saturday upsides, christmas chili & les mis

Happy weekend, everyone! We made it back to southern California safe & sound tonight after visiting my extended family up north. It was a quick but jam-packed visit, filled with fun family time, delicious home-cooked food, and lots of laughter. Here is a pic of my brother and me with our Grandma & Grandpap {on our mom’s side}:

with gparents

One recipe I forgot to share with you earlier this week is my Christmas chili! It’s the same as my California chicken chili recipe, only I added red and white kidney beans, regular chili powder instead of the “white chicken” kind, AND festive red and green bell pepper. {Which is why I call it my “Christmas chili”!} The reason I used the regular chili powder is that I couldn’t find the white chicken chili kind out here in California … but it turned out to be one of those serendipitous things, because I think this is my best chili yet!

christmas chili

I don’t know about you, but around this time of year I nearly always battle the post-holiday blues. It’s true: I love Christmas! I love the joy and excitement of the season of giving. I love being home with my family. I love not having to worry about the normal day-to-day stresses of school and work. I love baking cookies and special holiday treats. I love watching Christmas movies with my Gramps. I love small things, like the special flavors of Hershey’s kisses and chai lattes at Starbucks. {Greg snapped a picture of me on his smartphone at Starbucks, enjoying a gingerbread chai … mmmmm.}

gingerbread chai

I always get a little sad when the holidays are over. Does anyone else feel the same?

Then I went to see “Les Miserables” with my mom, aunts and cousin Arianna yesterday afternoon. I had never seen the musical before and did not know the story at all. It was beautiful. I loved the music and thought the film was very well-done. {Best supporting actress: Anne Hathaway gets my vote!}

And my goodness, what an emotional story that really makes you feel grateful for what you have. I am SO lucky to have a roof over my head, enough food to eat, a warm bed, a loving and healthy family. Those are my Saturday Upsides every week!

saturdayupsidesbutton

And another upside? Having people to miss is a blessing because it means you have people to love!

What are your upsides this weekend?

marvelous monday: creating rituals with those you love

Tomorrow, I head back to Indiana to get ready for the new semester which starts up a week from today. These past ten days I’ve been home with my family in California, and it’s been wonderful to get to visit with my parents, brother, Gramps, and friends from high school. Don’t get me wrong — I love my grad program at Purdue and I love all my friends there! But, as a California girl who spent my undergrad years just a a short drive down the 101 freeway from where I grew up, it is hard being so far from my family for months at a time. We text and talk often on the phone and Skype, but I still miss them. I guess that is just part of having such a loving, supportive, and special family — I miss them when I’m gone!

My younger brother Greg {check out his website giverunning.org to get an idea of the amazing things he’s up to!} has always been one of my best friends. Greg adds so much sunshine to my life! He can make me burst out laughing with a single silly look, and we can meet eyes across the dinner table and know exactly what the other is thinking. He’s three years behind me in school and it was really hard for both of us when I graduated high school and moved off to college.

The morning I left for college, Greg and I went out to breakfast just the two of us to this cute restaurant we’ve always loved, Allison’s Country Cafe. {They make the BEST Belgian waffles topped with hot cinnamon apples — I’m determined to try to recreate them at home this fall, though I know they won’t ever be as good as the ones at Allison’s.} We talked and laughed and it was wonderful just to be enjoying each other’s company as friends. I remember driving home, pulling the car into the driveway, and bursting into tears. I knew I would miss him so much.

Even now, a decade later, I can never say goodbye to Greg without crying. But something that always makes goodbyes easier is the ritual we’ve established: every morning before I leave, we go out to breakfast just the two of us to Allison’s Country Cafe. I get the waffle or pancake with hot cinnamon apples; Greg usually gets the banana nut French toast. We talk and laugh and reminisce and plan for the future. Sometimes, Greg makes me laugh so hard I have trouble swallowing my mouthful of water or orange juice.

Our ritual is something I treasure. It turns the sadness of having to say goodbye into something comforting and special.

What rituals or traditions do you have with those you love?

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas