Tony used to not believe me when I told him that if I looked at a picture of my kindergarten class, I could name every single person in that picture, no matter that it was 43 years ago that I was in Kindergarten.  It helps that I went to the same grade school, junior high, and high school with the same group of kids.  The benefits of living in the same house from birth through high school.

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I had to steal this from my sisters Facebook page.  That man in the middle is our kindergarten friend Danny.  Now, we’ve not hung out with Danny for many many years, but through the advent of social media, we’ve “kept” in touch with each other.  Once we found out he worked near Jenn and I, she put the wheels in motion and we met at Daley Center on Friday for lunch.  I was so engaged in the conversation that I never even took a picture of my curry worst from the DonerMen hut.  OMG, it was so good – not as spicy as I thought it would be, but served over seasoned fries, it was delicious.  It was really cold though – 25 degrees but with the wind chill it felt more like 10.  We all decided that we should do this again, but maybe when it wasn’t below freezing.

I didn’t have to be to work until 4:00 on Saturday, and this girl slept in and it felt amazing.  I didn’t wake up until 9:30 a.m.  I got busy with chores, doing laundry, etc.  The kadults were working so it was nice having the house to myself, listening to my music.  The forecast was for a ton of snow starting about 6:00 p.m.  I made the executive decision to take the train to work, which meant that I would have to leave work 15 minutes early in order to make my train.

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I was working a private event and it was a family owned company and it was a lot of fun.  They had grilled dry aged beef, scallops over a mushroom ragu, and grilled shrimp with chimichurri sauce among other things.

PicMonkey Collage

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – The Chopping Block does not skimp at all on ingredients.  Each of our guests got that huge dry aged steak!  And their chimichurri sauce is divine – I’d eat raw onions if it was dipped in that sauce.  Okay, well, maybe not onions, but pretty much everything else!  The only problem with the night was that the guests were 45 minutes late due to the weather, so when I had to leave at 10:15 to catch my train to go home, they still let me leave even though we were in the crux of the clean up – so appreciate that!

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As I was walking to the train, as I was walking over this bridge, it reminded me a lot of the bridge in It’s a Wonderful Life.

It's a wonderful life

I grew up watching It’s A Wonderful Life.  It was one of my Dad’s favorite movies and I always remember watching him choke up at the end of the movie, and I have to be quite honest, I never really “got” it when I was 13 years old.  As luck would have it, it was Tony’s favorite holiday movie too and up until he met me, he never let anyone watch him watch the movie because he would always choke up at the end too.  It’s quite funny because there were a lot of similar personality traits that both Tony and my Dad had.  But I guess that’s why they say that women almost always create relationships with men that remind them of some aspect of their fathers.

I haven’t watched that movie the last two years without Tony, but I feel ready this year.  It’s just a reminder that no matter how hard you think things are, or where your life is in general, that if it were all taken away, you would really realize that you did have a Wonderful Life.

So when I got home at nearly midnight on Saturday night, cold, hungry and tired, as I was walking to my car after exiting the train from Chicago, I realized that we had only gotten about three or four inches of snow.  Not bad!   As I walked to the car, I realized that my car didn’t have any snow on it.  Huh.  I saw people scraping their cars, and as I got close to mine, I could see foot prints all around it.   I then realized how Wonderful it was that Hannah and Jacob drove over to scrape off my car so that I wouldn’t have to.

When I walked in the door, I could smell this deliciousness coming from the kitchen.  it was such a Wonderful site to have Hannah spoon out this delicious bowl of soup within five minutes of me walking in the door.

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She got the recipe from The Cozy Apron.  It was light, bright with the squeeze of lime and just a bit of spicy.   It was the perfect ending to a long day.  Only one slight problem, I had to get up early Sunday morning to get to work, and it felt like I was asleep for about five minutes.  Hannah and Jacob were working at the coffee shop so I made time to stop by and pick up coffee and a breakfast sandwich.

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That is a double shot of espresso with skim milk and a splash of heavy cream.  It was delicious.  And Hannah made me an egg white everything bagel sandwich with cheese.  I ate it in the car ride home, while listening to Christmas music on the radio, and was again reminded how Wonderful Life is.

The class I was scheduled for Sunday morning was a Gingerbread House decorating class.  For $30 a student (the kit cost $16.50) was presented with a premade gingerbread house, frosting in a piping bag, all the candies to decorate, hot chocolate and chocolate chip rice Krispy cookies.  I also made a specialty popcorn – chocolate and peppermint stick popcorn.  I just made the popcorn, then melted down a cup of chocolate chips with a splash of heavy cream and a tablespoon of butter, then crushed up peppermint sticks in a food processor and dusted the chocolate popcorn with the peppermint dust.

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As each child walked in and found their names in front of their gingerbread house, I was in awe at the Wonder each child showed as they saw all the holiday decorations, and some of them declared they had never decorated a gingerbread house and they were just so excited.  And all of them LOVED the fact that they got a “grown up” coffee mug for the hot chocolate.

ginger bread collage

How Wonderful that the kids were all given the same ingredients and their imaginations took them in all different directions!  It was a quick class, and clean up was a snap since we put saran wrap all over the counters they were working on, and when I looked at the time, realized that I may be able to meet my Mom for lunch before a holiday concert she was going to.

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My Mom and I went back to The Little Gem Café in Oak Park.  I’ve now been here four or five times I think, and if I lived closer imagine I would eat here once a week.   They have hands down one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.  I didn’t even want to hear the specials because I knew I was going to have the burger.

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It’s a Wonderful burger.  Soft toasted bun, melty provolone cheese, a garlic aoli and housemade seasoned fries.  And it was Wonderful catching up with my Momma while we were texting back and forth with my brother about Christmas gift lists.

And while the drive was a bit slow coming back home due to the snow, I put my heated seats on in my car, and listened to more holiday music and enjoyed the ride home.

So while this was a busy weekend, there were many moments to take notice and realize that I do have a Wonderful Life.  It may not be the life that I envisioned.   I won’t grow old with Tony and retire to a house on the lake and watch him fishing from the picture window of my kitchen sink.  But I am still on the ride of life and am looking forward to all the Wonderful things that will come before it’s time for me to get off.

I hope this holiday season you realize all the Wonderful things that are happening in your life even in the midst of chaos.  Stop.  Breath.  And realize you too have a Wonderful Life.  Hugs!