Monday, December 28, 2009

Trees and Tulips and Vines and Noodles

Pictured above: The Haunted Christmas Tree, The Vines, Tulips My Brother Bought Me, Christmas Dinner, Singapore Street Noodles.

Hey, guess what? I missed you guys terribly!

We had a great Christmas. We all made a deal to only buy the kiddies presents. So, the holiday was about what it’s supposed to be about. Perfect.

In answer to several inquiries, yes, the picture above is of the little tree I decorated this year. Usually I decorate a GIANT white one. I prefer white trees because I pile on so many ornaments, and they tend to stand out so much better against the white. It takes days and days for me to decorate the big tree, so I decided not to go there this year.

But, turned out this little green tree was haunted, (okay, some might prefer the word defective.) The lights kept acting up, turning on, turning off. At one point, (I think it was the day after Christmas), my daughter cried, “Look, the green lights on the tree are turning bright white!” Heads turned, and we all witnessed the intensity of the lights increase to such a degree I encouraged my son to unplug the thing before it broke out in flames, (I suppose a fake tree could catch fire if it got hot enough???) And so, it remains unplugged.

I made the easiest Christmas dinner ever. I slow-cooked a roast beef, added roasted garlic mashed potatoes with a Stilton-laced gravy, and green beans almandine, plus a salad. Talk about delicious. We had a lovely meal.

I enjoy the time between Christmas and New Year. The pressure is off, a person is able to kick back and savor the remainder of the holiday. The best part, we still have leftover Chocolate Torte and homemade New York Cheesecake. I baked up a gluten-free cheesecake with a hazelnut crust, and nobody but nobody had any idea it was gluten-free, it was that good, if I do say so myself. I have eaten two pieces.

The kids have been to the mall and to Target. Not this old girl. I won’t go near a store post-holiday. While they were out shopping yesterday The Husband took me on a Sunday drive through Temecula’s vineyards, (not twenty minutes from our house). We stopped at a lovely winery for a late lunch and got the bad news that they’d closed their restaurant down. Bummer, I guess they take in more money with the wine tasting. I snapped a picture of the withering vines and we hopped in the car and left. We were hungry, damn it, and in search of food. The sun goes down so early this time of year, the sky began to turn pinkish as we followed the roads that snake through wine country. The views of the hills covered in rows of multi-colored vines, (some still heavy with withering deep-purple grapes), were positively breathtaking.

We ended up eating in town, at PF Chang’s again, (I swear I’m not on their payroll), and The Husband decided on a Bloody Maria and I ordered my first Pear Ginger Mojito. We ate Singapore Street Noodles and Lemon Chicken. The two of us were so content by the end of the meal we could have sat there nursing our drinks for quite a while, but felt guilty because so many were gathered and waiting for tables.

I find this remainder of the holiday lends itself to introspection, looking back and looking forward. Can you believe we have almost reached 2010? I have great hopes for the upcoming year. What about you?

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Elizabeth! I missed you too and am glad you had a great Christmas. Mine was awesome too. Busy... full of activity... but a lot of fun and great memories. Now I just need to sleep it all off!

Katy said...

i am going to scrounge for the leftovers right now.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

What a wonderful Christmas you had!

Happy to hear you're back! You're always missed when away!

I promised myself a blogging and writing break throughout the holidays...but you guessed it...I'm addicted and can't stop myself!!!! LOL!

L.T. Elliot said...

It sounds like a lovely holiday, haunted tree included. =]

The vineyard and dinner sounded very lovely, indeed. I'm glad you had a great time. Welcome back!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I envy you being so close to a vineyard. It sounds as if you've had a wonderful holiday; I'm so glad. Your return has given me a big smile. Love the pictures.


lakeviewer said...

Now I'm hungry for P.F. Chang's fare. I get to indulge when I visit my daughter in Eugene, three hours from here. Never miss an occasion to eat good chinese.

Gluten free? Amazing!

ellen abbott said...

I always want to have a laid back no responsibilities week before the new year but I never get it.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a Christmas, Elizabeth - so glad you enjoyed it - even with the haunted tree :)

Fireblossom said...

The tulips are gorgeous looking and so is the food! Welcome back.

Helen Ginger said...

That is a gorgeous tree, Elizabeth. I can't imagine how you got all the ornaments to stay on!

We did favorites for Christmas dinner. I chose ham. My son chose Breakaway Vegetable Bread and my husband chose Marinated Artichoke Hearts. Then I made a few other things to go with it, including a Fudge Brownie Trifle.

No, I cannot believe it is almost 2010. Amazing.

Straight From Hel

Marguerite said...

Looks like you had a fabulous Christmas! Great photos! Love the haunted tree and the dinner looks divine! Glad you're back! Cheers!

Jeanie said...

Your little tree is beautiful, haunted or not. Sad to say, my tree is already down, but at least there are still some good leftovers.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I missed you, too, Elizabeth!

I love PF Chang. :) Sounds like a good place to go when we get tired of leftovers!

Love your tree. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas...haunted tree or not!


Alix said...

The minute I saw the Singapore Street Noodles, I just knew you'd been to PF Chang's! We were there just before Christmas and ordered the very same. Aren't they to die for? Just scrumptious.

And the haunted tree is only acting up because it's back is aching from holding up all those gorgeous ornaments!

And tulips are my favorite flower - but they're kind of out of season, aren't they? Probably very pricey in the winter. You have a generous bro.

But my favorite photo was the food {naturally}. When you say you "slow cooked" a roast beef does that mean you slow roasted it? Braised it? Or threw it in ye olde crock pot? It looks much too sophisticated to be a crock pot deal - but maybe that's just the fancy china throwing me off. At any rate, your dinner looks fabu! You might call it easy, but to me it looks completely decadent and yummy. Well done and welcome back. Missed you too!

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Your posts always make me hungry! Yum-yum! ...and that fudge trifle would not go amiss in my house either Helen.

Glad you had such a lovely Christmas. I too love these days between. New Year's is my favourite. I love starting over with a clean slate. I'm really looking forward to 2010- so many things to look forward too and I'm just about to decide on my resolutions.

Shirley Wells said...

So glad you had a good Christmas. Love the pictures - especially the haunted tree.

Hilary said...

Glad to hear you're having a great holiday. Your photos are just lovely.. the meal looks scrumptious! I'm thinking you might want to have the wiring of the outlet you used for the tree checked before using it for anything. But if the tree redecorates itself after you've put it away for the year.. then you know it truly is haunted. ;) Have a great new year!

Stacy Post said...

Welcome back, Elizabeth! Your noodles look lovely...I need to trek to P.F. Chang's soon. :)

I'm looking forward to 2010. 2009 was definitely a roller coaster ride, but I was able to hang in there with the best of 'em.

You're so lucky to live near vineyards! Cheers to a new year!

Janean said...

beware the haunted tree!!!! i can almost hear a Christmas Future howling this in a dream. lol. wonderful photos! i'm going to read more about you & your great blog.

Jan Morrison said...

Elizabeth - glad you are back in blog land! Sounds like you had a lovely time and I want to wander in vineyards with you! I am enjoying down time too.

Tom Bailey said...

This is going to be a very exciting year for me for a variety of reasons... starting with well defined goals and plans.

I hope that your holiday season is going GREAT for you.

Kindest regards,
Tom Bailey

Debbie said...

I have great hopes too. I'm always an optimist. Why not? I hope your 2010 is wonderful.

Cloudia said...

Loved sharing a libation with you here!!!

All the best to you

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Journaling Woman said...

Me too on missing you...and others.

That is one great tree. It's very beautiful.

Yes I think we need a tiny look back, don't you, not to dwell in mistake land but to learn and look forward.

Happy New Year.

Lauren said...

Glad to hear that you had a great Christmas! Those noodles look amazing, although they are making me hungry :-P.

Jenn said...

So glad to hear you're thoroughly enjoying your holiday season Elizabeth! We are as well, in your neck of the woods in fact! We have experienced all but a wine tasting while we've been here. The holidays in this warm weather (which from what I've been told is cool still for you guys but great for us nor'easters) have been spectacular for sure. Happy New Year, here's to a shiny new year a great 2010!

Crystal Posey said...

Um, wow. Can I just come sit in your house? Just for a moment. I think I'd feel pretty and luxurious if I could. :)