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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 31, 2010

Christmas, 2010 - A Brief Report

If I was really being brief, I'd just say it's been wonderful!  But just so I can remember why it was wonderful after time has passed, I'll journal what I can still remember.

January and Maggie arrived early enough on Thursday evening that we got to have a nice visit before we all went to bed.  They had an uneventful trip over which was nice and they arrived to Huntington's strange "season of snow".  The whole time they were in Huntington, it snowed off and on and made everything feel very right.  Friday, Christmas Eve, we took a walk down to the river (me and my river), saw a bunch of geese which always makes me wonder how they stand this weather, but there they are; and I'm already forgetting most of Friday.  Of course we went to Starbucks - what would be surprising is if we didn't.  And I know that thanks to January, we went to the grocery store cause I had decided to wait til Friday to get my pork roast for Christmas dinner and then totally forgot about it til she mentioned it around 4:30 - with the store closing at 6:00!  Oh, and again, of course, we went to Hillbilly Hotdogs for lunch.  Now, in my own defense, I must say I was going to take us to the new-ish Thai restaurant that seems to be popular and always busy.  But they were closed.  We were forced to go to Hillbilly.  And, I've been lucking out lately.  Once again, Sonny, the owner was there and kept us well entertained.  And while we were there, there were four people at another table and they ordered a Homewrecker and a Big Bad Bubba Burger, both of which are way oversized items.  The Homewrecker starts with a 15"(!) hotdog and comes with ALL of their toppings.  The Big Bad Bubba Burger starts with 3 pounds of ground beef.  I wish I had had my camera with me to get a picture of the man who was facing towards me when they brought out the plates.  He was stunned...  I know I've posted their web addy before, but if you want to see the Homewrecker up close and personal, here it is again:  http://hillbillyhotdogs.com.

When we came back, Maggie mentioned that she had never had the grand tour of the fitness center and the "club" room so we went to inspect those.  While we were in the club room, Maggie tried the remote on the TV (which I had done once with no success) and the TV came on.  So we decided that we would find out when "A Christmas Story" was going to be on and go down to the club room with our light cheese, bread and wine evening repast and watch it there since I don't have cable.  But before that, we met one of my neighbor ladies as we were coming in and she had told me she was hoping to meet January so we stopped and chatted.  I said she should come down for a glass of wine later, she said "I thought you'd never ask!" and a little later she did come down and I opened a bottle of Prosecco (good grief there's another story there!  NOTE:  and I just posted it here) and pretty much finished that off while she was there.  Then when it was time we took all our goodies down to the club room for our evening entertainment and it was just real nice.  The movie was, as always, lots of fun - if you grew up in the 50's and haven't seen it, you really should sometime.  It's sort of like reliving your childhood.

Doesn't it just look cozy? Bless their hearts, January and Maggie brought all the cheese with them - an aged gouda, some fresh goat cheese and a wonderful brie.  They also brought the bread - an olive wheat bread that was wonderful.  And we brought down some of the rum cake and a little 4" cheese cake I had made after throwing the big one in the trash.

Since we're all grown-ups now, there was no getting up at the crack of dawn, but we didn't be laggards either.  Had a nice time opening our presents to and from each other and the presents my sister had mailed to us.  The girls got me three bottles of nicer wine than I ever buy for myself, including one by Bogle called "Phantom" which was just luscious.  They only produce it once a year at the end of the harvest I guess, and it was wonderful.  Also a Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel and the DaVinci Chianti.  Nice...  They also gave me a stick blender which I tried while we were still in West Va.  I made my vodka pasta sauce and used the blender to puree it and it worked like a charm.  I think I'm going to be very happy with that.  Some tea and an over-the-cup loose tea strainer also which I had been wanting.

For dinner, we had a boneless, rolled and tied, pork loin roast which was tasty, tasty.  One of the presents from my sister was a wonderful sea salt seasoned with rosemary and I forget what else, but I rubbed that all over the roast before I put it in the oven - quite nummy.  We also made the sweet potatoes with browned butter and sage that I posted the recipe for last Thanksgiving and oh, my goodness - I think they were even better this year.  The butter came this close to actually getting burnt and that must have made a difference or something.  After all, Tyler Florence's recipe says to cook the butter until it's "brown and nutty - crazy nutty" and we decided that's what crazy nutty must mean.  Then we had mashed potatoes and gravy and steamed broccoli.  Finished off the bottle of Phantom that we had opened Christmas Eve.  So a very, very nice meal.

I had made a little gift certificate for the girls giving them the choice of going to the pottery place and each choosing something to paint and finish or going to a movie of their choice, with refreshments.  They chose the movie because they wanted to see "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" so we went to the matinee performance of that Sunday afternoon after my usual Sunday morning at Starbucks.  They had their drinks there, read the funnies and weekend magazine, met and visited with one of my Starbucks friends, and then went to Empire Book Store while I finished the crossword.  We considered the popcorn our "lunch" and then I made the vodka sauce and served it on some farfalle for dinner.  I love the taste of that sauce and am going to continue to work at getting things just right.  I'm having trouble getting the type and quantity of pasta right, I think.  This time, I used farfalle pasta and whole wheat too (don't even know why I bought that) and it was way to much pasta-chewing for the amount of sauce.  Also, I'm going to look at some other vodka sauce recipes on line and see how they might differ from mine.  I wouldn't want it much different, but I think mine either needs to go into the oven with more liquid than the recipe says or needs to cook for a much shorter period of time.  I shall update when I've perfected it. :)

And I think that's pretty much everything.  I've always loved going over to Virginia and Maryland for Christmas there with my kids, but it was nice to have Christmas in "my house" again.   I hitched a ride over to Virginia on Monday when January and Maggie went back home and have been at Chris's since then.  I'll report on that and then on my visit with Heather starting Sunday.

I guess 5:35 p.m. can be officially called evening, so it is now New Year's Eve and I can send everyone my heartfelt wishes for a very healthy, very happy, and (wouldn't it be wonderful?) a very peaceful 2011!!


Christopher said...

Looks like a cozy restaurant spread in that photo! You'll have to make more field trips like that, to the 'social room'!

January said...

It was a really nice Christmas! We were glad to be there celebrating with you...and the free cable and the cheese and the wine :)

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