farmers market · Handmade · holiday

Countdown to Christmas

~Can you believe that Christmas is only a couple of days away?! Good thing I finished all my Christmas shopping lol. But if you didn’t, I have a place where you’ll find the perfect gift: Christkindlmarket in downtown Naperville (or Chicago, but Naperville is closer for me). I’ve been wanting to go to Christkindlmarket for years (the one in Chicago), and when I found out that Naperville is its suburban home, my desire to go intensified.

Friends of mine that had gone before advised that I go in the middle of the week because the weekends are chaotic. As advised I went this past Thursday around 12:30, and even then it was crowded. I found a parking garage a few blocks from the Naper Settlement (where they held the market) and my best shot of getting a semi-decent parking spot was on the 5th floor roof.

When I got to the market, I was overwhelmed by the astounding number of ornaments that were sold in nearly every stand. They were beautiful and delicately painted, ones that would look great on any tree. The first stand I went to was, of course, an ornament stand. Hailing from Germany and Poland, these beauties came in all shapes and sizes, boasting a different winter or holiday theme painted onto them. I didn’t go for the traditional hanging ones, but rather a flock of adorable clip on birds. I have birds (parakeets) of my own so naturally I would gravitate toward those. I can’t remember the individual price of the birds but the box containing 4 were $30. Now my little flock is nestled on the branches of our Christmas tree at home 🙂

After purchasing the bird ornaments I made a lap around the market scoping out the different stalls and deciding what I would want to eat. Nearly every market-goer was holding a red decorative mug filled with some of the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had. To go with my hot cocoa I picked up some caramel coated cashews to munch on as I continued through the market.

I stumbled upon a stand that was a purveyor of wares made from alpaca wool. I was looking for something to match the alpaca wool hat I purchased at the Frankfort market over the summer, and I found a pair of gloves, the ones with the fingertips cut off that could also be worn as mittens, with a similar brown and white striped pattern for $25, which is very reasonable for something wool woven. The man running the stand hails from Alberta, Canada works with families in Peru and Ecuador that raise the alpacas for the wool. Support local businesses/family run operations!

After I picked up a few smaller ornaments and a gift for a friend of mine, I finished the day eating pierogi and potato pancakes. In my Happy Hanukkah! post I briefly spoke of eating them traditionally with sour cream and apple sauce, but at the Austrian Lodge the serve their pancakes 3 ways: plain, with sour cream and apple sauce, or with sour cream and smoked salmon. I opted for plain, which were deliciously crispy, but I’m biased and prefer my mom’s recipe. The pierogi at Tata’s Pierogi were plump and tender, filled with your traditional meat or potato & cheese, and a little more on the exotic side with spinach and feta. Spinach and feta isn’t exactly exotic, but I don’t see a lot of those in Polish cooking.

Overall, I absolutely fell in love with Christkindlmarket. I would for sure go again, either to Naperville or I may be brave enough and fight traffic to visit the one in Chicago.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! ❤

holiday

Happy Hanukkah!

~While I am not Jewish (I happen to be Catholic), I still feel it’s important to highlight and respect other cultures’ traditions, especially around the holidays and in this time of worldly strife.

Hanukkah, also know as the Festival of Lights, started today at sunset and lasts for 8 days, representing the 8 days the sacred oil lit the menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to only last one day.

Because of this oil, many foods eaten during this time are cooked in oil. One of my personal favorites are latkas, or potato pancakes. Traditionally, these tasty creations are served with sour cream or apple sauce, but I like them with ketchup (although apple sauce would be delicious).

To my Jewish readers and readers of other faiths: HAPPY HANUKKAH!

holiday

Chocolate Spider Cupcakes

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Over the weekend I went to my friend’s annual Halloween party. I was requested to bake

something since all my friends love my baking. I decided to get creative this year and make

cupcakes and decorate them as spiders. I used a devil’s food cake mix, baked

them for 20 minutes (or until you can pass a toothpick cleanly through the center). Once

they were completly cooled, I frosted them with chocolate frosting in a traditional swirl

pattern, used candy pearls for eyes and cut Twizzler Pull-N-Peels into pieces for the legs.

They were a huge hit!