Happy Birthday Adrienne!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday...hopefully Nick will make you a fantastic chocolate cake today!

Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Since I'm catching up on blog posts tonight (what does this make, number 4?) I wanted to give a shout out to our fellow December wedding cohorts who are celebrating their first anniversary today...congrats Mary and Rob! Best of luck in the year to come!

I Don't Know

Christmas Day
Christmas day we headed north to my folks house. We got there just in time see my cousins and aunt and uncle. As we were pulling in the drive, my dad was taking the girls and Madison out for a snowmobile ride. Unlike Champaign that was covered in ice when we left, Morrison had lots of snow - perfect for taking out mom's new ride. We had plenty of fun on that in the couple of days we were there.

Madison, Papa, Cassidy and Corrina

Opening gifts was a lot of fun with Madison this year. She was very good at opening, although most of the time, she just wasn't sure what she was getting, but that didn't matter, she loved it all! If I can ever get my sister to update her blog (hint, hint), I'm sure there will be lots of photos and maybe even a video of Madison when she found out that Santa ate her cookies. Too cute.

Carefully opening

Trying out her new plastic food.

Telling her mom to "Get Out" of her new house.

We''ll head to Bloomington on Friday to have a mini-Christmas with Melissa, Erik, and Jackson. I'm sure we'll have lots more to share....but we're so lucky to have such a wonderful family to spend Christmas eve and Christmas day with. The gifts we received were great, but the time spent with the ones we love was wonderful!

Christmas Eve with the Estes'
We spent Christmas eve here in Champaign celebrating with Ron's side of the family. Lots of cooking, lots of eating, lots of fun! In between snacking we played some Wii and caught up with everyone.

Kayla making sure we're not getting any pictures of her tennis swing.

Paul and Kyle playing baseball.

Kayla - Go, Go Power Rangers!

Leslie - Say Cheese!

My Fat Baby's

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That's right, you saw the post title correctly. My Fat Baby's. I'm not referring to this visitor who came on Christmas eve or my new little nephew.

I'm talking about my Christmas present! I had been checking these out a awhile ago and found out that my friend Dawn had a pair...tried hers on....loved them.....told Santa that I wanted a pair....... and what a guy he is!

Lots of catching up to do. We made the rounds and spent time with family this Christmas. Christmas eve with the Champaign family and a trip north on Christmas day to spend with the Cook's. I'll get some posts and pictures up further detailing our adventures. We cut our visit to my folks short as Champaign was forecasted to get 1 to 2" of rain today. Factor in the melting ice and snow and we got home just in time to get the sump pump running. Luckily, its not like the flooding this past spring, but enough to be an inconvenience.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas!

Last Minute Shopping?

Monday, December 22, 2008

If you're one of the shoppers that doesn't start until a few days before Christmas or even if you're just finishing up- please, please, please, whatever you do, don't buy this gift.

Who doesn't love a great burger or the smell of the grill on a summer night? But, I DEFINITELY do not want to smell a whopper in bed next to me at night!

Friday, December 19, 2008

My all-time FAVORITE Christmas recipe from my grandma.

Peanut Butter Crunch


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Milnot Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups quick oats
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla


Cook sugar, milnot, butter and peanut butter over medium heat until it boils.
Boil 2 minutes.
Stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Add oats, marshmallows and vanilla.
Stir until well blended.
Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper.
Let cool.

Cute as a Button

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Here's a little something that is quick and easy. I just learned about these Reindeer Paws this week from Jen. They're sweet and salty - one of my favorite mixes!

Reindeer Paws

Place a piece of parchment paper on cookie sheet. Use circle pretzels (I found some Christmas tree and star shapes I'm going to try) and lay them on the parchment paper. Place an unwrapped hershey hug in the middle of each pretzel. Put cookie sheet in oven for about 3 minutes. Pull cookie sheet out and put an M&M on top of each hug. Let them cool, peel of parchment paper and EAT!

Jen -- you have complete permission to correct me on any of these steps :)

6 lb 12 oz Baby Boy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just call me Auntie Kelly...late this afternoon Jackson David made his way into the world. And only after about 2 hours of labor! My sister is so lucky! Congrats to Melissa and Erik!

I'll be making my way to Bloomington Thursday morning to see the little cutie before the big ice storm hits. I'll be back with photos.......but until then, here's one from Grandma C.

From my sister Melissa......great for holiday parties!

Triple Peanut Pizza

1 Tube (18 oz) refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped peanut butter cups (about 15 large)

Press cookie dough onto a greased 14-inch pizza pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; let stand for 4-5 minutes. Spread melted chips over crust. Freeze for 10 minutes or until set.

Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy. Spread over the chocolate. Sprinkle with peanut butter cups. Chill until served; refrigerate leftovers.

Vilsack as New Secretary of Agriculture
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Tom Vilsack, who President-elect Barack Obama may name as his Agriculture secretary choice, will need to act quickly on unimplemented farm subsidies and lower crop prices, commodities and agriculture analysts said.

As the 30th head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the former Iowa governor, 58, would also be tasked with re-examining the nation’s biofuels policy. He replaces Ed Schafer, who has led the USDA since Jan. 28. Obama plans to make the announcement today at a news conference in Chicago, according to a Democratic official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Vilsack’s experience as a state legislator and leader of the nation’s largest corn-producing state makes him well-qualified to lead the third-largest Cabinet department in spending, said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, like the former governor an Iowa Democrat. The USDA has a budget of about $100 billion and 110,000 employees....more

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/4 tsp. salt


1 (13 oz.) can mixed nuts
1 (6 oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. lite corn syrup
2 tbsp. butter

Mix together crust ingredients and pat into greased pan. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

For the topping sprinkle nuts on top of crust. Melt butterscotch chips, corn syrup and butter together over low heat. Pour over crust and bake 10 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, December 15, 2008

December is a busy birthday month for us.....

First Happy Birthday to my Mom!

And also to our niece Kayla.........we hear she's a beast :)

Spritz Cookies

* 1 cup butter
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least one hour. Chill cookie sheets.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Press dough out onto ungreased, chilled cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly golden at the edges. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Peppermint Candy Cane Bark

2 lbs white chocolate

12 candy canes, crushed into 1/4 inch pieces

1 teaspoon peppermint extract (1/2 tsp. if using oil)

Melt white chocolate either in a double boiler or in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. Stir in crushed candy cane and peppermint flavoring into melted white chocolate. Line a 11x17" baking pan with wax paper. Pour and spread chocolate mixture onto wax paper. Chill until firm and break into pieces. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So bad for you, but oh so good......and easy!


1 box Ritz crackers
1 sm. jar peanut butter
1 pkg. milk chocolate melting pieces

Put generous amount of peanut butter between 2 Ritz crackers. Melt chocolate over low heat.

Using fork or tongs, dip crackers in melted chocolate, covering both sides. Place on wax paper until chocolate sets up and can be removed from paper easily.

Happy Birthday to Jamie....welcome to the 3-0 club!

myself, Dawn, and Jamie at the Tumble Inn

Christmas Cookies

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's that time of year....holiday baking time! Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love Christmas trees, white lights, snow, spending time with family (and if I get a few gifts, all the better - wink, wink.) I absolutely love baking Christmas cookies. We have lots of favorite recipes, so I'll try to post one every day from now until Christmas. And hopefully sometime between now and then, I'll get a chance to bake a few. I'll start with Ron's favorite and a Christmas cookie staple...

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 egg
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients. Roll into balls, roll balls in sugar. Bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Top with chocolate Kiss immediately upon removal from oven.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here in Illinois, we're used to seeing signs like this:

We saw quite a few of these last week out west:

Arizona - Day 3

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day three on our little mini vacation was our anniversary. We slept in, and decided to take a jeep tour of the Red Rocks. A little pricey, but the tour was great. We weren't aware that the trails in the Sedona area were public access - not only were official jeep tours out on the trails, but anyone with enough guts and the right vehicle could go off-roading.

Having the opportunity to get out and climb on the red rocks was pretty cool. After spending a couple of days there, we can definitely see why people keep coming back to the area.

We topped our anniversary off with a great supper at the Cowboy Club. This bar-turned-restaurant was a popular hangout out years ago for movies stars who were in Sedona filming westerns.

Speaking of our anniversary, since we are officially in "year 2" the blog will soon be changing. Until I get things set up, enjoy the Christmas background and stay tuned for a new look.

Arizona - Day 2
Last Sunday we took off from our hotel and headed north to the Grand Canyon. As I said before, it is truly a sight to see. I would recommend to everyone a trip to Arizona to see it. We are definitely heading back sometime in the future. There is so much to see and do -- we only saw a "small" portion of it.

We drove along the South Rim of the canyon, stopping at the lookout points. There are trails that you can hike down to the bottom along with several other educational stops along the way.

One thing we definitely noticed: our inability to breath normally. Several times during the day we passed 7000 ft above sea level. The altitude really takes the wind right out of you when walking up even the littlest of inclines. We'll definitely need to be in better shape before trying any of the trails next time.

Sedona - Day 1

Monday, December 8, 2008

We headed out from the Phoenix airport to Sedona -- we didn't really see too much until we got really close to Sedona. The red rocks slowly began to come into sight and they were quite a sight to behold.

On the Road Again

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Whew! A whole week of no posting...I'm sure all 5 of you loyal readers missed me terribly :)

What a week it was! We had a great time in Arizona and the 70 degree weather was awesome. I'll be getting caught up photos with
from out trip this week.

We made it back to Champaign on Friday...with just enough time to do some laundry, get some Christmas shopping done, and go see Willie Nelson on Saturday night.

We'd both seen Willie before (at a Toby Keith concert), but he was a little stoned, and didn't remember many of the words to his songs. We weren't sure what to expect this time around, especially since his opening act was Billy Bob Thornton. That's right, Billy Bob Thornton.

Neither concert was that bad, but they definitely could have been better. Willie is such a legend, and he has definitely aged over time. Great guy, great songs, and many are timeless...like "On the Road Again"....we definitely are looking forward to time at home though.

One Year

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wow -- it's been one year already. Time really does fly. It seems like just yesterday we were in a middle of an ice storm getting married. There are so many memories of that day and of the past year. I can't wait to make more memories with wonderful husband...

One of my memories from a year ago"

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.