My weeklong Christmas vacation in Atlanta kicked off with an annual tradition - the Atlanta Christmas 5k followed by breakfast at Highland Bakery. It was near freezing at the start, which would turn out to be the only cold morning of a week that otherwise saw record high temperatures. Bailey and I ran together and crossed the line in 20:28, fast enough for 1st place dog and 1st place age group. We even ran back to catch Dad and let Bailey cross the finish line once again.
Breakfast at Highland Bakery is the real reason we get out of our warm beds on an early Saturday morning to go for a run. I was craving something more savory, so opted for the tofu scramble with lots of vegetables and roasted potatoes. I saved a slice of their cranberry nut toast for a snack.
Saturday evening we had a warming meal of tortellini soup and kale caesar salads while playing dominoes.
Mom always plans an abundance of delicious meals for my visits, but this one definitely stands out as a favorite. Lemon fettuccini pasta was mixed with a white wine sauce and tossed with a seafood blend, tomatoes, and garlic. On the side was a refreshing brussels sprout slaw.
On Monday, Mom and I went house-hunting in the Dunwoody-Brookhaven area where I'll be working starting in August. Priority number one, however, was a latte from Octane Coffee Bar.
After spending the morning checking out potential townhomes and houses, we stopped at Alons for lunch. We shared a beet and arugula salad, vegetable sandwich, and butternut squash soup.
That night, Dad, Royce, and Erin met us at Canoe for our annual company Christmas Dinner. Without a doubt, this is our favorite Atlanta restaurant! We started with some cocktails, including a delicious pear-prosecco drink.
Since I knew I'd be eating plenty of appetizers, I opted for a lighter option for my entree - the Chef's vegetarian selection. This included broccolini, asparagus, carrots, and red bliss potatoes. For me, this was satisfying, but I'd definitely recommend sticking with their regular entrees if you want something more hearty.
Another reason for a lighter entree was the fact that I knew without a doubt that I'd order dessert. This sweet potato creme brûlée topped with marshmallow and sweet potato chips was devine!
Bailey made sure to inspect each and every gift that was placed under the tree, and just might have convinced me to give her a gift early.
On Christmas Eve, she was a good sport and donned her reindeer antlers and posed for a few pictures.
Throughout the week, we spent time being lazy, listening to Christmas music, reading books, and drinking tea and coffee by the Christmas tree. It may have been the warmest Christmas on record, but we did our best to enjoy the season.
Grandpa and Grandma hosted a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange. Evidently I was enjoying the evening so much that I never captured a picture of the delicious dinner buffet that they had prepared. It included a mix of shrimp cocktail, pinwheel sandwiches, veggies, cheese and crackers, cookies, and punch.
Later that evening we opened our traditional single gift on Christmas Eve - pajamas!
Here's the first peek at the Christmas tree on Christmas morning! Santa Claus came to the Perkins House!
Royce and Erin joined us for stockings, gifts, and breakfast. Everyone's gifts were so thoughtful and we all agreed that giving gifts is what we most look forward to each year.
It didn't take long before wonderful smells were wafting from the kitchen and we took a break for breakfast. The Perkins Christmas breakfast is the same year after year - cream cheese stuffed pecan sweet rolls, grits casserole, and citrus segments.
One of the most anticipated gifts of the year was the one that Royce picked out for Dad. For weeks we have all heard Royce talk about "the best gift ever." Dad is now the proud owner of a drone! For two pilots, I suppose that is a naturally perfect toy for them both to enjoy.
It was a rainy and gloomy Christmas Day, but we didn't let that dampen our spirits. Bailey and I enjoyed a long run, Dad manned the grill to prepare a perfect ham, and Mom prepared a lunch spread. The annual massive crossword puzzle came out in the AJC that morning and we all spent some time answered the clues.
There's not a single holiday meal that is anything but perfect, and this year was no exception. The menu consisted of a pear and arugula salad with cranberry dressing, ham, roasted green beans, and pumpkin mac and cheese. Dessert went unpictured, but included a decadent panettone triffle.
And just like that, my weeklong vacation came to an end. It was a wonderful week with my family and a continued reminder of just how much I have to be thankful for during this Christmas season as well as all year long. Merry Christmas!