Jan 12, 2014

Christmas 2013

Ah, the long-awaited (at least by me), Christmas recap post. This was probably one of my favorite Christmasas to date. Nothing was really out of the ordinary, but I feel like it was just the perfect balance of visiting and catching up with family and friends, relaxation, and holiday fun.

We waited until the last minute this year to book flights, so they were pretty pricey and we ended up leaving California two days earlier than planned. Actually, that turned out quite well. Probably my hands down favorite day of each year is the one we fly home for Christmas. It's just so exciting driving down 66 towards the mountains and seeing all the houses decorated. Warm fuzzies all around.

The sunset in rural Virginia are hard to beat. I took them for granted growing up there. 

This was my first Christmas in my mom's new house, which made it exciting and little bit...odd. We commented on how it felt like we were spending Christmas in someone else's house. I did enjoy exploring my mom's new neighborhood, taking her puppy on walks.

Christmas Zoe

Zoe is such a stinker. She's still very much a puppy and into everything. I kind of hate it when people dress up their dogs in outfits (they are dogs, not people), but I couldn't help but capture this silly little Santa hat on the pup. She was obviously terrified, so we only made her wear it for one photo and put it away.

Of course Christmas isn't Christmas without cookie baking. We baked cookies Christmas Eve morning, before heading south to visit Brandon's family.

Baking Cookies

Baking Cookies

We made oatmeal raisin, sugar cutouts, peanut butter fudge and my mom's famous chocolate chip cookies (I think they are adapted from Alton Brown's The Big Chewy).


My mom is adorable and loves Christmas more than any person I know. She starts playing Christmas music in September and absolutely loathes taking down her Christmas tree in January. Oh and don't ask me how many Christmas aprons she owns...


The little rascal. We spent hours debating on what Zoe looks like. The contenders: a bat, a gorilla, and a Gremlin.

Back to the cookies...

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie


Christmas Eve dinner was at Brandon's aunt's house and we exchanged gifts with his family. They got me lots of amazing things like West Elm giftcards, new pajamas, owl candle holder, and kitchen gadgets. Oh and homemade deer jerky. Ya'll I love me some deer jerky.

Christmas Eve night was spent at my cousin's house with the entire family. It was packed and loud and crazy, just like every year. I blame the Whisky Sour Slush. We cranked Blake Shelton's Christmas album, which I must  buy next year. Such a good one.

Fast forward to Christmas morning at my mom's.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Gifts

TV Fireplace

Who needs a fireplace?


Oh, I must mention that Emma flew in from The Netherlands! She kind of likes Twilight a lot and is not afraid to admit it :)

Christmas Gifts

We totally spoiled my mom with a ton of stuff for her new house. I bought her an LL Bean coat, pajamas, an ornament, and lots of kitchen stuff.

Mom Opening Gifts


My brother with his personalized Dutch chocolate (which is supposed to be the best chocolate ever).

Christmas Gifts

You know you are getting old when you get excited about Williams Sonoma pot holders (my old ones were from college), a frying pan (this cool green nonstick one - from my brother), and new bathroom hand towels. My mom also replenished some of my Bare Minerals makeup.

Maria and Tea Tin

Blond Amsterdam is a line of really adorable and super girly home good items in Holland. Emma has been helping me build up my collection for a few years now and I was so stoked to see the tea tin under the tree! I've been meaning to get a tea tin, so this was perfect.

Also, me without makeup first thing in the morning and bed head. Now you've seen everything. Note that pink jacket makes its 25th blog appearance.

Jayme and Emma

Jayme and Emma! I got Emma the Urban Decay Naked I Palate and am kicking myself for not buying one for me too, after seeing what she could do with it.

The relatives came over Christmas Day and we opened more presents, had Christmas breakfast (sausage sandwiches!) and laughed at my aunt's Christmas grab bag game.

Staci and Linda

Christmas Dinner

I baked a ham for Christmas dinner (easier than I had thought) and we had it with mac and cheese, green beans and rolls.

Christmas Dinner

Maria and Brandon

My dinner date! In case you were wondering, Brandon and I don't exchange gifts for Christmas and instead try to save our extra money for travel throughout the year. So far we have an Outer Banks trip, Telluride trip and a few weekend trips planned.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner!

Afterwards, we put together a gingerbread house...well, Jayme and Emma did. Brandon and I critiqued.

Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House

Not too shabby.

In Holland, they have a tradition Emma calls "Second Christmas". So we celebrated with a Dutch Gormetten dinner the next evening. This dinner calls for a tabletop grill that you use to cook various meats, vegetables and make omelets. It was not only fun, but really good and felt fairly healthy too.

Second Christmas

Second Christmas - Carlos

Oh and this is my younger brother, Carlos. I got him a Marine Layer giftcard for new shirts because he's lost over 30 pounds this year! So proud.

Second Christmas

The rest of my break was fairly low key. We went to see Frozen and absolutely loved it. And of course, in true family fashion, we cooked a lot. My brother recently got the enormous cookbook by America's Test Kitchen and we had fun trying some of the recipes. One of my favorites: lemon ricotta pancakes.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

And this 30 minute ziti recipe that had 6 cloves of garlic! Incredible.

Stove Top Ziti

Oh, I must also mention that I JUICED every day with my mom's Blendtec and I'm pretty proud of myself. Dare I say that the Blentec works better than my Vitamix? It has a juice button on it and no straining was needed.

Anyway, that was Christmas 2013.

Reminders for next year:
  • Book flights in October. 
  • Finish shopping in November (haha - like that will happen)
  • Don't book 7am New Years Day flights. 
  • Take more photos. 
  • Juice everyday.
  • Don't sleep in too much. 
  • Pack more workout clothes.
  • Actually use them, not just wear them. 
  • Relax and watch old Christmas movies all afternoon. 
  • Enjoy family and appreciate your time with them. 


  1. Ahhh memories!! :D Great post! It really captures how great it was! This was definitely one of my favorite Christmases as well.. If not THE best one! :D

    I really do love, love, loooove the naked palette! I've been using it every day ever since.. It actually caused my lifelong makeup addiction to flare up again! I thank you, my wallet does not ;)

  2. Well it sure sounds like you had an amazing time back home with your family! I am so happy to hear it! Those goals for next Christmas also sound lovely. I am sure you can achieve them!

  3. What a great Christmas! So glad you could be with family. I like your reminders to book flights in October and finish gifts in November -- we procrastinated on both those things this year. Perhaps I should set my own reminder for these! :)

  4. what an awesome time!! notes for next year... let's meet up! xoxo
    btw... you look just like your mom... and she is GORGEOUS!

  5. Best Christmas recap EVER! Seriously, I loved all the pictures...the pup...the warmness in your words when you talk about the gifts you gave...the food (holy hell, I need that ziti!)...and I think your mom and I would get along QUITE nicely! Christmas music, aprons, and fabulously chewy chocolate chip cookies? Yes please...with a side of Whiskey Sour! ;)


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