Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.-Paul Theroux

Christmas wasn’t as magical as it usually feels. I was still lucky enough to see many people I love over the holidays and for that I am grateful. December was incredibly busy and January is looking like things will calm down soon which is great. Winter SHOULD be a season of recovery and preparation–I don’t think I could have found a more appropriate quote to describe my feelings about the season. It’s all the best time of year for soup and awesome rich foods, which I love.

During December, I spent time with family and friends pretty much the entire month. Matt and I won tickets in the lottery to see Christmas at DePaul which was so great! Shout out to Laura for killin’ it on the oboe:

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I was able to bake with mom, Sarah, and Lauren. It was Lauren’s first time making Potica! Not our recipe, but gives you an idea. The picture on the right is my mom instructing Lauren on kneading:

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My mom is AWESOME and was able to score tickets to Hamilton in Chicago. Mom, Tammy, Sarah, Matt, and I went to Christkindlmarket to enjoy some spiced warm wine then looked at the Macy’s Christmas window display before the performance. This show was so great. It’s really an introduction to a shift in musical theater. I am sooo lucky to have been able to see it so early. I didn’t realize how weird it is that I’ve always been able to do that growing up (Lion King, Wicked, Book of Mormon). #blessed.

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We went to Matt’s family Christmas Celebration and played 7-11 after the show. It was such a nice day! So glad to have been able to see everyone. I made Santa hat cheesecake bites (SO GOOD), but forgot a photo. The collage below includes a bunch of things from the Christmas season. Starting at the top left: Dan’s Candies (truffles & dark chocolate dandies/turtles), Nola playing with Emma at Zarobsky Family Christmas, A Festivus Pole at Empirical Brewery’s taproom, Snickers by the tree, Rob trying on an “old man mask” that he “won” in 7-11, The STOP-IT Team (minus Rachel) at our bowling work Christmas party, my mom’s tree, s’mores cookies (baked for my team’s Christmas party at my apartment), and the gift I received from my Reddit Secret Santa (yes, I’ve had a good experience two years in a row being matched with a stranger on the internet and exchanging gifts with them and others)(my Reddit Secret Santa got me a “travel kit” with which to visit Eastern Europe–ADORABLE).

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Here are some more photos from the season. Again, starting at the top left: Matt decorating the tree, Southwestern Pinwheels (for a Christmas get together at Andi’s), my gift for my Reddit Secret Santa, Christmas cards (best part of the season), my cozy ass apartment all decorated, Cranberry & Rosemary White Christmas Sangria (for our annual get together at Alec’s),  gifts wrapped and ready to go, a small cute “holiday survival kit” from the neighbors (truffles and chamomile tea to relax during the hectic season), and my Department 56 village.

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Instead of the zoo this year, my family took a trip to the Morton Arboretum Illumination (Light Display). It was fantastic!

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We spent Christmas Eve at Kim and Kerry’s house and my family came (Mom, Sarah, and Buddy). I made a Christmas Tree of garlic knots which was super tasty (Kim served homemade pizzas, so I went with the theme). Christmas is so fun with little ones around! Somehow, I didn’t get a picture of Kenzie, but here’s a few of the rest of our awesome nieces. We also tried to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, but fell asleep almost immediately after turning it on this year:

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Christmas Day was alright, mom got the stomach flu (which I then came down with the next day–what a nice break -.-). It was just a day of hanging out and eating, but we saw the family and went over to Uncle Joe’s to bring his gifts.

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I took a few really nice walks when I was on vacation (after the puking was over):

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Sara and Rob were in town for New Year’s Eve! I missed them so much! I’m looking forward to when they’re closer. Kindred spirits, you know? Sabrina hosted and we knew quite a few people at the party (special shout out to Annette and Nick!), so that was nice. She had all of the details planned out and it was so sweet! Matt and Rob started eating meatballs directly from the crock pot by the end of the night (top right).

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Sara got a sweet new camera and took some nice quality shots of Matt and I (thanks girl!). Of course, we screwed around for some of them but they turned out pretty darn cute:

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Great way to end the year! You know what was a great way to start the new year? With Matt brewing beer with his brother Mark and Shannon and I hanging with the girls. And of course, eating steak and lobster.

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The last fun thing I did to ride out the end of the holiday season (January 8–it’s close, the Epiphany ends the Christmas season right??) was to see The Little Mermaid at the Paramount with Sarah, Mom and Lauren. Such quality performances there!

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I hope you all had a great Christmas season and that you haven’t crashed TOO hard after the holiday season!

Amanda

 

 

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Christmastime is Here

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all! This has been a jam packed, family and friend filled month. The holidays are a time to slow down, reflect, and eat! While I have done plenty of resting, eating, and reflecting this month, I am ready for life to get back to normal. Matt and I have been relaxing, cleaning, and cooking this weekend and plan on enjoying the rest of the holidays. This is what my apartment has looked like this month:

ImageThe month of festivities began by my mother, aunt, and cousin coming to visit and going with Matt and I to Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. It is a German marketplace with spiced wine, sugared nuts, and happiness. However, it was freezing and jam packed so we did not spend too much time there. It is a tradition to go there and look at Macy’s windows. My aunt had surgery later in the month and my sister was not home from school before the surgery, so we decided to split our normal holiday activities so that everyone could be involved.

ImageMatt and I continued the festivities by celebrating “Zarobsky Sibling Christmas” with Matt’s brothers and their wives. We spent the day eating and watching football. Kim (Matt’s sister-in-law) made an awesome Cajun inspired turkey and the rest of us brought sides and appetizers. I think everyone had a nice relaxing day, although there was a ton of snow on the way home.

The next weekend, Matt and I went with some of his law school friends to see the midnight showing of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It was a good time, but man, I am too old for those midnight showings! The next day my sister Sarah and my cousin Lauren came up to see a teeny bopper band play in Logan Square. Lauren’s friend was supposed to be coming up, but cancelled unexpectedly at the last minute so my sister took her ticket. We may have been too old to be there, but whatever. As you can see, it was still fun!

ImageImageThe next day, Matt and I went to the Zarobsky extended family Christmas. It’s always a good time when Matt’s whole family gets together. They are a lively bunch and we had a great time! In lieu of exchanging gifts with specific people, they play a game called 7-11. Essentially, everyone picks numbers and takes turns choosing wrapped gifts until the gifts are off the table. After everyone unwraps the gifts, each person takes turns to roll a pair of dice. If the person rolling gets 7 or 11, they have the opportunity to swap gifts with someone else. Pretty fun and usually involves swapping bottles of booze over and over.

ImageMatt and I ended up with some wine charms (super cute), a few small games, lotion, and a whiskey glass/decanter set. We loved it all!

The next weekend, my sister came up and we went to Piece Pizza (which I have raved about in previous posts, so I will not discuss again) and the next day my mother, uncle, and cousin joined us to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. It’s always a magical experience and, while we missed my aunt, we were glad to have my uncle Buddy join us this year!

ImageThat Sunday, Matt and I went to my best friend Sara’s birthday party at Two Brother’s Round House in Aurora. It was a blast! It was a really nice way to enjoy the holiday season with friends while celebrating an awesome lady! The first picture is a picture of Sara and Rob taking a selfie 😉 and the second is of Matt and I.

ImageImageOverall, Christmas was quiet and fun! Here are a few pictures from the day:

ImageImageI hope you all had a great Christmas and will have a safe and fun New Year!

Cheers,

Amanda

Novemberween Gift Exchange!

Hey folks! Checking in for the month of November. I have a few highlights from my adventures this month. FIRST of all, I will now be a full-time staff member of The Salvation Army beginning mid-December. This meets a salary, benefits, and vacation/sick time. I am more than excited and grateful for this opportunity. As this is the month of thanks, I am also grateful for my health, my family, my friends, my Matt, co-workers, clients, having a roof over my head (this was especially put into perspective after the tornadoes that hit just a bit too close to home), having enough food to eat, and having the opportunity to get an advanced degree. This has been a crazy, exciting, stressful, and overall amazing year and I hope next year finds me in more of a settled situation.

In other news, I started off the month by going to the Kate Nash concert at the Metro Chicago with my friends Sara and Annette, two fabulous ladies that I enjoy spending time with. Here is a picture of Kate herself!

ImageThe next adventure I went on was going to the Ohio State vs. University of Illinois in Champaign, IL. Champaign is actually closer than I thought and I had not been to a college football game in about four years, so I figured why not! Matt and I drove down with a few of his friends and had a really fun time at the game (Ohio State obviously won) and there was a surprising amount of scarlet in the crowd. Apparently, Columbus to Champaign was not an unreasonable distance to travel to see this game. Matt is a big OSU fan, so we also dressed in scarlet:

ImageAfter the OSU game, I had the chance to see the tree-lighting ceremony at Union Station which kicks off The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. You know those people ringing bells outside of most grocery stores? That is a Red Kettle and 80% of that money goes directly to those being served by The Salvation Army. I spent a good amount of time learning more about this campaign at the event and seeing a few Christmas acts. Here is a picture of me at that event with the Shield mascot. Ha! Who knew THAT existed?

ImageThe next adventure of the month was attending two separate Friendsgiving events. The first was at Matt’s friend Andi’s apartment in Printers Row. That was really nice and I met a good deal of new people. The next Friendsgiving, however, was hosted by Matt and I. Matt made the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce and I made sweet potatoes and rolls. Our friends brought the rest of the awesome food! We had food from the south, Midwest, and Philippines. Totally eclectic bunch of awesome awesome people (Andy, Laura, Alex, Alec, Emily, John, and Mark). We watched Thankskiling 3 kind of. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. If you are going to watch a Thankskilling, watch the first one. The third is trying too hard. Here is a picture of the food and a secret picture of my friends eating heh heh heh:

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ImageFriendsgiving was awesome, as I love seeing these folks and I love cooking/hosting. However, there is nothing quite like seeing family on actual Thanksgiving, both mine and Matt’s. I love how welcoming Matt’s family is to me at holidays and I love my mother’s cooking and seeing my family. It was a nice day spent with awesome people. Here is my family:

ImageThe last adventure of the month was going to a wine tasting at Wine Styles in Shorewood with my Aunt Nancy, mom, and sister. It was a blast! I got a Groupon for the tasting in August for my aunt’s birthday, but we were unable to go until my sister was back from school. This was our first opportunity. We had quite a few different wines and realized we all have totally different palates. What was nice was that we were all able to find something we liked! Highly recommended, especially since the shop splits up wines by taste instead of grape. This is super helpful and I recommend it!

As many of you know, I love the Christmas season. This next month will be full of fun and decorations so stay tuned! I will be spending time bowling with my sister tonight and putting up Christmas decorations in my apartment tomorrow. Have a great holiday season and I hope you all get enough time with your family and friends.

Cheers,

Amanda