More Christmas

On Christmas Eve, my aunt and uncle’s friends and their four children joined us for the night. Since Sari and I were sleeping in a room directly below the living room, I fully expected to hear the thundering herd storming the tree around 5 am. Then, I woke up at 8:30 and there was silence. I poked my head out our bedroom door and one of the girls was sitting patiently on her bed while the younger one was still asleep. I assumed they must not know about Santa. Nope, they were just incredibly well-behaved and sweet children. The older kids patiently handed out the presents to the younger ones, helped them open them, and got excited over each toy. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

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Every child was very grateful for their gifts and they immediately shared with their siblings. If I ever have kids, I’m going to make those people write me a manual. Their kids were amazing. Things were so peaceful that the dogs had nothing to do but sleep.

After the kids opened their  gifts, my sister, mom, and I started on lunch.

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My aunt and uncle wanted Texas foods and, specifically, Texas cornbread. Apparently, cornbread can be wildly different. So, we whipped that up along with mashed potatoes, baked ham, broccoli and rice casserole, green beans, and a pumpkin pie. We kept fueled with Coca-Cola from Mexico which was a first for me. Even though it’s insanely popular in Austin, I never got around to trying it until now. Tastes like any ol’ Coke to me.

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After lunch, we decided to do some exercising before we left for home. Running didn’t really happen as planned again, but whatever. I quit eating and went outside. That should count for something.  The entire time I was straggling around like a dying elephant, I could not quit thinking about armies moving across those mountains during the Civil War. I just don’t know how anybody made it.

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Thankfully, it was so beautiful, that every step was worth it. I certainly wouldn’t mind a nice little log cabin up there. Especially come summertime. I would require a four month supply of food and toilet paper for the winter because I could barely drive when the roads were completely dry. Even though there wasn’t snow, we did find the most magnificent frost.

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It was so beautiful, and we were completely captivated by it. I’ve never seen frost on my car that isn’t anything more than a solid sheet of ice or slush. Well done, Georgia, well done.

When we got back to the house, the kids had set up one of their gifts and were making cotton candy.

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It was the perfect snack to get us all jacked up for seven hours in the car.

Blue Ridge Christmas

One of the best things about staying at my aunt and uncle’s is that they have about 900 rescue animals. It’s all day arms of an angel over here. They even have a sad one with one eye.

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They could be there own commercial. Although they are all very sweet, I have a pretty solid bond with this guy:

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We both have no sense of the space we take up or the things we knock over. He ran with me a little bit the first time, but he was not having it on day two. And neither were my legs. I went up one hill and it was like someone was eating my legs like spaghetti. I don’t know what that means exactly, but it felt like twisting forks. Went ahead and headed home pretty quickly.

After spending Christmas Eve with the puppies and not running, we had to get read to out for some family time. But, first, we took some really class photos.

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If that’s not some high-end modeling, then I don’t know what is. My parents also showed off their skills with the always popular prom party shot.

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Look how much fun they’re having! I’m still pretty surprised we aren’t in movies or on magazine covers.

After the photo session, we headed down the longest and most terribly winding road that has ever existed to my cousins’ house. It was a beautiful drive, but about 100% terrifying.

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How cool are those frost-covered trees!! It took me a long time to figure out that that wasn’t clouds. Mainly, the fact that there were almost no other clouds in the sky helped me reach my conclusion.

Anyway, for as long as I can remember we spent Christmas Eve with my cousins in Austin. Then, they very rudely just up and moved East. So, even though I’m still bitter, it was really nice to get to do that again. It’s also nice to have some people to decorate cookies with.

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I wasn’t very sure of my choice, but they turned out delicious. Sprinkles taste great in pretty shapes and in ugly shapes.

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That multicolored Christmas tree is all me. I had to eat it to destroy the evidence of my lack of talent.  One cookie is never enough, so I had some more.

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They were just laying there taunting me with their perfect powdered sugar frost. I also found some more large dogs that don’t know they weigh more than five pounds.

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Thuper speshul those two.

And we opened some gifts.

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How did they know I needed a festively-painted redneck wine glass??? HOW! After eating way too much, I packed up my cup and we headed back into the mountains to wait for Santa. Stay tuned…

Guten Morgen

If you’re celebrating Christmas today, then Merry Christmas to you! And if you aren’t, then happy Wednesday! At least it’s not still Monday.

After leaving the aquarium, we headed north through the rain, fog, and darkness and deep into the Georgia mountains to my aunt and uncle’s house. Last time we visited them they lived in the city and I had blonde hair.

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Things have changed, thankfully (for my hair at least).

When we woke up, we were surrounded by Blue Ridge beauty. I had not had a chance to run since Thursday since we had been driving so late into the night and I was worried about running in unfamiliar urban areas. So, I thought that a great way to enjoy the mountains would be to run on them. Okay, Cely.

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It was really beautiful and really terrible. I don’t know if it was the combination of all the eating and sitting I had been doing over the past few days, the elevation, or the fact that sometimes running up a mountain road is pretty much straight up, but it was a serious struggle.

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I only managed to go about 3 miles, and a good portion of that was walking. I also spent a lot of time hunched over with my hands on my knees trying to figure out if I was going to puke or meet Jesus.  But, I got out there and gave it a lot of effort and that’s about the best one can expect out of me athletically.

After I showered and got my hamstrings functioning again, we all loaded up and headed to the adorable little town of Helen to do some shopping. I just love a German-themed anything.

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We had some wonderful truffles, delicious bratwurst, some dark German beer, and even hit up a winery.

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Since I’m the only lush in my immediate family, it was nice to have my aunt and uncle there who don’t mind imbibing before noon. I bought a bottle of the Scarlett which was a delicious red blend and a white wine that tasted like summertime. We also hit up several antique shops where Sari and I found some very special headwear.

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Don’t spend much time searching for ladies more stylish than us, because you won’t find them. We spent a lot of time going back and forth as to whether we should buy them, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t nail down an appropriate place to wear those outside of our home. And that seemed kind of weird. What if the Jimmy John’s guy caught us in there in those things? That could be awkward.

We also went to a gristmill where we had some delicious local porridge and I found some high-gluten flour. I don’t just want gluten, I want all the gluten. They also had a mill stone that was over 133 years old that they still use to grind all of their corn. It was a really neat little spot.

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And then I bought honey. So much honey. And jam. And jelly. And preserves. And butters (not just butter, but multiple kinds of butter). I don’t know what the difference really is between jam, jelly, and preserves, but I’m going to find out.

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My news years resolution is pretty much “get diabetes” at this point.

After a long day of shopping, we wearily headed home. I immediately crashed into a chair where I was quickly joined by my best friend, Petey, who thinks he is a dainty little Chihuahua ballerina.

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Bardot, you better watch out. You might be getting a brother…

Big Basterds

After the World of Coca-Cola, we headed across the park to the Georgia Aquarium. Holy cow, that place is magnificent. I would like to live in there (without all of the people, of course).

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Sea dragons! These are a thing that exist!! I couldn’t believe it!

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I wish I could come back in my next life as an aquarium seahorse.  So dainty and elegant, which is completely my opposite. We quickly worked our way to the most popular area (which is worth the claustrophobia and inhaling 1,000 other people’s breath), the large aquarium.

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Whale shark! They are “some big bastards” as I heard a neighbor so eloquently describe them.

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I really had a hell of a time getting pictures in that aquarium because this jerkface shark kept swimming right across my field of vision and ruining my shots.

DSC_0254Don’t mind that majestic creature behind me, get ME. Meeeeeeeee. It was like hanging out with Mariah Carey. Nothing exists except Mimi.

The other exhibit I really enjoyed was “Monsters Revealed” which was a display of plastinated sea life.They also had a lot of information about the development of animal taxonomy and classification.

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When I imagined a shark giving birth to live pups, this is not at all how I pictured they were stacked in there:

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I also could not have imagined how creepy and alien pod-like that whole Mermaid’s Purse situation is.

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Sharks are so weird. Had to shake that one off. Anyway, it was such a neat place. We stayed for about four hours and loved ever second of it. If you’re rich and need a friend date to the aquarium, you can fly me in any time. I’d be happy to annoy you for hours on end in such a fantastic setting.

Beverly, You Wretched Woman

Earlier this week. my family piled in the car and we headed for Atlanta to see some more family. ALL THE FAMILY. Normally, this trip would take about 14 or so hours, but thanks to a massive storm that traveled with us for most of the way, it took over 18. Happy times, for sure. Thankfully, we arrived in Atlanta alive and woke up the next morning to check out the World of Coca-Cola. Unfortunately, the rain caught us again.

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The rain was really great for the hair. It was also quite chilly which made for a lot of fun when we arrived promptly at 9 am which was the entry time on our tickets, the time they said they opened online, and the time they told us on the phone opened. Except, they actually opened at 10. So, that was pretty cool of them. Thankfully, it was a really fun experience and I’m willing to forgive them.

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At the end of the tour, we got to go to the tasting center and try ALL THE COLA from around the world. It was really neat to see how drastically flavor profiles varied among countries and continents. The colas in Africa were so syrupy and sweet that I could barely drink them. I usually only drink coke when there is rum or ice cream in it (or both), but I made an exception this one time.

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Those dreadlocks are so lovely. I guess I’m lucky they let Jack Sparrow’s twin sister in there.

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I had some trouble with the Fancy Dan  machine, ’cause I’m real smart.  Apparently, “push” really means push like you mean it.

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The final drink we tried was also the worst. My sister excitedly told me that I had to try Beverly.

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It was the nastiest thing I’ve ever tasted. Apparently it’s some sort of palate cleanser, but I find it hard to believe that the people who brought us spaghetti would drink this. My dad really hated it. And I mean really hated it.

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It was a really neat place to visit, and it was only about $16. That $16 includes unlimited coke and a day full of the sugar shakes. Priceless.