Sunday, December 28
Saturday was a beautiful spring like day at the beach and Ben started the morning off putting together his bike. By noon, we all headed out for a bike ride and rode for over 30 minutes. It was a little scary getting back on a bike. I doubt either of us had been on one in at least 10 years! But it was fun and we're looking forward to using them more.
We built up an appetite on our bike ride and returned home for cranberry turkey sandwiches. My mom, Amanda and I all received a Williams-Sonoma Professional Chopper for Christmas. We weren't sure if it'd slice tomatoes, but evidently it does not! The tomato squished every where and half way across the dining room to the living room!
Our afternoon was spent doing shopping round #1. We got some great deals on Christmas decor at World Market for 75% off and then went to Target. We found light garland, wrapping paper, tissue paper for next year, and a few more bike accesories and a running shirt for Ben. We stopped by Green's Beverage on the way back for a beer run and I finally bought a bottle of Firefly Iced Tea Vodka that so many people have been raving about. We enjoyed a glass of this with lemonade prior to dinner...wow...this stuff could be dangerous. I'm glad I limited myself to just one! It'll make a perfect summertime drink.
Ben and I woke up early Christmas morning! I'm pretty sure when we have kids, we'll be just as excited as they will be. Ben did a fabulous job of gift giving this year...he really set the bar for future gifts! We gave each other bikes for Christmas, but in addition to that he filled my stocking with Godiva truffles, Itunes & Starbucks gift cards, 2 bottles of rare beer, a silver monogrammed book mark and a beautiful pearl and diamond pendant necklace. He also gave me new pj's, books, and accessories for my bike.
From me, Ben got a few new dress shirts, lounge clothes, accessories for his bike, Godiva truffles, Breckenridge Christmas Ale, a few gift cards, boxers, and tons of candy. We love shopping for each other and all the surprises. Even Freddie got a few surprises too...a new Chew-Proof bed from Orvis and some treats!
Our second celebration was held at our house, Brunch, with my mom and brothers. I made the usual Creme Brulee French Toast, fruit with dip, bacon, sausage, and my mom and Amanda brought an egg casserole and sweet danishes. We also enjoyed Christmas mimosas! I love tradtions and hosting everyone at my house really puts us in the Christmas mood.
After another round of gift giving, we headed to Ben's family Christmas Swap. With so many people in his family we do a Secret Santa and it's always fun to see who has each other. We enjoyed more food and great company with them. Hopefully, we'll see them at the beach this week too!
All in all, we've had a wonderful Christmas. We're so appreciative of all the gifts we've recieved and love them all. We love giving gifts and shopping for each person too! We're headed to the beach for much needed relaxing after a crazy few weeks of the normal holiday stress.
Wednesday, December 24
Tuesday, December 23
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped
Bake 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan on wire rack.
Beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium until blended. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.
Remove cake from pan. Carefully cut cake crosswise in half using serrated knife. Place 1 cake half, top-side down, on plate; spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake half, top side up. Frost top and sides. Press nuts onto sides. Refrigerate leftovers.
Monday, December 22
I normally like to run first thing in the morning, but it was 22 degrees at 8am this morning. So I snuggled in bed for an extra 30 minutes before bundling up to come downstairs and power on the laptop and do one thing for work. After I finished with a big cup of coffee, I cleaned the kitchen and began wrapping all the presents.
I still had a few last minute gifts, mostly stocking stuffers, to buy. So I around 1230pm, I headed out to Target and to get a haircut. One home we set out on our run. As soon as I found my running clothes and shoes my mood lifted! At 3pm, it was still chilly outside and my muscles knew it'd been a while since I used them, but overall it was a good run! My calves cramped up a lot after and I'll be sore tomorrow, but I finally feel good again!
Ben and I usually go to dinner one night before Christmas and we've been wanting to see Four Christmases, so we had a little date tonight. It wasn't much, but just perfect and what we wanted....Cobb Salads at TGI Fridays followed by a movie. The movie was great other than the irritating, immature middle schoolers sitting behind us who clearly weren't there to see a movie.
We're off to finish our evening watching The Polar Express and wrapping the last 2 gifts I bought today. Enjoy the last few days before Christmas!
Thursday, December 18
I was planning on the training to help keep those pesky 5 lbs I always gain during the holidays at bay. I'd been doing a great job so far of eating almost anything I wanted and maintaining my weight. After the Holiday parties this past week I just feel icky!
With our trip to Asheville, Holiday parties, Christmas Shopping and squeezing in time for friends thre is no time left on the weekends for a good run. I had originally planned on running the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon on Feb 14. and knew it'd be a stretch to find the time during the winter and holiday season to train. When we realized we were under a tight deadline to sign up for the race, the $60 entrance fee was a little steep at Christmas. I ultimately decided to not run this race, BUT I promised myself I WILL run a half marathon in early 2009. I felt a huge weight lifted off of me.
I'm really looking forward to my time off at Christmas and our really long weekend at the beach to get in some good runs. I can't wait to step onto the beach on a crisp winter beach morning for a run along the surf. Ok...I'm feeling even better just thinking about it!
Sunday, December 14
It was a chilly afternoon, but inside where it was warm, we enjoyed a spread of Herb Ranch Cheeseball, Veggies with Spinach Dip, Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Sugar Chips, Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies, Fig & Goat Cheese Bruschetta, Christmas Punch and Hot Apple Cider.
After snacking and chatting the swap got underway. This year Ben and I found actual Christmas baskets for the cookies.
I'm pretty sure this was the best year yet with the cookies we took home! Since this post is a little late and all of cookies are down to the last few bites, let me see if I can remember each cookie.
~Chocolate Almond Biscotti
~Chocolate Chip Cookies
~White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
~Oatmeal Creme Pies
~Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles
~Gingerbread with Vanilla Icing
~Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
I also made some Doggie cookies, Snickerpoodles since so many of us have pups at home that would enjoy a treat! They were a big hit by all the Pup parents as well as Freddie...he was my taste tester.
All in all, it was another successful swap and we're aleady looking forward to next year's party. In fact I overheard people at the swap talking about ideas for their cookie next year!
Sunday, December 7
Saturday morning we woke up freezing in the cabin. We didn't realize the A/C unit was also the heat too and neither of us felt comfortable sleeping all night with gas logs on. We quickly warmed up with some hot coffee and I made Eggnog French Toast with mimosas. Ben loved this!!!
Since we did come to Asheville for the beer we stopped in Barley's for some good local brews. This was the best place for local stuff! While there we enjoyed:
~Catawba Valley King Don's Pumpkin Ale (tastes just like Pumpkin Pie)
~Catawba Valley Blackwater Uber Pale Ale (Excellent and very unexpected)
~Catawba Valley Hyper Monkey Java Stout (Delicious...like pure coffee)
~Pisgah Brewing Co Red Devil (Belgium fermented with a ton of cherries and raspberries)
~Highland Cold Mountain (a warm holiday spice brew)
We then headed to Thristy Monk's, which has a bar downstairs that serves only Belgian beer and one upstairs...we had a flight of 3 beers downstairs and shared a couple half pours upstairs with delicious peanuts on the side before heading back to the cabin.
Once back the cabin, I made a mushroom risotto and lemon scented asparagus while Ben grilled steaks. We decided to open a beer we've been saving for almost a year...Foothills Sexual Chocolate. It's one of the top rated beers in the country and world. Last February, Foothills made a limited release of 500 bottles. Our bottle was number 174...this was so good...to the very last drop. Hopefully they'll make this again and we can be lucky enough to get at least one bottle. If you love chocolate...you'll love this.
The Christmas Tree farm was only 10 minutes away from downtown Boone, once there, it took us over an hour to find the perfect tree. There were so many choices and we kept losing track of our favorites, but we found it. It's an obscenly ginormous tree that's 9 ft tall! The guys on the top of the hill cut it down for us, bayled it and tied it down on top of the jeep. We set out for another 3 hours driving in the rain, but it didn't matter since we had just enjoyed one of the most relaxing weekends with each other and we had our perfect Christmas tree!
Friday, November 28
The pups snuggling on the ride to Asheville.
I'm so glad we driving in the light. Google maps was wrong...a road listed on our directions was called something slightly different...we ended up on a long and windy road with steep cliffs heading towards the Blue Ridge Parkways, but we made it!
Our cabin is fabulous...it's very secluded with a huge wrap around porch, hot tub, flat screen tv which we've been watching movies on HBO all afternoon and gas logs. After a quick powernap and a dip in the hot tub with a glass of wine, we're making appetizers for dinner, enjoying a beer and blogging live from Asheville. I'd recommend the Cabins of Asheville to anyone!!
Pepsi in a Mason Jar!
Thursday, November 27
Today I'm Thankful for:
~All the delicious food that was prepared today: It's incredibly sad to think so many people went without food today and I stuffed myself until I was miserable.
~Being able to spend Thanksgiving with both of my grandparents...as well as my aunt, cousins, siblings, parents, etc...
~Black Friday Ads: I love shopping and looking through the ads is just as fun
And...my list from Wednesday:
~Having a few days off from work to enjoy with my family, shopping and Ben
~All of the traditions we've established over the years and all of the memories they will bring us!
~Flannel PJ's: I'm packing them to keep warm in the mountains...so cozy!
After a round of early shopping...we're off to Asheville. Have a great weekend.
Tuesday, November 25
Sunday, November 23
It's been a Marathon weekend in the Stafford house the past few days. After one of the longest weeks in a while, we've been looking forward to the weekend since probably last Sunday evening. We kicked Friday night off with our usual pizza, but made an extra one and had Chris and Sam over. Of course beer was invloved, tasting a few homebrews and other new microbrews we haven't had yet.
Once home, we started painting the kitchen. It was hardwork and took a few hours longer than we anticipated, but it's done. One more project we can check off the big to-do list. And yes...I have a hand written "House Projects" to-do list.
Thursday, November 20
Today I'm Grateful for:
~This new website for easy blog template updates: Ok it's probably not new to everyone else, but I just recently found it
~Vera Bradley Planners: My mom and I get new ones every year and I love nothing more than spending an evening putting all the new stickers on the holidays and writing in birthdays. Traditionally, we buy them in Williamsburg at the Yankee Candle Flagship store, but this year they were all out. Once home, my mom went to Merle Norman and got us one each. I missed putting everything together with her this year!
~Ice water: Tonight I'm super thirsty from my 40 minutes on the elliptical and I've downed several glasses of ice cold water. It's so refreshing.