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No Place Like Home For the Holidays

December 14, 2010

It’s one of my favorite holiday songs, and the lyrics really are uncannily appropriate for describing my last few days:

From Pennsylvania folks are traveling down to Dixie’s sunny shore    From Atlantic to Pacific–                                                                        Gee the traffic is terrific!”

If by “terrific,” the Carpenters meant “suicidal thought-inducing,” then, yes, by all means, the traffic from Pennsylvania to Louisian was “terrific.”  It was so “terrific” that the trip took a few more hours than usual (the usual being 19 hours…it took us about 21), and so “terrific” that we found ourselves stranded in a virtual blizzard in the middle of Nashville, bumper-to-bumper with a few thousand other angry drivers.  “Terrific.” 

All that aside, it really is great to be home.  One of the best things about teaching at a university is that I’ve never had to give up my long holidays—I still get virtually a full month off at Christmas!  I’m always eager to spend as much of my time off as possible with my family, so my mom flew up to PA and then drove back down with me and the dogs.  Ryan will join us next week.  I hate spending the week without him—especially since we’re so used to spending so much time together—but it’s great to get to spend so much time with my family—especially that sweet Sophie!

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Looking good, kid. I’m also pleased to report that she was very  happy to see me tonight—no crying or hiding her head from me this time!  So all I have to do for her to not be afraid of me is fly home to Louisiana every two weeks for the next, oh, ten years.

Tonight, my dad actually cooked dinner. 


My dad is a great cook, but he always seems to be too busy playing his guitar to really help out in the kitchen.  Tonight, he played full-on chef…and only picked up his guitar when it was time to do the dishes.  🙂

He made a great dish—spicy noodles with stir-fried broccoli and asparagus, all tossed with a homemade sesame mayonnaise and a little cheese. 



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The sesame mayo was really delicious, and would be really versatile for using in sandwiches, wraps, or even grilled veggies as well.  Here’s the recipe:

Spicy Sesame Mayo


1 egg

2 egg yolks

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tbsp. soy sauce

3 tbsp. dijon mustard

1/2 cup sesame oil

2 cups peanut oil

1 tbsp. hot chili sauce

1/4 tsp. curry

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper


Blend all ingredients except for sesame oil and peanut oil in a blender or food processor for about two minutes, then slowly drizzle in the two oils until the mayo has formed, about 2 minutes.

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Mmmmm…this was really good! We served it with a simple side salad, and divided up a few holiday cupcakes for dessert:

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After eating dinner, it was time to get down to the real business at hand: tree decorating!

Sophie tried her hand hanging a few ornaments:

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But she’s still a little young.  🙂

Actually, my mom did a lot of the decorating:

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While Katherine, Sophie and I had fun hanging out on the couch:

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Hmmm…note to self: next time you take a 20 hour road trip, when you finally reach your destination…TAKE. A. SHOWER. 

Next time, I’ll know.

Finally, after a few hours of ornament hanging, the tree was ready:

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I know what you’re thinking:

What the hell is that boot hanging from the far left cornerof the tree?

That, my friends, is just one my my giNORMOUS homemade ornaments that harkens back from when I was just a wee one:

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It’s all sorts of awesome.  My parents still hang a bunch of the gnarly homemade ornaments that my sister and I made when we looked like this:

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And this: 

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I really was such a joyous child.  An angel indeed.

Okay.  Off to bed…but first, a shower. 

See you tomorrow!

25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2010 3:24 am

    Wow, what a lovely post! I love Sophie’s pics…so cute!

    And the mayo. I love mayo, spicy with a kick..sounds delish!

    The tree is gorg!

    Enjoy your shower 🙂

  2. December 14, 2010 3:38 am

    Beautiful tree! Time with family is so wonderful, especially for the holidays. Sophie is so darn cute!

  3. December 14, 2010 3:41 am

    oh wow. yum! i’m suddenly starving… =)

  4. greensandjeans permalink
    December 14, 2010 12:16 pm

    the “angel” picture is truly amazing. most ticked off angel ever.

  5. December 14, 2010 12:43 pm

    I can’t imagine a 21 hour drive! Ugh. Have a great vacation with your family.

  6. December 14, 2010 1:17 pm

    Oh my gosh….I heard travel has been ridiculous with all these weather issues! Glad you’re home safe. Your dad’s meal looks super yummy and I love your parents kitchen. Sophie- too cute for words 🙂 Tree looks great!

  7. December 14, 2010 1:37 pm

    Ugh, hate to hear the trip was sooooo “terrific” but at least you made it safely and can just relax and enjoy the time with your family. I am super intrigued by the mayo and may try something like that making a cashew mayo. Now if only I weren’t sitting at my desk at my office I’d get right on that before I forget!

  8. December 14, 2010 2:54 pm

    Aw – love the little kid ornaments. My parents totally hang our crappy art work on the tree to this day. Hope the visit gets even more “terrific”!

  9. December 14, 2010 3:01 pm

    Ugh- I’m glad you made it safely but yikes, what a long trip! Sophie is SO cute. Love your crafty ornaments- the size of that boot is hilarious!

  10. December 14, 2010 3:18 pm

    The tree looks beautiful! I love the pictures of you and your sister! Makes me miss mine!

  11. December 14, 2010 3:55 pm

    Ahhh lucky girl. I am not going to see my family for Christmas..we’re in Cali and they are divided between WI and FL.

    Enjoy your time =)

  12. Kelly permalink
    December 14, 2010 4:27 pm

    21 hours…I would have died!! Glad you made it safe!

  13. December 14, 2010 4:36 pm

    Sophie is so precious! I love her hair 🙂

  14. December 14, 2010 5:29 pm

    Methinks sesame mayo would be mighty easy to veganize! New project.

  15. Emo permalink
    December 14, 2010 7:08 pm

    Did anyone stomp off to their room this time? 🙂 I’m glad you made it safely! Enjoy the time with your family!

  16. December 14, 2010 7:32 pm

    HAHAHA, I burst out laughing at that angel ornament of you!

  17. December 14, 2010 8:08 pm

    21 hours in the car?! You’re much braver than me 🙂

  18. December 14, 2010 8:58 pm

    Glad to hear you arrived safe and sound in Louisiana. Have lots of fun with that cute little niece of yours! And enjoy the warmer weather!

  19. December 14, 2010 10:13 pm

    Cute post, the pics are darling! Glad you had a safe trip and the tree is gorgeous! The broccoli dish looks wonderful! Love the corny childhood ornaments, I have a few of those too. 😛

  20. patti permalink
    December 14, 2010 10:41 pm

    So glad you made it home safely. The dish your dad made looks delish:) Have fun at home.

  21. actorsdiet permalink
    December 15, 2010 7:07 am

    i love that tree, that kitchen!

  22. December 15, 2010 12:45 pm

    LOVED ALL THE PHOTOS!! Too cute…especially little miss Sophie!!


  23. JenATX permalink
    December 21, 2010 12:13 am

    HA!!! your expression in the last ornament is priceless.. truly a precious angel indeed. and your niece is truly precious as well!

    • December 21, 2010 12:14 am

      Thanks, Jen! Welcome back!! I hope your semester ended well!


  1. Travel and Packing Tips « Newlywed, Newly Veg!

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