Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

We had a very relaxing and laid back holiday around the Eric's Days of Battle house. We had my sister-in-law and her family here from the Sunday before Christmas until the day after, which was nice and gave my kids a chance to play with their cousins. We cooked a lot, ate too much, drank some good wine, and just generally tried to do nothing much of substance. We succeeded admirably.

On Christmas Eve, I got to hand the reins in the kitchen to my brother in law, who made a delicious (and very involved) Portugese Fisherman's Stew. One can always eat around the squid tentacles...
Amparo and bro-in-law dirtying all the pots and pans

While we prepared a late dinner, the kids anxiously awaited the arrival of gifts. I mean Santa.
Killing pre-Santa time playing Uno

Dinner was excellent, and the best part was that I got to watch instead of cook. Sometimes it's nice to just watch.
Christmas Eve table

I'll post the full recipe and more pictures of Christmas Eve dinner on my cooking blog at some point, but the stew was an amazing concoction of squid, chorizo sausage, scallops, clams, cod and shrimp. Plus lots of other stuff.
Portugese Fisherman's Stew

Christmas morning began remarkably late, with the kids not dragging us out of bed until nearly 8am. Yay, kids! The highlight of the kids' Christmas was the overly generous gifts from Santa of a pair of Kindle HDX's, the side benefit of which is that with each kid now having a tablet of their own, Amparo gets her iPad back. Since she got the iPad as a gift a couple of years ago I'm not sure she has seen it much (it's been welded to Julia most of that time). So she sort of got a nice gift too, in addition to her actual gifts.
Thing 2 shreds wrappings

As for yours truly, Santa did come this year in spite of that whole naughty/nice list thing, and I got a couple of books (a Giada cookbook I didn't already have and a Napoleonic history book on the French 9th Legere regiment...geek time), a couple of CDs (new Mark Knopfler and new Tedeschi Trucks Band), as well the previously mentioned photography lighting kit. I have been having lot of fun with the lighting kit, which allows me to take much better pictures, at least of the miniatures themselves in the sense of what amounts to "product photography". The initial results of that playing around can be seen in the Miniatures Gallery page linked off my main page at the upper right.
Impromptu photo studio

Christmas day itself was very nice, with the obligatory big hunk of beef dinner in the form of a standing rib roast. The only down side was that we didn't get to see Brother Dave and his family and my Mom and Chris on Christmas day, but would catch up with them in the coming days.

The rest of the days of Christmas week, before and after the big day itself, was a blur of...not too much. But I mean that in a good way. I got to relax around the house with Amparo and the kids and extended family and friends, watching some TV and movies, playing games, painting a few miniatures buildings, cooking a lot and trying new recipes (which I love), and just generally basking in the glow of having kids young enough that Christmas is still a really special time of year. And that is the best Christmas I could ask for...

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