28 December 2012

The three days of Christmas.

Merry Christmas plus three! ;) While vacation is going way too fast and I'm already dreading its end, I must confess that it also feels like we've been off forever and Christmas day feels like ages ago. I suppose that's what happens when your days are full of family, friends, fun, and food! And our past several days have been all of the above.

After my family left Sunday, we fell right into Christmas Eve and our third annual finger food buffet (I really like "annual" events, clearly), our second with Brad's parents. This year we added a special dessert (date shakes a la Palm Springs) to go along with our second year of viewing It's a Wonderful Life, which we bought this year to avoid the three-hour viewing time on tv w/ commercials.

It was finally time to pull out the Zingerman's cheeses from Local, the pimento and the Cheshire, which tasted amazing with the fancy honey I also picked up. More cheese, strawberry jalapeno jam, olives, shrimp cocktail, crackers, veggies, the works!

Made all the more special by my Christmas eve present to Brad....

Movie intermission.... Milkshake time!

I would imagine in general these are pretty simple, but I went with the Saveur recipe, which was as easy as easy could be. The hardest part? Chopping dates - those things are sticky! And, of course, a chance to use (and show off) my beautiful new blue blender! Bottom's up!

I have such strong, vivid memories of Christmas mornings growing up that I honestly don't think I'll ever grow out of looking forward to it - or trying to make it special, even for pooches. The older I get, the more I realize how much I channel my mother, and I snuck downstairs first, turning all the lights on, queuing up the Christmas music, putting the coffee on, and "setting up" Christmas. This year we went with a salad trail ending in two Dinobones for George and Heidi, and I'm sure they appreciate the gesture, wink.

Santa was very kind and generous to Brad and I both, and we had a blast sitting on the floor by the tree opening all of our gifts.

Merry Christmas from the Churches!

The grand finale being, of course, the Hot Dog the Movie-inspired ski man sweater I've had under wraps for months - you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find these type of sweaters, let alone in a size that isn't a small or XXL. It suits Brad perfectly. Especially with his Uncle Eddie Marty Moose mug (credit to Hillary for putting this gift on my radar over a year ago!).

Thank goodness I'd planned ahead and made the majority of the food for Christmas dinner the day before, so I only had one dish to make - the rest I just popped into the oven for a more relaxing day. On the menu: broccoli gratin (which I under broccoli'd, but was still delicious if extra saucy), Daphne Oz's ginger carrots (only the second cooked carrot I've ever really liked - I'm looking at you, Lisa Z and your Christmas Potluck carrots!), and, for the main course, spinach and three-cheese stuffed shells with tomato basil sauce as well as bechamel (yum) from the Mainstreet Ventures cookbook (from Ann Arbor). M-i-l brought ham, and Hillary made her world-famous coconut cake. By three, everything was done, so I called in the troops to come and get it while it was hot.


I miss having my mom here on Christmas, so I'm so thankful to have the Smurches around for lots of holiday love. Having the little ones running around makes it extra special, so a special shout out to Daphne and Maren, who help keep the Christmas spirit front and center.

But that wasn't the end of the celebrating! Wednesday brought the East Side Churches out, despite winter weather and an extra long drive. Everyone was all smiles when they arrived - a little (lot) extra time in the car wasn't dampening anyone's spirits.

...especially when there is a mountain of presents to be opened!

So glad everyone was able to make it out to round out the Christmas week!

And now... guess what?

It's FINALLY showing! Sheesh! Nothing like a white Christmas plus three! Hope everyone's holidays have been filled with as much fun and love as ours! xoxo

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