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Monday, December 23, 2013

MIMM: Tis the season to swap gifts, bake cookies, and reminisce

Hello, Monday. I'll get back to you after I recap the weekend.

My friends hosted a $10-limit Yankee Swap at their apartment on Saturday night. I nommed on some chips and salsa, chai almonds, and homemade red sangria, played some Scattergories, and caught up with a few friends I haven't seen in a while. It was a pretty lax gathering with a small crowd, but I totally appreciate the fact that all in attendance share the same awkward sense of humor. Yankee swap gifts were prime.

I almost ended up with this bad boy:
Lil' Raskull. Christian rapper extraordinaire, straight from the dirty south.
Alas (or not), I ended up with my own gift:
Puppy calendar, desk calendar, and planner pack.
Am I disappointed? Hell no. Other gifts in the mix included a pooping reindeer, massaging pillow, Robsessed (a DVD all about the wonder that is Rob Pattinson), a bottle of pomegranate Burnett's (hello, college), a cookie skillet kit, and scratch tickets ($3 of winnings were had, FYI.)

I dedicated my entire Sunday to baking Christmas cookies. Isn't it odd how I'm the one assigned the task of making cookies when I don't eat them? Of course, I recruit the help of indulgers to keep things fair. My mom was none too happy to be given the job of crushing candy canes for peppermint meltaway cookies. I also coerced my sister and her boyfriend into rolling the cookie dough for red velvet cookies. I'm not particularly fond of the sticky batter and lingering red tint that results from baking those cookies. Refer to the picture of Ryan's tainted fingers (bottom right, below).

Red velvet cookies, peppermint meltaways, and egg biscuits
I made the batter for gingersnaps and set it in the fridge to bake on Christmas Eve when I have more time. I also decided to experiment with a sugar-free cookie for myself to indulge in...I have to do something with that stevia I won in a giveaway after all.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cookies!

Not the most appetizing-looking photo of the finished product, but I find all dark brown baked goods are difficult to make pretty. I swear these taste like Nutella brownie cookies. Recipe at the end of the post.

I've definitely noticed myself thinking about my dad a lot and finding myself in conversations that lead to him. For the first year since he died, I'm not feeling that overwhelming sadness when I think about Christmas without him despite his continuous presence in my mind. It's bittersweet. I feel like I am finally coming to terms with the holidays without him, learning to accept the fact that he isn't here and finding comfort in the memories of him. He and my Uncle Bob have been making consistent cameo appearances in my dreams, so they kind of are here celebrating Christmas with me. 

Last night, I took the time to reread a short story I wrote about my dad's death. I hadn't looked at it since I last revised it and read it the first Christmas after he died. It was hard to look at, the wounds were too fresh. I really want to try to submit it for publication in a literary journal soon. I just have to find the right one and write a really good cover letter to go along with it. It's crazy how difficult it is to get things published though, so I'll have to revisit this after New Years.

One last marvelous side note - after a week of overindulgence and lack of physical activity, I was so happy for two hours of yoga on Saturday and Sunday morning. I thought I'd struggle more than I did with balance or lifting weights, but I managed. My mom was the one who really had an awesome weekend breakthrough. The real success of this weekend is how far she's come with her flexibility. I'm so proud of her! Check out how low she is in that split! 

Linking up to Katie's MIMM!

As promised, I'll end this post with the recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cookies.

Sugar-free Nut Butter Cookies


  • 1 cup natural nut butter of choice (I used Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, yum!)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites, or 1 egg
  • 1/2 granulated stevia (or the equivalent of 1 cup of sugar*)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour 
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until well combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350° F
Roll into 1-inch balls and place about an inch apart on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, removing from the oven when they are still slightly soft to the touch*.
Cool on wire racks, and enjoy!

* These cookies can be made using 1 cup of sugar or splenda, depending on your preference, if stevia isn't your thing.

* If you like crunchy cookies, bake for 10-12 minutes, but watch carefully for burning.

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