Hello, my friends and Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and that this post finds you in good health (physically, mentally, and emotionally). December flew by so fast and normally I’m more organized with these “favorites” posts that I type reviews up as I try things so that I’m not scrambling last minute to get it written…but here I am starting this on the 31st, writing from my phone (computer is acting up) during a rare calm + quiet moment trying to remember all of the things we tried and figuring out where to begin! I have a feeling I’ll be adding/editing this one after I hit publish!
December was a whirlwind with a mix of joy and heartache, growth, and new perspectives. I wish I had been better prepared and organized to share a more reflective post, but such is life! I guess it means I was mindfully in the moment of everything that came up and that’s definitely where I want to be.
Before I dive into the things we tried and books I read, I wanted to take a moment to talk about this amazing dog we’ve been fostering for almost three weeks. For those who don’t know, we started fostering through Street Dog Hero back in October. In the past we’ve only had a chance to spend 2-3 days with our fosters as they got adopted quickly, but our current pup is a very special case. I took “Gary” to the vet the day after we picked him up and mentioned that we had noticed him having difficulty with getting up…that his back legs seemed stiff. They took some x-rays and we found out he has severe hip dysplasia IN BOTH HIPS!! He’s only eight months old!!! Street Dog Hero temporarily removed his bio from the site until they could formulate a plan for this sweet pup, but now you can read more about him here. You guys, I already knew that SDH was incredible, but they are going to pay for his surgeries that he will need in a few months (whether he’s in his forever home or still in foster). This is thousands of dollars…all while continuing the amazing work that they do. If anyone reading this would like to help out and donate (every dollar helps!), I am leaving a link below and some photos of this love bug!
If you would like to make a donation, there’s a donate tab on their website and when you click “be a hero” you can select “Gary” for the campaign…or click here to select “Gary.” Thank you for taking the time to read this!
December Favorites: I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet since there’s a lot to share!
P R O D U C T S:
Favorite flavor that I’ve had from this line...
Holidays mean a bit more indulgence (zero guilt or regrets here) and you know I’m a sucker for those limited edition/seasonal items. I usually use coconut milk as my “creamer,” but I spotted this at Whole Foods on sale and had to try…SO good!
Another Whole Foods find (frozen section) and these are so convenient and delicious!!
Found these quinoa and potato bites at Market of Choice (frozen section) and we all loved them!! They get so crispy and I was really happy with the short ingredient list.
My favorite product from the month of December was my new milk frother/steamer!! I’m not normally one to shop on Black Friday, but I spotted this on Amazon for a really great deal…and it’s something I’ve been wanting for years! I’m in love! Makes a perfect cup of hot cocoa and steams my milk for coffee – it gets
used loved daily 🙂
R E C I P E S:
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies >> Feasting on Fruit >> Mine may have spread out and turned out flat, BUT they were devoured and loved by all! You can click on the link above to see what they’re supposed to look like 😉 I used regular chocolate chips instead of Hu Gems and rolled them in a little powdered sugar since I was taking them to a party (not everyone likes coconut). These were definitely a top favorite from December!
Gingerbread Pancakes >> Feasting on Fruit >> Oh, how we love all things gingery!! And gingerbread is the only way Willow will eat something with molasses in it! These were so delicious and fluffy!! I topped mine with some unsweetened almond milk yogurt, pecans and maple syrup.
1-Bowl Chocolate Zucchini Bread >> Minimalist Baker >> This recipe is a must make, my friends!! I made three batches of this…sent a loaf with Josh to work, made a round for friends as a “holiday thinking of you/grateful for you,” and a loaf for us!! The texture was phenomenal, perfect level of chocolate without being overly sweet, and leftovers held up beautifully!
Vegan Kolaczki (Polish Cookies) >> Veggie Inspired >> When I saw the email for this, I may have freaked out a little…okay, a lot. Jenn’s post brought me straight back to my childhood and all of the Kolaczki cookies my grandmother used to make. I decided to surprise my Dad and aunt by making these for our Christmas Day gathering. But because I wanted to be able to try them too, I used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 to keep it gluten free. Obviously that made the dough trickier to work with, BUT they were amazing! We made one tray of presentable, traditional cookies and then got a bit lazy as you’ll see in the photo below! These were so buttery and wonderful. We had Turkish apricots on hand, which are much darker, so our jam filling was darker than your typical apricot jam. I’m very excited to have a vegan version of a family favorite and I hope to make this an annual tradition ❤️
Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies >> The Vegan 8 >> Willow and I had a blast making and decorating these!!! We had some leftover decorations from our gingerbread house building “party” and they got put to good use! I absolutely LOVED the flavor and texture of these. I did have to make these the day before our gathering, so the texture wasn’t optimal when I served them, but they were still delicious! Brandi did warn that these are best eaten the day they’re made…we just had a lot of other things to prep the day of our gathering.
Vegan White Lasagna Soup >> Rabbit and Wolves >> I can’t believe this is the only savory recipe I’m sharing in this post!! Which is funny seeing as I eat WAY more savory things!! But this was the only new recipe we tried. We made this for our Christmas Day gathering and it was a big hit! Even Willow loved it. The only adjustment we made was using Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles. I was thoroughly impressed with how they held up…even as leftovers! This soup was rich, creamy, flavorful, and absolutely comforting. Willow has requested it to be made again next week! I wish I had a photo to accompany this review, I apologize!
B O O K S :
The most exciting news about books from December, was that Willow and I started reading Harry Potter together!!! One of my all time favorite series ❤️ I had tried reading them with her a few years ago, but she wasn’t interested, so I set the books aside. Now we’re 200+ pages into the fourth book! Many late nights together reading “just one more chapter” Willow is hooked and hanging on every word. As soon as I finished The Sorcerer’s Stone, she had me start the second book.
Here are the books I finished last month:
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson >> another fantastic book by Sanderson!
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi >> this was my most anticipated book of 2019 and sadly, it ended up being a huge disappointment for me.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin >> I read this for a book club I’m meeting with next week and while I found the premise intriguing and read through it fairly fast, I just wasn’t impressed with the characters. I’m looking forward to discussing it with other people!
Dark Pattern by Andrew Mayne >> this is the fourth book in the series and it might be where I stop. These books have been entertaining, fast-paced, and full of suspense, some humor (and a little cheesy), but Dark Pattern went a bit too far with the far fetched craziness.
Including rereading the first three Harry Potter books, I managed to read 87 books in 2019! Do you set reading goals?? I haven’t set a number yet for 2020, but setting these goals not only gets me excited for books, but has also helped me to tackle my lengthy list of books I want to read!
I want to hear from YOU!! Let me know what you’ve tried or read recently…the good and the bad! Thank you so much for stopping by ❤️ Wishing you the very best in 2020.
Hi my sweet friend and sorry it took me 5 days to be here❤️ But. This Gary cuteness and the cookie man cuteness and the knowledge that SNICKERDOODLE CREAMER exists in the world is bringing me some much needed happiness right now. Oh Gary, poor pup! I am happy I can contribute a little, but SO happy you guys can be there for him right now with all the love and hugs. Makes this whole crazy fostering journey you’ve been on seem meant to be somehow☺️ Thank you so very much for the pancake and cookie reviews, I am so happy I could be a sweet little part of your holiday. And I am very intrigued by these Kolaczki cookies, might have to make a happy middle of january batch myself. I love exploring other country’s holiday desserts, so unique from ours🤗 And ahhhh so excited to hear you guys are making your way through HP!! I have lots of fond memories of reading those books aloud with my mom and sister (sometimes falling asleep and having to be filled in later lol). I hope she sticks with them, I’m sure it’s fun to get to re-experience them with Willow too. I still hope you will share that personal/reflective post if you feel compelled to, but processing it internally instead of writing about it is definitely more important. Somehow this comment came out longer the second time😆 So apologies for your eyes! But love you and happy new year Mandy❤️ xo
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Are you kidding me?!?! NO apologies!! I LOVE reading your comments and feedback – it’s the next best thing to chatting in real life ❤️ well, that personal/reflective post is one of the posts that disappeared…thanks, WordPress 🙄 that’s ok, clearly I was meant to rewrite it with fresh eyes and a new perspective! But a pain nonetheless 😂 It’s kinda funny, because looking back at all of our holiday and family gatherings the last few years, you’ve been a “sweet” part of every one of them!! It’s like having you with us!! Those cookies though…I’m making them again very soon!! Who needs the holidays…I say cookies any time! Those Kolaczki cookies are a bit time intensive, BUT so wonderful!! I highly recommend giving them a try! The Harry Potter obsession is real. Willow lives and breathes Harry Potter now 😂😂 when we’re not reading them together, she sits and rereads the ones we’ve already finished! Did I tell you that we’ve even watched the first three movies together?!? Willow! The kid who doesn’t like to watch movies! Natalie, thank you SO much for taking the time to read and comment ❤️ you mean SO MUCH to me and I’m just so grateful for our friendship!! LOVE YOU!! I hope you have a wonderful week! XO