraph and my uncompleted Christmas shopping), which feels so cliche. I am thankful that Christ frees me from these petty worries and struggles and that we have had some really sweet moments this month celebrating the Christmas season. Last weekend was my favorite weekend of the year that started with the Trinity Christmas concert on Friday, and ended with the Redeemer Christmas party on Sunday. It was all extra special this year since my parents were in town to join us on these traditions for the first time. Yes, it was fun getting to sit in Trinity’s Laurie Auditorium together and listening to great music, but it was so special getting to serve alongside my parents at Redeemer Christmas boxes the next morning, sharing our traditional lasagna dinner as we decorated our tree in the evening, and having them come as our guests to the Redeemer Christmas party Sunday evening.

At the Trinity Christmas Concert

At the Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

With a few of the Youthies at Christmas boxes on Saturday morning

With a few of the Youthies at Christmas boxes on Saturday morning

Lunch after Christmas boxes at the Pearl. Chip and my dad unintentionally twinning.

Lunch after Christmas boxes at the Pearl, Chip and my dad unintentionally twinning.

Molly and Wrigley helping us pick a Christmas tree at Home Depot

Molly and Wrigley helping us pick a Christmas tree at Home Depot

Ready for dinner on Saturday

Ready for dinner on Saturday

Our tradiitional dinner while decorating the Christmas tree: homemade lasagna

Our traditional dinner while decorating the Christmas tree: homemade lasagna

One of my favorite meals of the year

One of my favorite meals of the year

Our new ornament of the year from our trip to Napa in August

Our new ornament of the year from our trip to Napa in August

The ornament we received our first year as a married couple

The ornament we received our first year as a married couple

The first ornament Chip got for me back when we were dating

The first ornament Chip got for me back when we were dating

Our failed family photo

Our failed family photo

There we go

There we go

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

I hope you are all getting time to enjoy this Advent season. It sometimes means consciously ignoring the to-do list and muting all of the holiday commercials on TV, but it is so good for the soul.

Dinner a la Ina Garten

While I get most of my dinner recipes from Pinterest, I still love making my way through a cookbook and having it propped up in the kitchen, with small stains of olive oil and melted chocolate. I’ve shared before that my mom and I are (slowly) going through Julia Child’s cookbook (have a few more recipes I need to post!), but another favorite chef of ours is Ina Garten. I first got her Foolproof book as a Christmas gift last year and I have to say, it has some of my favorite recipes (here, here, and here). Her new book Make It Ahead came out about a month ago, and I’ve already been able to try out a couple of dishes from this book. My mom is also an Ina Garten fan (she’s the one who got me these books in the first place) so while we were in Tucson for Thanksgiving, I convinced her to do an Ina themed dinner together, complete with a class white button down and red scarf to match the cover of Make It Ahead. We had a blast and Chip and my dad definitely enjoyed the food. For now, I think Foolproof is my favorite of these two cookbooks, but I know I’ll be using plenty from Make It Ahead.

We chose an appetizer and main dish from Foolproof and our dessert from Make It Ahead. Recipes are posted at the end, along with some pictures from Thanksgiving!

Inspired by Ina

Inspired by Ina

My favorite cooking rules: have wine and start with dessert

My favorite cooking rules: drink wine and start with dessert

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

With our completed appetizer (minus the basil)

With our completed appetizer (minus the wilty basil we bought)

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

Love these two.

Love these two.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Lobster Mac and Cheese

We didn't like it at all...

We didn’t like it at all…

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of ice cream

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream

And now for some Thanksgiving pictures!

Driving to Tucson... Wrigs is such a good passenger

Driving to Tucson… Wrigs is such a good passenger

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Penny begging for some turkey

Penny begging for some turkey

Family picture, round one

Family picture, round one

That's better

That’s better

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

Making another Ina Garten dessert

Making another Ina Garten dessert Thursday night

Yum.

Yum.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz. We were moderately successful.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz Friday morning. We were moderately successful.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black epper
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine venigar
  • 2 pounds ripe heirlooms or cherry tomatoes, 1/2 inch diced
  • 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving (we unfortunately bought some bad basil, so we had to skip this part)
  • 20 to 25 (1/2 inch thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons tasted pine nuts

Directions:

  • For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
  • For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and venigar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir inthe basil and taste for seasnonings.
  • To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Lobster Mac and Cheese – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, dividied
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups grated Gruyere cheese (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 1 /2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (we used wheat bread) (5 slices, crusts removed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the oil to a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta, and cook al dente according the directions on the package. Drain well.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan, but don’t allow it to boil. In the large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tabelspoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the cooked pasta and lobster. Pile the mixture into 6 to 8 (2-cup) gratin dsihes (we didn’t have these, so we just split it into two dishes).
  • Melt the remaining 2 tabelspoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbsm and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top.

Fresh Apple Spice Cake – From Make It Ahead

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest  (2 oranges)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced (3 to 4 apples)
  • Vanilla ice ceram
  • Caramel sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Place the pecans on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside. Combine the rum and rasinins in a mslal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 60 seconds. set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and orange zest on medium speed for 3 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a medium bolw. With the mixer on lowl, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, just until combined. Drain the raisins, discarding the liquid. With a rubber spatula, fold the rasins, pecans, and apples into the batter. Spread in thte prepared pan and msooth the top.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool, cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature with a scooop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce.

Three Year Anniversary

Yesterday marked three years since I married this guy:

My groom

My groom

Hands down one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Traditionally, the third year is considered the leather anniversary. Seems kind of weird, but we were given a description of what this means and I just love it.

The third wedding anniversary is often when a couple is aware of the durability of their relationship. That is why leather is the traditional gift for this celebration. Leather is a material that is durable, warm, strong, flexible, and has a sense of resiliency to it. These are qualities that help a marriage thrive.

Reading this description had us thinking about this past year of marriage. Our first year was fun and full of us figuring out daily life together. Our second year helped us grow closer together and deepened our marriage. But this third year has been our favorite. We don’t feel like newlyweds anymore, we feel more and more like a team. Together, we accomplished and got through a lot this past year. Chip passed the final level of the CFA giving us so much more time together this spring and will surely help us in the future. We were able to go on a bunch of different trips together. We did more projects around the house and remodeled our bathroom with the help of our families. When I decided to leave my job in November, Chip was my biggest supporter and has been so excited for me in this time off. We celebrated our birthdays, the holiday season, friends’ weddings, and so much more together. We like to think that we did become more resilient this year and continue to build a strong foundation for all of our years to come.

For our anniversary, Chip surprised me with a homemade breakfast yesterday. I slept through his alarm and didn’t even notice him getting out of our bedroom (it takes me a bit to transform from a zombie to a functioning human being). I heard our front door open a couple times and honestly thought that maybe he had left for work without saying goodbye (note: he never does that, so not sure why I even thought this was possible). Anyway, I saw that it was only 7:00 and was curious what Chip could be doing that was making so much noise. Y’all. I came out into our kitchen to see him preparing a feast of French toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit. He had even set out our wedding china for us to eat outside together. My heart was so full (and soon so was my stomach).

Was so surprised to see our patio table set like this!

Was so surprised to see our patio table set like this!

Who doesn't love fresh flowers

Who doesn’t love fresh flowers

My only contribution to breakfast: slicing the strawberries

My only contribution to breakfast: slicing the strawberries

I love that our first time using our crystal glasses was to drink some OJ

I love that our first time using our crystal glasses was to drink some OJ

Can we have breakfast like this everyday?

Can we have breakfast like this everyday?

The rest of the day wasn’t as exciting, I took Wrigley for a walk and then quickly went to the gym to try to save myself from that French toast making its way to my hips. I also had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. Talk about living the wild life, right?

For dinner, we decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate: Dough. We just can’t get enough of this place. Their food is amazing and we love how much fun we have every time we go there. We also went there waaaay back for our first anniversary.

Wine from our two year anniversary trip to Napa

Wine from our two year anniversary trip to Napa

I could eat this pizza everyday

I could eat this pizza everyday

Three years!

Three years!

Chip, thanks for being you. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t make it easy, for all the ways you make me laugh, for helping me grow, for comforting me whenever I’m upset, for always pointing me back to Christ, for all the ways you love Wrigley, for doing life together. Here’s to many more years ahead.

May 7, 2011

May 7, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. Sending lots of love to all of you today and everyday!

I’ve never really been “into” Valentine’s Day (must have been all those single years growing up! haha), but it now holds a special place in my heart for one reason: it marks our first date. Yep, my very first date with Chip (first date ever, actually) was on Valentine’s Day. It was a simple date; after some botched communication at Paloma Blanca (Chip had been told beforehand that he would not need a reservation only to have us told there was a three hour wait when we showed up), we had a sweet, simple dinner at Paesano’s before he dropped me back off at my dorm at Trinity. We have fun remembering that first date every Valentine’s Day and how awkward it got started – “giving” me a flower by having it hang from his car visor for me to grab myself (talk about nonchalant, right?), not getting into Paloma Blanca, driving aimlessly around trying to find a place to go to while fearing we could easily end up at Denny’s, Chip begging the hostess at Paesano’s to get us a table… I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

And as a good Arizonan, happy 102nd birthday to the wonderful Grand Canyon State.

Hope you’re all spending today with those that are dearest to you!

Christmas 2013

Six days into 2014 and I’m already behind on blogging… Hopefully I’ll get those half a dozen drafts finished up here soon.

Christmas marked our annual drive to Tucson to visit my family. Since it’s a good 13 hour drive to get there, Christmas is really the best time to go since that’s when Chip gets the most days off of work. While the drive itself was fairly easy, getting ready for the trip was a little complicated… Similar to last year, we would be doing a portion of the drive on Friday once Chip got off work and then getting into Tucson on Saturday. The plan had been that I would spend Thursday figuring out which luggage would best fit in my car’s trunk with Chip’s golf clubs and all the Christmas gifts and get started on packing. Well… due to some unforeseen elements, my car was at the mechanic all day Thursday. All is well, but it did throw off my planning a bit as I spent a chunk of Thursday out dealing with my car and didn’t get home from the mechanic until about 1:30 in the afternoon, and didn’t get my car back until later that night. So that meant all packing and loading of the car had to be done on Friday. It really wasn’t that bad, but the day went by much quicker than I had expected. I took Wrigley for his walk, packed up our suitcases, loaded up the car, quickly showered, realized I wasn’t happy with how the car was loaded, took everything out of the trunk, took out some clothes from our suitcases, and re-loaded the car in a much better way. Before I knew it, Chip was home from work and we were quickly out the door. It was about 4:00 by the time the three of us got in the car and after grabbing a late lunch from Chik-Fil-A, we were on I10… where I realized about 40 miles outside of San Antonio that I had forgotten my nice camera at our house. Oops. So I have minimal pictures of this trip. The downfalls of packing in a hurry.

Wrigley helping me pack

Wrigley helping me pack

Ready to go

Ready to go

Wrigley enjoying a TV Christmas special in Van Horn

Wrigley enjoying a TV Christmas special in Van Horn

We had decided to drive to Van Horn that night and stay at the Hampton Inn there since they’re a pet friendly hotel and our best bud Wrigs would be with us. He did really well at the hotel and after finally relaxing and going to sleep, he only barked once, and that was when they slipped our room bill under the door. I guess he hoped we were getting the room for free, right? We got up early on Saturday and finished the rest of the drive to Tucson. Overall, between Friday and Saturday, we drove through some heavy rain, light snow, and sunshine. Definitely the most random weather we’ve ever had on the drive.

He's a good passenger

He’s a good passenger

We got into Tucson around lunch time on Saturday and joined my parents as well as Alex and his girlfriend Teresa at the house to catch up for a bit. We then got our family Christmas tree and decorated it after dinner, which was a minestrone soup I helped my mom make (this recipe is awesome, will definitely be posting later).

Christmas pup

Christmas pup

Chip was proud of himself for helping with the lights at the top of the tree

Chip was proud of himself for helping with the lights at the top of the tree

Some of our childhood ornaments

Some of our childhood ornaments

Nice glasses, little Jessica

Nice glasses, little Jessica

The decorated tree and Penny

The decorated tree and Penny

We took it easy Sunday and relaxed around the house a bit in the morning. Alex and Teresa had flown in really late Friday night (or technically early Saturday morning by the time they got to the house), so they were still tired and slept in Sunday while Chip and I went with my parents to Le Buzz for breakfast. It was pretty cold out that morning, so instead of walking there and eating outside with the dogs like we typically like to do, we drove and snagged a table inside (which is no easy feat, let me tell you, that place is usually pretty full!). Chip and I love Le Buzz and are always trying to find something similar to it here in San Antonio.

After breakfast, we wanted to watch some football at home, but my parents’ cable wasn’t working (there was some type of outage in the area or a Comcast conspiracy). So with no football to watch, I drove Chip over to the other side of town to show him our old house, which is where I grew up until we moved in 6th grade to the house my parents are still in. It was fun driving around the old neighborhood since I hadn’t seen it in years. By the time we got back home, the cable was just about back up and running, so we were able to watch football with some family friends that came by to catch up. My grandpa also stopped by so the men had to play dominoes as they usually do.

Wrigley and his cousin Penny taking it easy

Wrigley and his cousin Penny taking it easy

Monday morning we had breakfast at home before taking a stab at a popular holiday tradition: stockings. Now, we’ve always had stockings in our family, but they’ve just been part of our Christmas decorations. I think the only thing they’ve ever held were our Christmas lists to Santa when Alex and I were little. But this year, my mom thought it would be fun to actually “do” stockings for the first time. I have to say, I’m a fan of this tradition since it meant I got some new nail polish and super cute measuring cups from Anthropologie. We also had Teresa open up her gifts from all of us since she was flying back home to Colorado early on Tuesday morning to spend Christmas with her family.

Monday afternoon, we all went and had an early dinner at Gavi’s before driving across town for A Christmas Carol at The Great American Playhouse. To my Tucson friends, if the Gaslight Theater is too far away for you, be sure to check out this new production company in Oro Valley.

The view from Gavi's

The view from Gavi’s

At the Christmas show

At the Christmas show

Tuesday was Christmas Eve, one of my favorite days of the year. The boys were up early, with Alex taking Teresa to the airport, and then all heading out for their traditional game of golf (I think Chip really likes this tradition). While the guys were gone, my mom and I took the dogs for a nice long walk and then got to cooking. I always appreciate this time in the kitchen with my mom working on the meal together. First up were the desserts. This year we decided to do a chocolate chunk candy cane cheesecake and a chocolate-bourbon-pecan cake. Recipes will be posted soon!

Getting Christmas Eve started with a walk with the dogs

Getting Christmas Eve started with a walk with the dogs

With the cheesecake chilling and the chocolate cake garnished, we spent the afternoon cooking  dinner and getting ready before the guys got home. A few of the recipes were from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof book and are becoming holiday staples for my family.

Dad will always offer a helping hand for the ham

Dad will always offer a helping hand for the ham

Dinner time

Dinner time

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Dinner was delicious and we had a great time hearing the boys’ stories about their day golfing and reflecting on the year together. We decided to wait a little bit before diving into dessert, but a certain pup couldn’t wait… While Wrigley’s behavior had been decent during the trip, he was getting jealous of the food we were eating that day. So after telling him “no” to some leftovers while we cleaned the kitchen, he snuck back into the dining room where the chocolate cake was and helped himself to some dessert… We didn’t think he had eaten that much chocolate since the cake only had cocoa powder but between that and the bourbon, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and get him to throw up. After some quick googling, my mom saw that just a little bit of hydrogen peroxide will make a dog throw up, so we quickly squirted some in his mouth and took him outside. It worked.

With that ordeal out of the way, we sat down for some dessert and ate the untouched side of the chocolate cake. Oh, Wrigs. Santa’s still watching you.

Bad pup

Bad pup

Slicing the non-Wrigley side of the cake

Slicing the non-Wrigley side of the cake

With my mom

With my mom

My dad loves dessert

My dad loves dessert

Nance family picture before Midnight Mass

Nance family picture before Midnight Mass

My brother, mom, and dad

My brother, mom, and dad

We played a few games after having dessert and soon it was time for Midnight Mass. We’ve been going to midnight mass pretty much my entire life and it has become one of my favorite traditions. I love singing carols together, hearing a message about Christmas, and having Communion to mark the beginning of the day. With my time off of work since mid-November, I feel like I was more able to reflect on the season of advent than I have in past years. I am thankful for this time of rest, for really reflecting on how huge it is that God came as a helpless baby to a broken people, and for being reminded that I am called to wait for Christ and His second coming.

Christmas morning, just about everyone slept in (something to do with going to bed at 1:30, I guess). It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always naturally wake up early on Christmas. Once everyone else was up, it was time to start opening gifts and have breakfast. Wrigley and Penny stole the show playing with all of their new toys and Wrigs stealing wrapping paper from us all to shred all over the living room. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon relaxing around the house together. Both Chip and Alex had to be back at work on the 26th, so we took them to the airport in the afternoon for their flights back to San Antonio and Denver. I was bummed they both had to leave on Christmas day, but so glad for the time we did get together around everyone’s schedules.

After taking them to the airport, I was able to spend some one-on-one time with my parents, which doesn’t happen very often. We relaxed and watched TV together before snacking on leftovers throughout the evening.

My mom and I had planned on doing half of the drive back to San Antonio on the 26th, but after realizing that our Hampton Inn in Van Horn was booked, we decided to just spend the night in El Paso, and do the majority of the drive on the 27th. This meant we had more time in Tucson the morning of the 26th, so we just had to go check out some post-Christmas sales. We spent a couple of hours over at La Encantada and got some serious deals at Anthropologie (got some suuuper cute dishes that I absolutely love). We got on the road around 2:00 with Wrigley and were in El Paso by dinner time, which was a stop at Pei Wei before going to the Holiday Inn.

Ready to drive to El Paso

Ready to drive to El Paso

Unfortunately, Wrigley didn’t do as well at this hotel as he did in Van Horn… this Holiday Inn is cabana style, so all of the units have outdoor entrances. We were also on the first floor, which meant there was a lot of foot traffic outside of our door since the hotel was pretty busy. Now Wrigley has a really strong protective instinct that I’m normally very thankful for, so as people were checking in and out and walking around at all hours of the night, he was a growling and barking machine. By about 1:00 in the morning, I was telling my mom we should just put him in the bathroom (not nice to my pup, I know, but I was so tired, and also slightly worried our neighbors would complain). My mom stayed up pretty much all night trying to keep him company so I could get some sleep since I would be doing the driving. At 5:00, we gave up on trying to get any more rest and decided to just get up and get on the road ahead of schedule. We had great weather on our drive and were back in San Antonio around 3:00. We slowly unloaded the car and by the time Chip got home from work an hour later, we were pathetically lying on the couch with minimal energy, but found a way to get up for dinner at Salata. I had a great time driving to San Antonio with my mom, it was some of the most one-on-one time we’ve had in a long time. And while we were plenty tired the second day of the drive, I would totally do it again!

The only bit Wrigley slept in El Paso was right when we checked in. Oh, pup.

The only bit Wrigley slept in El Paso was right when we checked in. Oh, pup.

Still dark out while we grabbed Starbucks Friday morning

Still dark out while we grabbed Starbucks Friday morning

Overall, this Christmas was great. I’m so grateful for all the time I was able to spend resting and reflecting during this holiday season. I’m thankful for the time spent with family and for getting to spend everyday with Chip and Wrigley. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!