Christmas Re-Cap

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Ours was quiet yet enjoyable, and we were able to fill it with some new traditions that we hope to continue throughout the years.
One of the things we were contemplating was what to do for Christmas Eve dinner. A turkey with all the trimmings seemed like the obvious option, but we had decided to attend 5pm Mass instead of midnight Mass, so a turkey in the oven didn't seem very realistic.
I thought it might be fun to have something a little different, and came up with the idea of Chinese food. Jacob is great at making Asian food and he made some DELICIOUS kung pao chicken and mongolian beef and broccoli.

We enjoyed dinner, did some last minute present wrapping, and prepared for the following day.

Christmas morning arrived and we began the day with my yummy homemade cinnamon rolls!

After we filled up on sugar, we opened presents.

Even though we are far away in a different country, my family still managed to completely spoil us. A couple weeks before Christmas two huge boxes arrived packed full of goodies from them, and we are so thankful for all the effort they put into making our first Christmas by ourselves special!
Being away from family was definitely the most difficult part about the holidays this year, but thank goodness for Skype! Being able to watch my mom, dad, and brother open the gifts we sent them made us feel a little closer to home.
I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas! With the holidays behind us it's time to get back into the swing of things!

ALS Graduation

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I apologize in advance, I'm going to be doing a lot of bragging about my husband in this post :) 
I just can't help it, I'm so darn proud of him!
For the past six weeks Jacob has been going through ALS (airman leadership school for my non-Air Force affiliated friends). He has been working hard, studying for tests, and re-hearsing speeches late into the night. Besides ALS, he has also been taking 2 online classes for his degree (both of which he received A's in). 
Needless to say, Jacob has pretty much been non-existant for the past month and a half. A lot of people told him that it wouldn't be possible for him to take classes while going through ALS. 
Well, anything is possible if you put enough hard work and effort into it. 
Last night we attended Jacob's ALS graduation. Anytime I get to see my husband dressed up in his blues is a fun night for me, and I'm all for getting to wear a pretty new dress. 

As a graduation gift, I gave Jacob a holder for all of the coins that he's earned.

The graduation was nice and entailed drinks, dinner, and awards. 

The most exciting part of the evening was when the awards were given out. There were only three awards, and Jacob won two of them!
He won the Academic Achievement Award AND the Distinguished Graduate award! 
I couldn't be more proud of him. All of his hard work paid off and was well worth it. 
The gradate with his awards: 

I am so thrilled for him, and can't wait until he officially puts on his Staff Sergeant rank in a month! 

Christmas Already??

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is it just me or did Christmas arrive at a rapid speed this year? I cannot believe it is a mere 2 weeks away.
Although we picked up our tree the day after Thanksgiving (tradition) and decorated that weekend, I still feel like time has flown by!

This is our first Christmas here in Italy, and the first Christmas I have EVER spent away from my family. Life has been busy, but I've been trying my best to enjoy the Christmas season every chance I get.

This past weekend I baked a couple dozen cookies for the Airman Cookie Drive, which is for airman who are single and living in dorms or who are here away from their families on a TDY. I made classic peanut butter blossoms, and chocolate peppermint cookies.

1 cup  (2 sticks) of butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp of vanilla
crushed up candy canes (or other peppermint candies)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
2 cups of flour
*Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 8-9 minutes*
This weekend I plan on having a bake-a-thon and pulling out all of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Then I fully intend on packaging those cookies up to give away to friends and co-works so that I don't devour them all! Since this is the first time we will be spending Christmas with just the two of us, I have been brainstorming ways to make it extra special. I feel like this is our opportunity to start our own traditions that we can carry on when we have a family of our own. My mother always made delicious home-made cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. This is the only time of year we would ever get them, and she would prepare them the night before so that all she would have to do is stick them in the oven on Christmas morning. This is without a doubt a tradition that I want to continue!

What kind of traditions do you have for the holidays? Are they passed down from your family or did you create them on your own?

J'adore Paris: A weekend in Paris

Monday, December 5, 2011

I had hoped to get this blog entry posted in a more timely manner, but it's been busy around here!
Better late than never though, right? 
About a month ago we spent an amazing weekend in Paris. 
It was everything I imagined and so much more. 
It is without a doubt my favorite place I've ever been, and I can't imagine any other place in the world topping it. 
This was also my first time flying Ryanair, and that in itself is an experience. For those you who haven't flown this glorious airline, let me just say they are insanely strict with their carry-on policy. I had to pack everything for a weekend in Paris into a backpack. Yes, a backpack. With a weight restriction. 
But I am proud to say I did it. 
We flew out of the Venice airport Thursday evening, and by the time we actually got to where we were staying in Paris I was ready to crash. 
We stayed in a small apartment right down the street from the Eiffel Tower with a wonderful view. 
Friday morning we got going bright and early. 
First stop: The Louvre

I'm not a big museum person, but the Louvre was really neat. It is HUGE so we decided to grab a map and headed in the direction of the Mona Lisa.

I think the outside of the Louvre is almost as interesting as all of the artwork inside.

From the Louvre we walked down the Champs-Elysees. I love this area, it's what I always pictured when I thought of Paris. One of my favorite things along this street is Laudree, the home of the best macaroons in the world.

Seriously. We tried a variety of flavors, and determined that the pistachio are so amazing, it's not even worth getting anything else.

Next we headed down the street towards the Arc de Triomph.

The view from the top.

Unfortunately it was super cloudy that day, so you couldn't even see the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Our next stop: Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is beautiful. I had no idea that Mass was still held there regularly, which I think is so cool. There was a Veteran's Day mass in progress when we were there, which was neat to see.

Day 2 began with the Eiffel Tower.

You can't go to Paris without an Eiffel Tower photo shoot!
Sorry, I can't post all of them because I want our Christmas card picture to be a surprise!
We headed over to the Luxemburg Gardens which were amazing.

We had to make it over to Montmartre to see the famous Moulin Rouge.
I have to admit, not that interesting and I didn't particularly love that area of town.

I absolutely love Paris, and one weekend wasn't long enough for me. I'm already begging the hubs to take me back! We saw quite a bit for such a short period of time though. We didn't get to see the Palace of Versailles which I was really looking forward to, but there's always next time. You can only cram so much into a day!

Until we meet again....