Just the Two of Us

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on December 27, 2012

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I think I’m still running on a sugar high from all of the candies I treated myself to over the last two days. But I know it’s not the sugar talking when I say that Kevin and I had a fabulous Christmas together.

We decided to celebrate a German Christmas by opening our gifts on the 24th instead of 25th, my favorite of the German traditions. Who wants to wait until Christmas morning to open presents? Not I!

I chose to open the largest present first because uh, who wouldn’t? Then proceeded to cry a bit at the sight of the unwrapped box that lay before me.

*insert singing Christmas angels here*

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Santa had me FOOLED!

And he really blew our Christmas budget of $200.

But how can you be mad at a Santa for blowing the budget when he gets you the kitchen appliance you’ve dreamed of using since you were a little girl?

You don’t get mad, you make cookies.

At 10pm on Christmas eve.

Christmas2012-mixer

And after the cookies are in the oven and all prep-work for your gluten-free gingerbread house is complete, you make muffins.

Then you go back to opening up the rest of your presents.

And pass out around 2am.

Christmas2012-gingerbread

Needless to say, it was a slow start on Christmas morning.

I made us a batch of gingerbread protein pancakes and we headed out to Mount Royal for a walk around the park.

Christmas2012-walk

Wait, did I mention that it was a 5 minute walk around the park?

Ya, it was freezing on Christmas Day. I felt like my insides were going to crystallize at any moment and Pebbles didn’t look all that pleased at the weather conditions either.

christmas2012-walk2

So we all jumped back in the car and headed home to construct our gingerbread house!

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I’ve made a bunch of royal icing in my day, but never with a handy dandy stand mixer. Wow, did it ever make a difference. I formed peaks in my egg whites like peaks I’ve never seen before! Mwahahaha.

christmas2012-house

Our original plan for the house was to make it 100% out of gingerbread bricks, but we realized a bit too late in the day that we didn’t have enough dough and; with all the stores being closed, couldn’t run out to grab more ingredients. So, we made a pretty brick wall at the front and constructed the house of out sheets of gingerbread.

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The house took us about 3 hours to put together. By the time we cleaned up the mess of icing and candies everywhere, it was time to start on dinner.

On the menu was a 13 pound turkey (stuffed with wedges of onion, apple and fresh thyme to keep moist), cranberry flax stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, steamed broccoli and homemade gravy.

We got the bird in the oven at 3pm, cuddled up on the couch to watch White Christmas, and were enjoying the fruits of our turkey-stuffin’ labor by 7pm.

christmas2012-turkey

Our Christmas was quiet, relaxing and intimate – a huge step away from serving dinner to 30+ family members, Christmas tunes blaring and dirty dishes coming out of our ears. While we’ve missed our family like crazy over these last couple of days, it was nice to spend some time; just the two of us, being thankful for each other, reflecting on the changes we’ve experienced this year, and creating new traditions and memories that will be with us forever and always.

I’d love to know, how have you celebrated the holidays?

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Averie Cooks

Your gingerbread house is a work of art!

And congrats on the mixer – I can see the true joy on your face and I love the pic of you taking a pic of it! :)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Averie! It would have been even cooler with the bricks. Will definitely be doing a full brick house next year!

There was joy exuding from every pore in my body as I used the mixer for the first time. It was a happy, happy moment!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

Looks like SUCH a great Christmas Leanne! Your gingerbread house turned out beautifully and it sounds like the two of you got to spend some really nice relaxing time together. You look like you mean business in the kitchen! Oh, and I could totally hear the angels singing when I scrolled to the photo of your mixer. What a beauty!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

It was really great. Quiet, but great. I used the mixer again today for really no reason at all other than I just wanted to use it. It’s just one of those appliances I’ll have forever and ever.

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Michelle @ Eat Move Balance

I love that you’re head-over-heels for the new mixer! What a great surprise for you–too cute!

The gingerbread house you made is fantastic! I’ve never made one from scratch like that. Very cool!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

I thought it was going to be an x-box (and secretly very happy that it wasn’t!)

It sounds difficult, but making a gingerbread house from scratch isn’t challenging at all. It takes a lot of time, but I don’t mind in the least if it means getting to gobble it all up afterward :)

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Heather

What a beautiful Christmas with your honey, congratulations!!
I always enjoy reading your posts and this was no exception.
I can’t wait to read about all the wonderful yummies you will find to make with that kick-butt mixer!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Heather :) I hope you had a fabulous Christmas as well. I’ve already made a couple of recipes with it (they can also be made with a hand mixer for those that don’t have a stand mixer) so there is bound to be some scrumptious grain-free desserts being posted on the blog in the coming weeks, I’m sure!

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Sue

In the 33 years we’ve been married, we have spent quite a few holidays with family, and loved it all. But somehow the holidays spent Just We Two have been marvelous. No rush. No stress. Just solid enjoyment! It gets better each year. A you have many happy, relaxed years, too.

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

That’s so good to know, Sue. There was something so magical about just not having to go anywhere or commit to anything. We just let the day unfold before us with grace and ease. Definitely will be doing it again in the coming years!

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Danielle

I agree! This year was the first year away from my husband’s BIG family, so I was a little sad (as I enjoy big family celebrations). But having only my husband and my son in a city where we really didn’t know anyone (well enough to spend Christmas with…) it was actually really nice! We spend all our Christmas in our pajamas, eating good food, opening presents, watching movies…

And as a minimalist that I am, I also enjoyed getting a few checks and only one real gift! ha ha

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

It’s so nice that the three of you had a good Christmas. Some of my favorite childhood Christmas memories are of just my Dad, Mom, Sister and I. I’m sure your son will remember this year forever!

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Julie

Your gingerbread house is gorgeous!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Julie :) It’s a bit disheveled now… every time I walk passed it I grab a piece of candy :S at least I got a picture of it before I started snacking!

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Tamikko

I love your little gingerbread house! So colourful! I hate the rushing around in a hurry Christmas feeling so staying at home, relaxed without rushing sounds lovely. That’s how we spent our Boxing Day. No shopping for us this year. Just putting together a doll house and watching some of the tv marathons.
I’m jealous of your mixer but very excited to see what you make with it. :)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Doll house construction, sounds like serious business! What TV shows are you watching? We caught up on too many episodes of Fringe yesterday. I think we watched it for 4 solid hours at least!

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Agnes

It’s just sooooooooooooo nice to visit your blog. You are a very talentuous person. Thanks for inspiring me with all your healthful and colorful recipes……

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Agnes – it’s so nice of you to come and visit the blog! Thank you for your kind words about my work and the space here, it means so much to me :) Hope you’re having a fabulous day!

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Ronnda Stapleton

I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, too! I have had it for 15 years and it is still amazing. I have been lucky enough to find two at Goodwill for both of kids (21 and 22 years old! They were dingy and grimy, but with a little elbow grease and a lot of hot water they look great and work fantastic too! =) I have a question about the first photo…are those Russian teacakes/Mexican wedding cakes? If so, is there a recipe for them? Thank you for always sharing wonderful healthy recipes. Happy 2013 to you!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

15 years… wow! So I’m going to have this baby for the long haul then? Perfect. Great find on the second hand mixers. Some of my favorite kitchen staples are from Value Village. You just have to keep an eye out all the time. What a fabulous Mother you are, getting your kids stand mixers and making them shine again.

The cookies in the top picture are my raspberry linzer cookies made with cranberry jam (here’s the recipe: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6026849) I used the same dough to make the shortbread. Also, there are coconut snow cookies (recipe here: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6006476) and a carob spice cookie (recipe being posted tomorrow!)

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nana jan

we spent Chritsmas Day home getting ready for the grandchildren and their parents to arrive for boxing day. turkey was cooking, sqash and turnip ready to reheat when our JackRussell Terrier became ill and we had to drive 1.5 hrs to a emergency vet clinic . the family carved the turkey ate the meal, opened some of their gifts and we came home and enjoyed leftovers. a great christmas all in all!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Oh wow, what an adventure. Is your furry guy okay? I’m assuming so based on you saying it was still a good Christmas, even with the emergency clinic visit!

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Emma

I love that you had a quiet Christmas with just the two of you. Our family celebrations get smaller and smaller each year since all of we children are growing up and starting our own lives, and I actually prefer an intimate family gathering with just my parents, grandmother, sister, and I.

On another note, I am already signed up for your email updates– am I still eligible for the e-cookbook?

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

That is what my family in Calgary is experiencing as well. It was a tough year for my parents, their girls are going out into the world to create their own lives which means smaller Christmas celebrations and more time for my parents to be on their own. Major transition for them, I’m sure!

Yes you can download it for sure. There is a link to it in each of the email updates now, on the right hand side. Click the link in the email update and you’ll be directed right to the cookbook. There are a bunch of recipes in there that aren’t on the blog, too!

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Sara

Happy Christmas, Leanne! Although my husband and I have spent the past few Christmases alone at our home in Tahoe (with furry friends) far from our families in New England, this year we were going home (to New England) because a new niece was on the way. Fate had other plans in mind, however, and our plane never arrived due to mechanical problems and we spent Christmas with our house/dog/cat sitters (dear friends) and 5 feet of fresh snow. The skiing has been phenomenal, we’ve had lots of laughs and adventures with friends and we’ll see our families in the spring, when my next school break is. Everything happens for a reason! Congratulations on your mixer. My mom in law gave us one several years ago because of her firmly held belief that you can’t be a real baker/cook without one despite the fact that we (husband and I) had cooked breakfasts and dinners from scratch for 60 in backcountry lodges! They (mixers) are so fun and really do help eggs peak and coconut cream whip and cookie batter mix. Happy happy holidays to you!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Wow Sara, so good of you to see the beauty in an unplanned Christmas. What a fun adventure! 5 feet of snow, I bet the skiing was absolutely ridiculously awesome! We received over 2 feet in places here in Montreal and I’m chomping at the bit to hit the hills!

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Rosanna

Merry Christmas!!! Wow, I’m so impressed with your gingerbread house!.. You are so good at baking!!!
The way you describe your Christmas it’s impressive.. You have the gift of writing and cooking…!
Loved to see the picture where you are taking a picture of the mixer!…You look soooo happy! Great gift! I’m sure you are going to make good use of it and hubby is going to enjoy it too!!!
My wishes of a great year 2013 and the best to you and hubby!!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Rosanna! Funny enough, I caught Kevin using the mixer yesterday to re-whip his potatoes. This is absolutely unheard of. I can’t even get him to make a meal for himself on the stove! Maybe I’ll get him to make me a batch of cookies? Happy New Year!

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

You two are the cutest! Enjoy using your shiny new Kitchen Aid mixer, what an awesome present!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Sylvie! We do have a bunch of fun together, that’s for sure :) Happy New Year!

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Elise

I just giggle and smile reading your posts! My hubby and I had our first Christmas alone (after 16 years) and it was wonderful! I think this will be a new tradition! I did miss my family a little bit, but the no stress, no mess, no “have to’s” was something I will remember. Love your story about the mixer! You are so talented and I am so glad to have found your site! Warm wishes in 2013!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Yes, there is something very magical about keep Christmas quiet, isn’t there? I felt so relaxed (and full from all the cookies lol). I’m happy that you found me too! Happy New Year!

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