Merry & Bright

Christmas 2016 has come and gone – as well as 2016 as a whole! I’m a few weeks tad behind in posting – I know! – so please, humor me.

Our holiday season began with a bit of unexpected news. We had originally planned to visit my family in California, since we’d spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. One thing I’ve learned in my married life journey so far, is the need for balance when it comes to his & hers family affairs. Well, as fate would have it, the decision to travel for Christmas was not as ‘in our hands’ as we had thought. Real life and work life collided, and well, work life won. While we would still have several days off together, an earlier-than-planned return to work for the dude meant driving home on Christmas day . . . Which was a less than holly-jolly alternative, and frankly made staying local quite appealing. So a Christmas with just the two of us it was.

Now, this is where we could have decided that Christmas 2016 was ruined, but we just aren’t the half-glass-empty type. Instead of mope about, sad we couldn’t be with family, we opted to make the holiday weekend a special celebration for two. And then it hit us . . . This was our last holiday season as a family of ‘just us.’ With our little baby J on the way, we would grow to a family of three by next Christmas! The realization hadn’t occurred to us until just then! What a little blessing staying in town turned out to be. How often does life give you the chance to savor your current state of happy before it flips your world upside down and sideways? Rarely. If ever. Who were we to accept this gift with anything but gratitude?

So, what are a girl and guy without Christmas plans to do? Two words . . . Mini getaway! Just because a multi-day vacation was out of the question didn’t mean we couldn’t get away for just one night. When you live in a city where it doesn’t snow, the thought of experiencing a white Christmas is heavenly. Our local ski resort is just an hour outside the city, and while snowboarding is a definite no-no during pregnancy, simply waking up to and enjoying a wintery wonderland is just enough to lift holiday spirits. At least it was for us.

We arrived late in the evening, so we enjoyed dinner-for-two at the resort restaurant, then turned in early to finish marathoning Westworld in our pajamas. We know how to party. Am I right?! 

We awoke the next morning to nearly eight inches of snow! The mountain was mostly dry when we arrived, with only small icy pockets here and there. You can imagine our surprise when we took a peep outside! The mountain was a blanket of fluffy white for miles and miles. It was the perfect sight to cozy up over breakfast to.

img_5930(Our view from breakfast!)

With a severe winter storm warning looming, we thought it best to skip the morning hike we’d originally talked about taking. No need to get stranded on the mountain on Christmas Eve. Instead, we took a casual stroll and enjoyed our wintery surroundings until we were too chilly to stay out in the cold any longer.

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It was a short little trip. Sometimes I think those are the best though. When you have limited time somewhere, you have no choice but to take it all in and savor every moment. That one day of winter weather was just enough to get us in the holiday mood.

Waking up to a quiet house the next morning, Christmas morning, was surprisingly and incredibly peaceful.

While the hubs slept in, I busied myself making homemade cinnamon rolls and a hash brown casserole. Nothing gets a sleepy dude out of bed like the promise of warm and gooey sweet treats!


After stuffing ourselves full of goodness, we gathering ’round the crackling YouTube-made-possible fire and opened gifts. I am still awestruck when I think of this as our last ‘just adults’ Christmas. Can you believe we’ll  have a 9 month old the next time Santa comes to visit?!


The rest of the afternoon was a glorious combination of lounging around, prepping the roast for dinner, and watching football (Steeler Nation!).

The hub’s brother and his girlfriend stopped by later on, and we did what any four normal adults would do on Christmas . . . We made gingerbread houses. Or more correctly, decorated them. It’s the strangest thing. We could not for the life of us find a gingerbread kit that didn’t come with an already assembled house! It felt kind of like cheating, but we had a blast non the less. And if I do say so myself, I think we turned out to be superb gingerbread house decorators. Food Network Holiday Baking Championship, here we come! Oh wait, you have to bake your own goodies and then decorate them? Hmmm . . . maybe we’ll just stick to being self-glorified gingerbread house decorators.

IMG_0020.JPG(His & hers gingerbread houses)

IMG_0021.JPG(Look at that spacious backyard!)

You work up quite the appetite decorating gingerbread houses! Must be all those freely flowing artistic juices. I tested out this horseradish crusted beef tenderloin recipe, and let me just say, it did not disappoint! Paired with a small salad and creamy mashed potatoes, it made for a perfectly festive Christmas dinner.

We ended the night by marathoning Christmas movies and playing an extremely lively and truly entertaining round of Christmas Trivia. Did you know that’s a real game? If you haven’t played it, I highly recommend picking it up at your local Target. It was seriously a hoot!

You can bet we slept very soundly that night.

And just like that, Christmas 2016 came and went. I am always a little sad to see it pass. The holiday season fills me with such warm and pleasant feelings. I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic each time the season comes to an end.

The new year brings a fresh start, and though I look forward to a squeaky-clean, new year to fill with plans, memories, and goals, I love, love, love that cheery holiday-home feel so much that I can’t help but feel a little grumpy when it comes time to pack everything away. I always allow myself to enjoy our holiday decor through the first week of the new year. Too long? Maybe for some, but I think not. The slow transition back to normalcy makes me the happiest.

nutcrackers(My collection is slowly growing each year)
img_0022(I just love Santa’s mod Norwegian-inspired sweater!)

img_0024img_0031img_0028(This year’s snowglobe. You + me + baby makes three!)

img_0032img_0035img_0036(Steamboat Willie Mickey! We picked him up during our anniversary vaca back in June)

Goodbye 2016. You were one of our best years yet. Here’s to looking ahead to our growing family, all new firsts, and brand-new experiences in 2017.



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