Tag: holiday

The Joys of Christmas Consistency

We are now in the midst of the holiday season and I hope you are having as much fun as I am. So far (fingers crossed) I have not gotten sick, which is a plus over other years. Tonight I had my parents and Grandfather over for a Christmas meal. I made meatloaf (gluten free using potato flakes), potatoes and butternut squash, zucchini and squash and russian cream with fruit for dessert. It was all pretty delicious and we had a nice time together

christmas-meal2 christmas-meal

Anyway, as we were visiting I asked my Mother if she could remember a special Christmas from her youth. Maybe one where she had gotten something she really wanted or done something special but she couldn’t think of anything. Then I asked my Dad and he had the same response. I thought about my youth and to mys surprise I also couldn’t think of specific memories. One year I got an American Girl doll and that was pretty special but most of the Christmas memories mesh together into a big happy time.

The more I thought about it the more I realized perhaps that consistency is the greatest thing about holidays and traditions. The memories aren’t all that important but it’s that they happen every year and feel for the most part the same. As an adult I’ve lost a lot of that consistency because every year seems to be different, with different people.  This year I have celebrated Christmas with my brother Sam and sister Maddie already and have given my parents their gift because they were all traveling.

Then we just had the meal tonight and I will probably be alone through Christmas unless my Aunt or someone decides to join me. This is now my 4th Christmas alone so I suppose that is becoming consistent but each year I’ve done something different.  In 2013 I met up with friends and went to a movie, in 2014 I was deathly ill, in 2015 I went to Chinese food. I don’t know what I will do this year. Maybe I will finish binge watching Fuller House Season 2? Who knows? 🙂

It’s kind of impossible to make my Christmas season more consistent because I just don’t know what is going to be happening from year to year.  Still, I try to always have my Christmas tree, go to Messiah Sing Along and Christmas Carol. I’ve done all those things this year. So, there is some consistency.

Anyway, it’s just something I have been thinking about. Maybe a happy life isn’t about making memories per say but more about creating traditions we can count on year after year?

What do you think? Can you see what I am saying?

I would love to hear your insight.

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2014 Cookie Swap

Last year was my first time doing a cookie swap put on by Veronica’s Cornucopia and I had such a good time I decided to do it again this year.  I focused on 3 variations on a shortbread because I thought they would ship well and then threw in some chocolate covered marshmallows for some fun and color.

cookies2Here are the recipes- all of them came from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

Book by Ree Drummond
cookies3Christmas Cherry Cookies-
  • 2 sticks Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Egg Yolks, Stirred
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Zest Of 1 Lemon
  • Zest Of 1 Orange
  • Juice Of 1 Lemon
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour, Sifted Twice
  • Candied Green And Red Cherries (sold Around The Holidays)

Preparation Instructions

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add egg yolks, vanilla, orange peel, lemon peel, and lemon juice, and mix until combined. Use rubber spatula to scrape bowl, then mix again.

Add sifted flour and mix until combined. Place dough in a ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least one hour, or until firm.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut candied cherries in half.

Roll dough into small balls and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Gently press the cherry halves, cut side down, into each ball.

Bake for 20 minutes, removing from oven before they start to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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peppermint cookiesChocolate Candy Cane Cookies-

  • 2 sticks Salted Butter, Slightly Softened
  • 1 cup Powdered (Confectioners) Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 ounces, weight (4 Squares) Almond Bark Or White Baking Chocolate (almond Bark Works Best And Is Cheaper)
  • Large Handful Of Red Or Green Peppermints

Preparation Instructions

Cream softened butter with powdered sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix together until dough comes together. Place plastic wrap on surface of dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In the meantime, unwrap candies and place them in a plastic bag. Beat with a mallet until finely crushed, leaving larger chunks if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll cookie dough in walnut-sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet. Gently press balls flat with a plain, smooth surface. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, being careful not to burn. Cookies will remain the same general size and shape after they bake. Remove from oven and place cookies on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely.

Place crushed candies in bowl. Melt almond bark in the microwave. Dip cooled cookies into almond bark, coating half the cookie. Immediately sprinkle crushed peppermints over both sides of the almond bark. Gently set on parchment paper or other nonstick surface and allow to cool before serving.

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marshmellows2 marshmellowsChocolate Covered Marshmallows-

  • Regular Marshmallows
  • 1 package Almond Bark (white Or Chocolate) Or Meltable Candy Wafers
  • Sprinkles, Chopped Nuts, Chopped Pretzels, Chopped Candy, Etc.
  • Equipment: Lolipop Sticks (sold In Craft Stores)

Preparation Instructions

Melt the chocolate or white (or both) almond bark in a double boiler.

One by one, dip the very tip of the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, then stick that end of the stick into the marshmallow until it’s not quite all the way through. Repeat with the rest of the marshmallows, standing them up as you go.

Next, roll the marshmallow in the chocolate to coat it, then tap the stick gently on the side of the double boiler to get rid of the excess. Using your fingers, sprinkle the topping of your choice all over the chocolate. Set them stick side up on a piece of waxed paper OR stick them into that crazy florist stuff that makes flowers stand up.

Have fun with the toppings and make no two marshmallow pops the same!

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spreads

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Margarine
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 6 ounces, weight ( To 8 Ounces) Chocolate Chips

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together brown sugar and margarine. Add egg and mix together. Add flour, salt, and vanilla, and mix together well.
Spread dough onto cookie sheet to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2-inch.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly brown. At this point, pull out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove and spread melted chips over the top. Cut into squares.

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So I hope you all have fun making some of these cookies!  They are very yummy! Merry Christmas!

Happy Turkey Day 2012!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you are all doing well and having a wonderful holiday with people who care about you.  This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve had in a while where I haven’t been with my family and I feel a little sad about that.  I miss seeing my nieces most of all but hopefully we can skype and say hello later in the evening.

I was determined to not sulk and feel sorry for myself this weekend so I have planed a lot of fun things (hopefully I wont’ work much but no guarantee I’m so behind on things and have to catch up!).  Today I was in a 5k walk for the food bank.  We did one last year with my family and this year my friend Suzanna and her family was there, so that was fun.  I finished in 1 hr 16 minutes which I felt pretty good about.  My legs and feet are throbbing.  I don’t understand how anyone could prefer running/walking to swimming.  Swimming can be intense on your muscles but so much tamer than running.

Too bad its a bit to cold to do a Thanksgiving swim; although my Poler Bear Club friends might disagree.  Burr!

So now I’m just watching the parade and icing my puffy muscles so they don’t seize up.

This afternoon I am going to Suzanna’s family thanksgiving which should be fun.  I have met most of her family over the years and they are from Indiana which is fun.  She said other friends were coming so I’m sure it will be a large group.  I’m grateful to be invited. (I have the best friends!).

Tomorrow after a morning swim,  I might try out some black Friday shopping- brave Ikea and Home Depot to see if I can get some things for my new house.  We will see.  I’m also getting a massage.  Can’t wait for that!

Saturday I am going with my friend Kate to a shooting range.  There is a scene in my book where the character goes to one and I wanted it to be authentic (plus I’ve kind of wanted to learn for a long time but with my eye sight I didn’t think I could).

On Sunday I am going to make a Thanksgiving for 1.  Yes, you read right.  I’ve decided to take on the challenge of making a feast for one person.  It seems impossible but I think I can do it. Should be fun!

So, I’ve got lots going on this holiday weekend.  The only reason I post all of that is some of my friends and family might worry about me (thank you for that by the way) but I’m fine and richly blessed.

Finishing the race!

A few things I am grateful for this year:

1.  I’m grateful for my family and for my non-family family.  This includes my swim family, church family, book club family, gym family, facebook family (my facebook family saved my life early this year), twitter family, and my friends family.

2.  I’m grateful to be building a house! WOWZERS!

3.  I’m grateful for a new beginning with a new year with a fresh start, new ward, new house, new experiences.  2012 was a doozy.  One for the recordbooks of Rachel Trials but I got through it and looking forward to starting over.

4. I’m thankful for NaNoWriMo and getting me to finally write the book I knew was in my head and proving to myself I can do great things.

5.  I’m grateful for SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water).  My 5k was definitely a highlight but it would only have been so with all the support and friendship.  I can’t imagine not having it in my life.

6. I’m thankful for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the outlet for my aggression it has given me.   I love it more every time I go.  My trainer Ben is awesome and such a funny guy.  He definitely believes in me.  My trainer Michelle is also unfailingly loyal and encouraging.  The best!

7.  I’m thankful for my eyes.  My eyes have been through a lot the last 2 years and going through the surgery and vision therapy has been hard but very rewarding.  To see the world in a new way is such a blessing. I’m also grateful for my doctors and their skill in treating me.

8. I’m grateful for my insomnia specialist and the pathways we’ve made in the last 8 weeks.  It’s been great! I’m getting closer to sleeping the way I’ve always wanted.

9. I’m grateful I was diagnosed with low thyroid this year.  It has helped me overcome all the pain I was experiencing last year.  The doctor that diagnosed it is named Dr.  Ling and she and her nurse practitioner have been so wonderful.

10.  I’m grateful that I live in a world where for the most part I can be a thriving, successful, happy single person.  I know I have my moments but in some societies I wouldn’t have even had the option of living alone, leading my own life.  I’m grateful that I can be single, awesome and wait for Mr.  Sunshine to get with it and get here! 😉

11.  I’m the most grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I have needed it so badly this year.  I have needed it’s words and it hasn’t failed me a bit.   I know Heavenly Father loves me.  I may complain now and then about the ward environment or some other small thing but in the end I would be lost without the Book of Mormon and my testimony of the gospel.

http://mormon.org/missionaries

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen

I don’t have long to write this Easter morning, but I have been contemplating my relationship with Jesus Christ lately.  It amazes me how His sacrifice could be both intimate and infinite.  While every single person who ever lived is saved from sin and despair, I have also been saved.  His grace and power coupled by divine love and empathy gives me the strength to live my life with purpose and obedience.   What a comfort it is to know that because He conquered death and was resurrected on the third day- we all can live again with our loved ones.  In my limited experience with such things the knowledge of eternal life and resurrection was truly a balm of Gilead.  It is my greatest desire to follow Him and be a worthy disciple.  I love Him and know that His church has been restored. He truly did die for my sins and sorrows- as He did for yours.  I have gained this knowledge through personal prayer, scripture study and the promptings of the Holy Ghost to my heart.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter morning and that you try to find ways to be more like Jesus Christ every day.  Build up your testimony and then strengthen others. This is the way you will be Happy in life!  God bless.