christmastime is here

It’s been so long, it’s hard to know where to begin. I haven’t visited my blog for so long. With three posts in my cue, I question why I never shared them.

And I know why. This has been such a year that it never felt appropriate to post something. People were/are/will be dealing with so much, that I didn’t know how to add to the conversation, and I didn’t want people to think I was out to lunch (mentally) either. (Although I will say, ignorance is sometimes bliss these days.)

That said, I have missed writing, so here I am. Back, older, not sure if wiser, but eager to share again. So, here goes!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!! Christmas was a little crazy for us this year, in that our plans were ever changing. We try to alternate Christmas every year, and this year was scheduled to be at the farm. We were there the weekend before for an extended family celebration (a fun, delicious, whirlwind of a weekend!), and were due to go back on Saturday morning.

We got the call that Nate’s Mom had been sick in bed, as so many have already been this cold and flu season. Eek! So we decided to postpone our visit to next weekend when all are better.

So what would we do? Luckily my aunt gladly took us in for Christmas Eve, and the plan was to go to my mom’s or sister’s on Christmas Day.

An interesting note: Since we’ve been married, Nate and I have never been in our own apartment for Christmas Eve. Never slept at home. Never put out cookies for Santa. Never opened presents with just my husband and now daughter.

Let me tell you, it was simple and nice. This is the first time Ellie is really into Christmas, and it’s been such a joy to share it with her. Decorating cookies, teaching her patience with the Advent calendar, sharing both our Swedish (Nate) and Polish and Catholic (me) traditions. Her excitement is infectious, her joy never ending. Truly makes my heart happy.

And on Christmas Day? More sickies entered the picture (my Dad and nephew), so we just enjoyed a quiet day at home, with the exception of a visit to my Grandma’s house with my mom (who is also now sick). It was fun to watch her play with her new gifts (like her Melissa & Doug salad set) and just relax. We are always on the go, that it’s nice to sit back and breathe.

And for dinner? Some good ole Trader Joe’s veggie fried rice, orange chicken, and dumplings with edamame on the side. You know, because we were not prepared for a traditional feast thinking we would be elsewhere. Who knows, maybe it’ll be a new tradition!

In the middle of dinner, Ellie randomly said, “Amen!” So we decided to hold hands and say a little prayer. Ellie liked this so much that we held hands and prayed a few more times during our short meal. She surprises me, that one.

What did I learn? Roll with what life gives you, and make the most of it. You can celebrate with family any (and every) day, so don’t sweat it when things don’t go as planned. Who knows, it might just be quite wonderful.

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! More soon, I swear!

REVISIT: Holiday High Tea at the Drake

Over my holiday vacation, I revisited Palm Court at the Drake to enjoy their high tea service with my Mom, sister Lauren (who was in town from New York), and sister-in-law, Melissa.

We met at the Drake on a chilly winter afternoon. It was very crowded, but luckily they were waiting for us, and we were seated at a nice round table in a quieter area of the grand room. I ordered “my usual” (chamomile citrus), while the girls ordered an assortment of black teas.

I’ve shared with you the menu of assorted breads, sandwiches, and pastries before, so be sure to check out the photos below as the offerings were slightly different than before, especially the desserts (the spiced cheesecake with the cute little gingerbread chocolate was my fave). It was fun to just relax from the busy holiday season to enjoy time with the ladies in my family.

It was extra special for us to have time with Lauren, who has three adorable small children (two hilarious girls and a sweet baby boy), which means she’s usually pretty busy, as you can imagine. Thank you for organizing, Melissa!

Palm Court at The Drake
140 East Walton Place

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Spotlight: Favorite Things Gift Exhange

For at least 10 years my friends and I have been having gift exchanges around the holidays. Each year we have a theme for our gift giving; we started with undergarments (one pair naughty, one nice, haha), and moved on to jewelry, “as seen on TV”, beauty products, and this year: favorite things!

Here’s the gist: you pick one of your many favorite things and buy three of the item for the exchange. Then each person’s name is put into a bowl three times, and each person picks three names out of the bowl. You get to enjoy those girls’ favorite things!

So what favorites did I bring? I love candles (I have one burning as I type!), so I brought three Voluspa candles in delicious scents like persimmon and pink grapefruit. I paired those with Clinique’s chubby sticks. Ladies, you must try these–they’re both moisturizing and the color lasts. My color of choice is Richer Raisin, but I got an assortment for the party.

My gal Bridget was an excellent hostess, and I gotta say, I thought the theme was fantastic. I came home with a makeup bag, cleansing wipes, chocolate, lip gloss, nail polish, nail files, and self-tanning towels. What a fun way to try out products that are approved by those you love: your friends! Other gifts from the night included large ramekins, jewelry cleaner, and nipple balm for your lips!

The best part? Spending time with my gals, of course!

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