Hanging On to the Holidays

Sean and I have done a terrible job calling it quits on the holiday season. It seems that, since Christmas, we’ve just continued to celebrate…well, Christmas. It’s been absolutely exhausting, but also a great way to savor my last week in London.

On Boxing Day, I met my dad for a quick walk through Winter Wonderland (and mulled wine and churros, obviously) before he came back to my house for a home cooked meal. We settled on ham, but had no idea how to cook it. So, with the help of BBC Food and a bit of experimenting, Sean and I produced a fully cooked honey baked ham. I made some potatoes and carrots to go with it. I was so nervous because it was my dad’s first time at our house, as well as my first time really cooking a meal for him – but he loved it! Actually, we all did. I’m not sure how the ham was so successful, but we all devoured it and Sean and I have devoured the leftovers since. I cannot wait to make the second half!

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We decided on a lazy day the following day, choosing not to leave the house at all. My dad and I had originally planned a trip to Cambridge for the day, but we weren’t feeling the weather. Sean and I stayed in our pajamas, my dad chilled out at his apartment, and we met up in the evening for fish and chips at our local favorite.

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[I’m so proud of this breakfast I created – hashbrowns, leftover ham, cheese, and fried egg…I couldn’t get enough!]

Monday was my dad’s last day in town, so we met up with him to do some shopping and wandering. While we spent some time in Covent Garden, we ultimately ended up at the pub…surprise! Then, we walked over to Somerset House because Sean and I had an ice skating date. My dad said goodbye and left us there while we worked up the courage to skate. Oh – it was a blast! I used to have ice skating birthday parties every year, but I hadn’t been in so long so I was nervous. Somerset House was absolutely gorgeous all lit up and once Sean and I got the hang of it we had so much fun. We didn’t even fall the entire time! We followed it up with wine and fondue in Fortnum’s Lodge –  I’m already planning our next ice skating adventure.

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[Our ice skating was booked for 4:15, which is right around sunset, so we had the opportunity to see Somerset House in all shades of light – from it’s charm in daylight to it’s beauty under the lights they have setup at night]

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The Christmas celebrations wrapped up on Tuesday, when we went up to celebrate with Sean’s family at his sister’s house. We had a lovely lunch followed by great conversation and a couple of rounds of Uno. It was nice to get back to a real at-home family setting and has made me quite excited to get back to mine in Virginia next week!

Now we are gearing up for the New Year with plenty of rest and a major house clean. I’m down to my last four days in London before a pop over to the states, so trying to make every moment count!

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[One of my oldest friends, Caroline, is in town, so we met up with her on Carnaby Street after ice skating. I’m absolutely loving the Carnaby Street Christmas lights – and their New Years Eve feel makes it the perfect place for post-Christmas lights browsing]

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Our First Christmas

Sean and I often  joke about falling into a routine since we moved in together – lazy weekends at home where the bed never gets made, weekday evenings on the couch with a home cooked dinner and wine, and free time spent looking at furniture to finish all of the decorating. So it’s always a little treat to remember that, in the midst of all of the routine, we are still going through plenty of firsts.

This holiday season was our first together…well, in the same country actually with each other. And it was so much fun! From my panic to decorate starting the first of December, to Sean’s last minute gift wrapping, we definitely made plenty of memories and started a few things which are bound to become traditions.

Some of my favorite parts of this holiday season with Sean:

1 – Picking out the tree. I just couldn’t accept the lack of branches toward the top of all of the trees…so I finally had to accept the tree for what it is, and now I love it!

2 – Decoration shopping in Alsace – we had already put up our tree and the main ornaments, so we used our team in Strasbourg to get a few things that really mean a lot to us and that can stay in our Christmas collection for Christmases to come!

3 – Wine and cheese…there was a lot of this. On Mondays, on Saturday afternoons, on nights in with friends, and on lazy nights in with each other. There’s nothing better than a cheese and charcuterie platter, the scent of a Christmas candle, and the tree all lit up in its glory.

4 – Family time. My dad visited for Christmas, and we had a blast celebrating the season with him!

[My dad’s hotel was doing a 12 days of Christmas campaign and asked us to participate in a picture…give a bunch of adults drum sticks and some pots and just see what happens]

5 – Christmas week food. Afternoon tea at the Corinthia, Christmas Eve Chinese at Hutong, Christmas turkey at the Falcon. So. Delicious.

This has definitely been an exhausting holiday season, but I couldn’t have enjoyed it more…and I cannot wait for it to be even better next year!

[Our friend Anastasia joined us for Christmas dinner at The Falcon]

Thanksgiving Leftovers

After an amazing feast on Sunday, Sean and I have been trying to make the leftovers last as long as possible. We started running out of or throwing away side dishes, but managed to fill our dinners with turkey and stuffing for pretty much the entire week. I actually think my favorite part of Thanksgiving might be the abundance of leftovers!

On Monday, we essentially had Thanksgiving, Round 2 in our lunch boxes. We were still very eager at this point, so also had Thanksgiving for dinner and started making turkey noodle soup with the leftover bones and carcass. The carcass didn’t fit in our crock pot, so we pretty much just threw in anything we could find (including leftover vegetables and spices) to create something that resembled a soup. To be honest, this one looked good, but never actually got eaten (we gave up somewhere along the way).



  

Then, on actual Thanksgiving, we picked up some microwaveable side dishes, invited Hope over, and knocked out a couple bottles of wine in typical American fashion. We also watched the dog show…only to find out it was actually the wrong dog show (still super cute though).

  

I’m so thankful to have these two in my life each and every day – and to finally have a US friend just a quick tube ride away! I’m also so eager to celebrate more holidays in London -starting with the Christmas festive season!

Friendsgiving: The Feast

As I mentioned in my day before prep, I did not do enough planning to ensure that things actually went smoothly on the day of our Friendsgiving. In fact, I did not plan the timings of the cooking at all, which proved to be a very stress-inducing mistake.

Sean and I ordered our turkey from Whole Foods. We also delegated most of the dishes by making our dinner a pot luck. We literally only had to make three dishes and I was still a stressful mess. I joked that Friendsgiving would be impossible because we only have one oven, but counter space ended up being the real issue! Sean and I both come from houses with massive islands in the kitchen and plenty more counter space along the sides; in our house, we have literally one sliver of space that we have to use for all cutting, mixing, and storing during the cooking process. It resulted in a huge mess.

[The aftermath of the stuffing incident]

While Sean ran out to do some necessary errands (pick up the turkey), I was stuck at home alone with the cooking. I started on the stuffing, thinking it would take the longest, but being the overeager hostess I am, got started without reading the directions in full. I had to scramble to chop the onion and make the broth while trying not to burn the bacon that was frying on the stove.To say I was frustrated would be a massive understatement. When I finally got the stuffing in the oven, I was so relieved!

I read through all of the instructions for the baked brie and pumpkin pie, and prepared everything I could without Sean returning with some necessary ingredients. I set everything to the side, so everything went much smoother than the stuffing (aside from a pie crust mishap!). Upon Sean’s return, he was immediately sent out for more stuff

When Hope arrived, we broke out the wine. She took over the kitchen while I set the table and prepared the house. I was so happy that I ended up loving the centerpiece, and the plastic/paper table settings ended up looking pretty nice!

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We didn’t struggle for oven space until we had to heat up the turkey. Whole Foods gave it to us completely cold, so we had to put it back in the oven to reheat. While the turkey was in the oven, everybody started arriving with all of the other stuff that needed to be reheated. We tried to entertain everyone with appetizers and cocktails until the food was reheated and the turkey carved.

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Sean concentrated so much on carving the turkey and it ended up turning out so well (thanks YouTube!). We all sat down, shared what we were thankful for, and dug in.

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It was so nice having so many people crammed into our living room (never thought we would be able to make that work) laughing and getting to know each other. Also – who knew we had so many friends!? We went through five or six bottles of wine, a couple bottles of prosecco, sixteen whiskey cocktails, and a bottle of the mamajuana drink we were gifted in the Dominican Republic. We were all quite jolly!

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I still think that Sean secretly hoped our dinner would fail so I wouldn’t be tempted to host more, but it was such a great time. So here’s to many many more!

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