Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies | Gluten-Free & Vegan

Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies

A few years ago I tried my hand at gluten-free baking. I did a little research, purchased no fewer then three different flours and embarked on making muffins and chocolate chip cookies. Personally, I don’t have any food allergies or specific dietary needs or preferences, but many friends do and I wanted to educate myself so that I had options when hosting! There was a mediocre polenta lasagna and the chocolate chip cookies were a bit grainy, but no one seemed to mind ūüôā Quinoa is now my go-to gluten-free meal base.

My parents always had a garden and believed in making meals (mostly) from scratch. We had fresh vegetables and more apples to pick then we could handle (I still miss the raspberry bush we had in our backyard in Ohio). My food life was very balanced, but it wasn’t until college that I even heard the words organic, GMO, gluten-free, almond or coconut milk, etc.¬†The only allergy I was aware of was for nuts, unfortunately this recipe does involve nuts!

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The Newest Member

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The boy-girl ratio in my family has slowly been tipping towards girls ever since my three nieces came along. I kid to my brothers that all those rounds of playing Pretty Pretty Princess with me, while at the time seemed annoying, was actually parenting preparation!

We thought girls were going to reign supreme in this next generation, but then came little Luke William. On Saturday Jon (brother), Anne Marie (sister-in-law), Jordan and myself drove to St.Louis for the day to visit Luke, his parents and big sister! We had such a fun (sadly short) visit all vying with each other for turns to hold the newest member of our family.

And now I will spam you with baby pictures ūüôā

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^ toddlers can’t get enough of Jordan. they seriously flock to him.

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^luke happily slept/ate the whole afternoon!

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Jean’s Apple Pumpkin Bread

apple pumpkin bread

There was a particularly cold day a few weeks ago when we layered more than usual, cranked our space heater up and turned on the oven. I made a simple pumpkin bread we could eat for breakfast during the week, while a batch of homemade bread was rising on top of the stove for dinner.

I was looking for creative ways to use the few remaining apples from my dads garden, when I remembered a recipe given to me by my mom’s friend and decided to tackle it. Due to my unorganized pantry, I almost couldn’t find my last can of pumpkin puree. Does this happen to anyone else? You go to make something and realize that the last egg or stick of butter is nowhere to be found?

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The Olympics and Food Poisoning

Tara Lipinski Olympics

^ Tara Lipinski | 1998 Nagano Olympics, after her long program.

We laid super low last weekend, partly because of the snowy weather, but mostly because Jordan came down with something resembling food poisoning on Friday evening. ūüôĀ To aide in his recovery, I made soup and stocked up on rice cakes and Gatorade. Oh, and while Jordan rested, I ¬†finally put away our Christmas tree. We were becoming attached to those twinkle lights, but it was time to let go!

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A Day at MCA

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A few years ago, I was in Vegas for a work event. I was speaking to a women from our Hawaii branch who casually mentioned that the weather isn’t a topic of conversation on the news or amongst friends/strangers. “It’s basically the same everyday.” My mind was blown! Weather that doesn’t fluctuate is a foreign concept to me, but even more so is not talking about the weather. My patience for weather small talk has officially peaked! Let’s all agree to accept that it is rough for everyone and move on, ok? Great!

Glad that’s out of the way.

Jordan and I have tried to stay positive and creative despite this rough winter, but we’ve experienced cabin fever like the rest of Chicagoans. It’s important to ignore the cold every once in awhile and seek some much-needed adventure. We did just that this past weekend. We packed it full of fun. Friday morning, we attended¬†Creative Mornings¬†where we heard Eric Seigel,¬†a local toy maker, speak on stirring up (and maintaining) childlike creativity. Saturday night, we saw¬†Local Native’s¬†play a killer show (Amazing!).¬†Sunday was the best though.

Despite living in Chicagoland for 20 years, neither I or Jordan have visited all the major museums in town. That is a little unacceptable especially considering every museum has built-in free days for Illinois residents. In an effort to increase our Chi Museum count, we spent our morning at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

FYI: Check your museum for perk days. We just happened to walk in on a free weekend for Bank of America card holders! Extra Bonus!

Museums can feel large and overwhelming, especially without a guided tour, but the MCA is the perfect size. We spent two hours and were able to visit every exhibit* without feeling rushed. When the weather isn’t ideal, visiting a museum is a great way to spend an afternoon or two! How do you spend your indoor winter afternoons?

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^ Ruth Thorne-Thomas. Plane Crash, 1977. I love the choice of having a fun wall color to set off the art..

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^ Tacita Dean. The Story of Minke the Whale, 2001. 

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^¬†Michael Rakowitz.¬†The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist¬†(detail), 2007‚Äďpresent

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^Andy Warhol. Troy Diptych, 1962.

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* Unfortunately, I didn’t make note of every piece of art. I credited when possible!

Lessons I’m Learning (at 27)

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This photo was taken on Valentines Day with a simple camera that we bought with our wedding money. I was 22 and just figuring out how to be a wife. I wonder what my younger self would think of me now.

If we ran into one another, I would tell her:

  • Sometimes you need to do things more for the other person than yourself.
  • Plans (at times) need to be thrown out the window.¬†
  • Learning to trust in God’s loving plan for your life, while challenging, is an extremely liberating process.
  • Let your husband stock the fridge with whole milk. And always have ice cream for him in the freezer ūüôā
  • Support your friends.
  • Pay more for quality, acquire less.
  • It’s OK to still lack a full set of dining room chairs.
  • “It’s cold outside” is not a greeting: Enough small talk about the weather.
  • Time is more important than money.
  • Travel near and far! Exploring new places and experiencing different cultures allows your worldview to expand.
  • It’s ok to be sad and¬†disappointed, but learn and grow from the challenge before it turns to bitterness.
  • Keep your board games dust-free.
  • Your parents were right about cherry tomatoes. They really are sweet!
  • Actively maintain friendships even when they reach across state lines or over oceans.
  • Pillow talk is fun. Force yourself to go to bed early occasionally and enjoy the conversation with your husband.
  • Embrace your natural hair. Let the hot tools rest. Also, washing your hair everyday isn’t necessary.
  • Being anxious never solves the problem. Highs and lows occur, but God remains constant; rest in that knowledge.
  • Vulnerability isn’t weakness.
  • Purchasing groceries in a non-english speaking country is an empowering experience (bonus points: when they don’t discover your an American).
  • The need to be right is generally not right.
  • Don’t let fear stop you from seeking new opportunities.
  • Lighten up on your body; she’s amazing and strong.
  • Follow the path that is right for your family. It’s ok if your life doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

What lessons are you currently learning?

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Siblings Reunited: A Christmas Story

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We’ve been spending more evenings at home than usual this January, juggling between two polar vortex’s and several snow storms, so Jordan and I opted to keep our small Christmas tree up for a little while longer. The cozy ambiance that the tree lights add to our living room has been much enjoyed! So in honor of the Christmas cheer that is still present in our home, here is my very late-to-the-party Christmas post!

Christmas 2013 was highly-anticipated: reflecting on Jesus and the story of his birth, spending time with friends and family, watching our favorite movies and listening to plenty of carols! This year was particularly exciting because it held the long-awaited Short family reunion. A portion of Jordan’s family lived overseas last year and returned at the start of 2014.

In the meantime, we spent Christmas Eve with my parents enjoying my mom’s famous homemade pizza. I will never forget my nieces greeting us that night by proclaiming,”IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME!” Yes, little ones it really is ūüôā¬†Christmas Day we drove to Jordan’s grandparents house and enjoyed Christmas part one with them. I’m still wishing for another piece of grandma’s killer cherry pie! Yum Yum!

A little over a week after his family’s arrival, once the jet-lag lifted and the weather cleared enough, we loaded up our cars to celebrate a belated Christmas.¬†We packed this day full with a second road trip to his grandparents house, yummy food, Dutch Blitz tournaments, naps, scouring for the lost nativity scene (^ the above was the alternate version), and exchanging special gifts to one another. The early morning sunrise slowly melted into a cool evening sunset all unnoticed as we continued sharing stories, laughing and generally catching up on the full year 2013 was for us.

Experiencing the siblings reunited was a very special sight to see and what better time than under the Christmas lights.

Taking Stock

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Does anyone else remember the survey craze that swept through the internet during the early days of social media? I’m not sure what started it all, but I would fill them out constantly.¬†I saw this on Sydney’s blog and thought it would be fun to take stock¬†at different stages of the year.¬†

Making : no-knead bread.
Cooking : split pea soup.
Drinking : water. I try to have a glass next to me at all times.
Reading : Sense and Sensibility. It’s a goal of mine to read more classics that should have already been read.
Wanting : warmth.
Looking: at Pinterest for New York City travel tips.
Playing: Kye¬†Kye’s new album.
Wasting: time! (why must you be so addicting, Pinterest!)
Wishing: the adult acne needs to go, seriously.
Enjoying: pillow talk.
Waiting: for our heat to be fixed?! It’s been a long few weeks with a finicky heater (landlord is currently problem-solving).
Liking: my new coconut oil moisturizer. I think it’s actually helping my skin.
Wondering: what this year will hold for our family. so many dreams and aspirations.
Loving: my husband. 
Hoping: for peace.
Marvelling: at how God works in my life even when I’m not looking.
Needing: grace, for myself and others.
Smelling: like my Davines shampoo.
Wearing: sweatpants and a blanket.
Following: the weather. It appears that another Polar Vortex is upon us.
Noticing: blessings. so many blessings.
Knowing: that tomorrow is a new day.
Thinking: about playing tennis again once it warms up!
Feeling: the need to purge and organize my life, pantry, wardrobe, home, etc.
Bookmarking: photography tips.
Opening: mail. Sadly most of it is junk.
Giggling: at how silly Jordan and I look with ski caps and blankets wrapped around our bodies in the office.

How do you stop and take stock?

Filled Out: 1/22/14

Original idea:¬†Pip’s blog.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker Glasses

Let’s talk about glasses for a minute, shall we?¬†I¬†don’t remember my eyesight transitioning from good to poor, I just remember selecting my first pair of glasses. I was seven and they were strictly for reading. The next year I graduated to full-fledged bifocals (lines included!). Every two years I would get a new pair of glasses once my prescription changed: initially my color choice was pink or purple and then I matured to blue or beige.

Because I began swimming competitively when I was 10, I eventually had to start wearing contacts underneath my goggles (this was realized once I couldn’t read the giant digital clock anymore). In high school I outgrew the need for bifocals which made wearing contacts much easier. Contacts became my main source of vision assistance until problems arose: dry eyes and protein deposits that were the result of an allergy. Prescription eye drops helped, but only if used everyday. I switched to one-a-day contacts, which eliminated the need for the eye drops, but were too expensive to use everyday. About three years ago, I decided to buy a pair of glasses that I really liked to alternate with my contacts. I began to really like wearing glasses again and now only wear contacts occasionally.

As a person who wears glasses primarily, I desired to have more than one pair (a¬†nice¬†pair of glasses and a¬†play¬†pair of glasses)¬†but $250/$350 just wasn’t in my budget. Then I remembered¬†Warby¬†Parker.¬†They provide reasonably priced glasses and also partner with organizations to give a pair to people in need (like the Toms Shoes model). I was a little skeptical that purchasing glasses online would work for me. I was wrong!

Let’s break down the specifics. First you can select up to five pairs of glasses for the free, home try on program. My initial idea was to go with a rounder frame (my current pair was more rectangular). Luckily I scored on the first go-round, but if I hadn’t liked any of them, I could have picked five more until I found a winner. Next you have to acquire a current prescription from your optometrists office. Finally, follow the online instructions for uploading your prescription and you are all set!

The glasses start at $95 which includes frames AND lenses! Because my prescription is above a certain strength they cost an extra $30 dollars, but I still couldn’t believe I got such a beautiful product for under $130. The frames do feel lighter than previous frames, but if a little less plastic means a more economical¬†price I am ok with it. Anytime I get new glasses my eyes take about a day to adjust and it wasn’t any different with these. ¬†One of my main concerns was how I would get them adjusted, but they fit perfectly and I’m assuming my optometrist would do it for me in the future.

Warby Parker Glasses

Warby Parker Glasses

Have any of you used Warby Parker before?

**I’m wearing¬†Edgeworth¬†in Whiskey Tortoise.

A New Day

I really can’t thank you all enough for the words of encouragement expressed to Jordan and I after sharing our baby journey. I’ve felt the community and the burden was lightened because of your honesty last weekend.

Heritage Bicycles

Entering 2013, I anticipated a little more nesting and a little less traveling. Early on in the year, we both agreed to make the most of our extra time together as a twosome. Our vacation to England and France was a blast but we also began exploring closer to home. We grew to love to our weekly excursion days, playing tennis often, and the enjoyment of trying new experiences. We were hoping for an easy transition into winter, but the cold and snow came in quick! And there are only so many seasons of Felicity to marathon before even the best of us acquire cabin fever.

Chicago was hit with a polar vortex last week, but right before the weather took a nosedive, we had one day in the 40s and Jordan and I took full advantage to get outside!

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