12.31.2012

Two Weeks

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 eventually someday very soon, but for the moment I'm just trying to enjoy not having to get up at the crack of dawn and actually having some free time to indulge in some of my favorite activities (the DVR is almost empty! My fun-reading book pile is rapidly decreasing! I've been able to see my friends on weekdays!).

Here's a bit of what happened during the last two weeks...

Shedd Aquarium 
 

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?!)

Movies
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!

Cookies
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!

Recital
Mario's final guitar class recital of the year. He's so cute.

Christmas Eve

We had a lovely evening with our adopted family filled with Santa, sparkles, and delicious food.

Christmas
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.
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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! :-)


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10 comments

  1. Looks like a fabulous two weeks! Have a Happy New Year!

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  2. Wishing all the best, Happy New Year!!!
    xoxo

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  3. I had never even heard of the Holiday Train. That is soooo cool!

    Happy New Year!

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  4. that holiday train looks AMAZING!

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  5. Hi! I'm Anne of Recipesup.com, on our website you can promote your blog win prizes and cash. I invite you to go and take a look. Your blog will be in the top rank of Recipesup blogs. Happy new year!

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  6. Busy break, looks like a ton of fun. I for one need a another break!

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  7. Happy New Year, Starr! Your first two weeks of vacation sounds a lot like how I spent my two week vacation. Lounging around, then some crazy baking, and rounded out by watching the entire last season of Heroes on my new ipad. ;-) Now I'm back and work and trying to mentally prepare myself for my second semester of grad school. I just got an e-mail from my professor with homework and class doesn't start for two weeks. :-( I hope you don't do that to your students! ;-) Hope you have a great new year! (PS - I also love when you post and talk about you and Mario. You are a lovely couple!)

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  8. happy new year! it looks like you really enjoyed the holiday season. i didn't even know of those holiday trains and i have been living here for a few years now...heheh. i want to get on one next year...they look so pretty :D

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  9. HI, so glad I found your blog -- nice to meet a fellow Chicagoan and love how you capture so much of what happens in our great city!

    Best,
    Danny

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  10. @Jacky: Me, too!!

    @Renee: Thanks, girlie! I think so, too. :-) I don't post anything for my students to do until the semester actually starts, so they're safe from my red pen for another week. ;-)

    @cakewhiz: You *must* check it out! It's so cool!

    @Danny: Thanks for visiting! I'll definitely check out your blog - I love connecting with fellow Chicago bloggers!

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