Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Photo Recap - Winter

I know, I know. Are we done with these yet? 
I've actually really enjoyed doing these since I've gotten to look back on so many pictures!
On to winter...which included much celebration and obsessing over my favorite time of the year. 



At the beginning of the month I participated in my first solo 5k. It was in support of the Kiwanis Club in Crystal Lake and I was really proud to participate in an event that supports the area where Sammy and I will most likely live. 

Also, yes, it was a Santa Run which just jacked me right up. Except I refused to wear the hat, beard, or red pants. My enthusiasm stops short at the jacket. 

I've done several 5ks in the past, but never alone and this was also the first time I actually trained consistently beforehand. I walked a little more than I would have liked, but I finished and that's what matters.

My sweet mother came and stood in the snow to watch me run and then we went to Marengo for a "Christmas Walk" event which was very similar to the "Autumn Drive" Sammy and I went to in October. We stopped into several participating residences where they hosted local crafters and small business owners and then we finished the day at a lovely little greenhouse/Christmas tree farm.

We bought our Christmas tree later that night and decorated it a few days later. We also purchased Benny that bandana at the Christmas Walk and then I forced him to pose in front of the tree. 
Most serious dog there ever was.

We had our company Holiday party at The Glen Club complete with a White Elephant exchange (hence the Hulk fists...)

Sammy and I made our annual gingerbread house. Definitely not our best, but it's one of our fav traditions. We take it pretty seriously. We also look like we kind of like each other here but in reality this is about the 14th picture we've taken, so Sammy is losing his patience with me, and the gingerbread house had collapsed at least five times. So. We were over it a little bit too.

We took our annual Christmas trip to Galena, IL this year and I completely fell in love. I can't wait to go back during the summer. I'd love, love to camp there.


The main street was adorable and I couldn't get the thought of Abraham Lincoln walking the same streets I was walking out of my head. 


I obsessively checked the local event listings for the weekend we were going to be there and saw that several historic homes were participating in an event called the "Mistletoe Stroll" where visitors can drive/walk to each home and the owners will give a tour. 


I couldn't have loved it more. Each owner was so sweet and welcoming and each home had a story. One home was a stop on the Underground Railroad and where the first female doctor in IL lived, one was where Grant trained some of the first Union soldiers (like out on the lawn...), and several claimed to have original owners that were friends with Lincoln. Like, come on!
 You could tell how appreciative they were to live in homes with such rich history and it was a pleasure to see. Plus they were decorated beautifully which is always fun. 


We had lunch on Saturday at Durty Gurt's and loved it. Sammy got the Greek burger and I got the turkey burger with a fried egg on top. We'll definitely go back whenever we're in town next.


We did some shopping throughout main street and stopped into some cute art stores, a popcorn shop, some canning stores, and antique malls.




Lucky for me, I happen to be dating someone that doesn't hate to browse shop and actually kind of digs looking through antiques. He never complains and always appreciates cool little finds we come across. 

We stayed at the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel and really enjoyed our experience there. When we arrived, they informed us that we had been randomly upgraded to a suite which we were overly excited about haha.


Normally I try to pick restaurants that are much more Sammy's style to make up for all the shopping and walking around in 12 degree weather #compromise but when I saw Fritz & Frites, I knew I wanted to have dinner there Saturday night. 

Surprisingly, Sammy was into going. He tends to stick with American, Italian, and Mexican cuisine so because this place is German and French food, I was afraid he would be apprehensive to trying it. (He sometimes needs a little convincing which is silly because German and French food should be totally up his alley.)


The restaurant was quaint and very French bistro. We were one of the only couples in the restaurant (probably because it was 12 degrees out...) which made for a romantic evening together. Sammy got the roasted chicken and with potatoes and vegetables and I got pork schnitzel and spaetzle cause your girl can't pass up some spaetzle. I rarely eat meat and I certainly don't eat pork, but I couldn't pass this dish up. The food was delicious and the service was wonderful. I'd love to go back and see if their menu changes in the warmer months.


There was a giant tree outside the restaurant, so naturally we ran over to take a picture under it. There's something about those fat colored lights, man.

The next morning we took part in the hotel's complimentary traditional Irish breakfast. Some of it was served buffet style like the pastries, granola, oatmeal, yogurt, etc., while our waiter brought us plates filled with food from the kitchen. It was definitely a step up from a traditional continental breakfast and it was nice to not have to pay for a meal. 


We made our way to Grant's house which I had been looking forward to all weekend only to find that it was closed because of the weather (the temps had dropped to below zero overnight). Because the house is opened on Sundays, I saved it for our last day because I didn't think much else would be open. I was definitely disappointed but it just gave us another reason to come back!


We stopped in two more antique malls on the drive home and I found some gems ;)

This is a classic Alex picture taken from inside a moving car, and this certainly doesn't do anything justice, but I was loving the snow covered landscape as we drove home. It was so whimsical looking. 

Later in December, this guy had his swearing in ceremony. Could not be more proud or grateful if I tried.


After he changed out of his dress uniform into his regular uniform (he was technically still on duty during the ceremony), he gave my parents and his parents a tour of the department which was awesome. Also, how good does he look? Like how am I dating this?


He took us to the room where they have roll call, and there's a monitor in there that has all the squad cars that are on duty listed with their location so they always know where each officer is at all times. Seeing some of the behind the scenes stuff was so cool but also made me feel more connected to the job because I felt like I got an inside look into his workday. 

They also keep sweet cards and notes they get from children in the community on the bulletin board in the roll call room. How sweet is that?

Toward the end of the month we celebrated my brother's birthday. Every year he proves to be a better brother and friend than I could ever have hoped for. 

There were many snuggles by the Christmas tree. The best kind, of course.


My cousin and I went to see the Backstreet Boys right before Christmas! We were among many a tween (because Ariana Grande was also there and like nine other people I barely knew), but it was such a fun night.


Our department had our Christmas party and it was so lovely.


We decorated gingerbread houses together and finished up our last round of Secret Santa. 
Note: those houses remained on that ledge for months after Christmas... I just threw mine away last week. #NotSorry

I made gingerbread cookies with eggnog frosting that were a big hit at the office and at home. Definitely didn't bake as much as I wanted to (I never do), but I'm glad one batch turned out well.


I went with my dad and siblings to Dinkel's which is our Christmas tradition. We picked up a stolen and some other treats to bring with to various family member's homes for Christmas. 


For Christmas Eve, my aunt asked everyone to bring something they loved to eat as a child on Christmas Eve, but since I couldn't think of something specific to Christmas Eve, I made something I love in general: gravy.  


She had adorable Christmas treats waiting for us when we got there. 

My favorite view on Christmas morning. 
Every year, the thought creeps into my mind that maybe this is the last Christmas morning I'm going to spend at my mom's house and it kind of freaks me out. I love the house I grew up in and never thought I'd be ready to leave, but in the last year I've started to come around to the idea of moving out in the near future. It looks like Sammy and I are going to try to look more seriously at houses next spring/summer, so this year could be the last time I wake up on Christmas morning in my house. It's becoming more bittersweet rather than giving me full on panic attacks, so I think we're making progress. ;)


This was the first year that Sammy and I split both Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families. Usually I stay with my family and he stays with his, especially for these big holidays, but because he was miraculously off duty for both holidays this year, we decided to take advantage of it and celebrate all together which was really special for me especially since I know there will be many holidays he won't be able to be with us.


Sammy's grandmother is an amazing cook and her spreads are always absolutely incredible, especially for the holidays. Luckily his family naturally eats earlier in the day and mine eats much later, so it worked out time wise.


Second round of presents under our tree at my mom's and her Christmas dinner table which always looks lovely. 

Later in the week Sammy and I met my cousins and aunt for breakfast with my parents and brother. We got to meet her and her husband's sweet son and this picture of my dad holding him gives me life.


Sammy's work schedule got switched around last minute and he ended up being off the NYE too! I have a feeling things will be drastically different next year haha but I'm enjoying it while it lasts. 
A lot of our friends had plans to go downtown to some hotel parties and what not, but we decided it was too late to join in and we'd rather keep it low key. So we spent the evening with his parents at his brother and sister-in-law's house with her parents as well. And thus the first picture of the five of us was born ;)


At the beginning of the new year, Chelsie had her makeup trial that she asked me to come to. Isn't she gorgeous? Ugh, I loved it. 

I made two kinds of football shaped empanadas for the Super Bowl. I can't follow football games for shit, but I'm nothing if not festive. And they seemed to be a big hit among Sammy's family.

At the beginning of February we celebrated Sammy's birthday with some gifts, burgers, and Portillo's cake. This man's dedication and loyalty never fails to amaze me on a daily basis. I love celebrating him more than he knows.


We "made" the sausage and soprasatta with all of Sammy's cousins at his grandparent's house which is always a fun day to spend together.

Love, love these people.

On an unseasonably warm day in the middle of February, my girlfriends and I did a wine crawl which is so fun every year.


Later that night, Sammy and I stopped by my cousin's to celebrate my favorite girl's 9th birthday. She requested a Parisian themed party because she has fabulous taste.

Could you die? I just love her.

I picked my bridesmaids dress for Sammy's cousin's wedding :)

And got to feel some kicks <3


Sammy and I finally made it to our first Bull's game of the season. Some unforeseen schedule changes at work for Sammy had prohibited us from going any earlier (in fact, we had to sell the Bulls/Cavs tickets I got him for his birthday because something came up at work), so we were glad to get to the United Center for at least one.


My mom always gets Sammy floor tickets for Christmas, so we feel pretty cool when we go. And I always make sure we're matching in our Jordan jerseys ;)


To cap off what should be the last of the cool temps, my girlfriend, Alicia, and I attended a baby shower for a close friend we went to school with. It was such a sweet and lovely shower thrown by her sisters and I was so glad to be there to celebrate her little lady. 

Now, we should be on to some regularly schedule programming! I have a few posts I'd like to write this month as well as several link ups I'd like to take part in, so I'm excited to get back into the swing of things over here. I've missed this little space of mine. 

Thanks for following along.

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