A Merry Christmas It Was.

Hi, everyone!

It was our first Christmas away from our hometown, but we got to spend it with our loved ones all the same. Stephen got almost two weeks off, so we were able to leave on December 22nd in the late evening in hopes of avoiding less holiday traffic.

Here’s a full picture of our cute little tree with the presents under it before we packed them all up in the car.

But Saturday the 21st, I recapped what Alexis, Stephen, and I got into. It was also the day that sweet Hunida’s gift arrived!

I absolutely loved her gift and thoughtfulness! I also think I found my new favorite type of chocolate to indulge in as well because it was gone within three days, haha.

On Sunday, the drive to Kingsport wasn’t too horrible. It did rain the whole time, I believe, which I was not a fan of. Luckily, Stephen did the driving so I didn’t feel like I was in complete peril.

On Monday, I had an eye appointment. [I know, I’ll probably have to find one in Nashville soon.] My vision has gotten worse, as usual. After my eye appointment, Jersey Mike’s is right next door. Stephen ordered the Italian and I had a Philly Cheesesteak sub. I couldn’t do the subs justice and take a better picture because we were both starving by the time my appointment ended!

On Christmas Eve, my dad, sisters, and me have a tradition of going out shopping and so my dad can get my mom something. Callie wasn’t feeling well, so it was just Haley and myself that went. We first ate at Cracker Barrel [not pictured] because my dad loves breakfast. Plus, Haley needed to buy some gifts from there.

We shopped for a few hours running around town. At the mall, dad bought jewelry for mom. The lady wrapped the boxes for him, and then lunchtime rolled around — which I was super excited about. Another part of our tradition is we eat at Ming Garden, a Chinese buffet. Whenever I was a gymnast, I could eat about three or four full plates of food! Now that my metabolism has caught up with me, I limit myself to two. All for the better.

I accidentally grabbed a sauce bowl for the egg drop soup, so I had a baby cup of it, oops. The white noodles in the picture are super addicting. I make sure to always get them whenever I go back!

After we finished eating, the lady from the jewelry store called my dad and said that she forgot to put the pendant in the box — so she wrapped it empty! Man, we wouldn’t have ever known so that would be quite the surprise on Christmas. We had to run back to the mall and all was well again.

Christmas Eve afternoon and evening were spent with Stephen’s parents in Chilhowie. His mom had us decorate sugar cookies. The ones below were mostly decorated by his sister.

Here are our cookies:

We didn’t go super crazy with the icing. I’m not a huge fan of it, so I scraped it off of the cookie and ate a few bites. I didn’t finish it but it was a sweet treat.

On Christmas morning whenever we were way younger, it would start at 6:00 AM. But since times have changed, we made it a more reasonable time of 8:00 AM, luckily.

Mason loves it when we open presents. He’s always in the middle of it all! Plus, excuse the humongous mess. Christmas morning looks like this for us every year not matter the age.

Afterwards, my dad started cooking breakfast like his dad did whenever he was with us and whenever we went to his house so many years ago to celebrate.

Dad makes his own bread — we called it Jesus bread because it seems endless and it takes forever to finish! Below is the gravy he makes from bacon grease and other magical ingredients. [I’m just saying that because I really don’t know how to make gravy.] It’s the way my papaw always made it, and I was the weird kid that ate gravy in a bowl by itself. Please don’t judge me too much. Or you can, I don’t mind either way.

Around noon, we head to my mom’s parents’ house to celebrate with them. I didn’t get any pictures there, but it was a fun time!

For the next two nights, Stephen and I stayed with his parents. We played lots of games and hung out. The day after Christmas, Stephen wanted to catch up with an old friend of his. He strongly wanted me to come along, so I did. I had some noodles and Starbucks and got to write a little bit, so it turned out to be a good night after all for me.

We ate at CC Noodle Bar — a place that we were waiting so long to open before we moved! Stephen and I ordered the pho and we really enjoyed it. It had a lighter tasting broth that I really liked and stood out to me. I put a jalapeño in my pho and Stephen dared me to eat it. Jokes on him because I did and I was unaffected by the heat!

After we finished our meal, we lingered in the restaurant at least 30 minutes after. If not, long enough to start making me feel uncomfortable, which is why I propped the idea of Starbucks. Plus, I wanted my green tea frappuccino that I haven’t had in so long.

That lasted until almost 10:00 PM. My phone was close to dying at this point, so I attempted to write a little to pass my time while they had their bro-time.

The next day, we left his parents house and had one last meal with his parents at Applebee’s. His mom and I shared the buy 2 entrees for $30 deal.

I got a side Caesar salad with salmon, broccoli, and, to throw off my healthiness, fries!

It was absolutely delish if I do say so myself. Stephen ordered nachos. They look delicious. He was smarter about his food choice than I was.

We ate around 4:00 PM, which I didn’t take into consideration when ordering. My family wanted to have our traditional family movie night two hours later. Originally, it’s on Christmas Eve, but my mom wasn’t feeling well, so it was rescheduled to Friday. It was supposed to be a pajama type thing, which we were unaware of and couldn’t be there in the first place.

After we finished our lunch/dinner with Stephen’s parents, he and I headed to Target to look for some pajamas. We ended up with a Seinfeld shirt and matching pants.

My sister-in-law Hannah prepared the tacos. She replicated what her mamaw does to shape the tortilla shell by frying it in oil, putting the meat inside the tortilla, then pressing the spatula against the tortilla to form the taco without using one of those taco holders.

I was in charge of switching out the taco plate and cutting the tomatoes up. I went overboard with the cutting and made my own little tomato mountain!

They told me to stop after a certain amount, but I saw that the challenge was too great to pass up. Here’s the end result of our little taco bar:

Hannah kept making tacos even after everyone grabbed some, so there were at least five plates of tacos! I managed to get a full group picture with everyone’s cooperation.

Stephen, me, Reece, Haley, father, mom, Callie, Nick, and Hannah.

Haley made Crock Pot hot chocolate, which she was sadly disappointed in because it didn’t turn out the way she had hoped. It was very rich and chocolatey, but it wasn’t horrible. For the movie, we had some very Hallmark type movie. Within 10 minutes, Haley complained that it was too cheesy, so Stephen put in The Great Rupert because I’ve told him all about it and he had to watch it for himself.

It’s such a funny but ridiculous movie! Just so you know, it’s in black and white, was made in the 1950s, and has a dancing squirrel that rains money on the main characters. I’ll leave it with that for now.

On Saturday, Haley and Reece, mom, and Stephen and myself went to the Bagel Exchange again. We both ordered the same food. I’ll spare the pictures in this post, but they’re in this one if you want to see some yummy bagels!

Afterwards, we split and did our own errands. I’ve been wanting to go to the Asian Market in Kingsport to look for spicy peanuts that I’ve been so obsessed with. They had six left and I snatched them all up!

I don’t know what it is about them, but they’re so good! They don’t taste like your average peanut, I’ll tell you that. See the little seed that’s pictured on the bag? Those are Szechuan peppercorns and they cause your tongue to feel tingly whenever you eat them. Weird, yes. Concerning? Not at all. I read about them and they do that; I’m not exactly sure why.

Also from the Asian Market, I got a bag of seaweed to snack on and put in my ramen! I’ve already eaten a few packs because they’re just so good and addicting as well.

We ended up leaving on Saturday night to avoid Sunday’s traffic. At the time of writing this, I had yet to take down the Christmas tree. Since I’m posting today, it was packed and put away this past weekend!

I’m currently watching The Bachelor since it premiered last night and I’m only able to watch on Hulu. Currently crying at Peter’s parents being so adorable as they’re renewing their vows. Anyways, that sums up my lovely Christmas week!

  • What are some Christmas traditions that your family hosts?
  • When did you take down your decorations, or have you?
  • Tell me something you’re excited about!

I hope you are having a wonderful start of the week!

17 thoughts on “A Merry Christmas It Was.

  1. Awesome blog as always , I feel like I was in the room ! I love seaweed and it’s so good for you too. My Dad has heart surgery for Christmas, so I went to Florida to care for him, and heading home tomorrow. He is doing great , so that’s the best Christmas present of all ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How great of Hunida to send you something! She sent me something too, and I of course loved it lol.
    Oh my goodness I looooove Jersey Mike’s been wanting to make a sub at home since we are budgeting haha
    I’ve never been to the Cracker Barrel, what kind of food do they serve there??
    Those sugar cookies look awesome! I wanted to do that so badly in December but it was a stressful time so we barely did any xmas related activities. hopefully this year i can change that.
    Oh my goodness the dogo!! Cuteee! As a Hispanic, for some reason they started the tradition of opening presents at midnight but I decided to change it when my son was born and now we open presents after he wakes up. Much much better in my opinion and we eat xmas themed breakfast at home 😃
    I loved that you guys spent time together with your families, that’s the best!
    Great xmas recap! 😃 happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How sweet of her! What do you usually get from Jersey Mike’s? I know what you mean about budgeting, especially after the holidays. Cracker Barrel has a lot of Southern food. They serve breakfast all day and people love their hash brown casserole! I’ll have to have photos of it the next time I go since I haven’t considered that people haven’t tried it. They’re everywhere in Tennessee!

      I’m not familiar with the Hispanic tradition, so that’s interesting to know! I can’t imagine trying to keep your son awake until midnight and throwing off his sleeping schedule, so morning is definitely better it seems for you!

      Thank you so much for sharing, Rossy! I hope you’ve had a happy new year so far! 💙


      1. I ALWAYS get the Turkey and provolone (#7) and have also tried the veggie one (#14) when I want a more “vegetarian” option lol. I’m in loooooooveeeeee with their red wine vinegar and olive oil blend. So delicious.
        Ah interesting. I’ll have to look up their menu and see what dishes they have. We have one on the town over, might be good to try it at least once.
        Riiiighhtt?? One of my cousins was like “just let him stay awake with the kids, he’ll be fine” and I’m like “noooo, it’s not. I worked too hard to get him to sleep early” lol
        You’re welcome, and same!! 🤗


        1. I’ll have to try the turkey and provolone sometime! I prefer Cracker Barrel’s lunch and dinner menu, and I particularly looove okra their grilled catfish! It’s pretty cheap to try, so it’s not too big of an investment if you don’t like it. I could see what you mean! I bet his schedule would be out of wack if you did do that, haha.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fun family you have!!! Taco/pajama/movie night!!! With freshly fried and shaped taco shells no less! It seems there’s never ENOUGH tomatoes so I would’ve appreciated your tomato mountain.

    That Christmas breakfast looked delicious too,, and I know what you mean about that magical gravy. The magic of bacon grease, sausage, milk & flour. How does it end up as nirvana in a bowl????

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your Christmas tree was so cute & I am so happy you enjoyed the little gift I sent you. ♡ I love that you all have the shopping & buffet tradition on Christmas Eve! I can’t believe the lady wrapped an empty box though– phew! So glad she realized & called on time! Imagine your mom opening it with nothing in there lol.

    Your dad’s breakfast looks out of this world! That bread, my gosh! 😍🤤

    LOLing about Stephen daring you to eat that jalapeno, they aren’t even spicy! 😂 “Jokes on him”!

    I love the matching PJs you guys got & the tacos look fantastic– I’ve never heard of making shells like that. How creative!! I’ll have to check out The Great Rupert if I can ever find it to watch lol sounds silly but enjoyable.

    Thank you for sharing a photo of the spicy peanuts, I will definitely be searching for a bag next time I’m at the Asian grocery store!

    Your holiday traditions & festivities were so fun to read about, Stephanie. It made me wish to be apart of your family. ♡


    1. Aw, you’re so sweet, Hunida! We would gladly take you in and add you into our celebrations as well! I can only imagine all of our faces reacting to an empty box! My mom may just think my dad was up to something since he’s always quirky with his gifts to her.

      Stephen refuses to have jalapeños in his pho after his bad experience with putting more than he could handle 😂 I’ve never thought of forming the taco shells like that either; it was oily but definitely good!

      The peanuts are oh so addicting. I’m down to my last bag and a half already ☹️ I hope you find them and like them as much as I do & that your holidays were fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw!! I would seriously LOVE to be a part of your holidays hehe. ❤ & oh my gosh, the empty box opening would make a good Christmas rom-com!!

        Oh I remember that incident with Stephen now! Lol! Does he like Hot Cheetos?? & I'd love to try the taco shells like that!

        I hope I can find those peanuts!! ❤


        1. I could only imagine how that would’ve played out! 😝 Stephen enjoys Hot Cheetos, but not many or else the spice gets to him! I’m down to half a bag of the peanuts, so I must be on the hunt for some here because the ones on Amazon are overpriced! I wish you luck on your hunt for them!!


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