and just like that, we're heading back to real life. tex and i flew back to houston on saturday after an extended break in the midwest with my family. there is always something so rejuvenating about being home with my family, and this break was no exception. i was glad that we planned on flying back a day before break ended not only to give us a little time to readjust to being home but also because (as you might have heard) weather took a nosedive and i'm pretty certain we wouldn't have made it back nearly as quickly as we did if we had left on sunday. hope you all are staying warm in other areas of the country - people in houston are freaking out at the temps in the 20s and i'm just laughing and thinking about how much my brother in minneapolis would love anything in the above 0 range. there's so much to recap that i'm not even going to try but i'll share some of my favorite vacation moments with you.
my mom's friend hosted my first bridal shower the day after i got home. she's a fellow pig lover like me and she made these pig cupcakes to celebrate the occasion. they were strawberry cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting. never underestimate the power of a homemade buttercream - i'm pretty sure it could solve all the worlds' ills.
after the shower, we headed back to my parents' house for my extended family christmas party. i am glad i got the chance to wear my bridal shower dress and get some pictures in it because i promptly poured bbq shrimp all over it during dinner at the party. despite the best efforts of laurel and bleach, this dress had to be pitched after only being worn once. despite that snafu, the rest of the party was wonderful. great food, lots of family, and i couldn't have been happier than i was to be able to get to spend the time with everyone.
i also learned that running in yaktrax is not only comfortable but seriously necessary. thanks to these guys i didn't break an ankle while running outside. i'm pretty proud of myself that i only missed one marathon training run (a random 4-miler that i'm not at all worried about missing) while i was home. i did 4 runs inside but the rest of them outside which i was even more proud of. after running in houston i was worried i wouldn't be able to hack it outside in the midwest but i did it. only some mild frostbite on my hands and feet, other than that i'm no worse for wear.
i live in a super small town in northwest indiana (so yes, technically when i say i'm going to chicago i'm lying - it's about 45 minutes outside of the city) and they have this light festival every christmas. something about it just makes me feel like the holidays are here. when tex and my brother and his wife flew in on christmas, i made my dad drive us through the festival on our way home from the airport. nothing says christmas like a lit up stegosaurus and a saguaro, right? random small town shit cracks me up because it makes me feel like my life is a little like gilmore girls.
i didn't do any holiday baking on my own in houston this year so i made my mom promise to let me bake most of the cookies when i got home. she was happy to let me and the first saturday i was there i made five different kinds of cookies to add to my mom's tins. then i ate them for most of my meals for all of break. i love christmas cookies.
i also love christmas brunch with my family. we're getting pretty close to overflowing the dining room table, but until that happens we'll keep packing together around it.
it was also absolutely amazing to have tex with me for christmas. he flew in on christmas night because my family celebrates on the 26th. that way, he got to have christmas morning with his parents and our family's christmas morning with mine. it was wonderful.
besides christmas brunch, my other favorite part of christmas is sibling dinner. a couple of years ago, my brothers and i decided to stop giving each other christmas presents and instead go out for a nice dinner together while we were all home. we very rarely get to hang out together since we all are strewn around the country, so it's awesome when we can. my oldest brother sean and his wife live in chicago so they met us at the restaurant for dinner which is why they're missing from the pic. we would have taken pictures at the restaurant but after many bottles of wine and an epic quest for gelato, we forgot. best laid plans.
those were the highlights. lots of time was spent on the couch keeping warm, lots of great meals, lots of fun cooking with my mom and overall a great way to wrap up 2013.