Winter Wonderland

In the midst of Winter,
I found there was,
Within me,
An invincible Summer.
//Albert Camus

Winter is in full swing here in New England and up until about last weekend it had been relatively mild, albeit VERY cold, but hardly any snow thus far. That streak broke this week when #Blizzard2015 hit on Tuesday, shutting down the State for a good 24 hours, but all in all it didn't end up being as bad I was expecting it to be. We still got a good 14-18 inches of snow, but it was no where near the amount we had in the big storm a few years ago. Several events and happenings have taken place since getting back from Hawaii, so I just wanted to give a quick recap/photo dump of my Winter so far. After getting back from Hawaii it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit... but I did my best and got our christmas tree up and the house decorated. We have a fake tree, so I was happy to have my favorite candle on hand- the Frasier Fir scent by Thymes Fragrances- to give the effect of a real tree! It smells SO GOOD and I highly recommend their candles.

Nick went away for a weekend in Mid-December to Baltimore for the Army Navy game with a group of his friends, so while he was gone I got sneaky and decided to give him an early Christmas gift. There is a thin wall in his kitchen and he had mentioned at one point that it would be cool to have a chalkboard wall there someday. He has a ton of work still to do on the house, so I knew it was something that was on the back burner/end of his list. I though that it would make a nice gift to surprise him with the chalk wall so that the kitchen would be complete! I got the can of paint from Home Depot for only about $10, and a pack of colored chalk for about $3. So aside from time (only took about two hours), it was a pretty inexpensive gift! I painted two coats and let it dry for about 45 minutes between each coat. Once I was done it had to sit for about 2-3 days before using chalk on it, which worked out because he way away anyways and I did it on a Friday night. I had to swear his roommate to secrecy, but I think he was surprised and liked it a lot! Hopefully this year we can hone our chalk drawing skills to create some cool stuff. Nick drew a Christmas tree on it and it came out really cute.

 That same weekend, my cousin and her family had their Annual Christmas Party that I have been going to for as long as I can remember. They moved from Mass to CT full time over the last year, so this was the first time the party was held at the newly built CT house, and I have to say it was one of the best they have had so far!

 My cousin Jen is on the right, she is getting married later this year and the three of us in the photo with her are some of her bridesmaids! She has 6 in total.

 The kitchen in the new house is just beautiful! And the perfect layout for entertaining.
 A beautiful winter sunset on the water. I love how they decorated their dock with string lights!

 Partying in the was chilly!

 Karaoke went on until about 2am- my Mom was the "Star" of the show, she wouldn't leave the stage!

 The parents and Fireball... this can't end well!
 The next morning my Mom wanted to go take a walk on the beach behind the old Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford. It has been abandoned almost my whole life, but sits on some of the most gorgeous shoreline properly in all of CT. They FINALLY have made steps towards demolishing the building and turning it into a State park that can actually be used and enjoyed. It is a really creepy place, and is rumored to be totally haunted. We used to sneak in as teenagers and it is EXTREMELY scary! It started out as a Tuberculosis hospital in the 30's and was later converted to a sanatorium/insane asylum until being shut down in the late 80's due to mysterious deaths and malpractice claims. The building literally looks as if one day everyone just dropped what they were doing and elft. Food is left out, notebooks and records are everywhere, murals of old disney characters are on the walls, it's really creepy.
 But look at the views it has! Unobstructed ocean front property. The beach has a lot of good sea glass on it, so my Mom wanted to take a stroll to try and find some, and she ended up with a few really nice pieces and unique colors.


 Not a place I want to hang out for any extended period of time....

 But, they do have a really cool weathervane!
 My cousin Hank stopped in that Sunday night on his way from Yale back to Colorado for Xmas break. We love having him in CT and it has been great getting to see him more often! He is actually coming up this weekend again for the Superbowl with his girlfriend Kat.
 Nick and I continued the epic saga of taking down all of the wallpaper in his house. EVERY room is covered! It's finally all down, and he is just starting the painting process now on the last three rooms. I know he cannot wait for it to be done! Major life lesson= NEVER buy a house with wallpaper! If I never see another piece of wallpaper again it will be too soon.
 Under the wallpaper, however, we did find some gems. Nicks grandfathers handwriting was in tons of different places on the walls, and after his passing last year, it was a really nice find and brought a smile to Nick and his families faces. We took some photos of the handwriting and ended up making a pretty nice art/photo piece to give to Nick's Mom for Christmas, she loved it!
 Before Christmas on one of our days off, we decided to do a day trip to NYC to see all of the Christmas decor and to just walk around and see the sights. Nick's sisters husband marcel had never been, so it was nice to be able to show him around as the three of us have all been multiple times. First stop was Rockefeller Center!

 And can't leave out a quick walk through Times Square!

 Stopping in at a hotel to get warm and search for a place to eat.
 Lunch at a nice Irish pub in the theater district.
 Walking to the empire state building after a jaunt through Central park and a stop and FAO Schwartz.

 Cab ride down to Little Italy.

 Best mojito ever! And at a Bar in Little italy, of all places. The Bartender was really great!

 We then walked form little italy to the West Village, passing by a nice view of the freedom tower. We ate at Aria in the West Village and it was really yummy- try the dates!
 Last stop for a quick drink before heading back home! It was such a fun day. We did so much in a short amount of time, and in very cold weather!

 Then it was Christmas time! Lindsay make me this EPIC cross-stitch of my blog logo. I absolutely love it!
 I LOVE wrapping gifts- it's so fun to me! Mixing and matching paper and bows... I love crafting!
 Christmas Eve-Eve I got to see some of my best High School friends for a night out. My Mare Bear was home from LA and Chelsea was home from DC. I was such a happy gals to have my besties home! We always make the best of our short visits and try to see each other as much as we can over the holidays.

Chels and I have been best friends for twenty years now, and Meredith is going on 14 years. So thankful to have such great friendships that will last a lifetime.
 And then Harry came! Another dear friend from our High School Gamenight Crew.
 Some Class of '06 representing at the Pub II! Cannot even fathom that our TEN YEAR REUNION will be next year.... oy vey.

 Christmas day! I woke up at home Christmas morning to exchange gifts and hang out with my family.

 Our annual Christmas morning mimosa selife! Love my family!
 Some of my gifts from my family included this awesome hand knit hat and mug from my Aunt.
 And an Instax Polaroid camera from my Mom! Can't wait to use it!
 Mom made the famous monkey bread, but it ended up as a bit of a fail... didn't let it cook long enough and the dough was raw. So we had to put it back in the oven, but then all of the gooey goodness seeped out and onto the pan. It was still yummy, but didn't look as pretty as usual... oh well!
 Mid-day I headed over to nick's Mom to exchange gifts with him and his family. Nick was standing in the kitchen by the window and I was just so happy to be there I ran over to give him a big hug. After a few seconds he said, "Do you want to exchange gifts now?"... I said sure! And just as I started to head towards the living room he pulled me closer and kind of motioned for me to look outside. I was still CLUELESS but looked out and saw a big beautiful periwinkle beach cruiser bike on his deck with a red bow on it. It still took a few seconds to register but then it hit me... "IS THAT FOR ME!?!?". And with his nod he instantly won the best boyfriend ever award. I have wanted one for so long, and this is the most perfect one I have ever seen! The perfect color, and it even came with a basket already attached. I named it Peri and I am SO excited to ride it all summer long. I had a perma-smile for the rest of the day. He also got me a Pentax K1000 film camera that I had been wanting forever as well. He is the best gift giver! Always so thoughtful and attentive to the little things I have mentioned over the years.

After opening the rest of our gifts, we headed over to his Great Aunt Helen's for a big family Christmas dinner. I love his whole family and they are all super close. He has like 12 cousins that are all around the same age, and we all have a blast together hanging out and playing games. Helen's basement is one of the coolest places on Earth, so much so that Nick and I have coined a saying in that whenever we are out somewhere and see something cool/quirky, we refer to it as "Helen's basement". Think old signs, photos, posters, quirky decor, mannequins, lighting etc.

We always end up playing a game called "Clapper", and they have a really cool home made version from an old drawer. It is a betting/numbers/dice game and it really easy but fun! 
Dan heavily concentrated on his round! The more people playing, the more you can win each round! We usually play $1 per round, but you can do any amount really.
 After Aunt Helen's we went back to Kat's house to continue the cousin game night. Nick's Step-brother Adam taught us two AWESOME new games- relay charades and Mafia. We can't wait to play mafia again and are going to play over our birthday weekend coming up. It is a really fun group game of strategy. It is kind of like "survivor" actually... outwit, outplay, outlast!
The Friday after Christmas we finally had our Annual Holiday Gamenight Crew get together. We had almost a full bunch this year, but sadly were missing Mike, Kev and Meg. We started the night off at Merideth's with some cocktails and reminiscing, and then headed out afterwards to West Hartford Center for a night out on the town.

We usually take our traditional picture on the chair, but if we don't have everyone we do this setup as a backup. 

And then we added in the significant others! Nick had unfortunately had to leave early to go to work, so he missed the photo op.

My girls!

Ended up seeing my good friend Caitlin out that night as well! She moved to Boston last year so I haven't got to see her as much and was really happy to run into her unexpectedly!
Saturday I just kind of hung out and took Peri for a test ride around my neighborhood. Can't wait for summer....
Sunday morning I headed up to Marshfield for the day to attend Lea's Moms bridal shower. Her wedding was going to be on New Years Eve later that week, so we had a really nice girls brunch to celebrate the bride-to-be. Janie is a second Mom to me and I love her so much, wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Tuesday night I got together for dinner and drinks with another group of girlfriends. We had a blast taking tons of selfie's with Keanna's new Hisypix device. We ate at Maggie McFly's in Glastonbury and had a bunch of different appetizers and chatted the night away until we were just about the last people there. So great to see them!

Wednesday night it was New Years Eve and the big wedding day for lea's Mom Janie and her fiance Paul. I headed up to Massachusetts straight from work and thank to a rollover accident on the Mass Pike, a two hours drive turned into 4 and a half.... just my luck. I made it on time by the skin of my teeth and had just enough time to get ready and hang out with the ladies.

We had a large suite to get ready in at the hotel in Plymouth, so all the girls did hair and makeup and had mimosas. 
The beautiful bride and her daughter!

I brought my big camera to take some photos during the ceremony and of their family.

Lea and I both felt very Glitz & Glammy... perfect for NYE!

I was sad to be dateless for the night as my police officer man had to be on duty for the night! I wish he could have been there but definitely understand when duty calls. His Grandma got me this gorgeous little clutch and it was perfect for the wedding, I was so glad to get to use it.

We took some festive photos in the hotel lobby before getting on the bus to take us to the wedding venue. The wedding and reception were both being held at The Venus in Marshfield. Janie is the function manager there and Paul is the head cook, so what better place to have the wedding than the place that brought them together. The had the WHOLE building to themselves for the night and the guest list topped 400!

Party on the bus! Felt just like ole college times...
First dance!
The happy couple! Love you!
They had a big balloon drop from the ceiling at the strike of midnight. It was really cool!
A sweet mother-daughter moment.
We had so much fun at the party just laughing and dancing the night away.

A bunch of Lea's college friends came and it was like a Westfield reunion! So much fun!
The next day they had rented out the whole indoor pool area at the hotel for a day-after party. We had a big brunch and then headed to the pool for mimosas, etc. It was SO much fun and such a great idea and nice way to spend the day together after the wedding. Everyone was laughing and joking and pushing each other in the pool. It was tons of fun!

Later that night we went out to dinner in Plymouth at East Bay Grill. It was really yummy and a nice time with the family.

Hanging out at the Hotel bar after dinner.
Then, on Saturday, we celebrated my Mom's 50th and Claire's 75th joint birthday party. Claire is my Mom's best friend Maryanne's Mom, who we have known as a family for 20+ years now. It was a really great night to celebrate to wonderful women in our lives! We had tons of appetizers, food, and drinks and I was so full my stomach hurt, but it was all so good!

All of the lovely ladies on Maryanne's side of the family.
Nick came too! Love this picture of us :-)
Nothing better than family gathered around the table!
Birthday cake time for the special birthday ladies. 50 and 75! happy birthday to you!

All of the ladies in attendance that night!

After the dinner party we stopped at Plan B in Glastonbury for a few drinks, including this "pistachio" shot which really does taste exactly like pistachio!
Nick and I booked a trip to New Orleans!! We are going over St. Patricks and can't wait. neither of us have ever been so we are excited to get to explore a new city together.
On Tuesday January 13th it was my Mom's actual 50th birthday, so we had a small celebration dinner at home with cheese fondue- her fave! It was such a nice night with the fam, we looked at old photos and told stories and just sat around the table laughing our butts off.
No cake for Mom, just her favorite Pasta Chut from Mozzicato's Bakery. It's is a ricotta filled pastry that she loves and always requests for her birthday.

Happy 50th Momma!

Wouldn't be a proper birthday without chugging from a bottle of unmarked banana liqueur they got in St. Marten last November. Ew!!
I christened the chalk wall at Nick's with a January drawing for New Years. I think it came out pretty good for my first attempt! We love anchors, so that definitely had to be incorporated into the drawing somehow. 
January 17th was my college roommate Deanna's birthday, so we went out for the night to celebrate!

Deanna and her boyfriend Kyle, such a nice guy! he was the DD for the night and took us crazy gals all the way to BOTH casinos and back.
Dinner at Margaritaville in Mohegan. Her parents met us there, as well as a few other of her friends. We had some yummy mexican food and drinks, and surprised Deanna with a nice big birthday shot. 
She was less than pleased!
And ever more pleased when we surprised her with a cake and pastries and sang happy birthday. She just LOVES public attention, if you can't tell...!

I.WANT.THIS. Rice Krispie lovers dream. Birthday is this Friday.... just sayin.
After dinner we headed to Foxwoods and went to the Scorpion Bar for some drinks and dancing. Definitely a fun night out with the girls! Just like old times, except we can no longer hang like we used to... 3am is REALLY a struggle nowadays. 

Not sure what Kyle is doing here.... but it was funny.
All in all it was a great night, and a good winter season so far with lots of activities and places to be/things to do. I definitely try my best to not let this cold awful weather hold me back from having fun and getting out and doing activities. This coming weekend is Nick and my birthday weekend celebration, so my next post will likely be a big recap of that! Thanks for following along and I hope this winter is treating you well so far. 

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