On Friday the 23rd, Rachael and I hosted our annual holiday party with our girlfriends. Maybe I should call it more of a "get-together" because it's just a few of us getting together for dinner and drinks and exchanging gifts. We've been doing this for about 12 years now. It started out small, and eventually grew into a big deal with a lot of guests, but we ended up going back to just our little inner circle (4-5 girls).
We had the best dinner - cheese! Rachael made cranberry jam and onion thyme jam (on the platter), and I made rosemary almonds.
Some homemade food gifts from Rachael. Marinated goat cheese, orange-fennel olives, simple syrups, jams, and herbs from her garden. All my friends made homemade gifts this year, and it was the best and most exciting gift exchange we've ever had.
Our friend Kristine made these little mason jar wall planters for planting herbs or succulents. She added a strip of chalkboard paint, so if we decide to plant herbs we can label them! I love this.
Our friend Janelle made this pear chai vodka and added this cute pear fabric to the jars! I think I will break these bad boys out on New Years Eve.
I made fawn terarriums for everyone. I found some animal figurines on Pinterest that were painted white and gold, and now I want to paint everything white and gold. I got the little fawn at Michael's near the kids stuff. I also made big bottles of rosemary lime syrup (shown in the top photo). It can be added to vodka or gin with a splash of limeade and soda. Or it can be made into a virgin cocktail with different juices.
On Christmas Eve we went to Nixon Library because they have a holiday trains exhibit, and kids dig trains. As you can see, Zoey found them very interesting!
Some cool wallpaper in one of the museum rooms at Nixon Library.
Christmas Eve night, we watched "Elf", and Kyle and I continued our yearly tradition of ordering Italian food. Kyle picked it up from one of our favorite places, Tutto Fresco in Rancho Santa Margarita, while I put Zoey to bed. When he got home, we feasted and then put Zoey's tent and easel together so they would be waiting for her in the morning.
She thought her tent was really cool. It was hard to convince her to come out and open the rest of her presents.
Playing with new toys! The Brobee shoes were a big hit.
Santa left a little message for Zoey. Santa's writing looks a lot like mine. Weird.
After Christmas morning at home, we headed to my parents house for my mom's biscuits and gravy breakfast and more presents. My dad and his neighbor exchange Santa duties. My dad puts on a Santa suit and goes over to their house to visit their grandkids, and then the neighbor does the same for our kids. Zoey didn't want to sit on Santa's lap, but she said "hiiii 'Ta! Ha ha hooooo!" from a safe distance. My dad's side of the family is from the south, and my grandpa just got back from a trip to Arkansas. He brought back some fresh molasses from his sister, and it was yummy on my mom's biscuits.
After we stuffed ourselves silly, we drove an hour out to Redlands for Christmas with Kyle's family. More presents! More food! Zoey scored a stroller with not one, but two babies. She is obsessed with babies and I'm not sure why other than that she's a girl? Anyhoo, we watched "Home Alone", which I not-so-secretly love. By the time we got home, we were so pooped, we went to bed at 8:30!
Photos from the last half of the day omitted because I don't know who would or would not like having their photo published on the internet.
Christmas is way more awesome with a kid. This year was better than last year, and next year will be even better. I don't suffer from the stress of the holidays like a lot of other people do. I love the gift buying, the making things, the decorating, the baking. I love it all. Christmas: I salute you with a running and jumping high five.