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Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Happy New Year?" - A Playlist

After bragging silently to myself in yoga class on Thursday night about how I hardly ever get sick anymore since I started practicing yoga, my immune system promptly decided to have an epic failure. Hubris,'s a real thing. I started getting chest-congesty-type symptoms literally as I was driving home, and by 8pm I almost couldn't talk. I now have the voice of a chain smoker and the energy of a 90-year-old...needless to say the party shoes are staying off tonight.

Since I feel so shitty, I've been spending most of the day sitting around, making Shiva collages for the yoga room (dork) and putting together playlists on Spotify. Thus, I bestow upon you my gift for 2011 - my New Years playlist. I'm only calling it that because I made it today and I would highly recommend that you NOT listen to this if you are all pumped to get your drink on tonight. You might end up sitting and staring pensively at a wall all night feeling all your feelings. But it's damn good music. So, your choice.

1) The Lions Roar by First Aid Kit

2) dash by DeYarmond Edison (so bummed I could not find a full-length version of this song...but it's on Spotify and iTunes :) )

Anyways, if you're going out I hope you have fun! I'll be staying in with Ben, a couple of close friends, two bottles of champagne and some cookies. I added sprinkles to the cookies because it makes them more festive. And also because it's an excuse to add sprinkles...not that I usually need one.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Ben and I were up bright and early on Christmas morning (through no choice of our own, really - being in a new place made Sidney restless all night, and Mini is restless by nature, anyway....) and by the time Julianna and my parents made it upstairs I had coffee already made! But I had also drunk about half of it, which semi-defeated the purpose of making coffee for others. So I made a second pot.

Once everyone was upstairs, my dad and I commenced with our family tradition of pancakes and bacon on Christmas morning. This is one of those traditions that was never intended to be such - one year it just happened, and has continued happening since. I honestly can't even remember what we did before pancakes and bacon, which implies that it couldn't have been that exciting.

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looks like mom could've used that second pot of coffee...

After breakfast it was time to open presents! This year was not without its share of ridiculous gifts, and the addition of Sidney and Mini into the mix proved quite entertaining.

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"Pretty sure that stocking is mine, Ben"
(it isn't)

My parents keep insisting that Sidney looks exactly like Lambchop - and I have to admit the resemblance is striking:

IMG_4438 they got him a stuffed lambchop dog toy. I honestly have no clue how my mom managed to find this thing, but Sidney was PUMPED (at least, he was pumped for 10 minutes until the novelty wore off, but it was the most excitement he's ever expressed for a new toy):

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Dog/Lamb cannibalism?

Speaking of Sidney, he also gave us a gift (no it was not a dead animal, or poop).

I knew it was a mistake to let the dog use my credit card...

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...but apparently he can read. Who knew?

The day just kept getting better from there. Apparently my dad thinks giant bottles of booze are appropriate Christmas gifts for his children:

We're not complaining

...we also received Norwegian-friendly mugs from my sister and gaudy and ridiculous Christmas socks from my mom (also an unplanned family tradition). Even the cats got presents!

In case you cannot read these, they say "Friends don't let friends eat lutefisk" and "Not only am I perfect, I'm Norwegian too!" Lovely.

After our gift exchange, we took Sidney for a good long walk on the trails near my parents house, and then packed re-packed everything for the journey home. When we finally returned to the condo, we had a few minutes to change clothes, feed and kennel Sidney and grab a few remaining things before heading out to spend the rest of the day with Ben's family.

The festivities kicked off with a nail-biter round of bowling! Surprisingly I wasn't terrible - this was probably actually the best game I've bowled in a while. Ben's uncle Dan was far and away the winner, but Ben, his cousin Anna and I were neck and neck for the whole game. In the end I beat Ben by one point!




It's true that whoever wins at bowling holds all the power in the marriage, right...?

After bowling, we went to Ben's aunt and uncle's for dinner, coffee and dessert. We got to see the cutest baby ever (aka my niece, Lillian), eat cookies (homemade by Ben's grandma Loey) and ice cream (homemade by Ben's aunt Joan), drink wine and chat with family. It was a busy but marvelous holiday.




I LOVE Christmas and am always a little sad when it's over - I am an extremely nostalgic person and the holidays bring that out to an even greater extreme because it's the one time of year when nostalgia is really socially acceptable. I like the sparkling lights, the cheesy carols, the decked-out department store windows - and I am fully OK with that (anyone else feel like it's sometimes not cool to care about things...?)

Hope you all had a safe and wonderful week - happy holidays and if you took some vacay like I did, good luck re-entering the real world...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve (aka, comedy of errors)

Christmas Eve-Eve was a smashing success! The following few photos pretty much sum up the evening:

Dinner with the in-laws downtown






On Christmas Eve Morning, Ben and I kept our tradition of exchanging our gifts for each other before heading out to various family events. Ben pulled out a winner this year - productivity is officially on hold!


Self-timer family photo took a few tries - looks like this one could have been good...

...but instead we ended up with this one of Mini looking possessed...

Packing everything in the car was pretty intense, but we managed to get all of the presents, Sid and Mini's crates, Mini's litter box, all pet supplies (food, litter, toys, etc) and our overnight bags into the Camry in short order, and were on the road in no time. We'd planned on bringing Sidney because we were spending the night of the 24th up at my parents, and unforseen circumstances (I'll explain later) required that we bring Mini, too. We realized that if we actually had children, we wouldn't be able to fit them in the car. I finally understood why people buy SUVs.

Once we were up at my parents, we set to work baking cookies!

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...or at least Julianna and I did. Dad, Ben and Sidney were downstairs watching the Vikings game.


And theeeeen it was time for choir mania! Ben and I sing in our church choir (it's a pretty awesome choir actually - our director also directs a professional choir in the area, and our organist is easily one of the best in the country). We sing a 5:30 and a 10:30 service, and our tradition for the last several years has been to eat dinner at a local restaurant in between the two. It's also become tradition that some unforseen event nearly prevents us from making it to one or both services - last year it was a flat tire, which was pretty intense, but this year was not without its shenanigans.

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The younger generation, drinking wine while we wait for our table...and yes, that is a Gryffindor scarf. Obviously.

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Gorder family!

The restaurant we always eat at on Christmas Eve recently came under new ownership, and I think they were unprepared for the insanity because, long story short, we got our food at 8:50 for a 7:15 reservation. Ben and I had to be back at the church, in our robes at 9:30 and neither of us had driven (we rode with my dad, my mom and sister drove separately). So, after inhaling my pasta, I grabbed my mom's car keys and booked it out to the parking lot, calling back a quick "uh-huh, of course" when she tried to make sure I had driven her car before.

Well as it turns out, I forgot that I had not in fact driven her new car. I managed to vanquish the keyless starter, but could not for the life of me figure out how to turn the headlights on. Ben tried to help me out by reaching in front of me and pressing various random buttons on the dashboard, but only succeeded in thoroughly cleaning my windshield and informing everyone that I was turning right, then left, while every car on the road flashed its brights at me to inform me that I was driving with no lights on.

Second service went off without a hitch, and by 12:30 we were back at my parents, totally wiped out and ready for bed, but excited for more festivities the next day.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve-Eve!

It's a new holiday - I like pretend I invented it. Basically Christmas Eve-Eve is an excuse for Ben and I to have our own, quiet celebration before the family insanity set in. Last year we had a quiet night in, cooked together and watched HP6, and then had our own Christmas Eve-Morning gift exchange. This year we have family dinner obligations tonight so we can't cook together, but we do have a date later tonight with Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and a glass of scotch or two.

Last night I had my High School girlfriends over for our annual White Elephant gift exchange - this year's treasures included a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush, hilarious notes that my friend Katie confiscated from her students, and a sock monkey dressed like a pirate that dances while singing Kanye. The singing dancing Ke$ha monster also made a triumphant return and I made sure that it ended the night in my possession.

Katie and Emily gave Sid a makeover

Amanda was an hour late, but it's OK because she was baking these!

Imperial Stout Porter brewed with spruce tips - amaaaazing

Tess showing off her Biebs toothbrush

Sid is the life of the partay!


The club can't even handle him right now...

Happy with my loot

Ben and I also bought a pretty awesome Christmas gift for ourselves this year, and it arrived this morning right after I got back from breakfast with Julianna at Butter - our new bar cabinet! I loved its appearance when I saw it in the store - but when I opened it up and saw that it was a BAR CABINET, I knew we had to have it.

See, right now our wine glasses and liquor are stored here:

Not so easy for the 5'5" crowd to reach up there

Thus enters...

Placing the inaugural bottle

"I don't see any booze in here Sid..."

Mini is planning her next bender

"Where's mah martini glass??"

I'm going to try to unplug for the next couple of days, so I probably won't be back online until after Christmas (I do have a scheduled post for tomorrow but it's short) - so have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

C is for Cookie!

Sleep continues to evade the MacKenzie household. Last night (or rather, this morning) Sid inexplicably needed to go outside and take a dump at 3am. It was the first time this has ever happened so we were a little surprised - normally if we take him out before bed he's good until 6 or 7am. Ben couldn't get back to sleep after that, so he got up at 4 to work on grading. I tried to go back to sleep but mostly failed, and finally got up at 5:45 which is basically when I get up anyways.

We also had some trouble getting to sleep last night...or at least I did. I've got a lot on my mind at the moment. Without going into too much detail it's been an interesting last few days - nothing work-related or husband-related, just life-related. I actually wrote a huge and somewhat hilarious rant about it, but opted to save it as a draft rather than publishing. It seemed like the kind of thing I might post and then regret later, even though the rant itself was pretty non-specific - plus I want to give this a few days and see if it turns out differently than how I think it will. Sufficed to say, I am pretty pissed off at the moment.

Anywhoo... I made lots of cookies this weekend! Some girlfriends from grad school and I got together at my friend Carina's house for a cookie bake. It ended up being essentially the same group from our girls cabin weekend last year, and a similar combination of activities - champagne, food and ridiculousness. Definitely a higher sugar quotient this time, though. As crazy-stressful as my MBA program was at the time, the friendships that came out of it were worth every late-night financial modeling breakdown.

Obviously working very hard to make these cookies happen

Again, working hard

Unsure whether Anna is making cookies, or if we need to call the police...

Ellie and Campbell

Cookie aftermath

In the end I went home with a tin full of sugar cutouts, gingerbread men, mint oreo truffles, white chocolate chex mix, peanut butter blossoms, and giant red velvet cookies (what Anna is making in the photo where she looks like a guest star on Dexter) - AND a box full of free Christmas ornaments from Ellie! Win.

BTW I know food and recipes have been noticably absent on this blog lately... I know and I really want to bring them back more, I just honestly have not had the time to be creative and develop recipes. I have a couple in the works (dark chocolate cookies and green thai curry), but they both need a little work before they're blog-ready.

After the Christmas insanity dies down, hopefully I'll be back with recipes galore. Happy Wednesday!
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