Our Boys

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The joy of being homeowners!

Well, we're back in the Midwest safe and sound...however...we received news from Brett's stepmom on Sunday that our basement had a bit of water. We have already made an insurance claim and PuroClean is testing everything now...apparently when their machine goes beep that means there is water - BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP...apparently we have water EVERYWHERE. So, fellow followers...it will be another day before I can post pics and tell you all about the wonderful holiday we had. Stay well and enjoy your New Year...we will be moving our Rock Star Stage into Brett's office since our basement is being turned into dehumidifier/ fan central!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!!!

This is just a quick update that I hope finds everyone well. I forgot the cord to download pics so real posts will have to wait until we are back in the Chi. We did however get the Fam a web cam and Lucy and I tried out the pic feature.

Brett, the dogs and I are having a fab time in PA with the Brownlee Fam! We arrived safely and on Christmas Eve cooked an amazing meal for Mama Kate for her Christmas Eve birthday! Christmas was great (Mama Kate WAY overdid herself!) and the day after was full of good shopping! We are all sitting in the "New Room" watching the news, taking a snooze, and listening to the rain and thunder. I can only be thankful we aren't in IL where it seems to be more than a Winter Wonderland according to the weatherman. We're going to the Steelers game on Sunday - CAN NOT WAIT! - and headed for home on Tuesday.

Everyone - have a splendid, warm, and safe New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Family Christmas #1

Brett, the dogs, and I are leaving Tuesday to visit my family in Pennsylvania for the holidays. I am so excited to see everyone and spend some time with them. My Dad is having surgery tomorrow, something involving a disc in his neck, so please keep him in your prayers.

In the meantime, Brett and I had his family over for dinner last night to celebrate Christmas since we won't be with them on the actual day. Dinner was wonderful! Brett did another amazing job on the Turkey and everything I made turned out well also. My culinary accomplishment of the day was a cake in which I saw on the cover of this month's Family Circle Magazine. It is a strawberry filled coconut cake. It was made from scratch with two layers, strawberry preserves in the middle, and a delicious cream cheese frosting. I was a little nervous, as am not sure that I have ever made a cake entirely from scratch. The outcome was breathtaking (the picture doesn't do it justice)...it turned out better than I could have imagined and tasted "exquisite", as Brett put it.
After dinner, we opened presents and had a few good laughs!

Hera trying on the Santa hat!

A not so flattering picture of Lucy with G-Ma Shari

Brett and Lucy playing Santa!

Cathy opening her hot choolate maker from Cari!

Mike looking very excited!

Brett's favorite gift...

"I love presents!"

Christmas Celebration with the ladies of "75"

This post should have preceded my Snow Day, but I got lazy, I mean cozy, with the puppies and it took me until today to download pics. On Thursday, the ladies in my office and I went out for a holiday lunch and gift exchange. In the pats we have drawn names and bought for each other but this year we did something a little out of the ordinary - we bought our self a gift! We turned it into a little game and in the end someone won a prize, but it was very fun shopping for myself and laughing out loud as everyone tried to guess each other's present.Happy Holidays ladies, you make work SO much better!
Me and Meg
Linda and I modeling out matching new scarves!!!

And, our specal guest...Santa!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day!

Although there are some tough days, being a teacher has some perks and today I get one of them - a SNOW DAY!!! I received the call at 5:25 am this morning. I wasn't overly excited because it was the last day before winter break and it is actually a pretty fun easy day. Oh well! I get to stay home and be cozy with the puppies ! I have already shoveled and i have quite the to do list.

  • We are hosting Christmas dinner at our house tomorrow night since we will be out of town and won't be able to celebrate with Brett's family. I have lots of prep work to do for the great dinner we have planned and a spectacular strawberry filled coconut cake to make.
  • I received one of the greatest compliments yesterday at work when I took in some Christmas cookies. One of my assistants loved the sugar cookies so much that she asked me to make 48 of them for a party she is having Sunday. I think next year I may start a small business.
  • I have been trying to get to the Oakbrook mall for some last minuet Christmas goodies...let's cheer on I-Dot that they can those roads clear and get me to the mall.
  • And, finally, we leave Tuesday for our road trip to PA to spend Christmas with my family. I am so exited and I have so much to pack!

Have a wonderful day, stay safe, and be warm!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Puppies love Christmas too!

Have I started a post like this yet, "I love Christmas!". I do, I really, really do in case you haven't gotten that yet. I L.O.V.E. buying presents and I love giving presents. I really try to not leave anyone out and this includes the puppies - Lucy Belle and Tucker Boy! They love Christmas too. Lats year we wee convinced that Tucker was part human the way he tore into his presents! You saw what he did to Brett's birthday wrapping paper! Anyway, my favorite place to shop for them is a little store in Naperville called Two Bostons. It sits right on Washington next to Potbelly however they have opened a second location on W 75th that I have not been to yet . The owners are wonderful people which makes me enjoy shopping there even more.

Now, what do they carry - EVERYTHING! Seriously if you need something for your dog (or cat but they specialize in dogs) they have it. Toys, treats, clothes, collars, jewelry, you name it they have it. And since it is Christmas, it is an even better time to shop there due to their 12 Days of Christmas specials (everyday there is a SUPER deal on a different product). Yesterday I got BOGO bully sticks which are the best "bone" for dogs that like to chew because they actually last for a very long time. Two Bostons also carries a great line of dog toys called Tuffy Toys. Tuffies have a Tuff Scale which rate how "tuff" they really are. On Lucy and Tucker's list, the Octopus! This thing is TUFF!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookie Crazy

I mentioned the other night how wonderful Brett was to give me so much help in making Christmas cookies this year. We decided to make it a tradition which means he now has to help every year FOREVER! It may not look like it in this picture but he really was a big help!

I seriously make the GREATEST sugar cookies ever. I really can't take too much credit though because I think it has more to do with the recipe than the baker. I usually just use a round cookie cutter (actually, funny story, right after Brett and I got married, I didn't have any cookie cutters and so I started using one of our drinking glasses. Three and a half years later, we only have one of the glasses left because they keep breaking and I am nervous what I will do when that one breaks!) and decorate them with various colored icing. In this picture I was joking that I made this one look like Santa - I am not and never have been very artistic. Anyone who has ever tasted these cookies thinks they are the best!

And here is the final product of everything we made ( missing is the fudge that ended up in the trash and the peanut butter cup cookies that had to be chiseled out of the pan). Starting with the red/ green/ and white sugar cookies, clockwise, Hersey Kiss cookies (again, the best I have ever had; made with Bisquick and super soft!), Chocolate Toffee Cookies, and Plantations Cookies. The plantation cookies are extra special because they are my Great Grandma Pearl's recipe. She used to make them all the time and keep them in a special tin in her kitchen. She passed away a few years ago and sometimes I really miss her. She was truly a wonderful lady! Our plantation cookies came out really well, and as good as they tasted, they just weren't hers because I didn't have the right tin.

On another Christmas note, we are still a work in progress when it comes to the Christmas card. We attempted tonight to take a picture of the dogs together by the tree and not one picture contains both dogs. One has Lucy and Tucker's nose, but that is it. Lucy wanted everyone to know it is not her fault - she was posing the whole time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Monday!

Because I am struggling to come up with reasons why I should be wishing you all a happy Monday, I decided to make a list. But first, "Why am I not happy?" - several reasons...

  1. We had an ice storm last night; it was so bad that the back door to house was frozen shut. It was 5 degrees driving to school. Poor Brett had to walk through the city in that weather! I want to be home cuddled on the couch with some hot chocolate with Brett and the puppies.
  2. I am having severe mouth issues. I have a wisdom tooth coming in that has decided to hurt. It has also irritated the gum around it on the top of my mouth and the inside of my cheek.
OK, those are really the only two reasons that this is not a happy Monday. So here is the better list...Why is it a Happy Monday?
  1. We had a great weekend. See previous post about Friday. Saturday Brett helped me with our 1st Annual Cookie Bake A Thon. Although the first two kind we made did not turn out...it was loads of fun! On Sunday Sam and Matt came over to watch football. Good food, good friends, and a Steelers win!
  2. Today is our last full day of classes before finals. I get to wear jeans and sweatshirts the rest of the week and the kid go home at 1:15 everyday.
  3. Brett went Christmas shopping on Saturday and I CAN NOT WAIT to open my presents.
  4. For some reason my Mom thought we were not coming home until Dec. 26 for Christmas...uhhh, no! We will be there the 23rd. Now, she is SO happy we will be there for her birthday (12/24).
  5. Actually, I have so many things I am happy about. The weather and the mouth pain kind of have me down, but Christmas is probably my favorite time of year. I have so many wonderful people in my life and things to be thankful for that it certainly is a

Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmakuh in the City

Ummm...I apologize but it seems the Bergers are taking over our blog. Liz and Adam - you have your own blog...post on it! Just kidding! We had another amazing night in the city last night and I had to remark that we have been spending so much time with them that their pictures are all over our blog. So, I am going to have to issue them a direct challenge to post regularly on Berger World. Click on their link and leave them encouraging comments.
So, yesterday was the Menges and Molzahn Holiday party. Unfortunately spouses are not invited and it is held during the day, so I could not attend, but Brett seemed to have a great time. Everyone in the office enjoyed lunch together and exchanged Secret Santa and White Elephant gifts. Afterward they were off to the Shedd Aquarium for a lovely day of fish watching and dragon observing. Unfortunately the dolphins and beluga whales had been moved and Brett was a bit disappointed. I took the train to the city and met Liz in her office and then we met the boys at Rosebud (excellent happy hour if you're ever looking for a good place in the Loop). When we left we walked around Daley Plaza to see the tree and smell the smells of Christkindlmarkt, the Christmas market that sells yummy treats and various chatzkies from around the world. We cabbed it to La Madia, a restaurant Liz and Adam recommend that turned out to be fabulous. It is a pizza place, but nothing like Pizza Hut. The pizza is thin crust with a variety of gourmet toppings. We enjoyed triple pepperoni with truffle oil and another with stinky cheese and grapes. That's not really what ti was called but I can't remember the fancy name for the cheese or the grapes. We thought about leaving but then decided to head over to The Kerryman for one last cocktail. Adam and Brett entertained Liz and I with their not so smooth dance moves to the tunes of Christina, Brittany and the like.

Another fun evening with the Bergers that makes Brett and I yearn just a little more to live in the city.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas for Her and the Little Ones

I am taking a page out of Nina Knows Best's book and giving you some holiday gift recommendations. It doesn't hurt that one of my recommendations is actually on my Christmas list.

Last summer, I found Carol & Company Chicago at the Wheaten French market. L.O.V.E. them! According to the bio on their website they started in TX and have spread a bit. They have no retail location but there is a list of markets, festivals, and fairs they display their baubles at and their is always the web making them accessible to all. (Side note: if you have never been to the Wheaten French Market you need to get you little rear in gear and get there as soon as the weather is nice. It runs from about May 1 to November 1). Anyway, Carol & Co. drew me in with their vintage pendants. They also have monogrammed silver jewelry, handmade jewelry, lovely photo frames all for very reasonable prices. I am in L.O.V.E with the M initial pendant and am hoping Santa has placed his order for this pendant as well as the chain to go with.

Carol & Co. has some adorable clothes for little ones, hysterical bibs ("Ultimate Tax Deductions" is so something Brett would buy), and stuff for the kids who are a little older. You seriously need to check out her page because I just can't put a picture up of all the great stuff they have. Be sure to check out the Pee-Pee-Teepees! You just have to see them.

Unfortunately, I have no little ones to buy for but if I did...are these not the greatest?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birthday Recap

Brett wanted to blog about his birthday but he hasn't had time and I wanted everyone to know what a wonderful evening we had. So, should he choose to give you his version, I may delete this post but for now...

So. Fun. We did something we have never done before in terms of traveling to dinner. Brett took his normal train home and got off at the Elmhurst stop. I got on the train in Wheaton ad took it to Elmhurst....it was like the movies, getting off the the train and seeing the love of my life standing in the rain waiting for me. Anyway, we went to dinner at 100 South, a steakhouse in Elmhurst with a feeling of dining with the Rat Pack.Pictures covered the walls of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Marylin Monroe, etc. (the restaurant gets very mixed reviews on local web sites, so I guess you either love or hate the place). We had a great experience. Granted it was a Monday night and it was very slow, but our waitress was sweet and we were immediately served warm rosemary topped bread. Brett order the special - a peppercorn/ Bleu Cheese Steak with garlic mashed potatoes and I had London Broil with a mushroom sauce and LOADS of mushrooms. I looked at Brett and told him that there would definitely come a time that I would experience severe cravings for that meal! It truly was wonderful, although if you can't tell, I don't know how great of a food critic I am because I like most anything. After dinner, the waitress brought a HUGE piece of ice cream cake to Brett with a sparkler candle lit. He made a wish and the night was complete. Almost!

We took the train home where a pile of presents was waiting for the birthday boy. Brett is like a little kid when it comes to presents. He loved everything - a Walter Peyton jersey from Cari, and from me and dogs, a new summer suit, a bottle of Maker's Mark, a big Hershey Kiss, a book, and a Southwest gift card with the promise to visit his good friend,Paul, very soon!

Brett reading the poem I wrote him for his trip to DC to see Paul.

Happy birthday, Brett! May the next year only be better than the last!

Tucker thought the party was for him with all the wrapping paper everywhere!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Merry Happy Christmakuh

Saturday December 6, was our good friends, The Berger's, Annual Christmakuh party. A combination of a Christmas and Hanukkah if you couldn't figure that out. Liz and Adam live in the city so Brett and I took the train downtown and had a wonderful evening of good friends, good food, and some good drinks. Now, when I say good food, this goes beyond most party fares. Liz and Adam love to cook and they go all out for their get togethers. I wish I had a picture of everything, but only my favorite - a baked brie with maple syrup and pecans wrapped in a pastry dough (picture to left). Heaven! In addition, there were mini Capreses, Artichoke/ Crab dip, Chicken, Ham, corn casserole, Spanakopitas, Latkes, and for dessert mini Pecan Pies and a Chocolate Fruit tart (picture to right)...everything homemade of course. After trying everything there was to eat we had a gift exchange, the one where you get to steal, and Brett and I were quite happy with what we ended up with - he a Music Catch Phrase game and me 15 Scratch off tickets (I won 2 free tickets and $52!!!). Liz and Adam are the best hosts and great friends.

We wish them and everyone a very happy holiday season.

The boys enjoying their presents...

Caroline (Adam's sister), Adam, and Liz

Happy Birthday Brett!!!

Yep, today is Mr. Clancy's big day! He has however reached the mark where he does not speak his age well so I will leave that out. We began celebrating this morning by grabbing some Starbuck's before I dropped him off for his (slightly later than usual) train. He has some surprises in store for him tonight...dinner, presents, and hopefully a tasty treat if I have time after school.

Happy Birthday, Brett!!! I love you!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Puppy Christmas Spoiler Alert

Do not read this post if you want to be surprised at what our puppies are getting for Christmas.

OK, now that that's out of the way...Old Navy was having a huge sale and I purchased some presents for the puppies. Coordinating hoodies and coordinating fleeces. Since puppies are hard to buy for I let them try on their new clothes tonight to make sure we had a good fit...

Tucker thinks the hoodie smells great!

Lucy looking confused by her new clothes. She needs time to adjust.

"Does this fleece make me look fat?" No, Lucy, you are fat.

Tucker is still testing out his sexuality...one shoulder or two?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Did you know that I L-O-V-E Christmas?!?!? Well, I do and one of most favoritest things about it isputting up the tree. Before Brett got home last night, I drug out ALL of our Christmas decorations. We started with the tree and then the lights, ornaments, and star. In the end, we put 800 lights on the tree...Team Clancy style!

Brett navigating the branches...

Marissa putting up the lights. Notice Tucker decided to use the back of my legs as a chair.

The most important part - our star!

All finished!

My latest culinary achievment

I decided to go pro...last night I boiled the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving and made one giant pot of soup and 4-24 oz containers of stock. No more of that store bought stuff for us. When I told my mom I was doing this, she told me I was crazy and that she (an amazing cook) had never even done that. It turns out, it is really not that hard. I took the carcass and put it in the biggest pot that I had. Then I put the other bones that I had ripped off in two smaller pots. Turned them on to simmer for about 2 hours and done. For the soup, I just used the big pot of stock and added carrots, celery, onions, corn, turkey, salt, thyme, sage, and marjoram that I had sauteed. Cooked it a little more and it was great. I also made spaetzles (little dumplings) for the first time using my moms recipe and they turned out fantastic!!! The house smelled great and I felt good about that fact that I had gotten everything I could out of little Tom the Turkey. The stock is in the freezer and we have yummy soup for the week...hmmm, maybe I need my own cooking show since I am getting to be so faaaabulous in the kitchen!

Here's my Turkey Soup, not Campbell's but good enough to be.
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