Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Countdown to '09

I can't believe another year has already come and gone! 2008 definitely brought amazing memories, huge milestones, and lots of good times. Here are some of the most memorable:
  • We got to see snow in Atlanta in January
  • Ryan started at a new firm in March
  • My mom had a clean bill of health at her first annual post-op exam in April (and all of the others in between)
  • I moved into Ryan's house in early May after renting out my condo
  • I started a new job in late May after a brief hiatus
  • A bunch of wonderful girls joined me in Cape Cod for my bachelorette trip in June
  • And just in case you didn't know...Ryan and I got married in October!

In between, there were a bunch of weddings, births and other exciting events for our friends and family. It was a big year for us! I am so glad we were able to share in all of these memories together, and I am excited to see what 2009 has in store!

Happy New Year!


Family Christmas, part three

I'm doing a little bit of catch-up since it's already New Year's Eve, but I couldn't leave the rest of our Christmas out out the blog.

We drove up to Atlanta last Monday to begin our Christmas break and got into town in record time - only 6 hours and 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I have had a cold for the last week and a half, so it was a rather sniffly visit (one of my sisters was also sick) but still relaxing. Ryan and I both had to work on Tuesday, so I just logged in from my parent's house and worked on some projects to pass the day. Then we went over to Kelly and Lincoln's house for a delicious tortellini soup dinner (thanks to Alex, the chef in the family) and some quality "Pass the Pigs" game time.
For Christmas Eve, my dad, Lincoln, Ryan and I hit the courts for a mean tennis match and I am proud to say my dad and I won! It felt good to be running around since I haven't been back to the gym since the wedding (oops). Then we got all dressed up and went to Mt. Pisgah for Christmas Eve service. Once we got back home, we played "sets and runs", a card game passed down from my Italian relatives, while dinner was prepared. We had our traditional shrimp and pesto pasta, a Christmas Eve staple for the past 14 years (which we discovered in my mom's 'Christmas Memories' book). Then it was present time. We typically give all of the sibling gifts that night so Christmas morning is left to whatever Santa brings. We also get a new pair of pajamas to sleep in that night, which has also been a tradition since I can remember. I was so glad Ryan got to take part in all of our little traditions for the first time!
On Christmas day, we waited for Kelly and Lincoln to drive back from their house before spending a long, lazy morning opening gifts. We took a break for our yummy egg souffle and blue berry muffins (with the crumbly topping), also a tradition, before finishing up. Everyone was very generous and I received so many lovely things! My new hubby bought me the iPhone and his gift was a new flat screen TV for the bedroom, so it was a techie Christmas for each of us.
After the gift giving, the boys wanted a rematch so my dad and I took to the courts again and, again, beat them in a close match.

After we got back home and cleaned up, my aunt, uncle and cousin came over for dinner and to hang out. Our Christmas dinner is something I look forward to every year - beef tenderloin stuffed with spinach and red peppers with twice baked potatoes. Yum! Alex spent the two days before creating a masterpiece of a cake, which we all enjoyed for dessert along with homemade cheesecake. Needless to say, I was stuffed!

After spending the day after Christmas hanging out and relaxing, we got all packed up and drove back to Orlando on Saturday. It was a wonderful holiday, the perfect first Christmas, and I loved sharing it with the people I love most!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family Christmas, parts one and two

Before heading to Atlanta, we celebrated Christmas with Ryan's side of the family on Sunday. We had his dad, dad's wife Beth, Grandma and sister over for a holiday lunch - sort of. It was probably in the 80s and we grilled burgers and hotdogs, so it wasn't the most festive meal but it was still very nice to have everyone over and to visit for an afternoon. We exchanged gifts and his dad and Beth got us a whole rack full of wine. It is definitely appreciated and will go to good use! Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from the day because Beth was the one taking pictures, so I will have to post them when I get them from her.
That evening, we went over to his mom's house to be with his mom, brother and sister. We ate a delicious lasagna for our holiday dinner. It's so different from my family's traditional recipe, but it's so good! We brought the Merry Mojitos and salad from our party earlier in the week to round out the meal. After dinner, we gathered around the tree and exchanged gifts again. "Santa" was very generous and we both got some nice clothes and I got an adorable snowman cookie jar and stuffed snowman to display with the rest of my collection.
It was the perfect start to our holiday week and we are both looking forward to celebrating our first married Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my family up in Atlanta.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas dinner party

I was very excited to host a real, grown-up dinner party at our house last night. We invited some close friends over to begin a great holiday tradition and had a total of 10 folks that squeezed around our dining room table. We actually brought in another table to fit everyone, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting the house all spruced up for the company. It was fun to use so many wedding gifts, too!
Everyone offered to pitch in so I asked them to each bring either an appetizer or dessert and that we'd provide the main course. It worked out perfectly and we had some great food! We served a delicious Honey Baked Ham with potato casserole, spinach salad, asparagus and a mainstay in our family - cheese rolls. Since pomegranates are in season, I took full advantage and used them to make our salad Christmas themed.
We also offered a holiday beverage...the Merry Mojito! It was yummy - Bacardi Mojito mixed with club soda and pomegranate juice. There was a small bowl of mint leaves and pomegranate seeds for people to garnish as they pleased. They turned out so pretty and very festive!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

We went to the Morgan & Morgan (no relation) holiday party last night and had a blast! It was held at the Rosen Center down on International Drive and because of the event, they offered discounted rates on the hotel rooms so we took advantage and spent the night out there. It was great not to have to worry about driving home after all the fun - we just went right upstairs to our room.
They had delicious food in two buffets and some yummy desserts, not to mention an open bar, DJ and dance floor. I partied out on the dance floor with some of the other wives while the guys all hung out. There is always great people watching at firm events and last night did not dissapoint. I'm just bummed I didn't catch any pictures of our entertainment!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The big reveal!

Ryan was out of town this weekend to witness the Gators win another SEC Champhionship (yuck) so I thought a little home improvement project would surprise him when he got home. I always underestimate the enormous amount of work involved in home projects...maybe because those shows always make everything look so easy!

I started bright and early Saturday morning and headed to Home Depot for some supplies. When I got home, I sanded down the door in the kitchen that leads to the garage and painted a layer of Kilz to tone down the olive brown color. I also tested a small square of the green paint I bought and thought it looked good. After a short break to watch the game, I went back to work all night and got two walls almost totally painted.

I woke up the next morning and hated the color. It was so much brighter than I thought and way too intense. So back to Home Depot I went for more choices and supplies. I get really frustrated with choosing paint, since it never looks like what the tiny paint chip shows, so I ended up finding a green that was similar to the gray we already had in there...same color family, just a different tint. After testing it and one other color, I finally settled on a lighter sagey green, used that little quart up and went back for the third time to get some more paint. I was up till almost 11:30 painting and cleaning up my mess, trying to get things back in order before the hubby got home today.
He landed from Atlanta and I was sure he wouldn't want to go into the office but he did. Just to be safe, I left work early and worked from home for the afternoon in anticipation of him coming home early. No such luck...But when I heard the garage opening I ran to the kitchen and hid to surprise him. It was so funny to watch him in one of the mirrors as he walked through the door and it registered. I don't think he was expecting it and it might have even confused him a bit.
And the end result? Ta-da!
Honestly, the color is so similar to what we already had, just more green than gray, but you can barely even tell in the photos!
I have to say, it's not finished but I am quite proud that I pulled the whole "While You Were Out" surprise on Ryan. I finished all of the walls and got at least one layer of primer on all the trim so it looks pretty put together. And he says he likes it, so it was a successful home improvement. Just remind me the next time I say I am going to take on a "small" project how much harder it really is to accomplish! I am totally beat!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Okay, I tried to spice up the blog background with a seasonal theme and I hate it but I can't get it back to how it was...I'll have to work on this over the weekend.

and now I just deleted it all together. Bummer.

Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

We got our tree on Wednesday night and set it up in the foyer (after having to move the couch that had taken residence there since I moved in last April). The guy at Home Depot where we got it told us to feed it Sprite or 7-Up so we mixed some Sprite Zero with a pitcher of water and are hoping that it likes it!
After letting the branches fall over night, we spent last night stringing the lights and putting up all of our ornaments. I definitely have a snowman theme going with what I have collected through the years, but I also have tried to accumulate some "keepsake" type of ornaments that remind me of the ones we loved so much growing up. My sisters and I actually used to play with some of them like they were dolls (a nutcracker and ballerina, in particular) so I wanted our kids to have that option, too. I'll take more pictures of my favorite ones, but here is how it turned out:
It has a great shape and almost touches the ceiling...oops!I realized taking this that the lights are a bit uneven...I'll have to fix that later.

I am so excited that Hairy Dog finally has a tree to be displayed on. Of course, Ryan has a glass ball Gator ornament but we don't need to show a photo of that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving (part two)...a little delayed

Our trip to Atlanta for Thanskgiving was a great time with family and friends. We arrived just in time for dinner on Wednesday night after making the drive up. The rest of the weekend was filled with basically the same I love Thanksgiving! We had the holiday dinner at my aunt's house and as usual the pups stole the show while we all played with them in the chilly backyard. It is always fun to see my niece and nephew Jack Russels, as crazy as they are.

Westin and Tessa, asleep on my lap after a long day of playing.
Ryan and I actually ventured to the outlets on Friday to see what deals there were to be had and to use up some wedding gift cards. I am very pleased with my purchases of green berry sprigs and Euro pillow shams. Man, I must be getting old if that kind of stuff excites me.

The little green berries remind me of the floral arrangements at the wedding.
We had dinner at close family friends that night and hung around catching up since the wedding. Saturday was filled with football watching and although my bulldogs did disappoint, I still love them. We wrapped things up with drinks on Saturday night with good friends and then woke up (fairly) early Sunday for the miserable drive back. It took almost 9 and a half hours to make it when it should really take 6 and a half, so you can imagine our delite. At least we made it home safely! Now it's on to the next holiday and getting the house ready for Christmas!