christmas traditions

cory's traditions:
  • the tree:  my family would drive together to a nearby tree farm in michigan, and cut down our tree.
  • christmas morning:  
    • we would wake up to santa's boot prints starting at the front door (since we didn't have a chimney), leading to the tree and santa's cookies, and then back to the front door (a mixture of my mom's creativity and a little baby powder).
    • us kids would wake up a little before our mom and dad, and we were allowed to open our stockings before they woke up.  we would inspect all of the wrapped gifts and try to guess what was inside all of the boxes until my parents woke up.
  • christmas evening:  we would have a big traditional ham dinner with my dad's family christmas eve, then do the same thing all over again with my mom's family for christmas dinner the next day.
  • movies:  all day christmas eve and christmas day,  "a christmas story" was on repeat on our t.v., and we watched "it's a wonderful life" every year too.

beth's traditions:
  • the tree:  a few weeks before christmas we would all go to a tree lot (we grow really great palm trees in florida, but not so much with christmas trees) and pick out a tree.  we would decorate the tree together as a family and reminisce of the years past, and which ornaments were our favorites (my mom would get us a special ornament to signify each year, like a car ornament when we turned 16, etc.).
  • christmas eve:  
    • my brother and i would go outside christmas eve and look up in the sky to see if we could spot santa's sleigh and reindeer in night sky.  the next morning we would wake up and search the front yard for reindeer prints.
    • our parents would allow us to open one gift of our choice christmas eve, in an attempt to ease our anticipation of christmas morning.
    • my brother and i would leave out milk and cookies, along with a special note for santa.  they would always be mostly eaten, and we would get a note back from santa (in handwriting that looked vaguely familiar to my mom's).
    • we would pile into my dad's truck, pick up a few hot chocolates, crank up the christmas music on the radio, and ride around town.  we would cruise through the fancy neighborhoods with beautifully decorated houses and brightly lit front yards.  this is one of my favorite traditions, all of those colorful lights were so magical to me as a kid.
  • christmas morning:  my grandma would come over christmas morning and watch me and my brother tear open our presents... then she and my mom would sit on the floor and help us put them together or play with us for hours.  meanwhile, my dad cooked a huge breakfast (it's all about food in my family, and i'm okay with that).
  • christmas evening:  we would join the rest of my mom's family later that day at my grandma's house for a delicious christmas dinner complete with turkey and her famous macaroni and cheese! 
  • movies:  we would watch all the christmas classics, my favorites were "the grinch", "a charlie brown christmas", "the christmas toy", and "one magic christmas".

our new traditions: 
  •  the card:  take a fun family photo every year (like the one above) to use for christmas cards to send our friends and families.
  • the tree:  
    • drive to a christmas tree farm in the appalachian mountains in the western part of north carolina, and cut down a tree together(as seen in my last post).  then come home and decorate the tree together with our childhood ornaments, as well as our new ones we've collected together as a family.
    • pick out a new ornament together every year, signifying something important that happened that year (i'm thinking this will be a good one for 2014).
  • christmas eve:  
    • the night before christmas, i like to prepare a vast setup of different appetizers, specialty cheeses, crackers and wine.  lots of wine.
    • when there are baby trottiers running around, we will all wear matching pj's to bed christmas eve, (which will make for super cute photos christmas morning).  yes, i realize this is cheesy... and my family will just have to deal with this.
  • movies:  continue watching the classic movies listed above (except i'm hereby removing "the christmas story".... ugh, never liked it).


christmas tree pickin'

new trottier christmas tradition:  drive to western north carolina to one of the many christmas tree farms, cut down the most beautiful tree, strap it to the car, then drive back to raleigh and decorate it.

we spent last weekend in boone north carolina.  we were mostly there to cut down a live frasier fir for our house this christmas... but, as you all know, the husband i can't visit a new town and not check out the local shopping and beer options.  we had fun perusing at mast general store and had an amazing dinner followed by a few ipa's at lost province brewing company.  if you live in north carolina and have never been to boone, you should definitely go.  no matter where you are, you're surrounded by beautiful rolling mountains.  there's lots of great restaurants, a few good breweries, and for the most part the people were really nice and laid back.  here's a few photos from the christmas tree farm we visited:

just a little tip from me to you:  don't wear nice shoes when picking out a christmas tree

yay!  that's our tree... and it's taller than cory!

all set to head back to raleigh

^^^that view!  excuse me, is this house for sale?

here she is in all of her glory!  needless to say, our house smells pretty good right now.  i love our (not so little) tree, and it really makes me wish christmas was 365 days a year.  what a fun little weekend excursion we had... makes me super excited for all the christmases to come!


oh, so thankful!

the husband and i had a wonderful time in his hometown of new baltimore, michigan over the week of thanksgiving.  it was full of donuts, cider, snow, jazz and food.  lots and lots of food!  here's a little video i made, and a few snapshots of our visit to michigan:

music by: ingrid michaelson

^^^my current road trip food of choice...

oh, these puffy tacos.... if anyone has any tips or recipes on how to help me recreate these at home, i will give you my firstborn.

can't wait until next time, new baltimore.  and thanks to cory's wonderful family for all of the hospitality and amazing company throughout the week.  we certainly do have so much to be thankful for.


mom's iced apple cake

one of my mom's holiday traditions that i look forward to every year, is when she bakes her delicious apple cake.  it's a staple around our house november thru december.  she's had this recipe as long as i remember, and i overindulge every year.  this year, the craving hit me way early (like, late summer early... hah)... and since my mom and dad live way too far away, i decided i would attempt to make it myself rather than waiting until i go home for christmas.  my mom was kind enough to share her recipe with me, so now i'm sharing it with you.  now, go get to bakin'...

mom's iced apple cake
yield: two 9-inch loaves

 3 eggs
3 cups diced apples (about 4-5 small/medium apples, i used rome)
 1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 3 cups all purpose flour
 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

for the glaze:
 1 and 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
 3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 dashes of nutmeg
2 dashes of cinnamon


 grease and flour two 9-inch loaf pans (pillsbury makes a non- stick spray with flour or you can spray with a non-stick butter spray); preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 mix the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. then add all the remaining ingredients except the apples, and mix on medium speed until well blended.  add the apples to the mix and fold them in with a large spoon (the batter will be thick).  once all of the apples are mixed in, divide and pour the batter equally into the loaf pans. bake for 60 minutes (or when a knife is inserted and comes out clean).  allow the cakes to cool, then top the cakes with the glaze.

for the glaze:
 sift powdered sugar into a bowl.  add the water and vanilla extract, and mix with a spoon until you reach a smooth consistency.  add the nutmeg and cinnamon and mix until blended.  drizzle the glaze over the cakes (if the glaze is too stiff, add a a few more drops of water).  allow 30 minutes or so for the glaze to set, then enjoy!

just a tip: my mom says this is the kind of cake that actually gets better with age, so all of the flavors can marry.  so you can even make them a day or two ahead of time before giving to family and friends and they will be even more amazing.