The holiday season is like a race to the finish line in this family. Here, the advent calendar serves as a countdown to sleep and a startling reminder of the diminishing number of days left to get it all done.

Wrapping paper flies and delicate bows are tied with a fury. We run through that final gift list as the stores’ doors close with a bang of finality on Christmas Eve. Ah Christmas; or more accurately – AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Christmas!!

christmas tree 2012

Do you ever feel the same?

But on that night before Christmas, as our table was set, the candles were lit and we hugged and cooked all that warms our souls, the season finally settled in. There was a comfort in the stillness that night and we were merry….

christmas candles 2012

christmas eve table 2012

beet salad

And thanks to this ginormous standing rib roast, we all fell asleep peacefully and well fed.

standing rib roast


christmas eve dinner 2012

devils food cake cookie sandwich with peppermint gelato

Until we eat with twinkling lights and merry hearts again,



Holy Holidays… {Family Traditions}

This year we decided not to get a Christmas Tree to save a little cash.  I sulked a teeny bit that I didn’t feel as festive without one but Harrison wisely reminded me that once we landed in the Carolinas that holiday spirit would come flooding right back in.  And flood it did! After the brisk 16-hour pilgrimage down south, we opened the door to my mom’s on Christmas Eve and there it came… like a Mack truck.  And for the next day and a half it was full-on, non-stop holiday cheer. Here’s the run-down…
Upon arrival at Hotel Tyson (aka my mom and stepdad’s), we were greeted with hugs and a VIP turn down service.

Chocolates on our pillows. How kind!

After a nice dinner out with Harrison’s dad filled with big laughs and big steaks, we woke the following morning to the smell of coffee and mmm…. sausage balls.

Mom asked that I take a "fancy food shot" of her famous sausage balls. And here's an attempt to do so..

After putting away a couple (handfuls) we headed in for PRESENTS and to take in mom’s annual showroom-esque Christmas display.

The latest ornament addition from my brother's girlfriend Brie. Yep, we say she's a keeper.


My crafty Nana made a majority of the ornaments on my mom's tree. Oh yes, Martha junior up in here. She's got skills.


And speaking of Nana, no Christmas would be complete without a gift from QVC.


And then there is my mom who wraps so beautifully...you ALMOST don't want to open the sparkly presents.

And check … it…. out…. You ask Santa for a mixer and she, er I mean, he delivers.

Looky what we got!

So what do we do.  Use the fancy new attachment from Harrison’s pops to show the family how to grind their own meat using that new mixer of course.  Harrison pulled my mom right up to the plate and told her to hold the catching bowl.  She was a little skeptical but excited.



The grr-animals try to hypnotize us into handing it over.

Meanwhile, outside sat my brother’s jam-packed car.  Big news in the land of little brothers as he announced the other week that he and his lady-love were moving to Vail, Colorado!  Just in time for snowboard season no less…

Just taking the essentials he said. Mom thought it was hilarious "essentials" included a box of flexy straws.

 Back inside, we all asked him way too many questions about his big move.  To distract us, he dramatically opened a card… and I, the amateur photojournalist, was there to capture it all.

All the emotion of moving really got to him... he almost faked a tear.


And then shortly after, he passed out... ah, traditions.

After all that excitement we hopped back into the Subaru and headed over to house numero dos, Harrison’s mom’s, for more holiday action.

Beau-ti-ful stockings hung by the chimney with care...


Is this a pretty table or what? Vermonters please note: Sweet Tea all around.


Look a mini-Harrison...with tights!


Plus, a menorah!

Here we light the menorah and then say the Christmas blessing.  It’s the ultimate in festive fun.

Santa's Reindeer loves her Hanukkah Bear.

 After dinner, I was handpicked by the coolest 10-year-old I know to help him with the annual sorting of gifts.  His take charge attitude was impressive and he made sure no gift was left untouched.

He takes his job VERY seriously. He really goes for it.

Unfortunately my sorting skills were a bit well, messy, so I got kicked to the sidelines.  Better luck next year.

Turtle making sure we get his good side.

Up next, my dad and step mom’s to wrap up the holiday as house numero tres.

Dad likes to keep his decor simple and straight to the point.


This sums up my dad and step-mom: Beach and Ski


Dinners at my dad's always include perfectly seasoned meat, fresh bread, a big salad and 200 dressing options.


My dad and stepmom have plans to open a bakery next year. So of course they were gifted the proper head wear.


A sampling of their bread...

Ahhh…the holidays.  Definitely the most wonderful time of the year.
And up next: New Year’s!  Off to Asheville we go…hooray! Enjoy the last day of 2011 ya’ll.
Until we eat drink and be merry again,