Merry Christmas, Darlings!

Merry Christmas!! I hope you all had a wonderful day! I am so excited to celebrate our first Christmas together. Yes, this is Barry and my first Christmas together, but I am referring to our first Christmas together… Yes… YOU!

Last night, I attended two celebrations. I really lucked out with not having to work. I first drove to Frank’s nephews house. How cute are the boys?! Cal and Anthony were preparing a four-course meal of The 7 Fishes! Not to mention, Cal baked a bunch of favorites, like her famous Angel Food Cake, pignoli cookies, and cocoa pistachio sables!

WP_005015 WP_005016 WP_005017 WP_005018

Unfortunately, I was not able to stay and celebrate dinner, as I was expected at my grandmother’s house. I was so so excited to see the family, but pathetically excited to eat some kielbasa! Every year, we had three main dishes in the Higgins house: kielbasa and sauerkraut, roast beef, and meatballs! I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a piece of kielbasa! Haha!

WP_005021 WP_005022 WP_005023

I had a couple favorite moments from last night. The first was a mommom combo. I first handed grandma a bottle of Spumanti from Barry and me. She loves this stuff! This is the drink she got completely buzzed off of at my graduation party. She was so excited she started kicking her feet, yelling, “My drink! Oh my drink! Oh I love this stuff!” (Keep in mind that this is a 79 year old woman with both knee and hip replacements, kicking her feet in joy… PRICELESS). The second was when grandmom opened an ornament I made for her. She immediately pulled it out of the box and kissed the picture of my grandfather that was in the ornament.

Another, came at my Aunt Linda’s House where cousin Eddie proposed to his girlfriend, Cindy! My Aunt was telling Cindy about Eddie’s First Christmas ornament, and when Eddie went to show her it… He showed her an ornament of a bride and groom on a motorcycle and tied around the couple was a ring. “So what do you say, babe? Will you marry me?” She was speechless. “Uh, I kind of need an answer. so I know what to do here…” We all laughed, she held out her hand and said, “Yes.”

WP_005025 WP_005026 WP_005029

WP_005128Aunt Linda was really excited about the gift she made me.. In all honesty, I normally would have had some serious anxiety with this gift, but I was so well-thought-out, I couldn’t help but love it! Its the Nurse’s Survival Guide, packed with goodies and a paper included that stated the following:

Nurse’s Survival Kit

Lifesavers– A reminder of the times your are a real lifesaver. Starburst– For that extra burst of energy. Mints– A reminder that your compassion is worth a mint to your patients. Kisses– because you deserve many. Tissues– To dry tears, yours or someone else’s. Bandaids– To help with all the “little stuff.” Gum– To help your through the sticky situations. Paper clip– To help hold things together. Tea bags– Sit back and relax after a hard day at work. Taffys– To help you lick the problems you face. Jolly Ranchers– To remind you to laugh when you feel like crying. Tootsie Rolls– To help complaints “roll” off you back. Rubber Bands– For when you need to stretch beyond you limits. Battery– To keep you going and going and going. Candle– For when you feel completely burned out. Snickers– Because laughter is the best medicine. Button– Because you may need to button your lip. Marbles– To replace the ones you will lose.

Everyone asked about Barry, but he had to work. He came over at 6am Christmas morning and we began the holiday early.

WP_005033 WP_005035 WP_005037 WP_005038

After opening presents with mom, Frank, Barry and my brothers, I headed over to dads with the pup.WP_005051

WP_005046We had a great morning. Money was a bit tight this year so we decided not the get a tree. Instead, we took a ceramic tree out of storage. My grandmother used to make ceramics and this one is one of my favorites! She even put a circuit in the base for a light bulb! It was a great substitution! Yay, for talented mommoms!

Who needs the avengers when youve got the Bundos??

Who needs the avengers when you’ve got the Bundos??

I thought it was pretty humorous that I got dad and Barry Captain America and Iron Man t-shirts, respectively, and my parents got me a Supergirl shirt!

Following a nice morning of family and gift exchanges, dad and I went to my uncle’s house. Before we headed over a prepared a few desserts. One of my cousins was on a low carb diet, so I made some dessert cups using Quest Bars. I cut a Lemon Creme Pie into 8 pieces, and and Apple Pie bar and a Double Chocolate Chunk bar into 4s.

Quest Cups

  • Quest bar of your liking
  • mini muffin tin
  • filling of choice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the Quest bars into the desired about of pieces. Space on a plate and microwave for about 8 seconds. Using dry hands, roll each piece into a ball. Flip over a mini muffin tin and spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Flatten each ball into a disk and form over the coated muffin tin. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven. Once cooled, fill the Quest cups with whatever filling you desire.

WP_005077 WP_005078

I filled the Lemon cups with the left over fig and walnut filling from my Sicilian Crescents. I chopped up half a small fuji apple and mixed it with a packet of Splenda and apple pie spice. I, then placed the apple mix in the microwave for 30 seconds and filled the Apple Pie Quest cup. Lastly, I placed the Double Chocolate Chip quarters in the bottom of the mini muffin tin and baked for 5 minutes, as well. Upon removing the bar, I found 4 perfectly round Double Chocolate Chunk cookies, that RJ loved! Dessert would not be dessert with some fat free Cool Whip to top it off!

Aunt Carol and I took over the kitchen, preparing ravioli, Lightened Gnocchi, salad, gravy, sausage, and meatballs.

WP_005071

Great minds must think alike. Barry and I, both bought each other robes for Christmas. My parents got Barry a pair of slippers, and us matching pj pants. Barry’s parents got me a new pair of slippers, and us matching pj pants!

WP_005045WP_005121

Some of my favorite gifts, this year, included the ornaments I made my family, the Cutco knife Frank gave me, Dad’s laptop and Mom’s pendant, the onsies dad got me, my Ninja (thanks Barry), and the collage I made Barry’s sister.

WP_004902 WP_005111WP_005039 WP_005066 WP_005070WP_005052WP_005123

 

WP_005000

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Long Awaited

I’ve been working for 4 years, each year increasingly harder. I’ve battled eating disorders, lost and rekindled relationships,  traveled the country with Phi Theta Kappa, started this blog, and so much more! On May 22, 2013, all my hard work payed off and I graduated with my Nursing degree. Now comes the time to celebrate! The days leading up to the party were filled with excitement and a list of things to do! I have been cooking, cleaning , and preparing for 3 days straight! It all paid off! The food, the people, the environment… everything was a success!

I had a vision on my party, the OCD was kicking in, and it worked out just the way I wanted it to! Friends and family surprised me and brought deviled  and pickled eggs, cookies,  huge tray of broccoli rabe, and my grandma’s  yummy coleslaw to the party. I, on the other had, was a cooking machine! I laid out veggie platter with non-fat onion dip, POPCORNERs (delicious) and fat free pretzels with homemade black bean and corn salsa (recipe to come), and homemade honey mustard dip (always a hit at the Bundo parties). I also prepared two trays of tomato pie, Hungry-Girl’s I Can’t Believe Its Not Potato Salad (crazy good), my moms seafood macaroni salad (recipe to come), a simple garden salad, and a big fruit salad!

WP_002816 WP_002817

I was even surprised by how much my brothers helped out, too! Dom was cleaning the house and preparing the yard, and James made lime seasoned tortilla chips for the salsa I had made.

WP_002799 WP_002845

The day before the party, dad and came over, and together, we made some incredible food! Dad grilled 20 lbs of sausage on the grill, while I sliced up endless onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and minced a ton of garlic! I love cooking with color! As the sausage settled, I cubed up chicken breast, seasoned it, and seared it.

WP_002802WP_002806 (1)WP_002804 WP_002803 WP_002805 WP_002810

The end results were 3 trays of Sausage, Peppers, and Onions, and 2 trays of Chicken Spezzato! All of it went!

WP_002807 WP_002811 WP_002813

My Aunt Dona contributed her famous deviled eggs, grandma, her coleslaw, Aunt Chrissy, a small lunch meat platter, Penny, Spicy Thai Noodles, and Uncle Eddie, his famous Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Gwyn, a woman I used to work with at my old job, brought pickled eggs (the only pickled eggs I’ll eat) and 5 bottles of Spumante! She said she wanted something for everyone to toast with!

My Aunt Cathy, and godmother, the baker in the family, asked what type of cake I wanted. I love her carrot cake and her cream cheese frosting, but not everyone likes carrot cake. So what did she do? She made cake pops! Not like that ball of batter on a stick… These were like push pops! She arrived early for the party, and we assembles small cupcakes sandwiched with frosting and berries and jimmies (or sprinkles, as many call it). Chocolate, vanilla, carrot cake, strawberry! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries! She went all out! They were delicious and the perfect size to touch that sweet tooth! She is crazy talented! (If you’re in the area and want her contact info, message me or leave a comment).

WP_002815 WP_002818

My dad said a toast, thanking everyone for coming, for their support throughout all my highs and lows, and how proud he was of my accomplishments! Gwyn surprised ma n jumped up, stating she wanted to make a toast, as well. Her toast was more of a blessing, to have God guide me through my nursing practice to care for his children. It really meant a lot to  me!

The house was decorated with the typical graduation gear, as well as various shades of green, my school color, and a couple pictures from the past year.

WP_002868 WP_002869

Drinks included various beers, water, sodas, and the occasional margarita. What really made me laugh was my grandma. She got pretty tipsy on the Spumante and was saying the funniest things! I had to help her to the car when she left! I was cracking up at some of the things! She also insisted that Barry ask me to marry him at the party! She apologized for being so wobbly as she walked explaining she had to take her meds differently today since she was going for blood work in the morning. She then explained she was going to get a mammogram done, exclaiming, “They want to play with the ol’ tits!” She and I stopped dead in our tracks, and just laughed! Shes a trip sometimes! When I called her this morning, she told me how much she loved the sparkling wine. She was in luck that I had 2 bottles left. I’m going to bring her one up on Friday.

WP_002837 WP_002838

It was an amazing day, filled with special family and friend. My Uncle Eddie invited Harry, one of his friends from grade school, who I love! Hes a hoot. In fact, I go to his birthday party every year, and when we have reunions for our grade school, we jitterbug! I was shocked when he came. Another special guest was Mrs. Miller. Iv’e kept in contact with this woman for about 16 years. Why so long? Because she was my kindergarten teacher.

WP_002819

The evening ended with a the neighbors and us socializing on the porch, sharing in stories and laughs.

WP_002831 WP_002832 WP_002834 WP_002835 WP_002836 WP_002840 WP_002844

It was raining most of the day… but the porch and house sufficed. A lot of work went into this party, but it was most definitely worth it!