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I know it’s January 7th, but I haven’t told you about my Christmas or New Year’s! Our Christmas tree is still up (judge away), so I feel it is still acceptable to talk about the holidays. (I’m just thankful I didn’t take another 3-month hiatus like I did last year!)

Every year we spend Christmas Eve with David’s family. We started the celebration earlier in the day this year and enjoyed each other’s company before David’s brother, Kyle, left for Taiwan on December 26th. We ate lots of great food, unwrapped gifts, played Apples to Apples, and had a rousing conversation about dialects after we each took that dialect test that was making its way to everyone’s News Feed on Facebook. (I got Wichita and Overland Park, which fit me perfectly since we basically live in Overland Park and I’ve lived in Kansas my whole life. But I also got Irving, Texas. David lived in Texas for a number of years when he was growing up, so maybe he’s rubbed off on me.)

While we were there celebrating, I took some family pictures of them. We wanted to make sure we got pictures of Kyle before he left on his trip. He’s over in Taiwan right now, hoping to find a job teaching English and exploring the land and culture while he’s over there.

The Tallmadges, minus me. Someone had to take the picture!

The Tallmadges, minus me. Someone had to take the picture!

David and I have a little mini celebration just the two of us on Christmas morning. We exchange gifts and munch on candy and goodies from our stockings. I made coffee cake one year, but we haven’t done any since (or any traditions of our own for that matter). We typically wake up later on Christmas morning, leaving just enough time to open gifts and shower before we rush off to my parents’ house.

David got me the Kate Spade bracelet I asked for! I feel very spoiled. I am beginning to learn how specific I need to be with him. I sent him the link and… da-ta! It was under the tree.

We visited the Kate Spade store when we were in Charleston and I had so much fun looking at all the brightly-colored accessories. But, Kate Spade comes with a hefty price tag, so I knew I couldn’t ask for a piece from her collection just any ‘ol time. It also helped I passed him the Cyber Monday code — made me feel a little bit better about it.

David and I spend the day with my parents, usually not leaving until 10 p.m. or so! We open gifts, have brunch (including deliciously cheesy Texas potatoes, yum!), talk, and go for a dip in their hot tub. Yep, it’s a chilly walk to get there, but it’s all worth it when you sit in it.

Our gifts this year definitely centered around backpacking. I wonder why? :) We got a super fancy camp stove that packs down into a small pouch and a tent. My parents were super generous and got us a big tent — in hopes that it would combat my claustrophobia.

Our too-big backpacking tent.

Our too-big backpacking tent.

Unfortunately, it ended up being too big. Big enough that we weren’t sure if we would find enough space once we got to wherever we were camping to pitch the tent. We went back to REI to trade it in for a Half Dome 2 tent, a smaller tent we’re hoping will work out better. I also got a book on the Appalachian Trail called “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. So far it’s very entertaining and informative.

December 26th is always reserved to celebrate Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. We don’t exchange gifts, but we do stockings. It’s fun to see what my relatives will come up with each year. I got a little mini mixer ornament (like a Kitchen Aid mixer that shrunk!), some caramel macchiato K-cups for my Keurig, and a handmade kitchen accessory my mom made. It’s the width of a scarf and made with patterned cloth material, except for the ends of it that have towel material on it — so you can easily wipe your hands while your cooking away in the kitchen.

One of the things I love most about the celebration on the 26th is the food. The menu hasn’t changed for years. There’s broccoli cheese casserole, hot chicken noodle casserole, rolls, salami, cheeseball, and punch to wash it all down with. Then after we stuff our face with food, we pass around one (if not two) dessert trays! So good.

Fast forward with me to New Year’s.

New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays, if not my current favorite. (Once David and I have kids I’m sure Christmas will pop back up to the top spot.) I love the idea of glitz and glamour, seeing all my favorite people in the same room, and the start of a fresh year.

For the past 3 years, I’ve thrown a New Year’s party. Two things have carried over year after year: I always highly encourage attendees to dress up (see glitz/glamour comment) and I serve sangria. It’s always a fun time and this year was no different.

Kali and I.

Kali and I.

A photobomber got into our picture.

A photobomber got into our picture.

We ended up having 20 people show up — quite the turnout! Six of them even spent the night! Once we all wake up, we go out to breakfast together to Big Biscuit. I’m already looking forward to next year and what I could do differently to make the party better.

As you read above, I also love New Year’s for the fresh start we get. I make resolutions each year, but I make them really vague so I can achieve them. For example, “travel more” and “be more active.” As long as I feel good about my accomplishments, right?! I’m still thinking on what I want this year’s to be, but I’m thinking they’ll be more people-centered. Like, “stay in touch with college friends,” etc. I have a bad habit of only talking to people I see on a regular basis. An out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing, I guess. Life is all about relationships and I need to be sure I nurture the ones I have, both here in town or away in other states.

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! Welcome to 2014!

I’ll leave you with this cutie. I made reindeer ornaments for some of my friends for Christmas. I’m proud that they turned out so well! Me and crafting don’t usually get along.

Reindeer ornament made out of wine corks.

Reindeer ornament made out of wine corks.

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