A SoIL Christmas

Last weekend we celebrated Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law in Southern Illinois (affectionately referred to as SoIL).  It was a really great time.   After a quick lunch, we toured some of the wineries on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.


We started at Alto Vineyards and worked our way north.  We toured a total of 5 wineries that day:  Alto, Hedman, Von Jakob, Pamona, and Hickory Ridge.  Each one was different.  My favorite wine was either the Cabernet Sauvingon from Von Jakob (the only 100% cab sav grown, made, and bottled in Illinois) or the Kir (pronounced Keer) from Pamona.   Pamona was the most unique in that all of their wines are made from fruit other than grapes.    Here are some of my tasting notes*:



I was planning on giving wine as gifts, so of course I had to buy bottles at almost every stop.  Here’s a photo of all our “loot.”  It’s not all mine, but I picked up quite a few bottles:


Then it was back to the house to open presents. We’re nearly 30 years old, yet our mom still goes overboard for Christmas.  Check out the number of presents under the tree. I kept telling my mom it was “garish.”



Ryan and Jo don’t have many pictures of the two of them together, so Jo asked me to take one by the tree.  In typical fashion, Ryan wasn’t playing along.  So I took one of Jo pretending that Ryan was in the picture:

jo1Then one of Ryan doing the same thing:

ryanAnd, finally, one of them together:


Everyone got a lot of really great presents, but Ryan wins the prize for most creative wrapping materials.   Jo outlawed bows this year because the dogs just chew them off, so he came up with a compromise…. Yep, that’s duct tape on my present.  Classy!


After gifts, we went to dinner and then came back to the house to play some games.  We had been snapping photos all night and Ryan noticed there weren’t many of me.  Maybe I should take my very own photo in front of the Christmas tree with a gun.    My brother is a hunter and is very pro-gun and I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum.  We argue the gun control issue all the time and he’s always trying to get me to go out shooting.  I never do.  

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the warm, fuzzy holiday spirit, but for some reason I agreed to taking pictures with the guns.   And, I must say, they make me laugh every time I look at them.



After that, we drank some mulled wine, played board games and went to bed.   The next morning Jo, Mom, and I went to breakfast at Harbaugh’s Cafe.  Our friend Lesley has been raving about this place for quite some time, so I had to check it out.   The food was good, but the atmosphere is what really caught my eye.  


It was kinda funky and kitchy.  None of the furniture matched, the dishes looked like they came out of someones lake house.  It was just really eclectic and fun.  Here’s a shot of my chair at Harbaugh’s:


As we were getting ready to leave, Ryan suddenly remembered that there was one more present under the tree.  As you may recall, there’s a bit of a tradition in our family for both surprises and somewhat extravagant gifts.   The surprise gift this time was a flat screen TV for our mom.  She cried.   Over a TV!


All in all, it was a super great weekend.   I loved being able to go do stuff with my family without the usual pressures of Christmas.  I think this may become an annual tradition. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!


* I apologize for the poor quality of the scans. I just got a scanner for Christmas and I’m still playing with settings, etc.  The good news is that new scanner = more pictures/documents to share!!

3 responses to “A SoIL Christmas

  1. Oooh, I can’t wait to drink my Christmas gift, kakaka!

  2. I’m glad that you finally got to try Harbaugh’s. It’s hands down my favorite place to get breakfast. I hope you will eat there every time you visit.

    PS – DK cried over the TV? She must have really been touched.

  3. What a great entry! Seems like a wonderful time. What could be better than wine, presents, food, and guns??? :)

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