out with the old…

2010 was a hard year for my family.  I can’t say it was the worst year of my life because really, it wasn’t awful. Just, HARD…

Losing both my grandfathers, lots of cancers + injuries of family + friends, no job prospects for the first 9 months of the year, etc.  Doesn’t make for the best year, to say the least.



But, there were several things that redeemed this year.  First of all, I started this blog.  What started as a fun little project has become a new passion.  I love this blog and I hope that the few of you who read it enjoy it too.














Although I started off the year without a job and several interviews with no job outcome, I did finally receive a phone call about a job that I absolutely love!  Sure, it’s not exactly the ideal job I have been looking for, but I love what I do, I love the people I work with, and I absolutely adore the kids at my school.


Throughout my summer with no job outlook + a very ill grandfather, running is what saved my sanity.  Training for + running the Chicago Marathon was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I don’t regret a single mile logged and it helped me fall back in love with the sport of running.  And believe me, I plan on running Chicago and a few more marathons in the future, just not anytime soon!








So, even though the year was tough, it helps to look at the positive things that did happen to put a better perspective on life.  The year is coming to an end, but I have so many amazing things to look forward to already in the New Year.

Stay tuned for “In With The New”…


christmas visits

Happy Holidays and a very [late] Merry Christmas to you all!  I hope the last few days have found you happiness + good health, and God as blessed you with time with family + friends!

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Our Christmas was wonderful!  We spent our Christmas with both sides of our family, eating until we were stuffed and having a jolly good time!  Some of my favorite gifts included a new Coach purse from my in-laws, diamond earrings from the Hubs, an ice cream maker from the bro, and my new Vibram FiveFingers from the Hubs!  (I will be posting sometime about how + why I plan to incorporate barefoot running into my routine.)

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And a certain someone just so happened to celebrate his 30th birthday on the 26th!  I can’t believe I’m married to a 30 year old!  CRAZY!


And for his annual “gift” for his birthday, we headed down to Matt’s “Happy Place” – Branson!  Or more specifically, Silver Dollar City


We were also able to visit a fairly new distillery about 10 miles north of Branson – Copper Run Distillery.  They make small batch moonshine, whiskey, and rum.  It was delish and of course we ended up taking a bottle of whiskey home for the Hubs.

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And of course, no trip to Branson could be complete without a stop at my absolute FAVORITE frozen custard place!


Yes, I know, it’s the 3rd time we’ve been this year, but it’s a definitely treat since there is not one in STL.  Plus, we went to one in Springfield instead of in Branson… so at least it was a different location, right?!



I decided to try something new that I had never seen before.  The Askinosie WooHoo Concrete.


A wonderful blend of bitter chocolate blended to pieces with Andy’s incredibly creamy vanilla custard.  And check out Askinosie Chocolate – they have a really great story.


Matt chose to get the Boomer Bear in support of local Missouri State University.  A new combination that seems a bit weird but totally worked.  Sweet + buttery + crunchy = delish!

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Another successful Andy’s visit.  And although they are opened through the winter (GO if you have a chance), we won’t be back until SDC opens up again in the spring.


eskimo balls

Back in college, before my friends got married and moved away, we would always get together for one big New Year’s potluck party.  Each person would bring a different dish to share – somehow I was ALWAYS in charge of salad.  (Do my friends know me or what.)  One of the main features at these parties were Stefanie’s Eskimo Balls, and of course all the ball jokes you could ever think of to go with them.

They are probably one of my all time favorite cookies!  Not only do they taste absolutely DElish, they are also super easy to make!  I think I could easily wolf down 10 of them, they are THAT good!       

And yes, you MUST call them Eskimo Balls AND tell ball jokes as you serve them…

Eskimo Balls
Adapted from this recipe.  Makes ~2 dozen balls.

3/4 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (dark chocolate is the best!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (I used coconut but you can use any flavor, or just water)
2 cups quick oats or semi-processed rolled oats (see below)
1/4 cups powdered sugar

Gather the necessities.  The original recipe calls for water, but I gave it a little twist by adding coconut rum.  You can skip the rum if you want, since I don’t really think you can taste it that much.


If you are using rolled oats, you are going to need to grind them up a bit in a food processor.  About 10 pulses should do it.  You don’t want them to be completely ground, just broken up a bit.  If you have quick oats, just use those – I but the HUGE bag from Costco to fit my everyday oatmeal habit.


Mix all the ingredients except the powdered sugar in a bowl.  Refrigerate the dough overnight.


Once thoroughly chilled, form 1” balls.  I use a cookie scoop because I am a perfectionist and like them all to be pretty much the same size.

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Roll in powdered sugar to coat thoroughly.  I only used 1/4 cup but you are more than welcome to use more if you’d like.  Place them back in the fridge for a little while longer.

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taking it easy

Today, I went out for a nice 4 mile run.  That might not seem like a big deal, since I know anyone who reads my blog and knows me KNOWS that this is nothing out of the ordinary.

But, to me, it was.  It was my first run in over a week.

OK, OK… I know, still not a big deal, but again, it is very rare that I EVER miss a run.  In fact, that last time I remember actually taking time COMPLETELY off from exercise was almost 2 years ago, when I had sinus surgery and followed doctor’s orders not to exercise.

So, to me, this run was a big deal.  Like I said with my marathon training, I have been listening to my body a lot more.  My stuffy nose, aching sinuses, and nagging cough was telling me that time off would be a good thing.  And a trip to urgent care for some antibiotics…

So, yes, today was my first run since last Monday, and it was glorious!  But, it also let me know my body has limits.  Just a few weeks ago, I talked about dropping my 5K time.  That goal has been put on hold for a little longer.  Not only do I believe my body won’t quite be ready for another sub-20 5K time, but I’ve also got things to do (which I will talk about at a later date) on the day of that scheduled race.

So, I’m taking it easy the next couple weeks and completely scrapped my training plan.  Now, I’ll be running to maintain my fitness (and weight over the holidays) and gearing up for a busy race schedule in the spring of 2011.  And believe me, the New Year has a lot of amazing stuff in store and I CAN’T WAIT!

(Plus, I’ll have a few more recipes to share as Christmas approaches.)


cookies of christmas past

Today I bring you a recipe from my Christmas past.  This is the one cookie I remember making every Christmas, and pretty much only at Christmas time.  It is actually my deceased grandmother’s recipe, which gives it just so much more meaning to me.  Plus, it is a super easy recipe and tastes wonderful!  Of course I couldn’t just make the original recipe… I had to “health it up” a bit.

But first, let’s talk about the cookie press before we start.  A cookie press is a device used to easily make cookies in to pretty shapes.  Sort of like a cookie cutter but 10x easier.  Your dough has to be a soft dough without a bunch of stuff in it though.  Therefore, perfect for these cookies.

There are several different types of presses.  A hand press (like mine or this one) or an electric press.  I am lucky enough to have my grandmother’s antique hand press and it still works perfectly.  My mom and I have tried newer versions and an electric, but they don’t work nearly as well.  But, that’s just my opinion and you can find one you love using for yourself.


Vegan Cream Cheese Press Cookies
Makes 6-7 dozen cookies.  Original recipe adaptation in brackets.

1 cup Earth Balance [1 cup butter or margarine]
1/3 cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese [3 oz. cream cheese]
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 2 tablespoons water [1 egg yolk]
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
[Or just 2 1/2 cups AP flour]
Cookie press

Grab all your ingredients.


Make a flax egg by adding 2 tablespoons water to 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed.  It will gel nicely after you let it sit a few minutes.  Or, you can just use 1 egg yolk.


Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Add the sugar and flax egg and cream well.  Then add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.



Slowly add the flour. Mix until all is incorporated until adding in the next batch.


If you want, you can add some food coloring to make the cookies a bit more festive.  I used green food coloring because I wanted to make Christmas trees.  (You will notice that mine look more like shamrocks than Christmas trees.)


Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30-60 minutes.  You don’t have to do this, but we always have in my family.


Fill cookie press and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet (OK, I greased mine).  Add sprinkles if your heart desires.








Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool on tray for 2-3 minutes and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

So, mine definitely don’t look like the Christmas trees I was hoping they would, but oh well.  Shape doesn’t effect the taste!  I would’ve done red and make poinsettias like we used to when I was a kid, but I was out of red food coloring.


These aren’t the sweetest cookies in the world, but they are still delicious.  And they make the BEST tasting cookie dough in the world.  OK, that might be an exaggeration, but my dad, brother, and I would seriously eat this by the spoonful when my mom would make them every Christmas.  Soooo goooooood!

I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does!