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!

Christmas Collage

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!

It’s December! (Really?!?)

It came up so quickly that I actually didn’t even realize it was starting yesterday! Hence, we are a day late…

We are officially into the holiday craze. I can’t even believe that in less than 31 days, 2012 will be over. How did that happen??? November was a good month but it seemed to go by in a flash. Let’s recap…

Stef and Matt got married. And yes, that’s a fire truck. We’ve now had two consecutive weddings set off the fire alarm. Nothing like evacuating the entire hotel!

Stef and Matt

We had a little girls day out. You can read more about that adventure here.

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FRIENDS THANKSGIVING!

This is the prep the night before…

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And this is the result…Chuck 2.0! We eat well around here.

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I also had Thanksgiving at home which included our annual tradition of  the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo. And of course, plenty of decorating for the holidays!

Things to look forward to in December…

– Plenty more Peppermint Mocha dates with good friends
– So much food! We have three holidays parties just at work alone. So much celebrating.
– Two weeks of holiday break. You heard that right. Such a blessing at my job.
– Momma comes to visit for Christmas!
– Zoo lights, The Nutcracker, baking days…just so much good time with good people.

What about you? What is your favorite part of December?

The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles: Let the Joy Begin.

About three years ago, I started an experiment. The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles. It was a mash-up of several motives, including my desire to have an outlet to write (yet a fear of keeping up a full-time blog.) But mostly, it has been motivated by one simple word.

Joy. 

Short and sweet, right? Yet, such a heavy word. And one of my favorites. Joy can encompass so much. It’s not happiness; you can be sitting in the earthly pits of Hell and still be joyful. It’s a daily choice.

As I was preparing for this year’s PM season, I contemplated what effect it has actually had over the past several years. Because again, my goal is not to fill the interwebz with my ramblings. Has it made an impact?

And then, for the second year in a row, my friend Sonya found the red cup first and sent a photo with a note about how it reminded her of me. And in fact, my friend Jen said that it’s her “goal to make it into one of Heather’s blogs” (YOU DID IT!)

Indeed it has had an impact. Not to remind people to think of me; but to remind us all to stop and think. About something. To reflect during this holiday season. To live in the moment and enjoy the life that is right in front of us. To be joyful, whether you’re on top of the world or climbing out of the deepest hole.

So here’s my challenge for this year: Be present. In your own life. In someone else’s life.

And share it. With your friends. With a stranger. Here.  The Peppermint Mocha Chronicles are going to live here now, and I want you to be a part of it. So send me your stories. Your experiences. I’d love for you to write a guest post. Let’s go on a PM date. Let’s live life together! Because if we don’t, then what’s the point?