Welcome back! I hope everyone had a fabulous Chrismahanukwanzakah, filled with an abundance of good cheer, awesome presents, decadent cookies, and strong alcohol. :-)
I've had a fabulous two weeks of vacation; I spent the first two days of break cuddled up in my pajamas on the couch and then entered into a whirlwind holiday extravaganza that included some last-minute shopping, dinners with friends, and a massive cookie bake-a-thon. I know that I need to start planning for the next semester
Here's a bit of what happened during the last two weeks...
I've had it on my to-do list to visit the jellies for the last year and Mario & I finally made it happen (during a weekday, in which the sugared-up wild kid population was limited!). While the exhibit was much smaller than I expected, it was still super cool. Mario brought along his fancy camera and was able to get some great shots of the jellies, along with some of the other fun fish.
Many of my friends have ended up on the Holiday Train by chance, but in the thirteen years I've lived in Chicago, I've never been that lucky. I finally stalked the train schedule online and
forced asked Mario to come along and document the excitement (he was considerably less excited as he's one of those Chicagoans who have serendipitously ended up on the Holiday Train multiple times over the years).
Eating/Drinking (too much!)
Andy's Frozen Custard: Candy Cane Concrete (peppermint candy cane pieces blended with vanilla custard - holy crunchy, minty heaven!)
Brunch Café: Apple Bread French Toast (fresh baked apple bread with a vanilla bean glaze and pecans - a friend & I split this amazing French toast for breakfast dessert after our much healthier egg dishes)
Anna Shea Chocolates visit #1: Frozen White Hot Chocolate
Anna Shea Chocolates (visit #2): Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (served in the cutest freakin' mug ever - how can you possibly not be happy when sipping from a mug that adorable?!)
So far we've seen The Hobbit in 48 FPS/3D (loved the movie, but I wasn't a huge fan of the frame rate - it made everything look hyper-real, which actually made it look fake) and Les Misérables (LOVED!). Up next: Lincoln, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi.
The Book of Mormon
Those of you who haven't known me for long may not know that I am a HUGE theatre nerd (I acted in/directed/stage managed plays for years, was a double English/theatre major in college, and actually did a brief stint as a theatre teacher shortly after I moved to Chicago). While no musical will ever surpass Les Misérables for me, The Book of Mormon was damn close (but for very different reasons). It was by far the best new musical I've seen in years!
Since the first round of baking, I've made an additional two batches of the amazing White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies and I promised a friend that I would make another batch just for her (she had one at a holiday party, fell in love with the pepperminty goodness & immediately requested I make more). Best cookies EVER!
Mario's final guitar class recital of the year. He's so cute. ♥
We had a lovely evening with our adopted family filled with Santa, sparkles, and delicious food.
Mario and I always use Christmas as an excuse to spoil one another and this year was no exception. Yes, there is both a rockin' new laptop AND a Breville Smart Oven (which I've been coveting for the last year) in my half of the presents pile. Oh hell yes.
2012 definitely had its ups and downs - there were some significant personal and professional milestones for both of us (more about this later) and some job woes/financial messiness that started off the year on a bit of a sour note. Thankfully, the final few months of 2012 were primarily filled with friendship, good food, and laughter. I'm grateful for all of your support and look forward to a 2013 filled with fabulous foodie adventures! Have a wonderful New Year! :-)