Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

January 2, 2013

Hello, 2013. It’s a Pleasure to Meet You.

My birthday, the holidays and ringing in the new year has officially come and gone in the blink of an eye. What a whirlwind the last month or so has been! Ever since Vegas, I’ve been go, go, go. As you can see, blogging has been low on the priority list between all the celebrating, baking, working, ’tis the season shopping and wrapping. Welp, sue me. Let me get you up to speed. The night before my birthday, my nearest and dearest gathered at my apartment for chili, wine and Christmas cookies with tons of laughs in between, just what I wanted. Mike was out of town on business for my actual birthday and I may have had a mid-20 crisis/breakdown (ahem, when I say mid-20, I of course mean 23…), but luckily Emily came to the rescue for a quick sweat sesh and dinner at the new Tommy Bahama restaurant. Hey, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Our meal was too good, as was the company (Em, her dad, Bob, and Bob’s girlfriend, Dianne). Live music, a tropical setting–I literally felt like I was on vacation–and birthday cake? Perfection. Thanks again! Mike made up for his absence the following day with a perfect-for-me dinner of salmon and roasted veggies over quinoa and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I’m. So. Spoiled.

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Soon enough, it was Christmas. I headed back to Connecticut for good food, family and thoughtful gifts (13.1 was a common theme!) with new traditions and a new stove…FYI the holidays are never a good time for a stove malfunction but luckily, ours went on the fritz the day before Christmas Eve. Plenty of time to scramble and get a new one, right? 2012 had its fair share of ups and downs. I was in and out of New York interning, cruised with some of my bests for spring break, graduated from UConn, mourned the loss of two family members, enjoyed a summer of a whole lot of nothing, moved into Manhattan with my boyfriend of 5 years and started my dream career. I ran [my first] two half marathons, tackled a Tough Mudder and ran up the mountain I’ve skied down since I was a tot. I went dairy and gluten-free after suffering from tummy troubles for years. Fellow recent grads can probably relate when I say that this has been a weird limbo chapter of my life but certainly an exciting one. I’ve embraced city living more than I ever had expected although I still all too often find myself retreating to my comfort zone. This year, I need to start living, as I’ve put it. I have an itch to explore, learn and try new things. I have set an ambitious goal of six half marathon races this year, I want to get my spin on (SoulCycle every other week with my old roomie, Allie, why not!?) and have decided my body needs yoga again. Like desperately. Oh, and I have already signed up for another obstacle mud race in the summer. I never thought I’d say that. If 2012 has taught me anything, it is to be grateful for all that I have, appreciate loved ones and be patient, for hard work always pays off in the end. So cheers to 2012 but boy am I glad to start fresh this year. Let’s do it.
What fit goals/resolutions do you have set for 2013?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

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December 29, 2011

Holly Jolly Highlights

I hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as I did! Christmas was three days ago so this post is a little late but better late than never, right? Here’s a look at my holly jolly highlights.

After a crowded and somewhat chaotic commute home on the 23rd, I spent the night baking while watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my sister. That movie will never get old! I whipped up a batch of Candy Cane Crumbled Nutella Cookies and Low Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, both in which added a fun variety to my mother’s already made Classic Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter treats. 

I packed them in a tin and little gift bags for Mike’s family, who celebrates every year on Christmas Eve. We ate a feast and opened presents by the roaring fire Saturday night after watching the Giants beat the Jets. Mike gave me my favorite gift of the year, a new iPad! I’m a lucky gal.

I drank one too many cups of coffee for dessert so had a rough night of sleep and woke up early Christmas morning. After catching up (ahem, the entire season 3) on The League from 4 to 7 a.m., I rolled out of bed and made Apple Butter-Banana Muffins for my family. Breakfast muffins may be a new tradition! My sister and I opened the goodies from our stockings over breakfast before we made our way toward this year’s scrawny Charlie Brown tree. How cute is the Victoria’s Secret present from my parents!? I am obsessed with my new bathing suits for spring break! That will be my ‘fitspiration’ since my seven day cruise is quickly approaching in March! 

After the presents were all unwrapped, I peer pressured my dad and sister to come with me on a three mile loop near my neighborhood. They rode their bikes while I huffed and puffed up the hilly terrain. After getting ready, we piled into the car and headed to Massachusetts to visit our cousins.  

Dinner was outstanding. Turkey, stuffing, beet gratin, mashed potatoes…the works! I made the same salad (pictured above) that I put together for Thanksgiving so I could finally share the recipe! Here it is:

Harvest Spinach Salad
1 bag of baby spinach
2 heads of endive, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, cubed and oven roasted
Goat cheese and walnuts to top 

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast the butternut squash ahead of time and assemble the salad accordingly. Lightly drizzle with vinaigrette, toss and serve with the remaining dressing on the side. I warmed the butternut squash so the spinach would wilt a bit. This recipe is a knockout, if I do say so myself!


It was great seeing family, catching up over great food and relaxing. Merry Belated Christmas! Now it’s time to gear up for New Years!
 I’m currently in the process of figuring out the perfect NYE outfit…

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 23, 2011

Easy, Last Minute Holiday Treats

Like everyone else, this week has been a crazy one. I’m back in New York for a month, interning and enjoying myself in the city before my LAST college semester begins. Tuesday was my first day back at FITNESS and it was great to see everyone again. I jumped back into everything like I never left! The commotion in Manhattan is unreal, especially outside Mike’s building (30 Rock) which is pure mayhem, but who can complain about Christmas in New York? Too bad I haven’t finished my shopping nor have I even started wrapping…

Before I head to Grand Central to catch a train home for the holidays, I wanted to blog about the tasty treats I made for everyone in the Neag School of Education’s office where I work: Peppermint Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Super easy if you’re in need of a last minute gift or have room in your cookie tin for another holiday sweet.

All you need is a big bag of mini pretzels, 11.5 oz dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips) and crushed candy canes. On a baking sheet, lay out the pretzels so they are close to one another, melt the chocolate in the microwave or double broiler and drizzle. Sprinkle the candy cane crumbles overtop and place the baking sheet in the freezer until the chocolate has hardened. 


Wrap it all up and tie it with a big, pretty bow and you’re all set! I ended up dipping the leftover candy canes in the remainder of the dark chocolate. Stir into a big mug of hot cocoa for a sweet snack. They can also dress up a wrapped gift for that special someone!

Well, I need to pack up and get back to Connecticut. I have some last minute shopping and baking to do tonight!

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 19, 2011

Gifts for the Holiday Host

Running out of steam for Christmas gifts? Don’t forget about your holiday host! Here are a few of my fun and festive picks to thank him/her for their hospitality. I’m a big fan of gift baskets full of thoughtful items and a bottle of wine. Add some homemade cookies to the mix for an extra personal touch and you’ll be guaranteed an invite next year!

1.Williams-Sonoma Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board, $30
2. West Elm Ceramic Pig Speaker, $49
3. ModCloth Woodland Holiday Apron, $33.99
4. Crate & Barrel Wine Bottle Scarf, $5.95
5. Terrain Rosemary Tree, $58
6. Terrain Organic Grey Sea Salt, $12
7. Jonathan Adler Moustache Bottle Stopper, $18

8. Crate & Barrel Set of 6 Snowflake Coasters, $4.95
9. Kir Devries Teroforma Ice Melts Whisky Stones, $19.95 

Dress up your bottle of wine with a cute scarf, treat that music junkie to a fun oink-tastic speaker or give the chef their very own rosemary tree. I could only imagine the amazing aroma that would bring to a room! If your host is a mixologist, lift their spirits with one of the Special Edition crystal shaped bottles of Absolut Vodka (called ABSOLUT HOST). Here is a deLIGHTful “skinny” cocktail (only 140 calories!), courteousy of Absolut. Holidazzle: 2 parts ABSOLUT CITRON, 2 1/2 parts Light Cranberry Juice, 1/2 part Light Orange Juice and 1/4 part Lime Juice. Shake and garnish with a lime twist.
What is your go to holiday host gift? 

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 11, 2011

Baking > Studying

Sometimes you have to pick your priorities…I promised my copy editing class that I’d bring baked goods to celebrate our last day of class so Wednesday evening I dropped everything I was doing to get my bake on. Final exams studying can wait! Oops? After spending an hour or two pinning cookie ideas, I decided to put a healthy spin on my favorite oatmeal treat with pumpkin. What a winning combination! Best thing…no butter, no sugar. What? Is that real? Yep. Believe it.

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Easy, quick and guilt-free. Simply combine all the dry ingredients (except the oats and raisins) in one bowl and in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, applesauce, vanilla, agave, canola oil and canned pumpkin. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients, stir in the raisins and oats, then roll into small balls. Place the dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet and lightly press down with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375°F and enjoy! 

What is your favorite Christmas cookie? 

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 5, 2011

A Quick Fix for Holiday Stress

I’m pretty stressed. Final exams are next week, my 22nd birthday will be here before I know it and I have yet to figure out how I want to celebrate the occasion PLUS I have lots of Christmas shopping to still tackle. That’s why when I was contacted by psychologist and author of the upcoming Live Like a Window, Work Like A Mirror: Enlightenment and the Practice of Eternity Consciousness Mark C. Brown, Ph.D. about reversing holiday stress, I was ALL EARS! Here is what he had to say:

The ‘holiday blues’ is an urban legend. In reality, gift shopping, food preparation, decorating, anticipating special company and hearing songs of good cheer keep us focused on being happy that we are more likely to feel a bit high than noticeably low.

What can result from all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, however, is a certain amount of central nervous system overload. This is just a psychophysiological reality. The good news is that, in spite of how ominous this condition might sound, it can be soothed by simply attending deliberately to something that we do automatically every second of every day – breathing.

Here’s how: Take a moment to sit in a comfortable chair with your feet up. Place your hands on your abdomen just below your rib cage, breathe normally for a few seconds, and then on your next inhalation, make sure that your abdomen pushes out against your hands. Hold that breath for a couple of beats, and when you exhale, let your whole body collapse like a rag doll. Repeat this action for several minutes and you will soon notice a very pleasant sense of serenity.

This good feeling results from rebalancing the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your brain that can readily change in a negative direction with too much stimulation, even good stimulation. Abdominal breathing is the key. Just ask any meditator, yoga practitioner or mom who used lamaze breathing in childbirth.

If you find that you like the outcome of this simple exercise, make it a frequent practice. The benefits will certainly be worth the investment of time. And if time seems in short supply with all you have to do right now, in the spirit of the season of giving, let it be a little gift you save for yourself.

Well, I don’t know about you but I feel better already. Breathe, smile and be holly jolly! I hope your Monday is a little less stressful now!
How do you alleviate holiday stress? 

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 12, 2010

Guilt-Free Christmas Cookies

In light of the holiday season, I baked Christmas cookies. Just because the holidays are right around the corner does not mean you have to loosen your belt! These Dark Chocolate Florentines (Eating Well) are the best of both worlds: delish and only 108 calories. They are not tedious like other cookie recipes, which is another plus! Bring these healthy alternative treats to this year’s Christmas parties and I promise you won’t be disappointed, nor will your fellow party-goers.

Ingredients
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (or almonds) finely chopped
1/2 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Start by preheating your oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan and remove from the heat. Add in oats, sugar, oil, flour…

soy milk, salt, nuts…

and vanilla.

Mix it all up! Next, form into level teaspoons of dough and place onto the baking sheet. Press each cooking into a thin, 2-inch circle with a fork.

Bake for 5-7 minutes and let cool completely before removing from the foil. Once the cookies are cool, melt chocolate chips!

Spread the melted chocolate on the flat side of half of the cookies.

On the other half of the cookies, spread a little apricot jam.

Press the chocolate and apricot halves together into sandwich cookies! ENJOY!


Treat yourself to one of these divine desserts and don’t feel bad about it. They are light, gooey and have the perfect amount of sweetness. Again, 108 calories, 6 g. fat, 14 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. protein, 1 g. fiber, 5 mg. cholesterol, 19 mg. sodium, and 14 mg. potassium per cookie! Deck the halls and indulge.

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren