TCL Highlights from 2010

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It’s time for another The Chic Life – Highlights from 2010. Click here to view my 2009 review post.

January

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I kicked January of 2010 off with the first ever Eat in Month Challenge. I spent a couple of the challenge without a kitchen. I mean…no sink, no countertops, no nothing! I could barely wash dishes in my tiny bathroom sink. I didn’t give up on the challenge, though. I stuck with it and pulled through! If I can make it without a kitchen, you can too! (Click here to view details on Eat in Month 2011).

I also organized the Bake 4 Haiti online bake sale to raise money for those affected by the Haiti disaster. Dozens of generous bloggers donated their baking talents to help us raise funds for the cause. (I still owe you a recap post. A year later would be better than not posting, right?)

February

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In February of 2010, I looked fear in the face and conquered my stage fright when I danced at halftime of the Bobcats NBA game with over 200 other Zumba fanatics.

March

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I held one of my favorite challenges to date in March 2010 – Project Hydrate! I challenged you guys to drink more water and up your hydration levels to the appropriate level and you all did fabulous!

I also went meatless for Lent and learned how fulfilling a vegetarian diet can be. I also posted a series of guest posts related to non-meat eats. Check out the tag – M4L Guest Post.

April

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I learned that rising from failure can yield great results. I auditioned to be a zumba instructor with a local company in 2009 and didn’t get the position. I tried again in April of 2010 and this time I did it! I had a great audition and found out a few weeks later that I got the job!

On Earth day, we started our first vegetable garden!

May

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Hubby and I opened a new door to our cooking styles when we got our first grill. Let the outdoor eating and entertaining begin!

June

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Hubby and I finally had our (long overdue) housewarming party.

July

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In July of 2010, hubby, Bailey, and I took a family vacation with hubby’s family to the lake.

This is also the same month that my Green Monster muffins were born!

August

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I attended my first blog conference in August 2010 – the Healthy Living Summit! I met so many of my blog friends in real life and made new ones, too. In case you’re wondering…yes, the people are just as wonderful in person as they appear on their blogs. :)

September

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In September, I celebrated my 30th birthday by going to the Bahamas. I recorded my first vlog while I was there, too!

October

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In October, I actually celebrated my birthday with local friends. I made them all wear pink, too. hehe

We also had a fun Halloween party!

November

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In November of 2010, I attended my second blog conference – Foodbuzz fest! Such a great time! I had an awesome roomie and met so many more fabulous bloggers in person!

December

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In December of 2010, I conquered my fear of running when I completed my first ever 5k with Caitlin. I met my goal of running the whole thing and managed to complete the race at 35:19. (I’m hoping to PR in 2011 ;) )

I also published a recipe you may have heard of before…dough balls anyone? ;)

***

Wow! 2010 was such a whirlwind! Thank you so much for joining me on my journey through life. I’m so grateful to have all of you as a part of the past, present, and future!

Happy New Year’s everyone! :)

Eat in Month 2011 Challenge

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Just like last year, Hubby and I have been spending too much money eating out! In an effort to save money and eat more healthfully, we are vowing to eat in for the entire month of January. Long time readers of The Chic Life may recognize this post because I did the same challenge in January of 2010. You can check out my January archives to read more about how I did last year. And let me tell you, I went for a long period of the month without a kitchen due to home renovations. I mean, I didn’t have a countertop or sink! If I can eat in through all that, so you can you. I know you can if you put your mind to it.

Anywho, just like last year, we’ve been using “eating out” like a crutch when we’re tired after work or don’t have anything at home to cook and don’t feel like going to the grocery store. Well, for the month of January – no more excuses! We’re eating in…every. single. meal.

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks…whatever!) “in” to save money and eat better. (Hey, this may even fall in line with the New Years Resolutions some of you have made!)

How to Play

  • Cook or prepare all meals at home.
  • If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat.
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts, unless you bought it at the grocery store cafe. The only exceptions to the cafe rule include: 1. if you create a side salad to accompany a meal you’ll be making at home or 2. prepared meats, i.e. rotisserie chicken.
  • Grocery-store-prepared dishes are ok if they accompany a meal put together at home. IMG_1249.JPG We all have busy lives and taking help from the grocery store shouldn’t be a crime. Example of acceptable use of grocery-store-prepped item: you want to eat sandwiches this week but don’t have anything to go with them. You pick up some bean salad at the grocery store deli to go with your lunch. Another example: you want to make chicken salad sandwiches, but you don’t have or want to buy all the ingredients. You buy grocery-store-prepped chicken salad, take it home, make sandwiches and enjoy lunch. NOTE: Personally, I feel that buying pre-pared side dishes, etc at the grocery store (esp at Whole Foods/Earthfare/etc) are sometimes healthier and more cost-effective than buying all the ingredients to make yourself. Why not use the help once in awhile?
  • Frozen meals count (meals from scratch are better but frozen meals are still cheaper than eating out (more affordable meals and you don’t have to pay tip) and can be actually cooked at home/work/etc.).
  • Challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends January 31, 2011.
  • Play for a month if you can, or feel free to join for a week or two, or a day…whatever you can do.
  • Those playing for a month will get ONE cheat pass – one meal (not a day) you can eat out during the month of January.
  • Have a blog? If you’d like, post photos and/or descriptions of your meals. If you have a food blog, you very well may be doing so already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post most of mine, but that’s because I’m the host of the challenge! I can’t guarantee I will post photos of every single meal, but I will tell you guys if I cheat (which I won’t do). If I did it last year, I can do it again!
  • If you’re on Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.
  • I’ll be posting tips and suggestions also on my Facebook page, so be sure to check that out often during the challenge month for updates.

Tips

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  • Get your pantry ready – A lot of times, I have good intentions to eat meals at home, but after a long day of work, if I don’t have any easy meals to whip up, I’m more likely to pick up the phone and order takeout. Having easy meals that come together quickly makes me more likely to put “pantry-meals” together instead of calling someone.
  • Click here to read my Eat in Month Pantry Tips + Ideas post
  • Have snacks ready – If I’m hungry at work, especially when there are lots of quick options around, it’s easy for me to take a 15 minute walk to pick up a snack. By keeping snacks in my desk and in the office fridge, I can just nosh on those instead of seeking snacks elsewhere.
  • Plan ahead – Prep your pantry, create a meal plan for the week. If you have a meal schedule ready, you’ll be more likely to stick to what you already planned ahead to prep/cook/eat. You’ll probably also utilize those leftovers more efficiently, too!
  • Have quick meals in your back pocket – Go ahead and jot down 5-10 quick meals you can throw together using pantry & staple items. Use this list when you’re hungry, out of energy, and out of time. Try to keep your pantry, fridge, etc stocked with a couple of the items needed for these quick meal so you’ll always have something to eat when you’re in a bind.
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook fancy-schmancy meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it every day. Allow yourself to put together simple meals, even if it’s heating up a frozen dinner. We know you may have better intentions, but just do the best you can while still being reasonable. Sometimes the simplest meals (spaghetti anyone?) are the best!

The Badge

You guys know I love my challenge badges! I’ve created one you can put on your blog for this challenge:

You can use the following code to add this banner to your site:

<a href="http://thechiclife.com/2010/12/eat-in-month-2011-challenge.html"><img src="http://thechiclife.com/wp-content/uploads/images/EatInMonthJan11.gif" border="0" width="170" height="170" /></a>

The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

  • Me :) I’m playing for a WHOLE month!
  • You?

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If January is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! :)

The Holiday Gain

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Not sure why I decided to do it, but I worked today. It was kind of weird to only work 1 day out of the whole week, but in some ways, it will ease the pain of returning to an extra-full inbox and to-do list.

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I had trouble sleeping last night and woke up late-ish, so I rushed through eats today.

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Just a fried egg and piece of my mom’s cinnamon bread. Are you surprised it’s not another rye bagel?? lol

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I also busted out my first Christmas gift – a pretty mug my sister picked out for me. I love the tall shape. It’s actually the same size as my other mugs (content-wise).

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I started to eat leftovers from yesterday’s road trip food, but then I thought…creamy sauce + 2+ hours in the car may not = good food. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know it’s best to not mess with potentially spoiled food.

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So, I turned to my pantry to see if there was anything left to eat and found some more TJ’s frozen breaded halibut and cabbage.

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I broke into another Christmas gift today – Amanzi Secret Garden tea.

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The leaves are very pretty.

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The tea is nice, light, and floral.

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I had more of mom’s bread because when you have mom’s bread in the house, it’s hard to resist.

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I was surprised to see there’s still some snow left on the ground in our back yard. The snow is mostly melted around my area. How about you?

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Bailey was pretty tired today. I took him on a brief walk but he spent most of the day…

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…napping.

***

Post work, I went to Zumba! Class was fun and I was glad to work out. I haven’t talked much about working out here lately and that’s because…I haven’t been doing it. I basically haven’t worked out in two weeks and I feel fine. Between all the delicious holiday eats (which I indulged in, but not till I made myself sick) and my lack of working out, I’ve probably gained a few pounds, but you know what…I don’t care. And, I wouldn’t really know. I can’t even remember the last time I weighed myself. I usually just go on how my clothes fit. I think having spent more than a few years of my life with a negative self-image and restrictive eating habits that I’ve reached my breaking point once and it was enough. My ultimate conclusion – Being “skinny” is not worth stressing about gaining a pound here or there or not enjoying delicious foods I love. Bring on the sweets, people. :)

Caitlin wrote a nice post along the same subject (click to view) – be sure to check out the comments.

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I came home and whipped up a quick dinner. I pressed this tofu around lunch and then let it marinate all night. I baked the tofu in 1/2″ slabs at 400 degrees for roughly 20-25 minutes. It was a little softer than I wanted (I like a slightly crispy edge), but it still tasted good and the tender texture was actually quite pleasant. I also made quick sauteed zucchini and onion and brown rice. It was so good. I kind of want it again (and therefore will probably eat it for lunch tomorrow. lol)

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After dinner, I headed out to meet friends at Yoforia. Katy was in town! Also at froyo – Nicole, Brittney, and Katy’s hubby.

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It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve had froyo, most likely due to the cool temps. I really loved my bowl. I had original tart and taro froyo as my base. Toppings = pomegranate arils, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, coconut, and mochi.

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I’ve removed my shiny new dehydrator (a gift from my MIL) from the box and it’s washed and drying for a project tomorrow. Can’t wait!

I have tomorrow off. Yesssss!

On the agenda:

  • Coffee
  • New homemade almond butter
  • Dehydrator project
  • Breakfast
  • Publish Eat in Month details
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Slow cooker chili
  • Clean house
  • Crochet
  • Read
  • Blog TCL 2010 Year in Review
  • Blog TCL – Top 10 Recipes of 2010
  • Prepare for NYE Party

Btw, I’m posting details about Eat in Month 2011 tomorrow! Get ready!

Ooh and I have a blog announcement posting the first week of January. ;)

Do you stress about holiday weight gain?

2010 Resolutions – Revisited

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I don’t know about you, but Bailey is really loving his new Christmas goodies.

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In fact, he doesn’t want to let his go!

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After a late breakfast at my MIL’s house, we were off and headed back home.

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But not before picking up a latte from Copa Vida Coffee because I adore their lattes – especially how they’re made with local milk. This is a hazelnut latte with full on whole milk, baby! De-lish!

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I also had a chicken salad wrap on the road.

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It was too short a trip to my MIL’s house, but hopefully we’ll be able to stay longer.

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Once home, I made a pit stop at the mall to exchange a dress hubby got me for Christmas. It was beautiful, but the wrong size. :( I also hit up the grocery store for eats, staples, and collard greens and black eyed peas. I’ve made the mistake of waiting till New Year’s Eve to buy these new year eats and they’ve been sold out!

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I did a simple dinner of a pre-prepared spinach feta chicken roll-up from Earthfare, another rye bagel (they’re simple irresistible I tell you), and steamed cabbage.

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and look…Bailey even has his toy still! Wonder if I can wrestle it from him later? hehe

Going back to the collard greens and black eyed peas for a minute…

So what’s the deal with collard greens and black eyed peas? It’s tradition to eat them on New Year’s Day for good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year. I believe this tradition is mainly followed in the South, but for sure my family has always done it, so it’s tradition. :) I love a good tradition.

Speaking of New Year’s…let’s talk resolutions. I’ve been drafting my 2011 resolutions, but I don’t think you can really work on resolutions for the next year without looking back at your resolutions for the previous year.

Here were my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010 (and how I did in italics):

have date night once a month – I think we say this one every year. I’d like to do better this time. – didn’t do so hot on this. Hubby and I spent plenty of QT together, but I’d like to set up a special, reserved day.

get organized – enter important dates into iPhone calendar, find a place for everything in the house, etc. – I actually did start using my Mac calendar for dates, and it did help. I need to get some more organization systems going on in my house…just need to buy some more furniture to do it!

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start teaching zumba once a week – which reminds me…I need to get business cards made!! – Check! Yay! :) I was teaching twice a week when I had a private class, but I’m still teaching once a week, and hoping to get another class soon! Check out my Zumba page to read about my journey to becoming an instructor.

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cook a new recipe once a week – this may be harder than I think. I hope it isn’t. – I’m not sure if I’ve tried exactly one new recipe a week, but I’m very happy with the variety of recipes I’ve tried out and developed in 2010. Some of my favorites are my Green Monster Muffins, Breakfast Cups, Veggie Quinoa Burgers, Green Tea Soup, and of course, Chocolate Chip Dough Balls.

eat out no more than twice a week – starting with the Eat in Month Challenge!! – Eat in Month was so successful that I’m going to be doing it again for 2011! Stay tuned for details. As for eating out no more than twice a week over the course of the year. I started out great, but towards the end, we got back to our old habits. Good thing I’m doing another challenge to get myself straight!

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go to a blog convention – I wanted to go last year but the house kept me away. No excuses this year! – Check! I went to TWO! I went to the Healthy Living Summit and Foodbuzz!

finish kitchen renovation – sooner than later I hope! – Fail. I don’t think we’ve accomplished anything with this in the last year. I’m hoping to get hardware for the cabinets and a backsplash asap.

get house set up (hang curtains, hang pictures/art, set up rooms) – again, sooner than later I hope! – Fail again. I’m so bad at house stuff. I blame our lack of disposable income. lol. We do have more furniture than we did this time last year, but we still have a long way to go.

have a house warming party – we’re targeting SPRING 2010! – Check! It was epic.

have friends over at least once a month – I heart dinner parties – Hmm…not sure if we did this once a month exactly, but we did have people over fairly often – once we got the house warming out of the way, of course. I think we did pretty well.

volunteer at least once a month – Maybe more? – Fail. I’d like to prioritize this in 2011.

go to church at least once a month – Maybe more? – Fail. Ditto.

Read at least one chapter from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff per week – I’d like to learn how to be more relaxed, overall. – I read a few chapters, but not the whole book. I’ve been reading some of the chapters again this month. I may be able to finish the book by 2011?

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start a vegetable and herb garden – been wanting this for years…finally have the house and yard to do it! – Check! The garden didn’t yield as many veggies as I expected, but lesson learned for next year. I have better ideas for what to plan in 2011.

take photography lessons – plans for this one have been nearly thwarted thanks to my camera breaking down and being in the shop…grr – Check! I took an 8-week intro to DSLR course in town. I learned sooo much!

take cooking classes – so many fun cooking classes to take in town. So little money. But, I’d like to sign up for at least one of these. – Whoops. I meant to do at least one. This may be going on the 2011 list.

Eat at least 1 veggie/vegan meal a week – veggie/vegan meals are fun, nourishing, and something I’d like to eat more often. – Check! I actually eat quite a few vegetarian meals every week now. I’ve been a little surprised at how much I enjoy them and how little I miss the meat. I still like meat in my meals (as does hubby), but I’ve learned how tasty and enjoyable vegetarian and even vegan food can be.

Add strength training to workout – this will help my fitness overall and prevent injuries. – Not so much. I really should do this though.

join a gym – gotta have somewhere to do the strength training! Maybe I will join the gym where I’m a zumba instructor? ;)Fail – with all the teaching I’ve been doing, I’ve been a little too busy for a gym. Not to mention they are generally expensive! I wonder if free weights in my home would be more effective?

find sponsors for one of my fun-filled challenges – meant to do this sooner. Procrastinated…doh! lol – Totally meant to do this and then procrastinated. Maybe in 2011?

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Have a rockin 30th birthday party – wow…can’t believe I’ll be 30 this year! – Check!

Do a vacation out of the country – we thought we’d go back to the Bahamas every year after our wedding…we haven’t been back since! Not to mention, I’d love to go back to France or visit Italy. The world is so big! – Yes! We went to the Bahamas! Click here to view the first post of the trip (and then use the links at the very bottom of the post, after comments, to view the next post to see the rest)

Overall, not too shabby! My goals were set pretty high and I think I did pretty well with them. I’ll be sharing my 2011 resolutions shortly. Stay tuned for details.

How did you do with your 2010 resolutions?

Playing With the Sparklies

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Greetings friends!

I still can’t believe Christmas is over. New Year’s is just a couple days away and I’m not quite ready for 2010 to be over! Where did the year go? lol

If you’re catching up, here are my holiday posts:

On to today!

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I made something today – can you tell what it is? I’ll share in a minute, but first let’s get to breakfast.

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What do you do when you have a couple dozen irresistible rye bagels in your freezer? Eat them as fast as humanly possible. hehe…jk. But seriously, I had one today with breakfast, along with a fried egg.

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Then, it was time for a quick craft project. You guys know I used to make jewelry, right? Not full time or anything, but I did do it as a side business for a couple years. I still have tons of supplies and would like to continue making jewelry once in awhile, but it’s tough on my wrist and pretty time-consuming.

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Anywho, I made this pretty little pink and purple bracelet for my niece for Christmas. It’s made with sterling silver and Swarovski crystals. One of my favorite parts about jewelry making is playing with the sparklies. I love things that sparkle and shine. :)

I had to make the bracelet early this morning because we went for another…

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…Road trip!

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Starbucks seems to have the only semi-healthy road-food options we can find. I got a spinach/egg white wrap.

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I also got a mini vanilla scone because I’m still in holiday-mode. :) Ok, I probably would have gotten this anyways. hehe.

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We got to hubby’s mom’s house in the early afternoon. Just in time for Bailey to see one of his girlfriends – Kerry.

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They had a blast chasing each other around.

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And then the Bailey-Claus costume made an appearance.

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I love this photo with Kerry’s fangs exposed. Can you believe Bailey likes to play with that?! lol Silly boy.

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We opened presents today…so many presents! Our family is so generous with their Christmas gifts. Even Bailey got a little toy.

I’ll try to share a couple gift photos later this week if I have time.

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Then, it was dinner time. I love these little Christmas tree place mats my MIL has.

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Hubby’s sister made dinner tonight – Cheesy Goodness. It’s basically lasagna made with ravioli instead of lasagna-shaped pasta…plus with pureed veggies hidden in the mix for the kiddos. We also had hubby’s mom’s famous dry dressing, salad, and garlic bread.

Getting sleepy here. Time for bed! G’night!

Did you make any of your Christmas/holiday gifts this year? What did you make?

The Diana Special

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I was never a big fan of Barbies. When I was a little girl, you didn’t find me dreaming about my wedding or playing dollhouse. I remember when I used to play pretend, I would be the owner of my very own restaurant, creating various specials of the day and entertaining my customers with delicious eats. My friends knew how much I wanted my own restaurant one day so much that one of them got me one of those little receipt holders for my birthday one year when I was about 10. You know, those sharp, tall pole-like things that you stab receipts onto once they have been entered into the register. Yea…not a doll. Get me something restaurant-themed instead. lol

I remember days spent watching Martin Yan on TV before Food Network became what it is today. Oh yes…Yan Can Cook. And so can you. I was so fascinated by his super-fast chopping skills with the giant cleaver, and I used to try to make stir fries just like him. I also experimented with some of my mom’s favorite cookbooks, and apparently, I wrote my own recipes.

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I found this recipe for “The Diana Special” or “Vegetarian Soup” when I was looking for recipes from my grandmother in an old recipe box. There was no year on this, but I think I wrote it when I was around 10 or 12 years old.

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Yep…that’s my handwriting. I guess I’ve always had a thing for writing recipes. ;)

And I guess I’ve always liked ending my recipes with “Enjoy!” lol

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I especially like the long-winded description of how to cut the carrot and how I put notes for my mom to try this recipe. :)

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This is the first cook book I can remember really using – Cooking with Mickey around our world. I think I was drawn to this one because I was such a theme park baby due to my spending roughly 7 years growing up in Orlando, FL.

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The two recipes I remember the most are – Chicken a la Reine – a creamy chicken soup with red bell pepper…

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…and Choux Fritters. An obvious choice for this sweet tooth. I’m a little surprised I made this one, though. I read the recipe today and thought it sounded pretty tough! I must have had some good help from my mom. :)

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I did find a few family recipes in the old recipe box, but only a precious 4 or 5 from my grandmother. Maybe there are more somewhere else?

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Mom has been big into baking bread in recent years. She’s gotten really good at it, too!

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I woke up to the smell of freshly-baked sweet bread wafting up to my bedroom today.

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Of course, I had to have a slice.

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This tender, cinnamon-swirl bread is one of my favorites by her. It’s so soft and just melts in your mouth. I’d share a recipe, but you have to have the starter and you have to have someone give the starter to you!

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My dad and sis went out to get those famous rye bagels for hubby and I to take home. They picked up Chinese take-out on their way home.

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My mom also whipped up some delicious teriyaki chicken to accompany the meal.

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Hot green tea was perfect with everything.

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I had a bit of everything – mu shu pork, shrimp fried rice, egg roll, chicken teriyaki, dumpling, egg drop soup.

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Hubby and I took over 2 dozen rye bagels home! Thank goodness these things freeze well. We eat them pretty fast, but not that fast.

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Of course, I had to dig into one of the bagels for dinner…while they’re fresh baked and stuff.

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Deeelish!

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Bailey is pretty tired from all the frolicking in the snow yesterday in our little winter wonderland. We’re save and sound back at the Chic house, but I think we’ve got another little road trip headed our way tomorrow.

What did you dream about when you were a kid? Were you one of the classic wedding planners or Barbie collectors?

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