Monday, December 28, 2009

Feliz Noche Buena!!!

In my family, we celebrate Christmas Eve with cookies, chili, and family. I really miss Christmas Eves surrounded by the Fraley uncles and cousins, laughing and giving gifts and being together.

Here in South Florida, traditions are different. True to our philosophy of experiencing every place we live to the fullest, we've temporarily suspended our own holiday traditions to adopt those of our surroundings. The last two years, we've celebrated a South American Christmas at our friends, the Inzas, This year, we were invited to a Cuban Noche Buena at my dear friends, Ily Gagnes.

Ily is a very dear friend of mine, and her daughter, Brianna, is Kaitlyns best friend. Unfortunately, Kaitlyn was spending Christmas in California with her dad, and couldn't go with us to the Gagnes...and we really missed her. But we had a good time, anyway!!!

Noche Buena doesn't begin until 8 or 9 pm (at the earliest). For Noche Buena (which means "Christmas Eve"), you roast a pig. This was our porky dinner...we debated all evening as to whether or not he was of the straw or stick variety (assuming all brick piggies were safe at home enjoying hot cocoa and waiting for Santa). Other traditional food is white rice, black beans, sweet Cuban tamales (SO GOOD!!), soft Cuban bread, and yucca w/ garlic. I used to hate yucca (we called it YUCK-A)...but Ilys' was fabulous, and I actually went back for seconds...garlic breath be damned!! It was SO DELICIOUS...both Jason and I pigged out (literally!!!).

Ily's oldest son Brandon was home from university for Christmas, which made Ily VERY happy. I love chatting with Brandon, so it made my day, too.
I look as chubby as I felt in this pic...but I love Ily so much that I don't care!!!

This is Ily and Kaitlyns best friend, Brianna! Merry Christmas!!!

When we got home (at an early hour for was only 11pm!!), we discovered that the Christmas Eve Elf had been to our house, and dropped off the first presents of the holiday!! The kids got to un-wrappin' right quick!!!

Brig was so tired, he could hardly hold his eyes open. But check out the awesome new jammies the Christmas Elf brought!!

The girls got darling jammies, too!!!

Okay...we're ready for bed and Santa Claus!!
Merry Christmas to All...and to All, A Good Night!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

WE WON!!!!!!

This has more to do with Kaitlyn than anything...but her high school, Miramar High...a title one school in a rough part of town with struggling students...just won their FIRST EVER STATE CHAMPIONSHIP in football!!!

Kaitlyn is SO EXCITED!!! What a wonderful boost for her school, for the students and faculty, and for the community!! Hurray for Miramar High!!!!

Here's the article from the Miami Herald!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

O Christmas Tree!!!

There is something I love about a Christmas tree before it is weighed down with all the trimmings and trappings of the season. It's so simple. So elegant.

A blank canvas symbolizing all a child's hopes for Christmas morning.

One of my FAVORITE parts of my Christmas tree is my Christmas tree skirt. I bought it back in Chicago when I was working for Crate & Barrel (BEST job, BEST company EVER). It's sad, really...that it gets covered up so completely and you don't get to enjoy it all season. Maybe this year, I'll avoid actually putting gifts UNDER the tree and instead put them AROUND the tree.

This year for our annual Christmas Tree decorating FHE, Joseph played Santa. It's a big job...but I think he was just the right man for the job...

Jason's ornament was an ESPN Santa. It says about 5 super funny favorite of which is: "That's it!! Show's over!! Mrs. Claus...Big Daddys' comin' home!!" It makes me laugh because "Big Daddy" is actually Jason's nickname every place he has worked, thanks to having such a large family. So every time there was some kind of team competition between stores, Jason's team shirt always had his number and "Big Daddy" screen-printed across the back.

Here's a close-up. You can't see it...but Santa is actually wearing shiny green exercise shorts under the desk!!

My ornament is so indicative of my life as a mom. It is an adorable washing machine that spins and lights up. I guess symbolic of the biggest chore I do around here...

Next year, Jason said he'll buy me the matching dryer!!

Rock On, Kaitlyn...Rock On. Especially with that super cute electric guitar that sings "Jingle Bell Rock"!

I love the jingle bell detail on this guitar!!!

Joseph got the next set in his "Snow Buddies" series. I was afraid that he was too big for it this year...and i asked him if he was ready to get some more...grown-up...ornaments. But he said: "No way!!!"
I love my boy.

And this year his Snow Buddy is friendly with an Artic Seal pup!!! How cute!!!

Savannah got the next ornament in her "Snowball and Tuxedo" series. She loves how furry and glittery her ornaments are, and she and Joseph have a running disagreement about whose series is the cutest.

Personally, I think it is kind of a tie...

Brighams love of trains continues unabated this year, and his ornament is a flashy number that lights up, moves, AND makes train noises!! Whoo-Whoo!!!!

What a fun ornament to have this year!!

Nicolette also continues with her fairy series this year, getting this playful "Marigold Fairy" to add to her collection.

If you ask Nicolette why her series is fairies, she'll tell you that it's because she has "Pixie Ears"!!! (and she really does!!)

This year, thanks to being a week out of surgery, the kids decorated the tree. Kaitlyn had actually done all the lights by herself several days before...and as you can see in the very first picture in this post, she did a fabulous job. My friend Tina Fabiano came over and made my bow and ribbons for me, and got up on the ladder to hang them, too. So now, with a little direction and caution from the armchair where I rested, my kids decorated the Christmas tree BY THEMSELVES!

They did a FABULOUS tree looks GREAT!!! And I am so grateful to have such wonderful, magical kids!!
Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Iron Chef Miami: December 2009

It's that time again...and THIS time, our little Iron Chef group was having a PARTY!!! It IS the holidays, after all, and our theme WAS chocolate...and you know what they say:

Woman cannot live on chocolate alone.

Although we beg to differ, we did decide to have some party food at our December Iron Chef competition.

(Beware that Buffalo Cheese dip in is SERIOUSLY addicting)

We love talking and chatting together...its what makes Iron Chef fun. Below are Melodee, Valeria, newcomer Giselle, Tina, and newcomer Bobbi!!
The chocolate contestants looked AWESOME...

Oh my!! This is going to be a HARD competition!!

Heidi brought delicious brownies....

And I made Peppermint Bark...

Melodee made this fabulous chocolate moist!!

Valeria made delectable little bon-bons!

Giselle made chocolate-dipped Key Lime Pie!! How very Floridian!!!

Tina made two entries...this luscious chocolate ganache torte with raspberry sauce (which actually won first prize)...

And this creamy chocolate mousse dip with strawberries...

Let the judging begin!!!!

Tina won, but she has won she conceded to second place Valeria for her bon-bons!!! Congratulations Valeria!!!!

After stuffing ourselves with chocolate...we had a White Elephant Gift Exchange. It was so much fun!!! I won a frame and a lava lava!! HURRAY!!!

I LOVE Iron Chef. It is SO MUCH FUN!! You can click on the links to get the recipes...hope you enjoy as much as we did!!
Stay tuned for January...where the theme is "cheese".