Four Years Ago

Well, this week marks four years of blogging here at Eat, Play, Love. We certainly don’t post like we used to (can’t believe I ever had time for three times a week!), but we’re still here, cooking and posting as we have time. Can you believe how much these kids of grown in the last four years?!

Our first official cooking adventure back in 2011.

Our first official cooking adventure back in 2011.

Not to mention how much their palate has certainly grown too. It’s been an amazing ride! But as we mention every year, the best part of this whole adventure is the people we have met both online and in person over the past few years. You have all enriched our lives so much and for that we are forever grateful.

Now, let’s kick off this fifth year of blogging with a recipe and a little holiday recap. It’s hard to believe December has come and gone already. It was quite a whirlwind of travel – visiting good friends and family. The kids had field trips and class parties. Mike and I had lots of year-end work, shopping, holiday prep…I’m sure many of you can relate. We didn’t cook or bake nearly as much as usual this year with all of our travel, but we did manage a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve has been a special tradition for the four of us. We spend it together at home, making a large meal, opening a few presents, eating cookies and doing an annual Christmas light drive. It’s a cherished set of traditions. And speaking of traditions, a new one has taken root on this festive night for the past several years – the cooking of a Bartolini recipe. It all began with Chicago John’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara. We even went all out and made homemade pasta. It was perfection. Then the next year Chicago John posted this beauty and we knew once again a Bartolini meal would grace our holiday table. So, this year, the question wasn’t what to make for dinner, it was what Bartolini dish to make for dinner! The winner for this year (and it was certainly a winner!), roasted duck ravioli. Delizioso! Four spoons all around John – no question.

Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of the ravioli to share, but here are a few of our holiday. yes!

chipper

hobbs

If you look very closely you can see two cats in the tree!

If you look very closely you can see two cats in the tree!

just what I wanted

We did, however, manage to take a photo of the one cooking adventure we squeaked out during the holidays. Mr. N chose the country of Denmark as our destination. We wanted to make a traditional Danish holiday treat and the Pebernodder was just the thing. It’s a spice cookie which reminded us a lot of one of our family recipes but with one major difference – the addition of white pepper. I’d never heard of pepper in cookies before, so we figured this one would be our new cookie for the year.
Pebernodder

The cookies were soft and chewy with a sweet initial taste that then ended with a zing. The pepper wasn’t over-powering at all, but it did give these little bites a bit of zing. While they didn’t quite surpass our favorite holiday cookies, they did ring in with three spoons all around which I would say is a good solid cookie.

Print the recipe: Pebernodder

As for the rest of our holidays…Well, we left the frigid temps to visit Nana and Papa in Florida, with a quick stop at Universal Studios along the way. The weather was perfect, the kids once again proved themselves fantastic little road warriors (it’s a 24 hour drive) and well, how can you go wrong ringing in the New Year on a beach with fireworks?
Hogwarts Express

Diagon Alley

Gringotts

Dusk

sunsets

starfish

waves

beach fun

You have no idea how much we wish we were still there! It sure beat the wind chills of 25F below we’re having here now. Burrr!!!!! That said, we are happy to be settling back into our routines and feel a bit more rested after the holiday rush. Well, most of us are happy about it…Hobbs was quite sad to lose his tree.
my tree!

Thank you all again for following along on our adventures for the past four years. It’s been a bigger part of our lives and much more of a learning experience than we ever anticipated. We hope this new year finds you all happy, healthy and making delicious memories. Until next time!

29 thoughts on “Four Years Ago

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    Gosh, Kristy! You guys take the best vacations! What kid — and adult, for that matter — wouldn’t enjoy a ride on the Hogwarts Express? Sounds like you all had a wonderful time, 24 hour car ride and all.
    Thank you for the kindly mentions. I cannot tell you how glad I am to read that you not only like my family’s recipes but that you serve them at your all important Christmas Eve dinner. Zia is always so pleased to hear that you prepared another one at Christmas and I know Mom would be, too.
    Now, I’m sure you’re wondering where I’ve been. The truth is that I’ve not been well. Some might say that 2015 started off badly but I prefer to think that 2014 ended with a thud that echoed into 2015. As a result, I’ve stayed away for all social media and, now that I’m feeling better, have quite a backlog to handle. I hope to have it all squared away later today and to return to posting. I miss my WP family and seeing what my favorite Sous Chefs have been up to. I’ll see you very soon!

    Like

  2. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise says:

    I am totally with Sally,

    I don’t care how often you post, when you do, I know that I will love every word and every picture.

    It has been a true pleasure coming on this blogging journey with you over the past 4 years. I for one was inspired by you, your creativity and passion for life on so many occasions.
    Just seeing a post from you in my inbox makes me smile instantly.

    Thank you for making my life richer!

    Like

  3. Eva Taylor says:

    What an amazing holiday you’ve had! I’ve never been to Florida during December but more and more of our friends are buying homes down there that I’m sure we’ll experience it one of these days. I worry about driving though, in the wintery states. Our dear friends are buying a house in Phoenix and selling their place in Yorkville but they’ll keep the Lake House in Wisconsin, thank goodness because I’ll need my Chicago fix (only 2 hours by train).

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  4. Bam's Kitchen says:

    Woo Hoo! 4 years of delicious meals, cute little helpers in the kitchen and humour. It has been fun and looking forward to many more years. I can’t believe you even have a tree with cats, oh my goodness that is crazy. Wishing you and awesome start to 2015!

    Like

  5. Jessica Maher (@kbelleicious) says:

    how much fun are ya’ll! I lover your traditions and all the photos of the holiday break and all are so cute and portray exactly what that time was all about and that was family:)) I was so happy to see a post from you! 4 yrs is so long and I am going on almost 5 and I wonder is it all worth it and then I realize all the people I have connected with and then i say yes- yes it is! I hope you are doing great today and here is to another year of delicious food

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  6. spicegirlfla says:

    Congratulations Kristy! You amaze me how you manage to do it all with little one – now getting so big, work and family! I love to watch your family grow and share in all your experiences. I’ve never had cats but yours as just so adorable! I would have been afraid that tree would topple over! I have to admit, I cannot imagine living in cold weather again! Glad you got a break from it! Wishing you a wonderful 2015 and excited to see where this year leads you all!!

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    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Linda. The kids sure keep us busy these days – thus the lack of blogging! As for the cats in the tree – we had it tied to the wall! With their daily antics it surely would have come down. It was definitely great to get down to FL. The break this time of year is always much needed. I only wish we could go more often! πŸ™‚ Thank you for following along all these years. I’m so happy that we got to know each other through blogging. I incorporate a lot of your planning tips into my cooking life to this day. πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    I feel like we’ve known each other for more than four years Kristy…β™‘ You have also enriched our lives in many ways, so thank you for your beautiful writing, images and reflections. Your Christmas eve sounds magical. I’m so happy you had a fun-filled holiday complete with a visit to Florida. Gosh… look at how young your birds were at the outset… amazing to see the transformation and be part of it with you. Feel very blessed. Best wishes to all of you for 2015. (I see that Hobbs is settling right in to the family πŸ™‚ ).

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    • Kristy says:

      We had to have known each other for longer than that! πŸ™‚ I know exactly what you mean. Thank you so much for your always kind words. They put a smile on a face and warmth in my heart every time. I’m so glad that we found each other through our blogging journeys. You have enriched my life in so many ways! Isn’t it amazing how tiny the kids were. They grow up so fast Kelly! (as you know) I can hardly stand it. Thank you for following along and for all of your friendship. Much love to you dear friend!

      Like

  8. hotlyspiced says:

    Congratulations on going the distance. Four years is a great accomplishment. Blogging is wonderful but it’s not easy, particularly when you’re juggling work and kids who seem to be more busy with every passing year. I love the sound of your Christmas Eve traditions and the photos are gorgeous. Yes, your Miss A and Mr N are growing up before our eyes! And I was tempted to make one of John’s recipes this Christmas too! xx

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    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Charlie! Four years is incredible. I never thought we’d go this long. I’m glad the pressure to do it so regularly is off now (of course I’m the one that put it on myself), it makes doing it much more enjoyable and with these kids I have to set reasonable expectations as to my time. I know you can relate! Thank you for following along. I am so happy that we’ve “met” through blogging. I love your stories, recipes and travels and am very grateful you are a part of ours as well.

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  9. Raymund says:

    Time is really fast I remember you were the first ones I followed when I started my blog as well. I love your posts since then specially when youre featuring something from another country as well as the mystery ingredient. Congratulation to you and your family! wishing you more blogging years ahead!

    Like

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Raymund. You have been a follower for quite a long time now – so I know you’ve seen these little ones grow up. I can only imagine your little one is growing up fast too! Thank you so much for all of your comments and kind words these past few years. It means a lot. I’m very happy to have found each others blogs. Your international cooking is always such an inspiration. And quite frankly you have made our week night dinners much more delicious as many of your recipes continue to be found at our table. Happy new year Raymund and thank you!

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    • Kristy says:

      I hope our paths will cross soon again as well! I’m so happy that we met through our journeys. Yours was one of the very first blogs I followed. You were and continue to be an inspiration. Here’s to our continued adventures and meeting up again along the way! πŸ™‚

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  10. Tina B. says:

    Happy New Year! Hope you and your family enjoyed yourselves. And much congratulations on your four year mark. The amount of times you post are not what keep us, its what you write and the joy that it brings us.

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    • Kristy says:

      Tina, thank you so much for your kind words. They put a big smile on my face and a few tears in my eyes. πŸ™‚ It means a lot. Thank you for following along in our adventures. We had no idea when we started that we would meet and share with so many amazing people. It’s been incredible. Thank you for being a part of that and enriching our lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Three Well Beings says:

    It’s so lovely to get an update, Kristy. I think it’s just wonderful you enjoyed your Christmas in Florida. The photos give a hint at how much fun you all had. Four years is a long time to blog when you have a growing family, so congratulations. It’s always wonderful to visit with you here when you have the time! I hope it continues to be a really wonderful 2015. I’ll look forward to enjoying your culinary world adventures! πŸ™‚

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    • Kristy says:

      Thank you so much Debra. Four years is definitely a long time! I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by though. It’s so much fun to look back over the years at how much the kids have grown. It’s something you don’t see everyday. I always appreciate your comments and love that we have “met” through our blogs. I enjoy your views, your adventures and your creativity. You are always a breath of fresh air. Thank you for being a part of our little space on the internet. πŸ™‚

      Like

  12. Karen says:

    Congratulations on four great years. I’m looking forward to whenever your sweet family gets a chance to share your adventures with us, no matter what they are. πŸ™‚

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    • Kristy says:

      Karen, thank you so much. I have very much enjoyed getting to know you through the years and always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I know we’ll have many more adventures to share over the years to come and I very much look forward to them. πŸ™‚

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  13. sallybr says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Four years! Awesome!

    I don’t care if you don’t blog enough, I will ALWAYS be here (in capital letters, noticed?)

    wonderful post, photos, the kitten photos are competing hard with the kids for cuteness factor….

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    (and let’s hope soon it will be summer for all of us….)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      Sally you truly have been along for the ride for the past four years! Thank you so much. πŸ™‚ And yes, let’s hope that it’s summer soon. I sometimes wonder why we live in the Midwest.

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