Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011 Revisited

I'm alive! Sorry for the radio silence the past few days. I've been busssssy. Relaxing. Eating. Drinking wine. Sleeping. Enjoying the Holidays just as they should be enjoyed. Let's review...

I decided we don't eat enough au gratin potatoes in my family. So to remedy that, I gave each of my family members this Le Creuset au gratin baking dish and topped it off with a bundle of rustic potatoes. Anyone have other recipe suggestions for what to bake in this dish?

I baked more shortbread cookies with chocolate and walnuts. They were a hit.

I always joke that my very talented brother-in-law (the one who renovated a hoarder's house into the beautiful home it now is) is the living example of someone who lives creating himself. He's constantly picking up new hobbies. Learning new trades. Building furniture for my sister's and his home. If something is broke, he'll fix it. If he doesn't know how to fix it, he'll figure out how and then do it. Lucky for us...! We are on the receiving end of his newly acquired skills. For example, he gifted this hand-crafted cutting board to each of us. Isn't it stunning? Like a work of art for my counter-top. I'm pretty sure he'll be selling the fruits of his labor online soon. Stay tuned.

I gifted each of my best girlfriends these monogrammed letterpress notecards from Paper Source. They'd also make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer (keep in mind for next year!).

Christmas morning, I rocked these Santa slipper socks, gifted to me from one my besties. They're fun.

In true Polish tradition, we do the big Christmas hurrah on Christmas Eve with extended family and all (it's called Wigilia - pronounced vee-GEEL-yah, and we eat fish and pasta instead of meat. Isn't learning fun?). So Christmas day dinner, there were just three of us. And I cooked. (If you know anything about me, cooking is not one of my strengths. But try, try, and try again I do...) And sometimes... I SUCCEED!

I used the simple pan-searing method to cook filet mignon with red wine reduction sauce. Use this simple four-ingredient recipe. It's supes easy and turns out delicious.

And I test-drove the au gratin pan I gave my mom and used The Pioneer Woman's recipe.

Sauteed some 'shrooms.

And serve.

The food was fancy...

...even though I was not. In honor of it being the happiest day of the year, I stayed in my pj's all day. It was gloooorious.

Naturally, Monday was spent sifting through sales and standing in lines at the mall. I avoid Black Friday like the plague but rejoice in the day-after-Christmas sales. I got some good deals, including this adorable coat from Anthropologie. It was originally $250. I paid $75. Win win. I have an irrational obsession with cute winter coats and own a couple more than anyone actually needs. But take my advice: ALWAYS buy your winter coat after Christmas and never pay more than half of what they originally charge. Or you're a fool. A fool I say!

I also invested in the 12" Le Creuset iron fry pan that I used to cook the filets. It was originally $150 on sale for $100 at Williams-Sonoma, and I used the $20 gift card I earned when I bought my family's Christmas gifts, so in the end, I paid $80. Wham bam thank you ma'am. How Everygirl of me?!

So that's what I've been up to.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Any great gifts or sale purchases you care to brag about?! Sorry I've been a bad blogger this week. Hope you forgive me!


  1. Oh my goodness...the food all looks soooo good and those cutting boards...amazing! LOVE your new coat too!!

  2. HAHA I LOVE that you bought everyone a baking pan and potatoes! This is amazing. Cute new coat too! xo

  3. Ahh, I love the coat! If I didn't already do my Anthro shopping this year I'd be buying it right now!


  4. Okay so...
    1. Your meal looks absolutely delish.
    2. Those cutting boards are amazing.
    3. I could seriously eat a shortbread cookie. Right.this.second!

    I guess I'm usually a lurker (trying to do better about this) but I've been reading your blog for a while and I love it! :)

    Ohhh.. And 4. The coat is really really cute and you got an awesome deal on it!

    Love Love!

  5. As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to share the best gratin recipe ever! and it's so easy. Here's the link to recipe. (I leave out the mushrooms, cause I'm not crazy about them...) Enjoy!

  6. That coat is such a good find!! I think that as a Chicago girl, you're justified in getting "extra" coats. Here in the DC area it doesn't even feel like winter yet... Sigh.

    Glad you had such a great Christmas!

  7. Oh my gosh those cutting boards!! They are truly a piece of art. I hope he sells them soon. I would love to add one to my apartment and what an amazing gift one would be. Also love the monogram notecards! Another great gift. I get stressed with all the people shopping around the holidays so I found some sales right before Christmas. Got a great fur vest and hat at Anthro, but I love your new jacket-great find! Glad you had such a wonderful Christmas!

  8. Looks like an amazing Christmas! There are sooo many things you can do with that LC baking dish. Lasagna. Enchiladas. Mac and cheese. Any baked pasta, actually. Roast a small chicken. Bake chicken pieces. I'm hungry already!

  9. Your brother-in-law is incredibly talented, can't believe he made those!
    And totally agree, I always buy my winter coats in January, always!!! ;)

  10. You can definitely make so many things with that baking dish. You can braise vegetables, make casseroles, baked pastas, baked chicken pieces (like leg quarters). Really, it's a very versatile dish. I have one from Emile Henry that looks very similar.

  11. lovely pooch!!
    I'm so happy to read that you gave yourself a chance to enjoy the Holidays the way it should be, next year you'll be busier than ever with your new project...I've also been a bad blogger, but not because i gave myself a chance but because my whole body became the battleground between antibodies and some awful germ or something, so I couldn't even see straight much less no blogging has been done :(
    You gave wonderful, useful gifts!! please keep us informed of your brother-in-law's beautiful wood projects, those cutting boards are exquisite, would love to have one and would use it to bring delicacies to the table, don't think I would dare put a knife to it IT'S LOVELY!!

  12. Good... You're alive! :] I was getting worried! Looks like a very successful holiday! All of those meals look delicious! Especially those cookies and chocolate :] YUM. Come visit my style blog, I'd love for you to follow along!


  13. The Pioneer Woman has the best recipes! It looks like you had a wonderful Christmas!


  14. great coat, great steal! that Christmas meal looked yum.

  15. Tell me more about that pup! What a cutie. Great gift with the taters!

  16. I saw your home tour on Decor 8 and am so happy! Love your blog...your home is beautiful and you have a positive spirit and great taste.

  17. Beyond smitten with your coat!

    Well styled with those boots.

  18. Sounds like a fabulous Christmas! Those cutting boards are amazing. He should sell them!

  19. Love the Santa socks! I got a new fancy lens for my new fancy camera that I am learning how to use. I did not go shopping but feel like I should have because I am feeling super jealous of your Anthro coat!

  20. Get outta mah head!

    Seriously, I am so obsessed with winter coats that I usually buy 1 or 2 every season and then give it away the next. My taste changes too often to keep anything longer than that.

    I got a cutecutecute coat today that was only $29 that someone paid $175 for. Poor saps.

    I also think that the day after Christmas sales are better than Black Friday's, especially Hobby Lobby's.

    Happy Christmas, Alaina!

  21. Please, please, PLEASE post a link as soon as your brother-in-law decides to sell those beautiful cutting boards. I have to have one... and gift them to everyone of the 8 weddings I am attending in 2012.

    Happy Holiday and great scores on the goods on sale :)

  22. Love the coat! I have a great find that I posted about on my blog, hit up J.Crew after Christmas sale big this year!

  23. Your dinner looked delish, and I am glad I am not the only one rocking Christmas themed socks. Mine has penguins!! Ha!

  24. "A girl living in Chicago can never have enough winter coats." - Anon. Well, that's what Anon. would say if he lived here :)

  25. Love the cutting boards. Love the coat. And congrats on serving up a beautiful meal! I have to agree that staying in pj's all day is one of the best parts of the holidays...

  26. Oh baby, those cutting boards are pristine!! So unique!

    Something 2 Write About

  27. Totally understand! This time of year has been so hectic, but always a great time w/the family:) Looks like you've had a blast this holiday season! I love ur gift idea!! Very creative! Have a happy new year! -A


  28. Dear Alaina
    I really enjoy your blog and I'm inspired by your boundless enthusiam and creativity. Happy New Year and looking forward to your latest endevour--The Everygirl

  29. Alaina,

    Love that coat. If you don't mind sharing, what's the brand? I might have to ebay search for it!



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