Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Recap

I can't believe Christmas is over. All the preparation and the stress, and it is over in a day. I have to admit though, this year turned out so much better then I ever imagined. Gwen was so amazing and watching her take it all in was the best gift I could have received.

We went to my older brother's house for brunch on Christmas Eve. He and his wife have two kids. My nephew is 7 (8 in February) and my niece is 4 (going on 30!). My brother and sister-in-law put out a really great spread, which included blueberry french toast casserole. Yummy.

Present opening was crazy. The kids got a lot of really cool presents, that even the adults enjoyed playing with!

Joe had to work, but met us back at my parent's. We finished wrapping presents and just relaxed.

Joe had to work on Christmas day too, so we got up early and spent some quiet time together. We had coffee and exchanged our gifts. Everyone else slowly started joining us. My younger brother and his girlfriend spent the night as well.

Mom and I prepped breakfast and present opening commenced! It is amazing how quickly all the hard work that goes into wrapping is destroyed!

Gwen received a new riding tractor, table and chairs, movies, blocks, tub toys, books, a puzzle, and a bunch more, but her favorite toy was a Play-Doh set Joe picked up on the last minute. Guess what I ordered for her for her birthday! (speaking of which, in less then two weeks Gwen will be TWO!)

Santa was very good to me again this year. I received Midnight in Paris, Paris themed stationery, photo album, Eiffel Tower stamp, Eiffel Tower decorative picture, scrapbook paper, Plate to Pixel, KitchenAid Roaster Pan, a sweater, a Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card and a bunch of great stocking stuffers! I am so blessed.

The rest of Christmas Day was very relaxing. Gwen napped and I read through my new book. When Joe got back to my parents that evening, we headed over to his mom's house. It made for a long day, but we had a really nice visit with his family.

I am actually a bit sad this year, that Christmas is over. Usually I have the tree down the day after and this year I am not quite ready. It will stay up for now, but I know I will be itching to reclaim my living room soon!

Have a great rest of your day.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Cooking

I love cooking. It is a passion of mine. Being Italian, I think it is just in my DNA. Growing up, holidays were always filled with family and food. In my 35 years, I have only not spent Christmas with my family once.

My Aunt Phyllis has an amazing condo that overlooks Lake Michigan and she use to host Christmas Eve. She is practically a gourmet cook. We would all sit around this big table and pass plates and plates of meats, fish and veggies. I am getting hungry just thinking of it.

This year will be a lot quieter, though. We are going to my older brother's house for brunch and then back to my parents house. We always spend the night and have Christmas morning there. Then at some point in the afternoon we head over to Joe's mom's house. We are very fortunate that our parents live so close to each other and we are able to see everyone.

Last night I made homemade sauce and meatballs to take to my parents. Nothing says family dinner like a big bowl of pasta!

Talking of family dinner, my younger brother and his girlfriend came over earlier this week for dinner. I made a slow cooked pork roast with apples, potatoes and carrots. It was amazing. You know a meal is good when the there is silence at the dinner table!

The juice left over from the roast was so flavorful; I strained it and used it to make mushroom and asparagus risotto last night. Joe says I am amazing with leftovers. He always wants me to write down my recipes, but I kind of just add a pinch of this and a splash of that until it tastes right. It is really hard for me to recreate anything.

I can't wait to see what I get for Christmas. Everything I asked for was cooking related!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Starting New Traditions

Yesterday Joe, Gwen and I went to the Christkindlmarket. We parked and walked over to State Street to see the windows at Macy’s. I was so excited to see what Gwen would think. The windows I felt were very disappointing and Gwen seemed unimpressed. She had more fun people watching.

We got to the market a little before it opened. Joe wanted to see how Gwen would do with Santa and since the line was pretty short, we hopped in. Gwen was good while we were in line, but when we got up to see Santa she would not let go of me. Hopefully next year will be better!

We met up with my friend Dolly and her husband Lee and walked around the market. Joe and I tried hot, spiced wine for the first time and were pleasantly surprised. It also came in this adorable boot-shaped mug.

Because it is a German Market, I felt it appropriate to buy a traditional pickle ornament for our tree (even though neither one of us are German!). I also purchased an Eiffel Tower ornament in honor of our trip to Paris next year.

Since Gwen is not a big meat eater and most of the food options were of the sausage variety, we left the market to find her something to eat. A block away we found this cute little Italian market/restaurant where you could get paninis, salads and pizzas. We order a Margherita pizza and two little bottles of wine. It was quick and cheap! Two great things when you have a little one.

The temp started to drop and the wind picked up, so we decided to call it a day. It was so much fun though, and it is now going to be part of our yearly Christmas tradition. I am so enjoying creating my own family traditions with Joe and Gwen.

Have a great rest of your day.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Catching up on Christmas

We are pretty much done with shopping! Joe had yesterday off and we hit the mall. All purchased gifts are purchased. I am working on a few homemade gifts the rest of the week.

I am a little disappointed with myself though, I had great plans for all the Christmas things I was going to do this year. I didn't even get cards out and I usually do. Gwen was very uncooperative with taking a nice photo. We did not even attempt a visit with Santa this year. And to top it off I did absolutely no baking of my own.

When I was younger I had these grand visions of what Christmas would be like when I was married and had kids. I pictured huge family parties with music and tons of amazing food. I wanted it to be just like when I was a kid. I am sorry to say that this is not what my Christmas or any holiday for that matter, looks like now. After my Grandma (dad's mom) passed away there was a division in the family and it has never been resolved. So no big holiday parties any more.

I know, now that I have my own daughter, I need to start developing my own family traditions. It is just hard to envision the holidays without all my family though. It is even difficult to get together with my older brother and his family. Maybe when we get a house, we can host the big events. Until then though, I will just have to cherish the memories of holidays past. I need to enjoy the ones at hand and make them memorable for Gwen. I want her to look back and remember how wonderful they were for her. They are about her now and making memories with and for her.

Tomorrow we are heading to Chicago to visit the Christkindlmarket. I am sad to say that I have never been. I even worked on Michigan Avenue for two years and passed the market when I would get off the train. Joe has the day off, so we are going to bundle Gwen up and take her to see it. A new family tradition begins tomorrow (I will post picts tomorrow night, I hope!).

Have a good rest of your evening.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Wish List

I am so trying to get in the Holiday Spirit. Mom and I did a bunch of online shipping today and Gwen and I watched Rudolph. Now I am creating my wish list. Some of these things I know am getting and some are definitely wishes. My biggest wish came true last month with me now being a stay-at-home mom!

I can't believe there are only 10 days until Christmas. Guess I should go and finish my (online) shopping! Have a great evening.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Little Getaway

I am so behind on my posts. Joe took me on a little getaway to Valparaiso the weekend after Thanksgiving. We had never been before and were not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised with the quaint downtown. We walked around until we could check into our B&B.

On the ride there I googled some restaurants and there were two French restaurants. I was so excited. I was even more excited that one was open for lunch! We had an amazing lunch at Bon Femme Cafe.

We started the meal off with Baked Brie en Croute - yummy! We had a bottle of wine and enjoyed the Christmas decorations. It was a great way to start the trip.

After a very filling lunch we headed to the B&B. We had reservations at the Inn at Aberdeen.

It was an old farm house and we stayed in the original master bedroom. We spent quite some time exploring and taking pictures of the beautiful Christmas decorations.

Later that evening, we headed back downtown for a night cap. We went to the other French restaurant Bistro 157. We snacked on Crispy Fried Calamari and House Pickles and had a nice bottle of wine.

I was nice to get away, just the two of us, even if it was only for one night.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Baking

Gwen and I spent the weekend at my parents, since Joe had to work. As I mentioned before, Joe works most weekends.

As excited as I was to be off during the holidays this year, I am having a really hard time getting into the spirit of it all. The tree is up, the stocking are hung and even the Elf on the shelf has made his appearance, but I just don't feel it.

Gwen is loving the tree and lights and that should help, but it is not. I only have 12 days to muster up some yuletide cheer.

Well onto a happier topic. As I mentioned before, Gwen and I went to my parents for the weekend and we baked cookies. My niece (4 years old) and nephew (7 years old) came over and decorated the Christmas tree, baked cookies and built a gingerbread house. They were so cute. Gwen did a really good job keeping up with her cousins.

But when she is with them, she wont take a nap. It was such a long day for her that she literally fell over on the couch and slept. I was afraid to move her. I didn't want her to wake up. She just keeps going till she cant go any more.

Things are getting better with her nap and sleep schedule. We will see where we are at the end of week three! I am feeling a lot better about all of our schedules.

I feel better about a lot of things. I just need to get things moving with my design portfolio and get my work out there. After the holidays I will hit the ground running. I am so looking forward to 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Week Two

Today marks two weeks that I have been home with Gwen. I still can't believe it. I really don't know how I got everything done when I worked full time. Joe is a big help, but there seems like so much to do in the course of the day.

Gwen and I have been having so much fun though, even with everything that needs to get done.

She loves painting.

She also has recently discovered Elmo and she can't get enough.

I know what Santa will be bringing her for Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, we are almost finished shopping. It is nice being able to go shopping during the day during the week instead of fighting the throngs of people on the weekends. The older I get, the less I like going to the mall. We were in and out in less then an hour today.

Tomorrow is my Mom's birthday and Gwen and I are going to lunch with parents. So love being able to spend so much time with them now that I quit my job.

Well, I need to go and edit some photos for our other blog.

Have a great evening!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dreary Days

What a dreary day. The gray days of winter are here. I still can't believe it is December already. Fall went by so fast. I still have a beautiful pumpkin on my patio that was never carved because we were just too busy.

Gwen and I are working hard to try and develop a routine that works for both of us. I know I have to be patient and be firm with her, but it is so hard at times. I hate having to tell her no.

Look at that face. Tell me it would not be hard to tell her no!

She had a good night sleep last night, which means mommy had a good night sleep. Looking forward to today and snuggling up on this dreary day.

Hope your day is great.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quiet Time

I am sitting here enjoying some quiet time. I am having such a difficult time getting Gwen to nap. I am exhausted by the time she finally gives in. Today was especially rough. The battle of wills lasted for almost an hour. It breaks my heart to let her cry it out, but she wont go down any other way. I try rocking and snuggling, but she wants to keep going. And let me tell you, it is in no ones best interest for her to not nap.

So I sit here now sipping a cup a tea and trying to figure out how to get her to nap better. I feel like I am failing, because I can't get her to sleep. She is almost two and I thought by now we would have nap time down. We will try again tomorrow and see how it goes. For now she is sleeping peacefully.

I think I will catch up on some reading and finish enjoying my tea, while it is still quiet.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Week 1

I am a slacker. I haven't posted in over 5 months. Life just got way too busy. I am hoping that things will slow down a little now. Especially since I quit my job and I am officially a stay-at-home mom!

I was trying to stick it out at work until July, but I just was having such a hard time being away from Gwen. I had a really bad day at work and Joe said, I think it is time to put in your notice. That was a Thursday and Friday morning I gave my notice. It is hard to believe I am not going to work anymore. I am still going to be doing some design work for a bit for them and Joe and I are getting our photography and design company up and running - Images of Camelot Photography & Design.

I have been done with work for a week now, but throw in the Thanksgiving holiday, and it still hasn't really set in yet. I kind of feel like I am on vacation. I am so loving be home with my sweet daughter. It is hard to believe she will be two next month. Time is flying way too fast. She is becoming such a little person. She amazes me daily. Everything we went through to have her was so worth it. I feel so blessed to be her mother. One of these days I will write about our journey to getting pregnant and her birth story, which by the way involved 22 hours of labor!

Need to get back to snuggling my little love. Looking forward to all the things we are going to do!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Things I am loving today

Today I am loving my outfit! Charlotte Russe has done it again for me. I love the inexpensive trendy tops I get there. I bought this top in April and have only worn it one other time. I have no idea why I haven't worn it more.

Also loving my Calvin Klein jeans. They have been MIA for several months. They are just so comfy.

Love this Vintage Pearl bracelet.

I love fonts! Found this website today for fun free fonts here.

I love antiques and vintage anything, especially when it is a family heirloom. I broke out my grandma's china this weekend and set the table. It looked so pretty on an antique table cloth my sister-in-law gave me. Now all I need is a cute tea pot.

Love the thought of letter writing. I have written about it before here. Last night we went out to my parents and found my calligraphy set. I am truly going to try and start writing letters to some of my friends, especially Michelle. I know she will appreciate it!

I love my new camera. Well new to me camera that is. Joe's new Canon 7D arrived last week and I got his Canon 50D! So loving taking photos with the 50mm lens. Sorry Nikon D3000, I still love you though.

I love Mac! I have loved Macs for years. I have an old 11" Ibook that needed to be replaced (it is almost 7 years old) I finally upgraded to a 15" MacBook Pro. Can I say LOVE IT! I have an older one for work. I am loving working on IOC and MODS stuff. Also having fun with our new Ipad too.

Love IOC (Images of Camelot - our up-and-coming photography and design company). I love how much fun Joe and I are having getting our business started.

And as I do every day, loving my family. Gwen, Joe, Mom, Dad and the whole crew. I am so blessed to have such an amazing family.