This year, we traveled over the holidays again for the first time in years. I took the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s off and we flew down to Southern California to spend the holidays with my mother-in-law.
We arrived on Friday evening, she had dinner ready (a delicious Zuppa Toscana) and later, I helped her finish the puzzle advent calendar that she received as a gift in December. What a great way to start the holiday weekend!
I did a little workout on Saturday morning and then Jon and I ran some last-minute errands in the early afternoon. I was honestly surprised (again) by how empty Trader Joe’s was, two days before Christmas. I expected a lot more people. Either people are much more organized this year, or the rush had already happened in the morning.
My mother-in-law and I went for a short walk in the afternoon. She’s trying to get some movement in but is often tired from her chemo treatment, so she went back home after 15 minutes and I extended my walk through the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights.
We ordered pizza for dinner (because there was going to be so much more cooking over the next few days) and then watched a British mystery on TV.
I started Christmas Eve morning off with a short run around the neighborhood. It’s always nice to get a little workout in. After a hot shower, I got working in the kitchen. I baked some fresh cheddar-chive scones and then at 11 am Jon’s brother and his family came over for a Christmas brunch. It was nice to see and spend time with our two nephews (13 and 8).
They left in the early afternoon, just in time for me to get in touch with my side of the family, who was gathered at my sister’s house for Christmas Eve. I spent a little over an hour with them via FaceTime. I am so thankful for the technology that makes it possible to virtually sit at my family’s dinner table.
In the afternoon, I started preparing our Christmas Eve dinner. We originally had planned a three-course meal, but we had already been eating so much during brunch that my mother-in-law suggested saving the appetizer for the next day. I prepared Züricher Geschnetzeltes (Zurich Ragout) with homemade bread dumplings (my mom’s recipe) and roasted green beans.
After dinner, we moved over to the couch and watched “A Christmas Carol” (an old version) while I worked on my new knitting project.
I also need to share, I received this mug from my mother-in-law for Christmas. Isn’t it hilarious? I first only noticed the carrot on the bunny’s head, but upon further inspection, the birds all have vegetables on their heads, too. It’s so whimsical :)
I also got a Cashmere sweater (in teal! It’s so soft and beautiful) and a bath gift set. My BIL and SIL got us some super-fancy chocolates from Chocolate Maya in Santa Barbara.
We slept in a little bit and then I got myself a cup of coffee and sat on the patio in the sun for a while. I called my uncle in Germany and in the early afternoon, Jon, his mom and I went down to the Ventura Pier to go for a little walk in the sunshine. It was beautiful outside.
In the afternoon, I knitted and watched “It’s a Beautiful Life” – one of my must-see movies every year. I love it so much.
For dinner, my mother-in-law prepared the Coquilles St. Jacques that we skipped the previous day. I remember that she had made the dish before – years ago – and I loved it. It’s so tasty. We also finally had a piece of German Cheesecake (Schmandkuchen) that I had prepared a dessert.
The 2nd day of Christmas
On the “2nd day of Christmas” (which is an official holiday in Germany and which we take very seriously around here), I got up early and went for a run at the beach. Can it get better than that?
It was a bit gloomy, but the temperatures were perfect for a run. There was a high surf advisory for Ventura this week and the waves were a little crazy. The tide was super high up on the beach and when I ran up to Marina Park, I saw waves crash over the path that leads out to Soter’s Point.
And on Thursday, as I found out a few days later, a rogue wave swept over the wall of the observation zone at Pierpoint Beach, right around where I had parked two days prior. I am glad I wasn’t down there at the time.
My mother-in-law and I went for a little drive up to Ojai in the late morning and had lunch at Agave Maria’s Restaurant & Cantina. Nothing wrong with sitting in the sun and having some chips and salsa, if you ask me.
We walked up and down Ojai Avenue and checked out the shops. I hadn’t been to Ojai in a few years and it’s been nice to see that many of the little shops survived the pandemic.
We got back home around 3:30 pm and while my mother-in-law rested upstairs, I turned on the TV and watched the end of National Lampoon’s Christmas and then Elf while I knitted. Can you believe that my mother-in-law had never seen Elf? The movie is 20 years old! It’s so funny how some movies are more popular with some people than others.
I prepared a Gnocchi Pan Sheet dinner for Jon and his mom in the evening and I finished the last leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner (three bread dumplings with mushroom sauce – I couldn’t let it go to waste). Later, we watched another British detective show and with that, we wrapped up the official Christmas holidays. It was low-key and cozy, just how I like it.
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As always, the cards that I received over the last few weeks were a highlight of the holiday season. Thanks so much to everyone who sent out cards this year. It’s been so nice to hear from all of you.