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December 23, 2011

A Little Holiday Poem

It's the night before Christmas Eve, and all the while,
I have been browsing Pinterest like it's going out of style.

via


Loki is nestled all snug on his superhero fleece bed,
while visions of belly scritches dance in his head.



I whipped up a crochet scarf in a flash,
set the timer to 45 minutes for a quick cleaning mad dash.



There's no sign of snow, making for an easy northward drive,
but there's magic in the air, and I'm feeling alive.



There are errands to run and laundry to do,
but there's one last thing I would like to share with you.





May your holidays be merry, may your new year be bright,
From our family to yours, have a blessed night.

December 9, 2011

Friday Round-Up

It's funny how the weeks seem to drag, but when Friday arrives, it feels like it was just last Friday, oh, yesterday! I guess that's better than feeling like an eternity has passed, right?

I promised myself before Thanksgiving that I would be done all my photo work by now so I could "enjoy" my holiday season, but of course, I have fallen behind a little bit and am finding that I'm happier with what I'm putting out there by pacing myself than placing deadlines over my head and racing to the finish line. My progress has been steady the past two weeks, and I am confident that by the time Christmas rolls around, I'll be home free. If you want to check out some of my latest work, you can find my photo blog here.

I am proud to report that these cookies have not completely vanished from our kitchen yet.

If you're looking for a new time-waster, check out my new favorite thing ever, Procatinator. My absolute favorite is this gem.

We got our first Christmas card yesterday! I was so excited, I put together my display frame tonight using a frame I got at Michael's, some baker's twine, and these fun little hanger paper clips. My one card looked lonely so I added a couple I got last year from my girl Liz at Flutter Letterpress.




Seriously gorgeous. I can't wait to see this all filled up. When the holiday season is over, I'll replace the cards with photographs. 

I also thought I'd share some pictures of my finished advent calendar. I love the ornaments, but I'm not terribly crazy about the hanging piece. Next year these might go on a small tree in the middle of our table.





There's not much going on this weekend in our gluten free household. Maybe a little more baking, and scouring some recipes for upcoming holiday gatherings we're going to.

Whatever you have planned, have a glorious weekend!

December 7, 2011

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I mentioned in my Christmas Day post, I had my first successful attempt at gluten free baking this week! I am very excited to share this recipe with you, and hope you experience the same joy that I do every time you bite into one if these soft, delicious cookies.



Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

1 stick + 6tbsp of butter, softened
3/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp organic vanilla
1 1/2 c King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour
1/4 + 1/8 tsp xanthan gum ($13.99 at Whole Foods, goes a loooooong way for the price)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 c Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats
2 c semi sweet chocolate chips (instead of raisins)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer (or bowl using handheld mixer) on medium speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, sift flour, xantham gum, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Add to mixture and blend. Add oats and chocolate chips. Mix well, scraping sides of bowl with spatula to make sure it's evenly blended.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or leave pans ungreased. Drop generous teaspoons of cookie mix evenly spaced onto sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Cool and enjoy!

Prep time: 20 minutes. Yields 3-4 dozen, depending on size of cookie you like :)


Warning: the original recipe calls these cookies "vanishing" because they may simply vanish from your cookie jar, tin, or airtight storage container before your very eyes. Elves may appear in the middle of the night, or accompany your children home from school, and sneak a cookie into each pocket before going on their merry way. There is sadly no way of preventing this except to enjoy them while they last. 

December 6, 2011

Christmas Day

I am a lady who loves traditions. When I was little, my family had a few traditions that really made the Christmas season special. We made Quaker Oats oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with my Dad. We had the annual family yankee swap where blood, sweat and tears were usually shed for things like Billy Bass and a jumbo pack of toilet paper or beer. We went to the local tree farm in town and spent the morning hunting for the perfect tree, and would decorate it as a family once Dad made sure it was perfectly straight in the living room. We'd have at least three family viewings of Christmas Vacation, and my dad would always be busting a gut laughing by the end of Chevy Chase's famous rant.

"We're gonna have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tapdanced with Danny F*!#ing Kaye!"


I have it on good authority that they're watching it right now. Great memories. :)

I think of these little things that made the season special for me as a kid, and I want the same for Sean and I. These little traditions bring comfort year after year. We look forward to them. They bring us closer together. So I've been putting thought into what we can do now, before we have kids, to celebrate together, just the two of us. That brought me to yesterday: Christmas Day (not to be confused with Christmas Day).


Sean was coming off 11 days in a row of work this past weekend, and we'd traveled home for a brief visit to celebrate my niece's 3rd birthday. I realized last week that I need to finish up some vacation days before they disappear into thin air, and what better way to spend a day off than to take a Monday off with my husband? Thus, Christmas Day was born.

I had grand plans to rain Christmas down over our apartment, with mugs of cocoa, freshly baked cookies, a tree decorated and carols ringing over Lastfm on the Xbox. And I am proud to say, it was a success.


Our tree, though fake and a bit scraggly looking, sparkles magically and fills me with a feeling that days to come will be calm and bright. Even when Loki tries to knock the shiny little balls off.




I have been feeling craftier lately, and one idea I had that I loved as a kid was having an Advent Calendar. My family's Advent calendar was a hanging red banner with a tree made out of felt, with little velcro characters and objects for each day that were added to the tree one by one. It was a fun way to visually countdown to Christmas, a little something to do each morning. By Christmas morning, the calendar was fully decorated and looked marvelous. So I decided to give myself a little project this year and make one for us, a one of a kind calendar to use for years to come. I used a little Sculpey clay, ribbon, gold pen and a sheet of aluminum from Home Depot, and finished my Advent calendar. We now have 25 homemade ornaments hung with care, so we can keep track of the days until St. Nicholas is here.








We took a mid-afternoon break from the holiday cheer to go see the Muppet movie. Color me hormonal, but I spent the entire movie wiping tears from my eyes. I love those characters so much. 'Specially this one.



In past years I have been guilty of doing all the decorating by myself, usually on a day Sean is working a 12hr shift, mostly out of sheer excitement to get everything set up. But this year I wanted it to be something we do together. New apartment, new traditions! You can be darn sure that our tree decorating will be a family event going forward. We make a good team.



And the cookies....oh, the cookies. A tradition I stole from my dad. Each year, there was the great cookie baking day, where we tackled the Quaker Oats Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe found inside the cover of the oat canister. But with a twist....Substitute raisins for chocolate chips!






I tried my hand at gluten free baking from scratch, and well, it was amazing. Recipe coming soon!

Although the rain outside and warmer temperatures are less than white and Christmasy, I am happy that our little "Christmas Day" was a success. I think I'll have to take the first Monday of December off from now on so we can have our little celebration.

I don't think Loki would mind one bit.