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Blogmas Day 23: Christmas Cookies

I had a more informational post planned for today, but I just don’t have it in me, so it will have to wait until after Blogmas. I’m so freaking tired, but for lots of festive reasons!

The first of which being my annual Christmas cookie baking night, which I’ll share today! Nothing like some cookies to get into the holiday spirit, right?

This tradition started in my freshman year of high school (eek).

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And we’ve done it every year since. We usually use this recipe for sugar cookies, and then make frosting from the recipe on the powdered sugar.

Let’s see if I can dig up throwbacks from the years past, shall we?

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^This is freshman year. The VERY first time we made cookies actually wasn’t for Christmas!

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^Also freshman…?

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^Sophomore. We made a gingerbread house murder scene and gingerbread cookies.

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^Junior

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^Senior. No cookie pictures but I KNOW based on these pictures we must have done it.

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^College freshman

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^College sophomores

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^College Juniors

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^College Seniors

And now, somehow, we’re college grads, but we still managed to squeeze it in.

We started the evening with dinner at a Japanese restaurant. I had miso soup and salad with grilled chicken.

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And of course, everyone was decked out in their Christmas sweaters.

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We poured a little champagne as we rolled out the dough.

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Once everything came out, it was decorating time! I had some help from Chloe, of course. Once she got over how excited she was to see everyone, she was much calmer thankfully!

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And here are the results!

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I actually used half gluten free, half regular flour for the dough. I thought that I would be able to eat a few bites then without dying, and without harming the texture too much!

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Delicious. No death, but I think I was way sleepier than I should have been when everyone left just before midnight!

Such a great night with friends, and I love this tradition that we’ve maintained year after year. I hope it’s something I continue to look forward to as our lives change and we move away!

This morning, I participated in another Christmas tradition. At 6am. But come on, worth it for 12 days of Christmas!

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This is always a fun one. The workout goes like the song…1 push up, 2 burpees 1 push up, 3 PU 2 burpees 1 push up….etc.

I used 75# for the barbell movements and finished in 36:55. It was surprisingly festive for 6am, and definitely a fun way to start the day! That being said, I think a nap may be in my future….

One a final note, I achieved one of my life goals of getting a snapchat filter on my cat. Merry Christmas.

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Blogmas Day 4: Best Moments

Today in Blogmas we’re taking a break from recipes (more to come though) to talk about something a little bit different: being grateful and finding light in dark times. Everyone has been talking about how 2016 was a terrible year, that we’re just waiting to end. While a lot of terrible things did happen this year, life is too short to write off a whole year, or even a whole bunch as we wait for 2016 to end.

As 2016 draws to a close, I encourage everyone to take a moment and look back on the good times in 2016. What’s done is done, but we can shift our mindset. Don’t let the negatives wash out the positives for 2016. Life really is filtered by whatever attitude you take on. I challenge you to look back over the past year and find 10 of your “best moments.” 10 times that you were exhilaratingly happy, times that you were proud, times that you felt loved. Let go of the negativity and hold these 10 best moments close to you as we hop into 2017.

For inspiration, here are my best moments.

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A fantastic night with a best friend resulted in a victory in which we won expensive wine.

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I finally made it out to some Stanford baseball games. One of my big college regrets was not going to more games, so I made it happen in my final year.

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Doing better than expected in the Crossfit Open. I didn’t rank super highly by any means, but I made some big breakthroughs in Crossfit and I think they started to come out in the Open. Plus, good workouts with good people? Always fun.

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Going to Seattle for spring break with some of my best friends, and especially this night. I had dark beer for the first time and the beer I had was the best I’d ever had. Still on a beer kick since then!

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Running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in DC. This race was a dream for me to run, and I was so excited to get in through the lottery. I may have been slightly sick, had a broken foot, and run in sub-freezing 50 mph wind, but it was all totally worth it.

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Going to a beach house with some good friends. It was so great to spend time together, get off campus, and unplug (no cell signal there).

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Not letting the boot hold me back. I tried to have fun with it and do all the same fun activities with it. I put lights on it. It was my pal, my trusty sidekick. Always find the positive in negative situations.

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This is one of the moments where I was just so overwhelming happy. I had a little graduation party during the last week of school, and everyone I care about came. It was incredible. There was a school tradition of walking around campus as a giant group on the last night of the year, ending in the fountain. I had never been since I would usually go home earlier than that, and everyone wanted to go. I had just gotten my boot off and could barely walk, and surely couldn’t make it all the way across campus on foot. My friends literally took turns carrying me across campus. So grateful for them.

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Visiting Emily in Nashville when I was living in Tennessee. I had such an amazing time, and it was great to see a friendly face and catch up after some time living alone, plus getting some solid life advice.

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My time in Knoxville was incredible. I think one of the best moments was leading an alpaca around, although I don’t have pictures of that for confidentiality reasons. It was one of those moments where I just thought, “this is so freaking cool.” When I came home, I felt like a completely different person thanks to all my experiences there. And it got me even more excited about my future career path.

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Coming home from Knoxville and seeing old friends, and getting a good look at this view. I love my city.

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Doing something I never thought I’d do: go to a country concert. After living in Tennessee for 5 weeks, I felt pretty qualified to attend a Florida Georgia Line concert in St. Louis. I went alone, but still had a blast. Made me miss TN!

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The Giant’s wildcard win, which was incredible and allowed me the chance to take a trip to Chicago (my first time there!) to see my home team play in the playoffs. We can also toss in our Game 3 victory which was the biggest roller coaster of emotions and kept me up past 3 am.

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Bottle feeding young goats at Grant’s Farm. Or even just being surrounded my goats. I love goats.

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Running the Halloween Race in St. Louis. It was my grand return to racing post-stress fracture, and it’s always fun to do races in new cities.

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Yindi (Tasmanian Devil) playing with a pumpkin. This made my morning, my week, and my year. This was the only thing that was going to cheer me up the day after the election.

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Wine tasting in Missouri wine country with my fantastic coworkers. But seriously, my zoo buddies were incredible and I miss them dearly!

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And finally, having the opportunity to spend hours a week with this fantastic creature. I miss Kali!

What is one of your best moments?

It’s Crunch Time, My Friends

Well, we’re in the home stretch. My app will be submitted on Friday. Lots to do before now and then! (Just a note for anyone who may see this post and benefit: I’m submitting my app about a month before the deadline so everything has time to process, just in case!)

Although it’s Tuesday, I thought we could still do a little weekend recap!

My Saturday morning began with a fun spin class and a trip to the farmer’s market.

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I really, really love figs. And California peaches—they cannot be beat! Pro-tip: put your farmer’s market peaches in the fridge ASAP even if they are still hard. They ripen super fast and will start to rot otherwise! (I knew this but still failed to do it…)

For lunch, I picked up a falafel salad with tahini dressing from a food truck.

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And enjoyed the last of the caramel sauce with Halo Top and whipped cream.

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The afternoon was low key, but dinner was delicious. We had grilled romaine salad with avocado, chicken, and grilled corn. Last time we made this salad, we used grade B maple syrup for the dressing, and this time we used syrup that was less than A. It made a HUGE difference—I’m never going away from B again! This was sweeter with less mapley flavor and the whole salad didn’t hve the same “wow” factor as before.

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I was in the mood to bake, but didn’t want to commit to a giant loaf of bread, so I tried the 2 ingredient cookies I’ve been seeing all over the internet lately. 2 bananas, 1 cup of oats, 12 minutes in the oven at 350. I spiced them up a bit by adding some milk and semi sweet chocolate chips (I may or may not have gone to the store exclusively to buy milk chocolate chips, but worth it!), and fresh strawberries to some of them.

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The verdict? Delicious, but I highly recommend adding chocolate chips. They MADE them.

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Sunday morning, I went for a run! I went to my favorite place ever to run, down by the reservoir. It is just so beautiful there. I was struck by the fact that the last time I ran there, I was running on a stress fracture. I ran 3 miles! This is a big deal, because it’s the furthest I’ve gone since my stress fracture. I don’t think I’m going to be running longer than 3 miles for a while though. It’s a good distance, and there’s no reason to take any risks. My foot definitely doesn’t feel as good as new. It feels really creaky, and I think there might be some scar tissue there. But again, I am being careful.

Sunday afternoon, I went to a Giant’s game with my friend. It was AMAZING weather. No jacket—what??

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My lunch was actually a salad. At a baseball game. I do concede that that is sort of ridiculous. I normally get amazing flatbread, but I’ve gotten it the last couple of times. This beet+parmesan salad was delicious though!

We left a little early to get on the train to go home, and in that time the lead was blown and we lost. :/

I was hungry by the time we got home, so my family and I quickly threw together fig and goat cheese salad with grilled chicken, and had some of the homemade buttermilk biscuits my mom whipped up that morning.

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Monday consisted of vet school apps and a hard but fun Crossfit workout. We worked on snatches, and I was able to hit the prescribed 65% feeling good!

The WOD was full of all the things I love to do. I was the only one in the class, and would have preferred someone to suffer through it with! It was:

10 rounds: 5 pull ups, 7 front squats, 9 push ups

I think it took me around 16 minutes? I used 75# for the pull ups.

Food highlights for the day included butternut squash, chicken, and quinoa stew with roasted brussels spouts:

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And leftover graduation cupcakes from the freezer:

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2 months later, I stand by my decision to ask the cupcake place to switch the dulce de leche and chocolate frostings, resulting in dulce cake with chocolate frosting, and chocolate cake with dulce frosting.

The best part? I still have 2 more in the freezer, which I’m eyeing for dessert tonight!

Did you ever apply to grad school? How was the process?

 

The Weekend and Beyond

Whelp, it’s officially that point in the quarter. Over the past week I’ve had to write a couple of scientific research papers (surprisingly fun and interesting) and just took a midterm today. I finally feel I have some relief! Despite all that, I still had an awesome Valentine’s Day weekend. I’m going to to a sentence per picture recap (pretty sure I’ve never done this before, but why not?). Also—apparently I love experimenting on myself. I think I actually just love the scientific process, but whatever. Anyways, details tomorrow on a new experiment!

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Pre-first run of my 10 miler training—4 miles this week.

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Saturday I had a chocolate tasting event with my dorm and then dragged my sister out (with the condition she could wear pajamas); the night included meeting new people, seeing kitties, and a cat ear cleaning #vettech.

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The stars aligned for my schedule on Sunday; spin class at my favorite studio then a cupcake pickup, then lunch with some of my high school besties!

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I stole GF cornbread from the freezer at home and have been eating it all week with a touch of butter and honey; side of tomato soup with cheddar (the best way to eat tomato soup!)

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Little cupcake mishap in the car but cupcakes escaped relatively unscathed; Valentine’s sampler included coconut chocolate, chocolate cream, caramel chocolate, red velvet, chocolate raspberry, and white chocolate passionfruit.

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The gluten free—dulce de leche and chocolate. Freaking amazing, and I have 2 left in the freezer!

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I threw a Valentine’s Day party for my friends on Sunday night and it was awesome; the spread included English cheddar and 1000 day aged gouda from TJ’s, crackers, and cupcakes.

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My friends are the cutest; we had an awesome turnout and everyone had a great time!

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Luna has a new formula and I strongly dislike it, especially the S’mores (the lemon seemed ok and I haven’t tried the others) so I’m trying to stock up!

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Whole Foods green smoothie post-80 degree noon Crossfit was perfect and necessary; the workout included lots of back squats which luckily I am getting less sore from each week.

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Leftover GF dulce de leche cupcake, inside view!

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Sometimes I’m so classy I can’t handle myself. Breakfast was yogurt in a jar because I had a jar to use and we were out of bowls. Lunch in a can because I didn’t have anything else to store it in.

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I tried this for the first time and like it better than the other flavors. It’s growing on me but needs some salt; better alone because it’s a milder flavor overpowered by yogurt! I’m still partial to my farmer’s market gourmet sun butters though.

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The Grad School of Business arguable has the best food on campus, and I had some awesome chicken mushroom chowder. Also exciting, but right before lunch I successfully gave a mouse an IV injection!

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I like Italian food way better without pasta I’m learning. Tons os delicious homemade sauce over greens, with plenty of cheese. I added a meatball after the picture.

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New favorite way to eat bananas: once they get speckled I won’t eat them plain, but they’re awesome microwaved and served with a pool of chocolate butterscotch sunbutter! Eaten post semi-soggy run. I hit my paces at least!

Check back in tomorrow for details+results of my experiment!

Holidays with Friends

These past few days, I was able to visit with some friends for the first time this break!

First, on Sunday, I drove to my roommate’s hometown in the country to visit her!

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…and her persimmons. She has tons and tons of trees in her yard, and she is my source of mass quantities of persimmons this time of year, which I always look forward to so much! I was able to try one straight off the tree, and then as we walked through the trees we found a ripe hachiya. Hachiya persimmons are the pointed kind that have to be eaten when they’re soft—anything less than soft will make your tongue curl up! What I’ve been eating are the Fuyu variety and those can be eaten hard!

Anyways, the point is that I was forced to double fist persimmons. Rough life.

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I also got to meet her sweet pets! The dog and the kitties were adorable together!

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We went to lunch downtown where I had delicious tomato basil soup, and we shared sweet potato fries. I think tomato soup is so underrated.

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While out, I went to Sprouts for the first time and picked up some new granola bar flavors as well as individual packets of flavored sun butter. Then, we stopped by a softball field. Why? Many years before we met, I used to come to her hometown a lot to play softball, so we thought we’d stop by and say hi!

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It was weird being back after so many years, but it made me reflect on how much softball shaped my life and who I am today. If I hadn’t played at the field many years ago, I wouldn’t have learned my work ethic and determination, and I wouldn’t have gotten into the college I’m at now. So I would never have met my awesome roommate, so I would never have gone to see her and then returned to that field. Crazy how life works.

We made an elaborate dinner. Well, sort of. She mostly made it and I mostly watched and offered insightful commentary. She claimed it was a lazy dinner, but it involved multiple dishes and baking chicken in the oven for an hour. That’s certainly elaborate for me! We (she) made chicken thighs, sautéed broccoli, and gluten free butternut squash ravioli that we picked up at Sprouts.

The next morning, I went to San Francisco with my high school friends to go shopping.

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This is something we’ve done every year at Christmas time since before we could drive. We usually don’t end up buying much, but it’s fun to look around and see the festive decor!

We actually spent much longer there than in previous years so we had dinner at a restaurant at the mall.

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It was a tap house so we each tried different beers.

For my meal, I ordered butternut squash soup which was SO good! It had sherry soaked grapes at the bottom and pumpkin seed oil drizzled on top which made this way more fun!

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We got back from the city around 10 and then it was time to start our annual cookie baking! We’ve been making the same sugar cookies since our freshman year of high school!

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Here are some of this year’s cookies. Sadly the picture quality is not great. Every year I like to make lots of turkeys for some reason or another!

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As usual, we stayed up far too late catching up and going through old yearbooks. Totally worth it! We’ve continued this tradition through high school, and I really hope we can keep it going when we graduate and enter the real world!

What are your favorite Christmas cookies?