December 1- First day of not working. Weird. It was sad leaving the practice, my clients and coworkers. It felt funny knowing that I was leaving the position that I had worked my butt off for to another person. However, the overwhelming feeling was relief. I believe I spent the day getting ready for the trip to Florida, so I was pretty busy, but it didn't matter because I could now stay in my pajamas, knowing that I was on a really long vacation.
December 2-6- Traveling South to Visit Dad- After only 2 years and 9 months of being with me, Arlo was going to be meeting my Dad for the first time. Sadly, it had also been about 2 years since I saw my dad last. The visit was long overdue. To recap, the weather was crappy, the food was unhealthy but yummy, and hanging with the dad was great. My dad is now staying with this dude Frank, who is a crotchety 90-some year old man, to take care of him, now that his wife passed away. As his old place was pretty much empty of furniture, Dad wasn't sure if we wanted to stay there, but as serendipity would have it, his neighbor, Pat, was leaving the same day we were arriving, and Pat offered to let us stay in his house. Bonus, there was a golden retriever living there and so we had company and a larger, more rambunctious Marley stand-in. The trip was great. Because the weather was cold and rainy, we spent most of our time indoors and never got out to go on the boat tour that Dad wanted to take us on, and we spent about 5 minutes at the beach. Still, the trip was cool because we got to spend time with Dad, which was the primary purpose. Arlo and Dad got along very well, and Dad seemed pleased with my choice of life partner and future husband. :) So, Mission V.I.M.I.M.L.M. accomplished.
December 7- Green Bay Packers!! 24 hours after coming back from Florida, we were on our way up to chilly Green Bay. It was a Monday night football game against the Ravens, and Arlo scored tickets to it months ago. I had my Packers fleece, my cheesehead, and approximately 4 layers on. We also came prepared with hand and feet warmers and a sleeping bag, just in case. Turns out, people are so packed in, that you stay pretty warm just with the body heat of the people surrounding you, so even though I think it was about 10 degrees, it wasn't so bad (except for my feet, despite the warmers). The game was awesome! I truly did not expect to like it as much as I did. One thing I found weird was that there seemed to be a penalty every few minutes, and asked Arlo if this was normal. He said it was not. We found out later that this was the second highest number of penalty calls in a game EVER. Interesting. Anyway, it was a very exciting game, and the Packers won, so bonus there. I would not say that it made me that much more interested in watching games on t.v. but it was a fantastic experience and one I am grateful to have had.
December 18-20- Chicago!
As I was going to be away for actual Christmas, Arlo and I decided to spend the weekend before in Chicago as our Christmas together. He found an awesome deal on the Wyndham Chicago hotel and we stayed there Friday and Saturday nights. Friday we went to Gino's East, where we had Chicago deep dish pizza and played Phase 10. If I knew I was dying in a few days, I would make sure to eat as much deep dish pizza as I could, that stuff is delicious! Anyway, because we ate so much for lunch, we decided to go light for dinner (at least portion-wise) and I fould a place that looked like it had a good happy hour. It indeed did. There was a tapas bar with paella for $2, and since the food was so cheap, I actually splurged on a drink, which I rarely do, and opted for this drink that had rum, lime, sugarcane, and something spicy, though now I forget what. Freakin awesome. After stuffing ourselves again, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at Trader Joe's on the way for rations for later, because, hey, you never know when you are going to get hungry again, right? I think we also swam that night in the hotel pool.
On Saturday we spent the day shopping and looking at Christmas decorations. Though we didn't buy much, or really anything, we had fun. I honestly can't remember where we went to eat for lunch, but I know we had hot buns (insert joke here) from some Asian hot buns place (hey oh!). Now, onto the dinner! I picked the restaurant, but was based heavily on Arlo's desire to go. For those of you who watched Top Chef Masters, you may remember Graham Elliot Bowles, the tatooed rotund dude with cool glasses who made some rockin' food. He has a restaurant in Chicago, Graham Elliot, and Arlo wanted a chance to go. I am usually not a fan of spending absurd amounts of money on food, because I can like a burrito from the local Mexican joint just as much, but I knew it would make him happy and, like the Packers game, it would be something we would always remember. So, we went. It was amazing. Okay, now I am going to have to wax Andrej for a moment when I talk about dinner. First of all, instead of bread while you wait, they serve you popcorn with grated cheese, cracked black pepper, and truffle oil. So far, I am in! For appetizers, Arlo opted for the heirloom beets with arugala, pickled pears and horseradish froth, and I had the cheddar risotto with granny smith applese, bratwurst, carmelized onions, and crushed cheez-its on top. I loved mine, and he loved his, though we didn't do too much sharing, as he liked mine, but not vice versa. For the main course, he had the pork belly with artisan grits, fried pickles, collard greens, and a rootbeer barbeque sauce. I had the sea scallops over french lentils and a cauliflower puree, topped with raisin chutney and crushed almonds. I think both of us ate slower than we usually do just to savor the flavors, they were that good. Finally for dessert, we had the "orange dreamsicle" which was blood orange gelee topped with key lime meringue, fresh blood oranges, mexican vanilla, and vanilla icecream. Un-freakin-believable. It was amazing. Bonus, Graham Elliot walked around and I got to gawk at him for a bit, though I didn't ask for a picture with him, though I wanted to. Andrej-esque descriptions aside, it was one of the best meals I have eaten and we both had a fabulous time. The next day, Arlo treated me to breakfast before heading back. It was a fantastic weekend.
December 23-28- Back East!
I had been on the fence about going home for Christmas this year, as I was going to be returning so soon for good, but after much internal struggle, I decided to go for it. This was based mostly on three things. 1. My grandfather hasn't been doing well lately and I was concerned that this might be his last Christmas. 2. Underwood Christmas. 3. Ricky and fam were going to be there for the first time ever for Christmas. It was a great trip, and I was able to see everyone I wanted to see, spend time with my mom, and bonus, look at bridesmaids' dresses with my best ladies, Wendy and Amanda.
December 31- New Year's Eve with Arlo and Jerry!
On the final day of Decem-fun-ber, I spent the day with Arlo and his dad came up and joined us for the afternoon shopping. After that, we came back to our place where we exchanged Christmas presents. Arlo and I had picked up king crab legs and shrimp, and we had a feast for dinner. Then, an hour later, we broke into Jerry's main Christmas present and made home-made sushi. It was a lot of fun. Arlo got everything needed to make the sushi and we made our novice attempt at creating vegetable and fake crab rolls. They actually turned out pretty decent. We rang in the new year and then watched The Hangover, which was pretty good, but definitely not worth the hype (sorry if you loved it...see I Love You, Man, or Role Models, which I think are much better).
Alright, I think that's about it for December. So far January has been pretty awesome too, although I'm beginning to freak out a bit about the lack of money coming in. Thinking of heading down to the blood bank and seeing how much I can get per pint. I would sell my slankets, but I'm not sure if that's fiscally worth it. What would you suggest for making money?
Peace out, yo! I will add stuff about January, like the visit to Debbie and Mary's place in Sparta, probably in, like, February or something.
P.S. Check out the sweet chef's coat I got for Arlo for Christmas!!!