World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Okay, maybe not the World’s Best, but pretty damn good!  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Waltman house, and The Holidays wouldn’t be the same without chocolate chip cookies!  My father-in-law, husband, and friends and family all LOOOOVVE them.

Last year I gave you the recipe for my EHS Cookies.  These are cookie sandwiches – 2 cookies with cream in the middle.  YUM!

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and the smell of EHS cookies is in the air!

Get the adored recipe, here!

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“Fall-owing” my dreams

It’s Fall, and for some reason, I always feel super nastalgic every year at this time.   Beyond the sultry, and warm  colors, clothes and dinners, this season marks so many firsts for me.  It truly melts my heart when the cool breeze carries the aroma of bon fires, and fallen wet leaves, and my car windshield is painted with the oranges, reds and yellows of turning trees on my scenic route to work.

Fall is when I:

  1. started school ever year.  I loved school from first grade through college
  2. got to see all my friends after a summer away
  3. played softball and field hockey
  4. fell in love for the first time in high school
  5. started my first job post-college
  6. planned my wedding and scouted venues
  7. dress Max (our pug) in costumes
  8. got our lab, Koa
  9. found out I was pregnant with Miles
  10. started blogging for 5andwhine
  11. became a working mom
  12. get ready for the holidays with all of my loved ones

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Jingling my way through gifts on a “pregnant” budget with “pregnant” energy

So, as you know, I am a fundraiser.  My largest event I coordinate is the Jingle Bell Run/Walk which was Saturday, December 13.  I work really hard on that event and feel like I can’t truly relax and focus on anything else until it is over.

On Saturday, December 13, at 1 p.m., I started thinking about what I wanted to get my friends and loved ones for Christmas.  Those who know me know I am not a “nice” gift type.  I like to be thoughtful, and crafty.  I want people to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my present to them.  It makes me feel good!

Saturday was a day to lay around, but Sunday was a different story.  I spent about 30 minutes over breakfast writing down the people I needed to buy gifts for, and what I wanted to give them.  I would love to make everyone’s gifts, but with a week and a half to go until Christmas, I had to be practical, and fiscally responsible.

So, I have 11 nieces and nephews!   Lance and I can’t afford to give gifts to all of them so we pick a family gift every year.  I found this cute gift idea on Pinterest to do a Ice Cream Social Gift Basket.  The baskets are filled with ice cream toppings like gummy bears, Oreos, M&M’s, hot fudge, ice cream shake straws, and waffle bowls.  Just add ice cream!  To top it off we got each family a movie to watch together.  Total cost per family: $30-$35.

icecreamsocial

I also try to listen closely throughout the year to see what people say they need, or that I notice they could use.

Essentials: I went to my brother, Stephen’s, for Thanksgiving and noticed he was missing a few kitchen essentials while he was cooking like: salt and pepper grinders, an olive oil bottle, and a garlic press.  I love buying for him because I know he will get good use out of the things I get him.  Total cost: $40

Personal Touch with Time:  My in-laws just started feeding their dog a gluten free diet, so dog food is super expensive.  We have a dehydrator, so we are making Sammy some gluten free dog treats with sweet potatoes! Total cost: $4.  Total time: 4 hours.  They will appreciate it, and so will Sammy!

Uncle Sammy and Max playing outside

Uncle Sammy and Max playing outside

Milestones:  Most of my friends have had big life moments in 2014.  It’s easy to find a way to store and display those memories for them by making something out of things like:  a wine cork, saved speech, or even a framed picture.  Preserving memories is the sweetest way to show someone you care.

Every Minute (and Every Meal) Counts

HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!  My head is spinning with excitement and activity.  There is so much to do!  Put up the tree and DIY the mantel, buy and wrap gifts, bake cookies for cookie exchange, finish major pain-in-the-behind renovation before inviting everyone you know to your house!  Lately I feel like I can not keep up with myself.  One day that feeling is a welcome rush!  The next day that feeling is daunting and overwhelming.  So that brings me to admitting that my biweekly-workout-routine-update is quickly becoming a New Years Resolution.  I am ashamed to say it- but I can find no other way to complete my to-do list.  With parties to attend and our 2nd annual NYE party to plan we are forced to spend week night evenings finishing our foyer renovation.

Outside of activity (and luckily bad puppy Ella has made it out of another week alive, which means I a least still have our daily walks) the other way to maintain your weight – holiday season or not- is meal prep.   This is actually a part of the week I look forward to.  We try the best we can to eat well during the week, this way we can splurge more over the weekend and at all the fun filled parties with delicious snacks and cocktails.

Sunday morning is for breakfast and rest, followed by chores, and hopefully only a few errands.   We get to the things we have been putting off all week: cleaning the yard, and the dog, hanging the wreath, and hanging the laundry.   This week we painted our soon to be hung molding and began prepping the stair case for stain.   As our work starts slowing, along with our energy I will transition to the kitchen.  Starting with dinner on Sunday, here is what a week of meals can look like in our home (and another recipe to add to your shopping list for next week)!

Sunday:

Mornings in our home are slow to start.  We like to share a big breakfast and this is Michael’ s area of expertise.  We often default to eggs, bacon, and home fries nearly every week.  More often than not if there is a second meal it will be a quick take-out option; for instance this week we hit up pita pit for a veggie packed recharge lunch.  When it is time for dinner we go one of two ways.  Either fresh fish that we picked up from the market that day or the day before.  We have to shop about every other week, so we like to get the sale fish and have it before freezing.  If it is not a shopping week we may do something like this:

Throw a full chicken in the roaster.   We will cube potatoes and chop onions and put them in the pan under the seasoned chicken so they can soak up the flavor.   Then we will steam a veg to eat along with the roasted chicken (likely broccoli, carrots, or green beans).  After our belly’s are full we will pull the meat from the bones, boil the bones for another home-made stock, and combine the stock, meat, and veggies for soup for the week.  Chicken soup was last week, my favorite Potato&Leek soup this week!  Now we have 4-5 days of lunches for the both of us.  Pack up a leafy green side salad (cut and washed on Sunday and stored in a gallon zip lock) or a banana and apple for extra substance and mid-day healthy sugar pick me up.

Then I make an egg bake for our breakfast.  We bake whatever ingredients we have around in a couple of pie dishes and cut it into wedges.  There is 3-4 morning breakfasts ready to go for each of us.  Here is my favorite:

  • Slice a delicatessen squash and remove the innards (this squash is fantastic because the edible skin leaves minimal prep),  brush with a mixture of even parts: melted butter, honey, and Sriracha hot sauce.  Bake for 40 minutes on 400.
  • Slice pre-made/pre-cooked chicken maple sausage.
  • Saute one chopped medium yellow onion, two cloves garlic, and a bunch of cleaned and prepped kale. Again I use the ninja for the onions and garlic.
  • Throw the ingredients in a pie dish (likely two) and pour over previously whisked scrambled eggs (dash of milk, salt, and pepper).
  • Toss in some Parmesan cheese.  Bake until brown.
Breakfast: Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake - Cooking Spray, Olive Oil, Spinach, Low-Fat Mozzarella, Green Onions, Eggs, Spike Seasoning, Salt, & Pepper. #25, #3 looks good also

Now we are armed with a healthy (full of protein and iron) and tasty breakfast and lunch to last us all week long.

 

The rest of the week we pull a frozen protein from the freezer every night.  Here is what last week looked like:

Monday: pan seared perch (which often sells for $8 a #!), steamed carrots, brown rice.

Tuesday: Seasoned beef roast, baked sweet pots, and some of that pre washed salad made on Sunday.

Wednesday:  Ground Turkey mixed with fennel, sage, white onion, garlic, and an apple- stuffed and baked in an acorn squash. This is my favorite fall meal!

Thursday: Blackened and grilled chicken breast, again atop the salad already made.

Friday: Take out time!  Hummus and shwarma while we decorate our first Christmas tree together 🙂  If you are short on soup by Friday, there are often left-over’s in the fridge by this time. 

Saturday:  A full day full of errands and a friends birthday dinner left us eating out all day!  Otherwise Saturday is a good left-overs day.

So easy, yummy, and kind of healthy!  Thats a week in the eating life of an unmotivated/pretend/wanna-be healthy girl! I hope this meal inspires your week of good eats for tiny seats!  Enjoy the holidays- and GOOD LUCK!

Holiday ‘Health’

The Holidays are a whirl wind, a blurr, and nonstop hustle bustle!  All in the best of ways, of course.  It makes it hard to commit to any type of routine.  There is twice the cleaning, twice the cooking, twice the errands.   These past couple of weeks my mentality has been :

one work out is better than no work outs.

So, no- I have not been to yoga once a week.  I have not consistently walked the dog daily.

That said, I am still celebrating!  I mentioned I am so foreign to squatting that I was unable to squat the weight bar, with NO WEIGHTS!  Hey little ladies- guess what!  I did it!  I am not yet at a full five reps in a row, but I am making progress.  I did manage three sets of one, and another time I even got two sets in.  The weight is less of the challenge, it is more so the body form that I need to learn.  Its tough to set a strong and safe foundation for your body to drop into, and maintain it as you come out.  My legs are trying to give up and get up any way possible.   I also have increased the amount of weight I can dead lift! (I honestly never thought I could care about such victories).  One night I lifted my entire body weight off of the ground.  I also think I blacked out, but who cares!?  Once is more than NEVER!  I see a difference in my strength.  Maybe slowly that will make the difference in my motivation.

So this time when I grabbed my celebration beverage, I went all out!  WINE SMOOTHIE!  Helllllooooo happy!

My roommate asked; “Is this a new high?  … or a new low?”   What!?  I needed a snack AND a glass of wine.   This is better than ice cream isnt it?

Make it in any fashion you choose.  With the holidays coming I was itching to sniff a red wine.  I am not eager to indulge in reds.  I often feel they are too ‘footy’ for me.  So I was in search of a friendly, sweet, fruity, slightly tangy red.

This season try Dona Paula Estate 2011 Malbec.  Again in the $12-$20.00 range, a wine that wont break the bank.  With the word tannins mentioned, I knew this would have the slight tang I was craving.  Although you may take this for Christmas day – or where ever beef makes your holiday menu- I did this:

6 slices Frozen Peach

1 Frozen Banana

1/2 cup frozen red raspberries

1 cup malbec

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AAAAND…. enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours !

Great Gifts: BFF Edition

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Hope that everyone is gearing up for the weekend, I know I am.  With the holidays already approaching ( I know it comes sooner, and sooner each year) and the temps already near freezing I felt it was time for a holiday gift guide post.  It can be hard to come with the perfect gift for your BFF/BFF’s in my case.  With budgets, and finding the time and energy to get a thoughtful gift we sometimes brush this off as a necessary errand instead of looking at it as a fun way to show them how we care.  I will be creating some gifting guides to help you ease into the holiday season and breath easier this winter.  This week I’ve complied some gifting ideas ranging from a $9 candle from Forever 21 to the a magnificent Kate Spade evening bag!  Check back to see what gift ideas I come up with for your closest friends and family!

Great Gifts for your BFF's