Strawberry Santa Hats and Reindeer Ornaments

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This holiday season, my friend and I decided to host a holiday crafts party. We gathered a small group of friends together and spent the evening noshing on snacks, sipping on wine and assembling button wreaths, holiday cards, popcorn garlands and more. A friend created the stash of berry cute Santa hats pictured above.

Sadly, I got so carried away by all of the festive fun that I neglected to take a ton of photos of our creations…our ourselves! I suppose that’s OK on some other level though, because I fully enjoyed the event.

Cork Reindeer

My favorite craft activity of the evening = the Cork Reindeer Christmas Ornaments, an Oriental Trading purchase. (But seriously, that site is full of bargains of amazingness. I purchased several items earlier this year for a friend’s Vintage Bachelorette Bash.)

The Cork Reindeer kit came with almost everything needed, and they were fairly easy to assemble. The hardest step was attaching the head to the body, which we did by using a nail to create small holes in the corks to insert the wooden stick, aka its neck. We used a mini glue gun for the rest of the project. I ended up gifting some of these lil guys as wine bottle ornaments, and attached a few as accessories to small gifts for colleagues. Seriously adorable, no?

Cork Reindeer

Last year, I made marshmallow reindeer, and sat at a desk station near an inflatable reindeer named “I’m Rein Burgundy?” Perhaps I’ll have to find another reindeer item to fixate on next year. :-P

I hope your holiday season is merry and bright. Many cheers to the new year!

More Sweetness:
Reindeer Cheer  Santa Milk Jug  Mug Brownie

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I have some RIDICULOUSLY fit colleagues. One of my mentors teaches boxing and spinning classes. Several colleagues plan to participate in multiple marathon events this year. Some of my clients also spotlight athletes’ amazing feats.

Inspired by their collective fitness achievements, I recently decided to set my own personal summer goal. I’ve registered to complete my first 10K in July! While fitness has always been a priority for me, I’ve tended to shy away from running races. For me, its always seemed easier to take a dance/aerobics/cardio class or complete a timed workout on the elliptical versus hitting the open road. There’s an extra bit of motivation needed – both mentally and physically – when you don’t have an instructor or a TV show attached to the machine to urge you on. To help prepare for my first 10K, I’ve been following a six-week online training plan. I’ve also been scoping out smoothie recipes.

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie
So for this Fiesta Friday, I present you with my first green smoothie. It’s a Green Strawberry Pineapple Banana Smoothie that features spinach as the leafy greens. (I’ve got kale waiting in the wings to try out sometime soon, too.) The banana provides a creamy texture and the pineapple juice and fresh strawberries lend their natural sweetness to the drink. (Big thanks to Andrea for the strawberry heart inspiration. :) You should check out her recipe for Strawberry White Chocolate Blondies.)

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients? Do you have any fitness tips to share with me?

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

The Makings:

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup ice cubes

The Sweetness:

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1. Pour 1/3 cup pineapple juice into blender.

2. Slice strawberries and banana and add in blender, followed by 1 cup spinach leaves.

3. Blend mixture until smooth. Next, slowly add in ice cubes in small batches – 2 or 3 at a time. And voila! No extra sweeteners needed.

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Green Strawberry Banana Smoothie

”Fiesta

More Sweetness:
Strawberry Banana Bread  Cranberry Avocado Salsa  Strawberry Margarita Jello Shots

Lemon Strawberry Cookie Cakes

Lemon Strawberry Cookies 001

I was seeking a bright, sunny burst of sweetness in my kitchen. These Lemon Strawberry Cookie Cakes pack quite a lemony punch, but not in a super sour way, at all! They’re baked in a pan, and then cut to make single servings. I used my circle cookie cutter as a mold (and ate the scraps in the process). :) I paired my cookie cakes with a glass of sparkling water, topped with strawberry slices. If you’re still craving more lemon love, you could serve these with a glass of lemonade.

The Makings:

Lemon Strawberry Cookies

  • Flour – 2 1/4 cups
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Butter or margarine – 1 cup
  • Egg – 1
  • Lemon zest – 3 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
  • Diced strawberries – 3/4 cup

Optional glaze:

  • Lemon juice – 3 tablespoons
  • Powdered sugar – 1/2 cup

The Sweetness:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pan with tin foil.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Lemon Strawberry Cookies
3. Cream butter and sugar together in a separate bowl. Add in lemon juice, lemon zest and egg. Then mix in dry ingredients.

Lemon Strawberry Cookies

4. Fold in strawberries.

Lemon Strawberry Cookies

5. Add mixture to lined baking pan, lightly pressing dough down into bottom of pan.

Lemon Strawberry Cookies

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. To create glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. Use whisk to drizzle glaze atop cookie cakes.

Lemon Strawberry Cookies

This recipe was adapted from Bakeaholic Mama.

More Sweetness:

Strawberry Banana Bread  Lemon Cool Whip Cookies  Cranberry-Orange-Pecan Swirls

Pink Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

Happy New Year! Right now, it’s ridiculously cold here in Chicago. I mean, it’s Fuh-REE-Zing. In fact, we have sub zero temps outside today. Some locals have dubbed it the land of “CHIberia.” To avoid cabin fever syndrome, I ventured out last night to a birthday party, but aside from that event and a few errands I ran yesterday, I’ve been cooped up inside all weekend. I’ve got my slow cooker simmering away with Chipotle Chicken Soup and a fresh mug of Raspberry Pomegranate tea by my side.

I also made a batch of Cool Whip Cookies, or as I like to call them, “cloud cookies,” because of their light and fluffy taste and texture. This time I opted for the power of PINK. (Click to see the Lemon Cool Whip Cookies here, inspired by this summer’s sunshine. Man, we could use some of that sun now!)

The Makings: (1 batch yields ~2 dozen cookies)

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

  • Cake Mix – 1 box
  • Eggs – 2
  • Cool Whip – 1 8 ounce container
  • Powdered sugar – 1/2 cup

The Sweetness:

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies  Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

1. In a medium sized bowl, beat together eggs and entire contents of the Cool Whip container. Slowly add in cake mix, until it’s folded into the batter. Chill mixture for 1 hour in the fridge.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove chilled dough.

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies  Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

3. Scoop balls of dough – about 1 tablespoon per ball – and roll them in powdered sugar. Place powdered dough balls on a cookie sheet. (Here, I also sprinkled on some pink sugar for an extra pinch of PINK.)

4. Bake cookies for 9 to 12 minutes, or until the bottom and the tops of the cookies are lightly golden.

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

More Sweetness:

Strawberry Banana Bread  Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies  Margarita Cupcakes  Lemon Cool Whip Cookies