Last week

Last week

My promised post about my Christmas week! It really was a great time spent with family and friends. I know I say this all the time, but Matt and I are seriously lucky to have a super supportive family and group of friends. I never forget this fact.

Back to our wonderful Christmas week….I’ll break it down, day by day. Mostly, for our Tow family in Illinois. Feel free to skip this part, but fyi– I am including an awesome recipe for rum cake, if you like that kind of thing…


I cleaned my whole house and made a really great rum cake from a recipe I found online. But, my house. Oh, my house was so deliciously clean! You could have eaten off the floors (and carpet). Yes, this is because Matt got me a beautiful Dyson for Christmas (a little early, because I just couldn’t wait and had to use it!). I even washed every carpet, my stove, the microwave. Not all with the Dyson, but I will credit the Dyson with the motivation to keep cleaning until my home was sparkling. I’ll have to make a whole post about that another time. In the meantime, I’m basically in domestic bliss with the Dyson/Steam Mop combo I’ve got going on here. Really!

My Rum Cake:

*notice- as usual it was half eaten before I could take a pic*

Easy Rum Cake
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup dark rum (I added 1/4 cup more to mine)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup rum (I added 1/4 cup more to mine)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pan.
Mix together the cake mix, 1/2 cup dark rum, eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil, and vanilla pudding mix. Pour batter over the nuts in the pan.
Bake for 1 hour. Cool, and invert cake on a serving plate. Prick the top of the cake.
To Make The Glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1/8 cup water and the 1/2 cup sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove glaze from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup rum. Drizzle and smooth evenly over the top and sides.

Nutritional Information
Easy Rum Cake
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 454
Total Fat: 23.5g
Cholesterol: 92mg
Sodium: 479mg
Total Carbs: 49.7g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5g
Protein: 4.1g

Cookie baking day! I made mimosa’s and muffins and had some girlfriend’s over to make and exchange cookies!

I made these raspberry and apricot filled thumbprints:

I also made these snowman cupcakes (Nadia helped me with the mini chocolate chip mouths). Like I told my mom: “Enjoy how cute these are, cause I am never making them again!” Seriously. These things took me like 8 hours to decorate a mere 12 cupcakes. A few times I almost threw them across the room and gave up. They are pretty, though…(NEVER AGAIN!!)

Lunch and shopping at IKEA with some girlfriends! What a fun day! I bought a new king size down comforter for only $49.99! What a bargain! Not to mention the satisfaction I got from getting rid of Matt’s old yellowed one he’s had since 2000. Woo-hoo!

Christmas Eve at my parent’s house! I made my famous corn bread souffle as well as a 7 pound ham. Yep. The girl that doesn’t eat red meat made ham. 🙂 I also brought over the half eaten rum cake I made earlier in the week. Afterwards, we went to a beautiful Midnight Mass service at the church I grew up in, had my confirmation at, and got married in. It was lovely. We also opened gifts. This year Matt and I got some wonderful gifts. I’m going to mention them so I can publicly thank our family members (I’m not trying to brag. I’m just honestly overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity this year).

Mom and Dad West gave us a Living Room, a very generous gift card to Publix, and my mom got me one of those Miche purses that you can change the shells on it.

Mom and Dad Tow gave me this beautiful netbook/blog machine I’m using as we speak. They got Matt a home theater system (speakers, blueray DVD player, receiver).

My sister gave me a lovely personalized album she made of her wedding.

Matt gave me a gift certificate to get my nails done (and the Dyson!)

Mike also gave me a gift certificate for my nails (I get my nails done ALOT. Like weekly).

Can you believe it?! This is probably one of the best Christmas’ I’ve had since I was a kid and got that purple scooter I’d been wanting! Thank you SO much for making this a lovely, fun, and exciting Christmas this year. And thank you for the beautiful gifts!

(note- I have another post ready to put out about the handmade gifts I made my family this year.)

Spent the day eating leftovers and relaxing with my family. That evening we went to a friend of the family’s for some dessert, wine, and good conversation.

We saw Avatar with my parents and sister and brother-in-law. Whoa! I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so that’s all I’m going to say. I have to admit that I wasn’t that excited to see it as I’m not into that sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I loved it, though. I really did.

Breakfast with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law before they left town (my sister lives in Miami). Afterwards, we went to a BBQ at a friends house. It was BYOS (bring your own steak). So, I brought some fruit and veggie/brown rice sushi for myself while the other meat eaters enjoyed their dinner and harassed me about not eating steak. I honestly can say I don’t remember what steak taste like. Last time I had some I was probably like 10. I had my last hamburger at age 12 or 13. I really don’t miss it.

Outback day at Bush Gardens! Matt left work early and my friend Catherine met up with us to spend the day there. They closed later than usual and had fireworks but we ended up leaving kind of early because it was freaking freezing! What’s the temp here right now? Like 60? Really….I don’t like anything under 85. I seriously wore a coat, scarf, gloves, and a hat. I probably looked like I was going skiing or something. (Matt said I was being dramatic) Really, though! It was COLD. I didn’t care what I looked like.

PS- my cards have multiplied!

PPS- Matt and I are hosting the New Year’s party this year. Pics to come!

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