Our Holidays

January 09, 2013

As with our holidays two years ago, I was lucky enough to spend this Christmas with my visiting mother. Unfortunately, as with last year, a white Christmas eluded us. While the lack of snow was disappointing, it's hard to complain when you have family from halfway around the world to spend the holidays with.

We made sure to include some of our favorite holiday things, like trips to our favorite Weihnachtsmärkte (Freinsheim for Portugiesisch Glühwein and Erfurt for Hungarian Lángos, not to mention the amazing setting) and baking more cookies than we could possibly eat by ourselves, but this year brought some new things as well, including:

A new addition to the tree decor, courtesy of an afternoon craft project with the Italian girls.

Homemade caramel apple (my favorite!) ornaments from mom.

A new Weihnachtsmarkt favorite: apple beignets from Freinsheim (oh, so good...).

A random drunk guy encounter that will go down in history. First, he photobombed my mom trying to get a shot next to this cute Erfurt elf (that orange coat barely seen on the left would be her). Then, realizing we were American, kept slurring that his English was 'shit', asked us to come to a party where would be lots of.. (here he mimed tossing back a bottle of spirits in the apparently internationally-recognized symbol for drinking), and referred to my mother several times as a 'MILF' (if you don't know, look it up - I'm not informing you here). After finally ditching him and his only-slightly-more-sober friend and making our way around the Markt, we came to a stage where a woman was singing Christmas songs for a crowd, only to discover, in true, only-in-the-movies fashion, this happening: 

That's right. Our drunk friend had made his way up the steps of the stage and was at first encouraging audience participation, only then to end up singing into the microphone with her. The singer allowed it for one song and the audience played along, but the awkwardness was palpable. Germans are notorious for being able to hold their drink and I've never seen such a display from a German before, intoxicated or not. We laughed about it all the way home.  

A new Christmas cookie based on Land's End's sensational holiday ones, using Ming Makes Cupcakes recipe for Thin Mint cookies, but topping it with peppermint-tinged white chocolate and crushed candy cane. Divine!

What started as just an easy Christmas Eve dinner (in light of the massive, Thanksgiving-like feast we were preparing for the following day) was such a hit, we may repeat it every year: the warm, comforting classic of grilled cheese and tomato soup. Thank you Rebecca of The Daily Muse for an amazing roasted tomato soup recipe. I am in love - and have made it again already and plan to keep it in regular meal rotation. 

A new Christmas breakfast: Sugar-crusted egg nog French toast (a variation on this recipe). I subbed egg nog for the cream to make it more Christmas-y and served it with sautéed cinnamon apples. It was the perfect Christmas flavors, not to mention easy to just take out of the fridge and stick into the oven in the morning. (tip: be sure to separate the bread and get the egg mixture between each slice - ours wasn't soaked through, even overnight, because it was packed so tight)

Christmas Eve and New Year's spent enjoying wine from our neighbor's winery they just bought (check it out here). Not only are they fantastic, but I now see a summer holiday in Bordeaux in our future... 

We had all agreed to a more modest Christmas this year (my mom and I have an especially hard time with things like budget where holidays are concerned), but we were certainly spoiled all the same. 

My stocking was chock-full of American goodies, not to mention a good part of the OPI Skyfall/ James Bond collection (The World is Not Enough - spectacular color!).

Not only was I spoiled with this gorgeous and chic hooded wool coat (the J.Crew stadium-cloth duffle), in which my glasses are fully protected and I do not resemble a giant black nylon rectangle, as I do in my other hooded winter coat,...

...but my husband surprised me with this red Maison Scotch stunner that was a frivolous want, as I had been dying for a red coat for no other reason than the bright, happy hue during our many (many) months of grey. I've since discovered that I share this same coat with a French fashion blogger I follow, who I always look to for style. That's an extra stamp of approval in my book. Also note the fabulous scarf my mom scouted out for me... from Target! Man, I miss Target...

And the pièce de résistance: my custom studded Chucks. I feel like such a bad-ass when I wear them (not to mention get a pretty good leg workout from lifting all those metal studs!). I think I might have the coolest mom ever.  

Bailey-dog had a pretty good Christmas as well. In addition to her plethora of treats, grandma brought her usual present: a stuffed toy. This year, an adorable and winter-worthy stuffed penguin. She's been getting this particular brand of 'indestructible' (ha! do they know my dog?!) plush toys for a few years now, and the limbs of ones from years past litter our home. She never chews or eats anything she's not supposed to (not furniture, not candy out on the coffee table and no, not even shoes, good dog that she is), so it's quite a treat for her to have something that she knows is all hers, with the sole purpose of proving her destruction skills. Here's a little photographic timeline of her process (all within hours of receiving it):

As you can see, a lovely holiday was had by all, especially Bailey. And not to worry: Penguin will continue to get all kinds of love, with years of more limb removal and chewing to be had.

Often forgotten, overlooked or just outright wrapped into Christmas, my husband's birthday comes at that difficult time between Christmas and New Years, when everyone is thinking of other things. I try to do what I can to make him feel special. This year, a massive Martha Stewart chocolate cake was involved (using her spectacular dark chocolate frosting).

New Years was low-key with visits to friends and then a wine and cognac-filled night with our neighbors and their amazing wine-scents game. We were so distracted by the late, but very delicious lamb dinner (second dinner for us, actually - but I'm not one to turn down good food!), we let midnight come and go without going out to light a single firework. I did not, however, forget to wear some festive attire (note sequined skirt, above). 

So we begin 2013 with recent memories of my mom's visit, my two fabulous new coats and even more fabulous shoes, freshly chopped locks (thanks, Mom!) and a plan to move. Moving in Europe, Germany specifically, is quite expensive (hello, having to buy your own kitchen?! not to mention the hefty deposits and massive fees for rental agents), so it's going to take us some time, but bear with us. Hopefully, we will have a whole new adventure and new things to blog about later this year. 

Happy 2013 to all!!

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische