Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve at Corporate HQ!

This was the first year in my working-girl life that Christmas Eve was not a corporate holiday. Now that I am part of the retail industry, the corporate holidays are much fewer and further between! But, I have to say, if I *had* to go in to the office on Christmas Eve, I couldn't have asked for a better time. My family joined me, and all the rest of the Toys "R"Us families (over 1000 kids!) at Corporate HQ for an incredibly fun day!
We began in the main cafeteria for breakfast. Loads of pastries, fruit, coffee and juices were at the ready in multiple stations to greet everyone. Christmas carolers were there singing and mingling with everyone. The boys got a kick out of seeing the cafeteria. They couldn't believe we have a Wii, XBox, and other gaming systems there for employees to play with during lunch. They also couldn't get over all of the big screen TV's in that place!
Chris at the corp. HQ Cafeteria
Greg and boys at Toys "R"Us
Greg and the kids at breakfast
Joe in the corp HQ cafeteria
After lunch we checked in, and then it was off to the conference rooms to pick out toys. Each child was given a reusable tote bag and three tickets. Each ticket was good for one toy. The conference rooms were broken out by interest. Action heroes in one room and dolls/princesses in another, and then we had two of our largest conference rooms joined together to make one huge room with puzzles, games, sporting goods, you name it. Very generous toys were available. These were not just small little items. The kids were in awe. Long lines were tiring, but clearly worth it by their faces :)
Go Go Samurai!
Joe with his Samurai mask, and Ben 10 Watch
Chris checking out his Power Rangers
After we picked out toys, we hung out in the resident Starbucks (Cafe G) and let the kids play with their toys. Once we were adequately done, we went back to the cafeteria for lunch and movies. By this time, the breakfast tables were now lined with all sorts of cookies, punch, juices, and more fruits for after lunch.
We also visited with Santa, Geoffrey and got to explore the Geoffrey Mobile. The boys also really enjoyed just exploring the office area! Toys are everywhere. The cubes, offices, common zones, copier & coffee rooms. All in all, not a bad way to spend a working Christmas Eve!
Geoffrey Mobile
Geoffrey Mobile
Visit with Santa at TRU
Visit with Santa

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Cookie Tradition

I think everyone out there has a tradition of baking at Christmas. I've grown up with baking with my Mom. I can remember at a really young age helping her make her infamous Fruit Cakes. She probably baked about 10-12 loaves every holiday season and gave them out to family, neighbors, and friends as gifts. They were always sooooo delicious. She made them extra special with loads of nuts and fruits. Different liqueurs were used depending on the taste of the recipient. Some people loved the traditional rum, but others liked Orange flavorings.
I remember one Christmas coming home from Rochester, way before I was married, and made sure to grab that recipe so that I could make them too one day. Well, needless to say, I have never actually made one of those infamous fruit cakes. Not sure why. Could be because she stopped making them after my Dad had died, so maybe the tradition waned a bit.
But, those fruit cakes were soon replaced with an array of yummy cookies that she began experimenting with. She had a copy, and she bought me a copy, of Martha Stewart Holidays.

Martha Stewart Holidays

I have made recipes out of this book every single Christmas season, and they really have never let me down. One of the favorites my Mom made were the Ginger Crinkles. Like ginger snaps, rolled in glittery crystallized sugar before baking . They always turn out delicious, and the recipe makes a never ending amount of cookies.
Another favorite of mine, and Greg's, are the Black Pepper cookies. These are really good cookies for peeps who love Christmas spicy cookies, and want an alternative to the really sugary sweet kinds. Black Pepper Cookies

You can put some glittery sugar on top right before baking for an added touch. The first time I ever made these cookies was at Andrea and Mike's when they were still living in NY. I will always remember those cookie bake parties she used to have. Friends from work would pick out recipes, bring the ingredients, show up at Andrea's at around 7:30am, and bake all day. Always a lot of fun, even though we were so ambitious thinking we could each bake 5-6 different recipes, in one house, with only one oven.

This year, we made the Black Pepper cookies, and some traditional sugar cookies. We'll decorate them on Christmas Eve after Mass, because that has been our yearly tradition since Christopher was born. We love to make all different colors of frosting, and make up a good plate of cookies and milk for Santa. Chief Mess Makers

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Greg and his iPad Buddy

Joe just loves to cling to Greg. They love to play games together on the iPad.

Best friends. My three handsome boys All three of my handsome boys together on one leather chair:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giveaway on "The Jackson's" Blog

One of my favorite blogs, The Jacksons, is hosting a giveaway today! Two lucky winners will be drawn. Prizes include a Pro Do blowout (you must live in Utah to win this part of the prize), and also Kevin Murphy products.

I entered to win because I have been wanting to skip washing my hair every single day. It gets to be laborious, and I know it's not healthy. But, whenever I go even one day without washing my hair, it looks sort of grungy by the end of the day!
One of the giveaways is a dry shampoo product, so I'm hoping that will help extend my hair for a few days in between washings.

Here is the link to the GIVEAWAY

Good luck friends!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

We started decorating our home (well, our temporary home, that is) for Christmas and I am really feeling like it actually is our home!
The tree is up, and is trimmed mainly with a lot of the very beautiful vintage ornaments that I've acquired from my Mom over the years. I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful part of our family history that can be displayed on our tree. All of the ornaments that she gave us are unique, special, one-of-a-kind, and are ones that I remember growing up and decorating our tree at home. I can even vividly recall her saying "I remember these when I was a little girl!" every year when we were decorating our tree.. In other words, these ornaments are old! I am going to remember to make a point to get some better pictures of them before this Christmas season is over. I just need to find my camera :) For now, some iPhone pictures will have to do.
As anyone who has made a major move can attest, it's tough. You miss all the traditions you had, and you miss the people who helped to make them.
We have made it a point to begin new traditions here in NJ that the kids can become attached to, and to help them continue to feel more excited about this transition. To that end, we found an AWESOME place just around the corner. Abma's Farm Market here in Wyckoff is 100% awesome. Their greenhouse is incredible and the veggies are delicious. The farm has several goats, chickens, horses, cows, and very adorable bunnies. We got our Christmas tree there, and the kids enjoyed making ornaments, having some hot cocoa,  and meeting Santa (though he wasn't a very good one, they kept asking if he was "FAKE"!)
Also, we finally made time to take a trip into NYC last weekend. The kids really enjoyed their first train ride into the city. It took us less than an hour to get into Penn Station and the fare was relatively cheap (the boys ride free!). I see many trips in our future! Having the train station five minutes away from our house makes it super easy to go in for shows, museums, dinner, shopping, sightseeing, and visiting George and his family.

Rockefeller Plaza/Radio City at Christmas

One of many of the vintage ornaments from Mom.


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