house guests.20

Update on the laptop situation: We've made progress in our negotiations with the darn thing. And by progress, I mean that we had real IT people look at it, they wiped the memory clean (yikes), and now it actually turns on. Let's just hope our automatic cloud-based backup system did its job, or I'm going to have permanent separation anxiety from certain photos from the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. I mean, if I lost any of my Israel photos, I guess I'd.....have to go back there and take them again?  Hmmm...

In the meantime, I just remembered that I had edited and uploaded photos from our Christmas holiday with family prior to this whole loser laptop debacle. You'll remember that our first Christmas since the move was spent here on island with N's family. We had a really great time, but it felt so weird to be celebrating Christmas in 80-degree weather. However, this year, after being in Cayman for two years, staying on the island for the winter holidays seemed really natural and inviting. Time off from work, no travel plans, visiting family, and agreeable weather? Forget tradition. A Cayman Christmas is the way to go!

The family arrived on Christmas Eve, and within a few hours, we were all down at Dart Park in South Sound for a sunset Christmas Eve service by the sea.

My lovely friend LW led us all in several faith-based Christmas carols - a great way to keep the Main Thing the main thing during the holiday.

Towards the end of the service, everyone lit candles for a few final songs.

I took a ton of photos for our church, which you can see here.

NS: Fusing Santa Clause and the birth of Christ like a champ.

Christmas day was as gorgeous as could be. The shot below is representative of our "normal" daily view, but I still had to take a photo to help me forever capture how warm and lovely Christmas could be.

If you look closely, there is a little white girl working on her Christmas tan on the far edge of the pool.

Also a benefit of celebrating in Cayman: Gifts become quite simple. There is very little retail shopping on island that interests me (seriously, one of my favorite stores is Bay Market - a natural food store), and it doesn't make sense for family to drag down extra suitcases of stuff for us, so we usually end up filling only a few boxes and envelopes and just sharing island experiences with each other. Thus, our tiny little tree was adorned as follows:

The bottom right corner is a new beach towel from my mom to me that N "wrapped"
using one of my wool cardigans. Function over form for my guy.

One thing I like to do around the holidays is actually engage in some real food prep. N and I don't make a lot of sit-down meals together, so when his entire family was here for Christmas, I decided to use most of the day to prepare a hot brunch and a big dinner. It's what my grandma always did/does, and it's what my mom and N's mom do when we visit, so it was my pleasure to in turn serve N's family. Besides, I just love eating homemade food.

You can't beat Skinnytaste's Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
for a satisfying breakfast.
I didn't take a ton of food photos (you're welcome), but we also enjoyed Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel cookies (Christmas cookies are a must) and kept the house smelling festive with stove top aromatics.

Meanwhile, NS, his dad, and his sister (our Most Frequent Visitor - third time down!) did some snorkeling behind our house. I love that we didn't even start the car all day. It was perfectly relaxing.

N gives them the lay of the, sea.

Later on, Christmas dinner involved Pumpkin Pie Dip with apples, Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes (wouldn't make again, so won't add the link here), my roasted broccoli and cauliflower (which involves olive oil, salt and pepper - simple and delicious), pomegranate seeds, and, the centerpiece dish: Herb Crust Rib Roast.

We kept dessert simple: Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Yogurt Cupcakes, again, from Skinnytaste.

The holidays are such a great excuse to eat well.


Other Christmas week activities:

1. Movie night at Camana Bay

Movies under the stars are ten times more magical than in the theater.  Camana Bay hosts movies periodically in their grassy courtyard, especially in the summer and around certain holidays. Check out the entire Camana Bay calendar here.

2. Hanging out at the Ritz with J&S' visiting family

JS getting to know N's dad.

Two notes on this point:

  • I have many more Ritz photos, but I'll wait to post them until I can dovetail them with our latest weekend activities, so only a couple shots are presented here
  • Several of our friends also had their parents on island for Christmas this year, which led us to organize to a family-style boat day. We had loads of fun and took tons of photographic evidence, which is...almost completely inaccessible to me at the moment. Let's not talk about it.

Spikeball is currently his favorite beach game, right behind volleyball.

3. Dinner at Cracked Conch

At sunset. The only time to have dinner on the water, in my opinion.

Pretty little bride-to-be.

Awesome family unit.

The Cayman branch.
Christmas has now turned into a wonderful time of year for me to work on my tan, apparently. 
This is dark, even for me.

4. Brunch at Blue Cilantro with B&A and his visiting family

I seriously eat breakfast food more than any other food category every day. Eggs, oatmeal, granola...I just never tire of these dishes. A Cayman-style brunch is the crème de la crème of the breakfast experience...

...because you don't just get breakfast and lunch. You get dessert.

As I mentioned above, there are other Christmas-week stories to tell and photos to show, but when you take a couple hundred photos in one week, it requires more than one post. Stay tuned for more highlights that include paddleboarding, wakeboarding, boating, and scenes from the Ritz in general - my happy place.

I leave you with one of my favorite pics from the whole week: AS and her dad - two wonderful, strong, hard-working, loyal people. A good family to be a part of, if I do say so myself!

More island Christmas tales to come.


  1. Great Post (as usual =) Jenn).
    Oh my gosh, those chocolate peanut butter pretzel cookies of yours are DeliSH!
    Glad that your laptop was resuscitated and hope that your back-up system did you proud. Look forward to your next post xxx

  2. I love Cayman brunches! Besides the people, beach and sunsets, maybe it's the thing I miss the most. Beautiful picture of Amanda!