Cheese-y / Cheesy / Coping mechanisms

Home for the holidays for my last holidays at home

It is apt that yesterday was my one-year engagement-versary, because 2012 marks my final holiday season pre-army wifedom. Which means it’s my final year-end that will take place in one stable setting near all my family and friends for who-knows-how-long. Marrying into the military is a lot like graduating from high school, just with more machine guns and fewer adults warning you about how easy it is to get alcohol poisoning in college.

So to combat the would-be graduation anxiety and nervousness (if I thought it was overwhelming to try on my cap and gown for the first time, I’m not sure how I’ll prevent myself from throwing up when I go to get my wedding dress fitted), I threw myself face-first into making sure my holiday season would be perfect and magical and nothing would go wrong because I’m about to move to Tennessee and my only real experience with Tennessee is reading Tennessee Williams plays and, although I like them a lot, none of those really end well SO I NEED THIS RIGHT NOW.

Which basically just involved a lot of rageful baking. Accompanied by wild sobbing anytime I saw a diamond commercial or a preview for the “Sister Wives” season finale. If my life were like that movie “Simply Irresistible” where Sarah Michelle Gellar is a chef, and a magical crab helps her cook her emotions into her food and everybody who eats it floats into the clouds or cries into their salads, my Christmas gifts would have been really, really excellent. And I’d probably be under some kind of FBI investigation for suspicion of baking hallucinogens into my peppermint bark.

As it is, however, I’m without a magical crab or a filmography that includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so my gift recipients had to settle for non-narcotic baked goods.

Christmas gifts

That’s just a sample of all my angsty baking gifts. Everything is from-scratch and DIY, minus those candy cane kisses, but the bag was sort-of hard to open since my hands were all greasy from molding dough all day, so even that was more difficult than you’d expect. I made two versions of the pumpkin spice Rice Krispies: one in pops for my office cookie exchange, and one in truffles for easier personal-gift packaging. Try not to read too far into how three-quarters of my baked goods were ball shapes.

In addition to all the scarves I sent to Afghanistan, I’ve been keeping my hands busy by equipping as many people as possible with yarn-warmth this winter. (Keeping my hands busy is important, because otherwise I would be STUFFING MY FACE with the above baked goods and then not going to the gym. Which is totally what I intend to do after the wedding, but not before my dress fitting.)

Draculaura scarf

Roommate ear warmers

Penguins scarf

That’s my to-be niece in her Draculaura scarf (in case you’re not WITH THE TIMES, Draculaura is a Monster High character, who despite being a vampire is also vegan, because why the hell not), with earmuffs I didn’t get her but wish I could share with her; my roommates modeling their ear warmers; and a Pittsburgh Penguins scarf for my to-be nephew, who asked me to put together his street hockey goal on Christmas and it only took me two tries plus his mom’s help.

In addition to giving, this year my receiving was pretty intense. Among things I don’t have pictures of (including a Kindle Paperwhite…which is my first-ever e-reader and I’m almost too overwhelmed by it to talk about it yet, some fantastic/colorful kitchen accessories, and a pink leopard-print pajama set THANK YOU MICHELLE), I’m still obsessing over how spoiled I am; this year I raked in…

This Jessica Simpson bag from my parents that I’m too afraid to use because I love it too much to expose it to weather:

Jessica Simpson bag

This leopard-print wine and martini accessory set from Jonathan’s Dad, complete with a bottle from my favorite winery. Which will be set on the table for Jonathan’s welcome-home dinner, accompanied by a place card that says “welcome to your new life”:

Leopard wine

And this the-picture-doesn’t-do-it-justice locket from Jonathan. Although it was my choice to put the cheesy engagement photo in it, so don’t blame him for that:

Hanukkah locket

And of course the holidays are not the holidays without as many menorahs as possible. Especially giant electric light-up menorahs to display in your windows.

Menorah and Christmas tree

Electric menorah

Menorah time

I don’t think I always look like such a bitch when I’m lighting a menorah. But who knows.

Since the gifts and the mood lighting were officially perfect, I was right to have optimism for the holiday spirit during my time at home.

Batman hooded towel

Hanukkah decorations

Bieber Xmas

My to-be nephew showing off an extremely cute trend for little-kid towels, my parents’ Hanukkah decorations that I’ve seen every year since I was born, and the greatest gift of all: three Bieber faces. The top Bieber doesn’t appear to be very excited about the holidays, but maybe that’s because his head is surrounded by clip-art snowlfakes. Next year I want wrapping paper that has Justin Bieber heads, instead of flames, floating above all nine candles on a menorah. I NEED TO CALL THE PATENT OFFICE.

The holiday food started early, when I gifted Jacki a basket full of cheese, and then convinced her to let me help her eat it immediately.

Cool yule celebrations

Christmas cheese

Cheese. Served with wine and holiday decorations. Best enjoyed with a reindeer headband.

Fortunately, the rest of the holiday food did not require reindeer headbands.

Tostones and brussel sprouts

The holidays are the perfect time for tostones. Because every time is the perfect time for tostones. And that beautiful brussel sprouts stalk and spread were courtesy of Gretchen‘s cooking skillz.

Holiday meal

This meal is brought to you by my mom. Who hadn’t planned on cooking a big holiday dinner until that morning (Christmas Eve), and pulled it off spectacularly. Unfortunately the grocery store was out of both chicken and turkey livers, so she had to make the stuffing completely vegetarian. IT WAS DELICIOUS, and had no aftertaste of deceit.

The best way to enjoy holiday food is with holiday family.

Tengo familia

And when you’re my holiday family, it involves watching animal videos on your smart phone.

Michelle with bows

When you’re Jonathan’s family, it involves a lot of bows. I approve.

Skeptical Rinnie

Hanukkah Elvis

Hanukkah Rinnie

(These animals are my family too.)

And the cherry on top of this holiday cake? My last holiday season in Maryland came with a white Christmas.

White Christmas

Snow and my face

Corgi white Christmas

BRING IT, 2013.

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