Merry Christmas!

To all of our friends & family – Merry Christmas!

May you have the gift of faith, hope, and love this Christmas season and always.

With Love,
Nikki, Maurice, & Hazel Belleville

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Happy Hanukkah!

Or as my dad might say, מזל כאַנעקע!

One thing I have always loved about my family is its diversity. We have people from a smorgasbord of culture, colors, & backgrounds. “Tradition” means “variety” in our family. We do Italian, we do German, we do Native American, we do Mexican, we do Ukrainian… there is a little bit of everything mixed in and I love it because I grew up learning about so many different cultures from the various characters in my own family! Maybe that helps to explain, in part, my love for travel? Hmm…

Anyway, it’s no secret that this is my favorite time of year. It’s a season of celebration, togetherness, dreams of snow, and drinking hot chocolate in my warm jammies. I look forward to it every year, and doubt I will ever grow too old to enjoy the simple joys of the season.

My dad used to teach us about his Jewish roots at this time of year, too. What is more fun for a kid than celebrating Christmas AND Hanukkah?! (Um, not much!!) Mom & Dad always made it fun for us; they’d hide a small gift for us on each of the 8 nights of Hanukkah and Dustin and I would dig through the house until we each found our gift. Then we’d light all get together at the fireplace and light a candle on the menorah. Afterwards Mom would make us a treat – hot chocolate, cider, a snack, something delicious! – and we’d all lounge around in our pajamas enjoying the glow of the Christmas tree (ne, Hanukkah bush!) and the menorah.

Today is the first day of Hanukkah for 2011. To my dad, who shared his traditions and opened our eyes to so many ways of life, to my Grandma B. who embodies the idea of “Jewish grandmother”, to my Uncles Greg & Guy, and of course my Jewish bestie – Shalom!

25th Anniversary Party

Here’s a rarity these days: this year marks my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary! How amazing (and rare and cool and how much work is that?!?!) I am so totally happy for them and so to mark the occasion, I wanted to throw them a party. And so on September 24th 2011, just days before their actual anniversary (September 27th), we had a soiree at their house!!

After the wedding invitations were sent I got busy on the details: food, drinks, cake, & decor.

We chose to do a “charcuterie” theme for the food, which translated into lots of different meats (salami, turkey, sausage, smoked salmon, smoked trout, oysters, pate) and cheeses (brie, goat cheese, manchego, gruyere…I know I’m forgetting something here). We also had grapes, strawberries, quince paste, lots of different crackers & breads & spreads. We also served a lot of Italian-style antipasti – several types of olives, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, pearl onions, etc.

For the drinks, I bought different bottles of red and white wines, each with a special memory: one was the same wine they liked when they first got married (a German Kabinett Riesling), another was French (Dad’s a francophile), another was from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington (where we lived 1987-1999), a Nero d’Avola from Sicily (Mom’s roots), and another that was Dustin’s favorite (Rosemount Shiraz). I also made this punch, and served sun tea, Coke/Diet Coke, and a selection of beer. I bought some bubbly for the champagne toast I wanted to give as well, which you can see in the following video (please excuse my ugly cry face – I’m no good at giving toasts!!!)

*leave a comment if you need a password to watch the video and I’ll respond to you privately*

So this one is for you, Mom & Dad! I think (hope?) you had an amazing time, and deserve every compliment, every blessing, and every moment of happiness!! Each and every day 🙂

Lots of love,
Nikki, Maurice, & Hazel

Grandma B

Of the many amazing people in my life, I am especially proud of my Grandma B!! She has been through so much in her life, things that are difficult enough to handle alone, yet she’s shouldered so many throughout her life. Despite the challenges my Grandma’s glass is always half full!!

Grandma B always has a sense of humor (some of the dirtiest jokes I know, included!), a hug to give, and a charitable heart. She told me once that she’s donated blood regularly without fail for the past 50 years. When her friends need her, she’s there for them.

Grandma also has a green thumb; she can bring plants back from the grave, it seems,  just by looking at them. (I’m pretty sure she uses her Jewish talents to guilt them into springing back to life).

She knows how to make you feel special & beautiful, never short on compliments and a pinch on the hiney if you’re a cute guy!! Speaking of hiney, Grandma KNOWS how to shake her bootie!! Most weekends she can be found dancing to whatever music is going on. At a restaurant and she likes the song? You’re going to dance with her.

Recently Grandma was recognized by AARP for her numerous, on-going volunteerism in the community. This may have been her first award of this kind but if you ask me it should be her 10th! She volunteers at Uncle Greg’s home, with the senior center, with the food bank, with a women’s shelter, with the blood bank, with the elections, and many many other things.

Have I mentioned that Grandma is 85? She’s got more energy than my husband and I combined!

I am so proud of my Grandma, and am happy to see that she was formally recognized for everything she gives to people. She’s not “giving back” – she’s just giving!!! We should all take a cue from her play book and remember that others need us more than the things we think we need for ourselves.

Love you Grandma B!!!

 

Your Furry Girl Was a Stinker

So, we are having winter down here. It’s is freaking COLD and rainy and wind is 25 mph+. Expecting some snow on Friday and arctic, truly arctic weather in between. So she needs to pee at 4 a.m.??? I get up, like a good grammy and she dives under the bushes because she’s scared of the howling wind and things whipping all over the place, and I’m out there, in the dark, in the pouring freaking pouring rain, wind howling and blowing leaves and branches everywhere, trying to get her out from under the bushes at 4 am. I hope the neighbors don’t call me in. Now i’m the crazy dog lady…. Hmpf.

BFF’s

We all have one.

Some are farther away than others.

Deutsche Fruenden

 

You can depend on them in happy times and in bad.

BFF's for life!

 

Best friends are always willing to share.

Hazel & Casey go together like peanut butter 'n jelly

 

And they’re always there when you  need them!

Have a seat. I'm here to listen.

 

Everybody needs a BFF!! xoxo

Weekends on the Porch

Days spent on our porch make me happy. We woke up early on Sunday and sat on the porch with freshly-made sun tea, a stack of magazines, and our most awesome Hazel. The jasmine is in full bloom, all the other plans have turned bright green, the basil was smelling especially fragrant in the morning dew, and it was quiet. We layed out Hazel’s striped bed on the patio and gave her a bowl of ice cubes and water, poured ourselves some coffee (Maurice) and iced tea (me) and spent the morning reading, chatting, and watching the world wake up.

These two make me happy.

Peanut butter & jelly

Hazel and Maurice are tight. They love each other like peanut butter loves jelly.

Every time he leaves to go offshore Hazel goes into a mild funk. She’ll jump up in anticipation and run to the front door every time she hears the garage door open, hoping it’s her guy. She sulks on her bed. And this time, she pouted at the door for a good hour after he left.

Missing her guy.

 

It breaks my heart but it’s so sweet to know that she has him and he has her and when they’re together, all is right with the world.

Happy Birthday Meecie!

I’ve known you since you were a by-then-totally-worldly 23 and I was but a silly 19-year-old in tight black pants.

You drove a sensational baby blue Prelude with stickers all over it. (You still like your stickers…) We’d go out in Austin, laughing it up as I snuck into bars and shared a beer or 3 with you.

You were always my protector – still are – and made sure I was home safe and sound before you started your drive back to Fort Hood. One time my parents and I convinced you to stay over… the drive to Killeen was so long, and it was so late… so you stayed and slept on my futon while I slept on the floor. I thought you were uh-mazing but way too hairy, which at 19 is a totally valid reason for not wanting to date somebody justsoyouknow.

Years went by and we stayed in touch – through Arizona, Korea, and Iraq. You finally got back from your war and I grew up and realized that just maybe, hairy wasn’t so bad.

The year we moved in together we celebrated your 30th birthday with angel food cake.

This year we started the party hat tradition:

Hazel's Birthday

It’s your turn now so get home soon, ok? In the meantime… HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEECIE!!!!

With Love,
Your Wife ‘n Hazel