Christmas Celebrating

Can you believe Christmas already came and went? After a solid month of planning and waiting, it was over just like that. And, to top it off, I don’t really have any pictures to prove it happened 😉 I suppose that’s OK, since I was having a good time.

Friday night, formally knows as Christmas Eve Eve, the hubs and I headed up to Forrest Park in Springfield, MA to see Bright Nights. It was a bit of a drive, but I’m glad we went. There is nothing like Christmas lights to put one in the Christmas spirit.

We tuned in to their Christmas music and listened while we drove through the 2+ mile trail of lights.

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Many of these displays were animated, which I thought was very cool! I cannot even imagine the amount of time that goes into this display, everything is hand-built. It was busy, but traffic kept moving steadily the entire time.

I’ve heard that this display is pretty much the same every year, but I would definitely return in the future to bring my niece or someone who hasn’t seen it before.

When we left Bright Nights, we stopped at a Ninety Nine Restaurant before heading home. The hubs and I shared some Nachos and I ordered a Buffalo Chicken Salad for dinner. It was after 9pm and we were starving, but after eating too many nachos I didn’t even put a dent in my salad. Whoops. Good thing I like leftovers!

I always get lost (and got us lost a few times on the way to Springfield), so I downloaded a new GPS app for the iPhone while we were waiting. It is called MotionX. It was only 99 cents and is 10x better than the free MapQuest app I was using before. With MapQuest, sometimes I’d search for a local place and it would return locations in Washington or Ohio…and there were a few occasions that I drove to the center of a city instead of the location I thought I selected. I’m sure some of it was user error, but it was not very intuitive!

Christmas Eve is my favorite Holiday, it has been for as long as I can remember. I was up, bright and early (for a day off), and went out for a run.

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A hat and shorts on Christmas Eve. I’m so stylish…

I thought it would be fun to wear shorts. Clearly, my definition of fun is a bit skewed. Parts of my legs were numb by the time I got home.

The plan was to run to the track, do some speedwork, and run home. That would have been great, but the track was coated in icy puddles. I managed to do 3 800s on the sidewalk. 2 were sub 4 minutes and one was just over. The cold was getting to me and it felt like there were icy needles poking my lungs. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a shower as much as I did after that.

Once I thawed out a bit, the hubs and I got right down to business. I sautéed the veggies for my tomato sauce and then put everything in the Crockpot to cook all day, which worked out great! Then, we picked up iced coffees, stopped at the grocery store, helped my Grandma set up for Christmas Eve, and picked up a last-minute gift card.

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The girls at Marylou’s said “Merry Christmas” to us, which I loved! It seems like people are afraid to say it incase they offend someone. I had to laugh at the “Merry Holidays” though, it reminded me of the ordeal with the Holiday Tree in Providence a few weeks ago.

Once back at home, the hubs made his famous meatballs to go with my sauce– He tripled his recipe and there were over 90 meatballs!

I made a quick salad to bring and one more batch of my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies  (I’ll be sure to share this week) so I could finish packing up all of my cookie gifts.

We had a great time celebrating Christmas Eve at my Grandparents’ house and the night just flew by. One second I was lighting the Christmas Eve candle with my Grandma, and the next we were helping clean up.

One of the highlights of the evening was seeing how excited my 2-year-old nephew got over the toy hard hat we gave him. It had a tiny work light on it that he used to look at each one of his gifts as he opened them 🙂 It was very cute.

Before bed, I prepped The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve made these twice before and they always come out great.

I cut the recipe in half, used a skim milk/vanilla soymilk combo (all we had), subbed wheat pastry flour for half of the flour, brown sugar for half the white sugar, and cut the butter down by 2T.

For the icing, I use the cream cheese icing from Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. I subbed in light cream cheese and low-fat organic eggnog, since I ran out of milk. Even halved, it still made ~28 cinnamon rolls! We had plenty to share with both of our families.

On Christmas morning, I finished prepping the cinnamon rolls so they could rise a bit and then woke the hubs up for presents! I was really excited to give him a graphics tablet I picked out for him. He loves to draw and has even taken some 3D modeling classes.

I received some really great gifts this year, including a pink Camelbak hydration pack and a new black Coach bag. I’m looking forward to trying out the Camelbak, I have not been carrying water on my long runs. I always do in the summer, but I haven’t been good about it lately since I like to keep my hands free. Sometimes, it gets a bit icy out there.

Tiggy got a new cat fort from Santa and he really loves it. He kind of destroyed his old one, which was a lot smaller. Hopefully this will keep him entertained. He is such a wacky cat!

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Before heading to dinner at my Dad’s house (baked stuffed shrimp, YUM!), we managed to visit both of our Mom’s and siblings, and stop by my Uncle’s to see the rest of my Mom’s side. It was a lot of house hopping, but I just don’t see any other way to fit it all in. I am glad that we got to see everyone!

Christmas 2011 has come and gone, but I’m looking forward to New Years Eve, our 3rd anniversary, and all of the January birthdays – including my own! There’s a lot more celebrating to come and I’m very thankful for that.

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