A mellow Christmas

This is an unusually mellow Christmas for us.

It’s the first year we are not having our annual Tacky Holiday Sweater and Ugly Ornament party. These parties went strong for 5 years, with the unchanging concept that every guest must 1 – wear a tacky holiday sweater, and 2 – bring an ugly ornament, which was then “gifted” via names from a hat. The parties often had themes-within-a-theme, from Politically Incorrect and/or Generally Inappropriate, to Zombie Football, to the best, Redneck Christmas.

We are fortunate enough to have a great core group of friends who bedazzle themselves and come prepared to eat, drink, and be ridiculously merry. Our tree will forever carry the hideous souvenirs of ugly ornaments ‘won’ in the drawings, and the memories will live on in our minds, and on Facebook.

So without the usual party, we’ve been pretty lazy about decorating. We didn’t really do the outdoor lights this year. We didn’t hang paper snowflakes and paper chains all over the downstairs. We basically bought and decorated our tree, and put out our knick-knacks over a few hours one night.

Part of me relishes the freedom and calmness. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars saved by not buying a prty’s worth of booze and food. The other part of me misses the incredibly festive house, with snowflakes dangling from the ceiling like promises of shenanigans to be had.

Then, on the other side, this is our last Christmas as the two/six of us. Next year, we will have a perky baby, a new brother or sister to our four furbies. If the Perky Baby is a boy, I will be severely outnumbered! Then we’ll have to figure out how to share holidays with both of our extended families, and that will be a headache in its own right!

Am I just a weirdo?

I am 15 weeks, 3 days pregnant….and sometimes I wonder if I am a weird pregnant lady.

I am thrilled, and so happy, to be pregnant. M is also really happy as well.

But….we don’t fixate on it. We’re not out browsing stores, or even online shopping, for nursery items and clothes. Aside from the occasional pinterest or blog, I really don’t look at much baby stuff online. We don’t talk about it very much either – I periodically check in on whether he thinks I have a bump, and occasionally something comes up that we will ask each other’s opinions: “I think Elf on a Shelf is absurd.” “Yeah, me too.”

I see other people posting things online, or commenting on blogs or pins, or read What to Expect, and it seems the “norm” is for women to go full-scale obsessed with their pregnancies. Maybe trying for so long makes us more cautious. Maybe we just take this as a natural, simple, but joyous, experience. I think we just are not interested in hyping this up to the point that we stress out, or start worrying, or create unrealistic expectations.

The few things I have researched, though, I have found myself shockingly “crunchy”. I’d like to cloth diaper. I’d like to breastfeed. I’d like to (eventually) make our own baby food. I also want to be a Stay at Home mom, at least until s/he is ready for school. I hope, and believe, M and I will be hands-on, involved parents who raise children who are thinkers, dreamers, readers, and doers.

But really, I hope we are all healthy and happy.

Castiglia’s – finally a hit!

We have been to Castiglia’s several times in the last couple of years, and have had some up-and-down culinary experiences.

I really like their pesto gnocchi – the gnocchi is made well, light, fluffy and pillow. The pesto, however, is somewhat hit-and-miss. My first time ordering it was summer 2012. It was beyond delicious – refreshing, salty, creamy, lovely. I had it again in November, and it was somewhat disappointing. The sauce was uneven, with large unpleasant chunks of garlic. 

M has ordered a few dishes, mostly seafood-focused, and hasn’t been impressed with any. The insalata di mare was a big disappointment, and he also tried a seafood pizza that was just underwhelming. 

However! We went the first week of December with M’s parents. I ordered Bruschetta, a side salad, and a New York slice. All of it was..wonderful! The bread for bruschetta was lightly crisped, a nice balance of crispy crust and soft middle that supported the topping well and had nice mouth feel. The topping was diced tomatoes and mozzarella, some basil, and a little garlic with a twee bit of balsamic. It was light, fresh, and delicious. The side salad was fresh, no wilted or browning lettuce, and comes topped with a generous amount of croutons, onions, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. And the NY slice was….oh my yum. A large slice, fresh from the oven, with a thin bread, crispy bottom, and oozing cheese. The light marinara is perfect. I could go for another one right now!

M and his dad ordered the Veal Marsala, and both cleaned their plates. It was lightly breaded, tender, and well-seasoned. The veal was accompanied by a nice portion of penne pasta, and the marsala sauce had a pleasant amount of mushrooms present. They also split some fried mushrooms for an appetizer, which comes with your choice of dip, and is a generous helping that easily serves four.

So….I really recommend their pizza and bruschetta. I intend to try their calzone next time! But avoid the seafood options…