I've been in a Hunger Games trance for the past week or so, burning through the entire trilogy as if my life depended on it. Let me tell you how tricky it is to become so engrossed in something at the precise time of the year you're supposed to be focused on holiday nonsense! Very tricky! I only just finished the final book, Mockingjay, earlier tonight, and I'm still in a stunned daze. The petite has only just gotten through half of the second book, and the tomboy has pledged to at least read the first one. Do you know what that means? My lips must be sealed in the comfort of my own home (for the time being, anyway) - I can't talk about it all! It's brutal! I have so many feelings!

We did have a really wonderful weekend, though, when my nose wasn't deep in a book. On Friday night, M took me on a low-key secret date. She warned me beforehand - "it's just a casual one, Jonesey, don't go getting all fancy now!" and so I threw this outfit on. We had dinner with gorgeous vintage motorcycles floating over our heads, and antique toy train sets circling the perimeter of the entire place. They had tasty, old-fashioned sours, too!

On Saturday, we headed over the bridge and under the estuary to Alameda, where some dear friends were hosting a holiday soirée at their home. We've been meaning to get together for beer can chicken for months but you know how it is, and we finally got around to it!

Lord have mercy, did they ever feed us! Fresh veggies with homemade ranch, and some sort of mysterious and delicious cave-aged cheese for nibbles. Baked brie with caramelized brown sugar and soft, fresh chunk bits of baguette for scooping up the sweet, warm cheese, bacon-wrapped brussels sprouts, their incredible beer can chicken, roasted pork tenderloin, and freshly baked coconut macaroons for dessert. All the Kentucky bourbon in the world, which M sloshed into her eggnog and I with a splash of ginger ale.

It was amazing, their home is lovely and warm, and we just talked and talked until it was time to take a stroll down Christmas Tree Lane to see all the houses lit up in their holiday finest. We had the incredible good fortune to catch both the Dancing Christmas Tree Ladies and the festively lit motorcycle brigade, too! Afterward, we all had coffee or tea and a light, layered chocolate mousse before presents were opened and we parted ways. It was a fantastic evening!

Of course, we came and collapsed and stayed that way all Sunday long, watching holiday movies like The Family Stone and Love Actually, and It Happened on Fifth Avenue for good, old-timey measure, all snuggled in and nursing a small fire for hours.

Now here we are, five days 'til Christmas and just twelve until the New Year! The other day I said that parting ways with 2011 will be like saying goodbye to an old friend, though I know there are lots of you who can't wait to kick the old bugger to the curb. 2012 is bound to one hell of an adventure for my girls and I, and I'm so excited to roll up my sleeves and get in there already.

411 on the duds:

Corduroy Skinny Jeans: Levi's Silk Geometric Print Blouse: Laila & Savannah Foil "Tantra" Cardigan: Vena Cava Studded Suede Ankle Boots: Trouvé Patent Clutch: Alice + Olivia for Payless Braided Necklace: Tilly's Earrings: Silver Crane Sterling Bracelets: Made Her Think (cuff) and Juniper Tree (beaded) Rings (L to R): Made Her Think, BCBG, vintage