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Christmas, New Year’s, and Tons of Cats

Wow, I really haven’t had the motivation to blog lately, but here we are! I’m going to dive in with a succinct recap of the holidays, featuring lots and lots (and lots) of cats. Spoiler: We had 6 cats at my house on NYE.

The night before Christmas Eve, I made my pumpkin gingerbread, and enjoyed that with wine while watching Home Alone 2 (we watched the original last year).

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I started Christmas Eve with a festive spin class, of entirely Christmas songs.

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On Christmas Eve night, my whole family went to Benihana’s per our tradition. I just got beer, a salad, and their amazing fried rice, and then stole bites of my family’s food.

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Before we knew it, it was Jackson’s first Christmas!

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Kitten’s first stocking!

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^This was after I caught him looking extremely guilty with a little tree in his mouth.

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For breakfast, we had gingerbread (for me)/croissants (my parents), plus scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.

After breakfast, my mom and I headed to the bay to take Chloe for a little Christmas walk.

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Around lunchtime, my sister, her husband, and their two kitties came over (5 cats total in the house!)

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We ate an easy lunch of soup, and then opened presents.

My sister made us all homemade gelato! Mine was salted caramel.

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^This was my present to my sis! Lava and Ash, her kitties!

My sister and I were tasked with cooking Christmas dinner, which is a first for us. We poured champagne with pomegranate juice, and mulled wine to sip on while we cooked.

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My sister made homemade pasta, pumpkin soup, and brussels sprouts. I made cranberry sauce (with maple syrup) and cranberry citrus relish, and then ended up sort of roasted a turkey. I wanted to buy some slices from Whole Foods like we did a few years ago, but when I went on Christmas Eve, they didn’t have that. So I ended up buying a whole (pre-cooked) Diestel turkey. Apparently I looked clueless enough at the store, and the store worker was super helpful and told me how to heat it up: 350 for 1.5 hours, with the first .5 hour covered. It came out super well (and we had a ton of leftovers which were enjoyed all week).

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My sister’s husband is Jewish, and the two of them have perfected the latke. These are lemon truffle latkes with homemade apple sauce that my aunt sent us!

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Highlights from between the two holidays:

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Leftover turkey-cranberry opened faced sandwiches with laughing cow.

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AMAZING turkey and rice soup. My mom made turkey broth from the carcass, and the flavor was incredible. Served with Brazilian cheese balls.

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Beer flight during the Alamo bowl. This was a fun flight because we picked out the individual beers from Trader Joe’s, so it was all good things! Sadly the game didn’t go as planned…

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For our football food, we did BBQ turkey sweet potato nachos. Roasted sweet potato slices topped with BBQ sauce, 2% Mexican cheese, leftover turkey, and green onions.

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I made my weirdo salad with leftover roasted turkey instead of deli turkey and it was insanely good.

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Friday night, my parents and I finally made it out to the local brewery. They have a beer called “Beer Kitty,” so naturally I had to get that.

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They also had food trucks out. I had a kale salad with chicken, and french fries.

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On the way home, we stopped for frozen yogurt. I had chocolate mint and  eggnog. Both were super good!

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Saturday, I actually worked all day at the vet. It was good to be back, and we had lots of kitties that day—my favorite! I went out for dinner and beer with coworkers after as well. When I got home, it was madness. My family was gone, and my sister’s 2 kitties were staying with us as well. I got home to 5 kitties! Thankfully they all got along, and there were kitties EVERYWHERE!

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^All 5 in one shot!

My NYE consisted of a spin class, lots and lots of cat time, Jackson’s first kitten playdate at my friend’s house, then my friend bring her kitten to my house to make it 6 cats, and finally game night at a different friend’s house while our kitties played. The rest of the post will be exclusively cat pictures! I got a new phone, so the cat pictures are higher quality and I have more memory to store them! Happy New Year!

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San Francisco at Christmas and Holiday Foods

I’m back for another little holiday themed recap!

To be honest….I think one reason I’m struggling to feel like Christmas is just 2 days away is that I haven’t had a ton of holiday food, and I haven’t done any sort of Blogmas/12 Days of Christmas/Blogiversary!

I have one more Christmas-y adventure to catch you guys up on, as well as fitness and food things!

Yesterday, my family went into San Francisco to check out the Union Square Christmas tree and see the holiday kittens at Macy’s. I had originally thought that when I saw the kittens (up for adoption), it would be feasible for me to get one! However, Jackson is more than enough <3

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Also, I don’t know if I posted a picture of our tree yet, but it’s especially pretty this year! My parents went through our plethora of ornaments and picked out all the best (breakable) ones. Pretty bold move on their part with a new kitten!

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On Friday, after a 35 degree-unheated Crossfit workout, we headed into San Francisco, starting at the big mall. We ate lunch at the food court, and I got a big kale salad with butternut squash, apple, pumpkin seeds, chicken, and a maple curry vinaigrette.

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For dessert, I had a piece of GF cinnamon coffee cake that tasted like the inside of a cinnamon roll, and a few bites of my dad’s mousses.

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We shopped around a tiny bit before walking over to Union Square, first to see the Macy’s kittens!

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So cute!

Then, we walked over to the big tree in Union Square.

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We hung around there for a bit before deciding we wanted to grab a beer. I looked up nearby breweries, and we ended up at Thirsty Bear, which was also a tapas place with a delicious looking menu. We shared a flight of all their beers, as well as some samples of their holiday brews (including a lager with nutmeg).

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After our flight, my dad and I split the Panda Bear, a lager made with cacao nibs and vanilla. It was served with TCHO chocolate, which paired perfectly! It was really interesting because it was definitely a chocolatey beer, but it wasn’t a dark beer!

We finally headed home and ate dinner and relaxed until I went to a Christmas party with my friends! My friend’s house was decorated beautifully. They also had a white elephant exchange, but for snacks, which I thought was a great idea! It was also another great excuse to bust out my Christmas sweater! I’ve gotten lots of use out of it this year!

In terms of fitness this week, it’s been a mixture of Crossfit and spin. It’s nice being back at my home Crossfit, but Monday and Tuesday’s workout had my entire body hurting. Monday was 100 pull ups+100 wall balls. 2 days later, I could not straighten my arms! But I did 100 pull ups without ripping my hands, which was sort of a miracle. I was really happy with my workout; I was able to hold onto sets of 4 or 5 most of the way through the 100, only dropping to sets of 2-3 by the very end.

Then, Tuesday morning was 5 rounds of 20 power snatches and 50 double unders. Plus, we did 100 hollow rocks as part of the strength for the day (that crushed my abs). Thankfully, my double unders, which had been elusive over the preceding months, decided to return.

I’ve also been walking Chloe. We walked a couple of times with my friend and her dog (he’s gotten so big now!), and a couple of times solo with a podcast.

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In terms of food over break, here are a couple of fun things:

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Sort of open faced sloppy joes with ground turkey. Bread on the bottom, lettuce leaf on top. Plus some amazing roasted brussels sprouts. We drizzled them with truffle aged balsamic and it was absurd. I planned this meatier dinner for the night after 100 pull ups!

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Cooking Light’s Miso Ginger Noodle Bowls. I found these while flipping through the magazine!

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Crustless vegetable quiche (filled with broccoli, peppers, mozzarella, and feta), roasted asparagus with truffle salt, and GF baguette with olive oil and that amazing balsamic.

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GF molasses ginger cookies from the GF bakery in the city. So delicious! Also pieces of this See’s toffee bar. These remind me of my childhood; we used to sell them as a band fundraiser in middle school (I played the violin), and I haven’t had one in years! Most toffee has nuts, but these don’t!

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And finally, open faced turkey and havarti sandwiches with persimmon on top, broiled. Green beans with a lemon dill seasoning blend on the side.

And finally:

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Starbucks peppermint hot chocolate. Of course with whipped cream. I got it with nonfat milk, so I guess it’s a compromise!

I don’t expect to post again before Christmas, so I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday!

 

Holiday Festivities

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I wanted to catch up on my holiday adventures!

First, we’re going to step it back to just before finals week. I actually drove home the weekend before finals to go to my dad’s company Christmas party.

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I’ve never missed one, and I decided it would be a good break from school and studying, plus it would allow me to spend a day studying with my kitty at home! (And I re-listened to a lecture on the drive back.)

Of course, there was good food!
Salad:

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Snapper:

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And cheesecake:

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The next day, I baked peppermint bark muffins with a gluten free muffin mix I had lying around, plus Ghiradelli peppermint bark chips and chocolate chips.

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The next Christmas festivities occurred right after finals. I knew I was going to want to celebrate the semester, so I scheduled my annual Christmas cooking making with my best friends from high school.

Another bonus? One of my friends has a new kitten!

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Here’s our handiwork!

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Saturday night, my family and I went to a Dickens Christmas Fair. It was really cool! It was exactly what it sounds like. Lots of people were dressed up. There was food, things to buy, and performances going on.

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We were there kind of late so a lot of the food was gone. I had a baked potato and steamed vegetables.

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And a GF cookie.

Sunday, it was time for the Santa Run! It’s an afternoon race so it’s always awkward working out meals. I made my shortcut ginger butternut squash soup.

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We got super lucky! The weather was absolutely beautiful! Some years it’s been cold and/or rainy!

I was not super confident going into this race. My ankle is still bad (and likely will be for the foreseeable future). But I couldn’t miss this race!

I went out at a decently fast pace the first two miles, but sort of jogged the last mile. Unfortunately, eating gluten in Christmas cookies a few nights before had be feeling sick in the following days. Oh well, lesson learned!

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Not too bad of a time, all things considered!

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Embarrassingly, I actually re-rolled my bad ankle within the last .1 mile, but since my ankle issues are weirder than just a role, I don’t think it made any lasting difference thankfully!

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At the finish line, we grabbed snacks (chicken tamale for me) and explored Christmas at the Park. Apparently the 600 Christmas trees there this year was a Guinness World Record!

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I actually ended up pulling off a third place in my age group!

After exploring the festivities, we grabbed beers at a place we’ve stood outside in past years because they had heat lamps and it was freezing!

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On the way home, we stopped in Palo Alto to see lights on a famous street that apparently has been decorating since the 1940s! It was pretty cool! The decorations seemed like they were from another era—a lot of wooden figures.

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While in Palo Alto, we stopped at Sweetgreen. I got a salad with burssels sprouts and a delicious cranberry vinaigrette.

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Later in the week, my mom and I went to the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

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We stopped at Mariposa for lunch, a gluten free bakery. I had a turkey sandwich, and we split some muffins (the pumpkin chocolate chip is my favorite!)

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We also tried a couple of gourmet chocolates: Rose chocolate and burnt caramel.

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This post is getting super long, so I’ll save the remaining festivities, but I’ll leave you with some of my favorite kitten pictures of the week!

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Christmas Eve+ Christmas 2016

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you celebrate!

I kicked off Christmas Eve with a morning spin class, before returning home to have lunch with my family.

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I had leftover lentil/bruschetta/feta over lettuce, GF sourdough, and a little sauerkraut.

For Christmas Eve, we decided to take a trip to the San Francisco Zoo to see reindeer and the polar bear. They have the oldest polar bear in captivity right now; she’s 35! That’s crazy; the normal lifespan for polar bears in captivity is 20-30.

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She makes me miss Kali in St. Louis though!

It was also fun to see the decorations around the zoo.

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Anteaters:

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I never once saw the anteater at the St. Louis Zoo while working there.

Grizzly Bears:

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All the animals had Christmas trees!

The tiger was beautiful and we got up super close to it:

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River otters:

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My parents and I split a Bobo’s Gingerbread Oat Bar, to get in the holiday spirit! These are delicious; I saw them and ordered them online since I couldn’t find them in stores, but I had to get a pretty big box of them, so we will be enjoying Gingerbread bars well into the new year!

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As per our Christmas Eve tradition, my sister and her fiancé met us at Benihana, a Japanese steak house, for dinner.

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I started with a salad, and half a sushi piece (they ended up messing up our order so I split it with my dad).

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It’s always a great show!

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I got fried rice, and picked some shrimp and veggies off my family’s plate!

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Let’s be real: the fried rice is the best part.

After dinner, we relaxed on the couch with molasses cookies and Gilmore Girls.

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I was so tired from the previous days, and was in bed at 10.

On Christmas morning, I slept in more than usual and woke up feeling like a new woman.

So, here’s a funny Christmas story. We don’t really leave cat toys out because Chloe will take them, but when I woke up, I saw one on the floor. A little bit later, it was gone. And when my mom got up, she told me that it sounded like my kitty Charlie was meowing at 4am with a toy, which didn’t make sense because he didn’t have any out. Well, it turned out that he got into his Christmas present at 4am and was carrying it around yowling! Silly cat. And of course, my dad found it in Chloe’s mouth shortly after she came out of her crate for the morning.

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After solving the mystery, I quickly ate a granola bar and helped Chloe to her stocking. She was a big fan.

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Chloe got a cool light up ball!

And this monkey, which quickly lost a leg.

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I think I’m starting to get the whole snapchat filter on a cat thing down. I think it helps that Charlie has a patterned face (Yoyo was mostly just white).

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The reason I only had a granola bar for breakfast was so we could go to the bay and do a little run/walk like we did last year. It was such a beautiful day; the thermometer said it was mid-40s, but it wasn’t windy and it was pretty sunny.

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Chloe made a friend.

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This trail is so pretty in the winter, and I could see all the way to San Francisco! Plus, I think my pace was about 30 seconds faster than last year, and that’s never a bad thing!

After our run/walk, we went to Starbucks for some holiday drinks. I had a cappuccino. Someone in front of us was incredibly nice and got a $100 Starbucks gift card to pay for the people behind in line, so we actually got our drinks thanks to that anonymous Christmas person!

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After getting ready for the day, I had a mini lunch to tide me over before the main meal. Just the same leftovers as the previous day, plus some crackers.

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I also broke into some candy from my stocking. Yum!

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Before long, my sister and her fiance arrived to open presents. Check out this amazing painting my sister made for my mom!

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I think my favorite present had to be the matching scarf set for Chloe and I!

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My mom and I actually got each other the same beer of the month club, but we ended up mostly choosing different months, so there’s only 1 overlapping month! It’s too funny though that we had the same idea!

We had a little time left before we had to leave, so we popped in a Christmas special. This year was my favorite: The Year Without a Santa Claus.

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Then, we loaded into the car to head to my Grandma’s house in Berkeley!

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I broke out my sparkly pants for the occasion.

My Grandma outdid herself. Everything was beautifully set.

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We enjoyed snacking on olives and pickles, and sipping champagne. Olives feel like Christmas to me! When we were little, my sister and I used to put them on all our fingers while we waited for dinner to finish cooking.

My Grandma is also a fantastic cook, and she roasted an amazing turkey and ham.

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She also made manicotti in honor of my sister’s recent Italian travels.

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My dad was on carving duty.

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My plate:

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I was unintentionally a little heavy handed with the salad, but it was delicious! It had grapes, dried cranberries, and champagne vinaigrette. We also had glazed brussels sprouts, green beans, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes, and of course turkey! I’m glad I realized how delicious turkey is with cranberry sauce. I enjoyed mine with cranberry sauce and cranberry orange relish.

Next, we opened up our holiday party poppers!

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I really liked my joke:

How did Scrooge win the football game?

The ghost of Christmas passed.

After cleaning up a bit, we embarked on dessert. My mom and I split a delicious piece of pumpkin cream pie.

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I didn’t have any, but there were beautiful cookies and a chocolate log cake.

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I also had some chocolate vanilla swirl frozen yogurt with fresh berries!

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It was a fabulous Christmas, surrounded my those I love most. I hope you, and your family and friends had a great holiday!

Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a fantastic day. Our Christmas this year was a bit unconventional, as we celebrated and did many of our Christmas traditions with my sister and grandma a week earlier.

Christmas Eve began on an active note—12 Days of Christmas at Crossfit!

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12 days of Christmas operates just like the song. You start with the exercise at 1 and do one rep. Then you go to the next exercise and do 2 reps of that, and one rep of the first exercise. And so on. I love festive workouts! I finished in around 30 minutes. And the best news? Earlier this week was the first time in 3 months that I have done snatches—the first time since my shoulder injury. On Monday, I used the training bar and worked up to 30 pounds, but I used 45 for the workout! Partly this was fine because these were power snatches so I did not have to squat down, which is easier on my shoulder.

To refuel, I heated up some chocolate soy milk and added mint extract and whipped cream.

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Next, my friend who is cat sitting for me next week came over and brought her “kittens.” I can’t believe how much they’ve grown!

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After lunch, we decided to pay a visit to the Humane Society to visit the kitties. We saw the kitty my sister is thinking about adopting soon as well.

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We then saw the movie Sisters. Overall I liked it! There were some jokes that fell flat to me though. After the movie, we headed to Whole Foods for dinner and ingredients for the following day. For dinner I had some veggies and mashed potatoes. Since I’m not supposed to eat big meals thanks to my stomach, I wanted to break up Christmas dinner and have my potatoes early!

The evening was spent at home with festive red champagne.

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We were up fairly early on Christmas morning. I ate a Luna bar for breakfast first thing because we were planning on going for a run/walk around 9am.

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We then opened stockings. It was Chloe’s first Christmas and she seemed to enjoy what she got!

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After breakfast and stockings, we drove out to the bay on quite the chilly morning. About 39 when we got up! I wore my Santa Run shirt for the occasion.

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It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and so clear after the past few days of rain. We could see all the way to San Francisco!

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I ran 3 miles at a hair under a 9:00 pace, which was the goal!

On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks for some festive drinks. I had a holiday spice flat white. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan because it was slightly sweet and I don’t like sweet+coffee. For anyone else though, I’d probably recommend it because it wasn’t crazy sweet like some of their other drinks!

Once home, we opened presents!

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Lunch for me was Whole Foods Butternut Squash posole with cheddar and truffle salt (because why not?).

Then, it was time to start making dessert! We were lacking dessert ideas for a while, but I wanted to actually make something special. What I came up with was a modification of a chocolate silk pie. I used this recipe for the chocolate silk portion. The center is essentially just silken tofu and chocolate, which was perfect because I didn’t want something too heavy.

I started with a gluten free chocolate cookie crust and spread chocolate fudge sauce on the base.

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Then, I made the tofu base, but I blended in fresh mint and a touch of mint extract.

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Finally, I topped it with homemade whipped cream plus a crushed candy cane decoration.

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Christmas dinner was definitely unconventional. As we all well now, I’m on a soup kick and I can’t tolerate big meals so I lead the effort to make Christmas dinner in soup form. We used a basic chicken veggie soup recipe, but substituted Whole Foods precooked turkey for the chicken. Side note: the Whole Foods turkey is quite possibly the BEST turkey I have ever had. We also mixed in a truffle gravy seasoning mix for added flavor. For the “stuffing,” I made croutons by slicing up gluten free bread, spreading it with Earth Balance garlic and herb, and toasting it in the oven. Cranberry sauce was served on the side!

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We all agreed that the soup turned out quite well, and were satisfied with this twist on a traditional Christmas meal.

And finally: dessert is served!

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Overall, it was an awesome and low key day! I would also say this is definitely our healthiest Christmas ever!

I want to add one thing. While I’m all for enjoying yourself with foods over the holidays, I do want to mention that thanks to my stomach issues and new diagnosis, I’ve had to be very careful with what I eat, and as a result, I was much healthier throughout the holidays. It was actually wonderful. I still enjoyed some treats, but overall I felt SO much better. Having soup for Christmas was perfect! I also love that my family supports me so much in the way in which I eat. Right now especially, I know it is not easy and I really do try to be as easy going as possible about it, but the reality is that because of everything, it is an issue. So thank you! (Because I know they are reading this :))

Merry Christmas!