Monday, December 29, 2008


We decided to spend Christmas with my family this year (we spent last Christmas with his), and we had a lot of fun! My family is really big on Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve, we have a fish and unleavened bread dinner and read the Bible.

We don't always get Christmas PJ's, but we did this year (just the 3 girls)! They are super comfortable and cute. My sister Micia really went all out this year (again). The Christmas tree and presents all looked so coordinated and everything was perfect.

It was JJ's first Christmas with my family, and I was excited. He seemed to have a lot of fun.

We got a GPS (my parents couldn't find it for a while, but then it turned out to be in plain view in their mudroom--we got it a couple of days after Christmas), a breadmaker that's on our return list, I got some clothes, JJ got hunting gear, and lift passes. I gave JJ some nice brown dress shoes, pocket squares, a tie, and some cuff links. He gave me a panini press, a jewelry box, and the iPhone headphones from Skullcandy that I wanted really really bad.

After we opened presents, we played a lot of rockband. Notice the matching pants:

We then ate Prime Rib for dinner and then saw the (whatever) Tale of Benjamin Button. It was meh. When we got back from the movie, we played more Rockband and then got ready to leave the next day(Friday).

When we woke up, it looked like this outside, except you could see tons of snow falling at the same time. My sister took good pictures, so I'll upload them later. We definitely wouldn't be able to make it out of the driveway, let alone all the way down the mountain where my parents live.

So we decided to stay and have some fun with my family (we had brought our PS3 and Tiger Woods '08, too). It was actually fun to be stuck in the house, eating Christmas treats and drinking hot chocolate and not feeling one bit bad about stuffing our faces.

We played this funny board game called "Would You Rather...", in which one of the challenges is that you have to let someone draw a moustache and glasses on you and leave them on for the rest of the game. JJ got to draw on me, and everyone thought it was really funny.

He tried to make me look like my dad:

And I decided to kinda act like him:

Later, my dad got to draw on my mom, which ended up so funny that she almost peed her pants when she saw a picture of herself:

On Saturday, we decided to just stay through Sunday night, since we go down every week for Sunday dinner anyway. Micia and Stewart had already planned a party for the UFC fights that night, so we joined them at Stewart's house and it was a lot of fun. Then we came back to my parents and went to sleep.

On Sunday, we were lazy. We woke up extra late, played some TW'08, and then watched the Cowboys (Micia's team) get beat by the Eagles (JJ's team)... it wasn't a major loss for the 'boys, though... just 44 to 6 ;)

Dinner was delicious, it was my mom's homemade clam chowder, which is better than your mom's/favorite restaurant's, and Steak 'n' Everythings (they're sandwiches like philly cheesesteaks but with onions, mushrooms, and peppers. And tomatoes that JJ and I don't eat during the winter because hydroponic=nasty) .

Overall it was a way fun holiday, and I was glad to be at home. There really is no place like home for the holidays, and, even if you try to have a lot of fun, it's not the same. Next year is JJ's family's turn, which made me appreciate my family extra this year. Thanks everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Very Shady Maple

Every Christmas Eve, JJ's whole family goes to a buffet in Pennsylvania called "The Shady Maple Smorgasbord". This year, we're going to be at my parent's house (side note: This blog may be called marikaandjohn. etc... but I think we've all realized that JJ likes me writing, he never gets around to it) for the Holidays, and JJ said the day he'll miss the most is Christmas Eve.

That's what got my new brilliant surprise plan in the works. I decided to make our own version of Shady Maple for dinner tonight (he always gets up too early for me to surprise him with a breakfast). So I went to the grocery store, bought all of the stuff, and got started at 3--since JJ was going to be home at 5.

I made biscuits and gravy first, then I made the bacon (a whole package, because Shady Maple is all about eating copious amounts of fatty meats and eggs). Then I got working on the pancakes. One of them became quite a pain in my rear.

Here's the story of the epic pancake:

Number One: I'm allergic to bananas. Like, eat-a-banana-and-die type allergic. But JJ's favorite is banana and walnut (I'm also allergic to walnuts). After figuring out how to get a banana open, I started making a GIANT pancake, pictured here:

The pancake filled up the whole pan! I swear I didn't start it this big--It GREW. Good thing I have a GIANT pancake spatula:
It's almost as big as m'face! So I go at the pancake with the flipper, and....
I think you can tell how I feel about this:
I decided just to put it in the oven with everything else while I made another of JJ's favorite pancakes, Peach and Brown Sugar. I made a peach, brown sugar, and pecan one for myself.
Then I decided to make our house look more like Shady Maple...

Seeeeeeee? Almost as awesome as my Christmas decorating scheme.

JJ was very happy with the dinner, anyway, and here he is after he ate his first course, a biscuit and gravy with eggs:

This picture is of the bacon after we were done:

And JJ after he's done eating 2 giant pancakes, a few strips of bacon, and 3 biscuits with gravy... and more than half of the 4 eggs I scrambled:

It was so much fun to see JJ happy! It wasn't the same as regular Shady Maple, because there weren't any whoopie pies, shoo-fly pies, doughnuts fried in LARD (which is a word you hafta capitalize always), plethora of soda machines, or millions of fat people, but... I made it feel more like Shady Maple by wearing a soup strainer on my head (like the Mennonites that own the place...okay, they wear traditional hat-thingies. But they look like soup strainers!).

...I'm officially Shady Maple Crazy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!

Everyone has been showing off their Christmas decorations on their blogs, so I thought I'd show off our lack thereof.
Our mini-tree came from my parent's basement. The presents are real, though. We're not bah-humbugs! We are just spending the holidays at my parent's house, and thought it'd be silly to go all out in an apartment we plan on not living in next Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vegas, Again!

I feel bad that I haven't written in forever! Here is a general update about our lives:

We spent Thanksgiving at my (Marika's) parents' house. It was a lot of fun. We ate, played Rockband, decorated for Christmas, played Rockband, and ate.

My school is going well, even though I did fail my first class ever halfway through the semester, and then found out that I didn't even need it--and then found out I can't graduate until May 2010. UGH. Oh well. I'll get 'er done.

JJ's work is fun, he's traveled twice since we last wrote--to New Orleans and to Vegas. He can write about N'awlins if he wants, and there will be more mention of Vegas in the near future (I have this feeling it might be in this very same blog entry... hence the title). He also has been going through an interview process to try and get a job elsewhere--we're hoping nothing comes through 'til I graduate, but it's looking like he might get offered a great position in DC, so we may have to live seperately for a few months... sound familiar, Joe and Britt?

We've eaten at a couple of good restaurants lately, including the Hong Kong Tea House in SLC. It was IMPRESSIVE dim-sum!

So, let's talk about Vegas. JJ was going to Vegas Dec. 1-5 to go to a nerd-conference (that's what he does for work, be nerdy), and I was invited! But I couldn't go, because I had 2 presentations on the 2nd and was supposed to have a test and a presentation on the 4th. When I went to school on the... whatever the Tuesday before Thanksgiving was, I was told that my test and presentation for the 4th were moved around and I didn't have to do anything on the 4th! I was so excited, so I picked up my phone and called JJ. He didn't answer.... so I decided to be sneaky-sneaky and surprise him!

After my presentations on the 2nd, I hopped in the Jetta and drove, all sneaky-sneaky-like, to Vegas! Here's proof:

Sooooo sneaky-sneaky. I ended up calling JJ when I got to his hotel and telling him that I was there to surprise him. We walked the strip that night (the other work guys hadn't been there), and ate at the Seafood Buffet at the Rio. It was sick. Don't waste your money.

The next day, I stayed in the hotel and filled out the take-home test that was supposed to be due on the 4th, and then I mailed it to my teacher. After JJ got done with his conference, we went to the buffet at the Wynn--where else?! We wanted to make up for the yuckiness that we had experienced the day before.

The Wynn Buffet was not as good as it had been the other time we went, but we still ate copious amounts of crab legs--which made both of us extremely happy.

We also checked out the golf course at the Wynn. If you hate golf-talk, skip this paragraph. It was AMAZINGLY GORGEOUS! We want to play at it someday, but... it's $500/person for 18 with a cart, which is maybe just slightly out of our price range right now. Maybe if they gave us a 90% discount we'd play.

I then realized that I hadn't taken any pictures of the trip at all... and we only had one day left! Luckily JJ got out of his conference early (I had an ETD of 5 PM), and we went to a late lunch at BLT Burger, which is new in the MGM Grand--it's located where the Lion's Den was.

We ordered the fried dill pickles and the BBQ nachos for appetizers, which were both delicious, although I'm partial to fried pickles. JJ had ordered the Shaft's Burger, which had blue cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms, and I ordered the Lamb Tandoori Burger, because that's how I roll. We also got the "skinny fries" to share, since we'd already had our fried course. I mean appetizers.

It was a LOT of food! When you add my Diet Coke and JJ's milkshake to the list, it was AMAZING that we ate even half of it.
I thought I'd give y'all a bird's-eye-view.... cuz... that's how I roll?

We split the burgers, which were both cooked perfectly! I don't care how you think a burger should be cooked--they're meant to be served medium!!!! I also benefit from JJ's hatred of cucumbers--see how I got both of the pickles? They tasted really fresh and delicious.

Other than that, I guess the only news about Vegas is that I'm $1.81 up! I played penny slots while we waited....

Overall, good food, fun surprise, but mostly classic Vegas--lots of walking on the strip, lots of clangy noises, and lots of chilling in the hotel. We didn't want to spend the money to see a show this close to Christmas :).

We're so lucky to be able to take little vacations--we're grateful that we've so far been okay enough financially to have fun while we're young, pre-kids, and married.