my, that was a lot of driving!

I just did four seven-hour drives in the past week.  When did I sign up for that?!  It was exhausting, but totally worth it.  First, I drove solo (which is far more uncomfortable for that long now that I’m five months pregnant) to Ohio to spend a weekend with my bestie, Emily; then I jumped in the car with Andrew the day after returning home to accompany him on a business trip to Alexandria, Va!

Continue reading “my, that was a lot of driving!”

holiday recap

Finally!  A sigh of relief can escape my lips after my whirlwind of a week…

1.  I finished my last exam Tuesday morning and after a celebratory lunch and manicure, I immediately went into Christmas-prep hyperdrive.  By that evening, presents had been mailed ($50 for three SMALL boxes–good grief!), Christmas photo taken and annual letter finalized and printed.  Andrew and I tag-teamed at the table addressing and stuffing envelopes until our eyes gave out.

2.  Christmas, in my house growing up, means Christmas cookies, but I knew my mom would be flying (she’s a flight attendant) until late Wednesday night, and probably wouldn’t have the time to make the spread of sweets she typically does (the woman is a chocolate-dipping machine at Christmas), so I brought some with me.  I made two bags of white-chocolate dipped pretzel rods, two batches of those peanut-butter kiss cookies, some of those pre-decorated sugar cookies.  The relief in her voice on the phone when I told her my plan was audible.  I even did a special “Christmas Sweets” blog for the co-op; many of those yummy goodies appeared on our table this year, however, we never got around the the holly cookies!  I’m still bummed…

3.  This Christmas was very different from years past; almost all of my dad’s giant family came to visit, which brought the total number of people for me to see into the 50s.  It was fantastic!  We had a Christmas Eve bash at an aunt and uncle’s house who live in the DC-area as well, spent Christmas morning at home with another aunt, uncle and cousin who stayed with my parents, then moved to a banquet facility (owned by my mom’s brother) where BOTH sides of the family (my dad’s out-of-town relatives and mom’s in-town family) gathered for a potluck and to exchange some presents.  Definitely not enough time socializing, but at least it was something.

4.  I made a ginger pumpkin pie with toasted coconut and balsamic-glazed green beans, both from November’s Cooking Light.  Both were well-received and I LOVED the pumpkin pie.  Even my mom, who doesn’t really like pumpkin pie, liked the ginger version.  I will definitely be making it again.

5.  I’ve been calling this year ‘the year of the gloves.’  I ended up getting FOUR pairs of gloves, and it would have been five if the Dick’s in Virginia carried the running gloves I asked for.  Get this–my mom went to get them and the salesman said it didn’t get cold enough there for them!  Ha!  However, as I’ve learned already, one can never have too many pairs of gloves here.

6.  Which brings me to my next tid-bit: my cold-weather haul.  Check out my new running gear and other winter apparel:

Andrew’s mom got me the beautiful white hat and gloves that I’ve been wearing EVERYWHERE, praying I don’t get dirty.  Andrew found the black heavy-duty gloves for me to use to take the dog on walks since they have grippy stuff on the palm-side, and I totally scored the matching pink-and-black running gloves, hat and earband just yesterday at Dick’s on sale.  Sweet!  And the best part?  The fleece hat even has a hole for your ponytail!

7.  It was also the year of running stuff for me…  My mom gifted me with LLBean sport sunglasses, a pink and blue earband and an awesome pink running top:

8.  We kept the Christmas tradition of opening jammies on Christmas Eve alive (just barely–mom was going to skip it until the boys and I put up a stink, so we headed off that afternoon to find suitable outfits), except that the shirt I ordered for myself didn’t come on time…so sad!  We found a stand-in at Old Navy, but nothing will beat this:

We found it at a local store weeks ago but it took FOREVER to come, so I’ll have to enjoy it post-Christmas.

9.  Because of visiting family and our Christmas Eve party at my aunt and uncle’s house, we skipped another tradition: reading Luke and having a birthday cake for Jesus.  I’m still a bit bummed about that one, too.

10.  We left Monday evening and drove to Philly to visit with my sister.  Along the way, we stopped for Geno’s cheesesteaks.  (Andrew insisted–surprise, surprise)

Grossest cheesesteak EVER!  We should have walked across the street to Pat’s, which is mildly better, but still not as good as Silvio’s, which is our hometown cheesesteak joint near my parents’ house there.  They make their own bread, are take-out only and are THE BEST cheesesteaks in the world.  I kid you not.  I’m almost salivating writing this.

11.  We stayed the night with my sister and FINALLY got to meet her daughter, Danika.  Sweet girl!

We brought all their presents and goodies from Virginia, so we did our own Christmas morning with them.  Danika is walking all over the place and starting to jibber-jabber as well.  It was crazy to see a little “mini-Allison” toddling around!

12.  We scooted out around lunchtime to meet two of my best girlfriends from college, Betsy and Leslie, at an upscale American place in Doylestown.  Leslie’s husband, Christian (also a friend from college) came along as well, which was nice for Andrew.

We all, apparently, got the memo to wear shades of brown (and so did the wall behind us).  It was such a great time exchanging gifts and catching up, but not nearly long enough (pretty much the theme of the whole trip).  We try to get together at least once a year, which is surprisingly difficult given Betsy’s deployment schedule (she’s in the Air Force), Leslie’s work schedule, and now my school schedule.  I’m just thankful Betsy’s parents only live a street away from my parents’ house (which is where my sister is currently living), so I can always combine a visit.

13.  After lunch we made the drive home and I’m STILL recovering from being out of town…  I’m in the midst of thank-you note writing, cleaning, gift returning/exchanging and holiday-sale shopping, as well as trying to get back into the gym routine and working on two articles for the Advertiser.  Whew!

14.  Stella has a new home…  At Thanksgiving, my green-thumbed friend Emily gifted me with a clipping of her purple houseplant, Stella, and she’s been freezing to death in a jar of water on a windowsill in our kitchen ever since.  (It’s not exactly the time to buy pots and things around here, or anywhere, for that matter…)  When she really started to look poorly the other day I decided I had to do something.  I bought the cheapest pot I could find at Lowe’s and threw in some potting soil.  She joined Gerard (center) and Victor (or Vincent, I can’t remember), that was a gift from an aunt for Christmas. Cross your fingers for their survival!

Whew!  Busy is the name of the game right now…  I have lots more to share, so stay tuned!