A Day In The Life Of Ellen

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Holiday Gifts

Gary and I (Gary my husband, not @Gary1980Arb from Twitter, although he started the idea rolling in my head) were sitting around about a week ago talking about holiday plans and what we'd like to do for our families for Christmas gifts this year. We go through the same routine every year and every year it becomes a more daunting task.

Our families are lucky enough to be blessed during these difficult times. Everyone who is supposed to be employed has a job, we own our homes, are not facing any foreclosure crisis and have food to put on the table. We are pretty much able to afford what we want when we want it, so it makes the task of trying to figure out what to buy for gifts an impossibly complex and exhaustive process.

Then I remembered Gary's Twitter Food Drive idea (@Gary1980Arb this time) and the light bulb went on in my head. I devised a plan, presented it to my family and they are completely on board with it. Thus, our Christmas will be celebrated as follows...

We have agreed to take all of the Christmas budgets that we would have spent on the adult members of the family (the kids will have a completely "normal" Christmas) and pool it all together. The family matriarchs (mom, sister and me) will take the money and spend an afternoon in the grocery store stocking up on canned goods and dry goods which will then be delivered and donated to our local food bank.

To make things fun and so that we all have something to open at our family get-together, we're going to draw names. Each person will have $5 to spend at a dollar store on the person they draw and there will be a competition for the most creative compiliations of the gift dollar store items!

We will feel very good giving to our community and to those who need some help this holiday season. Isn't that, after all, what Christmas is truly about?

Thanks for reading!


Please forgive me if this post seems self-absorbed. I warn you ahead of time it will also be lengthy as I have many pictures to share. :)

We've had much good news about achievements in our house this week.

My teenage daughter tried out for and made the Winter Guard Squad at her high school. She tried out last year, but did not make it and is one of only two sophomores on the team this year. I am really proud of her. Winter Guard is like the Color Guard in the marching band (flag tossers), but Winter Guard actually performs to prerecorded music and competes. They also bring guns and sabers into the mix along with the flags. Yikes!

I also got a pleasant surprise at work. I have been promoted to an Assistant Vice President of the company.

It seemed that a mother-daughter celebration was in order, so I asked the teen if she would like to go to dinner. She thought the idea to be a good one so I asked her where she wanted to go, expecting an answer like Olive Garden or some other typical place. She said she wanted to go to Ruth's Chris. I looked at her for a moment in amazement and then threw caution to the wind. Why the heck not?

So this post is kind of to memorialize our evening out, but also to give those who have never been to Ruth's Chris steakhouse a glimpse of what you get inside. They truly, most certainly make the BEST STEAK EVER. No doubt.

Ordering at the restaurant is kind of al a carte. The side dishes all can easily feed two people and most who go order steaks and split everything else. The teen and I decided not to do that when we got there. We decided we were going to order whatever we wanted. That resulted in bringing home two massive shopping bags of food which will be devoured again tonight. I can't wait for dinner.

Ruth's Chris locations are generally unique. The one here in Richmond is in an old plantation house which is on the National Historic Homes Registry. So not only do you get awesome food, but you get an EXPERIENCE. The service is beyond excellent too. Staff is carefully screened and you really feel like you are a guest at a dinner party rather than sitting in a restaurant. The people who work there go the extra mile to be friendly and helpful.

Now, it IS very expensive to eat there (my steak alone was $35) but if you did the smart thing and shared on the sides, you can come out without too big a dent in the good old checkbook. We didn't do the smart thing last night and our bill with the tip included weighed in at around $230. But we were celebrating and we eat there maybe once a year and save it only for occasions which deserve something special.

So, to share, here are some pictures of the restaurant and the incredible meal we had last night. I know. I'm such a geek.

1. The outside of the restaurant; 2. One of the cocktail lounges

1. Our dining room; 2. Celebratory drinks...bloody mary for me, virgin daquiri for her

Shrimp appetizers. 1. Shrimp cocktail for her; 2. Barbequed shrimp for me

My steak and potato. The potatoes really do weigh a pound before they're baked!

1. Asparagus hollandaise and spinach au gratin; 2. Savannah's dessert, a banana cream pie that was literally a mini whole pie. My dessert was not as interesting but my favorite so I didn't take a picture but I had the berries and sweet cream.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!

Hi! I'm Ellen.

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