2012…Two days in and all is well.

It was kinda dopey of me to try to start a blog as we were heading into the holiday season.  We were much busier than anticipated.  I wisened up pretty quickly and decided to wait to really give this a go until we were into the new year.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

The holiday lunch at Cooper’s Hawk was a nice way to kick off the holiday season.  Cooper’s Hawk’s newest location left something to be desired, but it was good company nonetheless.  Check out my (Jennifer S.) Yelp review here:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/coopers-hawk-winery-and-restaurants-arlington-heights#hrid:JSKtkT7oM2ofRcbeQKxeow

I spent the next seven hours making homemade fruitcake with my Grandma.  Traditionally, she does fruitcakes, fudge and Chex mix every year that she eventually passes out as gifts to family and friends.  Grandpa passed away in April 2010 and he usually helped her.  For Christmas 2010, Grandma enlisted the help of her caregiver and still made everything.  This year, I encouraged/talked her out of making everything.  So, I learned to make the fuirtcakes and have a nice visit all at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These fruitcakes turned out delicious!  Don’t let anyone fool you…these were really good.  We don’t use citron in the batter.  We mainly use lots of cherries and pineapple, so there really isn’t anything weird in there.  I’m hoping to do it again next year with my Grandma.

We have had the opportunity to spend more time with our new neighbors, John & Kayla.  They had an ornament/housewarming party a few weeks ago.  I made Paula Deen’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping.  They were a hit!  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/caramel-apple-cheesecake-bars-with-streusel-topping-recipe/index.html  I also made about six pounds of cocktail meatballs.  They were eating these until five in the morning, so I am pretty confident that they were a hit as well.  John & Kayla live right across the backyard in a condo very similar in size to ours.  There were probably 35+ people at their place.  It was crazy crowded & loud, but we had a good time!  I came home at a reasonable time to catch up on Yelp reviews.  Our son, Michael, came home to log a few hours on the XBox and my hubby stayed until 6am playing poker.  He came home with more money than he left with, so I really couldn’t complain.  My favorite picture…a photo of a handcrafted ornament from a friend who forgot to bring one as a gift:

Chad's special gift

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In mid-December, Anthony (my hubby) started a new, full-time job about an hour from home.  He’s adjusting better than expected.  Up at five in the morning, out the door by six and home by six forty five in the evening.  Bedtime is shortly after nine o’clock now and I’m not complaining.  I haven’t slept this well in years.  We are really excited that he was able to land this job.  He’s hopeful that it’s a long-term solution.  So far, the company and the staff have been great, so we will continue to count our blessings.
 
I helped my brother-in-law-to-be, Steve, shop for my sister, Catherine, at an outlet mall in Aurora, IL.  Honestly?  Best.  Shopping.  Trip.  Ever.  He had two things on the high-end gift list.  We located both items in record time and we were back in the area eating lunch in an hour and a half.  I will shop with Steve anytime that he asks in the future.  What a nice change of pace!
 
This year, Michael went to Florida with my dad, step-mom, brother & two sisters for a ten day trip.  They have a place at Orange Lake Resort and Michael just loves it there.  He had an absolute blast!
 

L to R - Mary, Daniel, Michael & Beth

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I took two days off work right before the Christmas holiday to bake cookies.  Last year, I baked for almost a month.  Anthony reminded me of this and was none too pleased that I waited until the last possible moment to bake a few of his favorites.  Regardless, I baked for sixteen hours or so at my sister’s house.  Here are some photographs of the fruits of my labor:

Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie Cups. Here's the problem. There are less cups in the bag than Reese's says, so I was quite a few short. Oops!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Potato Chip Cookies...pre powdered sugar

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We stopped to visit with my mom, step-dad, Grandma, sister & b-i-l-t-b (Steve) early on Christmas Eve.  We kept things very simple and really enjoyed each other’s company. 

Pete, Catherine, Mom & Steve

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pete, Me, Mom & Anthony

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Christmas Eve dinner was celebrated at my sister-in-law’s home.  Lori has plentyof room and we were a small group, so it was quite nice.  My brother-in-law, Dennis, cooked up a storm for us.  (He’s the professional chef in the family, so Lori was more than willing to turn her kitchen over to him for the evening!)  He whipped up Aracini di Riso (Risotto balls), a bacon and onion app that was to die for, Italian sausage, homemade meatballs that melted in my mouth, pasta, homemade gravy (that he calls sauce, but I won’t argue with him), a light salad dressing and so on and so on.  We ate so much on Christmas Eve.  Truly every bite was better than the last.  Here I am with my niece, Alexis, after we nibbled on a cookie or two.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Michael arrived home at 6am on Christmas Day.  We were startled from our sound sleep, but so glad that he was here.  Oooh, I forgot to mention that we had a houseguest while he was in Florida – Jake…the Wonder Dog!  Here he is (in the white coat) with Tanner & Katie.
 

Jake, Tanner & Katie...this was the only time that all three would sit still for a picture!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anyhow, Christmas Day was lazy.  Yay!!!  We are doing Christmas for Michael next weekend since there will be a second paycheck coming into the house again.  He’s patient and knows that this is a benefit to him in the long run.  I love my kid!  We spent the later part of the day celebrating with my mother-in-law’s side of the family.  It’s always a big crowd & this year was no exception.  Here’s Anthony with his youngest niece, Julia!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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About jenni41013

I am a 37 year old wife, mom, sister, auntie, daughter, friend and advocate living in the burbs. In 2012 when I started writing, I was on a journey to take a more healthy approach toward my lifestyle. In 2013, I re-evaluated a lot of things and I say "no" to people, things and commitments more often without guilt. In 2014, I got serious about doing what I want to do and really living life. I am excited about my life and where I'm headed with the most amazing people all around me!
This entry was posted in Baking, Cookies, Family, Friends, Holiday. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 2012…Two days in and all is well.

  1. Nicole2112 says:

    I’ve never really been a fan of fruitcakes but I can get behind those peanut butter cups! Yummmm!

  2. neverending1 says:

    Good luck to you in your blogging. You’ve baked more cookies in one day than I have in my whole life. Everything looks delicious.

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