I guess the first of our festivities started with April & Jeremy's annual tacky Christmas sweater party. It was so much fun again, just like last year! Although this year ended up staying a little bit more sane than last year which was nice, and we took the party to the bar instead of staying at their house the whole time, which I know must have worked out a bazillion times better for them! Entertaining at home is so much fun but
Following that came my company's Christmas Dinner which was at Del Frisco's in Charlotte. Jake and I had never been there before and the food was amazing! I got the crab cakes and Jake got one of the steak specials. They also have the BEST calamari I've ever tasted. It's seriously like heaven in your mouth. Instead of serving it with marinara sauce like most places I've been, albeit they were Italian restaurants, Del Frisco's serves theirs covered in an Asian glaze, similar to what comes on Orange Chicken or General Tso's. YUM. I also had my first ever Celebrity sighting. After narrowly missing Vince Vaughn and Kevin James on the elevator in Chicago and not seeing a single celebrity in Las Vegas for a week, who knew that I'd see my first celeb sighting in good ol' Charlotte. Who? Ric Flair. Don't recognize the name? He's this guy...
From the great world of WWE. I recognized him but never knew his name because my family was never big into wrestling. He still pretty much looks the same. He's no Vince Vaughn, but it was pretty cool to be standing less than a foot away from him at the bar in Del Frisco's.
After that comes our Christmas visit to see my Grandpop and some others from my Dad's side of the family down in Mount Pleasant. We don't get down there a lot so it was nice to see them, and my Aunt Kerri was home visiting from India. We watched the new Bourne movie, which I really enjoyed, then exchanged gifts and had a nice traditional holiday meal--ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, wine, etc.
On Christmas Eve, we just slept in and relaxed, then went to church and dinner with Jake's mom, sister, and brother. His stepdad was sick with a stomach virus the whole week so he didn't get to participate in anything :( We went to their church in Lake Wylie, and I always enjoy getting to see different churches, especially when they are all beautifully decorated at Christmas. It was a neat candlelight service but visiting other churches always makes Jake and I really realize how much we love our church, Allison Creek Presbyterian. It's technically in York I guess but it's only about 10 minutes down the road from us since we're out here on the edge of Rock Hill. Churches are so personal and everyone has different tastes, but we really love the community within our church and especially the delivery of the sermons. I don't like feeling like I'm getting yelled at by the preacher if they have a harsh, excited delivery. And I don't like being bored to tears by someone who is monotone. We feel like our Pastor has the perfect balance and neither one of us ever gets bored or zones out during the sermon so we always feel like we really get something out of what he shares.
On Christmas day we had Jake's side of the family and my friend Karen over for a brunch of waffles, fruit, casseroles, eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls, etc. TONS of food. We exchanged gifts and just got to hang out for a while having some good conversation. Then, we got to relax for a little bit and clean up before my side of the family arrived for Christmas dinner. We had glazed ham with pineapple, seasoned green beans, steamed corn, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, and then desserts. It was a good thing that we only ate two meals all day because holy cow was it a lot of food. I did the ham and the mac & cheese both in crock pots, which was nice and easy for me so that I could sit and enjoy socializing instead of cooking in the kitchen all day. It worked out extremely well for the ham, and the mac & cheese was good but I think I would use a different recipe next time. I found one recipe that uses evaporated milk, which I thought I had but it turned out that I had sweetened condensed milk, both are from Eagle Brand and I didn't pay attention to the label. So, last minute I had to switch to a different recipe that only used 2% milk and I think it would have been nicer and creamier with the other recipe. For dessert, I made a cherry crumb pie and some "brooksters" which are a combo of chocolate chip cookies & brownies. The cherry crumb pie tasted really good, but good Lord did it make a mess in my oven. I would highly suggest that if you attempt one of these pies, put a cookie sheet on the rack underneath your pie because that nice filling will just bubble out over the edge and create a huge puddle of burnt mess in your oven. Thank God our oven is self-cleaning, but that makes such a smoky mess that I haven't done it yet. I did cook dinner in the oven two nights ago and some of the cherry mess burnt off but that is a headache that I'll be dealing with for a couple more weeks I expect...However, the brooksters, or as I always mix up and call them, "Brewsters," are like the best combination in the world. Here is the super easy recipe:
--Prepare chocolate chip cookie mix from scratch as directed on bag of chocolate chips.
--Prepare brownies as directed on box of brownie mix.
Put paper liners in cupcake trays and fill 1/3-1/2 of the way with brownie batter. Top with one scoop in each of the cookie batter.
Bake as directed following the Chocolate Chip cookie recipe. You may need to add 5-10 minutes to the time since brownies take longer to cook. You will know they are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Easy and seriously delish! These were definitely a crowd pleaser.
..And what have we been doing since Christmas? Well, I enjoyed the after Christmas sales and picked up some adorable wrapping paper for next year (so prepared, I know!) and decided to re-decorate our bookshelves in the living room. I got tons of new frames and decorations from Hobby Lobby, TJMaxx, and Ross. I cleaned off the bookshelves and have figured out the new frame placement, but now I just need to get the correct size and orientation of photos printed. So, pictures of that to come! We also celebrated New Years/Jake's 25th Birthday! He has not been feeling too hot following the celebration but we did it up right at the Longbranch last night! He is also very excited about his birthday gift, a new propane grill for on our boat! With all of the time we are going to be spending out there now that we have the boat, I figured we would get tired of pb&j's or turkey sandwiches REAL quick. Now we can do burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steaks, kabobs, you name it! Now, if only this weather would get back into the 70's..........
Have a great day back at work tomorrow!