Christmas Traditions

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is learning about other family’s traditions. It’s fascinating that so many families celebrate the same holiday in such different ways. As a kid, I was so stuck in my own traditions. It hasn’t been until recently that I realized that not everyone celebrates Christmas exactly like my family does.

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My family traditions are very special. Most of my family resides in Pennsylvania, so we all head up to my grandma’s house. My parents met in high school, so both of their families were born and raised in the same area. That makes it easy to see both sides of the family during the holidays.

Every year, on Christmas Eve, we head over to my Aunt Linda’s house to celebrate with my Dad’s side of the family with a true Italian Seven Fishes Dinner.

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Obviously most of our time is spent eating, but we also find time to open presents, and drink fuzzy navels.

This year, on Christmas morning, my brother and I completed our 5th Annual Chrismas Morning Run.

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I got the chance to try out my new Under Amour gear!

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Compression pants = baller. It was a pretty rough run. We only did 3.2 miles, but my lungs were burning after the first mile. After that, my body started to remember what it was doing and I felt better. I really need to start running again.

After that, my mom’s side of the family started showing up at my Grammy’s house for a 2pm Christmas feast.

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Now, you are all well aware of my picky nature. Typically, for Christmas, my grandparents buy me cheese bread and I fight with my younger cousins about who gets more. This year, I went above and beyond and ate ham, corn, mashed potatoes, and scalloped potatoes…along with a slice of cheese bread (some traditions just can’t be broken).

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It was all so good that some of us (aka my cousin Eric) had to lick the plate!

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Then we all gathered around and opened gifts. Every year, all the grand kids take a picture with the grandparents.

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I ❤ my family.

Christmas was my Pappy's favorite holiday. He was such a grouch, but he absolutely adored Christmas. He loved the little holiday toys that played music and danced. So, every year around this time, it's impossible not to think of him. One year, my Aunt Renee, found a black Christmas hat that said "Bah Humbug", she wrapped it up with some coal and gave it to him on Christmas day. We all got a huge laugh about the hat and agreed that it fit his personality to a tee. The hat became a Christmas day tradition.

Last year, the hat stayed in storage. But this year, the tradition was passed down to the next lovable, grumpiest in the family…ME!

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I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to carry on this family tradition.

We all ate cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Oh and fudge. Lots and lots of fudge.

And drank frosty navels. Lots and lots of frosty navels.

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And got to spend lots of time catching up with my awesome family.

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Oh, and my Pandora bracelet is almost complete!

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What a wonderful holiday! I love celebrating with family and friends who I just don’t get to see enough of.

What are your holiday traditions?

Have a Very Hipster Christmas

I know I haven’t posted anything recently, and I swear, it’s because I’ve been busy. Busy transforming myself into a hipster. Yes, you heard that right. I have learned the in’s and out’s of hipster-dom and am working on becoming one full-time. Well, just for yesterday anyway. My friend Sarah (who is becoming a regular feature in this here blog, surprise surprise) and I decided to be ironic (because we love irony) and dress up as hipsters. It’s ironic because we are the world’s worst hipsters. After a day of google researching, we made the full transformation.

So thus I present to you, without further ado…

A Very Hipster Christmas

To get in the spirit at 7am, Sarah and I sang spirited Hipster Carols via our Apple iPhones.

Coffee and Poetry. Apparently hipsters love this.

Naughty and Nice? Hipsters love their irony.

She’d rather be listening to this new band…you’ve probably never heard of them.

My job is so mainstream.

Hipsters just don’t care. We just don’t.

A very hipster lunch. Okay, not really, but we were hungry, okay!?

Meat? Not hipster.

Now that’s what I call a hipster fortune.

Our co-workers were NOT impressed.

Gotta stay up on the latest trends.

Hipster cat

Bathroom mirror pictures are essential

So is PBR.

And a good one. I love my co-worker’s festiveness.

After spending one full day of receiving odd looks and people giggling at me in the hall, I’m thinking that hipster days are numbered. But it’s been real while it lasted.

Happy Holidays!

The Post-Marathon Slump

What is the post-marathon slump, do you ask? My fellow runners can most likely relate to me on this. The post-marathon slump is a period after any race (it doesn’t necessarily need to be a marathon) where you take a physical and mental break from all things running. It’s like, “Hey, I just ran 26.2 miles, so I probably don’t really need to run again for another month or so, right?”

Wrong.

Yet this thinking prevails. At least it does for me. Ever since my marathon I’ve been struggling with finding motivation to run. I don’t have anything to strive for, so what’s the point? Since my big race, I’ve only run once and it was painful. It’s crazy how quickly I get out of shape! The 4 miles I did on Saturday morning hurt worse than the 26.2 I did last month. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. There is a huge difference between my fitness level now and when I completed my marathon 3 weeks ago. All of my hard work is going down the drain. It’s kind of sad.

You want to know the worst part? It’s that despite everything, I have zero motivation to get out there and change. I know that I should. I read so many other blogs written by such motivated runners and I know that I should lead by example. But I’d much rather go to BDubs with my friends or catch up on episodes of How I Met Your Mother (best show EVER, for the record).

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For me, exercise is an absolute necessity. It really isn’t an option. Thanks to my luck (or lack thereof) in the genetic lottery, I failed to inherit any kind of metabolism. It’s not that I think weight loss/gain has everything to do with metabolism, but how can you explain the fact that my male roommate (who doesn’t exercise) can eat the same exact thing that I do and stays super skinny while I blow up like a balloon? It’s just not fair. If I stop exercising completely, I gain weight pretty quickly. I may or may not do a longer, more detailed post about my (and my family’s) battle with weight and genetics, but I have yet to summon up the courage. This blog is supposed to be me exposed, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to be that honest with you (and myself) yet. Soon. Maybe.

I digress. What I really need are motivators for getting back into running. How do I kick-start this exercise routine again? Now that it’s dark and dreary out by 5pm, how do I muster up the energy after a long day’s work to go for a run?

I’ve already decided to sign up for another race. I’m going to run the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. But I’m worried that a half still won’t be motivation enough for me to brave the cold, and I’m not ready to run another full just yet. It’s a Catch 22 at its finest.

Have you ever experienced the post-marathon (or any race) slump? Any tips for overcoming it?

Baltimore Crab Pizza

I’m sorry for the scarcity of posts this week. It’s the holiday season and there are some pretty big changes happening in my life (I will discuss in a later post), which have kept me inexplicably busy.

This post has been a long time in the making though. I moved to Maryland after college about two years ago and quickly learned that there are two things Maryland is known for: crab and football. As part of becoming an official Maryland resident, I knew I had to try crab. My co-worker/friend Mike(y), constantly would go on, and on, and on, and on, and on (no exaggeration here at all) about how awesome crab was and how it was a crime that I had never tried it. My first attempt was in crab cake form at a restaurant in Baltimore. I was impressed. Later that summer, I went on a crab boat where we actually had to crack our own shells and pull the meat out. I only had 3-4 crabs that day (it’s hard work!), but I thought they were delicious and craved more.

That’s when the idea to make crab pizza was formed. I am on a crab kick and pretty much want to try every concoction I can possibly dream of. What could be better than combining one of my new favorite foods with one of my classic favorites?

Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

We decided if we were going to do this, we were going to do this right. Mike lives in Baltimore, which is known for their crabs. Before I arrived for pizza making he went down the street and picked up a dozen crabs from L.P. Steamers. I’m pretty sure he also tested one for quality control before I even got there…typical.

After a quick refresher (for me, obviously Mike is a pro) on how to get the crab meat out, we got to it. I forgot how messy this was.

Luckily, we had some help from Layla, Mike’s cat. Pretty sure that nothing would have gotten done without her. Although I think she was just in it for the little crab snacks we were giving her.

She loves some Old Bay.

The concept of crab pizza seemed weird to me at first. My original thought was, “How the heck could that taste good? It sounds kind of weird”, but we decided on a recipe that included a cream cheese filling, and a blend of spices which reminded me of crab dip…except better! We, then, added cheese and a little bit lot of bacon to the top.

See, I’m not the only bacon stealer around here!

The crab filling on this was seriously so good. I could have eaten it alone by the spoonful. We made too much though, and put way too much on the pizzas. When I make this again (and I will) I will probably spread it a little thinner because it was literally oozing out the sides.

Crab Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh crab (I suppose you can buy canned, but it’s way more fun when it’s fresh)
  • Two 8oz packs of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup swiss cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp (or more if you love it like we do) Old Bay seasoning
  • Bacon
  • Swiss cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese

Combine cream cheese, crab meat, milk, feta cheese, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and Old Bay in a large bowl. Spread over pizza crust (we cheated and store bought ours). Sprinkle swiss cheese and mozzarella cheese over the top. Add bacon (or any other toppings) as desired. Bake 10-12 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is melted.

We served ours with some Old Bay french fries which are not pictured because we ate them so quickly that I didn’t have time to snap a photo. Oops! I think I’ve been officially inducted into the Maryland residents club.

My “Grown Up” Christmas List

This weekend I came to the realization that it’s freaking DECEMBER already. And you know what that means! It’s time to hang those lights, decorate the tree, eat a metric ton of cookies, and listen to my *NSYNC Christmas album on repeat at an obnoxiously loud volume! I did all 4 this weekend.

As proof, here’s a photo of my painfully small tree.

This season brings about that inevitable plethora of holiday commercials with annoyingly catchy jingles. While watching football this weekend, I saw the same one for Walmart about 40 times. While I don’t remember the exact words of the obnoxious tune (I could hum it for you, but that wouldn’t help), I do remember that it consisted of two red-headed children waking their parents up at an ungodly hour by excitedly jumping up and down on their bed. Despite being annoyed by it, the underlying message tugged at my nostalgic heartstrings. I remember being excited into hysterics on Christmas morning when I was a kid. One year, we were out a little late on Christmas Eve and I literally cried all the way home because I was worried that we stayed out too late and that Santa was going to pass over our house. Christmas makes kids do crazy things, I swear.

Times have changed a bit. But opening presents with my family is still one of the highlights of the season. However, these days, I’m no longer wishing for Polly Pockets and Barbie’s dream house. I suppose my tastes (not necessarily in food) have changed a bit. Of course, this wish-list would be if we had unlimited funds (which we, obviously, do not), so it’s a bit far-fetched. But hey, that’s why it’s called a WISH-list right? 😀

Garmin Forerunner 405

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Okay, actually, any old GPS watch would do but this one is freaking sweet. This fall, my brother and I went on a 10 mile training run around our neighborhood. He had a Garmin watch and it was SO useful. It told us how fast we were going and how far. Ever since then, I’ve wanted one of my own. I chose Garmin because they are a nice, reliable brand and I trust their GPS systems.

Red Kitchen Aid Mixer

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We don’t have a mixer in my apartment. I feel like if I were to invest in one, I may have more incentive to cook and bake. My batters would be much smoother than they are now and my arm muscles would be seriously thanking me. I chose the red color for no other reason than vanity. It’s kind of cliche, but I’m obsessed.

SLR Camera

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Yes, PLEASE! I’ve been “borrowing” (read: stealing) my roommate’s nice DSLR camera literally for months now for this blog. I’m not claiming to be an expert on photography, but I would love to have my own camera to play around with. I love fiddling with all the different settings and staging up shots. If I got my own camera, I’m sure it’d be attached to my hip at all times.

Pandora Charms

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I suppose this is a more realistic wish on my list. I actually just got a Pandora bracelet last year and have slowly been filling it up with cute little charms. I’ve been receiving them as birthday and Christmas gifts and am pretty close to filling up my bracelet. After this Christmas, I suspect I will only need a few more!

A Pillow Pet!

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I know that this is supposed to be a grown up Christmas list….but, I am under the impression that even grown-ups are fully capable of loving fuzzy pillows that look like adorable, little wild-life creatures. I would love to have a giraffe or a penguin to cuddle with on long car rides.

iPad 2

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If you know me at all, you know I’m a tech nerd. I love to be on top of the newest technology, especially if it involves Apple. I already have a MacBrook Pro, an iPhone, and an iPod. I would love to round out my collection with an iPad 2, but I can’t justify buying one for any reason other than it’d be fun to have. I would love to be able to “test drive” a tablet for awhile to see if I use it enough to actually invest.

What’s on your wish-list?