Jason and I throw a Christmas party every year. How many parties can one couple possibly host you ask? Regardless of the wisdom, for this couple that number is apparently a lot. Our holiday shindig usually involves a meal, white elephant gift exchange and the bearing of ugly Christmas sweaters and moustaches. This time, however, we decided to add another layer of seasonal wistfulness to the festivities.
The ugly sweaters and moustaches weren’t as bountiful at our party as I would have liked but, as you can see, foulness was present.
Just a cute picture of Lee and Suzan.
Jason and I opted to rent a cabin near the Sundance Resort for our get-together and the entire corresponding weekend. We invited about twenty friends to enjoy the restful beauty and holiday aura of this 4400 sq. ft. rustic hideaway surrounded by hillsides of thick forest dressed in white.
The white elephant presents at our party usually range from completely bizarre to not half bad.
This pool table was one of the reasons we picked this particular cabin.
For the party portion of this excursion we provided everything from soothing soup to cozy hot chocolate so that the lucky invited could warm and expand their innards as they chatted around a welcoming fire. There were lively games of pool and Dance Central following dinner but, for most, the evening was primarily spent simply enjoying the grub, company and nostalgic setting.
The cabin had walls of windows making one feel like part of the wintery setting.
We kept this massive fireplace ablaze most of the weekend.
Although everyone was invited to linger for the weekend, the bulk of our friends left late that night after the revelries. (Seriously people, you’re offered a free stay at a giant cabin and you don’t take advantage of it?) Adam, Abigail, Drew, Simone, Tom and Aimee all stuck around though for a couple days of serene relaxation. After the party-goers departed, we eight played Saboteur until the wee hours of the morning and awoke the next day to oversized flakes of snow peacefully drifting down around us as if we were in the middle of some traveler’s globe trinket. The flurries didn’t let up the entire day; about 22 inches fell within 24 hours. I guess someone kept shaking that watery orb.
In this case, “hot tub” might be a misnomer.
The sky was so dark during the storm that it was hard to tell where it ended and the ground began.
We all jumped in the patio’s hot tub that afternoon while fluffy powder silently built up on our heads and melted into tiny icicles in our hair. Honestly, it was a little magical. Later, after more gaming, we bundled up and walked down the buried mountain roads to eat dinner at Sundance’s Foundry Grill. It was a fun adventure and quite filling.
No, “cold” doesn’t quite cover it.
More board games were played, books read and stitches knitted that night and then, the next morning, the boys set about the laborious task of digging our frostily interred cars out so we could head home.
Those of us that stayed found much use for board games.
The storm left a winter wonderland behind when it finally cleared.
Our party and weekend were quite a success, if I do say so myself. Between the boisterous crackle of wood burning in an inviting fireplace, the glittering shavings of snow noiselessly floating down and the happy chatter of friends forgetting their to-dos, the holidays felt very close at hand in that comfy cabin.
Sick of the twenty-something temps that have put a freeze on Utah? Me too. That’s why I was extremely excited to leave them for Disneyland and a little 70+ bliss a couple of weeks ago.
The curves and loops of the Paradise Pier looked pretty dressed in the pink of a setting sun.
The character actors in Disneyland always do a terrific job.
I insisted on everyone riding the teacups even if they vomited.
Jason’s company graciously pays for all of their employees, and their families, to travel to Disneyland every December. The timing of that trip this year couldn’t have been better. As a snowstorm was dumping ten inches of powdery mayhem in Utah we were frolicking in shorts and t-shirts in nearly 80-degree weather. It was glorious!
My age has never stopped me from behaving juvenilely.
Lightning McQueen was sleek and amusing.
The Main Street tree is always enormously impressive.
Since Jason works with our friends Adam and Jeremy, their company’s Disneyland outing is typically accompanied by a lot of chuckling, screaming and strolling with buddies. We didn’t spend every second with our small gang of chums but we hung out with them plenty.
Flick was so thrilled to meet me his butt wiggled with excitement.
Christmas decorations pop up in random places in the park.
The Haunted Mansion gets a brilliant Nightmare Before Christmas transformation every year.
You’re never too old to be silly. Trust me.
I made it a point this time to sample as many of the tasty treats afforded by the park as possible. Surprisingly, there are some great food options available if you know where to look. I gobbled all things delicious including: hand-dipped ice cream bars, asparagus-bacon skewers, pineapple whips and hand-battered corndogs. (Yes, I made an exception to my no-hotdog policy.) Along with all that fabulous junk, Jason and I also took in the fancy fare at Napa Rose and the Blue Bayou. Although we consumed a lot of yum and then some, I believe the Blue Bayou provided our best meal experience. Nibbling spicy grub with my spicy man beneath the glow of abundant twinkle-lights suspended from a serene faux-sky was far more romantic than the setting’s fakeness might suggest.
Now that’s my kind of royalty!
Jason and I don’t need an epic setting as incentive to plant a smooch but having one never hurts.
The little kids were excited to meet a real princess.
A greasy turkey leg was Jeremy’s dearest Disneyland desire.
Disneyland is always impressive but Christmastime adds an extra layer of magic to the park. Between the enormous sparkling tree, the numerous glittering wreaths strung across Main Street, the occasional showering of bubble “snowflakes” and the nightly fizzing of Christmas fireworks, Disneyland is saturated with nostalgia during the holidays. We rode all of our favorite rides plus we took some time to appreciate the seasonal alterations to the Jingle Cruise, “it’s a small world” and the Haunted Mansion.
I love running across rope bridges as much as the next five-year-old.
The traverse climbing wall at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail was trickier than it looked.
The Tower of Terror is definitely one of my favorite rides despite its tendency to make me feel queasy.
I like the goofy ones.
Disneyland in December, when the sunshine is warm, the food jolly and the decorations bright, might possibly deserve to be called the happiest place on earth.
Thanksgiving, being the middle child of holidays that it is, occasionally gets overlooked. Between its creepy brother Halloween and flashy sister Christmas, poor Thanksgiving sometimes becomes nearly an afterthought. However, since I am fond of gorging with family, I’ve never been guilty of such neglect.
Wendy unveiled the mysteries of crust formation.
Thanksgiving provides an excellent excuse to spend hours preparing from-scratch dishes and reminiscing with relatives. One or two of you may recall that last year I vowed to bake homemade piecrusts this Thanksgiving and I’m happy to report that I made it so. My friend Wendy graciously showed me her crust secrets and I, in return, tutored her on the correct way to make some Southern fillings. Thanks to Wendy’s wise teachings, I made French coconut pie, frozen lemonade pie and my standard sweet-potato pie entirely from scratch this year. Who’s the pie master?
Here’s the proof that I did indeed create my own crusts.
Our Thanksgiving began earlier than normal this time with us donning Mayflower attire and racing around the Thanksgiving Point golf course in the Pilgrim Run. It was a pretty frigid morning but the “historical” wears were quite hilarious and worth facing the gnawing winter for.
I hope the pilgrims didn’t look this ridiculous coming off the Mayflower.
The rest of our day was spent with our families in the usual chaotic fashion. Between games of Rise of Augustus and animated discussions about Black Friday strategies, the day was gone remarkably fast leaving fond memories and too-full bellies in its hectic wake.
Not all of my family was around for Thanksgiving dinner but plenty were present.
Thanksgiving, you may be doomed to be forgotten between the hordes of costumed kids pursuing candy and the scourges of savage shoppers seeking Christmas, but I vow to always honor you with an endless offering of pies and what feels like an endless amount of family bonding.
It was my turn to host my Bunco group last month. I decided that Girls Rock would be my theme this time, a celebration of all things girly. Since I’m particularly passionate about the power of women, this motif seemed not only fun but fitting.
I arranged thirteen vases of flowers of varying style and size for this affair.
I, along with my helpful assistant Jason, made fresh-squeezed lemonade, various types of cookies, phyllo-wrapped asparagus and a classy cheese platter for this event. These freshly prepared treats were supplemented with delicious cake bites from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. I made sure all the victuals were presented with the frills and fanciness that the theme demanded.
I decorated red velvet cookies with swirls of cream cheese frosting, dusting sugar and pansies made out of icing.
All the ladies went home with a vase of flowers.
But sugar-crusted sweets and mint-garnished drinks weren’t enough in themselves to create a woman wonderland. I built a playlist with all the girly standards from Alanis Morissette to Avril Lavigne, plus a few of my offbeat personal favorites, so my halls could be filled with the sounds of rockin’ femininity.
This was just one of the many bouquets I put together.
I also decided to cover my house with bouquets of flowers, as if the girly refreshments and racquet weren’t enough. Floral arranging is a hobby of mine so I may have taken this portion of my plan a bit overboard. I packed thirteen vases with a variety of blooms and let my guests each pick one to take home with them.
I made sure the spread didn’t disappoint on the girly scale.
Bunco was stuffed with ruffles, blossoms and pinkness. And, more importantly, it was filled with the laughter of intelligent ladies exchanging ideas and enjoying each other’s company, which speaks more to the success of the evening than any overabundance of cheese or flowering vegetation ever could.