Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wrapping Up December: 2016

Ok, so I know it's 4 days into the New Year but......

December was way too busy and waaaaay too much fun to not wrap up 😁 This post is long and picture-heavy, and I have so much to discuss that I'm not even going to waste time on an introduction. Let's go!

That first picture is the garden on December 1st. The marigolds had finally had it, and so had pretty much everything else. I've still got some rosemary and some thyme alive, but that's it. The cold weather we had in Kentucky while the hubby and I were in Oregon even got my parsley. Darn it. 

The hubby also put up the Christmas tree on December 1st. We weren't here for the holiday but my mother-in-law was housesitting while we were gone and we wanted her to have the tree. Plus, we got home on December 30th (my birthday!) and I always have a tree on my birthday. Nonnegotiable 😁 Plus, Mariota loves that tree-

This picture is a little blurry, but it's Mariota burying a bone in his new favorite spot- the Christmas tree base cover. What a goober!

Before we left for Oregon, the hubby was helping his sister convert her garage into a family room. Needless to say, we were spending a lot of time out there. My sister-in-law and I took the kids to the Dollar Tree one day, and they ended up getting these silly mustaches that we had great fun playing around with. 

I'm still a kid at heart too πŸ˜‚

The beginning of December saw my niece's 9th birthday. She was beyond excited to get an American Girl doll from her parents. 

Our birthday present to our niece was to take her shopping, out to dinner, and to have a sleepover at our house. We picked her up from school on a Friday when both her parents were working. Unfortunately, we had to get her overnight bag from her house and soon discovered all the doors were locked! What are an aunt and uncle supposed to do?

Luckily (though not for my sister-in-law!) one of our nephews had opened his window before school and left it unlocked. The hubby put our niece through the window to let us in. It was pretty hilarious for us, although I will say my nephew got in big trouble with his mom. I don't think that window will ever be left open again! πŸ˜‚

My seafood-lovin' niece devoured crab legs and even tried some calamari. Another surprise- she liked the calamari! 

After a big day of shopping and chowing down, we headed back to our house where the birthday girl got some snuggles from the puppies 😍

The next day was her birthday party! She had picked out a dress on her shopping trip to wear to the party and I must say the pictures don't do it justice. We curled her hair and put on just a touch of blush and lipstick to make her day special. I think she looked so cute!

Also, please excuse the mess on the bedroom floor πŸ˜„

Our niece posing with the cake her and I baked.

The birthday girl and her maw maw ❤️

More makeup! If there is one thing I've learned about 9-year old girls- they LOVE makeup. My niece and her friends could barely contain themselves when they got to take this out and play with it. 

After the party, the hubby and I headed out for some adult fare. We actually finally found a sushi place that's decent around here! We've been having rotten luck with sushi as the place we usually go to either changed management or chefs. Either way, the sushi there has become really gross (we are talking using canned tuna for spicy tuna rolls- yuck!) and we hadn't had sushi in months. It's nice to know our luck is changing in that department! 

On December 10, we celebrated Christmas with the hubby's family as we would be spending the actual holiday with my family. 

My youngest nephew was pretty excited about this stocking stuffer- a Nerf gun 😁

Always a good choice for me! 

My niece got an American Girl dollhouse for Christmas to go along with her birthday present. We got her a kitchen set for the dollhouse and she was very happy about that! Also, that dress she's wearing is one we got on her shopping trip. So cute! 

A couple of happy guys with their gifts 😁

5 days before heading out to Oregon, I made our last meal in the house- a roasted chicken that we ate for those 5 days. It worked out perfectly with hardly any leftovers. 

On December 17, the hubby and I headed for Columbus where we stayed in a hotel the night before flying out to Oregon. This was highly unusual for us. Usually we leave our house at like 3 in the morning to get to Columbus, but we'd opted not to do that this year. I cannot tell you what a good decision this was as Columbus had an ice event that night that may have hindered us getting to the airport. Luck, I tell you!

We stayed at the Embassy Suites at the Columbus airport, and I cannot recommend their establishment enough. It was so clean and so nice, and they had a monitor showing all flights at the airport. So convenient! If you've ever stayed at Embassy Suites, you know they offer a complimentary happy hour every night. I've gone to a couple of these happy hour's before and usually, it's just drinks and a few snacks like popcorn and pretzels. Not this Embassy Suites! Not only were the drinks complimentary, but they put out actual food! A huge antipasto salad, potato salad, pasta salad, a veggie tray, artichoke hearts, and tiramisu for dessert. There was still the usual pretzels, popcorn, and goldfish but there was just so much more. It was insane! The hubby and I didn't even have to go to the dinner that night. I highly recommend this hotel if you must go through Columbus. 

First thing on the agenda when getting to Oregon? Getting the hubby to a beard barber! 2 days after getting into Oregon, the family began the trek down to Southern Oregon (about 3 hours from my parents house). My brother, the hubby, and I all rode together and we stopped in Eugene, OR for the hubby to get a beard trim and for lunch. In case you couldn't tell (it's kinda obvious to me πŸ˜‚) the picture on the left is the before and the picture on the right is the after. Big difference! 

The hubby ended up getting his beard trimmed at Analog Barbershop in downtown Eugene, and he was very impressed. I think he might have had a man-crush on his barber, ha ha. He mentioned wanting to go back when we are in Oregon again 😁

Once we got to Southern Oregon, my brother took us into Ashland for dinner. I'm in LOVE with the town of Ashland, OR. It's just so beautiful. We decided to have dinner at Thai Pepper in downtown Ashland and every single one of us ordered something different to drink 🍸🍺🍷

The drinks were amazing! I ordered their version of a margarita called an "Agave Puro". Yum!

The hubby and my mom.

Not only were the drinks good, but the food was amazing! I got a shrimp salad that was piled high with good stuff and had the most amazing homemade dressing. The hubby ordered their Seafood Curry, and OMG you guys! I've never liked curry before, but this dish was phenomenal! It's definitely inspired me to play around with those curry flavors some more. 

I love how it looks like my brother is pushing his drink in my face πŸ˜‚

The next day was to be spent hanging out with and meeting my brother's girlfriend's family. They own a bed-and-breakfast in downtown Ashland called The Winchester Inn that also has an amazing restaurant, Alchemy. Every Christmas season, they hold an annual feast called "Dicken's Dinner" that we were fortunate enough to attend. It's one of those meals where there are many pre-set courses and you choose from 1 of 3 entrees. So, the family got all dressed up for dinner and headed to the Winchester. 

My whole family was staying at my brother's small rental about 20 minutes away in Talent, OR so my brother's girlfriend's parents offered a room to my parents for the night of the feast. You know, so the "kids" could party. I guess we aren't really kids anymore, huh? Anyhoo, we all headed to the hotel early so we could watch Kentucky basketball in my parents suite and "pre-funk" a little before dinner. 

I was blown away by my parent's suite. I think it's the nicest hotel room I've ever been in. A few pictures-

Part of the humongous bathroom. Yes, part! The bathroom was easily the size of my living room 😳

The bedroom area of the suite, plus the giant shower! I think you could fit 5 or 6 people in that shower if you really wanted to. 

TV area (that's my brother's girlfriend in the photo)

The suite also came with a fully stocked mini bar. Me and the hubby joked that we wanted to be the ones staying there! Ok, maybe we were half-joking πŸ˜‰ But seriously, this place was amazing! If you are ever in Ashland, OR, you must check it out for yourself!

Alchemy offered some of the best drinks the hubby and I've ever had. This was one of the hubby's drinks called the "Paper Airplane". A bourbon drink. I love how they garnished the drink with a little airplane!

My brother, dad, and the hubby take a break from Kentucky Basketball. 

Seated for the dinner. We were somehow missing my brother's girlfriend and her mother in this picture, and I never found one with all of us in it. Drat. 

Some of Alchemy's food. From the top left, Filet Mignon and from the top right, Crab Cannelloni. Two of the entrees from the feast we had. But from the bottom left, we have a ricotta pastry made fresh for breakfast and to the bottom right, BLTA Poached Eggs with Avocado Hollandaise. Expect to see BLTA Poached Eggs on the blog at some point, because that breakfast is one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. So. Darn. Amazing!

The very next day, my parents, the hubby, and I headed back to their house. Why? Because the following day we were driving to Portland to meet one of my old friends for wine-tasting. Can you see why I say we toured the state? Ha ha. To Portland we went! 

We ended up going to a small vineyard not far from my friend's house, Hawk's View Cellars. The wine was pretty good, and we had a great time catching up with my friend and her husband. 

That's her son hilariously photobombing our photo. The photo might not show it, but he's pretty laid-back and quite the little charmer πŸ˜ƒ

Just two old high school friends and college roommates πŸ‘­ 

After wine-tasting that day (the day before Christmas Eve), we headed back to my parent's house. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but my parents live about an hour and a half from Portland. So, from Portland to Albany we go. And what did we do on Christmas Eve?

Back to Portland πŸ˜‚

We stopped and visited my mom's uncle and aunt in an assisted living facility, and then we headed to my cousin's house to meet her new baby girl. She was adorable and I don't think she even fussed once while we were there. 

This one is me, Dad, Mom, and then my cousin with her husband and baby girl. 

After visiting family in Portland, it was back to Albany for Christmas!

Christmas Day with dogs, cats, spiked hot chocolate, and plenty of mimosa's!

The hubby got a new shirt that he just had to wear πŸ˜ƒ

After opening presents, I was working on the computer a bit and had a shadow I couldn't shake. Kobe was actually my cat that I got my freshman year of college when I lived in an apartment. My sophomore year I moved into the sorority house and couldn't take her with me. She went to live with my parents on their acre in the suburbs and she's been happy ever since. It's been 14 years but she still likes to hang out with me when I'm there. I also think she may been a tad infatuated with the hubby, ha ha. 

The hubby and I's Christmas gift to my mom were these Oregon Football canvases we had made for her.  They of course had to go up right away πŸ˜„

Christmas Day's dinner included prime rib (overcooked but still moist!), garlic mashed potatoes, haircot vert, and Sorghum-Glazed Veggie Medley

A couple of days later, we hit up Brick and Mortar Cafe in downtown Albany for a boozy breakfast. 

The hubby was super-impressed by his spicy Bloody Mary that came complete with a beefstick straw.  Pretty cool!

From the top left, one boozy screwdriver. Two thumbs up! Top right, Lox Eggs Benedict (can you tell I like poached eggs??). From the bottom left, a Denver Omlet and at the bottom right, Chicken and Waffles.  I'd never been to this restaurant before and I must say, I was highly impressed. Especially to be located in a smaller town like Albany. 

We've finally made it to the day we celebrated my birthday and the day before we flew home, December 29th. My brother and his girlfriend paid for and prepared the whole meal. It was spectacular. Those drinks above were made by my brother's girlfriend and are a specialty on the Alchemy menu. I wish I could remember what they are called, but I'm going to have to wait till it's later on the West Coast before I get that information πŸ˜‚ 

My birthday feast! It included Garlic-Butter Grilled Shrimp, Halibut with Champagne-Cream Sauce, Mushroom Wellingtons with Port-Wine Sauce, and smashed cauliflower. There are no words 😍😍😍

Mushroom Wellingtons. And yes, you'll be seeing this one on the blog at some point too! 

It was such a fun night. It's going to take a long time to top this birthday meal!

As you can imagine, the dogs were ecstatic when we got home. A thorough sniffing of our luggage was completed before we were allowed to unpack πŸ˜‚

~What a busy month! You can bet January is going to be much slower, that's for sure! Happy Wednesday everyone!~


  1. Twas awesome! The eight pounds I lost this summer have been found! Right where they were when last seen. It was great having you guys here, and a time that will be hard to surpass in the future. But we'll try!

    1. It was awesome! I feel like I'm still working on some vacation weight as well! 🀣 I can't wait for our next trip, they always seem to go so fast! ❤️

  2. Dear sweet Jessica ~ I am glad you had such a wonderful round of holiday visiting, good food, etc.

    May 2017 be a fantastic year for your and your hubby ~ FlowerLady

    1. Thank you FlowerLady! It was an amazing time with family ❤️

      Wishing you a wonderful 2017 as well! πŸ˜ƒ

  3. Oh how fun!!!! I am so glad that you were able to have a whole month filled with lots of love, family and laughter. :) You made me long for Ashland was our "escape" when we lived in Klamath Falls and needs a break. Be blessed my friend!

    1. I love Ashland so much! If it weren't so darn expensive I really would want to live there. The eating out there would probably make me go broke though, there's too much good food! πŸ˜‚

      Hope you had a great week Debbie!

  4. It sounds like December was epic! It all looks like fun and each meal sounds better than the next! What a fun month.

    1. It was epic! January's Wrap-Up is going to look so wimpy compared to December! πŸ˜‚

  5. Girl... You have been busy!! Wow! So many fun travels, and such amazing food!! Glad to hear all of your time away went so well, and you had such a great time :) Belated Happy Birthday to you!!

    1. I can't believe how busy December was! Although I think I can tell NOW, because I've been pretty hermit-y this month so far πŸ˜ƒ Gotta recharge those batteries! πŸ˜‚


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