Sunday, January 6, 2013

A December to Remember

This post is a little harder to write than I had imagined it would be. I started outlining it the first weekend of the month because I didn't want to leave anything out. December truly was an epic month and probably one I'll hold on to for a long time... December was nearly perfect for me and I don't want to let the events of January 1st spoil the memories. Looking back is a little heart wrenching, so forgive me if it's disjointed or awkward.

  • Britni's Jewelry Show early in the month my super talented friend held her second annual jewelry show in her adorable home in Atascadero, California. Her work is gorgeous and has a vintage quality that you don't see in many places anymore.  I would recommend her wearable art to anyone... wedding party gifts? totally appropriate, looking for something for your mom, sister, grandma, girlfriend, best friends? she's your girl. Check out her page if you get a chance, and visit her at art in the park in the summer months in Shell Beach, you truly will not be disappointed.
  • Last Minute Road Trip, the second weekend in the month my buddy Karla Beatriz photographer extraordinaire made a spur of the moment trip to Orange County to visit The Elitist to do a photo shoot, spend some quality girl time together, and to celebrate (early) her daughter's 3rd birthday. 
    • Photo shoot: so it went pretty well considering our model (Elitist) was recovering from a nasty bug and wasn't feeling at the top of her game and we made her get in the cold ocean/swimming pool/and basically dance around in her underwear all day... the unexpected moment was when Karla wanted to practice some different shots and had me crash the shoot. While I'm not comfortable posting the pics she took of me here on my blog, let me tell you I've never seen a photo of myself where I have felt so incredibly beautiful. A month later I still pull up the photos and get lost in them. I promise I'm not that vain, I've just never seen myself like that.
    • Camera oops: I was really stoked to have my mom's cannon rebel to shoot landscape/ocean activity pictures with on this trip... except I used the wrong exposure and 90% of my favorite pictures that I took at the beach that weekend were so over exposed that they were just a solid white screen. I guess it worked out okay though, it taught me how to use it before I went to Yosemite later in the month.
    • Happy Birthday Month Kiddo!
    • Aurora's Birthday: this year we introduced "Birthday Month" to the kiddo. Karla and I weren't going to be able to make it back down for the official birthday party at the end of the month, so we took her out for an ice cream sundae at the most ridiculously loud place we could imagine... a perfect place for a 3 year old right? I think it freaked her out a little, but if you're in the mood for a sweet frozen treat with a Carney Barker Farrell's is the place to go. This was her first of 3 (at least) birthday parties, she seemed a little confused by the notion of celebrating on a non-official day, but once the sticker was on her shirt and the ice cream came out, she was down to party.
  • Christmas Party with the Field's
    • 
      At the Field's Christmas Party 2012,
      I was the clear White Elephant Exchange winner.
    • Baking Nightmares: Since the party was potluck style, I chose to bring baked goods as my contribution. It's a standard for me, I enjoy baking, and normally it's something I'm good at. Normally. I don't know what was going on, but I was off my game on the brownies. BOXED BROWNIES for crying out loud. Anyway I made them according to instructions, popped them into the preheated oven and baked for the appropriate amount of time, I stuck them with a skewer to make sure they were cooked all the way through, and while they were still slightly doughy, they were cooked enough to pull them out.  Somehow, despite the fact that I greased/cocoa'd the pan, they stuck...bad... and half of the batch was burned and the other half not cooked all the way. I haven't failed that royally baking since... well the last time I baked brownies. Aren't they supposed to be the easiest thing to make? Can't elementary school students successfully make brownies? Anyway they got tossed and I baked a lemon bundt cake with chocolate frosting and it was a hit... or at least passed inspection. Have I lost my game from taking such a long break from the Kitchen Aid? Guess I better get my ass back in the kitchen on a more frequent basis.
    • Cards Against Humanity: This might be the most fun/inappropriate party game I've ever played. It is a lot like "Apples to Apples" except it has more of an "R/NC-17" rating. I suggest playing with your more open minded friends, or read a few of the cards before bringing it out a family dinner. My best advice is that while it's fun and hysterical with the right group, you really need to know your audience.
    • babies babies everywhere: this was a family-friendly party and I felt like the pied piper of babydom. All the little ones were so happy, I'm not sure any of them (all under 5 and if my memory is correct there was close to a half dozen of them there) had any kind of fussing or melt downs. I got spit up on a bit, but it's a hazard you face when holding those cute little people. Don't worry, I haven't caught baby fever, not even close, but I do like kids.
    • white elephant exchange: Like with a lot of Christmas or Holiday parties there was a white elephant exchange, gifts ranged from Copenhagen dip, cheap beer, orange cones, a Topsy Turvy tomato grower thing, door mats and other ridiculous items. Needless to say hilarity ensued and we were all a little disappointed when the game was over.
    • blind wine tasting: the last activity at the party (these weren't listed in chronological order) was a blind wine tasting, everyone brought a bottle of wine, we covered the labels with brown paper bags and sampled each. Some were awesome, some were the opposite, I'm not sure what wine was the winner, but with 12 bottles to taste from we were all in good spirits.
    • And the Food! Seeing as how it was a potluck there were lots of foodstuffs to choose from and I'm only mentioning a couple of the side dishes/appetizers. The stand outs if you will. If I left you out, feel free to add them in the comments, and if you'd like to link a recipe that would be awesome too. The main dish was turkey, one deep fried the other smoked, both received rave reviews.
      • stuffed mushrooms: okay, so I don't have the recipe for these here, but let me tell you that I have NEVER EVER EVER been a fan of mushrooms, I'll sometimes eat them on pizza and I cook with cream of mushroom soup, but to pick up a stuffed mushroom and eat it... let alone love it enough to go back for seconds or thirds? completely unheard of. I've been pestering my friend who made them to post the recipe, but as of right now it resides in her mom's kitchen and not on the Internets.
      • Mini Spinach Dip Bowls my god... these are amazing... I could eat them all night and not feel guilty at all because they're that delicious, probably not all that healthy considering the ingredients, but they have veggies in them right?
      • Cheesy Potatoes that will change your life... I really don't need to say much more than that. They.will.change.your.life. again, not the healthiest of side dishes, but it's a Christmas party, you're supposed to eat your weight in carbs.
      • Chocolate Covered Bacon: okay, so I don't have the recipe for this one either, but seems pretty simple, cook the bacon to your desired level of crispness and dip in melted chocolate. Total carny food and I love it. Toss in some funnel cake and a giant lemonade and you can go ahead and roll me out of the party.
  • Girls' Nights and Birthday Parties
  • Daryl Dixon:
    My Favorite Walking Dead Character
    • So our weekly Zombie Nights have reached the mid-season finale of "The Walking Dead" and now need to find meaning in our lives until the show comes back in February. We're thinking of adding other Zombie flicks until then... or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia marathons, or maybe even hitting the gym occasionally... maybe.
    • We also celebrated one of the girls' brother's 30th birthday party one week. I had my first taste of Salvadorian food and I fell in love. Seriously, it was SO good. Maybe I really do need to hit the gym, seems like a large portion of this month's post is devoted to my love of food.  There were games to be played and lots of laughs to be had at the party, as it should be. Cranium and Taboo are always fun to pull out of the game closet, and unlike Cards Against Humanity, there isn't really an "appropriateness factor" that you have to consider.
  • Surviving the Apocalypse: The Mayan Apocalypse came and went without much fanfare, I woke up, survived and didn't spot a zombie all day... which is a good thing, because in a story to follow, I'm pretty sure the zombies will have me beat in about the first 5 minutes of the outbreak. I thought I'd be tougher, I'm not.
  • Cousin Date: My 11 year old cousin and I spent the Saturday before Christmas together, we went to the movies and saw Monsters Inc in 3D, overdosed on junk food at both the movies and Carl's Jr. after, then went and spent the rest of the afternoon with our grandparents and relatives that were visiting for the upcoming holidays. We hadn't done it in a long time, so it was a lot of fun (and just a tad exhausting... I'm not used to being around kids all day long, he's awesome, but it's just more proof that I'm no where near ready to begin the part of my life where I want kids... I may have mentioned that once before in this post).
    opening presents is exhausting
  • Christmas: Christmas in my families is spilt over two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning belongs to my mom's side of the family, while my dad's side of the family lays claim to Christmas Day/Night. This year was no exception. It was great seeing family members that I don't get to hang out with often, it was weird to experience the holiday without the family we had lost this year, and it was the first time I had shared a major holiday with a significant other (even if it was just a couple of hours at the end of the day). Everyone seemed to enjoy their presents and time together... even Mr. Dog even had fun unwrapping his gifts. 
  • The Granddaughters
  • Vacation: I took the last part of the year off for a vacation with the boyfriend. We went to Fresno to visit some of this friends and to take a day trip to Yosemite National Park. We had an amazing time, and I'm so glad that we had that last long weekend together. Even when he was driving me crazy on our 8 mile hike across town it was perfect. We spent a lot of quality time together, had laughs with his friends, saw awesome movies (some on tv, one at the theater), and of course the trip to the snow.
    • Yosemite:  I hadn't been to the park in 16 years, and never in the winter time.  It was beyond gorgeous. You can check out the link and see a few of my favorite pictures of the snow and beautiful winter landscapes.  It was probably the best trip I've even taken with someone I've been dating.  We laughed, we fell waste deep into the snow, threw snowballs at each other
    • Other Shenanigans
      • Our first night in Fresno we saw the movie Django Unchained (the D is silent). It's a Quentin Tarantino flick, and all that entails. It was exciting, funny, violent, and moving.  I'd see it again. It was about a bounty hunter in the South a few years before the Civil War. I don't want to give anything away but in my opinion Jamie Fox and Leonardo DiCaprio deserve an award for their performances.
      • After the movie we went to a dive bar called Red Wave for their weekly "Taco Thursday" for tacos and beer with a friend. When that bar closed we went to a more country themed bar to continue the night, then somehow ended up at a house party after that bar closed. Anyway fast forward a couple hours (I wasn't feeling well and I fell asleep on the couch) I get woken up and am told that its time for us to leave by my boyfriend... here leads to a big adventure on our trip.
      • The 8 Mile: So around 4 am we leave the house on the North side of town. There's no cab in sight and we set off on foot to his apartment, not exactly sure how long the journey will be.  It took 3 hours and the sun came up on our jaunt. I have never felt more like a hobbit in my life. I was convinced that I had hip displaysia, a sprained ankle, the black lung...when in real life I just learned exactly how out of shape I am and that I'm never going to survive the zombies. We finally got home and immediately went to bed and slept for most of the day. 
      • Yosemite Coyote
         
      • Once we finally woke up it was time to run errands and meet up with some different friends for dinner at my favorite pizza place in Clovis called BC's. They're food is so delicious, they have a wide selection of beers on tap, and both times I've been there I've had a great time.  I'd recommend it to anyone in the area. You will not be disappointed.
  • New Year's Eve: was spent with some friends of the boyfriend's family. We played bunco and watched ball drop. There were lots of laughs and it was really funny to see how competitive every one got over a simple game of dice. I didn't walk away a winner that night, but I really enjoyed the evening.  Even though I didn't really know most of the people I spent the holiday with, every one made me feel like I was part of the family and it was great.
  • Over 2000+ views :-)  thank you readers! Together we have reached over 2000 views before then end of the year, there's even more now, but I'm not 100% sure what the count was at the end of the month.  I really appreciate all the support and readership.  I plan on blogging thoughout the year as I had in 2012. I look forward to sharing my new adventures with you.