Meeting Santa & Vegan Buttermilk Sugar Cookies

It’s Christmas week!! Santa is coming, Santa is coming! I’m excited for family time and Andrews first Christmas. It’s not about the presents under the tree, it’s about the smiling faces of my loved ones, Christmas movies, music and board games, cinnamon rolls and time with those I love.

Our weekend kicked off Friday night with a Blue Apron meal. We finally decided to give it a try and loved it. We signed up for another week and are excited for some more delicious meals that take me out of my comfort zone in terms of ingredients and preparation (I get into ruts sometimes).

20141219_181336

This particular dish called for ghee and chestnuts which I’ve never cooked with. It was delicious!

Saturday morning I took the car to get an oil change. To kill time I went for a very cold run. My first outside in a loooog time. I covered 4 hilly miles and felt great to be outside of the gym and off the treadmill.

IMG_20141220_094213

Once I returned home we picked up groceries for the week before naptime, which I spent watching Christmas movies. After the boys woke up, we downed a pizza from papa johns then headed out to a Christmas activity filled with crafts, cookie decorating and the big man himself! Andrew was fantastic and totally comfortable sitting on a complete strangers lap.

Jackson, however, was apprehensive and only agreed to stand next to Santa if he was within arms reach of the cookies and could have one afterwards.

The rest of the evening was filled with comfort food, some good wine and board games.

20141221_155214

Sunday we had family Sunday pancakes and then I baked 6 dozen cookies to devour and give away to friends, the daycare ladies at my gym and neighbors.

Two of Jackson’s friends have severe allergies, one to eggs and oats and the other to all dairy (he has FPIES) so I created a vegan buttermilk thumbprint cookie for them. My only regret is not investing in cookie cutters. Doing it by hand took forever.

20141221_114418

Heres the recipe in case you’re interested.

Vegan Buttermilk Sugar Cookies (with Raspberry Filling)
makes 3 dozen

2¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp kosher salt
⅓ cup Earth Balance, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup olive oil
1 flax egg (1tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 drops lemon juice
⅓ cup buttermilk (Add 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar to a 1c measuring cup. Fill remaining cup with soymilk (or other non-dairy milk) to make 1 cup of vegan buttermilk)
Powdered sugar
Raspberry Preserves

1. Preheat oven to 350◦
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth (about 30 seconds if using an electric mixer or 1 minute by hand). Add granulated sugar and combine until fluffy and well mixed. Beat in oil, flax egg, vanilla and lemon juice.
4. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, about ⅓ at a time, mixing after each addition.
5. Knead dough and loosely cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
6. Divide dough in half. Roll half out on floured surface. Use a cookie cutter or cup to cut out shapes (hearts and circles work well). Bake for 5-7 minutes or until crisp on edges and lightly golden. Do not over bake.
7. Roll out remaining dough using the same cookie cutters. Inside the cut out shapes create smaller cutouts using a knife or if you’re smart, a smaller cookie cutter. Bake 5-7 minutes, making sure not to overbake.
8. Cool cookies on wire rack. Once completely cool, spread ~1 tbsp. raspberry preserves onto each full cut out shape. Cover with matching cutout shape with smaller cutout to create a “sandwich”. Once finished, sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy.

The rest of the day was filled with more Christmas movies, living room play and just relaxing before another week begun.

Currently

20141024_061551I’m on an oatmeal kick. Between cold weather and a string of illnesses (were on round 3 and 4 right now which is one of the hardest because I’ve been without a voice for six days now. I’ll let that sink in. Six days. No voice. With a toddler.) I mix 1/4c trader Joes old fashioned oats with about 3/4c water on the stove top. As it begins to simmer I add in 1/8c chopped walnuts, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1/4tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2tsp chia seeds, 1/2 a small apple- chopped, 1/2 banana- sliced. Once it’s done I add a big scoop of crunchy pb and enjoy with extra strong coffee.

untitled

I’ve been really into reading again lately. Thanks to Oyster I blew through two books in the span of 3 days. They were both really good. The Art of Racing in the Rain which I highly recommend if you love dogs and Brain on Fire which was a fantastic non fiction. If you’re interested in trying Oyster I recommend signing up for the trial online as you get an entire month for free versus a week if you register through the app, like I did. Womp womp. (disclaimer: I’m in no way affiliated with Oyster Books, I just really like the app).

 20141216_09462520141216_09463420141216_094650

…Freaking out about the fact that my 8 month old wants to stand all.the.time. Yesterday he started screaming during naptime. I went into our room to find him standing in his pack n play playing with everything on my nightstand. He got stuck and couldn’t figure out how to get down. Or out. He pulls up on everything: big brother, our legs, chairs, the toy shelves, Legos and train sets and even a toy dump truck that landed him face first into it’s bed and left a wicked bruise on his cheek. Poor kid.

Untitled3

…apprehensively excited about the fact that I was selected from the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April. I’m excited to have a race in mind for 2015 and the timing is great but I’m also feeling less than motivated to get my arse to the gym to get in runs and with the weather the way it has been (read: freezing cold and windy) I can’t get out on the trails with both kids. Maybe it’s a good thing that I now have a race to motivate me, eh?

20141213_123200

…loving kale salads. On a whim I ordered one from a restaurant a few weekends ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I finally recreated it at home and it is everything. So darn good. I mix prewashed and cut organic kale from Trader Joe’s with dried cranberries, sliced tomatoes, grated carrot, feta cheese, creamy dressing and walnuts. Try it.

20141214_091456 20141214_091345 20141214_091342

…attempting baby led weaning! Andrew is so busy that spoon feeding is nearly impossible. I’ve begun attempting BLW with pears and bananas and the kid LOVES it. It’s messy but fun!

20141209_093311

…loving the sibling bond even when they’re still so young. They melt me.

Gift Guide: For Him

him

For the man in your life, be it your significant other, a parent or a grandparent. Or even a good friend!

Home Brewers Kit. This is Bry’s gift this year and I’m giddy for Christmas as I cannot wait to see the excitement on his face. He’s going to be so surprised! Unless he reads this post early. This kit is great for the man who wants to delve into homebrewing but is starting at square one. It’s foolproof, affordable and only requires a small amount of space. It comes with a choice of beer kit recipes to go with it (you get one for free with the kit) so you can tailor it to your loved one’s preference. And if you’re totally clueless when it comes to beer aside from you know it tastes good, they have a fantastic and friendly customer service center open 7 days a week! I did in fact call them asking for help deciphering beer types while almost inaudible due to laryngitis.

Straight Edge Razor. Another past Christmas gift and I’ll be honest, he never touches it after he shaved his face to look like he was mauled by a rapid animal but a few YouTube videos and some research into how to use them correctly could protect your guy and make him feel like a manly man for using an old school razor. Or so they say. Bry now has a full blown beard. Which also saves money on razors.

Gift Card to a home improvement store. Nothing hints, “get on that honey-do list” like a gift card to Home Depot but honestly, men love that store. Put them near power tools, give them an odd job and prepare to not see them for several hours while they feel powerful and manly and you very likely end up with an even bigger project than you started with (men know everything, thus they do not need to consult experts. “How hard can this be?!” Famous last words.)

A bottle of their favorite alcohol, case of beer or bottle of wine. Clueless as to where to start? Fireball whiskey is popular this year and dangerously delicious.

Coffee Mug. You could go the traditional route or add a personalized touch. For Father’s Day this past year I took the boys to a local art studio where they painted mugs for Daddy and Pappy. They both loved them. And they’re useful.

Stocking stuffers:

Hiking, athletic or regular socks depending on your guy’s preferences.

Mini bottles of liquor.

Personalized Keychain. I bought this one for Bry one year and he loved it. He’s not a jewelry wearer but he always has his keys with him.

Gift Guide: For the Kids

kids

Teething necklace or toy. Andrew is a slobbering, everything-goes-in-his-mouth, constant teether right now. If you’re anything like us, you can never have enough teethers. Like socks in the dryer they magically have a way of disappearing. A teething necklace is a great way to comfort your little one while holding him/her and not fear losing the teether itself.

Musical instrument. Think hard before you gift a loved ones kiddos this as it could be very loud and lead to major resentment. Jackson received a toy piano with an attached microphone from his G and he loves it. He even sings into the microphone and starts giggling, he thinks it’s so funny. He’ll play music on it and then dance around. I love that he’s learning with it. We bought him this guitar for Christmas after he developed a special love for guitars thanks to an episode of Chuggington.

Books. You can never have enough. Some of our favorites include Piggies, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Giraffes Can’t Dance.

Adventure/Experience Gifts. I personally think a kid can have too many toys and that having adventures and experiences together are more meaningful then a million flashing toys and trucks under the tree. Some great ideas include: a trip or membership to the aquarium or local zoo, a monthly membership to a constructive play class like Gymboree (I personally recommend for younger kids) or The Little Gym (personally think is better for the older kids), tickets to a local kids performance, trip to a museum, ice skating, movies etc. You could use an index card to draw a picture of the activity and wrap it so your kid still has something to open Christmas morning. We’re drawing some sharks and fish to indicate the aquarium for Jackson!

Clothes. They may not be the most fun to open but they sure are functional. Between spit ups and blow outs, scraped knees and nose bleeds, spaghetti explosions and tree branch fights, clothes don’t always last long even if they still technically fit.

Stacking Blocks or Rings.

Play Kitchen, BBQ, etc.

Puzzles. Melissa and Doug make some great ones.

Bike or scooter.

Ball. So simple but so much fun!

Stocking stuffers:

Gold chocolate coins
Gummies, goldfish, puree pouches, raisins, etc.
Magically growing sponge or washcloth. My mom bought one for Jackson last year and I think Bryan was more in awe. He thought it was sooooo cool.
Playdough, Whistle, Small Board Book, Shovel (endless fun in mulch or dirt), playing cards, small truck, GI Joes, matchbox cars, etc.

Day In The Life

1am: Andrew starts fussing in his pack n play. He’s currently sick. Again. He’s coughing and I can hear the congestion in his lungs, poor guy. I make him a bottle, change him and prop him up with it, then crawl back under the covers.

4:30am: He’s up! This is sleeping in lately, believe it or not. Last week there were many days starting in the 3 o’clock hour. Zzz. We head upstairs to play. I change his diaper and feed him another bottle while we cuddle in the living room.

20141209_085843

5:15am: Brother is stirring. I go brush my teeth and get him. He runs to find Cookie, our elf. He’s not pleased that she’s driving his tractor and immediately pulls her out and tells her to go sit by the tree (where she spends her days). I change Jack and get him some milk and a banana.

20141209_085854

6am: Were out the door to take daddy to work.

7am: Home again. I make us breakfast. I’m on an oatmeal kick lately. Side of extra strong coffee in a snowman cup.

20141208_062150

7:20am: I clean up breakfast. Andrew goes down for his morning nap and I start working on homemade sugar cookie dough. When it’s time to roll it out, Jackson joins me to cookie cutter it. After it bakes, we decorate it together.

20141209_084722

Made with love for my inlaws.

20141209_085754

8am: I made the dough for another 3 dozen cookies. I make this recipe omitting the brewers yeast and oatmeal and adding in white chocolate chips, pecans and macadamia nuts. Andrew wakes up while I’m baking so I run to get him, change him and feed him before any cookies burn. I sigh in relief when the last pan comes out of the oven.

20141209_1044239am: The boys and I play in the living room with all the trains and trucks you can imagine. Jack snacks and I feed Andrew solids. He’s not really interested.

20141209_090802

10:45am: Both boys are ready for a nap so it’s diaper changes all around and then bedtime. Andrew cries for awhile because he spends the first 10 minutes trying to stand up, gets stuck and falls back. While they nap I eat my current favorite homemade salad (spring mix, pear or apple, goat cheese, candied pecans, dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrette), a pear and a granola bar.

IMG_20141210_123424

11:30am: They’re both up. No rest for the weary. I go to find Andrew in bed with a few papers off Bryan’s desk. I ask Jax if he wants to go on a lunch date to panera but he adamantly responds “no cheese!” He requested wendys chicken nuggets instead. I pack everyone in the car and we drive through CVS to pick up a prescription, grab some nuggets from wendys and head to target. I park and crawl into the backseat between the boys to feed Andrew while jack eats. Drew is a distracted eater so feeding him in his car seat is much easier than in his bumbo where he arches his back, wiggles and fights every bite.

 

12:30pm: With full bellies we brave Target. I get the kids stocking stuffers and a few groceries. While we’re there I stop at Starbucks for a grande caramel latte and Jackson gets a cake pop. Poor Drew just watches.

2pm: Were finally done after encountering the worlds longest lines and the slowest cashier. Andrew fell asleep in the ergo so we drop off our bags at the car and head back into the mall to follow the train around. We wave to Santa, chase the train around the majority of the mall and run into a Bob the Builder ride. I fork over 75 cents so Jackson can rock back and forth on the plastic tractor. Andrew wakes up and we head back to the car.

20141209_144332

3pm: The largest shitshow occurs while I try to wrangle both kids in the absurdity the is the post office during the holidays as I try to mail off packages to brys family. Jackson runs around pulling stuff off all the shelves and Andrew tries to eat the packages, then arches his back and screams when I move him out of arm reach of them. Mind you this is all without a voice still. I finally tell Jackson if he doesn’t start listening daddy’s going to spank him, as he slams the glass doors open and shut. He proceeds to announce loudly to everyone who walks in “daddy’s gonna spank me.”

4pm: Back in the car. Jackson’s soaking wet from puddle jumping his way back to the car. Did I mention it’s been raining and barely above freezing all day? We decide to head towards brys work as he’ll most likely be off soon. Just as we pull up to the shop he calls. He’ll be there in half an hour.

4:30pm: Crawl into the backseat again to finish feeding Andrew and entertain the kids. Jackson starts to lose his marbles from being “stuck” so long. I silently curse Bryan for taking his sweet time.

20141209_160442

5:30pm: An hour later Bry pulls up and were off to join traffic home. We get home and I take care of bringing the bags into the house and get the kids set while daddy takes out the trash. We start on dinner. He makes the BBQ pork chops and I roast butternut squash and cauliflower. My mom comes and entertains the kids while we cook.

IMG_20141209_175509

6pm: Put Andrew to bed and sit down to eat. Then it’s story time and night night for Jackson.

7pm: With both boys down we finish cleaning up, move Cookie the elf to a new spot, do the dishes and play a round of Rubbikub while eating cookies.

8:30pm: Crawl into bed. Not a moment too soon.

Gift Guide: For Her

Ms. Miss or Mrs. For the woman in your life, best friend, wife, sister, mother or mother in law, etc.

her

Personalized Jewelry. I love turning to etsy for these. I’m a firm believer in gifting things from the heart and this one is perfect. I bought my MIL this necklace last Christmas and she wears it daily. She actually bought me a charm bracelet the first Christmas we had Jackson with a onesie and his name engraved. It is so special to me. We added Andrew’s charm last Christmas. I got my mom a family tree necklace  (<– don’t recommend that seller though, getting charm add ons for Andrew was like pulling teeth)one year and my dear friend this necklace with her son’s name and birthstone.

A Homemade Spa Kit or Gift Card to a Spa (manicure, pedicure, massage, we women don’t discriminate. We love them all). Spas can be pricey so if you’re on a constant budget, like us, make a spa kit at home! Include some things like nail polish, a nail buffer, loofa, Balt salts, foot scrub (you can even diy), bubble bath, lavender essential oil, slippers, eye mask, candles, etc. Nothing says I love and appreciate you quite like pampering. Says the sick, endlessly sleep deprived mama of two 😉

Clothing or an outfit they’ve had their eye on. If you’re clueless you could always gift them a month of StitchFix.

Alcohol. What? We don’t gender discriminate.

Chocolate. Chocolate in it’s original form, coating strawberries, mixed with nuts, lathered onto caramel. Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Personalized calendar. We made one for my inlaws the past few years because they unfortunately live half way across the country and don’t get to see the boys as much as we wish they could. A calendar was a great way to display some of their favorite pictures. A picture mug, photo book (I make one for Bry every year and he actually used one to propose!) or mousepad would also be good ideas.

Gift Card to an Art Class. There are constantly deals for these on livingsocial and groupon. They’re classes that you bring your own wine and have fun painting or sculpting together. Great gift to do with your loved one. My MIL, SIL, and 2 cousins all did this together last year in Austin. It was a great time painting but the fun of bonding was even better (and I was preggo so no alcohol was consumed, but it was still a great time).

Tickets to a Local Show: Theater, band, music artist. Whatever it is, if they’re big into concerts or performances get them a couple tickets to it!

Cold Weather Accessories. A cute chunky scarf, convertible mitten/gloves or fashionable beanie.

Stocking Stuffers:

Nail Polish. I’m currently obsessed with Bahama Mama by Essie.

EOS lip balm. Can you tell this is my favorite lip balm ever? I have one in the car, in my purse, on my nightstand and in the diaper bag. Never enough.

Gift Card. A small $5-10 gift card to a local coffee shop, restaurant or even something like iTunes.

Jewelry. A bracelet, necklace, ring, earrings. World Market actually has some gorgeous jewelry that’s very affordable and unique.

Personal Coupon. I grew up with me and my mom giving these to each other. I’ve extended the tradition to Bryan and our kids. Just write on an index card, basically an IOU. “One free back massage”, “One hour of babysitting”, etc. Free and functional.