Festive Gluten-free & Vegan Cookies

Well, it's that time of year...time for baking and icing and filling your face (and your family & friends faces) with all matter of cookie goodness!  But now that I'm staying away from dairy and eggs, I've had to adjust my baking repertoire accordingly.  So I've rounded up a few super yummy gluten-free and vegan Christmas cookies that you can add to your recipe box. Enjoy!

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Chai Spice Snowball Cookies from Cafe Johnsonia

What are you baking this year?  Got an awesome recipe?  How about sharing a link?!  I'm always on the look out for great cookies!

Foodie Friday: Loving those Leftovers


The big dinner is done, your belly is full and your fridge is packed with food.  If you're like me you completely overestimated your guests appetites and are left with a ridiculous amount of leftovers.  Now don't get me wrong, I love turkey as much as the next guy.  But after a day or two of nothing but turkey I really get sick of it.  I thought it would be nice to share a couple of my favourite leftover turkey ideas that might be a little different from the usual.  Hope you enjoy some of these wonderful takes on turkey!

Turkey Cobb Salad - Martha Stewart Recipes
Turkey Cobb Salad


Turkey Shepherd's Pie Casserole with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Topping from Kalyn's Kitchen (Thanks to Yummly for including my Shepherd's Pie in a great round-up of leftover turkey ideas!)
Turkey Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower Topping


Turkey and Mushroom Risotto-turkey leftover idea
Turkey & Mushroom Risotto
Curried Turkey and Israeli Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries-turkey leftover ideas
Curried Turkey and Israeli Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries
Roast Turkey Cuban Sandwich
Roast Turkey Cuban Sandwich

Crispy Turkey Tostadas. #Thanksgivingleftovers http://www.ivillage.com/thanksgiving-leftover-ideas/3-b-56104#496654
Crispy Turkey Tostadas


What's your favourite way to eat your turkey leftovers?  Chili, Turkey Pot Pies, Sandwiches?  Share your best leftover recipes!

Cheers,

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Surviving Christmas Dinner

It's Christmas time and it's a time for joy and spreading cheer and enjoying time with family and friends.  Well, at least that's how it's supposed to be.  But it can also be an extremely stressful time, trying to make everything perfect for that giant family gathering, shopping for gifts and just trying to keep everyone in the holiday spirit.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus there's always something that ends up getting in the way of your holiday cheer.  Maybe it's the cousin that has a bit too much to drink, or the disapproving in-laws or the weird uncle who always makes a scene.  Everyone has got the same things to contend with during the festivities.

So here's a few tips to help make it through the next few days with a smile on your face and joy in your heart!

5 Tips to Surviving Christmas Dinner
  1. Have a Game Plan - whether it's trying to get the food done or wrangling unruly relatives, make sure you have a plan on how to tackle these challenges.  Make sure your homestead is all on the same page and delegate tasks to each family member so you're not the only one trying to put out fires.
  2. Smile - no matter what, keep a smile on your face.  It's contagious! So even if you over cook the bird or someone spills wine on the carpet, keep those pearly white shining.  In the words of Bobby McFerrin "Don't worry, be happy!"
  3. Get Guests Involved - got a passive-aggressive Mother-in-Law or judgemental sibling?  Try involving them in the preparations.  Nothing shuts down those snooty stares or backhanded compliments faster than having them give you a hand.  Let those naysayers help with the gravy or share their opinion on seasoning.  Maybe all they wanted is to be included and they'll be less likely to complain later if they were involved in the first place.
  4. Don't Take Yourself too Seriously - try to enjoy the day, afternoon or evening.  Have a glass of wine (or 2) and loosen up.  We are all guilty of over thinking and reading too much into things.  So maybe your Mother didn't mean anything by that comment and maybe there wasn't a tone coming from your cousin?  And don't forget to laugh!
  5. Normal is Boring - everyone has unique and interesting guests that they are required to have for dinner.  So embrace those colourful characters!  Maybe stop and listen to your weird Uncle's stories and laugh at you Grandpa's inappropriate jokes.  After all, it's one day a year and really, it wouldn't be Christmas if you didn't have some great stories to tell your friends!
Feliz Navidad,
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photo credit: dane brian via photopin cc

Foodie Friday: Gluten-Free & Vegan Holiday Treats

Better late than never I say.  After construction workers cut our phone and Internet yesterday I've been scrambling to try and get some work done.  So I guess this is more like Sweet Saturday.  Here's a few fantastic holiday treats to put a smile on your face.  You don't need to go without just because you don't eat wheat or animal products.  Check out some of these festive favourites:

 5 Gluten-free Vegan Holiday Treats

1. Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Men courtesy of Inhabitots
 2.  Frosted Chocolate Peppermint Cookies


Sarah Bakes shares this delicious recipe!



3.  Sugar Cookies with Vegan Buttercream Icing

Goodies from Our Good Food Life!



 4.  Cardamom Christmas Cookies

Courtesy of the Community Food Co-op

5.  Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red Velvet1
These beauties from The Sweet Life

 What's your favourite Christmas cookie? I LOVE the classic Sugar cookies and Shortbread.  Mmmm....

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Tip Tuesday: 7 Holiday Shopping Survival Tips

I'm not a big fan of shopping or the mall, period.  Add in Christmas and the thought of venturing to a mall puts me into a state of panic. I thought it only fitting with only 14 shopping days left until Christmas that I share a couple holiday shopping tips.

7 Holiday Shopping Survival Tips
  1. Be prepared.  Have a detailed list of items and the stores you'll need to visit.  This will keep you trip short and sweet and on budget.
  2. Avoid shopping  in the evenings and weekends.  Most people work during the day so the stores are bound to be packed after dinner and on the weekends.  Why not hit a few stores before work on a Tuesday or late night after the kids go to bed?  A lot of shops have extended shopping hours in  December so take full advantage and avoid the crowds.
  3. Pack some supplies.  If you're doing a marathon shop, make sure to be prepared.  Bring a bottle of water and some snacks.  Nothing makes you Scroogier than waiting in line with your blood-sugar plummeting.  Bring some nuts or dried fruit to keep you going.  And an added bonus, you'll save time and money by skipping the food court.
  4. Dress comfortably.  Shopping doesn't have to be a fashion show.  Ditch the heels and put on your runners.  Leave your coat in the car and just bring your purse.  You'll keep your holiday spirit by staying cool and comfortable.
  5. Go hands free.  Leave the fancy purse at home and opt for a cross-body bag.  It will hold your provisions nicely, but also allow you to use both hand when grabbing gifts or pushing the cart.
  6. Schedule your shop.  If you don't have time, then don't go shopping.  You'll be rushed and irritated as you're stuck behind some slow-walkers in the mall.  Make sure to allot a chunk of time where you don't have to rush to an appointment or grab the kids.  You're shopping experience will be much more enjoyable when you aren't staring at your watch.
  7. Smile & enjoy! Don't look at it as a chore.  If you view your shopping trip as a nice outing you'll actually have a good time.  And nothing helps chase away those Bah Humbugs like a smile.  So spread a little cheer and flash those pearly whites!
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photo credit: anonneymouse1 via photopin cc

Tip Tuesday: DIY Holiday Urns

'Tis the season to dress up your home for the holidays.  And just about everywhere you go you will see stores selling gorgeous arrangements of greenery.  For the past number of years I've been making my own and thought I'd share this season's creation.

We have quite a few cedars and evergreens on our property and that's usually what I use for my Christmas pots, but this year I tried a little something different.  Nothing green, just branches and wood from our yard.  I'm going the the Rustic Minimalist look you could say!

So Stella and I hunted around the yard for things we could use.

In my cast iron urns are some logs from a tree we had taken down last year.  Then I painted some dead cedar branches in white and silver.  The grasses you see are actually the dried stems from my Hostas.
The start of the urns, but  I wasn't feeling the bow.

A little holiday sparkle!
I did hit the Dollar Store for the ornaments and painted pine cones.  
Both urns ended up costing me a total of $8.00! Sweet!

The only thing missing is some snow!



So why not grab the kids and do a little scavenger hunt in your own yard to make your festive pots?  No yard? Take a walk in the woods and see what treasures you can find.
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A Day in the Life: Calming the Christmas Coveting

It's December and Christmas will be here before you know it.  I'm not a giant Christmas fanatic, but I do enjoy the season.  I love the winter, snow and the twinkling lights.  But I really don't care for the commercialism and the gift grabbing greediness that comes along with it.  Now that we have kids I think the best part about the holidays is seeing the look on their faces when they see the houses lit up and the trees sparkling in the snow.



Stella has been coming home from school singing Christmas carols every night.  Definitely not something we've been teaching her but there's a holiday concert coming up so I'm assuming that's where they are coming from.  But with the carols has come her never ending list of things she wants.  Now granted she doesn't really ask for much all year, but recently it seems like she just can't stop talking about all the things Santa is going to bring her.  Ughhh.

So we had a conversation about Santa after one of her breathless conversations about must-have toys.  And we decided she can ask Santa for ONE present for herself and one for a child that doesn't have anything.  Gasp!

I was quite surprised when she embraced the idea completely without question or argument.  Now the challenge will be to see if she can actually decide on one thing.  Anytime I ask her what she wants Santa to bring it changes from day to day, hour to hour and even minute to minute. I have a feeling there will be some last minute shopping going on.

How to you control the gift grab at your house?  Or do you even try?
post signature photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Thrifty Thursday: The ReGift - Rude or Rad?

Do you regift? Have you received a regift?  I am not ashamed to say I've been both a giver and receiver.  And I'm totally OK with it.

You may think it's cheap, rude and maybe just lazy.  But I see it a little differently.  Regifting can be a thrifty and heartfelt way to give gifts.  It's sharing at it's most basic level.

Every year, especially around Christmas I find myself getting buried with gifts.  It's not that I don't want them or don't like them (OK maybe a little) or that I'm not appreciative, it's just I tend to find it excessive and wasteful.  There are so many people in the world living without or beyond their means and I've tried to express this to my circle of friends and relatives, but they're givers and don't always get that I don't need gifts.

So I have a special spot in my closest where I keep gifts that will be granted a new lease on life.  Why will I keep something I won't use and will collect dust when I know someone who would love to have it?  Same goes for my kids gifts too. They get spoiled for their birthdays and holidays and frankly, our homestead is bursting at the seams with stuff.  So off to the closet it goes until I can find a new owner.

Here's a few tips I use to be a Responsible ReGifter:
  1. Only regift new, unopened & unused items.  It may seem obvious, but I did receive a clearly used item as a wedding gift once and it was a little awkward.
  2. Keep track of who gave you the gift in the first place.  Nothing worse than regifting something back to it's original giver.  Eeek!
  3. Put some thought into it.  Don't just regift something because it's just lying around.  Give them something that they would actually like & appreciate.
  4. Make sure to wait an appropriate amount of time before regifting your items.  Nothing worse than a surprise visit from your relatives who will want to see the set of kitten plates they gave you on display for their arrival.
  5. Don't regift everything.  Make sure that you do keep at least a little something for yourself.  Remember, the person who gave it to you put a lot of thought & effort into selecting your present. (well, let's hope so)
  6. Give something to charity.  Make sure that along with regifting you also pay it forward to your local charities.  Kids got too much for Christmas? Send some over to the local Children's charity.  Got sweater you don't like or entirely too many bath sets? Drop them buy the women's shelter and brighten someone's day.
Reuse, Recycle & ReGift!
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photo credit: shimelle via photopin cc

Holiday Shopping in Your PJ's

I'm not a big shopper at the best of times, but the Christmas season makes me like it even less.  The crowds, the traffic, and the 'Grinch-y' people shoving past you at the mall. Between shopping, untangling lights, wrapping and baking dozens of cookies, there never seems to be a pause button. You can only read so many articles on 'holiday hacks' before you realize that unlike the miracle of Santa getting down a chimney, there is no Christmas miracle for making the holidays less busy. You can, however, find little ways to relieve the stress and smile more and enjoy the season. One way I've found is using free in store pickup. Amazing!
http://kmrt.us/1bmIoRk
Both Sears and Kmart offer free in store pickup, letting you shop thousands of gifts online in the comfort of your own home before picking up your items in store in 5 minutes guaranteed (or whenever you're ready). Imagine sitting in your PJ's with a cup of cocoa getting all your shopping done with a simple click of your mouse.With in store pickup you'll avoid lines, busy stores and the wasted time of walking down every aisle. And to top it off, you can have a friend or relative pick up your order and pay in store with cash, if you prefer. What could be easier?

http://bit.ly/HL896t
Now it's no question that you should try free in store pickup at Sears or Kmart but there's now a question of, what will you do with more free time over the holidays? A few ideas include: volunteering at a shelter, making gingerbread houses with the kids or simply putting your feet up and enjoying the view of the Christmas tree.

Learn more at Sears: http://bit.ly/HL896t and Kmart: http://kmrt.us/1bmIoRk

Enjoy a little stress-free shopping...you've earned it!
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Presented by Mami Innovative Media, this is a sponsored post on behalf of Sears and Kmart. All opinions expressed here are my own.