Dueling Christmas Lights – Part Two

If you missed yesterday’s post, click here.

Up next, the lights from the great state of New Hampshire. The most impressive part of this light show, wasn’t actually the lights. It was the fact that, feeling our complacency with the “same-old-same-old” light display, my dad logged onto the computer and researched a new light display nearby. Impressive.

So after visiting our tried and true spots, we drove to the neighboring town to see if this new light display was really that good.

Yup, it was. That is, unless you suffer from seizures. Then it probably wasn’t good for you at all.

Dueling Christmas Lights – Part One

Another one of the Brethauer Christmas traditions is to go and look at Christmas lights. Over the years we have driver to many different areas around our town. Sadly, the past four of five years, have pretty much been the same exact houses (something which Matt reminds me every year since these are the only years he has been included in the tradition). Well this year, BOTH sets of parents stepped it up. And boy was I impressed.

First up, the Englehardts. Christmas light viewing is nothing something Matt grew up doing. They were more a “go to the movies on Christmas” type of family. Thankfully, they have welcomed many of my crazy traditions into their lives. So when Matt’s mother announced that she has a surprise adventure planned, I was psyched. We drove to the town of Millis, MA a neighboring town to where Matt grew up. Unfortunately, about 2,000 other people had the same surprise adventure in mind and we ended up waiting for over an hour in traffic. During this time we enjoyed some quality family bonding time with the Boston Pops concert playing in the background. When we finally pulled up enough to see the lights, we all realized the wait was well worthwhile.

Every year, a local businessman, Kevin Meehan puts on a display to top all displays in his family’s home. What started as a small family project has become a Winter Wonderland, acres upon acres lit from top to bottom, which includes 45+ workshops where all of Santa’s friends, family and elves are preparing for the coming holiday, a real tugboat, and Santa himself sitting 40 feet tall. The display is free for all to experience, but friends and family of Mr. Meehan collect donations for the Salvation Army along the route (a nice touch in my mind).

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Mr. Meehan owns a large auto dealership, so the display included some of the new trucks and cars that might be on folks’ Christmas Lists. Hey, a little self-promotion never hurt anyone. Or did it?

Turn it tomorrow for the NH light show.

A Christmas Recap

A few images from our New England Christmas celebrations! Our first stop was Massachusetts to spend time with Matt’s family.

Getting some QT with my niece puppy Sunshine
Getting some QT with my niece puppy Sunshine
Sunny is so happy about her new fur coat
Sunny is so happy about her new fur coat
Bringing a Brethauer tradition to the Englehardts... Monkey Bread!
Bringing a Brethauer tradition to the Englehardts… Monkey Bread!
New clothes!
New clothes!
Quick take a photo of me while I casually pose.
Quick take a photo of me while I casually pose.
Englehardt Family!
Englehardt Family!
The boys made bloody marys for everyone.
The boys made bloody marys for everyone.
Bloody mary bar
Bloody mary bar
I got a new power screw driver from my father-in-law
I got a new power screw driver from my father-in-law
Courtney opening our present to her, a soda stream!
Courtney opening our present to her, a soda stream!
Yummy Chrismtas morning brunch
Yummy Chrismtas morning brunch

Then it was up to New Hampshire for a few days with my family.

Nothing beats hanging out with Abby and her dog Bexley
Nothing beats hanging out with Abby and her dog Bexley
Frosting sugar cookies
Frosting sugar cookies
Yummy!
Yummy!
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
More monkey bread!
More monkey bread!
A skinny Christmas tree this year!
A skinny Christmas tree this year!

 

Deer in the backyard
Deer in the backyard
Bexley in her new bed
Bexley in her new bed
Spending time with my favorite munchkins!
Spending time with my favorite munchkins!
Another Brethauer family tradition
Another Brethauer family tradition

We had a wonderful time visiting our families. Every year I am reminded just how lucky we all are and how incredible my husband is for putting up with my family and our crazy traditions. Here’s to many more Christmas memories made in our matching jammies!

Merry Christmas Y’all!

The season of Yankee swaps, ugly sweaters and SantaCon is upon us. Yesterday I went to a “boozy holiday brunch” hosted by my friend Caroline. And like all good Texas girls, Caroline and her roommate MC made us all feel welcome in their home with good food, tasty drinks and lots of laughter.

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Their apartment is a rare find in NYC – a hidden gem in the West Village. I’ve walked by their apartment many times and never noticed this cute little door that leads back to their own private outdoor space!

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Their house was warm and cozy with candles and holly all around the apartment.

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And their tree, while small, was a beautiful site to see!

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And of course, no Texas home would be compete without some antlers. And these Texas ladies have found a way to put them to use!

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My favorite part of the gathering was hearing about different family holiday traditions. From Tamales on Christmas Eve — a tradition started by a family from Texas who used to run a ranch and would receive homemade tamales from their staff – to a feast of the seven fishes, an Italian-American tradition. At the party, we had the opportunity to partake in a family tradition from Caroline’s childhood with her mom’s famous Milk Punch.

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Mike Punch: by Shelley Page
1 cup chilled coffee
4 cups whole milk
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (softened)
Blend together and top with whipped cream.
Grate nutmeg on top.
Serves 10
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*And if you are feeling more naughty than nice, you can add some bourbon to the bowl!

Thank you so much to Caroline and MC for opening up their wonderful home and sharing some traditions with this New England gal.

photo

O Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

After surviving hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, Matt and I immediately switched into Christmas mode. On Saturday we went out and bought our first real Christmas tree together. This was always a magical experience for me as a child. About a week after Thanksgiving, my family would drive over to Clark’s Farm and walk through the maze of Christmas trees searching for the best one. Christmas music would be playing over the speakers, Christmas lights were strung around the farm and more often than not, there would be snow on the ground. Once we picked out the tree, we would strap it to the top of the car and drive it home. My dad would string on old fashioned colored lights before we went to town adding ornaments, each of which held special significance to us. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. So, when Matt and I decided to ditch our fake tree for a real one, I wanted to recreate my childhood experience.

Although Hoboken is a lot less intense than NYC, it is still pretty urban. There aren’t farms to buy your tree and sadly, there is no snow. We went to Home Depot to get some lights and Matt convinced me to look at their trees. We walked over to the trees, which were located on the second level of a parking garage, not quite the magical experience I was looking for. The trees were all bundled up so it was hard to tell which one was “the best” but after a few tries, we picked out one that we thought would be good.

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As we waited in line, I began to question our purchase. Standing in the cement parking garage, with a tree that I couldn’t fully see, I came to conclusion that I just couldn’t do it. I told Matt to put the tree back and we left. I know– sort of a bratty move. But this was going to be our first tree and I wanted the experience to be more memorable. I mean, really… we were in a parking garage!

We drove up the street to a local nursery that had a hand painted sign out front that said “Fresh Christmas Trees for your Home.” I knew we would provide a good home for a tree so in we pulled. Immediately I knew I made the right decision. There were lights strung up, Christmas music playing and the trees were all unwrapped so you could get a good look at them. The man helping us made sure we got a great tree — he wouldn’t let us take home something we didn’t love. It was a great experience — well worth the increased price we had to pay as compared to Home Depot (right Matt?)! We even got to take photos of ourselves as elves before we paid!

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Matt lugged the tree into our apartment, definitely a sight to see since our tree is probably 11 feet tall!

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And, just like his father, he couldnt’ wait to start vacuuming up the needles once the tree was standing!

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Since our ceilings are 15′ high, we knew we wanted a big tree – I just had no idea how fat it was until we got it inside!

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Getting the lights on the tree proved to be a challenging task, especially for someone with a slight obsessiveness. Matt finally made me stop fidgeting with the lights and poured me a glass of eggnog to enjoy in front of the tree.

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We still need to add some ornaments and a tree skirt but the tree is looking good and our apartment smells wonderful. Here’s to the magic of Christmas!

A Sugar Filled Black Tie Affair

A few weekends ago, Matt and I had the distinct pleasure of attending a party at our friend, Caitlin Tormey‘s home. For 28 years, this lovely family has opened up their Staten Island home to friends and family to enjoy homemade desserts and sip champagne at a black tie affair.

The Tormey Family party is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Traditionally held around the New Year, Caitlin’s mom, Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, takes a full week of from her “day job” (chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute) to apply her background in chemistry to the kitchen. For 7 days she prepares 28 different desserts; and every year the desserts are different. She then opens up her home to over 100 friends, neighbors and family members. I consider myself lucky to have been counted among these people.

We began out evening by taking the ferry over to Staten Island; something we had never done before. The views of the New York City skyline were breathtaking and definitely a sight worth seeing. After a quick ride, we found ourselves in the suburbs (or at least it felt suburban compared to Manhattan). The Tormey home sits of the edge of a hill with incredible views of the river, the Verrazano bridge, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Thankfully it wasn’t too chilly, so we were able to enjoy the views from the porch in the back of the house.

After taking in the beautiful Christmas decorations and drinking some champagne, Caitlin invited me into the dinning room for a “press only” viewing of the desserts. (I knew having a blog would get me a press pass at some point – now, if only I could use it to get on the field during a Patriots game!) When I walked in the room; I was immediately overtaken by the smell of sugar. The 28 cakes that sat before me were really amazing. How Jill managed to make 28 different desserts in one week in beyond me. How she managed to keep everything fresh and time the whole production is unbelievable. I can see myself trying this and ending up with melting cakes, stale cookies and a giant mess in our kitchen!

Once the doors to the dining room were opened to the “public” everyone proceeded to walk around the table simply looking. Then, once everyone had a chance to view the 28 choices, we went back through and picked which ones we wanted to try. I happily added 5 difference slices to my plate: peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate chunk candy cane cheesecake, eggnog torte, white mocha torte, peanut butter honeycomb cake. Matt decided to try all of the chocolate options which I believe resulted in 6 different slices. In the end, we were sick to our stomachs from all of the richness, but very happy!

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Matt and I have talked about throwing an annual holiday party; something that our friends and family can look forward to attending year after year. Unfortunately we haven’t settled on what holiday we should be celebrating. Matt wants to celebrate something that has to do with Notre Dame, while I would like to celebrate an obscure holiday like, March 13th which is National Ear Muff day.

Does anyone have any suggestions for creative and fun parties?