{image via tiffany}

even though next week is going to be ridiculously busy and is already jam-packed with baking and cooking galore, i am seriously considering making a batch of these. eggnog cinnamon rolls, y’all. the drool reflex kicked in pretty hard just typing those words.

what is it about cinnamon rolls that make me weak in the knees? i am such a sucker for buttery pastry and sugar. gotta be honest. and cinnamon anything is a winner in my book. and this time of year, there is nothing more perfect and decadent for me than eggnog. we keep the fridge stocked so we can enjoy a glass at night or even add a splash to coffee. yes.

and these cinnamon rolls have just enough whiskey in the icing to make them legit. i really need to start making these a Christmas morning tradition, i think. right in there with Christmas morning mimosas. mimosas and cinnamon rolls would be an ideal start to the day, and an excellent warm up for Christmas morning eggs benedict at ben’s folks’ place…which serves as an ideal family meal starting place, leading into {hubby’s out of this world amazing} Christmas evening béchamel lasagne.

i can almost hear myself gaining weight. but it is so worth it. i think it is only right for Christmas to give thanksgiving a run for its money in the indulgent deliciousness department. who is with me?

hopefully, i can get my act together next week and make this happen. if not, there is always my man’s birthday breakfast in january…

here’s to savoring the tastes and moments of the season.

and to butter. and eggnog.

#12DatesofChristmas2014 | number ten

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{on the tenth date of christmas}

a festive smorgasbord with family plus early gift opening

last night, the whitehouse/schroeder crew gathered together to nibble on christmas cookies, sip cider, and eat all the cheese. and presents! since rachel and nathan are spending Christmas in the winter wonderland of minnesota, they invited the family over to their place to celebrate the holiday a week early. no complaints here.

their home was warm and festive and filled with she&him christmas music and the scents of the season. cinnamon and chocolate and ginger. it was so inviting and cozy. you know that people who just ooze hospitality? that’s the schroeders.

we ate baked brie and crackers and puffed pastry bites and grapes (grapes for balance) and ben’s homemade “chex mix” and chocolates and COOKIES. oh rachel and her magical christmas cookies. every year, people. and they are so good. soft but crunchy, sugary and spicy ginger cookies. chocolate crackle cookies (of which i ate no less than three). shortbread! and shortbread with chocolate drizzle!! so good. AND we got to take bags and bags home. merry christmas to us. along with homemade peppermint bark and the ever-so-addictive cheese crackers. flaky little bites of cheesy goodness. killer.

oh, and coffee with eggnog. that was also consumed by the mugfull. so…yeah. it was pretty great. but wait, there’s more…then we got to open gifts! and just wait until you see the precious and chic-tastic sweater that elinor received. she put it on immediately and was prancing around all puffed up and sassy.

needless to say, we felt pretty spoiled last night. and so full. no wonder santa is so pleasantly plump and jolly. cookies and presents are a superb combination.

#12DatesofChristmas2014 | number nine

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{on the ninth date of christmas}

wrapping party and Christmas movie with family

this was a great little family date for Christmas. enjoying longstanding traditions and creating new ones as we go. back in the day before boys and marriage and babies…it was just the four of us ridley’s. in the days leading up to Christmas, we would gather on the couch every night and watch a different Christmas movie together. home alone, the santa clause, miracle on 34th street, white christmas, holiday inn, it’s a wonderful life, the christmas carol. those were the standards, with a few others sprinkled in here and there. the 23rd was reserved for it’s a wonderful life. and Christmas Eve, after we returned from church, we would cozy up in our pajamas, light the fire, grab some hot chocolate, and watch the christmas carol. the old one. the grainy and amazing black and white one. alastair sim, all the way. and after that, it was putting out mum’s homemade fudge and a glass of coca-cola for santa…his favorites, duh.

and that was how it was done. and the spirit of that movie tradition is something that i treasure and something that we have tried to preserve through college and marriage and the birth of miss elinor.

but things change with time and circumstances. it is inevitable. but instead of just tossing it out or getting sad about the change – we have chosen to keep some traditions alive in a fresh way, as we add new ones to them. it just gets richer that way.

schedules and little ones may not allow everyone to gather for seven straight nights to kick back with a two-hour movie and messy mug of hot chocolate (hello, two year old in the house!) but we can set aside a few days to gather and celebrate. on saturday, the whole crew met up at my parents’ place to wrap gifts together and enjoy a DELICIOUS meal, and then watch a movie. this year, we had a new baby napping and cooing and eating every couple of hours. we had a busy preschooler running around and wanting to go on walks and play with everything. it wasn’t exactly what it used to be, but it sure was special. cozy and comfortable and festive and fun. all of us together just enjoying the season and the joy it brings. we laughed at silly baby expressions and elinor antics. we feasted on my mum’s legendary chicken cordon bleu. we prepared boxes and bows for the big day. we ate fudge and gingerbread. we watched national lampoon’s christmas vacation (the boys were down for that or die hard, so…) and grandma distracted elinor during inappropriate language parts. it was old traditions. it was new experiences. it was great.

family and joy and food and laughter and memories. it’s what it’s all about, i tell ya. merry merry!

#12DatesofChristmas2014 | number eight

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{on the eighth date of christmas}

date night at citizen public house

what a perfect evening. ben and i dropped off miss elinor and dashed off to CPH to grab a table in time to catch the last hour of happy hour {ahem, all of our favorite starters and drinks for a steal. you gotta…especially when you are the kind of folks who like to order up double the fondue}

the nice thing about the winter is that it gets dark much earlier so pigging out at 5pm doesn’t feel as old-folksy. and the rest of dinner feels like a late-night treat. the bad thing is that is makes for increasingly grainy and shadowy pictures as the night goes on. i pulled out my very best editing tricks for the main course and dessert. alas, i could not do them justice. my apologies.

* i have waxed-pathetic about this great first-world woe over on instagram before. that horrible winter lighting. the only real con of this time of year for me so, i will take the bad with the good. but i digress.

so, our date. we ordered up some drinks and snacks to get the party started and settled in for a long winter’s night. it was so wonderfully rejuvenating and enjoyable. just us. it felt like it had been much too long. i know it wasn’t really…but clearly, the timing was right and we both must have needed that time together. our decompressing sighs as we sunk into our chairs must have been heard around the restaurant.

after taking some time to nibble on the two courses of fondue and warm, sweet, savory mixed nuts; we ordered the main course. the gosh darn amazing lamb burger. they know what they are doing so it is a must. cucumber-y tzatziki and all. that’s right. i downed a pile of cucumbers like they were the best things ever. and that is how good this place is. it makes a cucumber eater out of me. and the fries, the fries!

after that, we figured it was a go big or go home situation so we opted for going big since it was not nearly time to go home. two desserts. a cocoa pot with cookies and the apple bacon bread pudding with maple ice cream.

yes siree, Bob. and that’s how you do it.

thanks for taking me on a date, hubby of mine. you are the best one. i love getting to do this life thing with you. Happy Christmas.


baby sawyer

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miss sawyer may elenius made her debut on december 3, 2014 around 4:30pm after a solid 40 hours of natural labor. my sister was quite the rockstar and that husband of her’s was a champ. and i was honored and blessed to be there to witness a good portion of the labor as well as her arrival. once she finally got into position and decided to make her way into the world, it happened rather quickly with only about twenty minutes of pushing. and thank God for that. her mom and dad (and extended family) were ready to meet her!

she is squishy in all the right places. cheeks for days. and the longest fingers and feet i ever did see. she will be a tall one, that’s for sure. 9.3 pounds and 21.5 inches long. she is healthy and pink and perfect.

after she had arrived and all were situated, ben brought elinor to the birth center to meet her new cousin. and oh my, was she ever tickled to meet her. she held her hand and touched her face and giggled. a real, live, squirmy baby! she is still insisting that it is “my baby, mama!” but we will straighten all that out…

and just because i think it is hilarious: sawyer is in the 95th percentile for height and weight and miss elinor was in the 5th percentile. so, we definitely have the high and low covered in the gene pool. but what elinor lacks in height and weight, she makes up for in head and shoulders. her head size was a half inch larger than sawyer’s. how’s that for proportions? elinor had to grow into her head and sawyer gets to grow into her feet. they make an excellent pair.


sawyer girl, we are delighted to meet you and look forward to watching you grow in stature and grace and beauty. you are a sweet gift from above and so blessed to have two devoted parents who will be kind and strong and point you to Jesus.

and hey, thanks for finally coming out!


p.s. i got to put a fresh diaper and an oh-so-soft outfit on this little nugget and steal her for a bit to snuggle and take in that newborn smell. the stuff dreams are made of, i tell ya.