Christmas eve in Galveston

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I was off on Christmas eve, and the weather called for a beautiful day – sunny and 68 degrees. Hmm. What could we do? Last year we went out to the park, so I didn’t want to do the same thing. Then I thought, what about Galveston? A winter’s day is the best time to convince (drag) Derek to the beach with me, since he has less of a chance to get burnt. Derek and the strong sun on a beach do not mix.

We did everything on a whim, and we ended up getting lucky a few times. For instance, we arrived about a half hour before the shops on the Strand opened, so I suggested walking to the pier. There, we saw a pod of dolphins!

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After that, we moseyed on back to the Strand, and made our way through the shops. At about 10:25, I suggested to go to LaKing’s Confectionery for coffees. When we got there, we saw a sign that said the next taffy pull demonstration would be at 10:30!

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We enjoyed the Christmas decorations, and took some Christmas type photos of our own with props that we brought with us.

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The last lucky thing of the day was happening upon a sandman!

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We both had a great day. Perhaps we can make this a new Christmas tradition?

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Christmas lights in River Oaks

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A few days ago I saw a short 20 second video on Facebook of a drive through of Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood covered in Christmas lights. I immediately sent the video to Derek and said, “let’s go.”

River Oaks is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city, and it backs up against the Memorial Park golf course. I don’t think that really has much to do with the fact that their Christmas light displays are spectacular, but it helps that all of the houses are grandiose.

I did some research online, and it was all the same: Start at River Oaks Blvd, and from there turn on all of the side streets. Easy enough, but Derek and I were still skeptical because we’ve never done this before. However, it was clear that we were in the right place when we turned onto the Blvd. Wow.

Lots of people were driving around slowly with their flashers on like us, and I can only imagine it would be crowded on the weekends and as it gets closer to Christmas. It was a great night out  – for free – that helped get us in the Christmas spirit.

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Gingerbread House

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I unexpectedly had Christmas Eve off, and I am so used to working that day at all my other jobs. With a free day ahead of me, I looked into Christmas type activities to do.

I found a large one-and-a-half story gingerbread house set up in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel.

Some facts about the house:

It took 75o hours to build. The builders used 500 pounds of gingerbread, 350 pounds of dark chocolate, 725 pounds of milk and white chocolate and 325 pounds of sugar!

The team really did a nice job with the details. We especially thought that being able to see inside the house was a nice touch.

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The Galleria

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The Galleria is an upscale shopping mall in Houston. Originally I had figured that I wouldn’t ever have a need to go inside. My wallet would cry just being in the vicinity!

But, when I was looking for things to do over Derek’s winter break, I saw that there was a huge Christmas tree in the middle of an ice skating rink (!!) in the Galleria. Well, if anything, it would be a good photo op.

However, the more that I looked into the Galleria, I realized that, while there are mostly high end shops, there are also plenty of stores for us poorer folks too!

We ended up going to familiar stores such as Hot Topic, Game Stop, Disney Store and Aeropostale. We also stopped at Nestle’s to get cookies to go (snickerdoodle), and a macaroon stand. I got mint chocolate and almond. Yum!

The mall is definitely huge. In fact, it is the largest mall in Texas! Although I must point out that the mall by my Grandma’s house in NJ is bigger! I guess not everything is bigger in Texas…

We kept getting lost trying to find our way to specific stores. Thank goodness for the directories! Funny, there was always a line to use them! At least we weren’t the only ones walking in circles.

I enjoyed coming here. I may come again during a day off when Derek is back in school just to kill a couple of hours and get some exercise.

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Houston Zoo Lights

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We visited the Houston Zoo last week to see their Christmas light display. This event made me feel like I was “back home” because we’re so used to going to Hershey Park almost every Christmas to see their lights.

A major difference between here and there was that it was 60 degrees! I commented that the zoo was crowded, and Hershey never seemed this crowded. Derek replied that it was probably because it’s cold in Hershey!

We didn’t see any animals, except for a giraffe, a few flamingos, and the aquarium. It was too dark to see anything else, so don’t go to the Zoo Lights expecting to get the full zoo experience. But the theme of Zoo Lights is obviously animals, so you don’t feel like you’re losing out on anything. Overall it was very beautiful!

One thing I found interesting was that there was a section of Texas themed lights. There were lines to take pictures in front of each one! Of course, Derek and I took pictures with some of these lights, but we’re technically still tourists. People in Texas really do love that they are from Texas! I told Derek that it would have been strange if there was a Pennsylvania section of lights in Hershey Park!

Some pictures:

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Santa’s Wonderland

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I was insistent on finding a bunch of Christmas things to do, mostly because it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all! Although I have to admit today was really cold and windy, and tonight Houston is getting it’s first overnight freeze in many years! But no snow in sight though!

I came across Santa’s Wonderland in College Station, which is northwest of Houston, an hour and a half away. It is a drive thought light show on hayrides (reminded me of our times seeing the Sweet Lights in Hershey, PA) and a little Christmas village.

I was able to buy a ticket in advance to save a few bucks, and I was able to save even more by committing to go on a “value night” or a week day in the beginning of the season. This worked out in our favor because I have off Wednesdays and Thursdays.

We had a nice time. It seemed to be more for families, but if you are a little kid at heart and like being in the Christmas spirit, then this place is still for you too. While the kids can get pictures with Santa or with Marshal Frostbite (the sheriff snowman) there were stores for adults to shop at (clothing, housewears, decorations, etc) and even a mini winery where you could do tastings.

There was a big bonfire with lots of seating around it in front of a stage that hosted different bands all night. Bands played a host of Christmas music. There was a movie screen so we caught a few minutes of The Christmas Story and Elf. We shared a peach cobbler that was cooked in a big cast iron pot over an open fire. Yum!

For extra, you could do things such as a mini train ride, a big slide and a petting zoo.

But the main highlight is the drive through lights. You can go as many times as you want! We went twice to sit on opposite sides to be able to see everything (and get the best pictures!)

Here are pictures from our night:

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A Christmas tree in a small apartment

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When we first moved into this apartment, I knew right away that there would be no room for a Christmas tree anywhere. But seeing as we moved in August, I pushed that thought out of my mind for a while.

But then November rolled around, and I had to think and get creative. I knew I wanted a “tree” no ifs, ands or buts. I googled, “Christmas tree for small spaces” and my dilemma was answered.

Thankfully there were plenty of people before me who had the same problem, and came up with a wall Christmas tree. There are many different varieties, but I went with garland.

It was a little bit trial and error to get the trees (I did two!) to stay up on the wall, but I am happy with the results!

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