Forty/[Insert Age Here] is the New Fabulous! - Februray 5, 2011

And to think that I still have some of my baby teeth!
I hit 40 in February. I somehow was expecting to feel different on my birthday, gaining some remarkable clarity as I entered this new decade. However, the day was just a day – I didn’t necessarily feel any different except towards the end of the day, really the evening when I seem to ponder life’s great mysteries as I fall asleep, I suddenly was hit with the realization…that I’M FORTY!

That declaration then turned into a 5 minute panic: “Get in shape! Do all your unfinished projects! Start using sunscreen!

Well after I calmed down and vowed to do some if not all of these “projects,” I did have a moment of clarity about turning 40: while I may not be the most confident all of the time with everything in my life, there is something about the latter part of your 30s and I suspect moving into your later years, that you just accept things that you cannot change and you realize that you just might be fantastic just the way you are, even if it means you aren’t 5’8’’, a size 0 and haven’t won the lottery.

Larry HUGELY surprised me with a party at Duke O’Brien’s in Crystal Lake and later a cruise in June.

It was a wonderful night, although Mom was not able to make due to being under the weather – but we were able to keep her in the loop via a play-by-play by phone.

Thanks to everyone, Family and friends, who came to celebrate – I was completely surprised and had a fabulous time!

Enjoy the photos!

A Visit from the Fritz Boys - January 16, 2011

Eric and Brian
In January we had a very quick visit with Eric and Brian. Brian was in the Chicago area with the US Naval Academy Men's Glee Club and we were able to see him perform at a Church in Barrington, IL. The group was truly fabulous.

Afterwards we were able to chat with Brian before he was whisked away to another singing engagement.

Dad, Jill, Eric, Brian, Larry and Mom
As always, it’s great to see family and we were thrilled that we were able to see this very talented troupe.

Wish the visit was longer!

To Die For Carrot Cake

Completely worth the ridiculous amount of calories!
For Easter this year I decided to step up my game in bringing dessert to Mom and Dad's. I love to bake and really love carrot cake. After viewing various recipes on, this is my adaptation of an Easter favorite. Honestly, this is so yummy, I'd suggest making this anytime. Forewarned - this is not a healthy recipe, but well worth the extra calories. Just run around the block about 50 times and you'll be good to go!

Carrot Cake with Decorative Carrots

Note: This recipe is entirely soy-free.
Makes 1 two-layered cake. Prep Time: 35 minutes; extra to decorate. Cook Time: approximately 1 hour.


4 eggs
3/4 cups Canola Oil
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots-
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting: 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. milk - I used fat free because that's what I had in the house, but if I had my druthers, I'd recommend whole milk for the extra richness.
1 cup chopped pecans - for when you frost the cake.
Instructions for the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven 350°F. Grease with some butter and sprinkle with a little flower two 9" round cake pans. Note: You can use cooking spray, BUT, they all have soy. So if you are baking with a soy allergy in mind, PLEASE read all your food labels; it's amazing how many products have soy.
  2. Using my KitchenAid stand mixer (you can use a large bowl and hand mixer too), beat together the eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in carrots and mix for several minutes. Add in pecans and mix for several more minutes.
  3. Fold mixture evenly into the 2 cake pans.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated over for 40-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Note: I start checking for "doneness" after 30-35 minutes, depending on your oven.
  5. Let cool in pan and then turn over onto a cool surface/wire rack for further cooling.
Instructions for the Frosting:
  1. Using the stand mixer, combine the butter, cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and milk. Beat until mixture is smooth and creamy - I did this for awhile to get it pretty fluffy.
  2. To Frost the Cake: Once the cakes are cool. I placed one on a nice plate and frosted the top of it and then placed the second cake on top of it. I worked my worked my way around the cake and then smoothed out the frosting around the cake.
  3. Nuts: I literally took small handfuls of the nuts and "smooshed" them gently onto the side of the bottom cake layer - it adds a nice, elegant touch (and tasty too!) to the cake.
Carrot Instructions:

Cute and Yummy!
  1. I made some extra frosting and then divide the mixture into 2 bowls using the stand mixture. In one bowl you will need to add green food coloring for the carrot leaves - I ended up putting quite a few drops to get the color I wanted. For the Carrots: Same thing, but instead add yellow and red food coloring.
  2. Using a round frosting tip for the carrot shape and a star tip for the leaves, I placed each frosting in a pastry bag with its corresponding tip.
  3. First I made the leaves and worked my way clock-wise around the top of the cake. You may want to try this on a plate first to practice - it seemed to me that it's a matter of the pressure and amount you squeeze out of the bag to achieve the perfect leaf.
  4. For the carrots, I used a round tip and started right under the base of the leaves. Start with a bit of a "bulb" and then pull down with the frosting to make a tail. Again practice makes perfect.
I will tell you I was a wreck adding the carrots to the cake because if you make a mistake, that's it...fiasco! But all turned out fine. Does Martha Stewart sweat when she does this????

Ready to wow guests
I hope you enjoy this cake - it really is delicious.


Source: © 2011 May Family Recipes

A Lesson from Seinfeld

"This was supposed to be the summer of George!" - George Costanza

When 2011 rolled around, I had in my head that this was going to be the "Year of Jill."

I was turning 40 in February and, well, my thought was it's time for me to get in shape, embrace the new decade, climb a mountain (not really), blah, blah, blah. Kind of like a New Year's resoultion but longer - which I do every year they ever even last???

Well as soon as I had this new mantra in mind I then immediately thought "George on Seinfeld declared the 'Summer of George' and you know how well that turned out!

Well the start of 2011 did in fact start off with some blips and then it was suddenly June - so I'm FINALLY at a point where I can now play catch up with my bear with me.

Glad to be back!