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*Sorry my pictures are so small. I forgot to pack the appropriate camera cord!*

Zach and I decided for our first married Christmas to spend Christmas Eve at his family’s big yearly party and then fly to Florida Christmas Day to stay with my family for nearly two weeks.

We foolishly made this decision in the summer before our work/school schedules had fully materialized and I’m so glad we did. It’s good to be forced to make getting away happen. The more I read that sentence the less it makes sense but I trust you understand.

My family is from Iowa, not Florida, but my dad works down here part of the year so it’s a business/fun trip for them. Neither of us have much money budgeted for vacation (thank you, Christmas) so our trip has involved a lot of library trips, cooking at home, and BYOB beach days. This suits me fine. We’ve also had the flu circulating through our group, so it’s a good day when all of us feel like doing something exciting anyway.


Vacation is the perfect time for book binging. The three I have in circulation right now:

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The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece

This was a random find on the New Non-Fiction shelf and it has proved fascinating. It follows the parallel stories of science’s attempts at re-animation and Mary Shelley’s literary creation of Frankenstein’s monster in the 19th century. True to history but with enough intrigue, romance, and the macabre to keep it interesting.

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The Help

I’m late on this bandwagon, I know. I recently re-watched the movie and decided to read the book, and a coworker was kind enough to lend me her copy. I feel incredibly nervous when people lend me books because I love to eat while I read and I take books everywhere with me. So far I haven’t damaged it! *Fingers crossed*

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This book, surprisingly by the author of the Stuff Christians Like blog/book, was another random New Non-Fiction find. I’ve been a long-time Seth Godin fan, which drew me to this book. It is similar to Godin’s work and very readable. If you’re looking for a kick in the pants to start off the new year, this will provide it.


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Juicy Couture Cross/Sword Necklace

I’m not usually a big Juicy Couture girl, but I have been looking for a cross necklace for a while and this was the most interesting one I’ve seen. And it was somehow marked down to $12. Sold.

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J. Crew Phone Wallet

 Another after-Christmas steal. This is my first phone wallet and it’s super convenient! I feel inspired to buy a cheapo plastic phone case and make my own out of felt and fabric.


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 Thai Kitchen Rice Noodle Cart

This was a late-night grocery trip throw-in-the-cart purchase – you know. It was delicious, particularly with some extra stir-fried veggies thrown in, but tasted processed and has 26 (!) grams of sugar in one serving. Not a keeper.

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Trader Joe’s 0% Greek Yogurt

Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Granola Cereal

Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt is my absolute favorite – it doesn’t have that vomit-y flavor Chobani can sometimes have, and the texture is perfect (Fage is a close second but I think it’s a little more expensive). I like to buy the 16 oz. tubs of Vanilla and Plain and mix them to keep the sugar in check. This, along with TJ’s Vanilla Almond Granola and fruit, has been my go-to vacation breakfast.

The Vanilla Almond Granola tastes almost just like a rice krispie treat – no lie. It is gluten-free (not strictly) and lower fat, but kind of high on sugar. When I keep it around at home I tend to eat large bowls of it in the evening and pretend it’s healthy, but it’s a good vacation staple.

The former residents of our condo were apparently also gluten-free because they left this:

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Jackpot! My first thought was cookies. A quick trip for eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, and baking soda later…

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (with vacation-appropriate instructions) 

2 cups brown rice flour

3 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, thankful for the fact that it’s the same model as your mother-in-law’s so you know how to operate it.
  2. Realize that the condo you’re staying at only has a single ¼ cup measuring cup and that measuring is going to require multiplication and be a pain in the butt. Proceed to mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Notice also that there are no measuring spoons; use a normal spoon to measure baking soda and salt and hope your cookies don’t taste metallic.
  3. Forgot to soften butter and don’t have a mixer – microwave butter and “cream” it together with sugar using your hands. Works surprisingly well and hands feel soft and smooth afterwards. Stir in vanilla and eggs loudly by hand and wake sick sister sleeping on couch.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture and be pleasantly surprised by how nice the dough looks. Scrounge around for cookie scoop and decide that the coffee scoop will work. Be pleasantly surprised that the condo has parchment paper and cookie sheets. Scoop cookies onto parchment-lined trays and bake for about 12 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
  5. Set cookies on granite countertop to cool. Be shunned by four-year-old sister who wants spinach salad instead of your cookies (?!). Feel placated when she eats one after lunch. Return to normal schedule of sitting around and reading.

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