Newlywed Holiday Traditions

2 Jan

Now that the wedding is over, I’ve really been enjoying the “officialness” of being a family. It was (and is) really important to me, during this first year of marriage, to create some new traditions for our family, and carry on some old ones as well. And what better time to kick of some family traditions than over the holidays? I hope that, by documenting them here, we’ll be able to look back over the years and see how our traditions develop over our lifetime together. So here we go!

(All photos personal.)

Thanksgiving

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls are one of Troy’s favorite, but as the name of the recipe suggests, they take quite a while to make. So, since I’m off work early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, this gives me plenty of time to prep the rolls and allow them to rise, just in time to bake on Thanksgiving morning.

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I use Alton Brown’s recipe, and when they are ready, we chow down while…

Watching the Parades. I love watching the Detroit and NYC parades on Thanksgiving morning, and now it’s part of our holiday tradition.

This last one is more of a broken tradition now that I’m married. I used to make Jello for Thanksgiving dinner, every single year trying to outdo the year prior. I’ve made so many Jello dishes in my years, I’ve pretty much run out of recipes worthy of such a feast. This year, I decided to forgo the tradition in favor of something a little more “grown up” — this year I made this cauliflower gratin, which was amazing.

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I’m hopeful one of my younger cousins will pick up the Jello slack and carry on the tradition!

Christmas

The first Christmas tradition is one that was started by my mom when I was a kid, and one that I wanted to start with my family: the gift of pajamas on Christmas Eve. Here I am modeling the PJ pants I gave to Troy.

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I love me some new jammies!

Something that I think nearly every couple, new or old, deals with during this time of the year is the holiday shuffle — doing their best to make time for each side of the family. Troy and I have been doing our shuffle for nearly as long as we’ve been together, and I think we pretty much have it down to a science: my dad’s side the weekend before Christmas, his dad’s side on Christmas eve, Christmas morning with his mom and siblings, and Christmas dinner with my mom’s side. Maybe we’ll travel less once there are some kiddos in the mix, but for now, this works out great for us.

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After the busyness of the holiday shuffle, there’s nothing like some serious relaxation on Christmas night, hence the tradition of blowing up the air mattress & watching Christmas movies. This year we got home fairly early so we had time to watch a few flicks — The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Holiday, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Leading up to Christmas, we also got in viewings of Love Actually and A Christmas Story (naturally).

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Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other very important member of our family: our pupster, Brady. We definitely don’t forget about him during the holidays. In addition to the new bed he got from Nana and Papa, we also celebrated Doggie Christmas — the time directly after the holiday when all of the holiday pet toys are 50-75% off! This is the only time of the year we (willingly) allow the pup to have plush toys that he demolishes within a few minutes. But hey, it’s Christmas.

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Finally, I was very excited to send out our first family holiday card this year. We used one of the photos from our honeymoon session and created a “cheers to the New Year” card. It was also pretty handy that we had collected everyone’s addresses for the wedding, so getting these babies in the mail was a snap compared to all the wedding-related mail we’ve sent in 2013.

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New Years Eve

Again, this is more of a broken tradition. Normally NYE is the time we celebrate the anniversary of when we first starting dating. This year, however, we have a new anniversary (September 28!), but midnight on January 1 will always have a special day in our hearts.

New Years Day

In addition to football and hockey, I’ve instituted yet another food-based tradition: biscuits and gravy on New Year’s Day. Like many, our diets start on January 2, so this is the last day we can really indulge in dishes like this — might as well start the year off right!

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Not very pretty, but man were they delicious!

And that does it for the Stieve family holiday traditions! We’re all looking forward to continuing these for many more Christmases to come.

Please feel free to share your holiday traditions, new and old, in the comments!

Cheers, and Happy New Year!

30-by-30: Get Married!

1 Jan

Oh, hey, guess what we did?! Yeah, we got married! Cool, right?

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Photo by studiOsnap

I’m so incredibly happy to be married to the man of my dreams and to be starting our life together as husband and wife. You can read all about our planning process and the wedding on our wedding blog (which can be found privately on our wedding website or publicly on Weddingbee).

As soon as we get the rest of our pictures back and I finish recapping for Weddingbee, I hope to get back into blogging more regularly here (which I hope to develop into our family blog). Until then, I have a few updates I’ve been itching to share (that aren’t wedding related), so look for those soon!

Cheers!

30-by-30: go to a Michigan football game outside of Michigan

25 Sep

Anyone who’s ever told you that holding a full-time job, taking 7 ½ graduate school credits, and planning a wedding, all at the same time, isn’t tough to do… They were lying. So please forgive me as this blog continues to get brushed to the side, only to be updated when something monumental occurs.

Maybe this isn’t monumental, but it is a good excuse to blog. I checked off one of my 30-by-30 items!

#3, go to a Michigan football game outside of Michigan

Over Labor Day weekend, Fiancé and I made the trek down to Texas to watch Michigan take on Alabama in the Cowboys Classic. For anyone who cares anything about Michigan football, you understand why I’m not going to say another word about this game.

Luckily, there were lots of other amazing things about this trip.

We stopped in a lot of cities, including overnights in Nashville, Memphis, and Indianapolis. We saw over 2,500 miles of the countryside. We even ran into some of our neighbors in Nashville… Neighbors that we had never met before, that happened to be making a similar road trip, that wound up in the same honky tonk as us, with whom we just happened to strike up conversation with, and figured out we live 3 blocks from each other. Random!

Nashville at night.

Speaking of Nashville, I want to live there. I got to wear cowboy boots for nearly 24 hours straight. And the country music was ridiculous. So many talented artists just working for tips. I’m doing everything in my power to get back to Nashville ASAP.

And did I mention the FOOD?!

Amazing. All of it. Yelp and I really did a good job of finding some shady yet amazing roadside eats.

Fiancé and I travel really well together. I think this is probably a really important element in a relationship between two people that love to travel. This time, I did most of the planning (where we were staying, where we were stopping, timeline, itinerary, etc), which meant Fiancé didn’t have many decisions to make, which was fine by him. We both didn’t mind going to bed late, getting up early, and hitting the road before the sun rose. I love road trips, and I hope that we can continue to take family trips like these with our children someday.

If you hadn’t guessed from the opening line of this post, another large milestone is on the horizon (#6, finish my master’s). I graduate in April, but I hope to post more between now and then. And if you can’t find me here, be sure to check on the wedding website, troyandmariaswedding.com for all the wedding-related details I won’t be sharing here.

Cheers!

Juicing Journey: Day 3 Update

13 Jul

Sorry for the delay! Here is the final chapter in the juicing journey.

7:00AM: wake up and am feeling ok until that hungover feeling hits again — headache, dry mouth, sore throat. Bummer. Gotta get to work this morning, though.

8:30AM: trying to make these juices last so I delay my first green juice for as long as I can. Suck it down and realize how sick of this juice I am.

9:00AM: everyone at work thinks I am crazy for doing this cleanse.

10:30AM: PAM juice is so delicious. I’m trying not to be hungry, but am thinking about what I will and will not be able to eat the rest of the week with my post-cleanse tummies. D agrees it will be rough going.

12:30PM: it’s probably not a good thing that it is quiet at the office today — all I can think about is food. I literally gag down the final green juice. I just can’t stand the taste of it any more.

2:00PM: both D and I decide that we will break the fast tonight. Thinking about the upcoming days at work, neither of us want to be either hungry or uncomfortable as we navigate the post-cleanse.

3:00PM: it’s becoming increasingly difficult to resist my drawer of salty snacks these last couple hours of the work day. Items on my desk are starting to resemble food. That can’t be a good sign.

5:00PM: when I get home I finish the last of my cashew milk. I skipped my final CAB juice, as there was no way I was drinking a final glass of dirty beets. The cashew milk was filling, but I was still craving salt.

6:30PM: I couldn’t hold out any longer and made myself some kale chips. I could not wait to get those salty leafs into my mouth. I snuck a piece of raw kale as I was prepping. Chewing is weird.

7:00PM: kale chips are ready! I put them in a bowl and eat them like popcorn. They are so delicious, and I eat every last one.

7:15PM: get an almost immediate stomach ache. Guess salt wasn’t exactly what the belly wanted.

7:30PM: sooth belly with tea and lay on the couch the rest of the night. D and I both complain about stomach aches and share what we are most looking forward to eating again: carbs.

10:00PM: eventually go to bed, proud that I was able to get as far as I did on the juice cleanse.

When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is, “I get to eat today!” However, this is not the end of the journey. Since the end of the cleanse, I have had to reintroduce food to my stomach. The day after breaking the cleanse, the only thing I was able to eat was applesauce and a few almonds. This entire week I have found that it takes much less food for my body to feel full, which has caused me to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. As of today, I have not had any meat, caffeine, alcohol, or refined sugar since beginning the cleanse. I feel great, my stomach is flatter, and my skin is clearer. I hope to be back very soon with some thoughts on juicing, cleansing, and the overall experience.

Thank you for taking this journey with me, and a special thanks to D, who was a total trooper for attempting this experiment with me.

Cheers!

Juicing Journey: Day 2 Update

9 Jul

In case you missed it, I’m doing a juice cleanse! Here’s Day 2…

9:00AM: woke up and had a cup of tea while Fiancé scrambled around to leave for his work trip. I’m not glad that he’s leaving, but at least there won’t be anyone around our place cooking delicious smelling food. Not feeling so hot today – a kind of hungover feeling, sore throat, dry mouth, headache.

10:00AM: after dropping Fiancé off at the airport, headed home for my first green juice of the day. Glad I made it the day before, because I was in definite need of nourishment.

10:30AM: thought I would come home and fall asleep, but the house was a mess, so I spent some time cleaning. For the past few days I’ve had counters full of produce that wouldn’t fit in the fridge, and it was starting to smell…

12:00PM: PAM juice time is my favorite time. If I ever juice again, PAM juice will be at the top of my list, probably because it tastes the most like what I used to consider ‘juice’.

12:30PM: D and I have been commiserating over text. Neither one of us are very happy at this point. My day of relaxing on the couch turns quickly turns unbearably boring as there is nothing on TV except reality shows.

1:30PM: time to do the last of my juicing. Prepped and juiced 3 green juices to finish out the cleanse. I am so glad to be done with this little machine for a while.

2:00PM: mix some tea with the spicy lemonade. The taste is not so bad, but the burning in my throat is horrible.

2:30PM: still horizontal on the couch. Decide I need a distraction and buy a movie on-demand – 21 Jump Street. Not too bad. Does its job to distract me for 90 minutes.

4:00PM: hold nose and finish the horrible-tasting CAB juice after doctoring it up with some leftover lemonade. D informs me that hers is much more palatable after peeling beets. People, peel your beets. Blech.

5:00PM: still not interested in any of the wedding or house hunting shows on my DVR. Find a horrible Kristen Bell movie and watch it in entirety.

6:00PM: realize I’m not really focusing unless the characters are eating food.

8:00PM: cashew milk not as yummy as last night. Bummer – this is really getting old.

8:30PM: finally decide I’m enough of a mess to warrant a shower. Standing for 20 minutes is the most difficult thing I’ve done today.

9:00PM: watch a markedly terrifying episode of True Blood. Scripted TV succeeds in distracting me, but I do find myself sympathetic of hungry vampires… They can’t eat solids, either.

10:30PM: call it a night and think I’ll fall asleep immediately. No such luck. Feels like I wake up about 20 times during the night. Not a good sign of things to come on Day 3…

One more day to go… cheers to that.

Juicing Journey: Day 1 Update

8 Jul

In case you missed it, I’m doing a juice cleanse! Here’s how Day 1 played out…

10:30AM: I woke up late so I was already way off schedule, but I wasn’t too concerned. I juiced the majority of my drinks the night before, but needed to juice my first green juice of the day. I had some tea while I was juicing, which helped with the slight hunger while I juiced.

11:00AM: after letting it chill, I enjoyed my first green juice of the day. I had been craving it since my test run last weekend, so it went down pretty quick. Fiancé and I were ready to leave the house at this point to run errands, so I packed up a couple bottles of water and my morning PAM juice to take on the road.

11:30AM: while Fiancé got his hair cut, I got my nails done. I wasn’t able to drink my water during the manicure, which was probably a good thing because I really had to pee by the end of it (and yeah, definitely ruined my nails within 5 minutes. Awesome).

12:30PM: Fiancé took me to get my engagement ring cleaned, and then I got to try the PAM juice for the first time. It was so good, definitely my favorite of the juices I had tasted. Due to some juicing malfunctions, however, it was also the smallest.

2:00PM: we went to the mall to buy some clothes for fiancé’s business trip the next day. I used the bathroom on the way in and on the way out — whew, I was going so much! The worst part about the mall was the smells: cookies at Mrs. Field’s, greasy pretzels from Pretzel Time… Even the smells from Bath & Body works made my mouth water!

2:30PM: I only brought one juice with me and errands took a little longer than I thought. Running further behind schedule, but I was glad I brought the extra water to feel full.

3:30PM: finally got home. Since I was so off schedule already and not wanting to waste time juicing, I skipped the green juice to the spicy lemonade. Even with some extra agave, it was incredibly sour! D felt similarly (I’d been texting her all day — cleansers gotta stick together!) and had the idea to mix the lemonade with tea (which we are allowed in unlimited quantities) to make an Arnold Palmer. I will definitely be using that trick tomorrow!

4:00PM: I made two green juices (one for today and one for tomorrow morning). It’s quite time consuming, washing, peeling, and juicing all the veggies. I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the couch.

5:30PM: green juice time. Took a little more effort to suck this one down. The taste is just so bland.

6:00PM: fiancé makes himself dinner. I told him to make something that wouldn’t make me want to tackle him for, so he made steak and potatoes. It didn’t matter that I don’t eat red meat — the smell of cooking garlic made me cry a little inside.

7:30PM: time for the purple CAB juice. Not gonna lie, it was incredibly disgusting. It was like drinking sugary mud. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a beet before today, but I will make a point to steer clear. Yuck. I held my nose and tossed it back. I made some tea directly after to get the taste out of my mouth.

8:30PM: we left the house to go to a movie with some friends. I packed my cashew milk and a bottle of water to take with me. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I left the milk in a cooler in the car for afterwards. I took my bottle of water, but tried not to drink too much — I really didn’t want to be running in and out of the movie theater, because it was too crowded for me to have a seat on the aisle.

11:30PM: movie let out, and I didn’t realize how much I had to pee until I stood up. The lines at the bathrooms were enormous, so I decided I could hold it. When we finally got home, I nearly peed my pants. Not going to risk that again. Once I was able to use the bathroom, I grabbed my cashew milk out of the cooler. It tasted great, and the slight grittiness was actually a nice change — even a little texture was welcome at this point!

12:00AM: we stopped by the park near our house to catch the end of the summer picnic and hang out with some of our neighbors. My juice cleanse seemed to appall most.

1:30AM: finally went to bed after some more water. I was surprised at how good I still felt. The biggest thing I missed about eating normal food was the variety and the savory — no sodium at all in this diet. I fell asleep and dreamed of cheeseburgers and burritos (not really, but it wouldn’t have surprised me).

Here’s to hoping Day 2 is equally as successful.

Cheers!

Juicing Journey: Part 4

6 Jul

So we have our ingredients, now it’s time to juice!

The following are the suggested amounts for each juice. You can add a little more or less until you get a flavor that you like, but obviously you don’t want to deviate too far from the original recipe.

GREEN JUICE (2 per day)

  • 5 ribs of celery
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and halved
  • 2 large green apples
  • 3 kale leafs
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 handful of parsley
  • 3 romaine leafs
  • 1 handful of spinach

P.A.M.

  • One third of a whole pineapple
  • 2 large green apples
  • A few pinches of mint, to taste

Spicy Lemonade

  • 14 ounces of filtered water
  • Juice of 3-4 medium lemons
  • A few dashes cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar

C.A.B.

  • 1 green apple
  • 2 beets, greens left on
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 ½ Tbsp grated ginger root
  • ½ oz fresh lemon juice, to taste

CASHEW MILK

  • 4-5 oz raw cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours
  • 16 oz of filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 Tbsp of extract)

We’re armed and read! We have our juicers, our ingredients, and our recipes. The next couple days are going to be challenging, but we are excited and will be reporting back with more tips, tricks, and what to expect when you are cleansing.

I’ll drink to that…

Cheers!

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