It’s birthday time again! And once again I am reminded just how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and loving family. Thank you to all who sent me happy thoughts, wished me well, and celebrated with me. I count my blessings each and every day, but infinitely more so at birthday time.

Kicking off birthday month with dinner at Winslow’s Wine Cafe in Fort Worth. Good food, good wine, fantastic company.

Followed by another phenomenal dinner at Eno’s Pizza in the hip Bishop Arts District.

The girls! (And yes, we utterly destroyed our pizzas. They were delicious.)

Oh, and did I mention my dearest friend Ashley and her husband Gustavo drove all the way down from Kansas to hang with me for my birthday? No? Well, there. Now you know! And oh boy, did we do some fun stuff!

We karaoked like rock stars! (albeit, somewhat tone deaf, off key rock stars…but who’s keeping track?)

Just another fun night in Dallas at Family Karaoke with some of my favorite people.

We got tasty treats at our favorite ice cream store in Fort Worth, Melt.

And we got wonderful empanadas at the Argentina Bakery. The ham and cheese was to die for!

Mmm…I love empanadas. Seriously, these were so tasty! I could probably eat a dozen of them by myself. (No mom, I didn’t actually eat a dozen empanadas. I’m just saying I could…)

A taste of home for Gustavo, and a taste of deliciousness for everyone!

And for dessert? How about some delightful alfajores? Yes please!

It has not escaped my notice that we love to celebrate our most important events with food. But that’s what fun about special occasions, right? The rest of the year is when we eat sensibly. Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are when we get to indulge! At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. :)

Anyhow, thank you to everyone for making this birthday a very memorable one!

Yes, still struggling to catch up. But at least I’m trying! I’m now going to ignore the fact that I’m almost two months behind and tell you all about our awesome New Year’s Eve!

In years past, we went out and we partied till the wee hours of the morning to start the new year correctly. However, after a long December at work, the crazy partying was really the last thing on my mind. On top of which, a lot of our friends were out of town for NYE this year. So, we gathered a couple of our favorite people and we cheered in 2015 with a nice relaxing evening.

We started out with a fancy schmancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Fort Worth, the Clay Pigeon. If you need a fun and unique place for a special occasion dinner, you really should try this restaurant! They have a made from scratch kitchen that uses locally sourced ingredients as often as they can. Every time we visit, we have a delicious and truly memorable meal! (The fire roasted bone marrow is phenomenal! I know it sounds weird, but I promise it’s worth the weirdness.)

Our NYE foursome enjoying a fantastic meal on the last chilly night of 2014.

After dinner, we came back to our house, got comfy, played games, watched a movie, and very spiritedly welcomed 2015 with a champagne cheers!

Carrie and I got all fancified for dinner, then changed into our most comfy pajamas to welcome the new year. In our defense, the two of us have had our share of wearing uncomfortably tight dresses and high heels to all sorts of events, including New Year’s Eves. This year was positively delightful to lounge about in our pj’s and still get to celebrate just the same!

We played our new “learn to use your chopsticks” game that we brought back from Taipei. Needless to say, we all failed miserably.

And then? We played probably the best game we own, the Outburst Jr. that I received as a Christmas gift when I was 7 or 8. So, it’s absolutely filled with ridiculous and amazing 80’s references. Also, some of the cards are so incredibly easy that it’s just hilarious to watch two very educated grown men try to guess the 10 items for words that rhyme with “steep”. Good time were had, you should probably be jealous.

And right before midnight, I lit the Bayberry candle that my co-worker Christine gave me. I’ve never heard of this tradition before, but you’re supposed to burn a Bayberry candle from the old year to the new for good luck to move forward with you into the next year. It smells lovely, so this is a tradition I’m happy to keep alive!

And Mr. Adam was kind enough to provide the champagne for midnight. This is probably the best champagne I’ve ever put in my face. Fizzy and delightful!

Our NYE group selfie because…why not?

We hope everybody had a lovely holiday season and we can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

Yes, almost a month later, I’m finally writing about Christmas 2014. But you know how it goes, the more time goes by, the more guilty I feel about not posting something, and the vicious cycle continues. Well, I’m doing my best to stop that cycle (and catch up ever so slightly)!

My family came to Fort Worth to join us for Christmas this year. So much fun! So much food!!

The family together again in front of the Fort Worth Christmas tree before we headed to a fun showing of the Nutcracker.

And because we can’t look normal for more than one picture at a time, of course we had to make faces!

And I said we had a ton of food, right? On with the food pictures!!

Christmas Eve dinner (since I still had to work during the day) was a simple meal of fish tacos, sweet potato black bean veggie tacos, and cilantro lime rice. Delicious and still festive because really, what’s more festive than spending time with your family on Christmas Eve?

Christmas Day was spent hanging out with the family. We opened presents, watched television, played some Nintendo 64, teased the puppies, and we cooked and cooked and cooked.

For Christmas Lunch, my mom made a quick but deliciously light meal.

A stir fried sweet potato noodle dish. Yes, that’s right! Despite their definite lack of orange coloring, these noodles are made from sweet potato starch. We were dubious at first, but they are quite tasty!

And one of my favorites, it’s a pressed tofu, cilantro, and picked turnip salad. Mmm…the flavors are crisp and refreshing. I could eat this ALL the time!

For Christmas dinner, Andy and I had a very detailed schedule to follow. It wasn’t quite as complicated as Thanksgiving since there weren’t quite as many oven cooked dishes. But it was still a well choreographed dance!

Christmas Day Dinner with Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts, Green Green Spring Vegetables, Potatoes with Whole Spices, Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese, and a gorgeous standing rib roast (for us meat eaters).

The day after Christmas meant the big zongzi making day with Dad (separate post yet to come). And Mom helped stock our freezer with her delicious mustard green veggie baozi.

I love having these stashed in my freezer. Perfect for a light lunch and packed with yummy and healthy veggies.

And Cathy helped make some of the prettiest Christmas cookies in the history of my kitchen. (I can make decent cookies, but I don’t even know where to begin decorating them properly.) These were tasty and beautiful!

Very free form, spray painted graffiti kind of look.

And lest you think we’re all veg and no treats. Oh there was pie…

The Smooth Operator Pie for Emporium Pies in the Bishop Arts District. (French silk with a decadent pretzel crust)

The Snowball also purchased from Emporium Pies. If you live in DFW and you haven’t been there yet, it really is worth the trip! (Toasted coconut cream pie)

Then to get out of the house (and away from some of the food and constant eating), we took a quick stroll through the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum in Dallas. It’s a neat little museum, but I do stress that it’s quite tiny. Unless you’re absolutely enthralled by jade sculptures and Hindu gods, it doesn’t take very long to wander through the collection. It was still a fun little field trip though!

Us in front of the Crow Collection Museum with a Guardian lion statue.

So happy to have a relaxing and nice little Christmas at home. We’re lucky and blessed. I hope everybody else had a lovely Christmas season as well!

Those or you that are married or have a significant other in your life, you probably have this very same problem that couples have faced since the beginning of time, which family to spend what holiday with. Andy and I have worked on an alternating holiday schedule. One family gets Thanksgiving, the other family gets Christmas, and the next year the families get flip flopped so everybody gets a chance at each holiday. It’s not a perfect schema, but it’s worked for us so far.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with the Trommer side. So, Christmas was spent with the Chao side (more on that later). But we usually pick another weekend to get together with the Trommer side for a holiday celebration, a Fake Christmas if you will. There is always tons of food, fun gifts, and plenty of quality time spent with family. Thanks to Aunt Sally and Uncle Bodie for hosting the little get together, we had such a memorable time!

Our magnificent feast, lovingly prepared by Aunt Sally and Uncle Bodie.

Mom Trommer and Aunt Susan enjoying some family gift time!

Wine tasting with Cousin Debra!

Andrew, Caitlin, and Noah playing with some new toys!

Posing for a quick family pic with Dad and Mom Trommer

We’ve usually got a pretty busy Christmas schedule, especially this year with my work move. But I’m so glad we made the time to attend Fake Christmas this year! Christmas is one of my favorite times of year, there’s just so much fun to be had and so many people to celebrate with!

Okay, temporary blogging moratorium over! With the hectic holidays completed (and yes, this last holiday season seemed even more hectic than most), how about a few posts summarizing the fun we had in the month of December? Let’s start with our big Roarin’ Twenties Christmas bash. Andy and I have had the idea to throw an old fashioned cocktail party for some time now. Why not kill two birds with one stone and combine our annual Christmas party with said cocktail party? And since cocktails really hit their stride in the 20’s, a themed Christmas party was born!

We did some research and decided on a big Italian food buffet to help soak up the boozy cocktails we would be serving. Turns out, since many speakeasies were run by Italian immigrants (and mobsters), this is when Italian food first started to become popular in the US. Back then, if you were an adventurous eater, you would seek out some Italian or Chinese food. See? Even when it seems like you have nothing in common, food can bring people together!

I stubbornly decided to make four homemade lasagnas, a feat I do not wish to repeat again anytime soon. But I’m pleased they turned out nicely! We also picked up some delicious garlic bread and set up a fun little chocolate fondue for dessert. Throw in some salad for a little green emphasis, and we’re good! But much to my surprise, my lovely neighbors also brought some delicious baked manicotti and a spicy minestrone soup to share. We had PLENTY of really tasty food!

Now the drinks! Can’t have a cocktail party without super fancy drinks! We decided on four prohibition era drinks set up in little drink stations around the house:

1. Bee’s Knees

2. Old Fashioned

A very popular drink throughout the ages, a favorite of the manly man. Not my favorite because…bourbon. Also, all the recipes are handwritten because our printer is broken and we’ve been too lazy to buy a replacement.

3. My personal favorite of the bunch, the French 75. A little champagne concoction that packs quite a punch. Actually, the drink supposedly got it’s name because this cocktail hits you like a French 75 mm field gun.

Oh trust me, this one will knock you off your feet! Delicious but strong!

4. Sidecar, supposedly named after an American army general that preferred to be driven to/from his favorite local bar in a sidecar vehicle.

One of my favorite drinks to order at a true cocktail bar. Now we know how to make it!

With the food and drinks in place, we need some ambiance! There’s a lot of decorating you can do for a 20’s themed party. But since we were short on time (and budget), we did a quick and easy wine bottle candelabra.

Throw in a couple old feather boas that we had leftover from a previous party, and yay! We have decorations!

Now for the best decorations of all, the part that truly made the party a success! All our friends that dressed to the theme. I love and greatly appreciate it when my friends embrace my love of themed parties. Cheers to all of you that played along!! (I love some of the other photos that were taken, so I’m borrowing a few of them from friends! All proper photo credit will be given.)

Probably one of my favorite photos of the evening, some of the girls in our 20’s best! Photo taken by Con.

Carrie, Dee, and Karen enjoying some nibbles and drinks!

I have no idea what I’m doing with my face or why I’m so tilted. But it’s a great picture of everybody else, so there you go, it’s getting posted.

Jessi and Brian looking very dapper!

Ethan, Ashley, Jacques, and me hamming for the camera. Though…must remember not to take pictures in front of the kitchen table light. Makes things hard to edit!

Sean and Teena, who actually had another party they were attending, but still came to ours afterwards! They even stopped to dress to the nines! That’s some true party dedication!

Cheers to Christmas 2014! Photo taken by Weldon

Though there were some amazing costumes to choose from, the costume of the night (and prize) goes to Weldon and Jesmi!

20’s style bathing suits!! Complete with beach ball! Love it!

Pile on Weldon and his beach ball? Done! Picture taken by Jenny.

Look who’s the bees knees! Donald and Karen!

We love all of our friends, they are some of the most awesome people in the world. Of course, we are a little biased, but I’m pretty confident that I’m right.

So, plenty of food? Success! Drinks? Definite success! Amazing pictures and memories of awesome people for Christmas 2014? So totally a success! We have a lot of other pictures, I can’t possibly post all of them here. You can click here to see the rest! Check my little blog again soon, there’s still more Christmas cheer to come…

Thank heavens! Today is the last day of National Blog Posting Month for this year! Things I’ve learned? The same lesson I always learn after NaBloPoMo, that my life may be incredibly busy, but it really isn’t ever that interesting to warrant daily blog posts.

With Thanksgiving over, the Christmas holidays have hit us full force. I realized earlier this weekend that we really don’t have any spare time between now and New Year’s! That’s a little depressing and makes me want to hide under my covers with no intention of coming out until 2015. Sigh.

But hopefully all the work craziness will slow down after mid-December. Until then, we’re working late, we’re working weekends, and we’re working until we can work no more! And in the middle of all this working, there’s gift wrapping, card writing, and holiday party planning. I always feel a little rushed to get all my holiday lists done, but this year with the work move, it has been particularly bad. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my beautiful Christmas tree and two sleeping puppies.

We always say we’ll replace our little Christmas tree next year. But every single year, our same little Christmas tree gets assembled and decorated. I think in the end, I just love how cozy it looks.

There you have it, thirty days of posts. Call it a blog hibernation, a well deserved posting break, or just plain lazy blogger syndrome, but it’s probably going to be a little while before I update the blog again. I’ll try not to make it more than a few weeks, but as previously mentioned, December is going to be crazy!

I know everybody has their favorite Thanksgiving leftovers, I definitely have my own!

Have leftover bread? Make some french toast!

Leftover turkey means delicious turkey pot pies, turkey hash, turkey sandwiches/wraps, and so much more! My absolute favorite is a simple recipe that my mom used to make for us: turkey + one can cream of mushroom soup + one head of chopped Napa cabbage + small amount of water to keep things gravy like, simmer until Napa cabbage is softened, serve over a big bowl of white rice. Yum.

This year, I’m feeling pretty economical if I do say so myself. After all the meat was pulled off the turkey, I used the bones for a giant pot of turkey stock. Freeze all that stock in ice cube trays, and I’ve got enough stock to last for a long long time. I figure I could substitute turkey stock in any recipe that calls for chicken stock. And the little pumpkins that I used for table decor? They’re actually tiny pie pumpkins. That’s right, I turned the decorations into more pumpkin puree for future pies and pumpkin needs. (I particularly like this Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage recipe)

I like the idea of using every part of our Thanksgiving meal so nothing goes to waste. The best of type of green living, the one where I get to make/eat more tasty food! :)