Christmas in the City + The EASIEST Cookie Recipe

Monday, December 17, 2018

Happy Monday! How did your weekend go? I feel like these weekends before Christmas get extra hectic, jam-packed with activities and get togethers. And it's all good stuff... but it makes it just fly by, doesn't it?

On Friday Steve took the day off (he had some extra vacation days to use up), C had a well visit in the morning, I had a haircut at noon, and then we spent the evening in Philadelphia enjoying some Christmastime fun. We started off with dinner at McGillin's Old Ale House, which is decorated like an actual winter wonderland, and from there headed to City Hall. We checked out the ice skaters and caught a fun light show before walking over to LOVE Park. The girls thought the giant present made of Christmas lights was the best! After that we got cake pops and hot chocolate from Starbucks and enjoyed it in a prettily-decorated lobby. Once we were all stuffed with sugar, we went to the Comcast building and took in their really cool show complete with snow machines! It was such a magical little night and apparently the girls thought so, too, because they both fell asleep on the way home. :) Success!

On Saturday I picked up our groceries in the morning and we got some cleaning done. My mom came to visit so the rest of the day was spent playing and enjoying time with her. Steve and I even got to sneak out for a Starbucks date. Dreams do come true!

Sunday consisted of a Target run (and there was literal running involved since Haddie was my sidekick for that trip -- PS, how cute is that mug? Have you guys seen the Christmas mugs there? Amazing!) and a cookie swap in the afternoon. I made Almond Joy cookies to bring and it is the easiest recipe of all time. Although I enjoy cooking, I'm no baker, so the less ingredients the better... and this one has just FOUR! If you have a cookie swap or are making dessert for the holidays, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. 

Hope your week is off to a good start, friends!

Here's to the Magic Makers | A Holiday Tribute

Thursday, December 13, 2018

What are your fondest memories of celebrating the holidays as a child? Maybe it’s that punch with the frothy top that Grandma always made, or maybe you remember plucking a piece of paper with a name written on it from a fake tree and choosing the perfect gift for someone in need. Perhaps it’s that whole day of baking that took place with half of your family crammed into the kitchen, feet aching and flour flying through the air. Or it could be leaving the midnight service, the air icy cold and thick with anticipation.

I remember the Aunt Kathy Christmas.

Growing up, we often gathered for Christmas Eve at Aunt Kathy’s house. This is when Aunt Kathy and her family still lived on Riverview Drive, which was neatly lined with smaller town-homes. I remember so clearly pulling up to that driveway the night before Christmas and being greeted by the display of caroler dolls and Santa statues positioned in her front bay window. Inside was cozy, with festive décor everywhere you turned and, of course, the shining centerpiece: the tree.

My family’s traditional Christmas dinner was a delivery pizza, but we knew to save room in our bellies for a table full of late-night hors d’oeuvres once we arrived at Aunt Kathy and Uncle Bob’s. There would be pigs-in-blankets (of course), mini meatballs, cut up vegetables, chips and dip, and, most years, baked ziti. For dessert there would be cake shaped like a wreath and leftover gingerbread houses that we had decorated when she invited all the kids over for some holiday fun days before.

We cousins would line ourselves up on her extra large, L-shaped sectional with plates of potato chips (sorry for the crumbs, Uncle Bob) and wait until we got the “okay” to begin peeking at tags on the gifts piled beneath the tree and commence the opening. I’m sure you can imagine it: balled up wrapping paper everywhere, squeals of excitement, hugs all around.

As we headed out into the frosty night at party’s end, Aunt Kathy would swear that she just heard Santa’s sleigh bells. I would spend the drive home searching the dark skies.

Christmas Eves were different once Aunt Kathy and her family moved from the Riverview house, I’m sure partly because I – along with everyone else – was getting older. But she still managed to make them special. I remember one year not so long ago especially fondly, when long folding tables were set up end by end in the new den and Aunt Kathy had us sit around them singing Christmas carols. While we were singing, we needed to pass something around – I forget what it was now – and when the carol ended, whoever was holding the object won a prize from a pile of small wrapped gifts she had prepared. This is one of my most cherished memories because it’s one of the last Christmases we were all together.

Right up until her last breath on New Year’s Eve two years ago (you don’t think she would have dared miss Christmas, do you?), Aunt Kathy brought the magic. And though she isn’t here today to thank for a lifetime of truly precious holiday memories, I feel her in the details of this season and like to think she’s proud that I’m trying my best to carry on her joyful spirit for my own girls.

So this December, let’s raise our glasses of frothy punch and forks full of baked ziti to the magic makers: the ones who bring us together year after year to create everlasting memories with those we love most. I know I will be, and you better believe I’ll be searching the skies once again this Christmas Eve.
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