And on The 3rd Day of Christmas

The countdown to Le Befana is on and today is the 3rd day of Christmas. Unlike some people like to think, the 12 days of Christmas actually begins on Christmas, not ends. But instead of counting down, let's recap my most favorite events and gifts over this past week. And, yeah, sorry bout it, but I had more than 5 amazing things this week. You're welcome for the bonus.

last year we all got my father in law a wine making kit. and when I say he took it serious. Well, see for yourself. 
Nothing like a 55 gallon used bourbon oak barrel for some garage wine. 
On Saturday we went to the annual yankee swap(well, to us it is every other year, but meh on details) lots of food to be had and Tony's cousin got a puppy German Sheppard named Maggie. I die from her cuteness. i made bacon wrapped sweet potatoes. Obviously. And my favorite part of the night was my husband's grandfather's grab. He is 97 and he for sure, no hesitation...stole the bb gun from my husband opened.  Nonno is no joke.

On Monday, we attended a ceremony and lunch with his cousin to celebrate their wedding before they swooped on don to Aruba. and then rudely commenced in flooding facebook with pictures of blue skies and beaches while it snows here in Boston.

Then, on Monday night I had a blate with Kerry! and it caught on right where the last one ended...full of laughter and drinks. We met up at the Toby Keith Bar and Grill in Patriot Place. an stayed for 5 hours. We exchanged gifts and from mine you'd think Kerry knows me or something;)

Then Tony joined us for a bit and we hung out for a while before heading home at Midnight and Tony asked me multiple times to make sure I texted Kerry and discovered she had arrived home safely. 'Yes, dad' 

Tuesday we headed to the the afternoon service where the children's choir sang. The mass was gorgeous but they didn't sing "go tell it on the mountain" I am not bitter or anything. Afterwards we headed over to the big "feast of the seven fish" gathering that usually has about 75-85 people show up. Sometimes in waves and sometimes at once. Either way, a good time.
This year had a little more drama as we were all upstairs listening to his cousin play the guitar when his aunt loudly proclaims "Stevie, fire" and no one really moves and then she yells "Stevie, FIREEEEEEE" and we look over to see that indeed there is a fire and one of the candles was knocked over and had caught some of the mini trees on fire. 

Stevie(who is a boston FF, hence why he was singled out;) comes over as the tree is very much engulfed and at this moment I am getting a very bad feeling. He thinks quickly and throws the burning tree in the fire place. There was smoke everywhere and it barely and I mean barely, missed catching all the stockings on fire and the outcome may have been very different. Instead, it was just a floor filled with burnt wax and all the candles were disposed of and then 20 minutes later we were listening to music.

In other news, nothing deters us from a goal. I decided I needed more wine at this point. So, there's that.

Wednesday was full of more Christmas goodness. my hubs surprised me with this bag and to say I squealed would not be an adequate sentiment. Plus, I got some new Steve Madden boots and lots of other goodies. 
It was fabulous to see my niece on her first Christmas. We played Christmas music and then there is a manger set that tells the Christmas story once you push a button and so we all listened to that and sang a few songs. As in, we all started our own version of "Go tell it" and tell it I did. Jesus was born, my people. He was born. Let us have cake and rejoice.

Then there was more food. or that is a lie and I mean, all the food in the whole world was in his aunt's house and I may never eat again. Till I get hungry again in an hour or so. 

and then as a bonus, this bourbon brittle. Oh. My. Word. Go get yoself some. or at least go get some and send it to me. Don't be selfish.
And no trip to Sharon would ever be complete without a trip for some Papa Gino's pizza. Oh. My. Yum. Favorite.

Linking up with five on friday, life rearranged

Town Of Bean, I Am Coming.

This week has flown by. So has this year and so I am starting to believe the whole hype about how the older you get, the quicker life goes on by. It's alright though, I still look 25. So there is that. 

We left last night for Boston. On Wednesday, as we were finishing getting ready, I asked what time he was leaving work and he told me to be ready to go around 1. I then responded that I was already prepared and I will be good to go when he 3. And then of course, we left at 5. One day I will learn to not worry about time. That day seems so far off;) 

But I am too happy about the next few weeks to allow anything to bug me. Good things are happening and here are just a few of them.

1) On our way up tonight, we decided to play the hotel stop by ear and ended up getting a great deal on a new Aloft outside of Baltimore. Have you ever used the App 'Hotels Tonight' if not, you must do so! You get a $25 deal off your first stay. This hotel on line was $112 with AAA. On the app it was $65 and then with the $25 off, we paid $49, including tax! Good start to the trip!

2) My niece turns one next week! and in that same week, I will get a new niece! I am beyond stoked and always marvel at how you find so much room in your heart to love each new one as much as the others! I often struggle with being so far away but I have in laws who try really hard to send me updates and pictures and keep us involved!

3) I get to be in Boston when the Pats are playing! I love it. One of the largest Patriots fan clubs meets every week in Raleigh, over 250 people. Don't get me wrong, it is a raging good time, just can't top being in town for games! The buzz all around makes me happy! Plus, we will be chowing down on homemade raviolis. The family made over 500 last week. All from scratch and usually I don't get to partake because I am allergic to everything, but they called and got my list, just o make me my own personal batch to enjoy!

4) I have gone running somewhat regularly lately and have lost 7lbs in the last week. I am working hard to get back to my previous size. I have so many clothes in my closet that I have never really worn because I gained the weight really quickly from the medicine. Here's to not resting on my laurels and demanding of myself to get back to where I am most happy.

5) I get to see Kerry! Woo hoo! I have been looking forward to this since our first meeting this summer. She is no longer just my blogger friend, but someone that I genuinely look forward to spending time with in person. That is the best part about the blogging community, making legitimate friendships! Prepare though girl... we will have beverages and it will be late, my accent will be out in full force. Tony may need to come again just to be an interpreter;) and thanks for the blogging award, can't wait to answer all your questions on Monday!

Peppermint Oreo Mudslide

I absolutely love hosting get togethers. I am not always the biggest fan of all the prepwork that proceeds said gatherings, but the actual event: sign me up. I never tire of coming up with different recipes to serve and more often than not, I usually like to create different cocktails or put a spin on an old favorite.
I love peppermint all year round so this is not just a holiday drink in my book, but the ingredients are more readily found this time of year. and if we're being honest with each other can you possibly go wrong with oreos? Exactly my can't!

I first tried my hand at this a few years ago and I tweaked a few things this time to make it as close to perfect as I could. Or ok, next week I will be humble...not today. It is perfect. Would I lie to you? Don't answer that.

1 cup peppermint ice cream
1/2 cup crushed oreos
2 oz kahlua
2 oz baileys
1 1/2 oz vodka(I used whipped cream flavored)
1/2 cup ice
crushed peppermint pieces (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender and blend till desired consistency reached. if you want to rim your glass, I usually pour a little milk on a plate and dip lip of glass in it. on a separate plate, pour crushed peppermint pieces. Dip glass pieces.

I may have already enjoyed a few too many of these this year. I do not feel even a little bit bad about it either! 

They Were Right

The older you get...the quicker time flies on by. I cannot believe that it is December already. How did that even happen?!

2013. This is a year that I had envisioned in my mind some time ago, wondering how it would look. It was, after all, the ten year anniversary of getting hitched. Had you asked me ten years ago what my life would look like, it would be resoundingly different than my reality is.

Since we have not been blessed with the kiddies yet, we have chosen to travel and soak up as many minutes together, exploring, as we possibly can. I say this almost as a warning, because the pictures I am about to throw in your directions are going to involve copious amounts of our traipsing here, there and everywhere.

SO without further adieu, our year in review(yes, I just did that little rhymity rhyme;)

First up I wanted to share two pictures that meant the most to me this year. They are both, at first glance anyways, simple and appear to have no attached meaning, but the reasoning behind them is everything that life should be.

This rose. So simple, yet I love it. I am not big on roses. My favorite flowers are hydrangeas and gerber daises. But, I had been at the beach with a friend for the week and on Friday, June 28th, Tony came to pick me up and head on our anniversary trip. Ten years behind us. And when he showed up on the beach, he was just carrying this rose. and he handed it to me and jokingly asked "would I accept this rose" and it was so ridiculous, it was hilarious. and the fact that he had stopped to get gas and just happened upon a bucket of stems at the checkout and thought it would be funny. It worked. And I love this picture. Gas Station rose for the win;)

This second picture just represents what completion looks like. If you have followed my blog at all then you may have a small idea of my journey to grab hold of my mental illness. Two years ago I was on the verge of death. Ten days at Duke and 24 months of vigorous and often heartbreaking treatment for PTSD and I graduated. Over 1450 people started the program since I did, Only 57 have not dropped out. To call it mentally grueling would be an understatement. It was the hardest and most rewarding experience of my life. and as I finished my last session. I was outside waiting to meet my husband and when I looked up, there was this sign on the wall. and the tears flowed freely. For I could do just that. 2013 turned out to be the best year of my life, for I was able to grasp the one thing that had always evaded me:HOPE!

January started out perfect! My parents, both of my besties! Then we headed to Boston to meet my brand new niece! My first one! We stayed at my favorite green house in Boston(aka, my in laws;) my brother had his first gig. Duke basketball was in full force and then I headed to Tampa to visit the bestie and we went to see Luke Bryan shake it for us!
February we got some snow. and yes, that small amount shut us down for days;) My mom, SIL and I headed to the Yadkin Valley wine trail for a girls weekend, we stayed in Old Salem and got to take in one of the oldest Moravian villages. My sis in law was sweet enough to get me this DD shirt. Because, well...I love me some Dunkin! I started the IPP for the blog and met so many sweet woman! and then we headed for our annual trip to Florida!
March began in the warmth of Key Biscayne and my favorite beach view. Then a few days in Saint Augustine before checking out the sweet village of Saint Mary's, Georgia. Then, for St. Patrick's day, I went to NYC for a few days with my mom and aunt. I was able to use my Christmas present Tony got me: Classes to the Institute of Culinary Education of NYC! It was an amazing experience!
In April we went to visit friends in DC and Alexandria. We went to the zoo and Tony's favorite, The Building museum. This is what you get when you marry and architectural engineer;) haha and the newseum was my favorite. I am used to a majority of places in DC being free, but I can guarantee you that this place was more than worth the entrance fee to get in! and my nephew won the state tourney in baseball!

May was a fun month, I stopped to take in the view of the lake near my house. We went to Charlotte for the race over Memorial day Weekend. My bestie sent us a keiurg for our annv present. I got to get all gussied up for my husband's award dinner. I got to experience afternoon tea in downtown Wake Forest. I found a new love in Washi tape. obsessed much. We went up to Virginia for my nephew's vintage baseball themed birthday party. Brianne sent me this amazing wreath! My parent's garden was out of control amazing. and we headed up to Boston for Mother's Day and I got some baby love in!

June began by going to Williamsburg and Yorktown with my parents to celebrate the mister's bday. We went on a sail down the york river. We stopped by Aromas for my favorite treat: wine smoothies! We got the news that I was getting a new niece in December! Wake Forest had a vintage car show that we were able to check out. I went to see NKOTB for the third year in a row! My cousin welcomed baby Jake to the family! and we headed to Virginia to have our ten year anniversary party with our friends and family! then to the beach it was!
July saw us on our trip to St. Simon's and Jekyll Island. If you have never been, I cannot recommend them enough. So peaceful and the beaches are beautiful! I especially love the historic village in JI. and the Spanish Moss in SS. I could have walked the streets for days. 

The rest of July was also pretty busy, got to spend some time with Jake, headed to Little Washington to see my aunt's horses compete. The sunset over the harbor was gorgeous that night. I stayed with my cousin and a late night trip to the potty ended with my sanity saying "bye bye" when I saw this snake in the sink. only after I almost passed out did I notice it was a toy. The mister and I took a weekend trip to the Badin Inn on the lake, and enjoyed each other's company before the insanity that was August.
August started with a trip to one of my favorite places, Richmond. We went for my mom's 60th birthday. With Virginia having over 200 vineyards, wine was our friend;) We had some cocktails at the historic Jefferson Hotel and then headed home to Rustburg to have a party!
We then headed on a trip up to NH, RI, MA & time and I mean, how HOT does my mister look reading this story to our niece?! Rawr;) There are very few things I enjoy more than New England in the summer! Covered bridges galore. Fresh seafood, yes! and then I had the pleasure of turning our on line friendship into the real deal and had lunch with Kerry
The rest of August was spent enjoying all the Triangle has to offer. Fresh chocolates in Hillsborough. Wine in North Raleigh. The food truck rodeo! Catching an outdoor movie at the Art Museum and then walking the grounds. And, our tree we adopted from Italy! it was officially ours! Now, to just go visit it in person;)
September started just as August did, with a trip to Richmond! This time with my brother and his wife. Then we headed back up to Boston for our niece's christening and while we were there my husband's uncle passed away suddenly and we ended up staying for the whole week. I cam home in time to catch Jason Aldean and Jake Owen with the bestie while the mister was living it up in NYC. The next week he scored some free tickets through work to see Rascal Flats and the Band Perry. Then the last week, we had a baby shower for my friend expecting twins. I so adored this cake!

October is my favorite month! Basketball season is back at Duke! We spent a weekend in the mountains. We caught a Hurricanes game! I discovered that they make A1 in packets and my life was complete! My bestie came to visit and we went to the international festival and Tony took a selfie of himself as a moose... There was the 25th annual walk for hope to raise money for mental health awareness! Since I love me some bacon, the couple I nanny for gave me a bacon cooker for the microwave. and we ended the month with candy for trick or treating and we enjoyed wine while watching Hocus Pocus!
November is my birthday month! Woo hoo! Brianne got me this awesome makin bacon mug (and Kerry made me this AHmazing knit hat) I got a bourbon apple candle! We headed to Virginia for the bbq and brew fest and then I went with the bestie and another friend to Universal for her 30th bday! Harry Potter world and Transformers for the win! Then I cried happy tears as I witnessed Duke beat Miami! We headed back up to Virginia to throw my sis in law a shower and then for Turkey Day! We had the pleasure to stay at my aunt's cabin and help them decorate the tree! Before heading up to the Virginia mountains to take in the Shenandoah with my parents. I do love my home state!
December is almost halfway over! it started with going to see the Grinch at the DPAC, then I hosted a cookie exchange. I got to take in this enormous(almost 18 ft) tree while I nannied. I discovered that they now have strawberry dippers. oh my gosh! I love my garden flag! The mister and I had some Vietnamese tea before we watched Duke play FSU in the championship game and of course, a few more candles to add to my collection. Tomorrow we head back to Boston to finish out 2013!

This has been my year! We stay busy and I, for the most part anyway, enjoy it. Although I do often time just long for my own bed and a glass of wine while I enjoy a good book. I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings. Good, the bad or the ugly, life happens and you can never really plan for it accordingly!

Linking up with Stephanie & Jen

Homemade Peppermint Patties

This may end up being one of my favorite recipes to date. and even better, it was so simple. I am not sure about you, but I always feel like real peppermint patties can be overtly strong. And, as much as I adore peppermint, I have to be in a particular mood to enjoy them. and they usually need to be frozen. As must any chocolate I am gonna enjoy. I mean, have you had the pleasure of enjoying a frozen twix? Life altering goodness. and to this day, the only milk chocolate treat I enjoy! but moving on...

When I was in Target prepping for my little cookie madness gathering, I spied this huge bag of peppermint marshmallows. I already had a bag of miniature peppermintallows in my cart. All ready to head on home with me and take my hot cocoa to the level of what some people refer to as  (pinky raised as they drink, I'm sure;) "drinking chocolate"...but when I saw these giant ones, I took a pause and knew that they were destined for even greater purposes. Ergo, back the smaller bag went. 

and funny how great minds think alike...because Kraft had my idea already on the bag. Way to one up my inferred genius, Kraft. Rude. But I digress...

Dark chocolate turned these into a work of art. and you can use any kind you want, but I will stand firm that quality chocolate makes a quality product. So for not that much more, I used ghiradelli.  and then my Christmas cheer lollipop sticks took them to another level. But I will let you be the judge;)

12 large marshmallows
1 cup melting chips 
crushed peppermint pieces(optional)

Melt the chocolate. You can use a microwave or double broiler. All I can say is WATCH YOUR CHOCOLATE. a few seconds is the differential between perfection and scorched chocolate. and once it is burned, there is no going back!

Using a skewer, give the marshmallows a thorough dunking. Like a teenage boy throwing his crush in the pool. We are talking full immersion here. Then, before you take out, lightly tap the skewer on the edge to rid excess chocolate. 

Place on wax paper. This is when you would add the peppermint if you wanted. Let harden before slowly peeling off. You can package these in cute cellophane and give them as a sweet gift. or you can eat almost all of them yourself and beg your husband to hide them from you. and then, when you must have one, demand he give up his hiding spot, no matter the threats you leveled if he did such earlier in the night. 

If you can't find these peppermint marshmallows, regular giant ones will do. Just add a little mint extract to the chocolate, before you melt it so not to seize. and I mean a tiny drop. and then sprinkle the peppermint on top for added flavor. 


Snickerdoodle & Eggnog Trifle

This weekend. Oh, my word, so glad it is over. hahaha not often that I say that, but we had one that threw me for a loop. On Friday the mister and I went shop, shop, shopping till we dropped. Or, if I am to be literal, my feet had had well past enough. 

We were looking for ideas for my husband to get me for Christmas. Mainly because I pretend like I have a say in it, but really, he is the bestest gift giver and really I should just trust him. But halfway through, I was doing the walk. You know the one that is normally saved for girls wearing heels that have zero earthly idea as to how to properly walk in them. Yeah, I was in such pain that I very well could have been mistaken for bambi on ice. 

So, the mister took me to a new Mexican place & we ordered dinner for two and a margarita. Yea,so, we had left overs. Maybe there really is a first time for everything! I ordered the small margarita and I can sincerely state that due to the fact that their small looked like a pitcher...I am genuinely intrigued/horrified to see the "jumbo" size! Regardless, my feet came roaring back to life.

Then, on Saturday, I cleaned all day while the mister worked and then we watched we are the Millers and laughed. and laughed and I may still be laughing;)

Yesterday was the day from Hades and I will not bore you with details. Let's just say that it was almost a comedy of errors and we went from expletives to laughing and back because it was that ridiculous. 

anyways, to somewhat calm myself down...I decided to make a yummy dessert of some ingredients I had on hand and you could easily throw this together!

I had some snickerdoodle cookies left over from my cookie exchange party last week. When I invited Nicole she had the audacity to ask what kind to make, as if she is welcome in my house with cookies that aren't her snickerdoodles;)  I also had some eggnog ice cream and no one loves a layered trifle more than I. and thus this was born.

Crumble the cookies and put a layer in the bottom of your cup and the add a layer of ice cream followed by more cookies, then ice cream and top with crumbled cookies. Then, because I can...I added about a tbsp each of Kahlua and Bailey's and just let it melt down around the cookies and ice cream. was yum!

You can use any ice cream flavor and cookie combo with this dish. Peppermint ice cream and oreos would be bomb!

Decking These Halls

There are very few things I adore more than catching glimpses of everyone's decorations this time of year. Driving through different neighborhoods to see the lights. and the crazier the better. As long as they don;t live near me;)

One of the hard things with traveling this time of year is always trying to ascertain whether or not we should get tree. and every year we have given in. Not this year. Our schedule has just been to hectic and with only being in town a little over 2 weeks, we opted not to this time. *cue tears*

So, I made up for our lack of tree by making it seem as if glitter exploded around here. Gotta getcha sparkle in any way you can. Almost everything I used this year was a 75% off find from last year or the dollar section from Target this year. Work with what you can.

 I made this tray from a frame I bought at TJ Maxx and then used a folder I got from the dollar spot at Target to use as the backdrop and then found really inexpensive gold candles at Ross. The angels are one of the few things I have had for years. (but obviously I got them 90% off at Pier 1 when I did get them;)
 My mom made me these wine bottles with the joy and also the burlap Christmas tree. I just threw some ornaments I found at the dollar store in an old vase.
 I have this vase on my side table, I got these ornaments last year at Target the week after Christmas. 
75% off. Uh, duh. I love the chocolate brown glitter bulbs. My favorite.

 This is my owl section. The mister is a big fan of owls and it has worn off on me, long before they became the "it bird" these past few years. I love this canvas I got last year at Pier 1. I had completely forgotten about it and I genuinely squealed when I saw it. Along with the cute plush owl ornament and the glass owl ornament. and yeaaa, I need to put a picture in that frame
This was a stumble upon find in the clearance section of Marshalls and while it may not go along with the rest of my decorations....I can safely say that this is my absolute favorite piece I have ever found. I heart it! Just, uh. I die.
Since we didn't have a tree, I was able to take advantage of my ornament holders from pier 1. Love this deep purple glitter ball that I scooped up in michael's this year.

Ha and you thought I didn't get a tree. and you were wrong;) I found this little gem at Family Dollar of all places. and it called to me from the get go. and it worked perfectly with this placemat I grabbed at Target last year. 
These are the simple decorations I put in my half bath downstairs. I found the tin sign at World Market a few year ago, the two trees at Target and the HoHoHo at a local shop in Boston.
The wreath for my front door. Thanks again, mamma. You always outdo yourself;)

and that is the Baldy house as of now! 

Linking up with 

Big Kid Christmas

So, if there is one upside to having no kids right is that I get to make it about me. me. me.  my nieces and nephews.

I loved Christmas as a kid and have some great memories and the traditions. oh, the traditions.
So...about that. My main question with this photo is the random leg kick?
 I choose to ignore the whole flute playing part

The weeks leading up to it were always full of get togethers. We would host a huge one, and it would always end in game night. Usually scategories or pictionary. and it was no 'this is all fun and games' it was full on ruthless and I loved every second. I will still participate in any reindeer games that are happening. So invite me.

Then we would go to the mall and sit on Santa's lap and then listen to the singing bears. That was usually my favorite part about Christmas, all of the grandkids went together. Now, I still look for the singing bears and when they are not there, my inner child cries!!!! I want caroling bears! Where in the H are the bears. Dear Mall, you suck now. blah.

Santa...Seeeeee, I know him!
We would always go to the Living Christmas tree at church, which is on level with professional musicals and I was always excited because my favorite teacher was in the 'star' of the tree. and when Mary & Joseph would sing to baby Jesus.

On Christmas Eve we would go to friends of my parents and have a big dinner and then we would all pile in a few cars and head out to different neighborhoods to check out their lights. 

Then we would come home and we were allowed to unwrap one gift and then head to bed.

Where my older brother and I never lasted past 4 am and we would go downstairs(or upstairs or down the hall depending upon which of the 11 houses I lived looked like;) and always, laid out on the sofa was our goodies! Our 'big' gifts were always put together and front and center! 

and no, Santa DOES NOT wrap presents. If yours were wrapped it is because your parents paid extra to the elves. Mine never opted for that choice.

We would be giddy and screaming and go wake our parents up and they would always ask to wait till 7 and...yeah right. I am 35 now and we still do gifts by 6 am. One year my mom had to sleep in one of my younger brother's rooms so he wouldn't wake up before 2. ha
Da Mamma legit made and sold these sweat shirts and made us wear them. How exactly did Landon Bail out?

My mom would always make a huge breakfast and then we would have watergate cake for Jesus to celebrate His birthday and we would sing songs. This is still one of my favorite things to do, even now. When we visit my hubs family I cook the cake and honor the tradition.

The best part of Christmas day was heading to my grandparents for lunch and gifts. and the best part about the get together is the end and the wrapping paper fight. Every year, and it is always the adults that start it. You take wrapping paper and ball it up as tight as possible and then just start throwing. It is an absolute free for all. Oh, you are five and in the way, sorry bout it;) and I love it!!!!
You can see my dad slowly opening, planning and then my cousin, ducking and ready.

Hahahaah this picture says it all.
Now that every other year I head to Boston, I have been delighted to take on a few of my husband's traditions and since I never did them when I was younger and so I am soaking them up from the vantage point of a kid, albeit a bigger one!

My two favorites are the Feast of The Seven Fish on Christmas Eve, it is a huge Italian get together with the whole family. and then we head to midnight mass.

and my second favorite is Le Befana! It takes place on Jan 5th, the eve of the Epiphany and you get a small gift and eat again. This is the end of the 12 days of Christmas and the origin of the song. I never realized it was after and not before till I married Wiki. I get so excited every time and squeal with delight! because squealing with delight is straight childish. and I dig it.


This year we are hosting our own version! and I plan to not dress up as Befana herself. Actually, maybe I will dress up as a witch next year for Halloween and when anyone calls me a witch I will yell at them to call me Befana. Yes. yes, I shall.

What makes you feel like a kid again at the Holidays?

Linking up with, Helene, Taylor

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