Merry Merry Merry Cheers! Holidays 2014.

Holidays 2014

A little recap of my holidays in Ohio! Overall, I tried to unplug and unwind, but I also wanted to take more pictures with my DSLR (instead of my phone) over the holidays.

My flight to Ohio came in early, which thrilled me to no end, and my sister Allison picked me up at the airport in Columbus. We laughed when we realized that we were wearing the exact same sweater. I hung out with her in Columbus for the winter solstice – went out for pizza @ Harvest/drinks @ Curio in German Village, saw Wild, walked around Target (Vermont doesn’t have one…..), and stayed up late watching Bravo while eating nachos at her place!

*Did you see Wild? I liked the book better but was obsessssssssed with its soundtrack.

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Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014

On Sunday morning, we drove to my parent’s place in Springfield. Ohio’s landscape.

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Terrible photo from the car, but gas is 1.99 there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Allison and I walked Weber Road, a 4-mile hilly road in the neighborhood, before COOKIE BAKING at my aunt’s house with my mom and sister Kim.

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I walked this route almost every single morning. It was one of two things on my “list” that I actually did over break. I also saw Elf for the first time!

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Sweet baby Amelia’s favorite thing is to steal my mom’s iPhone and wear her reading glasses upside down, HAHAHAHA!

Holidays 2014

Aunt Nettie and her new grandson Asher.

Holidays 2014

Christmas Eve and Christmas were a blur of amazing meals, but unfortunately no food pics. One evening most of us all wore plaid though: plaid-people-picture.

Holidays 2014

And for some reason I kept taking pictures of the same breakfast. Maybe because mom made breakfast for me every morning – so awesome – and it was super healthy. We always had eggs (usually hard-boiled) with yogurt and fruit, and occasionally some of of dad’s homemade sourdough bread. A nice way to start the day before all the holiday meals and cookies.

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Holidays 2014

(Psssst! Picture of my family glaring at me if I tried to include them in the morning photo!)

Holidays 2014

All the presents under the tree! Mom said she didn’t realize how small the tree was this year until they brought it home. I thought it was kind of adorable, but I cracked up going through photos. Look how big everyone looks next to it!

Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014

The day after Christmas a bunch of us went hiking at Glen Helen, a 1,000 acre national natural landmark in Yellow Springs. It’s gorgeous. The Little Miami essentially carved a 2-mile long dolomite limestone gorge. There’s a spot high up at the glen called Simon’s Leap, and legend has it Simon Kenton jumped across to the other side to escape the Shawnee.

Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014

Post-hiking mom, Allison, and I had lunch at Ye Olde Tavern in Yellow Springs. It’s an Ohio-fave. I feel like I go back in time and they have an awesome beer selection.

Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014

We walked around the shops in town for a while after lunch. I saw the biggest cat ever at a jewelry store – is it pregnant?

Holidays 2014

A few days after Christmas, mom had everyone over for lasagna. We ALL love her lasagna so much that we call it her “party lasagna”!

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Holidays 2014

I brought up old photo albums, which were a hoot to look through. Look – I’ve always wanted to be a cowgirl!

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Otherwise, we all just chilled.

Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014
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Holidays 2014
Holidays 2014

And I discovered that mom is also a hoarder of pens:) She read this Japanese book on tidiness, so we’re all inspired at the moment to DECLUTTER. We like our things a little too much….

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On my last day, we checked out this incredible PERSONAL art exhibit, which featured a mind-boggling number of Picasso paintings, at the Wexner Center on OSU’s campus. There was a moment of me worrying about time and fitting in lunch and being a brat (hahaha – ooops), but I got lunch and got to the airport. I always get so sad to say good-bye to my family – tears tears tears – but it was nice to have a few days in Vermont before going back to work.

Here’s to 2015!

P.S. I had a lovely NYE out in Fairfax, VT, but then I got sick, but then I got to listen to 10 HOURS of Serial podcasts. YES! All caught up. Oh man, that was twisted.

P.P.S. Currently loving the Vimeo short-series called High Maintenance, discovered via A Cup of Jo, of course. I’ve watched about half of the first season. I’m so intrigued to find out more of The Guy’s life. WHO IS THE GUY REALLY?

P.P.P. S.  The “Rachel” episode also features Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey, just sayin’.

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Happy 60th Bday Dad!

Dad's handmade guitars.

Dad turned the big 6-0 today! Capricorn in the house. We FaceTimed and sang happy birthday and he blew out candles on cookies my mom made. (These cookies, his favorite.) I had a few cool ideas for gifts, but he requested socks. (These socks, also his favorite.)

Happy birthday dad, xoxoxo.

1.7.77 / Mom & her amazing hair @ dad's 22nd Bday!

1.7.77 – Mom and his friend Woodsy at his 22nd birthday.

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Me and dad on his motorcycle. 1983.

Dad at 14. On a beach (next to grandma in the car). In Hawaii. With a pineapple. #alohagram #latergram @btska @terryreid55 @allisonareid @kimberlyjolie

Dad, age 14, posing on the beach in Hawaii with a pineapple. Grandma’s in the car. One of my favorite pictures EVERRRRR.

@leahsaywhat 🎉😻👯💖

Dad and his girls this past spring.

A picture from mom + dad. @btska

Dad and his animals. This was when my parents watched Merlin while I worked in Japan:)

Dad totally crushed the homemade holiday gift competition. New Year's resolutions: find something I can make / start now.

Dad and his crafts! All my friends want them! He totally needs a website: handmade guitars, cutting boards, and coasters.

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* NYE Dinner in Vermont *

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I visited a few friends outside of town and had THE GREATEST NYE dinner, hands down, like ever. It’s the same friends who hosted the amazing holiday dinner, but this time I got food pics. Yay yay yay! We had homemade Caesar salad, followed by a crab bisque, and then the star of the show: bacon wrapped tenderloin with mashed potatoes, green beans, and black-eyed peas (for luck). I pressed them on the salad dressing deets  – olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic, and a coddled egg white – so I’ve been on a salad kick the past few days trying to recreate it.

I had flown back to VT well after midnight the night before, so I just picked up dessert from Mirabelle’s downtown. I went for Buche de Noel, or more popularly known as the yule log. Have you ever had one? It’s not only festive, but a delicious chocolate mousse/sponge cake goodness. I highly recommend one, and maybe next year I’ll make one myself. Maybe that shall be my 2015 resolution, eh?

HAPPY 2015!

P.S. Yesterday I was a slug, but today I went for a long walk, binge listened to 6 Serial podcasts (after episode 4, it gets addicting!), washed my car, ordered new contacts, cleaned out my bathroom, cleaned out my cabinets, mopped my floors, washed my sheets, and dropped off a garbage bag full of old clothes to Goodwill! I just felt like cleaning and purging all day long. Oh, I also made this casserole that my friend Amanda really likes. It was pretty tasty, and I’ve been on a salad kick with homemade dressing, so I had some greens on the side.

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I’m flying back to OHIO tomorrow!

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I’m flying back to OHIO tomorrow morning! I’m going out in Columbus tomorrow night for the winter solstice with the little sis, so will make sure I get some beauty rest tonight. Got a million things still to do, namely PACK and buy food for my cat while I’ll be away. He’s got two French-speaking cat-sitters for the break, so he’ll be spoiled.

My ten days home will be sure to fly by, but I’ve got some goals for winter break: go for a walk or do some yoga every day, finish Serial podcast, finish Breaking Bad, finish Christmas shopping, watch at least one holiday movie (I’ve seen none so far!), bake loads of cookies, start a quilt, and go winter hiking at Old Man’s Cave!

Happy happy happy holidays, xoxoxo.

(Baby Amelia last year on Christmas Day. She’s, literally, doubled in size.)

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Some friends hosted a holiday dinner

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Some friends hosted a holiday dinner and Yankee Swap on Sunday night. Check out this gorgeous table setting. Swoon! Unpictured-but-absolutely-delicious-feast included, New England clam chowder, Caesar salad, salmon, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and raspberry cheesecake. Twas magical!

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Thanksgiving Day Brownies

Thanksgiving 2014
Oh hi!

Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!

I’m a weee bit late to the Thanksgiving recap party, but I want to talk about BROWNIES. My grandpa Bob’s brownies! There’s enough pumpkin pies at the table already, amirite?

For the past couple of years, I’ve cared less and less about food and cooking. Us humans go through cycles, no? I think Japan did something to me, ha! (My herbalist said that year abroad completely depleted and traumatized my entire adrenal system, which is why I haven’t felt much like myself this past year……) But my little sister feels the same way right now, so who knows?!

The good thing is that it illuminates our go-to food favorites. For me, that would be beef tacos, vegetable soup, orange glazed chicken, grilled turkey sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, roasted brussels sprouts, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. I’ve made them all hundreds of times. These brownies I’ve made twice in the past couple of weeks for different celebrations: Thanksgiving, holiday parties, etc. And my grandpa made them every Christmas so they’re about to be on heavy rotation this holiday season.

Have at it!

Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014

Watch Beyonce 7/11 video and lick the spoon!

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Grandpa Bob’s Brownies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cold water

Directions

Yo, this is a ONE BOWL NO MIXER recipe. (I almost wrote YO BITCHES because I’m on Season 3 of Breaking Bad and hear Jesse’s voice in my mind at random times all day.) Anyway! Simply add all of the ingredients above into a large bowl and mix for about 50 strokes with a wooden spoon. You want to make sure that the eggs are incorporated, but you don’t want to overmix because that can make the brownies tough. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

They need frosting too. I’ve made them without it and it’s no bueno. We like to make a half recipe of Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting and frost when brownies are still warm. It melts into a beautiful glossy chocolate glaze.

Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014

A chocolate alternative to all the other Thanksgiving Day desserts:)

Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014

P.S. They are even more excellent the next day OR frozen (I did this so I wouldn’t eat all of them out on the counter one time, until I realized they are EVEN MORE DELISH frozen).

P.P.S. Gratuitous Thanksgiving barn cat pictures:)

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P.P.P.S. A blog Happy Belated B-day to Allison! We celebrated a bit early during Thanksgiving week with Aunt Marilyn’s homemade cheesecake (an excellent and easy recipe for another day!).

Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014

P.P.P.P.S. HELLO WINTER. We just got a big storm in Burlington the other day.

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Sweet Baby Amelia!

Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
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Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014
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Back from Thanksgiving holiday in Ohio. My niece Amelia is 18 months old and 2 feet tall and RIDICULOUSLY cute.

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