The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Early on in 2014 I gave this little challenge to myself – No Sleep Til 30

This was my mindset for my 29th year. The year I would celebrate the closing of perhaps the most important decade of my life. And in fact, my wonderful, glorious friend Kimmy even gave me a lovely journal for my 29th birthday, so I could document all my adventures.

I opened it up yesterday and found this:

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That’s right. NothingBlank. Ugh. I failed.

But, alas. There are two months left! Today marks the 60 day countdown to 30 (things your 16 year old self never expects to say…) Now I’m still not saying that I’m going to be successful in filling the journal. However, it was a kick in the butt to start loving life a lot more and get back to the things that are important.

And you know what else, friends? This week marks the start of the most wonderful time of the year. Red Cup, Peppermint Mocha Season!

You see, this whole blogging thing came about as an experiment. Half to do with my fear of having a blog and then never having anything to write…and half my love for fall and sweet drinks. Put em together and boom. Six years later and here we are.

So here’s the thing I need your help with. The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles isn’t about me. It’s not about filling the world with my opinions and my ramblings. It’s about you and the people you love, and me and the people I love, and a whole lot of people none of us have probably met yet.

It’s about slowing down and taking a deep breath. Smiling. Cherishing the season and the moments (my word for 2014!) It’s about remembering what’s important. Putting people first.

2014 has been a year full of surprises and 2015 is shaping up to top that. But I’m going to do my best not to let my favorite time of the year rush by without me. So let’s do this together. More quiet time. More moments. More laughs. More people.

And a red cup in hand. Who’s with me?

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The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: 4 Years

This morning I woke up and had a notification from WordPress.

“You registered on WordPress.com 4 years ago. Happy Anniversary!”

Well isn’t that something.

4 years of sugary drinks and life lessons. I love when people still tell me that they want to wait to have their first one of the season with me. Makes me smile every time.

Life posts are my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking pictures of my outfits, or my food or the weekend’s adventures too. But deep conversations are my favorite. And the inspiration that comes from this time of year is the best.

This past week was pretty bad. I mean, bad. And in the midst of me being completely frustrated and hard on myself, I got this sweet note from a friend I’ve known for a long time. She’s one of those friends that I (sadly) don’t talk with often, but our lives intertwine and we find ourselves getting to randomly reconnect.

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What’s funny about this is that she is hesitant to say how much she enjoys reading what I write, and I am usually hesitant to write because I assume no one wants to read it. Ha…oh life.

That’s where The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles grew from, my desire to write but with a short-term commitment (in case I ran out of things to say.) But as luck would have it, I apparently have a lot to say.  And I’m so so glad it’s grown past that.

So what do YOU have to say, friends? How’s your November starting? How’s your joy going? Let’s not waste all the good in this time of year. Share it!

 

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: Happy Blog-iversary.

(You have no idea how long it took me to spell that correctly…it’s actually embarrassing.)

Happy Blog Birthday…A Myriad Life is one year old as of today!

Photo from Pinterest

The good/bad thing about writing your life out online is, well, you can go back and read it. You are forced to look back at the past year and see where you’ve gone, what you’ve done, whether you actually want to see it or not.

This is always a very reflective time for me. Not only is it my blog’s birthday, but my actual birthday is next week, just three little days after New Year’s. It’s a time of much soul-searching. Luckily, I still have another week of holiday vacation with which to do this!

Don’t worry, I will be sharing over the coming weeks. New inspirations and new goals. I don’t do resolutions, but I can feel big things coming in 2013! I’m excited to start the journey with you.

How were your holidays? Here’s a quick snapshot of mine…yummy food, Christmas traditions and snow. We actually got snow! Mom was here all week to enjoy it with me and how thankful I am for that!

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The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: First Snow.

So happy that today is not only the first day or winter but our first real snow of the season! I love snow at Christmas time. It’s also my first time enjoying snow from inside my new house 🙂 Happy to see it through the window but not really looking forward to future snows and shoveling…

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How is your holiday prep coming along?

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: The Nutrcracker.

Saturday was a fantastic day.

I started my morning baking cookies with a dear friend, a tradition we started last year. Always fun to catch up over some sweets!

The afternoon, however, was where the real fun was waiting. This year, Breena and I finally decided it was time to take Eisley to see The Nutrcracker performed by BalletMet. Being a tiny performer herself, Eisley has talked endlessly about Angelina Ballerina for the past couple of years. She even got to take her first dance class last year. So I of course thought it necessary that she see this holiday classic.

There is something magical about seeing art performed live. It could have something to do with the fact that we were in the amazing, historic Ohio Theatre, decked out for Christmas, among hundreds of excited kids dressed to the nines.

Or, it could be something else. It could be the idea that at the core of all of us, is the desire for something beautiful. And art is beautiful. I can’t count how many times Eisley leaned over to me during the show and said “Oooooh, look at how pretty that girl (dancer) is”…it was like each costume was more spectacular than the last one to her. By the end of the day, she couldn’t stop talking about Clara, the lead character. And I couldn’t help but find a sense of great joy and thankfulness…that in light of Friday’s events, I got to spend a few hours with a little girl, where the scariest thing we had to encounter was the Mouse King, and how he was really just a kid with a costume so she didn’t need to be afraid.

I was thankful that I had the opportunity to go with Breena and Eisley and share something that I love so much. I remember watching older dancers when I was little, thinking they were so pretty and perfect and thinking that I could be just like that. And I hope Eisley got that too; the understanding that she too has the opportunity to be beautiful and make magic in her own life and in her own way. Because art ends only with our imagination.

In Eisley’s own words, “That was just too much fun.” And it really was.

And of course, pictures! We are three fashion-loving ladies, so of course we were excited for a reason to dress up. Eisley even got to wear a little make up because it was a special day out.

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With her Clara Christmas tree ornament she got to pick out.

 

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: Guest Spot and a Recipe.

Today it is my pleasure to feature a fabulous lady, Heather Gilbert (she obviously draws her awesomeness from her name.) Heather and I are friends from our days at Otterbein and she writes over at bakingbreak. Earlier this season she told me about her new Peppermint Mocha cookies she was planning to try and of course I wanted to hear all about them! I must say, they look incredible. I can’t way to give them a try. Thanks so much for sharing your joy, Heather!

I  love Peppermint Mocha season. Just seeing those red cups makes me feel all festive. I agree with Heather, this season is all about joy and few things give me as much joy as baking for friends and family. Who doesn’t feel more joyful with Christmas cookies?

So, ‘tis the season for sharing sweets with those you care you about. Just this week I had my first red cup of the season and I’m happy to say, I think I was able to make a cookie that matches the magic of the Peppermint Mocha. You’ll be the talk of the cookie exchange with these and I hope this recipe helps you spread a little bit of joy to you and yours.

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant espresso
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips)
1 cup Peppermint Crunch Andes Mints Baking Chips (I found these at World Market)

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Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso, baking powder and salt.

Add dry ingredients to wet gradually and fold in the chocolate chips and Andes Mints.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper lined sheet trays and bake for 12 minutes. Enjoy!

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The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: O Holy Night.

Sunday at church they put on a Christmas choir and drama production. It included a slew of fantastic, traditional Christmas music and a great message about slowing down and remembering that Jesus came for you, because He loves you more than anyone else.

One of the standout points to me was the idea that as we get older, and life gets to us, the holidays lose a little bit of their shine. So often we become embittered and hurt by the season and it actually becomes more of a dread than a joy (I know I find myself here.) As we were hearing about the importance of going back to the meaning, I started thinking about all the Christmas carols that were being sung, and how much I love them. I remember always singing Christmas songs at home when I was little; at church, dancing around with the record player. They are just a fundamental part of the holiday for me. And I started to wonder if that tradition is sort of evaporating…as we tune out Christmas songs (because let’s be honest, they play the same 15 on the radio for two months…) and everything becomes more mainstream and pop culture…will my kids even know these traditional songs?

The final tune was one of my favorites, O Holy Night. I wanted to share it because the lesser known verses, specifically the third, really hit me this week. It’s so powerful. And as I was thinking about all this music that is so familiar to me, I realized I never really let the words sink in; I’m just so used to the melody. So again in the spirit of being present, I give you some lyrics to think about.

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol?

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviours birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees,
Oh, hear the angels voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night,
O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need,
To our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace; 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord,
Oh, praise His name forever!
His powr and glory evermore proclaim!
His powr and glory evermore proclaim!

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: My New Favorite Thing.

And before you get excited…no this is not like Oprah’s Favorite Things. Though I wish I could give you each a copy!

My new favorite thing is a book by photographer Jordan Matter called Dancers Among Us. It is literally 229 pages of joy in everyday life (goes with the PM theme, right?!)

In the artist’s introduction, Matter states:

” What happens to this enthusiasm, this ability to be wholly present in the moment? Why are these pure moments of passion so often replaced with cynicism, boredom, and indifference? As I played with my son, I thought about creating photographs that would show the world as if through his eyes. The people in the images would be alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life.”

What does happen? How do we get so caught up in doing, that we forget to look around and just be? As I read through the book, (yes I sat down and read/looked at each and every single page in one sitting), I found myself finding a peace that I had been missing the past week or two. The pictures did make me want to celebrate the everyday little moments. We’re alive, we have emotions and we’re meant to embrace all of it!

And the photographs really do just bring you pure joy. Of course, I have a passion for all things dance, but beyond that, they show you real life and how it could look if we’d let our imaginations play out.

Life really can be a playground, it doesn’t have to be so serious all the time, you just have to know where to look. While we’re taking this holiday season to be present, I wonder if you’ll notice any of these magical moments. Let’s try?

Photo by Jordan Matter. http://www.dancersamongus.com

Photo by Jordan Matter. http://www.dancersamongus.com

Photo by Jordan Matter. http://www.dancersamongus.com

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: A Sabbath Day.

Sunday morning my three best friends and I set out to Dawes Arboretum in search of some quiet time. We piled in the car with a breakfast picnic (of course I forgot my contribution at home in my fridge) and a plan to relax and catch up. And we were greeted by some spectacular colors.

After a bite to eat, we started out on the trails. It was a perfect day to be outside! (and probably one of the last we’ll have this season.) It wasn’t long before we ran into nature at it’s finest.

Earlier last week we were talking about a Sabbath  and what exactly that means. So often parts of Christianity are adorned with so many rules and regulations that the point gets lost in the “how to.” After some discussion and sharing, we came to the concept that a Sabbath is a day set aside for you to rest; whatever that means to you. A day for you to reconnect with God and yourself, to enjoy what you’re doing and to allow yourself to relax. There’s a difference between being lazy out of exhaustion or depression and choosing to let yourself enjoy some downtime. And believe me, the latter feels much sweeter than the first scenario. No matter how busy, we all need to take time out to recharge…because an empty tank of gas won’t get you very far.

So that’s what Sunday was about…getting out of the norm with each other and taking a couple of hours to just unwind and chill. We got to talk about some of the junk going on in all our lives. And we got to remind each other just how wonderful our little family is.

And of course, it was a great way to spend the start of the holiday season and live in the moment. Do you remember my challenge? How are you doing on that?!

Here’s to a great week and some restful time for us all.