Living for the Moment

I had five weeks off of work. Ten days during that time were spent in Georgia with my family. And for the first time in a while, my camera never came out of my suitcase. And my iPhone camera was almost entirely unused as well save for one sunset. I enjoyed every minute with family and enjoyed Georgia, but I didn’t document every second.

Call me a twenty-something, but I’m all about having time where I’m just living. Not trying to capture the best Instagram shot or photos for this here blog. It went great – I had a great time. And on another recent travel adventure, I brought my camera only for a select activity. I’m digging this living thing.

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My other home for the Holidays – Georgia

The place that I run to when I need a break from the real world is a little southern wonderland tucked in the hilly lands on the outskirts of Atlanta. While I couldn’t spend everyday in Georgia where my parents live, it is my favorite place to vacation to when I really want to get away. I love waking up here and going to sleep here – a full rejuvenation happens a few times a year in these woody hills. 

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Spending Christmas here for the past – what is it four years now? No, three – is an absolute joy! I’m obsessed with the little black creatures that wake me up every morning and from long naps by the fireplace.

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Cooking with my dad is always a favorite – and this Christmas Day was no different. We made German Pancakes (thanks, Robin, for an amazing recipe that was a huge crowd pleaser) and thick cut bacon from the butcher on my dad’s new cast iron cookware, a gift from yours truly. And check out those egg-making skills from earlier in the week at home! The man has multiple pans to make eggs in whatever style desired. Over-medium for me, sunny-side up for him and basted for my grandma. Whatta champ. 

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The coffee consumed and the time spent shopping with my mom is also a favorite memory from this holiday. We go to stores and laugh, laugh, laugh, catch up on life and enjoy each other’s company. Then we run home and wrap everything! I didn’t shop for a single gift prior to landing in Georgia and I’ll be following that method of gift shopping from this day forward. It is way more fun and I get to spend time with my mama!

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Somehow I don’t have a single picture of my mom and I from Christmas…that’s going to have to fixed next year! But I’ll end this sunset on my last full day at home to remind of the place I’ll return to in a few months. 

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and cheers to the New Year!

New traditions: Christmas Eve Party

Can’t help starting this post with the latest addition to the family, Ms. Maggie and her pretty Christmas bow. 

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My parents explained to my brother and I that the Newc family (dad’s family, see where I get my blog name from?) had a wonderful Christmas Eve party every year. Thinking back on my childhood, I remember getting all dressed up and going to grandparents in Wilmette on Christmas Eve and hobnobbing with my family and their friends. Mixing of memories or my true youthful Christmas Eves – not sure…

My grandfather owned a boat with a wonderful man that taught himself seven languages who I remember being fascinated by as a kid. My grandmother is a silhouette artist and the house was always full of her work and sailing antiques. We would change the ink in the barometer (maybe? Papa – correct me here!) and eat cheese and crackers and drink rootbeer – soda was a treat we didn’t have often at home. Haven’t thought of these things until my parent’s Christmas Eve party this year!

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There is something wonderfully relaxing about spending the day before Christmas with friends, new neighbors and old, and family, sharing in family food traditions and holiday cheer without the pressure of a format sit down dinner. Crowd favorites were baked brie with orange marmalade, homemade Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches, spiral ham and Waldorf salad. Cheesecake from the store and homemade brownies rounded out the evening and everyone left full, happy and in good spirits for the holiday ahead. 

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Now possibly the best part to all of this — Christmas Day had zero pressure. No rush to get ready for fancy dinner, no rush to do anything except reading the books left under the tree by Mr. Clause. This is the first year that I can remember that we didn’t have my dad’s famous lasagna on Christmas Day, but he made it the day after so all is forgiven. This might be my new favorite holiday tradition – a Christmas Eve party followed by a relaxing Christmas Day spent in pajamas. 

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We’ll wrap this with Mr. Calvin, the king dog in the house. What are your favorite traditions? How are they evolving as you grow up?

A very merry cat lady Christmas

It’s the second week of January and I’m procrastinating putting away the tree and decorations. So instead, I’m sharing my family’s Christmas pictures – starting with a cat-nip-fueled photosession with my favorite cat, Tibbles. Drug-induced haze before 9 a.m. on Christmas morning? Making my drug and alcohol therapist mom proud.

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I spy a cat in the presents. 

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I spy a cat running away from the scene of the crime. 

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I spy a high cat.

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This mouse will not survive.

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Yum. Mouse tail. 

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I spy a cat coming back for more.  

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And then this lady shows up ruining all the fun and stealing the mouse toy. You win some, you lose some, according to the cat.