Christmas Conclusion

by Lisa on Sunday: Dec 27, 2015

The Christmas season has officially come to an end! Between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the holiday tends to go by in a whirlwind of activity and events. I thought I’d do a quick recap of the past few days for the blog.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has always been the biggest celebration in my family, and because of that, D comes along for the entire day for my family’s festivities. This particular Christmas Eve, we were planning to be at my parents’ house at 1PM, so that gave D and I a chance to have a more leisurely morning. I spent my free time doing a little work in my planner and brainstormed some of my 2016 goals. (Side Note- 2 posts in the works to look out for: how I use my planner to stay organized and a 2016 resolutions post.)

The first stop of the day was my parents’ house, where we had the first round of massive quantities of food. My family is Italian, and we are seemingly constantly eating. D and I exchanged presents with my family and hung out for a little while, and then all of us took off for stop number 2: my aunt’s house. This is where my whole extended family on my mother’s side gets together for the big Christmas Eve party.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day D and I go our separate ways to visit our individual families for the first part of the day. I imagine next year will look a little different once we’re married, but since we started dating (more than 6 years ago!), this has been the system.

So, I went to my parents’ house again to open presents from “Santa” with my brother, and then my aunt and uncle came over and all of us had another big dinner. Meanwhile D was doing the same with his mother and sister. I left right after dessert and headed on down the street to D’s family’s house to spend the rest of Christmas with them.

Then at the very end of all that, D and I returned home and exchange gifts together.

For Christmas this year, I had asked for several items to help continue my house organization projects, and I spent some of yesterday working on some of that, while also forcing myself to relax (why is it so hard to let ourselves relax sometimes?). Now I’m pretty happy to say that I have Monday off as well as next Friday for New Year’s Day and the majority of the in between will be work from home days. It’s not quite what Christmas vacation used to be as a kid, but I’ll take it!

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That was my Christmas in a nuthell. Tell me about yours!

Christmas Eve Catch Up

by Lisa on Thursday: Dec 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! If you’re celebrating, I hope you have a great holiday and get lots of time to relax and spend time with loved ones. Before I head off to my family’s festivities of the day, I thought I would check in for a Christmas Eve catch up, linking up with Thinking Out Loud.

thinking out loud

  1. You may have noticed that I haven’t had a blog post in a week or so, and I’ve been missing it a lot! Between holiday planning, wedding planning and my looming work deadline, I’ve barely had time to do much else in my life.
  2. Thankfully yesterday was a slow day at work because nearly the whole office was out on vacation. I made it a work-from-home day and during down time did some catching up on things including cleaning my house and getting some blog things prepped.
  3. I have officially started putting together some plans and goals for the new year! I started by cracking open my brand new 2016 Erin Condren planner and writing down my January blog schedule and getting ready to start filling in my official resolutions. Next up will be my list of resolutions. I will have a post coming up soon on how I use my planner to keep my life organized, so stay tuned for that!
  4. I saw a great idea on someone’s vlog recently for a new idea for meal planning. Using her idea, I’ve created a collection of sticky note flags, each of which has a different meal written on it. The stickies will be assigned to the days in my planner when I’m doing my weekly planning, but the beauty of this system is that the stickies can be moved when plans change (which they always inevitably do). Then after each day has passed, the stickies go back on my dashboard, and I can write down what we actually ended up eating if it was different than the plan.
  5. I mentioned I got that idea from a vlog, and I have to say that since I’ve started watching vloggers and other types of Youtubers a few months ago, I’ve gotten so many brilliant ideas on organization and life in general! I love the community on there.
  6. Because of how busy the past few weeks have been, I’ve been eating take out like crazy. After Christmas, I’m looking forward to getting back on the healthy eating/cooking at home bandwagon. It’s really gotten out of hand lately, but it’s been what’s been working for the moment.
  7. Last week, D and I had a very nice date night when we went out to Sculler’s Jazz Club at the Doubletree in Boston. They do a dinner and a show package which starts off with a 3 course meal at the hotel’s restaurant and concludes with a jazz show. We saw Helen Sung and the show was amazing. It was so nice to get out and do something fun together.

    Scullers Jazz Club Boston

  8. Last weekend we also had our official save the date photo session with our photographer. We should be getting the pictures back in the next week or two and I’m really anxious/excited to see how they came out.

That’s it for today! I hope everyone is having a great week and a great holiday.

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What are your holiday plans?

How to Be a Vegetarian at the Holidays

by Lisa on Tuesday: Dec 01, 2015

I became a vegetarian at the young age of 16, and it just so happened to be right around Thanksgiving time. My family barely knew what a vegetarian was, let alone what to cook for me. These days, it’s become a little more mainstream, and my family has become much more knowledgeable and flexible when it comes to making meals. Every Thanksgiving, my immediate family heads over to my aunt and uncle’s house for a big family meal, and I’m thankful that I always have plenty to eat. My aunt even makes sure to make a second dish of stuffing that was cooked outside of the bird so that I can have some! I’m very lucky in that regard.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, Christmas and even New Year’s can be very big meat-eating events. Here are some tips I’ve developed over the years for how to have a great holiday meal when you’re not partaking in the meat:

Let Others Know In Advance

If you’re attending a holiday party hosted by a friend or family member and they’re not familiar with your diet, it’s a good idea to make sure to let that person know ahead of time. It gives you a chance to let the host or hostess know just in case, and also it prevents an awkward moment at the dinner table when that person may end up feeling insulted or blindsided when you’re not eating a giant slice of turkey. I never make a big deal of this, but it’s polite and helpful to let them know.

Bring a Veggie Dish With You

This is my favorite tip: If you’re not sure there’s going to be many options for you at a holiday event, bring one (or two!) yourself. It’s always fun to do some cooking or baking around the holidays, plus this is a great chance for you to expose other people to some non-meat dishes that you love that they may also find delicious. Some great ideas: baked macaroni and cheese, a big salad, any kind of potato dish (roasted, mashed), roasted brussel sprouts, a giant pan of assorted roasted veggies – and the list goes on!

Check out the Appetizers

Appetizers are the best. They’re often the tastiest thing at a party and there are so many options that you’ll likely encounter that don’t include meat! I love a good cheese platter, and some other favorites include chips and salsa, guacamole, olives, nuts and crostini.

Side Dishes are a Vegetarian’s Best Friend

At least in my family, even if the centerpiece of a meal is a giant turkey, steak or ham, there will always be a variety of side dishes. For instance, this past Thanksgiving there were side dishes ranging from mashed potatoes and squash to lasagna (yes, lasagna! My family is Italian and big eaters, so apparently lasagna is considered a side dish). Oftentimes at these big holiday meals, there are so many side dishes to choose from that I can barely fit them all on my plate.

Host a Party Yourself!

If you have the opportunity, hosting a holiday get together can be a lot of fun, as well as a chance to control the menu. D and I are planning to host our very first Thanksgiving next year, and while it certainly won’t be meat free (we will have all the traditional foods, including turkey), I do plan on branching out and making several vegetarian friendly dishes. I’m actually very excited for a chance to experiment with some new dishes and share them with our families.

And Lastly…

Don’t forget: desserts and wine are always great meat free options to indulge in at the holidays 🙂

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Did you have any non-traditional foods at Thanksgiving this year?

What is your favorite holiday dish?

Saturday Catch Up

by Lisa on Saturday: Nov 21, 2015

Happy Saturday, everyone! I missed out on Thinking Out Loud Thursday this week, so I thought I would do a Saturday Catch Up to make up for it!

  • This week, I got hit by the stomach bug that’s been making the rounds through my office, and as you might expect, it was miserable. All day Thursday was spent out of commission (hence missing Thinking Out Loud). I’m feeling better now, but still not completely back to normal.
  • While I was sick, I decided to quickly whip up a big bactch of veggie soup, which is a recipe I modified from my grandmother’s chicken soup that my mother made all the time when I was growing up. I might post a recipe at some point.
  • Speaking of veggies, did you check out my first post in my “How to be a Vegetarian at…” series? This one was about Disney World. Check it out! The next installment will be about Thanksgiving.
  • Can you believe Thanksgiving’s only a few days away? How did the year go by so fast? For Thanksgiving we always go to my aunt’s house and have a big family gathering. Then, either Friday or Saturday of that weekend, we go to my parents’ house and put up their Christmas tree. It’s been our tradition for years.
  • I have a confession: I’ve already started listening to Christmas carols. I find that they make the sudden cold and dark conditions a little more happy.
  • D is out for the day today with a friend, and I have the place to myself. I think I’m going to catch up on some things with the blog and tackle some housework that’s been neglected while I’ve been sick. Sounds like a nice, relaxing day!
  • D’s birthday is also coming up at the beginning of December, so it’s been gift central at the house lately, shopping for both that and Christmas. I think I might have all of his birthday gifts purchased at this point. All that’s left is to wrap them and get a card, and then we move onto Christmas. I used to find it challenging that his birthday was so close to Christmas, but after 6 Decembers together, I’ve gotten into a rhythm with it.

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What are you up to this weekend?

Anyone else have loved ones with birthdays in December?

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

A Month of Horror Movies

by Lisa on Tuesday: Nov 10, 2015

Every October D and I have a tradition of watching as many horror movies as humanly possible. This year we started a week or two early because we were just so excited, and we made it through 30(!) movies. I thought I would do a little recap on what we watched and what our favorites were.

Iconic Series

We kicked off the marathon with a series we have both loved and watched together before: the Saw series.

The Saw Collection

He and I had seen Saw 6 together in theaters very close to the beginning of our relationship, and throughout the course of our years together worked through the rest. This series was especially fun to watch this year because we knew we were going to be meeting Tobin Bell at the Rock and Shock convention. D also ended up cosplaying as Jigsaw!

As I also mentioned in my Rock and Shock recap, the Sleepaway Camp series became one of our favorites this year. The first movie in the series is the best and most true to the horror genre. The second and third are more campy and have some ridiulousness that’s more funny than scary. However, the whole series is a lot of fun!

Sleepaway Camp

We only watched two of the very many Friday the 13th movies this year, but not for lack of trying! We made it through 1 and 8 and wanted to watch more, but simply ran out of time. That’s okay though because we have had several actual Friday the 13ths in the past year and we watched several on those days.

Classics That Were New To Me

Being a huge horror fan, it may be surprising to hear that I hadn’t seen several classic horror movies that seemingly everyone else has seen. First up on the list was the Blair Witch Project. I was expecting it to be terrible based on everything I had ever heard about it, but I actually kind of enjoyed the documentary style nature of the film.

We also watched the original Amityville Horror which was highly recommended by D. I really liked this one and in fact we were going to watch the sequels, but again ran out of time.

Classics That Were Not New To Either of Us

C.H.U.D. Enough said.

Suspiria: D showed me this movie for the first time last Halloween, and I remember thinking that the creepy atmosphere of the movie was executed very well, between the music, the visuals and the suspense factor. We reprised it this year and loved it again.

CHUD and Suspiria

New Movies

D happened to see a trailer online for the movie Unfriended and unfortunately it wasn’t available on Netflix or anywhere else we could stream it for free. We ended up ordering it from Amazon because we were intrigued. It was a unique concept for a horror movie and kept you on the edge of your seat. All the twists were pretty crazy.

Netflix didn’t disappoint entirely though, because we found a random movie while browsing through the recommendations. It was called Animal, and it was pretty scary! I would describe it as a slasher movie, but with something that isn’t human.

There were many more than just these that we enjoyed this year, but these are some of the highlights. Our next movie tradition will be to watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles during the week of Thanksgiving.

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Do you have any movie traditions?

What’s your favorite horror movie?