Bring on Christmas

I took down the Halloween decorations this morning. (Although, we still have to figure out what we are going to do with our pumpkins…..any ideas?)

We had giant eyeballs in the pine tree nearest to the house. Our scarecrow that we made at Scarecrow Fest and our jack-o-lanterns were positioned right by the front porch.

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It was all very festive and fun and spoooooooky.

But….

Now, my mind is turning toward Christmas. I know that we will do lights on the tree nearest the house like we do each year. We’ll do lights on the porch railings. But, I think that I want to do something more this year. Lights along the gutters? Something in the yard?

What are your decorating plans for Christmas?

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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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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?

Christmas Tree…Oh Christmas Tree

This Christmas, I have really loved our tree. Really, I really loved all of our Christmas decorations. We added more lights to the exterior of the house and are already planning on adding more next year. The Christmas tree looked pretty good all season (although I’ve lost more strings of lights…..thankfully day-after-Christmas-shopping brought some good deals on more lights).

In addition to the tree, there are some traditions that I will always cherish. Our “cookies for Santa” plate. My Santas on the fireplace mantle. And, of course, egg nog in a Santa mug.

Merry Christmas! And may you “Keep Christmas with you, all through the year.”

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Joys of Taking a Break

This year, more than many other years, I have really really really needed this Christmas break. But, now, I actually have time to do some reading….some non-grad school reading. I can sit down and look at recipes (although I haven’t really tried out any yet). I am going to make an effort to take better care of myself in 2017 so that I can be better for everyone else who need me. In the meantime, Amy Poehler and a toasty fire in the fireplace are helping greatly.

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Oh Christmas Cat, Oh Christmas Cat

This year, since baby girl is still in the “grab everything and throw it on the floor or put it in my mouth” stage, we blocked off the Christmas tree with the ottoman. The downside of that has been that Buddy has had an entire Christmas season without being able to easily sit under her (or rather, everyone’s) tree. She was very happy, then, on Christmas morning. The ottoman was moved out of the way to make way for the presents. Once the presents were opened and out of the way, Buddy was able to reclaim her favorite spot for the holidays.

Most of the year, Buddy is a tree cat. She loves to be perched up on a table or chair or lap. She rarely sits on the floor (unless it’s summer and there is a flip-flop to sleep on). However, during the holiday season, she quickly becomes a floor cat. I can’t really blame her, though. Who wouldn’t love to spend the day sitting underneath a Christmas tree?

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IMG_6964We took the tree down last weekend so Buddy has been busy trying to find a new spot. Right now? Her spot is on my leg…..

Simple is best

This school year has been a good one but an incredibly stressful one. Most nights, I have enough energy to get the girls fed and ready for bed…..and that’s pretty much it. So, now that I’m on Christmas break and I have more time to get stuff done, I still want to keep things nice and simple. I actually have time to get stuff done….but I’d much rather use that time getting the girls fed and ready for bed. 🙂

I love Christmas-y snacks and one of my favorite pairings is salty and sweet so, of course, one of my favorite Christmas-y snacks is chocolate covered pretzels.  Not only are they yummy, they are also ridiculously easy. And they are a great way to use up random sprinkles/sugars that you’ve got in the cupboard.

Yummmmmmm

Yummmmmmm

  1. Melt chocolate.
  2. Dip pretzels. (I tend to just stir a handful of pretzels in the melted chocolate. I do not have the patience to do one at a time.)
  3. Sprinkle the top of the pretzels with fun sprinkles or sugars. (Be sure to do this fairly quickly. The chocolate sets up pretty quickly and you want the chocolate to still be melty so that the sprinkles stick.) Adding sprinkles adds a little extra crunch and it’s also a great way to use up any of those sprinkles that you bought specifically for a birthday or to decorate cupcakes. I currently have a ton of sprinkles and decorating sugar so I’m always on the look out for a way to use up some of them.

This batch ended up a bit too chocolatey, if that’s even possible. You can’t really see the openings on the pretzels because every nook and cranny is covered in chocolate. Oops. But, they were still good. I am not sure how too much chocolate could actually be a bad thing.

I made a huge batch so I was able to give them as a gift and still have a bunch to keep at home.

Surprise: I already ate all of the ones at home.