America, The Roadtrip: The Carol of Lights

Last December, I went to Lubbock to visit Billy.  Like a good 50% of the vacations I go on, I completely forgot to write about this one until way after the fact.  Anyway, while we’re off cavorting around Italy, this will give us the time to work through this, no?

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The real reason for my trip was to go and see the Carol of Lights, which is Texas Tech’s annual Christmas tradition.  The entire campus is darkened, they have a torchlight parade, and after a number of carols are sung and speeches are given, the campus is lit up in Christmas lights.  It’s pretty cool to see.

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Billy was one of the organizers, so for him this event was a REALLY big deal.  It also meant that I got to experience the Carol of Lights in a way that 99% of attendees never will!  First things first, we headed off to the pre-Carol banquet.  It was a great chance to meet some of his co-workers and the students he works with.  I planned a black and red outfit in order to work the Red Raider theme appropriately.

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And then we rode in a stretch hummer to the main event.  How Fancy, I Know!

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20,000 people from the Lubbock community come to participate.  But because of Billy, I was in the middle of the action.

To get an idea of just how in the middle of the action we were, take a look at 50:59 – 54:32.  Billy and I are to the right of the soloist.  It was a pretty exciting way to experience the evening!

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Of course after a long day of travel, a nearly-lost bag and a late night run to the Lubbock Walmart for the odd grocery (and some Blue Bell Christmas Cookie Ice Cream!) I was totally wiped out, but what a way to kick off our trip!

Dispatch from Italy: Florence



We are in Italy and as you can see, we’re doing awesome.  I have to be totally honest, when Mom said we were going to Florence two years ago, I said we were all in but I had literally no idea as to what was actually in Florence. And over the two years we had to prepare I did…no preparing (it helps massively when someone in your party wants to design an itinerary and you don’t have to do it!). So when we landed yesterday and visited Santa Maria Novella, we realized that we would have to spend Friday night studying up on the city, causes of the Renaissance, etc.  Good news: we did that and we are in the know now!  

Sure there have been a few hiccups here and there. Like when I described several painted icons as “angels attacking people with laserbeams” and we later learned that they were people receiving the stigmata.  Or the part where today I learned that Michaelangelo’s David was The David of David and Goliath. A question you might ask now: Is our children learning?

We have eaten prosciutto three meals in a row.  The gelato is great. We are in the chianti heartland for the time being.  Marcus managed to locate the Italian version of QVC and based on what we saw last night, they have a lot of catching up to do.  America has really got home shopping down to a science.  From the picstitch above, you can see that Marcus and I are terrible at novelty photography because I am very clearly NOT holding an obelisk on my back. But A+ for effort!  We will not be deterred from trying again. 

I hope all is well with you!

Friday Food Round-Up!

Hello, there.  It’s Friday.  I’m in Italy.  And you are getting ready for your weekend to get started!

We cooked this week (of course) and I tried to pick some different things that I knew we would not be eating while we were in Europe.  I think I made some good choices, no?  Also, can we just take a moment to admire the fact that we cooked with Way Less Meat Thank Last Week?

Monday – Mexican Chicken Salad with Taco Ranch Dressing from The Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

Monday
Marcus has raved about this dinner both times we have made it and it makes just The Best Ever lunch leftovers.  Once again, I made my own black beans instead of just draining a can and chucking them in.  I know that I could, but really this was just better.

Tuesday – West Texas Stacked Enchiladas with Guacamole

Tuesday

Once again, Past Kat saved Future Kat.  I had this sauce in the freezer and I was able to pull it out, thaw it and get a meal on the table!  Tragically, this was my last batch of the freezer sauce, so I need to schedule another prep day in the near future!

Wednesday – Kimchi Fried Rice with Stir Fried Peapods with Red Pepper and Ginger

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I had to be mindful about just how much rice we made with this meal, because we needed one dinner and one container of lunch leftovers each.  Anything more would have been overkill because we are getting out of town!

Things That Are True Today: Packing Edition

Most important order of business: I Am Packed!  The amount of crap we’re bringing (read: clothing) is borderline obnoxious but I also have to keep reminding myself that we will be gone for 17 days and that is a really long time.  Whenever I think about how much less I could take, I also remind myself of That One Time In 2006 where our family “backpacked” through Europe for a week using school-sized backpacks and we were just filthy by the end of it.

See also: Heidelberg 2006.

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And London 2006.

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I know that last week I did some shopping.  For those of you needing your LOL of the week, I am pretty sure that the leggings I bought are maternity.  No I am not pregnant and No they were not listed as such, but when I tried them on I discovered there was a full-on belly panel.  With that in mind, when I tried them on, I also realized that by day 10 of the trip, depending on how our feasting is going, I may be really glad to see that belly panel.  No Shame In My Game.

I made the executive decision not to pack riding boots for this trip.  I am Hardcore Conflicted About This, but at the end of the day, I simply don’t want to commit to wearing them each time we travel to a new city, nor do I want to have to deal with hauling them about in my suitcase.

Anyway, right now I’m enjoying a Manhattan and watching QVC by myself on Marcus’ side of the bed (AKA The Ultimate Luxury).  Tomorrow night at this time, we will be on an airplane! The forecast for Friday in Florence is 61 degrees, which means that it is very nearly springtime for our family.

Party Weekend

Hey hey, friends.

In case you are wondering what the definition of insanity is, it is hosting two parties at your house the weekend before you head off on vacation for two and a half weeks.

That being said, you have to make hay while the sun shines.  And we know that we have one heck of a long weekend coming up!

First on the docket: The third annual Magyfest.

Three years ago, we decided that we weren’t going to attend the Winterfest thrown by the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild anymore because to be totally honest, it was really expensive.

So instead we e-mailed all of our beer fest-going friends and invited them to our house.  We told them to bring $30 of good beer each and a dish to pass.  Three years later, we’re still doing it and the people are still coming.

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The food is good, the beer is better and we’ve found that everyone brings enough beer that the party serves as a sort of impromptu beer swap – because everyone gets to bring a “party favor” six pack back home with them!

Tonight (Sunday) we hosted an engagement party for Emily and Chris.  Emily is one of my sorority sisters and bridesmaids and I am so glad to share in this next part of her life.  We worked a heavy belated-Valentine’s day theme because that was her request and I think that it was really quite perfect.

The food.

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The decorations.

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The bride-to-be and me!

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Another one of our dear sorority sisters, Jenna, was such a saint and brought balloons, some appetizers and some desserts.  It would have been just impossible to do without her!

As you can see from the snap above, I made everyone wear nametags so that friend groups and family could mix and mingle.  It was a real lifesaver.  There was eating, drinking and merriment.  And, no sooner had our party guests left than I directed Marcus to drag out our suitcases because it’s time for us to get packing!

 

 

Friday Food Round-Up!

I honestly don’t know where the time went this week.  We are throwing two parties this weekend so I made two batches of chex mix.  Since I had about three cups of cereal left when all was said and done, I also made puppy chow for the first time!  Talk about wild, I know.  Our house is a pretty tasty place to be right now.

Sunday – Mustard Milanese from The Smitten Kitchen

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Duh.  We’re never going to stop making or eating this.  Also it was 100% the best choice after Galentine’s Day weekend.

Tuesday – Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with Lime Sauce from How To Cook Everytthing, Steamed Broccoli and Rice

Tuesday

Things that are true about this meal: it is really a lot of work to bread all of the cutlets in cornmeal and then fry them only to top them with a “lime” sauce.  I think this would taste much better sans-cornmeal.  Because of the whole cornmeal breading-thing, I ended up skipping the rice because it was just…a lot.

Did I mention that the cornmeal was confusing here?

Thursday – Risotto with chicken, mushrooms and asparagus

Thursday

AKA MARCUS’ FAVORITE DINNER OF ALL TIME.

This was supposed to be a belated Sunday night Valentine’s dinner, but then the aftermath of Galentine’s Day weekend struck and I needed a little more greenery.  Luckily, Marcus agreed to a dinner-switch and we ended up feasting on this to celebrate the end of our week!

Pre-Vacation Shopping

You guys.  We leave for Italy in…nine days.  Which is actually terrifying because I thought we had 10 days.  But clearly we do not.

I have yet to make an actual packing list (see also: that is what I will be doing once I am done typing this post), but as I was going through my mental inventory, I realized that I don’t actually own enough pairs of pants to be away from home for…17 days.  In case anyone is wondering what the correct number of pants is, it is five.  Enter: another pair of completely overpriced yet totally durable pair of ponte pants from LOFT.
Pants

I also realized that I have very literally worn holes in my nearly four-year old pair revas that I bought to wear for our wedding.  Enter: a new pair of revas.  Pray for my feet as I trot around Italy in these.

Revas

And because I’ve been meaning to do it and I haven’t…Enter: a blanket scarf from American Eagle as well.  I know I already ordered this gorgeous wool wrap, but I think that something a little bit bigger and a little bit lighter might be better for travel.  The latest possible arrival date for it is 2/27 and if it shows up on my doorstep any day after 2/25, I will be out of luck, but this is the least essential piece.

Aerie Scarf

The weather while we are there should be high 40s to low 60s.  AKA tropical compared to Minnesota.  I am very much looking forward to spring come early!