Happy New Year!

Hi there friends. Yes, it has been months since I have blogged. A few tech difficulties (don’t use Bluehost if you are planning a blog!) and just busy. So, given that it has been so long, today’s post is a look back on 2023, in particular the holiday season and a few notes about 2024. So here goes!

2023 Highlights

Well like every year, there was a mix of good and not so good. The good:

  • This year we were back to traveling. College girl 1 (CG1) was in Florence so CG2 and I visited for a fantastic trip to Italy (read my full post here).
  • Mr SB and I celebrated our 25th anniversary with a trip to Bermuda.
  • CG2 really flourished second semester which was so fun to see – lots of new friends (and a few visits back home to CT with them)
  • Summer at our shore club was as amazing as always – lots of entertaining, sailing, clamming and beach.
  • Fall brought tailgates at my alma mater (and where CG2 attends) as well as a fun visit to VT to see CG1.

On a the list of not so great – we lost our wonderful cat Harry. Not a day goes by without thinking of him. He had such a personality and was with us since 2011 and brought us so much joy. He was also a Christmas cat as I adopted him as an adult cat from our local shelter just in time for Christmas. I miss you Harry. RIP my little guy.

Holidays 2023

The holidays were very full – exhausting but fun. Through the years I have figured out a system – I call it the holiday waves – waves of organizing and planning to stay sane and enjoy the Christmas season.

  • Wave 1 – this starts in October or possibly sooner when I start thinking about the holiday card. Some years I order our card before Halloween! I also do some organizing in October/early November. Clean out the pantry, take stock of clothing etc. to prepare for thoughtful gift giving and entertaining.
  • Wave 2 – Thanksgiving weekend. We cut down our own tree the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. You can read all about our tailgate party where the sliders and caper mayo take center stage. This is literally my favorite day of the year. We gather with friends for a low stress tailgate party. Getting the tree up early makes the house smell great and get’s the holiday decorating underway. I also order as many gifts as I can online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Wave 3 – now that tree is up and gifts start to come in I love wrapping presents, watching Hallmark Christmas movies and getting into the holiday spirit! This year these afternoons were some of my favorite holiday memories – sometimes you need to slow down and a sappy movie while wrapping gifts for loved ones is perfect!
  • Wave 4 – food. I usually bake starting a couple of weeks before Christmas. Cookies freeze really well and this year was no exception. I made the following: Gingerbread Latte Cookies, Monster M&M Cookies and Hot Cocoa Cookies all from Half Baked Harvest. They all came out great and I was able to send some in care packages to the girls.
  • Wave 5 – getting ready for Christmas guests and dinner. This year we hosted 18 for dinner! I set the table a few days before. I get out platters, silverware, holiday linens about a week or so earlier to see if I need to polish, replace or buy extras. This year I did not buy anything except some new papergoods.
  • Wave 6 – Buy food. With guests at home I have learned to go to Costco early. This year I went Thursday for a Monday Christmas. This was good timing and I escaped the worst of the crowds. Here was our menu:

Saturday Lunch – sausage on the grill (if weather permits this is a great way to avoid dishes – no pans!), Costco Mac N Cheese, Salad, Christmas Cookies for dessert.

Saturday Dinner – I made this broccoli casserole which was quite good although next time I think I would lighten up on the cheese (great idea to have a casserole that is both vegetable and starch for a crowd). Mr SB had smoked some pulled pork. We had salad, cheese and birthday cake. Appetizers included my famous buffalo dip with a charcuterie board.

Sunday Breakfast – Costco croissants, bread, coffee, yogurts, fresh fruit

Sunday Lunch – leftover pork, salad, casserole, cookies.

Christmas Eve we head to my sister’s for a wonderful dinner. Christmas Eve during the day I cook everything for Christmas. This year our menu included:

Christmas Day – Breakfast casserole (a favorite!). I make the ham and cheese hashbrown casserole – everyone loves it. Could not be easier! For lunch I buy sliced ham, cheese and bread – everyone makes their own sandwich as Christmas dinner is underway!

This year’s Christmas dinner menu:

Appetizers: Smoked Whitefish Pate and Crackers, Duck Pate with Truffles, Charcuterie board with assorted cheese and meat. Baked Brie. Note to self – put more appetizers in the living room near the bar.

Christmas salad – greens with citrus champagne vinaigrette, oranges, pomegranate seeds and goat cheese.

Main: Smoked Brisket (Mr. SB’s special recipe) and Glazed Ham.

Mashed Potatoes (Costco – loaded and regular Yukon Gold)

Smoky Sweet Carrots with Yogurt Sauce.

Crispy Brussel Sprouts in the air fryer

Green Beans – steamed lightly and then roasted.

Assorted desserts – cake, cookies.

Everything was delicious and we had such a wonderful holiday.

So here’s to 2024!