Sunday, December 22, 2013

celebrations, winter, ready or not

 My lovely Aunt Mary turned 80 last week and we were delighted to help
her celebrate this milestone. I have such wonderful childhood memories
with Aunt Mary. Remember back in the day when cars were huge and
seat belts weren't required? Actually, cars didn't even have seat belts
back then. I used to ride in Aunt Mary's car and sit on the fold-down arm
rest in the front seat so I could be right next to her. I called it the "Easter
seat." I have no idea why. I'll have to remember to ask her about this. Aunt
Mary introduced me to Mad Libs - and actually played them with me. She also
let me color with permanent markers. There was no such thing as washable
 markers back in the late 60's. And when I took Aunt Mary's black and white teddy
 bear off her bed because I wanted to keep him as my own, Aunt Mary let me.

 We celebrated another birthday last night - Tim's! He turned 23 a few days ago
but was still at school. So now that he's back at home again, we took him out
to dinner. He chose a nearby Irish pub - Middleton's. I had a turkey panini but
it was rather rich with some blue cheese and a cranberry mayo on it. I also had
some sweet potato tater tots. I should've known better than to eat that much
rich food - I felt sick all evening and even up until I went to bed.

 I didn't sleep well last night - was up most of the night because Tim was out
with some friends and it was sleeting and snowing. I was worried about Tim
getting home safely. So between the overly-rich food and no sleep, I got up this
morning with a massive migraine. I was so sick all day and spent some time
reading while snuggled under a quilt. Love when my kitties join me.

Good day to stay indoors anyway when the weather looks like this. It'll definitely
be a white Christmas here in northern Illinois.

 Turns out that my sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces will be coming over on
Christmas day, as well as my mom and cousin. I only have a small table in my
kitchen and no dining room, so I think we'll move the 6 foot long table in the
basement into the kitchen. We'll make do somehow.

I have to pick up a few last minute items at the grocery store tomorrow before
I go to physical therapy (my shoulder is doing so much better!), then I might make
one more batch of cookies. I don't know what's going on with my cookie karma
this year, but I've ruined three batches of cookies. Those mexican hot chocolate
cookies that I featured a few weeks ago turned out terrible. They were really
dry. I made them last year and they were fine, so I'm wondering if it was the
butter. Some say there are differences in generic butter versus the more
expensive butters, such as Kerrygold or Cabot's. They have a higher butterfat
percentage. Generic butter has a higher water content. (Moreso than say,
Land O Lakes? I'm not sure. Need to do more research.) I also made a
chocolate cookie with peppermint crunch pieces in it - sounds good, but they
weren't. Hope the birds and squirrels liked them. I went to bake
a batch of M&M cookies and I burned them.

Are you all done with, wrapping, baking?


  1. It sounds like we spent our Sunday in a similar way- I had food poisoning. It was a pretty bad day and I didn't get any of the cookies made that were in the plans. I have no desire to even look at food so everyone agreed that we don't NEED to have any more goodies. I have a few more stocking stuffer ideas that just popped up so if I am better this afternoon, I might try the shops.

    How fun that you have family coming by for Christmas. Neither Steve or I have extended family nearby. Our street is actually a lot like family so we will be going to a neighbor's house on Christmas night.

    Merry Christmas

    1. I am so sorry you got food poisoning! I had that one time - many years ago - and it was ten times worse than having the flu. If yours was from eating out at a certain restaurant, I sure hope you reported it. I hope you have a good time at your neighbor's house; I think it's really nice how you are so close with all your neighbors.

  2. Heck no I am not done, lol...the house is a disaster but I am unloading the last minute groceries, just took cake pans out of the oven, crushed pretzels for jello, and after lunch ( and reading blog-time for a bit ) I'll just keep wading through it all and by dinner time tomorrow when everyone comes it will be fine.

    Sounds like you got a bit of food poisoning there / so sorry that it ruined your celebration.

    But your aunt sounds wonderful and I remember a HUGE Ford that my grandparents had back in the day :)

    As to cookies, I'd made several big batches of sugar cookies and gingerbread men, and have the ingredients for a few more but I think I am going to make those AFTER Christmas. My oldest is home from St. Louis for a week and it won't hurt to have some fresh baking going on then versus all beforehand. And when I decided that I felt so much more relaxed about it all! :)

    1. Oh, I didn't have food poisoning - it was just that the food was too rich for me. Add that to no sleep and that's why the migraine and nausea. I just finished baking peanut butter blossoms. I am DONE for this year, lol!

  3. Hi Melanie,

    I always enjoy seeing and reading about all the different members of your family and your sweet Aunt Mary is no exception! She seems like a lovely lady who really enjoyed having her little niece around!

    Sorry to hear about your reaction to that extra rich dish you ordered. From my own experience, I believe that the older we get, the less we should eat and the plainer the fare, the better we will 'fare'!! Those heavy sauces, especially when laden with cheese, always seem to do a number on my stomach.

    How nice that more family is joining your festivities! There's always room for loved ones, no matter how small one's kitchen may be, right?

    And, lastly, I can SO relate re: your cookie chaos: on Saturday morning,I had a craving for my apple cinnamon muffins, which I have made a thousand times before, and they are a hit with everyone who has tasted them. I thought I'd use the half scoop measure to get my one cup of flour, as it fit nicely into the bag containing it, instead of pouring it into the cup, making a mess of flour everywhere. I thought something didn't look right as I was mixing the batter, but just chalked it up to nervousness re: all the prep I needed to get done that day for Christmas. Well, 20 minutes later, when I took them out of the oven, they were undercooked and the tops had spread onto the baking pan, and looked like cookies, or something resembling them. The point is they were NOT my apple cinnamon muffins! Only while I was vacuuming about 3 hours later, was the mystery solved: I forgot to add the second half cup of flour!!! NEVER AGAIN!

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, my friend!


    1. I think you're right about the older we get, the lighter we should eat. I don't know about plainer though...I love complex, spices, and lots of flavor! But heavy food like cheeses, mayo, anything fried - ugh. Sorry to hear about your muffins, though I'm glad I'm not the only one with baking disasters lately!

  4. Happy birthday to both your aunt and your son! I'm sorry you weren't feeling well. I don't think I get migraines but I do often have a headache all the next day when I've slept poorly. I hope you're feeling better now. That's interesting about the butter...I confess to never having tried expensive butter! I also use Land O'Lakes (if it's on sale) or generic. Sometime I'd like to try better stuff, though. I hear Plugra is really good. I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas. Take care and enjoy, my friend.

    1. Oh yes, Plugra is another one. I actually tried that one years ago but funny thing is, I can't remember if it made a difference. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, as well!

  5. I'm sorry you weren't feeling well. I also feel sick as soon as I eat something that's too rich. I hope you'll manage to bake good cookies. I had planned some Christmas cookie recipes on the blog and all those I took pictures of weren't that good and all the yummy ones were eaten before I took pictures!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours and your cats!

    1. Just made one more batch of cookies - peanut butter blossoms. They turned out fine - whew! Tim and I just ate a couple of them. ;-) Merry Christmas to you and your kitty as well!

  6. Hope you're feeling better today. We are having some very cold weather...aren't we? I remember the days of worrying when my kids were out on the road in bad weather. Now, since they don't live at home, I never know when they are out.
    I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas.

    1. I'm feeling just fine today, Balisha - thank you. Yes, it is way too cold today. I see on my phone that it's down to -5 right now. Good thing we have a warm home! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  7. Your Aunt Mary reminds me of my Grandma - she used to clean out her drawers and give me stuff - I just loved that!! I haven't been sleeping that great myself - just eating too many sweets. I need to get some exercise but I am such a sedentary person! Hope you have a great time with your family - it doesn't matter what size the table is - it's just being together that is so wonderful. Merry Christmas!

    1. It'll be nice to have a fresh start on January 1st with the healthy eating and exercise, won't it? You are right - we'll figure it out with the table. It's all good! Merry Christmas, Patty.

  8. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


  9. Hope you are feeling better!
    Tell Tim Happy Birthday from me, if I remember right, we share a birthday, 33 years apart.
    I baked so many cookies this year and used Aldi butter for all of them except the Shaker Spice cookies that use oil. Mine all turned out fine. I don't know anything about the fancies butters as I have a tiny budget and very few stores to shop at in this little Oklahoma town.

    I just use whatever grocery store butter I can get but I never use margarine or oleo for cookies, it is full of water.

    Merry Christmas friend.

  10. Hi Mel, Bad cookie karma?...Did you tick off a Keebler Elf? Seriously, I screwed up so many simple things this Christmas, including starting my bread with the oil still in the measuring cup when the dough was supposed to be finished...what a mess! Tossed out the whole thing and started over...I call it distracted cooking...Trying to do too many things at once, with not enough sleep is dangerous...Hope your new year is filled with good health, happiness, excellent thrifting and all things good and filled with love and peace. Love, Penny


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