Two Christmases

by Sarah on December 31, 2010 · 8 comments

There is a common misconception that when you are a kid in a divorced family, you get to have two of everything: two sets of clothes, two rooms, two dogs, etc. I blame Karen Brewer from Babysitters Little Sister book series by Ann M. Martin for this. I read every one of those books (and The Babysitters Club, obviously) growing up and it totally influenced my thoughts of divorced families, even though I was living my own story.

And while I did have two houses, two dogs, and two toothbrushes growing up, I shared one of my rooms with my little sister, and I most certainly did not have two entire sets of clothes. I carried my clothes back and forth from house to house in a suitcase, because once I hit middle school I needed to have my “certain outfits” with me at all times; there was NO way I’d leave anything behind and risk potential fashion emergency.

We did get to have two birthday celebrations.

And two Christmases.

If I ever get married I’m going to be amazing at balancing multiple family holiday celebrations.

[I’ve never seen it, but that’s what this movie was about right?]

I’ve told you a lot about Christmas number one, including Mama Santa’s fabulously job stuffing my stocking and the food I helped prepare throughout the weekend at the beach. Right before I flew back to Austin, I had Christmas number two with Santa Dad.*

*I almost wrote Daddy Santa, but for some reason that sounds like what a stereotypical^ New England trust fund daughter (or Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl) would call him…and I am neither a New Englander, nor do I have a trust fund. (And I’m not Blair Waldorf either.)

^I also like to think I’m not stereotypical. :)


Christmas #2 happened on a random Wednesday evening, and we opened presents before dinner, rather than breakfast. Along with the usual “check from Grandma” and “check from Santa” [AKA “Dad never knows what to buy so he does the best he can with out lists and then just gives us money for the rest of his present budget”], I was SUPER excited to receive a new lens for my camera……that is made for low-light situations. Two or three different food bloggers I had met on different occasions had recently commented that I needed to get a 50 mm, f/1.8 fixed lens so I could stop worrying so much about lighting in restaurants…I’m excited to try it out!

It will go wonderfully with one of Mama Santa’s presents I’d already received:

A Joby Gorillapod flexible tripod!

It bends around so you can use it even if there isn’t a flat surface readily available…like if you are out mountain climbing or something. [Because you know how often I’m out mountain climbing….] I had even bought one for Santa Dad, since he’s a shutterbug, too.

In addition to new camera fun, I was excited to rip open wrapping paper and see this beautiful company name:Inside was a collection of Penzey’s Spices that were so excited to be in my possession they got up on the piano and started to sing Christmas carols!Black & Red Pepper Blend, Vietnamese Cinnamon (“Extra Fancy”…for “extra fancy” baking?)…and my FAVORITE Northwoods Seasoning!Along with a sample of what my stepsister loves……and my dad and stepmom’s absolute must-have for the kitchen. (In GIANT size!)Penzey’s and I clearly have similar beliefs, as evidenced by the bumper sticker they included for me:

If I put bumper stickers on my car, this would be the bumper sticker I want. Maybe I’ll just frame it and hang it on the wall in The Smart Kitchen?

And the heaviest (and perhaps most exciting) present, about which I had been warned I’d “definitely have to ship that home” since there was “no way it’d get carried on the plane”: A laaaaarge skillet with a super-tall edge and clear (!) lid, with which I will hopefully never again have my usual “man alive, this sauce/stew/creation just got way to big for it’s britches*” problem.

*britches = pan
Caroline (Sister Smart) modeled the new boots I had picked out for her……and Santa Dad modeled the hat our brother had sent to him…
[We told him there would clearly have to be time limits and occasion restrictions regarding this hat’s use.]
…and he started planning what to cook from the new cookbook I bought him:Then we took a lot of family pictures in various combinations of people for no apparent reason other than posterity.
Which, interestingly enough, we had done at Christmas #1 as well.Of course at Christmas #1, Sister Smart and I turned the camera on our (very weird) selves… 😉


The presents from Santa Dad didn’t stop with sauce pans and spices, however…because instead of a ‘re-do’ Christmas Dinner, I was “gifted” with my favorite dinner at home EVER: grilled pizza!

My dad uses his ancient (and from which all things grilled taste better than anywhere else) Weber kettle grill to cook the dough…
…and it puffs up into the most delicious, doughy goodness EVER. I have crust cravings for this often.
We top it off with whatever toppings are desired…
sauce + sausage + turkey pepperoni + fresh basil + chunks of mozzarella + Parmesan

And then it is baked in the oven until everything is melty and delicious! [We used to top it and then put it back on the grill, but it inevitably burnt and that was just no good. Finishing in the oven eliminates any potentially wasted pizza divinity.]

In addition to the more “standard” pizza….My stepmom is also “famous” (to me) for making Rachael Ray’s Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza.The chicken cooked in the buffalo sauce is alone one of the most delicious things ever, but put it on top of pizza with Monterey Jack and bleu cheese…well…I mean…WOW.I pretty much keep my fingers crossed every time I’m at home that we eat this. [And we usually do. :)]


We even managed to squeeze in a little holiday baking at Christmas #2. Faye had forgotten to make the South Beach Wholesome Oat Muffins she’d planned on, and asked if I’d do it while she went to pick up my stepsister from the airport.

Mission (or should I say muffin?) accomplished!

This recipe is super easy, although it does require you to use every mixing bowl you own (small, medium, AND large) as well as every size measuring cup and spoon.I followed the recipe exactly, except I added a whole mess of apple pie spice to make them extra special. :) [I can’t NOT alter a recipe people.]And, just as with all holiday baking, I was able to give some away. [Although I did have to say, “Sorry I accidentally crushed them on the plane” as I sheepishly handed them to the friend picking me up from the airport. ;)]

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Maria @ Oh Healthy Day December 31, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Santa Dad's hat is awesome!

Glad that both of your Christmases were great! I had quite a few to spend too: Christmas with my family, Christmas with Brandon's family, and Christmas with my friends. Phew – the holidays are exhausting :)

mrlew1 December 31, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Surely you'd also have a CMS bumpa sticka on your car if you had bumper stickers at all, yes?

Happy New Year! Mary

Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free January 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

HAPPY NEW YEAR"SSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! And Penzey's is the best-I used to have one a few blocks away from me :)

loveofbreakfast January 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

happy new year! looks like your fam had a fun time. the penzey gift is awesome!

Rachel January 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Happy New Year!

I have a that lens for my Nikon, but mine is a 35mm….I love it! So great for low light pictures!

Katrina January 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm

HI! You will LOVE and ADORE and have a hot affair with the fifty. It works wonders in restaurants and low light and is an excellent portrait lens. At the low end of f-stop (2.8ish), it creates a sharp face pic with that fuzzy background. It's also the main lens I use for food blogging pics.

Penzeys. I just recently discovered this wonderland of taste. I had heard about it from an old weight watcher chatboard, but never ordered online since I wanted to sniff before buying. We finally got one a couple of years ago and I went this past summer. Since then, I've blown through running shoe funds, cat food funds, and even power bill funds just to support my spice habit. I can eat by candlelight but I can't go back to McCormicks when I know how good Penzeys can be.
The Northwoods and Black/Red are amazing. I've yet to try Sunny Paris, but I'll add it to the lists. (Yes, that's plural lists. I have a list of must replenish NOW, Dreams of Penzeys, and When I Make My First Million Teaching in Public Schools in Rural Alabama list.)

It sounds like you had a great time with your family. Happy New Year

Laura @ Foodies Not Fatties January 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I have ALWAYS wanted to make a grilled pizza. Except I don't have a grill. I'll just have to live vicariously through your blog, so please keep making them!!

tehstotehara January 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I didn't even have 2 toothbrushes growing up. I toted that back and forth too. 😀

And my goodness, that pizza looks incredible.

Happy New Year! I'm glad I found your blog in 2010!

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