Christmas came we were so excited to celebrate the season and to enjoy a much needed respite from work. Unfortunately, we both suffered the pains of flu season in early December and it lingered long enough causing us to miss my office’s holiday party. Silver lining- we finally finished the last season of Breaking Bad and it was SO GOOD!
We had our tree up and decorated since the first weekend of the December. The past 8 years or so I’ve been following in my mother’s footsteps and collecting Christmas ornaments from most of our travel destinations so we actually have quite an array of ornaments and very few without sentimental value. This was the first year we’ve been able to combine our ornaments from the DC and Boston years with the Berlin and post-Berlin years. Opening up box after box of ornaments and remembering where each came from was nostalgia-inducing and a really lovely way to recall our adventures.
As a newly married couple last year we faced the difficult decision of how to divide up family time at Christmas. We opted for the fair and balanced approach with alternating holidays in Maine and California. Thus even years are reserved for the west coast and odd for the east. Dave and I both ended up having to work on Christmas Eve, but were able to duck out early afternoon and head up to Sierra Madre for some cooking baking and holiday cheer. My family ordered tamales from a pretty famous spot in LA and we had a great time sampling the variety of cheeses and sausages the Wisconsin Herlaches sent for Christmas. That night we went to church and then stopped by Kersting Court to visit the Sierra Madre snowman and nativity scene. We then drove around Hastings Ranch to marvel at the lights and then headed home for hot cocoa and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Christmas Day was relaxing, family and food filled. We made breakfast, opened gifts, called family around the country, made lunch and then played a few of the many board games we unwrapped before finishing the evening off with glühwein at Dave’s new biergarten table and a Christmas movie.
We had one day left in California before heading to Maine for the new year and we had a great time catching up with my mom’s side of the family over outdoor games, a walk around the Rose Bowl and, of course, MORE delicious food! On the 27th we were up bright and early for our 6am flight to Boston. We had a pretty smooth trip, even landing about 30 minutes early. Alan drove all the way down from Portland to pick us up and turn right back around. Thank you!! Maine was filled with lots of family dinners, relaxing, some pre-kitchen renovation packing and fun. We only overlapped with Cara and Will’s visit for a day so we tried to get as much time with them as possible before they took off for Florida the next morning. We also got the chance to see Anina for a few hours before she had to head out as well. It was too short, but we’re glad we got to fit in at least a few hours!
The rest of our time in Maine was also short, but we got to see a lot of our friends including drinks with Dan and Jen (in from Minnesota), a trip to Topsham to see Seamus and Melissa’s new home, a tour of Joe and Lindsey’s new home, Glenwood visits to the Hackett and Lowry houses and of course dancing with the whole crew at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge on New Years Eve.
Right before heading back west we got to spend some extra time in Boston. We had lunch with Mary and dinner with Dan and Alix before our flight. It’s always fun to return to our old stomping ground and it’s hard to say good bye to family and friends, but it’s hard to complain when we’ve been experiencing 70° weather and New England is under many feet snow at the moment.
The new year has been filled with a lot of work thus far, but also a lot of weekend fun. It’s the start of “conversion” season in admissions meaning applications are in and soon decisions will go out. Then the real work begins- trying to get all the kids we said “yes” to to say “yes” to us. On campus programming is already starting to take a lot of time and travel will kick back in in April. For Dave, it’s the end of the fiscal year in his office. As a finance guy he’s been putting in long hours crunching numbers and whatever else smart people who like numbers do. We’ve been pretty beat during the week, but had a great date night when we went to see Wicked at the Pantages Theater. Dave had purchased the tickets back in October for our first anniversary and was able to sang seats in the second row. It was pretty cool to be up so close and the actors had AMAZING pipes. Definitely a highlight of 2015 thus far!
While weekdays are usually low key weekends have been a different story. We love our home and anyone following me on Instagram knows I love to brag about our back patio and view. For Christmas I bought Dave a biergarten table and we love having meals outside. We’ve also been taking advantage of our annual pass to Huntington Gardens and how gorgeous Southern California is in January. Two weekends ago my mom, sister and I took trip up the coast for a girls weekend of delicious food and wine in Paso Robles. We stopped in Solvang for lunch on the way, which is a quaint Danish village about 2 hours north of Los Angeles. We had delicious sandwiches from a trendy spot called Bacon and Brine and then indulged in (what else) danishes for dessert. Ostrich Land USA was our next stop and we coughed up a few bucks to feed ostriches and emus. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen those birds from so up close, but they’re massive and reminiscent of dinosaurs or something oddly prehistoric. From the giant birds we continued up to Paso Robles were we checked into the Paso Robles Inn for 2 nights before finding a tasty local spot called Basil Thai for dinner.
Sunday we went wine tasting all day, visiting 4 wineries, 1 olive oil production center and a walnut oil shop. We took an extended tour at our first stop, Halter Ranch, and my mom decided she liked it so much she signed up for their Wine Club. That night we had dinner at the Firestone Brewery and then went back to the hotel early to crash after a long day of drinking.
Monday we decided to drive up to Hearst Castle for a tour. Hearst Castle is a gorgeous, expansive palace set atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the city of San Simeon. It was commissioned by Hearst in the early 20th century and is a pretty spectacular collection of buildings, gardens and art. We took the Grand Rooms tour and were able to see into the living room, dining room, breakfast room, billiard room and theater. After our tour we walked around the garden for a few hours and peeked into the three fabulous “guest houses” Hearst had built for his famous guests- which included the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow, Winston Churchill and many more. He had pretty eclectic taste, but the contrast between ancient (12th century French mantelpieces) and modern (paper napkins and mustard and ketchup bottles in the center of the many hundred years old dining table) was really interesting.
Following our visit to Hearst Castle we headed down the hill and made one last stop to visit a huge pod of nesting elephant seals before starting the trek south.
A great weekend with lot of quality mother-daughter time. Hopefully we get to do another girls trip in the near future!
The end of the month brought more work and a few additional fun activities. For Christmas Mary bought us tickets to the Los Angeles Bock Fest and last weekend we had a fabulous time perusing the 30+ breweries, sampling bocks and a variety of other beers from all over the world. The tickets were essentially all you can drink passes. When we arrived we received wristbands, pint glasses and tickets with the instructions to deposit them at the table of our favorite beer. At the end of the event the brewery with the most tickets would be declared the 2015 winner. As you can imagine the event brought out scores of beers most dedicated fans. We held it together pretty well, but by the end of the evening we’d witnessed puking, copious amounts of PDA and of course raucous dancing that really broke out when The Sugarhill Gang got up on stage and performed some of their classics including Rappers Delight. It was pretty crazy, but so much fun and we’re definitely planning to check it out again next year!
As a final note- Dave got to celebrate a nail-biting victory Sunday night as the Patriots finally came out the victors in a Super Bowl match up. This is the third time we’ve watched them make it to the final game as a couple and the only time they’ve won. Even though I only really care about the Packers success I’m always happy to see Dave happy and boy was he HAPPY! We had tons of delicious goodies at my parent’s house and enjoyed a tense, but ultimately happy game with them Maddie and Nikki. Next up we have some visitors coming in from out of town later this month and some more the next. We’re planning a return trip to Arizona for spring training and what else, who knows?! All I know is that while I miss the occasional snow day living it up in t-shirt weather (sorry friends in New England and the Midwest…come visit!!) is a pretty sweet way to weather the winter.
Till next time. xoxo- Daverian