Holidays Make You Feel Things

Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends! Although I still can’t believe we’ve reached the holidays, I’m all about embracing it! Such occasions always stand out and one thing I can be thankful for is where I am in my life right now. I, like everyone, am a work in progress, but I’m finally starting to like where I’m heading, professionally speaking. A year ago, I started a job that wasn’t for me. Now, I’m starting a career of which I am passionate and happy and excited to partake. Celebrate these things!

This weekend, I got things started nice and early on Saturday with a workout before work. My body protested a smidgen when my alarm blasted at 6AM, but once I was up and moving I felt great! I worked through a series of strength moves, working my shoulders, biceps, and core before hopping on the treadmill for a 2.5 mile run. After, it was time for work!

Saturday afternoon was spent studying. There was also time to fit in a nap before I headed out with my friends for the night. My college friends don’t get to see each other a whole lot, but it’s always fun when we do! We met up for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and chatted over chips and salsa. For dinner, I had the blackened salmon salad, which is my favorite salmon ever. I don’t know how they cook it like that, but it’s amazing!

We stopped at a bar after for drinks, but it wasn’t a late night because we all wake up early now and are old and tired. Back at my house, we did curl up on the couch with tea and talking. Always nice to do!

As a good chef, I will admit when things don’t always run smoothly in the kitchen. For instance, I decided to make my specialty egg breakfast on Sunday morning for my friends. It’s not even a complicated dish. Just spinach, red pepper, marinara, eggs, and mozzarella all baked together into simmering goodness. Well, I don’t think I set the oven on high enough because those eggs would just not cook! What should have taken between 20-30 minutes was more like 40-50 and that was AFTER I already removed it from the oven because the eggs were hard, and then still drippy in a not so good way once I looked closer.

Still, I was determined and I think it turned out alright in the end. Not my best, especially of this dish, but still tasty.

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I met my friend Nouha at the gym for a workout later on in the afternoon. Technically, it was my scheduled rest day, but I hadn’t seen Nouha in awhile, so I decided to join. We had a fun time working through a tough triceps, legs, and core workout and chatting as we went.

That night, my sister and her husband came over for dinner. You’d think I’d be better about taking pictures, but I’ve been a bad blogger as of late. Sorry! We enjoyed chicken supreme with brown spinach rice and asparagus. So good! For dessert, my mom made her legitimately famous whoopie pies, which taste like Heaven on Earth.

That takes us back to reality to Monday morning- of a holiday week though!- and this breakfast I assembled to my liking. An egg and egg-white omelet with cheese, waffles, and berries. This time, I did snap a picture for you fine folks.

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I was talking with my friends this weekend and we decided to try and be healthier. I’ve got exercise covered and my meals are mostly good, but I also have a wicked sweet tooth that needs to be reigned in. It’s all about how I haven’t been feeling quite as healthy and fresh as usual, so even though Thanksgiving is coming and I will be indulging, that doesn’t mean I’m going to go buck wild in every other way. When in doubt, just try your best and do things that feel good and right.

Traditions, Family, and Christmas

Traditions are a big part of what make the holidays so special. I’ve been incredibly fortunate for an incredible amount of reasons, but this time of year in particular, I am most grateful for my family, good fortune, and health. Holidays help us, if nothing more, to reflect and appreciate what we have been given in life- if we are lucky. I try to make an effort to show my appreciation, especially to my family, and to think of those who aren’t as lucky.

Family and traditions go together. Sometimes things change over the years or new traditions are made, but the feelings they inspire remain the same. From the house being decorated in every nook and crannie, to the tree-George the 25th- to the last minute rush of getting the Christmas cards out, there are many layers that go into making Christmas special.

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Growing up, I was always the one who set up the manger scene. I can’t remember if I had written this as a post or if it was included in the post that disappeared, but when I was younger, I was obsessed with Barbies and dolls, and I viewed the manger set as more of my playthings. I used to pretend that it was a family welcoming a new baby, which, in its simplest form, is completely true. People may joke, but I don’t play with them anymore, but I do still take an immense joy in setting it up each year to perfection. No one else can do it quite right.

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There’s the mantle with the Christmas scene set up in picture perfect sequence, the tree shining (still lacking in decorations, but that is yet to come). We have the homemade stockings that were gifted to us at birth, the holiday scented candles, and Christmas tunes blaring. Even my family’s favorite picture of all time, the one my mom “photoshopped” in order to fit us all in the same frame by cutting off my Grandma’s petite head and floating her above the rest of us.

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I also happen to be incredibly lucky in that my family remains close and we are all able to spend the holidays together. Christmas Eve starts off with a warm lunch, followed by mass (singing those carols is my favorite part), then having the entire family over to celebrate. From the food, present opening, and the laughter and love, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Christmas Day begins later, even today, than my brother Jimmy and I prefer, as we wait for our sister, Lauren to arrive (or in the younger years, wake up), but after we open our gifts from Santa and one another, we feast on a big breakfast and relax until it’s time for cheesy potatoes that my Auntie Bea makes.

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Many of these traditions have foundations built upon memories of my childhood, which make it that much more special. To be fair, it is never too late to begin a new tradition, but Christmas is the time I remember the people who I’ve lost and miss them the most. Watching old videos from when I’m younger helps to show my Nana and Auntie Tee who spoiled us in love and gifts and were the sources of light, love, and laughter for my siblings and me. I remember Christmas at my grandparents house when my Grandpa was still with us, all of the family sitting around the living room and just being together. It’s sad, but cathartic, and so important to remember these times, and these people, everyday, but particularly on these special days, that emphasize love and appreciation.

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Holidays can be commercialized and materialistic, and I won’t claim to be innocent of this. But that is never my focus or the way I choose to center my celebrations. For me, life and holidays, are all about family, love, and appreciation, and I am incredibly fortunate to be blessed with all three and so much more.

If we are even luckier, check back in tomorrow to see if I was able to convince my family to model all the beautiful Christmas sweaters we have in our collection!