Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! [2015]

happy holidays 2015Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours! Here is my Christmas wish for all of you:

I don’t want much for Christmas. I just want you, the person reading this, to be healthy, happy, and loved.

Don’t forget to enjoy your time with family, drink a little eggnog, and eat a cookie (or two)! And because Coco felt left out, here are a couple photos of him in his fancy—and too small—Christmas sweater:Coco_Christmas sweaterCoco_Christmas sweater2

Last, but of course not least, I leave you with my favorite Christmas commercial of all time (I quote it regularly, especially during the holiday season):

merry christmas signature

A bit of this and a little of that

I haven’t blogged in forever 😳. So to make up for my lack of blogging I’m going to share with you a bit of what I’ve been up to, including a few of the things I crossed off my seasonal bucket list. 💜

In October we spent a lovely weekend up north at my parents’ house. We went for a walk in the woods around Long Lake to see the fall colors.Libby and Joe at Long Lake.

And the colors were GORGEOUS!Long LakeOf course we had to go to my absolute favorite coffee shop—The Black Cat—and get a chai latte and raspberry scone.Black Cat coffee houseIn November we celebrated Joe’s dad’s birthday (83!) and enjoyed Thanksgiving early with my mom. Why early you ask? Well, instead of a traditional Thanksgiving spent with family, Joe and I hopped a plane (or maybe 3) and escaped to the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix. We traded cranberry sauce and stuffing for a cheesy lobster spread with pita. And of course we had to have one colorful/fruity/tropical drink next to the ocean! Tropical drinks: St. Croix

I’ve ran or biked every day before work, and an occasional Saturday or two, since before Thanksgiving. I’ve also continued to do other training, like HIIT and resistance, so that 2-3 times a week I am getting two workouts in a day. Running or biking every morning sets my mood for the day and gives me added energy. If you don’t already, I highly suggest adding a morning workout into your routine at least a couple of times a week. Libby: post runHere at home we’ve had a ridiculously warm winter (no complaints here!). But with no snow on the ground it is a bit hard to believe that Christmas is next week. One of my favorite things about this holiday season has been watching a Christmas movie EVERY DAY this month. Of course a lot of the greats have been watched—Santa Claus (1-2), Elf, Christmas Vacation—with more still on the list—Rudolph, A Christmas Story, A Muppet Christmas Carol. But mostly Hallmark Channel specials have been watched. Not all with terrible acting, but the plot rarely changes. Nevertheless, they have worked at making it feel like Christmas is near.Christmas tree 2015One of my new favorite things is having lunch, almost weekly, with my good friend Annie and her newest family addition, Jameson. JamesonAnd, best of all, Joe and I celebrated three years of marriage on December 9! He is by far my biggest supporter and fan, and I don’t thank him enough for it. He puts a smile on my face every morning and makes me laugh every day. He is hands down the hardest working person I have ever known, which I hugely admire and appreciate. He inspires me to work harder and to chase my dreams. I’m so blessed to not only have him in my life, but to call him mine. Out of all life’s adventures, he is my favorite. 💜Joe and Libby: WeddingSo that’s a glimpse into all that has been happening! What have you been up to? And in case I don’t get the chance to say this next week—happy holidays! 🎄

Last-minute stocking stuffer ideas

If you’re finished with your Christmas shopping, kudos to you, but if you’re like me you still have a few last minute gifts and people to cross off your list. Whether you’re looking to buy something for the athlete/triathlete, health junkie, or vegan in your life, you should be able to find something on this list. Why such a random list? Those are all things I love and couldn’t narrow it done to just one category!

Here you go, twelve last-minute stocking stuffer ideas:

  1. Spiral Slicer
    This is on my list this year too. Instead of the traditional pasta, the health nut or vegan in your life will love making “pasta” from vegetables. Zucchini is a favorite among those that use this tool, but summer squash, carrot, and cucumber (so I’m told) all work wonderfully, too. Price: $28.00
  2. Socks For Runners
    Having the right socks can make a big difference for a runner. These SmartWool ultra thin socks are durable and breathable for long runs. Plus, they won’t slip thanks to the elastic bands that wrap the arch and ankle. Check out Runner’s World list, Choose the Right Running Socks, for more options. Price: $15.95
  3. Hydro Flask
    I love my Hydro Flask. It keeps cold beverages cold for hours (even in a steamy restaurant kitchen!), and hot beverages hot. This is a high-quality stainless steel bottle that’s durable yet lightweight, making it a great companion for any athlete (or anyone that drinks water throughout the day). Choose between several colors and sizes. Price: $29.99
  4. LÄRABAR
    These are great not only because they are vegan, kosher, and gluten free but also because each flavor has no more than nine ingredients and are minimally processed. You can find these in the health food section of your local grocery store or purchase from the LÄRABAR online store. I love Lemon, Blueberry, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. Price: $1.79
  5. Aerolatte Milk Frother
    The coffee lover in your life will love this gift. They can create the perfect latté or café au lait with this hand-held, battery-powered (almond/soy) milk frother. It’s as simple as heating the (almond/soy) milk, froth for a few seconds, and pour into a mug with coffee. (This is also on my list this year—hint, hint to my husband!) Price: $19.00
  6. Cycling gloves
    I really don’t think you can ever have enough of these. Just like a runner needs a good pair of socks, a cyclist needs a good pair of gloves. A good pair of cycling gloves can make a big difference in a riders comfort during a long ride. You’ll have to pick a pair based on your knowledge of the rider and whether they ride in the winter temperatures (look at thermal gloves) or if they move to inside riding (look at short-finger gloves). Price: Varies
  7. Eva Solo Tea Bag
    Because who doesn’t love a good cup of tea? Unlike traditional tea bags, a stainless steel tea bag can be used to brew the perfect cup of tea again and again using loose tea leaves. Price: $29.00
  8. Transition Mat
    For the triathlete in your life. These ultra-bright colored mats are easy to spot amid the sea of other competitors’ gear and endless rows of bikes, which means faster transition times. It also helps your triathlete stay off the wet and muddy ground. After the race, the 21”x30” neoprene mat can be rinsed off and used to stretch their weary muscles. Price: $24.95
  9. Under Armour Hair Ties
    For a motivating message while working out and to keep those pesky flyaway hairs off of her face while working out, these hair ties do it all. And in case your athlete loses things easily or is forgetful (I don’t know anyone like that 😉 ) there are six in each pack. Price: $9.99
  10. Nuun Active Hydration Tablets
    The endurance athlete in your life will love getting these hydration tablets. Great for long training runs or post-workout recovery, they just need to drop one of these electrolyte-rich tablets in their water bottle. Comes in four great flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Tri Berry, and Grape. Price: $6.50
  11. A Blank Journal
    For writing fitness goals, daily workouts, food tracking, or whatever comes to mind! Journals are a great gift because they can be used for so many things. With fun colors and designs you can always find one that fits the personality of the one you are giving it to. Price: Varies
  12. Vegan Gingerbread Cookies!
    Who wouldn’t love some delicious gingerbread cookies in their stocking on Christmas morning?! These are super easy to make and I promise they won’t disappoint.

Good luck crossing those last minute gifts off of your list. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

 Holiday stockings

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Vegan Gingerbread CookiesIf you love gingerbread cookies, you need this recipe in your life. The perfect amount of spice leaps off your taste buds the first bite you take of these perfectly soft and chewy cookies—the ultimate gingerbread recipe to add to your repertoire. Plus, no one will ever know that they are vegan unless you tell them!

Sometimes I get so excited for a recipe that I can’t form coherent sentences in my head to tell you all about it. I wish I could shout from the rooftops my excitement. So instead of going on and on, here is this delicious recipe for vegan gingerbread cookies.

(P.s. There are a lot of steps, but trust me, these really are easy to make!) 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmegVegan gingerbread ingredients.
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ (heaping) tsp. ground cinnamon
½ (heaping) tsp. ground ginger
¼ cup melted coconut oil (you can scoop it out in it’s solid form and heat in the microwave for 20-25 seconds to turn liquid)
6 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. unsulphured molasses
2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk (Optional: powered sugar for decorating—I skipped this because I think they are perfectly wonderful without the extra added sugar, but you may like the look that powered sugar can add to these. I’ll let you decide.)

Makes 9 cookies (You may want to double the recipe for even more delicious gingerbread cookies.)

  1. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients from all-purpose flour to ground ginger. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl beat together coconut oil and dark brown sugar until well combined. Mix in molasses and almond milk and thoroughly mix until well combined.Vegan gingerbread cookies: mixing.
  3. Slowly add in the dry ingredient mixture, each time thoroughly combining until dough begins to form. Sprinkle flour on your countertop to finish combining dough into a circular shape.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours or overnight.Vegan gingerbread: dough
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Flour your countertop (or whatever surface you are using for rolling dough). Take dough from refrigerator and roll out so that it is 3/8-1/2 inch thick. (You don’t have to get the ruler out, just eyeball to make sure your dough is a little on the thick side. This will ensure that you have nice soft chewy gingerbread cookies. If you prefer the crunchier type, roll dough thinner.)Rolling dough for gingerbread cookies.
  7. Using your holiday cookie cutters, carefully cut out shapes of dough and place directly on ungreased baking sheet.
  8. Continue to reform and reroll dough, cut shapes, and repeat until you no longer can. (I balled the reminder of my dough and stuck that on the baking sheet for another cookie just for me.)vegan gingerbread: cutting shapes
  9. Bake for 7 minutes.
  10. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack.Vegan gingerbread.

Devour, one cookie at a time!

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