Happy New Year again! On Friday I shared some quotes to inspire you for a whole new year and today I’m giving you a peek into what went on in December in my life and I’m sharing a super easy recipe for Spumoni ice cream cake, so you win.
It was hard to believe it was December in Vermont, because apart from a couple of chilly days, it was ridiculously warm. We took advantage of it by getting outdoors as often as possible. Lots of easy hikes with the boys, exploring and enjoying trampling about before the snow arrived.
If you didn’t see the fantastic video of what it’s like to be an Instagram husband, you have to check it out. Fran watched it almost crying laughing, saying, “This is my life!” He also points out now every time he sees a brick wall in the background of a blogger’s shot on Instagram or Facebook.
Here’s how our partners suffer for our IG:
This past month I also stepped up my workouts. More workouts at home, more running and building my base mileage up. I reviewed the Grokker online workout site and I also tried some new resistance bands (giveaway coming this month!).
My pace is still slow, but I’m noticing lots of small improvements in my running. There’s an enormous hill at the end of a 5 mile out and back run I do and the first time I ran it, I made it halfway and had to rest, then walk for a bit. The next time, I didn’t stop, but did have walk breaks. Finally, by the end of the month, I was able to run it the whole way, slowly, but with no breaks. (For the record, it’s a monster hill!) It was one of those victories not tied to pace or time, just a physical indication that I’m getting stronger, mentally and physically. It will also be a killer hill repeats workout when I’m ready for that workout! Finally at the end of the month the snow came and I am now in the market for ice spikes.
I have to admit, it was so strange to not be in NYC over Christmas time. One of my favorite things about New York in December is the Christmas tree stands – hundreds of trees and wreaths lined up on the sidewalk, strung with twinkling lights, smelling like a fresh pine forest in the middle of Brooklyn. It’s a little bit of magic.
But we brought the magic with our tree, with Christmas music and by planning our Christmas feast in our new home. Roman was IN LOVE with the tree. This was the first Christmas he really got into it and was excited all month long.
We also checked out the Christmas lights and tree in the Church Street marketplace in Burlington – it is so pretty here, it definitely helped me miss the tree stands of Brooklyn a little less.
In the middle of the month, we took a weekend trip to Fran’s hometown of Woodstock, VT for Wassail weekend. What’s a wassail? I’m still not sure. Some sort of red, rum-spike punch, but also caroling (which didn’t happen), or maybe just Christmas spirit? In any event, I really wanted to go so I could take the historical house tour in Woodstock. It was fun to trek around the town and check out people’s houses with lots of original historic details intact. It didn’t hurt that it was about 60 degrees and I was sans kids. 🙂 Plus, check out these stylish booties I rocked:
The highlight of the weekend was the parade in the town center – lots of horses, donkeys, even Santa made an appearance.
Roman wrote a very specific Christmas wish list for Santa, complete with illustrations. When I was researching where the North Pole actually was (questions from a toddler…), I stumbled across this awesome Santa letter program the USPS does – you send your Santa letter to the Anchorage postmaster, with a self-addressed reply from Santa to your child enclosed and they will mail it back to you! Roman was SO excited that Santa sent him a letter.
Christmas Eve rolled around and I was doing a lot of food prepping so I wouldn’t have much to do on Christmas Day (you can check out all the recipes I used below). Christmas Eve traditions included making cookies (cherry chocolate chip, courtesy of a Martha Stewart recipe) to leave for Santa and Fran and I watching Die Hard once the little guys were in bed. My favorite Christmas movie!
And here is the running blogger version of a holiday card!
We had Christmas dinner at our new place – Fran’s mum came up late in the morning, after the present-opening storm had died down. For the menu, I totally Pinterested it out. Thankfully, there were no Pinterest fails on the day!
Here are the recipes I used:
For breakfast I had pre-made a baked French toast casserole, loosely adapted from this Fit Foodie Finds recipe.
As an appetizer, along with a cheese plate, I made this amazing cranberry jalapeno dip by Favorite Family Recipes. A friend of mine made it when we went over to their place for dinner last month and told me she found it on Pinterest. When I searched for it later, I realized I had already pinned it!
I worked out how to cook a turkey using this guide from The Kitchn (which is one of the best sites for how-to guides on cooking just about anything. I use it all the time).
For stuffing, I checked out this mix-and-match stuffing recipe guide from Eating Well magazine. Mine had turkey sausage, apple, fennel and leek.
Again from Eating Well was this green bean and pancetta side dish.
I used this delicious recipe from The Food Charlatan for roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato.
And for dessert, this beautiful (and delicious) Spumoni ice-cream cake:
I read a bunch of recipes and even watched one disturbing video on YouTube in which a very Southern woman broke into song halfway through the prepping. In the end, I kind of winged it. It’s definitely something you need to prepare in advance, but it’s so pretty and much easier than you think. I don’t have an ice-cream maker, so I just used store-bought.
- One 3.6 oz tub each of vanilla, pistachio and strawberry ice cream
- 1 cup chopped maraschino cherries
- 1 cup shelled and chopped unsalted pistachio nuts
- 1 cup chopped dark chocolate
- Take a 9 x 9 square casserole dish and line it with cling wrap - make sure there is enough hanging over each side so you can fold over on top as well.
- Let the tub of pistachio ice cream soften enough to fold through the extra pistachio nuts, then scoop it into the casserole dish, smoothing it out into an even layer. Carefully fold the cling wrap over top, then freeze for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Once that layer is frozen, soften the strawberry ice cream, then fold in the cherries.
- Carefully peel back the plastic wrap from the pistachio layer, then scoop in your strawberry/cherry ice cream, smoothing it out and replacing the cling wrap. Freeze for a minimum of one hour.
- Let the vanilla ice cream soften and fold in the chocolate chunks. Remove the cling wrap from the top of your second layer, then scoop your vanilla layer on top, replacing the cling film and freezing again, for a minimum of one hour.
- At this point, you are ready to serve, or you can keep it in the freezer for a few days in advance.
- When you're ready to serve, take it out of the freezer and set it on the counter for a few minutes, until it is soft enough to remove from the dish (using the cling film to 'carry' it). I took mine out, flipped it and put it back in the original dish.
- Slice with a sharp knife, rinsing in hot water after every cut.
- The flavors of each layer are up to you - many recipes have chocolate ice cream rather than vanilla for one layer. You can experiment with whatever combinations you like!
And now here we are in 2016 – a whole new year ahead of us! I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings.
Did you celebrate the holidays this December?
What did you do for NYE? Any wild parties?