Tag Archives: Tucson

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!

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!

Christmas in Arizona, Part 2

One thing I love about Christmas Eve with my family is that the structure of the day really hasn’t changed much over the years. I love that we have so many little traditions that we’ve been able to keep. The day got started with another big breakfast at home (we’re big breakfast people) and then the guys went off for their second round of golf of the week. My brother first started playing golf while in high school, so ever since then it’s become a tradition that the guys go off and play a round in the morning and come home later in the afternoon; I’m not sure how they got away with originally suggesting this as a tradition but it has the benefit of keeping them out of our way in the kitchen!

Thanks to Southern Living's cookbook for our dessert recipes!

Thanks to Southern Living’s cookbook for our dessert recipes!

I had brought two dessert recipes with me that I wanted us to try out for Christmas Eve – a chocolate chunk cheesecake and a banana foster cake. One of my biggest problems in the kitchen is that I don’t read a recipe from start to finish; I usually just read about halfway or three-quarters of the way through and assume I can do the rest… so while we were finishing breakfast I finished reading the cheesecake recipe and saw that one of the last steps was to let the cheesecake sit for eight hours… which meant we had to start baking now. Oops. Luckily the first half of the recipe was relatively easy, so we had the cheesecake in the oven pretty quickly. While it baked, my mom and I went and took the dogs for a good, long walk so they would have a little less energy while we would be busy in the kitchen. We got back just in time to take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it chill for the necessary amount of time.

Cheesecake fresh out of the oven

Cheesecake fresh out of the oven

Next up was the banana foster cake. The recipe for this one was relatively simple and we had the three layers ready to go in no time. What turned out to be a roadblock for us was the icing… After using up all of the icing we made, we weren’t satisfied with how the three layers were hidden, so we decided to make another half of a batch. That extra bit of icing made a big difference, but I’m pretty sure my mom and I could both use a lesson in cake decorating! We chose to garnish the cake with a bit of powdered cinnamon and cinnamon sticks. We then put it up on display high out of reach from Wrigley to make sure it wouldn’t be ruined or eaten before the meal.

Glaze on the three layers

Glaze on the three layers

Icing and sliced bananas between the layers

Icing and sliced bananas between the layers

In need of more icing

In need of more icing

The finished cake

The finished cake

The desserts took up a bit more time than we had anticipated and we were surprised it was already 2:00 in the afternoon and we still had to shower and get ready as well as cook our actual dinner meal. Luckily all of the items my mom had planned for dinner were pretty quick, so we got everything ready in pans on the stove top and as soon as the guys got home from golfing, we got everything cooked within an hour.

Thankful for a fun day in the kitchen with my mom

Thankful for a fun day in the kitchen with my mom

Chip, Alex and my dad out on the golf course

Chip, Alex and my dad out on the golf course

Dinner was delicious. Along with our ham, we had some homemade mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, a side of green beans, a side of carrots and a salad. I’m so glad several of these recipes were from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook so I can make them now, too!

Christmas Eve table

Christmas Eve table

Chip's contribution to the meal: taking the ham out of the oven

Chip’s contribution to the meal: taking the ham out of the oven

Dad's contribution to the meal: carrying the ham to the dining room

Dad’s contribution to the meal: carrying the ham to the dining room

 

Glazed carrots, homemade gravy and homemade mashed potatoes

Glazed carrots, homemade gravy and homemade mashed potatoes

Green beans and cranberries

Green beans and cranberries

With the meal we prepared

With the meal we prepared

My grandparents joined us for dessert later in the evening, which was so good. I’m definitely going to have to find an excuse to make these again. Big thanks to Chip for being the brave one to cut the desserts, he did a great job!

Dessert time

Dessert time

Perfect slice

Perfect slice

Doubling up on dessert

Doubling up on dessert

Two thumbs up

Two thumbs up

We spent some time all hanging out before going to midnight mass over at St. Pius. My family has been going to midnight mass for as long as I can remember. While I struggled to get through it when I was a kid and jealous that it was okay for Alex to sleep his way through mass but, as the older sibling, I had to stay awake, it’s now a tradition I love and enjoy. It just feels special getting there an hour early (need to make sure we get a good seat and don’t end up outside!) and sing Christmas carols as a congregation and then welcome in Christmas Day with the priest’s homily reminding us of the significance of Christ’s birth. The service was over around 1:00, so I was more than ready for bed by the time we got home!

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

I may be 25 years old, but I still get really excited about Christmas morning. I saw something on Pinterest this week that I think sums up Christmas morning well: “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.” We definitely made a mess opening our gifts, especially with Wrigley around who loves to tear up paper.

Wrigley looking for his gifts

Wrigley looking for his gifts

Penny on Christmas morning

Penny on Christmas morning

My parents with the gift I made for them

My parents with the gift I made for them

I saw this jCrew vest on Pinterest months ago and it was sold out everywhere in San Antonio... thanks, Chip, for tracking it down in Indiana and getting it for me!

I saw this jCrew vest on Pinterest months ago and it was sold out everywhere in San Antonio… thanks, Chip, for tracking it down in Indiana and getting it for me!

Toasty toes in my new slippers

Toasty toes in my new slippers

My dad gets a shout out for some fun gifts he got us this year… first, one very important thing to know about my mom is that she is a mamma bear to her core; don’t ever threaten her cubbies. Now, when I was in high school, I had my heart set on going to Notre Dame. I did a summer program there, loved the campus, applied early action, etc. So when I was first wait listed and then later rejected, my devastation was nothing compared to my mother’s grudge. We joke about it now (I’m pretty happy with how my life has turned out since going to Trinity!), but my mom still will not mention Notre Dame by name and will simply refer to them as “the other school.” Since Notre Dame will be playing Alabama in the BCS game in January, my dad got us all Roll Tide shirts which we all sported for the rest of the day. Nicely done, dad. You know your wife so well! ;)

Mom with her Roll Tide shirt

Mom with her Roll Tide shirt

Chip and Alex ready to support Alabama

Chip and Alex ready to support Alabama

Thanks, dad!

Thanks, dad!

Dad also got us some official Duck Dynasty duck calls... yes, we harassed Wrigley with them.

Dad also got us some official Duck Dynasty duck calls… yes, we harassed Wrigley with them.

My dad is usually the one in charge of our big breakfast on Christmas morning, but Chip and I offered to help out this year. Chip took care of the bacon, sausage and eggs while I made some homemade blueberry pancakes. In case you haven’t noticed, food was definitely a big component of this trip home! After breakfast, we were able to skype with my cousin Denisse and her family in New York. It was so fun to see them and how excited her daughter Isabella was about Christmas!

We spent a good part of the afternoon in the backyard playing some badminton. We had played earlier in the weekend and after my parents beat the team of Chip, Alex and myself, we decided a rematch was in order (we’re just a smidge competitive). Sadly, the parents won again; I’m convinced it’s harder to play when you have three people on a team instead of two! The guys stayed outside and played some more while my mom and I went back into the kitchen to reheat some of Christmas Eve’s leftovers and add in some new dishes. As if we hadn’t had enough dessert yet, I also had a coffee cake from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate book that I was determined to try out. While it didn’t turn out as pretty as the picture, it sure did taste good.

My parents on a badminton break

My parents on a badminton break

Alex and Chip playing some badminton

Alex and Chip playing some badminton

It was really intense badminton

It was really intense badminton

We spent the rest of the afternoon packing everything back up for our drive to San Antonio the next day, but we saved some time in the evening for a family game of Scrabble, which will be featured in its own separate post.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

Trying to get a family photo on Christmas Eve... we bribe the dogs with food.

Trying to get a family photo on Christmas Eve… we bribe the dogs with food.

The Lopez Family

The Lopez Family

Trying to get Wrigley situated

Trying to get Wrigley situated

The Nance Family, Christmas 2012

The Nance Family, Christmas 2012

The Nances

The Nances

Christmas in Arizona, Part 1

Just about everyone knows that Christmas is my favorite holiday. Ever since I was a little girl, Christmas was always a really big deal in my family and my parents did a great job making it feel like a very special time of the year. When Chip and I were planning where we would be for the holidays, I was extremely excited that we would be spending Christmas in Arizona this year.

We had been planning on spending all of last Friday in the car for our 12 hour drive to Tucson with the hope of getting in sometime in the evening. But about a week before our trip, Chip thought it would be a better idea to do half of the drive Thursday afternoon once he got off work so that way we would get an extra half of a day in Tucson on Friday. I don’t get to go home very often anymore, so I was more than okay with this new suggested plan!

Everything loaded up in the car

Everything loaded up in the car

While Chip was at work on Thursday, I spent the morning finishing our packing and got the car loaded and ready for the drive (between the two of us, I’m definitely better at packing than Chip is… I thank my semester abroad in Chile for this skill!). We got on I10 around 3:30 in the afternoon with the plan of spending the night in Van Horn, which is pretty much halfway point from here to Tucson. Overall, the drive Thursday was very smooth and after one quick stop for dinner, we were checking into the hotel a little before 10:00. Wrigley did great in the car, but was a little confused in the hotel and being in a new space so he (and in turn Chip and myself) didn’t get the best sleep that night. Oh, well, we still love you, Wrigley. We were up early on Friday and soon back on I10 for the remaining six hours of our drive.

Little bit of Starbucks to get us going

Little bit of Starbucks to get us going

We made it into Tucson sometime after 1:00 on Friday, so of course we had some lunch from Eegee’s. My brother had flown in a couple of days before we did, and my parents had decided to wait to get a Christmas tree until we were all in town. Once we finished our late lunch, we all got in my brother’s truck and drove to the lot where we’ve been getting our Christmas trees for the past who knows how many years. I’m sure we were an entertaining bunch, walking around and looking at the different trees and debating over who was picking out the best one (props to my dad for loudly and boldly pointing at a tree and saying it was bent… my dad doesn’t always realize when he’s being loud and obvious, it’s one of his many charms). In the end, we got the tree I had chosen (of course) and brought it home.

At the Christmas tree lot

At the Christmas tree lot

Dad, mom and Alex waiting for our tree

Dad, Mom and Alex waiting for our tree

Getting the tree in the stand

Getting the tree in the stand

Wrigley offering to help

Wrigley offering to help

Doesn't look like you're helping much, Dad ;)

Doesn’t look like you’re helping much, Dad ;)

While the guys got the tree set up, my mom and I worked on our dinner: homemade lasagna. My dad dropped a few hints that he liked this tradition Chip and I were starting of having lasagna while decorating our Christmas tree, so my mom and I thought it would be fun to make together. We put in a little more meat and a little more cheese than normal, something I’m sure the guys didn’t mind at all.

Once we were done eating, it was time to decorate the tree. My mom is a pro at the lights, so we let her handle that part before jumping in for the ornaments. It had been a couple of years since I got to decorate the tree with my family, so it was fun getting to look at some of our old childhood ornaments (Chip thought my hair looked “full” in some of my elementary school picture ornaments… thanks). With the tree decorated, we spent the rest of the night relaxing together and watching a couple of episodes of Duck Dynasty. We got my dad into the show and were excited to show it to my brother; we had a feeling he would like it! We still can’t get my mom into it just yet, but she was a good sport and sat there with us while we laughed at the antics of the Robertson family.

Mom and Alex putting up some ornaments

Mom and Alex putting up some ornaments

Almost done with the tree!

Almost done with the tree!

Alex giving approval on my dad's placement of the angel

Alex giving approval on my dad’s placement of the angel

Our stockings over the fireplace

Our stockings over the fireplace

A favorite part of Christmas since my childhood: Santa's Marching Band

A favorite part of Christmas since my childhood: Santa’s Marching Band

Relaxing and watching TV

Relaxing and watching TV

The view on our walk to breakfast

The view on our walk to breakfast

Saturday morning, we walked over to Le Buzz for an awesome breakfast. All of us (Wrigley included) love the food there, so we try to make our way over whenever we’re in town. You really can’t go wrong with the food there. I highly recommend the egg sandwich, chorizo skillet, oatmeal and granola bars to anyone. After breakfast, the guys went golfing while my mom and I took the dogs on a nice, long walk before heading home. We spent the afternoon cooking a dinner with recipes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook. The homemade tomato soup we had with our meal was especially good; I’ll definitely be making it for us again soon! My grandparents joined us for dinner and the guys spent some of the evening playing dominoes. After dinner, my parents went to a work Christmas party while Chip, Alex and I stayed home and watched Ratatouille (very cute movie!).

We had a big breakfast at home Sunday morning and caught the noon showing of The Gaslight Theater’s Scrooge. We’ve seen Scrooge here a few times now and it never gets old. We also loved the “Andy Williams Christmas Olio” after the show; hooray for carol singalongs!

Ready for Scrooge to start

Ready for Scrooge to start

Sunday evening we went and had a very special dinner at Anthony’s. While I was in high school and my dad’s business was beginning to do well, we started the tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve at this restaurant. It’s been fun to come here year after year and see how much God has continued to bless my family while sharing a very nice dinner together. This was Chip’s first time at Anthony’s and it was a lot of fun getting to share stories with him from different years there at the restaurant.

With Chip at dinner

With Chip at dinner

The five of us at dinner

The five of us at dinner

With my mom after dinner

With my mom after dinner

The Lopez/Nance clan

The Lopez/Nance clan

Alex with mom and dad

Alex with mom and dad

I love these guys

I love these guys

We're really cool

We’re really cool

This is what usually happens when my brother and I take a picture together

This is what usually happens when my brother and I take a picture together

I love my little brother

I love my little brother

More to come from our trip to Tucson!

Arizona trip, part 2!

Sunday may have been my favorite day during our trip to Arizona. After having breakfast at home, we all went to St. Pius for the children’s mass (the amount of kids running around reminded us of Redeemer! :)). After church, we made our way back home and got to work on the rest of the day. We would be having a barbecue in the afternoon with some of my parents good friends, the Morgans, and then heading over to the Gaslight Theater for their latest show in the evening.

In anticipation of our visit, my mom had pulled some new recipes from Pinterest for us all to try out. They were a hit! I’ll definitely be making them over here in Texas. We made a zucchini dish (I don’t know what to call them other than little boats) and some stuffed red bell peppers. Overall, the recipes were pretty easy (although using the melon scooper on the zucchini was a little messier than Teresa and I had anticipated), but they probably would have taken a lot longer without a three-person team working together! Teresa and I also made a couple of pitchers of classic Spanish Sangria. Needless to say, the table was very full by the time we sat down to eat with the Morgans!

Slicing the zucchini

Filling the little zucchini boats

Taking a quick break from cooking!

Watching some playoff baseball before grilling the meat

After a relaxing dinner and some yummy dessert the Morgans brought over, we all drove over to the Gaslight Theater. For those that have never been, the Gaslight is a real treat. It’s not your typical theater. It’s located right behind a small diner, so popcorn, sundaes and other goodies are served while the play goes on. Also, this theater encourages a lot of audience participation so you can always count on hearing people boo whenever the bad guy is on stage, cheer with the good guys and laugh whenever someone messes up a line (the cast doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is always looking to entertain and make the audience laugh). We try to catch a Gaslight play whenever we’re in town and we are never disappointed with the performance. This time, the show was Phantom of the Opera. It was probably the funniest rendition of this musical that you could imagine. While the overall plot line was the same(ish), the music was very different. Instead of hearing “Angel of Music” or “The Music of the Night,” the cast sang songs like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” It was awesome. Definitely one of the shows that made me laugh the most! Just as good as the show was the entertaining Tribute to Vegas Olio at the end, complete with the Jersey Boys, Sonny and Cher and, of course, Elvis. I’m already looking forward to going home again for Christmas and seeing the Gaslight holiday show! (mom, buy tickets now, please :))

Phantom of the Opera!

The Gaslight Stage

With my parents

Ready for the show!

Group photo

Wrigley checking out the chorizo plate

We made another trip over to Le Buzz on Monday and had yet another delicious meal. I had the chorizo plate this time around (Chip highly recommended it after our first visit there last weekend) and even Wrigley got to enjoy some of it.

Penny resting under the table at breakfast

We took it easy the rest of Monday and spent lots of time relaxing together. Alex showed Teresa different parts of Tucson and brought us all back some Eegee’s for lunch in the afternoon. My grandpa also came over for a bit to play the guys in some dominoes. it was pretty entertaining to hear them at it and trying to figure out each other’s strategy. I can’t remember which team won, the level of trash talk stayed the same the whole way through :)

Playing dominoes

Tuesday was our last full day in Tucson. Since Chip and I had packed his golf clubs in our car, my dad wanted to make sure we put them to good use so the guys went golfing once more. While they played, I went with my mom and Teresa to a pottery paint place at Park Place Mall for some girl craft time. It was a lot of fun! Teresa painted a really cute sunflower bowl, my mom did a little jar for family summer vacation ideas and I did a small plate with a letter N on it. We can’t wait to see how these turn out once they get glazed!

Lots of paint to choose from

Teresa and my mom hard at work

Teresa painting her sunflower

We got the table a little messy

My painted plate!

We had another great dinner at home Tuesday night – I’m so grateful for all the family meals we were able to have together. After dinner, Teresa and I were both craving a little something for dessert… so we did some searching on Pinterest and found an awesome recipe for some homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they were as delicious as they sound! Teresa had the good idea to double the recipe, so we had plenty of cookies for everyone. I had a lot of fun getting to spend time with my family, but I also had a lot of fun in moments like this getting to know Teresa a little better :)

A perfect combination

Chip and I did our packing Tuesday night and got the car ready for our drive back to San Antonio. My dad likes listening to audiobooks, so he gave us Blink to borrow for the drive back. We listened to it most of the way and actually finished it right as we were getting into San Antonio. Perfect timing!

We had a great time in Tucson and really wish we could visit more often. We’re definitely looking forward to heading back for the holidays! Thanks to my family and Teresa for a great trip! Wrigley says thanks to Penny, too :)

Blink

Sunrise in Arizona, Sunset in Texas

 

Arizona trip, part 1!

Chip and I just got back from a great trip to visit my family in Tucson, Arizona. We hadn’t been there since last Thanksgiving, so we were definitely looking forward to our time there. My brother and his girlfriend would be in town for their college Fall Break, so I thought this would be a great chance for us all to be together. Instead of flying out to Tucson, we decided to drive out there. We had just enough vacation days to do so and we thought it would be a great way to save some money (wouldn’t have those crazy costs of flights and we wouldn’t have to pay to board Wrigley since he would be coming with us). It’s around 850 miles to Tucson, so we wanted to make sure my car would get us there smoothly and safely. We got the tires balanced and aligned, got the oil changed and Chip spent some time cleaning the headlights so we would get as much light as possible while driving in the dark. We then got the car packed up Wednesday evening with our suitcases, Chip’s golf clubs and Wrigley’s old crate (got to keep him safe in the car!).

Ready for the drive!

We got on the road early last Thursday and had a really smooth ride to Tucson. Well, it didn’t start out too smooth… we had been planning to listen to an audio book during the drive to help pass the time since we were expecting the drive to be a good 12 hours. Well, after a few days of looking up different books online, we had finally chosen one, which wasn’t an easy feat since Chip and I have very different taste in books. Well, I didn’t have time to order and download online before hand (okay, I’ll be honest, I didn’t make time to do that), but I figured we could download the book directly on one of our iPhones. Turns out I was wrong. You need either wifi connection (we couldn’t connect to a wireless network since we were driving up I10) or to download through iTunes (and then we found out the book took up the majority of the available space on our phones). Road trip fail. Oops.

Luckily we did fine without the audio book. We listened to some sports podcasts (so fun…) and took turns playing our different Pandora stations on our phones (yay, smartphones!). Chip drove like a champ and did all 12 hours and Wrigley was a very patient passenger. All in all, the drive to Tucson was a breeze!

Wrigley checking out I10

Little bit of rain the first part of the drive

Wrigley relaxing in his crate

Driving through West Texas

Entering New Mexico!

I sure do miss the desert.

Hello, Arizona!

Love my Wrigs

We got in around dinner time, and spent the evening with my parents catching up over some Cuban food my grandparents had dropped off for us. So good to have some platanitos again!

When we woke up on Friday, we went for a walk with the dogs to a restaurant my parents love going to: Le Buzz. It’s about a mile and a half away from the house, so it was a great walk to get the dogs a little tired. Wrigley loved LeBuzz and had no shame begging for food and occasionally making a desperate jump for the table (a gentleman sitting next to us got a kick out of it).

Walking to Le Buzz

Breakfast time!

We had another key meal later on Friday…. Eegee’s for lunch. Of all the restaurants in Tucson, Eegee’s is definitely one I miss most. It isn’t super fancy, it’s just sub sandwiches but they’re sooo good. And the fries… delicious. And you can’t go to Eegee’s without getting one of their classic Eegee drinks (my personal favorite is a strawberry-lemon combo). Since we had a rather large breakfast at LeBuzz, we went by Eegee’s later in the afternoon and ate over at my grandparents’ house. We spent a few hours over at their house and went back to my parents’ in the evening to get ready for my brother, Alex, and his girlfriend, Teresa, since they would be flying in that night.

First Eegee’s of the trip

We got to the airport around 10:30 Friday night and were so excited to see Alex and Teresa. My parents and even Chip had already met Teresa (Chip met her during his trip to Omaha for a CFA Bootcamp), so I was looking forward to meeting her. Their flight got in on time and we made our way home where we spent some time catching up before going to bed – Alex and Teresa were pretty tired after their long afternoon of flying!

Saturday was a busy, full day. The boys went golfing while us girls went shopping (I do love these types of days!). I had a great time with my mom and Teresa shopping around La Encantada. We found some great stuff at Francesca’s and Anthropologie and had a fun lunch over at AJ’s. There was also an adoption event going on at La Encantada, so of course I had to stop to pet a bunch of the dogs along the way. Once we were done shopping and the guys finished golfing, we all got ready for dinner. We went with my grandparents to a great Italian restaurant – Gavi’s. It was delicious. I had some awesome lobster ravioli… and just about cleaned my plate. Pair that with a glass of wine and the marble cheesecake I had for dessert and I was more than ready for bed when we got home :)

The guys take a break from golfing

More to come on the rest of our trip!