Tuesday, December 25, 2012

happy christmas

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This year is my first year spending Christmas with J's family. I am missing my own, but enjoying the new-to-me traditions and festivities. It's a wonderful gift to be welcomed into a giant, second family.

If you're in Boston, don't forget to enjoy a last day or two of these wonderful holiday sights.

Thinking of you and yours...and of the good in the world. Happy Christmas. xoxo

Friday, December 21, 2012

26. make christmas cookies

A big hug and thank you to everyone for the warm wishes on our engagement. I think the most fun part of the whole thing has been catching up with people! We are just thrilled, and are so looking forward to seeing family and friends when we go home for the holidays. I think the Christmas season is the very best time to have a new sparkle on your finger, plenty to celebrate, and a very special sort of warmth in your heart.

It's also a difficult time to find balance, I admit. This year I tried to enjoy meaningfully, instead of broadly. We decided to skip the decorations so we'd have more time to enjoy other parts of the season. And while I miss having a little tree, I do not miss having to clean up broken ornaments or worry about chewed light wires.

And it also meant I had more time to do number 26 on my list and make up some Christmas cookies...

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Ginger Chewies from J the B (originally from this book)

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Key Lime Meltaways from SK (originally from MS)

Both of the above were delectable, and they were a huge hit in the office. I recommend the ginger chewies especially...they are like thicker, softer ginger snaps.

I also tried my hands at a batch of snickerdoodles, but I think they were a little heavy on the flour. We've eaten them all up anyway, but they just weren't photoworthy enough for the blog.

Wishing you and yours happy holidays.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

once upon a time

There was a prince and a princess, reigning over a kingdom inhabited by a mighty kitty.

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The prince and princess were very happy together. Day in and day out, they ruled justly, settling disputes in the land and keeping the mighty kitty tame.

Yes, they were happy.

But soon they came to realize that their kingdom was missing something. They shared a bond, but the bond was not official, and their reign had never been sealed by the royal kiss of marriage. Both prince and princess began to think of it, and mentioned it shyly to each other in the quiet times between royal duties.

One day, when the holiday season was upon them, the prince and princess decided to venture outside their kingdom to explore the beautiful wilderness beyond their reign. Wearing their warmest, they trekked into the unknown to see how beautifully the season was being celebrated beyond the boundaries of their land.

All day long, they were enchanted by lights, and greenery, and festive music.

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That evening, they arrived at a roadside inn and supped on delicious fare: steak and scotch for the prince, and fish 'n' chips and a champagne lemonade for the princess.

Stuffed full, the pair ventured back out into the cold, until they arrived at the destination they had only heard legends of, the great tree of Christmas, decked with baubles as big as the princess' head and lights glowing with the love of the season.

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The prince took the princess by the hand and led her out to the ocean beyond the tree, where fishermen's boats were strung with lights and the cold air was silent around them.

Then the prince bravely and nervously told the princess that he loved her. And he presented her with a ring. She burst into tears. On the spot, they agreed that they would be married, and become king and queen of their humble kingdom.

Then the princess gently reminded the prince that she was very cold and had to pee, and would really like to go home and have some hot cocoa. He seemed pretty relieved.

And so they did.

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I cannot tell you what a bittersweet weekend it has been.
My heart hurts for the princes and princesses who will not grow to become kings and queens.
But a wise woman reminded me that love still blossoms.
And we hope that our happiness can be a sign of ever budding love in the world...

We can never be assured of a happy ending...

But we can continue to love and to hope.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

14. make chex mix

In the middle of finals I am always a drama queen about missing out on the holiday season.

Whoever decided that it would be perfect timing to require 50-page papers while twinkly lights are going up in the city and people are pinning pictures of Christmas trees and snow on pinterest is cruel. I felt so left out. #FOMO

But here I am on the other side...all the more appreciative of the season around me. And my twelve days before Christmas can begin. Now is the time for carols and bad romantic Christmas movies and hot cocoa in earnest.

I'm going to be Christmas sick all over you.

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And a good way to start is with Chex Mix. We've always had Chex Mix at our house during winter, when the toasty smell makes your mouth water and there are always enough people around to finish it off quickly.

At the beginning of December, I took a break from my work, cranked up the carols, and recruited J for kitchen duty. I was so glad I did, because I relied on this stuff as a quick snack to bring to campus with me for the rest of the semester.

We used the original recipe from the box, but added spicy rice mix instead of garlic bagel bites.

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And slowly but surely, I am making my way through...

So happy to be back with you all. Promise I will catch up soon.

Happy holidays. xoxo

Friday, December 7, 2012

little pleasures in busy times

You guys.

I am so ready for a break. So close...just a few more days. This holiday season is calling my name, and I am just a couple of papers away from a long winter's nap.

But don't worry. I'm still enjoying the everyday stuff too. Please tell me you are too. These are the things that have been getting me through busy days...

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Homemade vegan hot cocoa topped with rice-based whipped cream. (This whipped cream is seriously pretty amazing.)

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Enjoying the warm light of our apartment.

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Laughing at this little cat, as usual. It is getting really cold lately.

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Snacking on healthier versions of comfort food.

To make baked parsnip fries:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Slice parsnips into fries.
Shake up in a bag with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.
Bake until tender.
Serve with tomato sauce.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

11. make pancakes

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We actually did this all the way back before Thanksgiving.

Enjoyed with pure maple syrup...and some chocolate chunks in a few...hot coffee on the side...

One down, 25 to go.

Monday, December 3, 2012

fresh city - review and giveaway

Update: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to winner, Eliza!

It's finals time, you guys, and that means I've been spending all my days typing, reading, clicking, and pulling out my hair. Just over a week to go and I'm in the clear!

This is my seventh year of college final exams, and it somehow still catches me by surprise. I'm always a little stunned to remember how draining it can be, how there's so little time for anything else...exercise, tv, cooking...

So it was a wonderful surprise this year to get an email with the subject, "Can we bring you lunch?"

Um, yes please.

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Fresh City brought by salad and sandwiches and desserts last week so J and I could sample a bit of their menu. And while I consider some of their items a bit indulgent (think thick mayo and chewie blondies), all of the ingredients are incredibly fresh, and everything is full of (mostly organic) raw fruits and veggies.

And don't get me wrong...there are plenty of amazingly healthy items on their menu too, and many of them can be customized to suit your tastes.

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Fresh City provides all their nutrition information online, and you can sort based on the healthy choices you prioritize (vegetarian, gluten free, low sodium...). One of their main goals is to be able to serve the dietary needs/preferences of a very diverse group of people. Though I generally prefer independent businesses to chains, this reliable information is something I really love. (And they've got a location at Logan airport...always good to know where to get fresh food when traveling!)

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Would I spend my money on it?

For sure. While I'd probably opt for a mom-n-pop place if it were available, this would definitely be a great option with a group of people with picky preferences or if you're looking for a fast, easy, healthy meal. I'll definitely be checking it out next time I'm at the airport.

So here's where it gets awesome for you too. One of you can win a $10 gift card to Fresh City. They have locations across Massachusetts, and one each in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Each person can enter up to two times. Leave a comment for each entry. Doing each of the following will earn you an entry:

1. Visit the Fresh City website, then leave a comment on this post telling me which menu item you'd like to try.
2. Share this giveaway via twitter with a link to this post (leave a comment below).

The winner will be chosen randomly next Monday, 12/10.

Good luck! And stay fresh. ;-)