Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Miracle...

Yesterday I had a babysitter come over to the house at 3:00 pm. My original intention and reason for the sitter was to attend my husband's company party to which I would bring a brined turkey and gravy to share.  The party got changed to Jan. 3 and my sister said to me, "Don't be a fool and cancel the sitter."  Well, that was good advice!  The weather and kids and Lauren with no school has been taking it's toll.  I mean, stay-at-home-mom or not, we all need a break.....especially during the holidays!  

So I went to my favorite resale shop for an hour and purchased myself that lovely little ring I'm wearing above.  (sterling silver with red and blue turquoise that goes from knuckle to ridic good I was giddy when I spotted it at the completely spoke to me)  Merry Christmas to me!  I'm of the school (15 years of marriage will earn you these smarts) that if you want something good for Christmas you just buy it for yourself and move on.  No Kay's Jeweler's B.S. here folks!  I'm smart and realistic!  If I really want to be truthful here, I've been shopping for myself for about a month!  

After the resale shop I swung by Walgreen's for some last minute stocking stuffers and did a library stop and headed toward my husband's office.  I hit the mother-lode at a community thrift village and then after hubs was done working we headed toward the The Abortetum of South Barrington.  Lots of really cool high-end shops and during the holiday season an outdoor skating rink!  How cool!  My intention was to do a wine-tasting at Coopers Hawk Winery but it was highly overrated and crowded and we weren't interested in standing in any lines.  Instead we went to Nozumi Japanese Cusine and had a drink and sashimi sampler platter.

We hit the  LL Bean store (a favorite) and then did a Christmas splurge and ended up eating at Ruth's Chris Steak House which was everything I've ever heard it was.  We had some lovely Sauvignon Blanc wine and oysters Rockefeller, shared a chop salad and split a 6 oz tenderloin and 8 oz lobster tail.  Some au gratin potatoes that were soooooooooo rich rounded out our "shared meal."  Believe me, it was more than enough food!  
Well, you really need to smile or something.........
I seriously said, "smile as hard as you can!"  
I guess he did.

All in all I was delighted with my time away!  When I left the house I actually let the babysitter do everything on her own without much direction from me other than what to feed the kids for dinner.  And you know what?  It all worked out just fine.  

Now, I'm off to brine that turkey!  (again!)  I know, get over talking about the brined turkeys already!  But really, try it and see if you can stop talking about it!!!!  Here's the brine recipe I use from The Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Love...

“Take heart, be at peace, and know that all is well.”

Sharpie Marker....enough said.

The fine young criminal

THREE hours before our family holiday party Evan decided to take the sharpie I left on the table (my bad) for approximately 30 seconds and scribble on the wall.  
OH WAIT.  Did I say "the wall"?  What I meant to say was TWO WALLS.  Sure, Sure.  After my heart sank and I yelled at Bengt to come up from  the basement "to see what HIS son had done" I got over it.  I googled "remove sharpie marker from painted walls" and tried all suggestions.  Yes, some of them worked but really the only thing that's gonna kill this dandy mess is some primer and paint.  
Here is a close-up.  It's a beauty isn't it?  When I posted Evan's act on Facebook, one of my friends suggested he was only trying to write his beloved Mother a Christmas sonnet.  I laughed again and poured a drink.  In the whole grand scheme of things...........of all that we have experienced already as parents.........and ALL that is left to come, this is merely a blip in the road.  (A funny one at best)  

As a parent (and on a good day) I realize you can't sweat the small stuff.  Sure it's a pain.  It's one more project to add to the list.  But we were having a party and we are all healthy and happy and have money in the bank and college savings for the kids.  I will travel again someday.  I really will.  For now, this is my job. And I love these little buggers more than I can humanly express.

Evan kept showing everyone at the party what he had done by walking up to the wall and pointing to his "work."  And we all kept saying..........."That is not good Evan.  You can never, ever, never, ever do this again."  But we can only hope.
As my Mom always says (who got it from my Great Aunt Ruth, whom I adore)
"C'est la vie"=SUCH IS LIFE!

Monday, December 20, 2010

First gifts of the season...

Lauren was DYING to open a gift right when the family party started and this one saved the day!
 HELLO KITTY fake nails!  

Evan was BEYOND excited about his two giant Tonka trucks (complete with hard hat)  I just held up the camera to catch the mayhem....
He literally was shaking with glee!
He was climbing on top of the box while everyone was trying to get the trucks out!

Family Holiday Party

 Lauren setting the "casual table" 
 Centerpiece....greens from Costco with a little embellishment on my part.
 Lauren added Hershey kisses to the plates...
I was calling this the "elder" table!
We pulled out the fine China, crystal and silverware for the table in the dining room...
Checking on the ham while Evan assists with getting more potholders!

Pillow Pet Fun....

Snuggly for a Christmas movie...
Comfy, Cozy...
Love Dog...

December 9

Due to the holiday season and go-go-go action around here, I didn't document Evan's 2nd birthday.  Well, actually there wasn't much to document.  When you are two you still don't quite get it. Because of this I jaunted off to a party and Dad was returning from a business trip and was stuck in the snow driving back. However, Lauren had purchased Evan a gift from "Secret Santa Workshop" at preschool and she wanted to give it to him as a b-day gift instead.  (precious!)  Here is the "sister knows best and is helping brother bro" open the gift!  
The action was fast!  I had to move quick!  
He didn't really want her help and was getting impatient!
 Oh, what is inside?
One last pull!
Due to the excitement you cannot see this is a four-wheeler.
He LOVED it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chicago Diner Love....

If you ever get the chance to check out Chicago Diner you will not be disappointed!  This is my third year in a row to experience the vegan delightfulness.  Now, I am not a vegetarian and I adore this place, so keep that in mind!  The radical reuben cannot be missed!  AND they have a full liquor license so a lovely bloody mary with a beer chaser does a body right!
Beer recommended by our awesome server! Alpha King Beer by Three Floyds Brewing Co.  AND, who doesn't love sriracha??
Sippin' on some gin and juice, er, I mean a bloody mary!  Day 2 of "we hit the city baby head-on" for Bebe's 40th Birthday!

Quick and Easy Appetizer...

 Veggie Italian "Sausage" Skewers....
The key to a great veggie sausage (I like "Smart Ones" brand and my BF vegetarian friend loves them, as does her carnivore boyfriend) is to steam it in a shallow bowl in the microwave and then crisp up the skin in a little butter and olive oil.....delish!
Some lovely mozzeralla balls....
Some cherry tomatoes...
Skewer up! These are hot and mild Italian sausages...
Drizzle plate with olive oil and more herbs....
Easy and delish!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie Exchange 2010

This is a sight you rarely see in my kitchen.  Oh sure, I COOK almost every night.  But bake?  Nope.  (I'm just like Rachel Ray...hahahaha) But during wine club in November (I'm sure after a few glasses of wine) the ladies convinced me that since my family holiday party was the Saturday after our Thursday night wine club holiday party.......well, hey....why not have 7 DZ. asst. cookies to share with the fam?  It sounded like a great idea. And hey, I can do this.
All ready to go!  Kitchen Aid came out just for the holidays!  ha ha....Yes, I have a Kitchen Aid.  Why?  Wedding gift.  Enough said.
Wet ingredients ready to "cream together"...
Dry ingredients ready to add.  Oh, wait.  Baking powder.  Check.  Baking Soda. OH COME ON PEOPLE.  I even got a step stool out to rifle through the cupboards.  SHIT.  And from what I googled, baking soda vs. powder is a big big baking deal.
So I called both neighbors and WHEW!  I promptly walked over to get some, as I was in the middle of the process, time a tickin' down on the clock before I have to pick up Lauren from school and Evan still sleeping.
A scene from the crime.  The crime?  Me.  Baking.  I'm gonna stick to what I know.
 Well, they look good anyway.
 O-C-D / A-D-D method of planning out the Hershey kisses.
 The Hershey kisses wreckage. Do you know what a pain it is to unwrap this many kisses?
I did enjoy an impromptu dance to "Run Run Reindeer" in the kitchen while baking. It was my highlight.  Also, my grandma Kushman made these every cookies every Christmas.  It was a nice memory. However, I certainly didn't get any baking mojo from her!
Lord help us all.  Especially those who are exchanging cookies me! But I'm just gonna act like it's all good.  And why did a recipe for 7 dz. cookies only yield me 5 dz?????  Yes, I wanted to poke my eye out but I had to start over and make another batch.  (Which said it was for 4 dz but I only got 3....)  Am I making my balls too big?  And I won't even get into my butter issues.  It might need to go in the vault.  

Sissy Outgrew it....

 And it fits me perfectly!  Cuteness factor = HIGH!  Evan loved Lauren's (now too small) Ariel costume!
Time is just going by so fast!  First Lauren can't fit into this anymore (I swear I just bought it!) and Evan CAN fit into it!  (Didn't I just give birth to him?)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Play on Playa's....

Headed out for a night out in Chicago for my BF's 40th Birthday.  Here are some photos that explain (quite clearly) what shakes down when Momma steps out......We started out with some Chandon Champagne.  (great deal from Binny's at $12.99 per bottle.  I brought TWO thank you)
My BF Bern brought these (more as a joke) but we shared a bottle on Sunday.  Just like the commercial says "no jitters", well they were right!  She also brought some half lemonade/half iced tea "Arnold Palmer in a can" but we did not need them.  We would have added vodka of course.  Please.  We don't half-step.
Breakfast of champions and inter-mixed hydration for responsible drinkers....
Wearing a CAFTAN from Malaysia.  Hand dyed silk.  Yep.  Just call me Carrie Bradshaw.  And those nude platform pumps?  Shut it down.  I kept saying I was just gonna wear this to dinner.
 Crackin' open the first bottle.  That's my BF's hand.  She calls it a man hand.
Here's me before the caftan quick-change.  And no, that is not my hair that high.  Some reflection in the light ended up on top of my head.
 Chillin' Out!   Literally. By the way this is the best tip when chilling down bottles in a hotel room.  
Use the garbage can and fill the whole thing with ice.  You aren't using this ice in a drink so it's all good.
A bottle of red just in case we needed more! We didn't drink it or the citrus Mtn Dew you see to the left.  We like to be prepared.
 Bebe's rockin' new pumps that I convinced her she could walk in.
 Our friends John and Yoko.  This was our themed room.  We were at Hard Rock Hotel Chicago.
 Bird rings.
 More platform pumps.
Our cool chair.
 Figuring out what to wear.
 The ladies all done up.
 BB King's Guitar.  We were on the BB King Floor.
Taxi Rides.
Horse and Carriage Sightings.
Blowing out the candle.
 Gettin' into my wine.
Desert #1
Free Desert #2
Desert #3