A Look Back - December 2018

As the year winds down and I’m prepping all of my year-end posts I did carve out some time to recap the month that was December 2018. It was a busy month with a lot of travel and activities, but also a month that ended with the relaxation that both Jenn and I have needed for a long time.


RECAP OF THE MONTH

Just as we ended November, we began December with Jenn’s Dad and Joan staying for a couple more days in the big city. We toured the USS Intrepid, ate a ton of great food, and even visited the High-line park, one of our favorite spots in the entire city.

The following weekend Jenn made some big plans. We started off Saturday morning the 8th of December by going to Central Park where Jenn donned on ice skates for the first time in almost twenty years and took a couple of spins around the rink. I was so proud of her for getting out there (even on bad ankles) and accomplishing one of her goals.

We continued that beautiful Saturday going to SoHo where we originally were going to have dinner at The Wren but arrived to a Santa filled restaurant (happened to be Santa Con this weekend) so instead we went to a place called The Smile. The basement restaurant had a small menu but everything was incredible. Jenn had her first French 75 (there it was called French 76) and that has become her new go-to drink. We split a delicious lemon cream fettuccine and the short rib entree. Both were near perfection.

From dinner we continued our annual tradition of seeing A Christmas Carol. Unlike the last couple of years this time we went to the Merchant House where we along with forty others listened to a man read the famous Dickens novel from memory acting many of the parts. It was one of the most surreal and oddly captivating experiences, seeing a man sit in front of forty people reading one of Dickens most famous stories from heart. I could totally see Jenn and I being back at the Merchant House next year. We finished the night walking through Rockefeller Center, seeing all of the beautiful lights, and walking home to close out one of our best days in New York yet.

The following day (Sunday) was a lazy day, we didn’t do much. But we did go back to our Chinese restaurant (La Salle Dumpling Room) around the corner. We’ve eaten there once or twice since moving to NYC and didn’t love it. But we ordered a new round up of food including pork dumplings, noodles, chicken and rice and found a truly incredible meal and one that now has become a staple for us going forward.

The following weekend we had more Christmas festivities with tickets to go see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Before going to the show we tried David Chang’s new restaurant in Columbus Circle, Momofuku Noodle Bar. It turned out to be quite the meal and evening. We started off with Japanese potatoes and Shrimp buns. The potatoes were unworldly, some of the best potatoes I’ve ever had. The shrimp buns I loved but Jenn did not enjoy the inclusion of a slaw in her shrimp bun. For our main entree we both had their pork ramen which was too die for. I’m not sure it reached the levels of Totto (our personal favorite) but it was delicious. We left dinner and walked the couple of blocks to the Lincoln Center where we saw a beautiful rendition on The Nutcracker. By far the highlight was the incredible orchestra which played the familiar melodies of The Nutcracker to perfection.

And just like that it was almost Christmas. On December 20th we flew out of Newark to LAX to go join our families for the holidays. We arrived after a couple of hour delay into LAX and walked across the street to stay at the Hyatt which was the perfect airport hotel. We were still wide awake when we arrived so had a quick drink and snack down at the bar before turning in for the night. The following day we picked up our Volvo car rental from Sixt and drove through Los Angeles traffic to Riverside. On our way to Riverside we made a quick stop at In & Out and Starbucks for lunch and so Jenn could finish up some work.

We arrived into Riverside a little before 3 PM and met at Amy’s house where we all got ready to go to dinner at Mario’s at the Mission Inn. It’s a tradition that began with Jenn’s family over a decade ago and Jenn and I have tried to keep it going through the years. We got down there a little before 5 PM with our Uber driver and walked around the beautifully decorated Mission Inn before going in for dinner. We had an incredible meal with wine, a French 75 for Jenn, calamari, pasta, steak, lamb, and all sorts of goodies. It was a phenomenal meal with a great view of the now lit up Mission Inn. We left dinner and got some coffee and churros before heading back to Amy’s house.

The following day (Saturday) Jenn and Amy went back to the Mission Inn to go to the Spa while Jake, Ryan, Uncle Dennis and my cousin Luke went to see Creed II. I’m happy to report on second viewing I still love the movie. That evening my parents hosted the annual Christmas party which went on like it does every year. From there Jenn and I drove to Newport Beach to stay at the Renaissance for the rest of our stay in California.

Sunday a few days before Christmas Jenn spent the day with her Dad watching a movie and enjoying the Christmas service at Mariners. I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the Nordbeck’s annual Friendsmas brunch where I supplied the group with some of my favorite donuts in the world from Sidecar in Costa Mesa. It was a fun get together where I ate and drank far too much.

Our Christmas Eve was much more of a quiet day. We went for a beautiful hike at Crystal Cove and had a nice lunch at Bear Flag off PCH. We met Jenn’s Dad and Joan for dinner at Juliette’s in Newport before turning in for the evening watching Charlie Brown Christmas Special and Christmas in Connecticut our two holiday traditions. The following morning just like we’ve done for the last decade we stopped at Starbucks on our way down to Riverside to celebrate Christmas with my family for the morning. That evening we drove back to Irvine to spend the evening celebrating with Jenn’s Dad and Joan.

The following morning I woke up a little after 4 AM and drove down to LAX to drop off my rental car (which got a flat tire as I was entering the rental agency) and then waited on the runway for over an hour while they tried to fix the cargo door on the brand new 787. I made it home safe and so did Jenn the next day when she flew home from John Wayne airport.

We spent the remaining few days of the year just recovering. I came down with a cold and Jenn was exhausted from the travel and her first couple of months in the new job. It was great to relax, catch up on some TV, order delivery, and close out the year well rested and ready to take on 2019.


TV WE WATCHED

Unlike movies in December, we watched very little TV in December. By far the highlight of the month was watching the three seasons of Lovesick on Netflix, what a phenomenal show that turned out to be.


BOOKS I READ (OR LISTENED TO)

To complete my 32 books for 2018 goal I had two books I had to finish in December. The first was Blood Meridian which was horrible and Skyward which ended up being one of my favorite books of the year.


MOVIES WE WATCHED

December will easily go down as the month we watched the most movies. From a few rainy weekends to seeing Creed II for a second time we spent a lot of December cozied up watching Christmas movies.


GAMES I'VE BEEN PLAYING

This is the month that I dived head first into Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Although its not my favorite game of the year (that went to Spider-Man), It’s a game that will be on the list for many months to come.