So. Much. Candy.

We are having an epidemic in our house. An epidemic of too much candy. We have Christmas candy. We have leftover Halloween candy. And soon, there will be Valentine candy. So. Much. Candy. Now, normally, I would say that that just isn’t a problem. However, there comes a point when it’s just too much and you know it won’t be eaten.

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Here’s the bowl of candy. As you can see, there is an abundant amount of candy canes. Like a crazy amount of candy canes. Now, I like candy canes. They are fine. But I won’t sit down and snack on three or four of them at a time. Nope. Just not gonna happen. I will, however, sit down and snack on three or four pieces of peppermint bark…..

And that’s just what I did. Get rid of those candy canes by smashing them and them topping them with white chocolate.

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Donut mind if I do

You know how every couple years there is some new food trend? You know how the trend now is donuts? Donuts! Yay! Donuts! One of our local restaurants (that we eat at at least once a week) has donuts on the weekends. Yep. If you want some of Stan’s Donuts you can pick them on on a Saturday even if you aren’t in the city. Yay!

So, because I have a hard time making choices about donuts, I got three and the girls and I had a taste test.  (That’s a lot better than me eating three donuts by myself!)

Our choices: Nutella (the one with an N on it), powdered sugar, and pastry creme filled.

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Although, they were all yummy, there was a clear winner for the girls and I……

The pastry cream filled one was delicious! That one was the winner for us. The girls and I also agreed that the powdered sugar one was second place. I really thought that I was going to absolutely love the Nutella filled one but it was really, really, really rich. Probably…..too rich if you are eating other donuts as well……

Snacking…endless snacking

Oh man. I love snacks. I snack when I’m happy. I snack when I’m sad. I snack when I’m bored. I snack and snack and snack. So, it’s important (especially to get the new year off to a good start) to try to snack on good stuff. And, that’s not easy. Especially because the not-good-for-you stuff is soooooooo good.

I’ve been trying to keep chickpeas on hand simply because I love roasted chickpeas to snack on. I haven’t been able to get the girls on board with this snack yet (I think they know that  it’s actually fairly healthy…or at least it’s healthier than many other options) but I love them!

  1. Open a can of chickpeas.
  2. Dry the chickpeas as much as you can.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Toss the chickpeas in olive oil – lots of olive oil.
  5. Cook for 30-45 minutes. (I like it closer to 30 minutes so some pieces are a little chewy and some are crunchy.)
  6. Top with whatever seasonings you have on hand: sea salt, cayenne pepper, fresh herbs, whatever you think might taste good.
  7. Eat and enjoy!
  8. Repeat when you realize that you just finished off the entire batch yourself……
Yum!

Yum!

Going Stir Crazy? Stir Some Batter.

The kiddos are definitely already ready for spring. It’s just sooooooo cold. I can’t blame them. I’ve been ready for spring since December 26th. But, the girls are now old enough that when they get bored, they start arguing. I told Ryan that I’m looking forward to a time in the future (far future) when we have a two story house and I can tell the girls to “go downstairs!” Or, “go upstairs!” *sigh* That’ll be awesome.

Since we have a one-story ranch house, my solution to the bickering came in the shape of a box of bread mix. (And, the fact that our bananas were ripe…..very ripe…..very very ripe.) So, the girls and I made two loaves of pumpkin bread (with three bananas mixed in). Bread and muffin mixes are some of my favorite pantry staples. Many times, I want to bake something but I just don’t have the time to mix and mix and mix. And many mixes are actually delicious or can be made delicious by throwing in a few ingredients (chopped nuts, dried fruit, bananas that are very, very, very ripe).

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And yes, they stopped fighting the entire time that we were preparing the bread. Ten minutes later they were arguing again but that short time was peaceful……

Kick Starting 2017

A few months ago, my treadmill died…..and then grad school happened……and then the weather turned colder. All of these added up to me completely stopping my training. *sigh* So, after some important conversations and a visit to a local gym, we made the decision to buy a second (and much higher quality) treadmill. Important reason #1: this one is covered by a warranty for several years so if the motor dies on it, it can be fixed. Important reason #2: although a gym membership is enticing, any gym that we go to would be required to have child care on site because I would have to bring the girls. Important reason #3: the convenience factor of having a treadmill in our house so I don’t have to go outside (in weather) is pretty high.

So, here’s my new friend. I’m looking forward to working with her so that I can keep up with my training. Goal? I want to be able to register for any 5K or 10K that I want to without having to worry about whether or not I’ll be ready. And…..I am planning on doing the Glass Slipper Challenge in 2018. Run Disney, here I come!

Plus, it gives me a chance to catch up on my Netflix.....

Plus, it gives me a chance to catch up on my Netflix…..

My Own Christmas To-Do List

It’s a well-known fact that it is very easy for me to overdue Christmas. There is just so much that can be done during the holidays in and near Chicago! How can you choose? So, well, I don’t choose and instead try to do everything. That might be why December is so exhausting…..well, that and I teach preschool so no matter what December is going to be exhausting. But, if you too are wanting to have a Christmas crammed with activities, here is my list of must-do’s during the holidays. (Close to Thanksgiving, I usually send Ryan a bunch of invites on Google calendar so that he knows what I’m planning.)

Mag Mile Lights Festival -This one is a great way to kick off the holidays, in my opinion. Plus, it combines two of my favorite things: Disney and Christmas decorations!

Christkindlemarket – It’s fun just to walk around but it’s even more fun if you buy some snacks. Since they are right across the street from each other, we usually combine going here with dinner at the Walnut Room.

Walnut Room – One of my all-time favorites. Ryan and I have been doing the Walnut Room since before we had kids. But, it’s even more fun now that we have kids. The girls love seeing the “Christmas fairies” and I love seeing the windows and the giant tree in the middle of the restaurant.

Holiday Magic (or “lights at the zoo.”) – Lots of zoos do their own version of zoo lights. We go to Brookfield because we are members there. But, I have many friends who go to see the lights at Lincoln Park Zoo and they love going there. So, I think that you are probably ok with picking a zoo and enjoying their lights. 🙂

Renegade Craft Fair – I love this because it offers a chance to purchase some interesting gifts for people.

Christmas Around the World at MSI – This has been one of my favorites since before I even lived in the Chicago area. The trees are beautiful and you still have time to check out some of the other exhibits after you see the trees.

Garfield Park Conservatory – This one is a new one to the list. But, it’s not a new one for a list of my favorite things to do during the winter. This really is one of my favorite places to visit in the winter. Walking in here in January, you can forget that it’s 2 degrees outside and just enjoy the tropical temperatures, sights, and smells. This was, however, the first year that we went during the Holiday Flower Show.

Walking (or Driving) Around And Looking at Lights – This one isn’t necessarily a “destination.” However, I do like to walk around downtown Chicago to see the lights. The big tree at Millennium Park always looks nice. But, I also enjoy taking a scenic route home from Target or the mall to check out neighborhood lights. And, a big part of our Christmas Eve tradition involves driving around and looking at lights. That’s what we do following Christmas Eve Mass. 🙂

 

What are your must-do activities at Christmas?