The 9 Day Panic

by Jenn (eating bender) on December 16, 2009


Some of the questions I am you might be asking:

  1. How does time work?
  2. Why does time go by faster when you need time the most?
  3. How am I going to get my Christmas shopping done?!

As you can probably guess, this year’s holiday celebrations crept up on me and I’m feeling a bit…unprepared. I’m going to spend this weekend writing Christmas cards and making my credit card squeal and yell for mercy. It’s going to be fun :mrgreen: Good thing we have our tree:

I’m quite proud of it, if I do say so myself! Bobby and I picked it up right before Thanksgiving on sale at Target. Who says you can’t be frugal and festive? We added a white bow and matching ribbon to the early beginnings of our ornament collection. Most of the ornaments are from years past — we’re looking forward to adding more in the future!

Another great find? This fantastic tree skirt also from Target:

The skirt originally had red sparkly sequins hanging down off the edges, but in order to protect Bobby’s masculinity spruce it up, we removed them 😉 Seriously though, it was too cute not to buy and do a little DIY fixing up to create something we truly love!

And you can’t forget about the Abominable Snowman — courtesy of Rudolph and claymation!

Surrounded by silver and gold bells — fitting, no? Oh yeah, and a stack of magazines and soup samples in the background. You caught me in one of my disorganized moments.

It’s truly beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Bender abode! I love it!

I also shipped off my Bloggie Secret Santa package today. I hope she likes it!


When I last left you, I was waiting anxiously for Mama Bender to come to town for the weekend. As usual, we had a blast and the trip was way too short!

We had a very low key weekend that included walking around Michigan Avenue to see the holiday lights, eating delicious dinners at some of our favorite Chicago eateries and watching several DVDs of Ally McBeal. Odd show, but we like it so far! My mom bought all the seasons so it’s our project for when I come home for Christmas. Anyone else seen it? It’s a 90s child!

During our holiday walk, we also stopped by the Marshall Field’s Macy’s storefront:

The windows were filled with moving Christmas decorations. The one pictured above was of Santa’s workshop, receiving the letters from children with their list of what they want 😉

I love the Christmas decorations outside of the big store in Chicago. So festive!

The highlight of our weekend food-wise was our trip to Wildfire for dinner.

Oh yeah :) We started out with a round of cocktails. My mom got a raspberry cosmopolitan and I tried the Stormy Night (the recipe in that link is similar to the one on the menu). It was SO. GOOD! The watermelon, black cherry and blue cocktail mix made it look like a storm cloud (hence the name) and it tasted a bit like liquid candy. Watermelon candy is my absolute favorite, so I was obviously a fan! I would really like to try to recreate this at home.

Another wonderful thing about Wildfire? Their rye-raisin bread. Soft. Doughy. Warm. Yum.

This is hands down my favorite part of the meal! It’s always fresh and the raisins are plump and sweet additions to the already perfectly moist roll. Yet another dish I’d like to recreate myself!

Whenever my family goes to Wildfire, we tend to be creatures of habit. One such example of this is the Spinach Salad, which we get every time we go (click here and here for proof). It’s topped with egg, mushroom, red onion and a mustard dressing. Perfectly light and fresh.

For dinner that evening, I decided to go with the soup of the day: tomato basil. It was a broth- and tomato- based soup with only a hint of cream (as opposed to the more ridiculously creamy varieties you find in some restaurants), so I was very happy with it. Tomato soup is one of my favorites — it’s a toss-up between that and black bean — and they did a great job with the flavor here.

I also ordered another favorite: chicken and portabello mushroom skewers! These are amazing and a perfect complement to a soup or salad. It comes with two skewers and a peanut sauce for dipping. The portabello mushrooms (and chicken, for that matter) are grilled to get that “just right” char consistency and are packed with rich flavor. Two thumbs up!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Wildfire and girly time. I can’t wait to see my family again in just a little over a week! This is such a fabulous time of year when you live far away from “home” — there are many opportunities to visit and spend time with the ones you love. Have you heard me say that before? Probably only 1,000 other times!

I’m so excited because tonight I will be seeing the fabulous Mara! We haven’t gotten together since before her wedding so you KNOW we will have a lot to talk about. Speaking of weddings, can you believe that Joe and Betsy are getting married this weekend? Woohooooo!! Congrats, you two :) (P.S. Check out those scrumptious looking cookies in her post.)

“See” you all later! Have a happy hump day!



1 Jessica @ How Sweet It Is December 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Your tree is so pretty! I love the ribbon on it, and also love the skirt. It is super cute. :)

2 Molly December 16, 2009 at 12:10 pm

mmm that food looks amazing! especially the soup!
& no worris, I ALWAYS want to call it Marshall Fields (NOT macy’s) …I think I cried when they changed it from Dayton’s way back in the day. Its just not the same :(

Love the tree as well, hope you get all your shopping done in time!

3 MelissaNibbles December 16, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I really like your tree.

I want that martini!

4 Kristie Lynn December 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm

That tree skirt… it is so cute! Have you gotten your bloggie secret santa gift yet? Good luck getting everything done – I’d give you some of my free hours if that were possible :)

5 Erica December 16, 2009 at 12:40 pm

9 days! Craziness. Good luck with the rest of your shopping. Glad you had fun with your mama. I tried to watch Ally when it was on tv a couple times….it is really strange. Have fun visiting the Fam and have a great Christmas (in case I don’t “talk” to you before then.

6 Mara @ What's For Dinner? December 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm

HOORAY FOR BLOGGIE DATES!!!!! i’m so excited to see you!!!

7 VeggieGirl December 16, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Have fun with MARA!!!! :)

8 ksgoodeats December 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Your tree skirt is so cute!! Wildfire has just been added to my list of Chicago restaurants I need to try! That bread, that martini, I want them all :)

Good luck with getting ready for Christmas – it snuck up on me as well!

9 brandi December 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm

looks like you had a great time with your mom and I love that tree skirt!

I know, I can’t believe it’s next week!!! I actually haven’t started making ANY of my gifts, but they won’t take long. I’ll just be going crazy next week :)

10 luckytastebuds December 16, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Have so much fun with Mara!!! :) I bet she’ll be glowing from inside out all day! hahaha

I love your tree skirt. I wish I had a fiance to live with so i could have an excuse to get a tree. hahahah 😛 Your dinner date with mom and the Wildfire has me craving their Asian chicken salad. MY GOSH it’s seriously the most unforgetable salad ever!!! *drool* I gotta get your mushroom and chicken skewers the next time i go!!! yum!

11 Pure2Raw Twins December 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Love the cocktails!! Have fun with Mara :) And love the snowman

12 braingutshands December 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Nice tree, cuz! Hopefully next year I’ll be able to convince my Jewish BF to get one, though I’m guesing it will be a hard sell.

13 Betsy December 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for the shoutout! :) We leave tomorrow and I’m FREAKIN out!! In a good way I guess :)

14 anutritionisteats December 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Your house is SO festive, I love it! Mine does not have that same feel!

15 Heather December 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Hey girl! Grade A slacker here! lol Just popping in to catch up! Love your holiday decorations! I get great deals right before the holidays too & they are almost as good as after Christmas. We are going to stock up on lights for the outside of our house for next year & can’t wait! I’ve never done that before! Eeek! Married life, here I come…..

ps….if you find some extra time send it my way!!! It seems to have escaped me as well!

16 Karla December 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Your decorations look GREAT Jenn! You’re practically Martha Stewart Jr. with that tree 😉

Thanks for sharing about your fun girls weekend. It sounds like you had a great time! (Your meal looks delicious by the way–I would totally go for your order). Mmm!

Good luck with your shopping. I’m off to do some myself now!

17 MarathonVal December 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Love the Abominable Snowman!!! Such a great, classic movie :)

Have fun with Mara!!

18 Tracey December 16, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Wildfire is one of my favorite places to eat in Chicago. It’s funny because when I eat at Wildfire my first drink is what your mom got and my second is what you got!

I’m also in love with the chopped salad and key lime pie. Such good food!

19 Jenny December 16, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Bender say whaaaaaaaaa?!?! 9 days?! PB&Daddy better ship out those christmas cards asap. Must remind him.

I love the big bow addorning the top of your tree… totally completes the look, similar to Minnie Mouse.

best of luck to you in all of your Christmas prep endeavors, girlfriend!

20 Jenna December 16, 2009 at 6:20 pm

yuppp! 9 more days =)

21 Naomi (onefitfoodie) December 16, 2009 at 6:30 pm

those skewers look AMAZING! love portobellos :)

pretty tree!

22 Shannon (The Daily Balance) December 16, 2009 at 6:37 pm

LOVE your tree skirt! so sweet and adorable – just like YOU! 😉

23 Lauren December 16, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I know what you mean! HOW in the WORLD did Christmas get so close? Seriously, when did that happen? I feel like I woke up and it was time for trees, presents and cookies. Nothing wrong with that expect it just means that its only 9 days until its all over! ;(

Sounds like an awesome weekend with your mom. Glad you had a great time!

24 kbwood December 16, 2009 at 8:51 pm

youre hilarious-but for real CHRISTMAS SNUCK UP BIG TIME!! i have so much to do!! i love the looks of your tree!

25 jenngirl December 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Don’t worry Jenn–I have faith that Christmas miracles will come your way and you will get all of your Christmas tasks done in time!! :)

LOVE your Christmas tree, very nice.

Looks like a really nice dinner with your mom, everything looks great, and those cocktails sound yummy!

26 BroccoliHut December 16, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Loving all your Christmas decor! Target is amazing, no?
That rye raisin bread looks pretty awesome too:)

27 Alyson December 17, 2009 at 12:21 am

I think that might be the perfect meal!

28 nic December 17, 2009 at 3:39 am

I LOVE Ally McBeal!!! I was so sad it ended!!
Hope you two will enjoy the crazy folks like I did!!
You’re tree is so cute!! Love the tree skirt!!

29 Jenn (eating bender) January 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Thought you would enjoy this! I just found it today :)

30 Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers December 17, 2009 at 7:14 am

I LOVE your christmas skirt! :-) Like Molly, it’s so sad to me that it’s no longer Marshall Field’s :-( I used to visit every year with my family to go shopping and to have lunch around the giant christmas tree upstairs. Good luck with all of your Christmas card writing and shopping!

31 Ashley December 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

Yay! Bender’s back.

Thank you for calling Marshall Fields by it’s correct name. Macy’s can rot for ruining our Chicago icon! I was downtown last night admiring the displays. The LED blue lights on the trees in front of those buildings look purple at the right angle!

Wildfire rocks. Ever had their plank salmon? It’s my fav!

32 Alisa - Frugal Foodie December 17, 2009 at 11:22 am

eeek, 8 days now! Wow it did sneak up. Cute pictures!

33 Megan December 17, 2009 at 3:26 pm

AHHH…it seems like when you’re not in college anymore and dno’t have break to get yourself psyched up, Christmas sneaks up on you!! I don’t have decorations in my apartment, either, which is making me feel like the Grinch!!

34 GirlonRaw December 17, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Erm excuse me! How cute is the snow on your page here!!! Awesome. Merry Christmas.

35 Kristie December 18, 2009 at 10:56 pm

I just realized how close Christmas is too… and how my shopping is definitely not close to done yet. Eek! Either way though I still love the holidays. And your tree! So cute.
Enjoy the fam time once you get back home again and HAPPY HOLIDAYS Jenn!

36 Kristine December 19, 2009 at 9:01 am

I love your Christmas Tree!! So pretty! :) Enjoy your time with the fam!

37 glidingcalm December 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Hi Bender Love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh I miss you!!!

I adore yoru beautiful Christmas tree and tree-skirt too!! Super cute!! We didn’t get a tree this year, because…….well, we are a lazy family. HA. Sad! I hope i can visit some friends and at least smell the goodness and festivity a bit in THEIR homes.

I am also so glad you took pictures of the store shop windows!!! I don’t care much for decorations on houses that get so tacky and full of huge plastic structures……….but ANY other kind of xmas Christmas decor usually makes me super tickled.

YAY FOR A WONDERFUL DINNER!!! That cocktail sounds amazing, and the bread and soup seems perfect for a winter night!!!


38 Hangry Pants December 19, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Your tree skirt is adorable!

39 Shannon December 20, 2009 at 10:09 am

ooh, pretty tree, skirt, and love the Abominable Snowman!!! i just recorded all those movies to i could watch them again :) did the frosty series yesterday! have a wonderful holiday Jenn!

40 skinnyrunner December 20, 2009 at 11:01 am

love the tree and the macys window pics!

41 Katie December 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm

beautiful tree!!!! The food at Wildfire looks so good!!! I heart your blog!!!! Love the name of it too!!! Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!!

42 Hillary December 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Cute tree skirt!

~ Hillary @ Nutrition Nut on the Run

43 healthnuttxo December 21, 2009 at 9:01 pm

looked at your blog after Jenny referred me (and her bloggies) to! It looks great! I love your recipes- the banana pudding bread looks sooo good. I’m totally making it for the holidays!
keep in touch!
Lisa :)

44 Nicole December 21, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Love your tree!!

I found your blog from Jenny’s — looking forward to following! I am a Chicago native!! : )

45 Jenn (eating bender) January 13, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Hi Nicole! Nice to “meet” ya! Gotta love Chicago :) I’m excited to check out your blog, too!

46 rungirlrunn December 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm

I love your tree skirt, adorable!

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