Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Last-Minute, Running-Themed Christmas (without much actual running)

Happy New Year's Eve!

I hope the holidays have treated you and your loved ones well.

As for me, I hate to admit I didn't get into the holiday spirit as strongly this year. No, I'm not sad. No personal tragedies have happened. I've simply felt...rushed this season.

As I've mentioned, I need to find better ways to manage my time. I just haven't figured out how to balance work, running, blogging, time with friends/family, and cooking/household chores in my day-to-day life. Add the holidays in the mix and it has felt like chaos.

December was a blur. There were a lot of good times, which I'm grateful for. However, I could only focus on one at a time.

I'm seeing this friend tomorrow - gotta buy them a gift. I'll put off addressing my Christmas cards...

Gotta get ready for this party tonight - I'll buy presents later...

Gotta pack for Kiawah, I'll clean my house later...

Next thing you know, it was December 20 and we had a third of our gifts purchased, none wrapped, piles of laundry, and no Christmas cards sent out. Sadly, our schedules with some friends just didn't line up, and I didn't get to see them.

Yikes. This was so much easier when I was a kid and all I had to do was show up and get presents.

And we couldn't just blow it off. We had plans to visit my family (an hour away) for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we were hosting friends Saturday the 28th, B's family for a belated Christmas on Sunday the 29th, and my sister and brother-in-law for New Year's Eve.

So the weekend of the 20th, we kicked it into high gear. I sent out my cards. We cleaned most of Saturday, finally showered around 3 PM or so, and we went out and knocked out the rest of our shopping, minus a few stocking stuffer items.

We did more cleaning and laundry Sunday, and I went out and bought 90% of the groceries I'd need to make spinach tartlets and this amazing white chocolate peppermint layered cheesecake to take to my family's celebration, dinner for our friends Saturday, fun appetizers for B's family, and fondue ingredients for our annual New Year's Day fondue tradition with my sister and brother-in-law.

We were getting there. I worked Monday, went to bootcamp, and started my cake. I didn't work Tuesday, so I purchased the last gifts, finished my cake, made the spinach tartlets, and wrapped gifts at 4 PM.

The peppermint cheesecake layers, white chocolate whipped cream topping, and white chocolate curls. I had WAY too much fun taking a vegetable peeler to white chocolate bark.


The finished result!!

Pure. Decadence.

Yes, we were that last minute.

Finally the car was loaded by 6 PM and we were off.

Then it felt like Christmas.

Once the hustle and bustle were over, we could relax and enjoy ourselves. I had vacation days at work that I would lose, so I took off through the end of the year.

I go back Thursday. I've been living in a fantasy land I don't want to leave.

We enjoyed yummy apps and hot apple cider Christmas Eve with my family, and French toast and a nice dinner Christmas Day with my family. We love games, and enjoyed some Catch Phrase. My family knows the way to my heart, and I got a few running gifts and an espresso maker.

Me and B on Christmas Eve

Best.gadget.ever. But more on that later...

A Road ID bracelet from B so I can stay safe. :) I feel like a puppy with my little collar so that someone can locate my family for me. :)

A running top from my sister. <3

My sister has started running (yay!), so I got her a few running essentials - Balega socks, a handheld water bottle, a clip-on light for visibility, and a neck gaiter. The winter air really hurts her throat and sinuses - so much so that it has discouraged her from running. I got her this purple one (we thought black might look like she might rob someone), and hope it will help.

She makes a cute purple running ninja, right? :)

We came home the 26th, and had NOTHING to do the 27th. It was awesome. I straightened up the house and went shopping for new jeans and accessories for my espresso maker - a frothing pitcher and espresso shot glasses. We also FINALLY made gingerbread cookies with my running cookie cutters!

You can find them here.

Just roll them out...

The finished result!

The runners in their cookie winter wonderland!

We like gingerbread, and this is a great recipe. You can use your favorite gingerbread or sugar cookie recipe. They are a great idea to share with your fellow runners or running group!

The 28th, our friends Sara and Terry (remember the birthday party?) came over for dinner. Their 10 month old daughter Audrey is ready to explore the world! She's a sweet, happy child, but she is a crawler! She had to check out everything in our home - including our cats! We had a blast, but poor Coco didn't know how to handle it!

The standoff...

The 29th, I made a plethora of fun appetizers for a casual celebration with B's family. We enjoyed food, open gifts, and spent a couple of hours playing Cranium and laughing hysterically at each other. What more can you ask for?

I should have taken this pic AFTER I placed the bacon wrapped chicken on the empty platter...

I don't usually use disposable dishes...but it has been a busy week!

On my menu:
Cocktail meatballs (in Crock Pot)
Bacon wrapped chicken - HUGE hit!! Not pictured (they went on the then empty platter)
Spinach tartlets (I use cream cheese instead of goat cheese and pre-made frozen phyllo shells)
Smoked bacon gouda (from The Fresh Market - so freakin good) and crackers
Shrimp cocktail
Veggies and pita chips with ranch dip and hummus

And then yesterday....we had NO plans!!!! The house was clean, and we could relax. I played with my espresso maker.

Seriously, I'm obsessed with this thing. 

I've made at least one skim latte at home every single day. It's not as hard as I expected and it is so delicious. I only use a half cup of skim milk and a teaspoon of sugar per latte, so it's low cal as well.

My precious....

I worked on this blog post and caught up on reading my favorite blogs, and we went to dinner at Bonefish Grill and saw Anchorman 2 like we had no care in the world.

I live for these quiet days.

Today, we'll meet up with our running group, then my sister and bro-in-law are coming for New Years Eve. Tomorrow, we'll continue our tradition of 5 years making fondue on New Year's Day.

And then it's back to the real world. Sigh...

Even though the holiday started out stressed and hectic, it all worked out. Doesn't it always? I'm grateful for the times I got to spend with friends and family, and look forward to seeing those I didn't get to see soon. I also LOVED the quiet moments in between celebrations. I needed this recharge.

I also must add that I did run a couple of times over the break. I ran 2 miles in my neighborhood on Christmas Eve, and I ran 3 miles with the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon training group on Saturday. I'll get back in the swing of things soon.

I'm looking forward to 2014 and all it has in store. What I desire the most is simplicity and balance in the new year - something I was desperate for this year.

I have some fun blog posts in the works - Part 2 of my Kiawah recap, how to make amazing lattes at home, and my thoughts on New Year's resolutions. Stay tuned!

I hope you have a happy New Year, and a wonderful 2014. Make it YOUR year and tackle those goals you've always wanted to achieve! I'll be back next year!



  1. I love the running cookie cutter!! So cute...

  2. That sounds like a crazy couple of weeks! Sounds like lots off fun too, though. I saw Anchorman 2 last weekend, too. I'm not sure I liked it as much as the first (which I could probably recite line for line), but still busted a gut laughing at a lot of it. I hope you have an awesome 2014!