Hi, friends! Hope you’ve been having a very merry week.

Aaron and I spent the holiday with both of our families. On Christmas day, my parents and sister and Aaron’s parents joined us at our home in Madison for lunch and other Christmas festivities. I’ve never tackled hosting a holiday before and was excited for the challenge. My lunch menu included a ham, mashed potatoes, skillet green beans with garlic and almonds, kale gratin (I substituted kale for swiss chard), and cornbread corn. My mom brought cinnamon bread (a family favorite) and Aaron’s mom provided the pies.

Lunch was scheduled for 1:30pm, so I started getting everything ready around 9:30am:


I also prepared an appetizer of bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with fontina cheese, for snacks as our guests arrived.


The food was served almost on schedule (I was only behind by about 10 minutes), and overall everything came out great! Aaron helped with the mashed potatoes (his forte):


almost forgot about the kale gratin in the oven, but grabbed it out at the last minute (after I took the photo of our spread above).

My lunch plate. I enjoyed my food very much, so I’d call it a success!


After lunch, we settled in for gift opening. But first, to find the Christmas pickle! This isn’t a tradition my family has ever done before, but when we celebrated Christmas with Aaron’s family a few weeks ago, Aaron’s mom gifted him with a pickle ornament. So of course we had to hide it in our tree and force our guests to find it.


Pickle found!


I feel so blessed to have been able to spend the time that we did with our families this year, so the excitement over receiving gifts is definitely not the highlight of my holiday season anymore that it was when I was a kid. But nevertheless, here are a couple of my gift highlights. My sister gave Aaron and I a basket of goodies, including mango chocolate (say, what?), a bottle of wine, and homemade cheese curds. My parents gave me this new 6 quart pot:


I’m so excited to cook up a batch of stew or chili in this thing soon!!

My mom also found this adorable rug, which now adorns our doorstep as you walk into the apartment:


Thank you to all for the wonderful gifts!

For the past few years, it’s been tradition in our family to go see a movie. This year my sister and I decided we wanted to see The Imitation Game. We’re both big fans of Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame, and as a Computer Science major, I couldn’t pass up a film about the father of modern computers, Alan Turing (although I do shake my fist at you, Mr. Turing, for the horrible proofs you forced me to solve in my Theory of Computing class in college!). The movie was incredible. The cast was A-list, and while the story tells of the amazing work that a group of cryptologists did during WWII, it also demonstrates the unbearable (and incredibly unfair) hardships that can be inflicted on those that are seen as being different. I definitely recommend seeing it.

After the movie, we headed back to our apartment for some puzzle work and leftovers. We’re getting so close to finishing this!


We also managed to nab a few Christmas photos.

Here’s Aaron and I:


And me with my mom, dad, and sister, Katie.


Can you tell that we’re sisters? I swear we’re not twins… she’s actually four years younger than me!


One more photo of our lovely tree. We really picked a good one!


Aaron’s parents headed back home at the end of the night, and my family stayed over in a hotel. Aaron and I weren’t quite ready for bed, so we started a new tradition of watching a Bond fllm (this time Quantum of Solace) on Christmas.

Friday morning my parents and sister joined us again at my apartment. We started out the day with a Piloxing class! I teach an actual class for the first time a week from Sunday, and while I have the choreography down, I needed some practical teaching experience, especially with my cuing. My family was kind enough to offer their time. :) We had a fun workout session, and the time really flew by. I still need to practice of course, but it’s encouraging to know that I’m able to lead a class on my own!

After our class, we headed out for a tour of UW Madison. My sister is contemplating coming here for grad school (would be so fun to have her here!), and Aaron (who did his undergrad here) was the perfect tour guide. We walked through the campus for about an hour, and then stopped in to Brasserie V for lunch. They have the best frites! We walked off lunch with a stop at the Chazen Museum of Art before heading back home, and then my family left soon after. It was so fun to have them here for a new holiday tradition!

With a Piloxing session and a looong walk under our belt, it was time for a bit of relaxation. Aaron and I cuddled up to watch an episode of Sherlock so we’d be rested up to welcome our little visitor!!

A friend of ours is out of town for the holidays, and we volunteered to take care of her cat while she’s gone. This is Annabelle!


She’s already getting herself accustomed to our apartment, and has clearly found her new favorite hangout, the bathtub!


She’s a little cutie, and we’re excited to have her around for the next week or so. We’ve talked about getting a cat of our own before, but I’ve been hesitant to do so while we’re living in a one bedroom apartment. It’d definitely be more comfortable all around to have a house before getting a pet. But so far (okay, it hasn’t even been a day, haha) she’s been a treat to watch explore and play with, and I could actually see wanting to get a kitten of our own soon! We’ll see how that all plays out. :)

The best part of this holiday? We still have a whole weekend ahead of us, guys! I’m headed to a BodyPump class this morning, and tomorrow I’ll probably go to yoga to get myself all stretched out. This coming week will be busy with teaching; Monday I’m subbing bootcamp for another instructor, Wednesday morning our gym is holding a New Year’s Eve workout event, and Friday I’ll be teaching a treadmill class. Then Sunday is the debut of my Piloxing teaching! Wish me lots of luck. I’m nervous but also thrilled that this is all finally happening!

Share your holiday adventures and fun in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. Have a wonderful weekend!


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