As I've missed every Monday in December, here's a massive compilation of Christmas Thoughts in photos.
I've taken on some more responsibility at work, so I tabled blog posts for a while. It was worth it - we worked hard to launch a new website, new messaging and positioning, new goals, and more. Very exciting.
1. We've had so much snow already this year - at least, that is what it feels like. One morning, it was so beautiful that we drove around to take it all in.
2. And thank goodness this was the year we purchased a snow blower! Well worth the money thus far.
4. Started and finished the Christmas cards a little later than normal this year. I may be one of the strange people who actually enjoy sending cards - all the way from addressing each envelope, to catching up with people when asking for their new addresses.
5. What would Christmas be without a new doggie jacket? Louie was well equipped for the snow and cold.
6. Before heading to Milwaukee for Christmas, Tim and I exchanged gifts at home. One of my favorite things in life is to find or create a gift that makes the person say, "Wow! You were listening to me" or "Wow, you really get me." (Marketing insights, anyone?) So I've been secretly working on a medal hanger for all our race medals with chalkboard paint, so current PR times can be included. I'll post the full project at some point!
7. I learned how to play cribbage. I love Christmas for all the games!
8. Reed, my nephew, was especially adorable this Christmas. He's walking (like a cute, drunken sailor) and it's crazy to see how much he's grown up.
9. My Christmas Eve photo - when I took this, everyone was in bed. It was so peaceful with the Christmas tree glowing in the dark, and it really felt like "Christmas" to me in this moment.
10. My three favorite people/animals on Christmas morning! Even though my family was in North Carolina, we had a massive group text going all day. We shared it virtually. I'm lucky and grateful, too, that my in-laws and their family have taken me in and treat me like I was their daughter, sister, niece, etc. But it's still hard to be away from family on this day.
11. Family photo.
12. Sisters! (Technically sisters-in-law, but feels more like sisters).
13. If Christmas had a theme this year, it would be running and coffee. We are the new owners of a Starbucks Verismo, and let's just say our coffee intake has increased. Tim also found this Wisconsin mug for me which I LOVE. It includes the Capitol, terrace chairs, cheese, farm and cows, a football, the Allen Bradley clock and building, and Port Washington lighthouse (I think - I'm guessing at all of these).
14. Reed has so many new toys to play with! Here he is enjoying a new truck. Note to self: toy packaging is super intense. This one involved a screwdriver and lots of effort.
15. And finally, post Christmas, I experienced a wonderful sunrise run. Here's to winter.
Hope you had a Merry Christmas!
1. Christmas is here! Well, almost. Santa is coming.
2. Tim and I exchanged gifts early because we are in Milwaukee. Louie got some great things too.
3. So after the snow storm, we had 20 inches in 24 hours. That's a lot of snow. And a lot of shoveling. It for sure is a White Christmas in Madison.
4. Part of my Christmas gift was a night in Chicago! Even though we were only there for less than 24 hours. We walked around, enjoy some snacks and drinks, and did some shopping. We ended teh night at Wildfire Steakhouse, which was amazing! Highly recommend.
5. We are now in Milwaukee, celebrating Christmas. We babysat for this little guy yesterday so Joe and Sarah could go see the Hobbit (which is awesome, btw).
8. At bootcamp this past week, we did the 12 Exercises of Christmas. OMG it's a tough one. It follows the song, but with exercises. 1 pull up, and then some cardio (10 jump lunges and 50 punches). And then 2 star jumps, 1 pull up and the cardio. And then 3 T-push ups, 2 star jumps, 1 pull up and the cardio. Cardio is the partridge in a pear tree. WOW. I did it again today, but substituted pull up for 30 sec plank. You could also easily swapped out moves for areas that you want to focus on like more abs.
all the exercises if you want to do!
1 pull up
2 star jumps
3 T- push ups
4 triceps extensions
6 bicep curls
8 mountain climbers
9 shoulder presses
10 squat jumps
12 tuck jumps
10. Merry Christmas from us to you!
My friend Angie over at Pintofgoals.com answered this Christmas survey, and I loved it so much that I couldn't answer just one question. Christmas goes by so fast that it's always fun to answer these questions and reflect.
1. Favorite Christmas song or album?
Mine by far is Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong. She has the most beautiful voice. My second favorite would have to be Celine Dion because it reminds me of my mum.
Tim couldn't tell me a favorite album, but he did have a favorite song - Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives.
2. Run on Christmas morning or take the day off?
The last couple of years I've usually run on Christmas Eve. I'd like to get a run in tomorrow, but may not have the time. I did run yesterday in the snowy landscape and it was beautiful! In honor of Christmas Eve today, I did the 12 Exercises of Christmas. It's an intense workout that follows the flow of the song - do 1, and then cardio. Do 2 then 1, and then cardio. Do 3 then 2 then 1, and thencardio. Cardio is the partridge in a pear tree.
Cardio: 20 jump lunges and 50 punches
1 pull up
(I did 30 sec planks instead)
2 star jumps
3 T- push ups
4 triceps extensions
6 bicep curls
8 mountain climbers
9 shoulder presses
10 squat jumps
12 tuck jumps
3. What do you usually eat on Christmas morning?
For the last couple of years, we have spent Christmas with Tim's family and his mom always has stollen, a german fruitcake. And kringle!
4. Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?
My favorite tradition by far is getting the tree and decorating it - it's a weekend affair. I also appreciate midnight mass - we used to go to Gesu downtown Milwaukee, and now go to Tim's parents church where his mom sings in the choir. I like the quiet time and the hour to just unplug and just be.
5. Real tree, fake tree, or no tree?
Real tree! I married a wannabe lumberjack, so we hike into a tree farm and spend 2 hours looking for the perfect tree. I think we did pretty good this year.
6. Christmas pajamas…yay or nay?
I have some flannel pjs that I always wear around christmas - but no pjs for Tim.
7. Where do you spend the holidays?
My parents go down to their sailboat in the Virgin Islands, so we spend Christmas with Tim's family in Milwaukee. We usually spend Dec 23 with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law - and in years past, we would head out to Pat McCurdy or go to the bars. This year, we had a fun night in with their new baby! The last couple years we do Christmas with my family in January in the Virgin Islands! Unfortunately, not this year.
8. Food that you always have during the holiday season? Favorite Christmas food or treat?
I always make chocolate covered pretzels, and so that signifies Christmas to me. So yummy. We also always have three types of chili on Christmas Eve at Tim's mom's side of the family.
9. Open presents all at once or take turns?
Take turns. Even Louie was thrown into the rotation this year.
10. Favorite Christmas movie?
I don't know if I can have a favorite. There are so many that I love. If I had to choose, White Christmas is my favorite and the one we always play when decorating the tree. I LOVE Elf and Love Actually too - they are just such good movies. And then Christmas Vacation and Home Alone. I mean, c'mon. Just too many to choose from. Oh, and It's a Wonderful Life because it reminds you what Christmas is all about.
Your turn! Answer one or more.
Every year at Shoutlet, we have a holiday cookie bake-off!
Last year, I took second place last year with these bad boys: Chocolate Cinnamon Minties
So this year, I wanted to do something different and so we turn to the Pinterests. And I found these Hot Cocoa Cookies from Rachael Ray. They immediately caught my eye because of the marshmallow. Pretty much will eat anything with marshmallows, especially cookies.
These cookies were pretty intense from a cookie making process. Just warning you ahead of time. But they were a lot of fun to make and VERY good. I would just make sure that they are kinda warm when you serve them!
Oh, and they took third place!
What to make on the snowiest day of the year so far? Soup.
You win some, you lose some. Next time, I'm going to try to substitute some of the half and half with skim milk.
Original recipe from Tasty Kitchen.
Saute garlic with the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat until golden brown - about 3-4 minutes.
When the garlic is done, add tomato soup, sun-dried tomatoes, half and half, chicken stock, and spices.
I don't know if it's the Canadian in me, but I'm loving this storm. I also don't have to travel and have the priviledge and fortune to be able to work from home.
The snow started last night, and when we woke up this morning and went out around 6am, we measured about 7.5 inches. It was a rude awakening for Louie, but pretty hilarious. He eagerly ran outside and quickly ran back in. Tim shoveled everything from 6-7:30a this morning to get a head start on it (NOTE: we do not own a snowblower).
Louie learned the smart spot to hang out.
He also has the memory of a goldfish and asked to go out every 30 min, would rush outside, realize what was going on, and run back inside. Hilarious. Caught on "tape".
We headed back outside at about 2p to clear some more snow. We measured another 9 inches. OMG. And it was so heavy.
Doesn't mean you can't have fun in it though!
Hope you are staying safe and warm!
Ok, so if you live in the midwest, you've heard that we are going to get hit with MEGA STORM, THUNDERSNOW, and I've even seen it called the DRACO STORM. That's my personal favorite, being a Harry Potter fanatic and all.
Anyway, what better to eat than peppermint bark during a snow storm? I don't know if those really go together, maybe with some coffee, but regardless of the storm, peppermint bark is delicious.
The Williams Sonoma kind is so popular that they usually go out of stock before Christmas. So in this month's Food Network Magazine, they tried to "copy cat" the famous recipe. My mum bought me all the ingredients to make it, so I took a stab at it.
Here is the original recipe, but I've added my notes of what I would do next time in [these red brackets].
Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles. [I would maybe use my large edged baking sheet next time - the bark is very thick when you're done. And so rich.]
Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming.
Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until one-third of the chocolate is melted.
Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate into the bowl, a few pieces at a time, until all of the chocolate is melted. [This is called tempering!] Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5 to 10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate, if needed. Do not rush this step: It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
Wipe off any moisture from the bottom of the bowl. Stir 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes. [I would leave it for at least 30 minutes, and maybe put in the fridge to set more. The chocolate wasn't set when I added the white chocolate in the next step and so it swirled together in some places.]
Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl.
Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the bark out of the pan using the foil and break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
1. Only 8 days until Christmas. YAY! So excited, but simultaneously with a heavy heart thinking of the heartbreaking events this past weekend. Christmas this year for me is having perspective, enjoying the small things, and being grateful for everything in my life. Time and time again we learn that life is too short or can change in a instant. So make the most of it and send positive thoughts and prayers to Sandy Hook.
2. Looking for some easy Christmas goodies to make for your upcoming get-together? PRETZELS! Easy and fun. And delicious.
3. I've figured that I've watched almost all of the Christmas movies that I want to....still have to watch Home Alone, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story. I'm sure I'll watch Elf 5 more times in the next 8 days.
4. Louie is so excited for Christmas. He put on his antlers again for Tim's parents who were visiting for the Packer game. He put on quite a show.
6. I spent the day on Wednesday last week with my nephew and sister-in-law. It was such an awesome day, just hanging with Reed and catching up with Sarah. He is such a peanut and has changed so much already! I love him!
9. Ugly Sweater Day at work!
10. We got to spend some time with Mac this weekend - he has grown so much! Has four little teeth too. I remember the day we visited them in the hospital when he was born. Where does time go?! He is such a sweetie and so enjoyed our time with him.
Posts coming this week: Hot cocoa cookies and homemade peppermint bark!
Ok so I know I've been a little absent from my little blog. It's been a little crazy around these parts.
First, I feel it would be wrong to go on without a note about Sandy Hook. Tim and I have difficulty watching the coverage. Like everyone, it just makes us so incredibly sad to think about those kids and family members and the staff and teachers that saved more lives. It's just so hard to understand, especially so close to the holidays. So before everyone gets on their high horse about guns and politics and blah, blah, blah, read this article. It's a brave and poignant post from a mother who has a special needs child, similar to the gunman on Friday. A difficult but good read, I highly recommend.
Every year, I make holiday pretzels. I enjoy making cookies too, but I've always loved chocolate-covered pretzels. It's the sweet salty thing that really gets me. So yummy.
So for gifts, I ususally put some fun pretzels in fun containers. And Saturday was the day for this. I spent all day in the kitchen making 10 different types of chocolate covered pretzels!
Preheat your oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add pretzels. Place chocolate in the middle. Bake hershey kisses for 3 minutes and remove immediately. Place one m&m on the top, and push down slightly so that the chocolate reaches the edges of the pretzel. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. Repeat!
For the rolos, I did 4 minutes in the oven - they have a little more resistance than the kisses.
Or in this case, drizzled with BOTH white and dark chocoalte.
I also dipped regular pretzels, and drizzled with white chocolate. Needless to say, my kitchen looked like a chocolate bomb had hit it. I wish I had taken a picture of it!
I also made homemade peppermint bark, but that is getting it's own post, coming soon!