Some holiday highlights:
- Mr. Remarkable Monkey's company holiday dinner, where we enjoyed a fabulous meal at Ocean Prime. We'd never had the opportunity to dine there before... it's a bit out of our budget except for very special occasions... so it was a real treat with the boss picking up the tab. I also finally got to meet most of Mr. RM's coworkers. A pretty nice bunch of folks. Best thing I ate that night? Well, everything was delicious, but the crab cakes were the best I've ever had! Mostly crab, very little breading, and with a light and crispy panko crust. Mmmm! We'll definitely go back when we can.
- I managed to get almost all my packages in the mail by the mailing deadlines, thought admittedly I was scrambling to beat the last-minute rush. Two casualties: a package to my brother STILL remains to be sent, and I didn't finish knitting a blanket for a relative with a new baby. Oh well... that's what cold weather in January is for, right?
- Speaking of cold weather, we had very little of that in December here. Most days, the high temperatures were well above normal. Some folks don't like it, and complain that it doesn't feel like Christmas. It sure feels like Christmas to me... like Christmas in the wonderfully subtropical state I chose to live in! If you insist that it has to be cold at Christmas, you probably shouldn't live in Florida. I loved the warm weather! We're having record cold temps tonight... not really diggin' it, but it will help me appreciate the 70 degree temps we'll have by the end of the week even more.
- Made three batches of buckeyes (peanut butter balls). That's 300 buckeyes... and it's a bit of a chore to make them. I don't even eat them myself... they're too sweet for me... but lots of friends and family clamor for them every year, so...
- Our pals who are living in Malaysia on a two-year work assignment were stateside for the holidays. They managed to squeeze some time into their hectic schedule to meet up with some of us for dinner one night. It was great to see them and catch up, and hear about their adventures in Penang!
- Scored a ridiculous deal at HoneyBaked Ham. We went in to pick up a ham for our Christmas Even open house, and asked for one about nine pounds or so. (Mr. RM wanted me to get a big one so we could freeze some of it for later.) The lady behind the counter came out with a huge ham, and said, "Here's what we're gonna do... we've got way too many 11-pound hams, so we'll sell you an 11-pound ham at the 9-pound price if you'll take it." Oh hell yeah!! Can't pass up a deal like that! I'll be honest, though... right now, I am sick to death of ham. It may a while before I'm ready to thaw out some of that deliciousness.
- I lost a $30 AMC gift card that I purchased as a gift for Mr. RM. I have no idea where it is. It either got accidentally thrown out with some bags when I was gift wrapping stuff, or I put it in a "safe place" somewhere, and it may never been seen again. On the bright side, while I was tearing the house apart looking for it, I DID find a Target gift card in an old birthday card from my bro-in-law!
- Though my sister-in-law wanted to host Christmas Day dinner at her house, she didn't want to cook the turkey. So Mr. RM and I cooked up a 23 pounder Christmas morning, and with some advice from a wise coworker, we figured out how to pack it in a big cooler and transport it across town. That was an adventure in itself, and quite comical trying to maneuver a hot turkey into a cooler! It looked great when it came out of our oven, and we managed to pack it up unscathed. Unfortunately, my parents-in-law got behind schedule, and arrived about an hour and half late to dinner. The turkey had to go into the oven to maintain a safe temperature while we waited for them, and got a bit dried out by the time we sat down to eat. Oh well... we had already opened a few bottles of wine, so most of us were half in the bag and didn't mind so much. That's what gravy is for!
- Had to laugh when, while I was reheating casseroles for the delayed Christmas Dinner, the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole puffed up, hit the heating element, and caught on fire. After I pulled out the pan and blew the flames out (hey... some people LIKE their toasted marshmallows flambeed!), Mr. RM made the following declaration: "You know how people say a man marries his mother? Well, Mrs. RM lost a Christmas gift and burned dinner... yep! Just like Mom!" I would have been mad it if hadn't been so funny. Or maybe it was just the wine.
- Watched "Casablanca" on TCM for the jillionth time the Tuesday after Christmas. I love that movie. I could watch it a jillion more times. It was actually a little chillly that day, so I curled up on the sofa with the dog, a lunch of leftover party food from our Christmas Eve open house, and a plethora of holiday cookies. Heaven. (One of my favorite bits... love Claude Rains in this!)
- I got to have lunch with Mr. RM at our favorite restaurant, Red Mesa, two Fridays in a row! We were both off on the Friday before Christmas, and stopped on the way to the ham store. I was off the Friday before New Year's, and Mr. RM was able to leave work at noon, which presented another opportunity to indulge. Since he started his new job last spring, we rarely get to have lunch together anymore due to inhibitive geography, so it was a nice treat. If you're ever in the Tampa Bay area, I can highly recommend Red Mesa. I've never had anything there that wasn't delicious. Try the sangria, too!
- Had a low-key New Year's Eve at home with Mr. RM. I had intended to drop by and visit with a couple former coworkers (one from out of town) at an open house, then get home early so we could have a nice dinner and Mr. RM could watch the hockey game. Unfortunately, I didn't realize the hockey game started at 5:00 and not 7:30 as I had thought. So I didn't make it over to see my pals. And then Mr. RM got a little pissy because he put our big fat ribeye on the grill without realizing I had turned on the back burner to finish of the potatoes, and the steak got a little charred on one side. (I thought it was still delicious.)
- We started the year by sharing a big ol' pot of black eyed peas and a mess of collard greens with some friends. I gotta say... I DO make some damn tasty collard greens. No burned marshmallows!
Now, if only I could find that dang AMC gift card......